I’m not interested in the reactionaries because I agree with their political programme. I’m interested in them because – as Weil, Taubes, and Benjamin discovered – they offer a route to escape from the closed circuit of leftist thinking, in which the state is the solution to every problem (leftists of the anarchist variety imagine a diffuse state – but a state nonetheless). Dupont said something like this ages ago: “It’s possible to have a conversation with a monarchist but not a Trotskyite.”
The curious thing about reactionaries is that their own thinking seems to foreclose on any possibility of a successful politics. This is most clear in Spengler, whose big book demonstrates that the defense or reconstitution of Western Culture is an absurdity. One might as well try to recreate ancient Egyptian civilization.
I recently read a book by a Polish conservative who argued that liberal democracy is functionally the same as Communism. He points out that anti-communists have had a much harder time finding their way than have their old opponents, who found positions in the EU and so on. The historical and philosophical arguments of the book were not interesting, but he managed to capture something true about our unwritten rules of speech and political conduct. Just as in the Communist states everyone had to begin statements with prefaces about ‘building socialism’ or whatever, now even far-right politicians begin their statements with assurances that they believe in diversity and are not homophobic. It’s hard not to notice the similarities – and to notice that our erstwhile comrades serve as a sort of extralegal police force to attack people who don’t abide by the rules.
What a world!
On the bright side, I’ve been reading novels again.