Wednesday 23 March 2011

Discerning who is genuinely reactionary: tree or mosaic?


My pessimism concerning political correctness comes from having been deep inside the beast - inside PC, socialism, modernity, rationalism, materialism...

From this I know how almost impossible it is to break free, and how partial solutions only lead back into the belly.


Most intellectuals are politically correct whether they know it or not. A few escape (a few were never caught - but they are easy to spot, having been raised by wolves).

Escape from PC is not incremental, not a step-wise progression - although it is typically gradual.

It is not an adjustment, nor is it a process of piecemeal correction - not a process of using some correct bits of knowledge to correct the erroneous ones.


It is possible to discern the difference between superficial reaction and deep reaction, although they may be identical in their superficial expression.

It is a matter of justifications: do the justifications lead back, down to a root; or does justification of one opinion lead horizontally to another opinion?

Is the system of thought a tree or a mosaic?

Is it a growth or a construction?


True reaction is an organic growth of ideas from a root; PC progressivism is an assembled mosaic.


The reactionary may be inconsistent and self contradictory as a tree may be damaged by wind, fire or fungal infection - that is the nature of an imperfect world; but if the roots are sound and the trunk is single and solid then it can regrow and repair itself.

The leaves may be superficially messy, but the further back you go, the more coherent a tree becomes.


With a mosaic, what you see is what there is; surface is all, and every piece needs to be correct.

It cannot repair itself. Its flaws and inconsistencies are seen by inspection, and corrected by external intervention.

If you peel away a flake, there is nothing behind but blank wall.

A mosaic is, indeed, a social construct.


The Crow said...

Brilliant observation.
You are right again: some of us actually were raised by wolves :)

Anonymous said...

Interesting take. Quite different from that of Jim Kalb -- who, as I recall, argues that liberalism is the result of taking a single root idea (equal freedom) and trying to derive everything from it, as opposed to a traditionalist, who takes traditions as they are given without trying to organize everything around one central principle.

Bruce Charlton said...

@The Crow - I thought wolves would eat crows; given the opportunity?

@WmJas - I didn't make myself clear. I am not talking here about evaluating political systems, but individual people - trying to discern between someone who is (on the one hand) a real, organic, integrated reactionary yet has (don't we all?) a few 'Liberal' ideas either residual or unexamined -- and (on the other hand) someone who has a few scattered reactionary ideas but is essentially 'a Liberal' (e.g. like most libertarians and many nationalists).

Jim Kalb is the real thing!