In the words of Joe Orton, “Cleanse my heart … let me rage correctly.” So what do I rage against? I hate our economic system that speculates on people as if they were cattle in a market. I hate modern art that swaps form for dead sharks; and modern music that exchanges harmony for noise. I hate our Conservative Party that preserves nothing and our Left that would destroy everything. I hate religious leaders who think that God is found “in the spaces” and that worship is therapy. I hate our pornographic culture, our tasteless battery foods, and our TV that treats adults like children and children like adults. I hate our obsession with irony, as if a shrug of the shoulders is cleverer than serious inquiry. I hate the death of chivalry, manners and the doffed hats. I hate our promotion of sex over romance – today’s Brief Encounters are very different things. I hate the eradication of guilt and shame, very useful concepts that hold us back from indulgence. I hate the populism that passes for patriotism. I hate our obsession with youth, as if life ends after 30 (I’m 31). And most of all, I hate the new series of Doctor Who. It’s the Death of the West in a nutshell.
. . . .
. . . . I’ve reached the conclusion that traditionalists should reject politics and focus on art. We should take back control of the cultural institutions – universities, academies, churches, periodicals – and use them to promote beauty. We should try to live charitably, fully and well – to be examples and trend setters. We mustn’t turn our backs on the people we disagree with, but embrace and cherish them (please, do not conflate traditionalism with snobbery – Yukio wrote, “The highest point at which human life and art meet is in the ordinary. To look down on the ordinary is to despise what you can’t have.”) And we should not accept our fate as mere critics of civilisation (the figurative version of Mishima’s suicide) but instead become the architects of a new one. For we traditionalists don’t contribute nearly enough to our society. Helping to improve it could mean anything from blogging to writing a symphony. My favourite way to keep the flame burning is to attend the Old Rite Catholic Mass. There is the real synergy of art and action: an ancient ritual, unchanged, unchanging that represents a communion with the past. And, of course, to God.
Besides, it’s pretty lazy to criticize a culture that can’t decide whether families are a priority or whether cities are better off as adult playgrounds. It’s easy to make your community an adult playground – just treat it like such and families stay away on their own. But it’s impossible to keep a community family-friendly once the hedonists set their sights on it. The law gives family values little protection – mere “sensibilities,” it calls them, meriting no deference. Don’t like smut in the public square? Deal with it. “We are expected to protect our own sensibilities simply by averting [our] eyes,” the Supreme Court holds. Let a thousand flowers bloom. No culture is better than another. Traditional norms are beneath the law’s protection. To paraphrase Justice Potter Stewart, the refusal to allow the protection of cultural norms is seen not as the realization of state neutrality, but rather as the establishment of multiculturalism, or at the least, as government support of the beliefs of those who think that cultural norms should be conducted only in private.
False neutrality is the Law of the Land.
Photo credit: Ed Templeton