The folly of most reactionaries begins with their rejection of the modern world. This view stems from a (cultural decline) since the movement away from traditional world brought about by The Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution.
Their rejection of the modern world isn’t quite uniform. Some reject modernity as a whole. To be clear, modernity is the underpinnings of the modern world: capitalist economy, urban living, technological innovation, and rational discovery.
Instead they long for a return to the underpinnings of the old world such as feudalism, agarianism, artisianism, and esotericism. An example of these types are pagan worshippers and advocates of aristocratic/monarchical social order.
The “archeist” is the most delusional as they attempt to bring about the things that were displaced by modernity without answering the scrutiny modernity leveled against these foundations which resulted in their collapse.
Capitalism overthrew feudalism because of its much greater efficiency, the bourgeois and their economic system are simply too powerful for feudal landlords to subdue. The masses voluntarily left behind their agrarian lifestyle to pursue better opportunities found in cities. The production capacity of craftsman is far too low to sustain our economy. And esotericism is just so innacurate in its explanation of physical phenonenon versus the scientiic method.
I would like to challenge the archeist to hold true to their world. Are you prepared to give up on things like recreational sports, music from the past 300 years, and modern medicine? Modernity is more than just Snapchat and skyscrapers.
Then there are those who are more sensible, opponents of modernism. Modernism is something more specific and narrowly defined than modernity. Modernism is the philosophical movenent brought about by the Avant-Garde. It is best characterized by the slogan, “Make it new!” as coined by Ezra Pound.
Whereas modernity is a paradigm shift, modernism challenges anything and everything inside and outside of the paradigm. It seeks the eradication of the past, nothing is held sacred. If “that’s how it’s always been” then we’ll find a new way to do it, because newer is ipsto facto better.
The purpose of this essay is not to defend or exalt modernism but rather point out the flaw in reactionaries critique of it.
Reactionaries defend traditionalism against modernism because they see the past as being more pure and good. Traditionalists do not object to technological, scientific, or economic progress but only social progress (which to them is actually a decline.) In fact they’re very much within the paradigm of modernity with modern conceptions of science (e.g., race realism), the state, nationalism, etc. This is visibly seen in the aesthetics in neo-reactionary circles like Archeo-Futurism and Retro-Futurism.
The problem with the glorification of origins is that runs into the genetic fallacy. As Nietzsche points out, we can’t find “salvation” by looking to the past. “The more insight we possess into an origin the less significant does the origin appear: while what is nearest to us, what is around us and in us, gradually begins to display colors and beauties and enigmas and riches of significance of which earlier mankind had not an inkling.” (Daybreak, Book 1, Sec. 44)
For my concluding remarks I would like to address some objections. One is that reactionaries do not seek to revert away from modernism or modernity, but to overcome it.
This is an untenable position either for the archaist or traditionalist. Modernism is, by it’s very nature, overcoming the old with something new. The reactionary seemingly falls into a paradox of embracing old values but only through the spirit of modernism.
Another thing I would like to address is the practical deficiencies of retro- and archeo-futurism. The retrofuturist seeks to make technological advances but, in order to keep in align with an aesthetic reverent of the past (e.g., the 50’s), by using the same material, machinery, and production methods of the past.
It goes without saying that it is very limiting of our range of scientific achievements and its an outright wasteful and inefficient use of resources. Archeofuturists, on the other hand, do not care for the aesthetic result of new technologies.
Somehow, however, newer technology will lead us to a restoration of old world values and lifestyles. Frankly, the empirical evidence speaks for itself that technological improvement has broken down divisions between peoples and has been fostering non-hiearchial organization. (e.g., the internet, bloclchain).