Mises on Traditionalism

Here is Ludwig von Mises’s take on traditionalism, Human Action (p 191-192)

mises on traditionalism

Not exactly a ringing endorsement from Mises, now is it? However, it is understandable. Mises is not a traditionalist. Mises is a classical liberal. Mises is an economist. He cares more about interest rates than he does about transcendence… and that’s okay.  I am not here to excoriate Mises because of it. I won’t go as far as to say dump capitalism but I will offer a warning to our techno-commercialist friends in the neoreactionary trichotomy. It is important that they realize this: economics are not the end-all and be-all of a healthy society. Tradition, transcendence and culture are also important in forming a health society. Do not take this as an assault my techno-commercialist friends. I do not intend to stir up inter-tribal conflict. I merely wish to open a line of discussion with you. Perhaps I can act as an arbitrator between these two camps of our trichotomy as I feel I agree with points made by both camps.

The techno-commercialists cannot deny that the pure indulgence in the material-physical world has only exacerbated the debilitating effects of modernity. Denial of spiritual transcendence has not made our society any happier. It has left many deeply dissatisfied.

In Men Among the Ruins (ch. 6), Julius Evola spoke the problem of embracing the market as the end-all and be-all,

“Unfortunately, in some people, the economic dominates the political, ethical and religious. This psychological condition is a mental illness, la daimonìa dell’economia (“demonic possession by the economy”).”

As cliche as it sounds, there is more to life than money…

We neoreactionaries must find some common ground over the issue of traditionalism vs. techno-commercialism. As Nyan explains over at MoreRight, neoreaction is a synthesis of the three parts of our trichotomy. It is true that most neoreactionaries tend to favor a particular part of the trichotomy but it is important not to forget that neoreaction is still a trichotomy.  A true neoreactionary cannot view the economy as the end-all and be-all of society. If that is the case, then you are really no different from the anarcho-capitalists. However, the same goes for the traditionalist wing. Traditionalists can no longer be naive about economics; some even going as far as objecting to the use of interest rates altogether (regardless of magnitude) as usury. Dismissing all techno-commercialists as “shekel pimps” is not constructive either. With that said, we cannot simply dismiss one another. We must work together on this issue.

I am not an anti-capitalist. Austrian economics have played a major role in my development towards becoming a neoreactionary. I generally believe capitalism to be good and the most preferable economic system that a society can have. Neoreactionaries believe in forming healthy societies in order to reach peak civilization. In order to accomplish this, we must embrace traditionalism and spiritual transcendence. It cannot be left out. Otherwise, simply embracing the market as king, while rejecting traditional values, will likely bring about cultural decadence and degeneracy. Existence without essence is nothingness.

Going forward it will be important for these two particular camps within the trichotomy to find common ground; a balance between techno-commercialism and traditionalism. While Brett Stevens over at Amerika is not a self-proclaimed neoreactionary, he does offer up a bit of a blueprint for what he likes to call Futurist Traditionalism, which he derives from the philosophy of Guillaume Faye. We must embrace traditionalism, culture, transcendence while simultaneously allowing our markets to function as freely as possible in order to create the healthiest society possible.


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5 Responses to Mises on Traditionalism

  1. ChrisPitts says:

    Great article. This exact argument has been going back and forth in my mind for the past week, and you articulated the position better than I could. I will say the best place we can find common ground with the Techno-Commercialists and the Anarcho-Capitalists is to focus on an alliance against the decadence of the Left. Ultimately, we all lose what we value and cherish if cultural Marxism contains to entrench itself.

    Good stuff!


  2. Daniel Schmuhl says:

    I read an interesting book chapter on Friedrich Hayek as a conservative by Roger Scruton. Scruton pointed out how there is a conflict between the spontaneous orders of the market and tradition,

    I think there are many on the Right who are too stupid to notice the confusions in their own thinking on these topics.

    Free markets and property rights are good things, but they have be weighed against other values.


  3. The key tool for bridging the gap is a theory of generational economy; the value of a people.

    Economic analysis becomes valueless at longer time scales. The ‘economic horizon’ is ~25 years, which is but one generation for a people. Once you start looking at the time scale upon which tradition acts, but with the viewpoint of managing for value, there are all sorts of opportunities to bring together the seemingly disparate areas of NRx.


  4. Neon Shadows says:

    A good, necessary post. However, when you say

    >Traditionalists can no longer be naive about economics; some even going as far as objecting to the use of interest rates altogether (regardless of magnitude) as usury.

    How far do you take this? Your logic seems to work against those that deny the economic efficacy of interest, but not against those who view usury as morally illicit for theological reasons. Suppose it to be true that usury is truly condemned by Christian doctrine. What then can be done in the way of common ground? Separate and parallel banking systems? Or the complete rejection of traditional Christian prejudices against interest?

    The extent to which economic morality exists and to which economic practice needs to be informed by patristic Tradition is a question which has been largely ignored by modern theologians. Traditionalists need to work this out before they can meaningfully negotiate.


  5. Pingback: Lightning Round – 2014/11/19 | Free Northerner

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