As dictionaries define it: relating to, marked by, or favoring reaction; especially : ultraconservative in politics.

Reactionaries began assuming the handle conservative, which had originally meant someone who was a centrist. Sorry, but anyone who bandies about terms like 'Culture War' and who wants to reengineer US society to their vision of what the early 1950's was like desrves to be called this instead.

The farthest right wing on the political scale, that scale being:
Radical-very liberal-liberal-moderate liberal-moderate-moderate conservative-conservative-very conservative-reactionary.
On a list of 20 political opinions, one who answers all 20 as a conservative, and answers most of those passionately.
What is the essence of the Reactionary personality?

The resistance, backward pull, on human progress is the aggregated force of individual reactionaries so this is a question of the greatest import. It is the answer to how the Holocaust happened, how Bush was reelected, and in general why things are so fucked up when humanity is at a point where it might make this world a paradise for itself. The node does not seem to connect the superfical, prima facie definition of the term with it's political connotation and it has been a question long on my mind, so here I node.

To be sure some attempts at forward movement in society have been disasters, e.g. communism in the last century, but the same can hardly be said for elements of progress in general, and few who actually are reactionaries would accept the appelation, preferring instead to style themselves conservative.

It is, I think, taken as a given that fear, fear of the unknown, fear of the other, fear of change, fear of loss of social position, i.e. of current class privileges, are the basis of reaction. But what is the basis of this fear in a society like the contemporary United States which thinks itself a champion of progress when it is in fact the most reactionary of the advanced countries and the leading force of reaction at this time? How can a nation-state which is without a single adversary of equivalent power, isolated geographically even from the threat of "terror" with which its current demagogic and pandering leadership drive such reaction, be so driven?

If one believes, as I do, that all emotions are essentially rational, i.e. that emotions/affect are essential elements in the survival apparatus of sentient beings, then an explanation on the basis of observed facts becomes possible. First, human beings are not models of virtue, and failings such as fear, sloth, greed and the like are not uncommon. But this is not an explanation for the scale of the phenenomon being considered. It is rather I think a justified response to the experience of actual change agents. That combined with the observed backward slide into predation of virtually every attempt to make progress in the founding of human society on a alternative basis. That not to be confused with the attempts of the leaders of reaction to obfuscate, confuse, confound and inflame reaction in precisely those populations with the most to lose by the resistance to progress.

A literary/cinematic image that comes to mind in this connection is the scene from the film version of Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead where Raymond Massey as the General says to Cliff Robertson, "Come on , we're all basically reactionaries". It's not clear who "we" are in this context but the image is cogent.

Re*ac"tion*a*ry (?), a.

Being, causing, or favoring reaction; as, reactionary movements.

 

© Webster 1913.


Re*ac"tion*a*ry, n.; pl. Reactionaries ().

One who favors reaction, or seeks to undo political progress or revolution.

 

© Webster 1913.

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