The following text is an excerpt from the newly published satirical novel Jihad Bubba by Glenn Lazar Roberts.
Julius Evola took his leave from writing with words dedicated to the constitution of a Culture of the Right.
In the final four chapters of his final book, Julius Evola dedicated himself to the task of formulating in general terms what would be necessary for the arising of a true culture of the Right in our day.1 I suspect, as I argue in my introduction to the Arktos translation of that work, that Evola was well aware it was to be his last publication; if this assessment is correct, it is highly significant that Evola’s last public words to find their place in a book beneath his own imprimatur should have been launched in this spirit, in the direction of sparking off a renewal or a rebirth of the political Right – which it might have been easy to dismiss, at that time, as a mere velleity, or an alliance of convenience between totally disparate parties and persons.
The final four chapters of Recognitions, Chapters 37 to 40, contain the word ‘Right’ in their titles. They are the only chapters of Recognitions to do so. The first two of these (‘The Right and Culture’ and ‘Perspectives of the Culture of the Right’), forming over half of this last quartetto of the book, directly address the problem of the ‘culture of the Right’, as Evola himself christened it. The penultimate chapter is on ‘The Historiography of the Right’, and the final and closing chapter, not only of Recognitions, but of Evola’s entire oeuvre, is dedicated to ‘The Right and the Tradition’. These four final chapters are introduced by Chapter 36, ‘Culture and Liberty’ (name which clearly links it to the two chapters on the culture of the Right that follow it), which in its turn is preceded by one of only two chapters (the second being the final chapter) to include any direct reference to ‘Tradition’ in its title, albeit here a reference which is set off in quotation marks: Chapter 35, ‘René Guénon and “Integral Traditionalism”’. That chapter is also the first of the book to mention the phrase ‘the culture of the Right’, indeed concluding on no other words than those, and thus can be taken as an introduction to the final five chapters, which together then may be considered to constitute a concentrated foray into that problem precisely – the problem of the constitution of the Right in postwar Europe.
This venture, the recovery of being within oneself, is at once the start, the core, and the highest achievement of any cultural work.
The natural place to begin in attempting to understand Evola’s vision of culture is then with Chapter 35. This chapter on its face is dedicated to introducing the concept of Traditionalism – an idea which obviously runs like a golden thread through the course of all of Evola’s work, and which is alluded to at several points within Recognitions, but which is confronted openly and explicitly only here at the end of the book, and as it were in introduction to the question of the Right. We are compelled therefore to ask why this might be so.
In seeking a valid Tradition in the modern West, Evola notes Guénon’s belief that such can only be found within Catholicism. Evola expresses together with Guénon certain reservations regarding the compatibility of Catholicism with Traditionalism as such – reservations which grow into outright scepticism when the question of Vatican II is broached. The tone of the entire paragraph here in discussion (pp. 267–268) appears to paint the following dramatic picture: the West has but a single living and valid tradition in the form of Catholicism, but Catholicism is beset by two evidently insurmountable difficulties: first, the existence of an inexorable doctrinal or dogmatic apparatus which at many points stands incompatible with Traditionalism, thus forcing a Catholic to choose between his faith and the Tradition; and second, the profound betrayal even of that very dogmatic apparatus, not to speak of all true points of connection to the Tradition, through the advent of the Novus Ordo which followed upon the Council. These two problems have essentially established walls between the West and the Tradition on the one hand, and snapped the ligatures binding the West with the Tradition on the other, thus rendering impossible any immediate return to Tradition via an extant institution.
This might well have been the reason that Guénon sought the Tradition elsewhere, and, as Evola himself puts it, ‘“Islamicized” to the extreme.’ (p. 263). But Evola, of course, did not depart the West, though it is certain he did not lack real and legitimate occasions to do so.2 And the reason for his staying can be intrinsically retraced to the question of the ‘culture of the Right’, as the present chapter reveals.
Directly upon the conclusion of the paragraph dedicated to the Catholic tradition, Evola continues in a way which seems anything but directly related: ‘Guénon’, he states, ‘was allergic to the whole of the political in the strict sense’ (p. 268). This transition, precisely in its unexpected nature, reveals the introduction of what might be called the Evolian approach to the crisis of the West, as opposed to the Guénonian: Evola believed it still possible to rectify the straying course of the West through politics in its deepest and most personal sense – through a combination of what we might call metapolitics on the one hand, and inner discipline on the other.3 Though he was not for a moment under any illusions about the ease or even feasibility of such a route, and though he never once fell prey to the delusion that the nations of his day might be redeemed through the ballot box, the very act of moving toward a ‘politics of the Right’ constituted for him already a concrete ‘revolt against the modern world’ in the decisive sense, and opened up any number of possibilities, first to the individual, but potentially also to society as a whole.
It is noteworthy that Chapter 35 ends on the question of initiation, and in particular with the statement of a problem that Evola would confront many times in all his latterday works: namely, the question of what the individual is to do, given that the chain of initiation in the West has been broken. As is usual for him when approaching this question, he does not provide any explicit answer to it, suggesting only, and rather elliptically, that ‘the problem must remain open for most, and perhaps must be reformulated in terms other than those indicated by Guénon’ (p. 273); but his movement from this chapter into the final five chapters on the ‘culture of the Right’ cannot help but suggest one possible answer.
The Culture of the Right
The last five chapters of Recognitions open on a general consideration of the relation of ‘Culture and Liberty’. Evola begins by clarifying the sense of both of these terms: ‘Some have opportunely recalled that in antiquity the term “culture” signified predominately the formation of self and also the development of one’s own possibility, analogous to the aim of every “cultivation”’ (p. 274). But ‘in this case there is but a small margin of liberty in the sense of arbitrium’ (pp. 274–275). Culture in the true sense therefore contains little of liberty, if by liberty one understands ‘liberty from something’; culture in the true sense is rather wed to ‘liberty for something’, culture which ‘should be free in creative and organic terms’ (pp. 275–277). ‘As a comparison, one might refer to a process of growth in which nothing is arbitrary’ (p. 277). Culture in this sense does not presently exist. To prepare for its existence,
the problem ought to be drawn in much wider terms, in its [culture’s] relation to relation to a kind of civilization and society – a kind that today unfortunately is nearly nonexistent. … Were a revolution to change the spiritual and intellectual situation … then even those problems which we have here brought to attention would present themselves in a very different way (pp. 279–280).
These reflections more or less close the general consideration of Chapter 36, thus opening two essential, and essentially related, questions: 1.) given that the civilizational or social basis for true culture is fundamentally lacking in our day, how can true culture be activated and cultivated? and 2.) what could form the basis for the revolution to which Evola makes reference?
The next two chapters are dedicated explicitly to the problem of the culture of the Right in particular, thus suggesting that the answer to the second of these questions is rooted precisely in the idea of culture itself: the formation of a true culture of the Right could itself be the foundation for a revolution (revolution in its true sense, which, as we learn from Chapter 7, ‘does not mean subversion and revolt, but really even the opposite – that is, a return to a point of departure and ordinary motion around a center’). What is lacking to form up such a culture is not only the external conditions for it, but much more essentially the internal conditions; hence Chapter 37 considers a number of men who proclaim themselves to be men of the Right, analysing their ‘credentials’, and finding most all of them wanting. The revolution, the true cultural revolution which only a true Right could effect, is first and foremost a revolution of the soul, a return of the inner man to the proper centre.
The accusation is often made that this entire Right in the last analysis is fabricated and improvised, and, given certain attitudes in the Right, one cannot help but recognize that this critique does not appear entirely unjustified (p. 285).
In order to make a Right which is organic and ordered, we must turn to the past, to the origins. It is not necessarily mandatory that we turn to the prehistoric or mythico-heroic perennial roots: in many cases, it is fruitful even to rediscover those men of the fairly recent past (as in the last two centuries) who upheld, wholly or in part, the real standards of the Right – men of course like Guénon, but also somewhat lesser-known individuals like Vilfredo Pareto and Werner Sombart – as well as those individual traditions to which one might legitimately look for at least the hope of renewal or true revolution (as for instance can be glimpsed in Chapter 14). A good part of the work of Recognitions is dedicated precisely to ‘recognizing’ such men and institutions.4 It goes without saying, however, that a great many of these jewels still lie buried in the rubble of the Great Wars; the work of uncovering them could in and of itself form a kind of cultural endeavour on the part of today’s Right. Of course, such men as these can only be comprehensively evaluated in the light of criteria which essentially transcend modern times, for otherwise one runs the risk of succumbing to essentially modernistic principles which, on account of their concealment beneath the thought of this or that ‘anti-modernist’, appear meretriciously as antimodern notions. The Tradition could potentially furnish such criteria, but the Tradition itself, as has been noted, is distant from us, and consequently its rediscovery must come through an approach which cannot itself be Traditional.
Evola, one might say, was allergic to modern philosophy in the extreme; he had the keenest nose for sniffing it out, and wherever he perceived the stink of it (even in evidently quite resplendent periods such as the Renaissance, or in evidently quite antimodern men such as Nietzsche) he did not hesitate to reject it wholesale. His rejection, itself a kind of acute and never-failing reactivity to Modernity, was of enormous virtue to him and to us insofar as it might act as a kind of remarkably sure ‘metal detector’ for locating Modernity, even when it hides well beneath the surface of this or that book, figure, or time. The question that such detection opens, is to what extent these principles, once they have been identified, are to be disintered and abolished.
As for the rest, we must seek to return to Traditional principles by our own lights: ‘Today there is truly a great need for people who do not chatter, nor “write”, nor argue, but who begin with being’ (p. 287).
The use of quotation marks around ‘write’ here is of course of evident importance; Evola himself wrote extensively throughout his life, no less at the end than at the beginning. But writing was a function of the prior elevation in interior level, not an activity to be pursued for its own sake. One is reminded of Nietzsche’s comments on writing:
I am not one of those who think with an inky pen in their hand, much less one of those who in front of an open inkwell abandon themselves to their passions while they sit in a chair and stare at the paper. I am annoyed by and ashamed of my writing.5
How much might be spared our contemporaries if more of them paid heed! Julius Evola no doubt would sympathize with at least the first portion of this confession: he could never be mistaken for a mere literatus in the worst sense of the term, and his continuing poor reputation amongst all such, both his contemporaries and our own, is wholly adequate proof of this. We mention in passing that the necessary recovery of the concept of the esoteric in older writing, effected by Evola and Guénon, seemed not to come with a concomitant recovery of the exoteric art of writing. In this respect, and toward a true Culture of the Right, one is forced to look elsewhere.6
This venture, the recovery of being within oneself, is at once the start, the core, and the highest achievement of any cultural work. This multi-positional aspect of what Evola calls the ‘spiritual’ part of culture is indicated by a certain inconsistency in his presentation: while he locates it as the first item in his list of the ‘three domains’ of culture (the second being the ‘creative’ and the third being ‘doctrine and ideas’), this order is immediately and quietly dropped; he introduces the ‘creative’ as the first, ‘doctrine and ideas’ as the second, and does not speak at all explicitly of a third, the spiritual, but rather simply interpolates it between the creative and the doctrinal (see pp. 286–287). It is the spiritual which saturates the other categories, which penetrates them and gives them their power and quality, and without which they remain wholly flaccid and ineffectual. It cannot be produced by them, because it is their precondition, and they, its procreation: they are its flowering and its physical or intellectual realization.
Evola does not speak much of the ‘creative’ domain of culture, save to say that it ‘little tolerates formulae and recipes’ and that all ‘“on-demand”, commanded artistic creativity’ is at best uneven. He calls for an art of protest, like to that which characterized the left in recent times (given the publication date of Recognitions, he no doubt has in mind the great leftist flood that rose up in the sixties in particular, with figures like Norman Mailer, Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac etc.). He is strangely silent about one of the salient facts of contemporary art, namely, that it has been dominated by the left. We will have occasion to return to this question shortly.
The idea of the ‘aristocrat of the soul’ takes on a special centrality in democratic times on account of the fact that in all such times the centre of gravity of aristocracy itself shifts away from a hereditary ruling class, through the abolishment or eclipsing or wretched travesty of the same.
A culture of the Right, in all these domains, is aristocratic. Now, the term ‘aristocracy’ is in our day ambiguous. Its original meaning was ‘rule of the best’, and this was seen (or in some cases was merely dogmatically asserted) to coincide with the actual political ruling classes. In modernity, in the wake of the Enlightenment and its political revolutions, the term ‘artistocracy’ took on a pejorative sense, as in, the decadent wealthy classes who no longer had the power to rule save by fiat and force, and who were anything but the ‘best’ members of their societies.7 The word preserves that degenerated sense to this day, and is often used in a strictly derogatory fashion (as when one speaks of ‘worthless aristocrats’ or ‘aristocratic privilege’, etc.). The term has been coloured above all by the state of the French aristocracy in the time directly preceding the Revolution, and it would appear that mere mention of the word is today sufficient to summon up Hollywoodesque images of powdered wigs and ornate frillery on smug, plump plutocrats in the minds of a great many Americans in particular, who have never had the benefit a proper historical aristocracy, and who are far enough removed from European history that they naturally lack any concrete historical referents. In our own day, it is evident however that no aristocracy formally exists, neither in the sense of those early modern ‘aristocrats’, nor certainly in the older and more full-blooded meaning of the term. We live in full-fledged democracies, and as is normal in such democracies, the ‘ruling class’, despite all our egalitarian pretences, is plutocratic: money-adulating, endlessly greedy, acutely clever, and utterly ruthless – not to say soulless.
This turns us to the question of what ‘aristocracy’ could mean in our day. Friedrich Nietzsche was much wont to use this word, and indeed Evola mentions Nietzsche by name in the early part of Chapter 38 as an instance of ‘the great aristocratic protesters of yesterday’ (p. 287). Evola, as is known, was in fact a born aristocrat, a baron by rank; Nietzsche, however, was anything but. His father had been a pastor, his mother descended also of a similarly humble religious family. Nietzsche was an ‘aristocrat of the soul’, a phenomenon which is of course possible in all times,8 but which takes on a special centrality in democratic times on account of the fact that in all such times the centre of gravity of aristocracy itself shifts away from a hereditary ruling class, through the abolishment or eclipsing or wretched travesty of the same.
The importance of this question is indicated by the fact that Evola closes Chapter 38 with a concentrated consideration of the ‘aristocratic question’ vis-à-vis the culture of the Right:
It has been asserted that this culture ought not to be exclusivist and ‘aristocratic’. In our opinion, this is an absurdity, almost a contradiction in terms. We do not have in mind any artificial closure, but we exclude all concessions which implicate a descent in level. ‘Social’ preoccupations must be extraneous to a true culture of the Right… .
What follows this is none of our affair. It depends on the sensibility of the public and the capacity for a positive reaction which the widest stratum of the public might yet be capable, or which might reawaken within it… . If then, commencing from this awareness … one reacts, the opening to whatever can be offered from a culture of the Right … will come automatically. The action of this ‘anagogic’ action will be natural, and it will differ from that direct action of him who adopts the formula of ‘commitment’ in an exterior, social sense, and who thus ends up remaining on a democratic plane (pp. 293–294).
Evola continues to separate the idea of ‘aristocracy’ from the idea of ‘individualism’: not the ‘individual’, but the ‘personality’ is required for the constitution of a culture of the Right, the specific difference between the two being the absolute denial of the former of any and every kind of authority and hierarchy (p. 296). The first and foremost work of any man of the Right is work on his inner essence, work on his being, work on himself, work on his soul and on his body. Only after this ‘aristocratic’ work has been well enough commenced, ought he even consider a turn to outward acts. Lack of this proper order is a fundamental failing in the Right to this day, and the rotten fruit that the ‘right’ continues to bear is proof of this.9
The Work Ahead
Evola then lays out the work of these new aristocrats, which includes critical or investigative work in a number of fields, to wit:
- unmasking the underworld remnants of Marxist thought;
- a critique of ‘science and scientism’;
- a historiography of the Right;
- a sociology, and following this an anthropology, of the Right;
- a mythology (properly understood as the study of myths, of ‘pre-history and proto-history’) of the Right; and
- an esotericism of the Right.
We can offer but the briefest remarks on this wide topic.
In the first place, it will be evident enough to the reader which of these fields have received the attention of the Right, and which fields stand more or less utterly fallow to this day. In short order, it seems fair to suggest that the first and the sixth (this last thanks in no small way to Evola himself) have been the object of more or less constant concern for at least certain contingents of the Right for the past decades. As these form in a certain sense the boundaries around the culture of the Right, we can do nothing but express our gratitude for those who have come before us and for the work that they have done, often enough against the current of their times and the grain of their societies.
The fourth has also had its share of attention, but could do with a deal more, as it confronts the inertial mass of ‘conventional science’ in this regard, which is based (as unfortunately a growing portion of the scientific domain) on ossified and politically corrected theories, which have become ‘established’ on account of their mere longevity and their consonance with the dogmas of our time, and before which any new and contrary evidence is too often rejected out of hand as being insufficient before the hefty mass of ‘established theory’.
We are in need of a vision of art presented from the perspective of the Deep Right: what is art in the life of man, what role should it have, and how does this relate to any number of modern ideas of art?
At its limits, this research touches upon the mythology of the Right. Mythology, however, extends beyond the limits of science proper, insofar as it depends to a degree on intuitive or imaginative reconstruction of a past which by definition largely dwells in the nebulous realm of before written accounts. Mythology, too, has received a degree of just attention in recent years, and happily is receiving ever more. At its height, this kind of study coincides with a critical consideration of religion from the point of view of the Right, which would not neglect the absolutely central importance of that question in the constitution of any society. But such consideration, both of mythology and of religion, cannot be limited merely to the critical domain without absolutely undercutting its true value to us: for the greatest and most difficult task confronting the Right in our day is to make these things vital once more to a society which presently lives in a kind of spiritually castrated and immoral, godless haze.
As for the critique of science from the perspective of the Right, shockingly, this has received almost no attention whatsoever. Evolution is occasionally (and usually quite meekly) prodded, usually from a Christian standpoint, but beyond this, often enough quite the opposite has been the case: the contemporary Right especially has the tendency to see in science a kind of nostrum against the illogical excesses of egalitarian thought. Though it is evident that science (in the form, for instance, of genetic and neurological studies) has a role to play here, to suppose that science is somehow unequivocally the ‘friend of the right’ or vice versa is to commit a profound and hazardous error. It is in the first place to misunderstand the nature of science (i.e. to take science as a modern version of the ‘love of wisdom’ rather than as a pragmatic method for the acquisition of merely utilitarian ‘information’) and in the second place to utterly ignore the consequences of the essentially valueless character of science, which renders it defenseless against use and abuse at the hands of all comers, even the most unscrupulous and wicked, supposing they only have the money to purchase its powers. Moreover, any number of scientific theories (such as evolution and biological determinism based on the laws of matter or mathematics), if they are taken, beyond their proper remit, to be sufficient explanations for the whole life of man, radically debase the same. These problems can only be addressed by a contextualization of science within the natural hierarchy of religion and philosophy, which amounts to a thoroughgoing revolutionary critique of science from the historical, metaphysical, epistemological and moral points of view. That the consequences of such a critique – namely, the necessary limitation of the prerogatives and the scope of inquiry granted to science – are viewed by practically everyone as being somehow abhorrent and unthinkable, is sure sign that the critique of science has not so much as been begun in any profound way. But the increasing power wielded by science, and the increasing (and increasingly global and radical) social, political, psychological and environmental ramifications of our run-away technology, many of which ramifications are even now viewed with total complacency by virtually all of today’s ‘consumers of technology’, give incisive urgency to this question.
The Right, which alone is capable of providing such for the degree to which it opposes itself to the Modern Era and the extent to which it takes its bearings by intellectual and moral principles which transcend modernity and science, has been thoroughly wanting here, and has largely derelicted its solemn duty as a protector of order and virtue. It is the task of the Deep Right to rectify this appalling and dangerous negligence.
The last point here to consider is the question of historiography. Evola himself considered this matter to be of such importance that he dedicated the entire penultimate chapter of his last book to it. He conceived of the historiography of the Right as being the necessary counterpart to that of the left:
An historiography of the Right needs to embrace the same horizons of the Marxist historiography, with the will to glean the real and the essential in the historical process unfolding in the latest centuries, all myths, superstructures and the flat chronicling of events aside (p. 299).
The historiography of the Right would take the historiography of the left and ‘invert the signs’, righting a view of history which, in its ideas of ‘progress’ and ‘humanism’ has essentially turned the world on its head. Recognitions indeed begins with several chapters dedicated to the origins of this leftist overturning, thus indicating the direction and scope of the work that must be involved on the part of the Right.
A historiography of the Right is indeed needed. But before any effort can be made in this direction, deeper philosophical work is required first and foremost into the underpinning idea of history itself. History is one of the great modern notions; it was born with Machiavelli’s attempt to garner lessons from the near and distant past sufficient to deduce the principles of a new statecraft, and continued to echo throughout all of the subsequent developments in modern philosophy. One hears note of it in the idea of the ‘state of nature’, itself a kind of proto-scientific replacement of origin myths or Genesis, and in the very idea of science as established by Bacon, Descartes, Huygens, Galileo and Newton, which depends upon a continual progression of human knowledge, where past generations would have viewed such an idea with great scepticism and caution, to say the least.10 It appears in vivid form in thinkers like Vico and Hegel and Heidegger; it decisively informed Nietzsche’s view, leading to a vast range of salient Nietzschean theories, and through Nietzsche’s view has affected to an enormous extent contemporary thought itself, including in a great many cases the thought of the Right. (Suffice it here to name Yockey, Spengler and Heidegger.) The modern idea of history itself needs must be critiqued; until that has been accomplished, any historiography of the Right is not only premature, but certain to result in a kind of artificial chimera sewn together of the most disparate and contradictory parts. This would surely implicate as well the philosophical critique of another thoroughly modern notion: that of power. These ideas, the twin ideas of Modernity, must be taken to task, must be comprehended for what they are and for what they are not, and must be evaluated or revaluated on that basis from the perspective of the Right.
We would add finally that the ‘creative’ part of culture, art, literature, sculpture, music, etc., while it is true that its practitioners cannot be forced to produce on demand, can be approached from a critical point of view. Nor should the importance of such an approach be disregarded; if the left today owns a practical hegemony over the production of ‘modern art’, this is is owing to nothing less than the philosophical work that was done in preparation for it.11 The material available to such a critique of art on the part of the Right is wide indeed; as a port of entry, the question might be entered negatively through analysis of how the left was able in the last century in particular to take such command of this domain.12 Beyond this, however, and much more importantly, we are in need of a vision of art presented from the perspective of the Deep Right: what is art in the life of man, what role should it have, and how does this relate to any number of modern ideas of art (art as the shocking, l’art pour l’art, art as propaganda and protest, etc.)? This would include as a necessary aspect analysis as well of the various forms of art, with especial emphasis on the modern forms (the novel, cinema and graphic novels), so as to come to terms with the nature of these forms, how their diverse destinies have been shaped by their creators and their inner principles, and the degree to which these principles might be manipulated or altered to form the basis for a new form of art, capable of bearing the artistic and creative incarnations of the ideas of the Deep Right.
In conclusion, it appears that a culture of the Right today has need of two complementary parts: the one critical and analytic, the other creative and ‘synthetic’. The elements of the former, its most urgent and least-addressed aspects, can be summarized as follows:
- a deeper theoretical critique of the forms of social and political theory which have supplanted Marxism: e.g., globalism, neoliberalism, one-worldism;
- a critique of science;
- a critique of the key ‘themes of Modernity’, history and power;
- a critique of art,
all undertaken, it is needless to say, from the point of view of the Right. All work in this direction can be considered contribution toward a Critical Theory of the Right, need for which has been increasingly felt in recent times.13
As for the positive principles which might actuate the authentic action on the part of the men of the Right, not toward the mere critical deconstruction of the past five centuries (for deconstruction is the particular dwelling of Modernity itself), nor toward the mere artificial construction of something new (for this, too, is a ‘modernist conceit’14), but toward the organic and natural cultivation of the human being, in accord particularly with that part of his nature which transcends mere ‘nature’ – as for these positive principles, I say, which might begin to prepare the way for a concrete and real Culture of the Right, we will dedicate a future essay to their consideration.
1All Evola quotations in this essay are taken from Evola, Julius, Recognitions: Studies on Men and Problems from the Perspective of the Right (Arktos: 2017). Translation mine.
2If nothing else, his connection to Guénon would have sufficed to provide him the conditions for such a ‘flight’. It is also generally difficult to believe that a man of Evola’s stature, acquaintances, and capacity did not have connections to true initiatic currents in various parts of the Near or Far East; indeed, he seems to indicate as much in Chapter 17 of The Bow and the Club (Arktos, 2018).
3Some commentators have accused Evola of bitterness or even resignation in the face of modernity following the fall of Fascism in 1945. They point, for instance, to his increasing detachment from the idea of active politics, and his introduction of terms and concepts such as ‘riding the tiger’, which would seem to indicate withdrawal (though if ‘riding the tiger’ is to be taken as a sign of resignation, it is surely a very strange kind of resignation). One must approach this matter with care, for any realistic assessment of the current situation (and Evola was eminently and ruthlessly realistic) is bound to bring to the surface the many and gargantuan obstacles standing in the way of a rebirth of the West in a more Traditional form. Nonetheless, realistically evaluating a given historical period is far from abandoning hope in its revival, save as one embraces the materialistic and mechanistic premises of modernity – which, it goes without saying, Evola never once did. Anyone who maintains a sense of human freedom and who holds faith with the existence of the transcendent realm must always allow the possibility of an unexpected and radical transformation in the course of human events, effected through the free development of the human substance on the part of a sufficient number of good or great men. I have argued in my aforementioned introduction to Recognitions that Evola’s final book reveals the extent to which he had not abandoned hope; cf. in particular Chapters 2, 6, 11, 13 and 23, not to mention the six chapters discussed in the present essay. Further, and to our minds decisive, biographical evidence for Evola’s persistent lack of resignation, his slackless will to fight, is to be found in the petit fait, as noted, that he remained in the West.
4I discuss this matter briefly in my introduction to that book.
5Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science (New York. Vintage Books: 1974), §93. Translator Walter Kaufmann.
6Leo Strauss is the clear master of this question in contemporary times (by way of introduction, see his classic Persecution and the Art of Writing), though his work in this respect from the point of view of the Right seems to be qualified decisively by his evident preference for liberal democracy in contemporary times. It is an open question, the extent to which this preference of his was informed by his experience of National Socialist Germany on the one hand, and his own and never-repudiated public adherence to his people on the other. Cf. Nietzsche’s more dangerous conception of the esoteric vs. exoteric distinction. It is the author’s opinion that today neither the one nor the other of these views can be safely adopted; not the first, because it leads to destruction via caution; not the second, because it paves the way as easily for tyranny as nobility.
7One of the tropes of much of the literature of that time, which is preserved even in such revealing places as Tolstoy’s War and Peace and James’ Princess Casamassima (albeit in this last with the usual complex Jamesian ambiguity) is the relative worth of the healthy and common-sensical lower classes in contrast to the decaying and frivolous upper classes.
8Should it really be necessary to mention names along these lines from antiquity, then certainly those of Socrates, Epictetus and Sparticus will suffice. Any number of early Christians who were themselves slaves and whose writings reveal a spiritual greatness quite grander than their station might also be named here.
9It would be both useless and harmful to mention here any of the various scandals which have attended men of the Right, beginning already in the last century and continuing up until even yesterday; there is no doubt that the reader can furnish any number from his own memory. To be sure, many of these are fabrications of the left; many more, in a normal society, would never have come to the light of day, or would not have had such a negative impact once they did. But a fair survey of any number of these figures reveals that not all of them have been blameless in their fall, and it would be well to understand the reason for this, which in almost all cases can be traced back to a lack of inner preparation, or, to put it in an older word, a lack of virtue. The men of the Right, tending to be men of action, have been the easy prey of vainglory. All of this can be rectified only through dedicated and disciplined spiritual work which precedes action or activism.
10It is worth considering as well how ‘history’, the historical sense of time, even appears in microcosm, deeply embedded within the methods of modern mathematics and science. The scientific method and scientific experimentation more generally are both a kind of ‘historical unfolding’ in miniature; likewise the calculations involved in calculus, which depend on an inferred approaching of the limit case over time.
11Cf. Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals, Third Essay, §5.
12We recommend here Brendan Heard’s work The Decline and Fall of Western Art as an instance of the kind of critique we have in mind from the historical perspective. Mr. Heard was kind enough to join us for a lively Interregnum conversation on this same theme.
13Charles Lyons has set forth a clarion call for this in his essay ‘Shifting the Political Paradigm’. Much of the work of this Journal can be seen to lay the groundwork for such a Critical Theory; to note only a few essays that can be considered in this regard, see ‘Philosophia Mortis’ by Monika Hamilton, ‘When Form Ignored Darwin’, by Fulvio Saggiomo. ‘Stirner and the Question of Authority’ by Henrik Jonasson, and ‘How One Steps Over’ by Connor Alexander.
14I take the liberty of borrowing this felicitous expression from Peter King. See Here and Now: Some Thoughts About the World and How We Find It (Arktos, 2015), p. 21.