This is the first part of a multipart review of Julius Evola’s book Il fascismo visto dalla destra. It will continue sporadically and I truly hope to get to the actual book in one of the subsequent parts. In quoting the text, I will usually rely on my own translations.
Arktos Media recently provided an English translation of Evola’s Fascism Viewed from the Right, actually Fascism viewed in hindsight from the point of view of Tradition. To review such a work, we will accept Evola’s definition:
Ideally, the concept of a true Right, what we mean by the Right, must defined in terms of the forces and traditions that acted formatively on a group of nations, and sometimes also on supernational units, before the French Revolution, before the accession of the Third Estate and the world of the masses, and before bourgeois and industrial culture, with all its consequences and effects of actions and concordant reactions that have led to the current chaos …
Hence, Evola fails or succeeds to the extent that he follows through on this project, and this requires that he defines the forces and traditions prior to the French Revolution. Specifically, at that time there were the three estates of the realm: the clergy, the nobility, and commoners. So we should expect to see how those estates were reconstituted during Italy’s Fascist era. However, Evola adds a little twist with an import he did not consider. He adds:
[the actions that led] to all that that threatens to destroy the little that still remains of the civilization of Europe and European prestige.
If we take “Europe” in the broad sense to include its extensions in North America and the South Pacific, that is simply false. European culture dominates virtually the entire globe, except for Muslim countries, from political systems, philosophy, law, science, technology, global capitalism, financial dominance, and then to sports, art, and all other manifestations of popular culture. For example, apart from the recent introduction of Asian martial arts (which unfortunately have pushed out wrestling), all Olympic sports derive from Europe. This is not the place to detail this extensively, but European culture and prestige is more dominant than ever, especially since it is freely accepted and not imposed through colonization. At one time, I used to support the Free Tibet movement as it represented a theocratic, patriarchal, hierarchical society; however, the Dalai Lama now plans to introduce European style parliamentary government to Tibet should he get the chance.
To explain the point of this digression: since European culture and prestige are not in decline, there is no sense of crisis and certainly no fear of an impending chaos among contemporary power holders. That would be true only if viewed from the Right, which regards contemporary European culture as anti-Europe, not really Europe. Those on the Left, on the other hand, consider modernity and its fruits of universal democracy, general literacy, science, technology, sexual liberation, free thoughts, to be the true Europe which cast off the ignorance, supernaturalism, oppression, racism, etc., of the previous era.
I bring this up because most today, who claim to be of the Right, seem frustrated that no one seems to notice the “chaos” that they see. Of course, chaos cannot be “seen”, since it is not a presence, but rather the absence of order. It is that order that the Right seeks to restore, but it must be intuited and yet is hidden in broad daylight from those whose mode of being in the world is precisely to overturn the established order of things. Hence, a dialog is not possible and there is nothing left but the will to power; and we know who today has the superior will to power. This should refute the idea of any nationalism based on zoological ethnicity or “whiteness”; rather, an appeal to the soul or spirit is necessary. The values of the modern world, hence, need to be understood as the values of a particular estate, specifically, those of the third estate of the bourgeoisie and even of the fourth estate of the undifferentiated mass, as opposed to the estates of the Priests and Warriors.
Before continuing, let us get out of the way a couple of misleading translation errors. The “idea of force” (p. 78) is the translation of ‘idea-forza’ which is itself the translation of the French ‘idée-force’. That term is taken from Georges Sorel and refers to a “myth” that has the power to motivate men to action. Certainly it does not mean the “idea of force” and perhaps a “forceful idea” would be closer. The term itself means nothing in French or Italian; that is why the translations of Sorel into English leave it untranslated so that ‘idée-force’ is the better choice.
The other misleading translation, although it is explained correctly in the notes, is the use of ‘thoroughbred’ to translate ‘essere di razza’. That is certainly incorrect since thoroughbred refers to a breed of horse used for racing. Perhaps the translator meant to say ‘purebred’, but that is still incorrect, since the biological race is not the critical point for Evola. It is best to let it stand as ‘the elite is of race’, understood as Evola intended. Now Evola has claimed the origin of that expression was from the Romans, but I am not enough of a classicist to know the exact source. However, Oswald Spengler uses the term, although he means race in a cultural, rather than a zoological, sense. So only the elite of a culture were truly “of race”.
In this introduction, I’ll also mention some inherent defects in his approach, one because of the nature of Fascism, the other due to Evola’s persistent prejudices. For the former, Fascism was not systematic, i.e., it was not derived from any ideological systematization, so there is an effort involved to extract its principles from what it was and not just from its texts. Moreover, I am not as sanguine as Evola about the possibility to cleanly separate the essential from the accidental or contingent.
To the extent that it did have an intellectual framework, that derived from the philosophy of Giovanni Gentile. Unfortunately, Julius Evola had a personal animus against Gentile, attributing ideas to Mussolini which were actually ghost-written by Gentile. Evola came of age within Fascism while Gentile was at the peak of his influence. In many ways the worldviews of the two Sicilians were similar, or at least had a family resemblance; perhaps Evola felt he need to create more distance in order to create his own sphere of influence. However, Gentile was a professor, bourgeois, and part of the high culture of Italy. These were antithetical to Evola. Although an Evolian critique of Gentile could have been of interest, I recommend instead reading this book in conjunction with the several books by James Gregor (who likewise harbored an animus against Evola) to get the full view of Fascism from the Right.