Conservative, traditionalist, reactionary, or authoritarian?

I have a question for readers who are ideologically sympathetic to this blog:  what word would you use to describe our beliefs?  I’ve struggled with this since I started this blog a couple of years ago.  Describing my beliefs in a four-page essay is one thing; picking a single word to designate them is another.  The trouble is that the four main possibilities–“conservative”, “traditionalist”, “reactionary”, and “authoritarian” are all to some extent polluted in current discourse.  They all have associations that will generate confusion.

  1. Conservative“:  I use this one a lot, but it has a lot of drawbacks.  It’s very vague, indicative more of a preserving instinct than a distinct set of beliefs.  And it’s what mainstream pseudoconservatives call themselves.  I sometimes get comments asking me why I want to “conserve” the current order when I disagree with just about everything in it.  They are right to ask.  An outside observer hearing what I want to do to the social order would be more likely to describe it with words like “overthrow and replace” than “conserve”.
  2. Traditionalist“:  I sometimes prepend this to “conservative” to mean “real conservative”, but this is a bit of an abuse, because “traditionalist” already has a more precise meaning.  It means someone who thinks practical public reason should be based on tradition and prudence rather than abstract reason.  I have defended tradition on this blog, but tradition holds a much smaller place in my belief system than it did for a real traditionalist like Russell Kirk.  It’s not a major source of knowledge for me; I don’t hold any of my major beliefs on its authority.  What’s more, I don’t think the appeal to tradition is a good direction for conservatism to be moving toward.  If the reason to follow tradition is merely prudential–i.e. that chucking the cumulative experience of past generations is foolhardy–then it is easily dismissed by appeal to the newness of modern circumstances.  If traditional gender roles are just a matter of practicality, why shouldn’t guns and baby formula cause us to reevaluate them?  If tradition is normative, it must be so because of a precept of natural law.  But then we’re better off just appealing to natural law directly on questions of justice, family, economics, and war.  Finally, traditionalism seems to be something of a modern innovation.  I don’t remember Thomas Aquinas or Dante saying anything about it.
  3. Reactionary“:  The thing I like best about this word is that it’s already considered derogatory.  Nobody can say that I’m hiding my true beliefs behind a respectable label.  There’s something pleasantly bold about owning and redeeming an insult.  And nobody doubts that “reactionary” means “hard-core right-wing”, which we certainly are around here.  So I have used that word for myself and those like me, and I will continue to do so.  My one reservation is that the word “reactionary” highlights a vice in people of my disposition that I’m trying to overcome, namely the tendency to define ourselves by what we’re against rather than by what we’re for.  Our books all have titles like “The Unspeakably Perverse Evil of Liberalism and Why All Liberals are Idiots”.  I’d rather move away from that, and I hope other reactionaries will too.  Our efforts should be toward describing the elements of a good social order rather than toward cursing this one.  Liberals who visit this site should find themselves challenged but not insulted.  This site hasn’t always lived up to that, but I hope that’s the direction it’s moving in.
  4. Authoritarian“:  It’s got this going for it:  nobody else in the world is calling himself an authoritarian.  If I take this word for myself, I can pretty much fit it to my beliefs, because nobody will be contesting me for it.  And overall, “authoritarian” is the best description of the orientation of this blog.  It is positive–it points towards what it is that this blog promotes and defends.  Authority, as Roger Scruton noted long before I did, is conservatism’s ultimate principle–authority in the family, the Church, and the State.  This word certainly carries risks.  Most people think it means “the slightly less extreme version of totalitarianism” or at the very best “lawless and unprincipled government”.  Sometimes it also implies a craving for centralized decision making–an absurd connotation given the localist opinions of undoubted authoritarians like Charles Maurras and myself.  These misunderstandings, however, are pedagogically fruitful ones.  If I can explain to someone why the Soviet Union was not authoritarian, for example, he will come away with a stronger grasp of my core principle.

So, I think the conclusion is that I am an authoritarian, but the branch of conservatism of which I am a part is reactionary conservatism.  I’d like to hear what other people are calling themselves, though.

65 Responses

  1. If we understand “reactionary” to mean something like “restorationist” (i.e., a desire to overthrow the existing order and replace it with some earlier one), there’s a secondary problem, too: it’s woefully vague. I refer to libertarians as reactionaries all the time at my blog, because they are — that they prefer the liberal consensus of the late 18th century to the authoritarian consensus of the late 13th is irrelevant. You could clarify it a little by joining words together, such as identifying yourself as an “authoritarian reactionary.” But you can only do this so long before your efforts to increase precision actually obscure clarity, which is the problem the fractious fringe groups of anarchism are encountering. Who, besides a few nerds, really knows or cares what the difference is between anarcho-syndicalism and anarcho-primitivism?

  2. I just realized that didn’t really answer your question. Perhaps just best to identify as a “Catholic monarchist” or something to that effect, which has the advantage of being clear, precise, and honest, and which doesn’t produce quite the level of reactive horror that people associate with “authoritarianism” (albeit perhaps because they just don’t take it seriously). Granted, it’s not entirely descriptive of your worldview, but I think it gets closer than any of the other terms.

  3. For what it’s worth, I think that the phrase “traditionalist conservative” captures your outlook best. I take the point that “traditionalist” has a specific philosophical meaning, but I don’t think that disallows its utility as a label. It has the right overtones of incense, leather-bound books and stern fathers, and it distinguishes “conservative” from mainline American small-government conservatism.

    Proph’s suggestion of “Catholic monarchist” is probably sound in the American context, where I take it monarchism is a fairly distinctive concept, but over here “monarchist” would be interpreted as referring to mainline constitutional monarchism (and wouldn’t even necessarily mean that you’re a right-winger).

    “Authoritarian” is misleading and will just make people think of Nazis.

  4. Yeah, “Nazi” isn’t exactly what I was going for.

  5. “Monarchist” is all of them together.

  6. St. Thomas does in fact write about the authority of custom:
    http://www.newadvent.org/summa/2097.htm#article3

    Anyway, even if tradition doesn’t seem to be a major theme in pre-modern thought, I think it is still important to recognize that medieval theologians such as Thomas Aquinas were always working within the intellectual framework of Scripture, the Fathers, and the Pagan philosophers. In particular, Thomas was formed in a tradition shaped by the thought of St. Augustine. I would argue that traditionalism only seems to be a modern innovation because the belief in abstract universal reason is an invention of the modern West. The pre-modern West and non-Western civilizations never developed this concept, so no one ever had to consciously defend tradition.

    Another point I would add is that I think most traditionalists would say that tradition is what shapes our worldview and our moral imagination. As a result, objecting that the modern world has changed to the point that tradition is irrelevant misses the point because tradition is what informs our response to changing circumstances. In this way, traditionalism doesn’t imply a complete attachment to every individual custom. Traditionalism instead implies a defense of the tradition that led our ancestors to create those customs. Individual customs might become antiquated over time, but the Tradition still continues on.

    Really, I think I might consider your definition of traditionalism to be closer to what I would call conservatism. While traditionalists do argue that we should adhere to the tradition for prudential reasons, I think most also value tradition because of what they see as the profound spiritual and moral truth embodied in the Tradition.

  7. Also, yeah, I generally use either traditionalist or reactionary to describe my own views.

  8. yeah, it may be nothing original, but I identify my views as “radical traditionalist”. Traditionalist in its support of pre-modern institutions and modes of social order (patriarchy, social stations, agrarianism, etc) and radical because, in an age where Liberalism and its associated pathologies constitute the status-quo, any kind of reactionary anti-liberalism becomes, by definition, radical thought.

  9. In addition, I am loathe to define myself as any kind of conservative because of the modern bastardization of the word, at least in America. Conservatism as generally understood today is a far cry from de Maistre or Bonald or even Kirk and Weaver. Instead, it is a reactionary classical liberalism that wishes we could return to a time before liberalism was seen to its logical conclusion.

  10. Thanks for the article on custom–not sure how I missed it.

  11. Lot’s of people suggest “monarchist”, and it does have the right flavor to it. I had thought that it sounded too specialized, i.e. it’s just an opinion about the form of government rather than a host of issues, but it seems that–at least in today’s world–people understand that a monarchist is a traditionalist/reactionary conservative. “Catholic monarchist” describes me very well, but I’d rather not have the world “Catholic” in the label of my political ideology. Already, I get people telling me that I only hold the opinions I have because my parents and priests told me this stuff as a child, and I’m too mindlessly subservient to question it. (People who’ve read my bio page know that none of this is true: I didn’t form my current beliefs until adulthood, and I didn’t hear them from any parental or ecclesiastic authority.) Calling myself a “Catholic” whatever would just encourage this. Of course, my opinions on politics, morality, and religion are all linked. The truth being unitary, I see this as a good thing.

  12. I also considered, in connexion with (2), the article on custom, but I don’t think that qualifies St. Thomas as a Traditionalist in the strong sense Bonald is using: viewed in the larger context of the Treatise on Law, it is pretty clear that custom plays a secondary and subservient role to that of reason in Aquinas’ political theory. Tradition cannot be the ultimate political authority, because it itself derives its authority from that of reason.

    As for a descriptor, how about “sovereigntist”? Unless you’re in Quebec, it would seem to capture the positive element of “authoritarian” well without the Nazi associations.

    Cheers!

  13. How about “counter-revolutionary”? It has similar advantages to “reactionary”, but it is also more precise: we’re not just reacting, we think there’s been a revolution, it was a bad thing, and we want to reverse it.

  14. “Traditionalist” within Catholicism has the additional baggage of meaning one who strongly prefers or insists upon (even to the point of schism) the Tridentine form of the mass. I’m not sure what connotation it has outside of Catholicism, if indeed there is any single connotation at all.

    I tend to use the term “reactionary” myself (to describe myself), but I like John’s suggestion of “counter-revolutionary”. It is a fairly near synonym but it gets much closer to the point: Opposition to the revolution (yes, that one, and there really is only one); and avoids the curmudgeonly aspects associated (often deservedly) with mere “reactionary.”

  15. Traditionalist is probably the closest really. It’s been stolen by the Tridentine-folks, but I think it’s still a valid description.

  16. The topic reminds me of faculty meetings.

  17. My observations:

    – Traditional conservative sounds good.
    – Reactionary is interesting.
    – Authoritarian is nice by itself (but maybe it needs something added to it?).

  18. I like it.

  19. “yeah, it may be nothing original, but I identify my views as “radical traditionalist”.”

    Interesting, Brandon. Julius Evola referred to himself as a Radical Traditionalist.

    I also find it interesting that you too are a young man who leans towards Classical Conservativism.

  20. I personally refer to myself as a “Paleoconservative”. My worldview and mindset is similar to those of the Chronicle’s men but the societal model, depends. I personally would prefer a constitution monarchy like that advocated by Catholic Knight, but I could lean towards either the absolute monarchy that Bonald advocates or even the republic model that the men over at Chronicles advocate.

  21. Restorationist.

    Reconstructionist.

  22. We should just string all of them together into one big word, like the Germans do.

  23. Hmmm…. how about Radicaltraditionalistconservativemonarchistrestorationist?

  24. I like reactionary. Conservative and traditionalist both convey far too little; I would expect a self-described “traditionalist conservative” to be strongly in favour of democracy, for instance. “Authoritarian”, on the other hand, means nothing to me at all. I have no idea what sort of policy or structure makes a government more or less authoritarian.

    I find “Royalist” solves the problem Reggie identifies with “Monarchist”, but I agree that that focus is missing the point slightly.

  25. I agree with your criticisms of “traditionalism” and have the same reasons as you for rejecting that label. I’ve never understood why some still believe that “appeal to tradition” would convince anyone that wasn’t already converted. And as people like Jacques Barzun and Alasdair MacIntyre have noted, the word “tradition” is always somewhat arbitrary. Even the “Western tradition” encapsulates so many different currents and doctrines that selecting the ones you like and passing them off as some incontrovertible “tradition” or “natural law” is always going to look silly to the intelligent opposition.

  26. Not necessarily. According to Julius Evola there are two types of universal traditions: An older, degenerate matriarchal one and a new, virtuous patriarchal one. All of the successful civilization have the second one at the core of their culture. That is the foundation, the building point.

    Julius Evola also had this to say:

    “1. The transcendent is real.

    2. Man’s knowledge of his relationship to transcendence has been handed down from the beginning of human culture. This is Tradition with a capital T.

    3. Human beings are tri-partite: body, soul, and spirit and it is wrong to isolate the physical or intellectual part.

    4. State and society are hierarchical and the clearer the hierarchy, the healthier the society.

    5. The worst traits of the modern world are its denial of transcendence, its reductionist vision of man, and its egalitarianism.”

    I’d like to see an “intelligent opposition” disprove each of these five points.

  27. I agree with you on Authoritarian. Authoritarian simply describes a general form of your preferred model of government but that could be anything: A Nazi Reich, Stalinist Rule, Progressive Totalitarianism or Absolute Monarchy.

  28. “transcendent is real.”

    This claim is inherently unfalsifiable and people often have different interpretations of what constitutes “the transcendent.”

    “Man’s knowledge of his relationship to transcendence has been handed down from the beginning of human culture. This is Tradition with a capital T.”

    See above.

    “Human beings are tri-partite: body, soul, and spirit and it is wrong to isolate the physical or intellectual part.”

    I highly doubt anyone denies the physical part. If they do, they should try going without food or water for awhile. As for the spiritual part, I think there is something to the claim that man is a spiritual being, but this tells us nothing about whose or what kind of spirituality and its relation to the polity.

    “State and society are hierarchical and the clearer the hierarchy, the healthier the society.”

    I agree with this. But this is not necessarily linked to “traditionalism” per se and many of the people who babble on about “traditionalism” in American are often *populists*. Ick.

    “The worst traits of the modern world are its denial of transcendence, its reductionist vision of man, and its egalitarianism.””

    This is only a restatement of the above points which are either a) obvious or b) too ambiguous to be much help.

    I have no idea why so many on the “alt right” are obsessed with Evola. The man was a very sloppy thinker.

  29. Just out of curiosity, what do you consider “right-wing”? The French seem to have a solid understanding of the left-right distinction, as should be expected, but among Anglophones, I find “right-wing” is often nothing more than a synonym for “bigot” or “extremely religious” or “stuff I don’t like.”

  30. Okay, Drieu, I now see your point. The first three points can not be either proven or disproven but the fourth one can and the fifth one is a restatement.

    As for Julius Evola, I have read his and Yukio Mishima’s works(these two men can be considered to be the Gods of the Alt-Right) and I have found much truth in their words. I will admit that I do admire both Julius Evola and Yukio Mishima, but since I’m not a nihilistic “alt-righter” or “new righter” I don’t worship them.

    “and many of the people who babble on about “traditionalism” in American are often *populists*. Ick.”

    Yep. Glenn Beck, anyone?

  31. The problem with “reactionary” or “counter-revolutionary” is that they are leftovers from a time when liberalism and it’s political and social offspring actually was revolutionary and against the established order. Now, having wrapped its slimy tentacles around the surface of the globe, it is the established order. Calling ourselves reactionaries just plays into leftist fantasies of still being oppressed freedom fighters even though they hold all the cards now. Like it or not, we are the radicals, at least in a worldly sense.

  32. “I have no idea why so many on the “alt right” are obsessed with Evola. The man was a very sloppy thinker.”

    Probably because he was a Neo-Pagan. Alt-right types tend to cream themselves over pretend-paganism. Remember this post?: https://bonald.wordpress.com/2011/08/02/the-european-new-right-a-better-way-to-attack-christianity/

    As one commenter said on this site, “they’re a bunch of Nietzcheans having their Nietzchean fantasies”.

  33. Well, I do like Nietzsche and his reputation is deserved. In my own experience, using Nietzschean arguments against Leftists is actually far more effective than many of the alternatives, perhaps because it’s so different from what they expect. Many Leftists anticipate that their opponents will mount some appeal to “tradition” or “absolutes” that are often relatively easy to dismantle. Applying a “hermeneutics of suspicion” to their own cherish values and prejudices, however, catches them off guard.

  34. Oh, I like Nietzsche too. The great Christian and Canadian Red Tory philosopher George Parkin Grant was influenced by him: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Parkin_Grant

    My main point is that even though I like Nietzsche, Evola, and Mishima I don’t have shrines dedicated to them like the alt-righters.

    I have also noticed that using Nietzschean philosophy is better at dismantling Leftist “values”.

  35. I’ll bet the hermeneutic of suspicion does work very well against the Left. One can use it to undermine just about any belief system, true or false. That’s why it has more limited use as a means of advancing toward truth.

  36. Where do you think “corporatism” fits in? I use it in the organic sense (of hierarchically organizing a social body) rather than a big-business one.

  37. That’s an interesting question. My impression is that politics in the Anglo-American world these days is dominated by economic issues, so “right-wing” generally means someone who favours a minimal state and low taxes whereas “left-wing” means someone who favours higher taxes and more government spending. This is historically illiterate, but I think it’s true nonetheless.

    This picture is complicated to some extent by “culture war” issues, particularly in the US, but I still think that the cultural divide is subsidiary. A Democrat labour unionist with pro-life views would presumably still be “left-wing”, while a gay Republican businessman with Reaganite views would be “right-wing”.

    This was basically my point in the post above. As a loyal subject of HM Queen Elizabeth II, I could call myself a “Catholic monarchist”, but I’m not a “right-winger” and I don’t vote Conservative. In France, of course, the notion of monarchism has different associations.

  38. Over here, he could always call himself a “cavalier”….

  39. “We should just string all of them together into one big word, like the Germans do.”

    Like I said in the first post above, the only way to manage this in English is to jam them a bunch of hyphenated half-words together into a boring, unpronounceable spaghetti tangle that only nerds will bother to memorize or even care about, something like “authoritarian monarchopatriarchist.”

  40. Hi bonald,

    Each of the four terms you have suggested requires a great deal of explanation to avoid being misunderstood. Traditionalist and reactionary are probably the best of the four.

    I generally refer to myself as a Tory. That too can be confusing, because in my country, Canada, as in Britain, it generally refers to a supporter/member of the Conservative Party. To explain what I mean by it I point to Dr. Johnson’s famous definition of a Tory as “one who adheres to the ancient constitution of the state, and the apostolic hierarchy of the church of England, opposed to a Whig” and T. S. Eliot’s description of his own Tory position as “a royalist in politics, an Anglo-Catholic in religion, and a classicist in literature”. My theological position is slightly different from Eliot’s but these quotes convey the general idea of what a Tory is, other than in the party sense.

  41. I would add that Enoch Powell famously remarked that “there are a great many good Tories who vote for the Labour Party”.

  42. authoritarian monarchopatriarchist

    We have a winner!

  43. Gerry, are you a “Red Tory” along the lines of George Parkin Grant?

  44. I tend to think of corporatism as an economic system, but I suppose the way you’re describing it, it could have a larger sense that could capture what a lot of these words are getting at.

  45. Reggie, I wouldn’t be surprised by that. I personally am sympathetic towards these three groups of people: The American worker, the American farmer, and the American small-businessman. I am opposed to both socialism and capitalism and consider myself a distributist/micro-capitalist.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Tory

    “The term “Red Tory” has been revived in recent years by individuals such as the British philosopher and Director of the ResPublica think tank, Phillip Blond, to promote a radical communitarian Traditionalist Conservatism which inveighs against welfare state monopoly as well as market monopolies. Instead, it respects traditional values and institutions, localism, devolution of powers from the central governments to local communities, small businesses, volunteerism and favours empowering social enterprises, charities and other elements of civil society to solve problems such as poverty.[2]”

    Tory economics was known for it’s paternalism and communitarianism.

  46. I read your blog, Proph, and every single comment you post anywhere. Except for that one.

  47. Indeed. I believe in capitalism, but I’d welcome a revival of the paternalistic Tory tradition. Blond did some good work, and Cameron briefly listened to him (or pretended to) but he doesn’t seem to have taken his ideas on board.

    The equivalent in Labour is the “Blue Labour” movement, which seeks to unite left-wing economic policy with “faith, family and flag”. Things have gone a bit quiet since the leader of the movement, Lord Glasman, got in trouble for advocating a halt to immigration a couple of months ago.

  48. “The equivalent in Labour is the “Blue Labour” movement, which seeks to unite left-wing economic policy with “faith, family and flag”.”

    I absolutely loath the Labour Party but if I were a British citizen, I would definitely vote for a movement like that even though I am wary of socialism. I live in America, but as a Catholic I don’t think I can vote for either party: http://catholicknight.blogspot.com/p/catholic-politics-101.html

    Maybe a Blue-dog Democrat or an economically moderate(but still socially conservative) Republican.

    “Lord Glasman”

    With a title like that, he is definitely a Tory-at-heart.

    “Things have gone a bit quiet since the leader of the movement, Lord Glasman, got in trouble for advocating a halt to immigration a couple of months ago.”

    I can’t believe advocating for a much needed immigration moratorium is a horrible political blunder nowadays. SWPLs, pfft.

  49. This is an excerpt from that article:

    “This includes a militant Pro-Life, Pro-Family and Pro-Labor position, but it is certainly not limited to that. Catholicism is more than just a religion. It is a comprehensive way of life, that should encompass every aspect of our being — including and most especially politics! ”

    The Blue Labour movement falls inline with those three premises.

  50. Wow! 50 comments on this entry. You’re so popular these days, Bonald.

    Without having read through the comments, I will just say that my vote is for “reactionary,” despite it’s negative sense. I like the boldness of it, and I like the anti-French Revolution-ness of it.

  51. Thanks. A couple of recent posts have done very well. I’m not sure what the secret is.

  52. “Tory” is probably the most strictly accurate label for my views, referring as it does directly to the opponents of the Glorious Revolution. It does not actually communicate effectively though, because for 300 years the more-radical Whigs have always applied the label to their less-radical Whig rivals, and on a few occasions the name has stuck, leaving a trail of disconnected moderate-Whig parties with the name “Tory”.

  53. I am an admirer of George P. Grant but not a “Red Tory”. “Red Tory” has two connotations in Canada. It can refer either to the left wing of traditional/historical British/Canadian Toryism or it can refer to people within the official Conservative Party who support the multiculturalism, social leftism, nanny-state and the rest of the progressive agenda of the post-WWII era. George P. Grant was a Red Tory in the first and best sense of the term, although he did not like the label himself. He believed capitalism to be an anti-conservative force promoting rapid social change and socialism to be a conservative force. I partly agree with his assessment of capitalism but completely disagree with his assessment of socialism. I see socialism as exacerbating not alleviating the problems introduced by capitalism. If Grant was on the left wing of traditional Toryism I am on its right wing. I published an essay on my own blog last June entitled “Red is not the Color of Toryism”. I deliberately made no mention of Grant in that essay, although I refer to him in a number of my other essays, because it was the other kind of “Red Toryism” that I was criticizing. The colour of Toryism, in my opinion, is not revolutionary red, but royal blue.

  54. Interesting, Gerry.

    “It can refer either to the left wing of traditional/historical British/Canadian Toryism ”

    I am assuming that “left-wing” is solely referring to economics.

    “f Grant was on the left wing of traditional Toryism I am on its right wing. ”

    I will admit, I don’t know anything about the difference between right-wing traditional/historical British/Canadian Toryism and left-wing traditional/historical British/Canadian Toryism and I am very curious to what exactly each faction of traditional/historical British/Canadian Toryism stands for. Could you elaborate further?

    Also, I basically agree with your anti-Capitalist and anti-Socialist stance, a stance that seems to be taken by the Red Tory Philip Blond, who is mentioned in the wikipedia article on Red Toryism that I linked to right above. What would you consider yourself to be economically? I consider myself to be mainly Distributist but I incorporate some aspects of Iberian National Syndicalism and Christian Corporatism.

  55. If you’re interested in “corporatism,” you should probably do some research on the interwar Austrian Ständestaat (Engelbert Dollfuß, Kurt Schuschnigg, etc.).

  56. Svar,

    The left-wing of British and Canadian Toryism would point back to Benjamin Disraeli in the 19th Century, particularly his novel “Sybil” and his “One-Nation Conservatism”, and emphasize these aspects of the Tory tradition, would talk more often and more positively about “equality” and “democracy” than other Tories, and would accept a larger number of government social programs than the right-wing of Toryism.

    The right-wing of British and Canadian Toryism would be more fiscally conservative, would look more favorably on private enterprise, and would stress natural inequality and the hierarchical principle over equality, except equality before the law.

    So basically yes, it is an economic distinction.

    I’m not sure what the proper label would be for my economics. The economist I agree with the most is Wilhelm Roepke, the German born, Swiss economist of the Austrian School, who taught the liberal economics of his colleagues Mises and Hayek, but also taught that the free market system requires a particular social and moral framework in order to function. He drew his ideas as to what that framework would look like from traditional Christian ethics, particularly the Catholic social ethics as interpreted by the Distributists. The only area where I significantly disagree with him is on international trade. The arguments for free trade look good on paper but the historical record strongly indicates that it doesn’t work. On trade I am an economic nationalist.

  57. Bonald, since you use Thomism and the late middle ages as your model, I suggest “Pre-Cambrian conservative”. Which has the virtue of annoying most American Republicans.

    And this is not quite a faculty meeting, there has not been a discursion into the inherent sexism of labels. Yet. (ducks)

  58. I meant discussion, but discursion is an interesting typo.

  59. I haven’t found faculty meetings that bad, so far. At least in my department, everybody would like to get back to work, so we avoid discursions when possible.

  60. Ours improved after the most hardline feminist (interestingly also the only person with a theology degree) was encouraged to find greener pastures… anywhere else.

  61. A little late to the party; I’ve read some of the comments. I refer to myself as a conservative when I’m around “conservatives”…I don’t want trouble. When I’m around liberals, I refer to myself as a radical per the original meaning of the word (seen here: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=radical&allowed_in_frame=0) since no one knows the original meaning.

    Otherwise, I call myself a reactionary and don’t mind the sense that it’s based on the opposition… I’ve always felt I was reacting against the devil himself, without whom liberalism and all the other heresies wouldn’t exist… We’d likely be floating on a cloud somewhere, harping, fluttering, etc. I will react against any condition that prevents or interrupts my fluttering 😛

  62. Bonaldus,

    Lately, all I’ve done is come here and harangue you. But this is a truly brillian piece of work. I highly recommend you read “Authority and Its Enemies” by Thomas Molnar (R.I.P.). I particularly love your observation that “traditionalism” is a modern phenomenon; no, neither Aquinas nor Dante were traditionalists. In fact, a thorough traditionalism pretty much vitiates natural law reasoning by refusing *any* use of reason to reach universals. Consider the (to my mind extreme) traditionalism of a Thomas Fleming (of “Chronicles Magazine”).

  63. Hi Bonifacius,

    Thanks. I read Molner’s book and liked it a lot. It seems like only we far-Right Catholics can be counted on to say a good word for authority.

    I suspect that “traditionalism” is what you get when conservatives lose confidence in natural law.

    By the way, I’ll be interested to hear what you think of the pope’s recent outreach toward European Muslims. It’s created something of a stir in these parts of the web.

  64. What the Pope says and does when not exercising any magisterial authority is his problem, not mine.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: