Wednesday, 1 April 2015

NEO-REACTION AS A "LIMIT EXPERIENCE"

The New Reaction
by Rachel Haywire
Arktos Media, 66 pages
Available for purchase from Amazon here

Reviewed by Keith Preston

Rachel Haywire’s The New Reaction is a collection of fifteen relatively short writings offering amusingly iconoclastic bits of cultural criticism from the perspective of someone with a well-developed taste for pushing the limits.

With an interesting forward by Mark Dyal, this book is not a work of political philosophy, although it could reasonably be classified as a work of political psychology. Rachel Haywire is principally concerned with questions that involve perception, specifically, how people perceive themselves and others in relation to their social circumstances. Her principal aim is to dispossess of their own self-image conformist fools who fancy themselves smart and enlightened while pursuing political and cultural fads. A great deal of much deserved bile is directed towards the politically correct “progressives” who have achieved the remarkable feat of engaging in mindless conformity, while considering themselves to be some kind of avante-garde elite. Indeed, this is the central theme that runs through most of the book.

Ms. Haywire’s writings seem to follow a certain trajectory that begins with Max Stirner and runs through Friedrich Nietzsche and winds up with Michel Foucault. Her work is quite refreshing in that it lacks even a hint of pious moralizing, and she throws darts at the sacred cows of contemporary times with the mischievous glee of an adolescent prankster. Yet she does this even while offering a great deal of penetrating insight.

Nor is there any effort to create a systematic body of thought. This work is not a manifesto. Rather, its represents a kind of Nietzschean “transvaluation of all values.” Rachel’s spirit is that of an egoist that simply says to the herd, “No, thank you. I think I will do my own thing instead.” Such an attitude is not intended to be a display of righteousness. While there are references to various forms of fringe or dissident politics in her writings, Rachel’s outlook is neither that of an idealist or a conservative, as much as that of someone with a Foucauldian desire to transgress externally and artificially imposed limits. One gets the impression that, for example, participation in neo-reactionary politics is for Ms. Haywire what Foucault termed a “limit-experience.”

At the same time, her mockery of the political correct hipsters is worthy of the Yippies’ pushing the limits of irreverence in their attacks on the establishment of Richard Nixon’s America nearly half a century ago. She refers to the USA as “the United States of Social Causes” dominated by “uppity progressives.”

Rachel suggests that the “right-wing is the proletariat” and admonishes readers to “embrace your will to power.” When she instructs readers to avoid putting down the sword, Rachel Haywire speaks in the spirit of Nietzsche advising men to scorn pity and to live more dangerously. She provides an apt description of liberals as the new conservatives, i.e. a stodgy and predictable status quo that is pathologically obsessed with the enforcement of groupthink. She describes the amusing spectacle of wealthy young women carrying designer purses getting arrested during Occupy protests because, well, it’s just the cool thing to do. “It’s hot!” as pop culture airhead Paris Hilton might have said.

Rachel also offers the poignant observation that people living on the streets and who know what it’s like to be genuinely downtrodden are more likely to have a Social Darwinian rather than Marxist worldview.

The book ends with a call for a revolt by the one percent, not the socioeconomic one percent identified as the enemy by the occupiers, but the one percent of genuine freethinkers and free spirits who genuinely dare to step outside the box. Perhaps this kind of revolution is a necessary prelude to any other kind.


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