Saturday, October 3, 2009

Our aims

I'll begin with what we are opposed to, as this leads on to what we wish to achieve.

Against liberal modernity

The dominant influence on the West is a political theory, liberalism. Liberalism has been around for generations now, gradually bringing society into line with its own first principles.

Liberalism is a radically reductive philosophy. It recognises one supreme good in society, namely individual autonomy. The aim is to have a society of equally autonomous individuals, each one determining his or her own self.

This means that individuals have to be liberated from anything that can't be self-determined.

Our sex is not something that we determine for ourselves. Therefore, under the logic of liberalism, it has to be made not to matter. Liberals have declared masculinity and femininity to be artificial social constructs. They cannot accept a distinction in sex roles between men and women, including a distinction between the roles played by men and women within the family.

Our ethnicity is not something we determine for ourselves. Therefore, liberals cannot identify positively with their own ethnic tradition. Liberals are so oriented to the autonomous individual that they don't have a strong sense of the value of the communities that individuals form, whether these are neighbourhoods, families or nations.

We do not get to determine the basic form of the family. Therefore, liberals want multiple, fluid forms of family life, in which a family is anything we ourselves determine it to be. Liberals do not, for this reason, aim to uphold the traditional family as an ideal.

Nor can liberals aim to uphold moral standards. We do not get to determine for ourselves an objective morality, in which acts are held to be inherently right or wrong. Liberals therefore reject traditional moral codes in favour of the idea that something is made moral if it is freely chosen by the individual (and if it doesn't impede someone else's autonomy).

The overall consequence of adopting individual autonomy as a supreme good is a socially suicidal one. It provides no basis in principle for the defence of any existing community, culture, people or tradition.

Resisting liberalism

What would it take to make a community or a tradition viable?

The most important thing would be to reject the idea that individual autonomy, or any other single good, can work as an organising principle of society. Reality is too complex and multi-layered for this.

A traditionalist movement would aim to reassert the truth that sex distinctions are natural, that our manhood and womanhood are inseparable to our sense of identity, that there are positive ideals of masculinity and femininity, and that men and women stand in a mostly complementary relationship to each other.

A traditionalist movement would also seek to uphold a culture of family life, in which the conditions for family formation were deliberately encouraged, in which motherhood was recognised as vital to a community and as a worthwhile focus of a woman's life, and in which a distinctly masculine role for men within the family was upheld as an ideal (and was not undermined by the state).

A traditionalist movement would act to preserve existing communities. This might mean acting to preserve the valued character of local communities or suburbs. In this country it could also include a commitment to the Anglo-Australian tradition, at least among those who identify with it.

These are some of the larger aims of a traditionalist movement. The more immediate aim of Eltham Traditionalists is simply to get organised. It's a temptation to think that whatever is wrong will be put right by someone already in a position of authority. This isn't likely to happen as the Australian political class is firmly committed to liberalism. Nor is it possible to rely on one individual acting alone to put things right. One individual acting alone cannot change a culture or form a more viable community.

What is needed is for people to act together, to show some leadership on these issues within their own communities.

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