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.
14. LATIN CHARACTER - ROMAN WORLD - MEDITERRANEAN SOUL
The historic tendency of the Italian people to react with hostility towards Germanic culture is dismissed by Evola as a "misunderstanding, for the most part caused by stereotypical phrases and superficial ideas." The Italians, of course, prefer to depict themselves as being distinctly Latin and Mediterranean. Evola - in a similar manner to that of Benito Mussolini before him - questions the very idea of the Latin character, suggesting that it relates more to art and literature than race. Evola prefers the phrase "Romanic element," since it has a much wider base and is formed by the Classical populations and languages which comprised the Roman Empire. Therefore the Empire itself includes the Germanic peoples, too. But whilst Evola is correct in this sense, it is also true that the Romans themselves are obviously extremely indebted to the Ancient Greeks and borrowed many of their ideas. So it can, therefore, be said that Rome was actually forged from Hellenic civilisation. Evola then goes on to deplore the revival of the neo-Classical element during the Renaissance period, something which - he believes - led to the celebration of the Graeco-Roman world’s most degenerative stage rather than its earlier Age of Heroism. The Latin peoples are not that distinct from their Germanic neighbours at all. The language and racial characteristics of the Mediterranean peoples, for example, are both derived from Indo-Aryan origins: "a heroic-sacred world that was characterised by a strict ethos, love of discipline and of a virile and dominating spiritual attitude." The tide of anti-Germanic feeling that engulfed the post-Roman world was propagated by the Catholic Church and its hatred for the Ghibellines and, soon afterwards, by the rise of Luther and Calvin. However, Evola points out that "in Germany, despite its being mostly Protestant, the feelings of order, hierarchy, and discipline are very strong, while in Italy, despite its being a Catholic country, all this is present to a negligible degree, while individualism, disorder, instinctiveness, and lack of discipline tend to prevail." He goes on to suggest that, from a Faustian perspective, unlike a German, an Italian would even be prepared to retract his agreement with the Devil. This is certainly a very frank admission coming from an Italian, but it does demonstrate that Evola’s Germanophile brand of imperial Tradition completely transcends the petty squabbles which have dominated Europe for so many centuries. Many of Evola’s countrymen, it is argued, despised the German-Italian Axis which came to pass during the Second World War: "All these people can be happy again, now that Italy has returned to itself - the petty Italy of mandolins, museums, ‘O Sole Mio,’ and the tourist industry (not to mention the democratic quagmire and the Marxist infection), having been ‘liberated’ from the difficult task of forming itself on the inscription of its highest traditions, which must be described not as ‘Latin’, but as ‘Roman’."
The book then switches its attention to one of the greatest taboos of our age: that of Race. Evola is not interested in biological racism, he notes that several more races exist within each general category; be they black, yellow or white: "These elementary races are defined in terms that are not merely biological and anthropological, but psychological and spiritual as well. To each of the racial components there correspond various dispositions, forms of sensibility, values, and views of life which are also differentiated." Evola disputes the fact that individuals belong to the same one race, explaining that each contains differing strengths and weaknesses. In Germanic peoples it is the Nordic element which seems to occupy the highest rung of the ladder, something echoed by the Roman type among the Italians. So Evola is basically suggesting that within each individual there is a dynamic spark which is derived not from biological sources but from a more spiritual tradition. Therefore the fact that racial nationalists seek to incorporate all individuals within one solid bloc goes completely against the Traditionalist worldview. Individuals of the same "race" are markedly different, regardless of the seemingly common ancestry which has been attributed to them by nineteenth-century scientists and modern geneticists. In the midst of this racial conglomeration, of course, lies the substance of the New Man. It is he who epitomises the most superior quality of all. One inferior facet which Evola believes to be detrimental to the superior Roman spirit, is the Mediterranean type. But what does the term "Mediterranean" actually mean? The author tells us that it "merely designates a space, or a geographical area in which very different cultures and spiritual and racial powers often clashed or met, without ever producing a typical civilisation." So, unlike the Roman spirit, it can be said that the "Mediterranean" concept never came to fruition in any meaningful sense. Furthermore, he says, "psychologists have tried to define the Mediterranean type, not so much anthropologically, but in terms of character and style. In these descriptions we can easily recognise the other pole of the Italian soul, namely negative aspects likewise found in the Italian people, that need to be rectified." Evola then refers to the excitable persona, the sexual promiscuity, the vain exhibitionism and the gesticulative hot-bloodedness of the Mediterranean type, something quite unlike the "anonymous heroes" of Rome. Herein, perhaps, lies the fundamental difference between the Actor and the Act: "the best model to follow would be that of the ancient race of Rome - the sober, austere, active style, free from exhibitionism, measured, endowed with a calm awareness of one’s dignity." The Roman spirit, therefore, is rather akin to the Indo-Aryan concept of nobility. The Mediterranean soul, on the other hand, has a ‘"tendency towards a restless, chaotic, and undisciplined individualism. Politically speaking, this is the tendency that, after asserting itself by fomenting struggles and constant quarrels, led the Greek city-states to ruin." The solution, according to Evola, is to awaken amongst the Italians a truly Roman - rather than Mediterranean - ethos. This, he believes, will occur "in almost organic terms at the end of dissolutive processes."
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
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
To read Part 12, please visit http://english.pravda.ru/columnists/2002/05/28/29419.html
To read Part 13, please visit http://english.pravda.ru/columnists/2002/05/29/29483.html