Evola points out an obvious, yet forgotten, fact that is more applicable to the USA than to Italy or Europe in general. In the USA, what is called “conservative” is actually “liberal” in historical terms. Specifically, it is the political system of the Third Estate, of the bourgeoisie, of “free enterprise” capitalism. Hence, in respect to the rule of the Priests and Warriors, it is actually on the “left”, a revolutionary idea. Only in relationship to socialism and communism can it be considered to be on the “right”, but only relatively, not absolutely or in principle. The true right, therefore, is confusing to conservatives; on the one hand, it also opposes socialism, but on the other it seems alien. That is why American conservatives are so fickle on the so-called “social issues”, sometimes attached to them, and other times, wishing they would disappear from public discourse. Hence, when pushed, the conservatives eventually side with the socialists against the true right. That is why they always lose and only claim victory when the eventually adopt more and more values of the left.
In the USA, the so-called liberals are actually socialist. Most will deny this, but keep in mind that we are describing real relationships, not nominal. Anyone who opposes not only the Priests and Warriors, but the Bourgeoisie as well in favor of formerly marginalized groups are of the left, in reality, even if not nominally. That is why the left is constantly in fear of an alliance of the Church and the Military, to which they add corporations (the symbol of the bourgeoisie), often with the prefix of “evil”. The irony is that those groups hardly oppose the left any more, in fact, they are often at the forefront of promoting leftist ideas. Rather than a direct attack, the left prefers incentives, regulations, cultural domination, and even outright infiltration to shift the remnants of the three estates of the realm to the revolutionary side; hence, they have become useless as counter-revolutionary counterweights.
Hence, Evola’s project will also have to show how the Fascist system dealt with the economic domain. He points out that unified Italy, which had come into existence just a generation or two before Mussolini, was modeled on the French revolution and not any true right. Evola points out that Italy did not have an established aristocracy to represent a true right; on the other hand, there was no reign of terror as there had been in France. Evola does not point out that the right was dominated by the church at that time, which was opposed to the Italian republic.
An excellent point he made is the idea of the “loyal opposition”, which can have some merit within a parliamentary system. The purpose of the opposition party is really to keep things honest, to offer sound criticism. The ruling and opposition parties both still support the state and its transcendent principles. Compare that with contemporary systems in which the various parties agree on no principles and are constantly trying to overturn the other. Hence, there is constant agitation as one party seeks to assert its dominance over the other, not just for power’s sake, for to alter entire moral and social structures.
Evola wants to distinguish certain principles of Fascism from its specific manifestation in Italy during the twenty years under Mussolini. He explains:
Fascism has undergone a process of what can be called mythologizing. In regard to it, the attitude taken by most people has an emotional and irrational character, instead of a critical and intellectual one.
That may be true, so his appeal to rationalism over emotionalism makes sense. However, in the traditional point of view, there is a perspective that is higher than the “critical and intellectual one”. Perhaps Mussolini is not a mythical figure, but the Leader was often mythologized. If we start from Guido De Giorgio’s understanding, he acted quite literally as God’s representative on earth. The Leader was revered as such from the Egyptian Pharaohs to Roman Empire. In some cases the Leader could even be understood as an avatar of God, such as, for example, Parashurama, who overturned the revolt of the Kshatriyas.
That is why one should take with caution Evola’s assertion that “the two planes of principle and historical contingency are absolutely distinct.” Of course, they are not “absolutely” distinct as though the plane of manifestation had an independent reality and was not itself the reflection of the spiritual plane. He means here the limited sense that the events of history cannot be understood simply as a judgment on the truth of principles; hence, Italy’s defeat does not imply the invalidity of the principles of Fascism, not the truth of the political systems of the Allies. Hence, Evola intends to evaluate Fascism in a more limited way. He is hampered in this task in that Fascism did not start from a clearly formulated doctrine, but rather it developed in an organic way over time. Evola’s task, then, is to extract the main principles while ignoring any stillborn intellectual offshoots.
In chapter III, Evola says that Fascism began as a “reaction” against the secular masonic state, which Evola describes as:
a state that on the whole lacked a myth in the positive sense, i.e., a superior animating and formative idea that could have made of it something more than a mere structure of public administration.
Against this, Fascism, Evola claimed, revived the idea of the state. Actually, the neo-idealism of Giovanni Gentile provided that revival, and it owed more than a little to Hegel. WWI awakened forces that “were intolerant of bourgeois Italy”. These forces were a fortiori intolerant of the socialists who had opposed interventionism, so Fascism began to define itself as a movement of the counterrevolutionary right. As such, it opposed democracy, plutocracy, freemasonry, in short, the principles of the French Revolution. It is obvious now, a half century after Evola’s book, that no major movement (i.e., one with any pretense of political power) of the so-called right would adopt any of that platform and would actually be appalled by it. Hence, the universal opprobrium attribute to Fascism or to any movement that smacks of it. So when Evola tries to extract what is “good” in Fascism, it won’t be seen as universally good.
The first principle that Evola gets into is the idea of the state, which is given pre-eminence, both over the people and the nation. He quotes Mussolini:
Without the State there is no nation. There are merely human aggregates subject to all the disintegrations which history may inflict upon them … only the State gives structure to the people … the nation is created by the State which gives the people a will and thereby a real existence. [my translation]
Evola makes use here of the notion of hylomorphism, which has done so effectively in various contexts. Here, specifically, the “state” is the form and the people the “matter”, in a relation analogous to that between the soul and the body. The Fascist state, therefore, is the animating and organizing force; this is the opposite of the modern minimalist liberal state which protects the liberties of the individuals who inhabit a particular geographic region.
To perform its task, the Fascist state affirmed “authority, order, and justice”, and appealed to the Roman idea (“Romanity”). Evola describes it:
Fascism recalled the Roman idea as the supreme and specific integration of the myth of the new “strong and organic” political organism; Roman tradition was not merely rhetoric and tinsel, but an “idea of strength”.
Evola admired that audacious move, since it tried to build a bridge across the centuries, connecting Italy at that time to ancient Rome. Evola points out a problem in that the significance of the state differed on both sides of the bridge. Moreover, the virile ethics, severity, and discipline of the Romans may not have transferred so well to the Italians. This Evola marked as a defect and the attempts to re-assert Romanity were non-existent or ineffective. He points to the Institute of Roman Studies which was never more than mere erudition promoting the study of philology and archaeology, rather than an effective political, spiritual, and ethical force.