Troy Southgate examines late Italian philosopher Julius Evola’s Men Among the Ruins: Post-War Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist. PRAVDA.Ru will present this summary as a series.
8. CHOICE OF TRADITIONS
Whilst the word "tradition" is used to describe Evola’s cosmological stance against the modern world (and that of certain other Traditionalists like Guenon, Nasr and Schuon), he also accepts that during certain key periods of his existence man has often used a series of more commonly known traditions in order to act as a unifying force. These forms of tradition relate to specific "suggestions and catchphrases" which are used to revitalise or regenerate a civilisation, although they can often assume a very "non-traditional" form. Using the example of Italy, Evola points out that professional subversives from the ranks of liberalism, communism and Freemasonry have distorted certain words to ensure that they are equated with patriotism and national pride. So to disagree with their objectives, therefore, is to invoke accusations of "treachery" and "disloyalty." This makes it rather difficult for traditionalists to adopt traditions of their own without incurring the systematically-engineered confusion that sometimes accompanies them. Due to the fact that national traditions are associated with the historical realities of a country’s particular development, attempting to place such terminology in its true context will inevitably lead to the adoption of the modern view that a country’s tradition is based upon its whole history. This is why Evola recommends the deconstruction of the mythology which surrounds national patriotism itself. Italian pride consists in glorifying the Italian Commune, the Renaissance and the Risorgimento. French patriotism is based upon the principles of the French Revolution and the upheavals of 1848 which followed it. An atmosphere of petty-nationalism and xenophobia also fuels the flames of justification for the two destructive world wars which decimated Europe. Revolution and conflict is based on the struggle between diametrically-opposed ideas or economies, not upon racial or national antagonism. Evola suggests that Frederick I, for example, fought against the Italians because he saw it as his imperial duty and not because he simply happened to despise the Italian people or wished to subvert them to his will. Ironically enough, Frederick was committed to the re-establishment of Roman law and many Italians even fought alongside him. This completely demolishes the idea that the aforementioned episodes in Italian history were somehow "patriotic." The importance of struggle is characterised by the idea and not by the perceived national loyalties of those involved. Think of those Englishmen who fought in Hitler’s SS, for example, or the Muslims who travelled from around the world in order to fight against the Americans in modern-day Afghanistan. The "traditions" of those who are committed to the obliteration of the ancient world, then, are highly questionable and - at the very least - intrinsically selective.
By charting the progress of the Italian Renaissance through to its logical conclusion, the so-called Enlightenment, Evola demonstrates that "in the same sense in which Renaissance Italy becomes the mother of geniuses and artists, it also becomes the forerunner of subversion. And just as the communes represent the first rebellion against an alleged political despotism, the civilisation of the Renaissance likewise represents the 'discovery of man' and of freedom of the spirit in the creative individual, as well as the principle of the intellectual emancipation that constitutes the 'basis of human progress'." The Risorgimento is not dissimilar in that it represented a paradoxical alliance between Masonry and patriotism: "The representatives of what at the time was still traditional Europe regarded liberalism and Mazzinianism in the same way as today’s liberal and democratic parties regard communism; the truth is that the subversive intentions of the former were not much different from the latter’s, the main difference being that liberalism and Mazzinianism employed the national and patriotic myth at the early stages of the disintegrating action." The Risorgimento, therefore, was a pseudo-tradition and at the very root of its secret machinations lay the destruction of Tradition itself. The Carbonari was not fighting "Austria" at all, it was engaged in a bitter attempt to topple the Austrian dynasty and, thus, one of the final vestiges of Tradition in Europe. But this is not to suggest that the House of Austria had an impeccable track record. On the contrary, along with Russia and Germany its primary importance lay in opposing the rise of liberalism and modernism. This is demonstrated by the spirit of unity which permeates a letter sent to Wilhelm I by Bismarck in 1887: "The struggle today is not so much between Russians, Germans, Italians, and French, but rather between revolution and monarchy. The Revolution has conquered France, affected England, and is strong in Italy and in Spain. There are only three emperors who can oppose it . . . An eventual future war will have less the character of a war between governments, but more so that of a war of the red flag against the elements of order and preservation." Beneath the surface of all dynasties, churches and governments, of course, lie the denizens of the single idea and the common struggle. A contemporary example on a far smaller scale, perhaps, is the tactical support offered by Alexander Dugin’s eurasianists to Vladimir Putin’s government. The main point of this chapter, however, is the undermining of the popular fantasies which surround national "traditions." Once we can stop focusing on the kind of nationalism served up by the historicists, therefore, it will be easier to accept the validity of an Idea.
Troy Southgate submitted this work to PRAVDA.Ru
To read Part 1, please visit http://english.pravda.ru/columnists/2002/05/11/28502.html
To read Part 2, please visit http://english.pravda.ru/columnists/2002/05/13/28609.html
To read Part 3, please visit http://english.pravda.ru/columnists/2002/05/15/28798.html
To read Part 4, please visit http://english.pravda.ru/columnists/2002/05/16/28859.html
To read Part 5, please visit http://english.pravda.ru/columnists/2002/05/18/28937.html
To read Part 6, please visit http://english.pravda.ru/columnists/2002/05/20/28995.html
To read Part 7, please visit http://english.pravda.ru/columnists/2002/05/21/29064.html
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969