The Authentic Reactionary: Part I (Companion Commentary)

I return this week to the writings of Colombian Reactionary philosopher, Nicolás Gómez Dávila (1913-1994). Published in 1995 by the magazine Revista Universidad de Antioquia (Issue 240), ‘The Authentic Reactionary‘ is one of the few essays he wrote which have been translated into English from their original Spanish, lovingly done here by Robert V. Young. The essay focuses on the rightist mind and how the Progressive stands aghast when confronted with such a mind due to his own predilection for a warped and revised historiography. It’s an excellent topic to delve into, and so I shall.

“The existence of the authentic reactionary is usually a scandal to the progressive. His presence causes a vague discomfort. In the face of the reactionary attitude the progressive experiences a slight scorn, accompanied by surprise and restlessness. In order to soothe his apprehensions, the progressive is in the habit of interpreting this unseasonable and shocking attitude as a guise for self-interest or as a symptom of stupidity; but only the journalist, the politician, and the fool are not secretly flustered before the tenacity with which the loftiest intelligences of the West, for the past one hundred fifty years, amass objections against the modern world. Complacent disdain does not, in fact, seem an adequate rejoinder to an attitude where a Goethe and a Dostoevsky can unite in brotherhood.”

Reactionary thought unnerves our enemies in a way that Conservatism does not. Far from being the vain pullings of a dog that must be brought to heel by the Modernist jackboot because he knows not what is in his best interests until he is shown, Reactionary thought is not so predictable because it denies the groundwork of Liberalism, that which Conservatism remains ultimately loyal to however much it protests. The worldview of the radical rightist is one with its own character, above and apart from Modern ruminations. In rejecting currently popular dogmas root and branch, a thinker will find his adversary intimidated. They are not used to foes such as these, especially not on an intellectual battleground. It is why the ideas of Conservatives must be ridiculed, whilst ours must be completely banned under the label of ‘extremist thought’. To incorporate an analogy from AnathematizedTruth, we are the ‘creditors‘ who call non-stop to remind the Moderns that they owe a debt in entropy, and it will be paid.

“But if all the conclusions of the reactionary surprise the progressive, the reactionary stance is by itself disconcerting. That the reactionary protests against progressive society, judges it, and condemns it, and yet is resigned to its current monopoly of history, seems an eccentric position. The radical progressive, on the one hand, does not comprehend how the reactionary condemns an action that he acknowledges, and the liberal progressive, on the other, does not understand how he acknowledges an action that he condemns. The first demands that he relinquish his condemnation if he recognizes the action’s necessity, and the second that he not confine himself to abstention from an action that he admits is reprehensible. The former warns him to surrender, the latter to take action. Both censure his passive loyalty in defeat.”

This is hard to decipher, but here, what is essentially being pointed out is that a Radical Progressive cannot tolerate for one moment that we are students of history and yet do not conform to the path it paves, while the Liberal Progressive scorns us for our supposed impotency in the face of something we claim is evil. Without an informed look at the cyclical nature of human history, both see us as bitter defeatists. They remain oblivious to the esoteric knowledge that we have cultivated within our ideological foundations which tells us to stand firm and not be swallowed up by vain pursuits. To sum up Evola’s thought, “When a cycle of civilization is reaching its end, it is difficult to achieve anything by resisting it and by directly opposing the forces in motion.The current is too strong; one would be overwhelmed. The essential thing is not to let oneself be impressed by the omnipotence and apparent triumph of the forces of the epoch. These forces, devoid of connection with any higher principle, are in fact on a short chain. One should not become fixated on the present and on things at hand, but keep in view the conditions that may come about in the future.” Present structures are very much limited in their existence, endemically so in fact. This truth is an unacceptable heresy to the Progressive. He will not even contemplate it for a moment.

“The radical progressive and the liberal progressive, in fact, reprove the reactionary in different ways because the one maintains that necessity is reason, while the other affirms that reason is liberty. A different vision of history conditions their critiques. For the radical progressive, necessity and reason are synonyms: reason is the substance of necessity, and necessity the process in which reason is realized. Together they are a single stream of the standing-reserve of existence.
History for the radical progressive is not merely the sum of what has occurred, but rather an epiphany of reason. Even when reason indicates that conflict is the directional mechanism of history, every triumph results from a necessary act, and the discontinuous series of acts is the path traced by the steps of irresistible reason in advancing over vanquished flesh. The radical progressive adheres to the idea that history admonishes, only because the contour of necessity reveals the features of emergent reason. The course of history itself brings forth the ideal norm that haloes it.”

Summing up of the omnipresent Modernist slogan, ‘We are on the right side of history!’. They firmly believe in their linear observation of how human civilization has run its course through time. They believe that the current state of play is an organic and very much necessary advancement in human socio-political organization. What’s worse, most are so arrogant as to think they stand triumphant atop the mountain of history and proclaim that we have reached its end with their ‘superior’ ideal.

let me tell you how I happened to be born
when mankind finally had everything right

“Convinced of the rationality of history, the radical progressive assigns himself the duty of collaborating in its success. The root of ethical obligation lies, for him, in the possibility of our propelling history toward its proper ends. The radical progressive is inclined toward the impending event in order to favor its arrival, because in taking action according to the direction of history individual reason coincides with the reason of the world. For the radical progressive, then, to condemn history is not just a vain undertaking, but also a foolish undertaking. A vain undertaking because history is necessity; a foolish undertaking because history is reason.”

There is a certain hypocrisy on the part of the Radical Progressive. He lauds all history of ‘reason’ for leading to our so-called ‘enlightened’ era and yet has built a bizarre portfolio of grievances against past states, individuals, and cultural or religious trends. For the most part, he likes where he has ended up, but despises where he has been, only stopping to thank those few who took it upon themselves to overthrow the World of Tradition, and even they now find themselves vilified in some circles as racists and slave-owners.

“The liberal progressive, on the other hand, settles down in pure contingency. Liberty, for him, is the substance of reason, and history is the process in which man realizes his liberty. History for the liberal progressive is not a necessary process, but rather the ascent of human liberty toward full possession of itself. Man forges his own history, imposing on nature the errors of his free will. If hatred and greed drag man down among bloody mazes, the struggle is joined between perverted freedoms and just freedoms. Necessity is merely the dead weight of our own inertia, and the liberal progressive reckons that good intentions can redeem man, at any moment, from the servitude that oppresses him.”

It is important here to make some distinctions. When Dávila refers to Radical Progressives, he seems to mean those at the tip of Modernity’s spear, on the cutting edge. These are the schools that invent the new steps which society will follow given some necessary prodding. When he refers to the Liberal Progressives, these would be our modern day Conservatives and Libertarians, Classical Liberals if you like. Note how these Liberal Progressives do indeed see man as wholly apart from any kind of organic order, a woefully inadequate and destructive force with the power to advance from his ‘state of nature’ to the unfortunate but much needed thing we call ‘society’. This is quintessential Locke. Society is evil, and we must repent for its creation by downsizing it, practical reality be damned. Liberty is the prime utility for which all men must strive, even if it kills us. See David Grant’s recent takedown of the groundless state-society view.

just another day in the state of natural liberty, no society to speak of
wait… this never happened

“The liberal progressive insists that history conduct itself in a manner compatible with what reason demands, since liberty creates history; and as his liberty also engenders the causes that he champions, no fact is able to take precedence over the right that liberty establishes. Revolutionary action epitomizes the ethical obligation of the liberal progressive, because to break down what impedes it is the essential act of liberty as it is realized. History is an inert material that a sovereign will fashions. For the liberal progressive, then, to resign oneself to history is an immoral and foolish attitude. Foolish because history is freedom; immoral because liberty is our essence.”

A perfect description of the fetishization of liberty that has completely duped Conservatives into being loyal stooges for their unseen handlers, the Radical Progressives. You see, since the Radical Progressives control our obscenely powerful faux priestly caste (they operate the levers which determine the all-important opinion of the masses), the definition of liberty is not some static ideal. It is actually defined however the radicals wish to define it, as if they owned the printing press of the only dictionary. They can define any newfound social engineering project with the stamp of ‘human rights’ and ‘constitutionally-guaranteed liberties’, and what recourse does the Conservative or the Libertarian have? They are part of the revolution whether they like it or not, perceive it or not, for the idol which they throw themselves at the feet of can be moved wherever the radicals wish it to be moved. Protest against the move may be lodged, but in the end, the idol must be worshiped, and if that means that those who protest have to move themselves, then so be it.

“The reactionary is, nevertheless, the fool who takes up the vanity of condemning history and the immorality of resigning himself to it. Radical progressivism and liberal progressivism elaborate partial visions. History is neither necessity nor freedom, but rather their flexible integration. History is not, in fact, a divine monstrosity. The human cloud of dust does not seem to arise as if beneath the breath of a sacred beast; the epochs do not seem to be ordered as stages in the embryogenesis of a metaphysical animal; facts are not imbricated one upon another as scales on a heavenly fish. But if history is not an abstract system that germinates beneath implacable laws, neither is it the docile fodder of human madness. The whimsical and arbitrary will of man is not its supreme ruler. Facts are not shaped, like sticky, pliable paste, between industrious fingers.
In fact, history results neither from impersonal necessity nor from human caprice, but rather from a dialectic of the will where free choice unfolds into necessary consequences. History does not develop as a unique and autonomous dialectic, which extends in vital dialectic the dialectic of inanimate nature, but rather as a pluralism of dialectical processes, numerous as free acts and tied to the diversity of their fleshly grounds.

Correctly pessimistic as is typical for the Reactionary, Dávila tells us that we are resigned to the stream of history, but we can take heart in the fact that the truth is not determined by the will of the most inhuman or the will of the masses and those that can control them. The will of men may guide history’s course for good or ill, but it is not the absolute ruler of it, for man’s will is not divine and the facts that do rule it are not arranged as some supernatural guardrail which affirm his course with encouragement. Man’s will is fallen and hopelessly blind, and the realities which it must ultimately be accountable to and at the mercy of, are uncompromising and indecipherable through reason alone.

(Part II available here)

the Cult of Reason
somehow manages to be less reasonable than sacrificing your child to a demon


3 thoughts on “The Authentic Reactionary: Part I (Companion Commentary)

  1. The interminable Latinate sentences of his prose express his Catholic and Mediterranean genius admirably. But to me Davila reads best when he is kept to the short and the sharp.

    (See what I did there.)


  2. He has a poetry about his work which is rather captivating, however the ideas he presents in depth can get confusing. Perhaps reading Evola has dulled my senses to this fact however. I contend that if one can read Evola, one can read pretty much anything.


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