The Aphorisms Of Don Colacho

Nicolás Gómez Dávila (“Don Colacho”)

From the site:

Gómez Dávila’s use of aphorisms was also motivated in part by polemical considerations. In the modern age, the reactionary cannot hope to formulate arguments that will convince his opponent, because he does not share any assumptions with his opponent. Moreover, even if the reactionary could argue from certain shared assumptions, modern man’s dogmatism prevents him from listening to argumentation. Faced with this situation, the reactionary should instead write aphorisms. Gómez Dávila compares his aphorisms to shots fired by a guerrilla from behind a thicket on any modern idea that dares advance along the road. The reactionary will not convince his opponent, but he may convert him.

The second extraordinary feature of Gómez Dávila’s work is its “reactionary,” not merely conservative, content. “Reactionary” is mostly used today as an abusive epithet, sometimes as a synonym for that all-purpose slur, “fascist.” However, Gómez Dávila proudly labeled himself a reactionary and actually created a literary persona for himself as “the authentic reactionary,” precisely because of the stigma attached to the term. Gómez Dávila’s lifework was to be an authentic reactionary.

Freedom is the term used most without knowing what it means.

“Liberties” are social precincts in which the individual can move without any coercion; “Liberty,” on the other hand, is a metaphysical principle in whose name a sect seeks to impose its ideals of conduct on everyone else.

Liberty is not an end, but a means. Whoever mistakes it for an end does not know what to do once he attains it.

To say that freedom consists of something other than doing what we want is a lie.
That it is proper, on the other hand, to limit freedom is an obvious fact.
But deceit begins when they seek to identify freedom with the limitations they impose on it.

History clearly demonstrates that governing is a task that exceeds man’s ability.

Political blunders repeat themselves, because they are the expression of human nature.
Successes do not repeat themselves, because they are the gift of history.

Public political discussion is not intellectually adult in any country.

The ideas which influence politics the least are political ideas.

Between the dictatorship of technology and the technology of dictatorship, man no longer finds a crack through which he can slip away.

What is important is not that man believe in the existence of God; what is important is that God exist.

To be a Christian is to not be alone, no matter the solitude that surrounds us.

The religious life begins when we discover that God is not a postulate of ethics, but the only adventure in which it is worth the trouble to risk ourselves.

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