Don’t “do” Tradition, “be” Tradition


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“Tradition means giving a vote to most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.” -G.K. Chesterton

For as much as I call myself a “Traditionalist,” I’ve never exactly given a very good explanation of what constitutes “being a Traditionalist.”  I don’t like saying that “the way we’ve always done it is the way we should always do it,” because replicating past solutions to past problems rarely fixes problems in the present.  A person doesn’t even have to believe in traditional practices to do them properly and neither does a true believer need to properly perform traditional practices.  This is what makes Traditionalism particularly tricky to nail down.  Substance is important and not to be dismissed, but it’s the style that matters more.

You can be a social or cultural shut-in content to live in the shadow of an imagined past and still not be doing any better (possibly worse) than the person who lives in the present but knows nothing of the past.  Neither one is particularly “traditional.”

Does Tradition mean dancing around the Maypole or dressing in colourful folkish garb and drinking mead? It sounds like good fun to get around a fire and drink mead (with or without a fire), but– how is it that we “do” Tradition without committing the crime of being culturally, socially, and politically dogmatic?

Julius Evola gives is a starting point from his Men Among the Ruins:

“Tradition, in its essence, is something simultaneously meta-historical and dynamic: it is an overall ordering force, in the service of principles that have the chrism of a superior legitimacy (we may even call them ‘principles from above’). This force acts through the generations, in continuity of spirit and inspiration, through institutions, laws, and social orders that may even display a remarkable variety and diversity. An analogous mistake to the one I have just condemned consists of identifying or in confusing the various formulations of a more or less distant past with the tradition itself.” (Evola, Men Among the Ruins, pp. 116 – 117)

Giving a list of things that I’m for or against and then demonstrating how I work for or against those things doesn’t necessarily make me a Traditionalist, even if it incidentally puts me in the service of such.  Were I to take on “various formulations of a more or less distant past” and champion them as exemplar of conditions for my idealized society I would certainly be committing the mistake that Evola roundly condemned in the previous statement.  The customs, mores, and standards of the past were designed to explicitly deal with problems associated with the past.  New problems, conditions, and constraints arise as our social, political, and religious conditions change.  There is not a “one solution fixes all” answer for all problems at all times.  Practicing small “t” traditions are a part of performing large “t” Tradition, but I’m still not answering the question.

Let’s give a working definition of Tradition by saying that a person can be a Traditionalist by making protection of religion, family, and the state the first priorities of lifestyle, and then a long list of certain other things being sub-sets of those first three or a distant second set of priorities. The reason we make religion, family, and state strong or powerful is to protect and enable the individuals in society to come nearer of perfection and unity with God.  These first three priorities guide us on the Lesser Crusade against the outer barbarian, and also onto the path of winning the Greater Crusade of battling against our inner barbarian.

I’ll play devil’s advocate to myself right now because I’m still begging the question of what those certain precious traditional values are, where they come from, and why those in particular are worth keeping or teaching.

Small “t” traditional activities (apple pies, hoop skirts, square dancing, advent calendars, etc…) are sort of like modesty, because they do something special for ourselves and those around us.  We’ve investigated modesty previous of this in a reading discussion, so without going over all of it here I’ll give it to you in a couple of sentences:  Modesty is something we do outwardly in dress or manner to show that we revere and respect our divine spaces and places within and without ourselves.  Some gestures of modesty are more grand than others, but even some slight gestures of modesty do much for us; so, modesty is something we consciously and intentionally do to protect a divine quality about the Self or our holy places.  This idea of modesty relates to small “t” traditions in a similar manner.  We make an effort to venerate and revere our past by recreating and re-performing the acts of our ancestors.  We do these things without respect to entertainment or difficulty (thought it’s more accessible when it is both fun and easy) because it specifically marks us inward spiritually and outward physically as knowing of whom we came and that we want to teach other members of our community the same.

So, the caveat, again:  Suppose I’m a baker for a larger grocery store and can make better apple pies than any of the women at my church.  Does this make me more “traditional” than them?  No.  The simple act of making apple pies, making peach preserves, or keeping a victory garden won’t make me “traditional.” It could just make me a poor sharecropper who is forced to sell baked goods and preserves at church to pay rent.

No, I don't mean that our ancestors will "literally" speak to us through a radio.

No, I don’t mean that our ancestors will “literally” speak to us through a radio.  If you think this kind of stuff happens in real life then you’re in the wrong neighborhood.

If you’re still not with me, then let me say this differently yet again: Performing small “t” traditions lets you be large “t” Traditional, but only if it’s for the purpose of communicating something about the past generation to the next generation.  So, if Tradition were a radio it needs to have a sender, receiver, and an audience.  Small “t” tradition is akin to having an antenna, a receiver, a microphone, and a speaker all sitting on the table in pieces.  They don’t do us any good unless we assemble the pieces correctly (enter big-t Tradition) and are using them for the purpose of allowing past generations to speak to the next generation.

A netizen accused me the other day of being an American with mixed up traditions, and that these conditions are creating some kind of confusion by which I don’t (or can’t) know my real traditions.  I am, of course, guilty of being an American (no guilt, no apologies!).  It’s also an honest charge to say that Americans have a mix of traditions– but everybody does. The knights in the Christian Crusades were running on fumes of what were themselves a carryover from Norse mythology, but then Christianity gassed ’em up again to power through ’til the end (see Evola’s Metaphysics of War). Sociologists would say the same, but they would call it “cultural diffusion” wherein one culture learns or accepts the traditions and habits of another.

And, somehow, I’ve managed to come all the way to the end of this article without saying a thing about what a “traditional” activity is.  That’s the most pleasurably puzzling part of what it means to be a Traditionalist:  This is entirely dependent upon the history of your people and the manner in which your culture and society have developed.  Traditionalism should pick up “a local flavor” and should be different from one place to the next.  That being said, not all small “t” traditions are worth keeping, but most small “t” traditions serve a beneficial purpose of teaching the youth how to handle challenges in the here-and-now.

Let’s go back to the last argument comparing bonafide Tradition to a radio.  Different cultures and different people each have a different “radio,” but they’re all designed for the same function.  This does not, of course, mean that the Traditions and traditional practices of the Russians are going to be a good fit for my own western European identity.  What I’m trying to get at is whether or not we’re using that radio (our folk traditions and practices) once it’s assembled, or if we think that we can just sit the parts in near proximity to each other on the table and that the magic will just happen on its own.  The whole point of having and keeping a romantic imagination of the past is to create a conduit or pathway for our ancestors to speak to the youngest generation and to give them the tools they need to conquer the barbarian among them and the barbarian within them.


  • ItalianOrthodoxCrusader

    I guess a good way to describe a traditionalist in the context of politics is someone who stands for what is Right for his people. Standing for truths which your ancestors have come to understand and that have been handed down to you. If something is good for a White society that doesn’t mean it’s good for Black society. Different types of people have developed their own concepts of Right and Wrong. “Traditionalist” works good for a name of a website or organization, because it gives a someone an idea of what you’re about. I personally refrain from identifying myself as a traditionalist, because it’s pretty much a given that if you’re a White Advocate, that you stand for “tradition” and it can give the idea to your enemy that you’re stuck in the past, when in actuality we are the future, because the truth never changes. The truth always be the truth.

  • Mr. Buhls,

    Are you going to write a follow-up post about how YOU personally and practically apply principles of traditionalism to your life, family, and community? That would be interesting to hear.

    • I’ll have to think about it. Because of the public nature of blogging I try not to share all of the private details of my life.

      Here’s an article that I wrote last year that sort of addresses the topic you’re asking me about:
      http://www.tradyouth.org/2014/05/the-games-we-play-a-look-at-horseshoes/

      In the meantime I’ll mull over how to answer your question without pouring too much of my private life into it.

  • Radicalist

    Thomas, I gained a lot of respect for you when I saw the youtube of your one man protest three years ago. Was it of Tim Wise, or just a random White Heritage one?

    Gives credence to the slur ‘keyboard warrior.’ At a time when misdirected troll armies are being heralded by the cowardly ilk, a man who stood alone among the enemy, in the flesh, wins my admiration.

    • Thanks. The one-man-rally in April 2012 was just something I did on a whim, and it kind of turned into this big thing. I was still pretty green as an activist at that time and didn’t really know what to expect. Well, the rest is history, and I’m no worse for the wear. I picked up some salt along the way and have only gotten better at doing these kinds of things.

  • Fr. John+

    One thing that can be said of Tradition (whether small or large ‘t’) is that it can be lost in a generation. Thus, any arguement for, say, white racial consciousness, falls under both the heading of avoiding genocide, and ‘be ye separate’ that so many WN/SN/Kinists are arguing for.

    Also, clearly the Churchs traditions are not (in this worldview) ‘man’s traditions’ but GOD’s, as St. Paul notes of ‘the tradition’ he mentions to the Churchs that they keep- whether ‘written or by word’. Which puts the Protestant position out in the cold.
    Just some observations.

  • Diogenes

    For me, “traditionalist” revives and clarifies what the word “conservative” must have meant once, the latter having been hijacked by politicians (career puppets of Jewdom), thus made virtually meaningless and valueless. At this late date, does any racially awake white person kid themselves that GOP flacks, for example, are other than the Jews’ “bad cop” team?? Until WW-II, “conservative” meant a lot more, but then starting in the 1950s Jewdom’s agents infiltrated it and set to work on it: Alisa Rosenbaum (Jew; a.k.a. “Ayn Rand”), William F. Buckley, Robert Welch, Irving Kristol… And so here we are today with an alleged Republican Party so riddled with Jews and their agendas that the “neocons” can more or less openly make all the real decisions behind a propped up doofus like dubya– AND YET NOBODY CAN SEE IT!!

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By: Thomas Buhls



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