Julius Evola concludes Chapter VI of Fascism Viewed from the Right with the criticism that the Party was not selective in terms of who was admitted to it. In Chapter VII, he deals with another problem with the system, that of the cult of the leader. First of all, in some ways it is too democratic for Evola since it depends on the “applause of the people”.
Rather, the traditional state relies on an anagogic, or mystical, climate. On the contrary, the Fascist system depends on stirring up the lower parts of the human soul, not unlike a criticism I made recently. He explains (this translation differs slightly from the English text):
Such a [anagogic] climate cannot be obtained with an enthusiasm that can, in certain cases, reach the level of fanaticism and collective passion, although based on the sub-personal aspects of man as mass-man and on the art of firing him up against every other possible form of individual reaction.
Despite the intensity of such feelings, it has only an ephemeral character which differs profoundly from the formative force from above of a true tradition. That is why things in Italy and Germany could unravel so quickly. Evola points out, too, that the democratic nations also rely on propaganda, demagogy, and the fabrication of public opinion. However, he does not indicate why the liberal democracies have been able to last longer than the “ephemeral” axis states of Europe.
In the traditional state, the leader has a natural authority rather than the formless authority of the dictator who depends on arousing the emotional and irrational elements of men. The leader is almost of a different nature from other men. Perhaps he meant here a “supernatural” authority. Curiously, he points to recent popes who have come down to the level of the people. Here, Evola was referring to Pope John XXIII, not Paul VI as in the notes. Of course, since then, popes have dropped more and more of the regalia and ceremonies that set them apart and have opted instead to identify with the “people”. Some commentators make much of this, for example, they claim that more people saw Pope Francis in Brazil than saw the Rolling Stones. Unfortunately, they haven’t noticed that the youths at World Youth Day live more like the Rolling Stones than like the pope.
Mussolini believed he was one of the great individuals who would arise, according to Oswald Spengler, at the “Decline of the West” (the translation oddly says “Sunset of the West”). The corrective to this situation would require a superior tradition and a different chrism. Yes, that is the point, but Evola does not offer us much. What is the tradition? Which spiritual authority would administer the chrism? These are the issues that need to be discussed at the present time.
Next, Evola addresses the military component of Fascism. Mussolini tried to instill a warrior ethos in the Italian people based on the virtues of obedience, sacrifice, discipline, and dedication. Clearly that is a fool’s errand, since you can’t “instill” such qualities en masse. He opposed the bourgeois spirit. This Evola can agree with and he points out that the army and the monarchy have always constituted the essential pillars of the true state before the revolutions of the Third Estate. He left out the spiritual authority as one of the “essential pillars”.
Evola concludes this discussion with the idea of public service as honour. To accentuate this, public officials wore uniforms. Here, also, he gets a dig in against Giovanni Gentile’s ideal of the ethical state. Gentile did not write anything very different from the Duce. He, too, advocated discipline, sacrifice, courage, and so on. As the education minister, he had to develop a school program to teach such virtues. Otherwise, by what means could they be “instilled” in the people? By way of contrast, apparently, Evola describes his own set of values which sound pretty good to certain types, although most people would consider them cold and even inhuman.
They include in the first place discipline, the sense of honour, active impersonality, relationships of responsibility, command, and obedience [not “responsible relationships …”], dislike of small talk and “discussions”, a virile solidarity with true freedom as its starting point – freedom for doing something, something that is worth the effort and that carries you beyond the stagnation of bourgeois, “prosperous”, and vegetative existence.