The Perennial Traditionalists: An Introduction
The Dark Enlightenment is a term that defies definition. It was coined by English philosopher Nick Land to describe the ideas of Curtis Yarvin. Yarvin’s writings under the nom de plume Mencius Moldbug are considered the cornerstone of the Dark Enlightenment’s reactionary stance against egalitarianism and Whig historiography. Today the Dark Enlightenment boasts an intriguing coalition of atheists, agnostics and Christian traditionalists. This alliance has been made possible by an ingenious meeting of the minds that is referred to as the Gnon agreement.
Gnon stands for “God of Nature or Nature” and within the Dark Enlightenment Gnon is used to replace the term “God”. The power of the Gnon agreement, which enables these usually embattled constituencies of secularists and Christians to join forces, lies in its simplicity. Each reader has agreed to interpret Gnon according to his own beliefs. Thus the atheist interprets it as the laws of nature while the Christian interprets it as the Christian God. It is truly an elegant solution for the unification of secularists and Christian Traditionalists in their struggle against globalism and Cultural Marxism. However there is another strain of traditionalism present in the Dark Enlightenment that is neither secular nor wholly Christian. The Agnostic Traditionalist will focus on this influential yet little known strain of Traditionalist thought- Perennial Traditionalism.
The Perennial Traditionalist’s stance on religion is a complex one and while we will not be using the Gnon term in our writings we will adhere to its spirit. Our investigation into the philosophy of the Perennial Traditionalists originates from a stance of agnosticism. Our purpose is not to evangelize. Rather we aim to expand the reader’s understanding of the depth and range of traditionalist thought and its influence on populist national movements.
The Perennial Traditionalist School was at its peak during the mid 20th Century. They were the foremost reactionary intellectuals of their day. While many of the Perennialists only engaged in the intellectual and spiritual realm, some engaged politically. A number of the Perennialists believed that Hitler and Mussolini, despite their deep flaws, represented Europe’s last chance to defeat the evils of communism and democracy, the two main products of the Enlightenment. Their misguided hope was that National Socialism and Fascism would provide a pathway back to Monarchism.
Julius Evola is the most widely read and most heavily criticized Perennial Traditionalist philosopher. But Evola was not just a man of thought, he was also a man of action. During WWII he worked with Nazi intelligence to catalog and interpret documents seized from Masonic lodges across Europe. According to the Traditionalists the Freemasons pose a grave threat to humanity. To quote Pope Pius XII-
The roots of modern apostasy lay in scientific atheism, dialectical materialism, rationalism, Illuminism, laicism, and Freemasonry which is the mother of them all.
Evola, an Italian, was heavily involved in Mussolini’s Fascist movement. Evola developed a racial doctrine which proposed the idea that man was composed of two races, a physical race and a spiritual race. Thus a Jewish man could have an Aryan soul and vice versa. This doctrine was adopted by Mussolini as Italy’s official stance on race.
Rene Guenon, the leading thinker of the Perennialist school, rejected Hitler and all forms of political involvement. His concerns lay exclusively in the philosophical and spiritual realm. While not as widely known as Evola, he has influenced a number of today’s most powerful men. Russian philosopher Alexander Dugin, often referred to as “Putin’s Brain”, and Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan have both cited Guenon as influential in their thinking. We urge all of today’s nationalists to familiarize themselves with Guenon’s classic book The Crisis of the Modern World. It is the definitive exposition of the dark age that has befallen the West.
Rounding out the triumvirate of great Perennialist philosophers is Frithjof Schuon. Schuon represents the second generation of Perennial Traditionalists. Schuon and Guenon carried on a 27 year correspondence before finally meeting in Egypt. In his later years Schuon spent a great deal of time in the American West with the Sioux and Crow American Indians. Schuon’s criticism’s of moral relativism serve not only as an indispensable aid to understanding today’s Social Justice Warriors, they also serve as a blueprint for how to combat Cultural Marxism in all of its forms.
The term “ecumenical” brings up very negative connotations of Vatican II and the Catholic Church’s decline into moral relativism. But employ it we must when discussing the Perennialists with the following qualification- the Perennialists believe in an Orthodox Ecumenicism. Almost all Perennialists would agree that the reformation was a mistake. The Perennialists are Deists who believe in the revealed wisdom of all of the world’s true religions. They also acknowledge variations in the mentalities and essences of different peoples and cultures. These differences, they believe, caused the deities to reveal different religions to different cultures. So while they believe that all authentic religions originate from the same source, the revelations of Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam had to differ in both theology and ethics due to the inherent differences in the cultures that adopted them. For instance, polygamy is not an intrinsically bad family structure, it is the best family structure for the Muslim world, but it would have disastrous effects if it were introduced to the culture of the West. These qualitative differences are the strongest argument against Muslim immigration to the West.
Furthermore, the Perennialists are esotericists who believe in a tradition of initiation. Now this idea of esotericism and initiation may be unfamiliar to the reader. Or worse yet, these terms may evoke images of every form of new-age lunacy. We assure the reader that no one has been more critical of new-age thought as the Perennialists. Guenon’s Theosophy: History of a Pseudo-Religion is the definitive criticism of all forms of degenerate “spiritual” movements. As stated before, the Perennialists are Deists who believe in the revealed wisdom of the world’s orthodox religions. But they believe that this revealed wisdom has two aspects to it, an outer exoteric wisdom for the masses and an inner esoteric wisdom for initiates. The outer exoteric wisdom serves a number of functions. Let’s take Christianity as an example. Exoteric Christianity is the Christianity we know. It is the dogma, the rituals, the ethics, the family and social structures that Western society was built upon. Exoteric Christianity provides the individual with a moral code and a meaningful role in the universe. It provides society with a structure and a foundation for a code of laws. Exoteric Christianity also provides society, through the power of the priestly caste, with a check on both the masses and the ruling class.
While exoteric forms of the world’s orthodox religions differ drastically from each other, the esoteric core of each religion is largely the same. Esotericism serves to develop an initiate to his full human potential. A poor but useful analogy that the reader may be familiar with is that esoteric initiation attempts to transform a man into a Nietzschean superman. A far better explanation is to paraphrase G. I. Gurdjieff- while the secular affirm that man has no soul and the religious argues that man’s soul can be saved through belief or deeds, the esotericist proposes that man is born with only the potential for a soul and in order to develop it fully man must work on himself for many years under the direction of a teacher who has already developed his own soul. In Christian esotericism this teaching is believed to be an unbroken lineage of verbal transmission from teacher to student that traces its origins back to the private teachings of Christ to his disciples. Do not confuse esoteric initiates with clergy; clergy are concerned with the societal welfare of the masses. According to the esotericists the vast majority of clergy and the masses die without fully developing their souls. Initiation is not egalitarian; it is for the very select few. While we may touch on the topics of esotericism and initiation in future discussions about the Perennialist’s opposition to egalitarianism, it will not be a focus of The Agnostic Traditionalist.
Regardless of one’s political and religious beliefs, if we are to fully understand the rising spread of nationalism across the world we must come to an understanding of the Perennial Traditionalist philosophy. Today’s American conservatism, based on the classical liberalism of Locke, Hume and Hayek with a twist of Ayn Rand’s Objectivism, is well past its zenith of influence. The foundations of the Right are quickly shifting as Populist Nationalism sweeps the globe. With each election that the nationalists win the Perennialists further cement their position as the future of right wing thought.