Here we see Julius Evola repeat familiar themes, even verbatim, but in today’s climate, it is well to do so. But besides the outer events of the degeneration of castes, Evola points out how it corresponds to states of consciousness. Not only are the religious, political, and economic structures overturned, but new forms of consciousness arise. No longer aware of the supernatural, the third dimension of history, men become dominated by the subconscious: merely vital, pre-intellectual, and instinctive impulses.
Note, too, how Evola defends reason in an essay devoted to myth. As Rene Guenon points out Mythos and Logos, properly understood, cannot be in conflict. But reason without the guidance of transcendent first principles is a boat without an anchor, drifting at random. It use becomes instrumental, good for limited purposes or to achieve irrational ends, but incapable of revealing any higher truth. In an allusion to Kant, Evola notes how reason itself is used to diminish it.
Please pay attention to how Evola’s and Guenon’s conception of the decline into modernity differs radically from the New Right. Alain de Benoist famously rejects reason as inadequate to lead to truth. This merely reveals his inability to grasp the supra-rational and supernatural. His explanation is superficial, the work of a dilettante, and little more than piling up names and date, in the hope of providing a comprehensive understanding. He correctly identifies modernity as a process of secularization, but presumes it to somehow be the logical outcome of the spiritual authority rather than its overthrow, as Evola asserts.
There is no organized Right along Traditional principles. Who in the West, today, is ready to renounce individualism and embrace obedience and subjugation to a spiritual authority? Yet that is what Evola calls for, and is comparable to what the Hermetist Valentin Tomberg says about obedience. Likewise, Tomberg recognizes the same cause of the modern world, pointing out that atheism and the denial of the supernatural are the marks of the lower castes.
The comprehension of the history of culture as involution appears today as the repercussion of a period of crisis in the mind of certain dilettantes and literati. That does not deny that such a conception also corresponds to a knowledge found with great uniformity and impersonality of lines in the traditional teachings of the most various peoples. As far as what interest us here, it is not an opinion, but a fact, to ascertain that, above all in the West, authority and power were passed progressively into the hands of lower castes. Metaphysical and aristocratic-sacred types of State and civilization are thus taken over by monarchical-warrior States already secularized to a large measure. Later on, the true political directive function passes, under the cover of democratic-liberalism, to the capitalistic oligarchy, which corresponds to the ancient Third Estate and the ancient castes of the bourgeoisie and merchants. In the end, phenomena like marxism, communism, collectivism, and above all bolshevism in their original forms came to show the tendency of power passing to the last caste, the ancient castes of serfs, which corresponds precisely to the mere mass.
This political aspect is naturally only the external and consequential side of an internal involution, for which each one of these four phases is accompanied by a corresponding change in the inner meaning of every institution, of every interest, of every ideal of knowing and acting. Thus not only for the State, but also for the concept of nation and family, ethics, law, architectonic types, speculation, art, the meaning of war, and so on one could be outline a phenomenology and notice the same change, the same rigorous regressive passage through the four stages: metaphysical or solar, merely warrior, bourgeoisie and humanistic, finally collectivistic and plebian.
But, for our purposes, we are interested only in emphasizing the aspect, through the already mentioned involution corresponds to a collapse of the personality, to a progressive failure of the inner tension that makes possible a supernatural organization of all the powers of the human being, and, finally, to a literal descent from the superconscious to an out-and-out subconscious. Man can be truly free and himself only when he maintains the center of his being on a metaphysical plane. When he detaches himself from such a plane and concentrates on practical goals, on temporal realizations and, in general, on whatever was the domain only of the lower castes taken in themselves, he abdicates, disintegrates himself, opens himself to subterranean forces, whose instrument he will soon be destined to be, unless he takes account of them.
And it is precisely this direction that modern enlightened persons have glorified as evolution. The point of rupture is constituted by individualism. With individualism man constitutes himself as an illusory center outside the center, he considers as conquest what is only his shameful mutilation, and he believes he can substitute those traditional certainties, those “non-human” principles from which he has now fallen, with constructions due to the actions of purely human and natural faculties. We can define this phase both as humanism and rationalism; it is of brief duration. Separated from every higher point of reference, reason cannot preserve its autonomy. Yet it, with an auto-corrosive critical labor, undertakes to refute the dogmatic and legislative claims of pure reason and to limit the validity of reason to an inferior use, i.e., practical, experiential, and utilitarian. In a subsequent moment the same weight of reason so diminished seems too heavy: in the forefront the irrational and the anti-rational now emerge as the substance of every reality and produces a reversal: to guide reason is now what is effectively inferior to reason, reason is now an instrument at the service of various impulses that can cover over political or religious, sentimental or practical-activist, forms, but that always retain a subpersonal character and that in principle are mere, blind self-assertion.
All that today is the religion of life, faustianism, pragmatism, the new naturalism, the religion of immanence and pure becoming, doctrines of the unconscious and new mysticism, belong to this level: far from having the value of a reaction, all of that corresponds only to the last phase of a process of erosion.
The same development is verified in the social arena. The individualistic usurpation automatically invokes the collectivistic limitation. Traditional men in his hierarchy and his caste could be free, i.e., himself: he had his law, his organic function, his dignity, whatever stratum he belonged to. Modern man, prideful of having swept away every caste and every true tradition, finds himself facing the mass of others without caste and without tradition. Even here the rationalist and humanist endeavor, i.e., the endeavor to arrange an unstable and chaotic mass of atoms by means of abstract juridical and political formulas. But even here the standard is not regained, nothing arises, for which obedience is also consent and subjection is also identification and elevation. Only unstable and tottering forms appear, against which the flood of new forces press to the end. These forces now belong less to the individual than to the masses, i.e., to what in individuals is the mass, to the purely vital, pre-intellectual, and instinctive part of their being. Atomism is outdated, and with it, too, everything that is liberalism and individualism galvanically settles in a new superindividual cement under the sign of a radical intolerance for every principle of a higher order and every true discipline. It is a new climate, saturated with enormous tensions, great forces in motion that no longer have a center.
⇐ Part I Part III ⇒