Tag Archive | "technology"

Between Technology and Traditionalism


It is a well-known fact that a number of the problems of modernity are in part due to industrialization. These problems extend far beyond the reach of “first world” countries, and affect the planet at large, and have inflicted severe damage on the environment. In the places where technology gave rise to the reign of quantity, it has also given rise to material surplus, allowing some people in those nations to become decadent and slothful, while regarding others as little more than “cogs in the machine,” whose primary purpose is that of material production.

Living in modern times, it’s easy to envision the future as a polluted and dysgenic dystopia, and current projections might indicate that even those projections are quite optimistic.  From the traditionalist point of view, the technologically-oriented society’s primary problem is the obsession with surplus and quantity, and as such experiences a state of spiritual stagnation and degradation as a result. The cultural planes, because of the surplus, are also degraded to the level of the lowest common denominator, and the environment which they engender is in fact dysgenic as a result of individuals no longer using intelligence, but instead relying on machines. Spiritually, people in technologically-oriented societies are also regressing. Evola duly noted such trends:

[America] has introduced the religion of praxis and productivity; it has put the quest for profit, great industrial production, and mechanical, visible, and quantitative achievements over any other interest. It has generated a soulless greatness of a purely technological and collective nature, lacking any background of transcendence, inner light, and true spirituality. America has [built a society where] man becomes a mere instrument of production and material productivity within a conformist social conglomerate.

Given the links between technology and modernity, we might be prompted to ask about the role that technology plays in traditionalist-oriented societies. This is a question which must be addressed cautiously. It is all too easy to over-simplify it, or worse yet, to involve too much emotion on the issue.  Pentti Linkola, perhaps has the most radical solution: the elimination of human and technological excesses.  Linkola pessimistically said:

The most central and irrational faith among people is the faith in technology and economical growth. Its priests believe until their death that material prosperity bring enjoyment and happiness – even though all the proofs in history have shown that only lack and attempt cause a life worth living, that the material prosperity doesn’t bring anything else than despair. These priests believe in technology still when they choke in their gas masks.

Although Linkola may take a highly cautious approach, it is possible to recognize the limited benefit, and indeed some of the inevitable requirements of the techno-industrial system, while still rejecting the overall spirit of its consequences. Hideo Kishimoto, a professor of religion at Tokyo University made the following distinction:

Westernization would mean that a certain indigenous cultural element of the traditional East is replaced by the penetrating Western element, and the functional role of the former is taken over by the latter.

Modernization, on the other hand, basically means to remold a cultural system into a new mode.

Although Kishimoto’s terminology here is slightly different from our own, and he speaks from a purely technical standpoint, he is totally correct. In the case of Japan, wearing Western attire and listening to Western music, or adopting Western perspectives on philosophy and ethics would be regarded by Kishimoto as “Westernization,” while the use of introduction of telephones, TV, airplanes, mass communication, and other technology can be considered a form of modernization. For a Westerner this is no different: adopting the attitudes and behaviors of a modern person is a completely different concept from using contemporary technology such as cellular phones or the internet. In fact, a number of technologies, such as solar power, might be employed to serve some ends demanded by a Traditional society (in this case, environmental sustainability).

Environmental preservation might be one use of Traditionalist-oriented technology

We might say that the problem is not the use of technology itself, but the overarching mentality of a society. A society which is entrenched in modernist thought will continue along that path, even if they never developed metal tools or fire. On the contrary, a society which is rooted in its values and in tradition doesn’t necessarily have to forsake technology. From the economistic point of view, the problem is one of balances: finding the essential point at which it is possible to be prosperous, but not subjugate man to the material or the means of production. From the Meiji Reformation until fairly recently, the Japanese had done just this, but today the situation in Japan seems quite different, even to the casual observer.

It is sufficient to say that some technology might be required by force of necessity. For instance, it is advantageous for national military forces to possess modern weaponry, so that they can defend themselves against foreign invasions. However, the adoption of such technology should not come at the expense of the real warrior ethos. Again, an example comes from Japan: during World War Two, the Japanese kamikaze still upheld the ethical precepts of Bushido and held in high esteem a certain asceticism in which the noblest action was self-sacrifice. Other technologies, while not necessary, are not “wrong” in and of themselves. For instance, the ability to communicate quickly and efficiently over long distances can be useful in disseminating knowledge consistent with Traditionalist ideas.

Traditionalism acknowledges the timeless nature of certain eternal principles, and it is possible to use technology as a way to ensure that these principles remain dominant. However, a caveat does exist. As nearly every nation which has undergone modernization has shown, this is easier said than done. Adopting technology often carries with it the baggage of modern attitudes (the Persian writer Jalal Ahl-e-Ahmad described this in one word: ‘machinestruckness’ ). As history has shown, this ‘machinestruckness’ permeates nearly all modern societies, and it is practically inevitable that technologically advanced societies all too often begin to fall under the spell of progress.  The social implications of this are, of course disastrous from a Traditionalist point of view, because it paves the way for standardization and ultimately a regression of the castes.

In conclusion, technology in and of itself does not mean that one should ignore technology completely.  When used correctly, technology should give us more leisure time to engage in activities which are ultimately transcendent and beneficial, but used incorrectly, technology is malefic, and indeed may lead to our downfall.

Posted in Culture, Most Recent, ScienceComments (2)

Environmentalism and Conservationism


In the modern world, environmental issues are polarized.  The so-called “right wing” of the industrialized world shuns any notion of environmental protection for a number of reasons, chief among them being that such controls harm the ability of businesses or corporations to create a profit.  Meanwhile, the left-wing, keen to seize upon such an opposition by political rivals, has taken up the cause of environmentalism as their own, falsely stating that their concern was for mankind.

Thus, the state of environmentalist movements in the modern world reflects an entirely modernist and defeatist perspective, which is characteristic of the liberal mindset.  Such people are merely sentimentalists who, being trivial, participate in what they consider to be “saving the environment” because they have become oversocialized and entrenched in their own delusions.

No!

In the past, the traditional attitude towards the environment was much more subtle.  For instance, we see that in Hellenistic mythology, that the “Golden Age” was  associated with a primordial purity of both the spirit and its surroundings.  The philosophers Empedocles and Hesiod also emphasized that during this time, there was harmony in all of nature, including human society.  Sayyed Hossein Nasr, the Iranian traditionalist scholar, articulates that the underpinnings of the environmental crisis stem from the modern materialistic and secular worldview.  For Nasr, the solution to the environmental problems of the modern day is not the sentimental behavior of leftists, nor necessarily a change in government policy, but a rediscovery of ‘traditional’ religious cosmology, values and truths. Nasr explicitly draws on religious, mystical metaphysical systems of thought that have, in his view, been eclipsed by modernity and need to be revived.

In light of this evidence, we need to re-visit the attitude of conservatives when it comes to environmental issues.  It can be said that there is a dichotomy between environmentalism and conservationism.  The former believes that man must be subordinated to nature, while the latter makes man the master of his surroundings; the former is chthonic and feminine, while the other is solar and masculine.  Environmentalism is at best a re-hashing of primitive pagan ideas.  Conservationism and deep ecology, however, make man the steward of his environment and accord him the position of being the master of his surroundings, a perspective which is common to many higher religions.  The earth then, is subject to man, and can be modified by man to help himself.

Because Traditionalism, when applied to any political action, is meant to transcend the dichotomous concept of left-vs-right, the Traditionalist outlook on the environment need not be limited to liberal-bourgeoise environmentalism, nor does it need to totally ignore the fact that there are environmental issues.  What is needed, however, is to integrate the need for environmental soundness into a fully holistic worldview which is consistent with the a truly conservative worldview.

This means no less than a rejection of the right of the material world to pre-eminence in all things, a wholesale rejection of globalism, and a massive cultural reformation toward harmony with nature.  Such a cultural reformation would have to be based in Traditionalist ideas rather than modernist ones, because it would embrace socially conservative views along with traditional religious and ethnic-national cultures.  At the same time, we cannot be fooled into thinking that bureaucracy will create a green utopia, and we must be equally pessemistic about the way in which globalists have used catch-phrases to discourage independent nations from developing nature-harnessing projects.

Key principles of a “Green Traditionalist” perspective might include the following:

  • Agrarianism: While the most important aspect of Green Traditionalism, it is also one of the more difficult to define.  While most traditionalist conservatives are cosmopolitan and many live in urban centers, the countryside and the values of rural life are prized highly.  In a practical sense, this means reduction of the ecological niche occupied by people (achievable through a number of methods).  The principles of agrarianism (i.e., preserving the small family farm, open land, the conservation of natural resource, and stewardship of the land) are central to a traditionalist’s understanding of rural life.

It is possible to live alongside nature while minimizing our impact on it

  • Hierarchy and organic unity: A common theme in Evola’s works is the refutation of the liberal myth that everyone deserves the “right” to “human dignity”.  Likewise, the Traditional worldview was that society is innately hierarchical.  Traditionalists for the most part reject the Marxist concept of class warfare, believing that the organization of society does not pit classes against one another, but instead through class cooperation, allows for the preservation of the whole community simultaneously, instead of protecting one part at the expense of the others.  From a practical perspective, this means putting an end to social engineering projects, and allowing the best and brightest to rise to the top.
  • Rebuilding the foundations of culture: The perspective of Traditionalism towards so-called “popular culture,” is that it is a modernist corruption of true culture.  Traditionalists are classicists who revere high culture in all of its manifestations (e.g., literature, music, architecture, art, theater). Additionally, Traditionalists respect the right of respective peoples to define their own cultural values.  To quote from Guenon:
To be resolutely ‘anti-modern’ is not to be in any way ‘anti-Western’; on the contrary, it only means making an effort to save the West from its own confusion. In any case, no Easterner who is faithful to his own tradition would view matters differently, and it is certain that there are far fewer opponents of the west as such- an attitude that makes no sense- than of the West insofar as it has become identified with modern civilization.
  • Localism, and regionalism: For some of the above points to be accomplished, it would be necessary to look towards an increased role in local and regional governments.  In combination with the previous point, a practical application would be the reduction of immigration; as each nation, locale, and region has a right to preserve its identity, Traditionalists frown upon an influx of outsiders which change the character of the said locales and regions.

Posted in Current Events, Politics, ScienceComments (0)


    Leave a Reply

  • Stay up to date

  • Subscribe to the RSS feed
  • Subscribe to the feed via email
  • Follow us on Twitter!

Find us on Facebook

Traditionalist Books


More books...