Egalitarian Neo-Traditionalism?

Recently, I came up with “egalitarian neo-traditionalist” to describe some of my views. Which reads as word salad, really. Mostly because it is. However, I think it conveys the criticism of modernity that is inherent within traditionalism without the shitty racist, misogynist, anti-LGBTIQ baggage that often comes along with traditionalism.

So What Do I Mean By Modernity And Why Does We Hates It, Precious?

Modernity means different things to different people. Generally, since it’s rarely used in a positive context in the subject matter I’m discussing, modernity can often be read as anything the writer does not like about our current society. 

But I don’t hate ALL of modern society. I am, and will remain, very much dependent upon modern medicine for my life. I had an organ transplant. That simply is not possible without modern medicine. I was born premature and intersex and spent my first few weeks of life in an incubator and surgery. Again, not possible without modern medicine.

So when I say I am anti-modernism, you can rest assured that I am NOT talking about modern medicine. 

I am against capitalism. I am against the cult of fame and fortune in our society. I am against the elevation of ego and selfishness. I am against a love of money. I am against globalism (but not in the anti-Semitic sense of the term). I am against the ravaging of our planet’s land, sea, and air for its resources. I am against the harm it does to the flora and fauna of our Earth.

I do not wish to turn the clock back to a pre-modern period but rather use our modern knowledge as well as what worked in the past to find a way to live sustainably and holistically. 

To be honest, I don’t even know what that would look like. The “solarpunk” movement seems to have some intriguing ideas. I seek a society without meaningless jobs meant only to enrich their CEOs and management. I seek a society where people live in harmony with Nature in a sustainable fashion. But also a family life that gathers around the hearth at winter to tell stories. A life where people eat real food, grains, legumes, vegetables, fruit…grown from the fertile soil. 

I have a love of smallness in society. The neighborhood in cities or suburbs. The village. Where everyone knows each other for good or ill. Where people feel safe leaving their doors unlocked and people don’t steal because their essential needs are taken care of. 

I understand that this is probably all idealism and no pragmatism. But this is a world that I will not live to see. I’ve had an organ transplant. While I’m extremely lucky with my particular situation, I do not feel as if I have 10 more years of life in me. 

I do not believe that we should avoid labor but we should avoid meaningless labor. I value the traditional ways of manufacturing. Traditional cheeses or hams or wine or beer. Hand-made pasta. Sauces or stews that have simmered all day. Traditional weaving and fabrics. Hand-made furniture that will last for generations rather than flimsy garbage that won’t last but a few years. Houses built to last. That’s what I mean when I say “traditional”. Not “because this is the way our ancestors did it” but because it made for high-quality long-lasting things of worth. 

If I had a way of life that appealed to me most, it would be that of an abbey of Benedictine nuns in Connecticut that I did a retreat at 10 or so years ago. They were almost entirely self-sufficient. They made their own cheese from raw milk, cured their own hams from their own pigs and spent their days chanting in Latin in prayer.

I felt almost like I’d been transported back in time. They worked hard but it was meaningful labor that sustained their community. It didn’t matter what anyone looked like. They were given hospitality. People were not there to make money or get laid or even be tourists. It was not about consumption.

For a long time after this, I flirted with the idea of becoming a monk but I could not be Catholic without living a lie. Then I fell in love and no longer had an interest in maintaining celibacy.  

I’m idealizing it, of course. Despite it consisting of women mostly independent of men, they still required a priest for Mass and sacraments. It’s the Catholic Church, of course. They are anti-feminist and, presumably, anti-LGBTIQ. (I did not come out while I was there.)

But a commune or village or neighborhood with a holistic traditional way of life like this but with egalitarian values and knowledge of modern medicine and science is what I dream of. Along with it being polytheist. Again, I realize this is totally unrealistic. 

I don’t believe that one needs some sort of ethnic homogeneity to have this sort of way of life as some traditionalists do. Any woman of any ethnicity (as long as they’re Catholic and agree to the Rule of Life) can join the Abbey. 

When I look at our modern society, I see a lot of miserable selfish people. But though there are decent kind compassionate people in our society, our society actively rewards selfish and exploitative behavior. As such, it’s not surprising that it creates selfish assholes. It’s designed that way. 

I don’t want to be too judgmental. I have been adversely affected by this society as well. I have been a selfish asshole and have been trying to spend my remaining years becoming a better person.

I believe there is another way. There has to be. While we can look to the past for inspiration about a great many things, I also think we can look at the present and towards the future.

Whether it’s called “egalitarian neo-traditionalism” or some other bullshit name is irrelevant. What matters is that we rebuild society to focus on things of value, on morality, on family, on creating traditions, on Nature and sustainability for generations to come.

~ by R.M. McGrath on 11/26/2019.

One Response to “Egalitarian Neo-Traditionalism?”

  1. I hear you. I’m torn between past and future, unable to unite them in a sustainable present. Yet that work needs to be done- somehow, somewhere, by someone, or our species will destroy itself and be too much of a burden to be worth saving.


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