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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Traditionalism and globalization

I ended an article published in 2003 "Vestlig sufisme og traditionalisme,"* by saying that "Traditionalism seems to benefit from globalization." A correspondent in Georgia wrote to question this, arguing that since globalization was the negation of tradition, this could not be the case. An interesting discussion followed.
  • What I mean by Traditionalism is acceptance of the main ideas found in the work of Guénon and others, i.e. the attempt to safeguard or recover a certain conception of tradition. What my correspondent meant by traditionalism was the success of such an attempt, or of a similar attempt.

  • What I meant by globalization was the changes that have happened so far. What my correspondent meant was something like an attempt to adjust the entire globe to current mainstream American norms.

Conclusion: indeed, the success of a project to adjust the globe to American norms would certainly mean the extinction of local traditions, and the defeat of Traditionalism. However, in the absence of its complete success, the perception of such a project--whether it really exists or not--engenders resistance to it, and one form that resistance can take is Traditionalism.

It seems to me that one reason for enthusiasm for Traditionalism in countries such as Georgia (and--more frequently--Russia) is precisely this: perception of a threatening project of globalization, a perception that is strengthened by the changes that have already taken place.

* In Den gamle nyreligiøsitet, Vestens glemte kulturarv, ed. Mette Buchardt and Pia Böwadt (Copenhagen: Anis, 2003), pp. 139-51. No, they don't generally read Danish in Georgia, but there is an English translation of the article.

4 comments:

Giorgi said...

Post by MS: What I mean by Traditionalism is acceptance of the main ideas found in the work of Guénon and others, i.e. the attempt to safeguard or recover a certain conception of tradition. What my correspondent meant by traditionalism was the success of such an attempt, or of a similar attempt.

Question by GR: Can you please be more speific as to what is the difference between the attempt to safeguard and be successful???? The safeguarding almost always means success which commonly is associated with victory, but NO country has the Ministry of War (Success), but the Ministry of Defense (safeguarding).

Post by MS: What I meant by globalization was the changes that have happened so far. What my correspondent meant was something like an attempt to adjust the entire globe to current mainstream American norms


Question by GR: Do you think the changes that have happened so far in the entire globe are not ADJUSTED to the current mainstream American norms ???? Please look at the pic of Condoleezza Rice (US) and others from G-8. And you will find our what I mean in particular.

Mark Sedgwick said...

Question by GR: Can you please be more speific as to what is the difference between the attempt to safeguard and be successful???? The safeguarding almost always means success which commonly is associated with victory, but NO country has the Ministry of War (Success), but the Ministry of Defense (safeguarding).

War can end in defeat as well as success! I mean that defense may happen before victory or defeat.

Mark Sedgwick said...

Question by GR: Do you think the changes that have happened so far in the entire globe are not ADJUSTED to the current mainstream American norms ???? Please look at the pic of Condoleezza Rice (US) and others from G-8. And you will find our what I mean in particular.

You're asking me to step a bit outside my normal scholarly role here! Ok, yes, I agree that current and recent changes tend more in the direction of US norms more than any other, if that is the shorthand one wants to use. But there's an awful lot more going on, I think--it's not just a one-dimensional process.

Dominik said...

Dear Giorgi,

Can you get in touch with me:
ledertisch@gmail.com

I would like to ask you something about "Tradition" in Georgia.

Thank you!