fragments of an attempted writing.

parsing reaction...

The conservative love of localism is related to a love of little aristocrats, the notion of which drives conservatism.  An elder Buckley supposedly saying he would be a Leftist were he a young man today (shortly before he died, that is).  The, yeah-their-that-stereotype-fulfilling rituals of The Party of the Right at Yale.  Burke as a modern because of his belief in recovery.  The romantic qualities of the right and the discourse of loss.  Traditionalists vs. libertarians with the American conservative movement.  A Hayek reading club for the left and understanding the free market as a counterrevolutionary moment.  Freedom in Hayek as purely instrumental.  Eugene Genovese being wrong about the slaveholders being anti-capitalist.  And many more interesting tidbits in this conversation between Doug Henwood of LBO and Corey Robin, the author of The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin.

A fascinating conversation which I highly recommend.

I'll definitely be getting Robin's book once I have the cash for it.


  1. I think Dunayevskaya’s theory of state-capitalism can shed a little light on this subject, if only indirectly. The crisis of the Left’s imagination is due to its dependency on the state-capitalist paradigm. Case in point: the call a couple of years ago for a “New New Deal”. Everyone with an ounce of sense knew that such a thing is neither desirable nor even possible, at least without struggle in the streets. And even when such reforms are won from bourgeois democracy, often they foreshadow defeat and not victory. Even now, the Left can’t seem to shed the paradigm of “the State having to do something”. But people know that the bourgeois State is corrupt and can’t do anything right other than plunder and destroy (just ask what people think about the police in the ghetto). The gains that the working class gained through the capitalist state apparatus were never that great to begin with, and if we salivate for them now, it is only because things are getting worse and worse all the time.

    The allure of the right has more to do with the fact that, at least for a small sector of the population, and I include here a sector of the white working class, they ask a fundamental philosophical question: “What kind of society should this society be?” Long ago, the Left abandoned such “metanarrative” questions in favor of atomized identity politics, pure economism, leeching off of the bourgeois State, etc. The Left has no vision, and thus no philosophy of revolution to offer the workers. People need to know what is at the end of the tunnel when they struggle. If no one provides them with one that is progressive, they fall into those that are reactionary. That is where “traditional values”, the “shining city on a hill”, and the “my country right or wrong” rhetoric comes into play. I speak here only of the white petit-bourgeoisie and working class: blacks in particular are just screwed, especially by their own leadership.

    To that end, I am somewhat tempted to start a group entitled: “Society to Abolish the Term ‘Middle Class’”. Such a vague term is pervasive and only aims to do what the speakers state in this talk: to make it seem that, no matter how much I am getting screwed, there is someone below me who has it worse. That is simply not helpful, and the best ideology that the capitalists can buy.

  2. Henwood petit-bourgeois? Say it ain't so. I just read him on FB responding to a question about an Occupy the Hamptons this summer. Henwood recommended Sagaponack beach for its beauty.

  3. Owen: I finally was able and got around to replying to your "a reply". I spent the post trying to explain what I meant by the desire for a Hegelian order, and what I think is really going on in said desire. It was far too long for a comment or series of comments, so I posted it here.


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