The People Who Like Us, The People We Like

I’m the first to sympathize with anyone who is skeptical of academics, but you couldn’t be more mistaken if you think perennialism is an “academic phenomenon”.

Let’s be clear: when you refer to the “ideological lenses” of modern academicians, what you’re talking about—in a word—is liberals or leftists, in all their more and less virulent forms. And whatever perennialists may be, they’re not liberals, or not at least when it comes to the classic disputes that define right and left. Perennialists are distinctly conservative when it comes to being hierarchicalists, not egalitarians; absolutists, not relativists; and traditionalists, not postmodernists.

This is why the “I’m okay, you’re okay” crowd, who are sometimes initially attracted to perennialism because of what it says about the “transcendent unity of religions”, are very quickly repelled when they discover that Schuon and Co. are anything but tolerant and “open-minded” in dealing with the many errors of our time: materialism, individualism, evolutionism, historicism, etc.

A friend and fellow perennialist once summed things up very nicely: “The people who like us [the tolerant, interfaith conference-goers] we don’t like, and the people we like [those who are fully living the life prescribed by their ancient traditions] don’t like us.”

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