Tonsor on tradition, and the left’s deliberate destruction of tradition

As Stephen Tonsor shows in the below passage, tradition does not mean some musty past, kept alive through pious memory. It is the living, organic whole of which we are a part, and through which we have a self. Before there can be a self which demands its freedom, there must be a tradition that forms the self. A self unformed by tradition is just a collection of impulses and abstractions.

History, which is objectified tradition, makes possible individual and collective self-awareness; makes the discernment of selfhood possible. We are, indeed, our traditions, the distillation of our experience in the written word. It is for this reason that when the past is lost, when tradition is abrogated, the individual and the collective self are lost or distorted, culture is impoverished, and the humanity of the individual is diminished. The experience of hundreds of millions of human beings living under the domination of ideological totalitarian systems in the last half century bears out this observation. The personal, the political, and the historic past is expunged and ideology presents a substitute reality, a substitute self, and a substitute history to replace the organic cultural tradition which developed over millennia of time. East and central Europeans often do not know who their ancestors were. They kept no personal papers or correspondence for fear that family connections, personal experience, communal attachment, social and political evaluation might, if known to the political commissar or the secret police, prove fatal to them. The past, cultural tradition, and sense of self were to be buried in the files of the Stasi or some other police agency.
“The Inevitability of Tradition,” Stephen J. Tonsor, Modern Age, Spring 1994

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 26, 2012 03:15 PM | Send

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