18 mars 2005

René Guénon, Some conclusions of East and West (excerpt)

“It must be clear to everyone that since this book was written, the situation has grown worse than ever, not merely in the West but in the whole world; this was only to expected, failing some restoration of order of the kind that we have mentioned, and it goes without saying moreover that we never thought that such a restoration could possibly take place so soon as this. But, as a matter of fact, the disorder has gone on increasing even more quickly than could have been foreseen; and this should be taken into to account, although on the whole it makes no difference to the conclusion which we drew.

In the West the disorder in every sphere has grown so obvious that more and more people are aware of it and begin to doubt the value of modern “civilization” but though this is in one sense a favourable sign, the result has so far been purely negative: some people make excellent criticisms of the present state of affairs, but they do not know what remedies to apply, and nothing that they suggest that goes beyond the realm of mere contingency, so that it will all be clearly quite ineffective. We can only repeat that the one true remedy lies in the restoration of pure intellectuality: but unfortunately, from this point of view, the chances of a reaction on the part of the west herself seem to grow smaller and smaller, since what is left of tradition in the west is becoming more and more affected by the modern out look and consequently all the less capable of serving as a sound basis for this restoration, so that without setting altogether aside any possibility that may still exist, it seems likelier than it did before that the East will have to intervene more or less directly, in the way we explained, if the restoration is eventually to take place”.

“On the other hand, as far as the East is concerned, it must be admitted that the ravages of “modernization” have considerably spread, at least outwardly: in those countries that resisted them longest, the change seems now to be all the quicker, and India herself is a striking example of this. However, none of it really goes into the heart of the tradition, which is what counts from our point of view, and perhaps it would be wrong to lay too much stress on appearances which may only be transitory: in any case it is enough that the traditional outlook, with all that it implies, should be wholly preserved in some eastern retreats which are inaccessible to the outward agitation of our age, besides, it must be remembered that every thing modern, even in the East, is really nothing more than a sign that the western outlook has trespassed there; the real East, the only one which really deserves the name, is and always will be the traditional East, even though her representatives should be reduced to being no more than a minority, as even to-day is far from the case; it is this East only that we mean, just as, in speaking of the West, we mean the western outlook, that is, the modern or anti-traditional outlook, wherever it is to be found, since we are above all concerned with the opposition of these two outlooks , and not simply the opposition of two geographical terms. Also, in addition to this, let us say here and now that we are nor than ever inclined to think of the traditional out look, in so far as it is really alive, as remaining intact only in its eastern forms; however, if the West has still in herself the means of going back to and fully restoring her own tradition, it is for the her to prove it; we can only say that so far we have seen not the slightest sign which would justify us in supposing that she is really capable of carrying out such a task all by herself, even if she should become overwhelmed by the sense of its necessity”

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