Chris Morgan on Don Colacho

A great writer on a great thinker, go read his piece in TAC on Nicolás Gómez Dávila:

“Democracy has terror for its means and totalitarianism for its end,” Gómez Dávila once wrote. In that single stroke an argument is initiated and ended. It is just one of thousands of sentences Gómez Dávila composed in his nearly 81-year life, but which very few have read. They covered every deep subject imaginable in the same terse, confident, clever, and intransigent manner, at only slightly varying lengths. These aphorisms, called escolios (“scholia” or “glosses”) by their author, stand on their own, ever at attention like a verbal infantry with bayonets armed, ready to return fire rather than to facilitate civil dialogue. In his lifetime Gómez Dávila would publish these passages only reluctantly, often at the insistence of others, and usually on his own publicity-averse terms. …

“If the reactionary concedes the fruitlessness of his principles and the uselessness of his censures,” Gómez Dávila wrote in his essay “The Authentic Reactionary,” “it is not because the spectacle of human confusion suffices for him. The reactionary does not refrain from taking action because the risk frightens him, but rather because he judges that the forces of society are at the moment rushing headlong toward a goal that he disdains.”

Gómez Dávila’s reactionary gaze was a vast one applicable to any subject previously worthy of intellectual dissection: from politics to economics to the arts to manners, and certainly religion. Gómez Dávila found corruption not only in democracy but in capitalism (“The Gospels and the Communist Manifesto are on the wane; the world’s future lies in the power of Coca-Cola and pornography”); in the rise of industry and technology (“God invented tools, the devil machines”); in individual liberty (“Liberalism proclaims the right of the individual to degrade oneself, provided one’s degradation does not impede the degradation of one’s neighbor”); and in blind patriotism (“That patriotism which is not a carnal adhesion to specific landscapes, is rhetoric designed by semi-educated men to spur the illiterate on towards the slaughterhouse”). This is to name but a few cultural felonies that protrude from our mundane striving for betterment. As Gómez assesses: “The cultural standard of an intelligent people sinks as its standard of living rises.”

Whole thing here.

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