January 8, 2010

Reaction & the Reactionary

Note: This entry is designed to gather into one place the aphorisms in which Gómez Dávila mentions the reactionary.

The reactionary does not become a conservative except in ages which maintain something worthy of being conserved. (#876)

Today’s conservatives are nothing more than liberals who have been ill-treated by democracy. (#1,208)

Anguish over the decline of civilization is the affliction of a reactionary.
The democrat cannot lament the disappearance of something of which he is ignorant. (#303)

The growing number of people who consider the modern world “unacceptable” would comfort us, if we did not know that they are captives of the same convictions that made the modern world unacceptable. (#1,831)

The intelligent man quickly reaches reactionary conclusions.
Today, however, the universal consensus of fools turns him into a coward.
When they interrogate him in public, he denies being a Galilean. (#1,292)

The reactionary today is merely a traveler who suffers shipwreck with dignity. (#767)

Castaways more readily forgive the imprudent pilot who sinks the “ship” than the intelligent passenger who predicts its drift towards the reef. (#801)

The fight against evil today is a rearguard action. (#1,581)

We reactionaries provide idiots the pleasure of feeling like daring avant-garde thinkers. (#2,598)

The reactionary’s objection is not discussed; it is disdained. (#2,744)

What the reactionary says never interests anybody.
Neither at the time he says it, because it seems absurd, nor after a few years, because it seems obvious. (#1,700)

Reactionary texts appear obsolete to contemporaries and surprisingly relevant to posterity. (#2,617)

A reactionary author’s readers never know whether they should clap enthusiastically or boo furiously. (#1,980)

Slandered, like a reactionary. (#1,071)

The enemies of the modern world, in the 19th century, could trust in the future.
In this century there only remains bare nostalgia for the past. (#614)

The reactionary does not respect everything history brings, but respects only what it brings. (#947)

The pure reactionary is not a dreamer of abolished pasts, but a hunter of sacred shades on the eternal hills. (#1,994)

It is not a restoration for which the reactionary yearns, but for a new miracle. (#1,081)

It is not because there are ages that have been “surpassed” that no restoration is possible, but because everything is mortal.
The son does not succeed a father who has been surpassed, but a father who has died. (#1,915)

The reactionary does not aspire to turn back, but rather to change direction.
The past that he admires is not a goal but an exemplification of his dreams. (#2,253)

The reactionary’s ideal is not a paradisiacal society. It is a society similar to the society that existed in the peaceful intervals of the old European society, of Alteuropa, before the demographic, industrial, and democratic catastrophe. (#2,947)

No past is ideal.
But only from the past do ideals arise that are not lymphatic, ideals with blood in their veins. (#2,298)

The reactionary does not yearn for the futile restoration of the past, but for the improbable rupture of the future with this sordid present. (#1,297)

The naturally democratic soul feels that neither its defects, nor its vices, nor its crimes, affect its substantial excellence. The reactionary, on the other hand, feels that all corruption ferments in his soul. (#2,190)

The democrat attributes his errors to circumstances.
We thank chance for what we got right. (#1,253)

Being a reactionary is not about believing in certain solutions, but about having an acute sense of the complexity of the problems. (#1,102)

To be a reactionary is to understand that man is a problem without a human solution. (#2,357)

The most convinced reactionary is the repentant revolutionary, that is to say: the man who has known the reality of the problems and has discovered the falseness of the solutions. (#2,163)

The reactionary is the guardian of every heritage.
Even the heritage of the revolutionary. (#1,623)

The left’s ideas produce revolutions; revolutions produce the right’s ideas. (#1,515)

Reactionaries are recruited from among the front-row spectators of a revolution. (#1,325)

The war in the Vendée is the only political conflict that arouses my complete sympathy without troubling my reason. (Bastille Day)

Those who are who active in the new left today are disoriented and helpless reactionaries. (#1,416)

If the left continues adopting, one after another, the objections that we reactionaries have raised against the modern world, we will have to become leftists. (#2,310)

We reactionaries are unfortunate: the left steals our ideas and the right our vocabulary. (#2,171)

The leftist who protests equally against the crimes of the right or the left is called by his comrades, and rightly so, a reactionary. (#1,616)

Revolutions are carried out in order to change the ownership of property and the names of streets.
The revolutionary who seeks to change “man’s condition” ends up being shot for being a counter-revolutionary. (#2,523)

Revolution is progressivist and seeks the strengthening of the state; rebellion is reactionary and seeks its disappearance.
The revolutionary is a potential government official; the rebel is a reactionary in action. (#1,439)

With the exception of the reactionary, today we only meet candidates for [positions as] administrators of modern society. (#2,044)

Reactionary thought breaks into history as concrete liberty’s shout of warning, as the spasm of anguish in the face of the unlimited despotism arrived at by the man intoxicated with abstract liberty. (#1,881)

We reactionaries will live in the future society just as uncomfortably as will the Marxists; but the Marxists will look upon it with the eyes of a dumbfounded father, while we will regard it with the irony of a stranger. (#1,829)

The communist hates capitalism with the Oedipus complex.
The reactionary views it only with xenophobia. (#316)

The reactionary does not condemn the bourgeois mentality, but rather its predominance.
What we reactionaries deplore is the absorption of the aristocracy and the people by the bourgeoisie.
It is the emasculation of liberty or, alternatively, of equality. (#1,609)

It is not so much the plebeian merriment that revolutions unleash which frightens the reactionary as the zealously bourgeois order that they produce. (#1,826)

Reactionary thought has been accused of irrationalism because it refuses to sacrifice the canons of reason to the prejudices of the day. (#1,263)

The root of reactionary thought is not distrust of reason but distrust of the will. (#2,666)

The reactionary longs to convince the majorities, the democrat to bribe them with the promise of others’ goods. (#328)

Though he knows he cannot win, the reactionary has no desire to lie. (#914)

A reactionary is anyone who is not prepared to buy his victory at any price. (#1,782)

Whoever is not ready to prefer defeat in certain circumstances sooner or later commits the very crimes he denounces. (#2,386)

Whoever defeats a noble cause is the one who has really been defeated. (#2,387)

Someone who has been defeated should not console himself with the possible retaliations of history, but with the patent excellence of his cause. (#2,599)

To win a bet, in our time, one must bet for the individuals or the causes which one would like to see lose. (#2,404)

In the last century they could fear that modern ideas would be right.
Today we see that they were only going to win. (#1,556)

Only the defeated come to possess sound ideas about the nature of things. (#2,670)

The first generation of reactionaries accumulated warnings, the second only accumulated predictions, the following generations continue accumulating proofs. (#2,287)

Today’s reactionary has a satisfaction which yesterday’s did not: to see modern programs end not only in disaster but also in ridicule. (#2,200)

The reactionary does not argue against the world in the hope of defeating it, but so that the rights of the soul do not prescribe. (#1,575)

The reactionary is not upset by certain things, but by anything out of place. (#1,622)

The reactionary invented the dialogue upon observing differences among men and the variety of their intentions.
The democrat engages in a monologue, because humanity expresses itself through his mouth. (#716)

We reactionaries escape, necessarily by good fortune, the vulgarity of conforming perfectly to the fashions of the day. (#1,725)

The fervor of the homage which the democrat renders to humanity is comparable only to the coldness with which he disrespects the individual.
The reactionary disdains man, without meeting an individual he scorns. (#832)

Treating an inferior with respect and affection is the classic syndrome of the reactionary psychosis. (#1,033)

The Marxist has no doubt about the perversity of his adversary.
The reactionary merely suspects that his adversary is stupid. (#894)

The defeated reactionary always retains the option of entertaining himself with the victor’s simplistic ideas. (#1,250)

We who are sedentary and indifferent to fashion enjoy nothing more than the panting gallop of straggling progressives. (#1,882)

The reactionary not only has the nose to sniff out the absurd, he also has the palate to savor it. (#1,856)

The progressive’s enthusiasm, the democrat’s arguments, the materialist’s demonstrations are the reactionary’s delicious and succulent food. (#1,467)

Even the farthest right of any right always seems too far to the left for me. (#1,199)

The left calls people situated just to their right rightists.
The reactionary is not to the right of the left, but in front of it. (#2,159)

Leftists and rightists merely argue about who is to have possession of industrial society.
The reactionary longs for its death. (#2,179)

Art is the most dangerous reactionary ferment in a democratic, industrial, and progressive society. (#1,138)

Unless what we write seems obsolete to modern man, immature to the adult, trivial to the serious man, we must start over. (#2,324)

A woman has the intellectual temperature of the medium in which she lives: vehement revolutionary or dauntless conservative, according to the circumstances.
A reactionary she can never be. (#1,512)

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