Is the term “reactionary” flattering or pejorative? Some progressive readers will answer that, of course, it is pejorative!
I think this is a simplistic way to answer. A reactionary is someone who reacts. What would the world be like if no one reacted against error, evil, ignorance, poverty, disease, etc.? There are good and necessary reactions. Those who practice them are commendable reactionaries. Therefore, the word “reactionary” does not necessarily have to have a bad connotation. On the contrary, it can have admirable meanings.
True, progressive propaganda has given this term a terrible spin depending on the environment. It is easier to explain the problem by making comparisons rather than supplying definitions.
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Thus, in progressive parlance, a typically reactionary stance would be to wish for an absolute dictatorship in one’s country in which all individual rights depended on a single ruler. The latter would have the power to dispose of everyone’s work and production as he saw fit. He could assign tasks and schedules at will, change customs at his leisure. He could even intervene in religious worship, for example, by setting or arbitrarily moving religious holy days such as Easter or Christmas. Faced with this undeniably dismal picture, a progressive begins to howl and cry out against tyranny, Nazism, etc.
To me, the attitude progressives take toward this depiction seems strange. Indeed, I once read in the press that Fidel Castro decided one year that Cubans would not celebrate Christmas and the New Year. He thought they should be cutting cane to increase sugar production on those days. Thus, the celebrations were postponed until July!
Consequently, in strict logic, progressives should see Fidel Castro as an archetypal reactionary.
Not so. Progressives willingly absolve the left for actions they criticize (sometimes correctly) when practiced by the right (or false-right, it should be noted).
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This observation has real relevance, especially if Fidel Castro is replaced with other red leaders. Such a change counts on the support of American and Latin American sectors committed to preventing or at least delaying the Cuban people’s liberation from Marxism.
As it is easy to see, outside Cuba, this replacement conveys the impression that the communist regime on the island is no longer so ruthless. In turn, this impression creates a favorable climate for coexistence with the West. By diminishing the tensions strangling Cuban Communism, coexistence helps Communism survive.
Thus, Cuba inches toward a necessarily rogue and evil coexistence with the West with or without Fidel.
This is why vigilance is required against the red reactionaries, whether they are on Fidel’s team or another that succeeds him. They are all reactionaries in the most pejorative sense of the term and authentically red ideologically.
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Listen, progressives, you who boast of fiercely opposing all reactionaries: Will we see you in the fight against the crafty maneuvers of red reactionaries?
Or will your omission, so easy to predict, finally serve to open the eyes of the naive?
The article above was edited and adapted from an op-ed written for the Folha de S. Paulo, and published November 9, 1969.
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