The radicalisation of reactionaries

An interesting analysis from Pity the Billionaire, by Thomas Frank, loc 1746-1759:

And so, over the years, the movement came to affect a revolutionary posture toward the state that it might have borrowed from Karl Marx or Jean-Paul Sartre. It imitated the protest culture of the sixties, right down to a feigned reverence for anticommunist guerrilla fighters who were its version of Ho and Che. Conservative leaders studied the tactics of communists, applying them to their own struggles. And the movement learned to understand itself not as a defender of “the status quo,” in the famous formulation of the conservative organizer Paul Weyrich, but as a group of “radicals, working to overturn the present power structure of the country.”  When the economic collapse of 2008 and 2009 came along, conservatism immediately positioned itself as a protest movement for hard times. Aspects of the conservative tradition that were haughty or aristocratic were attributed to liberals. Symbols that seemed noble or democratic or populist, even if they were the traditional property of the other side, were snapped up and claimed by the Right for itself.

This was integral to the weird character of the movement that came into being. From loc 1775-1793:

What’s more, it was cast as a people’s movement with no leaders. A movement that was so profoundly democratic, so virtuously rank-and-file, so punk rock, that it was actively against leaders. A movement that was downright obsessed with being “sold out” by traditional politicians, with betrayal, with guarding its independence and its precious authenticity. 6

This appropriation of leftist rhetoric goes as far as to take on a critical theoretical character. In its own simplistic way, it promises to cut through the veil of illusion and reveal the systemic (leftist) forces bringing about empirically identifiable pathologies. 

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