After reviewing Carl Schmitt‘s monograph, Julius Evola moves on to his own unique interpretation. At least, I am unaware of a similar interpretation. Rather than viewing Leviathan as the beginning of the modern political world, he sees it as the residue of the Traditional world, the remnant of a civilization that has lost its connection to transcendent principles and is left only with its forms of authority.
Here, drawing from some ideas of Donoso Cortes, Evola sees the possibility of a recovery of Tradition from the stage of the Leviathan. Facing Europe in revolution, Donoso postulated the arrival of a “man on a white horse”, a dictator who would restore order and tradition. Of course, Donoso had in mind a Catholic state, but that doesn’t alter the essence of Evola’s view.
After touching on all that, it is rather awkward to respond to a similar question: in particular, why, if we must respond in the affirmative, would it be necessary to see if the correspondence, in the end, is resolved in a valorization of Hobbes, or in grounds for suspicion of other aspects of the new political forms? This point merits a brief examination.
For that, it is necessary to state beforehand that the connection of the Leviathan with the myth of the contract must be considered absolutely inessential and contingent. Schmitt demonstrates a sensibility of everything particular when he states that when an author makes use of an image, like the Leviathan, he enters a domain where it is no longer a question of verbal formulas, dialectical abstractions, or mere “values”, but instead they act and dominate forces and powers, thrones and agencies, which reminds us of these words from J. G. Hamann: “There is just one step from transcendental ideas to demonology”. It is about something “elementary”: the substance of the Leviathan is essentially irrational, and when individualistic and utilitarian motives can also serve, in a preliminary phase, to lead toward a similar form of State that, in its actualization, calls to life something else, attests to an evocation, a really magical deed, no longer having anything to do with the rationality and the utility of individuals.
From a collective whole something transcendent can come to life, susceptible of manifestation in a center of pure irresistible power: power that, only as such, is truth and authority: the center the vortex. This is Leviathan.
We have already come to know this Leviathan as a phase of an involutive process: it is the survival of the ancient traditional State, whose absoluteness moved from the level of veritas to that of simple auctoritas. That, therefore, is in a retrospective vision. Let us now consider, instead, the possible return of the Leviathan to political developments beyond the acute phase of the crisis, i.e., beyond the complete individualistic breakup of the State. It should always depict a sovereignty deriving from the galvanized collective, therefore from forces of a prepersonal and irrational nature. It is not the collectivism of Marxism and bolshevism, since these movements, at least in their “myth” (and here, regarding “evocations”, the myth is not to be disregarded), oppose every form of sovereignty and are centered in a completely materialistic and uniformistic vision of the world. Instead, it would deal with of every anti-individualistic and anti-rationalistic movement, that profess again a conception of the State as “dio mortale”, that fuels this symbol with potent forces of faith and sacrifice, but unfortunately without surpassing the stage, that Keyserling would call “telluric”, i.e., the stage at which authority suffices and truth is superfluous; in which myths, and not true principles, are the best instrument to capture and organize collective forces; in which the miracle of an exceptional personality, of a “man of destiny” saturated with the “numinous”, and not a pure “divine right”, founds and legitimates sovereignty and command and confers a transcendent character to the idea of the State.
Seeing things this way, we can speak of a certain modernity of the Hobbesian Leviathan. But even in its new appearance it can claim so little, as in its emergence in the descending, involutive process to the character of a stable, definitive form. In the descent, once it reached the Leviathan from the true and traditional Sate, it was not possible to stop it, i.e., not to descend still even lower. In the new processes, we will necessarily find ourselves, sooner or later, facing an alternative. Either the new totalitarian movements will not succeed in surpassing their purely activist and vitalistic irrational phase: and now it will be difficult for the new Leviathans to be able to completely secure itself in the face of “indirect powers”—with which they no longer mean the irresponsibility parties or some secret associations, but influences of a deeper elusive nature, always capable of infiltrating wherever they do not find the way barred by the presence of authentic principles and in a firm, abiding truth: and such forces do not have as a goal the maintenance and the intensification of worldwide anti-traditional subversion. Or else, we will enter into a new phase in which the Leviathan, so to speak, will become the body formed to make possible the incarnation and the manifestation of a principle and a higher order: with that, the collectivistic and irrational aspect of the principle of totalitarianism and authority will be surpassed and will again implement a type of truly spiritual and traditional hierarchical organization.
We can already point out that an analysis of the purely symbolic aspect of the Leviathan would nearly lead to the same result. Once the affinity of the Leviathan with the dragon the other mythical characters is ascertained, Schmitt tries to demonstrate that symbols of the type would have negative and evil meanings especially in Semitic civilizations, while in others the dragon often appeared among the regal, imperial, and metaphysical symbols. That is not completely exact or, better said, this interpretation must be subordinated to another more general and essential one. Not only for the dragon or the serpent, but for many other ancient symbols, they assumed two opposed meanings—in relation to two different periods. When a power, in its positive, superior spiritual origin, falls and through regression becomes the tool of obscure, “elementary”, and “demonic” influences, in the symbolism of the various peoples, the symbols, once unknown, come to acquire a negative quality, while the positive ones, that were originally proper, are transferred to other symbols, alluding generally to a restorative function. That also fits exactly the Leviathan and confirms its ambiguous, double nature. And this duplicity, according to everything we said, reflects an alternative that will be decisive for the ultimate result of the forces of worldwide revolution.