The overwhelming majority is in favor of this brilliant slogan “Traditional Values” and yet what this means is completely undefined.
In the recent past I have written about “The Real Reason the Right Continues to Lose Every Ideological Battle” in connection to its fundamental blindness that the Liberalism it supports is the source of the “woke” madness around us, i.e. putting the individual as a little god-like figure on a pedestal is not going to create a strong group-value focused culture. That piece was oriented towards the English-speaking Right, but the International Right who has no particular addiction to Individualism still fails to intellectually triumph over the “value system” of the rainbow color haired freak show that is pushing their global ideological agenda. This International Right would include Viktor Orban’s Illiberalism that wants to add a counterbalancing element of “us” into the “me”-focused Western-Democratic system and Vladimir Putin’s highly-undefined call to “Russian Conservatism” for his country and Conservatism of various forms for the natural diversity of the upcoming Multipolar World.
On a personal level it is these sorts of new ideological movements and answers to the doomed-scenario of Liberalism that are what give me the strength to get out of bed in the morning. An alternative to the Cultural Masochism and Hedonism of the West exists and there are nations on Earth, in fact some could say the majority, that want to embrace an existence rooted in their traditions and culture rejecting the homogenized and atomized meaningless future of a completely Postmodern Globalized World.
There really are truly brilliant ideas coming from the Eurasian landmass east of where the Berlin Wall once stood, and yet they remain fully in the realm of the academic and abstract, as food for thought and speeches at the Kremlin. For someone who lives within Russia it is amazing what level of support Conservatism and Traditionalism have and yet how little has been implemented systematically or even defined. The slogan “Traditional Values” is a massive hit across the territory of the former USSR. It is two words that have great power and an inherent attractiveness to the people in these parts. It is a powerful short message that rivals “Diversity” or “Human Rights” in its potential implications, which themselves behave like self-justifying arguments. This is a truly massive ideological development within Russia that should be affecting public policy, raising levels of passion within the nation and making big changes and yet Russia systemically remains Liberal and the upcoming generation of Russians are going to be just as broken and raised by TikTok as their Western counterparts. This is so frustrating, so obvious and yet why this is happening, for years I had not the ability to put into words.
But then by random chance I heard a story from over two thousand years ago that explains everything. This tale from Ancient Greece lays out exactly why the Russians and Hungarians are paralyzed in the face of such seemingly weak intellectual competition from the “wokeness” brigades. At the moment I finished listening to this story, I knew that this is why we are losing. This scenario of confusion from countless centuries past is exactly the reason why Russian Conservatism and Traditional Values and Hungarian Illiberalism never leave the realm of fancy public speeches. The star of the show is Socrates and you can listen to it in vastly greater detail here.
The locals in Ancient Greece wanted their young men to grow up courageous for they thought that this quality is the most important for having a great society made up of great men. They approached Socrates, the smartest gent around, for ideas on how to make their boys into courageous men.
Socrates explained to them that they would need to find an expert in courage, because how can you instill something in youths if you do not have expert knowledge in it? So the question became who are the most courageous men in society?
They decided unanimously that it would be best to consult two generals who had real combat experience. These men fought for their lives many times and came out the winners so surely they should know everything about courage. Who is more courageous than a highly successful battle-hardened warrior?
The generals were quite sure that they knew exactly what courage was and that “armored fighting” as they called it (i.e. training for real war, not sports like boxing) was the best way to make wimpy boys into tough men. The generals were absolutely sure of this.
However, prodding questions from Socrates showed them that they really didn’t have any definition of what courage was. Would going into an easy battle with little risk be courageous? Would the opposite, going into certain death be courage or madness? Doesn’t it take courage to stand up for what is right at great risk even in a social context? Is the battlefield really the only place for courage? Since childbearing has significant risks, does that make all mothers courageous?
Long story short, at the end of it all, no one was able to define what courage is in a consistent way and yet everyone remained absolutely sure that courage was in fact a very good and absolutely necessary thing, and that the generals possessed it.
They were stuck with the paradox of being absolutely sure that something was right and critical for future generations, but at the same time being completely unable to define it or understand it, thus making any attempts to instill this value on society essentially shots in the dark with no systemic methodology to guarantee results.
The story ends with all parties shrugging their shoulders and going home, nothing changed.
Now if we change the word “courage” to “Traditional Values” then we get a perfect carbon copy of what’s happening across the Multipolar World – everyone is sure that Traditional Values are righteous and necessary, yet they remain ultimately undefined, meaning they are impossible to implement into law (perhaps excluding the Islamic Republic of Iran), instill in the youth of tomorrow or at the very least propagate through the media. If you cannot even define and put structure to your value system how the hell are you going to base your society on it? This is the maddening factor that burns anyone of intellectual acumen in Russia. The overwhelming majority is in favor of this brilliant slogan “Traditional Values” and yet what this means is completely undefined. You cannot triumph on the battlefield of ideas when you are not sure of what you are talking about. Any Conservative would say that “feelings” are a weak argument, but that is really the only thing standing behind Traditional Values, a gut feeling that this is right, much in the same way the generals had a hunch that armored fighting is the best way to bring out courage in teenagers.
Although this story about Socrates is very telling, the ancient Greeks had some advantages that allowed them some slack in how they raised their youth. The Athenians probably did not have to deal with big money NGOs, Hollywood, and every form of media pushing an “anti-courage” agenda. A shrug-your-shoulders, hope-the-kids-turn-out-alright, way of thinking is not what is needed, especially for Russia, Hungary or elsewhere in a partially Globalized World. Ideology in a sense is a bit of a zero-sum game. All of us have to have some sort of ideological structure in our minds, and if no one can promote an idea besides wokeness then guess who’s going to win? The time has come to define what Traditional Values are, and what Illiberalism would look like. This is the time to build the apologetics to justify these “feels” based Right Wing dream projects.
So if we are to suppose that Traditional Values are the way to go then what does that mean?
Even something as basic as marriage needs to be analyzed, broken down and structured into a coherent logic for 21st century Traditionalism. We argue that marriage is between one man and one woman because it was “tradition”, but it was also tradition to only be allowed to get married when the man had the infrastructure to provide for the wife. So no house = no marriage? Do brides need their fathers to sign off on them getting wed, that’s how it used to be? It was also tradition to harsh punishments on acts of adultery (if it went public), do we need to bring this back? Public shaming kept children from being born out of wedlock, does this mean we should have a 21st century shame-based punishment system? In the past if a man died often his family would look after the widow, so does that mean that we have to create a system of allocating widows by some sort of lineage to be taken care of in old age? In the olden days men had the responsibility for and authority over their wife and children, how exactly is that going to work in our times after generations of Liberalism, or is this part of tradition to leave on the cutting room floor? Just the single question of what marriage would look like in a 21st century Traditionalist society has gone completely undiscussed and is absolutely massive in scale, thus it has no argumentation or apologetics for the promotion of this way of looking at marriage, thus it isn’t going to happen, while in the West marriage to babies, dogs and ghosts will probably become a reality.
To put it bluntly, if we are going to do this whole Multipolar World filled with a renaissance of various Traditional Values thing, then we are going to need to actually do it and in a systematic way. Somehow a concept as goofy and inherently flawed as “intersectionality” got from the academic/think tank realm, to the activism sphere, then to the media and has now become a dominant ideological pillar of the Western World being spread globally by big corporations and Hollywood incidental PR. If our Traditional Values are actually worth saving then they must be able to do the same. If certain key players in Hungary and Russia really want to save their societies it is going to take funding think tanks, big media projects, and a lot of PR in the entertainment sphere. This is no longer an option but a necessity, you simply cannot expect to win with ideas that you yourselves to not fully understand nor challenge.