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John Bruce Leonard

Julius Evola and the Culture of the Right

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:

  1. unmasking the underworld remnants of Marxist thought;
  2. a critique of ‘science and scientism’;
  3. a historiography of the Right;
  4. a sociology, and following this an anthropology, of the Right;
  5. a mythology (properly understood as the study of myths, of ‘pre-history and proto-history’) of the Right; and
  6. 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:

  1. a deeper theoretical critique of the forms of social and political theory which have supplanted Marxism: e.g., globalism, neoliberalism, one-worldism;
  2. a critique of science;
  3. a critique of the key ‘themes of Modernity’, history and power;
  4. 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.

References

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.

This Post Has 13 Comments
  1. A concise and excellent look into the path ahead of us. John Bruce Leonard is an outstanding addition for Arktos; he is unbelievably prolific, and the quality of his translations & scholarly articles are first rate.

    Inner realization is essential for our success, which is why Julius Evola is a critically important guide. It is ultimately only the true “Artist” — who can articulate a new future, inspired by an authentic spiritual vision and knowledge — who will be able to bring about a new “culture of the right” that goes beyond the multiplicity of reactionary attachments to dead forms of the past.

  2. John,

    Regarding the lack of criticism of Science, Dan McCoy’s section on the subject in his book “The Love of Destiny: the Sacred and the Profane in Germanic Polytheism” is an excellent critique. I was immediately reminded of it when you broached the subject in this essay. Below is the section quoted in its entirety.

    As it is broken down in his book, the central myth of Science is its proclaimed ‘objectivity’ when it comes to evaluating the external and internal world. This is perhaps the best and easiest vector to attack from a phenomenological point of view. The common defense of science goes something like “science is powerful because of its ability to render the world from a neutral and objective point of view.” However, when pressed on why objectivity has value Science falls silent. If we evaluate this ‘objectivity’ we can come to the realization that in order to practice objectivity one must purge all that is human from his own essence. We are constantly told bias in science leads to racism and other objectionable misgivings. To be truly objective, one must step outside himself and become wholly inhuman. Of course, to rid one’s self of bias one must un-learn all that one has learned because, of course, all that one has learned has produced his ‘biases’ (biases being those perspectives with which one comes to understand the world). This renders man inert and unknowing. How does one evaluate a subjective existence from the perspective of objectivity when he has purged all those things which make him human in order to become this objective and neutral evaluator? Further, how can one evaluate a thing when one has cast off all vestiges of his former self rendering him an anchor-less and referential void?

    “Just as Christianity was a straightforward outgrowth of Judaism and Greek rationalism, so science was a straightforward outgrowth of all three. Of course, science parades as a timeless and “objective” method for acquiring knowledge with an equally “objective” body of doctrines it has amassed as the fruits of this quest, but these are circular justifications that appeal to science’s own core assumptions – its myths. Science is nothing more and nothing less than the religion of the post-Christian modern world, and is only unquestionable inasmuch as we perceive it to be sacred. More specifically, science is a quintessentially monotheistic religion, one whose origin, as with the other varieties of monotheism we have considered, lies in a profound hatred and fear of the world in which we actually live, and a moralistic desire to “save” the world and bring it into conformity with a hypothetical and more tolerable “otherworld.” The early modern prophets of science made this intention very clear. Echoing the first moral command in the Book of Genesis, René Descartes, the founder of modern rationalism, declared that humans are to be “masters and possessors of nature,” and that there is no idea “which is so apt to make weak characters stray from the path of virtue as the idea that the souls of animals are the same as our own, and that in consequence we have no more to fear or to hope for after this life than have the flies or ants.” Or in the words of Robert Boyle, who “discovered” Boyle’s Law, “The veneration, wherewith men are imbued for what they call nature, has been a discouraging impediment to the empire of man over the inferior creatures of God.” Francis Bacon, the founder of modern empiricism, who mused with sadistic glee over the prospect of “putting [nature] on the rack and extracting her secrets,” proclaimed, “I am come in very truth leading you to Nature with all her children to bind her to your service and make her your slave. … The mechanical inventions of recent years do not merely exert a gentle guidance over Nature’s courses, they have the power to conquer and subdue her, to shake her to her foundations.” Isaac Newton reiterated these Christian intentions: “When I wrote my treatise about our system [Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathemetica] I had an eye upon such principles as might work with considering men for the belief of a Deity; and nothing can rejoice me more than to find it useful for that purpose.” The first modern scientists appropriated Aristotle’s method of detached observation of “objects.” Just as with Aristotle, this enabled them to hold themselves at a position of artificial remove from the world and to stunt and narrow their perception – this wild, syncopated dance between perceiver and perceived and between the intuition and the senses – until they saw nothing but resources for the construction of “the Dominion of Man over the Universe,” in Bacon’s words, the re-creation of the world “in the image of” their otherworld. In Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche insightfully wrote, “Gradually it has become clear to me what every philosophy so far has been: namely, the personal confession of its author and a kind of involuntary and unconscious memoir; also that the moral (or immoral) intentions in every philosophy constituted the real germ of life from which the whole plant had grown.” The first heralds of science made no secret about the moral seeds out of which the truth claims of their philosophy arose, and only if we understand these “germs” can we understand the “plant” as a whole. What, then, were the most central of these claims about the basic constitution of reality – the sapling, as it were? Then and now, the system of thought instituted by Descartes, Bacon, Boyle, and their compatriots has been called the “mechanical philosophy,” because it posits that the universe that is to become the “Dominion of Man” is nothing more than a machine, an inert object that can consequently be observed objectively from without. No divinity, no spirit, no will, no agency, no consciousness, resides within the more-than-human world. The perennially disenchanted Descartes, finding intolerable the notion that anything in the world could be explained without positing purely corporeal causes, totally devoid of mind and thought, wrote, “There exist no occult forces in stones or plants, no amazing and marvelous sympathies and antipathies, in fact there exists nothing in the whole of nature which cannot be explained in terms of purely corporeal causes, totally devoid of mind and thought.” He went on to say, “[Animals] have no mind at all, and it is nature which acts in them according to the disposition of their organs, just as a clock, which is only composed of wheels and weights, is able to tell the hours and measure the time.” Similarly, for Nicolas Malebranche, nonhuman animals “eat without pleasure, they cry without pain, they grow without knowing it; they desire nothing, they fear nothing, they know nothing.” All of these conceptions would have been impossible without the precedent established in Genesis, where the world was an artifact created by a god who remained separate from his creation at the opposite side of an unbridgeable gap. Only humanity had anything that could rightly be called will, consciousness, or spirit. Since humanity and the world were representatives of the opposing principles of a dichotomy, human “subjectivity” or “free will” was a corollary of the mechanical, objectified nature of the rest of the world. This, too, was dependent on the mythology of Genesis; only humanity was “made in the image of God.” It was also dependent on Aristotle’s confinement of thought to the human mind, with no input from forces and beings outside of itself. “I think, therefore I am,” a statement which Descartes felt to be a self-evident truth, is preposterous outside of this Christian-Aristotelian tradition. Remember the words of Heidegger: “We do not come to thoughts. They come to us.” But all of these curious suggestions were necessitated by the moral urgency of achieving “dominion over all the earth,” “the Dominion of Man over the Universe.” The scientific method follows ineluctably from these myths. It is simply a reification of them. When the scientist uproots the subjects of his experiment from their proper worldly context, inserts them into an artificial, controlled environment designed to isolate certain variables that are not isolated in the original phenomena themselves, observes this simulation from a position of as much remove as possible, quantifies his observations based on predetermined conventions of statistical analysis, and then repeats this experiment as many times as necessary to remove any nuance of living particularity, what kind of knowledge does he actually gain? He obviously does not achieve any greater understanding of the phenomena in question on their own terms. Such would require abandoning his otherworldly detachment and immersing himself in the smarting throb of life within which these phenomena are themselves and not anything else. He would thereby come to know them as they are, tumbling through experience and participation, just as we do when we get to know another human being. But science has always been unconcerned with the search for truth in and of itself; it cares for truth only inasmuch as it might facilitate science’s program of “binding Nature to [our] service and making her [our] slave.” Science’s prophets said as much themselves. Bacon, in a recitation of the dogma of the mechanical philosophy, wrote, “Toward the effecting of works, all that man can do is to put together or put asunder natural bodies. The rest is done by nature [that is, mechanical laws] working within.” He then went on to say, “Truth is revealed and established by the evidence of works [putting together and putting asunder natural bodies] rather than by disputation, or even sense.” Taken together, these assertions declare that truth is determined a priori by the mechanical philosophy, which is, after all, what the scientific method is designed to reinforce. Robert Boyle made the same declaration when he wrote, “If the proposed agent be not intelligible and physical, it can never physically explain the phenomena; so if it be intelligible and physical, it will be reducible to matter and some or other of those only catholic [universal] affections of matter.” These are statements of myth – and this realization does not, in and of itself, invalidate them. It does, however, invalidate the all-too-common misconception that science and myth are categorically distinct from one another, and shows, rather, that science is as deeply embedded in myth as any other worldview, and that myth cannot be tested scientifically. When Richard Dawkins and other missionaries of science defend their religion by squawking over the fact that “science gets results” – or, in Dawkins’s more precise formulation, “Science boosts its claims to truth by its spectacular ability to make matter and energy jump through hoops on command, and to predict what will happen and when” – they are tacitly admitting that the purpose of science is to secure these desired results, to transform the world “in the image of Elohim,” or “Progress,” or “Objectivity,” or whatever other names these monotheists have for their god, and not, primarily, to obtain any kind of greater understanding of the world we inhabit. This does not, of course, mean that science is objectively false. The mythology of science, being a mythology, cannot be proven or disproven according to any standard outside of its own myths, for such a standard would have to be an objective one – and, as we have already begun to see and will soon see more fully, there is no such external standard by which a myth can be verified or discredited. “Objectivity” is “merely” that which, from the perspective of science, cannot be questioned. This perspective deems an idea to be “objectively true” if it is sacred within this perspective, and it dismisses as “subjective” any idea that it finds to be profane, especially if that idea menaces that which it holds sacred. Science is true inasmuch as it propels the monotheist’s dream of “dominion over all the earth.” Outside of that endeavor, however, its “findings” have value only inasmuch as they approach simple anecdotal evidence. Of course, one could invoke many other examples to illustrate the character of monotheism – Islam, snarling do-gooderism, totalitarian political movements, etc. But these few examples should suffice to illustrate monotheism’s most essential features. With them in mind, what does polytheism – and the indigenous polytheism of the Germanic tribes in particular – have to offer as an alternative?”

    McCoy, Dan. The Love of Destiny: the Sacred and the Profane in Germanic Polytheism (pp. 37-44). Dan McCoy. Kindle Edition.

    1. Connor,

      Many thanks for providing us with these very interesting remarks from Mr. McCoy. I sincerely hope that my claims regarding the negligence of the Right in its critique of science will swiftly be proved hyperbolic and ignorant on my part, in light of citations like that which you have offered us. I would be much relieved to find that this work, too, had already been done wholly or in large part, perhaps in little-known books or unexplored corners of what is after all a very diverse and spacious literature.

      Mr. McCoy seems to me to make a number of valuable observations. I especially appreciate his point that ‘Science is nothing more and nothing less than the religion of the post-Christian modern world, and is only unquestionable inasmuch as we perceive it to be sacred’, which I believe is true in practically all its primary features. Corrupted analogues for a great many of the formal elements of Catholicism in particular can be found in science, and I hold this to be anything but accidental. I also think he is a thousand times right to point out that science’s self-justifications (insofar as science ever feels the need to engage in self-justification, which is already rare enough) are at their deepest point demonstrably circular.

      Nonetheless, I must disagree with Mr. McCoy’s wider analysis in its central line. He considers science to be the necessary or natural outgrowth of Greek rationalism and monotheism, particularly Christian monotheism. I doubt this is very helpful for understanding the roots of science, and I am almost certain it involves a misrepresentation both of ‘Greek rationalism’ and of Christianity.

      He has cited Descartes and Bacon, for instance. Both of those men, however, (and indeed practically all the early moderns) clearly wrote with an eye toward producing a new, quasi-religious order capable of taking the place of the tradition. Note that the Meditations, the Discourse on Method and the Novum Organum are all divided into six parts, mimicking the six days of creation. Their intention was to supplant Christianity, to produce a new Enlightenment faith capable of totally subverting the faith of Europe, and a new philosophy capable of radically overthrowing the classical philosophical tradition (suffice it to consider the names of some of their major works: Meditations on First Philosophy; The Novum Organum, in explicit reference to the Aristotelian Organum which it was meant to replace). This was a philosophical revolution, the very opposite of a continuation or extension of the philosophies and religions which had come before. Their work can be regarded as a ‘straightforward outgrowth’ of Athens and Christianity only insofar as Athens and Christianity separately or both together contained internal contradictions such as to make this kind of ‘historical dialectic’ strictly necessary and inexorable. If Mr. McCoy has furnished an argument purporting to demonstrate this, I would be most curious to see it.

      The truth of the matter, I believe, is indicated precisely by what he says regarding science’s approach to ‘truth’:

      [S]cience has always been unconcerned with the search for truth in and of itself; it cares for truth only inasmuch as it might facilitate science’s program of ‘binding Nature to [our] service and making her [our] slave’.

      Again, I agree wholly with his diagnosis. But this stands in deadly contrast, both with the Greek philosophical tradition (I need not so much as remind of the universally known etymology of the word ‘philosophy’ itself), and with the Christian’s almost unparalleled love of honesty at all costs. Both of the presumed antecedents to modern science dispute it in the deepest moral and epistemological sense; how then could they have given rise to it, without a fundamental break?

      Or consider this claim:

      ‘I think, therefore I am’, a statement which Descartes felt to be a self-evident truth, is preposterous outside of this Christian-Aristotelian tradition.

      That is a remarkable assertion, and seems to me to stand altogether in challenge of the facts. Descartes offered this famous syllogism as the first ‘clear and distinct idea’ to emerge from his famous exercise in ‘Cartesian scepticism’, all of which was proposed as a fundamentally new method, one which was meant to replace that stemming from the ‘Christian-Aristotelian’ tradition (by which phrase I can only assume Mr. McCoy is referring to the scholastics, who were the brunt of unflagging, and often enough unjustified, dismissal from Descartes, and mockery and scorn from Bacon). It has nothing whatever to do with Aristotelian method, Socratic method, or Christian faith or apologetics. I would even go so far as to say that Descartes’ cogito ergo sum is preposterous within the ‘Christian-Aristotelian tradition’, for in the context of that tradition it literally means nothing meaningful at all.

      Yet again:

      The first modern scientists appropriated Aristotle’s method of detached observation of ‘objects’. Just as with Aristotle, this enabled them to hold themselves at a position of artificial remove from the world and to stunt and narrow their perception – this wild, syncopated dance between perceiver and perceived and between the intuition and the senses – until they saw nothing but resources for the construction of ‘the Dominion of Man over the Universe’, in Bacon’s words, the re-creation of the world ‘in the image of’ their otherworld.

      This is a wholly inadequate view of Aristotle’s philosophical conception of knowledge; see De Anima, in particular Book III, Chapts. 4–7. There is nothing here of a dance, neither one ‘wild’ nor one ‘syncopated’, nor even anything of ‘detached observation’, and the idea that Aristotle would agree to anything like a ‘Dominion of Man over the Universe’ seems outlandish in the extreme with respect to everything that has come down to us of his statements, writings or temperament. We are speaking, after all, of a man who was surely one of the soberest thinkers in the history of our philosophy, a spirit of noble and patient inquiry utterly incongruous with the haughty, irrepressible and incendiary Bacon, or the sly, wily and paranoic Descartes.

      Mr. McCoy is right in seeing science as an attempt to thoroughly dominate the world, a lust for power which itself is essentially modern. But this ‘dream of dominion over all the earth’ which Mr. McCoy imputes to the Western tradition in its twin radices is in fact utterly alien to both of them; it would be regarded as hubristic and immoderate madness by the one, and proud Luciferian impiety by the other.

  3. Excellently written, John.
    The critique of science from “the Right” seems to always come from those unfamiliar with the actual science in question, especially as regards evolutionary theory.
    I would propose that the Right approach the facts of the laws of the nature fearlessly. Whatever the findings of the natural world are, they will, without doubt, be able to be situated, symbolically speaking, into their proper place, with a metaphysical understanding. As for their technological consequences, science and technique don’t always operate in a linear fashion, and a proper Aristocracy would be able to limit the applications of such findings, without resort to dissimulation.

    1. Thank you for your reply, AstroFascist. I quite agree with what you have said, at least on the face of it.

      A few thoughts to follow it up. In the first place, I certainly allow that almost all of the critiques brought against science in our day, not only by the Right, but also more generally, are ham-handed, uneven and reactionary, and tend to reveal the ignorance of their writers more than the limitations of science. But this incapacity on the part of the critics of science obviously demonstrates neither that science is impervious to true and competent criticism, nor that its theories are necessarily binding or true. (Already the fact that a great many scientists would rush to insist that scientific theories are absolutely not ‘true’, that science is not in the business of ‘truth-seeking’ at all, suggests the scope of the problem.) I am of one mind with you, that the ‘facts of the laws of nature’ should be confronted fearlessly by anyone who concerns himself with the truth; the question is of course to what extent science is the exclusive or the primary means for arriving at those facts. There are sound reasons, I believe, for doubting as much. Elsewhere in this journal, I have indicated some of my own doubts, which I hope at least occasionally reflect something more than that ignorance I have here imputed to other critics of science (in any case, I am open to being instructed by anyone who knows more about these matters than myself); but since you have mentioned evolutionary theory in particular, I would direct you to the work of Fulvio Saggiomo on that question precisely: “When Form Ignored Darwin”. I have no doubt that a man sufficiently versed in the subject would have much to reply to Mr. Saggiomo in defence of evolutionary theory, but I think it at least indisputable that Mr. Saggiomo cannot be taken as a mere dilettante. I would be very curious to hear your thoughts on his essay.

      I also wholly agree that a proper aristocracy could set science to its right place; the problem of course is that in the present moment, we are so thoroughly lacking in anything like a proper aristocracy that even to speak of such a thing has the ring to it of the fantastical and improbable. Of course, no man can scry the future; but we cannot base our present action on ideal hopes. The question is, barring the unexpected advent of some healthier regime in which this question could be contextualized more naturally, what stance should we take, here and now, toward science? While I recognize the (blindingly obvious) benefits and uses of science, and while I think it is wholly worth our while to support, laud and encourage all scientific theoreticians and practitioners who show sympathies with the Right in our day, I am nonetheless content to maintain my position that we should be by and large sceptical of science as a philosophical method, and carefully critical of the effects of scientific thinking and technology, both in society and in the soul.

      1. John,
        Today’s “Deconstructing the Left–Part 1”, offers a few insights into an accurate account of biology, species, races, etc., which reflect an accurate account of biology and how the right ought to deal with it. I did read, recently, Mr. Saggiomo’s articles, and, though I enjoyed the imaginative insights, it’s a non-starter to suggest that natural selection has been debunked, or, since many of Darwin’s hypotheses have been updated with new research, or expanded upon, that the whole enterprise of “evolution” is suspect is silly.
        By the way, anyone that wishes to see evidence of “intermediate forms” on their way to speciation doesn’t need the fossil record at all, but merely the history of humanity, or an examination of its various groups today. Evolution can and does work rapidly in certain circumstances, and the movements of humans is a perfect example of how strong selection on certain traits can work rapidly. But, there are many other life forms that can offer examples as well–Polar Bears and Grizzlies, humpback whales, and so on. It’s fascinating to see how rapidly these creatures have changed. Or, the fauna of Australia!
        Speaking of Australia, Rodney Blackhirst goes a ways in furthering this discussion: http://www.religioperennis.org/documents/blacks/evolutionism.pdf

        For me, it would have been better if “Evolution” had been simply called the a theory of heredity.

        1. Many thanks for pursuing this question, Astro, and not letting it slip past us. You have pointed to a number of issues which I think could be useful for coming to some clarity on these matters.

          To begin with the question of biology, I hope it goes without saying that I agree entirely that Dhamakirti’s sketches an accurate account of the study of contemporary biology, and that this accurate account must be taken into consideration. I do not hold that science or the theories or results of science should be rejected out of hand; I mean rather to recall what seems to me their radical and essential limitation, which forces us to look to a sphere transcendent of the mere sciences to complete, or even to rightly understand, what the sciences would teach us.

          I can give the specific question of evolution as an example here. The question as I see it is not whether or not there have been changes in specific biological forms, such that some could be said to have issued from or developed from or even evolved from others, but rather what brings about organic changes as such. Contemporary evolution takes the scientistic approach to this question, suggestion that the changes are as it were exclusively ‘bottom up’ – which is to say, that specific alterations to the ‘building blocks’ of organisms lead to speciation through specific ‘mechanisms’ like ‘survival/reproduction of the fittest’. Saggiomo’s article, I believe, indicates some real difficulties with this tendentially mechanistic or materialistic theory, and presses us to open this question to philosophical wonder (‘What is the nature of the organic, and it relation to form?’) rather than closing it through scientistic surety (‘The organic and its forms are the products of evolution’). But we are also compelled to that same position of wondering, I believe, simply by any even cursory review of our own inward experience as living, valuing, teleological beings, which experience is not even remotely adequately captured by the theory of evolution, or by any other biological science.

          The article by Dr. Blackhirst seems to me (admittedly on an all-too-brief review) to admirably state the matter. His conclusion can perhaps establish ground upon which we both might stand: ‘like other heresies Darwinism is a perverted truth rather than a complete falsehood’. How does this seem to you as a summation of the issue?

          1. John,
            Thanks for your thoughts on this.

            The more I read about Darwin and his theory I am impressed by his desire to understand and by how much he got right. And, I say this as someone that also believes in a Metaphysical Reality–the Guenonian 5 levels of Reality, more or less. What I like about Blackhirst’s short review is that evolution can be understood, on its face, as an inverse reflection of Divine Reality. I see it not as a “perversion”, at this point, but simply as a partial truth, as with any hard science which lacks information from higher levels of Reality. The same goes for math, even. Traditionalists love to say that 2+2=4, and I agree, but math, shorn of its roots in Reality literally equals nothing.
            Roughly speaking, I think we can view the “randomness” and “blindness” of evolutionary processes such as natural selection, sexual selection, drift, and so on as inverse reflections of the Randomness found in the quality of Infinitude within the Absolute, itself. This could be seen more clearly in the pre-historic deeds of the gods of the early Indo-Europeans where mayhem and death were fundamental to a man’s lived experience, where praying for rain wasn’t merely an abstract thought, but a desperate plea for help in a very rough world. Prior to the modern world, 50% of every human born died before reaching the age of 10. Reality has a deep connection to randomness and blindness, and this is manifest, in it’s apparently “bottom-up” fashion in the processes of evolutionary change.
            Taken as such, we can glean much from what evolution can tell us–especially those thinkers writing about HBD. No, its not everything, or even the most important thing, but it provides some balance to thinking that only magical forces are the causes of things.
            Since this is on an Evola thread, it reminds me of Guenon’s response to hearing that Evola had been hit by a bomb in Vienna–that is must have been caused by someone hexing him with a magic spell or curse. I would have laughed, but Evola simply said that no one even knew where he was. Oh, there’s also the fact that the Allies were bombing the hell out of Vienna. My point is that religious folk, even Traditionalists, can’t sort out the levels of the causes of things very well. Understanding how nature is working, at its own level–even though it’s a partial understanding–can help balance our view of things.

          2. Very interesting points, Astro. In general I agree with you, and I think that our views of science do not differ so very much in the end. I can absolutely agree, for instance, to the idea of evolution being a ‘partial truth’ rather than a ‘perversion’; the perversion is rather in taking it to be a complete truth – not science is the perversion, but rather scientism. I also subscribe to the point you make that it is dangerous to ‘think that only magical forces are the cause of things’; the whole debate between Evola and Guénon that you have indicated, while it cannot be rejected out of hand without a prior disproof of the efficacy of magic, really does seem in some basic way to miss the point.

            Given our agreement, it might even be that our primary difference is one of emphasis, rather than opinion – but about that we shall see.

            Understanding how nature is working, at its own level–even though it’s a partial understanding–can help balance our view of things.

            True. My concern with regard to science is the extent to which it is held to be the means for ‘balancing our view of things’. To take but a single example you yourself have offered: the bomb which fell on Vienna and crippled Evola, understood in scientific terms, is merely a combination of certain elements or chemicals with certain potencies and certain natural reactions when it is subjected to certain processes. But one can never understand a bomb divorced from its purpose, its design, its potential or real use in warfare, its telos – hence, its place and role within the human world, which world exists far above the blind workings of that ‘natural world’ which is the only proper domain of science. There is a fundamental difference between a bomb and some hypothetical meteorite which has been packed, say, through blind astronomical processes, with the same chemicals – just as, I might add, there is a fundamental difference between a living sparrow and a cadaver of the same. Science cannot understand that difference, is blind to it or at best thoughtlessly relegates it to the level of ‘common sense’, which is nothing but an enormous begging of the question. The bomb is a bomb because it is connected to human things and human intents; it is connected to the idea of war, which is meaningless to science; it is connected to the idea of justice, which is empty to science; it is connected in its way to the whole organic world, which science attempts to understand exclusively in the light of that same basic matter, those same ‘natural laws’, in fact blinding us to the full meaning of that world. Science cannot understand even the beings of nature on their own terms; to truly balance our view of things, we have need of that which really does help us to ‘understand how nature is working’ – taking nature here in an older sense of the word, as a differentiating, and not a universal, concept (the nature of the bomb is not the nature of the explosive meteorite). We are in need, not so much of modern science, as of original science: we are in need of philosophy.

  4. Connor & John, that was an interesting exchange. To Connor I would first suggest that we not speak of science as though it was a thing, a thing called “Science,” a thing attended to by all of the drama and music of the monolith at the beginning of the movie 2001″ A Space Odyssey. Science really is not a thing even though it is easy to talk about it as such—I certainly do so. Primarily it is a method. In casual settings, when I tell people that I am a scientist, even educated men and women will say things such as: ” I was always confused by the structure of an atom,” or “I hated naming the parts of a smelly, pickled frog in a dissecting pan.” Scientific disciplines do have bodies of working models from which to make predictions about things and events, but mastering this corpus is the work of–well–a Master’s degree. It is not the stuff of doctoral-level investigative and creative work. Good scientists know that the body of knowledge associated with their discipline is tentatively constructed. Scientists should be very humble fellows.

    Are there hustlers of political ideology masquerading as science? Yes. They are allowed their political positions, of course. I have my Right-leaning intuitions that intersect with the language of scientific method and the models build up by the same. I try to alert people to my acts of opining that interweave science, philosophy and religion. My objection to the reigning propagandization of the materialist front is that it is unfairly “juiced” and advantaged from above.

    Secondly, following, A.G. Sertillange’s advice in the ‘Intellectual Life’, I try not to read too much so that it becomes an impediment to working (or creatively thinking). The physiologist, Homer Smith, recommended that his students immediately go into the laboratory and conduct preliminary experiments before ever going to the library. I have found this to be excellent advice for multiple reasons, but I will not digress. In your comment, I read a lot of interpretation of interpretations of interpretations. This can be deliciously fun stuff. I learn much from you fellows when you discuss intellectual history. My concern is that you are taking us far from what really needs to be done in order to combat scientists drawing outside of the lines in the coloring book. The straightforward criticism of scientists acting as hustlers is that they are transgressing disciplinary boundaries without proper theoretical warrant. That’s all that one has to point out to them and their naïve audience. Counter with that and I guarantee you, it works like garlic and holy water. Throw in a remark about starting assumptions and it’s “match over.”

    The other matter that bugs me about Pop-scientists is their egregious failure to fess up about the limitations of their choice of investigatory scope and the context that they ignore. Thus, the full signal is not registered, the whole story is not told, and thus the truth is not served. The analogous problem that afflicts media people is not telling the viewer about the actual acceptance angle of their journalistic camera. We recently saw this myopia on full display, of course, in the case of the 2019 Covington Catholic Controversy at the Lincoln Memorial.

    John, I have a brief comment regarding your citation:

    “Mr. McCoy is right in seeing science as an attempt to thoroughly dominate the world, a lust for power which itself is essentially modern.”

    There are people who are using the cropped pictures produced by fragmentarily directed scientific activity (see my reference above to “acceptance angles”). I suspect that the real culprits are mostly bankers, policy makers and ad men misusing the results of scientific inquiry to create a distorted “buzz.” These are the perpetrators and the purveyors of half truths, scientific and otherwise.

    Might I suggest that, rather than fostering this myth of the Godzilla, Science, that me lay the blame on the true occupational categories who are hobbling the thinking of the public. Perhaps we can lump them into a single set and refer to them collectively as the Manipulators. Now, perhaps, we can talk about a monolith: Manipulation.

    I do beg of you to abandon the attribution of the evils of which you speak to “Science.” The sins that you see in people who happen to be scientists are really signs of their declining away from scientific activity and–thus properly speaking–they are not scientists ‘per se’, not in that capacity.

    Why am I so adamant about this? It is because I get it from both sides. I get it from Creationists. I get it from bitter anti-theists, anti-religionists and anti-Catholics. I get it from Leftists and Rightists who have an improper idea about scientific activity because of the prejudices that I detected here. This is why, in part, we lost the University. Rightists with high intellect, generally practical people, fled to do other things such as the non-professorial activities, mostly business, engineering and law. They abdicated their responsibility to be the academic Right. Instead, they held the academy in contempt when they should have held the extreme Left and the cowardly Right in contempt. The Leftist brigands flooded in, installed their gatekeepers, and purged the Right-leaning stragglers that remained in the institutions and squashed the graduate students that were insufficiently Leftist. Shame of the Right for this.

    Make a place for those of who are Right-leaning politically, scientists and not hostile to theology. We will serve well the truth of the important things.

    1. I wholly endorse this comment, David:

      The straightforward criticism of scientists acting as hustlers is that they are transgressing disciplinary boundaries without proper theoretical warrant. That’s all that one has to point out to them and their naïve audience. Counter with that and I guarantee you, it works like garlic and holy water. Throw in a remark about starting assumptions and it’s “match over.”

      One must understand beyond that, of course, the disciplinary boundaries of modern science itself.

      I also emphatically agree that the Right has on its conscience an abandonment of the academia, and that it cannot hope to get anywhere in the long term if it does not rectify this extremely disadvantageous situation, which is the product in part of lack of long-term perspective, in part of errors in aims (attempting to effect change at the level of politics rather than at the absolutely precedent and more essential level of philosophy and even education), in part on account of something that it is difficult to hold too much against the Right, but nonetheless which should probably be redressed: namely, the tendency of the Right to insist upon frankness in all things, even and especially when its candour leads it into danger.

      As for the rest, my statement regarding the scientific lust for power was surely stated crudely, and I gladly retract it insofar as it might be taken as insulting; for truly, I meant no offence. I was attempting (admittedly quite awkwardly) to indicate that science can be understood as a will to power, which seems to me an inherently defensible proposition. The epistemology of science is a power epistemology; the methodology, the view of causality, the standards of falsification employed by science, and the technology which it produces and which it takes as being a kind of secondary corroboration, are all basically incomplete save as one relies on the scientific equation of knowledge with power, which itself originates with one of the founders of modern science, Bacon himself.

      My remarks probably (and quite unfairly) suggested something, however, that I did not mean to imply: namely, that scientists themselves have some kind of hankering after political power, or that such concerns are liable to contaminate their results or theories. I am certain this is decidedly not the case with the better part of scientists, in the better part of cases. (In certain fields, like genetics and anthropology, I think this is more legitimate a concern than others; but these are special cases, and rife with exceptions.) I believe most true scientists really just want to be left in peace to perform their experiments or pursue their research, and would not trouble themselves at all over politics if they did not often enough depend on state funding for their work. Most of them really do have, I will not say a love of truth, for they themselves generally expel this term from the borders of the scientific domain, but a love of data, a love of information, a love of validity, an honest and absolutely irreprehensible desire to derive valid and robust conclusions from their pools of data, research and experimentation. All of this should be counted to the good of science. And insofar as science occupies its right sphere and does not attempt to transgress its boundaries, I, for one, see little to bring against it. The problem is when science transforms into scientism; and if I am at times somewhat harsher in my appriasal of science than would be strictly just, it is primarily because in our day, this conflation is alas all too common, and in many cases is indeed even taken for granted, so that it can do little harm, and perhaps a deal of good, to exaggerate now and then in the opposite direction.

  5. The author of the ‘Philosophia Mortis’ article has done mind-blowing work elsewhere on this topic. Pretty much along the lines of McCoy’s work, just more focused. She believes the perversion of political theory and the scientific method brought us into trouble. I have seen her other works in international publications. Also, clearly not a dilettante but someone with an impressive academic background. Sadly, she seems to be reluctant to publish for the masses.

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