Reactionary Spirits

Patrikos: The problem with Nietzsche’s philosophy–at least, taken as a whole–is that it is in a sense itself discredited because it grew up out of a reactionary nature; viz., that Nietzsche was simply reacting against Christianity, and the Christian metaphysic, that was seemingly so axiomatically presupposed by the masses without warrant. Certainly there was no validity to his philosophy, but rather like a little child rebelling against the authority of his parents who gets ecstatic and excited in the moment, he only realizes later the foolhardy example he has laid out for himself and future generations.

Alexander: Oh, Patrikos, my dear friend, how right you are! What a fool Nietzsche was to roll against the tide, and to think that he had the audacity to challenge metaphysics like he did, smashing them as seeming illusions! Hmph! How asinine; and to be sure, we stick with what we know to be true, yes, for our philosophy is not rooted in any sort of reactionary impulse, but in love for wisdom, isn’t that right my beloved friend?

Patrikos:   Alexander, oh Alexander you speak so delightfully into my ears that the wisdom is resounding and marching to the sound of the slow repetitious beat of the drums before war. We do indeed march to this inspiring beat as we suit ourselves up for war–war against the sophists, for we do indeed preach a true philosophy, if the masses could just take this to heart!

A: Yes, Patrikos, we are suiting up to be sure! But who are we engaging in the battle?

P: Why, Alexander, those who are holding silly or meaningless propositions; do we not have a duty to shine light in dark places?

A: Right you are, Patrikos, verily we do! And is this not a dialectical movement of opposition against those contrary philosophies that do not sit well with our love of wisdom?

P: Ahh, well, I suppose you are right my dear friend, yes, but you see we have inherited our knowledge from trustworthy sources, surly the gods would not lead us astray!

A: Bravo Pat, bravo! But now tell your beloved: where have our our predecessors received their knowledge? From the gods you say?

P: Certainly from the gods, indeed, Alexander–from the gods to be sure.

A: And did they not too move in dialectical negations, opposing opposite philosophical, political, metaphysical forces when the time pressed them to do so: for wisdom’s sake? Consider our beloved Zeus, did he not overthrow his father Cronus and gamble with his brothers for ultimate authority, our beloved Zeus, he whom is our chief ruler? Did not Zoroaster, on his quest for knowledge, rebel against the priests and cultic sages in order to form a newer and higher form of wisdom? For Philosophy’s sake? Did not the Buddha rebel against the Hindu Pantheon, rejecting thousands of gods in a reactionary dialectic down its polar opposite on his quest for release–for ultimate nirvana?

P: Alexander, for I have been so blind! You are speaking truth into my ears, yea, I can hear her song: keep singing, my dear friend.

A: Nay, beloved, I am no musician but merely an observer of spirits, and I have watched the philosophical dialectic roar to-and-fro throughout the ages. The Apostle Paul, writing against the rigid formalities of the Law and his upbringing, raged against what was formerly his very identity, the ‘Hebrew of Hebrews.’ Forsooth, with one fell swoop he reacted against the Jewish spirit of the age and boldly declared ‘For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God.’ But then again, perhaps you can prove me otherwise, Patrikos?

P: Please, Alexander, do continue, for the beat of the drums is too tantalizing.

A: Kierkegaard raged against his entire mode of existence and everything he knew: is not his philosophy merely a culmination of reactionary dialectical observations against Hegelianism, Lutheranism, and the Danish State Church? Marx against democratization and the ruling  bourgeoisie or Barth against Christian liberalism of the day?

P. I believe I am starting to see clearly, Alexander, but what is it about a reactionary position that makes it beneficial, or perhaps on the opposite spectrum, dangerous? I can see that all prevailing ideologies are either successfully or unsuccessfully reacted against, and that the seeds of those dipolar ideologies are planted in the good soil, soil that is conducive to new philosophies apropos the sharp dialectical distinctions of the two without which could not produce anything substantive. But should we not merely exercise a tolerant spirit and continue with what we know to be true? For we do not want to rattle the cages too much, Alexander.

A: Purge the thought, dear friend, for such a philosophically minded ideology of the sort equates to breeding passive nincompoops! Consider that some of the greatest men, the most noble-minded and high-spirited thinkers have been reactionary; nay, they must have had to been reactionary or else such a well-developed and high-spirited philosophy might have never been born, or ever had the chance to be able to be born for that matter. Consider Augustine and his doctrine of predestination as maturely evolved in his later years of life which was the ammunition the Reformers of old needed, and indeed utilized, to launch the Reformation thereupon changing the history of the Western world thenceforth; would Augustine have been able to develop such ideas without those men he saw as pesky gnats buzzing in his ear, the Pelagians? Yes, we must realize that every man is a prisoner to his surroundings, relationships, ideals, dealings, interactions, and weather, yea, even the weather! Like a wild animal in a cage, we must learn not only to survey our surroundings adequately, but learn how to respond, most times with a reactive spirit, in order to continue to build our sturdy ladder whereby we slowly make the progressive climb upwards to truth, knowledge, and all things philosophic. No man is free of these conditions, and the man who truly comes to the knowledge of the aforesaid forthwith prepares for battle, my dear Patrikos–remember the ecstatic and repetitious beatings of the drums of war! Do you dare to defy the drums of war?

P: I could never, Alexander! I certainly refuse to be a nincompoop! Whither is mine armour? Whither is mine sword: let us engage the battle before…–hurriedly, Alexander, quickly let us move–before the sun goes down, for the night is nigh; soon it will be dark, and no man can have ideals in the pitch dark blackness of night, no. All he can do is stare into the hollow eyes of darkness and self-immolate.

A: Why Patrikos, what truth you speak into my ears! Yes, we must engage for the battle, and forsooth, how nobly did Nietzsche do just that!

P: My how I have been mistaken, dear friend and teacher, for you are right; Nietzsche was a product of his time just as we are, and he indeed did the noble thing of his time–like we must do also,– and that is continue to construct the philosophic ladder upwards! He must have been a free-spirit; nay, perchance he was a god!

A: Bravo, my friend, bravo! The gods must be applauding and cheering us on, for we are their center stage, and do we not have a duty to be reactionary for them? Can we ever truly be comic or tragic without such a bold, robust, and reactionary spirit questing for knowledge and release?

P: Nay, we could never! As aforesaid, friend, hurry, let us prepare for the coming onslaught of war: we must continue our venture upwards!

A: And how can we do that, Patrikos?

P: Wherefore, don’t you know, Alex? By being reactionary spirits!

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