If there is a single thread that runs through the work of philosophers as diverse as Kirkegaard, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Heidegger and Evola, it is an extreme level of contempt and disgust for the bourgeois lifestyle.
Kirkegaard thought that comfort and respectability weakened the absolute faith necessary for a striving life; Schopenhauer opined that the lifestyle of the German middle class dealt in unreasonable optimism. Nietzsche resented the patriotism, slave morality and put-on Christianity of Wilhelmine Germany; Heidegger thought that the pursuit of money, family and the accoutrements of a middle class lifestyle distracted us from the few moments we could actually experience Being, instead feeding the Geworfenheit, or random necessities of life. Evola’s first conscious intellectual efforts were as a Dadaist painter, because, as he reflected later on in life, â€œI always had contempt for the bourgeoisie.â€ The materialism of the middle class was evidence of the sickening decline into materialism and sentimentality, according to the Italian Perennialist.
These critiques are both valid and wrongly placed at the same time.
There is, as these great men observed correctly, a wrong way to live in this world. We are awash in the artifacts of a civilization that has been revolutionized by the political will of the bourgeoisie writ large. The American Republic itself was the first bourgeois state, enshrining in its founding documents the right to strive towards happiness, to property, and to trade and engage in newspapering and religious functions. Current political debate focuses on which faction can deliver the maximum amount of comfort and wealth to the voter, with the minimum amount of pain. The masses follow das Gerede, the â€œchatter,â€ let it consume their lives, and seek only wealth, comfort and sexual satisfaction. The bourgeoisie we think of today is the myopic SWPL, the cheating housewife, the banal neighbor obsessed with the performance of his IRA, the Sunday-morning Christian who signals his faith more than he actually prays, and the ubiquitous Supporter-of-the-Troops. They are all products of this bourgeois impulse.
Clearly, this is a narrow minded and self-defeating way to live, and the philosophers were right about these types of people. They are a sign of the decline, the modern world made manifest. But we all cannot be kshatriya and Brahmins; there always have been, and needed to be, men to till the fields, women to raise children and make the material element of the nation continue. Is there a Traditionalist way to live authentically as a householder that does not degenerate into money-worship?
There is such a path, and the greats have always acknowledged that such a dharma is one of the Traditional ways to exist. Plato defined three castes — the gold, silver and bronze people — each with their role and place in the world. The ancient Aryans had three castes as well, the priests, warriors and the regular folk- those this eventually became the four (or five) castes that we are familiar with through the Varna and the laws of Manu. The Zoroastrian Persians had such a caste as well, the Vastrayosh, or herders of cattle.
So how does one exist as a householder, or bourgeoisie, while seeking some sort of transcendence through the lifestyle?
The first thing is an initiation, or a ritual to set oneâ€™s self towards the goal of being a householder in the world. Initiations have largely been lost in the West, but the commitment and the symbolism of the practice is what matters. Consider something difficult or significant that demonstrates commitment to work, family and God.
Secondly, one must strive towards actual traditional values of the householder. These are a balance between work, religious devotion and charity- neither of these should dominate, but all should be engaged in. Work should be done by the sweat of oneâ€™s brow, and actually earned through honest means. Transcendent religion needs to be a daily ritual that reminds the man of his place within the cosmic order and connects him symbolically to the transcendent. Charity can be as simple as devoting labor or time to something you believe in.
Finally, the vaisya should seek to cultivate optimistic resilience as their signature trait, what Sikhism calls chardi kala. The householder understands that we live in a cyclical world, but it is his labor and children that carry society forward, long after his death. This is the ultimate optimism- to feel oneâ€™s self part of an immortal entity, a race/tribe/society whose physical existence you embody and live. Even during this time of degeneration and suffering one can live knowing that you are the living Remnant, and your people will form the physical nucleus of what is to come.