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Julius Evola: the far-Right’s favourite philosopher The 'superfascist' is radicalising a new generation


June 8, 2024   8 mins

On 25 November 1970, the great Japanese novelist and playwright Yukio Mishima arrived for an appointment with the commandant of the Tokyo barracks of the Japan Self-Defence Forces, Eastern Command. With the help of four others who joined him on his visit, Mishima tied the commandant to a chair and then strode out onto his balcony to pour vitriol on post-war Japan. A crowd of bewildered recruits below heard Mishima effectively call for a coup d’état, accusing his countrymen of chasing economic prosperity while “forgetting the principles of the nation, losing their native spirit, pursuing the trivial without correcting the essential [and] leading themselves into spiritual emptiness”.

The reaction among most Japanese to Mishima’s speech and subsequent ritual suicide — he plunged a samurai sword into his belly back in the commandant’s office, before one of his comrades beheaded him — was one of mystification and sadness. Others, both in Japan and around the world, found that Mishima’s message resonated.

Among them was the Italian philosopher Julius Evola, by this point in his early-70s. Disappointed by the demise, 25 years earlier, of what he regarded as the “miracle” of Japan’s fascist theocracy, Evola saw in Mishima’s final act a courageous call for his country to awaken from the prosperous slumber into which it had been cast by the United States, first as post-war occupier and then as partner in an uneven alliance.

Born in Rome in 1898, Julius Evola frequently looked to Asia for inspiration in helping to rescue the Western world from its malaise. In this, he was not unusual. Any number of Romantics, from Goethe through to Coleridge, found in Indian drama and philosophy a depth and vitality that Europe appeared to have lost. And from the second half of the 1800s, Japan became a source of inspiration: its people and landscape, paintings and woodblock prints, calligraphy and kimono, Zen Buddhism and tea ceremony.

But where much of this interest was focused on spiritual and aesthetic renewal, Evola’s engagement with Asia was defined by the intertwining of the spiritual with the political. And where the personal politics of many Western enthusiasts for Zen or India’s Vedanta philosophy skewed towards the progressive, particularly in the post-war era, Evola was a leading thinker of the far-Right, whose ideas inspired figures within Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany (albeit to a lesser extent than he would have liked) and later many others around the post-war world.

“Evola was a leading thinker of the far-Right, whose ideas inspired figures within Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.”

Although often overlooked amid the peace-and-love associations of “the East”, Asian ideas and practices have been used to buttress Western ideologies with elitism, racism and conflict at their core. Much depended on what a given commentator thought was wrong or lacking in Western life in the first place. Where many a 20th-century critic of the modern West focused on the recent past, and on the damage done by industrial capitalism to European scenery and souls, in countries such as Germany and Italy one could find writers reaching back further: beyond what they regarded as the disaster of Europe’s Christianisation and into the realms of Nordic myth, ancient German folklore and Imperial Rome. They managed to combine these interests with investigations into the occult and Eastern thought, as additional sources of inspiration in battling modernity and recovering lost values and human capabilities.

In Germany, an emerging theme in the country’s search for its cultural and racial roots was a peaceful, bucolic past, full of life, from which Germans had since become alienated. In fairy tales collected and published by the Grimm brothers, Wilhelm and Jacob, German peasant life was depicted as happy and wholesome yet constantly under threat from violent interlopers: witches, vampires and demons. India became woven into this tapestry as a pastoral paradise — German philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder lauded “gentle Hindus [who] nourish themselves with the most innocent of foods, milk, rice, the fruits of the trees, the healthy herbs which their motherland dispenses” — and as one of the supposed homes, long ago, of an Aryan civilisation from which Germans could rightly claim descent. In the hands of Nazi ideologues, all this congealed into the drama of an Aryan race in the here-and-now, pitting itself against decadent, vampiric Slavs and Jews.

In Italy, Evola’s particular sense of Western decline was shaped by his aristocratic Sicilian background and his experience, as a young man, of a yearning to transcend the emptiness of everyday life. He volunteered for the army in 1917 and briefly saw active service before turning to Dadaist painting and poetry after the war. He studied engineering at university but did not complete his degree — on the basis, he claimed, that academia’s bourgeois conventions were not for him.

Having rejected his Catholic upbringing, Evola tasted something of the transcendence he sought via hallucinogens, magic and what he understood of Buddhism and Taoism. His reading of Buddhist scripture helped him through a period of feeling suicidal in 1922. And in the teachings of Lao Tzu, Evola found the path to becoming what he called an “Absolute Individual”. This was a state, he wrote, of “magical, luminous impassability”, in which a person becomes strong, purposeful and free from material and cultural constraints.

The French philosopher René Guénon helped to give shape to Evola’s ideas, through his reading of global history as shot through with cosmic purpose. Guénon claimed that primal truths about the “Absolute”, from which the rest of reality emanates, had been transmitted down the ages via initiates within the world’s religious traditions. Those truths had been lost in the modern West, he argued, because of an over-emphasis on materialism, reason and progress. They could still be found in places like India, however, in particular the Vedanta school of philosophy, which was also much beloved of German Romantics including Herder and Goethe. Guénon hoped to see a new elite of spiritual intellectuals trained in primal truths via “Oriental doctrines”, going on to restore the West as a civilisation centred around the sacred.

Guénon’s ideas and programme came to be called “Traditionalism”, from the Latin tradere, suggesting something — in this case wisdom and a particular way of being in the world — that is “handed down” from one generation to the next. Evola became an important voice in the movement, but unlike Guénon his vision of a future spiritual elite — comprised of Aryan-Germans and Romans — owed a great deal to Nietzsche’s ideal of the Übermensch.

Evola believed that hierarchy within humanity is part of the order of the cosmos. It takes physical, racial and social forms, but its roots lie in the spiritual realm. Some — himself included — are born into a spiritual elite, and must use a variety of demanding spiritual and physical disciplines to progress in wisdom and move ever closer to the Absolute.

Europe’s tragedy in recent centuries, for Evola, was the steady undermining of this cosmic hierarchy. Power had been passed to ever-lower levels: from the aristocracy to the bourgeoisie and latterly to the masses via an expansion of the democratic franchise. He held Christianity largely responsible. Imperial Rome had been a far closer reflection than Christendom of the true cosmic order. The rise of Christianity, with what Evola called its “proletarian spirituality”, marked a victory for the forces of disintegration and disorder. Evola found this expressed so well in the Hindu idea that we are living at the lowest point in the cosmic cycle of time — Kali Yuga, or Dark Age — that he included the term in the title of perhaps his best-known work: Revolt Against the Modern WorldPolitics, Religion and Social Order in the Kali Yuga (1934).

Evola’s radical elitism shaped the inspiration that he drew from Buddhism. From the late-19th century onwards, Western writers had conjured the historical Buddha variously as a Victorian gentleman, an Asian Christ, a gifted psychologist and a trailblazing democrat who rejected India’s caste system. Evola, by contrast, emphasised the Buddha’s noble origins as a member of the kshatriya (warrior) caste. It was from this noble birth, claimed Evola, that the Buddha — or “Prince Siddhattha”, as he refers to him in The Doctrine of Awakening (1943) — drew the strength required to engage in the asceticism that led to his enlightenment.

The Buddha’s accomplishments were also, for Evola, a matter of “blood and spirit”. He regarded Buddhism as an Aryan doctrine, an expression of the genius of the “ancient Aryo-Mediterranean world” whose stand-out figures included Plato and the Roman Stoics. He also had great admiration for Zen. Here, for Evola, was a path characterised by serious individual effort, master-disciple transmission and strong links with Japan’s “warrior nobility”. Across long centuries, the samurai had been able to impart their vigour and imprint their values upon an entire people. Unfortunately, Zen had been introduced to the West by teachers, including D.T. Suzuki, who were too keen to connect it to modern Western thought and preoccupations. The result, thought Evola, was a concern with psychology over spiritual realities — self-improvement over transcendence and the awakening of the Absolute Individual — and with the misguidedly egalitarian notion that enlightenment is available to all.

In the end, Evola failed to sell either Italy’s Fascists or Germany’s Nazis on the Traditionalist project, not least because the deep elitism within Traditionalism made it an awkward partner for populist ultra-nationalism. He remained influential, however, in the post-war world. After a series of attempted bombings by Italian neo-fascists in 1949-50, some of them with links to Evola, he was arrested and charged under new laws against glorifying Fascism and promoting the revival of the Fascist Party. At his trial in 1951, Evola denied any links to Mussolini’s Fascist Party (he never joined it), but said that if one defined fascism in terms of being against democracy then Dante Alighieri would stand condemned and Evola himself could be regarded as a “superfascist”.

Evola was acquitted, but questions remained over whether he bore responsibility for terrorist attacks inspired by his ideas, when so many of Italy’s neo-fascists praised his writings and visited him at his apartment in Rome. Those questions became particularly pressing during and after Italy’s “Years of Lead”: a period running from 1969 to 1988 during which extremists on the Left and Right mounted thousands of attacks and killed more than 400 people.

Sales of Evola’s work received a boost in the mid-2010s, when Donald Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon revealed himself to be a fan. Evola would have had little time for Bannon’s advocacy of Judaeo-Christian values and the free market. But part of his enduring appeal seems to lie in the big-canvas case that he made against modernity: the wrong people are currently in charge, and the right people have not just history but some combination of a racial-biological, moral and even cosmic order on their side. Sympathetic readers in an age of algorithm-driven anger — righteous, performative or some combination of the two — can draw on Evola’s outspoken confidence and chauvinism here while cherry-picking the details. Contemporary fans of his include Right and far-Right European political parties such as Hungary’s Jobbik and Greece’s Golden Dawn. He also appears to be an influence on writers including Bronze Age Pervert, author of the influential Bronze Age Manifesto (2018).

“Sales of Evola’s work received a boost in the mid-2010s, when Donald Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon revealed himself to be a fan.”

This weekend’s European elections have become a focal point for fears that disaffected young men seeking radical change — much the same demographic as the neo-fascists nurtured by Evola in his final years — are helping to drive a surge in support for far-Right parties. Europe’s Right-wing parties differ among themselves on some things: economic libertarians versus protectionists, pro-vs anti-Putin. But on migration and culture-war issues, they have much in common and plenty that they might draw from Evola’s thinking on tradition, race, the threat of social collapse posed by modernity, and politics not as technocratic tinkering but as a grand salvation project — witness the frequency with which the need to “save” a country or Europe as a whole is now invoked in political rhetoric.

Fans of the softer, more recessive side of Asia’s influence on the modern West should not get too comfortable at this point. The appeal of Asian ideas and practices to Evola in many ways resembled their attractions for Beats, hippies and contemporary practitioners of mindfulness, yoga and wellness more generally. They offer, we have been told, an enhanced clarity of seeing, beyond our tarnished cultures and ailing institutions. They promise to take a person beyond the mere accumulation of yet more knowledge, and instead to transform them — mind, body and spirit. It would be a stretch to say that yoga risks turning you into a fascist. But take a look at how wellness shows up on social media — exalting strength, suppleness, focus, vigour, stoic calm and a sense of superiority — and suddenly here, too, the darker sides of the 20th century don’t seem quite so far away.


Christopher Harding is a cultural historian of India and Japan, based at the University of Edinburgh. His latest book is The Light of Asia (Allen Lane). He also has a Substack: IlluminAsia.
drchrisharding

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Ian_S
Ian_S
1 month ago

“It would be a stretch to say that yoga risks turning you into a f*scist.”

That completely depends on what you think f*scism currently looks like. Once you realize that what passes for the “left” nowadays — totalitarian elitism — has nothing to do with the working class Left of the pre-war 20th century, you begin wonder where progressives actually fit in.

Jos Haynes
Jos Haynes
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian_S

Why dies fascism have an asterisk after the f? Is this Unherd censorship or your sensibilities?

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 month ago
Reply to  Jos Haynes

Because in the past spelling it fully meant your comment was passed for moderation.
Strangely typing communism and prising Stalin and Mao is fine.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian_S

Pretty funny that he doesn’t understand that progressives are fascists.

Martin M
Martin M
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian_S

Correct. The Left had largely disengaged from the working class by the 1990s.

Adam McIntyre
Adam McIntyre
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian_S

As Orwell pointed out in the 40s, “fascist” is basically a meaningless word at this point that has become nothing but a term of abuse.

It will be seen that, as used, the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless. In conversation, of course, it is used even more wildly than in print. I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting, bull-fighting, the 1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, homosexuality, Priestley’s broadcasts, Youth Hostels, astrology, women, dogs and I do not know what else.

If “fascist” doesn’t refer to Mussolini’s party, and nothing else, then basically it refers to whatever the speaker doesn’t like, unless the speaker is Julius Evola.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 month ago

The author clearly wanted to write about Evola, which is fine, but he stretched it big time to make it relevant today.

Jürg Gassmann
Jürg Gassmann
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I disagree that it’s not relevant, for two reasons. The first is that in many of these writings, the diagnosis (disaffection, social alienation) is correct, but the prescription is disastrously wrong. Once you’ve nodded in vigorous agreement to the first part, it takes a great deal of awareness to stop following the author to the “logical” conclusion.
The second reason is that the influence is not open and direct, but rather transmitted through several filters so that the influence is not readily recognisable. Only if you know the source can you see the linkage.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
1 month ago
Reply to  Jürg Gassmann

The journey that an individual needs to undertake to be able to understand the meaning the writer aims for in this article is long and complex; in other words, the antithesis of contemporary progressivism and also something not open to those who simply accept the ‘received wisdom’ of traditional religious orthodoxies.
I suppose it is, in its own right, a form of elitism… of the right, but also something which could help act as a counterbalance to the cultural sinkhole that much of Western society is descending into, including its political and academic institutions. The goal, as i’ve come to understand it, is to become personally evolved to the extent of being able to see through and reject all attempts at cultural brainwashing though the religious and ideological paradigms with which people try (and usually succeed) in fooling themselves into believing.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
1 month ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

It’s not that complex. You just have to pull out the weeds on a daily basis.

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
1 month ago

Thanks for a thought provoking article.
It’s always interesting to know how Buddhism has lent itself to multiple interpretation.
Dr Ambedkar, the chief architect of the Indian Constitution, in his own rebellion against caste stratification chose to convert to Buddhism.
His choice is radically contrary to the reasons cited by Evola. Certainly there is no organic linkage between supposed “Far Right” thinking today( I don’t much care for that epithet) and Buddhism.
Indeed to many it is Leftism and it’s extreme versions of atheism and moral causes of an absolutist nature( Wokeness)that is far more dangerous and intolerant.
As an eclectic Hindu who also draws comfort from Christian precepts, Taoist and Zen Buddhist thought, my attraction for Buddhism is quite different to that of Evola. Certainly what appeals to me is it’s broad practicality of ” The Middle Path” and a blend of simple ritual with pantheism.
So, my quibble would be with the conclusion drawn by the author – ” a sense of superiority” doesn’t arise from Eastern mystical practices or creeds per se; but as the personal choices of an individual or set of persons.
Religion just like beauty does finally ” lie in the eye of the beholder”..

Ian_S
Ian_S
1 month ago
Reply to  Sayantani G

The huge difference between Western religions, which, scripturally, are so enmeshed in social responses to endemic conflict and crisis; and Eastern religions like the Tibetan, Chinese and Japanese versions of Buddhism, and also the Tao te Ching, is the serene, detached, contemplative grandeur and deep inward focus of these. So completely unlike anything Western, and an utterly different mode of experiencing the world. I think they escape anything as crude as any particular Western political project.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian_S

Your claim makes some general sense to me. But given its geographic and cultural origins and spread into Syria and Egypt, for example, I don’t think Christianity is correctly confined to the West.
And figures such as Hildegard of Bingen, Meister Eckhart, and the unknown author of The Cloud of Unknowing stand against your claim that far-Eastern Buddhism or Taoism is “so completely unlike anything Western”.

T Bone
T Bone
1 month ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Seems like Alexandria was the Alchemy or melting pot of both Eastern and Western religion.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 month ago
Reply to  T Bone

Plausible claim. Rome and Jerusalem are also candidates.

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian_S

I guess it depends on the context. Of course there can be a link between Buddhists and Confucian thoughts transported to a militaristic creed. For instance the violent Tibetan invasions of 8th- 9th century AD Bengal were of Buddhist storm troopers. Some have found a link between Zen and the Samurai creed or Sinhalese Buddhist armies attacking Tamil Hindu parts.
I do however get your point about strict religions of the ” Book” and conquest.

David Lindsay
David Lindsay
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian_S

The Buryats, with the Chechens noted as exceptionally cruel Russian fighters in Ukraine, are followers of the Dalai Lama. Moreover, he has never condemned either the invasion of Afghanistan or the invasion of Iraq. For more on Buddhism as no more a religion of peace than Islam is (no less so, but no more), then see Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mongolia, Japan, Thailand, and beyond. In fact, an examination of the relevant texts shows that violence in general and war in particular are fundamental to Buddhism. Tibet is particularly striking for this. A rare balanced treatment of Buddhism and violence was broadcast in August 2013. The subject is also addressed in great detail here.

Jürg Gassmann
Jürg Gassmann
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian_S

I disagree – this is pure Orientalism. Eastern religions can be, have been, and are being instrumentalised for political projects and heinous brutality against fellow man no less successfully than Christianity.

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
1 month ago

” a focal point for fears that disaffected young men ….”

Young men are always restless and go through a period of searching before they (hopefully) settle down.

During my life, their social position and self-worth has been whittled down to almost zero by a combination of economic and cultural forces. There’s very little to inspire anyone in the current collapsing consumerist shitshow of modern life. Is it any wonder they’re searching for some meaning somewhere, anywhere else ?

In the Independent yesterday, there was the usual smorgasbord of fact-lite, therapeutic, feminist-leaning waffle about women’s ‘guilt, problems and difficulties’ dealing with, among other things, partners who are too nice (Mr Nice Guy ‘syndrome’ apparently) – so obviously not toxic enough.

Is is any wonder some young men are inspired by Andrew Tate and Bronze Age Pervert ? At least these Internet ‘philosophers’ seem to have bucked the trend and not just rolled over and given up. If they were women, everyone would be saying how ‘feisty’ they were and giving them a free pass.

Evola wrote a very good critique of Nazism and Fascism from a ‘far-right’ perspective which he takes to task on the basis of their populism and Socialist aspects (it’s in the name of the former of course so should be obvious) and as such is far more interesting and informative than the fake, superficial, postwar binary of Fascism bad, ‘Leftism’ good which we’re still hobbled with 70 years later. Especially since the Left are now displaying all the signs of a totalitarian cult themselves.

Well worth a punt, if only for a radically different view of how society can be run – cleans out the intellectual cobwebs (if you leave the magic hocus-pocus to one side).

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago

I could be wrong, but I thought “wellness” was rather a female thing – yoga too – rather than being a magnet for disaffected young men.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

The author seemed to recognize his own overreach with the decent quip about “stretch” and “yoga” in an otherwise solemn effort. Does Harding’s concluding warning amount to a ethnocentrist’s warning to contemplate your own “cultural navel” before venturing too far into exotic ground? (If so, I’m in substantial agreement).
As it stands, this piece seems too dense and self-serious. I’d like to see Harding bolster his central claim about Evola, instead of packing his text with assorted “fun facts” that are sometimes interesting but short on fun.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago

Probably Blofeld’s favourite writer, hence his affection of a monocle.

R Wright
R Wright
1 month ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Evola was also in a wheelchair like Bofeld. In this case it was because he used to take walks during bombing raids while in Vienna in between climbing mountains and writing.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago

Sounds more like the far left to me. Maybe there isn’t much difference

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 month ago

“Across long centuries, the samurai had been able to impart their vigour and imprint their values upon an entire people.”
This vigour and those values culminated in a pre-war militarized force it would be difficult to top for sheer savagery. Training, if you survived the beatings — many didn’t — was meant to produce soldiers and sailors incapable of human feeling toward enemies, who were viewed as sub-human, no better than pigs in their divine scheme of things. The fanaticism drilled into them saw death as better than surrender; there was an extra incentive in that families back home would would pay a price in shame and perhaps more if you gave up. Death was even better If you took an enemy with you who had believed you gave up. Japanese tortures were inventive. They buried Chinese to their necks in fields and rode over them on horses and nailed them to walls by their tongues. Herding scores into a building and setting it afire was common. More than 300,000 civilians died during the six-week occupation on Nanking. Germans killed more people faster, but that was because they had more industrial know-how. The Japanese would have fought to the last grandmother with a sharpened stick if it hadn’t been for the two atomic bombs.

Kurt Keefner
Kurt Keefner
1 month ago

Apparently, there are connections between some versions of the yoga worldview and fascism/Nazism, as well as QAnon. I wouldn’t want to overstate it. The yoga and wellness worlds have a conspiracy problem – Vox

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
1 month ago
Reply to  Kurt Keefner

That was an interesting read, but as someone from the East it appears to me to be more an obsessive reductionism.
Traditional Western herbalism would have equal apprehensions about allopathic medicine, no different from the Ayurvedic, Tibetan medicinal or Chinese varieties.

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
1 month ago

Evola’s Asian ramblings are nonsense. I know this as I was able to check them one at the time, with a very educated Chinese guy, while struggling through Ride The Tiger.

One thing after another that he’d say about Chinese symbol, myth and so on, was just plain wrong. It got so that you couldn’t get to the end of a page without yet another howler.

Just garbage. In the end I threw the book away.

R Wright
R Wright
1 month ago
Reply to  Dumetrius

Evola never pretended to be particularly knowledgeable about China and his limited writings about it were always tangential to his Traditionalist thinking. His interests were Hinduism, Rome, sex, the Holy Grail, those sorts of things.
If you thought you had some sort of slam dunk on him because of his relatively brief excursions to Chinese religion while writing in the mid 20th century you are a fool.

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
1 month ago
Reply to  R Wright

These ‘findings’ are supposed to be part of a foundation which he uses to construct his solutions. The foundation falls away because of the misunderstandings of the religious versus the esoteric. He cherry-picks irrelevancies all over, things that would make any Chinese frown. But these errors do tell anyone discerning, that something is seriously adrift. Your conclusion is therefore specious.

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
1 month ago

Do writers get brownie points every time they write “far-right?” Inquiring minds want to know.
I’ve read Revolt Against the Modern World. It’s OK, but nothing amazing.
As for “Evola’s radical elitism.” Really? More radically elite than your average lefty mostly peaceful protester? I doubt it.

William Brand
William Brand
1 month ago

This is part of wondering after the beast of Revelation and the rise of the Antichrist. Revelation 13.3  And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. Read full chapter. The wound was when Hitler shot himself at the end of WWII. The healing occurred when elite university students made Antisemitism fashionable again. It also involves the rise of extreme facist ideology in Europe leading to a man who will be the Antichrist.

AC Harper
AC Harper
1 month ago

It may be ‘heresy’ but there appear to be very few philosophers whose views were not shaped by their initial predispositions. Which means that it is easy to pick a philosopher to agree with, or disagree with, without much further thought.
There are a few that started out working from ‘first principles’ but these often wander off into absurdity.

John Tangney
John Tangney
1 month ago

I’m open to correction but I see little evidence that BAP is influenced by Evola.

R Wright
R Wright
1 month ago
Reply to  John Tangney

I think it’s just the “vitalism”, “action is masculine” and “Christianity is slave morality” parts.

0 0
0 0
1 month ago

Interesting summary of Evola’s meanderings. Shows how he found round the world those things which responded to and reinforced initial misgivings and presuppositions, rather than bothering to ask why he harboured either. That self centred complacency explains why he’s not a good guide to any of the cultural traditions he purports to value. And it also helps explain why his appeal has been limited to those with similar afflictions.

Perry de Havilland
Perry de Havilland
1 month ago

This article & many of the comments is a splendid example why the Left-Right paradigm confuses rather than enlightens unless discussion is about France in the 1790s.
I am sometimes also guilty of this lazy categorisation, but it really doesn’t provide a useful political taxonomy of anything, not when the National Socialist German Workers Party gets put on the same ‘wing’ as Javier Milei’s Libertarian party or Maggie Thatcher’s Tories, and the Khmer Rouge gets put on the same ‘wing’ as Obama’s Democrats or Mette Frederiksen’s Social Democrats.

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
1 month ago

Perhaps this interest is linked to North American white nationalism but personally I regard myself as being on the Hard Right, support Trump/Farage, return to Rand occasionally while backing economic nationalism, and vehemently oppose neoliberalism and neoconservatism alike. Which is to say that I don’t have any interest in racial nativism.
That said I am no longer 25 years old and grew up thinking the Le Pen family were as neo-Fascist as Haider’s Freedom Party. The same goes for the latest arrivistes in Germany, the AfL. We are anti-globalisation 20-25 years ago, now a lot of us are anti-globalist and if anything it’s the liberal Left we oppose not the children of the post-colonial generations.
Having a familiarity with Sloterdijk, Stiegler and Zizek as well as the older French post-structuralists, I have no interest in Italian futurist fashies — we have enough problem as it is with transhumanism…

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago

So, anyone who opposes your train of thought is a fascist.
Yep! That’s about right for a university lecturer.

Chuck Burns
Chuck Burns
1 month ago

What is wrong with Live and Let Live? The problem is with those who insist on forcing others to conform to a particular agenda.

Jim McLean
Jim McLean
1 month ago

Thankyou for a most interesting article. I’m not familiar with Evola or his work. The connectiions between supposedly passive eastern philosophy and western far right ideology was revealing.

Ex Nihilo
Ex Nihilo
1 month ago

“The Far Right…”:

This phrase has become like the old Etch-a-Sketch toy upon which one could create an image, shake it away, and then create some other image. Here we have the modern “far right” depicted as acolytes of Evola, an esoteric intellectual who espoused a complex philosophy synthesized from many influences. How many of the skin heads and QAnon types that are another far right stereotype have even heard of him? So which is it? Is the “far right” comprised of under-educated knuckle-dragging deplorables or ponderers of arcane metaphysics? It seems that the far right is merely anyone not subscribing to the entirety of left orthodoxy in every minute detail. One needn’t be “far” at all anymore, nor even “right”, to be labeled “far right.”

Andrew Vanbarner
Andrew Vanbarner
1 month ago

Our current state of divisive, political rancor stems in large part from our inability to agree on reality.
For example, there isn’t anything morally wrong with being white, male, or heterosexual. Nor is there anything about being black, female, or gay that makes one morally superior.
I suspect many of the left would strongly disagree, and can recite a litany of superficially understood history to tell the rest of us why men, for example, are awful.
This is also why we have so many “disaffected young men.” The left tries awfully hard to punish them.

Adam Pruzan
Adam Pruzan
1 month ago

For the most part, this article is a rewrite of similar pieces that appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic, and Vanity Fair back in 2017. All of them use vague innuendo to create supposedly diabolical links between Julius Evola and today’s nationalist conservatism–and all use Steve Bannon as the paradigm case. Harding adds a few tidbits of mildly interesting historical background, which do little to explain the alleged influence of Evola on the contemporary Right. Indeed, the bulk of the article is intellectual fog. When Harding does speak plainly, like so many on the American Left, he seems oblivious to the import of his own words. He accuses the Right of seeing “politics not as technocratic tinkering but as a grand salvation project.” But it has been the “technocrats” of the Left, on both sides of the Atlantic, that long ago got bored with “tinkering” and embraced giant salvific causes, most significantly the attempts to arrest global warming, and to change the demographic makeup of their nations. The technocracy pursued those goals without a mandate from the people–in other words, it is they, not the political Right, who behave as a self-conscious “elect” of Ubermenschen. The people were patient, but have finally had enough of it. Will this weekend’s European Parliamentary elections actually produce a meaningful change of direction? Will a second Trump term in the U.S.? Those of us who believe in consensual government hope so, but it’s at least equally likely that the technocracy will remain impervious to popular control.

Don Lightband
Don Lightband
1 month ago

Who’d ever conflate suppleness with “stoic calm”? I conflate it, nay live it, with elation and erotic possibility. Seems to me you’d have to be an irregular clinchpoop to do anything else!

Adam McIntyre
Adam McIntyre
1 month ago

The manifesto is entitled “Bronze Age Mindset.”
It’s a shame it’s so poorly written, because the argument against “equality” is important and must be made.
It is equality-obsession that is weakening the West and dragging it into decadence for several centuries now. Those that blame “Christianity” have perhaps missed the point. Equality-obsession enables Christianity, not the other way around. The two are symbiotic, but the obsession came first; the whacky dogma afterward.

Alexander van de Staan
Alexander van de Staan
1 month ago

Rule by a chosen enlightened elite (themselves) is pretty much what Aristotle, Gnostics, Calvinists, Hobbs, Burke, J.S. Mills, Marxists, Nietzsche, Fascists, Socialists, Woke, etc. have been saying as well. Nothing new to see here.

Chipoko
Chipoko
1 month ago

The current media mantra is ‘Far Right’ or ‘Hard Right’. The BBC employs this term every day in its news bulletins and current affairs articles in an effort to make us believe that fascist belief system is a far greater menace and more sinister threat than Islamism, Russian aggression, woke progressivism, communism. etc. Movies, fiction and documentaries, build plots around the concept.
Why do we never read articles or hear endless references in the news media about the ‘Far Left’ or ‘Hard Left’? I suggest it is because the progressiveist tradition which has been in place since the Russion Revolution in 1917 has always applied the formula: Left = Good; Right = Bad – e.g. Stalin is good; Hitler is bad, etc. The 21st Century Woking Class has presented the Right = Bad worldview as a fundamental truth.
How about Unherd facilitating some balance in this area?

Pete Marsh
Pete Marsh
1 month ago

It’s good that the author differentiates between fascism and Nazism; in so many articles they’re used interchangeably, invariably so by left wing authors. It’s as thought they want to disassociate socialism from National Socialists…

The German National Socialists themselves never referred to themselves as Nazis though. They used their actual name, or NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers Party).