Traditionalism: pick your era

Posted on February 8, 2013 by


There’s been a bit of a tiff in the traditionalist sphere, as of late. I’ve been ruminating on what has caused it, and I think “racism” or “ethno-centrism” is too easy of an answer. No, I think we traditionalists are actually arguing about something more basic and even more difficult:

What traditions are the best?

Traditionalism, after all, is about returning to tradition. But which traditions? Which era or region had the superior traditions, which we would like to promote? While many in the Protestant traditionalist sphere espouse the Pax Americana Era or the Victorian Era, I am more focused on an entirely different time frame: the Medieval Age. Oh, I’m not interested in going back to eating rye porridge in mud huts, but there are certain aspects of the Medieval Era that appeal to my Catholic senses:

  • Distributism. I categorize myself as a “libertarian”, but any short conversation with me on the subject outs me as a fan of both subsidiarity and solidarity (as described in Rerum Novarum, my favorite encyclical), communitarianism and capitalism. These are — in my opinion — the yin and yang of social/economic theory, the combination fits my Teutonic temperament, and finding the correct balance between the two strikes me as ideal. The emergence of a strong middle class depends upon the distribution of property (land, tools, knowledge, etc.), not the distribution of income or goods (socialism, which leads to dependence upon the state).
    The main economic difference between socialism and distributism is that socialists give you some fish so that you can eat, while distributists hand you a fishing rod, point you to a river, and tell you, “If you want to eat, go catch your own damn fish.”
  • Affinity to nature. Both sides of my family, and that of my husband’s family, are farming stock. We are very “down to earth” people, and that is reflected in the way we live our lives. We cook and bake from scratch; can our own jams, sauces, and pickles; tend our fruit and vegetable garden; breastfeed and make our own baby food; babywear; we eschew chemical contraception (ideally all contraception); practice herbal medicine; and we spend a lot of time outdoors. We’re that crazy family you always see out walking in February.
    I suppose my instinct is to appreciate technological advancement, but also to be wary of it.
  • Appreciation of carnality. If the Victorian Age was noted for its refinement, we can learn much from the Medieval understanding of the carnal nature of humanity. The Medieval habit was to allow the people quite a bit of fun (hey, life is hard), but to come down like a hammer on them when they do something terrible. I suppose my own nature and personality fit into that same mold. I — like the Medievalists I admire — am particularly aware my own original sin, which keeps me from taking myself too seriously, or being too proud to apologize when I am in the wrong. They knew “what people are really like”, and they can certainly teach us a thing or two about marriage.
  • Christian constitutional monarchy. I think secular democracy sucks. Putting fatherhood, marriage, and the right to be born alive to a majority vote is a really, stupid idea. The problem with democracy is that instead of being based upon a defined set of values, it’s based upon what the voter had for lunch that day. This is no way to rule a nation, and — as we Americans can see — even democratic voting does not prevent an oligarchy from forming.
    At one point (a long time ago, before any of us were born), we had a constitutional republic that was run by Christians. Its Christian nature was generally understood, but never explicitly stated, as the Founders were worried about Christian in-fighting. Unfortunately, the world is now larger than the Colonies, and the population has changed dramatically. We must make the Christian flavor of our government explicit, and protect that state by electing a Christian monarch (life-long head of state) who must take a Christian oath of office.
    I haven’t really thought it all out, but I’m certainly warming to the idea, and take my inspiration from the Magna Carta (which tempered monarchy with the rule of law). Of course, even in a Christian constitutional monarchy, freedom of religion and speech would remain.
  • Christian unity. The Protestant Reformers were making some good points, and raising some valid issues. But they went too far. Christ’s Church is meant to be One Church, and there is room for all of us within it.
  • Primal Patriarchy. The Pax Americana Era is depicted in many tear-jerking and heart-warming movies, but the thing that strikes me most about it is the abolition of patriarchy and the rise of rabid feminism. The promotion of the myth of “female sweetness” (sugar and spice, and everything nice) led to a general male abdication of authority. All laws, rules, and mores were rewritten in a sort of romantic hysteria.
    Although unmarried, financially-independent, adult women should be free to represent themselves, married women or children (under 21) should be under the legal authority of their husbands or male guardians, respectively. Women who do not wish to be “under somebody’s thumb” shouldn’t get married. The law should only be interfering in the family’s life when there is evidence of gross neglect or abuse.
    Yes, this might turn out badly for some people, but the current system turns out badly for a lot of people. Choose.
  • Localism. Nation-states have become too powerful. Power needs to be devolved down to the lowest level practical, in all instances.

(This is a rerun.)

Posted in: Religion