How I became reactionary - part 2
Dear progressives, be like Sisyphus if you want, but leave me out
"I've been living with this modern feeling
Shake down and let them pass away"
Ikara Colt - Modern Feeling1
Read part 1 of How I became reactionary first, if you missed it.
Note: as ever, because Rarely Certain chronicles a personal ride rather than attempting to persuade anyone else of anything, the following is not an argument against anything. It's a personal accounting of intuitions that political progressivism is less 'good', coherent or healthy than its acolytes think.
Progress is obvious, in every domain. This rarely seems to register for proponents of progressivism, who (it seems by definition) could never be satisfied. They are like Sisyphus, rolling his rock up the mountain. Except that they want you riding on the rock.
Rarely Certain would still exist, even if there were no paying supporters. But if you consistently enjoy it, please consider joining the 7.9% of subscribers who stump up the price of a coffee each month to help out a starving writer.
On a train back north the other day, lots of young people alighted at Toulon. Arty types. I'm guessing they were perhaps going to the Ecole Supérieure d'Art et Design Toulon Provence Méditerranée (a name I reproduce here, because it's just so damned classy).
Each one would have looked good on a magazine cover, in attire typically consisting of baggy, wispy layers, combining loose shirts with even looser jackets, skirt-like wraps with chiffon-type pantalons (trousers to you & me) and big chunky boots. Lots of black and white going on. None of those pastel shades you get with clothes in the anglosphere.
Obviously, the girls were extremely stylish too.
This set me reflecting on how much I approve of people experimenting with their vibe.
In this way I'm not traditionally 'reactionary' because these effete lads and their cross-gender affectations, just seemed cool and alive. It was good to think that they live in a world in which it's cool for them not to be toeing the traditional line. Which includes playing at being neither obviously male nor obviously female and describing yourself as 'non-binary'.
Not many years after the media had made its usual too much of Britain's Mod and Rocker subcultures fighting each other on Brighton beach and some punky types wore badges that said 'kill all hippies' I liked being the lad with long, crimped hair and collarless shirt, flared jeans and cowboy boots at new wave gigs in Liverpool.
I was conscious that no one else in the Dead Kennedys audience at The Warehouse looked like a 'smelly'. Nobody cared, except me, for whom it has always felt important not to fit in. This is a thing I like about western social liberalism's respect of the individual.
I always liked subcultures and the more derided they were by everyone else, the more I thought good for you. Emos, goths, real punks, skinheads, casuals.2
And this includes people who play with their 'gender' expression. Cool. Great. Looks like fun. I'd probably experiment with that too, if I was 15. Sticking it to the conservatives and old folk. I never fitted in to lad culture anyway.
But the idea that those Toulon lads need any more protection or 'rights' under the law on their 'girl days' than long-haired me did in my punk gig times seems like mission creep and over-engineering to solve a problem that doesn't exist.
That there are people with an X & Y chromosome who want a gender-neutral passport or legal ID is a 'problem' that society should address by spending precisely zero time or energy on it. At least, as it seems to me. Expansion of 'types' or categories of personhood is a central mission of progressivism that I see no reason to get behind.
So, Progressiveness seems like a kind of make-work thing. A hammer looking for nails.
Oh, so you don't want things to get better, then? You think the world is perfect just as it is, do you...
If you take progress to mean improvement in the material wellbeing and safety of people it seems less of an aim and more of an inevitability. I'm sure the Toulon lads are fine in their day-to-day lives, with no one but a few inevitable idiots being unhappy about their appearance. Today I walk around exchanging smiles and greetings with strangers all the time, whereas a couple of centuries ago I'd have been fearful of strangers. There is nothing like the level of squalor and poverty among the disadvantaged in the developed world than there even was close to where I grew up.
There is still lots of squalor and poverty. But, as an objective fact, significantly less - almost everywhere - as time goes on.
But Progressivism will never recognise the progress that's been made.
It reminds me of Zeno's paradox about the arrow never actually being in motion. If you don't know that one, this is it.