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6 Examples of Reactionary Politics

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Reactionary is a political strategy that seeks to reverse a change that has occurred. This tends to have negative connotations such that it is unusual for anyone to apply the term to themselves. The following are illustrative examples of reactionary politics.


It is common for people to view the past in an idealized light such that reactionary slogans and campaign promises may have popular appeal. For example, Ronald Reagan's 1980 campaign slogan "Make America Great Again."


Promises to undo economic change such as restoring growth to an old industry that is in decline.


A strategy of trying to revert systems to some older state. The word reactionary stems from the French réactionnaire that was used to describe late 18th century efforts to restore the monarchy after the French Revolution.


Goals to undo changes to culture. Culture emerges and can't be directly controlled. As such, these goals are difficult or impossible to achieve. For example, a politician who promises to restore "family values" is essentially claiming to be able to restore the values of a culture to some idealized historical state.


It is common for reactionaries to claim that society is in a state of decline and decay and that they can reverse this process. For example, they may propose harsh laws to reduce crime that is perceived as a recent phenomenon.


It is relatively rare for reactionaries to propose rollbacks to technology. One criticism of reactionism is that it embraces a fast rate of technological change and economic growth but naively expects that culture and society can remain unchanged by these forces. Cultures that are successful in retaining stability over many generations, such as The Amish, tend to carefully manage technological change.

Reactionary vs Conservative

A conservative values stability and rejects ambitious change. A reactionary seeks to undue changes that have already occurred. This is actually destabilizing to the point that it can be viewed as radical. As such, reactionism and conservatism are very different approaches.

Reactionary vs Liberal

Liberals value rights and freedoms. In theory, they are neutral to change. Where a social already has strong rights and freedoms, liberals may resemble conservatives who seek to preserve this state. If a nation were to transition towards less freedom, liberals could theoretically become reactionary.

Reactionary vs Progressive

Progressives seek an aggressive rate of change and want to immediately implement new ideas. This is the opposite of a reactionary who wants to rollback change that has already occurred.

Reactionary vs Socialist

Socialists want to replace competition and economic freedoms with state control that forces sameness such that nobody is allowed to get ahead of anyone else. Where a socialist state transitions to a market economy and/or democracy it is likely for reactionaries to emerge who advocate for the restoration of the previous order.


The following is an overview of reactionary with additional examples:
Overview: Reactionary
A political ideology or strategy that seeks to reverse a change that has occurred.
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