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Thoughts on the Reactionary Imagination

I find it both amusing and annoying how the reactionary right tends to imagine that, because the limits of the political discourse are imperial-capitalism, reality is divided into the simple binaries of patriots versus hippies or conservatives versus liberals.  So when those of us on the historical left, the revolutionary and original left, try to explain that we are not "hippies" the eyes of the reactionaries gloss over because their tiny brains aren't programmed to understand anything beyond simple binary relationships.  Or when we trash liberalism (as good leftists always do), they get excited because they think we have the same conservative and ahistorical notion of "liberal."

Recently, a comrade of mine wrote an article about the Canadian imperial discourse that is being wed to professional hockey.  The Sun, news platform for the idiot right, responded to that article by complaining about "anti-war zealots" and hordes of Sun commentators ranted about "pot smoking hippies."  Would it have blown their mind to learn that the comrade responsible for the article was: a) not a pot smoker; b) not a hippy; and c) only anti-war in so far as anti-imperialist war?  Sometimes I wonder what would happen if, like macho right-wing commentators who talk about their love of guns (like a recent comment on the AngryMarxists blog that was dumbified) and how they're going to "kill all hippies" (again, hippies meaning pretty much everyone that doesn't fit into their backwards reality), we parachuted into their comment strings to say something like: "I'm not a hippy and I'm pro class war, and when the peoples war comes all the reactionaries will be up against the wall or reeducated with baseball bats."  Or something like that… Internet adventurism?  Probably.

A similar thing happened to me when, several years ago, I was driving through the US-Canada border and pulled over for a "random search."  (They always assure us that the search is "random" although it happens almost every bloody time, right after they see my partner's Arabic last name, so if it really is "random" I think we should try our luck at the lottery.)  During this search they found an old sheet from an Ontario Coalition Against Poverty [OCAP] demonstration filled with march chants and slogans.  When they shook it front of my face they asked: "what are you, some kinda hippy?"  And another border guard asked if I was thinking of going to a "tree-hugger" demonstration in his country.  Due to the seriousness of the situation, I thought it best not to point out that one of the chants ("fuck the war, arm the poor, make the rich pay") was not very "hippy" or "tree-hugger", at least not in my opinion.

Then there is the dinosaur-brained notion that liberals are the only thing to the left of conservatives.  (I was complaining about this recently with a commentator on a previous post.)  If it wasn't for the fact that I'm tired of explaining why I am opposed to liberalism, and how being liberal is actually not identical to being a leftist (and only in North America do you hear such moronic identifications), it would probably be hilarious.  I mean, reactionaries don't get that the main ideology of the normative state of affairs––that is world capitalism and the imperialism they so love––is the liberalism they so despise.  They even fall back on liberal notions of freedom, distorted through their conservatism, whenever pushed to explain why "America is the best gawddam country in the world."

You see, the reason we on the historical left call conservatives "reactionaries" is because their ideology is pre-capitalist.  They love capitalism, and everything that goes along with imperialism, but they're actually thinking according to backwards norms: the patriarchy they so love, the racism that emerged during the establishment of modern colonialism, the hatred of science, and all the equally outdated ideas originally emerged in prior modes of production––the remnants of which persist, haunting the capitalized globe.  Seriously, these folks would be happy burning women and scientists as "witches", demanding a return to theocracy, and getting rid of the liberal notion of freedom that, ironically, allows this stupidity to persist.

So the context for their conservatism is the liberalism reactionaries so despise: it's called "the marketplace of ideas" and a reactionary, despite his hate-on for liberal normativity, will shoot you six ways Sunday for even daring to suggest that his ideas aren't allowed in this marketplace.  At the same time, because reactionaries are still reactionaries, they'll demand that this marketplace only represent their ideas.  Which, again ironically, is precisely what the liberal state of affairs can permit as long as the economic sphere remains unthreatened.

But have you ever tried asking reactionaries what they mean by "liberal"?  Since they usually can't provide a coherent explanation, they generally settle on hippy.  And that, my friends, is the brilliant limit of conservative political discourse.


  1. You don't even drink hippy booze. Also the correct form of "god-damned" in US conservative dialect is "gawdayuhmed".

  2. What is hippy booze, by the way? And is that pronunciation a specific regional dialect?

  3. People always look at me like they are going to shot me when I say "if you are a republican then you are just a classic liberal or conservative liberal, democrats are neo-liberals. I hate all you liberals." Well democrat don't look at me like they will shoot me because they are anti-gun so I guess they look at me like they want to sit in front of my car to annoy me or some shit. Only in the US would there be a difference between these two parties. In a multi-party democracy members from both parties could interchange members and no one would notice. Hell in most other countries our two parties would probably be in a party bloc together.

  4. and now the multi-party democracy up in more welfare capitalist canada is becoming homogenized as well into various shades of the right.


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