I am going to try to write a few shorter posts over the next couple of weeks instead of my usual long, multi-part epics. Today’s subject is traditionalism. The point of this post is merely tactical, a way to get around the negative connotations of the word “tradition.” As soon as someone says they are a traditionalist they open themselves up to some immediate objections. You can already hear howls that slavery was a tradition, or invocations of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery. Either that or you will invoke images of silly harmless holidays like Groundhog’s Day. This is because the word “tradition” has a connotation of rote repetition for no other reason than that is how things have always been done.
However, this is not what a self-described traditionalist is trying to convey. When someone claims they are a traditionalist they are making the point that things have been done a certain way for good reasons, and that there isn’t really a better word for this in English than “tradition.” What is missing from the word “tradition” is the crucial point that traditions are teleofunctional. Take Chesterton’s fence. Chesterton’s point is that the fence serves a purpose; it has a function (to keep the horses in or whatever). A fence is a designed artifact with a function, and in claiming that tradition is like a fence the analogy is that traditions are designed to prevent problems, that traditions are teleofunctional.
Just because something has a function of course doesn’t mean it was good. Slavery had a function, providing the slave owners with a life of comfort. It is a separate argument to show that a social structure is needed or good. The ultimate weapon of reaction/neoreaction is that claim that anti-liberal structures are inevitable given the workings of nature (gnon) and human nature; that liberal values are deathwish values.
Plus, saying you’re a traditionalist sounds so musty and fuddy-duddy; saying you’re a teleofunctionalist sounds modern and sexy. So my proposal is to stop calling ourselves traditionalists and start calling ourselves teleofunctionalists. If you really want to sex it up call it bio-social teleofunctionalism, which encapsulates the Dark Enlightenment in a nutshell.