Applying Demographic-Structural Theory to Religions

Image result for cyclicalWithin 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.

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Aristocracy, Real and Imagined

The Robber Barons

Western civilisation is vulgar.  By that, I don’t just mean that it is boorish, coarse, and offensive (though it certainly is these things), but rather that it is common.  Plebeian, if you will.  The drive to egalitarianism which has plagued the West since 1775 has created in Western man a desire to debase himself.  America – founded as it is upon the spurious principle that all men are created equal – has led the pack in the decline to the bottom.  It is in the United States, especially, that the lowest common denominator is exalted in every area of life – the social, the political, the religious.

Sadly, this absurd view of equality has not encouraged Americans (or other Westerners, for that matter) to better themselves or to pursue equality by raising themselves to the level at which they would become worthy of admiration and esteem.  Quite the opposite has been the case, and this debasement has been coupled with any ever-present drive to expand the number of lowest common denominator people who are allowed to exercise political power through voting, which has further eroded what remained of decent civil society.  Indeed, our political leaders seem to be actively abetting this degeneration of our societies by importing massive numbers of low-IQ third worlders and rushing them into political participation as quickly as possible.  At exactly the time when our nations need better citizens, we are only getting more, and more active, ones.

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Non-Toxic Masculinity

Related imageI typically do not post in response to other posts or articles I find around the web, but today I’ll make an exception.  I found this post entitled, “Masculine Pastors: The Battle They Face and Will Face Even More” over at What is Truth, a blog operated by an Independent Baptist pastor named Kent Brandenburg.  My purpose isn’t to critically assess the post, mainly because I find myself in nearly complete agreement with it.  Rather, I’d like to point the reader to it (RTWT) and use it as a jumping off point for some discussion of how men in our modern world can be “real men.”  As such, even if the reader is not an Independent Baptist or a pastor, my hope is that both the original post and mine below will be useful.

It’s obvious to any reasonable observer that the Western world is undergoing a crisis of masculinity.  Much of this is due to the constant assaults upon manhood made by feminism, especially once feminism (as part of the larger progressive Left constellation of interest groups) gained institutional acceptability and found itself in possession of managerial power (i.e. it became part of the “establishment”).  Masculinity, as it has traditionally been accepted and expressed, is becoming more and more socially unacceptable, in large part due to the Cathedral’s use of the media to bring it into disrepute.  This has been coupled with a legal regimen surrounding marriage, the domestic abuse industry, and divorce which assumes guilt on the part of men and generally tends to exonerate women, no matter how badly they may act.  Buttressing this is a public education system that uses a largely female body of teachers to discourage “boys from being boys” through a combination of indoctrination and medication.

This is not the only area of society encouraging effeminacy. Pop culture as a whole (e.g. rock music) has encouraged men to look and act like women and to adopt an unhealthy and ungodly definition of “love.” As Western societies have become more urban and metrosexual, popular culture has channeled men in this direction. The Baptist preacher in The Waltons described by Pastor Brandenburg is an early example of this trend, a trend which reflected the increased “taming” of men that soft and effeminate modern urban life began to uphold as the ideal.  Indeed, the so-called Rural Purge that occurred in American television between 1969-1975, in which a number of still-popular rural and western-themed shows were cancelled and replaced by shows dealing with “urban life,” helped to cement this direction in popular culture.  Television moved away from programming that upheld traditional masculine ideals of toughness, responsibility, decisiveness, and honour (such as in many westerns) or which more generally tended to uphold and valourise country living (which, again, is disposed toward emphasising masculine traits of hard work and self-reliance) as “cleaner” and “better” than urbanity.

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Hierarchy and Authority as Necessary Components of Civilisation

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.

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Prosperity Requires Stable Government, Not Political Liberty

“Prosperity” is one of those things which most people would say is a good thing.  Nearly everyone wants “prosperity,” in whatever way they may define it. Yet, how to secure it is a question which creates quite a bit of division, and has indeed birthed many of the almost innumerable ideological conflicts that have plagued the modern world.  I believe that much of this has to do with the failure on the part of modern man to adopt a rational definition of “prosperity.”

The typical Westerner today, and especially the American, would tend to define “prosperity” in solely economic terms.  For them, prosperity is that which leads to economic growth and a greater abundance of superficial expressions of wealth such as access to entertainments or the possession of various status symbols.  Prosperity would be measured in increasing GDP, more electronic baubles on the shelf at Best Buy, and an ever-rising stock market index.

However, there is a good argument that can be made that these are not really “prosperity,” in a reasonable and traditional sense of the word.  The traditional sense of “prosperity” which has applied for most of human history (once again, we find modernism to be an aberration here, as it is in much else) can best be summed up in the Hebrew (shalowm) and Greek (eirēnē) terms, found in the Scriptures, which the ancients used.  Both of these terms transcend the shallow and materialistic sense which modern Western man applies to “prosperity.”  Rather, “prosperity” involved a deeper sense of spiritual, moral, and mental peace (indeed, “peace” is a common translation of both of those words).  It portended an absence of conflict, not just in the bare sense of not fighting with someone else, but more broadly in leading a stable, well-grounded, balanced life that was suitable for your station in life.  To the extent that it involved economics, it did so in the sense of communal abundance grounded in hard work and industry which allowed individuals within a community to lead lives secure from hunger or privation, rather than speculation in commodities or eternal pursuit of wealth and trinkets.

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Fractal Traditionalism

It can safely be said that everyone in neoreaction and related circles laments the rise of modernism and the concurrent fall of traditionalism.  Indeed, this is one of the primary reasons why reactionary movements in general even exist.  However, what exactly is meant by “tradition”?  When did this “tradition” exist?  Was it Victorianism?  What about the sort of traditional Catholicism found in the Middle Ages?  What of 1st century Christianity?  Ancient Rome? The Bronze Age steppes?  Evolian esoteric history?  What about outside of a Western context?  Don’t other civilizational groups have their traditionalisms as well, and aren’t these just as valid forms of “tradition” as our own?

The answer to all of these questions is yes, each to varying degrees.

It is helpful to think of tradition from an energy state perspective.  Thought of this way, we can recognize traditionalism as a low-energy state, one which is characterized by high levels of social stability and order, which are able to “sink” social energy, preventing it from overflowing into destructive channels.  Conversely, modernism is correctly described as a high-energy state system demonstrating instability and perturbed order.

Thus, I believe a very useful conceptual model to use to visualize tradition versus modernism is to map them out onto an abstracted three-dimensional space in which the z-axis is social energy, while the x– and y-axes are arbitrarily chosen and represent a blended mixture of civilizational “variables” relating to specific aspects of culture, as well as fundamental, underlying traits which define and direct how that culture manifests itself.  This 3D space will contain both valleys (low energy regions representing various types of traditional societies) and neighboring peaks (high energy regions representing various sorts of modernist transitional states between traditional schema.  Movement between any two points in this space will necessarily entail a change in z-axis height, increases or decreases in social energy representing movement toward or away from local “tradition minima.”

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