fascism in plain sight: trad wives, fashy femmes, and the dangers of traditionalism

The Comrade General Speaks:

Fascism in Plain Sight – Unmasking Hatred Masquerading as Tradition

We’ve all heard the old adage, “Keep your friends close – keep your enemies closer”. While I personally do not have any enemies, and I consider the whole notion as a low vibration instinct that we should rise above, I do believe in remaining vigilant by educating oneself about the belief systems and terminology used by those who you might not agree with. I will admit, for years I have closely monitored the comments sections on Info Wars, Fox News, The Conservateur, The Epoch Times, and other media outlets that are gaining traction in the US by appealing to the so-called “traditionalist” movement. The rise in “traditionalism” aka the “conservation of European/Judeo-Christian values” is by no means limited to this country. In fact, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Russia, Serbia, and other European countries are seeing this movement and movements like these gain new members every day.

Before the January 6th insurrection, I kept warning my friends and family members that an insurrection had been planned for months, and I repeatedly expressed my concern regarding this impending threat to our democracy. To be honest, not a single one took my words seriously, and so when the insurrection actually took place – while I was shocked, I was not surprised because I was aware of the intel. My family members, on the other hand, were caught totally off guard. Unfortunately, many centrists and leftists in this country did not take the threats seriously, until it was too late.

I bring this up because yesterday I stumbled across a YouTube channel that promotes “traditional European values”, and instead of the vulgarity and blatant hate speech that I am used to encountering, the presentations were eloquent, inspirational, and had an air of nobility. It is one thing to shut down a guy shouting “Jew will not replace us”, but it is quite another to shut down those who state that they simply want to protect “mother Europa”. As I watched and listened, dread filled my soul and a knot formed in my gut. As I watched and listened, tears of anguish swelled in my eyes. I could imagine Goebbels speaking of the Golden Age of European culture, while painting a beautiful picture of the sweeping landscapes of Deutschland. The presentations were so slick- implying the gruesome horrors that would be needed for this new Golden Age- but never saying the words outright. You see – it is one thing to fight against blatantly genocidal propaganda, but it is quite another to fight against the veiled enemies of democracy and human rights.

As a young girl who witnessed the effects of genocide after living in Eastern Europe during the Srebrenica massacre, I learned quickly that nationalism, patriotism, and traditionalism are simply masks that hatred wears to conceal itself in a seemingly noble manner. I feel that too many people fail to realize the unspeakable horrors that can arise from such movements. Here are a few articles that might help educate us all.

Eagle of National Socialism

This poster shows the eagle of National Socialism looming behind a German family, along with a message that the movement protects the community. Photos in the personal albums of top Nazis also tried to evoke wholesome images of human interaction: children, gift giving, parties, and camaraderie.

Keep your filthy fashy paws off of Bogey and Bacall!
Modern memes circulating on tradlife blogs and social media accounts
From “Visual Propaganda and the Aryan Family: The Difficulties of
De-Emancipating Women of the Third Reich”

Women With a Purpose: The New Wave of the Alt-Right Tradwives

The fantasy of the domestic and obedient European Christian woman, or just an enthusiastic 21st-century cult?

Nicolette Michelle

Nicolette MichelleJun 7, 2018·5 min read

Frederick George Cotman, “One of the family” – (bruh, even the horse is white…)

In the last year or so, I’ve noticed a growing trend of women on Twitter — the domestics of the Alt-Right and extremists of what they call, the Tradlifeor traditional lifestyle.

While the term is not necessarily new, there seems to be a growing number of women who have developed communities online, promoting none other than the traditional wives of America’s sexist past.

Whether this new wave is due to the continued racial undertones of the 45th president, such as continuously praising racist political commentators like Tomi Lahren, and the rise of white nationalists utilizing social media sites like Twitter, what is certain is that people of the trad-lifestyle are very serious in their beliefs.

Women of the Tradlife worship their husbands and their home, embracing the 1950’s housewife lifestyle and the European country women of prewar Europe.

By mobilizing sites like Twitter, the #tradwife, as they label themselves, are utilizing their social platforms to spread white nationalist ideologies, all under the domestic guise of be a perfect wife, and you’ll live a perfect lifebut as long as it’s also a white life.

Nuclear family, 1950’s

In fact, after reading through countless Twitter feedsblogs, and threads of the Trad-lifestyle, people with sane rationality will eventually conclude that many of these woman appear to be brainwashed, and their way of life and thinking is almost eerily cult-like, especially with their emphasis on preserving the European race and disdain towards anyone that is non-white.

The Alt-Right and Tradlife-stylers feel as if they are being personally attacked and victimized when in reality, people of color have felt this way for centuries and all we’re ever told is “to just get over it.”

Lady in a Garden, Edmund Blair Leighton

The Typical Tradwife

Women of the Trad Life worship their husbands and their home, embracing the 1950’s housewife lifestyle and the European country women of prewar Europe. This means these women only live by traditional gender roles (extreme masculine and feminine archetypes), as well as the belief that a woman’s sole purpose is to procreate as much as she can (to also preserve the white race) and dutifully serve her husband and family. If she doesn’t, then she is no true woman and she is looked down upon and seen as selfish or corrupted by Western society.

Since a #tradwife is expected to act hyper-feminine, this means she will typically never work and is not allowed to seek a career. She must also obey and please her husband daily and is hardly allowed to think for herself, with some quoting,

I am thankful my personality type doesn’t seek out approval from anyone other than my husband. ~Altwestwife on Twitter

It’s no surprise that many appear to be opposed to technology and believe in leading a somewhat modest lifestyle, free of the distractions of the modern-day world.

“At the garden bench,” Hans Anderson

While this may sound innocent at first, the fact that many Trad Wives AND men even go so far as to falsely promote the “endangerment” of the “white race,” and are strongly against intermingling and producing with other non-European races, is what is so troubling about this community.

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White women went from having 5 kids to 2 kids and this current generation has abandoned TRADITIONAL values by ignoring marriage and children overall. Very ashamed to be a millenial

Alt-Right and Tradlife people all long for a past that was once predominantly white and free of people of color finally speaking up for themselves and demanding justice and equality.

In the 21st-century world, this seems to be a pretty far-fetched ideology, except, in the Tradlife circles, this is clearly still a prevalent way of thinking.

But of course, as with any other group of people, some don’t necessarily bring up politics and seem to only focus on the roles of the masculine and feminine identities.

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Nothing says HOME like the arms of my husband. Being a parent is the most precious blessing we can ever get in life, children are the loveliest beings on earth. Having a family is truly my greatest achievement. When we have children, life becomes happy.

TV is full of degeneracy. Foreigners are invading the West. You act as all these trends are irreversible. They can, and will, be reversed. Try holding yourself to a higher standard and seek a husband who is a leader. Submit to him. Find happiness.

Still, there’s no ignoring that many of these women and the men that support the Tradlife use hashtags like white genocidewhite pride, or white culture, and even the hashtag, homeschoolordie, because many do not want their children in public schools, believing it will “corrupt” them. They want their children to remain as ignorant as themselves and never learn to think for themselves. That is the mindset of the Alt-Right and Tradlife people.

What the Trad wives and Trad men want is to preserve the European race because they feel that their “whiteness” is being threatened now that more than ever, people are continuously speaking up about racial injustice here in 21st-century America.

The Alt-Right and Tradlife-stylers feel as if they are being personally attacked and victimized when in reality, people of color have felt this way for centuries and all we’re ever told is “to just get over it.”

Alt-Right extremists and Tradlife-stylers all seem to be in denial of their racism, but it is indeed there, and at the end of the day, more than half do not wish to coexist with non-white people. That is exactly what makes their views so dangerous and mind-boggling.

Shield Maidens, Fashy Femmes, and TradWives: Feminism, Patriarchy, and Right-Wing Populism

Nancy S. Love*

  • Department of Government and Justice Studies, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC, United States

Although media images typically present the alt right as a “manosphere,” white women continue to participate actively in white supremacist movements. Alt right women’s presence as “shield maidens,” “fashy femmes,” and “trad wives” serves to soften and normalize white supremacy, often in ironic and insidious ways. In this essay, I examine the continued investment of white women in these traditional sex/gender roles espoused by the alt right. While feminism has done much to liberate women, I conclude that the images of women as Moms circulating in mainstream politics today suggest that white supremacy and white women’s complicity in it has yet to be overcome.

Media images of the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia featuring angry white men chanting and marching with tiki torches confirmed public perceptions of the alt right as a “manosphere.” The alt right is hypermasculine, misogynist, and antifeminist. It has formed alliances with involuntary celibates (incels), men’s rights advocates (MRAs), and pick up artists (PUAs). Its “thought leaders” argue against higher education, professional careers, reproductive rights, and voting rights for women (Hayden, 2017Center on Extremism Report, 2018). The alt right opposes “women’s liberation” because it gives women choices that make it less likely that we will “get married, have children, and perpetuate the white race” (Center on Extremism Report, 2018, p. 7). Its members call liberated women “thots,” which means “that ho over there,” and celebrate the femininity and fertility of women who accept their traditional sex/gender roles, calling them as “tradhots” (Center on Extremism Report, 2018, p. 6–7). In short, the alt right would return white women to our presumably natural biological roles as wives and mothers for the white race.

This dominant image of the alt right as a “manosphere,” however accurate it may be, obscures the long history of white women’s participation in white supremacy. White women were active in the Ku Klux Klan, the American Nazi Party, and more recently, have joined neo-Nazi groups, such as the Aryan Nation, National Vanguard, White Aryan Resistance, and now the alt right (Blee, 19922003Schabner, 2006Love, 2016). In order to understand more fully the roles of white women – and men – in white supremacy an intersectional analysis is needed. According to Patricia Hill Collins, “As opposed to examining gender, race, and class, and nation as separate systems of oppression, intersectionality explores how these systems mutually construct one another, or, in the words of Black British sociologist Stuart Hall, how they ‘articulate’ with one another” (Collins, 1998, p. 63). Collins’ intersectional analyses stress gender, nation, and race, due to their prominence in constructions of the United States as a racialized “family writ large” (1998, p. 64). Black female scholars developed intersectionality to analyze the multiple forms of oppression experienced by Black women (Hancock, 2016). However, I argue elsewhere that it can also unpack relations of white power and privilege (Love, 2012). In the process, intersectional analyses highlight the linkages of class to gender, nation, and race in constructions of the American worker as white and male (Roediger, 2007).

Women in white supremacist movements, including the alt right, typically serve as auxiliaries rather than leaders. This partly explains why women’s participation receives less media and scholarly attention. As movement auxiliaries, white women’s role is to soften and normalize white supremacy, earning them the label “shield maidens.” For example, a former white supremacist, Samantha, who organized the women’s group “Warriors for the Home Front” for the alt right Identity Europa, booked the log cabin accommodations at a nearby winery for alt right leaders after Charlottesville 1.0, a pilot rally at the Robert E. Lee monument. She explains: “I thought it would be funny if [anti-fascist activists] wanted to chase us out of town. you know like, ‘Oh these big scary Nazis retreated to a vineyard.’ I thought it would be profoundly ironic” (Reeve, 2019). Like Samantha, other alt right organizers embrace ambiguous and ironic representations of white supremacy (Wilson, 2017). White women also shield white supremacy in less subtle and more traditional ways, representing their roles as community service and social welfare. Women in white supremacist groups have organized church socials, Klan picnics, and more recently, charity fundraisers and white nationalist online dating sites.

Perhaps the best example of alt right views on traditional sex/gender roles is the TradWives, a group of white nationalist “mommy vloggers,” who promote the “virtues of staying at home, submitting to male leadership, bearing lots of children” (Kelly, 2018). These women extol a 50 s escapist fantasy of “chastity, marriage, motherhood,” a fantasy that Betty Friedan famously exposed as “magical thinking” in The Feminine Mystique (Friedan, 1963). TradWives construct a “hyperfeminine aesthetic” in order to “mask the authoritarianism of their ideology” (Kelly, 2018). Often women only face the reality of white supremacist misogyny when they, like Samantha, must risk their – and sometimes their children’s – lives to leave the movement (Zia, 1991Reeve, 2019). Some alt right women further weaponize femininity against feminism with Cosmopolitan-like promotions of fashion and makeup, earning them the label, “fashy femmes.” Wolfie James, wife of the alleged white nationalist, Matthew Gebert, exemplifies this approach. Of alt-right men, James says, “the masculinity they exude is positively intoxicating” (James, 2017Hesse, 2019). James argues that “although men are better suited to the cause” given their greater physical strength and capacity for violence, it is women who can “boost it to the next level” (Hesse, 2019).

These alt right women claim feminism has failed white women, robbing us of the opportunity to have a male provider, a happy family, and a nice home. According to this narrative, the #MeToo movement only confirms the dangerous world feminism has created for women, a world where men no longer respect us for our femininity and fertility and, hence, feel free to assault, harass, and rape us. According to one teen, in this brave new feminist world, “traditionalism does ‘what feminism is supposed to do’ in preventing women from being made into ‘sex objects’ and treated ‘like a whore”’ (Smith, 2017). This narrative also laments how white men have been robbed of their rightful status; their jobs and roles have been taken by women, people of color, and immigrants in the workforce. Some incels and men’s rights activists, who argue that men are entitled to sex with women, claim that refusing them is “reverse rape” and call for their own #MeToo movement (Center on Extremism Report, 2018, p. 12). In “The Problem of Surplus White Men,” John Feffer concludes that “white men who are all revved up with nowhere to go pose the greatest challenge to democracy in America” (Feffer, 2020). Feffer notes that many of these men are Trump supporters. These white men and women provide fertile ground for an anti-modern populist mobilization (Kelly, 2018). Following Trump’s 2016 victory, Lana Lokteff, another alt right organizer, said: “Our enemies have become so arrogant that they count on our silence….When women get involved, a movement becomes a serious threat” (Smith, 2017).

Of course, mothers are also politically active on the political left, and progressive movements also use resentment to mobilize supporters, though more reluctantly than the populist right (Dolgert, 2016). Further, women have long had primary responsibility for “care work” across the political spectrum. Silvia Federici writes, “‘Reproduction’ has two sides, in contradiction with each other. On the one hand it reproduces us as people, and on the other it preproduces us as exploitable workers” (Federici and Sitrin, 2016). This contradiction means that women, especially women of color and their children, disproportionately experience the effects of poverty under capitalism, an oppressive reality that Black Lives Matter protests of systemic racism confront. Yet mainstream media only featured women’s presence in the Portland, Oregon protests when a multiracial organized group of mothers arrived. Wearing bike helmets and face masks, they formed a “Wall of Moms” and chanted “Moms Are Here; Feds Stay Clear.” Their actions reinvoked the Argentinian Madres de Plaza de Mayo who protested the “disappearances” of their children in the 1970’s (Barajes, 2020). They honored women’s power to bring life – literal and metaphorical – into the world, and highlighted the connections between justice, rights, and care (Federici and Sitrin, 2016Tronto, 2020).

Yet this imagery of women as mothers and activists across the political spectrum is troubling in many respects. Why did it take the arrival of white Moms for the mainstream media to portray the Black Lives Matter protestors as mothers fearing and fighting for their children? After all, Black Lives Matter was founded by three women, Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi in 2013 after George Zimmerman was acquitted of the murder of Trayvon Martin. To reinvoke Collins, is our dominant image of the American “national family” still all too white? Further, in our current pandemic economy with its “stay at home” and “safer at home” orders, domestic violence has increased, women are disproportionately tasked with childcare and home schooling, and the needs of women of color, single women, many of them elderly, and single working mothers, are minimized or bypassed. It still and again seems women can have a child or a career, but not both (Perelman, 2020). What hierarchies of race, gender, and class are reproduced here, and for whom?

I am not equating the pandemic return to traditional sex/gender roles or the powerful presence of mothers in Black Lives Matter protests with recent increases in white supremacist racism and misogyny. Yet sometimes an extreme can illuminate the norm. These images of women as mothers show that patriarchy runs deeper in American society than the polarized politics of right and left. They also remind us that because patriarchy is intersectional, resistance to it must also be. White women, who were once the slave mistresses of plantation households, have continued to normalize white supremacy, to shield it with their delusions of domesticity, purity, and vulnerability (Glymph, 2008Smith, 2018 [interview with Linda Gordon]). According to Barbara Smith, “‘systemic racism’ connotes the pervasiveness of racial oppression, but white supremacy goes further by indicating that there is a rigid nexus of power that protects and enforces it” (Smith, 2020). Men and Moms – perhaps these images of masculinity and femininity circulating today can remind white feminists that white supremacy is a power nexus we have yet to dismantle. If further proof is needed, 53% of white women voted for Trump and 92% of black women voted for Hillary in 2016. Although pre-election polls suggested those numbers might change in 2020, the majority of white women – and men – again voted for Trump (Schwadron, 2020). At this writing, Biden’s presidential victory is not yet certified.

Traditionalism: Just a fancy name for oppression

Behind all its pseudo-intellectual jibber-jabber, Traditionalism is a political philosophy which sugarcoats a fascist / feudal nightmare for everyone but the few.

Equality, democracy and progress are ‘evil’, apparently

Thanks to tiresome rise of the Alt-Right, as well as the distasteful resurgence of totalitarian / ultra-nationalist movements around the planet, you may have heard about this political philosophy called ‘Traditionalism’. You may have seen it mentioned in news articles about Russia or Turkey, Brazil or Hungary. You may have heard it in reference to far-right religious movements. It can be referred to by any number of names, but the philosophy behind it is usually just a variation on a theme. If you don’t know what Traditionalism is, brace yourself. You are in for a rude awakening.

“Kingship was the supreme form of government, and was believed to be in the natural order of things. It did not need physical strength to assert itself, and when it did, it was only sporadically. It imposed itself mainly and irresistibly through the spirit.”
— Julius Evola (Revolt Against the Modern World)

Prior to a couple years ago, I couldn’t have told you what Traditionalism was myself, simply because (like you) it was so far in the realm of fringe bizarro thought that it never came close to pinging my radar. Then, in the last couple of years, I started hearing more and more about Aleksandr Dugin, known euphemistically as “Putin’s Rasputin”.

Aleksandr Dugin, the high priest of Russian Fascism

Dugin is a political advisor to Putin and his gang of oligarch thugs, and it is his twisted ideal of “Eurasianism” which is driving policy in Putin’s Russia. Eurasianism as defined by Dugin is his own take on Traditionalism, and one which should frighten any thinking and freedom-loving person.

As I researched both Dugin and Traditionalism further, it was with growing malaise. I was being exposed to a right-wing philosophy so disturbing, so out of touch with reality, and so regressive that it sounded more like the plot of a dystopian novel than anything out of real life. One would not be surprised to find Dugin wearing an eyepatch, stroking a white cat, and saying “We meet at last, Mr. Bond.”

But Dugin is a topic for another read.Putin’s Rasputin: The Dangerous Mind of Aleksandr DuginWhile world democracies squabble, Putin and his deranged philosopher are plotting to bring about an autocratic world…medium.com

I want to take you through traditionalism, or better put, traditionalist conservatism, and the ideals to which its adherents proscribe.

I’ll warn you: Buckle up. If you don’t cringe or make the 😬 face, I’ll be very surprised. What I’m about to describe is what I have learned of traditionalism, and I was ill-prepared for this level of disturbing madness.

Reading these ‘philosophies’ was, quite frankly, my wake-up call. Dugin and those like him who subscribe to traditionalism must be stopped, and the surest way to do so is to expose such mad people and their demented philosophy for what it is.

What Are Traditionalists About?

Without quibbling over minutia, most Traditionalism (or more specifically Traditionalist conservatism) is not dissimilar in its adherence and advocacy of ‘the old ways’. Traditionalism blames all modern progress for the woes of the world. Democracy, equality, individualism, self-determination, these are all ultimately derided by Traditionalism as the cause of all our problems.

Much of traditionalist thinking insists that “non-modern forms, institutions, and knowledge” are where the world should be heading in order to return to a ‘Golden Age’. This is the mystical and ordered world from which our societies have fallen, a way of life in the hazy past where society was holistic, people were satisfied, and the world was stable and made sense.

Such a Golden Age covered all aspects of society, including religion, politics, social strata, gender, and the individual’s relation to his or her society. The Traditionalist blames our abandonment of these ‘traditional’ forms for each and every ill of the world.

Traditionalism desires that we return to ‘traditional’ social structures, both in terms of class, gender, religion, and politics. These forms, traditionalists argue, ensure a cohesive and united society which follows the ‘natural order’ of things. Hierarchy, adherence to doctrine and custom, a return to the ‘old ways’ are at the center of all Traditionalist thinking.

In effect, we would all be happier if we went back to the days of castes, feudalism, and strict religious control. All this freedom of thought, of individual liberties, of gender and race equality is the enemy of the Golden Age, and as such, should be abandoned in favour of the way things used to be.

A Brief History of Traditionalism

Traditionalism is a broad topic, made up of many schools, ranging from architecture, to religion, to music, all the way to politics. Each of these traditionalist movements is a fundamental reaction to the state of the modern world, and a desire to return to more ‘traditional’ forms.

There have been any number of ‘traditionalist revivals’ throughout history, most of them a reaction to progress and what traditionalists saw as a debased form of this or that. “Back to tradition!” is the rallying cry. “Back to old forms, the way we USED to do things, back when things worked.”

The modern political traditionalist conservatism is itself an old movement, extending back to the times of the French Revolution. It is not surprising that this would be the time of such an anti-modernist movement. The French Revolution, the American Revolution, both took place in the latter 1700s. Both revolutions (and those like them) saw a time of rejection of classical political and religious values in favour of a more modernist take on society. Social justice, individual liberty, representative government, these were particularly strong political themes at this time, and as such saw the rise of democratic republics on the ruins of old monarchies and empires.

Political traditionalism rose up as a reaction to the rise in modernist thinking. British Whig politician Edmund Burke is considered the forefather of traditionalist thinking. Burke believed in all things old-fashioned, that it was our duty to accept of the old ways and traditions which had been the foundation of empires in general, and the British Empire in particular.

“We fear God, we look up with awe to kings; with affection to parliaments; with duty to magistrates; with reverence to priests; and with respect to nobility. Why? Because when such ideas are brought before our minds, it is natural to be so affected.” — Edmund Burke

In essence, Burke expected the classic hierarchies to be honoured, for people to reject modernist / liberal ideals (even those espoused back to the Enlightenment, that is, he rejected the Enlightenment ideals of reason over faith) in favour of old forms of conservative values. God, then King, then priests, then nobility. Everybody else down at the bottom where they belong.

So far, so big surprises, right? Nothing one wouldn’t expect from a reactionary mindset back then. Things in these disorganised and chaotic democracies were out of step with the values of our forebearers, etc. Back to the old ways, reject all this progressive / modernist crap. Things were better way back when, etc.

Let’s fast-forward to the 20th century. Traditionalism spent 150 or so years languishing as a fringe philosophy of the right, an extremist ideology which clung on to conservative political thinking like a tumour.

Traditionalism was, by and large, relegated to the backwater of political thought as the modern age marched on. Most conservatives of the times were ill-inclined to associate with the ideals of traditionalists in their most radical form, and for good reason. As the modern age advanced, the philosophies and ideologies of traditionalists drifted further and further into radicalism, their own grim reaction to the egalitarian, liberal democratic societies they saw rising up all around them.

It wasn’t until the mid-1930s, with the early rise of fascism, that traditionalism got itself to a rolling boil. One traditionalist philosopher in particular, Julius Evola, was considered the philosophical grandfather of all traditionalist thought to come.

Julius Evola, the Fascist Intellecual

Evola believed fundamentally in a long-lost “Golden Age”, under which all people lived in the far reaches of the past. He described this Golden Age in his book Revolt Against the Modern World. In this pseudo-historical Shangri La, everyone knew their place. The peasant, the warrior, the king, the high priest, all lived in perfect and balanced equanimity with one another. Everyone saw that the material world was of secondary importance to the spiritual world. All acts in this material world would be reflected in the metaphysical life, and thus the need to maintain the old ways and structures of society.

Evola wholly rejected modernity as an abomination, an aberrant decline of human society (specifically Western European society; Evola was a virulent racist and white supremacist). His ideals were that we would return to a society fully structured upon old feudalistic and religious lines. Castes and rigid positions in society, according to Evola, were our ‘natural order’, so why then bunk so much preceding history? Men superior to women, the religious over the irreligious, the king above all, and everyone ‘naturally’ in their place.

“No idea is as absurd as the idea of progress, which together with its corollary notion of the superiority of modern civilization, has created its own “positive” alibis by falsifying history, by insinuating harmful myths in people’s minds, and by proclaiming itself sovereign at the crossroads of the plebeian ideology from which it originated.” — Julius Evola, Revolt of the Modern World

Writers and ‘philosophers’ like Evola thrived in and around the time of Italian fascism and Nazism. Why? Because it was these very philosophies which directly led to fascism and Nazism. Evola and others like him were the intellectual base from which such authoritarian and tyrannical regimes sprang. While Evola rejected any populism in Fascism and Nazism as degenerate, his ideals and racism found a welcome audience among Nazi intellectuals. Mythological imagery of a Golden Age and the old ways returning was certainly appealing to the Nazi imagination of their Fatherland and the sacredness of the Aryan race.

All of Evola’s ahistorical drivel probably rang nice in their ears as well.

Now let’s fast forward just a bit, and see how traditionalism was not simply a by-product of the fargone past.

In the 80s, a growing conservative Christian movement out of the US embraced and espoused traditionalism in religion. The Traditional Values Coalition emerged as a far-right reaction to what it saw as society turned permissive and debased.

Founded by Rev. Louis P. Sheldon to oppose LGBTQ rights, the Traditional Values Coalition was a loosely-affiliated group of Christian religious groups keen on seeing the “Old Time Religion” return to full primacy across the US and the Western world.

America and most Western societies, they stated, were based on Christian religion and ‘values’. These, they claimed, were being toppled in favour of a multicultural, progressive society which was the source of all our ills.

As such, since its founding, the Coalition fought tooth and nail to see their traditionalist Christian vision return. What does that look like? While never 100% explicit in terms of what that idealised Christian nation would look like, the Coalition did have some ideas. From Wikipedia, the Great and Powerful

  1. Right to life (against abortion and euthanasia but in favor of capital punishment)
  2. Sexual fidelity in marriage and abstinence before marriage
  3. Opposition to homosexuality and “other deviant sexual behaviors”
  4. Opposition to pornography
  5. Patriotism (supporting national boundaries, the armed forces, political participation, free enterprise, limited government, low taxes, and personal responsibility)
  6. Opposition to “liberal” immigration reform without first securing the U.S.-Mexico border
  7. Freedom of Christians’ attempt to convert non-Christians
  8. Cleanness from addictive behaviors (with opposition to gambling, the legalization of addictive drugs, alcohol, and smoking)

You get the idea. Let’s get back to the ‘good times’ of Judeo-Christian morality and mores.

These are just a few tastes of traditionalism. Have a look around. The would-be new Caliphate, known as ISIS, was an offshoot of such traditionalist thought in Islam. Russia and other Eastern European nations have used traditionalist reasoning in recent years to make homosexuality a crime. Judaism’s far-right sects are fraught in oppressive policies and beliefs, much of them driven by traditionalist thinking. Find a dictator, a religious demagogue, an oppressor, and traditionalism isn’t far away.

Why Traditionalism is a Crock

Let’s break this down as quickly and cleanly as possible. All traditionalism is ultimately a critique of modernity / progress. It claims that things were better ‘back in the day’, and that we need to get back to that. Our society is overrun in debauchery and decay, and that’s why we’re miserable.

So let’s examine this a moment, shall we?

A Golden Age for whom?

Let’s start with the fundamental premise of a “Golden Age”, where everyone was happy and fulfilled and knew their place, where the physical and the metaphysical merged into a societal Nirvana.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Look first at the life of peasants, those making up the lion’s share of society (approx 85% of the population).

“It is the custom in England, as with other countries, for the nobility to have great power over the common people, who are serfs. This means that they are bound by law and custom to plough the field of their masters, harvest the corn, gather it into barns, and thresh and winnow the grain; they must also mow and carry home the hay, cut and collect wood, and perform all manner of tasks of this kind.”
— written 1395

Peasants owed allegiance and complete docility to the nobility, religious leaders and their hired goons. Unquestioning fealty and obedience were strictly enforced. Any dissent immediately led to their imprisonment or execution, irrespective of the circumstances.

Peasants were expected not only be servile and do all the work, but to also pay tax / tribute to their liege lords and the church. Peasants had to pay rent for use of the land to their lord as well as pay a tax to the church called a tithe. This was a tax on all of the farm produce they had produced in that year. A tithe was 10% of the value of what was farmed.

Peasants were expected to work for free on Church land, growing crops for the clergy free of charge, time which they could have used growing their own crops.

All peasants worked six days, seven if it was deemed ‘right and just’ by either their lord or by the clergy. There were no weekends, very few festival days, and work went on from before the sun came up to after it went down.

Due to harsh working conditions, mistreatment, malnutrition, and the broad effects of poverty, few if any peasants lived to see their 40th year of life.

Religion had a veritable death grip on society. All castes were ultimately beholden to the church, royalty included. The Church ruled everything and everyone. No ruler could be said to be legitimate unless ‘anointed by God’, which of course was doled out from the clergy as they saw fit.

Any belief systems which were in any way variant from those of the Church were considered heresy, apostasy, or witchcraft, and were punished ruthlessly. Any and all ‘deviance’ sexually, or any women seen as getting out of their station were ruthlessly punished, publicly flogged, burned at the stake, or imprisoned for life.

Public education and individual liberty were, of course, non-existent. Justice did not exist for peasants when it came to any dispute with nobility or the church. One was superior and the other was not. God and religion were wielded as a club against any thought of freedom or self-determination.

Irrespective of where in the world you look, traditional societies were hardly paradise for the masses. One need only peruse the history of civilisation to find traditional societies of the past as invariably cruel, brutish and short for the majority of humanity. A sliver of powerful few ruled over the top, keeping any and all power and spoils for themselves. From Feudal Japan to the Islamic Empire to Western Europe’s medieval age, we see suffering and privation, a repressive and tyrannical society meant only for the rich, the landed, and the powerful. If you can imagine all of us living in North Korea under the Glorious Leader, you start to get some semblance of what traditionalists believe is a Golden Age.

What they mean by a Golden Age is really a Golden Age for them, for it clear any such society set up would put them in a vaunted station. It is highly unlikely any traditionalist would relegate themselves to the station of the unwashed, oppressed and battered masses.

Modernity was a natural reaction to Tradition

With the lives of the majority of humanity in medieval Church/State-imposed hell on earth, it is not surprising that something else would eventually rise up to overthrow the old order. A society thus structured as were traditional ones were unjust and repressive. With the passage of time and the advance of knowledge, so came the desire for individual freedom from the masters. Slow but inexorable, voices and revolts for change began to show themselves across traditional societies.

The basic nature of the old-world ways was one of blatant inequality and oppression. All the pretty words of traditionalists like Evola cannot unwrite historical fact. As the centuries and millenia rolled on, peasant revolts grew in size and frequency, all of it leading up to the advent of the modern age.

Peruse this list of peasant revolts. In and around the mid 14th century, we see a massive increase in the peasantry fighting back.List of peasant revoltsDate Conflict State Peasants Result Image References 209–206 BC Anti- Qin revolts (including Dazexiang Uprising) Qin…en.wikipedia.org

Why? The fall of traditional social orders had many factors, but a clear driver was that the majority of people were fed up with their treatment by their ‘betters’. Peasants revolted, or moved to towns where they could secure a better life for themselves. The scientific revolution beginning in the Renaissance led to the Age of Reason, a time when logic and science openly questioned such notions as the divine right of nobility, the unquestioned status of the Church.

As species evolve, so do societies. With the advancements of the human race in science and technology, so came societal changes with them.

Modernity is the natural order of progression from traditional societies, not an aberration of them. As knowledge, science, and reason spread, so did the understanding that the traditional societies were made for kings and popes, lords and priests, never for the beaten millions who were the real source of power.

Religious Traditionalism: That Old Time Religion was no Heaven on Earth

Let’s fast-forward past medieval times into modernity. Anyone selling the idea that traditional religion was the binding glue which made a moral and healthy society tick is either deluding themselves or trying to sell you something (likely both).

Fundamentalism, the traditionalist branch of religion, has been defined as ‘ideological intransigence’, in essence a complete unwillingness to accept anything which differs or contradicts religious texts or leaders. The words of the Bible / Koran / The Upanishads are TRUE. They are FACT. Any questioning of the Divine inspiration of their words from the Golden Past is heresy.

Fundamentalist religion has been the reactionary force against any number of scientific discoveries and social advancements, in particular those which grant women, minorities, and LGBTQ people any semblance of equality with the society’s majority population of men.

Fundamentalism in religion has been linked to oppression and violence against women and LGBTQ, repression of reproductive rights, and any number of hard pushes to deny basic human rights to anyone they deem ‘immoral’ or ‘degenerate’.

In the sciences, fundamentalism has been a driving force against the teaching of evolution, the accuracy of the scientific age of the earth, stem cell research, just to name a few. Instead, such religious adherents would have us revert to an intellectual dark age, in which the earth is a mere 6,000 years old, humans are the product of divine construction, and any/all science which would usurp the ‘Will of God’ are actively suppressed at every turn.

The Flat Earth movement, that fringe rabble of tin foil hats who claim science is a lie, the Earth is flat and gravity doesn’t exist (“Things just fall” is their answer), has its roots in traditionalist religion, believing that the round earth ‘hoax’ was set up to turn people away from God.Flat Earthers: You’re doing science wrongWhile You Weren’t Paying Attentionmedium.com

Religious traditionalists want nothing more than to undo any progress or scientific discoveries which run counter to their beliefs. From the Catholic Church and its heresy trial against Galileo, to the Salem witch trials, all the way down to the near-countless attempts by these groups in modern times to stop any and all advances of women’s and LGBTQ rights, one must look askance at any attempt to paint traditionalist religion in any light other than repressive.

Traditionalism: A philosophy based in fear, meant only for the few

In the final equation, when one looks at traditionalist movements, one sees a fear-based reaction to change. Rather than tackle the complexities of our modern society and civilisation, traditionalists recoil from the task, seeking to force our species back to the worst humanity has to offer. “Back to the past” is a slogan with its roots in a terror of the inevitable chaos of the present. The past always feels more secure, for everyone thinks better of that which is dead and gone.

Fear drives traditionalists to seek simple, hard-and-fast rules to the woes of life. Far easier is the path of enforcing draconian rule over the masses than to truly deal with the varying ebb and flow of post-modern human interactions. While anyone would agree that we face a wide swathe of social ills which are the byproduct of modern society, traditionalist thinking imagines that those social ills can be cured with a toxic brew made of subjugation, superstition, and unquestioning obedience to those in power.

Which brings us to the most important point of all: Traditionalism is, like so many despotic philosophies, simply a pretense for the rule of the very few over the very many.

No more equality, no more social justice for all, no more progress. Those who try to push traditionalism on us are corrupt seekers of power. It is they who believe themselves to be our betters, and would seek to create once more the kind of barbaric and undemocratic societies most of us look upon with revulsion and dread.

“Traditional Values”: A Potent Weapon Against LGBT Rights

Published in:Emerging Europe

Graeme Reid

Graeme Reid

Director, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program Graemecreid

People hold posters depicting victims of homophobic violence at a public event in St. Petersburg.
People hold posters depicting victims of homophobic violence at a public event in St. Petersburg. ©2013 Mads Nissen/Panos

In April, news broke of a widespread anti-gay purge in Chechnya; in September, gay men and transgender women were rounded up in Azerbaijan; and in October reports emerged of a registry of gay men and lesbians compiled by authorities in Tajikistan. How might we understand these disparate events as part of a trend in these three former Soviet Union countries?   

The regional leaders’ rhetoric and their modus operandi show that these events are linked by a discourse on “traditional values” that situates LGBT people as the aberrant “other.”  The idea of a timeless, unchanging tradition is particularly powerful in these times of social uncertainty, political instability, and economic pressure. 

This chain of events began in earnest in 2013 with Russia’s federal “propaganda law,” banning the “promotion of non-traditional sexual relations to minors.”  The law had a chilling effect on freedom of expression. Violence with impunity against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Russia spiked.  The propaganda law doesn’t ban sexual relations between members of the same sex. Rather it targets all media and public activities that “try to portray homosexuality as normal behavior.”  

Similar propaganda-style legislation has been discussed in Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova and Ukraine, leading to an increase in public discourse on “traditional values” as a way to sabotage the rights of LGBT people throughout the region. The echoes of “traditional values” rhetoric can be heard of course much further afield including in Egypt, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Uganda.  Russia is not directly responsible for this proliferation of laws outlawing the promotion of homosexuality, or for the renewed zeal for using existing morality laws against LGBT people, such as in Egypt. But Russia has positioned itself as the champion of traditional values, both domestically and internationally.

Russia and Egypt have long led the charge against the advance of the rights of LGBT people at the United Nations, focusing their efforts on “traditional values” and “family values”’ and opposing any mention of sexual orientation, gender identity, or even gender. 

 “Traditional values” is the staple language of Russia’s alliance with countries from the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Africa Group at the United Nations.  The rights of LGBT people are the wedge issue used to undermine the universality of human rights and to position Russia in opposition to the West on the global stage.

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, used this approach in a speech to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2014:  “A number of countries have recently seen a sudden and sometimes rather aggressive rise in the activities of those who support ultra-liberal ideas, advocating permissiveness and hedonism and demanding a revision of norms of morality and ethics shared by all world religions.” Lavrov articulated a powerful rhetorical divide in which the world is split between decadent modernity and wholesome tradition. It has served its purpose well, as a clever shorthand against human rights.

It is in this geo-political context that the words and actions of leaders in Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, and Chechnya, a region within Russia, need to be understood. 

In April, news broke that security forces in Chechnya had been systematically rounding up gay men, torturing them, forcing them to reveal the names of others, and finally releasing them beaten and bruised to their families in a shaming ritual that encouraged so-called “honor-killings,”

This is what Alvi Karimov, spokesperson for Chechnya’s strongman, Ramzan Kadyrov, had to say at the time.   “If there were such people [gays] in Chechnya, law enforcement agencies wouldn’t need to have anything to do with them because their relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning.” In other words, gay people are erased from Chechnya – they do not exist and if they did it would be such an aberration that their own families would get rid of them.

Kadyrov said a few weeks later, “These [homosexual relations] are not traditional things; they are psychiatrically abnormal things. We don’t understand them.”  Here Kadyrov situated homosexuals outside the parameters of culture and tradition.

Magomed Selimkhanov, State Duma deputy of Chechnya, told the media around the same time: “In Chechnya, there are no gays, so there is no attitude toward them. Personally, I think they belong two meters under the ground.”  Elimination is the logical progression of the rhetoric that situates LGBT people outside the parameters of the social order.

In Azerbaijan, notwithstanding that homosexual conduct was decriminalized in 2000, authorities rounded up at least 83 of men beginning mid-September, and, like their Chechen counterparts, tortured them, including using electroshocks, and forced them to reveal the names of others.  Unlike in Chechnya, authorities did not deny that gay men in Baku were rounded up in official raids. They justified the raids on social and public health grounds.

Ehsan Zahidov, spokesman for the Internal Affairs Ministry, said in a September interview with EurasiaNet.org that police were responding to complaints from residents in Baku that gay men were visible on the streets. He is quoted as saying: “People complain that such people walk around us, walk in our streets, and sit in our cafés. ‘These are people who do not fit our nation, our state, our mentality, please take action against them.’”

This is the familiar politics of exclusion that underpins the “traditional values” rhetoric. It characterizes sexual and gender minorities as outgroups and hence convenient scapegoats. LGBT identities, rhetorically linked to modernity and globalization, can readily be blamed for social ills and the perceived erosion of the moral order. This has dangerous consequences for LGBT people in the region. The Azerbaijan spokesman’s explanation echoes the language of social cleansing used by Chechen leader to justify the brutal purge there. 

Government officials have also justified the Baku raids in the language of public health, claiming that the gay men arrested were tested for sexually transmitted diseases. And public health is the justification for the “registry” reportedly compiled by authorities in Tajikistan of 367 citizens presumed to be gay or lesbian. Details were unveiled by the newspaper Zakonnost, published by Tajikistan’s state prosecutor, which said that they “put on a register due to their vulnerability in society and for their safety and to prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.”

The registry appeared in the context of a worsening homophobia in Tajikistan. While homosexuality has been de-criminalized there since 1998, LGBT groups have described to us a consistent pattern in which law enforcement targets people perceived as gay or lesbian for detention, ill-treatment, and extortion, threatening to out them to their families, employers and wider community.

Zakonnost’ reported that a working group set up last year produced the registry based on two state operations beginning in 2016, entitled “Morality” and “Purge.”  The connection between the idea of public health, and a contaminated social body is not hard to see in that terminology.  This is a classic recipe for a moral panic – a vulnerable minority is blamed for social ills. If that group can be isolated and purged, so the perverse logic goes, then all will be well.

LGBT people are certainly not the first to be persecuted following this logic.  But through a persistent rhetoric, powerfully promoted by Russia and its allies, LGBT people have come to embody all that is antithetical to so-called “traditional values.”  And when that rhetoric lays the groundwork for ostracizing LGBT people, it takes little to tip the balance against their basic security—raids, round-ups, and purges are the violent consequence of political homophobia.  

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