Not a Snowflake, but a Hero

A sensible reactionary is forever on guard against the hazard of becoming merely reactionary, by which I mean ordering his loyalties and affections simply as the mirror opposite of the loyalties and affections of the stereotypical progressive Leftist.  We see such mere reaction at work in the man who drives a gas-guzzling monster truck because progressive leftists extoll tiny hybrids and scooters.  We see it at work in the man who eats monterey jack cheese because he has heard that progressive Leftists delight in stilton and brie.

I am not talking about men who have an honest need (or affection) for monster trucks, or an honest liking for monterey jack cheese, but about men for whom Reaction is a lifestyle almost entirely defined by repudiation of the stereotypical lifestyle of progressive Leftists.

I understand that there is often some need to signal one’s political status, and therefore to sport some updated version of the black cockade of eighteenth-century reactionaries, but this does not mean that we must behave like rebellious teenagers who hate everything their parents love and love everything their parents hate.  Many of us became reactionaries out of disgust with the doctrine that “everything is political,” so it would be ironic if we wound up perusing menus for what we imagine are reactionary entrées, or furnishing our houses with what we imagine is reactionary décor, or choosing our hobbies with an eye to winning the imaginary approval of virtual friends at reactionary websites.

The hazard of becoming merely reactionary is especially great when some fatuous Leftist opinion has become an object of special scorn among reactionaries.  For instance, the excesses of feminist ideology drive some men into the mere reaction of affirming forms of rigorist patriarchy totally outside the Western tradition.  Another example is mere reaction against the excesses of the individualist ideology that reactionaries mock with the epithet of “special snowflake,” and that too often drives reactionaries into conformist ideologies.  The choices in this world are not limited to “snowflakes” and myrmidons, to flower children and men in grey flannel suits.

Consider this quote from the American philosopher Josiah Royce:

“One of the principal tasks of my life is to have a will of my own.” (Philosophy of Loyalty [1908], p. 31)

I think this notion is true, and that it is not one that leads necessarily the “snowflake” philosophy.  Royce is, in fact, talking about the need to order one’s life to some end, in accordance with some plan.

“A person, an individual self, may be defined as a human life lived according to a plan.” (Philosophy of Loyalty [1908], p. 168)

The self of which Royce speaks is not a creature of appetite, whim or fancy, but a creature of discipline, purpose and resolve.

“A self is a life insofar as it is unified by a single purpose.” (Philosophy of Loyalty [1908], p. 171)

This purpose is not utterly unique, as the “snowflake” philosophy would seem to imply.  Indeed, it may be as ordinary as the purpose (or plan, or will) to support one’s family or raise one’s children.  But this purpose that makes existence into “a life” is always a personal purpose.  It must be rooted in the nature of the individual.  It is a plan of life that a man (or woman) undertakes after sober consideration of the particular gifts with which he (or she) was sent into the world.  It is, moreover, begun with the supremely personal act of making a pledge or promise, since a pledge or promise is a public expression of the will.

Here’s Thomas Carlyle:

“He that cannot persevere, that is not bound by the law of his nature to persevere, how can he ever arrive.”  (Historical Sketches [1898], p. 177)

None of us is a snowflake, but each of us has a destiny.  In most cases it is a very ordinary destiny, but that does not mean we are not in danger of failing to arrive through lack of perseverance, failure of will, and breaking of a promise.  This notion of personal destiny is subject to grievous abuse, but this should not cause us to reject it in mere reaction, for each of us is called to live our life as an epic.

Each of us is called to live with the conviction that we are a hero on a quest in which there is no certainty of success.  Perhaps it would be best not to constantly talk about our lives in these terms, but this is how we should live.  The mass man is, after all, what reactionaries are really reacting against.

So, remind yourself daily that you have been called to be a Hercules, a Jason, a Sir Percival.  Ask yourself if you understand your quest.  What is your apple of the Hesperides, your Golden Fleece, your Holy Grail?  This is not the language of a “snowflake” since the destiny of a snowflake is to melt and be forgotten.  This is the language of a hero, and it ought to be our language.

6 thoughts on “Not a Snowflake, but a Hero

  1. Pingback: Not a Snowflake, but a Hero | Aus-Alt-Right

  2. “In the house of every Greek and Roman was an altar; on this altar there had always
    to be a small quantity of ashes, and a few lighted coals. It was a sacred obligation
    for the master of every house to keep the fire up night and day. Woe to the house
    where it was extinguished. Every evening they covered the coals with ashes to
    prevent them from being entirely consumed. In the morning the first care was to
    revive this fire with a few twigs. The fire ceased to glow upon the altar only when the
    entire family had perished; an extinguished hearth, an extinguished family, were
    synonymous expressions among the ancients.

    “It is evident that this usage of keeping fire always upon an altar was connected with
    an ancient belief. The rules and the rites which they observed in regard to it, show
    that it was not an insignificant custom. It was not permitted to feed this fire with
    every sort of wood; religion distinguished among the trees those that could be
    employed for this use from those it was impiety to make use of.”

    Numa Fustel Denis de Coulanges, The Ancient City (1864)

    • Aeneas makes it his mission to keep the embers alight. Often he avoids a fight or withdraws from action to pray. His heroism, which can appear unheroic, is in finding the new home for the Penates, so as to keep the Trojan family alive.

      Likewise Odysseus, whose extraordinary tribulations have as their simple goal that he should return home, rid his house of pests, and then resume his role of husband and father.

      • I generally dislike what we might call the normalization of heroism. That’s why I wrote that it might be best not to talk about our lives in this way. But for human existence to become a life, it must be lived with a hero’s sense of mission, destiny and peril. For most of us, thankfully, that mission is not to slay the gorgon, but as you say, to make a home for those under our care.

  3. Pingback: Not a Snowflake, but a Hero | Reaction Times

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