Reactionary – What is it, definition and concept | 2022

The reactionary opposes progress, innovation and progress on all levels, political, social and economic. He likes to live the current reality, but even more in a past ideal, in which the values ​​were even prior to those lived in his context.

That is, in simple, the reactionary is the person who opposes the political, economic and social progress that is experienced in a given society. For this reason, he views with suspicion any leftist or revolutionary political force, because he considers them enemies of the values ​​and principles that he defends.

The reactionary is associated with other profiles, such as the conservative, but they have some difference. It is also associated with ideologies such as liberalism, fascism, conservatism, or any current identified with the right, in general, but this is far from correct.

Characteristics of the reactionary

The reactionary, as a person who opposes progress in many fields and areas, has a series of characteristics:


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  • The term has its origin in the French Revolution.
  • He hates progressive political forces.
  • In addition to politics, he is also against cultural and social advancement.
  • He is a defender of traditions.
  • He is directly opposed to the revolutionary.
  • He has religious beliefs, in general.
  • He identifies with some more radical right-wing ideologies.
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Origin of the term

The origin of the term we have to look for in the great contemporary revolution, the French Revolution, which began in 1789. This event is one of the most relevant in the history of humanity, social and political paradigms were redefined, ending absolutism and establishing the foundations of later regimes.

That said, the revolution was an extremely bloody event, killing tens of thousands of people. Well, a large part of these victims were people who opposed the Revolution or some of its actions or drifts. These individuals were accused of being reactionaries, which comes from reacting to something, in this case, the revolutionary events.

To such an extent did the accusations and the course of the Revolution derive, that all kinds of people were accused of being reactionaries, even those who had supported the Revolution or who suggested that it take another path.

Differences between reactionary and conservative

These two terms are very similar, in fact, they are popularly used as synonyms, but we are going to see that this is not entirely the case.

The conservative is a person who identifies with the current values ​​and moral principles, those that prevail in a given society at the time in which they find themselves. In fact, this is the motivation for some civil wars and coups, to maintain the status quo in the face of the threat of a profound paradigm shift.

On the other hand, although the reactionary may share this vision, he goes further. According to political scientist Mark Lilla, the reactionary yearns and yearns for an even more conservative past, so to speak. Just as the revolutionary imagines and draws an ideal future situation, the reactionary does so with the past.

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It should also be noted that it exists by opposition, that is, faced with the threat of a change by the revolutionaries, the reactionary arises and fights so that this does not occur.

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