“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
Decadence is a defining feature of modern life, indeed a recurring aspect of human existence. It is a word that is often employed but rarely defined. Decadence, simply put, is the process and condition of decay, applied on both an individual and social scale. How one understands this decay depends upon how one conceives of a properly functioning organism.
For our purposes, decadence in the individual is the extent to which he has fallen from his true divine nature and given himself over to sin, which is merely another word for self-will: hence decadence covers all manner of traditionally objectionable behaviors and characteristics, including addiction, lustfulness, sloth, weakness, indiscipline, and cowardice.
Socially and politically, decadence is the extent to which society has fallen from its transcendental orientation and come under the sway of the lower functions, oriented chiefly towards material gain, license, and anarchy. Life in the modern era is anarchistic, atheistic, and materialistic, and therefore characterized by decadence.
For those who reject this state of affairs, what is the alternative?
The goal of the reactionary is to restore the natural order in man and society. This natural order consists in Purity, Aristocracy, and Transcendence.
Purity is a state of simplicity, chastity, innocence, and wholeness. It is man’s natural state of undivided consciousness, before his fall into self-will and sin. The innocence and purity of the child is perhaps the highest state most of us can aspire to, a time when we are most trusting and nearest to our divine nature. Likewise, animals and the natural world are also whole and undivided, a pure emanation of the divine Idea without the self-will and corruption that afflicts mankind. Such purity is also attainable by certain superior human types, the saints and arhats and Übermenschen and holy fools.
Alas, from the primordial innocence of the child most all men descend into vice, cynicism, and pragmatic accommodation to the social reality. This is due to the fallen condition of mankind. Since childhood innocence cannot always be maintained in this life, those who sense their fallenness from the divine must strive to recover that purity, insofar as they are able. This is achieved through spiritual ascesis and mastery of the baser instincts.
Additionally, if one cannot rise to the level of the saints, one can at least defend them from evil, and perhaps become sanctified thereby. The pure are the justification of the Earth, and their defense is the earthly purpose of every code of nobility or chivalry. The noble life is therefore dedicated to a kind of militarism in service of God and the pure, engaging in perpetual detached warfare to defeat the forces of chaos, defend the innocent, and serve the true king.
Ultimately, as it is impossible (and not necessarily desirable) to retain the state of the child throughout one’s whole life, and since the cynical and decadent life of the majority of mankind can only be regarded with horror by the noble man, spiritual transcendence of human existence is the only logical alternative.
And what is transcendence? It signifies the overcoming of the merely human through knowledge of and union with the divine. Transcendence is an attempt to regain the primordial state of mankind. It is the aim of every traditional religious doctrine. In addition to striving to purify ourselves and protect the innocent, the noble man strives to elevate himself through spiritual practice. Depending on one’s culture and temperament, these will vary. But it is the effort at transcendence that shows us there is more to this world than the nihilistic materialism propounded by the priests of modernity.
While this religious striving might seem to be a counsel of inaction or quietism, in traditional doctrine the opposite was the case. Whatever one’s station in life, whether as an ascetic priest or a knight or a craftsman, one could strive for transcendence through dedication to one’s duty and self-purification. Ultimately, though there are multiple paths, all entail a degree of struggle and combat – against ourselves, against the world, and against the devil and all the powers of darkness. This struggle purifies the soul, and every loss reminds us that our true home lies elsewhere.
Every society that is genuinely dedicated to the preservation of purity and the possibility of transcendence is, necessarily, an aristocratic society.
What is aristocracy? It is the natural state of the soul and society, in which the rational, spiritual, and noble rules over the material and the base. Socially, aristocracy is expressed in the Indo-European tripartite division of society into the priestly, kingly, and merchant castes. An aristocratic orientation entails the defense of legitimate authority; the preservation of ancestral communities; sex, race, and biological realism; and the traditional family. An aristocratic society is properly concerned with order and justice. Its aim is to elevate the human spirit and guide humankind into conformity with the laws of nature and of God.