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18 Theses on the Reactionary

by Arsh K.S 5 months ago in list

A political characterisation

In times such as these, with the ascent of reactionary politics the world over our capacity to grasp what is progressive hinges on our ability to identify that which is not so. Ambiguity here, under the many blanket categories that it uses, such as ‘gas-lighting’, manipulation, or intimidation no longer cut it as while generically accurate they do not depict the situational intervention which characterizes the act of the reactionary. This is not a demonology for the writer identifies in himself, as he is sure, with all others, the utility of a circumspect distance which a subject may choose to withhold for themselves when encountering that which is new or strange. The terms used to apprehend this however are, as is characteristic, often inhibitions, expressions of mock-shock, outrage, and complacency afforded only by a position or station in one’s life that facilitates a relation with labour as a means of rent. For such is how capitalist relations in India, on the 6th of May, 2021, amidst a global Coronavirus pandemic yet remain. In these circumstances I believe it is important to identify the stance, mood, apprehensions, inclinations, and perhaps even the beliefs that characterize the reactionary in their grasp of a world which does not abide by their categories. And, to this end, I present the following theses.

1. A reactionary is in principle not an initiator, but someone who waits for the dice to role, for a volunteer to step up, and, in times of fear - even a word to be said, to make or censure an intervention.

2. In their role as such, the reactionary act often does not address the matter put forth, but seeks to divert attention and energy to channels which may better serve interests which are their’s alone.

3. It is not difficult to see now, why the reactionary requires the category of an outsider, a newcomer, a fresher, for the act of censure, in whichever form, is socially condoned only in the presence of an operational hierarchy.

4. Much like the act itself, which with deliberation misses the point put forth, the hierarchy too, often is not explicit, for no gambler wants the table to know how deep their pockets are, in case someone starts calling a bet.

5. A reactionary, is not without their own social graces, for any hierarchy, which utilizes such means to operate requires the practice of courtesy as a symbolic recognition of sheer belonging.

6. A reactionary, as a reactionary, is hence someone who ‘knows their place’ and in this regard, is ‘cooperative’, in the sense of having internalized the oppressive customs they serve and perpetuate.

7. Acts of this kind, to civilized society, do not go unnoticed, and hence it is important for a reactionary to develop an alibi. This often makes the reactionary present themselves as a family person, an older sibling, an experienced trader, a wiseman, an elder, and other denominations which are, or were instated to serve the very opposite function, that of guiding those who may be unfamiliar with a milieu of its ways and habits.

8. A reactionary is indeed, a most exemplary creature of habit - for a custom once enshrined, which serves the interest of a hierarchy, order, or denomination, will be clung to as dearly as a child to his mother on the first day of school. No one willingly lets go of a custom which serves their interest, yet it is the reactionary who retards challenges to a custom by the means presented.

9. A reactionary is clever, and will even feign helplessness, will play the victim, if such a position appeals to the sympathies of the order in question. This reinforces the ceremonial nature of the reactionary.

10. This fact is an observation that would never be made by a reactionary, for identifying a theme, a common and consistent deliberation, would mean recognizing a narrative, and no reactionary would consider themselves a fair or good person were they to place themselves honestly before the acts which they have perpetrated and witnessed their effects.

11. A reactionary, as is indicated by the very name, is someone who operates in fear - fear that they may one day find themselves in the place of those whom they hindered or cut down, and is hence in principle an enemy of justice.

12. A reactionary, like any sane person, would hate to identify this in themselves, for that would mean the work of thought, and such consideration may detach the umbilical cord which binds them to their orders.

13. A reactionary likes appreciating the ‘value’ of things, but comparison, or an appraisal of how a work was made, is often beyond their ambit, for this would mean recognizing an effort which may have been an other’s, a step beneath the noble dignity of any reactionary.

14. A reactionary would rarely if ever take up a deed itself in their evaluation, for the trade of labels and their respective places vis-a-vis each other is the fabric which keeps their perverted cohesion whole.

15. A reactionary may be a child, for denigration never required maturity to be perpetrated, and the blanket of infancy is often afforded liberties which many adults would not readily accept amongst themselves.

16. A reactionary thinks in choruses, for to echo what has been said is always easier than to speak in one’s own voice and declare a truth, even in the face of a hearing which indicates that it would rather not hear it.

17. Hence, a reactionary always saves face, for one never knows when a person has committed ‘too much’, exposed themselves, committed more than they can repay, and other metaphors of a transaction, for a reactionary, like a pretty mask, must maintain balances.

18. A reactionary will always place themselves before their point, the principle production of such actions is a fetish.


Arsh K.S

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