A hostile but surprisingly objective account of traditionalism

Here is a Randian web discussion forum in which a commenter, “madmax,” quotes and summarizes my ideas on traditionalism. While the commenter regards my ideas as “ugly. Very ugly,” his post, atypically, is not simply a mindless hatchet job.

The main flaw in his presentation is that it is somewhat out of context (he presents certain statements of mine as my views when in fact I was responding to and characterizing what I thought was implied in a reader’s views), and he also overstates the “collectivist” aspect of my version of traditionalism. In fact I am not a collectivist at all. Rather I recognize, as any traditional or non-modern liberal thinker would, the collective aspect of human society, the underlying things that a society holds in common and that must balance the individual aspect if the society is not to disintegrate.

Apart from that error, the summary is overall fair. It is almost unheard-of today for a critic simply to describe the position of a non-orthodox writer such as myself, rather than smear it and him. I don’t mind if a critic personally regards me as evil or dangerous, so long as he attempts to give an accurate account of what I am saying, which, again, is vanishingly rare.

- end of initial entry -

Mark Richardson writes from Australia:

There was some good news at VFR this morning. Your post about a commenter at the Ayn Rand site making an effort to characterise your views with at least some accuracy is encouraging.

I’ve often thought that the first aim for traditionalists should simply be to register as part of the political landscape. Just as people know, say, that libertarianism is one political option, it would be a real step forward if people coming into politics recognised traditionalism to be a variety of politics on offer.

The commenter at the Rand site is right to be concerned that you are being linked to from other more established right-wing sites. I’ve noticed this happening myself: traditionalism isn’t replacing anything else on the right but it’s slowly becoming part of the mix. Even here in Australia VFR is sometimes listed at right-wing sites alongside more established political groups.

The Rand commentator doesn’t think we’re quite there yet, and we’re not. He is taking us seriously enough though to try and get a hold on what we think, rather than dismissing us with an insult.

It’s a reward for perseverence in making serious, principled political analysis.

LA replies:

Thank you, but we’ve got a long way to go.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 17, 2009 01:08 PM | Send

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