looking to the past, but which past?

Traditionalists and social conservatives have a very natural tendency to look to the past. Gaining inspiration from the past is quite healthy.

The problem, when you’re faced with a civilisation like ours that is bent on self-destruction, is deciding exactly which past we should be looking to. Some pasts may be useful to us in trying to rebuild civilisation whilst other pasts are not so useful. We need to regard the past with a critical eye.

Take nationalism for example. Since the great evil of our age is globalism it’s tempting to think that the antidote must be nationalism. Nationalism in fact is not all that traditionalist. It’s a fairly modern concept. It did not exist before the early modern period. The Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 was an important step in the recognition of the modern nation state as the basis for European civilisation.

If you’re a traditionalist it is worth noting that the modern nation state is entirely secular and can only be secular and is fundamentally hostile to Christianity, and to religion in general. The nation becomes a replacement for God.

The modern nation state is not particularly favourable for any traditional institutions. It tends to be hostile towards regional identities and it’s not exactly wildly pro-family.

Perhaps we need to look back, not to the great age of nation states, but to the great age of other political structures. For example, the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Or even the Ottoman Empire.

These were in fact remarkably successful entities. The empire of the Habsburgs lasted for for four hundred years. The Ottoman Empire lasted for about six centuries. They were reasonably stable. They did not fail. They were deliberately destroyed in 1918. In both cases the destruction of the empire led to chaos and a hundred years later we are still dealing with much of this chaos.

As a recent post at A Political Refugee From the Global Village points out, the fall of the Ottoman Empire explains most of our current ills.

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One comment on “looking to the past, but which past?

  1. Well, if you are to look back at the Austro-Hungarian Empire, you'd better not look too closely, especially at the Slavic parts. Because those were anything but stable. Even if it wasn't for the War, it would've collapsed anyway – even if it transformed into the Austro-Hungarian-Slav Empire at some point, as Franz Ferdinand dreamed to play it. Nobody can run an empire with that level of national and political freedoms. In order to survive, such an empire must either adopt a Russian/British model or… collapse. There's simply nothing else to it.

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