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The Traditionalist Rebel

Leftist movements begin with rebellion and end with conformity. No Utopian movement can tolerate rebels for long because there is no room for dissent in paradise. An ideal society, the goal of leftist political movements, not only has no room for war, racism, greed and all the other evils the conformist paradises of the left hope to eliminate, it also has no room for disagreement.

The perfect society and its perfect ideology are also the perfect tyranny. Against this Utopian collectivism, which promises paradise and delivers a prison, is the traditionalist rebel who finds virtue in the acknowledgement of human flaws rather than in the unthinking pursuit of an unchanging perfection.

The traditionalist rebel is not seeking perfection, but humanity. He is a skeptical idealist who is interested in character rather than movements. He is above all else an individualist with an instinctive distrust of any movement that requires him to abandon his rights for the greater good.

The traditionalist rebel is the snake in the liberal Eden because he does not have faith in the noble motives of the bureaucratic activists who claim to be the gods of this Eden. He knows enough of human nature to reject the fallacy that the right ideology makes men so righteous that they can be trusted with absolute power without absolute corruption following in their wake. He knows that socialists have not risen above the crimes of selfish self interest that they condemn mankind for.

Their Utopian Eden is a false paradise built on lies and maintained by abuses. It is not the paradise where mankind can return to a state of innocence, but a hell whose innocence is only a willful ignorance of the crimes being committed in its name, whose followers maintain their false virtue through a steady diet of moral outrage over the crimes of everyone but their own superiors and their own ideology.

The traditionalist rebel values innocence, but has learned the lessons of experience. He knows that virtue is an individual struggle and that it cannot be achieved through self deceit. He has learned long ago that we do not become better people by lying to ourselves.

He has built his character by being honest with himself and he does not believe that any man is infallible enough to demand blind faith or that any movement which punishes even the mildest dissent is anything but the worst self of humankind wrapped in deceit and self deceit.

The traditionalist rebel does not believe that collectivist institutions can make us moral. He relies instead on individual institutions of character and honor, empathy and morality. He trusts people individually to do the right thing more than any government. And when he has to trust institutions, he prefers those that are built on honor and integrity, and on simple decency, than those tangled mazes of academic theory whose premises followed to their terrible conclusions assert that human beings are expendable for the sake of utopian ideologies.

It is his individualism that makes the traditionalist rebel so ornery. He has natural anti authoritarian instincts, he demands reasons for restrictions and has a tendency to defy for the sake of defiance. And yet he is not a destroyer, but a builder, he does not want to smash things for the sake of smashing, instead he smashes that which prevents him from building his own values and his own relationships.

Unlike his leftist rebel enemies, he does not fight to impose his system on others, but to defy their attempts to impose their system on him. That is why he is an authentic rebel and they are aristo tyrants playing at being rebels because even bad guys hate seeming like bad guys.

The traditionalist rebel is slow to anger. Unlike the social justice warrior and the crybully, he does not derive his sense of self from manufactured conflicts only meant to reinforce a collective identity, but from his own values. His anger is patient, but also more decisive. It is not the fanatical hysteria of the neurotic leftist who, like the Mohammedan suicide bomber sees paradise in the destruction of perceived enemies, but is a cold, hard determination to be free of them.

It is not the leftist Utopian who wants freedom, but the traditionalist rebel who sees his right to speak, to worship, to marry and raise children, to protect his family and his home, and to go through his life without being accountable to anyone but G-d and his conscience every minute of the day, instead of the ears, eyes and tentacles of government, under attack who truly fights for freedom.

The traditionalist rebel values structure that derives from his own values. He does not believe that mankind can be saved by an external police state, but by the awakening of the authentic voice of the internal conscience. Like America's Founders, he believes that we should build institutions with faith in the Creator and skepticism toward man.

He knows that we cannot make paradise happen by being dishonest about human nature and pretending that the snake of our worst impulses is our god. And so he is naturally skeptical of any grandiose effort at global and national improvement over the improvement of the self that pretend that a better world can be built out of the same materials as the old through sheer collective organization.

The traditionalist rebel is not interested in a better world, but a better self which can be used cooperatively in the building of a better family, a better community and perhaps, a better future, not through top down regulation, but through daily interaction.

Systems are by definition inhuman. Utopian ideologies scale them higher and bigger, nationally and globally, making them ever more inhuman. The traditionalist rebel instinctively rebels against inhuman systems in favor of human connections, he rejects centralized authority for local authority, unelected officials for elected ones, national regulations for human values and mandates for conscience.

At every turn, the traditionalist rebel seeks to scale down issues to character while the leftist authoritarian seeks to scale them up to institutions. This is the conflict that will decide our future.

Will we be a human nation or a massive system? Will we continue to be a nation of individualist rebels or a collectivist nightmare of frightened, angry drones who are convinced that utopia is one more purge away.


  1. Anonymous7/2/16

    Funny how the statist divides and subdivides, but never arrives at the individual. In the end, He will judge us as individuals, not as a collective.

  2. Anonymous7/2/16

    If one changes labels in your article from leftist to dogmatic, from traditionalist to sceptic - all will be more clear and better placed in traditional reference.

    All dogma is sick and leads to illusion and corruption. In my opinion it does not matter which political movement individual subscribes. If one has "external" frame of reference it will be sooner or later corrupted by intention, simplification or justification...

    I am happy that somebody like you takes a stand to defend inner moral obligation of individual as an effort to better himself rather than better the neighbour.

    Thank you.

  3. Anonymous7/2/16

    Excellent article, Daniel! Being married to a traditionalist rebel, I recognise the traits.

  4. Thank you for the excellent article. I can only nod my head in agreement. All the traditionalist wants is to be left alone, and do the same for others and to be able to carry on with his everyday life without tyrants standing above him and controlling his every thought and movement.

  5. This. Yes. This.

  6. Y. Ben-David7/2/16

    America was founded and sustained and reached greatness having leadership and a population that revered these traditionalist rebels. Something happened when FDR and the New Deal came along. There certainly was a major crisis with 25% unemployment and real hunger, but instead of using temporary measures, the cynical New Dealers came up with the idea of "tax, tax, spend, spend, elect, elect", i.e. convince everyone that the government has the right to take away everyone's hard earned money, and then it redistributes it to those "worthy" (i.e. close to the trough) and then they have to vote for you in order to keep the handouts coming. This has created the welfare-state dependency mentality that most Americans now have. Don't they see that it is dragging their once wonderful country down the drain?

  7. And the collective system conspires to re-define and portray the noble "rebel" as one who flaunts traditional moral standards, i.e.: Che Guevera, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Huey Newton, Janet Joplin, Mick Jagger, Curt Cobain, Robert Mappelthorpe, Bruce Jenner

  8. Anonymous7/2/16

    Great blog today,Daniel. As are all of yours. Today you have described many Americans,thankfully, myself among them.

  9. You`re on fire at the moment Mr Greenfield.
    This is a run of hugely influential articles, whose importance will become ever clearer in the coming years.
    Keep `em coming sir-we here in England know your thinking and clarity of purpose and expression is both Godly and prophetic. God Bless you and the USA!

  10. Anonymous7/2/16

    The traditionalist rebel who believes in rightful liberty finds a kindred spirit in the Founders' decision to restrict federal government.

  11. Anonymous8/2/16

    Cliven Bundy?

  12. Anonymous8/2/16

    Really enjoyed this one Daniel, it was an apt description of millions of Americans who are fighting the good fight for freedom each and every day.

  13. Daniel Greenfield is my kind of thinker. A skeptical idealist.
    Religions, even godless ones like socialism, have no room for disagreement.
    Do-gooders, like socialists, always end up doing more harm than good.
    Rebellion if successful does end in conformity, it is just a question of whether this conformity, norm, is practical and beneficial or whether it is impractical theory that has to be enforced, as socialism is enforced.
    Perfection in anything is an unattainable goal and as Greenfield points out human flaws have to be accepted, such as preferring your own kind, and the right to do so.
    Humanity is never going to be perfect and there is never going to be a perfect society, because there will always be wrong-doers, no matter what the definition of wrongdoing is; there will always be crime in one form or another, and this is a reality that ordinary law-abiding decent people are going to have to find means to protect themselves from.
    You will never get everyone to sacrifice themselves completely to the common good, whatever that is, there will always be those that exploit for sadistic pleasure or personal gain. Of course we need ideals to strive for but we must understand that these ideals are only guidelines, not something that can be attained.
    The greatest sin is being willfully ignorant of the real harm that your high moralistic principles are causing, such as on principle and out of idealism opening a country’s borders to anyone that claims that they are in need of refuge. And moral outrage directed towards anyone that mentions that it might be unwise to have unguarded borders. Lying and self-deceit are terrible things. Being honest and acknowledging that cherished beliefs are not true is virtually impossible to most of us.
    Our only hope is individuals that think for themselves and put honesty before every other virtue, and believes genuinely in kindness.

  14. Anonymous8/2/16

    Question: Will the traditionalist be moved to action before it is too late? Better sooner than later.

  15. The traditionalist rebel is…an individualist with an instinctive distrust of any movement that requires him to abandon his rights for the greater good.

    This first time I heard the phrase, “greater good” was when a liberal friend argued to me it was OK that Suzanna Hupp had to watch George Hennard murder her parents in a restaurant in Killeen, Texas in 1991. She could have saved her parents and others if she’d had her firearm with her. She had left it in her car in the parking lot because Texas made it illegal for her to carry it at that time. Unmoved that a gun control law had prevented peaceful citizens from defending themselves from a gruesome murderer, my friend argued that this was justified by the “greater good” that is achieved by gun control laws.

    I was instantly sickened by this argument made by someone I had liked and respected. I’ve since learned that my now former friend was not an outlier, that this is the way many if not most leftists think. It was my introduction to the reality of liberalism, a destructive force that threatens all who cherish liberty.

  16. Is it just my perception, or have others reading this blog noticed that mostly leftists/liberals and others of that ilk, use the word "Sacrifice" quite often, with regard to accomplishing their goals?

  17. Mr. Greenfield, can I just say what a pleasure it is, and refreshing, to read your articles.
    Please keep it up, and know there are millions who depend on you for direction.

  18. Anonymous8/2/16

    This article is brilliant and insightful. It is like shining a light in a dark room. Thank you.

  19. Anonymous9/2/16

    Leftism like ZIKA virus...

  20. Anonymous9/2/16

    Perseverance is more prevailing than violence; and many things which cannot be overcome when they are together, yield themselves up when taken little by little. ~ Plutarch (46 AD-120AD)

  21. Anonymous9/2/16

    Spot on DG! There aren't many true rebels left, but the hope is that more will be made rebellious by the kind of truth you so eloquently present.

    There was a time when we knew that people were created to be loved, and things were created to be used. Nowadays, things are loved and people are used. I blame progressives for that paradigm shift. We have to fight for our humanity every day.

    Keep up the good fight!

  22. Anonymous9/2/16

    A perceptive article, most beautifully penned.

  23. Anonymous9/2/16

    your essays are water for we thirsty travelers. thank you for you for sharing your inspired gift that gives focus and encourages us to carry on.


  24. There was a time when we knew that people were created to be loved, and things were created to be used. Nowadays, things are loved and people are used. I blame progressives for that paradigm shift. We have to fight for our humanity every day.

    However great this article is, this comment is even greater. I would only disagree with the statement that "There was a time when we knew". There never was any "we" that knew anything; mankind has always been composed of the good and the evil, but today the evil "users" of others have the upper hand in a big way.

  25. "Fear a system as you would fear a lion."

    A quote I keep on my computer screen at my gov't job.


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