Creative impulses of the traditional archaic - Political philosophy

Creative impulses of the traditional archaic

Modernization theorists, trying to accelerate the process of transition from traditional society to modern, initially saw in traditions the main obstacle to successful political reforms. "Release political action from traditions!" - this is the slogan of the first wave of modernization, which caused irreparable damage to many original cultures of Africa, Asia and Latin America.


Edward Shills (1911-1995), an American sociologist, challenging the positive role of traditions in the dynamics of political action, emphasizes that traditionalism restrains political creativity, offering ready-made recipes for solving modern problems, and thus leads to stagnation. The fetishization of traditions reinforces the pernicious desire to follow the archaic way of life and patriarchal methods of government, despite radical historical changes. Many archaic traditions are dysfunctional or dangerous because of their specific content (for example, the tradition of sacrifice). It is no accident that human history is full of tragedies and suffering, cruelty, exploitation, discrimination, irrational beliefs, hateful ideologies, unjust laws.

Such a primitive view of traditional culture is now almost obsolete in political philosophy. Culture is not a frozen lava, but a constantly erupting, gushing volcano: it is permanently perfected, polished and transformed ancient traditions in accordance with the challenges of time. Anthony Giddens emphasizes that in the world of politics, traditions have never been molds of frozen forms, they have been rediscovered and rediscovered every new generation. Tradition, Giddens notes, is not so much opposed to change as to the formation of a context of specific temporal and spatial attributes, in relation to which the change takes on a significant form. "

The cultural material of civilizational traditions is so rich, multifaceted and contradictory that it can be used in various historical conditions to create a wide variety of alternative political values. At the same time, the process of folding and improving traditions is determined not so much by archaic principles, as by the needs of the time and the conditions in which the culture develops. American anthropologist Nigel Harris in the book "Faith in Society" emphasizes that "culture is not some kind of outer straitjacket, it is a multi-layered clothing, and individual layers of it can be thrown off and discarded if they begin to interfere with the movement."

Any political definition of cultural values ​​and traditions reflects the choice made by modern political leaders in response to the problems that have arisen. This allowed American anthropologist Kevin Eurich to note that cultural values ​​and traditions "were once invented and re-invented, were once reproduced and re-reproduced in accordance with the complex conditions of historical practice".


The phenomenon of the revival of the traditions of Islamism - largely the phenomenon of the 21st century. Of course, Islamists use cultural material dating back to the time of the Prophet Mohammed. But those customs and traditions that are selected by Islamists for the revival of national traditions do not depend on the dictates of ancient customs, but on understanding the role and significance of these traditions in modern conditions. The other part of the cultural material is completely new, it reflects today's achievements of the Islamic world: huge profits of oil companies, economic, political, military realities of the Islamic world.

The raw material of cultural traditions has always been used and will be used by politicians to justify their goals, because reliance on tradition informs legitimacy of contemporary political actions in the eyes of the whole society. Voluntaristic rejection of political traditions is fraught with the most harmful consequences: society is deprived of the mechanism of natural self-organization, carefully polished for centuries, and it is naive to believe that borrowed forms of organizing political actions can accelerate political development: on the contrary, they open the way to chaos as the most probable state.

The theory of modernization originally provided that political actions during the transformation period would begin to develop not according to the model of culture, but according to the model prescribed by the political reforms. However, deprived of legitimacy by culture, political reforms provoked a social split in society: traditional cultural values ​​and the tasks of political modernization came to a state of sharp confrontation. As a result, a value conflict arose that sometimes led to civil war. For example, in Algeria, Egypt, Sudan, Tunisia, Pakistan in response to the destruction of the traditional way and the invasion of Western values ​​in the process of modernization, the society split, and the defensive reaction of Islam led to a revision of the entire model of social organization.

According to the studies of culturologists, in those cases when political actions are not sanctioned by culture, they are not perceived in it as "their", they can provoke a powerful mass protest movement in society, the desire to destroy, unleash unpleasant political innovations, return to the traditional political foundations. Experts see this as a manifestation of the ancient emotional mechanism of eliminating all the disruptive innovations by the company's own efforts: the richness of culture includes the basis for a massive outrage against unjustified innovations.


In East Africa , in the Malian outback, in the late 1990s. worked expedition of St. Petersburg University. Scientists came to the conclusion that the rejection of national traditions and the transition to the Western model of democracy through the introduction of a multi-party system in the conditions of traditional African society invariably led to the creation of local ethnic-party parties, and the freedom of expression degenerated into frank ethno-separatism, often leading to bloody ethnic and confessional wars. The elections, organized in the Western manner, often acquired the caricature of a pseudo-political farce.

The response to modernist experiments with traditional cultures has become a resurgence of ethno-separatism and religious fundamentalism. The cultural aggression of the West, which tried to eradicate traditions in the countries of the East, gave birth to a powerful process of de-¬ ergerization of these civilizations, where today a return to one's own roots takes place. The world began talking about the "re-Islamization" The Lower East, Hinduization India, about the "return to Asia" Japan. In the Islamic, Confucian, Japanese, Buddhist, Hindu cultures, the basic Western ideas of individualism, freedom, separation of church from state, equality, human rights, liberalism are almost not supported. Propaganda of such ideas provokes a hostile reaction and leads to the strengthening of the primordial values ​​of the native culture. The youth of non-Western countries are increasingly supporting the movements of religious fundamentalism, which are already active not only in Islam, but also in Western Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism.

Expert opinion

In the 1990s, Western scholars conducted a comparative study of the significance of 100 values ​​in different countries, which showed that values ​​of paramount importance in the West are much less important in the rest of the world. ;

As G. Weigel noted, "the desecularization of the world is one of the dominant social phenomena of the late 20th century." Modern politicians and governments, trying to gain the support of the population and form coalitions, are less and less appealing to the national consciousness, they are increasingly turning to the commonality of religious and cultural traditions.

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