Julius Evola: The Forces of Modernity

Charlemagne

Charlemagne

Neoreactionary and related analysis of politics and meta-politics

(this is the script for the YouTube/Odysee video Julius Evola: The Forces of Modernity)

This post will give a quick overview of Juilus Evola’s philosophy. We begin with a quote from Men Among the Ruins:

A bourgeois mentality and spirit, with its conformism, psychological and romantic appendices, moralism, and concerns for a petty, safe existence in which a fundamental materialism finds its compensation in sentimentality and the rhetoric of the great humanitarian and democratic words — all this has only an artificial, peripheral, and precarious life, no matter how resolutely it survives due to the inertia in wide social strata of many countries of the “free world.” Therefore, I claim that to react in the name of the idols, the lifestyle, and the mediocre values of the bourgeois world, as is the case with the great majority of modern supporters of “law and order,” means the battle is lost from the start.

(Men Among the Ruins. Inner Traditions, p. 218.)

We already see how deeply his description describes the inhabitants of modernity – the modern person is obsessed with extending their stay on earth as long as possible, regardless of the humiliations and injustices required to simply exist. Mere existence is the highest goal in of itself, rather than a particular style. This purely self-oriented biological goal is justified via “humanitarianism,” which is the forcing of this mode of existence across all peoples of the world. Increasing the quantity of life endured in the world is the ultimate “good”, no matter how much degradation and suffering is caused by this obsession.

The idea of the “free world” is a parody of the idea of freedom. There is no destruction of liberty that the people of the democratic countries of the world would not tolerate so long as it aided in their frantic flight from their inevitable death. Likewise, those who claim to react against the modern world often do so in the name of its ideals.

Evola very much looks to the inner attitude of a person when it comes to reacting against modernity; however, a rarely touched upon subject is his commentary on the fact that revolting against the modern world is not merely an inner phenomenon. Here is some commentary from Men Among the Ruins on the topic of economics:

In chapter 6 I stated that one of the fundamental premises for the return to a general condition of normalcy is to break the control exercised by the economy on the modern Western world. I have also briefly indicated the change of inner attitude necessary for this to happen. However, in the actual state of things, due to the pressure of forces that are spiraling the socioeconomic domain downward, it is impossible to rely solely on inner factors, although they will always remain the ones that really matter. Moreover, it is necessary to consider those forms through which the economy can be restrained and organized, and through which the factors of disorder and subversion intrinsic to the most recent developments may be limited.

It is rather obvious that it is not possible to achieve this today through a spontaneous process; rather, a political intervention is required. The following are the two fundamental premises: the State, incarnation of an idea and a power, is a higher reality with respect to the world of the economy; political necessity always takes precedence over economic, and one might add, socioeconomic necessity. As far as the second point is concerned, considering what I previously said, it is not necessary to repeat that according to the traditional view, the political domain is legitimized with spiritual and super-individual values. The State is the power that gives such values the weight they deserve within an overall normal institution, thus implementing the idea of “justice” in the higher sense of the word.

Having said that, the first step to normalize the economy is to overcome classism, which is the principal cause of the disorder and crisis of our time. For this purpose, we need not invent new ideas; all we must do is to borrow from the traditional legacy, which in the corporative principle offers the leading idea that may serve as the best reference point, provided it is opportunely adapted.

The fundamental spirit of corporativism was that of a community of work and productive solidarity, based on the principles of competence, qualification, and natural hierarchy, with the overall system characterized by a style of active impersonality, selflessness, and dignity.

(Men Among the Ruins. Inner Traditions, pp. 224-225.)

Evola sees that the fundamental drive of the modern economy is to maximize the quantity of economic activity achieved in a frenetic cycle of commerce. The governments of all countries are made slaves to financial maximization, particularly in the domains that influence people away from achieving the inner fortitude necessary to oppose modernity. This is particularly prevalent in the expansion of the medical state. We also see that the quality of food has decreased dramatically as the direction is toward a greater quantity of edible substances that provide mere subsistence while at the same time producing enormous monetary profits. In general, this can be termed the “welfare” state, in which the primary element is the extension of the life of every individual as far as it can be stretched, which in turn disincentivizes the physical elements that are concomitant with the inner spiritual elements necessary for opposition to modernity.

This mode of economic government is so powerful that no spontaneous force can oppose it. It is necessary for men to organize politically, and not merely to achieve an inner victory over modernity. The mode of government espoused in Evola’s philosophy is the corporative form, which is a traditional form in which society is organized according to the natural hierarchy. The natural hierarchy is built on a foundation of individuals who are fully recognized as persons of unique quality and are integrated into a cooperative hierarchy in which the whole of society is oriented toward the impersonal and selfless pursuit of the higher spiritual ideal toward which the arrow of the hierarchy points. This stands in opposition to “classism” in which the society is divided according to class lines which are regarded as being in tension with one another. This imbalances the hierarchy and ultimately leads to its leveling, as the society becomes more oriented toward the pleasing of the lowest classes of the structure, which in turn debases the entire society as a whole.

Evola describes the personality of such a society – our society – very concisely in a contemporary collection of essays titled “Fascism Viewed From the Right”:

About the principle of representation and the concept of a parliament, today we have grown accustomed to associating them exclusively with the system of absolute democracy, based on universal suffrage and the principle of one man, one vote. This basis is absurd and indicates more than anything else, the individualism that, combined with the pure criterion of quantity and of number, defines modern democracy. We say individualism in the bad sense, because here we are dealing with the individual as an abstract, atomistic, and statistical unity, not as a ‘person’, because the quality of a person — that is, a being that has a specific dignity, a unique quality, and differentiated traits — is obviously negated and offended in a system in which one vote is the equal of any other, in which the vote of a great thinker, a prince of the Church, an eminent jurist or sociologist, the commander of an army, and so on has the same weight, measured by counting votes, as the vote of an illiterate butcher’s boy, a halfwit, or the ordinary man in the street who allows himself to be influenced in public meetings, or who votes for whoever pays him. The fact that we can talk about ‘progress’ in reference to a society where we have reached the level of considering all this as normal is one of the many absurdities that, perhaps, in better times will be the cause of amazement or amusement.

(Fascism Viewed From The Right. Arktos, p. 71.)

This leveling process that brought the West to this condition proceeded in different forms, in some places more insidious than others. From the collection of essays titled “A Traditionalist Confronts Fascism,” Evola presents a concise statement on the fundamental similarities between America and The Soviet Union, a topic which he elaborates on in several places:

But from the point of view of the idea that inspires them, Russia and North America can be considered as two tongs of the same pincers which are tightening inexorably around Europe. In them we see the same foreign and hostile force, acting in different but converging forms. The forms of standardization, conformism, democratic leveling, frantic overproduction, the more or less arrogant and explicit cult of the expert (“brain trust”), and the petty materialism of Americanism can only clear the road for the final phase, which is represented in the same direction by the Communist ideal of the mass man. The distinctive trait of Americanism is that the attack on quality and personality is not accomplished by means of the brutal coercion of a Marxist dictatorship and care of the state, but takes place almost spontaneously, by means of a civilisation that does not recognise ideals higher than wealth, consumption, profit, and unchecked economic growth — an exaggeration and reduction ad absurdum of what Europe herself has chosen. This is what the same motives have created there or are in the process of creating. On both sides we see the same primitivism, mechanical reductionism, and brutality. In a certain sense, Americanism is for us more dangerous than Communism, because it is essentially a kind of Trojan horse. When the attack against those values of the European tradition which yet survive are found in the direct and naked form that belongs to the Bolshevik ideology and Stalinism, it still provokes some reactions and certain lines of resistance, even if weak ones, can be maintained. Things are different when the same evil acts in a subtler manner and the transformations take place insensibly on the level of custom and a general worldview, as is the case with Americanism. By thoughtlessly submitting to the flag of Americanism under the flag of democracy, Europe is already predisposed to the ultimate abdication, and this could come about without the need for a military catastrophe, but more or less the same point could be reached in a ‘progressive’ fashion after a final social crisis. Again, there is no stopping halfway down the slope. Americanism, willy-nilly, is working for its ostensible enemy: collectivism.

Evola’s comparison of Communism to Americanism is starkly highlighted today, as the “Trojan Horse” of Americanism has thoroughly subverted and overturned European tradition. It’s “brutality” is now on full display in the form of the biomedical security state that was instantiated in the year 2020 in response to the “final social crisis” that was progressively reached sans a “military catastrophe” – Europe and America alike have utterly abdicated to collectivism in a way never achieved by the more overt form of Soviet collectivism.

(A Traditionalist Confronts Fascism. Arktos, pp. 10-11.)

Evola also presents an alternative world that could have been, had another outcome of the Second World War been realized:

Let us say without mincing words that no price would have been too high to pay if a different outcome of the Second World War, that is, the victory of the Tripartite Pact, the Axis, had had the following consequences: breaking the back of Soviet power, probably liberating Russia from Communism and preserving all of eastern Europe from its domination; humiliating England and expelling the United States from European, if not global, politics; preventing the danger posed by Communist China, since the victory of Japan would have certainly made the rise of Mao impossible; in the climate of the ‘New Order’ various colonies would have probably changed patron, but there would have been men with a steady pulse to defend European prestige and block the rising of the peoples of colour and prevent the formation of one of the virulent sources of the crisis of a world that essentially owes its current fearful insecurity to what Churchill himself acknowledged, with tardy repentance, in the lapidary phrase: ‘We have slain the wrong pig’, alluding to the Third Reich, instead of the Soviet Union.

(A Traditionalist Confronts Fascism. Arktos, pp. 153-154.)

Briefly, we will examine Evola’s view on the spirit of the modern man that is at the root of modernity and is what brought all of this about. In “Ride the Tiger,” he writes about the neospiritualism contemporary with his time, which has now advanced to a stage of derangement beyond even what Evola conceived of. Evola states:

Since the West truly finds itself today in the soulless, collectivistic, and materialistic phase corresponding to the closing of a cycle of civilization, there can be no doubt that the great majority of facts interpreted as the prelude to a new spirituality simply belong to this “second religiosity.” They represent something promiscuous, fragmented, and subintellectual; they resemble the fluorescence that appears when corpses decompose. Thus the currents in question should not be seen as counteracting our present twilight civilization, but as its counterpart, and if they take hold, they might even be the prelude to a more acute phase of regression and dissolution. This is so particularly when it is not merely a matter of states of mind and theories, but when a morbid interest in the sensational and the occult is accompanied by practicing evocations and opening up the underground strata of the human psyche—as happens not infrequently in spiritualism and even in psychoanalysis. Here one may well speak, with Guenon, of “fissures in the Great Wall,” dangerous faults in that protecting barrier that, despite everything, protects every normal and sound-minded person in ordinary life from the action of genuine dark forces that are hidden behind the facade of the sense-world and beneath the threshold of sound and conscious human thoughts. From this point of view, neospiritualism appears even more dangerous than materialism nor positivism, whose primitivity and intellectual myopia at least serve to reinforce that “wall” which, while limiting, also protects.

In another respect, nothing is more indicative of the level of this neospiritualism than the human material of the majority of those who cultivate it. While the ancient sciences had the prerogative of a superior humanity drawn from the royal and priestly castes, today’s new anti-materialist gospel is bandied about by mediums, popular “maguses,” dowsers, spiritists, Anthroposophists, newspaper astrologers and seers, Theosophists, “healers,” popularizers of an Americanized yoga, and so forth, accompanied by a few exalted mystics and extemporizing prophets. Mystification and superstition are constantly mingled in neospiritualism, another of whose typical traits, especially in Anglo-Saxon countries, is the high percentage of women (women who are failures, dropouts, or “past it”). In fact, its general orientation may well be described as a “feminine” spirituality.

(Ride The Tiger. Inner Traditions, pp. 209-210.)

Evola is absolutely correct about the danger of what he terms “neospiritualism” and the opening up of the world to dark forces previously held at bay by long-standing barriers. We live in an era of child sacrifice and darker perversions I will refrain from mentioning here. Immediately beyond the veil of the whimsical sophistry in feminine neospiritualism lurk demons that we will pay dearly for unleashing into the world.

Commenting further on the feminine in modernity, Evola comments briefly on the broken dynamic between the sexes in modernity:

It lies outside of the scope of this book to consider the meaning of existence not only from the man’s point of view, but also from the woman’s. It is certain that in an epoch of dissolution the solution for the woman is more difficult than that for the man. One should bear in mind the already irreversible consequences of the error through which the woman believed herself to win a “personality” of her own using the man as a model: the “man,” in a manner of speaking, because today’s forms of activity are almost all anodyne, they engage “neuter” faculties of a predominantly intellectual and practical order that have no specific relation to either sex, or even to any particular race or nationality, and are exercised under the sign of the absurdity that characterizes all the systems of contemporary society. It is a world of existence without quality and of mere masks, in which the modern woman in most cases simply takes care of the cosmetic aspect, being so inwardly diminished and displaced, and lacking any basis for that active and essentializing depersonalization of which I have spoken, regarding the relations between person and mask.

In an inauthentic existence, the regime of diversions, surrogates, and tranquilizers that pass for today’s “distractions” and “amusements” does not yet allow the modern woman to foresee the crisis that awaits her when she recognizes how meaningless are those male occupations for which she has fought, when the illusions and the euphoria of her conquests vanish, and when she realizes that, given the climate of dissolution, family, and children can no longer give her a sense of satisfaction in life. Meanwhile, as a result of diminished tension even man and sex can no longer mean a great deal to her; they cannot be her natural center of existence as they were for the traditional absolute woman, but can only be of value as one ingredient of a diffused and externalized existence, no more important than fashion, sport, a narcissistic cult of the body, practical interests, and so on. The destructive effects so often produced in modern women by a mistaken vocation or warped ambitions, and also the force of circumstances, enter into the equation. Thus, when the race of true men is also nearly extinct, and a modern man has little left of virility in a higher sense, there is little point in the saying about the true man’s capacity to “redeem,” to “save the woman within woman.” There is more of a danger that a true man today, in many cases, might find appropriate another maxim, that spoken by the old woman to Zarathustra: “Are you going to women? Don’t forget your whip!” —if it could be applied with impunity and fruitfully in these progressive times. The possibility of restoring to sex, even sporadically, its elementary, its transcendence, and perhaps even its danger in the context mentioned, appears very much prejudiced by all these factors

(Ride The Tiger. Inner Traditions, pp. 203-204.)

Evola notes that the type of man modern women models herself after is not a true man, but a neutered, inert type of man, which results in a copy of an already de-sexed way of being, inflicting a double inversion upon the woman who takes on the role of a man in modern society. Beyond the obvious truth in Evola’s description of the loss of family life to women, there is the understanding that sex itself loses its appeal. We see this at work in how it has essentially become a commodity like any other product, losing its transcendent position and falling among every other external and ephemeral amusement. Even the very concept of a “sex” as an identity has become a commodity, to be traded up for a more unique and perverted form on a whim. Furthermore, Evola observes that the emasculated man is powerless to redeem the world in the face of his own lack of male virtue to counterbalance the fallen female.

In addition, Evola notices that the modern styles adopted by people all over the world lack a relation to any people in the world. Modern styles are designed for everyone and yet are for no one, as is exemplified in most films produced, especially the Marvel movies, and even more obvious in the dreaded and disgusting corporate globohomo art style that viewers will no doubt be familiar with.

These passages only touch on a tiny surface of the breadth and depth of Evola’s writings; however, the acuity with which he diagnoses and foresees the consequences of modernity in these brief selections are testament to the power of the absolute position from which he stands, and encourage you to read deeper into his philosophy of Traditionalism.