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Julius Evola

Julius Evola, also known as Baron Giulio Cesare Evola, (May 19, 1898June 11, 1974) was an Italian philosopher, esotericist, occultist, author, artist, poet, political activist, soldier and most significantly described as a Radical Traditionalist. Evola is primarily known for his involvement in Italian Fascist politics until the movement was defeated in World War II; since the war, his works have inspired a succession of New Right and neo-fascist groups in Italy and beyond.

His theories were often mixed in with his occult writings, with themes such as Hermeticism, the metaphysics of sex, Tantra, Buddhism, Taoism, mountaineering, the Holy Grail, the essence and history of civilizations, decadence and various philosophic and religious Traditions from the East and the West. He considered himself a representative and upholder of "Tradition" in an age of spiritual oblivion and organized deviancy. Evola's core trilogy of works are commonly regarded to be Revolt Against the Modern World, Men Among the Ruins and Ride the Tiger.

Evola attempted to influence both Italian Fascism and National Socialism from the late 1920s through the collapse of the Italian Fascist regime in 1943, although only with a brief period of success in 1942. After the regime's collapse, Evola fled to Nazi-ruled Germany. He opposed the Salò Republic, and worked with the SS Ahnenerbe on research on Freemasonry. In the post-war period, he returned to Italy where his writings enjoyed popularity among some on the far right, especially young neo-fascist groups. Many Radical Traditionalist, Nouvelle Droite, Conservative Revolutionary, Aryanist, and Third Positionist groups and intellectuals have been influenced by Evola to various degrees. According to one scholar, "Evola’s thought can be considered one of the most radically and consistently antiegalitarian, antiliberal, antidemocratic, and antipopular systems in the twentieth century.

Biography

Early years

Giulio Cesare Andrea Evola was born in Rome to a noble Sicilian family (his father, Vincenzo Evola, was born in Cinisi). He fought in World War I as an artillery officer on the Asiago plateau. After the war, attracted to the avant-garde, Evola briefly associated with Filippo Marinetti's Futurist movement, but became a prominent representative of Dadaism in Italy through his painting, poetry, and collaboration on the shortly published journal, Revue Bleu. In 1922, after concluding that avant-garde art was becoming commercialized and stiffened into academic convention, he reduced his focus on artistic expression such as painting and poetry.).

Entry into esotericism

Around 1920, his interests led him into spiritual, transcendental and "supra-rational" studies. He began reading various esoteric texts and gradually delved deeper into the occult, alchemy, magic, and Oriental studies, particularly Tibetan Lamaism and Vajrayanist tantric yoga.

In 1927, along with other Italian esotericists, he founded the Gruppo di Ur. The group's aim was to provide a "soul" to the burgeoning Fascist movement of the time through the revival of an ancient Roman Paganism.

Involvement with Fascism

In the late 1920s, Evola expressed his support for a Radical Fascist revolution to sweep modern Judeo-Christianity out of Italy and replace it with a "Pagan Imperialism" (à la Ancient Rome). He was one of a number of fascist ideologues who opposed Mussolini's Lateran Accords with the Roman Catholic Church and rejected the Fascist party's nationalism and its focus on mass movement mob politics; he hoped to influence the regime toward his own variation on fascist racial theories and his "Tradionalist" philosophy. Early in 1930, Evola launched Torre, a bi-weekly review, to voice his conservative-revolutionarism and denounce the demagogic tendencies of official fascism; government censors suppressed the journal and engaged in character assassination against its staff (for a time, Evola retained a bodyguard of like-minded radical fascists) until it died out in June of that year. From 1934 to 1943, he edited the cultural page of Roberto Farinacci's journal Regime Fascista.

Mussolini read Evola's Sintesi di dottrina della razza in August 1941, and was impressed enough to personally meet with Evola and offer him his praise. Evola later recounted that Mussolini had found in his work a uniquely Roman form of fascist racism distinct from that found in Nazi Germany. With Mussolini's backing, Evola launched the journal Sangue e Spirito. While not always in agreement with German racial theorists, Evola traveled to Germany in February 1942 and obtained support for German collaboration on Sangue e Spirito from leading Nazi race theorists.

Evola supported Fascism for his own ends, but was rebuked by the regime because his ends were not always theirs. When World War II broke out, he volunteered for military service in order to fight the Communists on the Russian front; he was rejected because he had too many detractors in the bureaucracy (Hansen 2002). Italian Fascism went into decline when, during the midst of the War, Mussolini was deposed and imprisoned. Evola, although not a member of the Fascist Party, and despite his apparent problems with the Fascist regime, was one of the first people to greet Mussolini when the latter was broken out of prison by Nazi commandos in 1943.

After the Italian surrender to the Allied forces in September 8, 1943, Evola moved to Germany, where he spent the remainder of World War II, also working as a researcher on Freemasonry for the SS Ahnenerbe in Vienna.

It was Evola's custom to walk around the city during bombing raids in order to better 'ponder his destiny'. During one such Soviet raid, in March or April 1945, a shell fragment damaged his spinal cord and he became paralyzed from the waist down, remaining so throughout his life (Stucco 1992, xiii).

Evola and the SS

"But in spite of all these negative aspects, there was something in National Socialism that attracted Evola: the concept of a state ruled by an Order, which he felt was embodied by the SS. 'We are inclined to the opinion that we can see the nucleus of an Order in the higher sense of tradition in the 'Black Corps,' he wrote in Vita Italiana (August 15, 1938). Again in Vita Italiana (August 1941, 'Per una profonda alleanza italo-germanica' [For a Deep Italian-Germanic Alliance]) he writes: 'Beyond the confines of the party and of any political-administrative structure, an elite in the form of a new 'Order'—that is, a kind of ascetic-military organization that is held together by the principles of 'loyalty' and 'honor,' must form the basis of the new state.' As mentioned, Evola held the SS, which Himmler strove to design according to the model of the Teutonic Order, to be this elite.

The castles of the SS Order, with their 'initiations,' the emphasis on transcending the purely human element, the prerequisite of physical valor, as well as the ethical requirements (loyalty, discipline, defiance of death, willingness to sacrifice, unselfishness), strengthened Evola in his conviction. He also was of the opinion that the ethics of the SS were borrowed from the Jesuits" (Dr. H. T. Hansen in "Julius Evola's Political Endeavors" introduction to "Men Among the Ruins: Post-War Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist" p. 61-22).

Post-World War II

After World War II, Evola continued his work in esotericism. He wrote a number of books and articles on sexual magic and various other esoteric studies, including The Yoga of Power: Tantra, Shakti, and the Secret Way (1949), Eros and the Mysteries of Love: The Metaphysics of Sex (1958), Meditations on the Peaks: Mountain Climbing as Metaphor for the Spiritual Quest (1974), The Path of Enlightenment According to the Mithraic Mysteries (1977). He also wrote his two explicitly political books Men Among the Ruins: Post-War Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist (1953), Ride the Tiger: A Survival Manual for the Aristocrats of the Soul (1961), and his autobiography Il Cammino del Cinabro (1963).

In the post-war years, Evola's writings were held in high esteem by members of the Neo-fascist movement in Italy, and because of this, he was put on trial from June through November 1951 on the charge of attempting to revive Fascism in Italy. He was acquitted because he could prove that he was never a member of the Fascist party, and that all accusations were made without evidence to prove that his writings glorified Fascism (Evola - "Autodifesa/Self-Defence" in appendix to Men Among the Ruins: Post-War Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist 1953).

Death

Evola died unmarried, without children, on June 11, 1974 in Rome. His ashes were deposited in a hole cut in a glacier on Mt. Rosa.

Philosophy

Tradition

Evola's systematic and detailed references to ancient and modern texts make it difficult to speak about influences, though affinities could exist between Evola and Plato, Oswald Spengler, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Arthur de Gobineau, Adolf Hitler, Friedrich Nietzsche, Meister Eckhart, Homer, Jacob Boehme, René Guénon and certain Catholic thinkers like Juan Donoso Cortés and Joseph de Maistre. Italian philosopher of history Giambattista Vico provided Evola with the concepts of primordial heroic law, "natural heroic rights" and the meaning of the Indo-European Latin term vir as indicative of "wisdom, priesthood and kingship." Crucial to Evola's formulation of the idea of "solar masculinity" versus "chthonic masculinity" and matriarchal regression was the maverick 19th century Swiss scholar Johann Jakob Bachofen. Other prominent, philosophically foundational influences for Evola include the ancient Aryo-Hindu scripture that teaches the concept of "detached violence", the Bhagavad Gita and the Aryan kshatriya sage Siddartha Gotama, the historical Buddha (Evola, "Il Camino del Cinabro" 1963).

Like Guénon, he believed that mankind is living in the Kali Yuga of the Hindu tradition, the Dark Age of unleashed, materialistic appetites. The Kali Yuga is the last of four ages, which form a cycle from the Satya Yuga or Golden Age through the Kali Yuga or the Hesiodic Iron Age. Evola argued that both Italian fascism and National Socialism held hope for a reconstitution of the primordial "celestial race.

For Evola, the word Tradition had a meaning very similar to that of Truth. The doctrine of the four ages, a broad characterization of the attributes of Tradition and their manifestations in traditional societies makes up the first half of Evola's major work Revolt Against the Modern World. In Revolt Against the Modern World, he expounds according to the ancient texts that there is not one Tradition, but two: An older and degenerate tradition that is feminine, matriarchal, unheroic, associated with the telluric negroid racial remnants of Lemuria (continent); and a higher one that is masculine, heroic, "Uranian" and purely Aryo-Hyperborean in its origin. The latter one later gave rise to an ambiguous Western-Atlantic tradition, which combined aspects of both through the historical Hyperborean migrations and their degenerating assimilation of exotic spiritual influences from the South.

According to Evola, in the Golden Age there existed in the dominating elites, the "Divine Kings", a convergence of the two powers, namely the spiritual principle and the royal principle. From the Aryo-Hindu tradition, he sees the human type of the Rajarshi as an embodiment of the Golden Age ideal and quotes the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (1.4.11): "This is why nothing is greater than the warrior nobility; the priests themselves venerate the warrior when the consecration of the king occurs." Evola argues that in the Hindu tradition there are plenty of instances of kings who already possess or eventually achieve a spiritual knowledge greater than that possessed by the later-times degenerated brahmana. This is the case, for instance, of King Jaivala, whose knowledge was not imparted by any priest, but rather reserved to the warrior caste; also, in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (4.3.1) King Janaka teaches the brahmana Yajnavalkya the doctrine of the transcendent Self. Evola explains that, according to tradition, the primordial gnosis was handed down, starting from Ikshvaku, in regal succession (cf. Bhagavadgita, 4. 1-2); the same Sun Dynasty (surya-vamsa) was connected with blue-eyed, fair-skinned Gautama Buddha's aristocratic Aryan family (Sutta Nipata, 3). In the laws of the second or Silver Age, the Laws of Manu, the text states "rulers do not prosper without priests and priests do not thrive without rulers" and that "the priest is said to be the root of the law, and the ruler is the peak" (11.321-2;11.83-4).

In reference to Christianity, Evola distinguished between 1) the mystical character of primitive Christianity and its later social history on the one hand, and 2) the primordial-Hyperborean elements and the decadent Judaic elements on the other. In Revolt Against the Modern World, he asserts "in the symbolism of Christ there are traces of a mysteric pattern" (p. 281) and "Jesus' saying in Matthew (11:12) concerning the violence suffered by the kingdom of Heaven and the revival of the Davidic saying: 'You are gods' (John 10:34), belong to elements that exercised virtually no influence on the main pathos of early Christianity" (Revolt, p. 284). Evola states "the Christian legend of the three magi is an attempt to claim for Christianity a traditional character in the superior sense I give to the term" (The Mystery of the Grail, p. 45). In the same work, Evola argues "the Jewish notion of a Messiah and the Christian notion of God's Kingdom, which many people believe to have greatly influenced the medieval imperial myth, are nothing but an echo of the ancient and pre-Christian Aryo-Iranian concept" of the Saoshyant as "lord of a future, triumphal kingdom of the God of Light" and "slayer of the Ahrimanic dark forces" (ibid., p. 39)

Evola recalls the mysterious figure of the priest-king Melchizedek as a primary point of juncture with the primordial sacral-royal Tradition of the origins. Abraham receives an almost feudal spiritual investiture from Melchizedek in the biblical episode of Genesis 14, giving the mysterious priest-king tithes, thus symbolizing the Abrahamic tradition's implicit dependency (cf. St. Paul: "It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior", Heb. 7:1-3). Evola often notes the role of the "regal religion according to Melchizedek" in the Ghibelline ideology. Evola finds the testimony of Eginhard significant, who states that after Charlemagne was consecrated and hailed with the formula, "Long life and victory to Charles the Great, crowned by God, great and peaceful emperor of the Romans!" the pope "prostrated himself (adoravit) before Charles, according to the ritual established at the time of the ancient emperors." Evola emphasizes how the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund (1368-1437), founder of the militant-Catholic chivalric Order of the Dragon, continuing a long tradition of Christian-Roman and Byzantine imperial dominance in religious matters, summoned the Council of Constance (A.D. 1413) on the eve of the Reformation in order to purify the clergy from schisms and anarchy.

The classical Traditional polity is structured according to a strict hierarchy of sociopolitical functions, where the lower functions are concerned with mere matter and organic vitality and the ascending functions progressively ruled by spirit. This order, in which powers of spirit correlate to societal status, Evola finds crystallized in the Indian caste system, the Republic of Plato, ancient Iranian society and the medieval hierarchical class divisions between peasants, burghers, nobility and the clergy and military religious orders. The involution through the cycle of the ages was mirrored in the law of the regression of the castes, from the primal "heaven-born" kings to the deconsecrated slavish usurpers and raceless pariahs of the present. Evola saw the Ghibelline dynasty of Hohenstauffen emperors (1152-1271) as the Germanic champion of the primordial "sacred regality" in a renewed Holy Roman Empire. Once the solar, golden, sacred regality of the mythical first age fell, power devolved upon a lunar, silver, feminized priestly caste before an unconsecrated warrior nobility struggled against it, announcing the Bronze Age. Then power shifts to the mercantile caste, represented by the Italian comune, Freemasonry, the Jewish financial oligarchy of the Renaissance, and New World American Judeo-Protestant plutocracy. By the beginning of the twentieth century, organized labor and Marxist-Trotskyite subverters sought to transfer power to the last caste of slaves or sudras, or the consumer-pariah, reducing all values to matter, machines, dysgenic egalitarianism and the reign of abstract quantity.

Paths to Enlightenment

The path to enlightenment is the chief subject of a number of Evola's works. First and foremost is the Buddhist ascesis as he rediscovered it following over two thousand years of obstruction of the Buddha's teachings (The Doctrine of Awakening: The Attainment of Self-Mastery According to the Earliest Buddhist Texts). He tries to show the ways that allow a man to survive spiritually intact in the modern age of obscuration and to achieve supra-human liberation or transcendence.

Even in his book Meditations on the Peaks: Mountain Climbing as Metaphor for the Spiritual Quest Evola discussed mountaineering as a possible approach or support on the way of initiatic ascesis in which heroic action is combined with specialized knowledge and training culminating in an initiation — the climbing of the mountain. In this way, and not as a sport or a recreation, mountaineering can be a "spiritual quest," as the subtitle of the book suggests.

Ascesis and Initiation

According to Julius Evola, tradition in its purest form encompassed asceticism, which he described in The Doctrine of Awakening: The Attainment of Self-Mastery According to the Earliest Buddhist Texts as a discipline. He describes two basic and complementary types of asceticism — that of action and that of contemplation. The asceticism of action is personified by the warrior while that of contemplation by the pure ascetic; he described Buddhism as the highest form of the asceticism of contemplation, a form very suitable for the warrior in his preparation for inner and outer warfare.

Metaphysics of Sex

In The Yoga of Power: Tantra, Shakti, and the Secret Way and also Eros and the Mysteries of Love: The Metaphysics of Sex, Evola described the practice of sexual magic as an asceticism of action that allows one to achieve transcendent states through physical action, primarily sex.

To explain the metaphysics of sex, Evola cites the original meaning of the word "orgy" as "the state of inspired exaltation that began the initiatory process in the ancient Greek mysteries. But when this exaltation of eros, itself akin to other experiences of a supersensual nature, becomes individualized as a longing that is only carnal, then it deteriorates and ends finally in the form constituted by mere "pleasure, or venereal lust" (The Metaphysics of Sex, p. 48).

In his sexual philosophy, Evola followed the esoteric Hindu and Buddhist schools in the teaching of retention of semen as a means of ontological energization and ultimate self-mastery. "Virya, or spiritual manhood, if lost or wasted results in death and if withheld and conserved leads to life" (ibid., p. 219). Evola considered Traditional chastity as signifying "control, limit, anti-titanic purity, overcoming of pride, and immaterial unshakability, rather than a moralistic and sexuophobic concept" (The Mystery of the Grail, p. 80).

Evola considered sex as being "the greatest magical force in nature", but he fiercely opposed homosexuality, viewing it as a dysfunctional undermining of the magnetic polarity and complementary nature of the two sexes, and thus of the possibility of erotic transcendence. "In a civilization where equality is the standard, where differences are not linked, where promiscuity is in favor, where the ancient idea of 'being true to oneself' means nothing anymore--in such a splintered and materialistic society, it is clear that this phenomenon of regression and homosexuality should be particularly welcome, and therefore it is no way a surprise to see the alarming increase in homosexuality and the 'third sex' in the latest 'democratic' period, or an increase in sex changes to an extent unparalleled in other eras" (The Metaphysics of Sex, p. 64). Evola refers to Plotinus, who deemed homosexual loves to be shameful and abnormal, like diseases of degenerate persons "which do not arise from the essence of being and are not the outcome of the development thereof" (Enneads, III). The draconian harshness of the ancient Aryo-Zoroastrian view on homosexuality, as exemplified in the Vendidad, elicits Evola's full approval: sodomites were classed among the ranks of those criminals to be destroyed on the spot: "Four men can be put to death by any one without an order from the Dastur (high priest): the Nasu-burner (cannibal), the highwayman, the Sodomite, and the criminal taken in the deed" (Vendidad, 8:73-74). With equal vehemence, Evola scorned modern pornography, denouncing it as "dreadfully squalid not only in the facts and scenes described, but in its essence" (The Metaphysics of Sex, p. 4).

Politics

Evola held that politics, like everything else in life, should look upward and beyond the self. His political philosophy was more or less close to Joseph de Maistre, Hermann Wirth, Otto Weininger, Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, Ernst Jünger, Gottfried Benn, René Guénon, Oswald Spengler, and Bal Gangadhar Tilak.

Evola's main argument against modern "demagogic" politics is its inverted materialistic focus and mentality, stemming from an inverted order of castes. According to Evola, in modernity, due to what he calls the regression of the castes, the once-preeminent warrior caste (crystallized in the medieval military religious orders and ethical chivalry) has been downgraded into the figures of the mere democratic soldier and mercenary, who are servants of the artificial, soulless needs of the now-dominant mercantile and industrial interests. As Evola states, "Opposite to the 'soldier' was the type of the warrior and the member of the feudal aristocracy; the caste to which this type belonged was the central nucleus in a corresponding social organization. This caste was not at the service of the bourgeois class but rather ruled over it, since the class that was protected depended on those who had the right to bear arms

On the meaning of his anti-middle-class stance, Evola stated:

We are "anti-bourgeois" not in the descending sense of subversive collectivists but in the sense of opposing the dominance of the lower manifestations of the modern bourgeois spirit (effeminate materialism, commercialism, gangsterism, etc). The bourgeois tendency has its inevitable role in society, but must not be absolutized; rather, the bourgeoisie must be purified, contained, its values given their space but subordinated to superior values. We are anti-bourgeois because the bourgeois type, while ranking above the proletarian, yet stands inferior to the soldierly-heroic and spiritual-priestly orders. The bourgeois type, compared to the sacral-warrior, only represents a lesser degree of progressive manhood (unedited Italian edition of Men Among the Ruins).

Evola's earliest endeavors in politics occurred in the late 1920s, when he supported some European anti-democratic and anti-Jewish political currents. He participated in the promotion of Mussolini's National Fascist Party dictatorship in Italy, albeit as a wary supporter of the regime. He saw in Fascism the barest trace of what he believed to be the true path that the country (and civilization) should follow. He therefore attempted to influence the party in the conservative-revolutionary direction he believed it should go — the direction of radical Traditionalism; i.e. away from the exoteric modern Christian Church, the bourgeoisie, and the masses. His efforts to influence the regime were a failure, and he believed that by not following his advice, Mussolini's party failed to fulfill its function. He would maintain the view that a revolutionary movement, similar to Fascism but in harmony with "Tradition", was necessary for the return to a higher form of civilization.

When Evola met with esoteric Hitlerist Miguel Serrano, he denied that he was a fascist or Hitlerist, but rather saw Metternich as a conservative ideal. (Goodrick-Clarke 2001, 337)

In the decade immediately following the war, Evola wrote two books which fall loosely into the categories "asceticism of action" and "asceticism of contemplation" in their prescriptions for political action.

In Men Among the Ruins, Evola described a Traditional and aristocratic attitude — possibly leading to a reactionary revolution — like what he had hoped Fascism could have been with the right leaders. This attitude is a sort of asceticism of action calling for political action to reform current society in a conservative-revolutionary / radical Traditional direction. But he also felt that the acceleration of modernity following World War II's outcome and thus, the elimination of any truly opposing forces, made any such revolution rather impossible, unless the 'unforeseeable' imposes a radical change of circumstances.

In Ride the Tiger, he prescribed a so-to-speak apolitical asceticism of contemplation in which a man is advised to act in the modern world, while remaining intellectually and spiritually detached from and above it. Evola argued that in order to survive in the modern world an enlightened or "differentiated man" should "ride the tiger". As a man, by holding onto the tiger's back, may survive the confrontation once the animal ends exhausted, so too might a man, by letting the world take him on its inexorable path, be able to turn the destructive forces around him into a kind of inner liberation.

Alleged racism and antisemitism

Evola called his work "racist", and indeed a number of his articles and books deal explicitly with the subject of race.

A.J. Gregor comments: "In the [German translation of Imperialismo pagano], Evola considered principled anti-Semitism one of the essentials of a salvific 'racial rebirth' in the modern world. Not only did Evola make a point of identifying Karl Marx, one of the architects of the modern world of materialism, inferiority, pretended equality, and cultural decay, as a Jew--but he spoke of a Jewish capitalistic yoke that obstructed every effort at racial regeneration" (Mussolini's Intellectuals, pps. 200-201).

In Revolt Against the Modern World, he said that he considered himself to be a critic of the "racist worldview" by which he meant the demagogically-minded, simplistic, antisemitic theories of mainstream Nazis and others of his contemporaries. However, he wrote an introduction to an Italian language version of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a notorious antisemitic document, long proven to be a Tsarist forgery, that alleges a Jewish conspiracy to run the world through control of the media and finance, and replace the traditional social order with one based on mass manipulation.

Evola was indifferent as to whether the document was authentic or not. He classified it as a 'myth'. In 1937, a year after the publication of Giovanni Preziosi's Italian edition of the forgery in 1936, when it was known to be a fiction, Evola wrote as follows:

Whether or not the controversial Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion are false or authentic does not affect the symptomatic value of the document in question, that is, the fact, that many of the things that have occurred in modern times, having taken place after their publication, effectively agree with the plans assumed in that document, perhaps more than a superficial observer might believe.

In short, he was unconcerned that it was a forgery, because, in his hermetic mode of understanding, that did not alter what he believed was the essential truth enciphered in what the public and scholarly world declared to be a lie.

In his introduction to the 1938 Italian edition of the Protocols, Evola wrote that the tract had "the value of a spiritual tonic," that Jews "destroy every surviving trace of true order and superior civilization," and that, "above all, in these decisive hours of western history, [the Protocols tract] cannot be ignored or dismissed without seriously undermining the front of those fighting in the name of the spirit, of tradition, of true civilization."

For Evola this text represented a manipulation by occult powers trying to hide behind the Jewish and Freemasonic historical drive toward a merchant society soon to be replaced by the chaos of "mass society" which could eventually turn against both.

Evola accused Jews, as well as what he termed the "semitic spirit, of having a corrosive effect on the "Nordic" race (a race that was, in Evola's mythology, analogous to the Nazi's "Aryans"). Evola argued that not only Jews, but even non-Jews "Judaicized in their souls" must be combated by a "coherent, complete, impartial" anti-Semitism given the means to "identify and combat the Jewish mentality. Evola supported the Nazi anti-Semitic view that there was a hidden form of Jewish power and influence in the modern world; he thought this Jewish power was a symptom of the "modern" world's lack of true aristocratic leadership. Evola further held that Jewish people denigrated lofty "Aryan" ideals (of faith, loyalty, courage, devotion, and constancy) through a "corrosive irony" that ascribed every human activity to economic or sexual motives (à la Marx and Freud) (Kevin Coogan, Dreamer of the Day: Francis Parker Yockey and the Postwar Fascist International, p. 309). In a 1938 article Evola accused Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, and Cesare Lombroso of being "proponents of Jewish materialistic culture in the nineteenth century; two years later, in an essay entitled "Jews and Mathematics," Evola characterized Judaism as the antithesis of "Aryan civilation," and broadly attacked a range of what he considered examples of Jewish influences, from Pythagoreanism to mathematics. The article was illustrated with pictures of notable Jews interspersed with classic anti-Semitic representations.

In The Metaphysics of Sex (Inner Traditions, 1st US edition 1983, pps. 9-10), Evola discoursed on his philosophy of de-evolutionary spiritual racism: "Our starting point will be not the modern theory of evolution but the traditional doctrine of involution. We do not believe the man is derived from the ape by evolution. We believe that the ape is derived from man by involution. We agree with Joseph De Maistre that savage peoples are not primitive peoples, in the sense of original peoples, but rather the degenerating remains of more ancient races that have disappeared. We concur with the various researchers (Kohlbrugge, Marconi, Dacque, Westenhofer, and Adloff) who have rebelled against the evolutionary dogma, asserting that animal species evince the degeneration of primordial man's potential. These unfulfilled or deviant potentials manifest as by-products of the true evolutionary process that man has led since the beginning."

Evola believed that a race of "Nordic" people, anciently emanating from Golden Age Arctic Hyperborea, originally semi-immaterial and "soft-boned", had played a crucial founding role in Atlantis and the high cultures both of the East and West. In Evola's eyes, half-remembered, cryptic memories of a "more-than-human race" once existing in a "northern paradise" constitute the patrimony of the traditions of many diverse peoples. In this occult belief, Evola was additionally influenced by Arctic Home in the Vedas by Bal Gangadhar Tilak, which posited the polar North as the original home of the white Ur-Aryan tribes before their later separation into Western (Hellenic, Roman, Celtic, Germanic) and Eastern (Iranian, Indo-Aryan) divisions.

According to Joscelyn Godwin's research: "the basic outlines of Evola's prehistory resemble those of Theosophy, with Lemurian, Atlantean, and Aryan root-races succeeding each other, and a pole-shift marking the transition from one epoch to another" (Arktos, p. 60). Evola's dualism between the Northern Light and the Southern Light, and also the capture of the Atlanteans by the latter, is also found in the writings of Theosophy's co-founder Helena Petrovna Blavatsky:

The Atlanteans [gravitated] toward the Southern Pole, the pit, cosmically and terrestrially -- whence breathe the hot passions blown into hurricanes by the cosmic Elementals, whose abode it is."

Every beneficent (astral and cosmic) action comes from the North; every lethal influence from the South Pole. They are much connected with and influence right and left hand magic."

Dr. Victor A. Shnirelman, a cultural anthropologist and ethnographer, has noted that cosmological racial ideas also appear in the Neo-Theosophical writings of H. P. Blavatsky's one-time disciple Alice Bailey. Shnirelman wrote that in Bailey's teachings, "Jews were depicted as the 'human product of the former Solar system,' linked with 'World Evil'"; he identifed "similar ideas" in the works of Bailey and Evola.

According to Evola, the hierarchy of races is really a hierarchy of embodied spiritualities; the spirit, rather than ethnic substance, determines culture; but at the same time race is the biological "memory" of a certain spiritual orientation. In order to describe what he called the lower, telluric, Negroid races, he frequently made use of the term "Southern" whereas to him higher races were "Northern." "North" and "South" are indicated as having simultaneously metaphysical, geographical and anthropological meanings:

Especially during the period of the long icy winter, it was natural that in the northern races the experience of the Sun, of Light, and of Fire itself should have acted in a spiritually liberating sense. Hence natures which were Uranian-solar, Olympian or filled with celestial fire would have developed much more from the sacral symbolism of these races than from others. Moreover, the rigor of the climate, the sterility of the soil, the necessity for hunting, and finally the need to emigrate across unknown seas and continents would naturally have molded those who preserved that spiritual experience of the Sun, of the luminous sky, and of fire into the temperament of warriors, of conquerors, of navigators, so as to favor that synthesis between spirituality and virility of which characteristic traces are preserved in the Aryan races (Revolt, p. 208).

Evola quotes the Confucian Chung Yung (10.4) to reinforce his point:

To teach with kindly benevolence, not to lose one's temper and avenge the unreasonableness of others, that is the virile energy of the South that is followed by the well-bred man. To sleep on a heap of arms and untanned skins, to die unflinching and as if dying were not enough, that is the virile energy of the North that is followed by the brave man.

According to Evola, the more recent Northern, White and Indo-European peoples (despite racial mixing) implicitly preserved more of the primordial Arctic Hyperborean blood-memory and are objectively spiritually superior to the archaic, matter-obsessed degenerate remnants of the races of the South. Evola (Revolt, p. 245) sees the sign of the Hyperborean Tradition and its antagonism with the forces of Antitradition in the Indian mythology surrounding the Vedic divinity Indra (cf. Thor), who is "fair of cheek" (Rig Veda, I. 93) and with his "fair-complexioned friends" (I. 10018) annihilates the lawless black Dasyu, "giving protection to the Aryan color" (III. 349), blowing to nothingness "the swarthy skin which Indra hates" (IX. 735).

On the "demonic" nature of the lower negroid races and their degenerating remnants, Evola relies on an old Aryo-Zoroastrian tradition that teaches negroids belonged to the dark side owing to their alleged origin in the union between a demon and a wicked witch: "Zohak, during his reign, let loose a dev (demon) on a young woman, and let loose a young man on a parik (witch). They performed coition with [the sight] of the apparition; the negro came into being through that [novel] kind of coition" (Bundahishn, XIVB).

Flowering forth in the Greek, pre-Celtic, Indo-Aryan, Aryo-Persian, Armenic, Roman, Germanic, Tiwanaku, Teotihuacán, early Chinese, Aztec-Nahua, Inca and first Egyptian dynasties' representatives, with more or less ethnic but great spiritual purity, the "Northern Light" was considerably lost to the Atlantean offshoot which defiled itself through spiritual integration into the spiritual lunar sphere of the world of the "Mother" or "Earth" of the "Southern Light" and further miscegenation with bestial, dark Lemurian stocks. Revolt Against the Modern World presents world-history to be the saga of dualistic conflict between the "Northern Light" and the "Southern Light": on one side stand the Uranian, patriarchal stocks of purer Hyperborean lineage, climatically harshly conditioned and heroic-minded celebrators of the winter solstice (cf. Rene Guenon: "The starting-point given to the year that one can call normal, as being in direct conformity with primordial tradition, is the winter solstice", Traditional Forms and Cosmic Cycles, p. 24); on the other stand the chthonic and titanized inferior races and the spiritually/ethnically bastardized heirs of the fallen Atlantean civilization captured by the "Southern Light" and its sacerdotal and naturalistic-pantheist religion of promiscuous vegetal and animal fertility.

Evola cites Plato's description of the fall of Atlantis by Atlantean miscegenation with humankind (Critias, 110c; 120d-e; 121a-b) and the biblical myth of the benei elohim, the Sons of God catastrophically mixing with the "daughters of men" (Genesis 6: 4-13) as support for his esoteric, Aryanist anthropogenesis. Evola interprets archeological findings of semi-human hominid fossils as not purely primordial but evidence of the mismating of the celestial boreal race with inferior animalistic breeds as well, and most often, as remnants of degenerating, bestialized races in their final involutionary stages preceding extinction.

Just as Evola affirmed the natural hierarchy between different individuals of the same race, so he affirmed a natural rank ordering of the different human races. As the best-preserved remnants of the primordial celestial Hyperboreans, Evola affirmed the white race in its different branches as the creator of the greatest planetary civilizations:

"We have to remember that behind the various caprices of modern historical theories, and as a more profound and primordial reality, there stands the unity of blood and spirit of the white races who created the greatest civilizations both of the East and West, the Iranian and Hindu as well as the ancient Greek and Roman and the Germanic" (The Doctrine of Awakening, p. 14).

In fact, Evola publicly celebrated Italian Fascism as a means to ensure and restore in a modern decadent world white supremacy:

"And if Fascist Italy, among the various Western nations is the one which first wished for a reaction against the degeneration of the materialist, democratic and capitalist civilisation, against the League of Nations ideology, there are grounds for thinking, without even any scintilla of chauvinistic infatuation, that Italy will be on the front line among the forces which will guide the future world and will restore the supremacy of the white race" ("Il Problema della supremazia della razza bianca" [The Problem of the Supremacy of the White Race], Lo Stato, 1936).

While characterizing race as something hereditary and biological, Evola also claimed that race was not simply and linearly defined by mere skin color and the various other hereditary factors. In other words, in addition to predominantly "Aryan" or, more broadly, "Northern" biology, the initial necessary precondition for further racial differentiation, one must prove oneself spiritually "Aryan". The fact that in India the term Arya was the synonym of dwija, "twice-born" or "regenerated" supports this point. To him higher race implied something akin to supra-human, spiritual caste. Evola wrote, "the supernatural element was the foundation of the idea of a traditional patriciate and of legitimate royalty."

In 'Myth and Violence: The Fascism of Julius Evola and Alain de Benoist,' Thomas Sheehan points out that "Evola prided himself on developing a theory of races that went beyond the merely biological to the spiritual. What constitutes a superior race for Evola is the spiritual orientation of a given stock, the subsumption of the requisite biological material (and that did mean the Aryan races) under a qualitatively elevating form, namely reference to the realm of the spirit. But in fact all that Evola's theory does is to promote biological-ethnic racism a step higher. There are enough references in his works to the 'inferior, non-European races,' to the 'power of inferior strata and races,' to disgusting 'Negro syncopations' in jazz, to 'Jewish psychoanalysis'--and enough adulation of the Aryans--for us to divine that Evola's 'spiritual' racism may have had something other than disinterested Apollonian origins."

In Mussolini's Intellectuals, A. James Gregor discusses Evola's racism as follows: "[In the German rendering of Imperialismo pagano], Evola argues that it is out of the creativity of an 'ur-Aryan' and 'solar-Nordic' blood that world culture emerges. Conversely, culture decline is a function of the feckless mixture of Aryan, with lesser 'animalistic,' blood ... According to Imperialismo pagano, the 'natural' and endogamous caste system of antiquity that sustained the 'purity' of the culture-creating 'Hyperborean-Nordics' slowly disintegrated over time under the corrosive influence of Semitic religion and the 'Semitic spirit' ...

While Evola was clear about the relative insignificance of the physical attributes of race, he did acknowledge that the 'original Hyperboreans,' which he was critically concerned, were probably 'dolichocephalic, tall and slender, blond and blue-eyed' (Sintesi di dottrina della razza, p. 67) ...

Evola held that the physical mixture of races, particularly between Aryans and races that were 'alien' (i.e., non-Aryan), was always hazardous — but mixture between 'related' races might produce hybrid vigor. Given his generous notion of what constituted an Aryan race (Evola was convinced of the Hyperborean origins of most Europeans, the indigenous peoples of North and South America, as well as those of the Indian subcontinent), those candidate races Evola considered to be truly 'alien' were never explicitly catalogued—except in terms of Semites and the deeply pigmented peoples of sub-Saharan Africa (see Evola, 'Psicologia criminale ebraica,' Difesa della razza 2, no. 18, pp. 32-35; Sintesi di dottrina della razza, pp. 74, 237). What seemed eminently clear, for all the qualifiers, was that all the material races Evola identified as capable of serving as hosts for the extrabiological and supernatural spiritual elements were purportedly biological descendents of the 'Aryan-Nordics' of Hyperborea ...

In the golden age, the celestial race was spiritual--only gradually, over time, taking on material properties ... As a necessary consequence of miscegenation, there was a continual and irreversible decline of the celestials in ancient times (Evola identifies the Jews as providing a 'ferment of decomposition, dissolution and corruption' in antiquity; see Evola, Sintesi di dottrina della razza p. 160; Rivolta contro il mondo moderno, p. 314), a tenuous revival under the Romans, and another by the Nordic-Germans during the course of the Holy Roman Empire--but by the time of the Renaissance, with its humanism, rationalism, universalism and its gradual submission to the theses of the equality of all humans, humankind had entered the kali-yuga, the terminal age of 'obscurity,' the end of this current race cycle. For Evola, given the fateful path traversed by history, there remained only one course for contemporary humanity: an attempt at reconstitution of the primordial celestial race, amid the debris of previous race cycles, employing the racial remnants of the Hyperboreans ...

For Evola, spiritual forces shaped races for their own inscrutable purposes. The notion that mutations, governed from 'on high,' might be the source of raciation was a relatively common conviction among German esoterics (See Pauwels and Bergier, The Morning of the Magicians, pp. 400-5). Geneticists, Evola argued, failed to provide a compelling account of how mutations occur. He maintained, as a consequence, that 'the cause is to be found elsewhere, in the actions of a superbiological element not reducible to the determinism of the physical transmission of genetic materials.' The true cause of hereditary variation was to be found 'rather by starting from another point of view that affords one an entirely different set of laws' than those of empirical science.

Given this supposition, Evola proceeded to argue that Fascism or National Socialism--with their heroism, their sacrificial and ascetic ethic, their authoritarian and hierarchical order, together with their appeal to myth and ritual--provided an environment compatible with the 'spirit' of the celestials. That might be enough to prompt a cosmic, if gradual, reemergence of the celestial race. In such circumstances, the formative spiritual principle that, in the ultimate analysis, governs the transcendent 'superhistory' of humankind might literally reconstitute the individuals of the primordial creative race of Hyperborea. Evola sought to show that such an outcome would not be essentially determined by biology, but by the cosmic spirit--that its formative influence could transform individuals into persons accommodating a properly corresponding soul and spirit--to render them once again 'pure.'"

The eminent scholar of Fascism, Renzo De Felice, maintained that while Evola's spiritual, neo-idealist racial theories were wrong, they had a notable intellectual ancestry, and Evola defended them in an honorable way: "Evola for his part completely refused any racial theorizing of a purely biological kind, which went so far as to draw to himself the attacks and sarcasms of a Landra, for example. This does not mean that the 'spiritual' theory of race is acceptable, but it had at least the merit of not totally failing to see certain values, to refuse the German aberrations and the ones modeled after them and to try to keep racism on a plane of cultural problems worthy of the name" (Storia degli Ebrei Italiani sotto il Fascismo, or The History of Italian Jews under Fascism [Milan, 1977]; 465).

Christophe Boutin, in his major work on Evola, Politique et Tradition: Julius Evola dans le siècle, 1898-1974 (Paris, 1992), discusses Evola's views on racism and Negroes (Boutin, pp. 197-200). Boutin mentions that in Evola's 1968 collection of essays, L’Arco e la clava (Milan, 1968, revised 1971), there is a chapter on "America Negrizzata," in which Evola criticizes the "Telluric" Negroid influence on popular American culture, while acknowledging that there has been little actual miscegenation. Evola also argues against American racial integration in this chapter. The unadulterated 1972 Italian edition of Men Among the Ruins ends with an appendix entitled "Appendix on the Myths of our Time," of which number 4 is "Taboos of our Times" (Gli uomini e le rovine, Rome, 1953, revised 1967, with the new appendix, 1972). In this section Evola argues that modern irrational taboos forbid an honest, frank discussion on the working classes and Negroes. Evola notices that the mere word 'Negro' had connotations of offensiveness in the left-wing atmosphere of the era: "la tabuizzazione che porta fino ad evitare l'uso della designazione 'negro,' per le sue implicazioni 'offensive'" (ibid., p. 276). Evola opines that a true Rightist movement will not compromise with this sort of moralistic development. (The Inner Traditions English translation suppressed Evola's appendix, ironically bearing out Evola's thoughts on the "taboos of our times.")

Evola and the Grail

To Evola the Grail was based on the Ghibelline tradition, being the apex of Western Civilisation. The Ghibelline tradition during the medieval period was represented by the German Hohenstaufen imperial line in opposition to the papacy.

Influence

Evola's writings have continued to have an influence both within occult intellectual circles and in European far-right politics. He is widely translated in French, Spanish and partly in German. Although his impact on Italian Fascism and/or German Nazism was minor, his impact on post-War Neofascist, Nazi occultist, white supremacist and extreme right-wing terrorist groups has been more considerable. Amongst those he has influenced are Miguel Serrano, Savitri Devi, GRECE, The Scorpion, the Movimento sociale italiano (MSI), Falange Espanola, Gaston Armand Amaudruz's Nouvel Ordre Européen, Guillaume Faye, Pino Rauti's Ordine Nuovo, Alain de Benoist, Michael Moynihan, Giorgio Freda, the Armed Revolutionary Nuclei (Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari) and Forza Nuova. Giorgio Almirante referred to him as "our Marcuse — only better". . according to one leader of the neofascist and terrorist Ordine Nuovo, "Our work since 1953 has been to transpose Evola’s teachings into direct political action. The violent French fascist group Troisième Voie, which is active among skinhead gangs which attack black people and gays, has also been inspired by Evola.

Evola remains relatively unknown in the U.S.A., where almost all of his books have been published in English by New age publishers Inner Traditions. He has also gained some attention in Russia, where some of his work has been analyzed by Alexander Dugin and others from a nationalistic Russian view, with but few translations of some of his shorter texts. His work, still according to translation, is also read in the U.K., Spain, Poland, Scandinavia, Finland, Romania, Hungary, Mexico, Argentine, rest of South America and Turkey where his opus Revolt Against the Modern World has been published in 2006.

Books and selected articles

Books listed with titles in English are available in translation.

  1. Arte Astratta, Posizione Teoretica (1920)
  2. Le Parole Oscure du Paysage Interieur (1920)
  3. Saggi sull'idealismo magico (1925)
  4. Teoria dell'Individuo Assoluto (1927)
  5. Imperialismo Pagano: Il Fascismo Dinanzi al Pericolo Euro-Cristiano, con una Appendice sulle Reazioni di parte Guelfa (1928)
  6. Introduction to Magic: Rituals and Practical Techniques for the Magus (1929)
  7. Fenomenologia dell'Individuo Assoluto (1930)
  8. The Hermetic Tradition: Symbols and Teachings of the Royal Art (1931)
  9. Maschera e volto dello Spiritualismo Contemporaneo: Analisi critica delle principali correnti moderne verso il sovrasensibile (1932)
  10. Revolt Against the Modern World: Politics, Religion, and Social Order in the Kali Yuga (1934)
  11. Three Aspects of the Jewish Problem (1936)
  12. The Mystery of the Grail: Initiation and Magic in the Quest for the Spirit (1937)
  13. Il Mito del Sangue. Genesi del Razzismo (1937)
  14. Sintesi di Dottrina della Razza (1941)
  15. The Elements of Racial Education (1941)
  16. Die Arische Lehre von Kampf und Sieg (1941)
  17. Gli Ebrei hanno voluto questa Guerra (1942)
  18. The Doctrine of Awakening: The Attainment of Self-Mastery According to the Earliest Buddhist Texts (1943)
  19. The Yoga of Power: Tantra, Shakti, and the Secret Way (1949)
  20. Orientamenti (1950)
  21. Men Among the Ruins: Post-War Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist (1953)
  22. Eros and the Mysteries of Love: The Metaphysics of Sex (1958)
  23. Ride the Tiger: A Survival Manual for the Aristocrats of the Soul (1961)
  24. Il Cammino del Cinabro (1963)
  25. Il Fascismo. Saggio di una Analisi Critica dal Punto di Vista della Destra (1964)
  26. L'Arco e la Clava (1968)
  27. Il Taoismo (1972)
  28. Meditations on the Peaks: Mountain Climbing as Metaphor for the Spiritual Quest (1974)
  29. Ultimi Scritti (1977)
  30. The Path of Enlightenment According to the Mithraic Mysteries (1977) ISBN 1558182284
  31. Zen: The Religion of the Samurai (1981)
  32. Rene Guenon: A Teacher for Modern Times (1984)
  33. Taoism: The Magic, the Mysticism (1993)
  34. Metaphysics of War: Battle, Victory and Death in the World of Tradition (2007)

Footnotes

References

External links

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