Saturday, January 07, 2006

[Excerpts] Evola, Men Among the Ruins

Excerpts from Evola, Julius (2002) Men Among the Ruins Inner Traditions: Rochester, Vermont

The reason the first excerpt is from page 112 is because most of the previous pages is taken up by an introduction to Evola written by Dr. H. T. Hansen.

Recently, various forces have attempted to set up a defense and a resistance in the sociopolitical domain against the extreme forms in which the disorder of our age manifests itself. It is necessary to realize that this is a useless effort, even for the sake of merely demonstrative purposes, unless the disease is dealt with at its very roots. These roots, as far as the historical dimension is concerned, are to be found in the subversion introduced in Europe by the revolutions of 1789 and 1848. The disease must be recognized in all of its forms and degrees; thus, the main task is to establish if there are still men willing to reject all the ideologies, political movements, and parties that, directly or indirectly, derive from those revolutionary ideas (i.e., everything ranging from liberalism and democracy to Marxism and communism). As a positive counterpart, these men should be given an orientation and a solid foundation consisting of a broad view of life and a stern doctrine of the State.
p. 112

It is curious how words evolve: after all, revolution, according to its original Latin meaning (re-volvere), referred to a notion that led again to the starting point, to the origins. Therefore, the “revolutionary” force of renewal that needs to be employed against the existing situation should be derived from the origins.
p. 113-114

However, if one wants to embrace the idea of “conservatism” (i.e., a “conservative revolution”), it is necessary to proceed with caution. […] Obviously, it is necessary to first establish as exactly as possible what needs to be preserved, especially as far as social structures and political institutions are concerned.
p. 114

What needs to be “preserved” and defended in a “revolutionary fashion” is the general view of life and of the State that, being based if higher values and interests, definitely transcends the economic plane, and thus everything that can be defined in terms of economic classes.
p. 114-115

For the authentic revolutionary conservative, what really counts is to be faithful not to past forms and institutions, but rather to the principles of which such forms and institutions have been particular expressions, adequate for a specific period of time and in a specific geographical area.
p. 115

Tradition, in its essence, is something simultaneously meta-historical and dynamic: it is an overall ordering force, in the service of principles that have the chrism of a superior legitimacy (we may even call them, “principles from above”).
p. 115

[E]very true political unity appears as the embodiment of an idea and a power, thus distinguishing itself from every naturalistic association or “natural right,” and also from every societal aggregation determined by mere social, economic biological, utilitarian, or eudemonistic factors.

In previous eras it was possible to speak of the sacral character of the principle of sovereignty and power, namely of the State. For instance, the ancient Roman notion of imperium essentially belonged to the domain of the sacred. This notion, in its specific meaning, even before expressing a system of territorial, supernational hegemony, designated the pure power of command, the almost mystical power and auctoritas inherent in the one who had the function and quality of Leader: a leader in the religious and warrior order as well as in the order of the patrician family, the gens, and, eminently, of the State, the res publica. In the Roman world, which was intensely realistic (or, I should say, precisely because it was intensely realistic), the notion of this power, which is simultaneously auctoritas, always retained its intrinsic character of bright force from above and of sacred power, beyond the various and often spurious techniques that conditioned its access in different periods.
p. 122

A power and authority that are not absolute, are not real authority or real power […]
p. 123

In particular, the positive essence of the principle of sovereignty has rightfully been recognized in the power of making absolute decisions, in exceptional or emergency situations, beyond any duties and discussions, whenever the existing right and laws are suspended or their suspension is required.
p. 123

In the best period of the Roman civilization, the dictatorship was conceived and allowed as a temporary remedy; far from replacing the existing order, it was its reintegration. In every other regard, dictatorship equals usurpation.
p. 124

The state is under the masculine aegis, while “society” and, by extension, the people, or demos, are under the feminine aegis.
p. 126

Thus, even in the ancient Roman world, the idea of State and imperium (i.e., of the sacred authority) was strictly connected to the symbolic cult of virile deities of heaven, of light and of the super-world in opposition to the dark region of the Mothers and the chthonic deities.
p. 126

The notions of nation, fatherland, and people, despite their romantic and idealistic halo, essentially belong to the naturalistic and biological plane and not the political one; they lead back to the “maternal” and physical dimension of a given collectivity.
p. 127

“[M]en” uphold the idea of State, while feminine natures, which are spiritually matriarchical, side instead with “fatherland,” “nation,” and “people.”
p. 129

In reference to this, we could say that a nation exists and overcomes geographical and even ethical boundaries wherever we find the reproduction of the same “inner form,” namely the consecration or the imprint bestowed by the higher political force and its representatives. Thus it would be absurd, for instance, to call ancient Rome a “nation” in the modern sense of the word: one could refer to it as a “spiritual nation” or as a unity defined by the “Roman man.” The same applies to the creations of the Franks and the Germans, as well as the Arabs who spread Islam, just to cite a few examples. Maybe the most significant case is the Prussian State, which originated from a knightly Order (a classic example of a Männerbund), namely the order of Teutonic Knights, which later became the structure and the “form” of the German Reich,
p. 129-131

[T]he demos, which is feminine by nature, will never have its own, clear will.
p. 130

The Idea, only the Idea, must be the true fatherland for these men: what unites them and sets them apart should consist in adherence to the same idea, rather than to the same land, language, or blood.
p. 131

Just as communists and socialists find it useful and agreeable to brad anybody and anything it does not agree with the label of “fascism,” likewise the confusion about totalitarianism is employed in a tactical fashion by various parties in democratic regimes, and is exploited in order to try to discredit and portray the traditional view of the true State in a heinous way.
p. 148

A State is organic when it has a center, and this center is an idea that shapes the various domains of life in an efficacious way; it is organic when it ignores the division and autonomization of the particular and when, by virtue of a system of hierarchical participation, every part within its relative autonomy performs its own function and enjoys an intimate connection with the whole. In an organic State we can speak of a “whole” – namely, something integral and spiritually unitary that articulates and unfolds itself – rather than a sum of elements within an aggregate, characterized by a disorderly clash of interests. The Stats that developed in the geographical areas of the great civilizations (whether they were empires, monarchies, aristocratic republics, or city-states) at their peak was almost without exception of this type.
p. 149

[O]rganic and traditional are more or less synonymous.
p. 149

However, totalitarianism merely represents the counterfeited image of the organic ideal. It is a system in which the unity is imposed from the outside, not on the basis of the intrinsic force of an common idea and an authority that is naturally acknowledged, but rather through direct forms of intervention and control, exercised by a power that is exclusively and material political, imposing itself as the ultimate reason for the system.
p. 150

Totalitarianism, though it reacts against individualism and social atomism, brings a final end to the devastation of what may still survive in a society from the previous “organic” phase: quality, articulated forms, castes and classes, the values of personality, true freedom, daring and responsible initiative, and heroic feats. An organism of superior type includes multiple functions retaining their specific character and a relative autonomy, all the while mutually coordinating and integrating each other, converging into a superior unity that never ceases to be ideally presupposed. Thus in an organic State we find both unity and multiplicity, gradation and hierarchy; we do not find the dualism of center and formless mass typical of a totalitarian regime. Totalitarianism, in order to assert itself, imposes uniformity. In the final analysis, totalitarianism rests and relies on the inorganic world of quantity to which individualistic disintegration has led, and not on the world of quality and of personality.
p. 151-152

Last but not least I wish to make a few comments about a formula that is often associated with totalitarianism in the polemics of a democracy: the one-party system. Fascism claimed that the State was the only party “governing the country in a totalitarian fashion.” This is an unhappy and hybrid formula, to say the least, and it is a residue of the partisan-parliamentary view, though an instance of a higher order is also present within it.

Strictly speaking, party means faction. In that case, “one party” is either a contradictory or an aberrant notion, almost as if a faction wished to be the whole or dominate the entire system. Practically speaking, the notion of “party” belongs to parliamentary democracies, and it signifies an organization that defends a given ideology against other ideologies upheld by other groups, to which the system recognizes the same right and the same legitimacy. In these terms, the “one-party system” is that which, in one way or another, whether “democratically” or through the use of violence, succeeds in gaining control of the State and, once in a position of power, no longer tolerates other parties, using the State as a tool and imposing its particular ideology on the nation.
p. 155

So we must say that a party that becomes the “one and only party” should cease to be a “party” de facto. Then its representatives, or at least its most qualified ones, should present themselves and the rule as some sort of Order, or as a specifically political class, not creating a State within the State, but rather protecting and strengthening the State’s key positions; not defending their particular ideology but rather embodying in an impersonal manner the very pure idea of the State.
p. 155

Nowadays it is possible to speak of a demonic nature of the economy, because in both individual and collective life the economic factor is the most important, real, and decisive one. Moreover, the tendency to converge every value and interest on the economic and productive plane is not perceived by Western man as an unprecedented aberration, but instead as something normal and natural, and not as an eventual necessity, but as something that must be accepted, willed, developed, and praised.
p. 165

As I have said before, when the right and primacy of interests higher than those of the socioeconomic plane are not upheld, there is no hierarchy, and even if there is one, it is only a counterfeit; this is also true when a higher authority is not accorded to those men, groups and bodies representing and defending these values and interests. In this case, an economic era is already by definition a fundamentally anarchical and antihierarchical era; it represents a subversion of the normal order. The materialization and the soullessness of all the domains of life that characterize it divest of any higher meaning all those problems and conflicts that are regarded as important within it.
p. 166

And as long as we only talk about economic classes, profit, salaries, and production, as long as we believe that real human progress is determined by a particular system of distribution of wealth and goods, and that, generally speaking, human progress is measured by the degree of wealth or indigence – then we are not even close to what is essential, even though new theories, beyond Marxism and capitalism, might be formulated.
p. 166

What must be questioned is not the value of this or that economic system, but the value of the economy itself.
p. 167

It is not entirely correct to say that Marxism arose and took hold because there was a real social question that needed to be addressed (at best this may have been the case during the early stages of the industrial revolution); the opposite is true – to wit, that for the most part the social question gains precedence in today’s world only as a result of the presence of Marxism.
p. 169

In both Marxism and free-market economies we find the same materialistic, antipolitical, and social view detaching the social order and people from any higher order and higher goal, positing what it is “useful” as the only purpose (understood in a physical, vegetative, and earthly sense); by turning the “useful” into a criterion of progress, the values proper to every traditional structure are inverted.
p. 170

The term work has always designated the lowest forms of human activity, those that are merely exclusively conditioned by the economic factor. It is illegitimate to label as “work” anything that is not reduced to these forms; rather, the word to be used is action: action, not work, is what is performed by the leader, the explorer, the ascetic, the pure scientist, the warrior, the artist, the diplomat, the theologian, the one who makes or breaks a law, the one who is motivated by an elementary passion or guided by a principle.
p. 174

After acknowledging the fundamental principle of the primacy and sovereignty of State over economy, the State can then produce an action of limiting and ordering the economic domain; this action will be able to facilitate what derives from the essential and unavoidable factor, that of detoxification, the change of mentality, and the return to normalcy for people who have learned anew what is sensible activity, right effort, values to be upheld, and loyalty to oneself.
p. 176

Given these precedents, we cannot ignore the meaning that fascism had: a break with the past, a different and bold choice of traditions, and the will to undertake a new direction, solely upon which the reference to Rome as a political symbol could be legitimized (“We dream of a Roman Italy,” Mussolini once said).
p. 191

During the first half of this century, so-called Prussian militarism has been a thorn in the side of democracies, since the perceived it as the prototype of the phenomenon they deprecated. What we have here is a characteristic antithesis that does not refer to the relationships between groups of rival nations, but rather two general views of life and of the State, and even to two distinct, irreconcilable forms of civilization and society. Historically speaking, such an antithesis is reflected in the opposition between the view of the Germanic-Prussian tradition and the view that first emerged in England and America, and later in all democratic nations; the latter view is characterized by the predominance of economic and mercantile values and by their development in the context of capitalism. The origins of the former view can be traced to an ascetic warrior organization, the ancient Order of Teutonic Knights.
p. 193

The view of modern democracies that first emerged in England, under the aegis of mercantilism, is that in society the primary element is the bourgeois type and the bourgeois life during times of peace; such a life is dominated by the physical concern for safety, well-being, and material wealth, with the cultivation of letters and the arts serving as a decorative frame. Thus, according to this view, the “civilian” or “bourgeois” element is usually, and as a matter of principle, entrusted with running the State. It is this human type that engages in politics; when politics – that is, international politics – must be continued with other means, to use the famous expression of Clausewitz, the armed forces are then employed. In this view the military and warrior element has the subordinated meaning of mere instrument: it should have no particular influence or exercise any interference whatsoever in daily social life. Even if it is acknowledged that the military element has its own code of ethics, it is not desirable that this code be applied to the normal, overall life of a nation.
p. 193-194

According to the most recent formulation of the corresponding ideology, armies should be used only as an international police force to maintain the “peace”; in most cases, this amounts to allowing wealthy nations to live undisturbed. Otherwise, aside from any pretense, what is repeated is the example of the East India Company and similar enterprises: the armed forces are used by modern democracies to impose or retain an economic hegemony; to gain new markets and to acquire aw materials; and to create new space for capital seeking investment and profit.
p. 194-195

Love for hierarchy; relationships of obedience and command; courage; feelings of honor and loyalty; specific forms of active impersonality capable of producing anonymous sacrifice; frank and open relationships from man to man, from one comrade to another, from leader to follower – all these are the characteristic, living values that are predominant in the afore mentioned view, These are the values found in what I have called the Männerbund.
p. 195-196

There is no antithesis, but rather identity between spirit and superior civilization on the one hand and the world of war and warriors on the other, according to the general sense I have pointed out.
p. 196

Contrary to what the bourgeois and liberal polemics claim, the warrior idea may not be reduced to materialism, nor is it synonymous with the exaltation of the brutal use of strength and destructive violence. Rather, the calm, conscious, and planned development of the inner being and a code of ethics; love of distance; hierarchy; order; the faculty of subordinating the emotional and individualistic element of one’s self to higher goals and principles, especially in the name of honor and duty – these are the elements of the warrior idea, and they act as the foundations of a specific “style” that has largely been lost.
p. 196-197

The Prussian style did not apply only to the military: by defining itself as “Fredrickianism,” it shaped one of the most austere and aristocratic European military traditions, but also manifested its influence in everything that is service to the State, loyalty, and anti-individualism. This style educated a class of government officials according to principles very different from mere bureaucracy, petty clerical spirit, and the irresponsible and lazy administration of the affairs of the state.
p. 197-198

A warrior tradition and a pure military tradition do not have hatred as the basis of war. The need to fight and even to exterminate another people may be acknowledged, but this does not entail hatred, anger, animosity, and contempt for the enemy. All these feelings, for a true soldier, are degrading; in order to fight he need not be motivated by such lowly feelings, nor be energized by propaganda, smoky rhetoric, and lies. All these things have come into play with the plebeianization of war, since men who were shaped by an aristocratic warrior tradition have been collectively replaced by the “nation in arms,” that is, the masses recruited indiscriminately through a mandatory draft. This happened right at the time when the traditional State began to decline and the national State arose, the latter animated by passions, hatred, and pride. In order to mobilize the masses, it is necessary to intoxicate or deceive them, with the consequence of introducing emotional, ideological, and propaganda factors into the war that have conferred and continue to confer on it a most heinous and deprecable character. Traditional States did not need all this. They did not create a chauvinist pathos and near psychosis in order to mobilize their troops and boost their morale. This was obtained by the pure principle of the imperium and by the reference to principles of loyalty and honor. Clearly defined goals were established for a necessary war, which was waged in a detached manner, hence without any room for hatred and contempt among the combatants.
p. 202-203

First of all, the true traditional spirit acknowledges a superior, metaphysical unity beyond the individual religious traditions, a unity of which they represent various historically conditioned expressions, more or less complete and “orthodox” (hence, a higher standard for “orthodoxy”). Despite the fact that every religious form has the right to claim a certain exclusivity in the area of its pertinence, the idea of this higher unity (although it is an “esoteric” truth – that is, not reserved for the ordinary people, to whom it may be confusing) should be acknowledged by its most qualified representatives.
p. 204-205

The occult war is a battle waged imperceptibly by the forces of global subversion, with means and in circumstances ignored by the current historiography. The notion of occult war belongs to a three-dimensional view of history: this view does not regard as essential the two superficial dimension of time and space (which includes causes, facts, and visible leaders) but rather emphasizes the dimension of depth, or the “subterranean” dimension in which the forces and influences often act in a decisive manner, and which, more often not than not, cannot be reduced to what is merely human, whether at an individual or collective level.
p. 235

To the former [the forces of cosmos] corresponds everything that is form, order, law, spiritual hierarchy, and tradition in the higher sense of the word; to the latter [the forces of chaos] correspond every influence that disintegrates, subverts, degrades, and promotes the predominance of the inferior over the superior, matter over spirit, quantity over quality.
p. 236

It would be a real abandonment to fantasy to suppose that the leaders of the great conflicting powers – the United States, the USSR, and the Red China – receive orders from an international center of Jews and Masons (almost nonexistent in China), and act accordingly in view of the same goal.
p. 243

There are actually no civilized peoples or nations composed of pure individuals belonging to the same single race. All peoples are composed of more or less stable racial mixtures. We go from the theoretical domain to the practical one, or to “active racism,” whenever we take a position before the racial components of a given nation, refusing to acknowledge to all of them the same value, the same dignity, and the same right to impart the tone and form to the whole. At that point a choice, an election, and a decision are necessary. One of the components must be given preeminence, by referring to the typical values and the human ideals that correspond to it.
p. 257

In the political domain we need to take a stand against the myth expressed in the formula: “There is power in numbers.” Attempting to base an imperialistic policy on a demographic campaign was one of the serious mistakes of the Fascist ideology that must be denounced without hesitation. The power of numbers is the power of the mere brute masses; this power is in itself very relative, because even herds need to be guided. Every true empire is born from a race of conquerors who conquered lands and peoples, not because they suffered from overpopulation or did not have “a place in the sun,” but on the basis of a higher calling and qualification, which allowed them to rule as a minority in foreign lands.
p. 267-268

The fact is that the inferior races and the lower social strata are the most prolific ones. Thus, we can say that while the number of superior, more differentiated elements grows in arithmetic proportion, the number of inferior elements grows in geometric proportion, the result being a fatal involution of the human race.
p. 268

As far as a revolutionary-conservative movement is concerned, there is a need for men who are free from these bourgeois feelings. These men, by adopting an attitude of militant and absolute commitment, should be ready for anything and almost feel that creating a family is a “betrayal”; these men should live sine impedimentis, without any ties or limits to their freedom.
p. 271

When talking about the great majority of our contemporaries, it is absolutely irresponsible, considering the collective consequences that result from it, to beget other beings who will repeat the same inconsistency, the same vacuity of a life lacking any real meaning; in other words, it is absolutely irresponsible to feed the threatening avalanche of the formless world of quantity only because one is passive toward the natural part of himself and toward the most primitive sexual urge, or because one is enslaved to prejudice.
p. 272

In order to head toward a united Europe, the first step should consist of a concerted exit of all European nations from the United Nations, which is an illegitimate, promiscuous, and hypocritical association. Another obvious imperative should be to become emancipated in every aspect and in equal measure from both the United States and the USSR. However, this would require a very subtle and prudent political art, for which today’s politicians are hardly qualified.
p. 275

In a united Europe, fatherlands and nations may exist (ethnic communities have been partially respected even in the totalitarian Soviet Union). What should be excluded is nationalism (with its monstrous appendix, namely imperialism) and chauvinism – in other words, every fanatical absolutization of a particular unit.
p. 276

The scheme of an empire in a true and organic sense (which must clearly be distinguished from every imperialism, a phenomenon that should be regarded as a deplorable extension of nationalism) was previously displayed in the European medieval world, which safeguarded the principles of both unity and multiplicity.
p. 277

It is possible to enclose that which is “modern” in a well-controlled material and “physical” domain, on the plane of mere means, and to superimpose upon it a higher order adequately upheld, in which revolutionary-conservative values are given unconditional acknowledgement.
p. 282

[F]ascism and National Socialism were movements and regimes in which different and even contrasting tendencies coexisted; their development in the right, positive, conservative-revolutionary sense could have occurred only if circumstances had allowed for an adequate, further development, which was stricken down by the war they ignited and by their ensuing defeat.
p. 283

2 comments:

rasmus said...

So one could say that Evola's theory of dictatorship is a theory of the Aufhahmezustand?
That is very interesting to relate to Giorgio Agamben's book on that subject (referring mainly to Walter Benjamin, Carl Schmitt, Hanna Arendt, and Roman law). Agamben also, like Evola, argues against the misuse of the term totalitarianism, and seem to have a not very different view on Mussolini's regime. But in the end he is of course sharing Benjamin's standpoint in the question about how to relate towards the state of emergency.

Julius Evola said...

Thanks for posting this long excerpt for the main Evola's political essay.