samedi 19 juin 2010

julius evola: tradition's triumphant caesar

by Matthew Mitchem ( - February 19, 2002

Any historical prospect reveals that, just as man civilizations know, after a dawn and a development, a decline and an end. Some tried to discover the law which governs such a destiny, the cause of the decline of civilizations. This cause could never be brought back to purely historical factors and naturalists.
~~ Julius Evola, The Revolt Against the Modern World (1934)

Baron Julius Cesare Andrea Evola is one of history's most enigmatic occult and parapolitical figures. Little-known outside Europe, Evola is often cited as the Godfather of contemporary Italian fascism and radical politics. A close examination of the historical record reveals a more complex figure. Evola wore many masks: a parapolitical philosopher who ranked with Oswald Spengler and Arnold Toynbee, a religious historian who coresponded with Mircea Eliade, and a provocateur who dabbled in Dada.

Born to a Catholic aristocratic family on May 19, 1898, Evola led an extraordinary life as a mountaineer, philosopher, solider, religious historian, artist, magician and political theorist.

Fluent in French and German, the young Evola was significantly influenced by the virtue theory of German philosopher Friedrich Neitzsche. As an ardent Mountain climber, the young Italian found spiritual invigoration upon the peaks of the Alps. Coming to age on the dawn of the First World War, Evola joined the Italian Army serving in the Mountain Artillery.

After the war, Evola indulged briefly in self-experimentation with drugs. The young aristocrat found brief satisfaction in the artistic avant-garde flowering as an early Dadaist. He began his readings in the occult during this period. In the early 1920s, Evola met Arturo Reghini, a neo-Pythagorean occultist and ardent fascist, who invited the younger Evola to join the magical association called the UR-group, which exalted a form of individualist-oriented "magical idealism". Evola invested much time and energy in UR, the group newsletter, writing articles and occasionally editing.

Though he never formally joined any party, Evola found in Fascism, perhaps influenced by Reghini, the manifestation of the heroic ideal of his youth. This association with the political right was to last thought his life and well after his death. Evola was protected by Benito Mussolini's administration (1922-1943), however Evola preferred intellectual stratification of the elite over Nazism's championing of biological racism.

Evola took up a project in 1927 that was to make him famous in his own day. In his idealization of virtue and his romantic memory of Imperial Rome, Evola set out against the Catholic Church. He saw the Church as antithetical to the rising political regime of Mussolini. The Baron imagined the raising of a new Paganism, a rebirth of the regal Empire emerging in the wake of the Christian Dark Age. These writings against the Catholic Church brought Evola the most notoriety, criticism and ridicule during his life in Italy.

Amongst the Church's many responses to Evola's neo-pagan polemic was the noteworthy reaction of Giovanni Battista Montini, who latter became Pope Paul VI. However, the association between the Church and the Fascist party was solidified in the Laterian Accords between Pope Pious XI and Mussolini. Evola's sympathy for Mussolini's fascism waned, and in September of 1941 the he and Mussolini met for the last time.

Evola relocated to Vienna, where he found himself translating Masonic documents for Heinrich Himmler's SS, a political and military organization that he had long admired. During an Allied-bombing sweep in 1945, Evola was injured, leaving him in a wheelchair for his remaining life. The Mountaineer was never to climb a peak again, however his ashes were deposited atop Mt. Rosa, upon his death in 1974.

Though the English-speaking West has largely ignored Evola, his writings have begun to appear in English editions during the last few years. Nearly all of these writings are of Evola's esoteric pursuits in the Traditional School of Ren� Guenon. The most important of these editions is a translation of Rivolta conto il mondo moderno (Revolt Against the Modern World), originally published in 1934. Arguably the Baron's magnum opus, this text contains the most complete renditions of the author's historical and philosophical ideology.

As with many of the Traditionalists, Evola saw the world in a process of devolution, as opposed to the rationalistic model of progress and evolution. This worldview was deeply influenced by the Eastern notion of cyclical time, which has been popularized by religious scholar Mircea Eliade (who Evola corresponded with and met).

For the Traditionalists, mankind is experiencing ever increasing ages of strife and chaos, falling ultimately from a divine Golden Age. A historical reading of many world mythologies largely shapes this worldview. We now live in the Kali-Yuga of the Hindus, the Iron Age of Hesiod, the Germanic Ragnarok, according to the Traditionalist School. Politically this age is characterized by the governing of the materialistic masses (democracy) over the spiritual rulership of the solar nobility. Evola saw a hope in Fascism for a return of the dominance of the solar aristocracy over the earthly masses.

During his long writing career, Evola published works on Eastern philosophy (Tantra, Tao, and Buddhism) as well as Western Esotericism (Alchemy, Grail-Mythos). Recently these texts on magic and mysticism that have become widely available. Recent additions to Evola's canon include Men Among the Ruins: Post-War Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions International, 2002), co-edited by Michael Moynihan and Introduction to Magic: Rituals and Practical Techniques for the Magus (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions International, 2001), a collection of UR papers.

Today, Evola still has a significant influence on Continental magic (especially Italian), and has remained an icon for right wing political groups, such as Italy's "revolutionary cells" and France's National Front Party. Without a doubt, his influence will be felt deep into the emerging Millennium.