I think now, looking back, we did not fight the enemy, we fought ourselves, and the enemy was in us. – Chris Taylor, Platoon
However, it is worth remembering that Western Civilization will not restore itself until it resurrects its spirit which desires to be more than materialistic. There is a step there which is required before we can get to religion, and religion cannot stand alone, but our spiritual struggle in the West begins with the desire to be good not in a personal context, but in the context of natural order. Our goal is to exhibit the inverse of hubris. In that mode, we seek to find our place within an unequal natural hierarchy, and do what is fit to the body in which we have been incarnated.
This need clashes with a basic human tendency to assert ourselves first, or “individualism,” which is a temptation whenever the human is not immediately threatened by want of food, shelter, safety or mates. The simplest form of human existence consists of caring about oneself only, and forgetting the consequences of actions beyond that.
However, civilization arose when people beat this impulse and started caring about what they created outside of themselves. In this viewpoint, the importance of actions lay in their effects on a long timescale, such that an individual would consider what would happen for the next ten thousand years or longer when contemplating what action to take.
That was the birth of the transcendentals. Transcendentals are immutable, yet relative, measurements, much like the thought process of an athlete who wants to do better than his previous record, no matter what that was. There is infinite improvement in life, but it occurs on a qualitative level, meaning proficiency and elegance more than raw factors like time taken or weight moved. A dancer can execute the same maneuver in the same amount of time, but add artistry, efficiency, acumen and aesthetic improvement on a scale reaching toward infinity.
And thus, we reach a sense of what it is we must reach for: the “good,” for example, but on the epic mythic-historical scale of existence beyond ourselves, and on a spectrum of measurement that includes millennia and beyond. What is good for today and what is good for all time are often markedly different things.
Remember Plato’s warning which identifies the root of civilization decay:
When discord arose, then the two races were drawn different ways: the iron and brass fell to acquiring money and land and houses and gold and silver; but the gold and silver races, not wanting money but having the true riches in their own nature, inclined towards virtue and the ancient order of things. There was a battle between them, and at last they agreed to distribute their land and houses among individual owners; and they enslaved their friends and maintainers, whom they had formerly protected in the condition of freemen, and made of them subjects and servants; and they themselves were engaged in war and in keeping a watch against them.
In other words, the good is that which acts toward “virtue and the ancient order of things,” namely the one stable form of civilization from which other parts of the historical cycle are deviations. Virtue means doing the right thing according to a hierarchy of nature, instead of acting through the deferential morality of the herd, which along with apathy forms the two major deviations from rightness.
Once we understand this definition of good, we realize how difficult the Occident is versus the Orient and Africa: while they have nature-religions in Africa, and either timeless Confucianism or momentary Shintoism in Asia, the Western Way is to live for a principle of eternity. We are the reflective people who seek to build in our souls a mirror of external reality, and then to bring it to a point of divinity.
If we are to resurrect this spirit, it will occur before we choose a religion or a philosophy. It is a gut-level, intuitive and soul-rending decision. It is the reformation of the being to be more than our glorious Simian heritage. We must want to rise to a level of excellence where we reach past evil, stupidity and the mundane toward the exceptional, glorious, good, beautiful, honest and real.
This spirit is more important than the form that religion takes. As Aldous Huxley points out, most religions have the same basic philosophy when we look for intersections and not aspects of them that are specific to their host cultures:
At the core of the Perennial Philosophy we find four fundamental doctrines.
- The phenomenal world of matter and of individualized consciousness — the world of things and animals and men and even gods — is the manifestation of a Divine Ground within which all partial realities have their being, and apart from which they would be non-existent.
- Human beings are capable not merely of knowing about the Divine Ground by inference; they can also realize its existence by a direct intuition, superior to discursive reasoning. This immediate knowledge unites the knower with that which is known.
- Man possesses a double nature, a phenomenal ego and an eternal Self, which is the inner man, the spirit, the spark of divinity within the soul. It is possible for a man, if he so desires, to identify himself with the spirit and therefore with the Divine Ground, which is of the same or like nature with the spirit.
- Man’s life on earth has only one end and purpose: to identify himself with his eternal Self and so to come to unitive knowledge of the Divine Ground.
Once we recognize the above as the archetype of religion, it becomes clear that we must focus on the good to reach the above, and then need to choose a religion that fits our culture. If Christianity has a fatal flaw, it is that it is foreign, in a foreign language, from a land which is not European and a people who at least now are no longer European.
Christianity won out over Paganism because Christianity unites groups, but by doing so in lieu of aristocracy and culture, it creates weak bonds that shatter and leave a lowest common denominator behavior in their wake. This is why the West is slowly abandoning Christianity: it thwarted our kings and then devolved to its core, which is individualism.
As a result, it will not be surprising if in another hundred years religion will be entirely different. We will use the same churches, many of the same rituals and songs, and even the same holidays. But the understanding will have changed: religion is not something you get from a book, but by going into a forest and searching your intuition for what is compatible with nature as you observe it.
In addition, despite the hopes of the religious conservatives out there, we cannot resurrect our civilization through religion. We can resurrect our civilization so that religion among other things will survive, but religion alone cannot save us; we need to want goodness first, and to change power structures to aristocracy so that we can rule by it. Only then can religion live.
This does not change the fact that we take a “religious” view of our survival: we are at war against evil, which sometimes wins with no rhyme or reason, but is always with us and so we must always be at war against it. We cannot use external forces to shape ourselves internally — such an approach is properly known as “materialism” — but must reverse our egos, which insist that we control our worlds, and instead nurture inner forces to manifest as external order in balance with both intuition and the natural world around us.
Julius Evola described this pagan world of tradition:
What most distinguished the pre-Christian world, in all its normal forms, was not the superstitious divinization of nature, but a symbolic understanding of it, by virtue of which (as I have often emphasized) every phenomenon and every event appeared as the sensible revelation of a supra-sensible world. The pagan understanding of the world and of man was essentially marked by sacred symbolism.
…On this basis, all the great pre-Christian cultures shared the striving for a supra-natural freedom, i.e., for the metaphysical perfection of the personality, and they all acknowledged Mysteries and initiations. I have already pointed out that the Mysteries often signified the reconquest of the primordial state, the spirituality of the solar, Hyperborean races, on the foundation of a tradition and a knowledge that were concealed through secrecy and exclusivity from the pollutions of an environment already in decay.
If there is a core to paganism and traditionalism, both of which overlap with a strong sense of “place” including nationalism, this is it: a Platonic understanding of form and pattern, in which all events and objects are manifestations of an underlying order in which all things have unequal places.
Since this pagan core forms the basis of the Perennial Philosophy which is also found in Christianity, it is sensible to say that Christianity is pagan, with additional ideas grafted on, but put into an unfortunate form. In this way, it is clear that the West will be neither non-Christian nor non-Pagan, but probably a bit of both for some time as the original faith is resurrected in its esoteric — cumulative and unequal — form.
There is more to say on this, but it should probably occur in a subsequent post.