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.
3. PERSONALITY - FREEDOM – HIERARCHY
In this chapter the author begins by attacking liberalism, the chief scourge behind the French Revolution. Many have tried to define liberalism, including Traditional Catholics like Pope Pius XI [Quadragesimo Anno], Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre [They Have Uncrowned Him], Fr. Felix Sarda y Salvany [What Is Liberalism?] and Rev. Fr. Stephen P. DeLallo [The Sword of Christendom], although today the word is wrongly associated with anarcho-capitalists and right-wing libertarians. So how does Evola define the term?: "The essence of liberalism is individualism. The basis of its error is to mistake the notion of the person with that of the individual and to claim for the latter, unconditionally and according to egalitarian premises, some values that should rather be attributed solely to the former, and then only conditionally. Because of this transposition, these values are transformed into errors, or into something absurd and harmful." Egalitarianism - another mainstay of the 1879 Revolution - is completely dismissed by Evola due to its fundamentally ridiculous belief in the equality of all individuals. It not only relegates the person to the level of a mere part within the broader egalitarian mass, which Evola rightly shows to be a contradiction in terms, it obliterates human diversity by suggesting that no one person is significantly different to another. From the judicial perspective, of course, it is surely wrong to establish a form of fake "justice" by ensuring that everybody is legally bound in an unjust manner. It is also entirely out of step with Natural Law. Evola explains: "the lower degrees of reality are differentiated from the higher ones because in the lower degrees a whole can be broken down into many parts, all of which retain the same quality (as in the case of the parts of a non-crystallised mineral, or those parts of some plants and animals that reproduce themselves by parthenogenesis); in the higher degrees of reality this is no longer possible, as there is a higher organic unity in them that does not allow itself to be split without being compromised and without its parts entirely losing the quality, meaning, and function they had in it." When Evola speaks of parthenogenesis, of course, he is referring to those invertebrates and lower plants which engage in a form of sterile self-reproduction. The allegedly "free" individual, therefore, is considered to be inorganic and much lower than its organic superior. Meanwhile, the true person is he who continues to remain "unequal" due to his own distinct features and abilities. Natural individuation is not the same as crass individualism. At the same time, however, Evola does not infer that everyone deserves the "right" to be regarded as a person. Thus, he dispels the liberal myth that all of us possess some form of "human dignity" regardless of who we are. In fact there are several different levels of dignity each contained within a just and specific hierarchy. So once again, Evola is dismissing the egalitarian idea of a "universal right," brotherhood of equality or an automatic entitlement of some kind. In times gone by, however, "'peers' and 'equals' were often aristocratic concepts: in Sparta, the title homoioi ('equals') belonged exclusively to the elite in power (the title was revoked in cases of misconduct)."
Moving on, the notion of freedom - a favourite catchword of those engaged in the struggle between classes - is regarded in the same manner. It is something we enjoy as a consequence of who we are as a person, rather than simply because we happen to be a member of humanity. Evola remarks that freedom does not come in any one form, but is actually multifarious and homogenous. He goes on to suggest that the freedom "to do" is quite different from the freedom "for doing." Indeed, whilst the former has to function within a controlled and standardised system of liberal "equality" (which inevitably leads, therefore, to one class disregarding the freedoms of others), the latter has more in common with Aleister Crowley’s often-misunderstood expressions "do as thou wilt" and "every man and woman is a star." In other words, by possessing the freedom "to do," one can follow one’s own unique course and act in accordance with one’s true nature.
So how does the individual relate to society as a whole? Tradition accords with the ultimate supremacy of the individual, or what Ernst Junger has defined elsewhere as "the anarch" or "sovereign individual" [see Eumeswil, Quartet, 1993]. Evola even puts the sovereignty of the person before the State, because he views people not "as they are conceived by individualism, as atoms or a mass of atoms, but people as persons, as differentiated beings, each one endowed with a different rank, a different freedom, a different right within the social hierarchy based on the values of creating, constructing, obeying, and commanding. With people such as these it is possible to establish the true State, namely an anti-liberal, anti-democratic, and organic State." This vision, however, depends upon the advancement of the person through various stages of individuation and self-awareness. Natural inequality, therefore, will lead to an organic structure of society at the very helm of which stands the "absolute individual." This figurehead, says Evola, is completely different to the mere concept of the individual because it encapsulates that which is most qualitative within man. The "absolute individual" is fundamentally opposed to the concept that society itself is the ultimate manifestation of humanity. It is the sheer pinnacle of a transcendental sovereignty which represents the synthesising nature of the imperium. Moreover, of course, the idea can become manifest within the framework of the nation and seems defiantly opposed to present trends like globalisation and multi-racialism: "Thus, it is a positive and legitimate thing to uphold the right of the nation in order to assert an elementary and natural principle of difference of a given human group over and against all the forms of individualistic disintegration, international mixture and proletarisation, and especially against the mere world of the masses and pure economy." To achieve this process, Evola declares that the State must be established from the nation itself.
But if one is seeking to fully align himself with the principles of Evolian thought, a person who is free in the true sense of the word must never be constrained by national, racial or family ties. This does not imply that he should actively seek to turn himself against them, on the contrary, the importance is to follow one’s own path. Indeed, this course - which must lead towards the creation of the New Man - requires great discipline and understanding. Many who try, however, will fall by the wayside: "he who does not have the capability to dominate himself and to give himself a code to abide by would not know how to dominate others according to justice or how to give them a law to follow. The second foundation is the idea. previously upheld by Plato, that those who cannot be their own masters should find a master outside of themselves, since practising the discipline of obeying should teach these people how to master their own selves." People are therefore different, although Evola does make a distinction between the ruthlessness of "natural selection" and that of respect. In ancient societies the people who were most respected and admired were those with special abilities and qualities, not simply animalistic strength and brute force. The secret, of course, is to ensure that "power is based on superiority and not vice versa." It is certainly not necessary to bludgeon people into submission in order to get them to respect true leadership and ability. In the light of what Evola really thinks about such matters, therefore, you have to wonder why on earth Evolian Tradition was ever compared to Fascist totalitarianism in the first place.
The fact that Evola so openly acknowledges that there are various stations in life will outrage liberals, Marxists and advocates of democracy alike. But he is, nevertheless, absolutely correct. Forcing people to accord with a societal conglomeration which has been enshrined in law by a coterie of dogmatists and architectural levellers, is simply not allowing people to discover and thus accomplish their true destinies. Evola believes that historical events have often been determined by the manner in which "the inferior" - which is not used in a derogatory sense - regard their "superior" counterparts. Indeed, to believe that humanity can somehow be subjected to a form of international utilitarianism is naive and misguided in the extreme. Humans are prone to "emotional or irrational motivation" and, inevitably, this will usually be the dominant factor which shapes the course of their lives. The Evolian - and, thus, traditional - approach to organisation lies in what is described as the "anagogical function" of the State and its latent ability to both engender and co-ordinate the individual’s sacrificial capacity to ally himself with a higher principle. The success of man’s organisational capacity, therefore, is not based purely on economics or prosperity but depends on whether the organic hierarchical balance has been maintained effectively. Within the liberal system, of course, the balance is upset by the fact that he "who becomes an individual, by ceasing to have an organic meaning and by refusing to acknowledge any principle of authority, is nothing more than a number, a unit in the pack; his usurpation evokes a fatal collectivist limitation against himself." Liberalism, therefore, may appear to defend freedom but it is actually a means of subverting it altogether. Marxism functions in the same way and both ideologies stem - once again - from the French Revolution: "when Western man broke the ties to Tradition, claiming for himself as an individual a vain and illusory freedom: when he became an atom in society, rejecting every higher symbol of authority and sovereignty in a system of hierarchies." Fascism, by falsely claiming to restore the traditional equilibrium, actually worsened the situation by initiating a crude and materialistic form of totalitarianism. The worst example of liberalism is its dependence upon economic exploitation. Evola charts the decline of economic stability from the death of the feudal system - when "the organic connection . . . between personality and property, social function and wealth, and between a given qualification or moral nobility and the rightful and legitimate possession of goods, was broken" - and the onset of the Napoleonic Code, right through to the desanctification of property and the arrival of the unscrupulous capitalist. So what, according to Evola, is the role of the traditionalist in light of the modern evils which were unleashed over two hundred years ago? Our response must be founded upon a return to origins: "To go back to the origins means, plainly and simply, to reject anything that in any domain (whether social, political, or economic) is connected to the 'immortal principles' of 1789, as a libertarian, individualistic, and egalitarian thought, and to oppose it with the hierarchical view, in the context of which alone the notion, value, and freedom of man as person are not reduced to mere words or excuses for a work of destruction and subversion."
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
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