A few weeks ago, among the stampede of Orthodox Christians rushing over here to call us heretics for simply asserting the right of my people to exist, one of them called me a heretic for a plausible reason: I’m a Radical Traditionalist. According to him, Radical Traditionalism is a gnostic religion in and of itself, and men like myself are only adopting the religious traditions we’re adopting as substitutes and proxies for a Perennialist meta-religion.
Many self-described Radical Traditionalists I’ve read and spoken with are Perennialists, and many of them do indeed adopt a religious institution as a secondary avatar of sorts. Radical Traditionalism is, in my estimation, not synonymous with Perennialism. It’s a metaphysical discipline, a manner of approaching philosophical and theological problems, a toolkit for analyzing and repairing belief systems which is not a belief system in itself. It’s a bias in favor of the initiatic over the vulgar, the self-transcendent over the selfish, the perennial over the progressive, the hierarchy over the mob, and the organic whole over the system’s parts.
Radical Traditionalism is a compass and a map, and the world’s traditions and traditional institutions are the territories. A Traditionalist Christian doesn’t promote Tradition over his Christian faith and institutions. He relies on the principles of Traditionalism to defend Christianity from the forces of degeneracy. A Traditionalist soldier fights for his military rather than abstract “Tradition”, but the principles empower him to determine whether or not his military is indeed fighting a noble fight in the first place. Radical Traditionalist principles can and should be applied to one’s faith, one’s identity, one’s politics, one’s family, one’s romantic endeavors, one’s friendships, and even one’s interaction with animals and nature.
Every student of Tradition knows to reject and oppose overt degeneracy. Folsom Street Fair parades of perversion, the neon jungle of consumption and greed, and the selfish “pursuit of happiness” leaving millions of broken families and lives in its wake; these are all simple and obvious examples of degeneracy to oppose. The thing is, by the time degeneracy has reached this stage, it’s approaching the end of its life-cycle. The thing about “degeneracy” is that it eventually degenerates to the point that its dysfunction limits its own capacity for destruction. By the time you’re bowled over by the stench of death, it’s too late to bother fighting it.
The more needful yet more challenging task is opposing degeneracy earlier in its life-cycle. To accomplish that, one must search in seemingly vigorous and vital traditional institutions for hairline cracks in the container. Crackpot Traditions are far more destructive than alienated degenerates precisely because they haven’t yet degenerated to the point of dysfunction and self-destruction. Devout Christian patriarchs with big families and selfless intentions may be less degenerate than drug-addicted homosexual nihilists, but their vitality and virtue render them all the more dangerous when they wield only a handful of degenerate ideals.
To hope to actually cure degeneracy, one must diagnose and treat it as early as possible, a discipline which requires a rigorous skepticism of our most revered traditional institutions. Trust, but verify. No religious, military, or social institution is immune to subversion and perversion, and the naive presumption that any of them are above suspicion does the institutions no favors. A soldier’s creed demands that he obey his traditional military order without question. But when the military order has been corrupted and redirected from the top, it ceases to be a traditional military order and honor and duty now demand agitation, disobedience, and reaction.
Radical Traditionalism is no substitute for active critical thinking, skepticism, and nuanced discernment. For example, no military order is perfectly noble and exclusively employed for noble reasons. In fact, what being RadTrad amounts to is exactly that, studying the nature of nobility and vitality so that they may be defend. But the United States’ military, for example, is beyond redemption, a humiliating mockery of the principles of duty, honor, sacrifice, and fraternity it purports to manifest. Many young Traditionalists, even ones who are intelligent and educated enough to know better, find themselves attracted by their noble urge to serve in an initiatic military order, to join the Army. And with that decision, they betray everything they purport to stand for and dedicate themselves to advancing an evil empire. It would be less degenerate and destructive to go on a drug binge in a gay bathhouse.