Reactionary-Disccuso: Why Are Reactionaries Such Great Writers?
Ever since reading that D.H. Lawrence was a reactionary monarchist, and having an Irish Lit. friend tell me that Yeats was an Irish Fascist, it's come to me that a significant number of Great Writers are reactionaries, far more than their percentage in the population at large probably justifies.
Ever since reading that D.H. Lawrence was a reactionary monarchist, and having an Irish Lit. friend tell me that Yeats was an Irish Fascist, it's come to me that a significant number of Great Writers are reactionaries, far more than their percentage in the population at large probably justifies. For example, an assuredly incomplete list:

Dostoevsky
Nabokov
Bulgakov
Limonov
Yeats
D.H. Lawrence
Pound
Junger
Mishima
Nietzsche
Schopenhauer
Dazai
Houellebecq
Celine
(Some other guys, thx impper)

So, I guess, this thread is for discussing why far-rightists seem to be really good at writing things. I tried to find something about whether or not Faulkner was a far-rightist, but the only thing I could find about his politics was him saying he was for integration, but against the federal government forcing integration, and when pressed on the point apparently said he would "fight for Mississippi against the United States, even if it meant going out into the street and shooting Negroes."

So, uh, there's that I guess.
Discussion of Reactionary-Disccuso: Why Are Reactionaries Such Great Writers? on tHE r H i z z o n E:
#1
Eliot
Borges
Poe

Yeats was an Irish nationalist certainly but reactionary I donno

Edited by babyfinland (Sept. 15, 2011 05:02:11)

#2
I wouldn't call Limonov, Nietzche or Houllebecq reactionary either

Anyway to answer the question I'd venture to guess that it's because they respond to the world in a more emotional way and less scientifically, for better or for worse, and this produces great art and reactionary politics (because they dont want to see cultural institutions smashed up or beholden to a revolution)

I don't think that reactionaries are especially better or worse than leftist writers, but that's just the logic of the thing

Edited by babyfinland (Sept. 15, 2011 05:08:09)

#3
ORWELL
#4
limonov has been writing about the wonders of fascism and stalinism for a while now, i'm not sure if that's reactionary by the standards of returning to the ussr, but in any case im comfortable calling him a reactionary. nietzsche called for the destruction of germany and the german race, and the destruction of humanity of course, but it was for progress to overmen. if houellebecq isnt a reactionary then neither is celine
#5
I guess I make a distinction between reactionary and radical right, where a reactionary is intensely rigid in defense of the status quo to the point of "radicalism" (Barack Obama), the radical rightist advocates revolutionary politics from a rightward stance (what exactly that consists of depends on context) and has no fondness for capitalism or modernity generally

A contemporary reactionary in Russia would be rabidly pro-Putin and probably Duginist, while the radical right would be something more like the Nazbols. USSR is far left
#6
i posited a number of theories as to why reaction/extremism/far-rightism leads to good writing. here are some of them

- one thing writing can't do is justify something - it's an inherently weak position, and in the judgment of history, attempting to justify anything will end up making you look like a mewling simp so if you love life and love society and you like how things are going you're going to end up writing justifications, excuses; youll be telling people things arent so bad. right off the bat the reactionary isnt really interested in justifying any dominant system

- kafka said that he could only write because he'd come to accept and look forward to his own death, and he'd had it out with life. reactionaries tend to also have had it out with life - look at mishima, he spent his life in order to advance an aesthetic

- good writers tend to be those who are willing to make strong aesthetic decisions and push them as far as they can go and someone willing to do that is also probably a fascist of some kind

- writing, great writing at least, tends to be something that exists on the fringes, and one thing bad writers do is use language and ideas that's filtered through the culture and through society. this writing inevitably goes into the dustbin, because it's not saying anything, it's just rearranging cultural tablets that already exist. since writing is a fringe activity that lives outside narratively, well, who's really on the outside? a good deal of them are reactionaries. i understand this is getting into simple "outsider fiction" territory, which honestly i dont have much of a problem with in any case.

#7
heres a thing insufferable liberal Donald Barthelme wrote:

Art is always aimed (like a rifle, if you wish) at the middle class. The working class has its own culture and will have no truck with fanciness of any kind. The upper class owns the world and thus needs know no more about the world than is necessary for its orderly exploitation. The notion that art cuts across class boundaries to stir the hearts of hoe hand and Morgan alike is, at best, a fiction useful to the artist, his Hail Mary. It is the poor puzzled bourgeoisie that is sufficiently uncertain, sufficiently hopeful, to pay attention to art. It follows (as the night the day) that the bourgeoisie should get it in the neck.



Political reaction comes from the middle classes

#8
there should probably be a distinction between blase political reaction and the sort of aesthetic reaction that writers tend to engage in, e.g. mishima adopting the bushido isnt exactly a standard japanese form of reaction
#9
I don't really like political categories applied to stuff like this but I think that there is always a bit of delusion in actively pursuing a change and thinking that a personal dissatisfaction with the world and a little proselytizing is enough. It's not that world shouldn't change, it's that writers live in the land of particularity where dogmatic leftism is a ruse. Good fiction is always better than the best political writing imo, because it's the best way to show the cracks and symptoms of the fantasy that a political movement needs to sustain its vigor.
#10

babyfinland posted:
I guess I make a distinction between reactionary and radical right, where a reactionary is intensely rigid in defense of the status quo to the point of "radicalism" (Barack Obama), the radical rightist advocates revolutionary politics from a rightward stance (what exactly that consists of depends on context) and has no fondness for capitalism or modernity generally

A contemporary reactionary in Russia would be rabidly pro-Putin and probably Duginist, while the radical right would be something more like the Nazbols. USSR is far left



there is some overlap though - when the aristocrat camarilla that killed rasputin got together, there was also some preliminary discussion of maybe killing nick 2, if the situation deteriorated further. the line between reactionaries and conservative revolutionaries can be very thin, depending on the context.

#11

babyfinland posted:
ORWELL

#12
Dostoevsky - doctor daddy, university
Nabokov - government parents, had to flee from worker uprising
Bulgakov - academic dad, grew up with opera, etc.
Limonov - weirdo ideology, not really reactionary
Yeats - landed family, mother from successful merchant roots
D.H. Lawrence - poor but lucky
Pound - westons of new york connections, 6 bedroom house
Junger - not sure which one you mean
Mishima - military/bureaucratic aristocracy
Nietzsche - weirdo ideology, not really a reactionary
Schopenhauer - patrician aristocracy roots
Dazai - wealthy landowners, father in house of peers
Houellebecq - doctor daddy, paris boarding school, etc.
Celine - insurance business daddy, sent abroad to learn foreign languages, privilleged enough to want to pursue being a doctor
Faulkner - Southern aristocracy, daddy started a railroad, family started a bank, fraternity guy, etc.

In conclusion, (Lawrence being the real outlier in that list,) the law of averages. Classes that have more comfortable lives with more idle time, more connections, more education, more exposure to classic writers will produce proportionally more writers, and the small minority of great writers that emerge will be proportionally higher as well.

Also, most intellectuals of any sort that emerge from not being super wealthy want to use their ability to become wealthy, and so take up ideologies to please the higher classes and make connections with them, etc. so that has a reactionary tending pressure as well

Edited by tapespeed (Sept. 15, 2011 13:37:12)

#13
yes. writers come from the middle classes. thanks tapespeed
#14

babyfinland posted:
yes. writers come from the middle classes. thanks tapespeed



Do you disagree that they come from comfortable lives more frequently, or do you disagree that middle class lifestyles end up leading to defense of the status quo and wanting to be nouveau riche and impress the elite, etc?

#15

tapespeed posted:

babyfinland posted:
yes. writers come from the middle classes. thanks tapespeed

Do you disagree that they come from comfortable lives more frequently, or do you disagree that middle class lifestyles end up leading to defense of the status quo and wanting to be nouveau riche and impress the elite, etc?



the latter

leftist writers are middle class as well

artists and theorists/politicians both

capitalism is actually destabilizing of the class system so it produces alienated people from all classes

its a huge error to take that idioitic psuedo-marxist perspective that only the working class has any substantial grievance against the status quo

#16
honestly any tapespeed (or getfiscal) post that doesn't include aggressive sexual harassment is probably a win we should pocket and move on.
#17

babyfinland posted:
the latter

leftist writers are middle class as well

artists and theorists/politicians both

capitalism is actually destabilizing of the class system so it produces alienated people from all classes

its a huge error to take that idioitic psuedo-marxist perspective that only the working class has any substantial grievance against the status quo



would you maintain the proportions are roughly equal?

#18

tapespeed posted:

babyfinland posted:
the latter

leftist writers are middle class as well

artists and theorists/politicians both

capitalism is actually destabilizing of the class system so it produces alienated people from all classes

its a huge error to take that idioitic psuedo-marxist perspective that only the working class has any substantial grievance against the status quo

would you maintain the proportions are roughly equal?



i think its far more dependent on the specific character of the society than anything else what the proportions are

#19
the tape speed argument is really dumb. nobody in here is talking about the proportions of writers by class background, but rather why the consistently best writing is done by reactionaries. there are far more "good writers" who are middling liberals or social democrats or boring conservatives, and sure you're probably right that most of them were rich, but the point of this thread is that those writers actually are no good
#20
well the reason the OP cherry-picked those particular authors probably has more to do with this forum's taste than anything. we weirdo internet folk that hang out on a political forum would probably be most apt to embrace repulsive politics than would someone that takes things on a "PC"/surface level basis, without a well-honed skill for synthesis. like i doubt if you took authors straight from the Western Canon that you would find the same proportion of reactionaries. could be wrong tho
#21
right, if you looked at the Western Canon it would be filled with liberals and other unsavory types. but they Suck imo
#22

babyfinland posted:
i think its far more dependent on the specific character of the society than anything else what the proportions are


Do you think an equal number of societies have characters where the majority of the intellectuals/writers that emerge from non-elite classes are more prone to use their talents to champion the left than suck up or sell out to the right?

Impper posted:
the tape speed argument is really dumb. nobody in here is talking about the proportions of writers by class background, but rather why the consistently best writing is done by reactionaries. there are far more "good writers" who are middling liberals or social democrats or boring conservatives, and sure you're probably right that most of them were rich, but the point of this thread is that those writers actually are no good


What is the metric here for evaluating what is good, then?

#23

tapespeed posted:

babyfinland posted:
i think its far more dependent on the specific character of the society than anything else what the proportions are

Do you think an equal number of societies have characters where the majority of the intellectuals/writers that emerge from non-elite classes are more prone to use their talents to champion the left than suck up or sell out to the right?



who cares what i think about that, why do you want to hear me make up unsubstantiated opinions about this

#24

babyfinland posted:
I wouldn't call Limonov, Nietzche or Houllebecq reactionary either

Anyway to answer the question I'd venture to guess that it's because they respond to the world in a more emotional way and less scientifically, for better or for worse, and this produces great art and reactionary politics (because they dont want to see cultural institutions smashed up or beholden to a revolution)

I don't think that reactionaries are especially better or worse than leftist writers, but that's just the logic of the thing


Left-wingers can certainly be passionate and unscientific too, but their writing is less appealing because it is all about how the world is shit and needs to be replaced with their vision of it whereas the right tends to focus on the beauty of the world, reverence for its lost traditions, and righteous scorn of those who are enemies to it.

#25

lungfish posted:
babyfinland posted:
Left-wingers can certainly be passionate and unscientific too, but their writing is less appealing because it is all about how the world is shit and needs to be replaced with their vision of it whereas the right tends to focus on the beauty of the world, reverence for its lost traditions, and righteous scorn of those who are enemies to it.



not really. rightists are the best when theyre callng for the destruction of everything (e.g. celine)

#26

tapespeed posted:
What is the metric here for evaluating what is good, then?



aesthetics. what about for you?

#27

babyfinland posted:
who cares what i think about that, why do you want to hear me make up unsubstantiated opinions about this



You were arguing against me in a patronizing, dismissive way I interpreted as strong confidence I could be shown to be incorrect, and I wanted to fill the gaps in my knowledge.

I'm not arguing a doctrinaire Marxist perspective and I agree with you about the times and places being relevant. The context established by the OP (and most of the writing typical people of our sort have read) was post-Enlightenment works by people in industrial capitalist societies or the last days of feudalism transitioning into something similar. I agree that there probably were places where intellectuals from non-elite classes tended more left than reactionary, but my feeling is (certainly for the Anglosphere, mostly for France/Germany/Russia and not so much about the Japanese cited since I don't know too much there) that my contention about the higher proportion of writers emerging as reactionary for the context established matches what I know about the cultures in the times we read most from.

Of course emancipatory leftism/willingness to write as a class traitor, etc. increases in the 20th Century and may have at some recent point or at some point in the future become a bigger trend amongst non-elite writers than defending the status quo, but I don't see the proportion being anywhere close for the whole of the time period implied by the context in the OP (the last several centuries in Western industrial capitalisms and their imperial domains)

#28
if it seems to you that people mostly judge writing from the last few centuries it's probably because the novel didn't really exist and certainly wasn't popular until very recently
#29

Impper posted:
aesthetics. what about for you?


Same, but since I come to a different conclusion than you, I will have to ask by which sort of aesthetic criteria and specifics you are making your judgments.

Impper posted:
if it seems to you that people mostly judge writing from the last few centuries it's probably because the novel didn't really exist and certainly wasn't popular until very recently


obviously

#30
the aesthetics of pWnage
#31

Impper posted:
the aesthetics of pWnage



Specifics, please. If you only present something known to you I cannot understand and agree or disagree with it.

#32

lungfish posted:

babyfinland posted:
I wouldn't call Limonov, Nietzche or Houllebecq reactionary either

Anyway to answer the question I'd venture to guess that it's because they respond to the world in a more emotional way and less scientifically, for better or for worse, and this produces great art and reactionary politics (because they dont want to see cultural institutions smashed up or beholden to a revolution)

I don't think that reactionaries are especially better or worse than leftist writers, but that's just the logic of the thing

Left-wingers can certainly be passionate and unscientific too, but their writing is less appealing because it is all about how the world is shit and needs to be replaced with their vision of it whereas the right tends to focus on the beauty of the world, reverence for its lost traditions, and righteous scorn of those who are enemies to it.



we're talking about the radical right, not conservatives

i agree with you about the left though

#33

tapespeed posted:

babyfinland posted:
who cares what i think about that, why do you want to hear me make up unsubstantiated opinions about this

You were arguing against me in a patronizing, dismissive way I interpreted as strong confidence I could be shown to be incorrect, and I wanted to fill the gaps in my knowledge.

I'm not arguing a doctrinaire Marxist perspective and I agree with you about the times and places being relevant. The context established by the OP (and most of the writing typical people of our sort have read) was post-Enlightenment works by people in industrial capitalist societies or the last days of feudalism transitioning into something similar. I agree that there probably were places where intellectuals from non-elite classes tended more left than reactionary, but my feeling is (certainly for the Anglosphere, mostly for France/Germany/Russia and not so much about the Japanese cited since I don't know too much there) that my contention about the higher proportion of writers emerging as reactionary for the context established matches what I know about the cultures in the times we read most from.

Of course emancipatory leftism/willingness to write as a class traitor, etc. increases in the 20th Century and may have at some recent point or at some point in the future become a bigger trend amongst non-elite writers than defending the status quo, but I don't see the proportion being anywhere close for the whole of the time period implied by the context in the OP (the last several centuries in Western industrial capitalisms and their imperial domains)



left-right and discussion of the state have to begin in this period. before the french revolution there was no left and no right, no nationalism, etc

#34
personally i think that the great authors insert themselves in a previously unspoken place, a void that can be exposed or explored or exploited. obviously it's not enough just to be "clever" since to be clever is to be indifferent to life. the greats are dangerous and put themselves at stake, every sentence is written with crackling pleasure

id like this to be more than just an opinion but id be hard pressed to justify that this is a "correct" metric. there is stuff written amongst depression, anxiety, other emotions than mania that are probably alright, but i tend to discount writers that havent reached a state of mature cynicism
#35

animedad posted:
personally i think that the great authors insert themselves in a previously unspoken place, a void that can be exposed or explored or exploited. obviously it's not enough just to be "clever" since to be clever is to be indifferent to life. the greats are dangerous and put themselves at stake, every sentence is written with crackling pleasure

id like this to be more than just an opinion but id be hard pressed to justify that this is a "correct" metric. there is stuff written amongst depression, anxiety, other emotions than mania that are probably alright, but i tend to discount writers that havent reached a state of mature cynicism



the first paragraph is exactly what milan kundera says in his set of essays called "the curtain"

#36

tapespeed posted:
Impper posted:
the aesthetics of pWnage


Specifics, please. If you only present something known to you I cannot understand and agree or disagree with it.


does something own, or does it not own? we can not know why

#37
undisputed GOAT william gaddis says this

- Because, my dear fellow, no one knows what you're thinking. And that is why people read novels, to identify projections of their own unconscious. The hero has to be fearfully real, to convince them of their own reality, which they rather doubt. A novel without a hero would be distracting in the extreme. They have to know what you think, or good heavens, how can they know that you're going through some wild conflict, which is after all the duty of a hero.



this is basically sarcastic (gaddis ruthlessly criticizes modern (50s) psychology in the book) but it because he is the GOAT even the scarecrow opposition has substance

#38

babyfinland posted:
left-right and discussion of the state have to begin in this period. before the french revolution there was no left and no right, no nationalism, etc



right, yea. i know the basics already

Impper posted:
does something own, or does it not own? we can not know why



Well what could I post that would serve as an effective counterexample to your assumptions? (broadly)

#39
as far as the USA goes theres precious few actual reactionaries i can think of, most all the good writers come from a left perspective
#40
there's pk dick
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