Julius Evola


Magic and Awakening  


Julius Evola On Tradition And The Right (La Vera Destra) Men Among the Ruins:
Post-War Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist.

Reviewed by E. Christian Kopff

The Legacy of a European Traditionalist


Magic and Awakening

Jay Kinney examines the Introduction to Magic, a powerful and disturbing book by Julius Evola, one of the foremost authorities on the world's esoteric traditions...

Magic (or Magick, as it is sometimes spelled, in order to distinguish it from stage magic) is a word fraught with dubious connotations. It summons up images of robed figures, surrounded by clouds of incense, standing within magical circles, and conjuring demons to do their bidding.

Even in the magical system that has achieved widest renown, that of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, magic is associated with complex Qabbalistic rituals, Egyptian god forms, and arcane tools and talismans. Such things are sure to send the average good citizen scurrying in the opposite direction, as quickly as possible. Even for those who are inclined toward the esoteric and spiritual, magic remains the preserve of a few self-chosen magi who have a strong attraction to the arcane.

Still, there are no lack of books presenting magical systems. Dion Fortune, W.E. Butler, Aleister Crowley, Israel Regardie, William Grey, Franz Bardon, David Griffin, and others have authored numerous tomes to whose teachings one could easily devote a lifetime. Why, then, should we pay any attention to yet another book called Introduction to Magic? The answer is that this new work in hand is unlike any other book on magic previously published, as difficult as that may be to believe.

Julius Evola, the principal contributor to Introduction to Magic, is a figure of some controversy within esoteric circles. Born in 1898, the vital years of his twenties and thirties coincided with Fascism’s reign in Italy, and Evola’s stance toward Fascism – although critical and adversarial at times – was sufficiently positive to make him persona non grata in liberal European circles. However, as tempting as it may be to dismiss past historical figures according to present value judgments, Evola deserves to be judged on his own terms, in his own time. With that in mind, let us take a closer look at the magical system put forth in Introduction to Magic.

Introduction to Magic is the first of three volumes collecting articles from the Italian esoteric journal UR, published between 1927 and 1929. Evola was the journal’s foremost author, but he was joined by prominent figures in the Italian esoteric scene, such as Arturo Reghini, Giulio Parese and Ercole Quadrelli. All of UR’s writers published under pseudonyms, for the stated reason that “their individual selves count for nothing, because everything valid they can offer now is not of their own creation or devising, but instead reflects a collective and objective teaching.”1 This harks back to such seminal works as the Rosicrucian Manifestoes, or the more recent Meditations on the Tarot, whose authors chose anonymity so as not to distract from the message of their texts.

The message of the UR Group was as follows: there is a capacity inherent in Man to raise consciousness above the call of the body and the distractions of the mind; a capacity that can lead to an immortal awareness. The means to this awareness is through a rigorous discipline wherein the transitory ego is shed, and the individual consciousness is wedded to the Eternal. In so doing, one passes beyond the conventional notions of Good and Evil, to a place where, in Gustav Meyrink’s words, only “truth” and “falsehood” exist. To know this is not a matter of intellectual knowledge, but of spiritual experience, i.e. of gnosis.

Introduction to Magic doesn’t merely describe this system, but offers meditative techniques that can lead to the concrete acquisition of the consciousness it describes. In so doing, accounts are offered of what one will encounter – accounts that have the strong ring of truth. In other words, the UR Group was sharing knowledge based on their own experience, not just generalisations or suppositions. And here we approach the core of the UR Group’s unique approach, which raises important questions.

Most other magical systems presuppose an “other”, be it God or gods and goddesses, to which the magus pays homage or, at least, subordinates his operations. The tendency of the ego to usurp the expanding consciousness, is conventionally kept in check by the reminder of the ego’s diminutive stature in relation to the Divine.

The UR approach de-emphasises such “others,” focusing instead on the transcendence of the ego by a greater impersonal Self which may itself become Divine. This admittedly dangerous operation requires a resoluteness of will that cannot be abandoned. As “Abraxas” (Quadrelli) notes:

Once you have begun, you must go all the way, since an interruption leads to a dreadful reaction, with the opposite result. You can easily understand why: at every step you take, an increasingly higher quantity of swirling energy is arrested and pushed upstream; having been excited and provoked, it is filled with tension. As soon as you give up, it will come crashing down upon you and sweep you away.2

Obviously, this is an approach that will appeal to very few. And the UR Group’s philosophy assumed as much. Quadrelli described the difference between the vast majority of mankind and the initiated few who followed such a path:

On this side are ignorant people, lacking Knowledge, pale, passive, intoxicated, whose lives are still outside and on this side of the Waters. On the other shore you will find virile men, heroic souls, awakened to disgust, to revolt, to the Great Awakening; having left one shore behind, they dare face the current and the undertow, being led by their ever more firm, unshakable will. Once there, they are known as ‘Survivors of the Water,’ ‘Walkers on the Waters,’ the ‘Holy Race of the Free,’ ‘The Conquerors,’ ‘The Lords of Life and Salvation,’ ‘The Radiant Ones.’ They are the ‘Dragon slayers,’ the ‘Dominators of the Bull,’ ‘Consecrated to the Sun,’ those who have been transformed through Ammon’s power and Wisdom.3

In defining such a gap between the many and the few, the UR Group implied a spiritual hierarchy that Evola was to elsewhere define explicitly. Taking his lead from Hinduism, Evola affirmed the value of a traditional caste system, (typically composed of the castes of Priest-ruler, aristocratic warrior, merchant, and worker). Society should be ruled by those of the highest spiritual attainment, with all others finding their proper places in the social hierarchy. Such sentiments stand in stark contrast to the modern conception of democracy, which assumes the right of every individual to an equal voice in the direction of society.

Evola was still working out these ideas at the time of the UR Group project, and his increasingly uncompromising defense of “Tradition” was one factor in the group’s fragmentation after only three or four years of collaboration.

Western Magic & Hermeticism

The best known exponent of ritual magic, Aleister Crowley, defined magic as “the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.”4 Dion Fortune revised this definition to that of “causing changes in consciousness at will.”5 The object of all magic, according to Crowley, is “the uniting of the Microcosm with the Macrocosm.” Stated another way, “the Great Work is the raising of the whole man in perfect balance to the power of Infinity.”6 While the UR Group would not disagree with this objective, their means to achieving it stood apart from that of Crowley, Fortune, and most other magicians.

Most Western Magic is based on the coupling of Hermeticism and the Qaballa. Hermeticism, with its doctrines of the four elements (earth, wind, water, and fire), and of correspondences between “above” and “below” (i.e. the Macrocosm and the Microcosm), became systematised in the art of Alchemy. Qaballa (or Kabbalah) was the mystical tradition within Judaism, which contributed the concepts of four Worlds, a series of Divine emanations arranged in the glyph of the Tree of Life, and a hierarchy of Divine Names, Angelic intelligences, and so on, with which the Qaballist might interact.

The magic of the UR Group, however, is wholly Hermetic. There would seem to be two reasons for this. First, the leading UR members, particularly Evola and Reghini, were proponents of a return to Roman and Greek tradition. Evola considered “Hermetico-alchemical knowledge” to be “the most direct and legitimate link to the unique, primordial Tradition.”7 The preoccupations and values of Judaism and Christianity run perpendicular to pagan values of heroism, strength, and honour.

Second, in its stated goal of self-Deification, the UR teachings had little use for the concept of Deity, beyond that of a potential within certain favoured individuals. The UR work gives high value to Transcendence, but it is the transcendence of the initiate over the pull of earthly bonds, of the supra-human over the merely human. Thus the UR teachings have far more in common with Nietzsche or with Buddhism, than with the Judaeo-Christian religions with their subordination before an external God.

Nevertheless, the UR Group didn’t narrow its cosmology to the sort of psychological reductionism that sees God or the gods as symbolic figures thrown up by the Collective Unconscious or as mere person-ifications of human capacities. Various essays in Introduction to Magic refer to Beings, entities, and forces that the Magus may encounter along the path. But these are conceptualised as manifestations of two polarising tendencies within the Cosmos: non-human forces that lead either to a degenerative Chaos or to a higher Order. The initiate, according to the UR Group, must distinguish between the two and align himself only with energies and intelligences leading toward the higher Self.

While Evola and the UR Group placed themselves on the side of Order and high spiritual aspirations, their goal of human Deification led them to see conventional mystical notions, such as “merging with the One” or submission of the Ego to God, as manifestations of a downward pull leading the individual away from his ascent to the Divine. In one essay, Evola appropriates René Guénon’s concept of the “counter-initiation” in characterising Theosophy, Spiritualism, and other “sentimental” movements as “Satanic” impulses.

This is highly ironic in that the UR perspective has more than a passing resemblance to the so-called Satanism of the contemporary Temple of Set. According to Stephen E. Flowers, “the ultimate aim of Setian philosophy is an active, aware and potent state of relative immortality for the isolate, individual psyche. This is achieved through a system of magic…”8 This is not the time or place to enter into a discussion of whether the Setian definition of the “individual psyche” has more in common with the accepted notion of the ego or with the UR Group’s divinised Self. Suffice it to say that both systems aim at the willed immortality of the initiate, independent of the body, and in contradistinction to the “right-hand path” of mainstream religion or mysticism.

The perspective put forth in Introduction to Magic, and by Evola in his other writings, raises the question of whether gnosis, (or awakening or liberation, as it is usually referred to in the book) only occurs within the familiar framework of morality. Most mystical and esoteric paths counsel a fidelity to the moral values of the religions of which they are expressions. The saints or mystics who are the exemplars of such paths are generally praised for their piety, compassion, and self-sacrifice; the implication being that spiritual awareness goes hand in hand with “goodness.” The Buddhist figure of the Bodhisatva, who vows to continue to incarnate until all beings have been liberated, as well as the figure of Jesus Christ, who Christian dogma tells us “died for our sins,” are the accepted models for earnest spiritual seekers.

Evola and the UR Group fly in the face of such norms. Their magical system makes almost no mention of how a would-be magus should comport himself towards others. There are no exhortations to live for the sake of others or to help those who are less advantaged. There are only repeated statements of the need for courage, steadfastness, clear vision, and singleness of purpose on the magical path. Time and again, the reader is reminded of the relativity of “Good and Evil” from the vantage point of the accomplished initiate. At best, the UR system might be characterised as morally neutral, at least by conventional standards.

Yet it is clear from the authority of the book’s instructions, and the first-person accounts that are included, that the members of the UR Group achieved heights of consciousness that bear the mark of gnosis. Here was a group of Italian esotericists whose loyalties lay with ancient Rome, who were associated with the extreme Right, and who considered the majority of the human race to be asleep and worthy only of being led by an enlightened few. Could it be that they developed a potent system for the advancement of spiritual awareness that works? This is the challenge that Introduction to Magic raises for its readers and which each reader will have to answer for himself.

Editor's Note: Introduction to Magic: Rituals and Practical Techniques for the Magus by Julius Evola and the UR Group (Published by Inner Traditions) is available in Australia from New Dawn magazine or by clicking here.


1. Preface to Introduction to Magic, p. xxv.

2. Abraxas (Quadrelli) in Introduction to Magic, p. 20.

3. Abraxas (Quadrelli) in Introduction to Magic, p. 19.

4. Aleister Crowley, Magick in Theory and Practice, p. xii.

5. Dion Fortune, quoted by W.E. Butler in Magic, Its Ritual, Power and Purpose, p. 12.

6. Aleister Crowley, Magick in Theory and Practice, p. 4.

7. Julius Evola, The Hermetic Tradition, p. xvii.

8. Stephen E. Flowers, Lords of the Left-Hand Path, p. 241.

© Jay Kinney, 2001. Jay Kinney is the co-author, with Richard Smoley, of Hidden Wisdom: A Guide to the Western Inner Traditions (Penguin/Arkana, 1999). He is editor of The Inner West (forthcoming from J.P. Tarcher, 2002). More of his writings can be found at http://www.gnosismagazine.com

The above article appeared in
New Dawn No. 68 (
September-October 2001)


© Copyright New Dawn Magazine, http://www.newdawnmagazine.com . Permission to re-send, post and place on web sites for non-commercial purposes, and if shown only in its entirety with no changes or additions. This notice must accompany all re-posting.




Troy Southgate examines late Italian philosopher Julius Evola’s Men Among the Ruins: Post-War Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist. PRAVDA.Ru will present this summary as a series.



In the opening chapter of his work, Evola can be forgiven for appearing to sound like a typical Catholic fundamentalist. According to the Baron, socio-political subversion (eversio) was introduced into Europe for the first time with the 1789 and 1848 revolutions. Catholic writers like Chesterton, Belloc and a whole array of popes and cardinals would agree with him. Indeed, Evola even suggests that the term ‘reactionary’ should be adopted by those who realise the true extent to which the forces of liberalism, Marxism and democracy are advancing their secret agenda. We are informed that if this term had not been so furiously rejected by the conservative opponents of revolution, our European nations would have been relatively more salvageable. But now that several decades have passed since the book was first published, had the author still been alive he may well have been surprised to learn that his ideas have found significant expression within the ranks of those who have become known as ‘conservative revolutionaries’. For Evola, therefore, perhaps the apparently conflicting terminology in this phrase would have been a misnomer. On the contrary, it was used throughout the twentieth century by men such as Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, Michael Walker, Armin Mohler and Otto Strasser. In fact Evola tells us himself that ‘conservative revolution’ should not be connected with the term ‘reaction’ because the former has distinctly positive and energetic connotations. Revolution in this sense, he admits, simply means restoring order and thus avoiding entirely its chaotic antithesis. He even defines revolution (revolutio) - not as a departure from prevailing trends - but as a return to origins. Thus revolution, in his evaluation of the term, indicates a replenishment of that which has gone before.

But the word "conservative" can also be very misleading. Evola argues that "it is necessary to first establish as exactly as possible what needs to be 'preserved'". He is also under no illusion that capitalists have long used this term with which to advance the interests of their own class, rather than "committing themselves to a stout defence of a higher right, dignity, and impersonal legacy of values, ideas and principles." This suggests a kind of aristocratic benevolence, a chivalric sense of duty and sacrifice. Evola also believes that the State must not concern itself with economic matters, rather assuming a transcendent role in opposition to the class-oriented obsessions of both the bourgeoisie and Marxists alike. Furthermore, he tells us, "what really counts is to be faithful not to past forms and institutions, but rather to principles of which such forms and institutions have been particular expressions." So, therefore, the success of tradition lies in our ability to create new forms from the etymological drawing-board which inspired those of the past, a process which works its way down through the generations as though divinely inspired. In other words it is not the transitory or - in the case of historical personality cults - even the idolatrous facets which are of value, but those which are everlasting and permanent. Indeed, Evola pours scorn upon the very term ‘historical’ because such matters rise above and beyond the whole notion of history altogether. Mircea Eliade has discussed this idea at length in The Myth of The Eternal Return [Princeton, 1991], echoed here by Evola: "These principles are not compromised by the fact that in various instances an individual, out of weakness or due to other reasons, was able to actualise them or to even implement them partially at one point in his life rather than another." The designers and schemers of the modern age, of course, dismiss these aspects as having been a consequence of the period in which they were apparently expressed. So therefore tradition and historicism are totally irreconcilable. The author’s own homeland also comes in for some criticism, with Evola firmly believing that Italy has no material or ideological connection with tradition and that her only hope lies in a spiritual renewal.

Returning to the dangers of revolution - at least in the purely negative sense as defined above - we are reminded of the more positive, Hegelian analysis: "the negation of the negation." In other words, eradicating that which in itself has been the great eradicator is a worthwhile objective. On the other hand, Evola is being slightly pedantic when he criticises the adoption of the "revolutionary spirit," lest it sound too progressive or wild. His denunciation of the unfulfilling legend of technological advancement, however, is very accurate indeed: "Those who are not subject to the predominant materialism of our times, upon recognising the only context in which it is legitimate to speak of progress, will be on guard against any orientation in which the modern 'myth of progress' is reflected." Indeed, there are many such examples, all of which contend either blindly or knowingly that the past must be eradicated for the good of the present. This, says Evola, is "history’s demolition squad." It is rather surprising, therefore, to consider that in his youth Evola offered his support to Italian Futurism. Not, of course, that Marinetti’s pledge to raze libraries and museums to the ground was ever designed to be an attempt to destroy the perennial essence which always transcends the purely anachronistic. The contentious issue of Fascism is also tackled by Evola and is here regarded as being valid only when it concords with tradition. To stand vigorously in favour of Fascism simply for its own sake, is akin to the fulminating negativity inherent within many of its anti-fascist opponents.


According to Evola, "every true political unity appears as the embodiment of an idea and a power, thus distinguishing itself from every form of naturalistic association or 'natural right', and also from every societal aggregation determined by mere social, economic, biological, utilitarian, or eudemonistic factors." He goes on to point out that, for the Romans at least, the very idea of an imperium of sovereign power was something perceived to be highly sacred. This functioned by way of a mystical trinity comprised of the Leader (auctoritas), the Nobility (gens) and the State (res publica). Evola’s interpretation of the imperium is certainly supported by those historians who - like Edward Gibbon and Oswald Spengler - have allowed the Holy Roman Empire its own unique and symbolic niche in both time and space. That it prevailed until its disastrous collapse at Constantinople in 1453, of course, is demonstrative of the way in which the very idea of imperium survived the various cycles of history in which it found itself. Evola also reminds us of De Maistre’s assertion that a "power and authority that are not absolute, are not real authority or real power" at all.

The author then turns his mind to judicial matters, stating that, whenever the State rises above the merely temporal laws of the nation, it assumes the role of an independently organic entity. In other words, Evola is basically suggesting that in cases of national emergency, for example, the State can flex its muscles and prove just how transcendent it really is by overriding the laws of the judiciary. This notion will fill the average supporter of democracy and egalitarianism with some horror, but Evola is referring to a central principle of authoritative order rather than advocating that a fascist dictatorship rule over the masses with an iron fist (although he does suggest that a temporary dictatorship can often get things back on track). Indeed, this is rather similar to the way Cicero analyses Natural Law and the fact that it only applies to those who seek to transgress its permanently entrenched codes.

Evola also refutes the idea that power should rise up to the State from the grass roots, for example in the way that Muammar al-Qathafi explains the concept in The Green Book. As far as he is concerned, the State is not the expression or embodiment of the people at all. This "political domain is defined through hierarchical, heroic, ideal, anti-hedonistic, and, to a degree, even anti-eudemonistic values that set it apart from the order of naturalistic and vegetative life." But this is almost like a paradox. If the State completely transcends the ordinary functions of what most people consider to be the role of a State, then surely Evola’s vision is one of anarchic authority? Evola may have disagreed with the use of the term "anarchy," but surely the State for him is more mystical than fully tangible in the purely ordinary sense? By this, I am implying that the State is present as a guiding authority at the helm of a nation or empire, but absent in terms of the way it is perceived by most people. Anarchy, of course, does not mean that authority is non-existent, it simply refers to the absence of rule. Therefore Evola’s concept of the mystical State may well be altogether detached from the socio-economic version which writers like Peter Kropotkin (The State: Its Historic Role), Michael Bakunin (Marxism, Freedom & The State) or Herbert Spencer (The Man Versus The State) have gone to such great lengths in order to analyse and dissect. Evola makes a profound distinction between the political and social aspects of the State, arguing that it emanates from a specific family (gens) and thus rejecting the idea that states can arise from the naturalistic plane. At first, this appears to be a contradiction in terms, because, surely, the family is a naturalistic phenomenon? On the contrary, Evola is referring to an altogether different interpretation of the term "family," that of the Mannerbunde (or all-male fraternity). Given the nature of the Mafia, of course, Italians should find it that much easier to appreciate the subtle differences in terminology. Evola was also a Freemason and wrote extensively on the Mithraic sun-cult, both prime examples of the Mannerbunde and possessing deep initiatic qualities which - by way of a series of trials and degrees - take the male apprentice way beyond his maternalistic upbringing on the exoteric plane. Thus a significant change takes place both within the man himself and the way he is then perceived by others. But this interpretation is not designed to leave women out of the equation, it simply states that whilst men are the natural frequenters of the mystical, or political, domain, women are the pivotal masters of society. It lies completely "under the feminine aegis." Those readers who are familiar with Evola’s Revolt Against The Modern World [Inner Traditions, 1995] will grasp the higher significance of what Evola is trying to say. Indeed, in the present work he summarises these metaphysical concepts thus: "The common mythological background is that of the duality of the luminous and heavenly deities, who are the gods of the political and heroic world on the one hand, and of the feminine and maternal deities of naturalistic existence, who were loved by the plebeian strata of society on the other hand. Thus, even in the ancient Roman world, the idea of State and of imperium (i.e., of the sacred authority) was strictly connected to the symbolic cult of the virile deities of heaven, of light and of the super-world in opposition to the dark region of the Mothers and the chthonic deities." If we follow Evola’s line of thinking, we soon arrive at the medieval idea of the divine right of kings. This, he tells us, was a development which - contrary to the earlier imperium - was not consolidated "by the power of a rite." Traditional Catholics would disagree wholeheartedly with this conclusion, at least right up until the Reformation and Henry VIII’s well-documented break with Rome. And if the divine right of kings is one step removed from the imperium, the next logical stage of decline is that of Socialism and the demos; which Evola describes as "the degradation and contamination of the political principle." Furthermore, he argues, "[b]oth democracy and socialism ratify the shift from the masculine to the feminine and from the spiritual to the material and the promiscuous."

Evola is often portrayed by his opponents as a "fascist," but it may surprise many of them to learn that he relegates "romantic and idealistic" concepts such as the nation, the homeland, and the people to the purely naturalistic and biological level. These issues, he contends, have replaced a political principle that is representative of a far higher and more penetrating tradition. By refusing to accept the legitimacy of feudalism or the authority of the Holy Roman Empire, he argues, nation-states tried to create their own pockets of authority. Thus, the struggle between popes and princes, kings and noblemen, led a vast centralisation of power which was epitomised by the Third Estate. This is where Evola returns to what he perceives as the crucial - and destructive - role played by the 1789 French Revolution, whereby the final vestiges of tradition were erased from the face of Europe. The process was aided by the 1848 Revolution and the onslaught of the First World War, pitting nation against nation in the name of "patriotism." Furthermore, he says, elevating a national identity or geographical territory to a kind of mystical status completely erodes both authority and sovereignty. Nations are associated with female terminology - Motherland, for example - and therefore "attributed to the Great Mother in ancient plebeian gynecocracies and in societies that ignored the virile and political principle of the imperium." Evola goes on to compare the political unit of the nation with the position of the soul in comparison to the body. In other words, it assumes an "inner form," which totally goes beyond the popular understanding of the way a nation is defined. It is true, after all, that nations do not arise purely by themselves and so the hidden - spiritual - component is the true guiding force. The nation is only perceived as an independent entity with a life of its own once the political aspect has been significantly weakened: "From the political class understood as an Order and a Mannerbund a shift occurs to to the democratic ruling classes who presume to 'represent' the people and who acquire for themselves the various offices or positions of power by flattering and manipulating the masses." This, according to Evola, is due to the lack of real men in contemporary society and - paying his respects to Carlyle in the process - he goes on to warn us that we live in a "world of domestics that yearns to be ruled by a pseudo-hero.' Indeed, there is little doubt that the parliamentary system, for example, never fails to deviate from the idea of the nation as myth, despite the fact that the political sphere is never regarded as being sovereign in itself. Evola attacks universal suffrage because he sees it as the consequence of "the degradation of the ruling class." It is certainly a fact that the reforms of the nineteenth century were achieved at the expense of the ruling classes, but, from an Evolian perspective, the scales were tipped at both ends. The consequence of this formative episode in European history, modern democracy, saw the true political unit replaced with a corrupt and bastardised system based entirely on materialism.

But what of those nations which have actually followed the political principle to the letter? We are informed by Evola that the nation will always be potentially compromised, whilst "on the one side stand the masses, in which, besides changing feelings, the same elementary instincts and interests connected to a physical and hedonistic plane will always have free play; and on the other side stand men who differentiate themselves from the masses as bearers of a complete legitimacy and authority, bestowed by the Idea and by their rigorous, impersonal adherence to it. The Idea, only the Idea, must be the true fatherland for these men: what unites and sets them apart should consist in adherence to the same idea, rather than to the same land, language, or blood." This is a pretty bold statement, given that Evola is usually - and wrongly - associated with certain elements of the Far Right. Perhaps this is why the Assassins and their Knights Templar contemporaries found that they had so much in common? That which is most important, therefore, is not one’s adherence to a nation or a race - which instantly means that one must love, respect and work for the best interests of his compatriots without question - but one’s loyalty and fidelity to the very essence and spirit of tradition. In Evola’s own words: "The true task and the necessary premise for the rebirth of the 'nation' and for its renewed form and conscience consists of untying and separating that which only apparently, promiscuously, or collectively appears to be one entity, and in re-establishing a virile substance in the form of a political elite around which a new crystallisation will occur." This, of course, is very different to the sheep-like mentality of most nationalist groups. One only has to look at the recent revival in England of a pseudo-patriotism built upon the most base and plebeian values of modern culture. Aligning oneself with existing national stereotypes, of course, is hardly making an attempt to transcend the sterile values which are embraced by the masses. The Idea that Evola talks about is based upon "strength and clarity, rather than 'idealism' and sentimentality." The nation has to be integrated with the political, so that the whole concept is raised to a much higher level by replacing the degenerative ruling classes with a new, elite aristocracy of cadres.


In this chapter the author begins by attacking liberalism, the chief scourge behind the French Revolution. Many have tried to define liberalism, including Traditional Catholics like Pope Pius XI [Quadragesimo Anno], Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre [They Have Uncrowned Him], Fr. Felix Sarda y Salvany [What Is Liberalism?] and Rev. Fr. Stephen P. DeLallo [The Sword of Christendom], although today the word is wrongly associated with anarcho-capitalists and right-wing libertarians. So how does Evola define the term?: "The essence of liberalism is individualism. The basis of its error is to mistake the notion of the person with that of the individual and to claim for the latter, unconditionally and according to egalitarian premises, some values that should rather be attributed solely to the former, and then only conditionally. Because of this transposition, these values are transformed into errors, or into something absurd and harmful." Egalitarianism - another mainstay of the 1879 Revolution - is completely dismissed by Evola due to its fundamentally ridiculous belief in the equality of all individuals. It not only relegates the person to the level of a mere part within the broader egalitarian mass, which Evola rightly shows to be a contradiction in terms, it obliterates human diversity by suggesting that no one person is significantly different to another. From the judicial perspective, of course, it is surely wrong to establish a form of fake "justice" by ensuring that everybody is legally bound in an unjust manner. It is also entirely out of step with Natural Law. Evola explains: "the lower degrees of reality are differentiated from the higher ones because in the lower degrees a whole can be broken down into many parts, all of which retain the same quality (as in the case of the parts of a non-crystallised mineral, or those parts of some plants and animals that reproduce themselves by parthenogenesis); in the higher degrees of reality this is no longer possible, as there is a higher organic unity in them that does not allow itself to be split without being compromised and without its parts entirely losing the quality, meaning, and function they had in it." When Evola speaks of parthenogenesis, of course, he is referring to those invertebrates and lower plants which engage in a form of sterile self-reproduction. The allegedly "free" individual, therefore, is considered to be inorganic and much lower than its organic superior. Meanwhile, the true person is he who continues to remain "unequal" due to his own distinct features and abilities. Natural individuation is not the same as crass individualism. At the same time, however, Evola does not infer that everyone deserves the "right" to be regarded as a person. Thus, he dispels the liberal myth that all of us possess some form of "human dignity" regardless of who we are. In fact there are several different levels of dignity each contained within a just and specific hierarchy. So once again, Evola is dismissing the egalitarian idea of a "universal right," brotherhood of equality or an automatic entitlement of some kind. In times gone by, however, "'peers' and 'equals' were often aristocratic concepts: in Sparta, the title homoioi ('equals') belonged exclusively to the elite in power (the title was revoked in cases of misconduct)."

Moving on, the notion of freedom - a favourite catchword of those engaged in the struggle between classes - is regarded in the same manner. It is something we enjoy as a consequence of who we are as a person, rather than simply because we happen to be a member of humanity. Evola remarks that freedom does not come in any one form, but is actually multifarious and homogenous. He goes on to suggest that the freedom "to do" is quite different from the freedom "for doing." Indeed, whilst the former has to function within a controlled and standardised system of liberal "equality" (which inevitably leads, therefore, to one class disregarding the freedoms of others), the latter has more in common with Aleister Crowley’s often-misunderstood expressions "do as thou wilt" and "every man and woman is a star." In other words, by possessing the freedom "to do," one can follow one’s own unique course and act in accordance with one’s true nature.

So how does the individual relate to society as a whole? Tradition accords with the ultimate supremacy of the individual, or what Ernst Junger has defined elsewhere as "the anarch" or "sovereign individual" [see Eumeswil, Quartet, 1993]. Evola even puts the sovereignty of the person before the State, because he views people not "as they are conceived by individualism, as atoms or a mass of atoms, but people as persons, as differentiated beings, each one endowed with a different rank, a different freedom, a different right within the social hierarchy based on the values of creating, constructing, obeying, and commanding. With people such as these it is possible to establish the true State, namely an anti-liberal, anti-democratic, and organic State." This vision, however, depends upon the advancement of the person through various stages of individuation and self-awareness. Natural inequality, therefore, will lead to an organic structure of society at the very helm of which stands the "absolute individual." This figurehead, says Evola, is completely different to the mere concept of the individual because it encapsulates that which is most qualitative within man. The "absolute individual" is fundamentally opposed to the concept that society itself is the ultimate manifestation of humanity. It is the sheer pinnacle of a transcendental sovereignty which represents the synthesising nature of the imperium. Moreover, of course, the idea can become manifest within the framework of the nation and seems defiantly opposed to present trends like globalisation and multi-racialism: "Thus, it is a positive and legitimate thing to uphold the right of the nation in order to assert an elementary and natural principle of difference of a given human group over and against all the forms of individualistic disintegration, international mixture and proletarisation, and especially against the mere world of the masses and pure economy." To achieve this process, Evola declares that the State must be established from the nation itself.

But if one is seeking to fully align himself with the principles of Evolian thought, a person who is free in the true sense of the word must never be constrained by national, racial or family ties. This does not imply that he should actively seek to turn himself against them, on the contrary, the importance is to follow one’s own path. Indeed, this course - which must lead towards the creation of the New Man - requires great discipline and understanding. Many who try, however, will fall by the wayside: "he who does not have the capability to dominate himself and to give himself a code to abide by would not know how to dominate others according to justice or how to give them a law to follow. The second foundation is the idea. previously upheld by Plato, that those who cannot be their own masters should find a master outside of themselves, since practising the discipline of obeying should teach these people how to master their own selves." People are therefore different, although Evola does make a distinction between the ruthlessness of "natural selection" and that of respect. In ancient societies the people who were most respected and admired were those with special abilities and qualities, not simply animalistic strength and brute force. The secret, of course, is to ensure that "power is based on superiority and not vice versa." It is certainly not necessary to bludgeon people into submission in order to get them to respect true leadership and ability. In the light of what Evola really thinks about such matters, therefore, you have to wonder why on earth Evolian Tradition was ever compared to Fascist totalitarianism in the first place.

The fact that Evola so openly acknowledges that there are various stations in life will outrage liberals, Marxists and advocates of democracy alike. But he is, nevertheless, absolutely correct. Forcing people to accord with a societal conglomeration which has been enshrined in law by a coterie of dogmatists and architectural levellers, is simply not allowing people to discover and thus accomplish their true destinies. Evola believes that historical events have often been determined by the manner in which "the inferior" - which is not used in a derogatory sense - regard their "superior" counterparts. Indeed, to believe that humanity can somehow be subjected to a form of international utilitarianism is naive and misguided in the extreme. Humans are prone to "emotional or irrational motivation" and, inevitably, this will usually be the dominant factor which shapes the course of their lives. The Evolian - and, thus, traditional - approach to organisation lies in what is described as the "anagogical function" of the State and its latent ability to both engender and co-ordinate the individual’s sacrificial capacity to ally himself with a higher principle. The success of man’s organisational capacity, therefore, is not based purely on economics or prosperity but depends on whether the organic hierarchical balance has been maintained effectively. Within the liberal system, of course, the balance is upset by the fact that he "who becomes an individual, by ceasing to have an organic meaning and by refusing to acknowledge any principle of authority, is nothing more than a number, a unit in the pack; his usurpation evokes a fatal collectivist limitation against himself." Liberalism, therefore, may appear to defend freedom but it is actually a means of subverting it altogether. Marxism functions in the same way and both ideologies stem - once again - from the French Revolution: "when Western man broke the ties to Tradition, claiming for himself as an individual a vain and illusory freedom: when he became an atom in society, rejecting every higher symbol of authority and sovereignty in a system of hierarchies." Fascism, by falsely claiming to restore the traditional equilibrium, actually worsened the situation by initiating a crude and materialistic form of totalitarianism.
The worst example of liberalism is its dependence upon economic exploitation. Evola charts the decline of economic stability from the death of the feudal system - when "the organic connection . . . between personality and property, social function and wealth, and between a given qualification or moral nobility and the rightful and legitimate possession of goods, was broken" - and the onset of the Napoleonic Code, right through to the desanctification of property and the arrival of the unscrupulous capitalist. So what, according to Evola, is the role of the traditionalist in light of the modern evils which were unleashed over two hundred years ago? Our response must be founded upon a return to origins: "To go back to the origins means, plainly and simply, to reject anything that in any domain (whether social, political, or economic) is connected to the 'immortal principles' of 1789, as a libertarian, individualistic, and egalitarian thought, and to oppose it with the hierarchical view, in the context of which alone the notion, value, and freedom of man as person are not reduced to mere words or excuses for a work of destruction and subversion."


Evola now attempts to make a distinction between the totalitarian and organic State. The democracies have gone to great lengths in order to portray the traditional State "in a heinous way," ensuring that opponents of democracy are instantly equated with brutality and fascism. Totalitarianism, being a relatively modern word, is inevitably applied to past systems in a purely retrospective manner. Evola, however, seeks to approach the question of totalitarianism by examining the way in which the term is actually defined by the democracies. Therefore whenever the author refers to the more positive aspects of "totalitarianism," these components are said to accord with the organic State: "A State is organic when it has a centre, and this centre is an idea that shapes the various domains of life in an efficacious way; it is organic when it ignores the division and the autonomisation of the particular and when, by virtue of a system of hierarchical participation, every part within its relative autonomy performs its own function and enjoys an intimate connection with the whole." It is not difficult to see how this differs fundamentally with the individualism and liberalism of the modern age. Evola rightly points out that more traditional societies were even able to accommodate a loyal opposition. In stark contrast to the representative party system of today, the early English Parliament was far more pluralist and was often heard to refer to "His Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition."

But the organic State also had a spiritual or religious dimension, whereby the political was formulated in accordance with a more penetrating and unitary outlook. This, says Evola, is what makes the organic synonymous with the traditional. In the minds of the liberals and the communists, of course, this healthy approach to former societies and a more pluralist style of organisation inevitably means that tradition is wrongly equated with "fascism." Evola, on the other hand, is able to counter this fraudulent analogy by explaining that "totalitarianism merely represents the counterfeited image of the organic ideal. It is a system in which unity is imposed from the outside, not on the basis of the intrinsic force of a common idea and an authority that is naturally acknowledged, but rather through direct forms of intervention and control, exercised by a power that is exclusively and materially political, imposing itself as the ultimate reason for the system." Having lived through Mussolini’s Italy, of course, Evola was more than aware of the shortcomings relating to the Corporate State. Totalitarian dictatorship also fails to accept the organic chain that runs between the upper and lower poles of traditional society, replacing pluralism, decentralisation and participation with the fuhrer-princip. Furthermore, the totalitarian State "engenders a kind of sclerosis, or a monstrous hypertrophy of the entire bureaucratic-administrative structure." The Orwellian ministries of Nazi Germany spring to mind, becoming "all-pervasive, replacing and suppressing every particular activity, without any restraints, due to an insolent intrusion of the public sphere into the private domain, organising everything into rigid schemes." But these characteristics are not a purely modern phenomenon, on the contrary, as Oswald Spengler notes in The Decline of the West [Oxford University Press, 1991, p. 73]: "the great cultures accomplish their majestic wave-cycles. They appear suddenly, swell in splendid lines, flatten again and vanish, and the face of the waters is once more a sleeping waste." Thus, a similar pattern emerged during the death-throes of Persia and Greece and, according to Edward Gibbon: "the demise of Rome was the natural and inevitable effect of immoderate greatness. Prosperity ripened the principle of decay; the cause of destruction multiplied with the extent of conquest; and as soon as time or accident had removed the artificial supports, the stupendous fabric yielded to the pressure of its own weight. The story of its ruin is simple and obvious; and instead of inquiring why the Roman Empire was destroyed, we should rather be surprised that it had subsisted so long." [The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Chatto & Windus, 1960, p. 524-5]. Similarly, Evola likens the degenerative process to a living organism: "after enjoying life and movement, a stiffening sets in when they die that is typical of a body turning into a corpse. This state, in turn, is followed by the terminal phase of disintegration."
The way in which the organic or traditional State is perceived is also important. Fascism and Marxism tend to lead to blind statism, but Evola believes that the organic State must be granted a degree of "Statolatry." In other words, rather than seeking to worship the State for its own sake, "[t]here is a profound and substantial difference between the deification and absolutisation of what is profane and the case in which the political reality derives its legitimisation from reference points that are also spiritual and somehow transcendent." This is the difference between the materialist and the spiritual, the totalitarian and the organic. The spiritual element acts like a societal adhesive, binding together the unitary whole to which the people are willingly attached without coercion or repression. In contemporary Western societies it is considered normal in certain occupations and ceremonies to undertake an oath. But despite being a remnant of the distant past, the oath today has been stripped of its sacred implications and has become empty, meaningless and contractual. This is because the State and various other national institutions have become a merely temporal form of authority, rendering the more spiritual expressions of verbal fidelity completely irrelevant. The gulf between the contractual and the traditional is demonstrated by the way in which the "Official Secrets Act" is designed to secure the loyalty of the individual to the State. In feudal times, of course, the intrinsically transcendent nature of the oath became manifest by way of the sacramenum fidelitatis. This was infinitely more binding than giving one’s allegiance to a company, an institution or a squadron.

But when the traditional State is said to represent a unitary organism it must not be compared, warns Evola, to the humanistic vision epitomised by Hegel’s "Ethical State." Indeed, when Hegel perceives the individual to be part of a universal code of ethics, he is looking at humanity through rose-tinted spectacles. The unworkable liberalism which pervades this idealistic interpretation will only lead to one thing: totalitarianism in the name of "tradition" and "order." Therefore the "ethical" State inevitably leads to the "fascist" State, with the destructive multi-party system being replaced with an even more dangerous one-party dictatorship. Muammar al-Qadhafi, whose vision of the "organic" State conflicts with that proposed by Evola and other traditionalists, defines the party thus: "It is the modern dictatorial instrument of governing. The party is the rule of a part over the whole" [The Green Book, Tripoli, 1977, p. 11]. On this point Evola agrees, suggesting that once the party has ascended to power it simply tries to advance the interests of its own faction. It is therefore divisive and threatens the stability of that which must be unitary and transcendent. The solution to this problem, it seems, lies in the re-establishment of an elite suited to maintaining the balance of sovereignty and authority. Evola suggests that this can be done from within by both installing and enduring a period of interregnum, although National-Anarchists prefer to advocate the foundation of new decentralised communities on the periphery from which elite cadres recreate the very essence of true aristocracy.


Bonapartism is a rather unusual term and one which Evola borrows from R. Michels, author of the 1915 work Political Parties: A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy. Michels demonstrates how representative democracy and "government of the people" leads to the control of the State by a self-interested minority. This view is echoed by J. Burnham in The Machiavellians, who explains that the so-called "will of the people" is eventually superseded by the domination of a bureaucratic clique. Thus Bonapartism begins with a popular demand for more freedom and equality and ends in the totalitarian "dictatorship of the proletariat." Evola likens this process to a people who have catastrophically "led and disciplined themselves." After the decline of its aristocratic nobility, ancient Greece witnessed the same systematically repressive phenomenon. Power simply became detached from a higher, spiritual authority, leading to fear and brutality. Evola then turns to Otto Weininger, who once "described the figure of the great politician as one who is a despot and at the same time a worshipper of the people, or simultaneously a pimp and a whore." Indeed, by seeking to appeal to the masses the modern leader easily commands their respect and adulation. Not in the way that traditional societies gave their loyalty to the organic State, however, because instead of engendering a healthy diversity between the various levels (not classes) of society Bonapartism forces the politician to become a "man of the people." Therefore he is perceived as a common man, rather than as someone exceptionally transcendent and symbolic. This, Weininger called "mutual prostitution." Authority is perfectly useless unless it is attached to a central idea which runs throughout the social fabric and acts as a point of reference. This affects the individual because one "is restricted not so much in this or that exterior freedom (which is, after all, of little consequence) but rather in the inner freedom - the ability to free himself from his lowest instincts." Bonapartism - which Evola interprets here as a political, rather than militaristic, term - is equated with dictatorship because this is the logical result of its democratic ethos. It completely erodes the traditional values of human existence, refusing to "distinguish clearly between the symbol, the function, and the principle, on the one hand, and man as an individual, on the other." Instead, it rejects "that a man be valued and recognised in terms of the idea and principle he upholds" and simply views man in terms of "his action upon the irrational forms of the masses." Similarly, Evola points out the errors which began with Social-Darwinism and consequently found expression in Nietzsche’s concept of the Superman (Ubermensch): "most people, even when they admit the notion of aristocracy in principle, ultimately settle for a very limited view of it: they admire an individual for being exceptional and brilliant, instead of for being one in whom a tradition and a special 'spiritual race' shine forth, or instead of whose greatness is due not to his human virtues, but rather to the principle, the idea, and a certain regal impersonality that he embodies."

Machiavellianism - despite its frequent portrayal as an aristocratic notion - is also a highly individualist philosophy. Indeed, although the concept of The Prince rejects democracy and the masses, it makes the fatal mistake of encouraging power and authority to reside in the hands of man. In other words, man is himself the be all and end all of Machiavellian doctrine. Such men are not connected to a chain of Tradition, they are merely interested in deploying their political capabilities to advance their own interests. His very position is maintained by lies, deceit and manipulation, becoming a rampant political monster to which everything must be methodically subjected. This is clearly very different to the way in which traditional aristocracies functioned and indicates that Machiavellianism is a consequence of the general decline. True elitism, argues Evola, degenerates in four stages: "in the first stage the elite has a purely spiritual character, embodying what may be generally called ‘divine right’. This elite expresses an ideal of immaterial virility. In the second stage, the elite has the character of warrior nobility; at the third stage we find the advent of oligarchies of a plutocratic and capitalistic nature, such as they arise in democracies; the fourth and last elite is that of the collectivist and revolutionary leaders of the Fourth Estate."


When Evola discusses the "demonic nature of the economy," we are instantly reminded of the capitalist free market and communism’s deterministic assessment of man as economic unit (homo economicus). In the modern age economic forces have become the new gods of Mammon, creating a dangerous and cataclysmic antithesis to the spiritual aspirations of the ancient world. We have already examined how Evola warns against the lack of hierarchical authority, and in this chapter he demonstrates how both capitalism and Marxism have completely subverted the organic nature of our whole existence: "as long as we only talk about economic classes, profit, salaries, and production, and as long as we believe that real human progress is determined by a particular system of distribution of wealth and goods, and that, generally speaking, human progress is measured by the degree of wealth or indigence - then we are not even close to what is essential." Thus work and the modern economy are depicted as the penultimate goals of human endeavour, rather than man accepting that his natural interests must lie ultimately in the satisfaction of his own material needs. This is not to suggest that food, clothing and shelter are the most important facets of human existence, simply that they are the most basic prerequisites of all. Man also needs to be satisfied both spiritually and as part of a structure which: "neither knows nor tolerates merely economic classes and does not know the division between ‘capitalists’ and ‘proletarians’; an order solely in terms of which are to be defined the things worth living and dying for. We must also uphold the need for a true hierarchy and for different dignitaries, with a higher function of power installed at the top, namely the imperium." But this vision is hardly being fulfilled today. Everything is geared towards economic production and, inevitably, wage-slavery. Evola does not believe in the formulation of a new economic theory, instead he explains that the current obsession with economic matters can only decline once people change their attitudes completely: "What must be questioned is not the value of this or that economic system, but the value of the economy itself." This is a fundamental part of National-Anarchist thinking, too, a total rejection of the Left-Right spectrum which, once again, ever since the French Revolution has imposed upon us a wholly superficial antithesis between two allegedly opposed economic ideologies. Those so-called "backward" nations which, thus far, have avoided economic development are said by Evola to "enjoy a certain space and a relative freedom." By seizing upon the issue of class, Marxists have deliberately obscured the components of the ancient world by smearing them with an economic grime. In traditional societies, of course, the economy was simply one area within an all-encompassing hierarchical structure. Terms like "capitalist" and "proletarian" did not exist and class struggle was redundant: "Even in the domain of the economy, a normal civilisation provides specific justification for certain differences in condition, dignity, and function." Marxism, says Evola, did not come about due to the need for a resolution to the social question, on the contrary, Marxism itself has exacerbated the problem by creating the myth of the class system. In traditional societies "an individual contained his need and aspirations within natural limits; he did not yearn to become different from what he was, and thus he was innocent of that Entfremdung (alienation) decried by Marxism." Leninists, Trotskyists and other advocates of the class struggle will recoil in horror at this statement, but Evola is denouncing the materialist desires of the common economic agitator rather than supporting the aspirations of the "ruling class." Indeed, economic determinism is considered to be unhealthy and detrimental because "it can legitimately be claimed that the so-called improvement of social conditions should be regarded not as good but as evil, when its price consists of the enslavement of the single individual to the productive mechanism and to the social conglomerate; or in the degradation of the State to the ‘State based on work’, and the degradation of society to ‘consumer society’; or in the elimination of every qualitative hierarchy; or in the atrophy of every spiritual sensibility and every ‘heroic’ attitude." There is little doubt, therefore, that the appliance of the economic worldview comes at a great cost. Evola implores us to express our real selves and to unleash our true potential. Each of us has a different function and a unique position to fulfil. Class conflict, therefore, is a diversion which has been thrust in the path of the unitary and the organic. In terms of the way in which we approach work, Evola tells us that an American attempt to extract more labour from a Third World workforce by doubling their wages, was met with "a majority of the workers cutting their working hours in half." Compare this traditionalist attitude with that of the modern-day office or factory worker who perpetually competes for overtime with his colleagues. Indeed, whilst traditional societies are merely interested in satisfying their basic needs, those in the West endure increasingly long hours, exhaustion, bad diets and severe health problems in their pursuit for computers, televisions and cars. Evola notes that, prior to the rise of the mercantile economy and the gradual evolution of capitalism, "the acquisition of external goods had to be restricted and that work and the quest for profit were justifiable only in order to acquire a level of wealth corresponding to one’s status in life: this was the Thomist and, later, the Lutheran view." Work was always designed to satisfy man’s basic needs and provide him with the time he needed in order to pursue more worthy and meaningful pursuits. But when the acquisition of wealth becomes such an obsession that it imprisons the individual within an economic straightjacket, something is clearly very wrong indeed. Success, therefore, is not determined by the credit in one’s bank account or the growth of industry and technology, it relates to the way in which an individual is able to progress in a more spiritual sense. Living in accordance with one’s own intrinsic nature (dharma) is far preferable to pushing oneself beyond the boundaries of normal behaviour through greed and materialism. This trend is epitomised by the restless nature of the capitalistic economy and its exploitative pursuit of new global markets. In the knowledge, of course, that once it has run its inevitable course the lack of available resources will herald its total collapse.

The emergence of capitalism has often been equated with the Protestant work ethic, and is here dismissed by Evola for the simple reason that labour has been transformed from a means of subsistence to an end in itself. It is not only the Right who are obsessed with work, of course, it is the Left too. One thinks of endless marches organised by the likes of Militant Labour and the Socialist Workers Party, during which the only objective is to enslave the proletariat to the employment system: "The most peculiar thing is that this superstitious and insolent cult of work is proclaimed in an era in which the irreversible and relentless mechanisation eliminates from the main varieties of work whatever in them still had a character of quality, art, and the spontaneous unfoldment of a vocation, turning it into something inanimate and devoid of even an immanent meaning." Evola sees this process as the very proletarianisation of life itself. There are certain parallels here with Richard Hunt’s advocation of the "leisure society," in which man can rediscover the natural and qualitative values of his existence. But Evola warns his readers that we must not "shift to a renunciatory, utopian, and miserable civilisation," but rather "clear every domain of life of insane tensions and to restore a true hierarchy of values."

But whilst the individual is inadvertently eroding his own freedoms by viewing work as the ultimate goal in life, the State is also endangering its own existence through the encroaching scarcity of resources to which increasing productivity leads. Evola argues that the way forward lies in "autarchy," and that "it is better to renounce the allure of improving general social and economic conditions and to adopt a regime of austerity than to become enslaved to foreign interests or to become caught up in world processes of reckless economic hegemony and productivity that are destined to sweep away those who have set them in motion." On this point, however, Evola is perhaps forgetting that the decline of capitalistic economies is inevitable and therefore it is futile to postpone their collapse by implementing a policy of protectionism. This strategy may indeed enable a country to stave off the effects of an impending economic catastrophe, but given that all capitalist systems rely on the internationalist system, this simply would not work in the long term.


Evola now turns his attention to the way in which history is so often presented as a religious tenet of the modern age, representing the switch from a world of being towards that of a world of becoming. Indeed, whilst the former relates to an organic and stable form of civilisation, the latter denotes a chaotic and constantly evolving process in which "rationalist, scientific, and technological civilisation" acts as the pied piper of our rapid decline. Rationalism was perceived by Hegel as reality itself. Likewise, reality is also rational. But traditional values, says Evola, cannot be analysed or defined in this way because they are based on something far beyond the comprehension of mere philosophy. Historicism often regards those episodes which it cannot account for as "anti-historical." This has been said of historical phenomena which appear to obstruct the process of development in accordance with the rationalist worldview. This is why historicists and modernists are fond of portraying conservatives - in the true sense of the word - as "reactionaries" and enemies of progress. Furthermore, it is not men who make history at all. Traditionalists like Evola have learnt to recognise and accept the transcendental forces which are never taken into consideration by rationalist historians: "only an obsolete 'historicism' can be so presumptuous to reduce everything to a linear development." Indeed, both Marxism and Christianity adopt this method and the cyclical nature of the universe is therefore ignored.


Whilst the word "tradition" is used to describe Evola’s cosmological stance against the modern world (and that of certain other Traditionalists like Guenon, Nasr and Schuon), he also accepts that during certain key periods of his existence man has often used a series of more commonly known traditions in order to act as a unifying force. These forms of tradition relate to specific "suggestions and catchphrases" which are used to revitalise or regenerate a civilisation, although they can often assume a very "non-traditional" form. Using the example of Italy, Evola points out that professional subversives from the ranks of liberalism, communism and Freemasonry have distorted certain words to ensure that they are equated with patriotism and national pride. So to disagree with their objectives, therefore, is to invoke accusations of "treachery" and "disloyalty." This makes it rather difficult for traditionalists to adopt traditions of their own without incurring the systematically-engineered confusion that sometimes accompanies them. Due to the fact that national traditions are associated with the historical realities of a country’s particular development, attempting to place such terminology in its true context will inevitably lead to the adoption of the modern view that a country’s tradition is based upon its whole history. This is why Evola recommends the deconstruction of the mythology which surrounds national patriotism itself. Italian pride consists in glorifying the Italian Commune, the Renaissance and the Risorgimento. French patriotism is based upon the principles of the French Revolution and the upheavals of 1848 which followed it. An atmosphere of petty-nationalism and xenophobia also fuels the flames of justification for the two destructive world wars which decimated Europe. Revolution and conflict is based on the struggle between diametrically-opposed ideas or economies, not upon racial or national antagonism. Evola suggests that Frederick I, for example, fought against the Italians because he saw it as his imperial duty and not because he simply happened to despise the Italian people or wished to subvert them to his will. Ironically enough, Frederick was committed to the re-establishment of Roman law and many Italians even fought alongside him. This completely demolishes the idea that the aforementioned episodes in Italian history were somehow "patriotic." The importance of struggle is characterised by the idea and not by the perceived national loyalties of those involved. Think of those Englishmen who fought in Hitler’s SS, for example, or the Muslims who travelled from around the world in order to fight against the Americans in modern-day Afghanistan. The "traditions" of those who are committed to the obliteration of the ancient world, then, are highly questionable and - at the very least - intrinsically selective.

By charting the progress of the Italian Renaissance through to its logical conclusion, the so-called Enlightenment, Evola demonstrates that "in the same sense in which Renaissance Italy becomes the mother of geniuses and artists, it also becomes the forerunner of subversion. And just as the communes represent the first rebellion against an alleged political despotism, the civilisation of the Renaissance likewise represents the 'discovery of man' and of freedom of the spirit in the creative individual, as well as the principle of the intellectual emancipation that constitutes the 'basis of human progress'." The Risorgimento is not dissimilar in that it represented a paradoxical alliance between Masonry and patriotism: "The representatives of what at the time was still traditional Europe regarded liberalism and Mazzinianism in the same way as today’s liberal and democratic parties regard communism; the truth is that the subversive intentions of the former were not much different from the latter’s, the main difference being that liberalism and Mazzinianism employed the national and patriotic myth at the early stages of the disintegrating action." The Risorgimento, therefore, was a pseudo-tradition and at the very root of its secret machinations lay the destruction of Tradition itself. The Carbonari was not fighting "Austria" at all, it was engaged in a bitter attempt to topple the Austrian dynasty and, thus, one of the final vestiges of Tradition in Europe. But this is not to suggest that the House of Austria had an impeccable track record. On the contrary, along with Russia and Germany its primary importance lay in opposing the rise of liberalism and modernism. This is demonstrated by the spirit of unity which permeates a letter sent to Wilhelm I by Bismarck in 1887: "The struggle today is not so much between Russians, Germans, Italians, and French, but rather between revolution and monarchy. The Revolution has conquered France, affected England, and is strong in Italy and in Spain. There are only three emperors who can oppose it . . . An eventual future war will have less the character of a war between governments, but more so that of a war of the red flag against the elements of order and preservation." Beneath the surface of all dynasties, churches and governments, of course, lie the denizens of the single idea and the common struggle. A contemporary example on a far smaller scale, perhaps, is the tactical support offered by Alexander Dugin’s eurasianists to Vladimir Putin’s government. The main point of this chapter, however, is the undermining of the popular fantasies which surround national "traditions." Once we can stop focusing on the kind of nationalism served up by the historicists, therefore, it will be easier to accept the validity of an Idea.


Evola tells us that militarism is the enemy of democracy. This divergence of beliefs came about as soon as economics had replaced things like Prussianism and the Order of Teutonic Knights. Modern democracy, having originated in England, has led to the rise of a society in which "the primary element is the bourgeois type and the bourgeois life during times of peace; such a life is dominated by the physical concern for safety, well-being, and material wealth, with the cultivation of letters and the arts serving as a decorative frame." It is the bourgeoisie who are presently in control of the State and, despite the absence of a militaristic spirit in modern society, whenever an "international crisis" looms on the horizon they have no qualms about using militaristic techniques in order to advance their own interests. This is precisely the same form of shameless hypocrisy which usually regards warfare as "something materialistic and soulless." But Evola makes a distinction between the soldier and the warrior. Indeed, whilst the former is a paid mercenary who sees warfare purely as a means of self-enrichment, the latter is a specific aristocratic caste which is altogether superior to the bourgeoisie. In the present atmosphere soldiers are used to maintain "the peace," although in reality capitalism uses its Establishment shock-troops to crush its opponents and maintain its own position on the economic ladder. This means that the mercenary is employed by the merchant class, rather than a warrior caste "with its own spirituality, values, and ethics" playing an active role in the nature of the State. But Evola is not suggesting that "the military must manage the affairs of the State . . . but rather that virtues, disciplines, and feelings of a military type acquire pre-eminence and a superior dignity over everything that is of a bourgeois type." Furthermore, he does not believe in the control of one’s everyday affairs by a military clique: "Love for hierarchy; relationships of obedience and command; courage; feelings of honour and loyalty; specific forms of active impersonality capable of producing anonymous sacrifice; frank and open relationships from man to man, from one comrade to another, from leader to follower - all these are the characteristic living values that are predominant in the aforementioned view." Evola follows this up by explaining that external warfare compliments that occurring within the self. This is the spiritual battle which is waged by the individual in defiance of his own shortcomings, described by Evola in Revolt Against the Modern World as the "big holy war" and the "little holy war"; a jihad which is fought upon two fronts. This also has important similarities to the Hermetic concept "as above, so below." War against one’s enemies is a macrocosm of that taking place within the individual. For the man who is born to be a warrior, this kind of asceticism becomes a way of life. It is not a form of mindless violence in which death and destruction become the central pillars of one’s very existence, it is "the calm, conscious, and planned development of the inner being and a code of ethics; love of distance; hierarchy; order; the faculty of subordinating the emotional and individualistic element of one’s self to higher goals and principles, especially in the name of honour and beauty." Herein lies the difference between the soldier and the warrior.

The decline of the warrior ethos, according to Evola, is due to the fact that democracies have diminished the importance of the political in favour of the social. Previously, of course, Evola had referred to the Mannerbund or all-male fraternity. Without this vital heroic element, the modern State has inevitably become very inferior when compared to those of the past like Sparta. Western society is now in the hands of the bourgeoisie and lacks that key ingredient of atmospheric tension which acts as a safeguard against complacency and deterioration. Evola is not implying that warfare and struggle are eternal concepts, but simply that the individual must seek out the active life in opposition to the pacifism and decay that comes with "peace." Therefore "the nations in which such premises are sufficiently realised will be not only the ones better prepared for war, but also the ones in which war will acquire a higher meaning." By sheer contrast, the democracies now claim to be fighting against war itself and use a force of their own in a purely defensive capacity. The ranks of those who fight however, are filled not with the bourgeoisie but with the paid mercenaries of the army and police. These soldiers do not fight for an idea or a higher principle, but for "material well-being, economic prosperity, a comfortable and conformist existence based on one’s work, productivity, sports, movies, and sexuality." Modern warfare is also based upon the war of the machine, rather than on the physical or spiritual combat of warriors. This leads to a complex and technological manifestation of the heroic ideal, rather than offering the prospective warrior a just cause for which to fight. Evola attacks the manipulative propaganda and lies which have been used throughout the process of modern warfare, something which leads to the relativisation and systematic repackaging of the "cause" itself. But what does Evola say about the attitude and motivation of the true warrior?: "A warrior tradition and a pure military tradition do not have hatred as the basis of war. The need to fight and even to exterminate another people may be acknowledged, but this does not entail hatred, anger, animosity, and contempt for the enemy. All these feelings, for a true soldier, are degrading: in order to fight he need not be motivated by such lowly feelings, nor be energised by propaganda, smoky rhetoric and lies." These elements have only come to the fore since the natural warrior caste was replaced by an army of enlisted mercenaries drawn from the ranks of society at large. Mussolini once wrote about the spirit of the trenches in which class divisions were eradicated in the name of a common cause, but Evola believes that today the masses have to be deceived before they will agree to fight for the ruling class. Modern conflicts are irrational, too, in that they are artificially constructed in order to justify the ever-increasing expansion of capitalism. The wars of the past were quite different, in that they had a sovereign quality as the necessary determining force for the deployment of what Evola describes as "[c]learly defined goals." Perhaps the antithesis of the just war is the very irrationalism which lies at the core of the ultimate form of modern combat we know today as nuclear war.


Catholicism is perceived by many to be the pinnacle of Tradition. Evola accepts that it contains many Traditional aspects, but goes on to say that in order to be seen as a legitimate form of authority and sovereignty it must become fully integrated within the sphere of Tradition itself. Catholicism alone is inadequate and represents only a minimal current of a far wider Tradition. Here, Evola opts to discuss the implications of this fact in both a political and contemporary context, despite using examples from the past.

Religion falls into various categories and cannot match the supreme and unitary nature of Tradition. In fact religion is simply an exoteric version of a deeper, esoteric undercurrent. Christianity, for example, panders to the masses, whilst Tradition is reserved for the spiritual elite: "In effect, nobody with a higher education can really believe in the axiom 'There is no salvation outside the Church' (nulla salus extra ecclesiam), meaning the great civilisations that have preceded Christianity (the still-existing millennia-old non-European traditions, such as Buddhism and Hinduism, and even relatively recent ones such as Islam) have not known the supernatural or the sacred, but only distorted images and obscure 'prefigurations' and that they amount to mere 'paganism', polytheism, and 'natural mysticism'." This statement would undoubtedly arouse in the more "traditional" Catholic a feeling of revulsion and anger, perhaps even accusations of "ecumenicalism." However, Evola is not advocating the unification of all religions, but the acceptance that there is a common Tradition which lies in each. He goes on to say that for a Catholic "to persist in the sectarian and dogmatic exclusivism about this matter would amount to being in the same predicament of one who wished to defend the views of physics and astronomy found in the Old Testament, which have been made obsolete by the current state of knowledge on these matters." Catholicism, then, is only "traditional" in the sense that certain aspects tend to accord with Tradition itself. The same can be said of Islam or Judaism.

We now turn our attention to the centuries-old debate concerning Catholicism and Ghibellinism. The Ghibellines (like their Guelph rivals) were a political force in northern and central Italy between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries. These opposing groups began in Germany as partisans in a struggle for the throne of the Holy Roman Empire between two dynastic houses: the Welfs on the one hand (who were dukes of Saxony and Bavaria), and the Hohenstaufens on the other (who were rulers of Swabia). During the thirteenth century the Welf leader, Otto of Brunswick, was involved in a fratricidal struggle for the imperial crown against Frederick II of Hohenstaufen, and the all-German battle soon moved south to Italy. The name Guelph is derived from Welf, whilst Ghibelline is a corruption of Waiblingen, an area of land belonging to the emperors of Hohenstaufen. According to the Ghibelline view of the world, as elucidated by Evola, "the Empire was an institution of supernatural origin and character, like the Church. It had its own sacred nature, just as, during the Middle Ages, the dignity of the kings themselves had an almost priestly nature (kingship being established through a rite that differed only in minor detail from Episcopal ordination). On this basis, the Ghibelline emperors - who were the representatives of a universal and supranational idea, embodying a lex animata in terris (a living law on earth) - opposed the hegemonic claims of the clergy and claimed to have only God above themselves." The struggle between the Ghibellines and the clergy is usually discussed in political terms, but was actually a form of spiritual combat waged at the very highest level. Humanity, during the medieval period, was caught between two distinct paths: action and contemplation. Evola tells us that this relates to the Empire and the Church respectively: "Ghibellinism more or less claimed that through the view of earthly life as discipline, militia, and service, the individual can be led beyond himself and reach the supernatural culmination of human personality through action and under the aegis of the Empire. This was related to the character of a non-naturalistic but 'providential' institution acknowledged in the Empire; knighthood and the great knightly Orders stood in relation to the empire in the same way in which the clergy and the ascetic Orders stood in relation to the Church." This sounds like an analogy of the political soldier, but Evola is keen to demonstrate that such Orders "were based on an idea that was less political than ethical-spiritual, and partially even ascetic, according to an asceticism that was not cloistered and contemplative, but rather of a warrior type. In this last regard, the most typical example was constituted by the Order of Knights Templar, and in part by the Order of the Teutonic Knights." This subject is discussed at length in Evola’s Revolt Against The Modern World, during which the author explained how the Emperor waged a calculated holy war against the pro-Guelphist clergy and how even the Crusades became an active consolidation of the imperial idea; just as the Empire had been in times of peace. The Ghibellines, he said, were engaged in an occult struggle "against papal Rome that was waged by Rome itself" (p.300). Indeed, the head of the Church is known as pontifex maximus; a title which is taken directly from the leaders of early Rome. Indeed, according to Evola the Emperor Julian opposed Christianity due to its "upholding of an anarchical doctrine; with the excuse of paying homage to God alone, they refused to give him homage in the person of those who, as legitimate leaders of men, were his representatives on earth and drew from him the principle of their power. This, according to Celsus, was an example of impiety."

Evola’s whole point is that in ancient times the religious clergy were answerable to the Emperor himself; not simply from a political perspective, but also in a theological capacity: "It was only during the Middle Ages that the priest nourished the ambition, not of being king, but of being the one to whom kings are subject. At that time, Ghibellinism arose as a reaction, and the rivalry was rekindled, the new reference point now being the authority and the right reclaimed by the Holy Roman Empire." But this does not presuppose that religion must be at the service of the State like those of "a Masonic, anti-clerical character," on the contrary, this leads to totalitarianism and the Concordats which were conveniently arranged in both Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. The separation of the spiritual and political spheres is epitomised by the Christian maxim "render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s," something which was quite unknown in ancient times. Needless to say, throughout history the Catholic Church has played a very large role in secular affairs by using politics as a mere wing of the religious establishment. Although in the later Middle Ages the Church did recognise the divine right of kings, Evola considers these "atheistic" monarchs to have been at the forefront of the liberal ideas which later found expression in the French Revolution of 1789. Once the State had vacated the domain of the spirit and become secular, however, it turned against the Church. But this was different to the rebellion of the Ghibellines, because this current "did not pursue the subjection of spiritual authority to temporal powers, but rather upheld, vis-а-vis the exclusivist claim of the Church, a value and a right for the State, different from those that are proper to an organisation with a merely human and material character." However, lest one wrongly imagine that Evola somehow wishes to revive the Ghibelline struggle against the Church, the author carefully points out that the key point is to resist the secular State in all its forms. Only in this way can politics be ascribed to a higher level.

Catholicism today is in great decline. Not least because it is always forced to compromise with the prevailing ideologies among which it finds itself. Liberalism is gradually eroding the last vestiges of Catholic tradition in the same way that it is eating away at the edifice of Tradition in general. The likes of the Protestant Reformation and Vatican II have taken their toll, and we now see modernist popes tolerating bastardised currents like Liberation Theology, supporting the burgeoning New World Order and kneeling before the might of International Zionism. Evola tells us that "the decline of the modern Church is undeniable because she gives to social and moral concerns a greater weight that what pertains to the supernatural life, to asceticism, and to contemplation, which are essential reference points of religiosity." It is certainly not fulfilling any kind of meaningful role, either: "For all practical purposes, the main concerns of Catholicism today seem to turn it into a petty bourgeois moralism that shuns sexuality and upholds virtue, or an inadequate paternalistic welfare system. In these times of crisis and emerging brutal forces, the Christian faith should devote itself to very different tasks." In the medieval period the Church possessed a more traditional character, but only due to the fact that it had appropriated so many Classical elements and, by way of Aristotle, lashed them firmly to the theological mast being constructed by Thomas Aquinas during the thirteenth century. Catholicism, however, will never reconcile itself with the problem of how to deal with politics and the State because it relies upon separation and dualism. Tradition, on the other hand, is integralist and unitary.

Evola notes that certain individuals and groups have sought to incorporate the more traditional aspects of Catholicism within the broader and far more encompassing sphere of Tradition itself. Evola’s French philosophical counterpart, Rene Guenon, for example. Catholics, however, are far too dogmatic and would merely seek to make Tradition "conform" to their own spiritual weltanschauung. This, says Evola, is "placing the universal at the service of the particular." Furthermore, of course, the anti-modernists who are organised in groups such as The Society of St. Pius X and the Sedavacantist fraternity do not speak with the full weight and authority of the Church. They are, therefore, powerless because "the direction of the Church is a descending and anti-traditional one, consisting of modernisation and coming to terms with the modern world, democracy, socialism, progressivism, and everything else. Therefore, these individuals are not authorised to speak in the name of Catholicism, which ignores them, and should not try to attribute to Catholicism a dignity the latter spurns." Evola suggests that because the Church is so inadequate, it should be abandoned and left to its ultimate doom. He concludes by reiterating the fact that a State which does not have a spiritual dimension is not a State at all. The only way forward, he argues, is to "begin from a pure idea, without the basis of a proximate historical reference" and await the actualisation of the Traditional current.


Intellectuals are often attracted to communism because it claims to be anti-bourgeois, despite communism itself claiming to despise the intellectual for his bourgeois origins. According to Evola, however, this is misleading and such people are deluding themselves. Evola also accepts that the word "bourgeois" relates to far more than economics; something representing a specific cultural niche in which everything is "empty, decadent, and corrupt." The role of the traditionalist must be to overcome these materialist concepts. Indeed, the perennial attraction of communism indicates that it would be a big mistake to combat Marxist values with a "bourgeois mentality and spirit, with its conformism, psychological and romantic appendices, moralism, and concerns for a petty, safe existence in which a fundamental materialism finds its compensation in sentimentality and the rhetoric of the great humanitarian and democratic worlds - all this has only an artificial, peripheral, and precarious life." This is why conservatism has always been so ineffective, and why the adoption of a true anti-bourgeois spirit is so essential in the ongoing replenishment of Tradition. For Evola, the solution lies in realism.

In its efforts to overcome the unreality of bourgeois society, Marxism simply relegates the individual to an even lower level. This results in the systematic spawning of homo economicus, a process in which "we go toward what is below rather than above the person." It represents a collective reduction of the human type, rather than a raising of the individual consciousness. So how does Evola’s realism differ from the kind of "neo-realism" advocated by left-wing philosophers such as Sartre? The latter, of course, brings human existence into line with transient concepts such as psychoanalysis. This is achieved by creating a kind of psycho-collectivisation, whereby man’s various personality traits are said to originate from below. Evola, on the other hand, accepts "that existence acquires a meaning only when it is inspired by something beyond itself." Therefore the political, economic and psychological aspects of Marxism are identical and adhere to a decidedly false sense of "realism."

Given the confusion which has been generated by the Marxists and their misleading interpretation of "realism," perhaps another solution is needed to counteract the unreality of the bourgeoisie; one which seeks to go higher, rather than lower? Evola explains: "It is possible to keep a distance from everything that has only a human and especially subjectivist character; to feel contempt for bourgeois conformism and its petty selfishness and moralism; to embody the style of an impersonal activity; to prefer what is essential and real in a higher sense, free from the trappings of sentimentalism and from pseudo-intellectual super-structures - and yet all this must be done by remaining upright, feeling the presence in life of that which leads beyond life, drawing from it precise norms of behaviour and action." This means that a new breed of individuals must bear the task of combining strong anti-Marxism with a committed opposition to bourgeois society: "Lenin himself said that a proletarian, left to himself, tends to become a bourgeois." It is therefore not necessary to become a communist in order to reject the trappings of conformity and sterility, although the shortcomings of Fascism and its well-documented reliance upon the bourgeoisie suggests that it, too, is incapable of providing real solutions to the problem. Evola also notes that "[e]ven those who call themselves monarchists can only conceive of a bourgeois king."

I have already discussed how communists harbour an ironic grudge towards the intellectual, but Evola demonstrates that the only answer to the intellectual/anti-intellectual debate is to put forward a third option: the Weltanschauung, or worldview. This is "based not on books, but on an inner form and a sensibility endowed with an innate, rather than acquired, character." In other words, a mentality which does not remain fixed in the mind or submerged in theories, but realised in a more practical sense through the deployment of the will. Thought alone is incapable of taking on a life of its own or significantly changing anything. Here we return to the traditional idea of an organic civilisation which is expressed not by culture, but through a deeper understanding of eternal values. Thus, intellectualism and culture are merely used to express the more fundamental worldview, not designed to evolve into determining characteristics of humanity in their own right: "this is sheer illusion: never before as in modern times was there such a number of men who are spiritually formless, and thus open to any suggestion and ideological intoxication, so as to become dominated by psychic currents (without being aware of it in the least) and of manipulations belonging to the intellectual, political, and social climate in which they live." The worldview of which Evola speaks, of course, is Tradition. This represents the basic impetus which must beat firmly within the heart of all those who wish to bring to an end the contaminating era of the bourgeoisie.


In Chapter 6, Evola attacked mankind’s dependence upon the economy and suggested that change must come from within. In this chapter, the author presents an alternative economic plan by which the forces of anti-Tradition can be kept at bay. Recalling the fact that the State represents "an idea and a power," Evola has little hesitation in rendering it superior to the economic sphere. This is because he feels that the State is endowed with an overriding spiritual perspective and that it is there to both guide and judge all economic concepts, although this does cause one to wonder whether such power and authority can be expressed in an non-statist context. Especially in light of the seemingly irredeemable nature of the world’s states today and the fact that no one State can last forever.

Evola’s solution to the economic crisis - as well as the fact that it needs to be brought in line with Tradition - is a form of corporativism "based on the principles of competence, qualification, and natural hierarchy, with the overall system characterised by a style of active impersonality, selflessness, and dignity." This opinion has been formed by the author’s self-confessed admiration for the craft guilds of the Middle Ages and, before them, the Roman system of proto-corporativism. He rightly points out that the medieval artisan had a great love for his work, unlike the contemporary wage-slave who labours under great strain and duress. Evola goes into this concept in Revolt Against The Modern World, too, contesting that work only becomes slavery once it is viewed as a laborious task. It is also a fact that one’s adherence to a common objective gives even the most seemingly ordinary task a higher degree of significance: "The commitment of the workers was matched by the master of the art’s competence, care, and knowledge; by their effort to strengthen and to raise the quality of the overall corporate unit; and by their protecting and upholding the code of honour of their corporation." Issues such as capitalist exploitation were unheard of, at least until the advent of the Industrial Revolution.

Corporativism is usually regarded as a Fascist objective, but Evola argues that it cannot work under such a system because Fascism itself continues to tolerate the trade unions. This means that the class system is still being perpetuated and thus the unitary whole is threatened with division. After all, what use are trade unions if everyone is pulling in the same direction? The workers’ co-operative is another example of just how redundant trade unionism has become. Evola also believes that Fascism and Marxism fail to "reconstitute" the unifying concept of work itself, seeking to replace class division with a series of bureaucratic ministries. German National-Socialism, however, was more successful than Italian Fascism because "it understood that what mattered most was to achieve that organic solidarity of entrepreneurs and workers within the companies, promoting a down-sizing that reflected to a certain degree the spirit of traditional corporativism." Evola is praising the fact that German bosses took a more hands-on approach to the question of leadership, and it is a fact that the German civil service, for example, remained exactly the same after Hitler’s ascension to the throne of German politics. So it was a change of attitude, rather than a profound economic change of any kind. But I feel that Evola’s enthusiasm is slightly misplaced, particularly as Hitler’s economic drive was geared towards putting the country on a total war footing and that the NSDAP itself had been financed by German Big Business.

So what is necessary for this proposed shift in attitude? Evola advocates "the deproletarianisation of the worker and, on the other hand, the elimination of the worst type of capitalist, who is a parasitical recipient of profits and dividends and who remains extraneous to the productive process." Evola therefore accepts that such despicable creatures have become easy targets for communist agitators, and that capitalism itself must be vigorously opposed by those who wish to transcend both systems. Evola believes that capitalists should become more involved with their businesses, rather than sitting at home counting their shekels and raking in the profits. But this will not alter the fact that they will continue to own the means of production, so perhaps Evola is being more than a little optimistic when it comes to "loyal workers who are free from trade union control and are proud to belong to his company."

We are then introduced to what Evola believes to be the ideal relationship between the State and the economy. Again, modern conditions and the servile nature of industrial capitalism are identified as being the main obstacles to a more healthy attitude towards work. He feels that the real problem lies in the way an employee is "inclined to regard his work as mere necessity and his performance as a product sold to a third party in exchange for the highest possible remuneration." Work, he argues, must cease to be monotonous, repetitive and dull. Furthermore, workers must have "the right of co-direction, co-management, and co-determination" that is presently lacking in the majority of occupations. These sentiments appear to echo the co-operative ideas of Robert Owen and the Rochdale Pioneers, which took shape during the nineteenth century. In other words, workers must have a real stake in the business concerned, rather than be considered as a mere cog in the capitalist machine: "This would be the best way to ‘integrate’ the individual worker into his company, motivate him and raise him above his most immediate interest as a mere rootless individual. In this way we could reproduce in a company’s life the type of organic belonging that was proper to the ancient corporative formations." This microcosmic representation of the State within the field of economics all sounds very well, although one must remember that any economic idea that plans to attach itself to the present economic system must inevitably rise and fall in accordance with the very system itself. The West is dying. This means, therefore, that all solutions which advocate forms of participation within the current system - including distributist guilds and workers’ co-operatives - merely represent a temporary postponement of the inevitable crash. The real solution lies on the periphery.

Evola criticises the politicisation of the workplace by trade unionists, a process which - he believes - only serves to divide, confuse and worsen the lot of the average worker. This activity, he contends, is used as a springboard from which to attack the State. I believe that Evola is right to condemn Marxist interference, but wrong to suppose that the industrial sphere can ever be reformed. In the words of Nietzsche: "That which is falling must also be pushed." Indeed, the vast majority of our fatcat executives are hardly likely to admit to their shortcomings and start expressing the type of leadership and initiative which Evola believes will transform the very nature of the economy. I believe that Evola is being just as idealistic as the Fascists and the Marxists. The decline of the West is inevitable, and, in terms of having run its civilisational course, will represent the completion of the Kali Yuga and thus the very end of the macrocosmic cycle.

But the author does accept that modern companies cannot be truly autonomous within the present economic climate, because "[n]o matter how powerful and wide-ranging they are, these companies must deal with forces and monopolies that control to a large degree the fundamental elements of the productive process." Evola believes that certain restraints have to be placed upon the ruthlessly competitive sharks of international capitalism, but his solution to the problem merely involves increasing the power and authority of the State. He also believes that such a State can be created within a modern context, but thirty years after Evola’s death this seems very unlikely. He also suggests that capitalists should be "ostracised" by the State, but surely this is impossible given that the State itself is little more than an elaborate front for the interests of Big Business and international finance? Evola’s fear of leftist subversion means that he is forced to accept a kind of pallid reformism or - in his words - a "revolution from above" (a concept not dissimilar to the "revolution of the centre" proposed by French fascists and elements of the Nouvelle Droit), when in reality he should be supporting the emergence of new centres of Tradition on the periphery. After all, as the Romanian author Mircea Eliade demonstrated in The Myth of the Eternal Return (Princeton, 1991) the founding of new symbolic centres is perfectly in tune with Tradition.

The feudal system is cited as a worthy example of economic autonomy and unitary collaboration between the various complimentary sections of medieval society, although he does suggest that it needs updating so that it can be applied in a modern setting. The overriding atmosphere of defensive perpetuity and the bonds of loyalty which characterised the feudal period are said by Evola to have strengthened both responsibility and decentralisation. Despite the intermittent shortcomings of feudalism, it is pretty hard to deny the fact that it had many worthy attributes. On the other hand, however, Evola still fails to prove that anything remotely similar can be re-established today. At least at the centre and within the current economic system. Likewise, Evola believes that the traditional caste structure can also be reapplied to the modern State: "The ultimate goal of the corporative idea, understood in this fashion, is to effectively elevate the lower activities concerned with production and material concerns to the plane that in a qualitative hierarchy comes immediately after the economic one in an ascending direction; in the system of ancient or functional castes, this plane was that of the warrior caste, which ranked higher than the merchant caste and the workers’ caste." Up until very recently, the caste system was still in operation throughout India (and still prevails in the more rural areas of the North), but modern government legislation has resulted in the lower castes (Untouchables) receiving positive discrimination and other liberal reforms designed to create the kind of "egalitarianism" that we are used to seeing in the West. The caste system is a highly complex and functional system and has been around for many thousands of years, but I doubt whether it can be applied to a modern society. Only by establishing centres on the periphery can traditional methods be realised in the modern world. Evola’s comments about caste and hierarchy are extremely valid, but the process of degeneration can never be reversed at the centre.

The author also suggests that a Corporate House of Representatives be created. Not something which is managed in a bureaucratic manner like that administered previously by Italian Fascism, but a system in which everything finds its true level in relation to everything else. At the same time, it "should not have the traits of a political assembly. It should merely constitute the Lower House; political concerns would be dealt with in an Upper House, ranked above the former." Again, Evola remains strongly opposed to political interference within the sphere of socio-economic activity. But even his "Lower House" sounds rather bureaucratic once it is compared to a basic workers’ co-operative, although the objective here is obviously to unite all such concerns into a single, unitary whole. Modern-day Libya has a similar arrangement in that its professional, educational and various other categories are united within a series of congresses. Not that Evola would agree, of course, with the fact that real power and authority in Libya’s "state of the masses" emanates from below, rather than from above.


And now we come to one of the most interesting chapters of the book, in which Evola questions whether the various areas of human existence have been affected by higher forces. In other words, by those of the supernatural or occult dimension. The decline of the West, in particular, is said to be a direct result of the hidden forces at work. Evola explains: "The occult war is a battle that is waged imperceptibly by the forces of global subversion, with means and in circumstances ignored by current historiography. The notion of occult war belongs to a three-dimensional view of history: this view does not regard as essential the two superficial dimensions of time and space (which include causes, facts, and visible leaders) but rather emphasises the dimension of depth, or the ‘subterranean’ dimension in which forces and influences act in a decisive manner, and which, more often than not, cannot be reduced to what is merely human, whether at an individual or a collective level." This seems clear enough. Indeed, the current of which Evola speaks transcends the governmental domain and concerns the forces which lie far beyond the purely exoteric plane. By "subterranean," Evola is alluding to the fact that such activity takes place not within the human subconscious, but as part of a deliberate plan which has been meticulously formed by capable and intelligent agents of subversion. But this third dimension should not be seen as some kind of ridiculous or convenient fantasy designed to account for the erosion of Tradition, it is a concept which is fully steeped in reality. Catholics regard the decline of traditional values and the onset of liberalism and moral decline as part of a divinely orchestrated process, although Evola believes that such a view need not rely on abstract metaphysics or theology. He cites the Classical idea in which the forces of the cosmos are waged against the forces of chaos: "To the former corresponds everything that is form, order, law, spiritual hierarchy, and tradition in the highest sense of the word; to the latter correspond every influence that disintegrates, subverts, degrades, and promotes the predominance of the inferior over the superior, matter over spirit, quantity over quality."

History undoubtedly has a more secretive side. Indeed, at times it becomes impossible to explain certain aspects in terms of their possessing a basic or fundamental causality. Evola is careful to warn against inventing ridiculous or fantastical notions to account for this more covert analysis of history: "The fact that those who have ventured in this direction have not restrained their wild imaginations has discredited what could have been a science, the results of which can hardly be overestimated. This too meets the expectations of the hidden enemy." Evola then mentions Disraeli’s well-known nineteenth-century admission, concerning the unseen forces that govern the world and create the necessary conditions for their own pernicious advancement. This brings us on to one of the most famous - or infamous - documents of all time, The Protocols of The Learned Elders of Zion, in which it is alleged that a secret Jewish cabal is intent on world domination. Evola does not defend its authenticity, however, he agrees with Rene Guenon that secret organisations of this nature are not likely to write everything down in great detail and that - similar to the conclusions expressed in Professor Cohn’s Warrant For Genocide - it was probably a Tsarist police conspiracy. But he does go on to say that "the only important and essential point is the following: this writing is part of a group of texts that in various ways (more or less fantastic and at times even fictional) have expressed the feeling that the disorder of recent times is not accidental, since it corresponds to a plan, the phases and fundamental instruments of which are accurately described in the Protocols." But what of the contention that the individuals behind the conspiracy are apparently Jews: "One of the means employed by the occult forces to protect themselves consists of directing their opponents’ attention towards those who are only partially responsible for certain upheavals, thus concealing the rest of the story, namely a wide sequence of causes."

Evola also discounts the theory that the conspiracy is being waged by agents of the Judaic religion, particularly as the occult forces themselves inspired the Renaissance, Darwinism and other rationalist developments which fly directly in the face of such principles. The fact that Israeli troops can often be seen battling in the streets of Jerusalem with fanatical Zionist rabbis also demonstrates that the hidden powers cannot possibly be genuinely connected to Judaism. The Protocols also allege that Judaism is working in close allegiance with Freemasonry, although Evola only accepts that the foundation of the Grand Lodge of London in 1717 brought it into line with the grand plan of subversion. This is correct. Masons on the European mainland differ significantly from their English cousins and many associated with the Grand Orient look upon Egypt as being the traditional fount of ancient knowledge and wisdom, rather than to specifically Jewish sources. This is reflected in the absence of the Memphis-Mithraim rite from the practices of the Grand Lodge. But at the same time, however, Judaeo-Masonry has often been used as a vehicle for global subversion and Evola compares this process with the regression of the caste system. When the rot gradually sets in at the very top, it tends to infect the whole body and thus sets off a new chain of events. Furthermore, "[r]egardless of the role played by Jews and Masonry in the modern subversion, it is necessary to recognise clearly the real historical context of their influence, as well as the limit beyond which the occult war is destined to develop by employing forces that not only are no longer those of Judaism and of Masonry, but that could even totally turn against them."

Using some of Rene Guenon’s ideas, Evola now attempts to examine some of the methods which are used by the global subversives. Firstly, "scientific suggestion" is used in order to explain history purely in terms of key events being influenced by political, social or economic factors. Secondly, whenever the first method becomes impossible the hidden forces decide to use the "tactic of replacement" instead. This involves the dissemination of certain philosophical ideas which can be used as a diversion for those events which defy a positivist explanation. It functions as a means of preventing the intellectuals from understanding the true nature of what is really going on in the world. This leads us towards the third strategic category: the "tactic of counterfeits." This latter stage is essentially designed to explain away those factors of the conspiracy which unavoidably find their way into the mainstream and cause a backlash. This development, according to Evola, can often take the form of a Traditional reaction to the degeneration of society, although the occult powers then use terms such as "anachronism," "anti-history," "immobilism" and "regression" in order to counteract this process and thus prevent their enemies from winning popular support.

The fourth ploy is the "tactic of inversion," in which the enemy concentrates its efforts on attacking the spiritual realm: "After limiting the influence that could be exercised in this regard by Christianity, through the spread of materialism and scientism, the forces of global subversion have endeavoured to conveniently divert any tendency towards the supernatural arising outside the dominant religion and the limitation of its dogmas." This means that the individual is encouraged to lose him or herself in shallow distractions such as psychology and spiritualism, rather than try to advance in a truly superior and supernatural way. Evola criticises the West’s distorted analysis of Eastern mysticism, and the fact that the traditional wisdom of the Orient has often been repackaged within Masonry or Theosophy and forcibly reconciled with Western values. And, due to this process of dilution, it has been easily torn to shreds by the secret denizens of the conspiracy and thus laughably rejected as pure superstition. Another method is the "tactic of ricochet," through which those sympathetic to Tradition are falsely assured that by attacking the remaining traditionalist structures they are somehow advancing their own cause: "Those who do not realise what is going on and who, because of material interests, attack Tradition in like-minded people sooner or later must expect to see Tradition attacked in themselves, by ricochet." Modern States, of course, use infiltration in order to sow the seeds of ideological discord. This can lead to personality clashes, greed and self-advancement at the expense of the very Idea itself.

The sixth category is the "scapegoat tactic," which results in the targeting of individuals or groups which usually turn out to be mostly blameless. The Protocols, for example, may seem fairly accurate when it comes to identifying the Masons and the Jews as the source of all our problems, but to scapegoat people to this extent is misleading and unrealistic. The next step - the "tactic of dilution" - relates to the use of nationalism as a means of bringing people down to a common level, rather than of restoring true perspective and hierarchy. This process "dilutes" the Traditional components inherent within nationalistic ideas and redirects them in accordance with the objectives of the secret powers. One method is the way in which revolutionary nationalists have eroded all traces of that which preceded their ascending to power, thus helping to bring down the final vestiges of Tradition. Using an example from the psychoanalytical sphere, Evola tells us that "[a]mong those who are capable of a healthy discernment there has been a reaction against the coarsest forms of this pseudo-science, which correspond to pure or ‘orthodox’ Freudianism. The tactic of dilution was employed again; the formulation and spread of a spiritualised psychoanalysis for more refined tastes was furthered. The result was that those who react against Freud and his disciples no longer do so against Jung, without realising that what is at work here is the same inversion, though in a more dangerous form because it is subtler, and a contaminating exegesis ventures more decidedly into the domain of spirituality than in the case of Freud."

The next tactic is the "deliberate misidentification of a principle with its representatives." In other words, confusing an idea or a principle with those purporting to represent or advance it. This leads to the defilement or devaluation of the idea itself. Evola’s final evaluation of subversive tactics examines the concept of "replacing infiltrations." This is when an idea or an institution has degenerated so much that it becomes unrecognisable. One thinks of the comparative emptiness of Grand Lodge Masonry when compared to its Grand Orient rival, or the Church of England’s systematic take-over by the organised homosexual lobby: "These forces, while leaving the appearances unchanged, use the organisation for totally different purposes, which at times may even be the opposite of those that were originally its own."

Evola’s solution to this multifarious problem involves a Traditionalist awakening during which its most devoted adherents realise the extent to which the battle is being waged on the occult plane. However, he also accepts that we do not presently have the men capable of fighting this disease.


The historic tendency of the Italian people to react with hostility towards Germanic culture is dismissed by Evola as a "misunderstanding, for the most part caused by stereotypical phrases and superficial ideas." The Italians, of course, prefer to depict themselves as being distinctly Latin and Mediterranean. Evola - in a similar manner to that of Benito Mussolini before him - questions the very idea of the Latin character, suggesting that it relates more to art and literature than race. Evola prefers the phrase "Romanic element," since it has a much wider base and is formed by the Classical populations and languages which comprised the Roman Empire. Therefore the Empire itself includes the Germanic peoples, too. But whilst Evola is correct in this sense, it is also true that the Romans themselves are obviously extremely indebted to the Ancient Greeks and borrowed many of their ideas. So it can, therefore, be said that Rome was actually forged from Hellenic civilisation. Evola then goes on to deplore the revival of the neo-Classical element during the Renaissance period, something which - he believes - led to the celebration of the Graeco-Roman world’s most degenerative stage rather than its earlier Age of Heroism.
The Latin peoples are not that distinct from their Germanic neighbours at all. The language and racial characteristics of the Mediterranean peoples, for example, are both derived from Indo-Aryan origins: "a heroic-sacred world that was characterised by a strict ethos, love of discipline and of a virile and dominating spiritual attitude." The tide of anti-Germanic feeling that engulfed the post-Roman world was propagated by the Catholic Church and its hatred for the Ghibellines and, soon afterwards, by the rise of Luther and Calvin. However, Evola points out that "in Germany, despite its being mostly Protestant, the feelings of order, hierarchy, and discipline are very strong, while in Italy, despite its being a Catholic country, all this is present to a negligible degree, while individualism, disorder, instinctiveness, and lack of discipline tend to prevail." He goes on to suggest that, from a Faustian perspective, unlike a German, an Italian would even be prepared to retract his agreement with the Devil. This is certainly a very frank admission coming from an Italian, but it does demonstrate that Evola’s Germanophile brand of imperial Tradition completely transcends the petty squabbles which have dominated Europe for so many centuries. Many of Evola’s countrymen, it is argued, despised the German-Italian Axis which came to pass during the Second World War: "All these people can be happy again, now that Italy has returned to itself - the petty Italy of mandolins, museums, ‘O Sole Mio,’ and the tourist industry (not to mention the democratic quagmire and the Marxist infection), having been ‘liberated’ from the difficult task of forming itself on the inscription of its highest traditions, which must be described not as ‘Latin’, but as ‘Roman’."

The book then switches its attention to one of the greatest taboos of our age: that of Race. Evola is not interested in biological racism, he notes that several more races exist within each general category; be they black, yellow or white: "These elementary races are defined in terms that are not merely biological and anthropological, but psychological and spiritual as well. To each of the racial components there correspond various dispositions, forms of sensibility, values, and views of life which are also differentiated." Evola disputes the fact that individuals belong to the same one race, explaining that each contains differing strengths and weaknesses. In Germanic peoples it is the Nordic element which seems to occupy the highest rung of the ladder, something echoed by the Roman type among the Italians. So Evola is basically suggesting that within each individual there is a dynamic spark which is derived not from biological sources but from a more spiritual tradition. Therefore the fact that racial nationalists seek to incorporate all individuals within one solid bloc goes completely against the Traditionalist worldview. Individuals of the same "race" are markedly different, regardless of the seemingly common ancestry which has been attributed to them by nineteenth-century scientists and modern geneticists. In the midst of this racial conglomeration, of course, lies the substance of the New Man. It is he who epitomises the most superior quality of all.
One inferior facet which Evola believes to be detrimental to the superior Roman spirit, is the Mediterranean type. But what does the term "Mediterranean" actually mean? The author tells us that it "merely designates a space, or a geographical area in which very different cultures and spiritual and racial powers often clashed or met, without ever producing a typical civilisation." So, unlike the Roman spirit, it can be said that the "Mediterranean" concept never came to fruition in any meaningful sense. Furthermore, he says, "psychologists have tried to define the Mediterranean type, not so much anthropologically, but in terms of character and style. In these descriptions we can easily recognise the other pole of the Italian soul, namely negative aspects likewise found in the Italian people, that need to be rectified." Evola then refers to the excitable persona, the sexual promiscuity, the vain exhibitionism and the gesticulative hot-bloodedness of the Mediterranean type, something quite unlike the "anonymous heroes" of Rome. Herein, perhaps, lies the fundamental difference between the Actor and the Act: "the best model to follow would be that of the ancient race of Rome - the sober, austere, active style, free from exhibitionism, measured, endowed with a calm awareness of one’s dignity." The Roman spirit, therefore, is rather akin to the Indo-Aryan concept of nobility. The Mediterranean soul, on the other hand, has a ‘"tendency towards a restless, chaotic, and undisciplined individualism. Politically speaking, this is the tendency that, after asserting itself by fomenting struggles and constant quarrels, led the Greek city-states to ruin." The solution, according to Evola, is to awaken amongst the Italians a truly Roman - rather than Mediterranean - ethos. This, he believes, will occur "in almost organic terms at the end of dissolutive processes."


This chapter deals with population growth. Evola postulates the view that reducing the population would help us towards "a relaxation and a decongestion that would limit every activist frenzy (first among them, those that pertain to the overall power of the economy) and greatly propitiate the return to normalcy, thanks to a new, wider, and freer space." The Anarchist thinker, Richard Hunt, believes that such a reduction can be achieved through implementing methods of birth control and thus lead us towards a more natural society, although, given the eventual collapse of internationalism capitalism, such a process would surely happen naturally in the wake of widespread conflict and famine? Evola, on the other hand, believes that "nothing is done about the population explosion, because then man would have to act upon himself, his prejudices and instincts." But he also criticises the purely materialistic analysis as espoused by Malthus, because the worst thing about population growth is not the increasing scarcity of resources but the acceleration of production and the rampant capitalist economy: "The result is an increasing enslavement of the individual and the reduction of free space and of any autonomous movement in modern cities, swarming as though in putrefaction with faceless beings of ‘mass civilisation'." Evola explains that there is no safety in numbers, a slogan that has become one of the watchwords of the modern epoch. Successful empires, he argues, arise not from population growth but from the intuitiveness and ability of an elite minority. Furthermore, geographical locations which find themselves subject to a large-scale increase in population soon run contrary to natural order: "The fact is that the inferior races and the lower social strata are the most prolific" and inevitably leads to "a fatal involution of the human race." Evola goes on to explain that the movement of peoples for the purposes of cheap labour - such as that presently taking place among those economic migrants currently flooding into the British Isles - means that "the fatal effects will be inner crises and social tensions representing manna from heaven for the leaders of Marxist subversion." No wonder, therefore, that we constantly see the likes of the Socialist Workers Party campaigning on behalf of these so-called "refugees."

At this point Evola launches a fierce broadside against Catholic opposition to birth control. He denies that procreation - which, in his opinion, is derived from Jewish sources - should have a religious or theological dimension, and believes that the Church is being hypocritical when it comes to encouraging the use of the sexual urge to create life: "In every other instance besides sex, the Church praises and formally approves . . . the predominance of the intellect and will over the impulses of the senses." Indeed, Catholicism does tend to relegate the act of sexual union to the level of an animalistic act which is considered necessary for procreation. Abstinence and celibacy, says Evola, are far more in tune with asceticism and the pursuit of the supernatural. At this stage in the debate, Evola has not even mentioned the use of contraception or abortion, so I would therefore agree with his alternative conclusions about the more sacred nature of chastity. Birth control, he argues, is a bourgeois concept and the New Man "by adopting an attitude of militant and absolute commitment, should be ready for anything and almost feel that creating a family is a ‘betrayal’; these men should live sine impedimentis, without any ties or limits to their freedom." This approach certainly makes sense, but I also feel that there is a strong case for the perpetuation of the New Man through the foundation of alternative, revolutionary-conservative families which live in accordance with Tradition. Evola - inspired by Nietzsche’s idea that "men should be trained for war and women for the recreation of the warrior" - may indeed dismiss such a process as being little more than a form of "heroism in slippers," but such families can also act as a beacon and a source of inspiration for those warriors who remain unbound. Evola has considered the idea of elitist families, without doubt: "the example of those centuries-old religious orders that embraced celibacy suggests that a continuity may be ensured with means other than physical procreation. Besides those who should be available as shock-troops, it would certainly be auspicious to form a second group that would ensure the hereditary continuity of a chosen and protected elite, as the counterpart of the transmission of a political-spiritual tradition and worldview: ancient nobility was an example of this." However, he remains very sceptical and considers the revival of such an idea utopian because it would be difficult for a father to have control over his offspring amid the turmoil of the West. This is very true, but the increasing success of home-schooling in both America and the British Isles does prove that it is realistically possible to build a network of alternative families who reject the materialism of the West itself.

Evola’s solution is based upon the destruction of the egalitarian ideal and, perhaps more surprisingly, of adopting an open mind towards the possibility of a third world war. Any future conflict which is waged on such a vast scale would inevitably reduce the population, of course, but I believe that with the increasing collaboration taking place between the West and its subjugated puppet-states abroad, our real hope lies in the gradual disintegration of the internationalist system on the periphery. This process of detaching the children from the nanny, for better or for worse, will undoubtedly lead to the biggest death-toll the world has ever seen. Indeed, it will not be invoked by birth control programmes or inspired by government policy, it will actually lead to the removal of government itself.


According to the author, support "for a united Europe is strongly felt in various mileus today. It is necessary to distinguish where this need is upheld on a merely material and pragmatic level from those situations in which the issue is posited at a higher level, emphasising spiritual and traditional values." Given the huge attention that the idea of a united Europe has attracted during the last few decades, this chapter should be of interest to a great many people. During the period in which this book was written, Europe was entrenched in the Cold War and firmly divided between the superpowers of the USA and USSR. Evola, therefore, believes that - despite its decidedly economic agenda - the creation of the European Economic Community (EEC) was a logical development. Evola then pours scorn upon the ideas of Jean Thiriart who, during his lifetime, sought to create a European empire of more than 400 million people. Thiriart arrived at this figure by including the populations of Eastern Europe, which at that time were under Soviet control. According to Evola, the fact that the communist economies of Russia and China have an influence upon the outcome of any militaristic strategy renders the whole plan obsolete. The solution, says Evola, is firstly to withdraw from the United Nations (UN) - which, perhaps, is easier said than done - and then to reject the Soviet Union as much as America. Again, we are talking about the situation which existed during the period in which Evola wrote the book. Today, of course, we find ourselves on the verge of a one world government controlled solely by the USA and its closest allies. So how, exactly, does Evola propose that a united Europe be achieved in a profoundly Traditional sense?

The way ahead must rely upon a completely organic strategy. Not a nationalistic myth orchestrated by fascists, but something "which would generate a unitary impulse and an elan that in European history - let us admit it - finds scant antecedents." Indeed, it is undoubtedly a fact that the history of Europe is one of division and conflict. Evola continues: "What should be excluded is nationalism (with its monstrous appendix, namely imperialism) and chauvinism - in other words, every fanatical absolutisation of a particular unit." Therefore the future European empire must replace the obsessive petty-nationalism which has plagued our beleagured continent for so many centuries. In fact as we have already seen, the very idea in which both "unity and multiplicity" were nurtured did previously exist in the medieval period. The empire was a transcendental concept which refused to become involved in the political realm, concentrating its efforts upon the representation of an ultimately spiritual power and authority. It was a dynamic form of organic federalism; a flowing stream in which all fish were happy to be swimming in the same direction. Whilst nationalism always results in fragmentation, the coming imperium must lead to a unitary order of solidarity: "the integration and consolidation of every single nation as a hierarchical, united, and well-differentiated whole. The nature of the parts should reflect the nature of the whole." Evola believes that a stable centre will result in the increase of regional, linguistic and cultural diversity at the grass roots. Unlike the present democratic EC infrastructure which is centred in Maastricht, however, Evola’s model of European unity relies upon authority from above rather than from below. Democracy itself, he believes, should be erased from the face of Europe. A new focus or point of reference must also come into being, one which, in previous centuries, was represented by the monarchy. It must be spiritual in nature, too, although, unlike Christian Europe during the Middle Ages, it should both permeate and involve all nations. It must also, he contends, exclude non-Europeans, although in the present day and age there is a lot to be said for the ideas of Alexander Dugin and his belief in a Eurasian alliance. The new centre, on the other hand, cannot be constructed purely around what is commonly known as "European culture": Goethe, Von Humboldt, and all the other representatives of a sophisticated culture should be paid high honours, but it would be absurd to believe that their world could supply an arousing and animating strength to the forces and revolutionary elites that are struggling to unify Europe: their contribution belongs to the mere domain of a dignified "representation," with an essentially "historical character." On the contrary, Europe also has much to be ashamed of. And neither is the solution designed to create a European bloc to rival America, Africa or Asia, because Europe itself has influenced these continents to such as extent that it now risks becoming part of a globalised world. A positive manifestation of European unity was demonstrated by the various regions from which the soldiers of the SS were recruited during the Second World War, although it remains a great pity that their efforts were so misguided and self-destructive. Evola warns us that "a European action must proceed in parallel with the rebirth and the revolutionary-conservative reorganisation of the individual European countries: but to recognise this also means to acknowledge the disheartening magnitude of the task ahead."

The road to the new European imperium, Evola says, must be undertaken by two groups. Firstly, he proposes that we should attract the remaining families of the ancient nobility: "who are valuable not only because of the name they carry, but also because of who they are, because of their personality." Secondly, it is necessary to create a warrior caste: "These men harbour a healthy intolerance for any rhetoric; an indifference towards intellectualism and politicians’ gimmicks; a realism of a higher type; the propensity for impersonal activity; and the capability of a precise and resolute commitment." Evola accepts that such an Order presently remains leaderless, but the removal of the political class and a defiance of the modern world is an imperative. He concludes his work by saying that we now require men who, "in spite of it all, still stand upright among so many ruins."

Troy Southgate submitted this work to Pravda.RU




The Occidental Quarterly


Julius Evola On Tradition And The Right
(La Vera Destra)

Men Among the Ruins:
Post-War Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist

Julius Evola
Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 2002
$22.00 US

xvi + 310 pp.

Reviewed by E. Christian Kopff

Baron Julius Evola (1899-1974) was an important Italian intellectual, although he despised the term.  As poet and painter, he was the major Italian representative of Dadaism (1916-1922).1 Later he became the leading Italian exponent of the intellectually rigorous esotericism of René Guénon (1886-1951).2  He enjoyed an international reputation as the author of books on magic, alchemy and eastern religious traditions and won the respect of such important scholars as Mircea Eliade and Giuseppe Tucci.  His book on early Buddhism, The Doctrine of Awakening, which was translated in 1951, established his reputation among English-speaking esotericists.  In 1983, Inner Traditions International, directed by Ehud Sperling, published Evola’s 1958 book, The Metaphysics of Sex, which it reprinted as Eros and the Mysteries of Love in 1992, the same year it published his 1949 book on Tantra, The Yoga of Power.3

The marketing appeal of the topic of sex is obvious.  Both books, however, are serious studies, not sex manuals.  Since then Inner Traditions has reprinted The Doctrine of Awakening and published many of Evola’s esoteric books, including studies of alchemy and magic, and what Evola himself considered his most important exposition of his beliefs, Revolt Against the Modern World.4

In Europe Evola is known not only as an esotericist, but also as a brilliant and incisive right-wing thinker.  During the 1980’s most of his books, New Age and political, were translated into French under the aegis of Alain de Benoist, the leader of the French Nouvelle Droite.5  Books and articles by Evola have been translated into German and published in every decade since the 1930’s.6

Discussion of Evola’s politics reached North America slowly.  In the 1980’s political scientists Thomas Sheehan, Franco Ferraresi, and Richard Drake wrote about him unsympathetically, blaming him for Neo-Fascist terrorism.7  In 1990 the esoteric journal, Gnosis, devoted part of an issue to Evola.  Robin Waterfield, a classicist and author of a book on René Guénon, contributed a thoughtful appreciation of his work on the basis of French translations.8  Italian esotericist Elémire Zolla discussed Evola’s development accurately but ungenerously.9  The essay by Gnosis editor Jay Kinney was driven by an almost hysterical fear of the word “Fascist.”10  He did not appear to have read Evola’s books in any language, called the 1983 edition of The Metaphysics of Sex Evola’s “only book translated into English” and concluded “Evola’s esotericism appears to be well outside of the main currents of Western tradition.  It remains to be seen whether his Hermetic virtues can be disentangled from his political sins.  Meanwhile, he serves as a persuasive argument for the separation of esoteric ‘Church and State.’”

With the publication of Men Among the Ruins: Post-War Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist, English speakers can read Evola’s political views for themselves.  They will find that the text, in Guido Stucco’s workman-like translation, edited by Michael Moynihan, is guarded by a double firewall.  Joscelyn Godwin’s “Foreword” answers Jay Kinney’s hysterical diatribe of 1990. Godwin defends publishing Evola’s political writings by an appeal to “academic freedom,” which works “with the tools of rationality and scholarship, unsullied by emotionality or subjective references” and favors making all of Evola’s works available because “it would be academically dishonest to suppress anything.” Godwin’s high praise for The Doctrine of Awakening implicitly condemns Kinney’s ignorance.  Evola’s books on esoteric topics reveal “one of the keenest minds in the field . . .  The challenge to esotericists is that when Evola came down to earth, he was so ‘incorrect’ – by the received standards of our society.  He was no fool; and he cannot possibly have been right . . . so what is one to make of it?”11

Godwin’s “Preface” is followed by an introduction of more than 100 pages by Austrian esotericist H. T. Hansen on “Julius Evola’s Political Endeavors,” translated from the 1991 German version of Men Among the Ruins, with additional notes and corrections (called “Preface to the American Edition”).  Hansen’s introduction to Revolt Against the Modern World is, with Robin Waterfield’s Gnosis essay, the best short introduction to Evola in English.12  His longer essay is essential for serious students, and Inner Traditions deserves warm thanks for publishing it.13  The major book on Evola is Christophe Boutin, Politique et Tradition: Julius Evola dans le siècle (1898-1974).14

Readers of books published by Inner Traditions might have guessed Evola’s politics.  The Mystery of the Grail, first published in 1937, praises the Holy Roman Empire as a great political force, led by Germans and Italians, which tried to unite Europe under the Nordic Ghibellines.15  Esotericists will probably guess that the title of Revolt Against the Modern World is an homage to Crisis of the Modern World, the most accessible of René Guénon’s many books.16  The variation is also a challenge.  Evola and Guénon see the modern world as the fulfillment of the Hindu Kali Yuga, or Dark Age, that will end one cosmic cycle and introduce another.  For Guénon the modern world is to be endured, but Evola believed that real men are not passive.  His praise of “The World of Tradition” with its warrior aristocracies and sacral kingship is peppered with contempt for democracy, but New Age writers often make such remarks, just as scientists do.  If you believe you know the truth, it is hard not to be contemptuous of a system that determines matters by counting heads and ignores the distinction between the knowledgeable and the ignorant.

Visionary Among Italian Conservative Revolutionaries

Evola was not only an important figure in Guénon’s Integral Traditionalism, but also the leading Italian exponent of the Conservative Revolution in Germany, which included Carl Schmitt, Oswald Spengler, Gottfried Benn, and Ernst Jünger.17  From 1934-43, Evola was editor of what we would now call the “op-ed” page of a major Italian newspaper (Regime Fascista) and published Conservative Revolutionaries and other right-wing and traditionalist authors.18  He corresponded with Schmitt19, translated Spengler’s Decline of the West and Jünger’s An der Zeitmauer (At the Time Barrier) into Italian and wrote the best introduction to Jünger’s Der Arbeiter (The Worker), “The Worker” in Ernst Jünger’s Thought.20

Spengler has been well served by translation into English, but other important figures of the Conservative Revolution had to wait a long time.  Carl Schmitt’s major works have been translated only in the past few decades.21   Jünger’s most important work of social criticism, Der Arbeiter, has never been translated.22  The major scholarly book on the movement has never been translated, either.23  It is a significant statement on the limits of expression in the United States that so many leftist mediocrities are published, while major European thinkers of the rank of Schmitt, Jünger and Evola have to wait so long for translation, if the day ever comes.  It is certainly intriguing that a New Age press has undertaken the translation and publishing of Evola’s books, with excellent introductions.

The divorced wife of a respected free market economist once remarked to me, “Yale used to say that conservatives were just old-fashioned liberals.”  People who accept that definition will be flabbergasted by Julius Evola.  Like Georges Sorel, Oswald Spengler, Whittaker Chambers and Régis Debray, Evola insists that liberals and communists are in fundamental agreement on basic principles. This agreement is significant, because for Evola politics is an expression of basic principles and he never tires of repeating his own.  The transcendent is real.  Man’s knowledge of his relationship to transcendence has been handed down from the beginning of human culture.  This is Tradition, with a capital T.  Human beings are tri-partite: body, soul and spirit.  State and society are hierarchical and the clearer the hierarchy, the healthier the society.  The worst traits of the modern world are its denial of transcendence, reductionist vision of man and egalitarianism.

These traits come together in what Evola called “la daimonìa dell’economia,” translated by Stucco as “the demonic nature of the economy.”24  Real men exist to attain knowledge of the transcendent and to strive and accomplish heroically.  The economy is only a tool to provide the basis for such accomplishments and to sustain the kind of society that permits the best to attain sanctity and greatness.  The modern world denies this vision.

In both individual and collective life the economic factor is the most important, real, and decisive one . . .  An economic era is already by definition a fundamentally anarchical and anti-hierarchical era; it represents a subversion of the normal order . . . This subversive character is found in both Marxism and in its apparent nemesis, modern capitalism.  Thus, it is absurd and deplorable for those who pretend to represent the political ‘Right’ to fail to leave the dark and small circle that is determined by the demonic power of the economy – a circle including capitalism, Marxism, and all the intermediate economic degrees. This should be firmly upheld by those today who are taking a stand against the forces of the Left. Nothing is more evident than that modern capitalism is just as subversive as Marxism. The materialistic view of life on which both systems are based is identical.25

Most conservatives do not like the leftist hegemony we live under, but they still want to cling to some aspect of modernity to preserve a toehold on respectability.  Evola rejected the Enlightenment project lock, stock and barrel, and had little use for the Renaissance and the Reformation.  His books ask us to take seriously the attempt to imagine an intellectual and political world that radically rejects the leftist worldview.  He insists that those really opposed to the leftist regime, the true Right, are not embarrassed to use words like reactionary and counter revolutionary.   If you are afraid of these words, you do not have the courage to stand up to the modern world.

He also countenances the German expression, Conservative Revolution, if properly understood. Revolution is acceptable only if it is true re-volution, a turning back to origins. Conservatism is valid only when it preserves the true Tradition. So loyalty to the bourgeois order is a false conservatism, because on the level of principle, the bourgeoisie is an economic class, not a true aristocracy. That is one reason why at the end of his life, Evola was planning a right-wing journal to be called The Reactionary, in conscious opposition to the leading Italian conservative magazine, Il Borghese, “The Bourgeois.”

For Evola the state creates the nation, not the opposite. Although Evola maintained a critical distance from Fascism and never joined the Fascist Party, here he was in substantial agreement with Mussolini and the famous article on “Fascism” in the Enciclopedia Italiana, authored by the philosopher and educator, Giovanni Gentile.26  He disagreed strongly with the official philosophy of 1930’s Germany.  The Volk is not the basis of a true state, an imperium.  Rather the state creates the people.  Naturally, Evola rejected Locke’s notion of the Social Contract, where rational, utilitarian individuals come together to give up some of their natural rights in order to preserve the most important one, the right to property.  Evola also disagreed with Aristotle’s idea that the state developed from the family. The state was created from Männerbünde, disciplined groups entered through initiation by men who were to become warriors and priests.  The Männerbund, not the family, is the original basis of true political life.27

Evola saw his mission as finding men who could be initiated into a real warrior aristocracy, the Hindu kshatriya, to carry out Bismarck’s “Revolution from above,” what Joseph de Maistre called “not a counterrevolution, but the opposite of a revolution.”  This was not a mass movement, nor did it depend on the support of the masses, by their nature incapable of great accomplishments. Hansen thinks these plans were utopian, but Evola was in touch with the latest political science.  The study of elites and their role in every society, especially liberal democracies, was virtually an Italian monopoly in the first half of the Twentieth century, carried on by men like Roberto Michels, Gaetano Mosca and Vilfredo Pareto.  Evola saw that nothing can be accomplished without leadership. The modern world needs a true elite to rescue it from its involution into materialism, egalitarianism and its obsession with the economy and to restore a healthy regime of order, hierarchy and spiritual creativity. When that elite is educated and initiated, then (and only then) a true state can be created and the Dark Age will come to an end.

Egalitarianism, Fascism, Race, and Roman Catholicism

Despite his criticism of the demagogic and populist aspects of Fascism and National Socialism, Evola believed that under their aegis Italy and Germany had turned away from liberalism and communism and provided the basis for a return to aristocracy, the restoration of the castes and the renewal of a social order based on Tradition and the transcendent.  Even after their defeat in World War II, Evola believed that the fight was not over, although he became increasingly discouraged and embittered in the decades after the war.  (Pain from a crippling injury suffered in an air raid may have contributed to this feeling.)

Although Evola believed that the transcendent was essential for a true revival, he did not look to the Catholic Church for leadership.  Men Among the Ruins was published in 1953, when the official position of the Church was still strongly anti-Communist and Evola had lived through the 1920s and 1930s when the Vatican signed the Concordat with Mussolini.  So his analysis of the Church, modified but not changed for the second edition in 1967, is impressive as is his prediction that the Church would move to the left.

After the times of De Maistre, Bonald, Donoso Cortés, and the Syllabus have passed, Catholicism has been characterized by political maneuvering . . .  Inevitably, the Church’s sympathies must gravitate toward a democratic-liberal political system. Moreover, Catholicism had for a long time espoused the theory of ‘natural right,’ which hardly agrees with the positive and differentiated right, on which a strong and hierarchical State can be built . . . Militant Catholics like Maritain had revived Bergson’s formula according to which ‘democracy is essentially evangelical’; they tried to demonstrate that the democratic impulse in history appears as a temporal manifestation of the authentic Christian and Catholic spirit . . .  By now, the categorical condemnations of modernism and progressivism are a thing of the past . . . When today’s Catholics reject the ‘medieval residues’ of their tradition; when Vatican II and its implementations have pushed for debilitating forms of ‘bringing things up to date’; when popes uphold the United Nations (a ridiculous hybrid and illegitimate organization) practically as the prefiguration of a future Christian ecumene – this leaves no doubt in which direction the Church is being dragged. All things considered, Catholicism’s capability of providing an adequate support for a revolutionary-conservative and traditionalist movement must be resolutely denied.28

Although his 1967 analysis mentions Vatican II, Evola’s position on the Catholic Church went back to the 1920’s, when after his early Dadaism he was developing a philosophy based on the traditions of India, the Far East and ancient Rome under the influence of Arturo Reghini (1878-1946).  Reghini introduced Evola to Guénon’s ideas on Tradition and his own thinking on Roman “Pagan Imperialism” as an alternative to the Twentieth Century’s democratic ideals and plutocratic reality.29  Working with a leading Fascist ideologue, Giuseppe Bottai (1895-1959), Evola wrote a series of articles in Bottai’s Critica Fascista in 1926-27, praising the Roman Empire as a synthesis of the sacred and the regal, an aristocratic and hierarchical system under a true leader.30  Evola rejected the Catholic Church as a source of religion and morality independent of the state, because he saw its universalistic claims as compatible with and tending toward liberal egalitarianism and humanitarianism, despite its anti-Communist rhetoric.31

Evola’s articles enjoyed a national succès de scandale and he expanded them into a book, Imperialismo Pagano (1928), which provoked a heated debate involving many Fascist and Catholic intellectuals, including, significantly, Giovanni Battista Montini (1897-1978), who, when Evola published the second edition of Men Among the Ruins in 1967, had become the liberal Pope Paul VI. Meanwhile, Mussolini was negotiating with Pope Pius XI (1857-1939) for a reconciliation in which the Church would give its blessings to his regime in return for protection of its property and official recognition as the religion of Italy.  Italy had been united by the Piedmontese conquest of Papal Rome in 1870 and the Popes had never recognized the new regime.  So Evola wrote in 1928, “Every Italian and every Fascist should remember that the King of Italy is still considered a usurper by the Vatican.”  The signing of the Vatican Accords on February 11, 1929, ended that situation and the debate.  Even Reghini and Bottai turned against Evola.

Evola later regretted the tone of his polemic, but he also pointed out that the fact that this debate took place gave the lie direct to extreme assertions about lack of freedom of speech in Fascist Italy.  Evola has been vindicated on the main point.  The Catholic Church accepts liberal democracy and even defends it as the only legitimate regime.  Notre Dame University is not the only Catholic university with a Jacques Maritain Center, but neither Notre Dame nor any other Catholic university in America has a Center named after Joseph de Maistre or Louis de Bonald or Juan Donoso Cortés.  Pope Pius IX was beatified for proclaiming the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, not for his Syllabus Errorum, which denounced the idea of coming to terms with liberalism and modern civilization.

Those who want to distance Evola from Fascism emphasize the debate over Pagan Imperialism. For several years afterwards Fascist toughs harassed Evola, until he won the patronage of Roberto Farinacci, the Fascist boss of Cremona.  Evola edited the opinion page of Farinacci’s newspaper, Regime Fascista, from 1934 to 1943 in an independent fashion.  Although there are anecdotes about Mussolini’s fear of Evola, the documentary evidence points in the opposite direction.  Yvon de Begnac’s talks with Mussolini, published in 1990, report Mussolini consistently speaking of Evola with respect.  Il Duce had the following comments about the Pagan Imperialism debate:

Despite what is generally thought, I was not at all irritated by Doctor Julius Evola’s pronouncements made a few months before the Conciliation on the modification of relations between the Holy See and Italy. Anyhow, Doctor Evola’s attitude did not directly concern relations between Italy and the Holy See, but what seemed to him the long-term irreconcilability of the Roman tradition and the Catholic tradition. Since he identified Fascism with the Roman tradition, he had no choice but to reckon as its adversary any historical vision of a universalistic order.32

Mussolini’s strongest support for Evola came on the subject of race, which became an issue after Italy’s conquest of Ethiopia in 1936.  Influenced by Nazi Germany, Italy passed Racial Laws in 1938.  Evola was already writing on the racial views consistent with a Traditional vision of mankind in opposition to what he saw as the biological reductionism and materialism of Nazi racial thought.33  His writings infuriated Guido Landra, editor of the journal, La Difesa della Razza (Defense of the Race).  Landra and other scientific racists were especially irritated by Evola’s article, “Scientific Racism’s Mistake.”34  Mussolini, however, praised Evola’s writings as early as 1935 and permitted Evola’s Summary of Racial Doctrine to be translated into German as Compendium of Fascist Racial Doctrine to represent the official Fascist position.35

Evola accepts the Traditional division of man into body, soul and spirit and argues that there are races of all three.

While in a ‘pure blood’ horse or cat the biological element constitutes the central one, and therefore racial considerations can be legitimately restricted to it, this is certainly not the case with man, or at least any man worthy of the name . . . Therefore racial treatment of man can not stop only at a biological level.36

Just as the state creates the people and the nation, so the spirit forms the races of body and soul.  Evola had done considerable research on the history of racial studies and wrote a history of racial thought from Classical Antiquity to the 1930’s, The Blood Myth: The Genesis of Racism.37  Evola knew that in addition to the tradition of scientific racism, represented by Gobineau, Houston Steward Chamberlain, Alfred Rosenberg, and Landra was one that appreciated extra- or super-biological elements and whose adherents included Montaigne, Herder, Fichte, Gustave Le Bon, and Evola’s contemporary and friend, Ludwig Ferdinand Clauss, a German biologist at the University of Berlin.38

Hansen has a thorough discussion of “Evola’s Attitude Toward the Jews.” Evola thought that the negative traits associated with Jews were spiritual, not physical.  So a biological Jew might have an Aryan soul or spirit and biological Aryans might – and did – have a Semitic soul or spirit.  As Landra saw, this was the end of any politically useful scientific racism.  The greatest academic authority on Fascism, Renzo de Felice argued in The Jews in Fascism Italy that Evola’s theories are wrong, but that they have a distinguished intellectual ancestry, and Evola argued for them in an honorable way.39  In recent years, Bill Clinton was proclaimed America’s first black president.  This instinctive privileging of style over biology is in line with Evola’s views.

Hansen does not discuss Evola’s views on Negroes, to which Christophe Boutin devotes several pages of Politique et Tradition.40  In his 1968 collection of essays, The Bow and the Club, there is a chapter on “America Negrizzata,” which argues that, while there was relatively little miscegenation in the United States, the Telluric or Negro spirit has had considerable influence on the quality of American culture.41  The 1972 edition of Men Among the Ruins ends with an “Appendix on the Myths of our Time,” of which number IV is “Taboos of our Times.”  The two taboos discussed forbid a frank discussion of the “working class,” common in Europe, and of the Negro.  Although written thirty years ago, it is up-to-date in its description of this subject and notices that the word “Negro” itself was becoming taboo as “offensive.”42  La vera Destra, a real Right, will oppose this development.  This appendix is not translated in the Inner Traditions or the 1991 German editions, confirming its accuracy.43

At the end of Men Among the Ruins, instead of the Appendix of the 1972 edition, stands Evola’s 1951 Autodifesa, the speech he gave in his own defense when he was tried by the Italian democracy for “defending Fascism,” attempting to reconstitute the dissolved Fascist Party” and being the “master” and inspirer” of young Neo-Fascists.44  Like Socrates, he was accused of not worshipping the gods of the democracy and of corrupting youth.  When he asked in open court where in his published writings he had defended “ideas proper to Fascism,” the prosecutor, Dr. Sangiorgi, admitted that there were no such passages, but that the general spirit of his works promoted “ideas proper to Fascism,” such as monocracy, hierarchism, aristocracy or elitism.  Evola responded.

I should say that if such are the terms of the accusation, I would be honored to see, seated at the same bank of accusation, such people as Aristotle, Plato, the Dante of De Monarchia, and so on up to Metternich and Bismarck.  In the same spirit as a Metternich, a Bismarck, or the great Catholic philosophers of the principle of authority, De Maistre and Donoso Cortés, I reject all that which derives, directly or indirectly, from the French Revolution and which, in my opinion, has as its extreme consequence bolshevism; to which I counterpose the ‘world of Tradition.’ . . . My principles are only those that, before the French Revolution, every well-born person considered sane and normal.45

Evola’s Autodifesa was more effective than Socrates’ Apology, since the jury found him “innocent” of the charges. (Italian juries may find a defendant “innocent,” “not guilty for lack of proof,” or “guilty.”)  Evola noted in his speech, “Some like to depict Fascism as an ‘oblique tyranny.’46  During that ‘tyranny’ I never had to undergo a situation like the present one.”  Evola was no lackey of the Fascist regime.  He attacked conciliation with the Vatican in the years before the 1929 Vatican Accords and developed an interpretation of race that directly contradicted the one favored by the German government and important currents within Fascism.  His journal, La Torre (The Tower), was closed down in 1930 because of his criticism of Fascist toughs, gli squadristi.  Evola, however, never had to face jail for his serious writings during the Fascist era.  That had to wait for liberal democracy.  Godwin and Hansen are absolutely correct to emphasize Evola’s consistency and coherence as an esoteric thinker and his independence from any party-line adherence to Fascism.  On the other hand, Evola considered his politics a direct deduction from his beliefs about Tradition.  He was a sympathetic critic of Fascism, but a remorseless opponent of liberal democracy.

Inner Traditions and the Holmes Publishing Group have published translations of most of Evola’s esoteric writings and some important political books.47  Will they go on to publish the rest of his oeuvre?  Joscelyn Godwin, after all, wrote, “It would be intellectually dishonest to suppress anything.”  Evola’s book on Ernst Jünger might encourage a translation of Der Arbeiter.48  Riding the Tiger explains how the “differentiated man” (uomo differenziato) can maintain his integrity in the Dark Age.49  It bears the same relation to Men Among the Ruins that Aristotle’s Ethics bears to his Politics and, although published later, was written at the same time.  There are brilliant essays in The Bow and the Club, but can a book be published in contemporary America with an essay entitled “America Negrizzata?”  Pagan Imperialism is a young man’s book, vigorous and invigorating. 

The most challenging book for readers who enjoy Men Among the Ruins is Fascism Seen from the Right, with its appendix, “Notes on the Third Reich,” where Evola criticizes both regimes as not right-wing enough.50  A world respectful of communism and liberalism (and accustomed to using the word “Fascist” as an angry epithet) will find it hard to appreciate a book critical, but not disrespectful, of il Ventennio (the Twenty Years of Fascist rule).  I would suggest beginning with the short pamphlet, Orientamenti (Orientations), which Evola composed in 1950 as a summary of the doctrine of Men Among the Ruins.51

Hansen quotes right-wing Italians who say that Evola’s influence discourages political action because his Tradition comes from an impossibly distant past and assumes an impossibly transcendent truth and a hopelessly pessimistic view of the present.  Yet Evola confronts the modern world with an absolute challenge.  Its materialism, egalitarianism, feminism, and economism are fundamentally wrong.  The way out is through rejecting these mistakes and returning to spirit, transcendence and hierarchy, to the Männerbund and the Legionary Spirit.  It may be discouraging to think that we are living in a Dark Age, but the Kali Yuga is also the end of a cosmic cycle.  When the current age ends, a new one will begin.  This is not Spengler’s biologistic vision, where our civilization is an individual, not linked to earlier ones and doomed to die without offspring, like all earlier ones.

We are linked to the past by Tradition and when the Dark Age comes to an end, Tradition will light the way to new greatness and accomplishment.  We may live to see that day.  If not, what will survive is the legionary spirit Evola described in Orientamenti:

It is the attitude of a man who can choose the hardest road, fight even when he knows that the battle is materially lost and live up to the words of the ancient saga, ‘Loyalty is stronger than fire!’ Through him the traditional idea is asserted, that it is the sense of honor and of shame – not halfway measures drawn from middle class moralities – that creates a substantial, existential difference among beings, almost as great as between one race and another race. If anything positive can be accomplished today or tomorrow, it will not come from the skills of agitators and politicians, but from the natural prestige of men both of yesterday but also, and more so, from the new generation, who recognize what they can achieve and so vouch for their idea.52

This is the ideal of Oswald Spengler’s Roman soldier, who died at this post at Pompeii as the sky fell on him, because he had not been relieved.53  We do not need programs and marketing strategies, but men like that.  “It is men, provided they are really men, who make and unmake history.”54  Evola’s ideal continues to speak to the right person. “Keep your eye on just one thing: to remain on your feet in a world of ruins.”55 

E. Christian Kopff, Associate Director, Honors Program, University of Colorado, Boulder and author of The Devil Knows Latin: Why America Needs the Classical Tradition (ISI Books: Wilmington, DE, 1999), was Fellow in Classical Studies of the American Academy in Rome.

End Notes

1. La dottrina del risveglio, Bari, 1943, revised in 1965.

2. Lo Yoga della potenza, Milan, 1949, revised in 1968, was a new edition of L’Uomo come Potenza, Rome, 1926; Metafisica del sesso, Rome, 1958, revised 1969.

3. Introduzione alla magia quale scienza del’Io, 3 volumes, Rome, 1927-29, revised 1971, Introduction to Magic: Rituals and Practical Techniques for the Magus, Rochester, VT: 2001; La tradizione hermetica (Bari, 1931), revised 1948, 1971; The Hermetic Tradition, Rochester, VT: 1995.

4. Rivolta contro il mondo moderno, Milan, 1934, revised 1951, 1969.

5. Robin Waterfield gives a useful bibliography at the end of his Gnosis essay (note 8, below) p. 17.

6. Karlheinz Weissman, “Bibliographie” in Menschen immitten von Ruinen, Tübingen, 1991, pp. 403-406, e.g., Heidnischer Imperialismus, Leipzig, 1933; Erhebung wider die moderne Welt, Stuttgart, 1935; Revolte gegen die moderne Welt, Berlin, 1982; Den Tiger Reiten, Vilsborg, 1997.

7. Thomas Sheehan, “Myth and Violence: The Fascism of Julius Evola and Alain de Benoist,” Social Research 48: 1981, pp. 45-73; Franco Ferraresi, “Julius Evola: tradition, reaction and the Radical Right,” Archives européennes de sociologie 28: 1987, pp. 107-151; Richard Drake, “Julius Evola and the Ideological Origins of the Radical Right in Contemporary Italy,” in Peter H. Merkl, (ed.), Political Violence and Terror: Motifs and Motivations, Berkeley, 1986, pp. 61-89; idem, The Revolutionary Mystique and Terrorism in Contemporary Italy, Bloomington, 1989.

8. Robin Waterfield, “Baron Julius Evola and the Hermetic Tradition,” Gnosis 14:1989-90, pp. 12-17.

9. Elémire Zolla, “The Evolution of Julius Evola’s Thought,” Gnosis 14: 1989-90, pp. 18-20.

10. Jay Kinney, “Who’s Afraid of the Bogeyman? The Phantasm of Esoteric Terrorism,” Gnosis 14: 1989-90, pp. 21-24.

11. Gli uomini e le rovine, Rome, 1953, revised 1967, with a new appendix, 1972.

12. H. T. Hansen, “Julius Evolas politisches Wirken,” Menshen immitten von Ruinen (note 6, above) pp. 7-131.

13. H. T. Hansen, “A Short Introduction to Julius Evola” in Revolt Against the Modern World, Rochester, VT, 1995, ix-xxii, translated from Hansen’s article in Theosophical History 5, January 1994, pp. 11-22.

14. Christophe Boutin, Politique et Tradition: Julius Evola dans le siècle, 1898-1974; Paris, 1992.

15. Il mistero del Graal e la tradizione ghibellina dell’Impero, Bari, 1937, revised 1962, 1972; translated as The Mystery of the Grail: Initiation and Magic in the Quest for the Spirit, Rochester, VT, 1997.

16. René Gu non, Crise du monde moderne (Paris, 1927) has been translated several times into English.

17. H. T. Hansen, “Julius Evola und die deutsche konservative Revolution,” Criticón 158 (April/Mai/June 1998) pp. 16-32.

18. Diorema: Antologia della pagina special di “Regime Fascista,” Marco Tarchi, (ed.) Rome, 1974.

19. Lettere di Julius Evola a Carl Schmitt. 1951-1963, Rome, 2000.

20. L”Operaio” nel pensiero di Ernst Jünger (Rome, 1960), revised 1974; reprinted with additions, 1998.

21. The Concept of the Political, New Brunswick, NJ, 1976; The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, Cambridge, MA, 1985; Political Theology, Cambrige, MA, 1985; Political Romanticism, Cambridge, MA, 1986. Recent commentary includes Paul Gottfried, Carl Schmitt: Politics and Theory, New York, 1990; Gopal Balakrishnan, The Enemy: An Intellectual Portrait of Carl Schmitt, London, 2000.

22. Ernst Jünger, Der Arbeiter. Herrschaft und Gestalt, Hamburg, 1932, was translated into Italian in 1985.

23. Armin Mohler, Die konservative Revolution in Deutschland, 1918-1932.  Stuttgart, 1950, revised and expanded in 1972, 1989, 1994, 1999.

24. Panajotis Kondylis, Conservativismus: Geschichtlicher Gehalt und Untergang, Stuttgart, 1986, devotes 553 pages to this theme. My impression is that daimonìa dell’economia implies “demonic possession by the economy.” In Orientamenti (see note 53, below), Evola writes of “l’allucinazione e la daimonìa dell’economia,” “hallucination and demonic possession.”

25. Men Among the Ruins: Post-War Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist, Rochester, VT, 2002, p. 166. “Absurd and deplorable” is for assurdo peggiore, literally, “the worst absurdity;” circolo buio e chiuso  “dark and small circle,” literally “dark and closed circle.” Chiuso is used in weather reports for “overcast.”

26. Evola applied for membership in the Fascist Party in 1939 in order to enlist in the army as an officer, but in vain for reasons discussed by Hansen (note 26, above) xiii. The application was found by Dana Lloyd Thomas, “Quando Evola du degradato,” Il Borghese, March 29, 1999, pp. 10-13. Evola mentioned this in an interview with Gianfranco De Turris, I’Italiano 11, September, 1971, which can be found in some reprints of L’Orientamenti, e.g., Catania, 1981, 33 (See note 53, below).

27. Evola cites Heinrich Schurtz, Altersklassen und Männerbünde: Eine Darstellung der Grundformen der Gesellschaft, Berlin, 1902; A. van Gennep, Les rites du passage, Paris, 1909; The Rites of Passage, Chicago, 1960.

28. Men Among the Ruins (note 26, above) pp. 210-211; Gli uomini e le rovine (note 11, above) pp. 15-151. “A ridiculous hybrid and illegitimate organization” translates questa ridicola associazione ibrida e bastarda.

29. Elémire Zolla gives the essentials about Reghini’s influence on Evola in his Gnosis essay (note 9, above).

30. Imperialismo Pagano, Rome, 1928, p. 40.

31. Richard Drake, “Julius Evola, Radical Fascism, and the Lateran Accords,” Catholic Historical Review 74, 1988, pp. 403-319; E. Christian Kopff. “Italian Fascism and the Roman Empire,” Classical Bulletin 76: 2000, pp. 109-115.

32. Yvon de Begnac, Taccuini Mussoliniani, Francesco Perfetti, (ed.), Bologna, 1990, p. 647.

33. “L’Equivoco del razzismo scientifico,” Vita Italiana 30, September 1942.

34. “L’Equivoco del razzismo scientifico,” Vita Italiana 30, September 1942.

35. Sintesi di dottrina della razza, Milan, 1941; Grundrisse der faschistischen Rassenlehre , Berlin, 1943.

36. Sintesi di dottrina della razza (note 35, above) p. 35. Since Hansen (note 26, above) 71 uses the German translation (note 12, above) 90, the last sentence reads “Fascist racial doctrine (Die faschistischen Rassenlehre) therefore holds a purely biological view of race to be inadequate.”

37. Il mito del sangue: Genesi del razzismo, Rome, 1937, revised 1942.

38. Ludwig Ferdinand Clauss, Rasse und Seele. Eine Einführung in den Sinn der leiblichen Gestalt, Munich, 1937; Rasse ist Gestalt, Munich, 1937.

39. Renzo de Felice, The Jews in Fascist Italy: A History, New York, 2001, 378, translation of Storia degli Ebrei Italiani sotto il Fascismo, Turin, 1961, revised 1972, 1988, 1993.  Evola is discussed on pp. 392-3.

40. Boutin (note 14, above) pp. 197-200.

41. L’Arco e la clava, Milan, 1968, revised 1971. The article is pp. 39-46 of the new edition, Rome, 1995.

42. Gli uomini e le rovine (note 11, above) Appendice sui miti del nostro tempo, pp. 255-282; Tabù dei nostri tempi, pp. 275-282.

43. Gli uomini e le rovine (note 11, above) p. 276: la tabuizzazione che porta fino ad evitare l’uso della designazione “negro,” per le sue implicazioni “offensive.”

44. J. Evola, Autodifesa (Quaderni di testi Evoliani, no. 2) (Rome, n.d.) Banco degli accusati is what is called in England the “prisoner’s dock.” At this point, according to Autodifesa (note 44, above) p. 4, Evola’s lawyer, Franceso Carnelutti, called out, “La polizia è andata in cerca anche di costoro.” (“The police have gone to look for them, too.”)

45. Men Among the Ruins (note 25, above) pp. 293-294; Autodifesa (note 44, above) pp. 10-11.

46. Bieca is literally “oblique,” but in this context means rather “grim, sinister.”

47. Holmes Publishing Group (Edwards, WA) has published shorter works by Evola edited by the Julius Evola Foundation in Rome, e.g. René Guénon: A Teacher for Modern Times; Taoism: The Magic of Mysticism; Zen: The Religion of the Samurai; The Path of Enlightenment in the Mithraic Mysteries.

48. Cavalcare la tigre, Rome, 1961, revised 1971.

49. Gianfranco de Turris, “Nota del Curatore,” Cavalcare la tigre , 5th edition: Rome, 1995, pp. 7-11.

50. Il Fascismo, Rome, 1964; Il Fascismo visto dalla Destra, con Note sul terzo Reich, Rome, 1970.

51. Orientamenti (Rome, 1951), with many reprints.

52. J. Evola, Spengler e “Il tramonto dell’Occidente” (Quaderni di testi Evoliani, no. 14) (Rome, 1981).

53. J. Evola, Spengler e “Il tramonto dell’Occidente” (Quaderni di testi Evoliani, no. 14), Rome, 1981.

54. Orientamenti, (note 53, above), p. 12; somewhat differently translated by Hansen (note 26, above) p. 101.

55. Orientamenti (note 53, above) p. 16. Hansen (note 26, above) p. 93 translates “It is humans, as far as they are truly human, that make history or tear it down,” reflecting the German (note 12, above) p. 118: “Es sind die Menschen, sofern sie wahrhaft Menschen sind, die die Geschichte machen oder sie niederreissen.” The parallel sentence in Men Among the Ruins (note 11, above) p. 109: sono gli uomini, finché sono veramente tali, a fare o a disfare la storia, is translated by Stucco (note 26, above) p. 181: “It is men who make or undo history.” He omits finché sono veramente tali, but gets the meaning of uomini right.

Reproduced gratefully from: The Occidental Quarterly


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The Legacy of a European Traditionalist

Julius Evola in Perspective


Guido Stucco

This article is a brief introduction to the life and central ideas of the controversial Italian thinker Julius Evola (1898-1974), one of the leading representatives of the European right and of the “Traditionalist movement” 1 in the twentieth century.  This movement, together with the Theosophical Society, played a leading role in promoting the study of ancient eastern wisdom, esoteric doctrines, and spirituality.  Unlike the Theosophical Society, which championed democratic and egalitarian views,2 an optimistic view of progress, and a belief in spiritual evolution, the Traditionalist movement adopted an elitist and antiegalitarian stance, a pessimistic view of ordinary life and of history, and an uncompromising rejection of the modern world.  The Traditionalist movement began with René Guénon (1886-1951), a French philosopher and mathematician who converted to Islam and moved to Cairo in 1931, following the death of his first wife.  Guénon revived interest in the concept of Tradition, i.e., the teachings and doctrines of ancient civilizations and religions, emphasizing its perennial value over and against the “modern world” and its offshoots: humanistic individualism, relativism, materialism, and scientism. Other important Traditionalists of the past century have included Ananda Coomaraswamy, Frithjof Schuon, and Julius Evola.

This article is addressed, first, to persons who claim to be conservative and of rightist persuasion.  It is my contention that Evola’s political views can help the American right to acquire a greater intellectual relevance and to overcome its provincialism and narrow horizons The criticism most frequently leveled by the European “New Right“ against American conservatives is that the ideological poverty of the American Right lies in its circling its wagons around a conservative agenda, in its inability to see the greater scheme of things.3 By disclosing to his readers the value and worth of the world of Tradition, Evola has shown that to be a rightist entails much more than taking a stance on civic and social issues, such as abortion, capital punishment, a strong military, free enterprise, less taxes, less government, fierce patriotism, and the right to bear arms, but rather assessing more crucial matters involving race, ethnicity, eugenics, immigration, and the nature of the nation-state.

Second, readers with an active interest in spiritual and metaphysical matters may find Evola’s thought insightful and his exposition of ancient esoteric techniques very helpful. Moreover, his views, though at times very discriminatory, have the potential of becoming a catalyst for personal transformation and spiritual growth.

To date, Evola’s work has been subjected to the silent treatment. When Evola is not ignored, he is usually vilified by leftist scholars and intellectuals, who demonize him as a bad teacher, racist, rabid anti-Semite, master mind of right-wing terrorism, fascist guru, or so filthy a racist even to touch him would be repugnant.  The writer Martin Lee, whose knowledge of Evola is of the most superficial sort, called him a “Nazi philosopher” and claimed that “Evola helped compose Italy’s belated racialist laws toward the end of the Fascist rule.4 Others have minimized his contribution altogether.  Walter Laqueur, in his Fascism: Past, Present, Future, did not hesitate to call him a “learned charlatan, an eclecticist, not an innovator,” and suggested “there were elements of pure nonsense also in his later work.”5 Umberto Eco sarcastically nicknamed Evola “Othelma, the Magician.”

The most valuable summaries to date of Evola’s life and work in the English language have been written by Thomas Sheehan and Richard Drake.6  Until either a biography of Evola or his autobiography becomes available to the English-speaking world, these articles remain the best reference sources for his life and work.  Both scholars are well versed in Italian culture, politics, and language.  Although not sympathetic to Evola’s ideas, they were the first to introduce the Italian thinker’s views to the American public.  Unfortunately, their interpretations of Evola’s work are very reductive. Sheehan and Drake succumb to the dominant leftist propaganda according to which Evola is a “bad teacher” because he allegedly supplied ideological justification for a bloody campaign by right wing terrorists in Italy during the 1980s.7  Regrettably, both authors have underestimated Evola’s spissitudo spiritualis as an esotericist and a Traditionalist, and have written about Evola merely as a case study in their fields of competence, i.e., philosophy and history, respectively.8

Despite his many detractors, Evola has enjoyed something of a revival in the past twenty years.  His works have been translated into French, German,9 Spanish, and English, as well as Portuguese, Hungarian, and Russian.  Conferences devoted to the study of this or that aspect of Evola’s thought are mushrooming everywhere in Europe.10 Thus, paraphrasing the title of R. Allenby’s play, we may want to ask: “Who’s afraid of Julius Evola?”  And, most important, why?

Evola’s Life

Julius Evola died of heart failure at his Rome apartment on June 11, 1974, at the age of seventy-six.  Before he died he asked to be seated at his desk in order to face the sun’s light streaming through the open window.  In accordance with his will, his body was cremated and the urn containing his ashes was buried in a crevasse on Monte Rosa, in the Italian Alps.

Evola’s writing career spanned more than half a century.  It is possible to distinguish three periods in his intellectual development.  First came an artistic period (1916-1922), during which he embraced dadaism and futurism, wrote poetry, and painted in the abstract style.  The reader may recall that dadaism was an avant-garde movement founded by Tristan Tzara, characterized by a yearning for absolute freedom and by a revolt against all prevalent logical, ethical, and aesthetic canons.

Evola turned next to the study of philosophy (1923-1927), developing an ingenuous perspective that could be characterized as “transidealistic,” or as a solipsistic development of mainstream idealism. After learning German in order to be able to read the original texts of the main idealist philosophers (Schelling, Fichte, and Hegel), Evola accepted their chief premise, that being is the product of thought. Yet he also attempted to overcome the passivity of the subject toward “reality” typical of idealist philosophy and of its Italian offshoots, represented by Giovanni Gentile and Benedetto Croce, by outlining the path leading to the “Absolute Individual,” to the status enjoyed by one who succeeds in becoming free (ab-solutus) from the conditionings of the empirical world.  During this period Evola wrote Saggi sull’idealismo magico (Essays on magical idealism), Teoria dell’individuo assoluto (Theory of the absolute individual), and Fenomenologia dell’individuo assoluto (Phenomenology of the absolute individual), a massive work in which he employs the values of freedom, will, and power to expound his philosophy of action.  As the Italian philosopher Marcello Veneziani wrote in his doctoral dissertation: “Evola’s absolute I is born out of the ashes of nihilism; with the help of insights derived from magic, theurgy, alchemy and esotericism, it ascends to the highest peaks of knowledge, in the quest for that wisdom that is found on the paths of initiatory doctrines.”11

In the third and final phase of his intellectual formation, Evola became involved in the study of esotericism and occultism (1927-1929).  During this period he cofounded and directed the so-called Ur group, which published monthly monographs devoted to the presentation of esoteric and initiative disciplines and teachings. “Ur” derives from the archaic root of the word “fire”; in German it also means “primordial” or “original.”  In 1955 these monographs were collected and published in three volumes under the title Introduzione alla magia quale scienza dell’Io.12  In the over twenty articles Evola wrote for the Ur group, under the pseudonym “EA” (Ea in ancient Akkadian mythology was the god of water and wisdom) and in the nine articles he wrote for Bylichnis (the name signifies a lamp with two wicks), an Italian Baptist periodical, Evola laid out the spiritual foundations of his world view.

During the 1930s and 1940s Evola wrote for a number of journals and published several books.  During the Fascist era he was somewhat sympathetic to Mussolini and to fascist ideology, but his fierce sense of independence and detachment from human affairs and institutions prevented him from becoming a card-carrying member of the Fascist party.  Because of his belief in the supremacy of ideas over politics and his aristocratic and anti-populist views, which at times conflicted with government policy—as in his opposition to the 1929 Concordat between the Italian state and Vatican and to the “demographic campaign” launched by Mussolini to increase Italy’s population—Evola fell out of favor with influential Fascists, who shut down La Torre (The tower), the biweekly periodical he had founded, after only ten issues (February-June 1930).13

Evola devoted four books to the subject of race, criticizing National Socialist biological racism and developing a doctrine of race on the basis of the teachings of Tradition: Il mito del sangue (The myth of blood); Sintesi di una dottrina della razza (Synthesis of a racial doctrine); Tre aspetti del problema ebraico (Three aspects of the Jewish question); Elementi di una educazione razziale (Elements of a racial education).  In these books the author outlined his tripartite anthropology of body, soul, and spirit.  The spirit is the principle that determines one’s attitude toward the sacred, destiny, life and death.  Thus, according to Evola, the cultivation of the “spiritual race” should take precedence over the selection of the somatic race, which is determined by the laws of genetics and with which the Nazis were obsessed.  Evola’s antimaterialistic and non-biological racial views won Mussolini’s enthusiastic endorsement.  The Nazis, for their part, were suspicious of and even critical of Evola’s “nebulous” theories, accusing him of watering down the empirical, biological element to promote an abstract, spiritualist, and semi-Catholic view of race.

Before and during World War II, Evola traveled and lectured in several European countries, practicing mountain climbing as a spiritual exercise in his spare time. After Mussolini was freed from his Italian captors in a daring German raid led by SS-Hauptsturmführer Otto Skorzeny, Evola was among a handful of faithful followers who met him at Hitler’s headquarters in Rastenburg, East Prussia, on September 14, 1943.  While sympathetic to the newly formed Fascist government in the north of Italy, which continued to fight on the Germans‘ side against the Allies, Evola rejected its republican and socialist agenda, its populist style, and its antimonarchical sentiments.

When the Allies entered Rome in June 1944, their secret services attempted to arrest Evola, who was living there at the time.  As his elderly mother stalled the MPs, Evola slipped out of the door undetected, and made his way to northern Italy, and then to Austria.  While in Vienna, he began to study secret archives confiscated from various European Masonic lodges by the Germans.

One day in 1945, as Evola was walking the deserted streets of the Austrian capital during a Soviet air attack, a bomb exploded a few yards away from him. The blast threw him against a wooden plank.  Evola fell on his back, and awoke in the hospital.  He had suffered a compression of the bone marrow, paralyzing him from the waist down.  Common sense tells one that walking a city’s deserted streets during aerial bombardments is madness, if not suicide.  But Evola was used to courting danger.  Or, as he once put it, to follow “the norm of not avoiding dangers, but on the contrary, to seek them out, [i]s an implicit way of questioning fate.”14 That is not to say that he believed in “blind” fate.  As he once wrote:

There is no question that one is born with certain tendencies, vocations and pre-dispositions, which at times are very obvious and specific, though at other times are hidden and likely to emerge only in particular circumstances or trials. We all have a margin of freedom in regard to this innate, differentiated element. 15

Evola was determined to question his fate, especially at a time when an entire era was coming to an end.16 But what he had anticipated during the air raid was either death or the attainment of a new perspective on life, not paralysis. He struggled for a long time with that particular outcome, trying to make sense of his “karma”:

Remembering why I had willed it [i.e., the paralysis] and to understand its deeper meaning was to me the only thing that ultimately mattered, something far more important than to “recover,“ to which I never really attributed much importance anyway.17

Evola had ventured outdoors during the air raid in order to test his fate, for he firmly believed in the Traditional, classical doctrine that all the major events that occur in our lives are not purely casual or the outcome of our efforts, but rather the deliberate result of a prenatal choice, something that has been willed by “us” before we were born.

Three years prior to his paralysis, Evola wrote:

Life here on earth cannot be viewed as a coincidence. Moreover, it should not be regarded as something we can either accept or reject at will, nor as a reality that imposes itself on us, before which we can only remain passive, or display an attitude of obtuse resignation. Rather, what arises in some people is the sensation that earthly life is something to which, prior to our becoming terrestrial beings, we have committed ourselves, both as an adventure and as a mission or a chosen task, undertaking a whole set of problematic and tragic elements as well.18

There followed a five-year period of inactivity.  First, Evola spent a year and a half in a Vienna hospital. In 1948, thanks to the intervention of a friend with the International Red Cross, he was sent back to Italy.  He stayed in a hospital in Bologna for at least another year, where he underwent an unsuccessful laminectomy (a surgical procedure in which part of a vertebra is removed in order to relieve pressure on the nerves of the spinal cord).  Evola returned to his Roman residence in 1949, where he lived as an invalid for the next twenty-five years.

While in Bologna, Evola was visited by his friend Clemente Rebora, a poet who became a Christian, and then a Catholic priest in the order of the Rosminian Fathers. After reading about their friendship in one of Evola’s works, in 1997 I visited the headquarters of the order and asked to talk to the person in charge of Rebora’s archives, in hopes of discovering a previously unknown correspondence between them.  No correspondence surfaced, but the priest in charge of the archive was kind enough to give me a copy of a couple of letters Rebora wrote to a friend concerning Evola. The following summary of those letters is revealing of Evola’s view of religion, and of Christianity in particular.19

In 1949 a fellow priest, Goffredo Pistoni, solicited Rebora to visit Evola.  Rebora asked permission of his provincial superior, and upon receiving it traveled from Rovereto to Evola's hospital in Bologna.  Rebora was animated by the desire to see Evola embrace the Christian faith and intended to be a good witness of the gospel.  In a letter to Pistoni, Rebora asked for his assistance so that he would not spoil the “most merciful ways of Infinite Love, and, if [my visit was to be] unhelpful, at least not [turn out to be] harmful.” On March 20, 1949, Rebora wrote to his friend Pistoni on the letterhead of the Salesian Institute of Bologna:

I have just returned from our Evola: we talked at great length and left each other in a brotherly mood, though I did not detect any visible change on his part which after all I could not expect. I have felt him to be like one yearning to “join the rest of the army,” as he said himself, waiting to see what will happen to him. . . .  I have sensed in him a thirst for the absolute, which nevertheless eludes Him who said:  “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.”20

Rebora’s frustration with Evola’s unwillingness to abandon his views and embrace the Christian faith is evident in the comment with which he closes the first half of his letter:

Let us pray that his previous books, which he is about to reprint, and a few new titles that will be published soon, may not chain him down, considering the success they have, and may not damage people’s souls, leading them astray in the direction of a false spirituality, as they “follow false images of the Good.” [Probably a quote from Dante’s Divine Comedy. —G.S.]

Rebora concluded his letter on May 12, 1949, adding:

Having returned to headquarters I am finally concluding this letter by telling you that a supernatural tenderness is growing in my heart for him. He [Evola] told me about an inner event that occurred to him during the bombing of Vienna, which, he added, is still mysterious to him, as he undergoes this present trial. On the contrary, I trust I am able to detect the providential and decisive meaning of this event for his soul.

Rebora wrote again to Evola, asking him if he was willing to travel to Lourdes on a special train on which Rebora served as a spiritual director.  Evola politely refused and the contact between the two eventually ended.  Evola never converted to Christianity. In a 1935 letter written to a friend of his, Girolamo Comi, another poet who had become a Christian, Evola claimed:

As far as I am concerned, in regard to the “conversion” that really matters, and not that which is based on feelings or on a religious faith, I have been all right since thirteen years ago [i.e., 1922, the transition year between the artistic and philosophical periods].21

René Guénon wrote to the convalescent Evola22 suggesting that the latter had been the victim of a curse or magical spell cast by some powerful enemy.  Evola replied that he considered that unlikely, for the circumstances to be summoned (e.g., the exact moment of the bomb’s landing, the place where Evola happened to be at that moment), would have required too powerful a spell.  Mircea Eliade, the renowned historian of religion, who corresponded with Evola throughout his life, once remarked to one of his own students: “Evola was wounded in the third chakra—and don’t you find that significant?”23 Since the corresponding affective forces of the third chakra are anger, violence, and pride, one may wonder whether Eliade meant that the wound sustained by Evola could have had a purifying effect on the Italian thinker, or whether it was the consequence of his hubris.  In any event, Evola rejected the idea that his paralysis was a sort of “punishment” for his “promethean” efforts in the spiritual domain. For the rest of his life he endured his condition with admirable stoicism, in rigorous coherence with his beliefs.24

For the next two decades Evola received visitors, friends, and young people who regarded themselves his disciples. According to Gianfranco de Turris, who met him for the first time in 1967, one could sense that he was a “person of high caliber,” though he did not show off or assume snobbish attitudes.  Evola would wear a monocle and rest his cheek on a clenched fist, observing his visitor with curiosity. He did not like the idea of having “disciples,” and jokingly referred to his admirers as “Evolomani” (“Evola maniacs”). In not seeking to recruit followers, he was probably mindful of Buddha’s injunction to proclaim the truth without attempting to persuade or dissuade: “One should know approval and one should know disapproval, and having known approval, having known disapproval, one should neither approve nor disapprove, one should simply teach dhamma.”25


Central Themes in Evola’s Thought

In Evola’s literary production it is possible to single out three major themes, which are strictly interwoven and mutually dependent.  These themes represent three facets of his philosophy of action.  I have designated these themes with terms borrowed from ancient Greek. The first theme is xeniteia, a word that refers to the condition of living abroad, or of being absent from one’s homeland.  In Evola’s works one can easily detect a sense of alienation, of not belonging to what he called the “modern world.”  According to ancient peoples, xeniteia was not an enviable condition.  To live surrounded by barbarous people and customs, away from one’s polis, when not the result of a personal choice was often the result of a judicial sentence.  We may recall that exile was often meted out to undesirable elements of an ancient society, e.g., the short-lived practice of ostracism in ancient Athens; the fate that befell many ancient Romans, including the Stoic philosopher Seneca; the deportation of entire families or populations, etc.

Throughout his life, Evola never really “fit in.” Whether during his artistic, philosophical, or esoteric phase, he always felt like a straggler, seeking to link up with “the rest of the ‘army.’”  The modern world he denounced in his masterpiece, Revolt against the Modern World, took its revenge on him: at the end of the war he was surrounded by a world of ruins, isolated, avoided, and reviled.  Yet he managed to retain a composed, dignified attitude and to continue in his self-appointed task of night-watchman.

The second theme is apoliteia, or abstention from active participation in the construction of the human polis.  Evola’s recommendation was that while living in exile from the world of Tradition and from the Golden Age, one should avoid the encroaching embrace of the multitudes and refrain from active participation in ordinary human affairs.  Apoliteia, according to Evola, refers essentially to an inner attitude of indifference and detachment, but it does not necessarily entail a practical abstention from politics, as long as one engages in it with a completely detached attitude:  “Apoliteia is the inner, irrevocable distance from this society and its ‘values’: it consists in not accepting being bound to society by any spiritual or moral bond.”26 This attitude is to be commended because, according to Evola, in this day and age there are no ideas, causes, and goals worthy of one’s commitment.

Finally, the third theme is autarkeia, or self-sufficiency.  The quest for spiritual independence led Evola far away from the busy crossroads of human interaction, in order to explore and expound paths of perfection and of asceticism.  He became a student of ancient esoteric and occult teachings on “liberation,” and published his findings in several books and articles.



The following words, spoken by the Benevolent Spirit to the Destructive Spirit in the Yasna, a Zoroastrian collection of hymns and prayers, may serve to characterize Evola’s attitude toward the modern world: “Neither our thoughts, nor teachings, nor intentions, neither our preferences nor words, neither our actions nor conceptions nor our souls are in accord.”27 Throughout his entire life Evola lived in a consistent and coherent fashion that could be simplistically dismissed as intellectual snobbism or even misanthropy. But the reasons for Evola’s rejection of the socio-political order in which lived must be sought elsewhere, namely in a well-articulated Weltanschauung, or worldview.

To be sure, Evola’s sense of estrangement from the society in which he lived was reciprocated. Anyone who refuses to recognize the legitimacy of  “the System,” or to participate in the life of a community which he does not recognize as his own, professing instead a higher allegiance to and citizenship in another land, world, or ideology, is bound to live like a metic in ancient Greece, surrounded by suspicion and hostility.28  In order to understand the reasons for Evola’s uncompromising attitude, we need first to define the concepts of “Tradition” and “modern world” as employed by Evola in his works.

Generally speaking, the term tradition can be understood in several ways: (1) as an archetypal myth (some members of the political Right in Italy have rejected this view as an “incapacitating myth”); (2) as the way of life of a particular age, e.g., the Middle Ages, feudal Japan, the Roman Empire; (3) as the sum of three principles: “God, Country, Family”; (4) as anamnesis, or historical memory in general; and (5) as a body of religious teachings to be preserved and transmitted to future generations.  Evola understood tradition mainly as an archetypal myth, that is, as the presence of the Absolute in specific historical and political forms.  Evola’s Absolute is not a religious principle or a noumenon, much less the God of theism, but rather a mysterious domain, or dunamis, power.  Evola’s Tradition is characterized by “Being” and stability, while the modern world is characterized by “Becoming.”  In the world of tradition stable socio-political institutions were in place.  The world of Tradition, according to Evola, was exemplified by the ancient Roman, Greek, Indian, Chinese, and Japanese civilizations.  These civilizations upheld a strict caste system; they were ruled by warrior nobilities and waged wars to expand the boundaries of their imperiums.  In Evola’s words:

The traditional world knew divine kingship.  It knew the bridge between the two worlds, namely initiation.  It knew the two great ways of approach to the transcendent, namely heroic action and contemplation.  It knew the mediation, namely rites and faithfulness.  It knew the social foundation, namely the traditional law and the caste system. And it knew the political earthly symbol, namely the empire.29

Evola claims that the traditional world’s underlying belief was the “invisible”:

It held that mere physical existence, or “living,” is meaningless unless it approximates the higher world or that which is “more than life,” and unless one’s highest ambition consists in participating in hyperkosmia and in obtaining an active and final liberation from the bond represented by the human condition.30

Evola upheld a cyclical view of history, a philosophical and religious view with a rich cultural heritage.  Though one may reject it, this view deserves as much respect as the linear view of history upheld by theism, to which I subscribe, or as the progressive view championed by Engels’ “scientific materialism,” or as the hopeful and optimistic view typical of various New Age movements, according to which the universe is undergoing a constant and irreversible spiritual evolution.  According to the cyclical view of history espoused by Hinduism, which Evola adopted and modified to fit his views, we are living in the fourth age of a complete cycle, the so-called Kali-yuga, an era characterized by decadence and disruption. According to Evola, the most remarkable phases of this “Yuga” (era) included the emergence of pre-Socratic philosophy (characterized by rejection of myth and by overemphasis on reason); the birth of Christianity; the Renaissance; Humanism; the Protestant Reformation; the Enlightenment; the French Revolution; the European revolutions of 1848; the advent of the Industrial Revolution; and Bolshevism.  Thus, the “modern world” for Evola did not begin in the 1600s, but rather in the fourth century B.C.


Evola and Eliade

Evola’s rejection of the modern world can be contrasted with its acceptance, promoted by Mircea Eliade (1907-1986), the renowned historian of religion whom Evola met in person several times, and with whom he corresponded until his death in 1974.  The two men met for the first time in 1937.  By that time, Eliade had compiled an impressive academic record that included a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Bucharest and an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Sanskrit and Indian philosophy from the University of Calcutta.  Evola was already an accomplished writer and had published some of his most important works, such as The Hermetic Tradition (1931), Revolt against the Modern World (1934), and The Mystery of the Grail (1937).31

Eliade had read Evola’s early philosophical works during the 1920s and “admired his intelligence and, even more, the density and clarity of his prose.”32 An intellectual friendship developed between the young Romanian scholar and the Italian philosopher, who was nine years Eliade’s senior.  Their common interest in yoga led Evola to write L’uomo e la potenza (Man as power) in 1926 (revised in 1949 with the new title The Yoga of Power 33) and Eliade to write the acclaimed scholarly work Yoga: Immortality and Freedom (1933).  As Eliade recalls in his autobiographical journals:

I received letters from him when I was in Calcutta (1928-31) in which he instantly begged me not to speak to him of yoga, or of “magical powers” except to report precise facts to which I had personally been a witness.  In India I also received several publications from him, but I only remember a few issues of the journal Krur.34

Evola and Eliade’s first meeting was in Romania, in conjunction with a luncheon hosted by the philosopher Nae Ionescu. Evola was traveling through Europe at the time, establishing contacts, and giving lectures “in the attempt to coordinate those elements who could represent, to some degree, the [T]raditional thought on the political-cultural plane.”35 Eliade recalled the admiration that Evola expressed for Corneliu Codreanu (1899-1938), the founder of the Romanian nationalist and Christian movement known as the “Iron Guard.” Evola and Codreanu had met the morning of the luncheon.  Codreanu told Evola of the effects that incarceration had had on his soul, and of his discovery of contemplation in the solitude and silence of his prison cell.  In his autobiography Evola described Codreanu as “one of the worthiest and most spiritually oriented persons I ever met in the nationalist movements of that period.36 Eliade wrote that at the luncheon “Evola was still dazzled by him [Codreanu].  I vaguely remember the remarks he made then on the disappearance of contemplative disciplines in the political battle of the West.”37 But the two scholars’ focus was different indeed.  As Eliade wrote in his journal:

One day I received a rather bitter letter from him, in which he reproached me for never citing him, no more than did Guénon. I answered him as best as I could, and I must one day give reasons and explanations that that response called for.  My argument could not have been simpler.  The books I write are intended for today’s audience, and not for initiates.  Unlike Guénon and his emulators, I believe I have nothing to write that would be intended especially for them.38

I must conclude from Eliade’s remarks that he did not like, share, or care for Evola’s esoteric views and leanings.  I believe there are three reasons for Eliade’s aversion.  First, Evola, like all traditionalists, presumed the existence of a higher, solar, royal, and esoteric primordial tradition, and devoted his life to describing, studying, and celebrating it in its many forms and varieties.  He also set this tradition above and against what he dubbed “telluric” modern popular cultures and civilizations (such as Romania’s, to which Eliade belonged). In Revolt against the Modern World one can read many instances of this juxtaposition.

Eliade, for his part, rejected any emphasis on esotericism, because he thought it had a reductive effect on the human spirit.  Eliade claimed that to limit the value of European spiritual creations exclusively to their “esoteric meanings” repeated in reverse the reductionism of the materialistic approach adopted by Marx and Freud.  Nor did he believe in the existence of a primordial tradition: “I was suspicious of its artificial, ahistorical character,” he wrote.39 Second, Eliade rejected the negative or pessimistic view of the world and the human condition that characterized Guénon’s and Evola’s thought.  Unlike Evola, who believed in the ongoing “putrefaction” of contemporary Western culture, Eliade claimed:

[T]o the extent that I . . . believe in the creativity of the human spirit, I cannot despair: culture, even in a crepuscular era, is the only means of conveying certain values and of transmitting a certain spiritual message. In a new Noah’s Ark, by means of which the spiritual creation of the West could be saved, it is not enough for René Guénon’s L’esotérisme de Dante to be included; there must be also the poetic, historic, and philosophical understanding of The Divine Comedy.40

Finally, the socio-cultural milieu that Eliade celebrated was very different from the one favored by Evola.  As India regained its independence, Eliade came to believe that Asia was about to re-enter history and world politics and that his own people, the Romanians, “could fulfill a definite role in the coming dialogue between the [] West, Asia and cultures of the archaic folk type.”41 He celebrated the peasant roots of Romanian culture as they promoted universalism and pluralism, rather than nationalism and provincialism.  Eliade wrote:

It seemed to me that I was beginning to discern elements of unity in all peasant cultures, from China and South-East Asia to the Mediterranean and Portugal. I was finding everywhere what I later called “cosmic religiosity”: that is, the leading role played by symbols and images, the religious respect for earth and life, the belief that the sacred is manifested directly through the mystery of fecundity and cosmic repetition. . . .42

These conclusions could not have been more diametrically opposed to Evola’s views, especially as he formulated them in Revolt against the Modern World.  According to the latter’s doctrine, cosmic religiosity is an inferior and corrupt form of spirituality, or, as he called it, a “lunar spirituality” (the moon, unlike the sun, is not a source of light, and merely reflects the latter’s light, as “lunar spirituality” is contingent upon God, the All, or upon any other metaphysical version of the Absolute) characterized by mystical abandonment.

In his yet untranslated autobiography, Il cammino del cinabro (“The cinnabar’s journey”), Evola describes his spiritual and intellectual journey through alien landscapes: religious (Christianity, theism), philosophical (idealism, nihilism, realism), and political (democracy, Fascism, post-war Italy).  For readers who are not familiar with Hermeticism, we may recall that cinnabar is a red metal representing rubedo, or redness, which is the third and final stage of one’s inner transformation.  Evola explains at the beginning of his autobiography: “My natural sense of detachment from what is human in regard to many things that, especially in the affective domain, are usually regarded as `normal,‘ was manifested in me at a very tender age.”43



Various religions and philosophies regard the human condition as highly problematic, likening it to a disease and setting forth a cure.  This disease is characterized by many features, including a certain spiritual “heaviness,” or gravitational pull, drawing us “downwards.”  Humans are prisoners of meaningless daily routines; of pernicious habits developed over years, e.g., drinking, smoking, gambling, workaholism, and sexual addictions, in response to external pressures; of an intellectual and spiritual laziness that prevents us from developing our powers and becoming living, vibrant beings; and of inconstancy, as is often painfully obvious from our ever-renewed “New Year’s resolutions.”  How often, when we commit ourselves to practice something on a daily basis over a period of time, does the day soon come that we forget, find an excuse to abandon our commitment, or simply quit!  This is not merely inconsistency or a lack of perseverance on our part: it is a symptom of our inability to master ourselves and our lives.

Moreover, we are by nature unable to keep our minds focused on any object of meditation. We are easily distracted and bored.  We spend our days talking about unimportant, meaningless details. Our conversations, for the most part, are not real dialogues, but rather exchanges of monologues.

We are busy at jobs we do not care about, and earning a living is our utmost concern. We feel bored, empty, and sexually frustrated by our own or our partners’ inability to deliver peak performance.  We want more: more money, more leisure, more “toys,” and more fulfillment, of which we get too little, too seldom.  We succumb to all sorts of indulgences and petty pleasures to soothe our dull and wounded consciousness.  And yet all these things are merely symptoms of the real problem that besets the human condition. Our real problem is not that we are deficient beings, but that we don’t know how to be, and don’t desire to be, different.  We embrace everyday life and call it “the real thing,” slowly but inexorably suffocating the yearning for transcendence buried deep within us.  In the end this proves to be our real undoing; we are not unlike smokers who, after being diagnosed with emphysema, keep on smoking to the bitter end.  The problem is that we deny there is a problem.  We are like a psychotic person who denies he is mentally ill, or like a sociopath who after committing a heinous crime insists that he really has a conscience, producing tears and remorse to prove it.

In the past, movements like Pythagoreanism, Gnosticism, Manichaeism, Mandaeanism, and medieval Catharism claimed that the problem beleaguering human beings is the body itself, or physical matter, to be precise.  These movements held that the soul or spirit is kept prisoner inside the cage of matter, waiting to be freed. (Evola rejected this interpretation as unsophisticated and as the product of a feminine and telluric worldview.)  Buddhism declared a “polluted” or “unenlightened mind” to be the real problem, developing in the course of the centuries a real science of the mind in an attempt to cure the disease at the roots.  Christian theism identified the root of human suffering and evil in sin.  As a remedy, Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy propose incorporation into the church through baptism and active participation in her liturgical life.  Many Protestants advocate, instead, a living and personal relationship with Jesus Christ as one’s Lord and Savior, to be cultivated through prayer, Bible studies, and church fellowship.

Evola regarded acceptance of the human condition as the real problem, and autarchy, or self-sufficiency, as the cure.  According to the ancient Cynics, autarkeia is the ability to lead a satisfactory, full life with the least amount of material goods and pleasures.  An autarchic being (the ideal man) is a person who is able to grow spiritually even in the absence of what others consider the necessities of life (e.g., health, wealth, and good human relationships).  The Stoics equated autarchy with virtue (arête, which they regarded as the only thing needed for happiness.  Even the Epicureans, led though they were by a quest for pleasure, regarded autarkeia as a “great good, not with the aim of always getting by with little, but that if much is lacking, we may be satisfied with little.”44

Evola endorsed the notion of autarkeia out of his rejection of the human condition and of the ordinary life that stems from it.  Like Nietzsche before him, Evola claimed that the human condition and everyday life should not be embraced, but overcome: our worth lies in being a “project” (in Latin projectum, “to be cast forward").  Thus, what truly matters for human beings is not who we are but what we can and should become.  Humans are enlightened or unenlightened according to whether or not they grasp this basic metaphysical truth.  It was not snobbism that led Evola to conclude that most human beings are “slaves” trapped in samsara like guinea pigs running on a wheel inside their cage.  According to Evola, sharing this state, among those one encounters each day, are not only persons with low paying jobs, but also one’s coworkers, family members, and especially persons without a formal education.  This is of course difficult to acknowledge.  Evola was consumed by a yearning for what the Germans call mehr als leben (“more than living”), which is unavoidably frustrated by the contingencies of human existence.  We read in a collection of Evola’s essays on the subject of mountain climbing:

At certain existential peaks, just as heat is transformed into light, life becomes free of itself; not in the sense of the death of individuality or some kind of mystical shipwreck, but in the sense of a transcendent affirmation of life, in which anxiety, endless craving, yearning and worrying, the quest for religious faith, human supports and goals, all give way to a dominating state of calm. There is something greater than life, within life itself, and not outside of it. This heroic experience is valuable and good in itself, whereas ordinary life is only driven by interests, external things and human conventions.45

According to Evola the human condition cannot and should not be embraced, but rather overcome. The cure does not consist in more money, more education, or moral uprightness, but in a radical and consistent commitment to pursue spiritual liberation.  The past offers several examples of the distinction between an “ordinary” life and a “differentiated” life.  The ancient Greeks referred to ordinary, material, physical life by the term bios, and used the term zoe to describe spiritual life. Buddhist and Hindu scriptures drew a distinction between samsara, or the life of needs, cravings, passions, and desires, and nirvana, a state, condition or extinction of suffering (dukka).  Christian scriptures distinguish between the “life according to the flesh” and the “life according to the Spirit.”  The Stoics distinguish between a “life according to nature” and a life dominated by passions.   Heidegger distinguished between authentic and inauthentic life.

Kierkegaard talked about the aesthetic life and the ethical life.  Zoroastrians distinguished between Good and Evil.  The Essenes divided mankind into two groups: the followers of the Truth and the followers of the Lie.

The authors who first introduced Evola to the notions of self-sufficiency and of the “absolute individual” (an ideal, unattainable state) were Nietzsche and Carlo Michelstaedter.  The latter was a twenty-three year old Jewish-Italian student who committed suicide in 1910, the day after completing his doctoral dissertation, which was first published in 1913 with the title La persuasione e la retorica (Persuasion and rhetoric).46 In his thesis, Michelstaedter claims that the human condition is dominated by remorse, melancholy, boredom, fear, anger, and suffering.  Man’s actions reveal that he is a passive being.  Because he attributes value to things, man is also distracted by them or by their pursuit.  Thus man seeks outside himself a stable reference point, but fails to find it, remaining the unfortunate prisoner of his illusory individuality.  The two possible ways to live the human condition, according to Michelstaedter, are the way of Persuasion and the way of Rhetoric.  Persuasion is an unachievable goal.  It consists in achieving possession of oneself totally and unconditionally, and in no longer needing anything else.  This amounts to having life in one’s self.  In Michelstaedter’s words:

The way of Persuasion, unlike a bus route, does not have signs that can be read, studied and communicated to others.  However, we all have within ourselves the need to find that; we all must blaze our own trail because each one of us is alone and cannot expect any help from the outside. The way of Persuasion has only this stipulation: do not settle for what has been given you.47

On the contrary, the way of Rhetoric designates the palliatives or substitutes that man adopts in lieu of an authentic Persuasion.  According to Evola, the path of Rhetoric is followed by “those who spurn an actual self-possession, leaning on other things, seeking other people, trusting in others to deliver them, according to a dark necessity and a ceaseless and indefinite yearning.”48  As Nietzsche wrote:

You crowd together with your neighbors and have beautiful words for it.  But I tell you: Your love of your neighbor is your bad love of yourselves. You flee to your neighbor away from yourselves and would like to make a virtue of it: but I see through your selflessness. . . .  I wish rather that you could not endure to be with any kind of neighbor or with your neighbor’s neighbor; then you would have to create your friend and his overflowing heart of yourselves.49

The goal of autarchy appears throughout Evola’s works.  In his quest for this privileged condition, he expounded the paths blazed by various movements in the past, such as Tantrism, Buddhism, Mithraism, and Hermeticism.

In the early 1920s, Decio Calvari, president of the Italian Independent Theosophical League, introduced Evola to the study of Tantrism.  Soon Evola began a correspondence with the learned British orientalist and divulger of Tantrism, Sir John Woodroffe (who also wrote with the pseudonym of “Arthur Avalon”), whose works and translations of Tantric texts he amply utilized.  While René Guénon celebrated Vedanta as the quintessence of Hindu wisdom in his L’homme et son devenir selon le Vedanta (Man and his becoming according to the Vedanta) (1925), upholding the primacy of contemplation or of knowledge over action, Evola adopted a different perspective .  Rejecting the view that spiritual authority is worthier than royal power, Evola wrote L’uomo come potenza (Man as power) in 1925.  In the third revised edition (1949), the title was changed to Lo yoga della potenza (The yoga of power).50  This book represents a link between his philosophical works and the rest of his literary production, which focuses on Traditional concerns.

The thesis of The Yoga of Power is that the spiritual and social conditions that characterize the Kali-yuga greatly decrease the effectiveness of purely intellectual, contemplative, and ritual paths.  In this age of decadence, the only way open to those who seek the “great liberation” is one of resolute action.51  Tantrism defined itself as a system based on practice, in which hatha-yoga and kundalini-yoga constitute the psychological and mental training of the followers of Tantrism in their quest for liberation.  While criticizing an old Western prejudice according to which Oriental spiritualities are characterized by an escapist attitude (as opposed to those of the West, which allegedly promote vitalism, activism, and the will to power), Evola reaffirmed his belief in the primacy of action by outlining the path followed in Tantrism.  Several decades later, a renowned member of the French Academy, Marguerite Yourcenar, paid homage to The Yoga of Power.  She wrote of “the immense benefit that a receptive reader may gain from an exposition such as Evola’s,”52 and concluded that “the study of The Yoga of Power is particularly beneficial in a time in which every form of discipline is naively discredited.”53

But Evola’s interest was not confined to yoga.  In 1943 he wrote The Doctrine of the Awakening, dealing with the teachings of early Buddhism.  He regarded Buddha’s original message as an Aryan ascetic path meant for spiritual “warriors” seeking liberation from the conditioned world.  In this book he emphasized the anti-theistic and anti-monistic insights of Buddha.  Buddha taught that devotion to this or that god or goddess, ritualism, and study of the Vedas were not conducive to enlightenment, nor was experience of the identity of one’s soul with the “cosmic All” named Brahman, since, according to Buddha, both “soul” and “Brahman” are figments of our deluded minds.

In The Doctrine of the Awakening Evola meticulously outlines the four “jhanas,” or meditative stages, that are experienced by a serious practitioner on the path leading to nirvana.  Most of the sources Evola drew from are Italian and German translations of the Sutta Pitaka, that part of the ancient Pali canon of Buddhist scriptures in which Buddha’s discourses are recorded.  While extolling the purity and faithfulness of early Buddhism to Buddha’s message, Evola characterized Mahayana Buddhism as a later deviation and corruption of Buddha’s teachings, though he celebrated Zen54 and the doctrine of emptiness (sunyata) as Mahayana’s greatest achievements.  In The Doctrine of the Awakening Evola extols the figure of the ahrat, one who has attained enlightenment.  Such a person is free from the cycle of rebirth, having successfully overcome samsaric existence.  The ahrat’s achievement, according to Evola, can be compared to that of the jivan-mukti of Tantrism, of the Mithraic initiate, of the Gnostic sage, and of the Taoist “immortal.”

This text was one of Evola’s finest.  Partly as a result of reading it, two British members of the OSS became Buddhist monks.  The first was H. G. Musson, who also translated Evola’s book from Italian into English.  The second was Osbert Moore, who became a distinguished scholar of Pali, translating a number of Buddhist texts into English.  On a personal note, I would like to add that Evola’s Doctrine of Awakening sparked my interest in Buddhism, leading me to read the Sutta Pitaka, to seek the company of Theravada monks, and to practice meditation.

In The Metaphysics of Sex (1958) Evola took issue with three views of human sexuality.  The first is naturalism.  According to naturalism the erotic life is conceived as an extension of animal instincts, or merely as a means to perpetuate the species.  This view has recently been advocated by the anthropologist Desmond Morris, both in his books and in his documentary The Human Animal.  The second view Evola called “bourgeois love”: it is characterized by respectability and sanctified by marriage.  The most important features of this type of sexuality are mutual commitment, love, feelings.  The third view of sex is hedonism.  Following this view, people seek pleasure as an end in itself.  This type of sexuality is hopelessly closed to transcendent possibilities intrinsic to sexual intercourse, and thus not worthy of being pursued.  Evola then went on to explain how sexual intercourse can become a path leading to spiritual achievements.



In 1988 a passionate champion of free speech and democracy, the journalist and author I. F. Stone, wrote a provocative book entitled The Trial of Socrates.  In his book Stone argued that Socrates, contrary to what Xenophon and Plato claimed in their accounts of the life of their beloved teacher, was not unjustly put to death by a corrupt and evil democratic regime.  According to Stone, Socrates was guilty of several questionable attitudes that eventually brought about his own downfall.

First, Socrates personally refrained from, and discouraged others from pursuing, political involvement, in order to cultivate the “perfection of the soul.”  Stone finds this attitude reprehensible, since in a city all citizens have duties as well as rights.  By failing to live up to his civic responsibilities, Socrates was guilty of “civic bankruptcy,” especially during the dictatorship of the Thirty.  At that time, instead of joining the opposition, Socrates maintained a passive attitude: “The most talkative man in Athens fell silent when his voice was most needed.”55

Next, Socrates idealized Sparta, had aristocratic and pro-monarchical views, and despised Athenian democracy, spending a great deal of time in denigrating the common man.  Finally, Socrates might have been acquitted if only he had not antagonized his jury with his amused condescension and invoked the principle of free speech instead.

Evola resembles Socrates in the attitudes toward politics described by Stone.  Evola too professed “apoliteia.”56 He discouraged people from passionate involvement in politics.  He was never a member of a political party, refraining even from joining the Fascist party during its years in power.  Because of that he was turned down when he tried to enlist in the army at the outbreak of the World War II, although he had volunteered to serve on the front.  He also discouraged participation in the “agoric life.”  The ancient agora, or public square, was the place where free Athenians gathered to discuss politics, strike business deals, and cultivate social relationships. As Buddha said:

Indeed Ananda, it is not possible that a bikkhu [monk] who delights in company, who delights in society will ever enter upon and abide in either the deliverance of the mind that is temporary and delectable or in the deliverance of the mind that is perpetual and unshakeable. But it can be expected that when a bikkhu lives alone, withdrawn from society, he will enter upon and abide in the deliverance of mind that is temporal and delectable or in the deliverance of mind that is perpetual and unshakeable . . . . 57

Like Socrates, Evola celebrated the civic values, the spiritual and political achievements, and the metaphysical worth of ancient monarchies, warrior aristocracies, and traditional, non-democratic civilizations.  He had nothing but contempt for the ignorance of ordinary people, for the rebellious masses, for the insignificant common man.

Finally, like Socrates, Evola never appealed to such democratic values as “human rights,” “freedom of speech,” and “equality,” and was “sentenced” to what the Germans call “death by silence.”  In other words, he was relegated to academic oblivion.

Evola’s rejection of involvement in the socio-political arena must also be attributed to his philosophy of inequality.  Norberto Bobbio, an Italian senator and professor emeritus of the philosophy department of the University of Turin, has written a small book entitled Right and Left: The Significance of a Political Distinction.58 In it Bobbio, a committed leftist intellectual, attempts to identify the key element that differentiates the political Right from the Left (a dyad rendered in the non-ideological American political arena by the dichotomy “conservatives and liberal,” or “mainstream and extremist”).  After discussing several objections to the contemporary relevance of the Right-Left dyad following the decline and fall of the major political ideologies, Bobbio concludes that the juxtaposition of Right and Left is still a legitimate and viable one, though one day it will run its course, like other famous dyads of the past: “patricians and plebeians” in ancient Rome, “Guelphs and Ghibellines” during the Middle Ages, and “Crown and Parliament” in seventeenth century England.

At the end of his book Bobbio suggests that, “the main criterion to distinguish between Right and Left is the different attitude they have toward the ideal of equality.”59

Thus, according to Bobbio, the views of Right and Left on “liberty” and “brotherhood” (the other two values in the French revolutionary trio) are not as discordant as their positions on equality.  Bobbio explains:

We may properly call “egalitarians” those who, while being aware that human beings are both equal and unequal, give more relevance, when judging them and recognizing their rights and duties, to that which makes them equal rather than to what makes them un-equal; and “inegalitarians,” those who, starting from the same premise, give more importance to what makes them unequal rather than to what makes them equal.60

Evola, as a representative of the European Right, may be regarded as one of the leading antiegalitarian philosophers of the twentieth century.  Evola’s arguments transcend the age-old debate between those who claim that class, racial, educational, and gender differences between people are due to society’s structural injustices, and those who, on the other hand, believe that these differences are genetic.  According to Evola there are spiritual and ontological reasons that account for differences in people’s lot in life.  In Evola’s writings the social dichotomy is between initiates and “higher beings” on the one hand, and hoi polloi on the other.

The two works that best express Evola’s apoliteia are Men among Ruins (1953) and Riding the Tiger (1961).  In the former he expounds his views on the “organic” State, lamenting the emerging primacy of economics over politics in post-war Europe and America. Evola wrote this book to supply a point of reference for those who, having survived the war, did not hesitate to regard themselves as “reactionaries” deeply hostile to the emerging subversive intellectual and political forces that were re-shaping Europe:

Again, we can see that the various facets of the contemporary social and political chaos are interrelated and that it is impossible to effectively contrast them other than by returning to the origins.  To go back to the origins means, plain and simple, to reject everything that, in every domain, whether social, political and economic, is connected to the “immortal principles” of 1789 in the guise of libertarian, individualistic and egalitarian thought, and to oppose to it a hierarchical view.  It is only in the context of such a view that the value and freedom of man as a person are not mere words or pretexts for a work of destruction and subversion.61

Evola encourages his readers to remain passive spectators in the ongoing process of Europe’s reconstruction, and to seek their citizenship elsewhere:

The Idea, only the Idea must be our true homeland. It is not being born in the same country, speaking the same language or belonging to the same racial stock that matters; rather, sharing the same Idea must be the factor that unites us and differentiates us from everybody else.62

In Riding the Tiger, Evola outlines intellectual and existential strategies for coping with the modern world without being affected by it.  The title is borrowed from a Chinese saying, and it suggests that a way to prevent a tiger from devouring us is to jump on its back and ride it without being thrown off.  Evola argued that lack of involvement in the political and social construction of the human polis on the part of the “differentiated man” can be accompanied by a sense of sympathy toward those who, in various ways, live on the fringe of society, rejecting its dogmas and conventions.

The “differentiated person” feels like an outsider in this society and feels no moral obligation toward society’s request that he joins what he regards as an absurd system.  Such a person can understand not only those who live outside society’s parameters, but even those who are set against such (a) society, or better, this society.63

This is why, in his 1968 book L’arco e la clava (The bow and the club), Evola expressed some appreciation for the “beat generation” and the hippies, all the while arguing that they lacked a proper sense of transcendence as well as firm points of spiritual reference from which they could launch an effective inner, spiritual “revolt” against society.

Guido Stucco, an authority on the works of Julius Evola, has translated several of Evola’s books into English for the Vermont-based publisher Inner Traditions


End Notes

1. For a good introduction to this movement and its ideas, William Quinn, The Only Tradition, Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997.

2. The first of the Theosophical Society’s three declared objectives was to promote the brotherhood of all men, regardless of race, creed, nationality, and caste.

3. Tomislav Sunic, Against Democracy and Equality: The European New Right, New York: Peter Lang, 1991; Ian B. Warren’s interview with Alain de Benoist, “The European New Right: Defining and Defending Europe’s Heritage,” The Journal of Historical Review, Vol.13, no. 2, March-April 1994, pp. 28-37; and the special issue “The French New Right,” Telos, Winter 1993-Spring 1994.

4.  Martin Lee, The Beast Reawakens, Boston: Little, Brown, 1997.

5. Walter Laqueur, Fascism: Past, Present, Future, New York: Oxford University Press, 1996, pp. 97-98.  Despite his bad press in the U.S., Evola’s works have been favorably reviewed by Joscelyn Godwin, “Evola: Prophet against Modernity,” Gnosis Magazine, Summer 1996, pp. 64-65; and by Robin Waterfield, “Baron Julius Evola and the Hermetic Tradition,” Gnosis Magazine, Winter 1990, pp. 12-17.

6. The first to write about Evola in this country was Thomas Sheehan, in “Myth and Violence: The Fascism of Julius Evola and Alain de Benoist,” Social Research, Vol. 48, Spring 1981, pp. 45-73.  See also Richard Drake, “Julius Evola and the Ideological Origins of the Radical Right in Contemporary Italy,” in Peter Merkl (ed.), Political Violence and Terror: Motifs and Motivations, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986, pp. 61-89;  “Julius Evola, Radical Fascism, and the Lateran Accords,” The Catholic Historical Review, Vol. 74, 1988, pp. 403-19; and the chapter “The Children of the Sun,” in The Revolutionary Mystique and Terrorism in Contemporary Italy, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989, pp. 116-134.

7. Philip Rees, in his Biographical Dictionary of the Extreme Right since 1890, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991, devotes a meager page and a half to Evola, and shamelessly concludes, without adducing a shred of evidence, that “ Evolian-inspired violence result[ed] in the Bologna station bombing of 2 August 1980.” Gianfranco De Turris, president of the Julius Evola Foundation in Rome and one of the leading Evola scholars, suggested that, in Evola’s case, rather than “bad teacher” one ought to talk about “bad pupils.”  See his Elogio e difesa di Julius Evola: il barone e i terroristi, Rome: Edizioni Mediterranee, 1997, in which he debunks the unfounded charge that Evola was responsible either directly or indirectly for acts of terrorism committed in Italy.

8. See for instance Sheehan’s convoluted article “Diventare Dio: Julius Evola and the Metaphysics of Fascism,” Stanford Italian Review, Vol. 6, 1986, pp. 279-92, in which he tries to demonstrate that Nietzsche and Evola mirror each other.  Sheehan should have rather spoken of an overcoming of Nietzsche’s philosophy on the part of Evola. The latter rejected Nietzsche’s notion of “Eternal Recurrence” as “nothing more than a myth”; his vitalism, because closed to transcendence and hopelessly immanentist; his “Will to Power” because: “Power in itself is amorphous and meaningless if it lacks the foundation of a given being, of an inner direction, of an essential unity” (Julius Evola, Cavalcare la tigre [Riding the tiger], Milan: Vanni Scheiwiller, 1971, p. 49); and, finally, Nietzsche’s nihilism, which Evola denounced as a project that had been implemented half-way.

9.  H.T. Hansen, a pseudonym adopted by T. Hakl, is an Austrian scholar who earned a law degree in 1970. He is a partner in the prestigious Swiss publishing house Ansata Verlag and one of the leading Evola scholars in German-speaking countries. Hakl has translated several works by Evola into German and supplied lengthy scholarly introductions to most of them.

10. See for instance the topics of a conference held in France on the occasion of the centenary of his birth: “Julius Evola 1898-1998: Eveil, destin et expériences de terres spirituelles,” on the web site http://perso.wanadoo.fr/collectif.ea/langues/anglais/acteesf.htm

11. Marcello Veneziani, Julius Evola tra filosofia e tradizione, Rome: Ciarrapico Editore, 1984, p. 110.

12. This work has been translated into French and German.  My translation of the first volume is scheduled to be published in December 2002 by Inner Traditions, with the title Introduction to Magic: Rituals and Practical Techniques for the Magus.

13. Marco Rossi, a leading Italian authority on Evola, wrote an article on Evola’s alleged antidemocratic anti-Fascism in Storia contemporanea, Vol. 20, 1989, pp. 5-42.

14. Julius Evola, Il cammino del cinabro, Milan: Vanni Scheiwiller, 1972 , p. 162.

15. Julius Evola, Etica aria, Arian ethics, Rome: Europa srl, 1987, p. 28.

16. When Evola and a few friends came to the realization that the war was lost for the Axis, they began to draft plans for the creation of a “Movement for the Rebirth of Italy.” This movement was supposed to organize a right-wing political party capable of stemming the post-war influence of the Left. Nothing came of it, though.

17. Julius Evola, Il Cammino del cinabro, p. 183.

18. Julius Evola, Etica aria, p. 24.

19. In the beginning of his autobiography Evola claimed that reading Nietzsche fostered his opposition to Christianity, a religion which never appealed to him.  He felt theories of sin and redemption, divine love, and grace as “foreign” to his spirit.

20. Rebora was imprecisely quoting from memory a saying by Jesus found in John 7:37.  The exact quote is “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink.” (Revised Standard Version.)

21. Julius Evola, Lettere di Julius Evola a Girolamo Comi, 1934-1962, Rome: Fondazione Julius Evola, 1987, p. 17. In 1922 Evola was on the brink of suicide.  He had experimented with hallucinogenic drugs and was consumed by an intense desire for extinction.  In a letter dated July 2, 1921, Evola wrote to his friend Tristan Tzara: “I am in such a state of inner exhaustion that even thinking and holding a pen requires an effort which I am not often capable of. I live in a state of atony and of immobile stupor, in which every activity and act of the will freeze. . . . Every action repulses me. I endure these feelings like a disease. Also, I am terrified at the thought of time ahead of me, which I do not know how to utilize. In all things I perceive a process of decomposition, as things collapse inwardly, turning into wind and sand.” Lettere di Julius Evola a Tristan Tzara, 1919-1923, Rome: Julius Evola Foundation, 1991, p. 40.  Evola was able to overcome this crisis after reading the Italian translation of the Buddhist text Majjhima-Nikayo, the so-called “middle length discourses of the Buddha.” In one of his discourses Buddha taught the importance of detachment from one’s sensory perceptions and feelings, including one’s yearning for personal extinction.

22. For a brief account of their correspondence, see Julius Evola, René Guénon: A Teacher for Modern Times, trans. by Guido Stucco, Edmonds, WA: Holmes Publishing Group, 1994.

23. Joscelyn Godwin, Arktos: The Polar Myth in Science, Symbolism, and Nazi Survival, Grand Rapids, MI: Phanes Press, 1993, p. 61.

24. In two letters to Comi, Evola wrote: “From a spiritual point of view my situation doesn’t mean more to me than a flat tire on my car”; and: “The small matter of my legs’ condition has only put some limitations on some profane activities, while on the intellectual and spiritual planes I am still following the same path and upholding the same views,” Lettere a Comi, pp. 18, 27.

25. The Middle Length Sayings, vol. III, trans. by I.B. Horner, London: Pali Text Society, 1959, p. 278.

26. Julius Evola, Cavalcare la tigre, p. 175.

27. Yuri Stoyanov, The Hidden Tradition in Europe, New York: Penguin, 1994, p. 8.

28. The Latin word hostis means both “guest” and “enemy.” This is revealing of how ancient Romans regarded foreigners in general.

29. Julius Evola, Revolt against the Modern World, Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 1995, p. 6.  The first part of the book deals with the concepts noted in the extract cited. The second part of the book deals with the modern world.

30. Ibid.

31. All of these works have been translated and published in English by Inner Traditions.

32. Mircea Eliade, , Exile’s Odyssey, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988, p. 152.

33. Julius Evola, The Yoga of Power, trans. by Guido Stucco, Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 1992.

34. Mircea Eliade, Journal III, 1970-78, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989, p. 161.

35. Julius Evola, Il cammino del cinabro, p. 139.

36. Ibid.

37. Eliade, Journal III,1970-78, p. 162.

38. Ibid., pp. 162-63.

39. Mircea Eliade, Exile’s Odyssey, pp. 152.  See also Alain de Benoist and quote him at length.

40. Ibid.  This criticism was reiterated by S. Nasr in an interview to the periodical Gnosis.

41. Mircea Eliade, Journey East, Journey West, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1981-88, p. 204.

42. Eliade, Journey East, Journey West, p. 202.

43. Evola, Il cammino del cinabro, p. 12.

44. Epicurus, Letter to Menoeceus, p. 47.

45. Julius Evola, Meditations on the Peaks, trans. by Guido Stucco, Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 1998, p. 5.

46. Carlo Michelstaedter, La persuasione e la retorica, Milan: Adelphi Edizioni, 1990.

47. Ibid., p. 104.

48. Il cammino del cinabro, p. 46.

49. F. Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, trans. by R.J. Hollingdale, London: Penguin Books, 1969, p. 86.

50. Evola, The Yoga of Power, trans. by Guido Stucco, Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 1992.

51. Evola would probably have liked Jesus’ saying (Luke 16:16): “The law and the prophets lasted until John; but from then on the kingdom of God is proclaimed and everyone who enters does so with violence.”

52. Marguerite Yourcenar, Le temps, ce grand sculpteur, Paris: Gallimard, 1983, p. 201.

53. Ibid., p. 204.

54. Julius Evola, The Doctrine of Awakening, Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 1995.

55. I. F. Stone, The Trial of Socrates, New York: Doubleday, 1988, p. 146.

56. Julius Evola, Cavalcare la tigre, pp. 174-78.

57. Mahajjima Nikayo, p. 122.

58. Norberto Bobbio, Destra e sinistra: ragioni e significati di una distinzione politica, Rome: Donzelli Editore, 1994. This book has been published in English as Left and Right: The Significance of a Political Distinction, Cambridge, England: Polity Press, 1996.

59. Ibid., p. 80.

60. Ibid., p. 74.

61. Julius Evola, Gli uomini e le rovine, Rome: Edizioni Settimo Sigillo, 1990, p. 64.

62. Ibid., p. 41.

63. Julius Evola, Cavalcare la tigre, p. 179.


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