Good morning. I am on a flight to Washington this morning, so be patient, please, with the comments process.
I want to guide you this morning to an interview a reader sent me, with a social media figure known as Wrath Of Gnon. I had somehow not heard of him, but wow, really interesting stuff here. Jonathon Van Maren is the interviewer. Excerpts:
The Wrath of Gnon—“Gnon” means “Nature’s God”—has attracted a lot of attention in traditionalist circles. In addition to his “memes”—the word seems too trivial and modern to be applied to the images he produces—he also tweets out pages from authors such as British philosopher Sir Roger Scruton (one of the only philosophers he enjoys reading) and architectural historians, as well as juxtapositions of modern buildings of glass and steel up against winding cobblestone pathways to little cottages, soaring castles, and ancient city centres. His more than 20,000 followers include the National Review’s Michael Dougherty and Ian Tuttle, the Catholic Herald’s Dan Hitchens (son of Peter Hitchens), the Wall Street Journal’s Micah Meadowcroft, evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller, the Daily Beast’s Rick Wilson, the BBC’s David Silito, and Jason Kenney, the head of Alberta’s United Conservative Party.
I just checked, and it turns out that at some point I blocked him on Twitter. I only do that if people have been aggressively insulting. Guess he’s not a fan of mine. Tant pis. Still, he’s interesting. More from the interview:
What would your advice be for those who want to live in more traditionalist ways, but find themselves caught in our hectic, post-modern culture?
This ties in with the previous question, but the two most important things you can do is to settle down, and to have children. Turn off the media, reduce the noise, turn of the lights. Sleep early, get up early, eat what is in season, work with your hands, your mind, your body.
One of my favorite stories of this kind is the local apiarist (beekeeper) in my neighborhood. He told me that the first seven years of him keeping bees he never had more than a couple of jars for himself. Even though he had gotten into it with the idea of selling honey, he found that he neighbors were so hostile to the idea of having bees around that he had to walk around the neighborhood after every harvest and hand out jars of honey. Hundreds of kilos every year was given away. Over time the neighbors figured out that the bees were not dangerous and that this man was not abusing their neighborhood but actually making it a better place. More people started keeping flowers in their gardens and eventually the man could start selling his produce rather than giving it away.
This story illustrates a point that everyone from your grandmother to Tahitian islanders, to the hardcore Neo-reactionary thinkers can agree on: be worthy. To be part of something you must first be of use to it. A community is only as strong as the effort put into it by its members. You must have something to offer. This is as true in urban beekeeping as in modern courtship.
Learn a skill, master a craft, teach something: learn, create, pass on.
Many of your followers engage with you on social media. What is attracting people to traditionalism and your work?
I have this idea—like so many of my ideas, it used to be common sense—that beauty is essentially truth, and truth is essentially beautiful. Human history is varied enough that there are real life—once existing or still existing—examples of the ideal form of every human virtue. What I do is present them in an easily sharable form. I am suspicious of tracts and I detest manifestos and ideologies, I would rather show than tell: why does monogamy work? Why is personal charity superior to societal welfare? Why are picturesque crooked streets preferable to modern city streets? I try to focus on the beautiful and avoid pointing out errors and mistakes (but it is hard to stop oneself sometimes). Modern individualism has fostered a type of person who hates nothing more than being proved wrong or spoken down to. I believe that if I just gently remind people of the beauty that has been taken from their lives, that they will come to similar conclusions as me, on their own.
Which mainstream ideas pose the greatest threat to traditionalism?
Global capitalism, of course. Individual materialism, obviously. But more and more a sort of Laissez-Faire Nihilism, the one exemplified by clever young people “Who wants to have children in a world going to hell?”, and interestingly, even though they call themselves Progressives and outwardly profess undying faith in humanity (despite all the problems they cause and the distresses they must be able to see in their own communities), the main culprit of this are the Globalists themselves. There are no more rabid doom-mongers than the “save the rain forest” crowd. I forgot who said it, but “forget the war on terrorism, the most important war of our time is the war between the sexes, a war that we are all losing.” In a way I agree, in the way that the hidden enemy is always the one able to inflict the most damage: Feminism is the greatest danger to our civilization. By twisting facts, by a concentrated propaganda effort, the image has been planted into the minds of women that history was sexist, that the church was anti-women and that women can be…better than men. In reality it is the couple, the man and the woman together, who make up the basic bond of humanity. The day we finally give up on this idea of love, is the day our civilization is doomed forever. “Love is reactionary”, and “Progressivism is centrifugal” (as I often say).
Read the whole thing. It’s quite a good interview. He’s apparently no fan of The Benedict Option, saying it is too strong a word for what I propose. I’d like to know more about that, but I suspect I get the gist of it: that it is too accommodationist, insufficiently radical. That may prove to be the case. The book has been out for just over a year now, and if anything I’ve come to think that it is not radical enough. But there are far, far more Christians believing (mistakenly) that I’m calling for us to head for the hills than there are those criticizing me for not telling Christians to head for the hills. Check back with me in five years.
Say, readers, if you’re in DC, come out early this evening to the Heritage Foundation to hear TAC editor in chief Robert Merry, Bradley Birzer, Lee Edwards, and me talk about the state of conservatism. All are invited, but you need to RSVP here. If you can’t make it, you can livestream it on the Heritage site. You’ll be getting from me something that’s a lot like what Wrath of Gnon says in this interview.
UPDATE: A reader warns that Wrath of Gnon is some kind of white nationalist, and sends along this proof:
That’s awful. I cannot reconcile this with Christianity. This is the main reason why I stay away from neoreaction.