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Couldn’t We Have a Little Reaction?

The questions Crunchy Cons are posing are not about theocracy, or reaction, or nostalgia, but whether we can retain our humanity in this new era. ~Angelo Matera [1], Crunchy Cons

I take Mr. Matera’s larger point, and he is correct that crunchies and crunchy-friendly folks do not hold the views they hold out of a burning desire for theocracy or reaction. They hold them because they believe them to be true and live as they do because it seems the most sane, edifying and dignified. Most people who complain about incipient theocracy don’t much care for the commands tou Theou either, and most who use reaction and reactionary as scare terms regard the last two centuries as more or less uninterrupted progress. That, as Goldberg has become fond of saying, is not a trivial point.

But on behalf of reaction (theocracy will have to wait for another post, but at its core it means nothing other than that God is sovereign and that this has consequences for real life), let me say this: the time may come (indeed it is already here) when the ordinary, sensible conservative fellow has to become a reactionary simply to remain what he has always been and defend what he has always loved.

That is, at the risk of repeating myself too often, what M.E. Bradford meant when he spoke of The Reactionary Imperative [2]. It is noticeable that Kirk and Weaver receive a lot of mention at Crunchy Cons, but the venerable Bradford remains in the shadows. Perhaps some might find him too Southern (though why this would be undesirable will forever truly remain a mystery to me) or too formidable to take on, but in some respects I think his work might resonate strongly with a crunchy sensibility.

This does not necessarily mean that you have to take a liking to Savonarola, Filmer and Metternich (to choose three hate figures of particular note in the liberal/Whig hall of shame) for real reasons of agreement on principle (though I do), but that what you love and what you believe should determine your attitude towards the state of the world, not whether it is considered unfashionable to be regarded as a reactionary.

Near as I can tell, most people who apply the term reactionary to themselves often do it just for fun or get a rise out of the usual suspects, and the rest who use the term overapply it to everything from literature to religion to fashion to politics. It has a legitimate use and meaning, and it is the most natural thing in the world for those who oppose the dissolution and disintegration brought about by the waves of liberal revolutions of the past several centuries.