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.
9. MILITARY STYLE - ‘MILITARISM’ - WAR
Evola tells us that militarism is the enemy of democracy. This divergence of beliefs came about as soon as economics had replaced things like Prussianism and the Order of Teutonic Knights. Modern democracy, having originated in England, has led to the rise of a society in which "the primary element is the bourgeois type and the bourgeois life during times of peace; such a life is dominated by the physical concern for safety, well-being, and material wealth, with the cultivation of letters and the arts serving as a decorative frame." It is the bourgeoisie who are presently in control of the State and, despite the absence of a militaristic spirit in modern society, whenever an "international crisis" looms on the horizon they have no qualms about using militaristic techniques in order to advance their own interests. This is precisely the same form of shameless hypocrisy which usually regards warfare as "something materialistic and soulless." But Evola makes a distinction between the soldier and the warrior. Indeed, whilst the former is a paid mercenary who sees warfare purely as a means of self-enrichment, the latter is a specific aristocratic caste which is altogether superior to the bourgeoisie. In the present atmosphere soldiers are used to maintain "the peace," although in reality capitalism uses its Establishment shock-troops to crush its opponents and maintain its own position on the economic ladder. This means that the mercenary is employed by the merchant class, rather than a warrior caste "with its own spirituality, values, and ethics" playing an active role in the nature of the State. But Evola is not suggesting that "the military must manage the affairs of the State . . . but rather that virtues, disciplines, and feelings of a military type acquire pre-eminence and a superior dignity over everything that is of a bourgeois type." Furthermore, he does not believe in the control of one’s everyday affairs by a military clique: "Love for hierarchy; relationships of obedience and command; courage; feelings of honour and loyalty; specific forms of active impersonality capable of producing anonymous sacrifice; frank and open relationships from man to man, from one comrade to another, from leader to follower - all these are the characteristic living values that are predominant in the aforementioned view." Evola follows this up by explaining that external warfare compliments that occurring within the self. This is the spiritual battle which is waged by the individual in defiance of his own shortcomings, described by Evola in Revolt Against the Modern World as the "big holy war" and the "little holy war"; a jihad which is fought upon two fronts. This also has important similarities to the Hermetic concept "as above, so below." War against one’s enemies is a macrocosm of that taking place within the individual. For the man who is born to be a warrior, this kind of asceticism becomes a way of life. It is not a form of mindless violence in which death and destruction become the central pillars of one’s very existence, it is "the calm, conscious, and planned development of the inner being and a code of ethics; love of distance; hierarchy; order; the faculty of subordinating the emotional and individualistic element of one’s self to higher goals and principles, especially in the name of honour and beauty." Herein lies the difference between the soldier and the warrior.
The decline of the warrior ethos, according to Evola, is due to the fact that democracies have diminished the importance of the political in favour of the social. Previously, of course, Evola had referred to the Mannerbund or all-male fraternity. Without this vital heroic element, the modern State has inevitably become very inferior when compared to those of the past like Sparta. Western society is now in the hands of the bourgeoisie and lacks that key ingredient of atmospheric tension which acts as a safeguard against complacency and deterioration. Evola is not implying that warfare and struggle are eternal concepts, but simply that the individual must seek out the active life in opposition to the pacifism and decay that comes with "peace." Therefore "the nations in which such premises are sufficiently realised will be not only the ones better prepared for war, but also the ones in which war will acquire a higher meaning." By sheer contrast, the democracies now claim to be fighting against war itself and use a force of their own in a purely defensive capacity. The ranks of those who fight however, are filled not with the bourgeoisie but with the paid mercenaries of the army and police. These soldiers do not fight for an idea or a higher principle, but for "material well-being, economic prosperity, a comfortable and conformist existence based on one’s work, productivity, sports, movies, and sexuality." Modern warfare is also based upon the war of the machine, rather than on the physical or spiritual combat of warriors. This leads to a complex and technological manifestation of the heroic ideal, rather than offering the prospective warrior a just cause for which to fight. Evola attacks the manipulative propaganda and lies which have been used throughout the process of modern warfare, something which leads to the relativisation and systematic repackaging of the "cause" itself. But what does Evola say about the attitude and motivation of the true warrior?: "A warrior tradition and a pure military tradition do not have hatred as the basis of war. The need to fight and even to exterminate another people may be acknowledged, but this does not entail hatred, anger, animosity, and contempt for the enemy. All these feelings, for a true soldier, are degrading: in order to fight he need not be motivated by such lowly feelings, nor be energised by propaganda, smoky rhetoric and lies." These elements have only come to the fore since the natural warrior caste was replaced by an army of enlisted mercenaries drawn from the ranks of society at large. Mussolini once wrote about the spirit of the trenches in which class divisions were eradicated in the name of a common cause, but Evola believes that today the masses have to be deceived before they will agree to fight for the ruling class. Modern conflicts are irrational, too, in that they are artificially constructed in order to justify the ever-increasing expansion of capitalism. The wars of the past were quite different, in that they had a sovereign quality as the necessary determining force for the deployment of what Evola describes as "[c]learly defined goals." Perhaps the antithesis of the just war is the very irrationalism which lies at the core of the ultimate form of modern combat we know today as nuclear war.
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
To read Part 8, please visit http://english.pravda.ru/columnists/2002/05/22/29122.html