Ever since T.S Eliot penned The Hollow Men, we’ve had this term lingering under our tongues: hollow. It perfectly describes a world that is all appearance, and no substance; a world where convincing others that appearance means reality is more important than achieving that reality.

Another way to view “hollow” is that it means we do not have inner structure. In other words, our question of the soul is in danger. Like other equal citizens, we stagger along and react to life as it affects our material interests, comfort and social status — but are we striving for anything?

Constructive means striving-for: I want to make a bridge to span these valleys. Reactive means reacting-to: I’m afraid of government, so I want to destroy it. Constructive is inherently something beyond even collectivism, it’s so self-negating; it’s joining the world and accepting that we are small objects afloat in its motion. The world is not within us; we are within the world; however, it appears to the be the opposite to our big brains.

Reactive implies a world based on appearance, not underlying structure. People look for the first sign of danger, and reject anything dangerous, because they’re fearful and reactive. As a result, the only things that succeed promise 100% success (superstition) and 0% defects (denial of entropy). Because such things have nothing to do with reality, soon we live in a false society.

Conservatives have spent too much time defending the hollow as well as the traditional. I separate “conventional” from “traditional” as a result: convention is the post-1900 period, but tradition is what worked for the 5,000 years before that. True conservatives literally conserve good things, and in order to do that, they must smite the bad — that which threatens the good — and they cannot get caught up in hollow, reactive categories like good, evil, censorship, authoritarian or anarchic in that pursuit. Just do it.

One Comment

  1. Kamal S. says:

    This was a good and thoughtful piece,

    And part of conserving good things is having the discernment to see essential from accidental, to sift the kernel from the chaff, to look without simple nostalgia at the forms of the past and see which were essential, and which were simply historical accidents. And among those which were essential to tradition, which actually can be conserved in the world today, and which must be let go.

    Some good things may die natural deaths, only to be replaced with bad things, because the nature of the world as it stands is toxic to these good things.

    If we look at a rose bush that cannot grow in polluted soil, or in soil robbed of its nutrients, and if this soil is beyond redemption, then trying in vain to save it out of nostalgia and sincere love of its past beauty is noble, but doomed.

    But realizing that there are other flowers, perhaps, of the past that can grow in such toxic soils, and may even thrive in them, and in so doing perhaps even enrich the soil – conserving such things is the act of a man of discernment.

    T.S. Eliot knew more than people gave him credit for.

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