I bought a book a year ago in a bookshop without ever having heard of it before. I bought the book partly because it was by Aldous Huxley, but mostly because it is beautiful in a way that modern books never are. The binding was mint green with gold lettering on the spine and a blank cover. Each page is a wisp of fragile paper. I could have got it for free on kindle but I wanted the smell and the feel from a time gone by.
Buying this beautiful aged book reminded me of Winston Smith’s decision to buy a uselessly pretty paperweight in 1984. Orwell wrote that “the past is a different country” (he was quoting) and Spandrell went further, saying that “the past is a different country, and reactionaries are patriots of that country”. Spandrell’s definition of a reactionary is wrong though, it applies exactly to Winston in 1984 and it applies well to Foseti or to himself. The problem is that it none of these individuals are reactionaries, they are neo-reactionaries. Winston doesn’t want to Stand athwart history yelling stop, Winston wants to overthrow big brother, but he doesn’t have the faintest idea how to start. We also want to go back. (It wouldn’t even be possible to freeze western society in aspic, the way it is today is inherently unstable for genetic and economic reasons).
So Winston’s predicament (How do I reverse this madness?) is the same as neo-reactionaries’. His opponents seem invincible and he is not foolish enough to believe he can overthrow them with a few scribblings in his
diary. At one point in 1984 Winston is looking at the ministry of truth, which
is a near enough equivalent to the propaganda wings of the cathedral (it’s
based on the BBC!). Winston considers the ministry of truth
“His heart quailed before the enormous pyramidal shape. It was too strong, it could not be stormed. A thousand rocket bombs would not batter it down. He wondered again for whom he was writing the diary.”
Winston decides that he is writing mainly for his own sake, his writing is nominally directed at the future but he doesn’t really think the future will receive it.
“He was a lonely ghost uttering a truth no one would ever hear. But so long as he uttered it, in some obscure way the continuity was not broken. It was not by making yourself heard but by staying sane that you carried on the human heritage.”
Neo-reactionaries face infinitely less punishment for voicing their opinions than Winston, they seem to be reaching similar conclusions in this discussion thread. (I’m British, people are genuinely persecuted for the wrong opinions here).
Like Winston, we should write for a hypothetical future audience that could implement our ideas, but the immediate purpose should be for our own sanity and gain. That's what I'll be doing with this blog.
The book that I bought was Aldous Huxley’s Point Counter Point. It’s a fantastically quotable book with some *kind of* reactionary themes. One thing that caught my eye was a character called Spandrell. It seems like this Spandrell must be named after that one. He's a pretty unattractive character who =SPOILER= kills a fascist leader, I don't understand why a neoreactionary would use him as a pseudonym? It would be cool if you answered in the comments.