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Julius Evola and the UR Group

April 10, 2007

The collaboration that Julius Evola sought out at the end of the 1920s with the most interesting figures of Italian esotericism to form the famous UR Group, aside from the example it has provided and continues to pro­vide to anyone seriously engaged in the esoteric sciences, is also extremely important in the overall context of Evola’s work. For it was precisely dur­ing this period that he came to expand his own interests in the real, time ­honored realms of Tradition, and at least two of his principal works, Revolt Against the Modern World and The Hermetic Tradition, are contained in seed ­form in some of the monographs published by UR. The attendant experi­ences with the UR Group should therefore not be neglected, for in order to clarify essential points necessary to a comprehension of the spirit of Evola’s lifework, indeed it is necessary to investigate the precedents, limits, and outcomes of their endeavors.

The UR Group

In 1927 Julius Evola and other leading Italian intellectuals formed the mysterious UR group. Their goal: to bring their individual egos into a state of superhuman power and awareness in which they could act “magically” on the world. Their methods: the practice of ancient Tantric and Buddhist rituals and the study of rare Hermetic texts. So successful were they that rumors spread throughout Italy of the group’s power, and Mussolini himself became quite fearful of them. Now for the first time in English Introduction to Magic collects the rites, practices, and knowledge of the UR group for the use of aspiring mages. Included Introduction into Magic are instructions for creating an etheric double, speaking words of power, using fragrances, interacting with entities, and creating a “magical chain.” Among the arcane texts translated are the Tibetan teachings of the Thunderbolt Diamond Path, the Mithraic mystery cult’s “Grand Papyrus of Paris,” and the Greco-Egyptian magical text De Mysteriis. Anyone who has exhausted the possibilities of the mundane world and is ready to take the steps necessary to purify the soul in the light of knowledge and the fire of dedication will find a number of expert mentors here.

Excerpt from Preface by Retano Del Ponte:

The collaboration that Julius Evola sought out at the end of the 1920s with the most interesting figures of Italian esotericism to form the famous UR Group, aside from the example it has provided and continues to pro­vide to anyone seriously engaged in the esoteric sciences, is also extremely important in the overall context of Evola’s work. For it was precisely dur­ing this period that he came to expand his own interests in the real, time ­honored realms of Tradition, and at least two of his principal works, Revolt Against the Modern World and The Hermetic Tradition, are contained in seed ­form in some of the monographs published by UR. The attendant experi­ences with the UR Group should therefore not be neglected, for in order to clarify essential points necessary to a comprehension of the spirit of Evola’s lifework, indeed it is necessary to investigate the precedents, limits, and outcomes of their endeavors.

The first task the UR Group set for itself was to invest the word magic with a particular, active, and functional connotation (as opposed to the conno­tation of knowledge or wisdom attributed to it in antiquity) that was close to the concept delineated by Roger Bacon: practical metaphysics. Far re­moved from the abhorred “spiritualistic” practices that were so fashion­able at the time, from vulgar spiritism, pseudo-humanitarian Theosophy, and any of the confused and inferior forms of occultism, the UR Group, apart from particular teachings that one or the other of the collaborators may have been most familiar with, intended to reconnect with the very sources of Traditional esoteric teaching, according to that principle of Kremmerz, for whom magic “in all its complexity is simply a series of demonstrable theorems and experiences with concrete effects; the magical truths, as abstract as they may be, owe their evident demonstration in concrete `fulfillment,’ just as abstract mathematical truths have mechani­cal applications.

According to Kremmerz, magic, “or Arcane Knowledge, is divided into two parts, the Natural and the Divine. The former studies all the phenomena due to the occult qualities of the human organism and the way to access and reproduce them within the limits of the organism engaged as a means. The latter is dedicated to preparing the spiritual as­cension of the initiate, in such a way as to render possible a relationship between man and the superior natures invisible to the vulgar eye.”‘ One must bear in mind, furthermore, that “the point at which the former ends and the latter begins is very difficult to determine … and it therefore very often happens that both magical directions [the Natural and the Divine] move forward in tandem.

Let us examine more closely the processes engaged in by the UR Group, who, explicitly via both natural and divine magic, or “High Magic,” hoped that they would be the Introduction leading to its seductive and arduous threshold.

The point of departure for modern man was the necessity to dissipate the fog of everyday reality, so as to open a way for himself to a new existen­tial dimension. The new man must aspire toward a direct vision of reality, “as in a complete reawakening.

From this aspiration, by means of an internal magical process, one must arrive at a “change of state,” whose final point of arrival coincides with the alchemical opus transformationis: “self-transformation is the necessary pre­liminary to higher consciousness, which does not know `problems’ but only `tasks’ and accomplishments.”

The contents of the three volumes of introduction to Magic can be subdi­vided into four well-defined categories: 1) “Esoteric doctrine and culture,” consisting of the exposition of methods, disciplines, and techniques of actualization, with a particular deepening of symbology; 2) “Practice” ­ie, accounts of experiences actually lived through in person; 3) “Publica­tion or translation of classic or rare esoteric texts” with appropriate com­ments and explanations; and 4) “Recognized doctrines placed in appropri­ate context,” often incorporating critical or polemical footnotes.

The first volume is Introduction into Magic, Rituals and Practical Techniques for the Magus by Julius Evola, UR Group, Introduction by Renato Del Ponte (Inner Traditions) The rites, practices, and texts collected by the mysterious UR group for the use of aspiring mages. It contains rare Hermetic texts published in English for the first time including instructions for developing psychic and magical powers.

Especially important in this first volume regarding “Practice,” are the contributions by “Luce” on the “Opus Magicum” (The Magical Work: Concentration, Silence, Fire, Perfumes) and by “Alba” on the magical sense of nature (De Naturae Sensu); regarding “Doctrine,” the monograph written by “Abraxas” on “Knowledge of the Waters,” a brilliant and evocative interpretation of a very famous esoteric symbol, and one by “Ea,” “On the Magical Vision of Life,” useful in that it synthe­sizes the significance of magical action for those who propose to become “alchemical heroes”: “A great freedom, with action as the sole law”

Among the “Documents” published in this volume, notable for their im­portance are the translation from the Greek of the “Mithraic Ritual of the Great Magical Papyrus of Paris”-the only ritual of the Ancient Mysteries to have survived intact-with an excellent introduction and extremely accurate commentary”; an original treatise from alchemical Hermeticism, De Pharmaco Catholico, in a synthesis by the same anonymous author, translated and annotated by “Tikaip6s”; and extracts from De Mysteriis, attributed to the Neoplatonic Iamblichus, the Buddhist Majjhima-nihdjo, and the Tibetan Bde-MiChog-Tantra.

In the second volume, regarding “Doctrine” we must note above all the two important studies by “Pietro Negri,” on “The Western Tradition” (un­fortunately never completed) and on the “Secret Language of the `Fedeli d’amore,’ reported on and discussed by the same Luigi Valli’; and the notable contributions by Evola on “Esotericism and Ethics,” “Initiatic Con­sciousness Beyond the Grave,” “On the Metaphysics of Pain and Illness”; as well as the monograph by “Arvo” on “The Hyperborean Tradition,” sub­ject to many interesting developments. Among the anonymous writings regarding “Practice,” the most compelling are “Teachings of the Chain,” “The `Double’ and Solar Consciousness,” and “Dissociation of the Mix­tures.”

Among the “Documents and Texts” in the second volume, we find the annotated translation of the Turba Philosophorum (The Crowd of the Phi­losopher), one of the most ancient and widely quoted Hermetic-alchemical texts; an important and annotated version from Kremmerzian contributor “Tikaipos” of the Golden Verses, attributed to Pythagoras; as well as three songs by the Tibetan ascetic Milarepa.

In the third volume, which appears richer in source material than in practical doctrines, most notable are Evola’s own writings on “Aristocracy and the Initiatic Ideal”‘ and “On the Symbolism of the Year,” as well as those by “Arvo” on “‘Oracular’ Arithmetic and the Background of Con­sciousness.” Regarding “Practice,” we find the “Experiences” of “Taurulus,” the “Magic of Victory” by “Abraxas,” and the important account of the Hindu alchemist Narayanaswami, of whom we have already spoken

Notable among “Documents and Texts” are passages from the Clavis Philosophicae Chemisticae (The Key to Chemical Philosophy) by Gherard Dorn and from the Enneads of Plotinus, astutely annotated by Evola, as well as selected passages from the works of Kremmerz and Crowley.

Interestingly, it was in Ur and Krur that a constructive critique was initiated of the specific works by Rene Guenon most open to analysis and discussion. One of these was La crise du monde moderne (The Crisis of the Modern World) which Evola would later publish in an Italian edition in 1937 (second edition, 1953; third edition published by Edizioni Mediterranee in Rome, 1972); another was Autoritt spirituelle et pouvoir temporel (Spiritual Authority and Temporal Power).” In the later editions of Introduction to Magic, Guenon’s Aperaus sur l’initiation (Considerations on the Initiatic Way) was included.

Despite their differences of position, Guenon definitely appreciated Evola’s honesty and intellectual rigor; the two men engaged in an intense mutual correspondence beginning in 1927 and ending only with their deaths. Together they collaborated on the material for “Diorama Filosofico” (Philosophical Diorama), a special page carried by the daily Il Regime Fascista (The Fascist Regime, edited by Farinacci), contributing at least twenty-six collaborative articles between 1934 and 1940.”

More in-depth research would be well advised in order to shed a brighter light on the attempts by the inner circle of the UR Group to revitalize the esoteric roots and initiatic processes of the Roman Tradition. Aside from the contributions by Reghini, by some of Steiner’s followers, and by Evola himself (most notably his piece “Sul `sacro’ nella tradizione romana” [On the “Sacred” in the Roman Tradition], published in the third volume), there is an interesting and enigmatic account in the last chapter of the third volume entitled “La’Grande Orma’: la scena e le quinte” (The “Great Trail”: The Stage and the Wings), signed by a mysterious “Ekatlos” In it the author strives to point out the traces of a long-perpetuated, ancient initiatic chain in the very bosom of the land around Rome, and its attempt, however futile, to exert a rectifying influence within the sphere of the Fas­cist movement during the first years in which it took power.

In regard to this, Evola himself wrote that the aim of the “chain” of the UR Group, aside from “awakening a higher force that might serve to help the singular work of every individual,” was also to act “on the type of psychic body that begged for creation, and by evocation to connect it with a genuine influence from above,” so that “one may perhaps have the possi­bility of working behind the scenes in order to ultimately exert an effect on the prevailing forces in the general environment.”

Although this attempt did not meet with its hoped-for success, the monographs in the Introduction to Magic provide invaluable material for those individuals who, even today, might combine intention and capabil­ity in order to repeat the experiences of UR and, if possible, surpass its results on a practical and actualized level.” However, there is always the great hidden danger in groups or cliques of this kind that uncontrolled or uncontrollable forces may gain the upper hand, when the corresponding ability is weak or is lacking to contain and transform the inherent subtle forces in all of us into positive power. If this was not the case in the UR Group-which, however, was able only to partially achieve what it had hoped to accomplish-it is all the less likely in contemporary times, when we have witnessed the eager tendency to improvise and re-create groups or communities whose intention, at least, was to further the mission of UR, and yet which gave rise to negative outcomes and uncontrolled nega­tive forces, as has happened at least twice in Italy in the past thirty years.”

In conclusion, we would emphasize that the treatises found in Intro­duction to Magic are definitely not designed for the general public, but for a few qualified people who already grasp a precise sense of the notions put forth by the UR Group. Certainly these few, to conclude with the words of Kremmerz, “will find new and fertile nourishment for the spirit wearied by empty philosophies and even emptier conventionalities … just as they will find that serene and loyal clarity, the unquestionable sign of all true knowledge, which will give them a firm and stable orientation.”

ON JIHAD AND HOLY WAR Julius Evola (Revolt against the modern world, pages 118-120)

In the Islamic tradition a distinction is made between two holy wars, the “greater holy war” (el-jihadul-akbar) and the “lesser holy war” (el-jihadul-ashgar). This distinction originated from a saying (hadith) of the Prophet, who on the way back from a military expedition said: “You have returned from a lesser holy war to a great holy war.” The greater holy war is of an inner and spiritual nature; the other is the material war waged externally against an enemy population with the particular intent of bringing “infidel” populations under the rule of “God’s Law” (al-Islam). The relationship between the “greater” and “lesser holy war”, however, mirrors the relationship between the soul and the body; in order to understand the heroic asceticism or “path of action”, it is necessary to understand the situation in which the two paths merge, the “lesser holy war” becoming the means through which a “greater holy war” is carried out, and vice versa: the “little holy war”, or the external one, becomes almost a ritual action that expresses and gives witness to the reality of the first. Originally, orthodox Islam conceived of a unitary form of asceticism: that which is connected to the jihad or “holy war”.

The “greater holy war” is man’s struggle against the enemies he carries within. More exactly, it is the struggle of man’s higher principle against everything that is merely human in him, against his inferior natur and against chaotic impulses and all sorts of material attachments. This is expressly outlined in a text of Aryan warrior wisdom: “Know Him therefore who is above reason; and let his peace give thee peace. Be a warrior and kill desire, the powerful enemy of the soul.” (Bhagavadgita 3.43)

The “enemy” who resists us and the “infidel” within ourselves must be subdued and put in chains. This enemy is the animalistic yearning and instinct, the disorganized multiplicity of impulses, the limitations imposed on us by a fictitious self, and thus also fear, wickedness, and uncertainty; this subduing of the enemy within is the only way to achieve inner liberation or the rebirth in a state of deeper inner unity and “peace” in the esoteric and triumphal sense of the word.

In the world of traditional warrior asceticism the “lesser holy war”, namely, the external war, is indicated and even prescribed as the means to wage this “greater holy war”; thus in Islam the expressions “holy war” (jihad) and “Allah’s way” are often used interchangeably. In this order of ideas action exercises the rigorous function and task of a sacrifical and purifying ritual. The external vicissitudes experienced during a military campaign cause the inner “enemy” to emerge and put up a fierce resistance and agood fight in the form of the animalistic instincts of self-preservation, fear, inertia, compassion, or other passions; those who engage in battles must overcome these feelings by the time they enter the battlefield if they wish to win and to defeat the outer enemy or “infidel”.

Obviously the spiritual orientation and the “right intention” (niya), that is, the one toward transcendence (the symbols employed to refer to transcendence are “heaven”, “paradise”, “Allah’s garden” and so on), are supposed as the foundations of jihad, lest war lose its scared character and degenerate into a wild affair in which true heroism is replaced with reckless abandonment and what counts are the unleashed impulses of the animal nature.

It is written in the Koran: “Let those who would exchange the life of this world for the hereafter fight for the cause of Allah; whether they die or conquer, We shall richly reward them.” (Koran, 4:76) The presupposition according to which it is prescribed “When you meet the unbelievers in the battlefield strike off their heads, and when you have laid them low, bind your captives firmly” (Koran 47:4); or, “Do not falter or sue for peace when you have gained the upper hand” (Koran 47:37), is that “the life of this world is but a sport and a past-time” (Koran 47:37) and that “whoever is ungenerous to this cause is ungenerous to himself” (Koran 47:38). These statements should be interpreted along the lines of the evangelical saying: “Whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it: but whoever loses his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:25). This is confirmed by yet another Koranic passage: “Why is it that when it is said to you: ‘March in the cause of Allah.’ you linger slothfully in the land? Are you content with this life in preference to the life to come?” (Koran, 9:38) “Say: ‘Are you waiting for anything to befall us except victory or martyrdom?'” (Koran, 9:52).

Another passage is relevant as well: “Fighting is obligatory for you, as much as you dislike it. But you may hate a thing although it is good for you, and love a thing although it is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not.” (Koran, 2:216). This passage should also be connected with the following one:

“They were content to be with those that stayed behind: a seal was set upon their hearts, leaving them bereft of understanding. But the Apostle and the men who shared his faith fought with their goods and their persons. These shall be rewarded with good things. They shall surely prosper. Allah has prepared them gardens watered by running streams, in which they shall abide forever. That is the supreme triumph.” (Koran, 9:88 – 9:89)

This place of “rest” (paradise) symbolizes the superindividual states of being, the realization of which is not confined to the post-mortem alone,as the following passage indicates: “As for those who are slain in the cause of Allah, He will not allow their works to perish. he will vouchsafe them guidance and ennoble their state; He will admit them to the paradise He has made known to them.” Koran (47:5-7). In the instance of real death in battle, we find the equivalent of the mors triumphalis found in classical traditions. Those who have experienced the “greater holy war” during the “lesser holy war”, have awakened a power that most likely will help them overcome the crisis of death; this power, having already liberated them from the “enemy” and from the “infidel”, will help them avoid the fate of Hades. This is why in classical antiquity the hope of the deceased and the piety of his relatives often caused figures of heroes and of victors to be inscribed on the tombstones. It is possible, however, to go through death and conquer, as well as achieve, the superlife and to ascend to the “heavenly realm” while still alive.

The Meaning and Context of Zen by Julius Evola

(from “Lo Zen,” Roma, Fondazione Julius Evola, Quaderni di testi evoliani, nº 15, 1981. English trans. by Guido Stucco, Holmes Publishing Group, 1994.)

We know the kind of interest Zen has evoked even outside specialized disciplines, since being popularized in the west by D.T. Suzuki through his books Introduction to Zen Buddhism and Essays in Zen Buddhism. This popular interest is due to the paradoxical encounter between East and West. The ailing West perceives that Zen has something “existential” and surrealistic to offer. Zen’s notion of a spiritual realization, free from any faith and any bond, not to mention the mirage of an instantaneous and somehow gratuitous “spiritual breakthrough”, has exercised a fascinating attraction on many Westerners. However, this is true, for the most part, only superficially. There is a considerable difference between the spiritual dimension of the “philosophy of crisis”, which has become popular in the West as a consequence of its materialistic and nihilist development, and the spiritual dimension of Zen, which has been rooted in the spirituality of the Buddhist tradition. Any true encounter between Zen and the West, presupposes, in a Westerner, either an exceptional predisposition, or the capability to operate a metanoia. By metanoia I mean an inner turnabout, affecting not so much one’s intellectual “attitudes”, but rather a dimension which in every time and in every place has been conceived as a deeper reality.

Zen has a secret doctrine and not to be found in scriptures. It was passed on by the Buddha to his disciple Mahakassapa. This secret doctrine was introduced in China around the sixth century C.E. by Bodhidharma. The canon was transmitted in China and Japan through a succession on teachers and “patriarchs”. In Japan it is a living tradition and has many advocates and numerous Zendos (“Halls of Meditation”).

As far as the spirit informing the tradition is concerned, Zen may be considered as a continuation of early Buddhism. Buddhism arose as a vigorous reaction against the theological speculation and the shallow ritualism into which the ancient Hindu priestly caste had degraded after possessing a sacred, lively wisdom since ancient times. Buddha mad tabula rassa of all this: he focused instead on the practical problem of how to overcome what in the popular mind is referred to as “life’s suffering”. According to esoteric teachings, this suffering was considered as the state of caducity, restlessness, “thirst” and the forgetfulness typical of ordinary people. Having followed the path leading to spiritual awakening and to immortality without external aid, Buddha pointed the way to those who felt an attraction to it. It is well known that Buddha is not a name, but an attribute or a title meaning “the awakened One”, “He who has achieved enlightenment”, or “the awakening”. Buddha was silent about the content of his experience, since he wanted to discourage people from assigning to speculation and philosophizing a primacy over action. Therefore, unlike his predecessors, he did not talk about Brahman (the absolute), or about Atman (the transcendental Self), but only employees the term nirvana, at the risk of being misunderstood. Some, in fact, thought, in their lack of understanding, that nirvana was to be identified with the notion of “nothingness”, an ineffable and evanescent transcendence, almost bordering on the limits of the unconscious and of a state of unaware non-being. So, in a further development of Buddhism, what occurred again, mutatis mutandi, was exactly the situation against which Buddha had reacted; Buddhism became a religion, complete with dogmas, rituals, scholasticism and mythology. It eventually became differentiated into two schools: Mahayana and Hinayana. The former was more grandiose in metaphysics an Mahayana eventually grew complacent with its abstruse symbolism. The teachings of the latter school were more strict and to the point, and yet too concerned about the mere moral discipline which became increasingly monastic. Thus the essential and original nucleus, namely the esoteric doctrine of the enlightenment, was almost lost.

At this crucial time Zen appeared, declaring the uselessness of these so-called methods and proclaiming the doctrine of satori. Satori is a fundamental inner event, a sudden existential breakthrough, corresponding in essence to what I have called the “awakening”. But this formulation was new and original and it constituted a radical change in approach. Nirvana, which had been variously considered as the alleged Nothingness, as extinction, and as the final end result of an effort aimed at obtaining liberation (which according to some may require more than one lifetime), now came to be considered as the normal human condition. By these lights, every person has the nature of Buddha and every person is already liberated, and therefore, situated above and beyond birth and death. It is only necessary to become aware of it, to realize it, to see within one’s nature, according to Zen’s main expression. Satori is like a timeless opening up. On the one hand, satori is something sudden and radically different from all the ordinary human states of consciousness; it is like a catastrophic trauma within ordinary consciousness. On the other hand, satori is what leads one back to what, in a higher sense, should be considered as normal and natural; thus, it is the exact opposite of an ecstasis, or trance. It is the rediscovery and the appropriation of one’s true nature: it is the enlightenment which draws out of ignorance or out of the subconscious the deep reality of what was and will always be, regardless of one’s condition in life. The consequence of satori is a completely new way to look at the world and at life. To those who have experienced it, everything is the same (things, other beings, one’s self, “heaven, the rivers and the vast earth”), and yet everything is fundamentally different. It is as if a new dimension was added to reality, transforming the meaning and value. According to the Zen Masters, the essential characteristic of the new experience is the overcoming of every dualism: of the inner and outer; the I and not I; of finitude and infinity; being and not-being; appearance and reality; “empty” and “full”; substance and accidents. Another characteristic is that any value posed by the finite and confused consciousness of the individual, is no longer discernible. And thus, the liberated and the non-liberated, the enlightened and the non-enlightened, are yet one and same thing. Zen effectively perpetuates the paradoxical equation of Mahayana Buddhism, nirvana-samsara, and the Taoist saying “the return is infinitely far”. It is as if Zen said: liberation should not be looked for in the next world; the very world is the next world; it is liberation and it does not need to be liberated. This is the point of view of satori, of perfect enlightenment, of “transcendent wisdom” (prajnaparamita)

Basically, this consciousness is a shift of the self’s center. In any situation and in any event of ordinary life, including the most trivial ones, the ordinary, dualistic and intellectual sense of one’s self is substituted with a being who no longer perceives an “I” opposed to a “non-I”, and who transcends and overcomes any antithesis. This being eventually comes to enjoy a perfect freedom and incoercibility. He is like the wind, which blows where it wills, and like a naked being which is everything after “letting go” -abandons everything, embracing poverty.

Zen, or at least mainstream Zen, emphasizes the discontinuous, sudden and unpredictable character of satori disclosure. In regard to this, Suzuki was at fault when he took issue with the techniques used in Hindu schools such as Samkya and Yoga. These techniques were also contemplated in early Buddhist texts. Suzuki employed the simile of water, which in a moment turns into ice. He also used the simile of an alarm, which, as a consequence of some vibration, suddenly goes off. There are no disciplines, techniques or efforts, according to Suzuki, which by themselves may lead one to satori. On the contrary, it is claimed that satori often occurs spontaneously, when one has exhausted all the resources of his being, especially the intellect and logical faculty of understanding. In some cases satori it is said to be facilitated by violent sensations and even by physical pain. Its cause may be the mere perception of an object as well as any event in ordinary life, provided a certain latent predisposition exists in the subject.

Regarding this, some misunderstandings may occur. Suzuki acknowledged that “generally speaking, there are no indications on the inner work preceding satori”. However, he talked about the necessity of first going through “a true baptism of fire”. After all, the very institution of the so-called “Halls of Meditation” (Zendo), where those who strive to obtain a satori submit themselves to a regimen of life which is partially analogous to that of some Catholic religious orders, bespeaks the necessity of a preliminary preparation. This preparation may last for several years. The essence of Zen seems to consist in a maturation process, identical to the one in which one almost reaches a state of an acute existential instability. At that point, the slightest push is sufficient to produce a change of state, a spiritual breakthrough, the opening which leads to the “intuitive vision of one’s nature”. The Masters know the moment in which the mind of the disciple is mature and ready to open up; it is ten that they eventually give the final. Decisive push. This push may sometimes consist of a simple gesture, an exclamation, in something apparently irrelevant, or even illogical and absurd. This suffices to induce the collapse of the false notion of individuality. Thus, satori replaces this notion with the “normal state”, and one assumes the “original face, which one had before creation”. One no longer “chases after echoes” and “shadows”. This under some aspects brings to mind the existential theme of “failure”, or of “being shipwrecked” (das Scheitern, in Kierkegaard and in Jaspers). In fact, as I have mentioned, the opening often takes place when all the resources of one’s being have been exhausted and one has his back against the wall. This can be seen in relation to some practical teachings methods used by Zen. The most frequently employed methods, on an intellectual plane, are the koan and the mondo. The disciple is confronted with a saying or with questions which are paradoxical, absurd and sometimes even grotesque and “surrealistic”. He must labor with his mind, if necessary for years, until he has reached the extreme limit of all his normal faculties of comprehension. Then, if he dares proceed further on that road he may find catastrophe, but if he can turn the situation upside down, he may achieve metanoia. This is the point where satori is usually achieved.

Zen’s norm is that of absolute autonomy; no gods, no cults, no idols. To literally empty oneself of everything, including God. “If you meet Buddha on the road, kill him”, a saying goes. It is necessary to abandon everything, without leaning on anything, and then to proceed forward, with one’s essence, until the crisis point is reached. It is very difficult to say more about satori, or to compare it with various forms of initiatory mystical experience whether Eastern or Western. One is supposed to spend only the training period in Zen monasteries. Once the disciple has achieved satori, he return to the world, choosing a way of life that fits his need. One may think of satori as a form of transcendence which is brought to immanence, as a natural state, in every form of life.

The behavior which proceeds from the newly acquired dimension, which is added to reality as a consequence of satori, may well be summarized by Lao Tzu’s expression: “To be the whole in the part”. In regard to this, it is important to realize the influence which Zen has exercised on the Far-Eastern way of life. Zen has been called “the samurai’s philosophy,” and it had also been said that “the way of Zen is identical to the way of archery,” or to the “way of the sword”. This means that any activity in one’s life, may be permeated by Zen and thus be elevated to a higher meaning, to a “wholesomeness” and to an “impersonal activity”. This kind of activity is based on a sense of the individual’s irrelevance, which nevertheless does not paralyze one’s actions, but which rather confers cam and detachment. This detachment, in turn, favors an absolute and “pure” undertaking of life, which in some cases reaches extreme and distinct forms of self-sacrifice and heroism, inconceivable to the majority of Westerners (e.g. the kamikaze in WWII).

Thus, what C.G. Jung claims is simply ridiculous, namely that Psychoanalysis, more than any other Western school of thought, is capable of understanding Zen. According to Jung, satori coincides with the state of wholeness, devoid of complexes or inner splitting, which psychoanalytic treatment claims to achieve whenever the intellect’s obstructions and its sense of superiority are removed, and whenever the conscious dimension of the soul is reunited with the unconscious and with “Life”. Jung did not realize that the methods and presuppositions of Zen, are exactly the opposite of his own. There is no “subconscious”, as a distinct entity, to which the conscious has to be reconnected; Zen speaks of a superconscious vision (enlightenment, bodhi or “awakening”), which actualizes the “original and luminous nature” and which, in so doing, destroys the unconscious. It is possible though, to notice similarities between Jung’s view’s and Zen’, since they both talk about the feeling of one’s “totality” and freedom which is manifested in every aspect of life. However, it is important to explain the level at which these views appear to coincide.

Once Zen found its way to the West, there was a tendency to “domesticate” and to moralize it, playing down its potential radical and “antinomian” (namely, antithetical to current norms) implications, and by emphasizing the standard ingredients which are held so dear by “spiritual” people, namely love and service to one’s neighbor, even though these ingredients have been purified in an impersonal and non-sentimental form. Generally speaking, there are many doubts on the “practicability” o f Zen, considering that the “doctrine of the awakening” has an initiatory character.

Thus, it will only be able to inspire a minority of people, in contrast to later Buddhist views, which took the form of a religion open to everyone, for the most part a code of mere morality. As the re-establishment of the spirit of early Buddhism, Zen should have strictly been an esoteric doctrine. It has been so as we can see by examining the legend concerning its origins. However, Suzuki himself was inclined to give a different account; he emphasized those aspects of Mahayana which “democratize” Buddhism (after all, the term Mahayana has been interpreted to mean “Great Vehicle”, even in the sense that it extends to wider audiences, and not just to a few elect). If one was to fully agree with Suzuki, some perplexities on the nature and on the scope of satori may arise. One should ask whether such an experience merely affects the psychological, moral or mental domain, or whether it affects the ontological domain, as is the case in every authentic initiation. In that event, it can only be the privilege a very restricted number of people.

EUROPEAN DECADENCE from Imperialismo pagano by Julius Evola

Present Western “civilization” awaits a substantial upheaval (rivolgimento), without which it is destined, sooner or later, to smash its own head. It has carried out the most complete perversion of the rational order of things. Reign of matter, gold, machines, numbers; in this civilization there is no longer breath or liberty or light. The West has lost its ability to command and to obey. It has lost its feeling for contemplation and action. It has lost its feeling for values, spiritual power, godlike men (uomini-idii). It no longer knows nature. No longer a living body made of symbols, gods, and ritual act, no longer a harmony, a cosmos in which man moves freely like “a kingdom within a kingdom”, nature has assumed for the Westerner a dull and fatal exteriority whose mystery the secular sciences seek to bury in trifling laws and hypotheses. It no longer knows Wisdom. It ignores the majestic silence of those who have mastered themselves: the enlightened calm of seers, the exalted reality of those in whom the idea becomes blood, life, and power. Instead it is drowning in the rhetoric of “philosophy” and “culture”, the speciality of professors, journalists, and sportsmen who issue plans, programs, and proclamations. Its wisdom has been polluted by a sentimental, religious, humanitarian contagion and by a race of frenzied men who run around noisily celebrating becoming (divenire) and “practice”, because silence and contemplation alarm them.

It no longer knows the state, the state as value (stato-valore) crystallized in the Empire. Synthesis of the sort of spirituality and majesty that shone brightly in Chinaa, Egypt, Persia, and Rome, the imperial ideal has been overwhelmed by the bourgeois misery of a monopoly of slaves and traders.

Europe’s formidable “activists” no longer know what war is, war desired in and of itself as a virtue higher than winning or losing, as that heroic and sacred path to spiritual fulfilment exalted by the god Krishna in the Baghavad Gita. They know not warriors, only soldiers. And a crummy little war (guerricciola) was enough to terrorize them and drive them to rehashing the rhetoric of humanitarianism, and pathos or, worse still, of windbag nationalism and Dannunzianism.

Europe has lost its simplicity, its central position, its life. A democratic plague is eating away at its roots, whether in law, science, or speculation. Gone are the leaders, beings who stand out not for their violence, their gold, or for their skills as slave traders but rather for their irreducible qualities of life. Europe is a great irrelevant body, sweating and restless because of an anxiety that no one dares to express. Gold flows in its veins; its flesh is made up of machines, factories, and laborers; its brains are of newsprint. A great irrelevant body tossing and turning, driven by dark and unpredictable forces that mercilessly crush whoever wants to oppose or merely escape the cogwheels.

Such are the achievements of Western “civilization”. This is the much ballyhooed result of the superstitious faith in “progress”, progress beyond Roman imperiousness, beyond radiant Hellas, beyond the ancient Orient – the great ocean.

And the few who are still capable of great loathing and great rebellion find themselves ever more tightly encircled.

On the dark age

from Revolt Against the Modern World by Julius Evola, 1896

In reference to what I previously said concerning what ancient traditions called the Dark Age (Kali Yuga), I will now describe some of the features of this age found in an ancient Hindu text, the Visnu Purana. I will put in brackets what I consider to be the contemporary applications.

Outcastes and barbarians will be masters of the banks of the Indus, Darvika, the Chandrabhaga and Kashmir. These will all be contemporary rulers [of this age] reigning over the earth: kings [rulers] of violent temper…..They will seize upon the property of their subjects; they will be of limited power and will for the most part rapidly rise and fall; their lives will be short, their desires insatiable, and they will display but little piety. The people of various countries intermingling with them will follow their example…..The prevailing caste will be the Shudra…..Vaisyas will abandon agriculture and commerce and gain a livelihood by servitude or the exercise of mechanical arts [proletarization and industrialization]…..Kshyatrias instead of protecting will plunder their subjects: and under the pretext of levying customs will rob merchants of their property [crisis of capitalism and of private property; socialization, nationalization, and communism]…..Wealth [inner] and piety [following one’s dharma] will decrease day by day until the whole world will be wholly depraved. Then property alone will confer rank [the quantity of dollars – economic classes]; wealth [material] will be the only source of devotion; passion will be the sole bond of union between the sexes; falsehood will be the only means of success in litigation….. Earth will be venerated but for its mineral treasures [unscrupulous exploitation of the soil, demise of the cult of the earth]….. Brahmanical clothes will constitute a Brahman…..weakness will be the cause of dependence [cowardice, death of fides and honor in the modern political forms]…..simple ablution [devoid of the power of the true rite] will be purification [can there really be anything more in the alleged salvation procured in the Christian sacraments?]….. In the Kali age men corrupted by unbelievers…will say: “Of what authority are the Vedas? What are gods or Brahmans?…..” Observance of caste, order and institutes [traditional] will not prevail in the Kali age. Marriages in this age will not be conformable to the ritual, nor will the rules which connect the preceptor and his disciple be in force…..A regenerated man will be initiated in any way whatever [democracy applied to the spiritual plain] and such acts of penance as may be performed will be unattended by any results [this refers to a “humanistic” and conformist religion]…..all orders of life will be common alike to all persons….. He who gives away much money will be the master of men and family descent will no longer be a title of supremacy [the end of traditional nobility, advent of bourgeoisie, plutocracy]….. Men will fix their desires upon riches, even though dishonestly acquired…..Men of all degrees will conceit themselves to be equal with Brahmans [the prevarication and presumption of the intellectuals and modern culture]…..The people will be almost always in dread of dearth and apprehensive of scarcity; and will hence ever be watching the appearances of the sky [the meaning of the religious and superstitious residues typical of modern masses]….. The women will pay no attention to the commands of their husbands or parents…..They will be selfish, abject and slatternly; they will be scolds and liars; they will be indecent and immoral in their conduct and will ever attach themselves to dissolute men….. Men having deviated into heresy, iniquity will flourish, and the duration of life will therefore decrease. Nevertheless, in the Visnu Parana there are also references to elements of the primordial or “Manu’s” race that have been preserved in this Dark Age in order to be the seed of new generations; what appears again is the well-known idea of a new and final epiphany “from above”:

When the practices taught by the Vedas and the institutes of law shall nearly have ceased, and the close of the Kali age shall be nigh, a portion of that devine being who exists of his own spiritual nature in the character of Brahma, and who is the beginning and the end, and who comprehends all things, shall descend upon the earth…..He will then reestablish righteousness upon earth; and the minds of those who live at the end of the Kali age shall be awakened, and shall be pellucid as crystal. The men who are thus changed by virtue of that peculiar time shall be the seeds of [new] human beings, and shall give birth to a race who shall follow the laws of the Krita age, or age of purity [primordial age]. In the same text and chapter it is said that the stock from which this divine principal will be born lives in the village of Shambhala; Shambhala – as I previously suggested – refers to the metaphysics of the “center” and the “pole,” to the Hyperborean mystery and the forces of primordial tradition.

The occult war

Excerpt from “Men Among the Ruins” by Julius Evola

Various causes have been adduced to explain the crisis that has affected and still affects the life of modern peoples: historical, social, socioeconomic, political, moral, and cultural causes, according to different perspectives. The part played by each of these causes should not be denied. However, we need to ask a higher and essential question: are these always the first causes and do they have an inevitable character like those causes found in the material world? Do they supply an ultimate explanation or, in some cases, is it necessary to identify influences of a higher order, which may cause what has occurred in the West to appear very suspicious, and which, beyond the multiplicity of individual aspects, suggest that there is the same logic at work?

The concept of occult war must be defined within the context of the dilemma. 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 emphasizes the dimension of depth, or the “subterranean” dimension in which forces and influences often act in a decisive manner, and which, more often not than not, cannot be reduced to what is merely human, whether at an individual or a collective level.

Having said that, it is necessary to specify the meaning of the term “subterranean.” We should not think, in this regard, of a dark and irrational background which stands in relation to the known forces of history as the unconscious stands to consciousness, in the way the latter relationship is discussed in the recently developed “Depth Psychology.” If anything, we can talk about the unconscious only in regard to those who, according to the three-dimensional view, appear to be history’s objects rather than its subjects, since in their thoughts and conduct they are scarcely aware of the influences which they obey and the goals that they contribute toward achieving. In these people, the center falls more in the unconscious and the pre-conscious than in the clear reflected consciousness, no matter what they-who are often men of action and ideologues-believe. Considering this relation, we can say that the most decisive actions of the occult war take place in the human unconscious. However, if we consider the true agents of history in the special aspects we are now discussing, things are otherwise: here we cannot talk of the subconscious or the unconscious, since we are dealing with intelligent forces that know very well what they want and what are the means most suited to achieve their objectives.

The third dimension of history should not be diluted in the fog of abstract philosophical or sociological concepts, but should rather be thought of as a “backstage” dimension where specific “intelligences” are at work.

An investigation of the secret history that aspires to be positivist and scientific should not be too lofty or removed from reality. However, it is necessary to assume as the ultimate reference point a dualistic scheme not dissimilar from the one found in an older tradition. Catholic historiography used to regard history not only as a mechanism of natural, political, economic, and social causes, but also as the unfolding of divine Providence, to which hostile forces are opposed. These forces are sometimes referred to in a moralistic fashion as “forces of evil,” or in a theological fashion as the “forces of the Anti-Christ.” Such a view has a positive content, provided it is purified and emphasized by bringing it to a less religious and more metaphysical plane, as was done in Classical and Indo-European antiquity: forces of the cosmos against forces of chaos. To the former correspond everything that is form, order, law, spiritual hierarchy, and tradition in the higher 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. This is what can be said in regard to the ultimate reference points of the various influences that act upon the realm of tangible causes, behind known history. These must be taken into account, though with some prudence. Let me repeat: aside from this necessary metaphysical background, let us never lose sight of concrete history.

Methodologically speaking, we need to be careful to prevent valid insights from degenerating into fantasies and superstition, and not develop the tendency to see an occult background everywhere and at all costs. In this regard, every assumption we make must have the character of what are called “working hypotheses” in scientific research: as when something is admitted provisionally, thus allowing the gathering and arranging of a group of apparently isolated facts, only to confer on them a character not of hypothesis but of truth when, at the end of a serious inductive work, the data converge in validating the original assumption. Every time an effect outlasts and transcends its tangible causes, a suspicion should arise, and a positive or negative influence behind the stages should be perceived. A problem is posited, but in analyzing it and seeking its solution, prudence must be exercised. 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 could hardly be overestimated. This too meets the expectations of the hidden enemy.

After considering the state of society and modern civilization, one should ask if this is not a specific case that requires the application of this method; in other words, one should ask whether some situations of real crisis and radical subversion in the modern world can be satisfactorily explained through “natural” and spontaneous processes, or whether we need to refer to something that has been concerted, namely a still unfolding plan, devised by forces hiding in the shadows.

REGRESSION OF THE CASTES (Julius Evola)

As my intent was to offer a bird’s-eye view of history, in the previous pages I have presented all the elements necessary to formulate an objective law at work in the various stages of the process of decadence, that is, the law of the regression of castes (1). A progressive shift of power and type of civilization has ocurred from one caste to the next since prehistoric times (from sacred leaders, to a warrior aristocracy, to the merchants, and finally to the serfs); these castes in traditional civilizations corresponded to the qualitative differentiation of the main human possibilities. In the face of this general movement anything concerning the various conflicts among peoples, the life of nations, or other historical accidents plays only a secondary and contingent role.

I have alredy discussed the dawn of the age of the first caste. In the West, the representatives of the divine royalty and the leaders who embody the two powers (spiritual and temporal), in what I have called “spiritual virility” and “Olympian sovereignity,” belong to a very distant and almost mythical past. We have seen how, through the gradual deterioration of the Light of the North, the process of decadence has unfolded; in the Ghibelline ideal of the Holy Roman Empire I have identified the last echo of the highest tradition.

Once the appex dissapeared, authority descended to the level inmediately below, that is, to the caste of the warriors. The stage was then set for monarchs who were mere military leaders, lords of temporal justice and, in more recent times, politically absolute sovereigns. In other words, regality of blood replaced regality of the spirit. In a few instances it is still posible to find the idea of “divine right,” but only as a formula lacking a real content. We find such rulers in antiquity behind institutions that retained the traits of the ancient sacred regime only in a formal way. In any event in the West, with the dissolution of the medieval ecumene, the passage into the second phase became all-enbracing and definitive. During this stage, the fides cementing the state no longer had a religious character, but only a warrior one; it meant loyalty, faithfulness, honor. This was essentially the age and the cycle of the Great European monarchies.

Then a second collapse ocurred as the aristocracies began to fall into decay and the monarchies to shake at the foundations; through revolutions and constitutions they became useless institutions subject to the “will of the nation,” and sometimes they were even ousted by different regimes. The principle characterizyng this state of affairs was: “The king reigns but he does not rule.” Together with parliamentary republics the formation of the capitalist oligarchies revealed the shift of power from the second caste (the warrior) to the modern equivalent of the third caste (the mercantile class). The kings of the coal, oil, and iron industries replace the previous kings of blood and of spirit. Antiquity, too, sometimes knew this phenomenon in sporadics forms; in Rome and in Greece the “aristocracy of welth” repatedly forced the han of the hierarchical structure by pursuing aristocratic positions, undermining sacred laws and traditional institutions, and inflitrating the militia, priesthood, or consulship. In later times what ocurred was the rebelion of the communes and the rise of the various madieval formations of mercantile power. The solemn proclamation of the “rights of the Third Estate” in France represented the decisive stage, followed by the varieties of “bourgeois revolution” of the third caste, which employed liberal and democratic ideologies for its own purposes. Correspondingly, this era was characterized by the theory of the social contract. At this time the social bond was no longer a fides of a warrior type based on relationships of faithfulness and honor. Instead, it took on a utilitarian and economic character; it consisted of an agreement based on personal convenience and on material interest that only a merchant could have conceived. Gold became a means ad powerful tool; those who knew how to acquire it and to multiply it (capitalism, high finance, industrial trusts), behind the appereances of democracy, virtually controlled political power and the instruments employed in the art of opinionmaking. Aristocracy gave way to plutocracy, the warrior, to the banker and industrialist. The economy triumphed on all fronts. Trafficking with money and charging interest, activities previouly confined to the ghettos, invaded the new civilisation. According to the expression of W. Sombart, in the promised land of Protestant puritanism, Americanism, capitalism, and the “destilled Jewish spirit” coexist. It is natural that given these congenial premises, the modern representatives of secularized Judaism saw the ways to achieve world domination open up before them. In this regard, Karl Marx wrote:

What are the mundane principles of Judaism? Practical necessity and the pursuit of one’s own advantage. What is its earthly god? Money. The Jew has emancipated himself in a typically Jewish fashion not only in that he has taken control of the power of money, but also in that through him, money has become a world power and the practical Jewish spirit of the Christian people. The Jews have emancipated themselves insofar as the Christians have become Jews. The god of the Jews has become secularized and has become the god of the earth. The exchange is the true god of the Jews. (2)

In reality, the codification of the traffic with gold as a loan charged with interest, to which the Jews had been previously devoted since they had no other means through which they could affirm themselves, may be said to be the very foundation of the acceptance of the aberrant development of all that is banking, high finance, and pure economy, which are spreading like a cancer in the modern world. This is the fundamental time in the “age of the merchants”.

Finally the crisis of bourgeois society, classs truggle, the proletarian revolt against capitalism, the manifest promulgated at the “Third International” in 1919, and the correlative organization of the groups and the masses in the cadres proper to a “socialist civilization of labor” -all these bear witness to the third collapse, in which power tends to pass into the hands of the lowest of the traditional castes, the caste of the beasts of burden and the standardized individuals. The result of this transfer of power was a reduction of horizon and value to the plane of matter, the machine, and the reign of quantity. The prelude to this was the Russian Revolution. Thus, the new ideal became the “proletarian” ideal of a universal and communist civilization. (3)

We may compare the above mentioned phaenomenon of the awakening and gushing forth of elemental subhuman forces within the structures of the modern world to a person who can no longer endure the tension of the spirit (first caste), and eventually not even the tension of the will as afree force that animates the body (warrior caste), and who thus gives in to the subpersonal forces of the organic system and all of a sudden reacts almost magnetically under the impulse of another life taht replaces his own. The ideas and the passions of the demos soon escape men´s control and they begin to act as if they had acquired an autonomous and dreadful life of their own. These passions pit nations and collectivities against each other and result in unprecedented conflicts and crises. At the end of the process, once the total collapse has ocurred, the awaits an international system under the brutal symbols of the hammer and the sickle.

Such are the horizons facing the contemporary world. Just as it is only by adhering to free activity that man can truly be free and realize his own self, likewise, by focusing on practical and utilitarian goals, economic achievements, and whatever was once the exclusive domain of the inferior castes man abdicates, desintegrates, loses his center, and opens himself to infernal forces of which he is destined to become the unwilling and unconscious instrument. Moreover, contemporary society looks like an organism that has shifted from a human to a subhuman type, in which every activity and reaction is determined by the needs of the dictate of purely physical life. Man’s dominating principles are those of the material part of traditional hierarchies: gold and work. This is how things are today; these two elements, almost without exception ,affect every possibility of existence and give shape to the ideoloies and myths that clearly testify to the gravity of he modern perversion of all values.

Not only has the quadripartite regression have a sociopolitical scope, but it also inverts every domain of civilization. In architecture the regression is symbolized by the shift from the temple (first caste) as the dominant building, to the fortress and castle (caste of warriors), to the citystate surrounded by protecting walls (age of the merchants) , to the factory, and finally to the rational and dull buildings that are the hives of the mass-man. The family, which in the origins has a sacred foundation, shifted to an authoritarian model (patria potestas in a mere juridical sense), then to a bourgeois and conventional one, until it will finally disolve when the party, the people, and society will supersede in importance and dignity. The notion of war underwent analogous phases: from the doctrine of the “sacred war” and of the mors triumpalis a shift occured to the war waged in the name of the right and of the honor of one’s lord (warrior caste); in the third stage conflicts are brought about by national ambitions that are contingent upon the plans and the interests of a supremacist economy and industry (caste of merchants); finally there arose the communist theory according to which war among nations is just a bourgeois residue, since the only just war is the world revolution of the proletarian class waged against the capitalist and the so-called imperialist world (caste of serfs). In the aesthetic dimension a shift occurred from a symbolic, sacred art closely related to the possibilities of predicing future evets and magic (first caste), to the predominance of epic art and poems (caste of the warriors); this was followed by a shift to a romantic, conventional, sentimentalist, erotic, and psychological art that is produced for the consumption of the bourgeois class, until finally, new “social” or “socially involved” views of art begin to emerge that advocate an art for the use and consumption of the masses. The traditional work knew the superindividual unity characterizing the orders: in the West first came ascetics, monastic orders; these were followed by knightly orders (caste of the warriors), which in turn were followed by the unity sworn to in Masonic lodges, which worked hard to prepare the revolution of the Third Estate and the advent of democracy. Finally there came the network of revolutionary and activist cadres of the Communist International (last caste), bent on the destruction of the previous sociopolitical order.

It is on the plane of ethics that the process of degradation is particularly visible. While the first age was characterized by the ideal of “sipirital virility”, initiation, and an ethics aimed at overcoming all human bonds; and while the age of the warriors was characterized by the ideal of heroism, victory, and lorship, as well as by the aristocratic ethics of honor, faithfulness, and chevalry, during the age of the merchants the predominant ideals where of pure economics, profit prosperity, an of science as an instrument of a technical and industrial progress that propels production and new profits in a “consumer society”. Finally the advent of the serfs corresponds to the elevation of the slave’s principle -work- to the status of a religion. It is the hatred harbored by the slave that sadistically proclaims: “If anyone will not work, neither let him eat” (2 Thess, 3:10). The slave’s self-congratulating stupidity created sacred incenses with the exaltation of human sweat, hence expressions such as “Work ennobles man”; “The religion of work”; and “Work as a social and ethical duty”. We have previouly learned that the ancient world despised work only because it knew action; the opposition of action to work as an opposition between the spiritual, pure and free pole, and the material, impure pole impregnated only with human possibilities, was at the basis of that contempt. The loss of the sense of this opposition and the animal-like subordination of the former to the latter, characterizes the last ages. And when in ancient times every work, through an inner transfiguration owing to its purity and its meaning as an “offering” oriented upwards could redeem itself until it became a symbol of action, now, following an upheaval in the opposite direction (which can be observed during the age of the serfs), every residue of action tends to be degraded to the form of work. The degeneration of the ancient aristocratic and sacred ethics into the modern plebiean and materialistic morality is expressively characterized by such a shift from the plane of action to the plane of work. Superior men who lived in a not so distant past, eother acted or directed actions. Modern man works (4). The only real difference today is that which exists between the various kinds of work; there are “intellectual” workers and those whose their limbs and machines. In any event, the notion of “action” is dying out in the modern world, together with that of absolute personality. Moreover, among all the commissioned arts, antiquity regarded as most disgraceful those devoted to the pursuit of pleasure -minimaeque artes esa probandae, quae ministrae sunt voluptatum (5), this, after all, is precisely the kind of work respected the most in this day and age. Begining with the scientist, technician, and politician, and with the rationalyzed system of productive organization, “work” supposedly leads to the realization of an ideal more fitting for a human animal: an easier life that is more enjoyable and safer with the maximization of one’s well-being and physical comfort. The contemporary breed of artists and of “creative minds” of the burgoise is the equivalent of that class of “luxury servants” that catered to the pleasure and distractions of the Roman patriciate and later on, of the medieval feudal lords.

Then again, while the themes proper to this degradation find their most characteristics expressions on the social plane and in contemporary life, they do not fail to make an appearance on the ideal and speculative plane. It was precisely during the age of humanism that the antitraditional and plebeian theme emerged in the views of Giordano Bruno who, by inverting traditional values, extolled the age of human effort and work over and against the Golden Age (of which he knew absolutely nothing) in a masochistic fashion and with authentic stupidity. Bruno called “divine” the brutish drive of human need, since such a drive is responsible for producing “increasingly wonderful arts and inventions”, for removing mankind further from the Golden Age that he regarded as animalistic and lazy, and for drawing human beings closer to God (6). In all this we find an anticipation of those ideologies that, by virtue of being significantly connected to the age of the French Revolution, regarded work as the main element of the social myth and revived the messianic theme in terms of work and machines, all the while singing the praises of progress. Moreover, modern man, whether consciously or unconsciously, began to apply to the universe and project on an ideal plane the experiences that he nurtured in the workshops and factories and by which the soul became a product. Bergson, who exalted the élan vital, is the one who drew the analogy as only a modern could between technical productive activity inspired by a mere practical principle and the ways of intelligence itself. Having covered with ridicule the ancient “inert” idea of knowledge as contemplation,

The entire effort of modern epistemology in its most radical trajectories consists in assimilating knowledge to productive work, according to the postulates: “To know is to do” and “One can only really know what one does” (7).

Verum et factum convertuntur. And since according to the unrealism typical of these currents, (a) “to be” means “to know”; (b) the spirit is identified with the idea; and (c) the productive and immanent knowing process is identified with the process of reality, the way of the fourth caste is reflected in the highest regions and posits itself as their foundational “truth”. Likewise, there is an activism on the plane of philosophical theories that_ appears to be in agreement with the world created by the advent of the last caste and its “civilization of work”.

Generally speaking, this advent is reflected in the abovementioned modern ideologies of “progress” and Evolution”, which have distorted a “scientific” irresponsibility any superior vision of history, promoted the definitive abandonment of traditional truths, and created the most specious alibis for the justification and glorification of modern man. The myth of evolutionism is nothing else but the profession of faith of the upstart. If in recent times the West no longer believes in the nobility of the origins but in the notion that civilization arises out of barbarism, religion from superstition, man from animal, (Darwin), thought from matter, and every spiritual form from the “sublimation” or transposition of the stuff that originates the instinct, libido, and complexes of the “collective unconscious” (Freud, Jung), and so on-we can see in all this not so much the result of a deviated quest, but rather, and above all, and alibi or something that a civilization created by both lower beings and the revolutions of the serfs and pariahs against the ancient aristocratic society necessarily had to believe in and wish to be true. There is not a dimension in which, in one form or another, the evolutionary myth had not succeeded in infiltrating with destructive consequences; the results have been the overthrow of every value, the suppression of all sense of truth, the elaboration and connecting together (as in an unbreakable magical circle) of the world inhabited by a deconsecrated and deluded mankind. In agreement with historicism, so-called post-Hegelian Idealism came to identify the essence of the “Absolute Spirit” with its “becoming” and its “self-creation” -this Spirit was no longer conceived as a Being that is, that dominates, and that possesses itself; the self-made man has almost become the new metaphysical model.

It is not easy to separate the process of regression along the way of gold (age of merchants) from the regression along the way of work (age of serfs), since these ways are interdependent. For all practical purposes, just as today work as a universal duty is no longer perceived as a repugnant, absurd, an unnatural value, likewise, to be paid does not seem repugnant but on the contrary it seems very natural. Money, which no longer “burns” the hands it touches, has established an invisible bond of slavery that is worse and more depraved than that which the high spiritual “stature” of lords and conquerors used to retain and justify.

Just as any form of action tends to become yet another form of work so is it always associated with payment. And while on the one hand action reduced to work is judged by its efficiency in contemporary societies, just as man is valued by his practical success and by his profit; and while, as someone has remarked, Calvin acted as a pimp by seeing that profit and wealth were shrouded in the mysticism of a divine election-on the other hand, the specter of hunger and unemployment lurks upon these new slaves as a more fearful threat than the threat of the whip in ancient times.

In any event, it is possible to distinguish a general phase in which the yearning for profit displayed by single individuals who pursue wealth and power is the central motif (the phase that corresponds to the advent of the third caste) from a further phase that is still unfolding, characterized by a sovereign economy that has become almost independent or collectivized (the advent of the last caste)

In this regard, it is interesting to note that the regression of the principle of “action” to the form proper to the inferior caste (work, production) is often accompanied by an analogous regression with regard to the principle of “asceticism”. What arises is almost a new asceticism of gold and work, because as it is exemplified by representatives figures of this phase, to work and amass a fortune become things that are yearned for and loved for their own sake, as if they were a vocation. Thus we often see, specially in America, powerful capitalists who enjoy their wealth less that the last of their employees; rather than owing riches and being free from them and thus employing them to fund forms of magnificence, quality, and sensibility for various precious and privileged spectacles (as was the case in ancient aristocracies), these people appear to be merely managers of their fortunes. Rich though they may be, they pursue an increasing number of activities; it is almost as if they were impersonal and ascetical instruments whose activity is devoted to gathering, multiplying, and casting into ever wider nets (that sometimes affect the lives of millions of people and the destinies of entire nations) the faceless forces of money and of production (8). Fiat productio, pereat homo, Sombart correctly remarked when noticing that the spiritual destruction and emptiness that man has created around himself, after he became “homo economicus” and a great capitalist entrepreneur, force him to turn his activity (profit, business, prosperity) into an end in itself, to love it and will it for its own sake lest he fall victim to the vertigo of the abyss and the horror of a life is totally meaningless (9).

Even the relationship of the modern economy to the machines is significant with regard to the arousal of forces that surpass the plans of those who initially evoked them and carry everything along them. Once all interest for anything superior and transcendent was either lost or laughed at, the only reference point remaining was man’s need, in a purely material and animal sense. Moreover, the traditional principle of the limitation of one’s need within the context of a normal economy (a balanced economy based on consumption) was replaced with the principle of acceptance and multiplication of need, which paralleled the so-called Industrial Revolution and the advent of the age of the machines. Technological innovations have automatically led mankind from production to overproduction. After the “activist” frenzy as awoken and the frantic circulation of capital-which is multiplied through production in order to be put again in circulation through further productive investments-was set in motion, mankind has finally arrived at a point where the relationship between need and machine (or work) have been totally reversed; it is no longer need that requires mechanical work, but mechanical work (or production) that generates new needs. In a regime of superproduction, in order for all the products to be sold it is necessary that the needs of single individuals, far from being reduced, be maintained an even multiplied so that consumption may increase and the mechanism be kept running in order to avoid the fatal congestion that would bring about one of the following two consequences: either war, understood as the means for a violent affirmation by a greater economic and productive power that claims not to have “enough space”, or unemployment (industrial shutdowns as a response to the crisis on the job and market and in consumerism) with its ensuing crises and social tensions precipitating the insurrection of the Fourth Estate.

As a fire starts another fire until an entire area goes up in flames, this is how the economy has affected the inner essence of modern man through the world that he himself created.. This present “civilization”, starting from Western hotbeds, has extended the contagion to every land that was still healthy and has brought to all strata of society and all races the following “gifts”: restlessness, dissatisfaction, resentment, the need to go further and faster, and the inability to posses one’s life in simplicity, independence, and balance. Modern civilization has pushed man onward; it has generated in him the need for an increasingly greater number of things; it has made him more and more insufficient to himself and powerless. Thus, every new invention and technological discovery, rather than a conquest, really represents a defeat and a new whiplash in an ever faster race blindly taking place within a system of conditionings that are increasingly serious and irreversible and that for the most part go unnoticed. This is how the various paths converge: technological civilization, the dominant role of the economy, and the civilization of production and consumption all complement the exaltation of becoming and progress; in other words, they contribute to the manifestation of the “demonic” element in the modern world (10).

Regarding the degenerated forms of asceticism, I would lie o point out the spirit of a phenomenon that is ore properly connected to the plane of “work” (that is, of the fourth caste). The modern world knows a sublimated version of work in which the latter becomes “desinterested”, disjoined from the economic factor and from the idea of a practical or productive goal an takes an almost ascetic form; I am talking about sport. Sport is a way of working in which the productive objective no longer matters; thus, sport is willed for its own sake as mere activity. Someone has rightly pointed out that sport is the “blue collar” religion (11). Sport is a typical counterfeit of action in the traditional sense of the word. A pointless activity, it is nevertheless still characterized by the same triviality of work and belongs to the same physical and lightless group of activities that are pursued at the various crossroads in which plebeian contamination occurs. Although through the practice of sport it is possible to achieve a temporary evocation of deep forces, what this amounts to is the enjoyment of sensations and a sense of vertigo and at most, the excitement derived from directing one’s energies and winning a competition-without any higher and transfiguring reference, any sense of “sacrifice” or deindividualizing offering being present. Physical individuality is cherished and strengthened by sport; thus the chain is confirmed and every residue of subtler sensibility is suffocated. The human being, instead of growing into an organic being, tends to be reduced to a bundle of reflexes, an almost to a mechanism. It is also very significant that the lower strata of society are the ones that show more enthusiasm for sports, displaying their enthusiasm in great collective forms. Sport may be identified as one of the forewarning signs of that type of society represented by Chigalev in Dostoyevsky’s The Obsessed; after the required time has elapsed for a methodical and reasoned education aimed at extirpating the evil represented by the “I” and by free will, and no longer realizing they are slaves, all the Chigalevs will return to experience the innocence and the happiness of a new Eden. This “Eden” differs from the biblical one only because work will be the dominating universal law. Work as sport and sport as work in a world that has lost the sense of historical cycles, as well as the sense of true personality, would probably be the best way to implement such a messianic idea. Thus, it is not a coincidence that in several societies, whether spontaneously or thanks to the state, great sports organizations have arisen as the appendices of various classes of workers, and vice versa.

NOTES:

* This artícle is the chapter XIV, 2º Part, of Revolt against the modern world, Inner Traditions International, Rochester, USA, 1995. Trad. by Guido Stucco.

1. The idea of regression of the castes, which I had previosly referred to in my pamphlet Imperialismo Pagano (Rome, 1927), was detailed by V. Vezzani and by R. Guénon in his Autorité spirituelle et pouvoir temporel (Paris, 1929); finally, it has been expounded in an independent fashion by H. Berls in Die Heraufkunst des funften Standes (Karlsruhe, 1931). This idea has an analogical correspondence with the tradtional doctrine of the four ages, since each of the four traditional castes embodies the values that have predominated during the quadripartite process of regression.

2. Deutsch-französiche Jahrbücher, Paris, 1844, pp. 190-212.

3. D. Merezhkovsky, Les Mysteres de l’Orient: “The word “proletarian” comes from Latin

proles, which means posterity, generation. Proletarians ‘produce’ and generate with their bodies, but are spiritual eunuchs. They are not men or women, but anonymous ‘comrades’, impersonal ants which are part of the human anthill”.

4. O. Spengler, Untergang des Abendlandes (Wien-Leipzig, 1919, vol. I, pp. 513, 619). Eng. trad.: The decline of the West. The term “action” is here used as synomymous with a spiritual and desinterested activity; thus it may be applied to contemplation, which in the clasical idea was often regarded as the most pure form of activity; it had its object and goal in itself and did not need “anything else” in order to be implemented.

5. Cicero, De offic., I, 42.

6. Giordano Bruno, Spacio della Bestia trionfante, dialogue III.

7. See A. Tilgher, Homo faber, pp. 120-121, 87.

8. See M. Weber, The Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism, in which the Protestant roots of such an “ascetical” version of capitalism are discussed. Originally there was a separation between earning as a “vocation” and the enjoyment of the riches, the latter being looked down upon as a sinful element of the deification and pride of the human creature. Naturally, in the course of the history the original religious considerations were eliminated; today we only find purely secular and unscrupulous forms.

9. W. Sombart, Il borghese.

10. The word “demonic” is obviously not to be understood in the Christian sense of the word. The expression “demonic people” found in the Bhagavadgita applies very much to our contemporaries: “Thus they are beset with innumerable cares which last long, all their life, until death. Their highest aim is sensual enjoyment, and they firmly think that this is all.” (16, 11).

11. A. Tigher, Homo Faber, p. 162.

The Misunderstandings of the New “Paganism” by Julius Evola (Extract from “Grundrisse”, 1942)

It is perhaps appropriate to point out the misunderstandings that are current at the moment in some radical circles, who believe that a solution lies in the direction of a new paganism. This misunderstanding is already visible in the use of terms such as “pagan” and “pagandom”. I myself, having used these expressions as slogans in a book that was published in Italy in 1928, and in Germany in 1934, have cause for sincere regrets.

Certainly the word for pagan or heathen, paganus, appears in some ancient Latin writers such as Livy without an especially negative tone. But this does not alter the fact that with the arrival of the new faith, the word paganus became a decidedly disparaging expression, as used in early Christian apologetics. It derives from pagus, meaning a small town or village, so that paganus refers to the peasant way of thinking: an uncultured, primitive, and superstitious way. In order to promote and glorify the new faith, the apologists had the bad habit of elevating themselves through the denigration of other faiths. There was often a conscious and often systematic disparagement and misrepresentation of almost all the earlier traditions, doctrines, and religions, which were grouped under the contemptuous blanket-term of paganism or heathendom. To this end, the apologists obviously made a premeditated effort to highlight those aspects of the pre-Christian religions and traditions that lacked any normal or primordial character, but were clearly forms that had fallen into decay. Such a polemical procedure lead, in particular, to the characterization of whatever had preceded Christendom, and was hence non-Christian, as necessarily anti-Christian.

One should consider, then, that “paganism” is a fundamentally tendentious and artificial concept that scarcely corresponds to the historical reality of what the pre-Christian world always was in its normal manifestations, apart from a few decadent elements and aspects that derived from the degenerate remains of older cultures.

Once we are clear about this, we come today to a paradoxical realization: that this imaginary paganism that never existed, but was invented by Christian apologists, is now serving as the starting-point for certain so-called pagan circles, and is thus threatening for the first time in history to become a reality–no more and no less than that.

What are the main traits of today’s pagan outlook, as its own apologists believe and declare them to be? The primary one is the imprisonment in Nature. All transcendence is totally unknown to the pagan view of life: it remains stuck in a mixture of Spirit and Nature, in an ambiguous unity of Body and Soul. There is nothing to its religion but a superstitious deification of natural phenomena, or of tribal energies promoted to the status of minor gods. Out of this there arises first of all a blood- and soil-bound particularism. Next comes a rejection of the values of personality and freedom, and a condition of innocence that is merely that of the natural man, as yet unawakened to any truly supra-natural calling. Beyond this innocence there is only lack of inhibition, “sin,” and the pleasure of sinning. In other domains there is nothing but superstition, or a purely profane culture of materialism and fatalism. It is as though only the arrival of Christianity (ignoring certain precursors which are dismissed as insignificant) allowed the world of supra-natural freedom to break through, letting in grace and personality, in contrast to the fatalistic and nature-bound beliefs ascribed to “paganism,” bringing with it a catholic ideal (in the etymological sense of universality) and a healthy dualism, which made it possible to subjugate Nature to a higher law, and for the “Spirit” to triumph over the law of flesh, blood, and the false gods.

These are the main traits of the dominant understanding of paganism, i.e., of everything that does not entail a specifically Christian world-view. Anyone who possesses any direct acquaintance with cultural and religious history, however elementary, can see how incorrect and one-sided this attitude is. Besides, in the early Church Fathers there are often signs of a higher understanding of the symbols, doctrines, and religions of preceding cultures. Here we will give only a sampling.

What most distinguished the pre-Christian world, in all its normal forms, was not the superstitious divinization of nature, but a symbolic understanding of it, by virtue of which (as I have often emphasized) every phenomenon and every event appeared as the sensible revelation of a supra-sensible world. The pagan understanding of the world and of man was essentially marked by sacred symbolism.

Moreover, the pagan way of life was absolutely not that of a mindless innocence, nor a natural abandonment to the passions, even if certain forms of it were obviously degenerate. It was already aware of a healthy dualism, which is reflected in its universal religious or metaphysical conceptions. Here we can mention the dualistic warrior-religion of the ancient Iranian Aryans, already discussed and familiar to all; the Hellenistic antithesis between the “two natures,” between World and Underworld, or the Nordic one between the race of the Ases and the elementary beings; and lastly the Indo-Aryan contrast between sams’ra, the “stream of forms,” and m(o)kthi, “liberation” and “perfection.”

On this basis, all the great pre-Christian cultures shared the striving for a supra-natural freedom, i.e., for the metaphysical perfection of the personality, and they all acknowledged Mysteries and initiations. I have already pointed out that the Mysteries often signified the reconquest of the primordial state, the spirituality of the solar, Hyperborean races, on the foundation of a tradition and a knowledge that were concealed through secrecy and exclusivity from the pollutions of an environment already in decay. We have also seen that in the Eastern lands, the Aryan quality was already associated with a “second birth” achieved through initiation. As for natural innocence as the pagan cult of the body, that is a fairy-tale and not even in evidence among savages, for despite the inner lack of differentiation already mentioned in connection with races “close to nature,” these people inhibit and constrict their lives though countless taboos in a way that is often stricter than the morality of the so-called “positive religions.” And as for that which seems to the superficial view to embody the prototype of such “innocence,” namely the classical ideal, that was no cult of the body: it did not belong on that side of the body-spirit duality, but on the other side. As alreay stated, the classic ideal is that of a Spirit that is so dominant that under certain favorable spiritual conditions it molds Body and Soul to its own image, and thereby achieves a perfect harmony between the inner and the outer.

Lastly, there is an aspiration away from particularism to be found everywhere in the “pagan” world, to which was due the imperial summons that marked the ascending phase of the Nordic-derived races. Such a summons was often metaphysically enhanced and refined, and appeared as the natural consequence of the expansion of the ancient sacred state-concept; also as the form in which the victorious presence of the “higher world” and the paternal, Olympian principle sought to manifest itself in the world of becoming. In this respect we might recall the old Iranian concept of Empire and of the “King of kings,” with its associated doctrine of the hvarenÙ (the “celestial glory” with which the Aryan rulers were endowed), and the Indo-Aryan tradition of the “World-king” or cakravartÓ, etc., right up to the reappearance of these signifiers in the “Olympian” assumptions of the ancient Roman idea of State and Empire. The Roman Empire, too, had its sacred contents, which were systematically misunderstood or undervalued not only by Christendom, but also by the writers of “positive” history. Even the Emperor-cult had the sense of a hierarchical unity at the top of a pantheon, which was a series of separate territorial and ancestral cults belonging to the non-Roman peoples, which were freely respected so long as they kept within their normal boundaries. Finally, concerning the “pagan” unity of the two powers, spiritual and temporal, this was very far from meaning that they were fused As a “solar” race understood it, it expressed the superior rights that must accrue to the spiritual authority at the center of any normal state; thus it was something quite different from the emancipation and “supremacy” of a merely secular state. If we were to make similar amendments in the spirit of true objectivity, the possibilities would be overwhelming.

Further Misunderstandings Concerning the “Pagan” World-View

This having been said, there remains the real possibility of transcending certain aspects of Christianity. But one must be quite clear: the Latin term “transcendere” means literally leaving something behind as one rises upwards, and not downwards! It is worth repeating that the principal thing is not the rejection of Christianity: it is not a matter of showing the same incomprehension towards it as Christianity itself has shown, and largely continues to show, towards ancient paganism. It would rather be a matter of completing Christianity by means of a higher and an older heritage, eliminating some of its aspects and emphasizing other, more important ones, in which this faith does not necessarily contradict the universal concepts of pre-Christian spirituality.

This, alas, is not the path taken by the radical circles we have mentioned. Many of these neo-pagans seem to have fallen into a trap deliberately set for them, often ending up by advocating and defending ideas that more or less correspond to that invented, nature-bound, particularistic pagandom, lacking light and transcendence, which was the polemical creation of a Christian misunderstanding of the pre-Christian world, and which is based, at most, on a few scattered elements of that world in its decline and devolution. And as if this were not enough, people often resort to an anti-Catholic polemic which, whatever its political justification, often drags out and adapts the old clichÈs of a purely modern, rationalist and enlightenment type that have been well-used by Liberalism, Democracy, and Freemasonry. This was also the case, to a degree, with H. S. Chamberlain, and it appears again in a certain Italian movement that has been trying to connect racial thinking with the “idealistic” doctrine of immanence.

There is a general and unmistakable tendency in neo-paganism to create a new, superstitious mysticism, based on the glorification of immanence, of Life and Nature, which is in the sharpest contrast to that Olympian and heroic ideal of the great Aryan cultures of pre-Christian antiquity. It would indicate much more a turning towards the materialistic, maternal, and telluric side, if it did not exhaust itself in foggy and dilettantish philosophizing. To give an example, we might ask what exactly is meant by this “Nature,” on which these groups are so keen? It is little use to point out that it is certainly not the Nature that was experienced and recognized by ancient, traditional man, but a rational construct of the French Encyclopedist period. It was the Encyclopedists who, with definitely subversive and revolutionary motives, made up the myth of Nature as “good,” wise, and wholesome, in opposition to the rottenness of every human “Culture.” Thus we can see that the optimistic nature-myth of Rousseau and the Encyclopedists marches in the same ranks as “natural right,” universalism, liberalism, humanitarianism, and the denial of any positive and structured form of sovereignty. Moreover, the myth in question has absolutely no basis in natural history. Every honest scientist knows that there is no room for “Nature” in the framework of his theories, which have as their object the determination of purely abstract equivalences and mathematical relationships. As far as biological research and genetics are concerned, we can already see the disequilibrium that would occur the moment one held certain laws to be final, when they only apply to a partial aspect of reality. What people call “Nature” today has nothing to do with what nature meant to the traditional, solar man, or to the knowledge of it that was accessible to such a man thanks to his Olympian and regal position. There is no sign of this whatever in the advocates of this new mysticism.

Misunderstandings of more or less the same kind. arise regarding political thought. Paganism is here often used as the synonym for a merely worldly and yet exclusive concept of sovereignty, which turns the relationships upside-down. We have already seen that in the ancient states, the unity of the two powers meant something quite different. It provided the basis for the spiritualization of politics, whereas neo-paganism results in actually politicizing the spiritual, and thereby treading once again the false path of the Gallicans and Jacobins. In contrast, the ancient concept of State and Empire always showed a connection to the Olympian idea.

What shall we think of the attitude that regards Jewry, Rome, the Catholic Church, Freemasonry, and Communism as more or less one and the same thing, just because their presuppositions differ from the plain thinking of the Folk? The Folk’s thinking along these lines threatens to lose itself in the dark, where no differentiation is possible any more. It shows that it has lost the genuine feeling for the hierarchy of values, and that it cannot escape the crippling alternative of destructive internationalism and nationalistic particularism, whereas the traditional understanding of the Empire is superior to both these concepts.

To restrict ourselves to a single example: Catholic dogmatism actually fulfils a useful preventive role by stopping worldly mysticism and suchlike eruptions from below from passing a certain frontier; it makes a strong dam that protects the area where transcendent knowledge and the genuinely supra-natural and non-human elements reign–or at least where they should reign. One may well criticize the way in which such transcendence and knowledge have been understood in Christianity, but one cannot cross over to a “profane” criticism that seizes on some polemical weapon or other, fantasizes over the supposed Aryan nature of the immanence-doctrine, of “natural religion,” the cult of “life,” etc., without really losing one’s level: in short, one does not thereby attain the world of primordial beginnings, but that of the Counter-Tradition or the telluric and primitive modes of being. This would in fact be the very best way of re-converting those people with the best “pagan” talents to Catholicism!

One must be wary of falling into the misunderstandings and errors that we have mentioned, which basically serve only to defend the common enemy. One must try to develop the capacity to place oneself at that level where didactic confusion cannot reach, and where all dilettantism and arbitrary intellectual activity are excluded; where one resists energetically every influence from confused, passionate desires and from the aggressive pleasure in polemics; where, finally and fundamentally, nothing counts but the precise, strict, objective knowledge of the spirit of the Primordial Tradition.

AMERICAN CIVILISATION

Julius Evola

(from Il Conciliatore, no. 10, 1971; translated from the German edition in Deutsche Stimme, no. 8, 1998)

It is remarkable that some authors in France have researched the relationship of German National Socialism to secret societies and initiatic organizations. The motivation for this was the supposed occult background of the Hitler movement. This thesis was first proposed in the well-known and very far-fetched book by Pauwels and Bergier, “Le Matin des Magiciens” (English ed., “The Dawn of Magic”), in which National Socialism was defined as the union of “magical thinking” with technology. The expression used for this was “Tank divisions plus René Guénon”: a phrase that might well have caused that eminent representative of traditional thought and esoteric disciplines to turn indignantly in his grave.

The first misunderstanding here is the confusion of the magical element with the mythical, whereas the two have nothing to do with one another. The role of myths in National Socialism is undeniable, for example in the idea of the Reich, the charismatic Führer, Race, Blood, etc. But rather than calling these “myths,” one should apply to them Sorel’s concept of “motivating energy-ideas” (which is what all the suggestive ideas used by demagogues commonly are), and not attribute to them any magical ingredient. Similarly, no rational person thinks of magic in connection with the myths of Fascism, such as the myth of Rome or that of the Duce, any more than with those of the French Revolution or Communism. The investigation would proceed differently if one went on the assumption that certain movements, without knowing it, were subject to influences that were not merely human. But this is not the case with the French authors. They are not thinking of influences of that kind, but of a concrete nature, exercised by organizations that really existed, among which were some that to various degrees were “secret.” Likewise, some have spoken of “unknown superiors” who are supposed to have called forth the National Socialist movement and to have used Hitler as a medium, though it is unclear what goals they could have had in mind in so doing. If one considers the results, the catastrophic consequences to which National Socialism led, even indirectly, those goals must have been obscure and destructive. One would have to identify the “occult side” of this movement with what Guénon called the “Counter-Initiation.” But the French authors have also proposed the thesis that Hitler the “medium” emancipated himself at a certain point from the “unknown superiors,” almost like a Golem, and that the movement then pursued its fatal direction. But in that case one must admit that these “unknown superiors” can have had no prescience and very limited power, to have been incapable of putting a stop to their supposed medium, Hitler.

A lot of fantasy has been woven on the concrete level about the origin of National Socialism’s themes and symbols. Reference has been made to certain organizations as forerunners, but ones to which it is very difficult to attribute any genuine and factual initiatic character. There is no doubt that Hitler did not invent German racial doctrine, the symbol of the swastika, or Aryan antisemitism: all of these had long existed in Germany. A book entitled “Der Mann, der Hitler die Ideen gab” [The man who gave Hitler his ideas] reports on Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels (the title of nobility was self-bestowed), who had formerly been a Cistercian monk and had founded an Order that already used the swastika; Lanz edited the periodical “Ostara” from 1905 onwards, which Hitler certainly knew, in which the Aryan and antisemitic racial theories were already clearly worked out.

But much more important for the “occult background” of National Socialism is the role of the Thule Society. Things are more complex here. This society grew out of the Germanenorden, founded in 1912, and was led by Rudolf von Sebottendorf, who had been in the East and had published a strange booklet on “Die Praxis der alten türkischen Freimaurerei” [The practice of ancient Turkish Freemasonry]. Practices were described therein that involved the repetition of syllables, gestures, and steps, whose goal was the initiatic transformation of man, such as alchemy had also aimed at. It is unclear what Turkish masonic organization Sebottendorf was in contact with, and also whether he himself practiced the things in question, or merely described them.

Moreover, it cannot be established whether these practices were employed in the Thule Society that Sebottendorf headed. It would be very important to know that, because many top-ranking National Socialist personalities, from Hitler to Rudolf Hess, frequented this society. In a way, Hitler was already introduced to the world of ideas of the Thule Society by Hess during their imprisonment together after the failed Munich Putsch.

At all events, it must be emphasized that the Thule Society was less an initiatic organization than it was a secret society, which already bore the swastika and was marked by a decided antisemitism and by Germanic racial thinking. One should be cautious about the thesis that the name Thule is a serious and conscious reference to a Nordic, Polar connection, in the effort to make a connection with the Hyperborean origins of the Indo-Germans–since Thule appears in ancient tradition as the sacred center or sacred island in the uttermost North. Thule may just be a play on the name “Thale,” a location in the Harz where the Germanenorden held a conference in 1914, at which it was decided to create a secret “völkisch” band to combat the supposed Jewish International. Above all, these ideas were emphasized by Sebottendorf in his book “Bevor Hitler kam” [Before Hitler came], published in Munich in 1933, in which he indicated the myths and the “völkisch” world-view that existed before Hitler.

Thus a serious investigation into Hitler’s initiatic connections with secret societies does not lead far. A few explanations are necessary in regard to Hitler as a “medium” and his attractive power. It seems to us pure fantasy that he owed this power to initiatic practices. Otherwise one would have to assume the same about the psychic power of other leaders, like Mussolini and Napoleon, which is absurd. It is much better to go on the assumption that there is a psychic vortex that arises from mass movements, and that this concentrates on the man in the center and lends him a certain radiation that is felt especially by suggestible people.

The quality of medium (which, to put it bluntly, is the antithesis of an initiatic qualification) can be attributed to Hitler with a few reservations, because in a certain respect he did appear as one possessed (which differentiates him from Mussolini, for example). When he whipped up the masses to fanaticism, one had the impression that another force was directing him as a medium, even though he was a man of a very extraordinary kind, and extremely gifted. Anyone who has heard Hitler’s addresses to the enraptured masses can have no other impression. Since we have already expressed our reservations about the assumption that “unknown superiors” were involved, it is not easy to define the nature of this supra-personal force. In respect to National Socialist theosophy [Gotteserkenntnis], i.e. to its supposed mystical and metaphysical dimension, one must realize the unique juxtaposition in this movement and in the Third Reich of mythical, Enlightenment, and even scientific aspects. In Hitler, one can find many symptoms of a typically “modern” world-view that was fundamentally profane, naturalistic, and materialistic; while on the other hand he believed in Providence, whose tool he believed himself to be, especially in regard to the destiny of the German nation. (For example, he saw a sign of Providence in his survival of the assassination attempt in his East-Prussian headquarters.) Alfred Rosenberg, the ideologist of the movement, proclaimed the myth of Blood, in which he spoke of the “mystery” of Nordic blood and attributed to it a sacramental value; yet he simultaneously attacked all the rites and sacraments of Catholicism as delusions, just like a man of the Enlightenment. He railed against the “Dark men of our time,” while attributing to Aryan man the merit of having created modern science. National Socialism’s concern with runes, the ancient Nordic-Germanic letter-signs, must be regarded as purely symbolic, rather like the Fascist use of certain Roman symbols, and without any esoteric significance. The program of National Socialism to create a higher man has something of “biological mysticism” about it, but this again was a scientific project. At best, it might have been a question of the “superman” in Nietzsche’s sense, but never of a higher man in the initiatic sense.

The plan to “create a new racial, religious, and military Order of initiates, assembled around a divinized Führer,” cannot be regarded as the official policy of National Socialism, as René Alleau writes, when he presents such a relationship and even compares it, among others, to the Ishmaelites of Islam. A few elements of a higher level were visible only in the ranks of the SS.

In the first place, one can see clearly the intention of Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler to create an Order in which elements of Prussian ethics were to be combined with those of the old Orders of knighthood, especially the Teutonic Order. He was looking for legitimation of such an organization, but could not obtain it, since these old Orders of Catholicism were openly opposed by the radical wing of National Socialism. Himmler was also seeking, without the possibility of any traditional connection, a relationship to the Nordic-Hyperborean heritage and its symbolism (Thule), albeit without those “secret societies” discussed above having any influence over it. He took notice, as did Rosenberg, of the researches of the Netherlander Herman Wirth into the Nordic-Atlantic tradition. Later Himmler founded, with Wirth, the research and teaching organization called the “Ahnenerbe.” This is not without interest, but there was no “occult background” to it.

So the net result is negative. The French authors’ fantasy reaches its high point in the book “Hitler et la tradition cathare” by Jean-Michel Angebert (Paris, 1971). This deals with the Cathars, also called Albigensians, who were a heretical sect that spread especially in Southern France between the 11th and 12th centuries, and had their center in the fortress of Montségur. According to Otto Rahn, this was destroyed in a “crusade against the Grail,” which is the title of one of his books. Whatever the Grail and its Grail-Knights had to do with this sect remains completely in the dark. The sect was marked by a kind of fanatical Manicheism: sometimes its own believers would die of hunger or some other cause as a demonstration of their detachment from the world and their hostility to earthly existence in flesh and matter. Now it is assumed that Rahn, with whom we corresponded during his lifetime and tried to persuade of the baselessness of his thesis, was an SS man, and that an expedition was sent on its way to retrieve the legendary Grail which was supposedly brought to safety at the moment when the Cathars’ fortress in Montségur was destroyed. After the fall of Berlin, a unit is said to have reached the Zillertal and hidden this object at the foot of a glacier, to await a new age.

The truth is that there was talk of a commando unit, which however had a less mystical commission, namely the rescue and concealment of the Reich’s treasures. Two further examples show what such fantasies can lead to when they are given free rein. The SS (which included not only battle units but also researchers and scholarly experts) mounted an expedition to Tibet in order to make discoveries in the fields of alpinism and ethnology, and another one to the Arctic, ostensibly for scientific research but also with a view to the possible situation of a German military base. According to these fantastic interpretations, the first expedition was seeking a link to a secret center of the Tradition, while the other was seeking contact with the lost Hyperborean Thule…

ON THE SECRET OF DEGENERATION Julius Evola (from Deutsches Volkstum, Nr. 11, 1938)

Anyone who has come to reject the rationalist myth of “progress” and the interpretation of history as an unbroken positive development of mankind will find himself gradually drawn towards the world-view that was common to all the great traditional cultures, and which had at its centre the memory of a process of degeneration, slow obscuration, or collapse of a higher preceding world. As we penetrate deeper into this new (and old) interpretation, we encounter various problems, foremost among which is the question of the secret of degeneration.

In its literal sense, this question is by no means a novel one. While contemplating the magnificent remains of cultures whose very name has not even come down to us, but which seem to have conveyed, even in their physical material, a greatness and power that is more than earthly, scarcely anyone has failed to ask themselves questions about the death of cultures, and sensed the inadequacy of the reasons that are usually given to explain it.

We can thank the Comte de Gobineau for the best and best-known summary of this problem, and also for a masterly criticism of the main hypotheses about it. His solution on the basis of racial thought and racial purity also has a lot of truth in it, but it needs to be expanded by a few observations concerning a higher order of things. For there have been many cases in which a culture has collapsed even when its race has remained pure, as is especially clear in certain groups that have suffered slow, inexorable extinction despite remaining as racially isolated as if they were islands. An example quite close at hand is the case of the Swedes and the Dutch. These people are in the same racial condition today as they were two centuries ago, but there is little to be found now of the heroic disposition and the racial awareness that they once possessed. Other great cultures seem merely to have remained standing in the condition of mummies: they have long been inwardly dead, so that it takes only the slightest push to knock them down. This was the case, for example, with ancient Peru, that giant solar empire which was annihilated by a few adventurers drawn from the worst rabble of Europe.

If we look at the secret of degeneration from the exclusively traditional point of view, it becomes even harder to solve it completely. It is then a matter of the division of all cultures into two main types. On the one hand there are the traditional cultures, whose principle is identical and unchangeable, despite all the differences evident on the surface. The axis of these cultures and the summit of their hierarchical order consists of metaphysical, supra-individual powers and actions, which serve to inform and justify everything that is merely human, temporal, subject to becoming and to “history.” On the other hand there is “modern culture,” which is actually the anti-tradition and which exhausts itself in a construction of purely human and earthly conditions and in the total development of these, in pursuit of a life entirely detached from the “higher world.”

From the standpoint of the latter, the whole of history is degeneration, because it shows the universal decline of earlier cultures of the traditional type, and the decisive and violent rise of a new universal civilization of the “modern” type.

A double question arises from this.

First, how was it ever possible for this to come to pass? There is a logical error underlying the whole doctrine of evolution: it is impossible that the higher can emerge from the lower, and the greater from the less. But doesn’t a similar difficulty face us in the solution of the doctrine of involution? How is it ever possible for the higher to fall? If we could make do with simple analogies, it would be easy to deal with this question. A healthy man can become sick; a virtuous one can turn to vice. There is a natural law that everyone takes from granted: that every living being starts with birth, growth, and strength, then come old age, weakening, and disintegration. And so forth. But this is just making statements, not explaining, even if we allow that such analogies actually relate to the question posed here.

Secondly, it is not only a matter of explaining the possibility of the degeneration of a particular cultural world, but also the possibility that the degeneration of one cultural cycle may pass to other peoples and take them down with it. For example, we have not only to explain how the ancient Western reality collapsed, but also have to show the reason why it was possible for “modern” culture to conquer practically the whole world, and why it possessed the power to divert so many peoples from any other type of culture, and to hold sway even where states of a traditional kind seemed to be alive (one need only recall the Aryan East).

In this respect, it is not enough to say that we are dealing with a purely material and economic conquest. That view seems very superficial, for two reasons. In the first place, a land that is conquered on the material level also experiences, in the long run, influences of a higher kind corresponding to the cultural type of its conqueror. We can state, in fact, that European conquest almost everywhere sows the seeds of “Europeanization,” i.e., the “modern” rationalist, tradition-hostile, individualistic way of thinking. Secondly, the traditional conception of culture and the state is hierarchical, not dualistic. Its bearers could never subscribe, without severe reservations, to the principles of “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” and “My kingdom is not of this world.” For us, “Tradition” is the victorious and creative presence in the world of that which is “not of this world,” i.e., of the Spirit, understood as a power that is mightier than any merely human or material one.

This is a basic idea of the authentically traditional view of life, which does not permit us to speak with contempt of merely material conquests. On the contrary, the material conquest is the sign, if not of a spiritual victory, at least of a spiritual weakness or a kind of spiritual “retreat” in the cultures that are conquered and lose their independence. Everywhere that the Spirit, regarded as the stronger power, was truly present, it never lacked for means – visible or otherwise – to enable all the opponent’s technical and material superiority to be resisted. But this has not happened. It must be concluded, then, that degeneracy was lurking behind the traditional facade of every people that the “modern” world has been able to conquer. The West must then have been the culture in which a crisis that was already universal assumed its acutest form. There the degeneration amounted, so to speak, to a knockout blow, and as it took effect, it brought down with more or less ease other peoples in whom the involution had certainly not “progressed” as far, but whose tradition had already lost its original power, so that these peoples were no longer able to protect themselves from an outside assault.

With these considerations, the second aspect of our problem is traced back to the first one. It is mainly a question of explicating the meaning and the possibility of degeneracy, without reference to other circumstances.

For this we must be clear about one thing: it is an error to assume that the hierarchy of the traditional world is based on a tyranny of the upper classes. That is merely a “modern” conception, completely alien to the traditional way of thinking. The traditional doctrine in fact conceived of spiritual action as an “action without acting”; it spoke of the “unmoved mover”; everywhere it used the symbolism of the “pole,” the unalterable axis around which every ordered movement takes place (and elsewhere we have shown that this is the meaning of the swastika, the “arctic cross”); it always stressed the “Olympian,” spirituality, and genuine authority, as well as its way of acting directly on its subordinates, not through violence but through “presence”; finally, it used the simile of the magnet, wherein lies the key to our question, as we shall now see.

Only today could anyone imagine that the authentic bearers of the Spirit, or of Tradition, pursue people so as to seize them and put them in their places – in short, that they “manage” people, or have any personal interest in setting up and maintaining those hierarchical relationships by virtue of which they can appear visibly as the rulers. This would be ridiculous and senseless. It is much more the recognition on the part of the lower ones that is the true basis of any traditional ranking. It is not the higher that needs the lower, but the other way round. The essence of hierarchy is that there is something living as a reality in certain people, which in the rest is only present in the condition of an ideal, a premonition, an unfocused effort. Thus the latter are fatefully attracted to the former, and their lower condition is one of subordination less to something foreign, than to their own true “self.” Herein lies the secret, in the traditional world, of all readiness for sacrifice, all heroism, all loyalty; and, on the other side, of a prestige, an authority, and a calm power which the most heavily-armed tyrant can never count upon.

With these considerations, we have come very close to solving not only the problem of degeneration, but also the possibility of a particular fall. Are we perhaps not tired of hearing that the success of every revolution indicates the weakness and degeneracy of the previous rulers? An understanding of this kind is very one-sided. This would indeed be the case if wild dogs were tied up, and suddenly broke loose: that would be proof that the hands holding their leashes had become impotent or weak. But things are arranged very differently in the framework of spiritual ranking, whose real basis we have explained above. This hierarchy degenerates and is able to be overthrown in one case only: when the individual degenerates, when he uses his fundamental freedom to deny the Spirit, to cut his life loose from any higher reference-point, and to exist “only for himself.” Then the contacts are fatefully broken, the metaphysical tension, to which the traditional organism owes its unity, gives way, every force wavers in its path and finally breaks free. The peaks, of course, remain pure and inviolable in their heights, but the rest, which depended on them, now becomes an avalanche, a mass that has lost its equilibrium and falls, at first imperceptibly but with ever accelerating movement down to the depths and lowest levels of the valley. This is the secret of every degeneration and revolution. The European had first slain the hierarchy in himself by extirpating his own inner possibilities, to which corresponded the basis of the order that he would then destroy externally.

If Christian mythology attributes the Fall of Man and the Rebellion of the Angels to the freedom of the will, then it comes to much the same significance. It concerns the frightening potential that dwells in man of using freedom to destroy spiritually and to banish everything that could ensure him a supra-natural value. This is a metaphysical decision: the stream that traverses history in the most varied forms of the traditional-hating, revolutionary, individualistic, and humanistic spirit, or in short, the “modern” spirit. This decision is the only positive and decisive cause in the secret of degeneration, the destruction of Tradition.

If we understand this, we can perhaps also grasp the sense of those legends that speak of mysterious rulers who “always” exist and have never died (shades of the Emperor sleeping beneath the Kyffhäuser mountain!). Such rulers can be rediscovered only when one achieves spiritual completeness and awakens a quality in oneself like that of a metal that suddenly feels “the magnet”, finds the magnet and irresistibly orients itself and moves towards it. For now, we must restrict ourselves to this hint. A comprehensive explanation of legends of that sort, which come to us from the most ancient Aryan source, would take us too far. At another opportunity we will perhaps return to the secret of reconstruction, to the “magic” that is capable of restoring the fallen mass to the unalterable, lonely, and invisible peaks that are still there in the heights.

The plurality and duality of civilizations from Julius Evola, The Hermetic Tradition (Chapter 1)

Recently, in contrast to the notion of progress and the idea that history has been represented as the more or less continuous upward evolution of collective humanity, the idea of a plurality of the forms of civilization and of a relative incommunicability between them has been confirmed. According to this second and new vision of history, civilization breaks down into epochs and disconnected cycles. At a given moment and within a given race a specific conception of the world and of life is affirmed from which follows a specific system of truths, principles, understandings, and realizations. A civilizations springs up, gradually reches a culminating point, and then falls into darkness and, more often than not, disappears. A cycle has ended. Perhaps another will rise again some day, somewhere else. Perhaps it may even tale up the concerns of preceding civilizations, but any connection between them will be strictly analogical. The transition from on cycle of civilization to another – one completely alien to the other – implies a jump, which in mathematics is called a discontinuity.[1]

Although this view is a healthy reaction to the superstition of history as progress – which came into fashion more or less at the same time as materialism and western scientism [2] – nevertheless, we should be cautious, for in addition to a plurality of civilizations we have to recognize a duality – especially when we limit ourselves to those times and the central structures that we can embrace with some measure of certainty.

Modern civilization stands on one side and on the other the entirety of all the civilizations that have preceded it (for the West, we can put the dividing line at the end of the middle-ages). At this point the rupture is complete. Apart from the multitudinous variety of its forms, pre-modern civilisation, which we may as well call “traditional”[3], mean something quite different. For there are two worlds, one of which has separated itself by cutting of nearly every contact with the past period. For the great majority of the moderns, that means any possibility of understanding the traditional world has completely lost.

This premise is indispensable for the examination of our subject. The hermetico-alchemical tradition forms part of the cycle of pre-modern “traditional” civilization and in order to understand its spirit we need to translate it inwardly from one world into the other. Who undertakes this study without having acquired the ability to rise above the modern mind-set or who has not awakened to a new sensitivity that can place itself in contact with the general spiritual stream that gave life to the tradition in the first place, will succed only in filling his head with words, symbols, and fantastic allegories. Moreover, it is not just a question of intellectual understanding. We have to bear in mind that ancient men not only had a different way of thinking and feeling, but also a different way of perceiving and knowing. The heart of the matter that will concern us is to re-evoke, by means of an actual transformation of the consciousness, this older basis of understanding and action.

Only then will the unexpected light of certain expressions dawn on us and certain symbols be empowered to awaken our interior perception. Only then will we be conducted through them to new heights of human realization and to the understanding that will it possible for designated “rites” to confer “magical” and operant power, and for the creation of a new “science” that bears no resemblance to anything that goes by that name today.

Notes

[1] The best known exponent of this concept is O. Spengler (The Decline of the West). Since de Gobineau this theory has had futher developments in connection with the doctrin of race.

[2] In fact, the extraordinary idea of a continuous evolution could have been born of an exclusive contepmplation of the material and technical aspect of civilizations, completely overlooking their qualitative and spiritual elements.

[3] The source for the precise concept of “traditional civilization”, as opposed to “modern” in Rene Guenon’s The Crisis of the Modern World (London 1942).

United Europe: The Spiritual Prerequisite Julius Evola

The first political step in forging a united Europe would be the withdrawal of all European governments from the United Nations, a hypocritical organisation if there ever was.

The ground for a European initiative must be carefully prepared; but the problems of concrete political tactics fall outside the scope of this essay. Here we can only point to what we believe must be the form and the spiritual and doctrinal basis of united Europe.

‘Federalist’ and ‘associative’ solutions, economic and military co-operation— these are all the manifestation of presuppositions about the organic character of Europe (or the lack of it). The condition of a truly European entity must be the binding force of an idea and tradition with which Europe is irrevocably linked. Some argue that the nation state, being not divinely ordained but the creation of determined groups successfully rising to a historical challenge, is a model for the merging European nation. According to this view the spiritual precondition for a united Europe exists in the myth of a common destiny defended by the ‘national revolutionary’ groups of Europe. This view is inadequate. The birth of the European nations was largely the work of dynasties representing a tradition of loyalty to a particular crown. In any case, the factors which created the European nations have been the very ones which have maintained European disunity from the Hundred Years War to the present day.

Among those who possess a spiritual and traditional understanding of Europe we can distinguish between those who believe in an Imperium of the kind referred to above, and those who talk of Europe as a nation. The concept of nationhood is in my opinion inappropriate. The notion of European unity is spiritual and supranational. Homeland nation, ethnic group subsist at an essentially naturalistic ‘physical’ level. Europe (Europa una) should be something more than this. The old nationalisms and resentments are only grafted onto Europe when a particular national domination is imposed by one nation upon the rest of Europe. The European Imperium will belong to a higher order than the parts which compose it, and to be European should be conceived as being something qualitatively different from being Italian, Prussian, Basque, Finnish, Scottish or Hungarian, something which appeals to a different aspect of our character. A European nation implies the levelling and cancelling of all ‘rival’ nations in or beyond Europe.

So far as ‘European culture’ is concerned it is these days the stamping-ground of the pragmatic European, the liberal, humanist intellectual. His ‘European culture’ is an appendage of ‘democracy’ and the ‘Free World’. In this sense ‘culture’ is the stock-in-trade of the so-called ‘aristocrat of thought’, in reality the clothing of the parvenu, his badge of success. A genuine aristocracy of the intellect would not in any case be adequate for the task in hand; the re-animation of the European will and the sustaining of a revolutionary elite who could make this a political possibility. What is more, every time that we try to give the notion of ‘European culture’ concrete significance, we seem to run up against innumerable ‘interpretations’ which leave us with nothing conclusive at all. Everyone has their own idea about what European culture is and many Europeans feel reticent or even guilty about championing it and so the parvenus can speculate to their hearts’ content in the reviews and colour supplements about all the latest developments in this or that field of art in such a way that ‘culture’ becomes entirely divorced from the ‘serious world’, from what matters. Ironically, much of what the defenders of culture admire plays a major role in helping to bring about a spiritual crisis and lack of confidence in European culture.

The ‘Westernisation’ of the world has meant that this decomposition extends across the world—thus Europe, from illuminism to communism has become the breeding ground of the very forces which work to destroy everything which is specifically European.

We must create a ‘unity of fighters’. That is a pre-requisite. To set a vision of the world and of Europe aside as ‘irrelevant’ would be to sink into the morass of political partisan politics, a cynical affair without identity, without spiritual meaning. A united Europe, without a communal spiritual identity and sense of direction would become just one more power bloc. In what way would such a United States of Europe be spiritually distinct from the United States of America or China or be anything nobler than the organisation of African Unity? Europe must not be a stage towards the Westernisation of the world but a move against it, in fact a revolt against the modern world in favour of what is nobler, higher, more truly human.

Fascism: Myth and Reality by Julius Evola

Fascism has undergone a process which can be called mythologization, and the attitude which many adopt towards it is of a passionate and irrational kind rather than a critical, intellectual one. This is especially true of those who retain an idealistic loyalty towards the Italy that was. […]

Mythologization has naturally gone hand in hand with idealization, so that only the positive aspects of the Fascist regime are highlighted, deliberately or unconsciously playing down the negative ones. The same procedure is practiced the other way round by those who represent anti-nationalist forces, their mythologization leading to systematic denigration, the aspects with a view to discrediting it and making everyone hate it. […]

Over and above any polemical one-sidedness, those who, unlike the ‘nostalgics’ of the younger generation, have lived through Fascism and have thus had a direct experience of the system and its men, know and acknowledge that not everything about it was in order. As long as Fascism existed and could be considered a movement of reconstruction in the making, one of yet unrealized and uncrystalized possibilities, it was still permissible not to criticize it beyond a certain limit. And those who, like ourselves, while defending a set of ideas which only partially coincided with Fascism (and with German National Socialism), did not condemn these movements, even though fully aware of their questionable or aberrant aspects, did so precisely because we counted on future possible developments–to be encouraged with every means and strength we could muster–which might have corrected or eliminated these aspects.

Today, when that Fascism lies behind us as a historical reality, or attitude cannot be the same. Instead of idealizing it in a way consistent with the ‘myth’ of Fascism, what is necessary now is to separate the positive from the negative, not just for theoretical reasons, but for practical guidance with an eventual political struggle in mind. Thus we should not accept the adjective ‘fascist’ or ‘neo-fascist’ tout court; we should call ourselves fascist (if we feel we must) in respect of what was positive about Fascism, not fascist in respect of what Fascism was not.[…]

Even in the search for the positive, there is in practice an essential difference between on the one hand those whose only reference point is Fascism (or possible analogous movements of other nations–German National Socialism, Belgian Rexism, the early Falange in Spain, Salazar’s Regime, the Romanian Iron Guard: at one point it was possible to talk of a ‘world revolution’, a general movement of opposition to the proletarian revolution), seeing in it the be-all and end-all of their political, historical, and doctrinal horizons, and on the other those who consider what emerged from such movements as particular manifestations, some more perfect than others, of ideas and principles based in that earlier Tradition of which we have spoken, but adapted to particular circumstances. These principles are to be associated with ‘normality’ and permanence, relegating what is original and in the strict sense ‘revolutionary’ about those movements to secondary, contingent traits. In other words, it is a question of making linkages as far as it is possible between the great European political Tradition and discarding what at bottom can be seen as compromises, divergent or even deviant possibilities, or phenomena which were products of the very evils which people set out to take a stand against and fight.

[Il fascisimo (Giovanni Volpe: Rome, 1979; 1st edn. 1964), 13-17.]

FASCISM AS ANTI-EUPOPE by Julius Evola (Translation from Imperialismo Pagano, Atanor, Todi-Roma 1928)

Can fascism be the source of an anti-European restoration?

Is fascism powerful enough today to take on such a task?

Fascism arose from below, from confused needs and brutal forces unleashed by the European war. Fascism has thrived on compromises, on rhetoric, on the petty ambitions of petty people. The state organization that it has created is often uncertain, awkward, inexpert, violent, cramped, riddled by ambiguities.

Nevertheless, if we look around us today and note the demise of the only two states – Russia and Germany – that had preserved remnants of hierarchhical values (however distorted and materialized) we must draw the conclusion that fascism is the West’s best hope.

For better or worse, fascism has developed a body. But this body is still lacking a soul. It is still lacking the superior power (atto) needed to justify it, complete it, make it rise to its feet as a principle opposed to all of Europe. The soul in question can achieve these ends only if fascism manages to resurrect a distinctive system of meta-economics and metapolitical values by means of a radical, profound, absolute upheaval (rivolgimento), a new leap ahead and away from the politics of “normalisation” and bourgeois compromise (imborghesimento) that is beginning to pervade contemporary fascism.

But let’s not misunderstand one another.

The breeding ground of fascism were youthful, resolute forces, ready for anything, immune to the evils of “culture”. To this day they represent the vital nucleus of fascism, while those who worry about developing a “philosophy of fascism” and a “fascist culture” are themselves symptoms of degeneration, or, at the very least, of a turn away from the path leading to something really new; a true revolution (not one regarding which one can conclude “plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose).

No. Fascism must remain antiphilosophical. Decisevely and crudely so. Tapping into its purest core of force, it must sweep away the filthy film of rhetoric, sentimentalism, moralism, and hypocritical piety with which the West has clouded and humanized everything. There is an irrefutable need for someone to break into the temple – perhaps even a barbarian – to drive out the corrupters of “civilized” Europe, the monopolistic preachers of the “spirit”, good and evil, and the divine who actually know only matter and what human words, fear, and superstition have layered over matter.

To all this I reply “That’s enough!”. My negations is meant to allow a few men to rediscover the long paths, the long danger, the long gaze, and the long silence, to unleash the wind of the open sea – the wind of the MEDITERRANEAN TRADITION – so that it may revive the enslaved men of the West.

Antiphilosophy, antisentiment, antireligion: these are the premises. No more aestheticisms and idealisms: not a single one! No more thirsting of the soul for a hallucinated God to pray to and adore. No more acceptance of the common ties and mutual interdependencies that bind beggars together on a foundation of lack.

To soar beyond and above with pure faces. Forces that will have to meet a challenge that transcends politics and social concerns, that recoils at the clamorous gesture and superficial resonance, a challenge so great that the material forces vibrating out in the world of people and things can no longer have any effect.

In silence, under conditions of strict discipline, inflexible self-control, seriousness, and simplicity, with the brisk and tenacious effort of individuals, we in Italy must create an elite in whom Wisdom comes to life again. By “wisdom” I mean the power (virtus) that does not allow itself to speak, that rises up out of a hermetic and Pythagorean silence, that comes into being by subduing the senses and the soul, and that manifests itself not by means of arguments and books but through powerful actions.

We must reawaken to a renewed, spiritualized, bitter feeling (sensazione) for the world, not as a philosophical concept but as something that vibrates in the rhythm of our very blood: a feeling for the world as power, as the agile and free rhythmic dance of Shiva, as a sacrificial act (Veda). This feeling will breed strong, hard, active, solar, Mediterranean beings; beings made up of force and eventually only of force; beings infused with a sense of freedom and nobility whose cosmic perspective (respiro cosmico) has been much stammered about but little understood by Europe’s “dead”. Science today is profane, democratic, and materialistic. Always relative and qualified in its truths, a slave to phenomena and to incomprehensible laws, it remains mute with regard to the profound reality of man. To debunk it we must reawaken in the new elite a sacred science, a science that is inferior and secret and gives rise to initiations, a science of self-fulfillment and self- dignification that taps the occult forces that govern our being and subdues them so as to permit men to be actually (not mythically) reborn as beings superior to the laws of the body and of space and time.

So a race of leaders it will be. Invisible leaders who do not rattle on or parade about but who act irresistibly and are capable of anything. A center will thus exist in decentered Europe.

The problem of hierarchy can only be addressed by creating leaders, a strictly individual and internal problem, resistant to external solutions. Hierarchy can come into being only when there are leaders and not vice versa.

The empire cannot be built on economic, military, industrial, and even “ideal” foundations. The imperium, according to the Iranian and Roman conception, is transcendent. It can only be attained by those who have the power to trascend the petty lives of petty men and their petty appetites, patriostisms, “values”, “nonvalues”, and gods.

The ancients understood this when they deified their emperors, joining together royal dignity and spiritual dignity. Have the young barbarians who have dared to resurrect the eagle and the fasces learned this lesson? Have they understood that there is no alternative, that this is the only way to transform their “revolution” into the first light that pierces the thick fog of European decadence? Rather than amounting to little more than the small contigency of a small nation, they could plant the seed for a resurgence of Rome throughout the world, the seed for a true restoration.

FASCISM AGAINST CHRISTIANITY: THE GREAT LIBERATION Julius Evola (Translation from Imperialismo pagano, Atanor, Todi-Roma 1928)

Let us conclude.

Today we must absolutely put a stop to Christianity.

Everything in it is incompatible with and contradictory to the ideals, the morals, the vision of the world and of man that would enable a race to bring about the resurrection of the empire.

Our sleep has lasted long enough. All the possible compromises and variations have been exhausted. It is time to say “Enough!” No more of Christianity embraced as a whole, in the totality of all its forms! The Latin race in particular must bitterly disavow any descent from the dark object that emerged from the Jewish slums of Palestine to contaminate us. Thus:

On an ideal and moral level, it is time to unmask Christianity’s enormous doctrinal bluff and to refuse to allow it to continue to parade around loaded up with all the values that have been superstitiously and unconsciously attributed to it.

On a practical level, it is time to become aware of the European danger and the decline of the West and to respond by reviving in the modern world the political and sapiential values characteristic of the Mediterranean tradition.

Ethical and religious Christianity today is nothing more than a name and a habit, absolutely external to conscience; but nobody, or nearly nobody, has bothered to abolish the name itself and to put its content on trial again, so as to start right back at the beginning, rejecting the “fact” of Christianity, its “tradition” and all the rest.

This is precisely my intent: to hold such a trial, demanding that every account to be scrutinized with inflexible severity, that all cards be placed openly on the table, and that every way out and every compromise be barred in advance. At stake are not more or less anticlerical polemics but rather a serious, objective examination, unbiased by feeling and belief. A cool-headed examination should suffice to blunt the ecstatic thrill and to unmask the true poverty and inferiority of the Christian vision of the world and of man.

With regard to fascism I declare:

Fascism… will blaze the path toward breaking up the monstrous political connivance with the Catholic Church, abetted by the intrigues of that secret and illicit association, the Society of Jesus. It will become aware that it has fallen prey to a suckers’ marketplace (marche’ de dupes). The petty political advantages to be gained are trivial when compared to the Church’s devious efforts to achieve monopoly control over Italy’s conscience by mean of public education and clever sophistries that polarize the fascist regime against everything that is not Catholic. To have agreed that a crucifix should be placed not in the universities, not in the coliseum, but on the Campidoglio in place of the eagle and the fasces is a blot without precedent that it will take a lot to wipe away.

This transpired because fascism still lacks spirituality and culture of its own, as fresh and vibrant as the warrior forces that brought it into being. The result was that fascism’s political triumph was unaccompanied by a spiritual-cultural triumph. This transpired because fascism is still crippled by a definition of empire as a simple political, economic, and military organization, based on the industrial-capitalist system and cast in the mold of British and German bourgeois and material imperialism. But such a definition has nothing in common with true imperialism, that spiritual, sacred, and heroic imperialism of ancient Rome, Byzantium, and Persia. The real explanation for the success of Catholic infiltration lies in fascism’s actual (though concealed) indifference to spiritual questions, whereby it did not hesitate to embrace new members who could solidify the material structure of the new regime, even at the cost of accommodating the most strident of contradictions.

Once fascism transcends the bourgeois-industrial definition of empire, once it embraces imperiousness (imperialita’) in the true, traditional sense, the problem will be resolved. Fascism will find its soul within itself, a fact that will paralyze all efforts to apply external pressure and render ever more acute the incompatibility between state and Church. “Incompatibility” not as understood by demagogic, anticlerical, or secular ideologies but in the sense that the empire would become the true spiritual reality, the immanent, powerful religion that ousts the dead hierarchies and empty devotional forms that have survived in Catholicism.

So if the “daring” that fascism regularly exalts is more than rhetorical bluster, here’s a first task: deride the arrogance that did not hesitate to call the king of Italy a usurper from on the high at the Vatican and reaffirm the complete dominion of the state over the Church. The Church must be directly controlled by the state. Its every organization must require state approval and sanction… Above all, it must be denied any role in the education of souls during the period in which the will is not yet formed and the conscience is not yet clear. (Though its continuing presence can be tolerated as a feature of popular belief, but only on a temporary basis, until such a time as the Mediterranean and imperial sense of life has fully revitalized everyone’s spirit, thanks to pedagogical training carried out over several generations.)

So much for Catholicism, which on a practical plane must distiguished from Christianity. The latter is mostly to be identified with the forms of Protestantism active in Anglo-Saxon liberal democracies. Here lies the true European danger from which we must protect ourselves, reacting ruthlessly to all the international, unionist, Masonic, anti-aristocratic, anti-Roman, socialist, humanitarian, moralist ferments with which it would seek to infiltrate Italy.

In the properly cultural field, fascism ought to begin by promoting critical and historical studies, not partisan studies but cold surgical analyses of the essence of Christianity akin to Louis Rougier’s work in France, published in his collection, Masters of Anti-Christian Thought. At the same time, fascism ought to promote studies and research on the spiritual side of paganism ( and work to diffuse such knowledge) studies extending from paganism’s true vision of life to rigorously appropriate (because many are not) explorations of the Mediterranean tradition in its primitive and metaphysical nature.

Let the following be stated firmly, absolutely, and unambiguously. We are not destroyers but restorers. When we appear to be destroying we are in fact rearranging and replacing what is on the wane with higher forms, forms more vibrant and glorious. We possess a complete, total, positive system of values, developed in close connection with the forms of contemporary civilization, a system that provides us with a firm foundation and frees us from any fear of the void as we demolish all the the negatives of European decadence.

From the standpoint of its praxis, Fascism must not betray itself, which is to say, it must deeply embrace those values of affirmation, activity, will to power, antisentimentalism, and antirhetoricism whose imprint it bears (especially in its purest manifestations). Values that are essentially anti- Christian. Values to be raised to a higher internalized and spiritualized form and freed from the inferior and provisional approach based on mere violence and material domination.

And here there is a precursor, a misunderstood man, who waits in the shadows: Friedrich Nietzsche. The Nietzschean experiment is not yet exhausted because it hasn’t even truly begun. What is worn out is the aesthetic-literary or firebrand(baionettista) caricature of Nietzsche found in characters like Corrado Brando, Stelio Effrena, or William II. But very much alive are values that Nietzsche heroically propagated despite no end of suffering, despite the rebellion of his entire being, which, after having given everything without complaint, simply collapsed. These values transcend his philosophy, his “humanity”, even himself. They are of cosmic signifance, reflecting the power of the Aeion, the Ur, the terrible fire of magical initiations. These are the values that are still waiting to be understood and taken up. They encompass the sounding of an alarm, an appeal for disgust, the call for an awakening, and a summons to participate in the great struggle in which the destiny of the West will be decided, whether toward twilight or toward dawn. Fascism must begin here: by beginning the slow, tenacious construction of a new and wondrous race.

Accordingly, education will be reoriented toward pagan and Mediterranean values.

The “myth” of the crucified God-man who suffers and loves will be opposed that of the man-God, a being radiating light and power, the summit of an imperial ethos. To a dualistic and transcendetal worldview will be opposed a vision of free and immanent unity, withdrawn into itself, matter for domination. To Christianity’s race of “slaves and children of God” will be opposed a race of liberated and liberating beings who interpret God as a supreme power that one may freely obey or do battle against in manly fashion with one’s head held high, immune to the taint of feelings, vacillations, and prayers. To feelings of dependence and lack will be opposed a feeling of sufficiency; to the will to equality, the will to difference, distance, hierarchy, and aristocracy. To the mystical communist promiscuity will be opposed firm individuality; to the need for love, happinesss, peace, and consolation, the heroic contempt for all this and law of pure will and absolute action. To Christianity’s providential vision will be opposed the tragic conception whereby man stands alone facing the contigencies of nature such that either he must redeem himself or redemption will forever elude him. Do away with “sin” and “bad conscience” brashly heap all responsibilities upon one’s shoulders, bar the door to any escape, fortify the innermost spirit.

No more “brothers” or “fathers” but instead a fully autonomous individuals, self-enclosed as if each were a separate world, rock, or peak, individuals clothed only in their strength or in their weakness, each and every one operating like an independent combat post that defends a distinctive quality, life, dignity, unequal strength, indomitable force. No more subjection to the need to “communicate”, and to be “understood” or to fraternal bonds or to the sensual pleasure of loving and of feeling loved as equals. All are subtly corrupting and violent forces that weaken aristocracy and individuality. On the contrary, the incommunicability must be celebrated in the name of absolute purity and respect. Stronger forces and weaker forces, the one alongside or against the order, loyally, coldly, acknowledging one another thanks to the discipline of the spirit that burns within but produces an exterior rigid and tempered like steel, forces magnificently infused with the immeasurability of the infinite as found in feats of war and on the battlefield : (this is the ideal). A state of absolute generosity and absolute cruelty insure that some men and races ascend, while others fall with a thud. Nothing “infinite”. Precise relations, order, cosmos, hierarchy. Solar and sufficient beings, masters who are far-sighted, fearful, distant, and solitary; who, instead of taking in, give out an overabundance of light and power, who resolutely incline toward ever more dizzying intensities within a hierarchical chain of being that comes not from above but from the dynamic natural interconnection between their natures.

“How beautiful they are, how pure are these free forces not yet corrupted by the spirit!” wrote the young Nietzsche after an ascent during a storm. In the place of Nietzsche’s “not yet”, I would substitute “no longer corrupted by the spirit” in the present context, the word “spirit” meaning the unreal: an outer crust of feelings, hopes, doctrines, beliefs, “values”, sensations, words, sensual pleasures, and human emotions. But the meaning remains the same. The world is to be cleansed, returned to its pre-Christian state. It is to be returned to a free, overabundant, essential state within which nature is not yet nature or the spirit, in which “things” and “forms” do not exist except as powers; in which every instant of life is a heroic event, made up of acts, symbols, commands, magical gestures, and rituals, accompanied by great waves of sound, light, and terror.

This is our truth and this is the threshold of our great liberation: the end of faith and the world’s emancipation from God. No “heaven” will hover over the land, gone will be “providence”, “reason”, “good”, and “evil”, masks for the terrified, pallid escapes for pallid souls. At last, those who think themselves men, unaware that they are sleeping gods, will be left to themselves: everything, all around, will return to a state of freedom; everything will finally breathe. The weak will collapse. The strong will assert themselves and will be rekindled as the “holy race of the kingless” of the ancient Gnostic oracles; the race of “those who are”, of the unchained and the unburdened, of reedemed justifiers of the world, lords of necessity and suffering.

This is our truth. This is the “myth” that we pagans oppose to the superstition of Galilee, the myth that we affirm today as central to the values of our race and to the restoration of the empire in the West.

MEDITERRANEAN TRADITION AGAINST CHRSITIAN TRADITION Julius Evola (Translation from Imperialismo pagano, Atanor, Todi-Roma 1928)

Anti-Europe is anti-Christianity.

Christianity is at the root of the evil that has corrupted the West. This is the truth, and it does not admit uncertainty.

In its frenetic subversion of every hierarchy, in its exaltation of the weak, the disinherited, those without lineage and without tradition; in its call to “love”, to “believe”, and to yield; in its rancor toward everything that is force, self-sufficiency, knowledge, and aristocracy; in its intolerant and proselytising fanaticism, Christianity poisoned the greatness of the Roman Empire. Enemy of itself and of the world, this dark and barbarous wave remains the principal cause of the West’s decline.

Christianity – take note- is not to be confused with what passes today for the Christian religion: a dead stump cut off from the inital profoud impulses. Having disrupted the unity of Rome, Christianity first infected the race of blonde Germanic barbarians, thanks to the Reformation, and then penetrated so deeply, tenaciously, and invisibly that it infused current European liberalism and democratism and all the other splendid fruits of the French Revolution up through anarchism and Bolshevism. Christianity today informs the very structure of modern society (typified by the Anglo-Saxon model) as well as modern science, law, illusory faith in technology’s power. The latter are permeated by the will to equalize, the will to numbers; by the hatred of hierarchy, quality and difference; and by a collective and impersonal vision of society, a society based upon bonds between mutually inadequate men, worthy of a race of slaves in revolt.

There is still more. Christianity’s root sense of “passion” and orgasm was shaped by promiscuity of the Imperial plebes in an atmosphere of messianism and millenarianism. Opposed to the serene superiority of Roman rulers, to the Doric beauty of the Pindaric hero, to the harmonious, chaste intellectuality of philosophers and pagan initiates, Christianity has resurfaced today in the irrational cult of the “elan vital”, in the chaotic impetuosity of contemporary activism and Faustianism. The latter are crude entities that overwhelm the individual and drive him toward what he wants least. Already theologized by Calvin as the equation between God’s will in action in the world and the absolute predestination of beings, today this cult has become a religion: a religion of “Life”, of “becoming”, of the “pure act”.

I have alluded to a Mediterranean tradition. This is no myth but rather an archaic reality whose existence the profane historical sciences have only recently begun to suspect. The epic and magical legacy of an affirmative and active civilization, a civilization strong in knowledge and strong in science, this tradition first imprinted itself on the elites of Egyptian-Chaldaic civilization, of ancient Greece, of Etruscan civilization, and of other more mysterious civilizations whose echoes can be found in Syria, Mycenae, and the Baleares. Infused with the spirit of paganism, it was then borne by the mystery cults of the Mediterranean basin until, against the Judeo-Christian tide, it became Mithra: Mithra, the “ruler of the sun”, “killer of the bull”, symbol of those who, reborn in the “strongest force among all forces” are able to go beyond good and evil, lack, longing and passion.

Two destinies, two indomitable cosmic forces thus appeared, clashing over the legacy of Roman splendor.

The tradition of the mysteries, apparently overwhelmed, assumed a more subtle existence. It was passed from flame to flame, from initiate to initiate, in an uninterrupted though secret chain. Today it surfaces here and there (albeit in a confused manner) in figures such as Nietzsche, Weininger, Michelstaedter who feel crushed under the weight of a truth that, although it is too strong for them, will triumph with the advent of a new being who will brandish it, hard and cold, against the enemy in the great revolt and coming battle in which the West’s fate will be determined.

Anti-Europe means Anti-Christianity. And anti-Christianity consists in the Mediterranean classical, and pagan tradition that is our own. This must be perfectly clear.

Without a return to such a tradition, no liberation will be possible, no true restoration, no transfer of spirit, power, and empire into the realm of values. But let not our “anti” give rise to misunderstandings. They, not we, are forces of negation. They are the ones who sapped Rome, contaminated Wisdom, and destroyed aristocracy in the name of a reign of sentimentalism and humanitarianism ruled by “enemies of the world”. And they did so in order to exalt a superstition according to which God is an executed man and enslaver of other men whom he condemns to damnation unless “grace” intervenes on their behalf. No more foolish or absurd fable has ever been devised than that which treats paganism as a synonym for materiliaty and corruption, while Christianity is, instead, associated with purity and spirituality. Yet this superstition still manages to inform so much contemporary thinking!

No. The living and immanent spirit, spirit actualized as initiatory knowledge and power, glory of kings and conquerors, was unknown to the Semitic contamination. But not to the Roman, Hellenic, and ancient Oriental races. And he who rebels against Christian corruption, against all that plagues today’s Europe, is alone in knowing the meaning of affirmation. He is not a denier but an affirmer.

So today in Rome we bear witness to the pagan tradition and invoke the restoration of Mediterranean values in a pagan imperialism. The person who speaks and who is joined in this same spiritual reality by others – isolated, impassive, and rigorously aristocratic souls opposed to this world of merchants, shut-ins, and deviants – dissolves into this higher reality, conveyed through him to the one in whom the fascist movement is today resumed.

Will we manage to feel that this is not about words, utopias, or romantic abstractions? Will we manage to believe that the most positive and most powerful realities are waiting to be unearthed by beings capable of anything and everything (realities that will dwarf everything fascism has accomplished to this point)? Can we persuade ourselves that all this is truly possible and that a thousand forces over in the darkness waiting for an outlet?

The identification of our tradition with either the Christian or Catholic tradition is the most absurd of errors.

Roman spirit is pagan spirit (Romanita’ e’ paganita’), and the imperial restoration of which I have spoken would be meaningless if it is not, above all else, a pagan restoration. Nothing could be more contradictory than to proclaim the resurgence of Rome without remembering that Christianity was one of the principal reasons for Rome’s downfall, or to invoke the empire without realizing that the entire Christian vision of life negates the empire’s premises.

So will fascism dare to take up the torch of the Mediterranean tradition here where the imperial eagles began their conquest of the world under the Augustan, solar, and regal power? Will fascism dare to take up the torch here in Rome where the ironic vestiges of the only hierarchy Christianity was ever able to devise (through self-deception) remains present?

Better neither to hope nor to despair. Time will tell. Hegel said “the idea does not hurry”, and what already is cannot be transmuted by what is not.

The values that we affirm are that circumstances and men present themselves such that they can shape a given period of contingent historical and temporal things; that such an event is of less interest to us than those whose truths are impeded by this historical contigency.

Hitler and the Secret Societies by Julius Evola

(from Il Conciliatore, no. 10, 1971; translated from the German edition in Deutsche Stimme, no. 8, 1998)

It is remarkable that some authors in France have researched the relationship of German National Socialism to secret societies and initiatic organizations. The motivation for this was the supposed occult background of the Hitler movement. This thesis was first proposed in the well-known and very far-fetched book by Pauwels and Bergier, “Le Matin des Magiciens” (English ed., “The Dawn of Magic”), in which National Socialism was defined as the union of “magical thinking” with technology. The expression used for this was “Tank divisions plus René Guénon”: a phrase that might well have caused that eminent representative of traditional thought and esoteric disciplines to turn indignantly in his grave.

The first misunderstanding here is the confusion of the magical element with the mythical, whereas the two have nothing to do with one another. The role of myths in National Socialism is undeniable, for example in the idea of the Reich, the charismatic Führer, Race, Blood, etc. But rather than calling these “myths,” one should apply to them Sorel’s concept of “motivating energy-ideas” (which is what all the suggestive ideas used by demagogues commonly are), and not attribute to them any magical ingredient. Similarly, no rational person thinks of magic in connection with the myths of Fascism, such as the myth of Rome or that of the Duce, any more than with those of the French Revolution or Communism. The investigation would proceed differently if one went on the assumption that certain movements, without knowing it, were subject to influences that were not merely human. But this is not the case with the French authors. They are not thinking of influences of that kind, but of a concrete nature, exercised by organizations that really existed, among which were some that to various degrees were “secret.” Likewise, some have spoken of “unknown superiors” who are supposed to have called forth the National Socialist movement and to have used Hitler as a medium, though it is unclear what goals they could have had in mind in so doing. If one considers the results, the catastrophic consequences to which National Socialism led, even indirectly, those goals must have been obscure and destructive. One would have to identify the “occult side” of this movement with what Guénon called the “Counter-Initiation.” But the French authors have also proposed the thesis that Hitler the “medium” emancipated himself at a certain point from the “unknown superiors,” almost like a Golem, and that the movement then pursued its fatal direction. But in that case one must admit that these “unknown superiors” can have had no prescience and very limited power, to have been incapable of putting a stop to their supposed medium, Hitler.

A lot of fantasy has been woven on the concrete level about the origin of National Socialism’s themes and symbols. Reference has been made to certain organizations as forerunners, but ones to which it is very difficult to attribute any genuine and factual initiatic character. There is no doubt that Hitler did not invent German racial doctrine, the symbol of the swastika, or Aryan antisemitism: all of these had long existed in Germany. A book entitled “Der Mann, der Hitler die Ideen gab” [The man who gave Hitler his ideas] reports on Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels (the title of nobility was self-bestowed), who had formerly been a Cistercian monk and had founded an Order that already used the swastika; Lanz edited the periodical “Ostara” from 1905 onwards, which Hitler certainly knew, in which the Aryan and antisemitic racial theories were already clearly worked out.

But much more important for the “occult background” of National Socialism is the role of the Thule Society. Things are more complex here. This society grew out of the Germanenorden, founded in 1912, and was led by Rudolf von Sebottendorf, who had been in the East and had published a strange booklet on “Die Praxis der alten türkischen Freimaurerei” [The practice of ancient Turkish Freemasonry]. Practices were described therein that involved the repetition of syllables, gestures, and steps, whose goal was the initiatic transformation of man, such as alchemy had also aimed at. It is unclear what Turkish masonic organization Sebottendorf was in contact with, and also whether he himself practiced the things in question, or merely described them.

Moreover, it cannot be established whether these practices were employed in the Thule Society that Sebottendorf headed. It would be very important to know that, because many top-ranking National Socialist personalities, from Hitler to Rudolf Hess, frequented this society. In a way, Hitler was already introduced to the world of ideas of the Thule Society by Hess during their imprisonment together after the failed Munich Putsch.

At all events, it must be emphasized that the Thule Society was less an initiatic organization than it was a secret society, which already bore the swastika and was marked by a decided antisemitism and by Germanic racial thinking. One should be cautious about the thesis that the name Thule is a serious and conscious reference to a Nordic, Polar connection, in the effort to make a connection with the Hyperborean origins of the Indo-Germans–since Thule appears in ancient tradition as the sacred center or sacred island in the uttermost North. Thule may just be a play on the name “Thale,” a location in the Harz where the Germanenorden held a conference in 1914, at which it was decided to create a secret “völkisch” band to combat the supposed Jewish International. Above all, these ideas were emphasized by Sebottendorf in his book “Bevor Hitler kam” [Before Hitler came], published in Munich in 1933, in which he indicated the myths and the “völkisch” world-view that existed before Hitler.

Thus a serious investigation into Hitler’s initiatic connections with secret societies does not lead far. A few explanations are necessary in regard to Hitler as a “medium” and his attractive power. It seems to us pure fantasy that he owed this power to initiatic practices. Otherwise one would have to assume the same about the psychic power of other leaders, like Mussolini and Napoleon, which is absurd. It is much better to go on the assumption that there is a psychic vortex that arises from mass movements, and that this concentrates on the man in the center and lends him a certain radiation that is felt especially by suggestible people.

The quality of medium (which, to put it bluntly, is the antithesis of an initiatic qualification) can be attributed to Hitler with a few reservations, because in a certain respect he did appear as one possessed (which differentiates him from Mussolini, for example). When he whipped up the masses to fanaticism, one had the impression that another force was directing him as a medium, even though he was a man of a very extraordinary kind, and extremely gifted. Anyone who has heard Hitler’s addresses to the enraptured masses can have no other impression. Since we have already expressed our reservations about the assumption that “unknown superiors” were involved, it is not easy to define the nature of this supra-personal force. In respect to National Socialist theosophy [Gotteserkenntnis], i.e. to its supposed mystical and metaphysical dimension, one must realize the unique juxtaposition in this movement and in the Third Reich of mythical, Enlightenment, and even scientific aspects. In Hitler, one can find many symptoms of a typically “modern” world-view that was fundamentally profane, naturalistic, and materialistic; while on the other hand he believed in Providence, whose tool he believed himself to be, especially in regard to the destiny of the German nation. (For example, he saw a sign of Providence in his survival of the assassination attempt in his East-Prussian headquarters.) Alfred Rosenberg, the ideologist of the movement, proclaimed the myth of Blood, in which he spoke of the “mystery” of Nordic blood and attributed to it a sacramental value; yet he simultaneously attacked all the rites and sacraments of Catholicism as delusions, just like a man of the Enlightenment. He railed against the “Dark men of our time,” while attributing to Aryan man the merit of having created modern science. National Socialism’s concern with runes, the ancient Nordic-Germanic letter-signs, must be regarded as purely symbolic, rather like the Fascist use of certain Roman symbols, and without any esoteric significance. The program of National Socialism to create a higher man has something of “biological mysticism” about it, but this again was a scientific project. At best, it might have been a question of the “superman” in Nietzsche’s sense, but never of a higher man in the initiatic sense.

The plan to “create a new racial, religious, and military Order of initiates, assembled around a divinized Führer,” cannot be regarded as the official policy of National Socialism, as René Alleau writes, when he presents such a relationship and even compares it, among others, to the Ishmaelites of Islam. A few elements of a higher level were visible only in the ranks of the SS.

In the first place, one can see clearly the intention of Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler to create an Order in which elements of Prussian ethics were to be combined with those of the old Orders of knighthood, especially the Teutonic Order. He was looking for legitimation of such an organization, but could not obtain it, since these old Orders of Catholicism were openly opposed by the radical wing of National Socialism. Himmler was also seeking, without the possibility of any traditional connection, a relationship to the Nordic-Hyperborean heritage and its symbolism (Thule), albeit without those “secret societies” discussed above having any influence over it. He took notice, as did Rosenberg, of the researches of the Netherlander Herman Wirth into the Nordic-Atlantic tradition. Later Himmler founded, with Wirth, the research and teaching organization called the “Ahnenerbe.” This is not without interest, but there was no “occult background” to it.

So the net result is negative. The French authors’ fantasy reaches its high point in the book “Hitler et la tradition cathare” by Jean-Michel Angebert (Paris, 1971). This deals with the Cathars, also called Albigensians, who were a heretical sect that spread especially in Southern France between the 11th and 12th centuries, and had their center in the fortress of Montségur. According to Otto Rahn, this was destroyed in a “crusade against the Grail,” which is the title of one of his books. Whatever the Grail and its Grail-Knights had to do with this sect remains completely in the dark. The sect was marked by a kind of fanatical Manicheism: sometimes its own believers would die of hunger or some other cause as a demonstration of their detachment from the world and their hostility to earthly existence in flesh and matter. Now it is assumed that Rahn, with whom we corresponded during his lifetime and tried to persuade of the baselessness of his thesis, was an SS man, and that an expedition was sent on its way to retrieve the legendary Grail which was supposedly brought to safety at the moment when the Cathars’ fortress in Montségur was destroyed. After the fall of Berlin, a unit is said to have reached the Zillertal and hidden this object at the foot of a glacier, to await a new age.

The truth is that there was talk of a commando unit, which however had a less mystical commission, namely the rescue and concealment of the Reich’s treasures. Two further examples show what such fantasies can lead to when they are given free rein. The SS (which included not only battle units but also researchers and scholarly experts) mounted an expedition to Tibet in order to make discoveries in the fields of alpinism and ethnology, and another one to the Arctic, ostensibly for scientific research but also with a view to the possible situation of a German military base. According to these fantastic interpretations, the first expedition was seeking a link to a secret center of the Tradition, while the other was seeking contact with the lost Hyperborean Thule…

On the Protocols Julius Evola

Evola wrote an introduction to an italian edition of the “Protocols” and gave a summary in “Inquadramento del problema ebraico”, an article published in the italian paper “Bibliografia fascista”, which can be found, with most of the articles he wrote for it from 1934 to 1939, in “Esplorazioni e disanime”.

It is naive, in an absolute sense, to put the question of the authenticity of a document such as “The Protocols”, for the simple reason that it is naive to think that, if it exists, an organization such as “The Wise of Sion” would let behind itself writtings that could be authentified.

The question of the authenticity must thus be substituted for the question of the veracity, and, then, it is not important anymore to know whether the document is a literary piracy. When it comes to the question of the reality of a plot, does it matter whether the plotters took their inspiration from this or that preexisting document, re-writing it in their own way and committing thus a literary piracy? From this, one can have an idea of the frivolous level on which the problem is put most of the times.

There are two decisive proofs. The first one is the factual proof. Do the facts that took place after the publication of the document (. . . ) correspond to its content (. . . ). The answer cannot but be positive. The correspondence on many points is even alarming (. . . )

The second proof concerns the jewish inspiration of the document. For it does not suffice to show that the document is veracious, corresponding to the facts as it does: moreover, it must be proved that it is veracious because it corresponds also with the spirit and the ideals of the jewish tradition. The answer is also positive (. . .). The conclusion is thus that, even if such a ddocument had been written by antisemites as a forgery, those antisemites would have done nothing else but to express with the utmost exactitude and the utmost fidelity what the jewish orthodoxy could unanimously draw from its own ideals and millenary aspirations. And, if the Jews are indignant with the Protocols, they are not indignant with a “schocking forgery”, but with a “revelation” of something rather obscure, of gloomy influences at work, with a precise “intelligence”, behind the visible and “positive” aspects of the contemporaneous history, in close connexion with judaism, either genuine or secularized and distorted. Therefore, the Protocols can be legitimately considered as a new “heuristic principle” ; without coming to a conclusion on those “Wise” in themselves, namely the real leaders of the world-wide subversion (. . .), the frame offered by the Protocols appear to us as a “work-hypothesis” of indubitable value to understand and connect the facts and the events to their “inner” side, that, because of a sort of narcosis (. . .), was systematically forgotten beforehand. “There is a fourth point, that I shall post tomorrow or the day after.

We must now briefly regard that stock of ideas, that tradition, in which we’ve recognized the formative force of the “Israel’s race” soul and instinct. On that account, we must not stick to the Old Testament and we must not fall into the error, made by a few people, to think that judaism ends with the Old testament and christianity replaced it. What is specific about the ancient mosaic tradition was kept in the oral tradition, the Mishnah, that developped into the Ghemara, that is rolled more or less into the Talmud, seen by the Jews as something superior, – the fullfilment – of the ancient law. All the rabbinical ttexts state that these parts are inseparable (. . .). Here are the main aspects of that “tradition”.

a) Between the Jews and the rest of humanity there is a fundamental difference, almost ontological and metaphysical. ” The Jew is the living god, the incarnate god, he is the celestial man. The other men are terrestrial, of an inferior race. They only exist to serve the Jew. The relation between Jews and non-Jews is the very one existing “between men and the brutes”. “Thee are men, while other people in the world are not men, but beasts”.

b) The law promised to Israel a universal dominion ; “to it will serve and will be subordinated all nations (. . . ), according to the ancient divine promise. (. . . )”All the wealth of the earth must belong to thee”. The antisemite polemic has shown that these ideas are not limited to the ancient history of the Israel people: they persist in the following tradition, in times and cycles of civilization in which it is beyond all question that the people that must be subject to an “rod of iron” are not anymore the populations of the ancient mediterranean asiatic littoral, but the non-jewish nations of the whole world.

c) Unlike the christians’, the Regnum of the jewish ideal is not an abstract and inner one, but is to be fullfilled on this very earth and to be ruled by a determined stock, the jewish stock. As long as it is not fullfilled, the Jews, according to the law, must “consider themselves as exiles and prisoners. (. . . ) Wherever they find themselves, (. . . ) they must see as a violence and an injustice any law that is not their law. The psychological consequences proceeding from the fact that, on one hand, they feel “the chosen people”, and, on the other hand, their stock is persecuted and hated by all people, are easily conceivable: a dissenssion that brings about, among other things, the characteristic complications of the feeling of sin (“colpa”:fault) and expiation, and, therefore, in the human type, a true break (“dilacerazione”), on one side hatred, on the other side abjection and intolerance. To look upon this chaos of contradictory feelings, that, through atavism, turned into unconscious “complexes”, also means to determine the source of inspiration of the majority of the “jewish genius” literary and ideological creations and to become aware of the ferment of decomposition they contain”.

Conclusion of the chapter “Racism & antisemitism” by Evola in “Myth of Blood” (“Le mythe du sang” Ed. de l’Homme Libre, p 177) :

“The reader will ask himself if at the centre of this destructive plan announced by the Protocols (. . . ) we really find Jews. In the Protocols it is refered sometimes to Jews, sometimes to Free-Masons, which is not the same thing. . . For us, we find it more wise to use the terms : secret leaders of world subversion. It cannot be debated that a number of jewish elements were used by these anonymous leaders, this because of their instincts and the deformation of their traditional ideas, the jews seem the most adapted and qualified instruments. But it is not wise to generalize beyond a certain limit. Moreover we must be aware of another point : that one cannot make the jews the sole and unique cause of world subversion – as some extremists would have it – unless we are to recognize a humiliating inferiority. The Jews then would have been stronger than an ordered aryan humanity in full possession of its means? It is a non-sense. The jewish action was possible only because in the non-jewish humanity different processes of degeneration and desagregation had occured : the jewish element joined these processes with its own spirit, instincts and methods (. . . ) “

ON THE ISLAMIC TRADITION Julius Evola, Revolt Against The Modern World

Islam, which originated among the Semitic races also consisted of the Law and Tradition, regarded as a formative force, to which the Arab stocks of the origins provided a purer and nobler human material that was shaped by a warrior spirit. The Islamic law (shariah) is a divine law; its foundation, the Koran, is thought of as God’s very own word (kalam Allah) as well as a nonhuman work and an “uncreated book” that exists in heaven ab eterno. Although Islam considers itself the “religion of Abraham” it is nevertheless true that (a) it claimed independence from both Judaism and Christianity; (b) the Kaaba, with its symbolism of the center, is a pre-Islamic location and has even older origins that cannot be dated accurately; (c) in the esoteric Islam tradition, the main reference point is al-Khadir, a popular figure conceived as superior to an pre-dating the biblical prophets (Koran 18:59-81). In early Islam the only form of asceticism was action, that is, jihad, or “holy war”; this type of war, at least theoretically, should never be interrupted until the full consolidation of the divine Law has been achieved. Finally, Islam presents a traditional completeness, since the shariah and the sunna, that is, the exoteric law and tradition, have their complement not in vague mysticism, but in full-fledged initiatory organizations (turuq) that are categorized by an esoteric teaching (tawil) and by the metaphysical doctrine of the Supreme Identity (tawhid). In these organizations, and in general in the shia, the recurrent notions of the masum, of the double perogative of the isma (doctrinal infallibility), and of the impossibility of being stained by any sin (which is the perogative of the leaders, the visible and invisible Imams and the mujtahid), lead back to the line of an unbroken race shaped by a tradition at a higher level than both Judaism and the religious beliefs that conquered the West.

Julius Evola On Islam and Tradition, (Revolt Agains The Modern World, pages 243 – 244)

Even though it began relatively recently, I will briefly refer to another tradition, Islam, which originated among the Semitic races and succeeded in overcoming those negative motifs. As in the case of priestly Judaism, the center in Islam also consisted on the Law and Tradition, regarded as a formative force, to which the Arab stocks of the origins provided a purer and nobler human material that was shaped by a warrior spirit. The Islamic law (shariah) is a divine law; its foundation, the Koran, is thought of as God’s very own word (kalam Allah) as well as a nonhuman work and an “uncreated book” that exists in heaven ab eterno. Although Islam considers itself the “religion of Abraham”, even to the point of attributing to him the foundation of the Kaaba (in which we find again the theme of the “stone”, or the symbol of the “center”), it is nevertheless true that (a) it claimed independence from both Judaism and Christianity; (b) the Kaaba, with its symbolism of the center, is a pre-Islamic location and has even older origins that cannot be dated accurately; (c) in the esoteric Islam tradition, the main reference point is al-Khadir, a popular figure conceived as superior to an pre-dating the biblical prophets (Koran 18:59-81). Islam rejects a theme found in Judaism and that in Christianity became the dogma and the basis fof the mystery of the incantation of the Logos; it retains, sensibly attenuated, the myth of Adam’s fall without building upon it the theme of “original sin”. In this doctrine Islam saw a “diabolical illusion” (talbis Iblis) or the inverted theme of the fall of Satan (Iblis or Shaitan), which the Koran (18:48) attributed to his refusal, together with all his angels, to bow down before Adam. Islam also not only rejected the idea of a Redeemer or Savior, which is so central in Christianity, but also the mediation of a priestly caste. By conceiving the Divine in terms of an absolute and pure monotheism, without a “Son”, a “Father”, or a “Mother of God”, every person as a Muslim appears to respond directly to God and to be sanctified through the Law, which permeates and organizes life in a radical unitary way in all of its juridicial, religious, and social ramifications. In early Islam the only form of asceticism was action, that is, jihad, or “holy war”; this type of war, at least theoretically, should never be interrupted until the full consolidation of the divine Law has been achieved. it is precisely through the holy war, and not through preaching or missionary endeavor, that Islam came to enjoy a sudden, prodigious expansion, originating the empire of the Caliphs as well as forging a unity typical of a race of the spirit, namely, the umma or “Islamic nation”. Finally, Islam presents a traditional completeness, since the shariah and the sunna, that is, the exoteric law and tradition, have their complement not in vague mysticism, but in full-fledged initiatory organizations (turuq) that are categorized by an esoteric teaching (tawil) and by the metaphysical doctrine of the Supreme Identity (tawhid). In these organizations, and in general in the shia, the recurrent notions of the masum, of the double perogative of the isma (doctrinal infallibility), and of the impossibility of being stained by any sin (which is the perogative of the leaders, the visible and invisible Imams and the mujtahid), lead back to the line of an unbroken race shaped by a tradition at a higher level than both Judaism and the religious beliefs that conquered the West.

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One Comment
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