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The Reactionary: Aphorisms of Nicolás Gómez Dávila

Excerpts from Nicolás Gómez Dávila’s “Escolios a un texto implícito” (1977)

The existence of the authentic reactionary is usually a scandal to the progressive. His presence causes a vague discomfort. In the face of the reactionary attitude the progressive experiences a slight scorn, accompanied by surprise and restlessness. In order to soothe his apprehensions, the progressive is in the habit of interpreting this unseasonable and shocking attitude as a guise for self-interest or as a symptom of stupidity; but only the journalist, the politician, and the fool are not secretly flustered before the tenacity with which the loftiest intelligences of the West, for the past one hundred fifty years, amass objections against the modern world.

Where Christianity disappears, greed, envy, and lust invent a thousand ideologies to justify themselves.

The modern metropolis is not a city; it is a disease.

Society until yesterday had notables; today it only has celebrities.

In the modern state there now exist only two parties: citizens and bureaucracy.

Fashion, even more than technology, is the cause of the modern world’s uniformity.

Democracy has terror for its means and totalitarianism for its end.

Don Colacho’€™s Aphorisms

Here’s the full English translation of  Don Colacho’s Aphorisms in PDF. It’s the only freely available translation of his works available at this time. Click and download the PDF.

Don Colacho’s Aphorisms     An English Translation of Selected Aphorisms from Nicolás Gómez Dávila, Escolios a un Texto Implícito: Selección (Bogotá: Villegas Editores, 2001)

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  • Ten February 19, 2018, 2:04 PM

    It’s worth remembering that progressivism was a republican invention, and even today, post great reversal of political handles, Republican statism is as least as much to blame for creating problems by endeavoring to solve them as progressivism ever was. The left may be psychotic but evidently the right finds itself in no position to treat it like it is…

  • ghostsniper February 19, 2018, 2:49 PM

    Don’t get too bogged down in the details of tyranny.

    “Names are for tombstones, baby.” Live and Let Die, 1973

    “When the gun barrels are pointed at you it doesn’t matter who’s on the other end.”
    –gs, 2099

    “Lock and load gentleman, lock and load.”
    –John Wayne, Sands of Iwo Jima, 1949

  • JT February 19, 2018, 3:23 PM

    Oh my– the Don is quite prolific with the broad-brushed platitudes.
    Mind if I take a shot at it?
    “There are two kinds of people in the world- those that perceive it in trite aphorisms, and those that don’t.”
    (hey- that was fun!)

  • Punditarian February 19, 2018, 3:50 PM

    I’ve wondered since discovering Don Colacho whether he is or isn’t a fictional character.

  • Howard Nelson February 19, 2018, 5:29 PM

    Mixed bag of insights, mind-bending art, heart-rending music.
    Well done! Encore!

  • Vanderleun February 19, 2018, 5:58 PM

    Nice start, JT. Now just do it a few thousand times over.

  • james wilson February 19, 2018, 6:05 PM

    Any opinion, JT, good or bad, that cannot be framed by a few words is probably gas. A fuller understanding is work left to you.

  • Casey Klahn February 19, 2018, 10:33 PM

    “The most subversive book in our time would be a compendium of old proverbs.” I like it. His words are like dynamite, and so distant from what we hear from DC.

  • Ann K February 20, 2018, 5:15 AM

    The psychologist Robert Godwin frequently references Don Colacho at onecosmos.blogspot.com.

  • Punditarian February 20, 2018, 6:15 AM

    Hi Ann, Yes – that’s where I first read the aphorisms, at Dr. Godwin’s blog. But somehow, the wikipedia biography for Nicolas Gomez Davila reads like Borgesian fiction to me. I wondered if this wasn’t a hoax, possibly by the German philosophers who are credited for bringing Don Colacho to the world’s attention.

  • Casey Klahn February 20, 2018, 7:42 AM

    Robert Brault. I had to search to remember his name. His only credential is that he writes quotes for the internet. Yep. That’s his cred. He writes quotes for the internet. The thing is, they’re pretty good!
    Authority has gotten pretty thin in our era. Learn it. Live it. Love it.

  • Howard Nelson February 20, 2018, 4:52 PM

    Fine words sometimes lead to warm turds, for examples:
    1. “Fashion, even more than technology, is the cause of the modern world’s uniformity.”
    Ridiculous on its face and backside. Any fool (and I’m not any fool, I’m a special fool) will realize that COWARDICE and ‘play along to get along’ are the causes of uniformity/conformity and why there are so few Olafs in this world.
    2. “Democracy has terror for its means and totalitarianism for its end.”
    An asiten remark (exactly 1/9 more asinine than asinine).
    It’s Elitism, practically the anti-thesis of democracy (fair governance of the people by the people), that leads to totalitarianism. Democracy, as our non-foundering Founders described and understood, had to be composed structurally and functionally, had to offset/control selfishness with forceful selflessness, virtue. A representative democratic republic was their attempt at massive improvement in virtuous governance. True citizens are not sluggards and sloths, and as now, they need to moon the loons, the demeaners of the demos, the destroyers rather than the improvers.
    Our imperfect democratic system has means for self-correction and improvement (WTF do you think the Amendment and Impeachment processes are for?) and needs to recognize the decent intelligent from the coercive dungkopfs. Critical Thinking can overcome the stinkin’ thinkin’ of Critical Theory if we get our heads out of our rectal orifices.
    As Maximus Mouthus said, ” Drooling fools and their tools will rule if the common citizen prefers watching TV and playing computer games rather than executing responsibilities, their obligations of citizenship.”
    The above is not to say that Don Colacho does not get some of it right, just that he should be challenged, aphorism by aphorism, for truth and pertinence.

  • Ten February 25, 2018, 12:12 PM

    The difference between you and normal people, Nelson, is that normal people see the bigger picture. Therefore here’s a protip: Don’t read the Don with your mind. You’re welcome.