TOTW: Tradition

I just finished Ramon Elani’s Wyrd against the Modern World, which as anyone familiar with the author might expect, strikes a lot of familiar notes with regards to modernity and the need to escape from it. The alternative he offers, as he puts it in a previous essay, is to

...restore the world of dreams! Let loose the madness of the moon. Dive into the abyss of beauty. Bury yourself in the dirt and the mud. Offer your blood to the forgotten gods. The intuitive, magical, noumenal world never truly vanished. We have blinded ourselves to its presence with four hundred years of delusion. We must not fear our darkness but embrace it and welcome it home.

How are we to escape the curse of modernity? That I can tell you in one word: tradition. We can also add to all the blood and burying oneself in mud the less exciting (to some, to many?) practices of crafting chairs or cooking traditional recipes, and all sorts of other practices and beliefs that conflict with what he perceives as a secular, industrial world which is the author of so much of our misery.

While Ramon isn’t an anarchist, these ideas aren’t foreign to the milieu. The old ways of living on the land, relating to each other or perceiving time - ways that predate (and thus supposedly escape) much of the bad stuff of Society - offer a standpoint outside of and potential escape hatch from the planetary work machine and all the petty authoritarians waiting in the wings to take it over. And yet, to quote bolo’bolo, “Once upon a time we were all good savages, yet here’s this monster civilization.”

How important is tradition to you? Which traditions do you draw from? Is tradition the enemy? Should we rediscover the old ways or seek novelty?

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Support Hegelian academic savage rune casting on Against modernity. For the old gods of wild Spirit.

At some point capitalism was the novelty, just to say novelty for the sake of novelty is no cure for our ills.

On the other hand, tradition for the sake of tradition isn't either.

I think looking to tradition for modes of (human)being that function with the rest of the world rather than against the rest of the world seems prudent.

And to undo the mess we find ourselves in we might need novel approaches.

The tradition of growth and progress, out of the Enlightenment, and combined with humanism and science, has mutated into a complex mixed-up "aristocratic celebrity toxicity". Tradition is fast expensive cars at mansions which cost the equivalent of 50,000,000 nutritious meals which could be fed to starving children.
Tradition is sick and evil compared to a new spontaneous eventuation.

Going back to darkness sounds like a return to tradition, like the Dark Ages, which is the result of not understanding the context. Reading Thomas Hobbes is very helpful in understanding darkness, and can even help us better understand the meaning of philosophy. For Hobbes, darkness is caused by soteriological philosophy and demonic mythology. Those philosophical schools, paganism and outsiders from ancient Greece brought bad influence to the ancient Roman Church, and they compromised the state, the axioms of geometry and the doctrine of the Trinity. Thus, in order to reaffirm the doctrine of St. Paul and the state, it was necessary to criticize philosophy and paganism, especially the philosophy of Aristotle. The main point is that it has an element in it that can bring down Platonism.

Hobbes was accurately aware of the danger posed by darkness. This was not due to tradition, but to paganism, philosophy and the abolition of "is (are, be)". If the idea of a truth (or Trinity) depends on reasoning, then "is" is indispensable. But philosophy can relate the concept to matter on an equal footing. According to Platonism, matter is subordinated to the activity of ideas, and everything has a law, a hierarchy, and a purposiveness. But if there is a becoming madness, the world will be reduced to chaos.

In Hobbes' view, this chaos makes a joke of the "is" reasoning. This brings about darkness.

The charlatans, "with a set of claims about the nature of independent existence based on the false philosophy of Aristotle, scare people into disobedience to the laws of their own country by using empty and meaningless terms.

And because "Aristotle and other pagan philosophers defined good and evil according to human desires." Therefore, "this measure is wrong in a state".

So, just as Platonism was ready to expel the poets, Hobbes intended to expel from Leviathan a philosophy that was contrary to "is".
So this is the narrative established by the Enlightenment, light versus darkness, which in fact was proposed in order to preserve the power of the state, and it was not against tradition, but against paganism, poets and philosophy.

We could even flip this conclusion: a return to darkness is a return to tradition. This is not the case. For we find that the most conservative movements, the trials of heretics, the patriarchal, fundamentalist movements are in fact products of modernity. They treat tradition as a fetish. The problem with Iran is not that it doesn't have modernity, but that for the sake of the state and modernity, it must adhere to a "non-Western tradition.

So what exactly is darkness? Is it a tradition, or is it a spiritual force? Is it ignorance, or is it the practice of thought?

This is also an interesting topic for anarchism. There are many things that are not what we are used to believing, but those who came before us (the forerunners of darkness) did not have a clearer understanding.

Yes, I know what you mean about flipping the meaning of tradition, how the Enlightenment's "tradition" is actually modernity., a fetishization of THE ANCIENT WISDOM NARRATIVE, the wise old shaman becomes the omnipotent authoritarian dictator, the loving father becomes the patriarchal disciplinarian, and mom the servile kitchen/bedroom slave.

This makes a lot of sense in terms of where Hobbes would be coming from, and in relation to the arguments in Hirschman's "The Passions and the Interests". But, Hobbes is usually read as saying that humans are self-interested and thus prone to ruin each other's lives and live shit lives unless something stops them. Do you have a reference for the "darkness" stuff?

nothing is slower than the limping days
when under the heavy weather of the years
boredom, the fruit of glum indifference,
gains the dimension of eternity . . .
hereafter, mortal clay, you are no more
than a rock encircled by a nameless dread,
an ancient sphinx omitted from the map,
forgotten by the world, and whose fierce moods
sing only to the rays of setting suns.

The flipping ancient narrative is wearing thin,
From rubbing against the shining shard of honest earth,
The words are falling through the science of netted dreams,
And forming brilliant thoughts within the child's uncluttered brain :)

These words, like any word, can be used to mean different things in different contexts. Looking them up quickly in a dictionary we can foresee how anarchists may have different reactions to their different uses and meanings, varying from agreeableness, to indifference, to a knee-jerk strong rejection:

"habit: 1. a settled tendency or usual manner of behavior, 2. a) an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary, b) addiction, c) a behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiologic exposure that shows itself in regularity or increased facility of performance, 3. a) a costume characteristic of a calling, rank, or function, b) a costume worn for horseback riding, 4. archaic: clothing, 5. manner of conducting oneself: bearing, 6. bodily appearance or makeup , 7. the prevailing disposition or character of a person's thoughts and feelings: mental makeup, 8. of an organism: characteristic mode of growth or occurrence, 9. of a crystal: characteristic assemblage of forms at crystallization leading to a usual appearance: shape

custom: 1. a) a usage or practice common to many or to a particular place or class or habitual with an individual, b) long-established practice considered as unwritten law, c) repeated practice, d) the whole body of usages, practices, or conventions that regulate social life

tradition: 1. a) an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior (such as a religious practice or a social custom), b) a belief or story or a body of beliefs or stories relating to the past that are commonly accepted as historical though not verifiable, 2. the handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another without written instruction, 3. cultural continuity in social attitudes, customs, and institutions, 4. characteristic manner, method, or style

Synonyms for tradition: convention, custom, heritage, prescription, rubric, rule"

Language, society, culture, people of all ages, living and dead, and their influence, their contributions, their baggage, heritage, debts, etc. are things we inevitably have to deal with.

"How are we to escape the curse of modernity?" We can't, we won't.

"How important is tradition to you?" How could I measure this in any significant way and how would I discern what is tradition and what is not?

"Which traditions do you draw from?" Out of the ones that exist, the ones that I know.

"Is tradition the enemy?" Yes, and the friend and us and everything, a part of cultures.

"Should we rediscover the old ways or seek novelty?" There's nothing new, but there is plenty we haven't discovered and many things can be rediscovered indefinitely. Everything can lose its novelty and after a while regain it again.

There have been many civilizations other than the one calls itself modern. They all have a lot in common. An anarchist would be in conflict within any of them, and although also overpowered within any of them, previous ones might have allowed for a better chance to escape them and live outside or on the edges. Today there are less margins, all of this global culture is inescapable, it can be fought from anywhere and everywhere, and everywhere it's futile and hopeless. It too shall pass, but you will die first and it will outlive you.

Are you tending to an anarchist culture that lasts generations? Do you want to make and pass down your own traditions? Even fairly recently adopted traditions can feel like the way it's always been, and just as easily forgotten. Others endure while their origin is forgotten, and forgotten ones can be rediscovered or invented once again.

i don't think looking through a bunch of books for the right ideas is going to cause some sort "revolutionary" consciousness. Doing that can help someone reflect, relax, have fun, and do research, but it's clever not to look at said books as a savior.

The usage of "tradition" clearly has some reactionary connotations, there was movie by m. night shyamalon called "The Village" which basically stated this, whatever his intentions were idk clearly a similar thinker to David Lynch. Now that i bring that up, i'm pretty sure the "hidden knowledge" theme was also super prevalent in Twin Peaks.

Rather than dead relics, i prefer to look to sensuality. The direct result of this can be a non-ideological mindfulness, i say non-ideological because mindfulness in its current form implies absurd levels of structure that bothers lots of "average" people.

The best "book" is just sitting in nature and looking at it and eventually it becomes a mirror and a reflect/feedback effect calms and relaxes the inner-self. Its a medicine.

I guess the problem with tradition is the package deal, right?

If there's an attic or basement full of old junk, there's probably treasure buried in there but you get all covered in mold and ratshit looking for it? Also, tradition is often a big bowl of poisoned koolaid, depending on who's serving the drinks.

Your starting point might not be ‘your own’ tradition, but whatever the local tradition is wherever you live. Just as a starting point, as a place in time to escape modernity. But if that particular tradition doesn’t speak to you, then you could consider looking to more universal archaic or primordial traditions - developing and celebrating a kinship with your environment for example, would seem always a good tradition - and would likely lead to anarchic experiences in your life.

It's been said already but to repeat. Neither tradition nor novelty is good in itself. It depends what the contents are.

In the global South, "tradition" is usually juxtaposed to "modernity", and refers to whatever people do or did or think they did, which is different from western modernity. This encompasses local/indigenous knowledges such as traditional ecological knowledge, but also (for example) social hierarchies invented or increased during the colonial era (as well as any which existed before), and neo-archaisms invented by ethnoreligious nation-builders like the Hindutva movement. It's similar in the North but less pronounced: "tradition" encompasses local knowledges and tried-and-tested ways of meeting needs and desires, and it encompasses resistances to statist simplifications and modernisations, but is also encompasses hierarchies and systems (including capitalist ones) which have been around for awhile, and bullshit passing as common sense which was invented a decade ago but which everyone assumes was obvious to everyone else always.

On a different note, I'm also impressed with traditionalists for being the most consistent lockdown resisters (e.g. the Amish, Roma, Hasidic Jews, certain churches). Dispersal of power is always a good thing, and it surprises me that even conservative traditions can provide a power of dispersal.

Hence I'd draw up four lists:
Good traditions we should defend, preserve and follow: local/indigenous knowledges (e.g. of local ecosystems), established ways of meeting needs and desires (where effective and not harmful), alternative lifeways juxtaposed to/limiting the reach of the state, the right/ability to follow traditions one finds attractive, desirable or true, things which provide barriers to capitalism/statism/industrial civilisation, traditional customs/rights/ways of doing things which limit the powerful.
Bad traditions we should either smash, avoid, or not copy: hierarchies, dogmatic beliefs which use past existence as proof of validity, passive acceptance of ascribed/imposed lifeways without critique or activation of desire, morality as force juxtaposed to desire, capitalism/modernity repackaged as tradition based on its longevity, tradition mobilised as force of reactive desire (as in Hindutva, political Islam etc).
Good novelty: anything expressing repressed/inhibited (active) desires, anything which disperses power (or strengthens defensive against offensive power), anything which helps meet a desired end (smashing the state, saving the planet...), anything which increases critical power and/or self-oriented choice of lifeways instead of passive acceptance, novelty as means of feeling alive/empowered.
Bad novelty: anything which concentrates power, anything which destroys/undermines/replaces good traditions with something worse, novelty for the sake of novelty, anything which helps meet an undesired end (suppressing protest, increasing corporate profits...), anything which increases alienation, anything which is new but doesn't work as well as the old, deskilling/McDonaldisation/dumbing down etc.

Obviously a lot of things will be both "good" and "bad", and a few will be both "traditional" and "novel".

Bolo'bolo is a good balance between tradition and novelty: people can (and probably do) very often live by longstanding lifeways which they have no desire to change, but it's also quite possible to form new bolos based on new/untried lifeways, so whether there's change or continuity depends on the desires of those involved, and the system facilitates both very rapid change and total continuity. I suspect in practice this would mean most people stick with anarchic local-knowledge cultures which persist through time, but with local exceptions, circulation of individuals based on psychological type/needs/desires, and periodic exodus if cultures become stultifying/oppressive for certain groups. Hard to know though.

Linkola talks about this binary and he goes hard in the ecological necessity direction to the point of what would entail mass murder of humans and cats among other things. I like desire and excess as such but not to the point where complications arrive that bring about concentrated power and state apparatuses.

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