The new old ways are the best

Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does many things. He is the author of the forthcoming book "The Paris Bureau" from Dio Press (early 2021).

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62 Responses

  1. Jaybird says:

    I think that there are a lot of little things going on.

    “Traditions” are likely very broad brush strokes… but to get invited to someone else’s house for Thanksgiving/Easter/Christmas will most likely flash at least one “oh my gosh, you people are doing it all wrong”.

    What with social media, you find out that this house uses cranberry sauce with whole cranberries, that house uses the gel with the can marks still on it, and this other house brags (for some reason) about having both kinds. (“We spent 79 cents *TWICE*”, she beamed.)

    So “tradition” was something that was intensely personal for each individual family but wildly different the second you went to someone else’s house. (“You read Luke 2 from the NIV?”, he sniffed.)

    Ironically, I think that we’re actually moving away from “peak tradition”. In the days prior to television, you were stuck with pretty much what gramma/grampa said was the way they always did things. With the advent of television, we could finally document stuff and repeat it perfectly and create “traditions” like watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas Special”… and “A Charlie Brown Christmas Special” is the same every year, whether gramma/grampa dies, whether you marry into a Protestant family, or whether you’re in Maine, Texas, or San Francisco.

    The internet is shortening the half-lives of “traditions”, to be sure… but I think that we’re coming down from having more traditions that more people had for longer times than ever before. We’re regressing to the mean.Report

  2. ThatPirateGuy says:

    Killing a specific tradition is easy. Killing all tradition is impossible so long as humans exist and like repetition.

    Tradition is merely something repeated especially given a specific cue such as a date. Humans like nostalgia too much to give up traditions. We like our dialog complaining about the death of tradition too much too stop it.

    The people most attached to the traditions in decline like to complain and the people who hated the tradition like to point out how terrible it was when they were in full swing. It is by this point a tradition. Like jaybird comparing people to hitler. 😉Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to ThatPirateGuy says:

      I think this is basically true with the added point that traditions have an intergenerational aspect to them. I can start doing something and repeat it and say I’m starting a tradition, but I think it really becomes a tradition when it’s passed down to the next generation. So, maybe the survival aspect is about whether they make it their own, or are just doing it because the old timers did.Report

  3. rj says:

    Are urban farming, canning and quilting traditions in the same way that Catholocism is? Those “domestic arts” were tossed to the wayside when mass production freed homemakers from having to do those sorts of things.

    Now, we’ve been freed of so many of these chores that we’re picking them up as hobbies. Is a housewife canning food to get through the harsh Nebraska winters of the 1880s the same as a bunch of artsy women doing it at a party? Is Etsy the same thing as darning socks during the Depression? Will your friends starve without backyard heirloom tomatoes?

    The actions are the same, but now they are divorced from context. There is a reason why eating a cracker while waiting for the bus is not the same thing as taking communion. A similar activity without context is not a tradition.Report

    • Tony Comstock in reply to rj says:

      “Now, we’ve been freed of so many of these chores that we’re picking them up as hobbies. Is a housewife canning food to get through the harsh Nebraska winters of the 1880s the same as a bunch of artsy women doing it at a party? Is Etsy the same thing as darning socks during the Depression? Will your friends starve without backyard heirloom tomatoes? “

      November of 2009 I sailed my boat from Montauk to the Lessor Antilles, and then stayed there for the next six months on much needed, self-funded sabbatical.

      The more “modern” thing to do would have been to fly down in an airliner and rent an apartment. But this would have been more expensive and less fun.

      Was this more like Etsy? Or more like Nebraska circa 1880?

      Not pendulums. Not circles.


      • rj in reply to Tony Comstock says:

        Travel by water, powered by steam or sail, wasn’t tradition, it was technology, the best of its era. Just because something is anachronistic doesn’t make it tradition. Perhaps if you did it every winter, like your father and his father before him, it would be a tradition.Report

    • ThatPirateGuy in reply to rj says:

      Couldn’t eating a cracker while waiting for the bus become a tradition if it is repeated as a mattter of ritual by more than one person? It could symbolize anything. Context is something I don’t think we will run out of.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to rj says:

      Are urban farming, canning and quilting traditions in the same way that Catholocism is?

      I don’t think that Catholicism is a tradition the way that Catholicism is.

      When I lived in Michigan, “Catholic” meant “Polish Catholic”. I moved out to New York and it meant Italian Catholic, maybe Irish Catholic. I come out here to Colorado and it means Mexican Catholic. You take anyone one out of the church they (probably don’t) go to every Sunday and plop them in one of the ones in a different time zone and I’m sure that you’ll find more than a few “oh my gosh, you people are doing it all wrong”s.

      I mean, *I* noticed differences in the churches in the different states. And I’m an atheist/Southern Babtist!Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to rj says:

      rj, I don’t know, frankly. These are questions I’ve been wondering about too. Certainly a lot of old “traditions” and “folkways” were partly just excuses to socialize- most of the “bees” had both a functional aspect and a social aspect. Even church functions were both carried out for their spiritual function and to socialize wih the neighbors. Obviously, the social aspect is still there, while the functional aspect is sort of gone. We can buy a quilt. Maybe that’s the same thing with religious traditions- the social aspect is still there, but many practitioners are doing them for social or aesthetic reasons and not for their spiritual function. That could be what the traditionalists are mourning and what you mean by context.Report

      • rj in reply to Rufus F. says:

        So are you left with the tradition being socializing itself? I don’t know if we’re exactly coming back to socializing, but mass media, mass migration and mass commuting certainly strained it.

        It wasn’t that long ago that Bowling Alone and its acolytes were telling us that we didn’t get together to do stuff any more. If it ever was true (which I don’t think it was), the success of things like and Tea Parties shows the impulse never went away.

        So perhaps canning, quilting and any other activity seperated from its purpose (survivan) are just excuses for the main event, which is seeing other people. If your wife wasn’t doing those things, perhaps she’d be honing French conversation skills or making signs for a protest.Report

        • Rufus F. in reply to rj says:

          Right, and there was certainly always that socializing aspect to it. I mean, most collective artistic traditions were purely social. At least, you didn’t need square dances or vaudeville to survive. But we could say that they was less of a need for them as mass-distributed entertainments became more common. I’m willing to bet that, since the advent of phonographs and radio, there’s a smaller percentage of families making music together regularly.Report

  4. Steven Donegal says:

    I think there is profound tragedy in the loss of tradition, of folkways and local practices.

    Perhaps, but the thing to remember is that many of these traditions, folkways and local practices developed because they were necessary for survival. As technology developed and people became more prosperous, the underlying survival basis for these practices ended and thus the practices themselves faded, to be replaced by others. I doubt seriously if frontier women who spent hours putting up beans believed it to be a quaint tradition that was culturally important to continue after they could buy canned beans at the store. We may look back nostalgically at this earlier and seemingly simpler life, but very few of us would willingly go back to that time and live that life.Report

  5. J.L. Wall says:

    There’s an essay that’s famous within certain Jewish circles — “Rupture and Reconstruction” — that, essentially, tries to understand the nature of post-Holocaust (rupture) Orthodoxy — less its survival than its self-understanding. The short of it is: the Jews whom Hitler killed were disproportionately the traditional/observant/what-have-you; those who survived were disproportionately secular/from liberal branches — just as a matter pre-war demographics. This is the “rupture” within the Orthodox Jewish tradition. In post-war America, however, it managed to survive and grow in large part as a result of the baalei teshuva movement (and then those new Orthodox Jews having more children than other Jews). The “reconstruction” is the fact that these new traditionalists learned how to keep kosher by hanging around Bubbe’s kitchen, but through instruction manuals/books that, rather than allowing for variation within family and community — as had been the nature of traditional Judaism in Ze Old Country, acted as if there had only been one way to be observant of various traditions — even within, say, the broader Ashkenazi tradition. And, typically, this one way has been that espoused by the conservative/haredi wing of Orthodoxy — think of Chabad’s outreach program or ArtScroll’s publishing empire. (Of course, there’s an argument to be made that this was essentially inevitable once the Enlightenment hit Ashkenazi Jewry and that the Holocaust only exacerbated/sped it up.) “Tradition” became more “traditional” — that is, lurched rightward.

    Which is just a very long way of saying that a tradition — and here I’m talking about an entire system of practices, rather than individual customs — may still be alive and well in the 21st century — and yet be a different tradition than it had been. A culture in which — except for certain segments — one must opt-IN to a tradition is going to change that tradition, even if it doesn’t threaten its survival.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to J.L. Wall says:

      Dude, this is an awesome comment.Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to J.L. Wall says:

      I think this is exactly right. Many recent types of traditionalism strike me as more traditional than anyone actually ever was.Report

    • Simon K in reply to J.L. Wall says:

      Yes, exactly – revivals of traditional practices are often much more dogmatic than the real tradition ever was.

      To pick a vastly more trivial example than yours, there’s a book about traditional organic tomato farming that recommends stripping all the leaves from tomato plants at the end of the growing season. This recommendation has been the subject of holy wars within online gardening forums, and it seems that no-one in fact understands what the benefits or drawbacks are. I asked my dad, who happens to be a viticulturalist, who pointed out that you do the same thing with grapes in cool climates where the grapes may not ripen, but you absolutely don’t do it in places where they may get sun scalded. Presumably exactly the same is true for tomatoes, but when you write down one “tradition” in one book and another in another book, and urban neighbours read different books when they decide to dig up their lawns and plant tomatos, you have a holy war on your hands …

      The Italian no-cheese-with-fish business that’s recently has become an object of such snobbery its driving me crazy presumably has an equally pragmatic actual origin.Report

  6. Jaybird says:

    In my youth, I saw Frank Schaeffer (in my heart, he’s still Franky) give a speech about the Orthodox Church.

    He talked about the difference between churches and the thing that got him to convert was the claim that you could take a Christian out of the Roman Catacombs and plop him or her down in an Orthodox Church service and the Christian would understand exactly what’s going on and what’s going to happen next. You put that same Christian in, say, New Life and the Christian won’t even necessarily know that s/he’s in a church.Report

  7. Sam M says:

    I gues it’s tragic in a sense. A while back, I saw a “sheep to shawl” competition on public TV. It had people working as fast as they could to sheer a sheep, process the wool into thread and make a sweater. I was struck by the fact that if armaggedon were tomorrow, I could probably not clothe myself. People should retain SOME sense of the basics.

    At the same time, I have shattered all kinds of traditions. Hardly anyone from my little blue-collar town used to go to college. My generation was the first one to change that. Have we lost things in the exchange? Sure. But at the time, I can assure you that I was not crying any rivers about my breach with the past. Nor was my dad, who was encouraging me to get the hell out of dodge.

    I am guessing a potluck dinner in my little town, 50 years ago, was pretty limited. The store only had about 50 ingredients for sale. But they made do, and each little neighborhood had its own specialty. That died out when someone started selling salsa to hillbillies. Have we lost some kick-ass dishes to history? Probably. But we also lost green jello molds.

    So… meh.Report

  8. Francis says:

    I think there is profound tragedy in the loss of tradition, of folkways and local practices.

    To a certain extent, this means blaming: railroads, rural electrification, radios, highways, affordable cars, television and air conditioning.

    In the past, people were poor. Staggeringly poor. Shockingly poor. People abandoned their traditions, folkways and local practices with glee when presented with an alternative. Cheap canned food? Frozen food? A radio? Hooray! WalMart and the IPhone are only the most recent entrants in a modernization trend that starts probably around 1800.

    Localism, at some level, seems to be to be a desire for voluntary impoverishment at a community level. It means no more goods from China, no more fruits or vegetables from California in the winter, no more TV, no more internet. Sure you can re-create a 1820 community if you religiously (heh) drive out the benefits of modern life, but who would want to? And for all that some posters here claim to desire a return to localism, they don’t appear to be doing much about it. The most relevant feature of localism, after all, is a lack of contact with the larger world, and that starts with communication.

    So ED’s an interesting writer, but I’ll respect a lot more his desire for localism and his willingness to make the sacrifices necessary to mitigate the tragedy of the loss of localism when he signs off the Internet.

    Or is it the case that someone else should embrace true localism, like at Colonial Williamsburg, and we can go visit if we feel like it?Report

    • J.L. Wall in reply to Francis says:

      I don’t know how many actual localists even demand a return to 1820 — Wendell Berry makes a point of saying in several essays that he’s NOT advocating everyone to make the choice he made (to leave academia and go farm tobacco in Henry County using only animal power). Or over at FPR, where Jason Peters has indicted himself several times already for hypocrisy for leaving home to be an academic/”mercenary.” (I think that’s the term he uses.)

      Can there be an urban localism? I’d say so: but it would have much more to do with planning decidedly modern communities (rail, shops, etc.: but this is Matt Yglesias’ strong point, not mine) than not buying California-grown tomatoes in the winter in Chicago. (I stand guilty as charged. But they were 69c./lb! And I’d rather make my own tomato sauce than buy a jar.)Report

      • E.D. Kain in reply to J.L. Wall says:

        Another way to think about localism is neighborhood-ism. So create policies that reverse the trend toward mass-suburbanization and big-boxing. Create walkable neighborhoods with mixed zoning, mass transit, etc. You could say this is personal taste and I wouldn’t argue with you, but I think it also creates better communities, helps protect the environment, and is more natural than the way we’ve been building neighborhoods for the past few decades. That model is only sustainable with heavily subsidized oil and a heavily subsidized road-based infrastructure. Naturally, communities were built more walkable with smaller stores placed closer to the communities they served. That’s a tradition disrupted by government subsidies and corporate efficiencies. I would like to reverse that very much, and would gladly support gas taxes, carbon taxes, whatever to help do so.Report

    • E.D. Kain in reply to Francis says:

      Francis –
      My localism is not of the neo-agrarian variety. I have no desire to make people accept voluntary impoverishment or to consign them to isolation. What I want to do with localism is:
      1) Empower local communities and businesses as well as local governments to have as much say over the direction of their community as possible. So in my hometown what this amounts to is a strong alliance between local business, the local art community, and the local government to create a really vibrant downtown with no chains or big corporations anywhere in sight. All local businesses, local restaurants and bars. First Friday of every month there’s an art walk where you can go see all the local artists’ stuff in bars and studios and there’s free wine and music and such. It’s great. Local cooperation is great.
      2) Buy local. We try to buy locally as much as possible but we’re not fanatics about it. We still shop at the big retailers and grocery chains (though we do try to frequent the local grocery stores more). We go to the local farmer’s market.
      3) As much political self-determination as possible at the local level. I’d be really happy if we could cut out the states as middle men and just have the federal government and local governments. That’s my kind of subsidiarity. Everything the states can do the feds can do better; everything the locals can do, the feds can’t do.
      That’s pretty much it. I don’t want “back to the land” stuff. I do like more promotion of local talent and local art and so forth, and less reliance on Hollywood and Big Music and the rest. But a lot of that’s also taste, I realize. And a lot of it has to do with the fact that I really love my home town.Report

      • rj in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        I don’t see subsidiarity as traditionalist inasmuch as it is defended on its merits and not because it evokes the “good old days.”

        Disagree as I might with those merits, localism doesn’t have to look like the Edwardian-dress-up-plus-Macbooks you see masquerading as localism in certain fashionable corners of Brooklyn. In fact, it can be quite modern.Report

      • Francis in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        Great answer, thanks.

        What you call localism I call New Urbanism, and it was (until the great recession) the newest big thing in residential development here in So Cal. But developing walkable communities is hard; there’s a whole chicken-and-egg problem with growing a light commercial strip with inadequate parking and the associated residential community within walking distance. Most cities / planning commissions didn’t want to go through the risk and hassle — much easier to build a gated community over here and a mini-mall over there. And people bought them, so the market spoke (allegedly).

        This is not a left/right issue; it’s homeowners (who haven’t moved in yet) v developers (who tend to be politically active).

        Some of the communities I’ve helped build — not so great.Report

        • E.D. Kain in reply to Francis says:

          Francis –
          I agree completely it’s not a left/right issue. However I would say localism (how I define it) is both New Urbanism (something I’ve been a fan of for a very long time) and political autonomy, especially on traditionally local issues such as education. So I’m a big local-education proponent. I hate testing regimes. Couple that with New Urbanism and support for local art and local business, and that’s my localism.Report

      • Sam M in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        “…a strong alliance between local business … and the local government to create a really vibrant downtown with no chains or big corporations anywhere in sight.”

        I dunno. This sounds at least a little like rent-seeking. Yes, Ye Olde Hardware Store is nice when you go buy a screwdriver from Uncle Tommy and he agrees to come over and fix your furnace for you. But at least as often, you get screwed because the tool cost three times more than it would have at Lowes, and you had to take a day off to by it because Uncle Tommy is only open from 10 am to 3 pm, and he leaves Tuesdays, Wendesdays and Fridays at noon for lunch with the Rotary. Or drinking. No one really knows which.

        I guess it’s nice when Uncle Tommy uses his local pull to get some friendly folks elected to borough council so they enact laws that keep the chains out. It makes me feel good about myself not to see signs for chain stores on Main Street. But I still can’t buy a screwdriver when I need one. And while paying three times as much for a screwdriver doesn’t hurt me much, it really hurts people living on the cusp, especially when you extrapolate it out over everything they buy.

        I am all for supporting Uncle Tommy’s store by shopping there whenever possible, but the idea that he is going to “work closely with local government to keep out the big chain stores” sounds a lot “barrier to entry.” And I am not sure that “preserving my preferred viewshed on Main Street” is a good enough reason to support givernment intervention in this regard.Report

        • E.D. Kain in reply to Sam M says:

          Sam – 

          Maybe, maybe not. I think communities have to think of the larger picture. A town has to see itself, in some regards, as a brand – especially if you want to attract business, young people, tourists, etc. So who cares if it’s rent-seeking? If you let Wal*Mart into historic downtown you lose the historic downtown. And then maybe you lose your town’s charm, identity, branding. Its ability to sell itself to outsiders. All for a Wal*Mart downtown. If that’s rent-seeking sign me up for more rent-seeking.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to E.D. Kain says:

            If that’s rent-seeking sign me up for more rent-seeking.

            Can we keep the Irish out?

            We’re trying to have a downtown without public urination, you see.Report

          • rj in reply to E.D. Kain says:

            And depending on the tourists we want to attract, we can’t have any gay bars. Certainly no sex stores, even the fancy, expensive “sex-positive” kind. And while we should have art galleries, we wouldn’t want our local community to include any that show anything controversial lest the families go elsewhere.

            Our “brand” is local, so the group of business owners and politicians that run the town without interference from larger governing units would never allow some new guy from out of town open up a Mexican restaurant. No, we’re not racist – we just don’t it running our local organic gastropub out of business.Report

            • E.D. Kain in reply to rj says:

              Dude what are you even talking about?Report

              • rj in reply to E.D. Kain says:

                If you regard your town as a “brand,” you by definition have businesses that don’t fit the brand. In the case of your town, it may be Wal-Mart. Elsewhere, it could be other things, in which case it doesn’t look quite so benign.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to rj says:

                I wouldn’t say “benign” or “malign”. That would, as Greg points out, cast aspersions on character.

                (I mean, instead of making fun of the Irish, I could have asked about keeping Community Centers out.)

                I do think that it’s fair, however, to ask about how these laws and regulations have been used in the past and, if they’ve been used in ways that cast aspersions on those who used the laws and regulations as written, how we can best be sure to make sure that these laws and regulations won’t be used in ways that cast aspersions on our character in the future.

                Because, god knows, I don’t want to be considered a bigot just because I don’t want to smell pee every time I go downtown.Report

          • Sam MacDonald in reply to E.D. Kain says:

            “And then maybe you lose your town’s charm, identity, branding. Its ability to sell itself to outsiders. ”

            Well, you keep talking about selling and branding. If the brand has value as it exists, it would be hard for Wal*Mart to buy it out, it would seem.

            Wal*Mart does get some pretty pernicious zoning advantages in some places, by my reckoning. But having a group of town elders decree that I can’t sell my 5,000 sf of space to a Starbucks because said town elders want ever so much for Richard Florida to include them on some kind of list, and that I instead have to sell the same 5,000 sf for half the money to the brother-in-law of said town elder who wants to open a local crepe shop… to hell with them. If the crepe shop is really going to bring that much to the town, that will be built into the business plan and the brother in law can bid past Starbucks.

            is this some kind of market utopia? Maybe. But it’s at least as likely as some kind of urbanplanning utopia in which everyone cares about the town “brand” above all else.Report

  9. North says:

    I don’t think they’re dead. But they aren’t universal or near universal or even prevelant. Pre-media, pre-internet pre-etcetera people have a set of very broad blanket traditions they hewed to. Now people can access very tailored traditions (habits/tastes?) designed specifically for them by them. I’m sure all kinds of old traditions are going to come back, in pockets and drabs scattered over the country connected together into a virtual blob by the communication lines of the internet but we’ll not likely see those broad near uniform blanket traditions again.
    Good riddance I say. If I could find where they were buried I’d salt the earth they lay in as well.Report

  10. Mike Schilling says:

    There’s always the tradition of complaining about how we no longer honor traditions. The Socrates quote is, I believe, apocryphal, but I’m sure the sentiment was common back then.

    A related tradition is complaining about greedy ballplayers who are just in it for the money and don’t love the game the way the old-timers did. Bill James has an example from 1915.Report

  11. E.D. Kain says:

    Rufus –

    Great piece. I’m no traditionalist, so when I say there’s tragedy in the loss of tradition, I think I’m probably referring more to the loss of romance than to the loss of rigid traditionalism. I think JL’s comment above really cuts to the heart of the matter when it comes to traditionalist revivals at least among religious groups, and why I’m so uncomfortable with any self-definition as a traditionalist. I do think folkways are important because I think they pass on some intangible wisdom/way of living that doesn’t necessarily make sense, but does in some small way help us remain fully human. I’ve written about this before with birthing – how modern medicine replaced midwives, and the knock-em-out-drag-em-out birthing regime replaced more natural methods, and really took the woman out of her own birth experience. This is what I’m talking about. And I realize I’m picking and choosing. But I’m okay with that. In the long run, all traditions are chosen. Everyone picks and chooses. The march of human social evolution just means we have more choices, and have to be even more introspective about them.Report

    • E.D. Kain in reply to Will says:

      He says it all very well. Too well. This is also why I consider myself a Romantic rather than a Traditionalist or a Conservative. Thanks for the link.Report

      • J.L. Wall in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        That was the conversation that made me start blogging! I have a few pages of a notebook that are supposed to be on historical foundations of Greek democracy or something like that but instead contain thoughts on tradition, politics, postmodernism, Nicola, and Freddie. (The midterm in that class, as it happens, did not go so well.) Way to go Will: you just sparked a few minutes of severe Culture11 nostalgia.

        But that’s just an excellent post of Freddie’s — whenever I start to get too lazy (or consider getting slightly lazy) when it comes to my own internal conversation about faith/tradition/postmodernism, I picture him accusing me of “postmodern premodernism.” Then everything starts to look messier again so I just go read about sports or fix a drink. Or both.Report

        • BlaiseP in reply to J.L. Wall says:

          The trouble began somewhere back in the Enlightenment, I suppose, about the time Philosophy ceased being a guide to life. The Modern was a muscular approach to life, epitomized in the Victorian era, much less prudish and hidebound and far more egalitarian than that dreary and threadbare cliché “Victorian” implies today. The histories of most empires are written by their enemies: but the worst histories are written by the hagiographers.

          Modernism was given its coup de grace by the Fascists’ fall from grace in the 1940s. We change the meaning of our post(n)modern vocabulary more often than our underwear: we dare not invoke the name of Fascism, that most Modernist of political philosophies, the incestuous child of Government and Industry, invoking some variant of Godwin’s Law like so many prudish schoolgirls shrieking when some rude boy makes to grab at their pretty little bums The People’s Republic of China has gone from Communism to Fascism without a hiccup in its liter of pichu. So, for every practical purpose, has Russia.

          Postmodern philosophers kept trying to tell us words actually have meanings: it’s our society which refuses to stick to them. Yes, language evolves, “gay” no longer means Cheerful, though Lord knows our gay citizens throw the best parties. To say the postmodernists created an empty world devoid of meaning is complete nonsense. You may thank Kant for creating that world. The dissected rabbit never hops again. For all his madness and self-contradiction, Nietzche tried to tell us we were on a bad road, trying to separate the Mind from the Body. To have faith in others, to have faith in a loving God, we must first have faith in each other and love our children.Report

          • I might say postmodern confusion is the natural result of the uneasy, moony-style marriage of formerly isolated traditional programs. Isolated groups systematize different knowledge differently. We take for granted systematized knowledge at certain lower tiers on which we have built more complex systems. Interconnectedness, freer information flow, less noise between preferences and ends, and massive amounts of choice tends to lead to chaos and confusion as certain things just don’t mesh. So what does that make postmodernism? Perhaps a new ensuing chaos resulting from the subtraction or hot-rodding of systems we forgot how we once built, and which we must or are inclined to rebuild fully conscious of our past propensity for utter failure?Report

      • Rufus F. in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        Yeah, he also explains why I call myself a ‘creative anachronizer’ instead of a traditionalist as well as reminding me that I’ve been meaning to read Simone de Beauvoir.Report

    • Christopher Carr in reply to Will says:

      I’ve only been reading blogs for a year or so, so I missed that one when it was posted. I’m still trying to play catch-up on understanding blog jargon like “Porchers” and “Pomocons”. So I may fail to grasp the context of that particular essay, but if Freddie is asserting that there must be authority in order for tradition to develop (maybe he’s not making that claim),I have to disagree. Surely traditions can and have developed on a voluntary basis without the need for a social contract between people and an unentitled god-like entity (such as the Emperor in Japan or China)? Is Freddie specifically referring to Western forms of traditionalism in that post?Report

  12. Scott the mediocre says:

    Hey Rufus –

    When I read “democriticization”, I took it as an intentional portmanteau of democratization and criticism or critical thinking. After also reading Poulus’ excellent essay (thanks for the pointer!), and googling “democriticization”, it seems that “democriticization” is just a fairly frequent misspelling of democratization.

    Did you mean the portmanteau? At least subconsciously, perhaps: o felix culpa.Report

  13. We wouldn’t think of these things as “traditions” if there hadn’t been any change. One day will carrying a wallet be “traditional”? How about wearing socks? Or breakfast?Report