Within sociology, social history, and allied realms of intellectual inquiry, there are two general views of sociohistorical development. The first of these, whose origins (in the main) lie in the Enlightenment, is that of social evolution, which posits that human social development is progressing in a singular direction upward, a manifestation of the “progressive fallacy.” The other general view is the social cycle theory, which has existed in numerous patterns and forms the basis of some interesting views in sociology today. It is the latter of these two that I would like to delve into in this post, as it is the one which is both more interesting and more grounded in reality.
Social cycle theory, as a broad outline, is nothing new. Forms of it can be found in as widely divergent ancient historical writings as those of Polybius, Sima Qian, and ibn Khaldun. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, cyclical approaches to history such as those of Danilewski and Spengler carried with them overtones of social cycles in their theories which likened civilisations to organisms, rising and falling through successive courses of birth, growth, fruition, and decay. More recently, we have seem the attempt to systematically provide a mathematical basis for cyclical historical theory in the works of Peter Turchin and others in the Russian school. These attempts have developed more advanced theories and provided a more empirical and scientific pathway (over and against the merely verbal and descriptive approaches of their predecessors) toward understanding secular cycles in history, which are essentially the political-demographic cycles that form the basis of the rise and fall of polities (primarily studied in agrarian societies prior to around 1800 AD), laying the foundation for a credible science of cliodynamics.
Secular cycles, in general, posit that polities – which can range in size from small tribal chiefdoms upwards to mega-empires encompassing millions of citizens and square kilometers of land area – pass through a fairly well-defined set of stages. As a polity is formed (usually through some form of ethnogenesis), its population will grow through a logistical curve until it begins to reach the carrying capacity of the land and other resources available. As these resources become more relatively scarce, increasing competition for resources will lead to a decreasing standard of living (including famines, etc.), which eventually leads to increasing numbers of rebellions and other forms of civil strife. As this civil strife intensifies – usually accompanied by decadence and social paralysis – it leads to a demographic collapse causes by social disruption, famine, epidemics, and other ills that accompany the breakdown of civil society. This demographic collapse (and let’s rectify the names here – we’re generally talking about population die-offs) leads to fewer people and more relative abundance of resources, thus beginning the cycle anew.
There are a couple of observations I should make at this point. First, this theory appears, from all empirical evidences available to us through ancient literature and archaeology, to be universal. Though it was developed by studying the historical dynamics of Europe and imperial China, its utility extends to basically any human society anywhere. Second, these cycles have generally been investigated in pre-industrial, agrarian polities. Once you bring the Industrial Revolution into the equation, the scarcity of resources increasingly goes away as industrialisation in every area provides more and more goods to meet the needs and wants of even the lowest strata of society. However, since industrial societies are also much more economically complex and integrative, I would presume that an initiating shock that disrupted the system would quickly lead to an even harder social fragmentation with associated demographic collapse than was seen in agrarian societies. this is perhaps something that would merit future investigation.
Probably the most well-developed of these theories of secular cycles is the demographic-structural theory. This theory more specifically brings the role of political structures and power elements into the equation. Peter Turchin’s particular contribution – and a necessary one it is – is to address the role that social elites play in the politico-demographic cycles, since they are the ones who generally have the preponderant ability to extract resources from the lower castes and from society at large, and thus their relative numbers will affect their outsized ability to draw upon the social store of resources more greatly. In this theory, as elite populations grow, they will begin to exhaust the available resources (as seen above). As they do this, elite efforts to extract more and more resources from those below them will increase in rapacity. As this happens, political instability increases, you see peasant and other revolts, and eventually the system collapses and many of the elites are killed off in one way or another. Those who enter the next cycle (or arise during the transition) form the new aristocracy in that cycle.
Again, a few observations I would develop from this.
First, while this process is taking place over the course of decades or even centuries, very few (if any) of the actors are likely to be conscious that things are playing out in the dry, analytical language used above. Rather, there will simply be a sense that “things are different” than they heard that they used to be, and not for the better. The revolts and so forth that take place may not (and often won’t) be consciously understood to be because of “resource scarcity,” but may manifest themselves in a whole host of social, economic, and religious movements.
Second, I believe that the role of elites is even more paramount that Turchin seems to state. History has shown generally that any successful overthrow of an existing order nearly always involves the participation of at least some segment of the social elite. Genuine peasant revolts are nearly always quashed before they can really accomplish anything. A good example of this would be the “populist” overthrow of the late aristocratic republic in Rome. This was ultimately achieved through the efforts of Julius Caesar (the scion of a patrician family), but the movement had already been going for decades, through Catiline (of gens Sergia, one of the oldest noble families in Rome) and all the way back to the Grachii (of the gens Sempronia, a noble family despite their being of the plebeian branch). During this period, there were three servile wars (and numerous other more minor disturbances) which did not have elite support and which were eventually crushed without mercy. Populist victory still requires elite leadership.
Third, the increase in elite competition for resources is the reason why empires and polities in their decadent phases are characterised by increasing centralisation and bureaucratisation. As the competition for resources (and power to access and utilise those resources) increases, those who are already at the apex of power among the elite will put into place increasingly draconian measures to ensure that they stay there. This leads to a crystallisation and loss of vitality among that elite that further hastens the descent into decadence, leading to its own vicious cycle that ends in its overthrow and replacement, usually coinciding with the collapse and beginning of the new cycle. At the same time, this encourages disaffection among those in the elite strata who do not exercise much power.
Turchin’s observation has been that these cycles within individual polities generally run through a couple of centuries (though there is, of course, a stochastic element to all of this that prevents this from being completely deterministic). This accords with other observers, as well. For instance, Sir John Glubb in his essay “The Fate of Empires” noted that empires typically last for about 250 years, give or take a couple of decades, and his exposition of the reasons why tends to follow the outline given above. This is around the same length that I would assign to the typical tradition-modernism-tradition (T-M-T) transitions which I have discussed elsewhere, and which can easily be seen to be the outward manifestations of this elite competition and subsequent centralisation and decadence.
Cycles also seem to be in play for supra-political entities (e.g. civilisational groups like the West), but these cycles may extend over longer periods of time. For instance, Deulofeu proposed an average lifespan for a civilisational cycle of around 550 years. The longer terms for civilisational cycles are probably due to the fact that multiple polities and ethnies comprise a broad civilisational group, and are not all “in sync” with each other. While one or a few may be in the decadent phases, others could be in their primes or in earlier growth stages. Thus, the effects on cycles as applied to entire civilisational groups would be “spread out” and the features in the graphing of these cycles will be softened somewhat. We should note, however, that as we approach the present day, the periods of these cycles in religion appear to shorten, perhaps due to improved technologies in transportation and communication.
So now, I’m finally going to get to may main point, which is that I believe that these secular cycles – including a form of demographic-structural theory – can be applied to the histories of religions as well. For various reasons, the demographic element within the demographic-structure models may not be as applicable (religions as groups don’t tend to have population die offs, etc., though polities in which religions exist may do so) and their tracking with population demographics may be quite a bit looser, but the structural elements will be (i.e. elite dominance and its effects on the growth versus decadence of a religion). The cycles which religions go through between growth and spirituality on the one hand and centralisation and decadence on the other will tend to follow longer terms for their cycles, at least in the cases of multinational religions like Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism, and for the same general set of reasons given for longer term civilisational cycles enunciated above.
As with states and ethnies, periods of decadence in a religion appear to coincide with a crystallisation and centralisation of the elite bureaucracy and other power mechanisms. These usually accompany a decrease in the “spiritual” aspects of the religion and an increase in the “formal” nature of a religion (i.e rote adherence to ritual tends to replace earnest or sincere belief in the religion’s teachings), which represent the tradition-to-modernism phase of the cycle. This will generally tend to coincide with other elements of modernism such as I have outlined here, e.g. movements toward egalitarian or “popular control,” an increase in the “feminine” aspect of religion (what Evola would have called the Atlantean impulse), and an intensified reliance upon raw power over and against reason and legitimacy.
The “modernism-to-tradition” phase, in turn, was then represented by reforming efforts to return to more spiritual, pietical, and Traditional expressions of the religion on the part of out-of-power elites who replace the former centralised elite. This phase will be typified by a return to more Traditional forms (though not necessarily the same forms as were seen in the previous traditional phase). Often the demographic element of increasing population in this phase will be observed not only through increased fertility, but also through the proxy of a renovated missionary impulse that leads to growth through conversions.
Certainly, the interplay between religion and the secular state will have its effects. Because religion most often relies on informal power, as Quincy Latham notes in his excellent essay on the subject, the fortunes of religion will often be tied up with that of the secular superstructure of society, and secular centralisation will often be accompanied by both religious centralisation and the development of schisms among outgroups which respond to that centralisation in a complex interplay.
One sterling example of all of this would be the Greco-Roman paganism of the late Hellenistic period. During this period, Eastern Mediterranean paganism had crystallised into a centralised, pro forma expression of religion that reflected the increasing trend toward consolidation and centralisation of political power (first among the successor states of the Diadochi, and then the Romans), echoing the old saw from Seneca about religion being that which the common people regarded as true, the wise as false, and the rulers as useful. Further, Hellenistic religion had increasingly adopted feminine emphases into its worship (there’s a good case to be made that much of stereotypical Gnostic teaching was already present in Jewish and Middle Platonic mystical systems by the 1st century AD).
Yet, during this period of decadence, there were developing a number of “reform” movements (e.g. Orphism) and mystery religions that sought a return to a “deeper” and “more real” piety and religious experience, one of which was Christianity. Out of this welter of religious expression, Christianity finally came to win out over the others. During this process, Christianity was able both to convert an increasing number of the petty elites within the Empire, as well as develop its own increasingly coterminous elite from among its own ranks who began to have a greater literary and philosophical impact in late Roman society. Christianity successfully out-competed the Hellenistic paganisms of the late Roman Empire and completed the transition from modernism to become the new expression of traditionalism. As part of this process, Christianity “re-masculinified” Mediterranean religion through its emphasis on the Son of God, a masculine Saviour, sent by the Father above. An example of this as it was in the process of happening can be seen in Justin Martyr’s mid-2nd century AD criticism of the Greeks for the effeminacy of their religious ideas and the confutation of gender roles within the Greco-Roman pantheon.
Christianity itself has gone through at least fourof these demographic-structural cycles (and is, even now, in the process of undergoing a fifth one). Keep in mind that my discussion below is going to be purely qualitative at this point. Attempts at building a rigorous mathematical treatment can perhaps be made at a later date.
The first of these involved the decadence that began to afflict the faith after its adoption in the 4th century as the state religion of the Empire. This initiated a centralisation of informal power into the formal power of the state. Christianity left its original segmentary and distributed organisational structure of independent, local congregations under essentially co-equal local and monarchial bishops, gradually developing into the caesaropapist system of the 5th century and onward, which was essentially another tradition-to-modernism cycle taking place. It is notable that during this period is when we see the beginning of executions of heretics by the state at the behest of the Church, starting with Priscillian in 385 AD. Notable also is that, while theologically questionable, Priscillian’s severe asceticism likely served as an unspoken criticism of the sumptuous lifestyles of many of the Hispanian and Gallic bishops of that time. All in all, we see the centralised Christianity of this era begin to exercise power in a decadent and formal way.
In response to this decadence in the West, there arose the great monastic movements (from around 500-800 AD) of the Irish-led foundations initiated by Sts. Columba and Columbanus, which were primarily an expression of aristocratic piety (in the sense of being supported legally and financially by the secular nobility) and which were essentially a return to the older missionising efforts of Christianity towards the pagans, these now being the post-Roman Germanic kingdoms. This coincided with the rise of the adalskirche, the “noble church” in which the newly Christianised aristocracy of the Frankish and Anglo-Saxon kingdoms joined the older Spanish and Italian aristocracies in devoting themselves to the advance of the faith among their neighbours through missionary work. This monastic expansion, for the nobility, was a means of performing credibility enhancing displays (CEDs), actions which demonstrate real piety because they represent a serious personal investment that is hard to fake. These CEDs were performed by a widely distributed network of local aristocrats and were not the province of a centralised imperial authority. Overall, this generalised monastic expansion and the missionising that went with it represented the modernism-to-tradition portion of the cycle, and the pre-Carolingian era can be thought of as the growth and expansion portion of a secular cycle within Western Christianity.
At the same general time in the East, the political situation up until the early 7th century remained more centralised because the East was able to withstand Germanic incursions and did not fall apart as the West did. Thus, the modernistic centralised phase in Eastern Christianity remained for much longer. The response to this, of course, was the ever-increasing schismaticism that affected the Empire’s provinces stretching from Egypt to Cilicia. These schismatic movements coincided with continually growing political repression by the Constantinoplian elite who furthered their attempts to accumulate power into their own hands at the expense of outlying elites. Whether this would have eventually resulted in widespread revolts and civil war is a question which must remain unanswered, as the process was interrupted first by the massive Sassanian invasions that began in 602 AD, and then more permanently by the Islamic conquests of Syria, the Levant, and Egypt starting in the 630s. It is of interest, however, that the local elites and populations in these regions appear to have done little to assist the eastern Empire in resisting these invaders, often seeing them as liberators from Constantinople’s religious and political centralisation.
It is also notable that the 8th-9th centuries saw various religious reform efforts take place within the eastern Empire that represent an effort by outlying elites to replace the previously-existing decadent elite in the capital itself (i.e. were part of the modernism-to-tradition return and initiation of a new secular cycle in the East). One of these was the iconoclastic movement of Leo III and Leo V. As has been noted elsewhere, iconoclasm is an overtly political act which is intended to convey to one power group that it is being displaced by another. It is surely not coincidental that both Leos were from outlying eastern provinces of the Empire (Leo III from Commagene, Leo V from Armenia), regions which traditionally vied with the capital for influence and authority. The Leos’ iconoclasm was officially supported by the secular aristocracy, but was strenuously opposed by most of the religious hierarchy (who ended up winning the contest with Imperial assistance). While the movement itself was unsuccessful in the long run, it was part of a greater trend towards decentralisation that came to characterise the eastern Empire for the next few centuries, and I believe helps to illustrate Latham’s point about politics and schisms.
Looking back to the West, as the Church entered the Carolingian and Ottonian eras, we find that the monastic impulse, while never going away, slowed down as centralisation returned both to church and state. This centralisation saw the increase of papal power coinciding with the Gregorian reforms of the 11th century and the frequent clashes over investiture as the power of the church hierarchy began to infringe on the traditional rights to investiture enjoyed by the secular aristocracy. This eventually culminated in the excommunication of Emperor Henry IV and his humiliation at the hands of Pope Gregory VII at Canossa. Concomitant with this increase in papal power, however, came a decrease in genuine spiritual piety in the western Church as well as a decline in missionary fervour and concern for the spirituality of the common population.
During this same time period, the first stirrings of capitalistic excesses began to arise in mercantile centres such as Flanders, Piedmont, and Lombardy. This movement toward mercantilism was kickstarted by the First Crusade, which opened up the eastern Mediterranean to western commerce and made the luxury goods of the East available all across the West. As has been noted by observers as widely diverse as Brooks Adams and Jacques Ellul, commercialism tends to go hand in hand with both centralisation and decadence in both secular and religious life (which helps to explain why televangelistic megachurchism is so popular in the American commercial Republic today).
Together, this increased papocaesarism and growing commercialism contributed to the tradition-to-modernism portion of the second demographic-structural cycle. In response, various reforming movements arose in the 12th and 13th centuries as reactions against both the spiritual degeneracy of the age and the rising commercial excesses. Some of these, such as the Cistercian and Augustinian orders, were eventually accepted and incorporated into the larger fabric of western Catholicism. Others, like the Waldensians, were not. Through the efforts of both sets of groups, however, many of the spiritual elites in Europe turned away from the formally centralised and bureaucratised Church and presented alternatives which represented a much broader underlying stream of reactionary feeling in Europe at the time, and which eventually led to the modernism-to-tradition transition for that cycle.
The return to traditionalism was aided, in a rather macabre fashion, by the recurring bouts of plague which afflicted Europe throughout the latter half of the 14th century. The drastic reduction in population created dislocations in society which helped to weaken the power of centralised states and led to a return to localism. At the same time, the psychological shock of the tremendous loss of life caused by the plague provoked a “return to religion” as many believed the plague to be God’s punishment upon them for decadency. The plague also thinned out the population of clerics, especially monks, due to their proximity to plague victims, as monasteries were often where local victims were brought for care. This thinning out led to the hastened ordination of a new class of clergymen who were not as highly trained, but were also not as strongly committed to the political fortunes of the ruling religious hierarchy as well, and were more willing to act on principle rather than on bureaucratic expediency. All in all, it must be said that Europeans at the start of the 15th century were much more fervent in their piety than were their great-grandfathers at the start of the 14th.
Often, even in traditionalist portions of the cycle, the seeds for the next modernist phase are already being planted, though they may take a long time to germinate. The same plague which assisted in a return to traditionalism in the short term contributed to longer-term trends that brought in the next tradition-to-modernism stage of the third demographic-structural cycle. The plague effectively ended serfdom and the manorial system in Western, Catholic Europe. The relative scarcity of labour caused by the plague ended up freeing serfs to “shop around on the labour market,” ending their ties to the manor of any particular landed aristocrat. Once the European population began to reach pre-Plague levels by the beginning of the 16th century, processes were already in motion that aided the resurgence (and to new levels) of commercialism, as peasants moved to the cities and as production in centers such as Southeast England, Flanders and Lombardy was aided by increasingly mechanised manufacturing regimes. Central governments in France, England, and other western states had by now resolved their various civil wars and other troubles, and were beginning to reestablish their consolidation of power to the detriment of non-royal aristocrats. This centralising in political power went in tandem with a reconsolidation of papal and bureaucratic power in the Church.
Coupled with this was an increased feminisation of the Church in the West, which was dually expressed in the increasing role which women filled in lay piety, as well as the deepening of Marian devotion, which while present since the first modernist cycle, especially resurged during the Renaissance era and (eventually) culminated in the Marian devotionalism of Louis de Montfort. This latter, especially, arose from Mary’s perceived role as a protector against the plague as God’s judgment upon sinful men. Both of these were Atlantean, modernistic tendencies that interconnected with the other longer-term trends resulting from the aftermath of the bouts of plague that ravaged Europe.
The modernism-to-tradition stage of the third cycle broke out with especial force throughout the 16th century, starting with the Protestant Reformation. While it is common (especially among Catholic apologists) to depict the Reformation as a modernising movement that dragged Christianity away from traditionalism, this doesn’t seem to necessarily be the case, at least in its early stages. Indeed, the equation of “Protestantism” with “capitalism” and “modernism” is rather simplistic. As noted above, many of the “proto-Protestant” movements in the previous cycle such as the Waldensians originated, at least in part, as reactionary movements against capitalistic trends in southern France and northern Italy, as well as against bureaucratisation and consolidation in spiritual authority. The Reformation also contained elements of this, as well. While it is considered in the modern mind as the very epitome of calvinistic capitalism and the “Protestant work ethic,” we should note that Puritanism originated as a reaction against the plutocratic oligarchism and commercial control over the royal council and Anglo-Catholic religious hierarchy in the 16th century Tudor dynasty (which is not to deny its later alliance with these same forces once it fell into its own decadency).
A strong case could be made that had the popes and the Catholic hierarchy been more amenable to dealing with the commercialistic excesses in the Church such as Tetzel’s crass practice of selling indulgences for money, the Reformation may have been stopped before it really began. At any rate, the Reformers (at least early on) do not appear to have had any intentions of breaking with the Catholic Church until the rigid, bureaucratised response of the Church hierarchy made it clear that decentralisation and dealing with widespread corruption in the Church were not on the table. As the Reformation gained steam, the Protestants rejected the Atlantean excesses in religion and returned the faith to a more masculine-centered orientation which emphasised the traditional role of masculine intellect over and against feminine mysticism,
“It was not until the Renaissance rediscovery of the classical world, mediated by Hellenistic culture, that the patriarchal challenge so forcefully mounted by Paul and the gnostic traditions was fully realized. The most explicit paradigm for the success of this challenge was the Protestant Reformation, which was grounded in Pauline theology and which finally expunged Christianity of its central feminine symbolism: its spiritual reorientation toward a transcendent godhead replaced the sacramental immanence mediated by the Mother Church; the centrality of the pulpit with its intellectual icon of book and word replaced the sacrificial altar, the center of the Catholic transformatory cult; and Mariology was renounced altogether.” (L.H. Martin, Hellenistic Religions: An Introduction, p. 162)
This same type of masculine religion has been expressed down through history in other traditional religions. For instance, we see the conflict between the masculine Sky Father religion of the Indo-Europeans with the feminine Mother Goddess religion of Old Europe. Likewise, we see it in the Old Testament religion of the Hebrews in which God as transcendent Father revealed Himself through prophetic preaching and inspired Scripture and strenuously opposed the feminine pagan religions of Israel’s neighbours who worshiped various fertility deities, especially Ashtarte as the queen of heaven. When viewed in this context, Carlyle’s surprisingly positive comments about Luther as reformer appear less astonishing.
However, the Protestantism of the 17th century was definitely a prime mover for the ensuing tradition-to-modernism cycle that characterised the period stretching from roughly 1650-1800 AD. Puritanism (as noted above) ceased to be a reaction against capitalistic excesses and came to be identified with them. The rise of the Dutch commercial Republic and the association of Protestantism with Whiggery in Britain cemented the alliance of capital and Calvinism. In tandem with these political and economic developments, we see the crystallisation of Protestant centralisation in England, Holland, and Scandinavia, as well as a general apathy towards true piety that accompanied the decadence of (especially) Calvinist theology, though even in the high church Anglican restoration of the 18th century in Britain, observers at the time noted the lack of genuine spirituality that characterised the religious establishment. Puritan dogma about being “the shining city on the hill” led at first to a theocratic system based around moralism and kritocracy, which eventually gave way to a rejection of moralism that, unfortunately, resolved itself into a generalised sort of religious indifference (a sequence which has been repeated in America and the West starting around the 1920s, with modern SJWs filling the role of Puritans imposing a pseudo-Christian moral dogma unto an increasingly unwilling populace).
The next modernism-to-tradition cycle arose in the West through the dual impetuses of Protestant missionising fervour and the Catholic Counter-Reformation. In both cases, we see a reinvigourated spiritual emphasis coupled with renewed religious expansion outward from the core Christian world. In the 19th century, missionaries spread out across the entire world, bringing muscular versions of Christianity to the heathen which successfully out-competed many native religions, in many cases reorganising matriarchal and egalitarian societies along Christian patriarchal and authoritative lines. This missionary activity was often explicitly supported by elites within the various Christian nations, echoing the impulses of the adalskirche a millennium before.
Sadly, the seeds of modernism were once again laid during this era, bringing forth the fruit that we see in the decadent religion of the Western world today. The rise of various memetic structures (both within and without Christianity) such as evolutionism, progressivism, the social Gospel, and post-millennialism that began in the mid-to-late 19th century eventually led to the modernistic excesses that many decry in western Christianity of all denominations today. The missionary impulse has been largely (though not completely) blunted today, and much of what does take place does not involve the spread of the Gospel to the lost so much as it does the building of houses or wells to improve material comfort for the less materially civilised. All of the ills of the modern Church – the feminism, the glorification of sodomy and other sins, the perversion of Christian universal vision of the availability of salvation to all to justify flooding the West with millions of Muslims, Africans, and Latinos – can be traced back to theologically modernist foundations laid in virtually all of the major denominations of Christendom.
So what does that mean for the future? The short answer is, “I have no idea, since I’m not a prophet.” However, this will be found unsatisfying by most readers, I am sure. Thus, I would offer a few suggestions as to what we might end up seeing in the decades and centuries to come. First, I tend to suspect that we’ve not reached the peak of modernistic decadence in western Christianity yet. The denominations will continue to drift for a while longer. Yet, there will be remnants of traditional religion which remain. I’ve noted several times above that even in traditional cycles, the seeds of the next stage of modernism were planted. The same is also true, however, for modernistic portions of the demographic-structural cycles. The remnants of traditionalism will serve as the seedbeds for the next modernism-to-tradition transition, the “Second Religiousness” which Oswald Spengler described. As he also noted and as we’ve seen, however, the next traditional cycle will not necessarily be the same in outward forms as the previous. Traditional cycles may display traditional characteristics to greater or lesser degrees, but the expressions of these characteristics will likely not coincide with those from centuries before.
What may our next traditional cycle be like? That the current trajectory of the West is unsustainable is obvious to all thinking observers. The neo-conservative plutocratic capitalistic order and the neo-liberal globohomocomplex will not exist indefinitely. The Russian east seems to be edging towards some variant of Panarin’s Eurasianist vision built around an Orthodox alternative to the current Western post-modern trends. There is no reason – at all – why the West cannot have this same sort of thing. Certainly, the West must (in the short term) get serious about defending its very existence from subversion within and invasion without. On a longer time scale, however, there must be a “return to religion” – and there most likely will be. Atheism, in and of itself, is an intellectual idiosyncrasy that is incapable of existing to any great degree outside of the peaks of modernist phases in the cycles. Societies that regain their spiritual foundation as they return to traditionalism will also necessarily dispense with atheism as a socially or philosophically credible episteme. In Catholic countries, we should expect to see a return to traditional, even ultramontanist, forms of Catholicism. It is doubtful that there will be a pope like Francis sitting in the Vatican in a century. In Protestant countries, we should expect that traditional, even fundamentalist, forms will become the norm. In both cases, the transition away from modernism will see the withering away of the liberal elements and their replacement by explicitly authoritarian and masculine religious forms.
Assuming the West survives long enough for it to see the next cycle take place, traditionalists and reactionaries should not give up hope. Perhaps at the present time, a good deal of our energies should be directed towards protecting white, Western civilisation from internal and external predation. With a view toward the longer term, however, we should also occupy ourselves with planting the seeds of a return to Tradition in the religious sphere.