A hallmark of modern Western devolution is surely its rejection of traditional modes of hierarchy and authority, and its embracing of egalitarianism. This has been an endemic element within modernism, one decried by critics as widely drawn as Baron Evola, Thomas Carlyle, and Nicolás Gómez Davila. The central tenet of each – and many other – appraisals of this element of the West’s direction in the past few centuries lies in the observation that hierarchy and authority are necessary components of a well-functioning, rational, and indeed natural society. Whether it’s Evola expostulating on the disappearance of polar axial kingship or Carlyle decrying the sham and simulacrum of insincere society, the common theme (and one well worth noting) is that the rush to egalitarianism represents regression, rather than progress, and this is so whether it takes place in the West or in any other society.
The principle of hierarchy has been around for as long as human civilisation has existed. This much must be understood right from the start if the reader is to have any kind of realistic understanding of human society. Even in the most “primitive” tribal systems, every group has a chief – a man to whom the tribe looked up to as the leader and authority, the one who led the hunts, the one whose mana energised the rituals and made the rains come. Even in more distributed authority systems, such as those tribes governed by councils of elders and the like the principle of authority, resting on wisdom that accompanies senectitude, was still present – no one in such circumstances would have thought to suggest that the youngest wet-behind-the-ears brave or the village women should participate in the decision-making for the group. Generally speaking, there have been very few aberrations from this state of affairs until modern times.
Government is not the only area where hierarchy naturally exists. In all areas of life – the family, religion and ritual, labour, and everything else – have traditionally been marked by hierarchy. Patriarchy and parental authority have been characteristic of most societies (and of nearly all truly successful ones) in history. Every religion on every scale has some form of priesthood or spiritual authority and some means of organising levels of authority within the religious domain. Of course, there have always been some who direct labour and some who make up the labour being directed. These all exist as naturally as oxygen in our atmosphere. One could indeed say that hierarchy is intrinsic to all human relations, on whatever scale and at whatever level, and trying to deny this is an exercise in futility. We can surely laugh at the libertarian egalitarian who preaches the equality of all men while fulfilling all the tasks given to him by his boss at work.
Throughout thus far, I’ve been associating the concept of authority with that of hierarchy, which only stands to reason. The existence of hierarchy presupposes that of authority. If one rules and others are ruled, then there is a necessary sense of authority in place. The one who rules does so because he has the authority to do so – he has the institutional right to exercise power over others, to whatever extent and in whatever sphere the institution provides (whether it be positive or merely customary). This authority, in turn, rests upon the sense of legitimacy deriving from history, tradition, custom, the mandate of heaven, or some other basis which distinguishes the legitimate authority’s claim to reverence apart from those that may be put forward by others. The levels of authority established generate the hierarchies that have typically been observed throughout history.
Hierarchy and authority are not merely human inventions, but are in fact God-ordained (it is not surprising in the least that rejection of authority among men has nearly always been accompanied by atheism and the rejection of God’s authority as well). Scripturally, God ordained human society and government as a means of diverting the baser nature of mankind into positive channels, or at least to attempt to restrain it from flowing through the negative. God also ordained the patriarchal family as the organising principle for the means of propagating the species and preparing adult members who would be fit for full participation in society. Even if one wishes to rest merely on natural law arguments, one can see that these same principles hold true.
In that sense, the only morality is civilisation, and opposing the organising principle known as hierarchy is an immoral and ungodly act. Legitimacy must derive from alignment with the laws of God and nature which He has ordained. Thomas Carlyle rightly observed, “There is no act more moral between men than that of rule and obedience.” Civilisation can only exist within the context of natural and interlocking hierarchies which are provided for in successful, robust civilisations. Hierarchy provides order to human society by establishing “axes of legitimacy” that sort out the various roles, sources, and outworkings of authority. In a sense, hierarchy is an ordering principle that works (however imperfectly at times) to identify and promote the natural aristocracy within a society for the good of all members at all levels.
This is why egalitarianism is, and historically has been, such a destructive element within human societies. Egalitarianism seeks to break apart hierarchy and its accompanying sense of authority and legitimacy, dividing that legitimacy among multiple poles and introducing confusion into society which paralyses its institutions at all levels into inactivity and decadence. Democratic and populist impulses, feminism, anti-clericalism, and the like have worked to tear apart nations, families, churches, and every other socially stabilising institution in the West. This has been done by overturning the divine and natural hierarchies and replacing them with unnatural modes that distribute responsibility and authority among those to whom they do not belong. Nations are now no longer led by capable aristocrats and monarchs, but by demagogic stump-speakers and ambitious politicians. Paternal authority has been corroded, and the patriarch is now being replaced by the single mom. In churches – whether High or Low, whether intricately and globally hierarchical or with hierarchies within their local assemblies – many professed believers are rejecting “organised religion” and “determining their own spirituality” because church “doesn’t let them be who they want to be.”
Egalitarianism of whatever sort is ungodly and unnatural. It completely lacks any legitimacy, and thus those who seek to exercise authority – even over themselves alone – outside of reference to hierarchy and legitimately-established authorities do so apart from fulfilling their proper roles in society, and hence introduce tension and discord into civilisation. They are acting immorally, not just in the narrow sense of violating some particular moral code taught by a religion or sect, but in the overarching sense that they are violating the integrity of civilisation itself. Any system based upon egalitarian principles is, by necessity, illegitimate and cannot rightly command the respect or obedience of any right-thinking person. Such a system may be able to force compliance through the threat of punishment for dissent or disobedience, as do the essentially communist democracies of the United States and the rest of the West. But they cannot command the right-thinking man’s devotion and love.
It comes as no surprise to the student of history that egalitarianism is nearly always the handmaiden of revolutionism. Even when (as is nearly always the case) the rhetoric of egalitarianism is merely a sham designed to cover the revolutionary’s ambitions for raw political power, the fig leaf of “for the people” and “liberté, égalité, fraternité” is applied. The French Revolution is the example par excellence of this, as was the Communist Revolution in Russia. Revolutions are the great enemy of order and authority, and they most often find themselves justified through recourse to “making people equal.”
Prior to the French Revolution, Diderot and other of the French Encyclopédistes extolled egalitarianism as a part of their larger intellectual revolt against the very principle of authority. Foundational to their egalitarianism was their manifestly untrue – both morally and empirically – belief in the natural equality of all men, of whatever nation, station, or vocation. The basis for this was found in Rousseau’s doctrine of the “noble savage,” viewed as the “first stage” of human development and one in which there was a natural equality among all men that was upset by among other things, the origination of private property, which he disparagingly referred to as the “foundation of civil society” (he meant this in a negative sense, of course). These French philosophers accepted this doctrine of natural equality, and therefore implicitly also accepted the principle that human beings are naturally fungible – they can be treated interchangeably because all are capable of being molded in the same direction and to the same ends as any other by institutions such as laws and education.
This view is essentially the great error upon which any number of modern falsehoods have been erected – democracy, civic nationalism, the belief in “civil rights,” and so forth. Anyone – or more properly everyone – can be a leader because we’re all the same. Anyone can become an equally valuable member of our societies with just a piece of paper. Everyone should be treated the same before the law and within the customs of society because nobody has any right to claim to be better or more deserving than anyone else, regardless of their natural capacities and proven deeds of greatness. Systems built upon these egalitarian ideas represent the final stages of a civilisation’s decay, a decadence which rests upon an unshakable belief in the power of wishful thinking to overturn objective reality. “All men are created equal” is an empirically obvious lie.
Of necessity, egalitarianism and the rejection of hierarchy rest upon a foundation of radical individualism of the sort which has infected the Western intellect like a mind worm since the Renaissance. Ironically, while in a hierarchical society everyone knows his place and can find his or her individual identity within it, in egalitarian contexts, the individual person is cast adrift, unmoored from a sense of belonging and identity, and is left to try to forge his own identity as best he can. This explains the drive for “uniqueness” among those who have enthusiastically accepted egalitarian principles in the modern West. When you don’t have an identity based upon a set of traditional interlocking hierarchies and roles, your identity becomes built around other sources, usually extraneous and ersatz. Your sense of personal identity and worth begins to revolve around a list of bullet points defining an ideology or a set of personal possessions which are fashionable among other rudderless individuals as shallow as yourself. This comes at the expense of the psychological wholeness that comes through definition of holistic personhood as it fits into the greater schema of spirituality, society, and nation.
Yet, the great irony is that even among the radical individualists in the modern West, especially the ones on the social justice warrior (SJW) Left who are pushing the logical consequences of egalitarianism and the rejection of authority to their logical conclusions, they cannot escape from the realities of human existence. There is always the ever-intruding reality of hierarchy as these bullet-pointed individuals work assiduously to sort themselves out into an ascending hierarchy of virtuous victim groups. Like reality, hierarchy always asserts itself, even when you don’t want it to.
In conclusion, we ought to be able to see that the sickness of the modern West rests in great measure upon the manifestly dyscivic tendency of modern Westerners to mindlessly believe and repeat egalitarian mantras which have no real basis in reality. Human civilisation is intimately linked with hierarchy and authority. To say otherwise is to entertain a wholly unfounded and unrealistic view of human nature, while simultaneously rejecting the testimony of practically all of human cultural history. The obvious lesson for us is that if we are to see the West “restored,” or at least to make the coming Great Reset as relatively painless as possible, we must seek towards the restoration of social organisations and institutions which are firmly grounded in hierarchy, order, authority, and legitimacy.