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.
12. ECONOMY & POLITICS - CORPORATIONS - UNITY OF WORK
In Chapter 6, Evola attacked mankind’s dependence upon the economy and suggested that change must come from within. In this chapter, the author presents an alternative economic plan by which the forces of anti-Tradition can be kept at bay. Recalling the fact that the State represents "an idea and a power," Evola has little hesitation in rendering it superior to the economic sphere. This is because he feels that the State is endowed with an overriding spiritual perspective and that it is there to both guide and judge all economic concepts, although this does cause one to wonder whether such power and authority can be expressed in an non-statist context. Especially in light of the seemingly irredeemable nature of the world’s states today and the fact that no one State can last forever.
Evola’s solution to the economic crisis - as well as the fact that it needs to be brought in line with Tradition - is a form of corporativism "based on the principles of competence, qualification, and natural hierarchy, with the overall system characterised by a style of active impersonality, selflessness, and dignity." This opinion has been formed by the author’s self-confessed admiration for the craft guilds of the Middle Ages and, before them, the Roman system of proto-corporativism. He rightly points out that the medieval artisan had a great love for his work, unlike the contemporary wage-slave who labours under great strain and duress. Evola goes into this concept in Revolt Against The Modern World, too, contesting that work only becomes slavery once it is viewed as a laborious task. It is also a fact that one’s adherence to a common objective gives even the most seemingly ordinary task a higher degree of significance: "The commitment of the workers was matched by the master of the art’s competence, care, and knowledge; by their effort to strengthen and to raise the quality of the overall corporate unit; and by their protecting and upholding the code of honour of their corporation." Issues such as capitalist exploitation were unheard of, at least until the advent of the Industrial Revolution.
Corporativism is usually regarded as a Fascist objective, but Evola argues that it cannot work under such a system because Fascism itself continues to tolerate the trade unions. This means that the class system is still being perpetuated and thus the unitary whole is threatened with division. After all, what use are trade unions if everyone is pulling in the same direction? The workers’ co-operative is another example of just how redundant trade unionism has become. Evola also believes that Fascism and Marxism fail to "reconstitute" the unifying concept of work itself, seeking to replace class division with a series of bureaucratic ministries. German National-Socialism, however, was more successful than Italian Fascism because "it understood that what mattered most was to achieve that organic solidarity of entrepreneurs and workers within the companies, promoting a down-sizing that reflected to a certain degree the spirit of traditional corporativism." Evola is praising the fact that German bosses took a more hands-on approach to the question of leadership, and it is a fact that the German civil service, for example, remained exactly the same after Hitler’s ascension to the throne of German politics. So it was a change of attitude, rather than a profound economic change of any kind. But I feel that Evola’s enthusiasm is slightly misplaced, particularly as Hitler’s economic drive was geared towards putting the country on a total war footing and that the NSDAP itself had been financed by German Big Business.
So what is necessary for this proposed shift in attitude? Evola advocates "the deproletarianisation of the worker and, on the other hand, the elimination of the worst type of capitalist, who is a parasitical recipient of profits and dividends and who remains extraneous to the productive process." Evola therefore accepts that such despicable creatures have become easy targets for communist agitators, and that capitalism itself must be vigorously opposed by those who wish to transcend both systems. Evola believes that capitalists should become more involved with their businesses, rather than sitting at home counting their shekels and raking in the profits. But this will not alter the fact that they will continue to own the means of production, so perhaps Evola is being more than a little optimistic when it comes to "loyal workers who are free from trade union control and are proud to belong to his company." We are then introduced to what Evola believes to be the ideal relationship between the State and the economy. Again, modern conditions and the servile nature of industrial capitalism are identified as being the main obstacles to a more healthy attitude towards work. He feels that the real problem lies in the way an employee is "inclined to regard his work as mere necessity and his performance as a product sold to a third party in exchange for the highest possible remuneration." Work, he argues, must cease to be monotonous, repetitive and dull. Furthermore, workers must have "the right of co-direction, co-management, and co-determination" that is presently lacking in the majority of occupations. These sentiments appear to echo the co-operative ideas of Robert Owen and the Rochdale Pioneers, which took shape during the nineteenth century. In other words, workers must have a real stake in the business concerned, rather than be considered as a mere cog in the capitalist machine: "This would be the best way to ‘integrate’ the individual worker into his company, motivate him and raise him above his most immediate interest as a mere rootless individual. In this way we could reproduce in a company’s life the type of organic belonging that was proper to the ancient corporative formations." This microcosmic representation of the State within the field of economics all sounds very well, although one must remember that any economic idea that plans to attach itself to the present economic system must inevitably rise and fall in accordance with the very system itself. The West is dying. This means, therefore, that all solutions which advocate forms of participation within the current system - including distributist guilds and workers’ co-operatives - merely represent a temporary postponement of the inevitable crash. The real solution lies on the periphery.
Evola criticises the politicisation of the workplace by trade unionists, a process which - he believes - only serves to divide, confuse and worsen the lot of the average worker. This activity, he contends, is used as a springboard from which to attack the State. I believe that Evola is right to condemn Marxist interference, but wrong to suppose that the industrial sphere can ever be reformed. In the words of Nietzsche: "That which is falling must also be pushed." Indeed, the vast majority of our fatcat executives are hardly likely to admit to their shortcomings and start expressing the type of leadership and initiative which Evola believes will transform the very nature of the economy. I believe that Evola is being just as idealistic as the Fascists and the Marxists. The decline of the West is inevitable, and, in terms of having run its civilisational course, will represent the completion of the Kali Yuga and thus the very end of the macrocosmic cycle.
But the author does accept that modern companies cannot be truly autonomous within the present economic climate, because "[n]o matter how powerful and wide-ranging they are, these companies must deal with forces and monopolies that control to a large degree the fundamental elements of the productive process." Evola believes that certain restraints have to be placed upon the ruthlessly competitive sharks of international capitalism, but his solution to the problem merely involves increasing the power and authority of the State. He also believes that such a State can be created within a modern context, but thirty years after Evola’s death this seems very unlikely. He also suggests that capitalists should be "ostracised" by the State, but surely this is impossible given that the State itself is little more than an elaborate front for the interests of Big Business and international finance? Evola’s fear of leftist subversion means that he is forced to accept a kind of pallid reformism or - in his words - a "revolution from above" (a concept not dissimilar to the "revolution of the centre" proposed by French fascists and elements of the Nouvelle Droit), when in reality he should be supporting the emergence of new centres of Tradition on the periphery. After all, as the Romanian author Mircea Eliade demonstrated in The Myth of the Eternal Return (Princeton, 1991) the founding of new symbolic centres is perfectly in tune with Tradition.
The feudal system is cited as a worthy example of economic autonomy and unitary collaboration between the various complimentary sections of medieval society, although he does suggest that it needs updating so that it can be applied in a modern setting. The overriding atmosphere of defensive perpetuity and the bonds of loyalty which characterised the feudal period are said by Evola to have strengthened both responsibility and decentralisation. Despite the intermittent shortcomings of feudalism, it is pretty hard to deny the fact that it had many worthy attributes. On the other hand, however, Evola still fails to prove that anything remotely similar can be re-established today. At least at the centre and within the current economic system. Likewise, Evola believes that the traditional caste structure can also be reapplied to the modern State: "The ultimate goal of the corporative idea, understood in this fashion, is to effectively elevate the lower activities concerned with production and material concerns to the plane that in a qualitative hierarchy comes immediately after the economic one in an ascending direction; in the system of ancient or functional castes, this plane was that of the warrior caste, which ranked higher than the merchant caste and the workers’ caste." Up until very recently, the caste system was still in operation throughout India (and still prevails in the more rural areas of the North), but modern government legislation has resulted in the lower castes (Untouchables) receiving positive discrimination and other liberal reforms designed to create the kind of "egalitarianism" that we are used to seeing in the West. The caste system is a highly complex and functional system and has been around for many thousands of years, but I doubt whether it can be applied to a modern society. Only by establishing centres on the periphery can traditional methods be realised in the modern world. Evola’s comments about caste and hierarchy are extremely valid, but the process of degeneration can never be reversed at the centre.
The author also suggests that a Corporate House of Representatives be created. Not something which is managed in a bureaucratic manner like that administered previously by Italian Fascism, but a system in which everything finds its true level in relation to everything else. At the same time, it "should not have the traits of a political assembly. It should merely constitute the Lower House; political concerns would be dealt with in an Upper House, ranked above the former." Again, Evola remains strongly opposed to political interference within the sphere of socio-economic activity. But even his "Lower House" sounds rather bureaucratic once it is compared to a basic workers’ co-operative, although the objective here is obviously to unite all such concerns into a single, unitary whole. Modern-day Libya has a similar arrangement in that its professional, educational and various other categories are united within a series of congresses. Not that Evola would agree, of course, with the fact that real power and authority in Libya’s "state of the masses" emanates from below, rather than from above.
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 ttp://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
To read Part 9, please visit http://english.pravda.ru/columnists/2002/05/23/29201.html
To read Part 10, please visit http://english.pravda.ru/columnists/2002/05/25/29275.html
To read Part 11, please visit http://english.pravda.ru/columnists/2002/05/27/29355.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