[Editors Note: This article was originally published at Transcendental Titans on February 18, 2018.]
An awakening has taken place in European consciousness. Never before have so many minds almost independently concluded that there is something deeply and irreparably wrong with the system that rules them. Whether in Hungary, Austria, or the United Kingdom an irrepressible torrent of revolutionary spirit is threatening to break the dam of modernist thought. The primal, inchoate and unshakable desire to revolt against the modern world has spread across Europe like a series of lightning strikes. To capture and direct this tumultuous raw energy requires two fundamental things: to understand our enemy, and to know how to defeat it. Those claiming intellectual leadership of this nascent movement for the renewal of the European spirit have so far failed to provide a coherent vision of who our foe is or how to beat them. If we want to succeed, we have to change this now. It is time to develop a plan that can save Western civilization from its manifold enemies.
But before we can do that, we must ask who are these enemies? It is obvious to almost everyone that modernity is the enemy of a continued European way of life. But what is modernity? The orthodox view for many in the movement is that modernity is simply a point in time – it is the present and everything that has been created in the present. Modernity by this definition is reduced to skyscrapers, computers, automated factories, big tech and global government. Thus, if our enemy is the notion of technological progress, then all we need to do to defeat it is to simply go back in time. Mass migration, big government, the destruction of the family unit, and the death of religion have all happened in the present – therefore the material conditions of modern life must be the cause of these ills. To put it simply, the plough is innately more noble than the combine harvester, the oast house is more beautiful than the modern brewery.
To those content with this superficial account, an understanding of a purely technological explanation seems like a solid foundation to save Western civilization. But it is a foundation built on a misunderstanding. Those who accept this line of thought are confusing medium and message. The modern world is not evil because it has skyscrapers or computers. We are not engaged in a battle with an architectural style or an economic system – but with an ideology that has injected itself into every facet of our lives. To subscribe to technological determinism is to put European man in the role of permanent museum curator. True traditionalism is honouring and understanding the achievements of the past but having the will to build on and surpass them. The original European Renaissance was wrought by those who looked upon antiquity at first with awe, but then with the hubris and colossal will necessary to believe they could do better than it and recreate it in the medium of their own time. The artists of the Italian Renaissance had no compunction about painting the Romans in Renaissance dress.
Technology is a means at the disposal of the European spirit – it always has been. The great cathedrals of the past were built with cranes. The plough in itself was not more noble, it was the system which harnessed it that made it so. To attempt to go back in time is not only impractical, but harmful to the European spirit because ultimately the flaw in the logic of the neo-Luddites is that it was the European who created the modern world. Isaac Newton and Darwin did so willingly, and given the chance, if we rewound the tape it would play out in the same fashion. Society cannot be kept in a static vacuum, nor should it be. But if we are not revolting against the supposed depredations of the material conditions of modern life, what are we fighting against?
Our fight is not fundamentally about the fact that modernity has forced us to live an urban, technological life. It is about the fact modernity is bent on killing us and expunging our record from this earth. It is a death cult that has inverted every positive aspect of the European spirit and turned our nature against us. Where once technology was used in the service of the betterment of our lives, it now constrains us – with surveillance, with oppressive state power, with the speedy importation of our lower paid and more co-operative replacements. It does not need to be this way. It is not bricks, steel and glass that have made our world ugly but the pernicious and warped ideology of the architects that built them. Therefore, we are not engaged in a battle with a point in time, we are locked in a struggle for survival with a set of alien ideas. The particular must be championed against the global. The metaphysical good must be pitted against relativistic nihilism. The nation must triumph against the international. The European spirit must not be subsumed by the Islamic.
Yet how can we hope to triumph in a war of ideas? We must first and foremost understand that culture forms the basis of civilization – and culture is at its elemental level simply a set of ideas. While political activism seems the obvious recourse for those wanting to destroy the modern world, the real revolt in modernity is to create great works and to contribute to our culture. The reason the traditionalist has lost almost all the culture wars of the late 20th and early 21st century is that he has not even been on the field to fight them. Not only has the orthodox traditionalist view failed see to that our enemy is not material progress; but it has wrongly assumed that cultural developments in the modern world are inherently harmful to a traditionalist message. It is common to look down on cinema and video games as mediums that can only serve the modernist; mediums to be rejected. This is a catastrophic mistake.
The enemy is winning the war of ideas because modernism makes no distinction between high and low culture – it inserts itself into every sphere of human activity. Modern films are inculcated with the message that Europeans are a blight and should despise themselves. Modern buildings have no connection to the nations that host them. Modern TV shows and video games are literally re-writing history to co-opt and subvert the achievements of European heroes of the past. Marxist deconstruction operates just as effectively on opera as it does on Saturday night television. The traditionalists who believe that shunning popular culture and adopting the strategy of the hermit will save them are wrong. To guarantee our continued existence we must believe not only in the past, but in the future. We must imagine an alternative world where all culture is once again harnessed in the service of creating a healthy, progressive and upward future for our civilization.
The orthodox traditionalist has already consigned Western civilization to the funeral pyre, they are the last Roman loyally at their post as the Pompeii of modernity destroys us forever. We must be engaged in creating a new radical traditionalism that believes that if we want to live, we must create. We are the new generation of Wagner’s warriors, taking up the mantle of the Gesamtkunstwerk, turning our lives into a piece of total art. We recognise no distinction between high and low culture; whatever we do – whether making video games, shooting cinema, or writing fiction we do not ask ourselves is this medium traditional? We instead set ourselves to the task of creating works of beauty, works which honour European history, works which raise our consciousness and above all instill our people with the will to survive. This not a hypothetical exercise, because we can look back to examples of the recent past to see how it is done. In the early dawn of what later came to be known as modernist architecture, in the Venetian Prealps the monument to the Italian war dead at Monte Grappa proved that concrete and modern building methods could be pressganged into the service of traditionalist aims – to honour the past.
Likewise, in the golden era of PC games the medium was de facto traditionalist. Games like Caesar and Civilization inspired the young with a new digital rendering faithful to our past, while adventure and roleplaying games like Heroes of Might and Magic introduced many to European mythology. Perhaps unknowingly the architects of the memorial at Monte Grappa and the designers of these games provided a fleeting glimpse into an alternative world – a world where modern games, modern architecture, modern culture is not antithetical to traditionalism, but promotes it. We must take up where they left off – to win the war of ideas all we have to do is to imagine a future in which we could live; a future for us and by us, a future unrestrained by the fastidious and wrongheaded belief that Western man is confined to the same set of tools he had five hundred years ago. The new generation of Wagner’s warriors are pushing aside the dusty and petrified last Roman and leaping onto the funeral pyre to rescue Mother Europa from the flames, because we believe Western culture is not dead, but lives through us and our acts of creation.
Once we grasp that our culture is the arsenal that we must use fight the ideational war in which we are engaged in, we can direct all our efforts to bolstering this great armoury. Every game we make, every movie we produce, every work of literature we pen, is a bullet we are firing at the monolith that is modernity. Every work of cultural significance is the forging of another spearhead that we can thrust into the odious and misguided minds that now rule us. The act of creation is our collective work to wire the cultural bomb that will blow up the foundations of modern life and ultimately free us of its deathly mental grip. While this war may be ideational, it involves real dangers and real sacrifice – the road will not be easy, because in every great artistic work, every true piece of beauty brought into human life, there is a cost.
The stones of Neuschwanstein are coated in the blood of both its patron and its builders. The elegant squares of St. Petersburg rest upon the bones of the serfs who created it. Likewise, the madness that overtook Nietzsche was the price he paid for birthing his intellectual works. The re-casting of art and culture as an activity for the weak and effeminate is yet another corridor of the mendacious mental maze that is modernity. Serving in the war of ideas will require tough characters, and it always did – the great Renaissance masters may have painted high art, but Caravaggio was no stranger to the drawn dagger in the defence of his artistic ideas. We must re-embrace the masculine, Byronic and D’Annunzian view of culture. If we do this, we will easily sweep the modernists from the field of ideas, because still innate within the European mind is the will to live, the deep-seated desire for beauty, and the divine spark necessary to create great works.
The worldview of the orthodox traditionalists is ultimately a dereliction of duty. They praise the past and want to live in its warm womb simply because they are too timid, too craven, too weak to believe that this generation alive today could contain another Dante, another Wagner, not operating in some anachronistic style – but who was a master in wielding modern mediums in the service of traditionalist aims. The virtue of European civilization has in fact always been its malleability, it has been forged and re-cast more times than we care to remember. Traditionalism is simply the challenge issued by our forefathers – the offering of the divine hammer of culture by the craftsmen and artists of our distant past to the new generation. The orthodox traditionalists don’t believe we have the strength to wield the hammer; and the modernists can’t imagine we’d dare to wield it.
All we need to do to save Western civilization is to understand that traditionalism is not a style, or a museum, it is the transmission of culture from one generation of Europeans to the next. European civilization is a gleaming golden anvil on which we constantly re-forge ourselves in a new image. We are currently staring at the broken, shattered shards of our inheritance – but we can re-forge them once again. All we must do is believe that we come from those endowed with the sacred will to live and create, and the challenge of recasting European civilization now falls to us. We should not shrink from this task, but relish it. With all our collective strength, we must strike the Golden Anvil and watch the sparks that fly from it reignite the yearning hearts of those Europeans who want to revolt against the modern world, see our people live, and forge a new European century, even more bejeweled and glorious than the last.
Hail to our people!
Hail to the three-thousand of Charlottesville who rode with Robert E. Lee and gave the rebel yell, which was heard across America!
Hail to the Briton, who when duty demanded emerged from sleepy shires and windswept Welsh valleys to decree the nation might be free!
Hail to the Austrian, secure in his mountain halls of stone against the flood!
Hail to the Visegrad Four, the shield of Europe, stalwart as Sobieski’s hussars!
Hail to the unvanquished East, confounder of evil schemes!
Hail to all our people who dream we might yet live!