Bloody shovel

Don't call it a spade

On words and history

I am a linguist by training, so I have this bias for etymology. The word reactionary, which is what the Jacobins called the pious rebels of the Vendeé, just didn’t sound right. Still after careful thought, it seems clear to me that the intellectual descendants of the Vendeé farmers are what today we called traditionalists, and it’s mostly secular dissenters of liberalism which call ourselves reactionary. If you think about it, we are using an old word for what is a very new movement.

But of course the same could be said for progressives. Whigs became liberals, became progressives, became socialists, which became progressives again. Their particular positions may have changed, but its also very obvious what the inherent ideology is, how it started, how it evolved, what they stand for. We on the other hand don’t have it so easy.

What do ‘we’ stand for? With ‘we’ I mean all those likely to read this blog, which are also likely to call themselves reactionary. Still it seems to me that the reactionary blogosphere is but a subset, the most coherent, of a wide pool of dissenter blogs. Most of them based in the US, each focuses on the particular aspect of liberalism that is screwing him the most. I discern the following:


2. Anti immigration

3.Anti welfare


5.Anti Jewish

6.Anti bankstas

7.Anti Democracy

After Handle’s suggestion I tried to do a Venn diagram on this, but they get pretty messy after 3 items. And all this items are not evenly related. If any Charles Joseph Minard fan is reading this, please give it a shot.

Note also that I exclude Christian traditionalists, as I think it doesn’t change much. You got HBD Christians, libertarian Christians, reactionary Christians, progressive Christians; its obvious to me that the Bible is of such plasticity that you can use to argue pretty much any position at all.

Most people start on one point, and after doing some reading and thinking, they get to all the others quite naturally. In my case I started with HBD, which means welfare is pointless,  which naturally means to oppose 3rd world immigration, which is pushed by Jews so you start to oppose them too, Jews tend to be bankstas who are wrecking the economy so fuck them too. Somewhere on the process I discovered Roissy’s, which taught me how fucked up feminism is, and how HBD links nicely with gender relations, evolutionary biology, etc. And then came Mencius Moldbug who taught it was ok to say the obvious conclusion to all this: Democracy sucks. Opposing democracy, or voting in general, is the last threshold for so called reactionary politics. You may despise blacks, hate Marriage 2.0, or think Jews are evil. But if you think voting can fix anything, you’re no reactionary.

(Libertarians are 3+6,  White nationalists 2+5, PUAs just want to get laid. Most conservatives are just mildly 2+3+4, but aren’t principled).

So we have broken the ultimate taboo of modernity: that democracy is sacred. But whence the name? Reactionary is what the French revolutionaries called the remnants of the Ancienne Regime, and generally what the liberals, Whigs, freemasons, you name them, call their oponents. The best examples are the French reactionaries: De Maistre, Bonald; Maurras later (the tradition lives in Bruce Charlton  or Jim Kalb). They destroyed the utopian assumptions of the Enlightenment political philosophy: the Rights of Man, popular sovereignty and all that bullshit. They show how man is fallen, limited, and must follow traditional authority, for tradition is Gods wisdom trickled down into human society. They also trashed Rationalism itself, so we gotta go back to before Descartes. Cool. So lets follow King and Church and pretend nothing happened.

The problem was that Revolutions happen for a reason. And if simple mass delusion is certainly possible, it doesn’t happen often, and the Enlightenment certainly wasn’t. The Enlightenment was a rebellion of the intellectual classes against the Church(es) intellectual monopoly. And break it they did, unleashing a massive wave of innovation. But they just couldn’t totally break up with that particular Christian innovation: human equality.

If you read the Declaration of the Rights of Man, you can just see how it evolved into modern progressivism. ‘Men are born and remain free and equal in rights”. Yet they weren’t talking about ‘Man’ as in human being. They were talking about ‘we the philosophes‘. If you replace every instance of ‘man’ with ‘Philosophe‘, the document starts to make sense. They didn’t want freedom for every stinking peasant! They didn’t give them freedom when they seized power. They wanted freedom for themselves. But they couldn’t just say ‘we want freedom for us cool intellectuals, lets fool the peasants into killing those lazy aristocrats for us, then we’ll draft them so they get killed by IEDs in southern Spain’. If you want to raise an army you need to talk in the language they understand. Christian morals! So the revolution was wrapped in calls for ‘equality’, that great Christian innovation. Plus ça change...

There are two writers who saw the contradiction pretty clearly, although they mostly didn’t consider themselves as reactionaries. Carlyle, and then Nietzsche. No wonder they are favorites of many reactionary bloggers today.  They show how Rationalism fused with Christian morals to unleash the Whig/liberal/masonic/progressive onslaught on all authority. Carlyle focuses more on the dangers of Rationalism, Nietzsche focuses on the dangers of Christian ‘slave morality’.

Their conclusion is similar: we need a dictator. Someone awesome. Well, we had some of those. Didn’t work well. So ever since progressives have kept undeterred in their equalizing mission. While reactionaries are pretty much stuck in Nietzsche.

But I don’t like being stuck, so I’ll go further. We need a new religion.


11 responses to “On words and history

  1. Silenus January 2, 2012 at 20:20

    So essentially, Ignatius J. Reilly was the proto-reactionary for the post-WWII era?

    • spandrell January 3, 2012 at 19:14

      There must be something better, come on.

      • Silenus January 4, 2012 at 03:49

        Another question- if this movement is primarily anti-Enlightenment, then what historical counter-Enlightenment movements would reactionaries find favor in? Romanticism?

      • spandrell January 4, 2012 at 10:05

        We are primarily anti-progressivism, which has its roots in the Enlightenment doctrine of human rights and popular sovereignty.
        There certainly is a romantic streak in many alt-right writers, which I find somewhat misguided. We need something new.

  2. bgc January 2, 2012 at 23:10

    “The problem was that Revolutions happen for a reason. ”

    Yes – sin. The world is a battleground, the field of unseen warfare between good and evil.

    Revolutions happen because people are tempted and they succomb, as people do, being fallen. The history of Leftism is the triumph of evil. Leftism can only be rolled back by repentance and a renewal of faith: we don’t need a *new* religion, but the true religion (!).

    Bruce Charlton (representative of old-style Christian reaction)

    • spandrell January 3, 2012 at 19:16

      Thanks for passing by, professor.

      You may well be right, but being that most churches are presently possessed by that which you call evil, I think some soul-searching is due. Something is wrong with your theology when those who should defend virtue are now defending vice.

      • a good after noon March 6, 2017 at 01:10

        You meant “churches” as in A gentle introduction to Unqualified Reservations (part 1), didn’t you?

        • a good after noon March 6, 2017 at 01:17

          “So we have broken the ultimate taboo of modernity: that democracy is sacred”

          I’d say the ultimate taboo of modernity is that democracy can possibly be actual.
          That became a possibility the day humans became “equal” lolz.
          As of that day, each of them had Their Ideas, lolzlzozlzoollzooolzlol

  3. Pingback: Randoms of the day « Foseti

  4. zhai2nan2 January 8, 2012 at 13:08

    One important distinction is location.

    A reactionary in America is quite different from a reactionary in the UK, and both of them are different than a Hungarian supporter of Jobbik.

    From the term “bloody shovel,” I assume you mean, “Don’t call a spade a bloody shovel,” i.e. I assume you are British.

    British romanticism might be more about W. B. Yeats and Ezra Pound and so on; American romanticism might be something else, and I have no idea what Hungarian romanticism might be.

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