Teri Kanefield @Teri_Kanefield Author, Lawyer (U.C. Berkeley) My threads are here: terikanefield-blog.com/ Bio here: terikanefield.com/about-me George Papadopoulos called me deluded Sep. 04, 2019 4 min read

(Thread) Reactionaries v. Conservatives

The GOP is no longer conservative. It’s reactionary.

Let’s stop calling it “conservative.”

True conservatives, according to NYU prof. @Jonhaidt, form a kind of yin-yang balance with liberals (or progressives).
 https://www.ted.com/talks/jonathan_haidt_on_the_moral_mind?language=en 

1/ Liberals embrace forward-looking change.
Conservatives value order.
The conservative insight is that order is precious, hard to achieve, and easy to lose. (From @JonHaidt)

Reactionaries, on the other hand seek rapid change—backwards to a bygone era.  https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/pops.12540 

2/ Political psychologists Capelos and Katsanidou define reactionism as “a forceful desire to return to the past.” Article here:
 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/pops.12540 

Underlying reactionism is “anger, fear, nostalgic hope, betrayal, and perceived injustice.”

3/ The word “again” in “Make America Great Again” signals reactionist politics.

Liberals/ progressives and reactionaries have entirely different views of American history.

The liberal view goes like this: America started out with some good ideas. Unfortunately . . .

4/ . . . these ideals applied to a small group—white men.

Over 240 years—through the heroic efforts of men and women like Susan B. Anthony, MLK Jr,. etc—“we the people” expanded to include more people.

As more people were included, America came closer to its founding ideals.

5/ The reactionary view is the opposite.

For reactionaries, America in 1789 offered promise of personal liberty.

As the federal government grew and regulations increased, they feel that something vital was taken from them. 

They look back with nostalgia to the good old days.

6/ In fact, bygone America offered much liberty—for white men.

When the frontier was open, they could grab land.
Before 1863, they could grab people and enslve them.
Before modern rape and sexual harassment laws, they could grab women.
See⤵️

7/ There weren’t regulatory agencies or many regulations, so (white) men could cheat. They could manipulate markets, fix prices, and launder money.

🎶Those were the days🎶

How do you think the Trump's got rich?⤵️

8/ Liberals applaud the New Deal and regulatory agencies that brought us minimum wage, social security, and the VA bill, Voting Rights Act, and the Civil Rights Act.

They understand that these regulations even the playing field and allow ALL people to to participate.

9/ To return to the good old days, reactionaries want to destroy all of those laws and agencies.

When David Koch was the Libertarian Party 1980 VP candidate, he advocated abolishing (among other things) the FBI, CIA, and IRS.

 https://www.nytimes.com/1984/10/16/arts/man-without-a-candidate.html 

10/ The drive to destroy explains Trump, his administration, and his followers.

The desire to destroy agencies and institutions was the point of this tweet⤵️

Destroying institutions (like the FBI) by undermining them is textbook reactionary politics.

11/ The reactionary desire to destroy explains the Trump, his administration, and his followers.

It explains their craving for constant chaos, and why "Political nihilism" is one of Trump's "strongest weapons."
 https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/04/opinion/trump-voters-chaos.html 
Chaos destroys.

12/ Snyder calls it governing by crisis and spectacle. See:  https://terikanefield-blog.com/governing-by-crisis-spectacle-and-sadopopulism/ 

Lies also destroy. See my Slate article:
 https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/10/trump-lies-kavanaugh-khashoggi.html 

True conservatives don’t want to destroy. 
They want to preserve the status quo.

13/ True conservatives looked hard at Trump, understood the GOP was not actually conservative, and jumped ship.

Many who call themselves conservatives remain.

Some from moral cowardice⤵️


Others are complicit because they think they’ll benefit.

14/ Hofstadter ⤵️explains that many who think of themselves as conservatives aren't: They “employ the rhetoric of conservatism” but instead of wishing to conserve, they unconsciously wish to destroy.

Words and names matter.

Let's call the GOP what it is: A reactionary party.

Adding comments👇

As I wrote this, it occurred to me that when change is particularly rapid (as in the US during the Civil Rights and women’s rights movements) clever propaganda can frighten conservatives into backing a reactionary agenda.

Fox, perhaps?

Yes⤵️ fascism is based on myth (and requires clearing away truth)


These overlap: Right wing authoritarian, fascism, reactionary. There are difference between them. I think they form overlapping circles.

Jason, I believe the reactionary movement we see now got its start in the late 1950s, after Brown v. Board.

Slowly various reactionary elements were absorbed into the GOP, until at last, they took over.


I think Reagan . . .

. . . played an important role in the transformation.

He used the rhetoric of conservatism while inviting white southerners into the party. He completed the southern strategy shift.

Story: I was doing polling for Eagleton's 1980 Senate campaign in southern Missouri . . .

. . . I spoke to southern white Democrats as they made the shift. I heard things like, "My daddy and granddaddy were Democrats all the way back to the Civil War. I'm a Democrat. But I am not voting for that traitor to southern values, Jimmy Carter. I'm voting for Reagan."

All my threads are blog posts. You can view this one here:  https://terikanefield-blog.com/two-views-of-american-history/ 


You can follow @Teri_Kanefield.



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