Category Archive 'Reaction'

25 Apr 2016

Douthat Suddenly Feels a Need for Some Reactionary Dignity

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Nicolás Gómez Dávila: “The reactionary today is merely a traveler who suffers shipwreck with dignity.”

The New York Times tame house-conservative Ross Douthat finds himself yearning these days, as the gods of establishment Progressivism and Conservatism seem to be failing, for a higher-proof version of right-wing inspiration. Of course, being Ross Douthat, he is careful to stipulate that the Reactionary philosophy he yearns for should be violative of left-wing shibboleths but, please! not too transgressive.

[W]hile reactionary thought is prone to real wickedness, it also contains real insights. … Reactionary assumptions about human nature — the intractability of tribe and culture, the fragility of order, the evils that come in with capital-P Progress, the inevitable return of hierarchy, the ease of intellectual and aesthetic decline, the poverty of modern substitutes for family and patria and religion — are not always vindicated. But sometimes? Yes, sometimes. Often? Maybe even often.

Both liberalism and conservatism can incorporate some of these insights. But both have an optimism that blinds them to inconvenient truths. The liberal sees that conservatives were foolish to imagine Iraq remade as a democracy; the conservative sees that liberals were foolish to imagine Europe remade as a post-national utopia with its borders open to the Muslim world. But only the reactionary sees both.

Is there a way to make room for the reactionary mind in our intellectual life, though, without making room for racialist obsessions and fantasies of enlightened despotism? So far the evidence from neoreaction is not exactly encouraging.

Yet its strange viral appeal is also evidence that ideas can’t be permanently repressed when something in them still seems true.

Maybe one answer is to avoid systemization, to welcome a reactionary style that’s artistic, aphoristic and religious, while rejecting the idea of a reactionary blueprint for our politics. From Eliot and Waugh and Kipling to Michel Houellebecq, there’s a reactionary canon waiting to be celebrated as such, rather than just read through a lens of grudging aesthetic respect but ideological disapproval.

A phrase from the right-wing Colombian philosopher Nicolás Gómez Dávila could serve as such a movement’s mission statement. His goal, he wrote, was not a comprehensive political schema but a “reactionary patchwork.” Which might be the best way for reaction to become something genuinely new: to offer itself, not as ideological rival to liberalism and conservatism, but as a vision as strange and motley as reality itself.

By “reactionary,” of course, Ross Douthat is referring to beyond-the-pale forms of anti-Progressive, anti-Liberal political thought which reject such core principles of democratic modernism as Democracy, Pacifism, Internationalism, and Egalitarianism.

19 Apr 2013

“If I Could Live In Any Decade, It Would Definitely Be The 960s”


Jonathan Soifer in the Onion:

Ever feel like you’re living in the wrong era? Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of stuff I love about today, but I’ve never been able to shake the feeling that I was born too late. When I look back at the past, I get the sense that I truly belonged in those heady days of peace and love, back between the fall of the Roman Empire and the dawn of the High Middle Ages. That’s why, if I could live in any time period, I would definitely choose the 960s.

Something about those wild, revolutionary years really speaks to me. It seemed like everything was going on back then. The frocks looked good, the chants were amazing, and everyone who wasn’t suffering typhoid or acute vitamin deficiencies was just so alive with energy. The 960s just seemed like an electrifying time to be living.

The straight-laced 950s were over but the stirrings of feudalism were only just beginning. Everyone was in this vibrant period of transition between Byzantine autocracy and fealty to large landowners, just trying to discover themselves. For a brief moment you had this optimism that made you feel like you could just stick your thumb out, hop in a passing cart transporting waterfowl, and go. Didn’t even matter where—you’d just take it easy at the next fiefdom and figure it out. Who was going to tell you no? The king? Edgar the Peaceable was on the throne and he didn’t care. It was a simpler time.

There was just this laid-back, anything-goes culture in the 960s, what with the dissolution of the Carolingian dynasty, and I know I would have fit right in.

Plus, so much of my favorite music came out of 960s—the Gregorian chants, the atonal dirges. Before that, they just had plainsong. But then there was this surge of creativity and monks started adding another part to the chant, and boom, florid organum was born. And the sounds they were able to produce with their lutes and recorders were truly groundbreaking. Forget the crap you hear today; back then they knew how to write real hymns.

Can you imagine what it was like to have been around when Odo of Arezzo broke onto the scene? Or to have actually seen Reginold of Eichstätt live? It blows my mind that on any given weekend in the Abbey of St. Martial you could have seen St. Tutilo von Gallen, Ademar of Chabannes, or Hucbald. Hucbald! And just think how amazing it would have been to experience that unforgettable summer of 969, when it seemed like everyone gathered on the lea to circle-dance and intone around a communal fire. Yeah, it was muddy, and yeah, the food was almost assuredly rancid and diseased, but so what? Two words: Heriger and Wigbert!

I guess I was just born a few decades and a millennium too late.

02 Sep 2011

Anti-Scientific, Reationary Liberals

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We’ve recently heard a lot of condescending accusations that Republican candidates who refuse to accept Warmism are anti-scientific, just as we heard an awful lot during the battle over Obamacare how backward anyone was who did not understand that universal government-provided healthcare was an essential feature of any modern advanced society.

Dan Greenfield explored the issue of just who the reactionaries harboring hostility toward science and Modernity really are in an excellent essay written early last year.

The narrative that liberal pundits have constructed and continually replayed over the last year is one in which progress minded and enlightened liberals are working to reform America into a modern society, while being stymied by a bunch of knuckle dragging reactionary conservatives who are anti-Science and want to drag America back into the dark ages. There’s only one problem with this narrative, it’s actually a mirror image of reality.

When it comes to holding on to reactionary ideas or maintaining an ideological worldview built on a reflexive hostility to modernity; nobody can top the modern leftist or his tamer liberal cousin. If you took away leader worship, fear of technology, the state as the solution to all problems, the supremacy of the group over the individual and the belief that the “enlightened” should rule over the common masses for their own good and control every aspect of their lives– there would be nothing left of the modern liberal. Literally nothing at all.

The modern liberal is wedded to a thoroughly reactionary worldview in which he worships the institutions he control and is full of paranoia and suspicion of those he does not. He disdains the common man and longs for enlightened leaders to uplift him and to transform his country into a messianic vision of a kingdom of heaven in which no one ever goes hungry and everyone is perfectly equalized– a pseudo-religious vision of government as religion that is wholly primitive in its conflation of theology and civics.

Every time a liberal pundit self-righteously trots out the stereotype of the ignorant science bashing conservative who just won’t accept the science of the environmentalist movement, he needs to be reminded that the entire environmentalist movement is founded on a fear of the products of science, namely technology and modern civilization. …

When its flashy clothes are stripped away, liberalism stands revealed as a fear of modernity. There is nothing progressive about liberalism, it is the ideology of a political, cultural and economic elite that reviles everything modern, that longs for a mystical right of kings and well ordered oligarchies, denounces technology as the tool of the pollution devil, distrusts all science that is not in the service of its ideology and is threatened by any sort of debate or opposition.

Today liberalism is the second most backward, most paranoid, most reactionary and totalitarian ideology in the West after Islamism. Both are based on the fear of the modern, the fear of the liberated individual, technology and the nation state. Their great dream is the same, a vast mystical world-state ruled over by the enlightened and providing an inhumanly perfect justice for all. Both believe that the only solution for mankind is to go backward, to crawl instead of walk, to fear instead of know and to obey rather than think. That is Liberalism and Islamism in a nutshell, two reactionary ideologies walking together into the dark ages.

Read the whole thing.

Hat tip to Vanderleun.

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