Modernity, modernism, and their traditionalist counterpart

In an entry last February that touched on several subjects, there was a brief summartion by me of modernism and traditionalism, which is excerpted in standalone form below (it was also discussed by Australian traditionalist Mark Richardson):

Modernity consists of the increasing articulation of society in terms of the individual, the equal freedom of all individuals, and the increasingly efficient and embracing technical organization of life to meet every human need. Modernism consists in making modern society, organized according to these principles, our principal authority and guide in spiritual, philosophical, and cultural matters.

Traditionalism consists of consciously resisting and counterbalancing these desolating trends.

So, for example, a priest who makes the eternal message of the Gospels and salvation the main thing, and not the attitudes and concerns of modern society, is a traditionalist. A country that takes its historic nationhood seriously and makes an effort to conform such values as non-discrimination and economic efficiency to it, rather than conforming it to those values, is traditionalist. A movie maker who situates his characters within an existing society and a transcendent moral framework, rather than portraying his characters as disconnected bundles of desire and aggression in a Brownian universe of clashing egos, is a traditionalist.

Traditionalism is a counter-movement to what appear to be overwhelming and irresistible forces. But since those forces, notwithstanding their spectacular achievements, are leading progressively to the dissolution of all human connection to the past and to the transcendent, and indeed to the dissolution of the human itself, they cannot be as irresistible as they seem. That is the faith and the conviction on which traditionalism is based.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 12, 2008 12:47 PM | Send

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