This is a letter to my children in the World of Modernism. Yes, my children, you are deep within Modernism, as the whole world is. And I am trying to contact you and trying to relate with you, as the noticeable conversational gap grows wider. There are just so many things which occur in “polite” family conversation now which just cannot be said, so many little alley ways, little entrances of talk which introduce concepts which are “no-no”s between us all. Just so sad. Normal areas of family talk become narrower, the range of common areas of family up-bringing, of anything which impinges on “values” just cannot be spoken.
I – Moderns and non-Moderns
The world has now passed into a stage now that all social and political debate involves huge impassible assumptions between Moderns and us non-Moderns, or “Traditionalists” (though I hate that term). I would call us “traddies” just old-fashioned common-sensibles.
But even “common sense” is capable of mutation by Modernity that it just becomes last season’s brand of Modernity, last year’s fashion.
I detect an underlying scepticism about anything solid, foundational, God-forbid “fundamental”, in your thoughts, yet a deep longing for justice, for goodness, for security, for abiding family solidarity, for peace, for gentleness. But if I took the trouble to inquire about where those longings have foundation, I would run into trouble with you.
And why? because Modernity has made Scepticism and Relativism almost universal. And I also detect an avoidance of anything to do with religion. Yes, I know that lapsed Catholics identify religion with guilt, but Modernity is opposed to all religious belief and is opposed to Nature itself. And that is where the main thrust of this letter is: in upholding non-religious truths, truths that confirm where you yourselves are coming from, the kind of truths you imply by your very passions about family, political and social issues. Not everything fundamental is religious …. hmm…. maybe it is? But then there is a real problem if even this is true for then you would become divorced from Nature itself – floating in a stormy sea, compass-less, and thrown about by the winds of “preference” social and political issues – one day supporting one thing and finding out that the next day that support undermined where you were yesterday.
Modernity has made politics a passion. Left versus Right, Liberal versus Conservative, Socialism versus Capitalism: all grist for the mill of seemingly endless debate in Modern society.
But there are truths which underlie reality, truths which defy Modernity to its face.
So let’s start at the beginning.
Modernity was born during the Enlightenment and gained its foothold in the success of the Revolutions of the 19th Century, and has now matured in the 21st Century.
Modernity, is where man makes his own universe, his own reality, remodels nature in his own image, and makes good and evil according to his own preferences. Modernity is where Man stands apart from Nature, and reasons for himself outside of Nature. All is rationalisation. All is made from ideal abstractions. Nothing is objective: all is subjective. And the beginning of of what Marx described as “Alienation”.
Once one enters into political debate, one is forced to argue any position from the point of view of Modernity, and the huge, deep assumptions of the Ideologies encompassing Modernity: the philosophical foundations in the rationalism of Descartes, the sceptical empiricism of Hume, and the idealism of Kant; the political and sociological foundations of Hobbes, Rousseau, and Locke; and the atheistic scientism of the Philosophes. All these foundations were laid in the 18th Century and led to the world-wide success of the French Revolutionary ideas. Everything else are ramifications of the foregoing; variations on an over-arching theme.
So, if one does not believe in the very foundational beliefs of Modernity, it is very difficult, even impossible, to enter into contemporary social and political debate, except in a very pragmatic way. But even pragmatic politics demands some over-arching end to which man is disposed. One either accepts the Ideological ends proposed by Modernity or is left wandering in a political wilderness.
Let’s look at each of the assumptions on which our society is based.