Reactionary Radicals

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When Mr. Kaufmann typifies himself as a Jeffersonian decentralist, he has me, because that is where my home is (without some of the other Jeffersonian trappings, I might add). Mr. Snyder of The Western Confucian was kind enough to leave a reference to Reactionary Radicals from which I derive the excerpt. Sounds like another book I will have to look into. And while I think it may take Mr. Dreher a little down the line, it certainly sounds along the lines of what Dreher suggests in Crunchy Cons.

from Look Homeware, America
Bill Kaufmann

I am an American patriot. A Jeffersonian decentralist. A fanatical localist. And I am an anarchist. Not a sallow garret-rat translating Proudhon by pirated kilowatt, nor a militiaman catechized by the Classic Comics version of The Turner Diaries; rather, I am the love child of Henry Thoreau and Dorothy Day, conceived amidst the asters and goldenrod of an Upstate New York autumn. Like so many of the subjects of this book, I am also a reactionary radical, which is to say I believe in peace and justice but I do not believe in smart bombs, daycare centers, Wal-Mart, television, or Melissa Etheridge’s test-tube baby.

“Reactionary radicals” are those Americans whose political radicalism (often inspired by the principles of 1776 and the culture of the early America) is combined with—in fact, flows from—a deep-set social “conservatism.” These are not radicals who wish to raze venerable institutions and make them anew: they are, in fact, at antipodes from the warhead-clutching egghead described by (the reactionary radical) Robert Lee Frost:

With him the love of country means
Blowing it all to smithereens
And having it all made over new
Look Homeward, America

These reactionary radicals—a capacious category in which I include Dorothy Day, Carolyn Chute, Grant Wood, Eugene McCarthy, Wendell Berry, and a host of other cultural and political figures—have sought to tear down what is artificial, factitious, imposed by remote and often coercive forces and instead cultivate what is local, organic, natural, and family-centered. In our almost useless political taxonomy, some are labeled “right wing” and others are tucked away on the left, but in fact they are kin: embodiments of an American cultural-political tendency that is wholesome, rooted, and based in love of family, community, local self-rule, and a respect for permanent truths.

Obviously, this is something requiring careful consideration, but at least I know of it now to consider it. You have done me a great service Mr. Snyder, thank you.

With respect to Mr. Dreher, I must admit to coming late to the party--but it's the only way that I attend such things. After the furor has died down, I can sit and take my time with the canapes, snacks and leftovers and enjoy the relative stillness to determine finally whether it was a party worth attending. So far in my reading of Mr. Dreher's book, it has proven to be so. I hope that continues.

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You're most welcome, Mr. Riddle. It seems that a lot of good ideas are floating around these days. It's against my nature, but I feel somewhat optimistic that something good will come out of all of this.

Here is a blog by the author of a book that argues the Democtratic Party should return to its Jeffersonian, anti-Hamiltonian roots: PopCorn78 - Where Did the Party Go?.

Joshua Snyder



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on August 22, 2006 9:31 AM.

Images in Christian Life was the previous entry in this blog.

The Downside of Crunchy Cons is the next entry in this blog.

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