Translated by G. A. Malvicini
We have already had the occasion to point to the illusoriness of the claim that modern man, in general, has achieved an autonomy and self-consciousness he previously lacked. This illusion can in part be explained by the fact that attention today is primarily directed towards external conditions, to the disappearance of certain material limits to the freedom of the individual — boundaries that were often not without a raison d’être, and which now have merely been replaced by others — while ignoring the matter of inner (mental and spiritual) autonomy, and everything that is necessary in order to acquire it and defend it.
From this latter point of view, there is really no reason at all to speak of progress; it would be more legitimate to speak once again of a regression, since a series of processes has made man today particularly vulnerable and passive with regard to a type of influences that could be called “subtle,” hidden, or subliminal, and that almost always are of a collective nature. This is inevitable in a “mass civilization” of the kind that more and more is being imposed everywhere the world, and it is a phenomenon that manifests itself on several different levels.
On the most trivial level, the role now played by advertisement and propaganda would be inconceivable without this passive opening up of the individual: an opening up which has either already taken place, or which can easily be achieved through specific techniques. We know that in America, as part of what is called MR (= motivational research), psychiatry and psychoanalysis have been enlisted by the advertising industry to provide guidance as to which “subtle” methods are the most effective in psychologically influencing the public. By applying leverage to the unconscious and primitive layers of the psyche, it is possible to elicit decisions and choices in a desired direction, or to arouse specific interests. The largest US companies have special departments for motivational research, and the fact that huge sums are spent on them must mean that these methods work, that their investments have yielded profits, and therefore, that the defenseless passivity we spoke of does in fact exist in a very great number of men and women.
It is instructive that all this has occurred in America, the country where, under the sign of democracy, man is claimed to have achieved the highest degree of freedom, emancipation, and self-consciousness. In fact, in this supposed “land of the free,” this so-called “free world,” invisible coercion and social control through the various forms of conformism and public opinion is often at least as great as the control exercised visibly and directly by the state in so-called totalitarian systems of the “unfree” world. To the extent that there is any difference, it may not be to the advantage of the so-called “free world,” since there, social and psychological control is not perceived as such, whereas in the latter case, it is directly felt, and is therefore more likely to elicit some form of resistance.
We spoke of advertising; but from advertising to political propaganda, there is only a short step. Hence, in America, there have been those who have noted with indignation that the techniques used in the presidential elections do not, structurally speaking, differ much from those used to foist a certain brand of soap or kitchen appliance on the public.
In this respect, as in so many others, America is only an extreme case. There, processes that are underway in other countries as well are simply more visible, and pushed to the point of absurdity. Indeed, one could say that the success of the ideologies and slogans that almost completely dominate today’s political and social life is solely dependent on the absence, in most individuals, of defenses that might bar access to the sub-intellectual, irrational and “physical” part of the psyche. If the threshold to this zone were guarded, it would automatically deprive of their efficacy the methods now applied on a vast scale by political and social agitators — methods used to rouse the masses and lead them in a certain direction, without depriving them of the illusion that they are guided solely by their own will and by their own true interests.
Moreover, in this climate, quasi-autonomous collective currents arise that have a subtle, invisible substrate with infective properties. This explains certain curious and unexpected effects of conformism. There are individuals who, in a given political and social system, agree to participate in it while simultaneously maintaining ideals and principles of a different, even opposite type. At a certain point these people sometimes find that their mentality has been changed; but in most cases, they are not even aware of the change.
This can also occur when a political system is adhered to for reasons that, in the beginning, were purely external, insincere, and opportunistic, driven by ulterior motives or tactical considerations. This kind of participation in fact places the individual in a kind of autonomous, collective psychic vortex; and if the individual lacks internal defenses, reinforced by vigilance and impersonal loyalty to a higher idea, in the long term it is difficult to avoid the danger of infection. This is usually not taken into consideration for the reason already mentioned: one remains within a superficial, external conception of the forces acting in a given society and in a given historical climate, and the dimension of depth — the “psychic” dimension — of these forces is ignored.
This is directly related to the ”charge” certain words or phrases are invested with and the contaminating effect they exert on anyone who nonetheless agrees to use them. Here, intellectual cowardice and spinelessness also plays a part. The climate in Italy at the time of this writing offers prime examples of this. We are referring to the whole terminology promoted by the forces of the Left, of democracy, Marxism, and communism, and accepted by others in the senses predefined by these same forces.
First of all, there is the word “democracy.” Stultification and passive inertia have reached the point where this word has become sacrosanct, assented to and repeated ad nauseam. Today there seems to be a kind of anxiousness about not promoting democracy and not declaring oneself to be, in one way or another, democratic. The surrender and retreat before the the enemy becomes obvious when, instead of absolutely refusing from the start to partake in this game, one excuses oneself with this or that qualification: “true” democracy, “national” democracy, “healthy” democracy, etc., thereby forgetting Goethe’s words: “From those spirits which you have summoned, you will free yourself with difficulty” — and oblivious to the fact that one now has been contaminated by one’s adversary.
Other fetishized words of the same kind, with the same hidden infective properties, are “socialism,” “work,” “the working class,” “sociality,” “social justice,” “the meaning of history,” and, on the other hand, “reaction,” “obscurantism,” “immobility,” etc. At a certain point, one may notice that one no longer has the courage to take a stand against these phrases; it comes to seem natural to use them, and regardless of any mental reservations of the men who do not completely belong to the front of global subversion, these words are just as effective in influencing those who use them, pushing them in the general direction of the ideologies to which these formulas properly belong, from which they originate and derive their meaning. It is enough to observe what is said and written today even in circles that do not at all belong to the left, circles that claim to be “oppositional,” to realize how much they have lent themselves to this insidious game, and to the gradual and unnoticed surrender that is its consequence.
We will limit ourselves to a couple of examples. With regard to “reaction,” we will not repeat what we have stated repeatedly on other occasions concerning the arrant claims of those who make the word “reaction” into a negative term, as if, while certain parties “act,” others should refrain from reacting, turn the other cheek like good Christians and say, “Well done, keep it up!” and allow legitimate self-defense to be labeled a ”provocation.” Biology and medicine teach us that when a tissue no longer “reacts” to a stimulus, it is considered dead or nearly dead. This, unfortunately, could as well be a diagnosis of the current situation.
We have already discussed the myth of “work” and the “worker” in a previous chapter. Another instance of stupid, passive acquiescence is the way the term “committed” is allowed to be monopolized by Leftist intellectuals. The implication is that anyone who is not a Leftist, is not “committed” as a writer, an intellectual or a man of action, i.e., that they are frivolous, superficial, irresolute, lacking in vigor, and with no real cause to defend. This logical implication appears to completely escape those who nonetheless accept the equating of the terms ”committed” and “Leftist.” Again, they allow themselves to be passively dragged along by the current. That the opposite is true, that only he is truly “committed” who defends precisely the higher ideals and transcendent ends that the the Leftist rabble (intellectual or otherwise) covers with contempt and disrepute, is hardly worth pointing out.
Other cases of retreat and intellectual cowardice ought to be pointed out regarding the so-called “meaning of history” (in the subversive sense). Naturally, the current that has prevailed in recent centuries is, unfortunately, the one highlighted by the progressive Left, but it must be interpreted differently. The general direction, the meaning of this historical current is one of collapse, of the gradual disintegration of every higher and legitimate order. With regard to the concrete course of history, the description of facts has to be separated from their evaluation. Intellectual surrender to the ideology of subversion occurs when one grants that which exists the character of something that should exist, of something good, thereby eliminating the moral justification of a reaction. The origin of this deviation lies in Hegelian historicism, with its well-known identification of the real with the rational. However, regardless of the degree to which it is still possible to divert the current historical process, and even if the process is irreversible, one should speak not of the meaning, but of the meaninglessness of history, and one should refuse categorically and absolutely to bow before this idol.
Unfortunately, today the example of surrender comes from a higher instance, which according to some is the highest positive spiritual authority in the West: from the Catholic Church. The Church, precisely by accepting the “meaning of history,” tries to bring itself up to date, to catch up with the times, to open itself up to the left. There are also Catholics who have stated that basically, true Christianity today is alive and active precisely in democratic, Marxist, and communist movements, hence the appearance of the so-called nuovi preti [new priests] and, coming from the highest authority, the formula of “dialogue” with the very forces and ideologies that Pope Pius IX had openly stigmatized and condemned in the Syllabus.
The modernist Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin had already paved the way for all of this by formulating a doctrine, now in the course of being rehabilitated by the Church, which could serve as a theoretical framework. Teilhard has transposed the Christian idea of a providential direction of the course of history into the terms of a progressive and linear evolutionism, including science, technology, and social achievements.
Naturally, one prefers to forget certain essential themes of the original Christian view of history and of times to come, a conception that is much less linear and has less of a happy end: given the fact that end times were spoken of in rather catastrophic, “apocalyptic,” terms, with the appearance of false prophets, the coming of the Antichrist, the terrible Last Judgment, the separation between the elect and the damned instead of the universal redemption, through “progress,” of a humanity that has become exclusively “earthly.” All these themes in early Christianity, deformations and mythologisations aside, fundamentally reflected some valid traditional teachings.
Alongside the sacrosanct “meaning of history,” the term “immobility” is now passively accepted in the negative sense it has been associated with. To defend one’s position is considered a sign of stagnation and “immobility,” while changing position, naturally in the sense of following the lead of one’s adversary, thereby granting him one’s tacit approval, is supposed to be a good thing. Disregarding its crudest aspect, this claim is also based on the myth of progress: almost as if any change, as such, necessarily meant something positive, an advance, a gain. Bruce Marshall has aptly written: “The so-called backward societies [we might say “immobile”] are those who have the good sense to stop when they reach their destination, while the progressive societies are those that are so blind that they pass it, rushing on madly.”
In a general sense, we can refer to what we have already stated, regarding a higher plane: that there is such a thing as ”stability,” which has nothing to do with immobility, and that one must absolutely oppose the identification of these two terms, is something that seems to occur to no-one today. In political struggle, “immobility” is yet another bugbear associated with “reaction.” Even men supposedly of the right have now accepted this jargon, trembling before such accusations. Moreover, should we be surprised if, as we have already stated, the Church itself is “changing,” no doubt fearing that otherwise, it will be uprooted and shattered by the current of history, and deluding itself that it can escape this possible fate through a policy of “openness”?
Let us take another example: “paternalism.” Here, too, we can take note of the acquiescence to the negative sense that term is invested with by the ideologies of subversion, while forgetting what it implies: the devaluation of the very concept of family worthy of the name. In fact, what is devalued is the very center of the family: the authority and the natural and positive function of the father. The solicitude and care of the father, affectionate, of course, but, when necessary, not without severity, protecting and conceding, on the basis of a personal relationship, with judiciousness and justice — all this is considered, transposed to the social plane, deplorable, intolerable, an offense to the dignity of the “working class.” The objective here is twofold: on one hand, to destroy the traditional ideal of the family, and on the other, to attack everything that in a normal society could have, and indeed once did have, a natural and organic, personalized and “human” character, as opposed to a state of latent civil war and a system of “claims,” which should finally be called by their true name: blackmail.
Regarding the docility in the face of new “trends” in language, one could refer, in passing, to a case that this time involves feminist “claims,” even if the particular domain here is rather banal. In Italy, it has become common to use masculine terms to refer to charges and professions, even when they are performed by women. Some people no longer dare say “avvocatessa” [the feminine form of avvocato, “lawyer”] instead of “avvocato” for a woman who exercises this profession, and the same goes for “dottore” [doctor], “ambasciatore” [ambassador], etc. Soon perhaps words like “maestra” [school mistress], “professoressa“ and “poetessa” should be removed from the vocabulary and deemed offensive to the dignity of women. The fact that this idiocy has consequences exactly opposite of those intended, seems to escape women themselves. The latter, indeed, do not realize that in claiming the masculine form of these designations, they do not attain equality with men (equality while remaining women), but the opposite, assimilation to man. It would be different if Italian had a neutral gender, in addition to masculine and feminine forms, and all those terms could be used in the neutral, rather than the feminine, form. Only then would it be possible to designate activities and professions, the male prerogative of which one wishes to dispute. But in this stupid new trend, people are unknowingly influenced by the English language, which lacks a feminine form for many professions and occupations, making it necessary to add the word “lady” to doctor, barrister, etc.; Italian, by contrast, almost always has a feminine form (dottoressa, avvocatessa, poetessa, etc.), and there is no apparent reason for failing to use it, except stupid democratic and egalitarian conformism.
In this case, the docility and acquiescence of most men must be emphasized. They should have ridiculed this new jargon, and the same goes for many other recent forms of ”progress.” As for those women who apparently are ashamed to be women, and want to make this distortion into a permanent modification of our language — in a normal society, they should be entrusted to specialists in diabolical hormonal manipulations, so that through adequate treatment, they could be transformed into exponents of the “third sex,” thus attaining the goal of their aspirations, on every level. Although, for the sake of justice, one might ask whether such treatment would not be appropriate also for men whenever the aforementioned docility is not so much caused by the subtle influences of the environment and unconscious processes that operate on the infra-intellectual part of the psyche of the common man, but instead are due to an inability to react and to demonstrate true virility through moral courage and lucid, resolute judgment.
Source: L’Arco e la Clava [The Bow and the Club] (Milan: Scheiwiller, 1968)
Translated by G. A. Malvicini
Werner Sombart is an author who deserves to be studied more than he currently is. Sombart furnishes an example of a serious method for studying socio-economic phenomena, one that is far removed from the deformations and biases of materialist sociology (especially of the Marxist type). For Sombart, even economic life is composed of a body and a soul. That is to say, there is such a thing as an economic spirit, distinct from the modes of production, distribution and organization, a spirit which is variable, and which imposes upon those forms a different direction, meaning and foundation, differing from case to case and from epoch to epoch. In his works, including a classic study on modern capitalism, Sombart has emphasized the search for the spiritual factors of economic life, and the meaning that these factors ultimately have conferred upon the latter in the West.
It is not our intention here to provide an overview of his research. We will just mention one particular point, highlighted by Sombart in a book which has also been published in Italian.
We are referring to the form that the economic process has taken on in the period of high capitalism, and with regard to which we must mainly look to America for concrete examples. It is a development that tends toward limitless expansion, because any halt or slowing down would mean falling behind, or being ousted. The immediate and natural purposes of the production process become of secondary importance. Fiat productio et pereat homo! [let there be production though man may perish]. The process from which the great capitalist entrepreneur is unable to free himself, which seizes him body and soul, ends up becoming an object of love, something desired in itself and for itself, constituting the meaning of his existence, of a life that “has no time” for anything else. We are then confronted with a type of man who no longer even questions the ultimate meaning of this race to infinity, this feverish agitation, these chains of economic structures, which often drag the masses along and dictate laws in world politics, while the bosses are no more free than the least of their workers. This situation ends up appearing natural, self-evident. People think it is demanded by economic prosperity and the progress of modern civilization.
Sombart believes, however, that such a state of affairs could never have been consolidated, had it not been for the predominance in our time of inner factors characteristic not so much of a true man, as of the infantile psyche; so that the hidden psychological basis of the whole process is, ultimately, regression. The corresponding traits are indicated in connection with a few characteristic points.
Firstly, there is the fascination with everything big, in the sense of material grandness, of the gigantic, of large quantities. The fascination that this exerts on children is no different from the one it exerts on the great entrepreneurs of an Americanized economy. In general, the tendency to — in the words of Bryce — mistake bigness for greatness, that is, to confuse real, inner greatness with outward size, has become almost the distinctive mark of an entire civilization. In fact, this is nothing but primitivism.
Ultimately, the obsession with record-breaking in all domains leads us back to the same point: the search for something that in tangible, measurable, and hence merely quantitative terms, wins over something else, without regard for different and more subtle factors or qualities. At the same time, this is, according to Sombart, one of the forms in which another infantile characteristic is expressed: the enjoyment of speed, from the spinning top to the carousel. Despite the shift in level and proportions, the fact that it has been exacerbated and multiplied in the world of technology and in many other domains of modern, materialized life, does not deprive it of its original childish character.
Thirdly, the love of novelty has to be considered. Just as a child is immediately attracted to anything that looks new, quickly abandoning a toy that has become familiar, directing his enthusiasm towards another, and leaving one thing half-done as soon as another attracts him, in the same way, modern man is attracted by newness as such, by everything that happens not to have been seen yet. The sensation is reducible, in essence, to the impression felt in catching sight of a novelty. But greed for mere sensation is one of the most characteristic features of the present era.
Finally, for Sombart, there is the feeling of power in situations that psychoanalysis calls “compensation.” It is the joy — again, fundamentally childish — in feeling superior to others on an entirely exterior plane. Our author rightly states: “Analyzing this feeling, one finds that in the end, it is nothing but an involuntary and unconscious confession of weakness: which is why it is one of the attributes of the infantile psyche. A truly, naturally and inwardly great man never assigns special value to external power.”
Sombart, with regard to this tendency, considers a still broader domain, and his observations are worth quoting here: “A capitalist entrepreneur,” he says, “who commands 10,000 men and takes pleasure in this power, resembles a child, happy to see his dog obey his every beck and call. And when it is no longer money or external constraints that ensure direct power over men, we feel proud to have subdued the elements of nature. Whence our exultation in ‘great’ inventions or discoveries. ” Our author adds: “A man of profound and lofty feelings, or a truly great generation, struggling with the most serious problems of the human soul, does not feel elevated because of the success of some technical invention. He will accord only a secondary importance to these instruments of external power. But our age, incapable of understanding anything that is truly great, appreciates only that kind of external power, rejoicing in it like a child, worshiping those who possess it. That is why inventors and billionaires inspire the masses with endless admiration. ”
These factors, as is obvious, play a part everywhere in the modern world; however, they manifest themselves in particular ways in the field of the economy and production, which, after all, was the starting point of it all. It is easy to trace their development not only in the domain of the great capitalist structures, but beyond them, in the tendency to degrade the state itself to the role of a sort of trust, a pure centralized system of labor and insane, excessive production.
As for these latter considerations by Sombart, it would of course be a misunderstanding to interpret them as an attack on the ideals of activity and human self-affirmation in general, in the name of an abstract idealism. It is not activity as such that he is attacking, but agitation, not true self-affirmation, but rather its aberrant forms. There is a limit, beyond which the man who is only turned towards the outside world completely loses control over the forces and processes which he has brought into being. He is then faced with a mechanical process over which he can exercise a certain steering power only by remaining chained to it and increasing day by day his dependency on it. At the same time, it pulls the masses, and finally even nations, into its vortex-like chain reaction. This is precisely the meaning of what Sombart called the ”economic era.”
It is worth adding that there might be forms of power that are not reducible to external bigness and world records, that do not aim for the material and the quantitative, but manifest themselves as the sign and seal of inner greatness, of real superiority. Every trace, indeed the very notion of such power seems more and more to vanish. Perhaps it will be found again, when men will begin to look inward, putting an end to the agitation, the fever of always going beyond, without a clear sense of the object, or the reason of all this activity, of what really is worth human effort, and what is not. Perhaps that will be the point at which everything modern man has created will find a true master, even though the paths leading to it still remain inscrutable.
Source: Julius Evola, Ricognizioni: uomini e problemi (Rome: Edizioni Mediterranee, 1974).
Translated by G. A. Malvicini
The term “intelligent stupidity” was coined by a distinguished representative of traditional thought, F. Schuon (although G. Bernanos had already used an analogous expression, l’intelligence des sots, and another Frenchman had written that “le drame de notre temps, c’est que la bêtise se soit mise à penser” [the drama of our time is that stupidity has started thinking]), to characterize a form of intellectuality that has come to dominate large sectors of modern culture, and which is strongly represented in Italy. This intellectuality proliferates in the margins of journalism — that scourge of our time — and the literary genre of the essay. The “cultural section” of the big newspapers is one of its main centers of dissemination, and it is exercised primarily in the field of so-called “criticism.”
The main characteristic of “intelligent stupidity” is the absence of principles, of interests in higher matters, and of genuine commitment, while its supreme concern is to be “brilliant” and “original,” attaching great importance to slick and professional “good writing,” to everything that is form and not substance, to esprit in the frivolous and urbane French sense. For the representatives of this “intelligentsia,” the brilliant sentence, the dialectical and polemical statement, have much more value than truth. Ideas, when these people make use of them, are only a pretext; the important thing is to be brilliant, to appear to be extremely intelligent — in the same way that for the politician today, the party ideology is merely a means of building a career. The “vanity fair,” the shabbiest subjectivism, often outright narcissism, are essential components of this phenomenon, and when these cliques of intellectuals take on an urbane tinge (in literary “salons” and cultural associations), this aspect becomes even more apparent. Whoever it was that said that “of all kinds of stupidity, the most annoying kind is the stupidity of intelligent people,” undeniably had a point. When, in analyzing a person down to his very core, we discover that this person is a non-entity, it would really be better if he were not also intelligent.
However, the matter cannot be reduced to the annoyance these scribblers cause; we must emphasize their perniciousness, since “intelligent stupidity” is remarkably organized, especially in contemporary Italy. It is a kind of freemasonry, implanted in various circles, holding practically all the key positions in publishing, wherever these are not already occupied and controlled by Leftist elements. Its representatives have a highly developed instinct when it comes to immediately recognizing anyone who is of a different nature, and promptly ostracizing them.
We could adduce a trivial but significant example from the present time. There is a group of intellectuals gathered around a fairly well-produced and widely distributed journal [Il Borghese, a post-war Right-wing journal]. It presents itself as anti-conformist, and likes to criticize the political regime and contemporary mores. But the editors of this journal were careful to avoid contact with the few authors who could have provided it, had it had serious intentions, with a positive foundation in terms of principles and a traditional worldview. These authors are as ignored and ostracized by them as by the Leftist press, precisely because that group feels that they are men of a different type.
This clearly shows that this brilliant anti-conformism is just a means of getting attention and of “dazzling,” while everything really remains at the level of dilettantism. Moreover, the founder of the magazine in question, who died a few years ago, once stated baldly that if a different political regime were in existence today, he would probably have switched camps, just in order to still be part of the “opposition” — with the same goal, of course, of being “brilliant” and showing off his “intelligence.” The group of intellectuals we referred to willingly opened itself to a few people who had shown, initially, a feeling for superior ideas and values, but who then put them aside, so as to better be able to market whatever talent for writing they had. Thus, renouncing all intransigence, these people easily adapted to the line of “intelligent stupidity,” which only impresses the ignorant and those suffering from intellectual provincialism. The example is anecdotal, but very revealing.
It is hardly necessary to point out that the counterpart of “intelligent stupidity” is a lack of character. This becomes obvious whenever its representatives were involved in politics in recent years: opportunism and a chameleonic nature are their recurring characteristics. Once fascists out of convenience, they now parade their anti-fascism, when they at least should have the decency to keep silent, and completely refrain from discussing such matters.
We said at the beginning that “criticism” is one of the main provinces of intelligent stupidity, the one where its most pernicious varieties flourish. Here, as we shall see, we can make a connection with what we wrote earlier regarding multiple subliminal influences coming from the environment. To tell the truth, it is quite an extensive subject. In general, we should single out the “critic” as one of the scourges of modern culture, a scourge that originated in bourgeois civilization, in parallel with the development the publishing industry and the commercialization of culture. Criticism is a phenomenon that has spread like a cancer in our time, but which was nonexistent, or nearly so, in all normal, traditional civilizations. There, on the one hand, there were the creators, the artists, and on the other, there were those who, directly and without any intermediary, judged and appreciated their work: rulers, patrons or simple people. Instead, in our time, an insolent and impertinent parasite, the “critic,” has interposed himself between the creators and the public.
In stating this, we do not mean to say that all judgment concerning artistic productions should be ruled out. We believe, however, that if a judgment must be made, it must be pronounced from a higher point of view, by those whose authority has been conferred upon them by true principles and a tradition. Which amounts to saying that it must be pronounced by a type of persons now almost non-existent (and even if they had existed, their words and deeds would resonate very little in our age). Pace those who propound the theory of art for art’s sake, pace Croce with his horror of any judgment not based solely on the expressive capacity encountered in a work of art — judgments of the aforementioned kind would be made from a point of view that transcends that of art. They would be value judgments taking into account whatever a given work might signify within the totality of a civilization, and not just in a particular domain, or on a purely aesthetic level.
Far removed from all of this, “criticism” is now condemned from the start to pure subjectivism and arbitrariness. Today, it is often the critic who manipulates values along the lines of “intelligent stupidity,” being highly skilled at creating an appearance of value where there is none, and concealing it where it does in fact exist. As for the public, we again encounter, in another form, the easily manipulated passivity so typical of our contemporaries (having now become, in the language of democracy, “adult”). We have discussed this earlier [in “Subliminal Influences”].
Indeed, in the artistic and intellectual field, a situation similar to that of advertising and propaganda has come into being. New reputations and new “masterpieces” pop up everywhere, with battages to start trends and fashions. That which has been observed with regard to people who always follow fashion, also applies to today’s public: they are ridiculous from fear of seeming ridiculous. They passively allow their opinions to be prompted and manipulated, they do not dare to openly express what they think and feel for fear of being accused of being philistines or fools, once a verdict has been passed by the pontificators of “criticism” on such and such a work of contemporary art or literature. Whatever differences of opinion and controversies that may exist among “critics,” they never touch upon the essential, their only function being to spice up the dishes served up and artificially generate interest.
This certainly goes for many authors made famous by “critics” — Nobel laureates and bestsellers included — but whose fundamental insignificance would clearly appear if only one had preserved some degree of spiritual freedom, if only one had serious, higher points of reference, and if one from the start had denied all authority to the pontificators of “criticism.” If the tendency to passively and indiscriminately follow the dictates of fashion in hair-style and clothing — what some unknown individual in this or that capital came up with the idea of promoting as fashion — can be regarded as an essentially feminine character trait, the same phenomenon, in the field of art and literature, is not essentially different. It merely re-confirms, on another level, what can be observed in the forma mentis that is now widespread in much of today’s so-called educated public, as well as in everyday life and politics. Again, it is a sign of the times.
Source: L’Arco e la Clava [The Bow and the Club] (Milan: Scheiwiller, 1968)
Translated by G. A. Malvicini
Elsewhere (in La Destra, in May 1972), we have discussed the necessary relationship of an authentic, non-makeshift Right with the concept of Tradition. In the sense discussed there, references to authors with a traditional orientation may be useful in dealing with certain complex problems. Here, however, we wish to provide an account of the ideas of René Guénon (1886-1951), who was regarded as the proponent of “integral Traditionalism.”
Guénon is already quite well known in Italy. His books were translated before the war and some have recently been republished. In Turin, a Guénonian group circulates a journal that is a replica of the French publication Études Traditionnelles, of which Guénon was magna pars. The latter journal still exists and is edited by orthodox Guénonians. Today, Guénon is regarded as a teacher and the founder of a school, and in France has come to be accepted by the official and academic culture, albeit with various reservations.
Guénon’s work is complex but also forms an organic whole. Firstly, it formulates a radical critique of the modern world, a critique that differs from that of various authors of the past and the present, to the extent that it has a positive point of reference: the “world of Tradition,” of which the modern world is the antithesis. The term “traditional” refers to a universal type of civilization which, in varied, but analogous forms, was realized more or less completely in both the East and in the West.
Traditional civilization — Guénon affirms — has metaphysical points of reference. It is characterized by the recognition of an order higher than all that is human and contingent, and by the presence and authority of elites that draw from this transcendent plane the principles and values necessary to found a well-articulated social organization, to open the paths to higher knowledge, and finally, to give life true meaning. At the opposite pole lies modern civilization, which is defined by desacralization on a grand scale, by the systematic denial of all that is superior to man as an individual or as a collective group, by materialism, and by the impulse to realization in the sense of productive activity on a purely secular and temporal plane, an insane activism. Two books by Guénon, La crise du monde moderne [Crisis of the Modern World] and Le règne de la quantité et les signes des temps [The Reign of Quantity and the Sign of the Times], contain the essential elements of this critique. In those two works, themes already discussed by various authors of the past and the present acquire a particular sharpness and a firmer foundation.
The same critique is formulated in the book Orient et Occident, but there it is associated with other, questionable claims. While Guénon recognizes — and cannot fail to recognize — that civilizations of the traditional type have existed in both the East and the West, in this latter work, he claims that they are now only found in the East (especially India), and that taking them as a point of reference may be an effective means of Western reintegration. Now, this claim may at the most be valid with regard to Eastern esoteric doctrines, but certainly not for the factual reality of the East. Guénon was convinced of the existence, in the East, in spite of everything, of groups that were still depositaries of the Tradition. In practice, he had direct contact with the Islamic world, where initiatic veins (Sufi and Ismaeli) still exist parallel to the exoteric (i.e., religious) tradition. He Islamicized himself to the extreme. Having moved to Egypt, he took the name of Sheikh Abdel Wahid Yasha, and also acquired Egyptian nationality. In a second marriage, he took an Arab wife.
Guénon makes no mystery of the fact that, after several disappointing experiences in French “occult” circles, it was thanks to exponents of Eastern doctrines that he managed to find the right path, that of the “initiatory” or “metaphysical knowledge.”
These esoteric teachings are the stated or implied foundation of the doctrines expounded by Guénon in several books, most notably Le symbolisme de la Croix [The Symbolism of the Cross], Les états multiples de l’être [The Multiple States of the Being], and L’homme et son devenir selon le Vedanta [Man and His Becoming According to Vedanta]. Here, one of our reservations is that often, what Guénon presents as “metaphysics” in a special transcendent meaning, is in fact, aside from differences in terminology, essentially not very different from what goes by that name in the history of Western, profane philosophy, and often ends up in rather tedious abstractions, as for example in the case of all the expositions on “Universal Possibility” and the like. Nevertheless, a point that remains valid is that the rational is not the extreme noetic limit of man, and that the normal human condition can be removed, since man “does not represent, in fact, more than a transitory and contingent manifestation of true being.” Thus, in principle, it is possible for him to strive towards a higher plane in which knowledge signifies being the thing known, so that in knowing, the individual transforms and integrates himself. The ancient concept of “gnosis” is analogous to this. Initiation, he claims, is the most direct and regular path to such a realization. Guénon clearly differentiates it from anything that is mere mysticism.
Tradition, in a first sense, refers to all of this “metaphysical” and not merely human knowledge. It admits of a variety of forms, while remaining, in its essence, one. Concerning its unity, Guénon also speaks of a “primordial tradition,” a concept that had been formulated before him. There are hints of it in De Maistre, in Fabre d’Olivet, and in a way it was also accepted by the Catholic Wilhelm Schmidt, in his remarkable work on ”idea of God.”
With regard to the concept of “primordial tradition,” one must, however, distinguish between a metaphysical aspect and an historical aspect. The former concerns forms that are related in ways that are not the result of material, historically verifiable transmission; a single law can give rise to distinct, but corresponding and analogous forms, in the same way that in several points of a stream of water, separate whirlpools with the same morphology can form as a result of the same law and similar situation.
Regarding the second aspect, it is the result of a concrete first origin common to a complex of traditions. Guénon accepts the idea of a “Hyperborean tradition” placed at the beginning of this cycle of civilizations (of Indo-European civilizations in particular). This idea had already been affirmed by other esoteric authors (but also by profane authors like Herman Wirth, who in his vast work of uneven value, Der Aufgang der Menschheit [The Rise of Mankind], tried to establish a basis for it).
All this leads to the thesis of the ”transcendent unity of traditional forms” (and in particular, of the ”transcendent unity of religions,” as F. Schuon, a disciple of Guénon, calls it). One of the abilities attributed to one who has risen to the level of higher knowledge discussed earlier, would be that of glimpse that unity, as well as, conversely, to be able to express a given content in terms of one or the other tradition, just as a concept can be expressed in the words of one or another language (symbolically, this would be the “gift of tongues,” and furthermore the foundation of an essential “ecumenism,” very different from the grey, illusory ecumenism that has emerged from the climate of post-conciliar Catholicism). Guénon has shown himself to possess this capacity, beyond what can be attributed to mere erudition.
Guénon again uses traditional ideas in his criticism of the modern world. He has no doubt that we are today approaching the end of a cycle, that we are in the Kali Yuga or the “dark age” predicted by ancient Hindu doctrines, but also in other traditions (Hesiod’s “Iron Age,” for example). He rejects, then, every form of progressivist delusion. Progress, outside of the material domain (where, however, it often comes at a high price), is for Guénon merely a superstition of Western man. Guénon interprets history in decidedly anti-Marxist terms, as an involution, indicating its real meaning in terms of the so-called “regression of the castes.”
The reference point here is the traditional articulation of society into four castes or “functional classes”: at its summit, the exponents of spiritual and sacred authority, then the warrior aristocracy, then the bourgeoisie, and finally, the working masses. Now, a society governed by the first caste recedes into almost mythical remoteness. The subsequent reign of the second caste ended with the decline of the great monarchies. Then began the reign of the third estate, of the bourgeoisie, of industrialism and capitalism. Finally, what corresponds to the fourth caste emerges and has begun its struggle for world domination: Marxism and communism. Any anti-Marxist interpretation of the course of history, from the Right, should refer to this essential scheme, which we have ourselves developed on several occasions.
One of Guénon’s theses is that a normal, i. e., traditional, civilization would be characterized by the primacy of contemplation and pure knowledge over action. This is also one of the foundations of his critique of the modern Western world, where he finds the very opposite, namely the primacy of action. But this is precisely the point at which we must begin to formulate certain reservations. Our critique can take as its starting point the indication of the characteristic nature of the power at the apex or center of traditional civilization. It is not correct that it was occupied by elites who cultivated “contemplation” or “pure knowledge” in more or less priestly terms. Historically, this was not the case even in India, for despite its predominantly Brahmanical civilization, it had royal dynasties and representatives of the warrior caste who possessed traditional knowledge. In fact, the aforementioned apex is characterized rather by an undivided unity of sacredness and royalty, of spiritual authority and temporal power. Aside from ancient China and a number of other ancient civilizations, Japan has almost up to the present time maintained itself at that level, and it is significant, with regard to Guénon’s idiosyncrasies, that he never referred to Japan and its specific “traditional character” because it did not correspond to his scheme.
While Guénon notes the completely desacralized and deviant character of the modern West, this has not prevented him from considering the problem of the possibility of a rectification, of a redressement. Based on his conviction that if the West has had a tradition, it was in Catholicism, he believed that the starting point of such a rectification would have to be in an integration of “traditional” Catholicism, not ruling out the advantageousness of contacts with oriental elements. But even before the recent trends of post-conciliar Catholicism would reveal the reality of the situation (and here we must again emphasise that the illusory “ecumenism” of post-Vatican II Catholicism has nothing in common with what “integral traditionalism” aimed for), he did not entertain too many illusions in this regard; he also explicitly stated as much in a letter he wrote to us, confessing that as a matter of principle, he had felt compelled to not exclude certain possibilities, without, however, actually expecting any results. In the face of attempts of this kind, Catholicism has remained indifferent, as it did with the regard to those, albeit much inferior, once made by Abbé Constant (aka Eliphas Lévi). The only real result has been that thanks to Guénon, several Catholics have come to penetrate the deepest meaning of Catholicism, of its symbols and its dogmas. Unfortunately, these individuals have no power in the official hierarchy, which would allow them to exert any significant influence. On the other hand, a Catholic theologian would probably detect incompatibilities between the truths of orthodoxy and all that is derived from the “metaphysics” which Guénon refers to, opposing une fin de non recevoir [a legalistic pleading] to “integral traditionalism.”
Guénon was allergic to politics in the narrow sense, claiming that there was no currently existing movement he felt he could support. As an exception, he consented to having extracts from his writings published with his signature as articles in a special cultural section — unique in its kind — that we edited in the years 1934-1943: “Diorama,” in the Cremona newspaper Regime fascista. In any case, Guénon belongs in essence to the culture of the Right. His work is a radical negation of democracy, socialism, and individualism. He goes even further, into areas barely touched upon by current Right-wing critiques. He opposed traditional knowledge and “traditional sciences” to modern science and scientism, not hesitating to rehabilitate the former, once their true meaning had been clarified. Not only did he point to the limits of profane scientific knowledge, but also to the devastation that inevitably follows from its world-view and its applications. One statement by Guénon succinctly sums up the meaning of the adventure that Western man has devoted himself to since the Renaissance: “He has detached himself from the heavens with the excuse of conquering the earth.” We can also quote the far-eastern saying that: “The net of Heaven has large meshes, but no one passes through,” indicating the play of concordant actions and reactions that led to the current “dark age” (dark, despite what Henry Miller calls its “putrescent splendor”).
Aside from what he believed was possible for an “integrated” Catholicism, Guénon indicated the rectifying action of élites intellectuelles. Here, he may have had in mind the kind of influence once exercised — but in an opposite, subversive direction — by the so-called sociétés de pensée, up to the French Revolution and in the margins of Freemasonry. Even if Guénon does not use the term “intellectual” in the current sense and even though he is not referring to today’s intellectuals, but to a conservative and “traditional” form of intellectuality, the concept remains somewhat abstract under current conditions. If anything, to us a more adequate conception would be a kind of Order, bringing together personalities loyal to certain principles, rooted in traditional spirituality, but also more directly in contact and in confrontation with reality and historical forces. Such an Order would make up the backbone of a true Right, and if its members, without necessarily flaunting their connection with the organization, were gradually able to occupy certain key positions in contemporary culture and society, a rectification would be possible.
All this only in principle, because today’s environment and men are such that initiatives of this kind would have little chance of success. As a fallback, there remains more or less what Guénon had in mind, the formation of centers of traditional intellectuality with an activity that, realistically, would be limited to the cultural domain. Even such an activity should not be underestimated. Today, it has become quite fashionable to speak of a “culture of the Right,” but without it being clear what it is supposed to consist in and without it being possible to avoid the feeling of something improvised. However, there does seem to be favorable soil, and the various publishing initiatives confirm this. In this context, a use (but not a slavish one) of Guénon is desirable. Given the variety and multiplicity of subjects treated by him, it would be well, however, to leave aside those that are specially concerned with esotericism, “metaphysics,” and initiation. Although they are the ultimate foundation of everything else, given their unusual nature, there is no need to put them in the foreground, thereby possibly alarming a certain circle of readers and providing pretexts for ostracism.
Of course, apart from the intellectual aspect, there is the existential aspect. Traditional knowledge, as has already been stated, is necessarily at same time realization. The Nietzschean axiom “Man is something that can be overcome” is also the axiom of esoteric knowledge, which — as we have noted — starts from the idea that the human state of existence should not be hypostatized, that it is just one the multiple states of being. Only one must indicate how to prevent distorted, mistaken or dangerous applications of this postulate.
This is not an appropriate place for particular considerations of this domain of realization, which would entail an examination of Guénon’s book Aperçus sur l’initiation [Perspectives on Initiation]. We will simply note that there are reservations that must be made with regard to the possibilities almost exclusively considered by Guénon. He insists on the necessity of a connection with a given “chain,” with a given “regular organization” transmitting a spiritual influence. For clarification, an analogy would be the consecration of a priest by a bishop, who is the administrator of the spiritual influences of which the Church is believed to be the custodian. In the case of Guénon, this connection must mainly have been realized — as we have already stated — through Islamic “chains.” But to those who do not feel like turning to Muslims and Orientals, Guénon offers very little.
Those who read, in La Destra (March 1972), the extracts of our correspondence with him, will remember that we could not follow the Guénon in the idea that today’s Freemasonry — despite its degeneration (which he admitted) — in principle remains a dispensing organization of real, and not only symbolic and ritual initiation. There are personalities in the West who certainly have had the rank of Masters, such as Gurdjieff and, in the so-called “Left Hand Path,” Aleister Crowley. Or perhaps we are supposed to seek out some surviving branch of operative Kabbalism, which again cannot be considered a Western tradition. Naturally, the teeming occult, theosophical, pseudo-Rosicrucian sects and cliques of today are spurious and inauthentic, and are completely out of the question. Thus, the situation is difficult, for most of us the problem remains open and must perhaps be reformulated in terms other than those indicated by Guénon.
However, the theme of “integral traditionalism” can be detached from this problem and be used in the formation of a culture of the Right.
Source: Julius Evola, Ricognizioni: uomini e problemi (Rome: Edizioni Mediterranee, 1974).
The problem of the origins, the foundations and the future destiny of the global hegemony of the white race is, of course, among the most exciting issues of today. We have in our hands a newly published large volume by Wahrhold Drascher, who, thoroughly knowledgeable, comprehensively informed and with an acute historical sense, takes on precisely this subject (Die Vorherrschaft der weissen Rasse, Berlin, 1936). We shall provide an outline of his book, on account of the interest which, as we shall soon see, his views may have for Italian readers.
How was it possible for a group of peoples — bound to one another by only very relative ties — to subject the rest of the world to their will for centuries, involving the entire world in their own destiny? Many are tempted explain this unique event in world history in purely materialistic terms. Drascher, however, easily proves such explanations to be one-sided and inadequate. If it was only a matter of physical, military and technical superiority, it is, in fact, hardly conceivable how Cortez and Pizarro, along with only a handful of adventurers, succeeded in toppling gigantic empires, or how the English, with not even two hundred thousand men, have been able to keep no less than three hundred and fifty million Hindus at bay. Moreover, we must not confuse the latest phase of a dominion already organized on solid economic, administrative, military and, properly speaking, ”colonial” foundations, with the original forms of domination and conquest, conquests that were realized with no predetermined plan, and indeed even without any real economic intentions. The spirit of adventure, the love of risk and the unknown, the sheer pleasure of domination and predation, the desire for great distances were, more than any rational, mercantile, and utilitarian motive, at the origins of white expansion, and were inseparably bound to specific character traits: to a hard will, to coldness, to tenacity, to contempt for life and for death, to an unshakable feeling of superiority.
This is the first point: moral qualities, and not purely material elements. Regarding the feeling of white superiority, Drascher states that it was not based on guns and warships, or even on legal principles. Rather, it made use of all of those things with the naturalness of men willing to use whatever means necessary to achieve their goals. The true origins of this feeling of superiority are not rational, they are rooted in the very substance of the race, in the spirit of the blood. This is why even when the various peoples of the white race found themselves in the most bitter conflicts, nonetheless, in their behavior, their way of being, of acting and of asserting themselves, they appeared to other peoples as a single family.
This, however, is not all. In addition to the material elements, in addition to the moral elements themselves, and perhaps more important than them, there is an element of the highest, almost of a metaphysical order, which Drascher calls the “spirit of the oceanic age.” It is a kind of obscure will to the infinite and the unconditioned, which stands in the most intimate relationship to the conception of the world of humanism and the Renaissance, becoming more powerful and developed through the experience of the ocean and the new conquest of the seas, which was taking place at precisely that time. It was the “oceanic spirit” that constituted the deepest spiritual core and the innermost impulse that uniquely animated and oriented the racial qualities of the white peoples, launching them on the path of the conquest of the world, principally through the previously unknown great ocean routes.
The sea, that vast surface, free and open in every direction, has no end at any point: beyond the horizon, which you thought you had reached, another opens itself, drawing you towards new distances, pushing you always beyond, towards infinity. Its element is mobile, restless. At no point does it invite you to linger, to dwell, always pushing you to continue towards a new goal. And when you get there, it does not give you peace. Each wave is calling you, seems to urge you to forget and leave what you already know and not settle for what you already have, but to attempt and dare new things. The sea is, in the highest sense, the idea of limitlessness, which it embodies more than any other aspect of nature. It is serious, powerful, tragic, it is a hostile force that always wants to be tamed again, always ready to destroy you if you do not prove yourself to be stronger than it. And it is free, in the deepest sense of the word. On its shores, you can build cities and fortresses, but you cannot contain it and “own it.” It “belongs” essentially to he who navigates it, dominating it.
In these terms, the experience of the sea gives rise to the spirit of a new European epoch, to the driving force of a universal impulse, to the soul of a new epic and adventurous cycle. The ancient formula: vivere non necesse navigare necesse est [living is not necessary but navigation is], here takes on the fullness of its meaning. Navigation and conquest, derived from the original Mediterranean spirit, were gradually adopted by a series European peoples, from the Renaissance onward, as the watchword of world conquest and the consolidation of the hegemony of the white race.
But then, almost like the fatal cyclical process that every organism is subject to, the heroic tension and the original will to the infinite little by little went into dormancy. The epic phase of expansion was followed by the economic, mercantile phase. The first conquerors, surrounded by an almost mystical prestige, were replaced by highly organized companies trading in manufactured goods and specializing in the rational use of raw materials. Military power, especially naval power (as in the typical case of England), was more or less reduced to performing the function of the armed guard of economic hegemonism. The freedom on the seas ended up becoming synonymous with the freedom of British commerce. In addition, the white West itself began to formulate ideologies that were destined to turn back on it and seriously damage its prestige in the eyes of the colored peoples, finally creating the conditions of a new spirit of independence and revolt among the latter.
This is not the place to delve into such considerations, which, moreover, Drascher himself discusses only incompletely. We will only mention, for example, that the egalitarian social principle has lead to the absurdity of legal parity between white nations and mestizo nations or African savages; that a poorly understood and demagogic nationalism has become, in Asia, a dangerous source of insurrectionary ferment, while Bolshevik-Marxist propaganda calls for the revolt of colonized peoples against whites, claiming that the latter have the same role with regard to the former that capitalist exploiters and oppressors have with regard to the international proletariat. Here, however, it is more important to discuss consequences, recognizing that, in one way or another, the principle of European hegemony really is in danger today, and that the urgent problem of its restoration is not only material, but also, and above all, spiritual. There is very little point in resorting to external remedies. Only a return to origins, i.e., to the original attitude that brought whites to world domination — after the elimination of all the detritus of a soulless civilization devoid of ideals, a civilization that worships the idol of mere economy and is founded on the principle of leveling democracy — will allow us to maintain our supremacy. And that means reviving the oceanic symbol, reawakening the will to the infinite and limitless, fueled – so to speak – by the ocean wind, the freedom of enormous distances. This spirit, however, must be mastered by firm discipline and translated into strength hardened like steel.
It is no accident that Italy, which only now is fully entering into a cycle of conquest and colonial empire-building, has also proved its capacity for such a spirit, while in other countries, those forces have for a long time and over the span of many generations been lying dormant, decimated or supplanted by other, lower forces. Thus, in this respect, too, Fascist Italy is now a symbol, and has defined the terms of a European alternative. Those nations that will be incapable of following her in accomplishing the miracle of a renewal and a revival in the sense just indicated, are destined to be swept away by the tide that is gradually swelling among the races they once dominated. Whatever the power of those nations may still appear to be today, it is merely the legacy of a spirit that is now dead. Only the other nations, who will answer the call of fascist “youthfulness” and bring back the deep forces of their race to new epic heights, and to a new spirituality permeated with the drive towards limitless, will be part of the new front called upon to defend and reaffirm Western world supremacy.
Originally published in Corriere Padano, January 6, 1937.
Translated by G. A. Malvicini
A frequently discussed issue among Right-wing circles is the new generation and its relations with the previous one; “revolutionary” youth in relation to the men and ideas of the Fascist period. Some, in this regard, believe that the same phenomenon is met with here that can be observed more generally: the new generation no longer understands the generation that preceded it, the accelerated pace of events having interposed between the one and the other a mental distance much larger than that which in other times normally would have separated them.
However, in this way of presenting the problem, one often can detect a certain superficiality and tendentiousness. And are the concepts of “youth,” of the new generation, of “revolutionary calling,” themselves unambiguous?
In fact, one should start by defining the plane on which one wishes to apply such notions: whether one is speaking of the biological level, or of a higher level, as should well be supposed in this case. If we wish to view things from a spiritual point of view, we have to be careful, because there are cases in which the meaning of “new,” “young,” “the latest” is inverted. Hence, generally speaking, if we consider the succession of generations within a given cycle of civilization, one can even formulate a paradox, because what is truly young is that which is close to the origin, while the final generations, which chronologically speaking are younger, are in fact the oldest: senescent, crepuscular, even if sometimes one can mistake for youth what really is only infantilism and primitivism. To cite one example, the so-called “youth” of the North American races, with their “new world” and their primitivism, to us represents the infantilism not of “young” generations, but of the final generations, of those near the involuted end of a cycle — of the cycle of Western civilization in general.
We mentioned this because something analogous is also true in a more concrete domain. Thus, looking around us, can we really consider — other than in a biological sense — an unfortunately considerable part of the “youth” in today’s Italy to be “young”? This indifferent and unprincipled youth, absorbed by materialism and petty hedonism, incapable of any enthusiasm, incapable of coherence, livening up, at the most, to football matches and bicycle races? We would rather say that this “youth” was dead even before having been born. Today, anybody who refuses to yield, anyone who lives an idea, anyone capable of remaining standing, upright, despising everything feeble, devious, underhanded, cowardly, whatever their age, is infinitely more “young” than this peculiar “youth.”
It is precisely along these lines that one must understand the notion of youth in a more than biological sense, defining a common denominator, so as to overcome artificial antitheses. If we were to indicate the fundamental characteristic of youth in this higher sense, we would define it as the will to the unconditioned. In fact, this is the factor that accounts for, on the one hand, all idealism in a positive sense, and on the other, all forms of courage, enthusiasm, creative initiative, and ability to move resolutely to new positions, with little concern for one’s own person. In particular, physically, true youth is characterized precisely by the almost paradoxical disposition of a superabundance of life, which, instead of being attached to itself, expends itself without reserve and is able to consider its own death as of no account.
One should distinguish between the most elemental phase, in which the qualities just indicated only occur spontaneously, in a disorderly and transient fashion, often like a kind of spontaneous combustion, and on the other, the phase in which these qualities are affirmed and stabilized. The first phase is common in youth properly speaking, in individuals who are then gradually “normalized,” “come to their senses,” convincing themselves that “idealism is one thing, real life another,” abdicating the will to the unconditioned, which is thereby revealed to have had, in such cases, a largely physical basis. The second phase occurs, on the other hand, when ordeals have had to be faced, hard ordeals, and these ordeals have been endured without failing.
This is true both in the interior and in the political domain. With this we can return to the problem with which we began. Which generation of yesterday is it that today’s generation can no longer understand? In fact, something has repeated itself: yesterday, too (after World War I), there was a “generation of the front”; yesterday, too, they were faced with intolerable political, social and moral conditions, and in the impetuosity, idealism and virility born out of a life of danger and combat, the basis of the fascist movement was formed. Today, things recur in the same terms; in addition, there is the circumstance of an even more severe ordeal, since today’s “front generation” is the survivor not of a victory, but of a defeat and a general disintegration.
In these terms, there should only be a fundamental continuity. This continuity of a “youth” that is not biological but political, only ceases to exist when it comes to those men who, after fascism came to power, lost themselves, were no longer capable of maintaining their intransigence, their will to the unconditioned, their radicalism, selling their birthright for a mess of pottage: for this or that semi-bureaucratic position within the framework of a despicable, theatrically presented officialdom and a new conformism.
But it would be really unfair to lump them all together and deny that within fascism, there were also men who remained upright, often hampered in every way by one or the other unofficial clique. The reuniting of these men with the new wave, with the new youth and the new “front generation,” should be natural and based on an affinity: like the flow of a current that, having overcome an obstruction, an obstacle, resumes its course.
One more point should be mentioned. It is not always easy — especially in the case of Italians, Mediterraneans — to give oneself an autonomous value. In order to have a sense of individuality, in order to feel important, many have a need to fret, to at all costs oppose something or someone. It is in this light that we must judge certain aspects of the “revolutionary calling” and also a certain individualist tendency of “the youth,” when it feels the need to differentiate itself at any cost, indiscriminately espousing new ideas just because they are new. Because of this, it is often, therefore, merely a case of an “inferiority complex”: the need to assert oneself in an indirect way, by antithesis and contrast, because one does not feel sure enough of oneself. This attitude should be rectified by the political, and not simply biological, youth. The highest ambition should not consist in being a revolutionary at all costs, but rather in being the exponent of a tradition, the bearer of a transmitted force, which should be enhanced and potentiated with anything that can secure the inflexibility of its direction. This also goes for the domain of ideas, and one of the proofs of inner freshness is the ability to understand that true ideas are above every contingency, and that it is through them that authentic personality acquires its value: not through a confused revolutionary impulse, not through a preconceived distrust of the past, not through a disorderly dynamism that only shows the lack of a true inner form. Without getting into particulars, since this is not the place for that, we can easily discern on this basis what, in today’s political youth, needs to be rectified in terms of general attitude, so that as a unified force, it can pursue a precise political ideal: the ideal of the true organic State.
Source: Julius Evola, Ricognizioni: uomini e problemi (Rome: Edizioni Mediterranee, 1974).
A work that definitely ought be brought to the attention of all scholars of the Jewish question, and, in general, of those who follow the anti-Semitic debate, is Herman de Vries de Heekelingen’s very recently published book: Israël, son passé, son avenir (Paris: Perrin, 1937). Indeed, few other publications have presented the essence of the Jewish problem with such clarity, such objectivity, and with such wealth of documentation.
It bears no trace of sectarianism or zeal — which is precisely what is needed in order to infuriate the emissaries of the Kahal, who find it extremely convenient to see the ranks of their adversaries made up only of fanatics and confused individuals. The first part of the book, above all, is important, even if only for the excellent material assembled from the most varied sources. With regard to the second aspect of the problem — the future of Israel — if de Vries’ arguments do not, especially for us Italians (and we will see why), seem entirely convincing, that is less the fault of the author than of the matter itself, of the Jewish problem, which, when considered in depth, is a problem as inescapable as it is wanting in positive solutions.
“The Jewish problem is one of the great problems of the world, and no man, be he a writer, politician or diplomat, can be considered mature until he has striven to face it squarely on its merits” — the book begins with this admonition from Henry Wickham Steed [quoted from The Hapsburg Monarchy, Constable & Co., London, 1914].
“For over two thousand years,” de Vries continues, “the Jewish problem has agitated the world: more or less virulent in different ages and nations, anti-Semitism has always existed wherever Jews have constituted a fairly sizeable minority. Efforts have been made to combat Jewry by means of baptism, bloody persecution, expulsion, expropriation, assimilation. What methods have not been attempted in an effort to conquer it or destroy it? And yet, without any lasting results. Jews are more numerous, more powerful, richer than ever.” “Is this race indestructible, then? Must we draw the conclusion that it is, as a whole, invincible?” the Author asks.
Anyone who ponders the last two thousand years of history would have to answer in the affirmative. The following problem, then, forces itself upon us: there are, scattered among the various peoples, fractions of an alien, unassimilable people, of a nation that has world domination as its ideal, its faith and persuasion, and many members of which incessantly foment every kind of revolution and upheaval within the non-Jewish states and civilizations in which they happen to live. The presence and activity of this heterogeneous substance are less noticeable during periods of liberal, internationalist and cosmopolitan decay. However, as soon as national formations emerge, as soon as a new consciousness of race and tradition asserts itself among Aryans, the latent conflict explodes, a clash becomes inevitable. The Jew — who for thirty centuries and despite every kind of disaster has always maintained his own nationhood and law — while unable to directly oppose the Aryan, instead directly and indirectly foments revolutions and subversion of every kind. All of this is inevitable, has happened again and again, and will continue to happen, and today we are faced with this situation in its typical form. Thus, to not pose the Jewish problem today is reckless, if not positively irresponsible. And the problem should from now on be formulated in full knowledge of the enemy we must fight.
It is to this knowledge that de Vries devotes the part of his book entitled: “What separates us.” He precisely discerns the point that must serve as a solid basis for any serious anti-Semitic debate: namely, that the Jewish people and Jewish activity on the one hand, and Jewish law and tradition, on the other, form an indivisible whole. A Jew once wrote that the Israelite “has been formed, not to say manufactured, by his books and his rituals. Just as Adam emerged from the hands of Jehova, he emerged from the hands of his rabbis.”
It is in the Jewish law that the essence of the Jewish peril is to be found. To limit oneself to describe this or that outward and practical aspect of Jewry and Jewish activity in the world, means stopping at details, means missing the meaning of the whole, the central point that bestows upon everything else its true meaning. Now, Jewish law is not merely the Old Testament or Deuteronomy. De Vries is quite right to emphasize the error committed by those who believe that after the Old Testament, and with the emergence of Christianity, Jewish law has remained at a standstill and more or less cut off from the currents of history. That is false. The ancient law, or Torah, was complemented by a tradition that is also Mosaic and intrinsically Jewish, which was transmitted orally from father to son and was fixed in writing at the beginning of the third century AD: the Mishna (repetition, the repeated law).
The Torah and the Mishna then found their further development in the rabbinic literature assembled from the Gemara, which mean precisely “fulfillment” and is commonly called the Talmud. To this was added a properly theological and metaphysical development of the Jewish tradition, contained in the Zohar and, generally, in the Kabbala.
Together, all of these constitute the true Jewish law. Indeed, it is often said that the forms of later modifications, Talmudic and rabbinic, represent the essence and the true perfection of the law. De Vries cites, in this regard, precise testimonies. The superiority of the rabbinic law, which is the Talmud, with respect to Mosaic law, is established in clear terms by the Orthodox texts:
“He who studies the Bible does good work, but it does not mean much. [Only] those who study the Gemara practice the supreme virtue.”
“The Bible can be compared to water, the Mishna to wine, the Gemara [Talmud] to spiced wine.”
“He who reads the Bible without the Mishna and Gemara is similar to those who have no God.”
And so on.
The Talmud, therefore, is the real source of Jewish law. Here are other rabbinical testimonies:
“For two thousand years the Talmud was, and still is, an object of veneration for the Israelites, of whom is the religious code.”
“What the Jew is and will be a must in large part be due to the Talmud. As long as there are Jews and Jewry, the Talmud will preserve its value, since it has shaped their life and character. You can deny the Talmud its permanent value, but not its permanent influence.”
But it is precisely in this context that an irreconcilable conflict reveals itself. Talmudic law sums up, exacerbates and carries to their extreme consequences those ancient and fanatical Jewish views, as a result of which there cannot be, nor will there ever be, a point of contact between us and the Jews. There is no point in reproducing, here, documents from de Vries which La Vita Italiana has already abundantly and repeatedly made public, showing that the essence of Talmudic law is the radical distinction between Jew and non-Jew, more or less in the same terms as that between a true man and a brute beast, between the elect and slaves; it is the promise, that the universal kingdom of Israel, sooner or later, will come, and all the nations will submit to the scepter of Judah; it is a duty, for the Jew, never to submit, never to recognize in any law, that is not his law, anything but violence and injustice; it is the declaration of a morality of double standards, which limits solidarity to the Jewish race while justifying every lie, every deception, every betrayal in relations between Jews and non-Jews, placing the latter outside of the protection of the law; finally, it is the sanctification of gold and interest as the instruments of Jewish power, to which all the riches of the earth are promised. All this is well enough known, and those who have “a hard time believing” must finally make up their minds to look at the texts themselves. The Talmud goes to the point of saying: “The best among non-Jews (goyim) should be killed” and in Shemoné Esré, the prayer that a Jew should recite every day, we read: “May the apostates lose all hope, may the Nazarenes and the Minim (the Christians) perish suddenly, may they be crossed out from the book of life and not counted among the righteous,” and anyone looking for other “elegances” like that would be faced with an embarrassment of choices.
In this regard, de Vries can claim the merit of having countered a “tactical” argument made by those Jews who, faced with similar texts of their laws, in order to exonerate themselves, say that it is a heinous misunderstanding, that all the Talmudic expressions of hatred and contempt, which refer to the goyim, or akum, do not affect Christians, for these words instead refer to “pagans without faith or law, not yet moralized by the religion of Christ (Jewish hypocrisy goes as far as that!), murderers, committers of incest, worshipers of the stars, etc.” (Simon Levy).
De Vries, referring to the texts, demonstrates the falsity of this argument: the Hebrew texts used the terms goyim, akum even in periods in which “paganism” had no longer existed for centuries, using them to designate as a whole the non-Jewish races among which the exiled “chosen people” found itself living.
Now, since every true Jew considers his law as imperative, immutable, indivisible and absolute, and since the promise contained in it is the secret of the unbelievable toughness that over the centuries has kept the Jew from being defeated and has conserved his identity — tenacious, stubborn, at once proud and cowardly — for this very reason, a priori, doctrinally, the impossibility of any agreement and collaboration is clear. For that to be possible, as we have already stated in refuting Paul Oran’s book, the Jew would have to cease being a Jew. Remaining what he is, it is inevitable and fatally necessary that the Jew, in one way or another, will become involved in every agitation, every subversion, in a ceaseless activity of corrosion, in accordance with the Talmudic precept that considers as violence and injustice every law that is not the pure law of Israel, every civilization that is not that of the ideal of Israel as a “holy lineage and kingdom of priests,” to which, through an unfailing divine promise, world domination and all the riches of the earth rightfully belong.
Thus, de Vries goes on to document, in his book, the subversive activity of Jewry, especially from the French Revolution up to our days, and here, too, he shows a sense of what is essential, recognizing that if throughout history the Jewish spirit has always been revolutionary and subversive, it was with the secret intention of a reconstruction, over the ruins of every non-Jewish civilization. Beyond the destructive activity of international Jewry, its ultimate ideal always betrays itself, that of the Regnum, the aspiration — sometimes still semi-religious, sometimes completely secularized and materialized — to global domination. Since the Great War, Jewry seems indeed to have been engaged in activity on a large scale in this regard. It acts in the streets, among the proletarian masses seduced by myths forged, mainly, by Jews — masses it steers in whatever direction it wishes; through internationaI finance and through capitalism, which may be considered a masterpiece of Jewish thought (Sombart); through liberal regimes and Masonic lodges, the members of which obey its orders; through supranational formations, including the League of Nations. De Vries rightly says:
We are entering a dark and tragic period. We must abandon all illusions and give up facile optimism. If the world wants to recover at the brink of an abyss, one must have the courage to face reality. One must understand that Jewish successes are not accidental victories, due to fortuitous events, but that Jews have patiently and meticulously prepared the triumph of their millennial dream.
And he adds even more aptly:
We do not at all reproach the Jews for working for the greatness of their race. We even admire the tenacity with which they pursue the realization of their purpose. What we cannot understand is only the blindness of so many non-Jews, who, when it comes to the defense of their most sacred interests, do not show the same enthusiasm and the same tenacity.
What, then, must be done?
Conversion? Out of the question. A Japanese or a Negro, converted or baptized, is still a Japanese or a Negro. In the same way, a baptized Jew remains a Jew. It is a matter of race. But behind the Jewish race, there is a force acting sometimes unconsciously and atavistically, sometimes in a shrewd and serpentine manner: the Jewish law, the Talmudic spirit, in short, an inescapable way of being. Heinrich Heine literally stated that baptism “is only an entry ticket that opens the doors of the European culture. ”
“No,” de Vries says, “whether they have converted sincerely or without conviction, baptized Jews remain Jews, and continue to feel that they are Jews, and continue to be regarded as Jews by their former co-religionists.”
The Christian sacrament does not break the unity of Israel.
Emancipation? An act of generosity which non-Jews have shown themselves capable of, but which has remained fruitless, wherever it has not actually produced the opposite result. The emancipated Jew is a Jew who sees himself as having received carte blanche to pursue his goals: once he has obtained equality and freedom, experience has shown us that he has used it not to achieve those ideals of universal equality and brotherhood that — for good reason — he sang such touching hymns, but to crush those who freed him and whom he will never be able to consider, without betraying his Law, as “his equals.”
Assimilation? Another serious misconception, and for the same reason. The Talmud tells us that a non-Jew, having said to the rabbi Tanchum: “Come now, let us at last become one people,” received the calm reply: “Fine. Unfortunately we, being circumcised, cannot become like the rest of you. Therefore be ye also circumcised, and we will all be equal.”
De Vries adds:
Today, no one demands physical circumcision anymore, but they want to impose spiritual circumcision on us, which is much worse. […] The religious de-judaization of a part of the Jews has had the improbable result of the judaization of our Christian institutions. We have not, therefore, assimilated the Jews, but the Jews are on their way to assimilating and subjugating us.
It is a sad fact, that the life force, the tenacity with which our civilization works to preserve its own life, having been undermined and corroded by so many factors, are far inferior to those of Jewry.
The cultural emancipation of the Jew has to a large extent been accomplished automatically, through the judaization of our culture. The plague of capitalism, for example, and of mammonism, is a real triumph of the Ghetto. Through all the varieties of Jewish or judaized literature, art, philosophy or science — from Freud to Wassermann and Bergson, from Stravinsky and Schoenberg to Lombroso, from Einstein to Reinach, from Ludwig to Karl Marx, Nordau, Stirner, Weininger and so on — which cannot be touched without immediately raising a cry of indignation against “barbarians” and “fanatical racists,” our culture is infected with the Jewish virus on a vast scale, to the point that in many cases it would be difficult to say what, in it, remains truly “ours.” All the while, the Jewish substance continues to exist and wants to continue to exist — Einstein himself has declared: “The Jewish national sentiment must be galvanized wherever there are Jews. I have always felt the mania of assimilation of some of my colleagues to be disgraceful.”
And another exponent of Jewry adds: “No, there is an inheritance, a blood, a tradition, something innate, organic and, above all, a spiritual bond spanning thousands of years that prevents us from merging with an alien civilization.”
The Jewish substance, we were saying, continues to exist and wants to continue existing — while we are dissolving and being judaized. That is the practical result of “assimilation.”
Since all of these solutions have proven to be dead ends, the author is forced to consider the final possibility, the Zionist solution. Purge the land of Jews, gather them all together, deposit them all in a piece of some continent, so that the Jews may govern themselves, do what they want, practice their law and preserve their race, but if they seriously intend to realize the promise of a universal Regnum, let them try, and, as a nation, openly take up the fight with other countries — this, naturally, in its simplicity, would seem the only viable way. The Jewish peril would then vanish, and with it, anti-Semitism, the day when all the Jews would live in their own country and just mind their own business.
Is that practically possible? And if so, on what basis? The land of Palestine, it is said, is not sufficient to contain all the Jews of the world. De Vries argues that Transjordan could be added to it, and with that you would have a territory already capable of absorbing 50%-70% of all Jews around the world. And the Arab resistance? We would have to deal with it. For de Vries, it is an opposition dictated less by practical and economic considerations than by feelings. The interests of the Arabs can be sacrificed for the sake of the interest all nations have in freeing themselves from the Jewish virus, and this unwanted guest. If necessary, the Arab populations can be transported elsewhere and given other land.
This solution, then, does not seem to be an impossibility.
It is indispensable that the Jews stop saying one thing and doing another. If they resign themselves to being a nation among others, it will certainly be possible to find a way to satisfy their national aspirations. But if they continue to harbor thoughts of world domination, we will just have to fight them to the very end.
Israel must choose:
either full-fledged and sincere Zionism, renouncing revolutionary and hegemonist intrigue, or the struggle against the Aryan forces that are awakening and striving to organize themselves on the international arena. In the latter case, we will oppose the Jewish International with the Aryan International.
De Vries notes in particular that the Jew will have to give up the tactic of simultaneously making a claim of belonging to his people while demanding the right to be incorporated into another nation. It is precisely in these terms that the Jewish peril manifests itself today, and it is from this point of view that the solution proposed by de Vries is not overly persuasive.
Given the positions occupied today by the Jew, prior to a real defeat, it is very unlikely that Israel will become resigned to giving up its tactic, which is that of duplicity, of shamelessly taking advantage of the benefits that come with new concessions, while simultaneously continuing to develop his underground, international destructive activity. It is enough to have a sense of the part that Jews have in international finance, to realize how naive it is to believe that they will bend over backwards to leave and find themselves, along with their immense capital (which would immediately be bound to their borders), on a scrap of Asian land: when they, from the center of the metropolises, without moving, still dictate laws to governments, make states arm themselves, control world markets. Someone wrote that the Jew today could proudly display the map of the world, pointing to his masterpieces (among which some — Disraeli, for instance — include Christianity itself). It is therefore highly unlikely that the Jewish international, now of all times, would sound the retreat; but that is precisely what Zionism, as proposed by de Vries, would mean.
Second, de Vries neglects a fundamental point, which is that we must not only deal with Judaism in its pure form, but also with Jewish mixtures, ethnic and cultural. As regards ethnic mixtures, if you count half-Jews — whose activity is very often far more dangerous than that of pure, identifiable Jews –statistically, we would be faced with figures so large, as to make the Zionist solution, in the form promoted by de Vries, an absurdity. Furthermore, there is not only the blood tainted by Jewish blood, there is also Judaized and Judaizing culture, a Judaized and Judaizing mentality, the result of the reverse assimilation alluded to earlier. And it is on this level, through this mentality, that the Jewish international essentially works and achieves, almost always by stealth, the greatest results. Who can ever prevent those men of government and those Judaized intellectuals, who feel the desire to do so, from submitting to the yoke of the Jew, or at least from aiding him in his game? France is a typical example, and a criticism of de Vries’ book, published in Univers Israélite, is extremely instructive, regarding a certain tactic: this magazine, in the face of this “infamous book,” appeals to a revolt of the “French spirit” and the French tradition of liberty against these barbaric ideas from beyond the Rhine . . .
Furthermore, Zionism, as a movement aiming for the creation of a real powerful Jewish state in the Mediterranean, is a means more than an end: it is merely a pawn in the game of the Jewish-Masonic forces behind Great Britain, who have a vested interest in creating, as someone said, a kind of second Malta and second Gibraltar in the Mediterranean to stem the dangerous Italian influence: a pawn, among others, in a game that aims much further . . .
And many other such considerations could be made, showing that, as regards its positive solutions, de Vries’ book demonstrates — with all due respect — a certain naivety. This does not, however, stop if from being really excellent in other respects, so as to represent a valuable contribution to the anti-Semitic front of resistance. And we believe that, of the two possibilities that de Vries has considered with regard to the conduct of the Jew, the one that requires the creation of an international Aryan front will prevail, that the force of centuries-old processes will ensure that not “peace,” but “war” is, in this respect, the watchword of the future.
First published in La Vita Italiana, August 1937