This is part VII of an ongoing review of Julius Evola‘s Fascism viewed from the right, published by Arktos Media.
Fascism, as the conscious agent of the state, next had to confront the parliamentary system that it had inherited. Evola put it this way (in Chapter VIII): “The parliamentary system had sunk to a level where the politician had been replaced by the party hack, where everyone could see a system of incompetence, corruption and irresponsibility.” Since parties could replace each other through elections, there could be no stability to the state. Evola names three principles of the problem:
- The electoral principle in general
- The representative principle
- The political principle of hierarchy
Evola is quite caustic about the principle representation which is based on universal suffrage and the principle of “one man, one vote.” As such, it is based merely on quantity and the individual as undifferentiated mass man. Opposed to him, Evola opposes this individual to the “person” who has “a specific dignity, a unique quality, and differentiated traits”. Interestingly, Evola provides examples in “a great thinker, a prince of the Church, an eminent jurist or sociologist, the commander of an army”, etc.
Such persons should have the public interest in mind, whereas the individual has only personal interests or, at best, the interests of his group. Since in modern democracies, the transcendent is moved out of the public sphere and can be no more than a personal interest. Hence, the appeal is always made to economic interests. In the democratic system, the battle of parties, who each aim for the conquest of power, leads to a “totally chaotic and inorganic situation.”
In theory, the democratic system sounds fair, since open and free “debate” should lead to the “best” policy. Ultimately, however, quantity always dictates policy regardless of the quality of the debate. This is the representative principle based on egalitarianism, individualism, and quantity.
However, Evola points out that in a tradition society there is a different representative system based not on individuals, but rather on the different bodies or functions within it. Specifically, these would comprise the “corporations” (more like a trade association than a business venture”), the nobility, the scholars, and the army. Evola glaringly omits the “Church” or the spiritual authority.
What distinguishes this system is the hierarchical principle which overrides any decision based purely on the quantity of votes. For example, the spiritual authority would demand protection for its role in performing rites and offering education. This is not a “theocracy”, i.e., the rule of priests, since rule is still reserved to the aristocracy or warrior caste. The producing caste rules itself, subject to the warrior and spiritual authorities, through the various corporations. In the principle of subsidiarity, decision making is made as diffuse as reasonable and effective. Of course, Evola does not go into all the details here, since his primary interest is in how closely Fascism adhered to this system.
Like the traditional system, the Fascist system also relied on corporations, which replaced political parties. Instead of endless debate (note the influence of Donoso Cortes here), ideally the corporations should arrive at decisions through coordinated labor and technical and objective criteria. In this, Fascism was more or less successful. Italy did, however, emerge from basically third world status when Mussolini assumed control to somewhat of an industrial power twenty years later. The activity of the producing class is ignored by the “traditional” authors, but, despite Evola, it is legitimate for the state to take an interest in question of the economy and labor relations.
Evola next criticizes the so-called “ethical state”, a coinage of Giovanni Gentile, regarding it as “the dross, the unessential, and invalid part of Fascism.” That is absurd, as Evola lets his personal opinions intrude, since, for better or worse, Gentile was the philosopher of Fascism. The goal of the State was to create the nation thereby giving the people a will and effective existence. How else does the State do that except through education? Gentile uses the term “ethical”, not as schoolmarmish moralism, but in the philosophical sense of relating to the Will. Hence, education is necessary and of high priority.
Evola was probably objecting to the role of the Church in education. As Minister of Education, Gentile returned the crucifix to the classroom and made religious education part of the curriculum. Yet one of the roles of the spiritual authority is indeed education, so there is nothing at all untraditional about that. Evola often complains about the lack of a full spiritual content in Fascism, because of its relationship to the “dominant religion”, but it is certainly not the place of the temporal power to fabricate religions out of the air.