Conservatism consists in the orientation to subsume change within the existing or preceding (real or imagined) order, rather than favoring conforming it to change (liberalism). that goes for more than just the hierarchy, as you indicate.
Yes reactionary thought is indeed varied and also persistent. It has been able to re-invent itself for over 200 years. When starting this thread-actually what prompted me- was some cartoonish stuff I saw on the internet. Hence yeah, I can see the straw-man too. I was aware of that.
So would you say it's correct to say that what unifies different strains conservatism at the most basic lebvel is a defense of existing hierarchies?
Uncertain. I can see where that definition imposes some unnecessary constraints. That is, I see no reason for it to be limited to upholding existing hierarchies. It can be more historically discontinuous. But generally, yes, I see conservatism as looking for enduring constants in human experience and institutions that it regards as viable for the present; some form of hierarchy is generally admitted as desirable on the basis of that orientation.
Agreed. I think we have share consensus on this. However, I fear we have moved no closer to the intent of the OP which was aimed at the critique of a certain sort of 'traditionalism', which has yet to be defined. Perhaps through enumeration of certain concrete examples in thought and behavior (besides the one provided) the OP could help bring us towards an elaboration of the concept before we proceed to deconstructing it? I am really interested in this.
I can't speak to augustine's idiosyncratic and idealogically driven definition of "traditionalism," but to add what I've posted
To save this thread from its OP:
Traditionalism: the dead world of the living; the orientation of keeping a fossil on life support indefinitely, resisting any signs of life, growth and change.
I would say that any number of émigré communities provide an excellent source of material through which to thresh out the idea. My favorite example would be the ROCOR émigré community. Neither all ROCOR parishioners nor all émigrés fell within the definition. I'm thinking of those who I used to define (before the Act of Canonical Communion, when they just became schismatic) as those who would rather have their right arm wretched out of its socket rather than write a word without a "hard sign"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_sign#Old_Russian:_Yerhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yat#Russian
and expected that once the Soviet Union fell any day (on the Old Calendar, of course), the Holy Governing Synod in exile would be installed in Moscow and the Romanov pretender would take the throne. All of which are prime examples of traditionalism, as the spelling reforms had long been advocated under the Czars and had been implemented before the Bolsheviks took over, the restoration of the Patriarchate had been in the works before the Czar fell and was restored the Bolsheviks took over, and the Romanovs had fallen from power and the throne had been offered to other noble houses before Kerensky and his socialist coalition proclaimed Russia a republic. Even if Lvov retained the government, the world that these ROCOR émigrés tried to maintain in exile would not have existed in Holy Mother Russia.
Émigrés do not have to be so wedded to tradition for tradition's sake to prove something. Charles X's traditionalism (with its insistence at a coronation with all the pomp in Rheims after the restoration) contrasted with Louis Philippe I's conservatism (with its resumption of the title "King of the French" (as opposed to the feudal "of France and of Navarre") of Lois XVI's phase of rule as a constitutional monarch), which had come out of the latter's liberal agitation for a constitutional monarchy under the Ancien Régime. This was epitomized by the preamble of the Constition of the Bourbon Restoration:
Louis, by the grace of God, King of France and Navarre, to all those to whom these presents come, greeting.http://www.napoleon-series.org/research/government/legislation/c_charter.html
Divine Providence, in recalling us to our estates after a long absence, has laid upon us great obligations. Peace was the first need of our subjects: we have employed ourselves thereto without relaxation; and that peace, so necessary for France, as well as for the remainder of Europe, is signed. A constitutional charter was called for by the actual condition of the kingdom; we promised it, and we now publish it. We have taken into consideration that, although all authority in France resides in the person of the king, our predecessors have not hesitated to alter the exercise thereof in accordance with the change of the times: that it was in this manner that the communes owed their emancipation to Louis, the Fat, the confirmation and extension of their rights to Saint Louis and Philip the Fair; that the judicial system was established and developed by the laws of Louis XI, Henry II and Charles IX; and finally, that Louis XIV regulated almost all parts of the public administration by various ordinances whose wisdom nothing has yet surpassed.
We are bound, by the example of the kings, our predecessors, to estimate the effects of the ever increasing progress of enlightenment, the new relations which these advances have introduced into society, the direction impressed upon opinions during the past half century, and the significant alterations which have resulted therefrom: we have recognized that the wish of our subjects for a constitutional charter was the expression of a real need; but, in yielding to this wish, we have taken every precaution that this charter should be worthy of us and of the people over whom we are proud to rule. Sagacious men taken from the highest body of the state met with commissioners of our council to labor upon this important work.
While we have recognized that a free and monarchical constitution was necessary to meet the expectation of enlightened Europe, We have also been constrained to remember that our first duty towards our subjects was to preserve, in their own interest, the rights and prerogatives of our crown. We have hoped that, taught by experience, they may be convinced that only the supreme authority can give to institutions which it establishes the strength, permanence, and majesty with which it is itself invested; that thus, when the wisdom of the king freely coincides with the wish of the people, a constitutional charter can be of long duration; but that, when violence wrests concessions from the feebleness of the government, public liberty is not less in danger than the throne itself. In a word, we have sought the principles of the constitutional charter in the French character and in the enduring examples of past ages. Thus, we have seen, in the renewal of the peerage, an institution truly national and one which must bind all the recollections with all the hopes, in bringing together former and present times.
We have replaced by the Chamber of Deputies those former assemblies of the fields of March and May, and those chambers of the Third Estate, which so often gave at the same time proof of zeal for the interests of the people and of fidelity and respect for the authority of the king. In thus attempting to renew the chain of the times, which disastrous errors have broken, we have banished from our recollection, as we could wish it were possible to blot out from history, all the evils which have afflicted the fatherland during our absence. Happy to find ourselves once more in the bosom of our great family, we have felt that we could respond to the love of which we have received so many testimonials, only by pronouncing words of peace and consolation. The dearest wish of our heart is that all Frenchmen should live as brothers, and that no bitter recollection should ever disturb the security that must follow the solemn act which we grant them to-day.
Assured of our intentions, and strengthened by our conscience, we pledge ourselves, in the presence of the assembly which hears us, to be faithful to this constitutional charter, reserving to ourselves to swear to maintain it with a new solemnity, before the altars of Him who weighs in the same balance kings and nations.
For these reasons,
We have voluntarily, and by the free exercise of our royal authority, accorded and do accord, grant and concede to our subjects, as well for us as for our successors forever, the constitutional charter which follows:
which could have been merely traditional, if its traditionalist implementation by the Bourbons did not prove otherwise. Contrast the tradition based Charter that Louis Philippe accepted with the throne:
The chamber of deputies, taking into consideration the imperious necessity which results from the events of the 26th, 27th, 28th and 29th of July, and the following days; and from the situation in which France is placed in consequence of the violation of the constitutional charter:http://oll.libertyfund.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=863&Itemid=264
Considering, moreover, that by this violation, and the heroic resistance of the citizens of Paris, his majesty Charles X., his royal highness Louis Antoine, dauphin, and all the members of the senior branch of the royal house, are leaving, at this moment, the French territory—
Declares that the throne is vacant de facto et de jure, and that it is necessary to fill it.
The chamber of deputies declares secondly, that according to the wish, and for the interest of the French people, the preamble of the constitutional charter is suppressed, as wounding the national dignity in appearing to grant to the French rights which essentially belong to them; and that the following articles of the same charter ought to be suppressed or modified in the following manner.
Louis Philippe, King of the French, to all to whom these presents shall come, greeting:
We have ordained and ordain, that the constitutional charter of 1814, as amended by the two chambers on the 7th August, and adopted by us on the 9th, be published anew in the following terms:
Basically, the traditionalist's approach to current reality is to pretend that it hasn't happened, and to convince itself of that by strident reaffirmation of its idealized past, epitomized by Henry V, the heir of Charles X supported by Louis Philippe's heir, loosing the French throne after the fall of the Second French Empire, by insisting that France take down the tricolor and raise up the fleur de lys as its standard. The royalist majority of France had to proclaim the Third Republic, so far France's longest lasting-although it was founded as a temporary care taker regime until Henry came to his senses. Instead, he became the father of the French Republic (as its presidents pointed out) and doomed the French monarchy with his manifesto of July 5, 1871:
I am in the midst of you
You have opened the doors of France, and I could not deny myself the pleasure of seeing again my homeland. [the Assembly had just let emigres return]
But I do not want to give by my prolonged presence, new pretexts for the agitation of minds so disturbed now.
I leave this Chambord that you gave me and whose name I wore with pride, for forty years, one the paths of exile.
As I walk away, I would like to tell you, I do not separate myself from you; France knows that I belong to it.
I can not forget that monarchist right is the heritage of the nation or decline the duties it imposes on me to it.
These duties, I will act, believe my word as an honest man and king [this was the first time Henri V assumed the title].
God willing, we will build together, and when you wish, on the broad foundation of administrative decentralization and local franchises, a government according to the real needs of the country.
We will give guarantee to these public freedoms to which all Christian people needs, universal suffrage honestly practiced and control of both houses, and resume, by restoring its veritable character, the national movement of the end of the last century.
A minority rebelled against the wishes of the country, made the starting point of a period of demoralization by falsehood and disruption by violence. Their criminal attacks have forced to a revolution a nation that only called for reforms, and have therefore pushed towards the abyss yesterday where she would have persihed, without the heroic efforts of our army.
These are the working class, these workers in the fields and cities whose fate has been my liveliest preoccupation and my dearest studies, which have suffered from this social disorder.
But France, cruelly disillusioned by disasters without parrallel, will understand that does not come back to the truth in changing error, that one can not escape by expedients eternal necessities.
It will call me, and I will come to it as a whole, with my devotion, my principle and my flag.
On the occasion of this flag, one spoke about conditions that I should not suffer.
Frenchmen! I am ready to do anything to help my country rise from its ruins and take again its proper place in the world. I am prepared to sacrifice everything for my country, except my honor.
I am, and wish to be, a man of my time. I render sincere homage to all of France's grandeurs. Whatever the color of the flag under which our soldiers marched, I have always admired their heroism and given thanks to God for everything that their bravery has added to the treasury of the glories of France.
Between you and me, there should e no misunderstandings and nothing hidden.
Just because there has been ignorant and credulous talk of privileges, absolutism, or intolerance - and, what else - of tithes and feudal rights -phantoms which the most audacious dishonesty attempts to revive before your eyes, I will not allow the standard of Henry IV, Francis I, and Joan of Arc to be snatched from my hands.
It was with this standard that national unity was achieved, it was with this standard that your ancestors, led by my ancestors, conquered Alsace and Lorraine, whose loyalty will be the consolation of our misfortunes.
This standard conquered barbarism in Africa and witnessed the first feats of arms of the princes of my family, and this standard will conquer the new barbarism which threatens the world! I will entrust this standard to the valor of our army, which knows that the standard has followed only the path of honor.
I received this standard as a sacred trust from the old king, my grandfather, dying in exile. For me, the standard has always been
inseparable from the absent fatherland; it flew over my cradle, and I want it to cover my tomb.
In the glorious folds of this standard without stain, I will bring you order and liberty.
Frenchmen—Henri V. cannot abandon .the white flag of Henry IV
On those "paths of exile", Henri his personally designed flag, oddly enough, was traditional, not traditionalist.
So too the restoration in Romania, Russia, etc. of the national symbols (flage, coat of arms, etc.) of the former monarchies before the socialist/people's republics, and the adoption of the Libyan Revolution of a flag based on the Libyan monarchy. Traditional, but not traditionalist.