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Thread: American "Civilization" [by Julius Evola]

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    American "Civilization" [by Julius Evola]

    The recently deceased John Dewey was applauded by the American press as the most representative figure of American civilisation. This is quite right. His theories are entirely representative of the vision of man and life which is the premise of Americanism and its 'democracy'.

    The essence of such theories is this: that everyone can become what he wants to, within the limits of the technological means at his disposal. Equally, a person is not what he is from his true nature and there is no real difference between people, only differences in qualifications. According to this theory anyone can be anyone he wants to be if he knows how to train himself.

    This is obviously the case with the 'self-made man'; in a society which has lost all sense of tradition the notion of personal aggrandisement will extend into every aspect of human existence, reinforcing the egalitarian doctrine of pure democracy. If the basis of such ideas is accepted, then all natural diversity has to be abandoned. Each person can presume to possess the potential of everyone else and the terms 'superior' and 'inferior' lose their meaning; every notion of distance and respect loses meaning; all life-styles are open to all. To all organic conceptions of life Americans oppose a mechanistic conception. In a society which has 'started from scratch', everything has the characteristic of being fabricated. In American society appearances are masks not faces. At the same time, proponents of the American way of life are hostile to personality.

    The Americans' 'open-mindedness', which is sometimes cited in their favour, is the other side of their interior formlessness. The same goes for their 'individualism'. Individualism and personality are not the same: the one belongs to the formless world of quantity, the other to the world of quality and hierarchy. The Americans are the living refutation of the Cartesian axiom, "I think, therefore I am": Americans do not think, yet they are. The American 'mind', puerile and primitive, lacks characteristic form and is therefore open to every kind of standardisation.

    In a superior civilisation, as, for example, that of the Indo-Aryans, the being who is without a characteristic form or caste (in the original meaning of the word), not even that of servant or shudra, would emerge as a pariah. In this respect America is a society of pariahs. There is a role for pariahs. It is to be subjected to beings whose form and internal laws are precisely defined. Instead the modern pariahs seek to become dominant themselves and to exercise their dominion over all the world.

    There is a popular notion about the United States that it is a 'young nation' with a 'great future before it'. Apparent American defects are then described as the 'faults of youth' or 'growing pains'. It is not difficult to see that the myth of 'progress' plays a large part in this judgement. According to the idea that everything new is good, America has a privileged role to play among civilised nations. In the First World War the United States intervened in the role of 'the civilised world' par excellence. The 'most evolved' nation had not only a right but a duty to interfere in the destinies of other peoples.

    The structure of history is, however, cyclical not evolutionary. It is far from being the case that the most recent civilisations are necessarily 'superior'. They may be, in fact, senile and decadent. There is a necessary correspondence between the most advanced stages of a historical cycle and the most primitive. America is the final stage of modern Europe. Guenon called the United States 'the far West', in the novel sense that the United States represents the reductio ad absurdum of the negative and the most senile aspects of Western civilisation. What in Europe exist in diluted form are magnified and concentrated in the United States whereby they are revealed as the symptoms of disintegration and cultural and human regression. The American mentality can only be interpreted as an example of regression, which shows itself in the mental atrophy towards all higher interests and incomprehension of higher sensibility. The American mind has limited horizons, one conscribed to e! veryth ing which is immediate and simplistic, with the inevitable consequence that everything is made banal, basic and levelled down until it is deprived of all spiritual life. Life itself in American terms is entirely mechanistic. The sense of 'I' in America belongs entirely to the physical level of existence. The typical American neither has spiritual dilemmas nor complications: he is a 'natural' joiner and conformist.

    The primitive American mind can only superficially be compared to a young mind. The American mind is a feature of the regressive society to which I have already referred.

    American Morality

    The much-vaunted sex appeal of American women is drawn from films, reviews and pin-ups, and is in large print fictitious. A recent medical survey in the United States showed that 75 per cent of young American women are without strong sexual feeling and instead of satisfying their libido they seek pleasure narcissistically in exhibitionism, vanity and the cult of fitness and health in a sterile sense. American girls have 'no hang-ups about sex'; they are 'easy going' for the man who sees the whole sexual process as something in isolation thereby making it uninteresting and matter-of-fact, which, at such a level, it is meant to be. Thus, after she has been taken to the cinema or a dance, it is something like American good manners for the girl to let herself be kissed - this doesn't mean anything. American women are characteristically frigid and materialistic. The man who 'has his way' with an American girl is under a material obligation to her. The woman has granted a materia! l favour. In cases of divorce American law overwhelmingly favours the woman. American women will divorce readily enough when they see a better bargain. It is frequently the case in America that a woman will be married to one man but already 'engaged' to a future husband, the man she plans to marry after a profitable divorce.

    "Our" American Media

    Americanisation in Europe is widespread and evident. In Italy it is a phenomenon which is rapidly developing in these post-war years and is considered by most people, if not enthusiastically, at least as something natural. Some time ago I wrote that of the two great dangers confronting Europe - Americanism and Communism - the first is the more insidious. Communism cannot be a danger other than in the brutal and catastrophic form of a direct seizure of power by communists. On the other hand Americanisation gains ground by a process of gradual infiltration, effecting modifications of mentalities and customs which seem inoffensive in themselves but which end in a fundamental perversion and degradation against which it is impossible to fight other than within oneself.

    It is precisely with respect to such internal opposition that most Italians seem weak. Forgetting their own cultural inheritance they readily turn to the United States as something akin to the parent guide of the world. Whoever wants to be modern has to measure himself according to the American standard. It is pitiable to witness a European country so debase itself. Veneration for America has nothing to do with a cultured interest in the way other people live. On the contrary, servility towards the United States leads one to think that there is no other way of life worth considering on the same level as the American one.

    Our radio service is Americanised. Without any criterion of superior and inferior it just follows the fashionable themes of the moment and markets what is considered 'acceptable' - acceptable, that is, to the most Americanised section of the public, which is to say the most degenerate. The rest of us are dragged along in its wake. Even the style of presentation on radio has become Americanised. "Who, after listening to an American radio programme, can suppress a shudder when he considers that the only way of escaping communism is by becoming Americanised?" Those are not the words of an outsider but of an American sociologist, James Burnham, professor at the University of Princeton. Such a judgement from an American should make Italian radio programmers blush for shame.

    The consequence of the 'do your own thing' democracy is the intoxication of the greater part of the population which is not capable of discriminating for itself, which, when not guided by a power and an ideal, all too easily loses sense of its own identity.

    The Industrial Order in America

    In his classic study of capitalism Werner Sombart summarised the late capitalist phase in the adage Fiat producto, pareat homo. In its extreme form capitalism is a system in which a man's value is estimated solely in terms of the production of merchandise and the invention of the means of production. Socialist doctrines grew out of a reaction to the lack of human consideration in this system.

    A new phase has begun in the United States where there has been an upsurge of interest in so-called labor relations. In appearance it would seem to signify an improvement: in reality this is a deleterious phenomenon. The entrepreneurs and employers have come to realise the importance of the 'human factor' in a productive economy, and that it is a mistake to ignore the individual involved in industry: his motives, his feelings, his working day life. Thus, a whole school of study of human relations in industry has grown up, based on behaviourism. Studies like Human Relations in Industry by B. Gardner and G. Moore have supplied a minute analysis of the behaviour of employees and their motivations with the precise aim of defining the best means to obviate all factors that can hinder the maximisation of production. Some studies certainly don't come from the shop floor but from the management, abetted by specialists from various colleges. The sociological investigations go as far! as analysing the employee's social ambience. This kind of study has a practical purpose: the ma intenance of the psychological contentment of the employee is as important as the physical. In cases in which a worker is tied to a monotonous job which doesn't demand a great deal of concentration, the studies will draw attention to the 'danger' that his mind may tend to wander in a way that may eventually reflect badly on his attitude towards the job.

    The private lives of employees are not forgotten - hence the increase in so-called personnel counselling. Specialists are called in to dispel anxiety, psychological disturbances and non-adaptation 'complexes', even to the point of giving advice in relation to the most personal matters. A frankly psycho-analytic technique and one much used is to make the subject 'talk freely' and put the results obtainable by this 'catharsis' into relief.

    None of this is concerned with the spiritual betterment of human beings or any real human problems, such as a European would understand them in this "age of economics". On the other side of the Iron Curtain man is treated as a beast of burden and his obedience is maintained by terror and famine. In the United States man is also seen as just a factor of labour and consumption, and no aspect of his interior life is neglected and every factor of his existence is drawn to the same end. In the 'Land of the Free', through every medium, man is told he has reached a degree of happiness hitherto undreamed of. He forgets who he is, where he came from, and basks in the present.

    American "Democracy" in Industry

    There is a significant and growing discrepancy in the United States between the shibboleths of the prevailing political ideology and the effective economic structures of the nation. A large part of studies of the subject is played by the 'morphology of business'. Studies corroborate the impression that American business is a long way from the type of organisation which corresponds to the democratic ideal of U.S. propaganda. American businesses have a 'pyramid' structure. They constitute at the top an articulate hierarchy. The big businesses are run in the same way as government ministries and are organised along similar lines. They have co-ordinating and controlling bodies which separate the business leaders from the mass of employees. Rather than becoming more flexible in a social sense the "managerial elite" (Burnham) is becoming more autocratic than ever - something not unrelated to American foreign policy.

    This is the end of yet another American illusion. America: the 'land of opportunity', where every possibility is there for the person who can grasp it, a land where anyone can rise from rags to riches. At first there was the 'open frontier' for all to ride out across. That closed and the new 'open frontier' was the sky, the limitless potential of industry and commerce. As Gardner, Moore and many others have shown, this too is no longer limitless, and the opportunities are thinning out. Given the ever increasing specialisation of labour in the productive process and the increasing emphasis on 'qualifications', what used to seem obvious to Americans - that their children would 'go further' than they would - is for many people no longer obvious at all. Thus it is that in the so-called political democracy of the United States, the force and the power in the land, that is to say the industry and the economy, are becoming ever more self-evidently undemocratic.

    The problem then is! : should reality be made to fit ideology or vice-versa? Until recently the overwhelming demand has been for the former course of action; the cry goes out for a return to the 'real America' of unfettered enterprise and the individual free of central government control. Nevertheless, there are also those who would prefer to limit democracy in order to adapt political theory to commercial reality. If the mask of American 'democracy' were thereby removed, it would become clear to what extent 'democracy' in America (and elsewhere) is only the instrument of an oligarchy which pursues a method of 'indirect action', assuring the possibility of abuse and deception on a large scale of those many who accept a hierarchical system because they think it is justly such. This dilemma of 'democracy' in the United States may one day give place to some interesting developments.

    Source: Julius Evola's article "Civilta" Americana (American "Civilization") was first published in 1945, and reprinted in 1983 by the Julius Evola Foundation in Rome.
    And all my youth passed by sad-hearted,
    the joy of Spring was never mine;
    Autumn blows through me dread of parting,
    and my heart dreams and longs to die.

    - Nikolaus Lenau (1802-1850)

    Real misanthropes are not found in solitude, but in the world; since it is experience of life, and not philosophy, which produces real hatred of mankind.

    - Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837)

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    Arrow Evola

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    This mailing list is dedicated to discussion of Traditionalist thought in general and the works of Italian philosopher Baron Julius Evola in particular. Topics include esoteric religion in its various manifestations, the UR Group, Initiation, Magick, Tantra, Alchemy, the Grail, Chivalry, Indo-European studies, Paganism, Taoism, symbolism, mythology, meta-history, ancient civilizations, counter-revolution, esoteric politics, the decline of the West, and the end of history.

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    Evola: Collected articles by the Italian baron (Misc.)

    Action, Contemplation, and the Western Tradition
    Julius Evola


    Esoterically, when we speak of 'tradition', we mean the 'transmission' (traditio) from generation to generation of a 'presence' of 'transcendent' nature, just as a flame lights another flame. A chain of individuals thus becomes the mediator of a continuity of contact with metaphysical reality and a non-human force.

    This transmission can happen in an elite existing as an hidden vein behind the great historical and ethnic forces. But it can also occur that the occult shows itself and dominates, that is to say, that, in a given civilisation, all activities become organised around this elite, which becomes their manifest centre, the axis from which they draw their meaning and their orientation in a system of hierarchic participation.

    All the original civilisations, albeit to varying degrees, have a traditional character in this sense. It must however be noticed that, from a certain point, a law of differentiation comes into play. When it appears as spirit of a given epoch or civilisation, the metaphysical identity bifurcates itself. In its most immediate manifestation, it produces two distinct trunks and gives rise to two fundamental forms.

    The two trunks are : action and contemplation.

    The two related forms are : royal initiation and sacerdotal initiation - hence there are two types of tradition: warlike-magic tradition and ascetic-contemplative or Brahmanic tradition.



    The Two Traditions

    Mortal life's rule is 'flow'. It does not possess Being, and, caught in varying external fortunes, it moves, restless, in the world of particular things and temporal interests. This law has been pointed out many times in these pages. Above this is the area of Being, according to which life becomes basis, reason and value in itself, gains stability, possesses in itself its own principle. Identical to that of the incorruptible and the eternal, this area can be reached either by means of Action as well as by means of Contemplative Knowledge.

    Action can lead to it insofar as it is pure. At the inferior limit, there is the purity of the one who follows faithfully the rule of his own life and gives to his action the meaning of a rite and of a sacrificial offering. On a higher plane, there is the internalisation and development of this bent in the one who acts without aiming at contingent and particular fruits, considering as the same happiness and calamity, good and evil, even victory and defeat, looking neither at the 'I' nor at the 'you', overcoming love as well as hatred and any other pair of opposites. This man sets himself free from the individual condition; in the supranatural certainty of a borderline intensity, here 'life' is reversed into a 'more-than-life' and the contact with a state of light and power is achieved, which surpasses, dominates and carries off everything that is of a merely human or material order, giving way to actions, excitements and visions which would be impossible otherwise. We may summarise this as : heroic state, magic state, state of the Master of the Law. By transposition : warlike caste - warlike-magic and warlike traditions - finally : royal and imperial traditions.

    In contemplation the metaphysical state, rather than by the means of assertion and liberation of action, is achieved by rejecting action. In the higher forms it resembles the fire of an intellectual catharsis. The bond of individuation dissolves in knowledge, in universality, in a vision of an eternal kind. It is the impulse towards the One. It is the path of the mystic identifications whose direction is opposed to that which leads towards form and differentiation. To summarise : ascetic (in a specific sense) and sacerdotal state. By transposition : sacerdotal caste, mediator and bearer of the sacred - sacerdotal, hieratic-sapiental and religious-pontifical (the king-priest) traditions.

    It should be noted that these two forms of tradition are to be considered as distinct not insofar as that each of them would be based on a term which the other would be deprived of, but, rather, insofar as that each of them has both but in a different hierarchical order. As a matter of fact, the heroic path and the magic path involve 'asceticism', yet according to action, achieved as a way of being of action. Conversely, high contemplation is realisation and as such entails the element 'action', which, however, remains here dependent on pure knowledge, interest in the universal and pure transcendence. In the same way, on the concrete and historical plane a tradition of a warlike kind can certainly admit sacerdotal castes, but subordinated to the royal and warlike castes, that is to say that it is characterised by a synthesis of what is sacred and what is royal which is determined by the predominance of the active and sovereign aspect of the force from above. The opposite occurs in the other case : for example, here the warlike caste is given the role of defending the sacerdotal caste and of being its secular arm.

    The spirit of both traditions having been briefly and approximatively indicated, we offer a few suggestions as to what 'Western Tradition' may mean.



    The Modern World and Christianity

    First of all, it must be borne in mind that it is not possible to speak in any way of 'Tradition' in the West if one identifies the West with the 'modern world', that is, with the civilisation which has developed in Europe from the century of the Renaissance onwards with the ideologies of the French revolution and the advent of science and technology.

    Such civilisation, in fact, systematically destroyed the premise of any tradition, whatever type it may be, and, thus, the contact with the metaphysical reality and the hierarchical co-ordination of the activities and the ways of living based on the principles which are related to this reality. The 'modern world' is characterised by a development along purely material, practical and industrial lines, in which what is at work is completely human and social forces, and, moreover, by the fact that forces once turned towards transcendence, towards what in man goes beyond man, so as to at least counterbalance purely material and temporal interests, instead stir, incite and foment what has a practical, political and merely human character, so as to make every higher point of reference vanish.

    What opposes the modern world to any traditional civilisation, what is at the root of all its crises and precludes it from healing is not so much its being a body without spirit as its being a body which has reduced the spirit to being its instrument. This is why it is meaningless to refer in any way to a 'Western Tradition' if it is the modern West that we have in mind. The modern West and anti-tradition are the same thing. The fact is nonetheless that there were still in Europe, at least until a certain period, centres in possession of esoteric knowledge, that is, of the occult tradition. However, even though those centres had a genuine Western character, they did not exert a direct influence on the formation of the overall civilisation, when it comes to tradition in the broad sense. The modern West has constructed itself by breaking from any influence of that kind. If anything, it is 'counter-initiation' (1) which has played this role of influence.

    In the second place, it is a matter of not granting to the religion which has come to prevail in the West either the character of a true, complete tradition, or of a 'Western Tradition'. In support of the second point, Pietro Negri has already made some interesting observations (2). On the whole, what follows must be borne in mind.

    No doubt, Christianity, and especially Catholicism, had for centuries the power to organise the various races in the West according to its unique corpus of doctrines and faiths. However, it is questionable whether this corpus retained within itself any higher elements of a truly metaphysical character and whether the organisation which is usually indicated generically as 'Christian civilisation' was ever 'traditional' in the complete sense of which we have spoken. We must distinguish very clearly between religion as a devotional, emotional and popular fact accompanied by theologising philosophy, dogma and apologetics, on the one hand, and spirituality as metaphysical realisation by means of regular initiation, on the other. Faith, hope, charity, the 'need of the soul', the 'fear of God' and all elements of that kind by themselves do not lead by an inch beyond what is merely human, nor have they had anything to do with true spirituality, either with a heroic spirituality or a tradition of sacred knowledge.

    But it is precisely a body of elements of that kind which, in fact, makes up the substance of the Christian tradition, in which it takes the place of spirituality, and this results in the frequent and contaminating humanisation of the divine. That, in spite of this, in rites and symbols taken to a large extent from previous or different traditions, the consciousness of the most profound meaning of which is however almost always non-existent, the Christian tradition still retains traces of a metaphysical teaching - this is too little for a real and operative traditional 'orthodoxy', as opposed to a merely formal one.

    The human, devotional plane, or rather the plane of theological speculation onto which these traditional traces have been transposed and within which they have been preserved, is not a plane on which they can be completely validated. And it is Catholicism itself which gives the confirmation of this : with the harsh loathing it has always nursed for any attempt to complete on esoteric lines its doctrines - from some 'non-orthodox' branches of the Greek Patristic Age and that of the Gnostics to that of the Templars and of various Christian Hermeticists, and to today. Nowadays, Catholicism worries much more about 'getting sorted out' with 'modern thought' than about gaining height in any way through elements of esoteric character.

    Experientially, leaving aside the merely charismatic or sacramental life, whose significance we will speak of on another occasion, in Christianity everything comes down to the climactic achievements of some mystics, who do not form any tradition, any continuity or chain and do not have any determining, standard-setting, regular or direct relation with the centre of orthodoxy. Moreover, Christianity cannot claim, with respect to the West, the character of a native tradition, congenital to its races, as is the case for, for instance, Brahmanism for Hindus, Islam for the Arabs, or the whole Far-Eastern tradition. Christianity asserted itself in the West on the ruins of a previous Western tradition, which had its achieved heroic and sacred traditional character ; with that former world it has maintained only a very relative and apparent continuity, in spite of everything it has borrowed and has sought to absorb and ratify.

    A great part has been played within Christianity by influences that are in no way Western or even, more broadly, Aryan: influences deriving either from Judaism or from the devious substratum of pre-Aryan and anti-Aryan Mediterranean spirituality. In some cases, these influences are limited to the superficial, to the most popular and sentimental aspects of Christianity. In other cases, however, they corrode the essence. The doctrine of Original Sin, the exacerbated dualism, the very concept of 'Redemption', the anti-Olympian root theme of the god who suffers, dies and rises again, all this shows the presence of external influences, neither Aryan, nor Western, in Christianity and in Catholicism itself (3).

    This is why we think that, in regard to the 'modern world' and to the 'Christian world', it would be risky to speak, in general, of a 'Western tradition'.



    The Real Western Tradition

    This is no longer the case, however, if we return to the ancient Aryo-Mediterranean and Roman world. We find here, albeit interspersed with forces from various other traditions, traces of a formative force and of a spirituality to which the true face of the West can be specifically attributed. This force and this spirituality refer to a tradition of an essentially heroic type. If, from the principle, already indicated, which defines a warlike tradition we deduce its expression on the plane of conditioned events, we find forms and ideas which characterise precisely the Western civilisation and spirit. On the most external plane, the law of action actually finds expression in the style of races of navigators, conquerors, colonisers - in the Homeric and Roman epic world : a free, liberated, heroic world, devoid of uncertainties, of any idea of an 'infinite' in the romantic sense, constituted of simple forces and elementary purities : the Doric style, the Roman virtus, the monumental element, the solar ideal of the Imperium, the type of the Augustus.

    Further, action requires objects, limits, boundaries : it implies form, difference, individuation. While within a sacerdotal tradition form is almost always only symbol, concealment of a mysterious, ineffable, incorporeal spirituality, in the opposite tradition the form almost always gains importance and value. Here the physical and the metaphysical, the material and the immaterial, the corporeal and the incorporeal coincide in the balance of two co-essential terms, in very distinct and intensively individuated types and forms. In fact, here we find the classico-Aryan cult of form, strength, corporeal perfection, of beauty itself as expressions of spirituality ; here is a natural overcoming of the dualisms of Levantine character ; here is the anti-romantic doctrine, and, therefore, everything that is 'infinite' is seen as an abstract potentiality, an imperfection and the finite, on the contrary, is seen as a value, recognising in it the limit of a force which has managed to give a form, a law, an achieved individuality to itself. The particular value assumed by law refers, partly, to the same order of ideas.

    The eye which stops at form and at limit sees harmony and number. Hence, from the time of Mediterranean antiquity, in Greece and in Rome, we see the blossoming of sacred sciences based on number and harmony ; a heritage perhaps esoteric, within which precedents in Chaldea, but, more immediately, Egyptian contributions of archaic Atlantico-Western origin, assume a very special development. If, compared with such sciences, the quantitative method of the modern exact sciences (which were formed almost exclusively in the West) represents a degenerative deviation, yet it is a degeneration which starts from the same stock. Something similar could even be said of Western rationalism, which started in Greece : the passion for the concept in the sense of distinct, definite, precise notion, which means this and nothing else, in the sense of notion which measures (mens could derive from mensurare, and a similar derivation can be supposed for ratio) is something specifically Western, which equally reveals the law of action, which, asserting itself, implies limit, difference.

    When it prevails over contemplation, action thus moves in a definite world, constituted of forms, governed by a law of difference and, therefore, of plurality too : many forces, many consciousnesses, many types, distinct and unmistakable, almost 'Microcosms within the Macrocosm', since each of them contains and resolves in its own being the amorphous cosmic possibility. What is thus particularly significant for the Western Tradition is the Aristotelian vision of the world, which is characterised by the fact that, in a being, it considers what is 'universal' as less real, more abstract, incomplete (steresis - privation (of being)) ; the particular, on the contrary, it considers to be what has value, what is desirable, what is more than real, the fulfillment or end (telos) of a being. The Aristotelian doctrine of the sunolon is that, specifically classic, doctrine of the idea or of the 'engendering force' which is really real when it actualises itself, individuates itself, asserts itself as power and life of a form, in an indissoluble unity.

    Naturally, this should not lead us to attribute to the Western vision of the world a mere pluralism or individualism. There is still a unity, the world is not pure plurality, but rather cosmos, uni-verse, divine order. However, in a warlike tradition, this unity does not have the exclusivist emphasis that the opposite tradition, the ascetic-contemplative one, grants it. Whence, too, the sense of polytheism of the pre-Christian Western world, considerably different from the Oriental one : it is focused, above all, on the concrete and individuated form of the divine powers at work in things, in heroes, in completed types as living works of art, within this clear and harmonious cosmos whose beauty the poets would sing and whose hidden laws and secret analogies the initiates would penetrate.

    What is also typical is the importance that, especially in the ancient Roman world, the notion of numen had. The ancient Roman-occidental man was inclined to conceive any divinity not so much as deus but rather as numen, that is, as a force, a power, which was defined essentially through its action. Moreover, he would differentiate himself from the Greek spirit by the emphasis he would put on the political and historical element. While, in Greece, the contemplative tendency saw to it that the divine world was conceived of as a sort of atemporal supraworld and, so to speak, as absolute space, Rome strained to grasp this world in its manifestation in time, in history, in the state, in the actions and creations of men, without however diminishing its august character in any manner thereby. The Roman, much more than the Jew, had the sense of a sacred history. The Roman conception of the state, of law and of the Imperium was based essentially on this historical sense, active and sacred at the same time. The warlike and political caste in Rome typically held a sacred dignity.

    Many traces of the 'heroic truth' were found in the West on the plane of initiatic myth too. Among the origin myths opposed to that, also present in the archaic Mediterranean, of the 'fall', there is that of the 'heroes' and of the sons greater than their fathers, who dominated the Mothers and reconquered the realm of the killed father.

    This mysterious knowledge, which sometimes appears as that of the 'immaterial race of those without king', passed into certain initiatic currents, in the symbols of which new references to the active, creative spirit are not lacking.' We will limit ourselves to indicating the symbolism of building and to recalling how in Hermetism it is spoken of not as much as a knowledge but rather as an art, which was generally called ars regia. Its formula : 'corporealise the spirit, spiritualise the body', reconfirms the anti-mystical and anti-ecstatic classico-occidental ideal. The red and the gold, and not the white, mark here the supreme fulfillment. In the Graal tradition the warlike theme and the Regnum motif reappear, as they will continue to do in secret centres until the period of the later Rosicrucianism. More generally, we must note the persistence in the very Western Middle Ages of the symbol of magic, which, instead of exhausting itself on the lower plane of a mere science of psychic powers, was closely linked to a particular interpretation of the Initiatic ideal. And if, as pointed out, the development of positive sciences is a characteristic of the West, it is based on the tendency to an active knowledge and to a clarity which, even though it fell to a lower level and exerted itself only in a material and physical field, is nonetheless significant as a component of the Western spiritual attitude.

    Christianity, whose external, non-Western and non-Aryan aspects have already been pointed out by us, is a maimed and truncated tradition of the hieratic-sacerdotal type which has managed to prevail over a tradition of the heroic type which predominated in the most ancient Mediterranean and, in general, Aryo-Western world.

    But Christianity achieved this supremacy only insofar it adapted many forms peculiar to traditions different from it, especially that of Rome. It was more Roman Catholicism than Christianity which won in the West and, in its turn, Catholicism had its golden age in the feudal, knightly and crusading Middle Ages ; and, until it decayed into mere spurious forms, the active and conquering contribution found expression in the proselytising, missionary and supremacist instinct that Christianity displayed, from its beginnings to Protestantism and Calvinism.

    The tradition to which the event in Palestine gave birth has thus the character of an ambiguous and almost contradictory thing. However, it is precisely to this contradictoriness that Christianity owes its force ; it has given to it, until lately, the means to control races congenitally inspired by a warlike tradition, such as the Western one, before their complete secularisation and terrestrialisation. If Christianity is a counterfeiting of a tradition of a really sacred, ascetico- metaphysical, Brahmanic type, the 'modern world', which from one day to the next is undermining what remains of the Western religion, represents in its turn, in many respects, a terratological counterfeiting of a tradition of a warlike type.

    It is therefore clear that, if it had been at all possible to rebuild a 'tradition' in the West, it could only essentially have been done via forces of a heroico-initiatic character, on the basis of a vision of the world of a more or less magical type (in the special sense that is always given here to this word).

    Any attempt at a traditional Restoration along other lines in the West would meet quite definite difficulties and would lack any point of application. If this body of barbarian grandeur that the West has built with its civilisation reacted against any soul, that is to say, against any supernatural element intended to recapture it, to hold it up and to lead it, this reaction would be particularly vigorous if the soul were different from that of the warlike and active races whose degenerated heir the West is.



    Clarifications

    Just as the West is mainly stamped by the tradition of action, the East is mainly stamped with the tradition of contemplation. We say 'mainly' because the East too has known heroic and imperial cycles, and, for instance, it is difficult to find elsewhere such advanced motifs of transcendent justification as in the Bhagavad-Gita. In addition, the example of imperial and warlike Japan, in which, until the collapse of 1945, the ascetic formation of life played a great part, not to mention the frankly esotericist Zen schools, must not be forgotten. Further, for those who understand the tradition in which action prevails over contemplation equally with the one in which we have the opposite relation, as two paths both possible and competent to reach something which is beyond both action and contemplation, independent, as it is, of any particular conditionality, there is no contradiction between the two. These people will abstain from judging either tradition, they will limit themselves to understanding them and realising the truths, the perspectives and the principles that must be asserted, once, according to one's own nature, one adheres to one tradition or the other.

    There is on the other hand an opposition between them and those who insist on the 'orthodoxy' and supremacy of one of the two traditions, condemning the other as a deviation and an error. This would merely produce the effect of a mental limitation. Yet we must eliminate any cause of misunderstanding by underlining that the supremacy of action in the tradition which corresponds to it has nothing to do with the usurpation of temporal power, since action always amounts here to a means of liberation and has always as its point of reference something transcendent and supersensible.

    Ancient royalty can give us points of reference in this connection. Others can be given by oriental traditions, for instance by the Hindu one, when it speaks of Rajarshi, those who used to be simultaneously clairvoyants and keepers of the tradition of 'solar' knowledge, or when, in the Upanishads, we see figures of Kshatriya (warriors) competing in sacred knowledge with the representatives of the Brahmanic caste. Besides, we must recall the forms of unity of the two powers which appeared in ancient Rome and reappeared, here and there, as residues, in the Middle Ages.

    What can be called the primordial tradition is anterior and superior to the bipartition we have discussed. The active path and the contemplative path, let us repeat, are approximations to this supreme unity. When it comes to analogy, despite some people's views, the active and warlike path, as explained here, has at least as much dignity as the other, because, fundamentally, it comprises both principles joined in the supreme synthesis, which is not simply light and liberation, but light and liberation joined in power with the basic principle of any manifestation and determination and with sovereignty.

    On that basis, it would be appropriate to mention something to which we may come back later: the idea that the warlike-royal tradition leads normally and legitimately only to the 'Lesser Mysteries'. This is an arbitrary limitation deriving from an abstract doctrinal scheme, which becomes completely absurd when, rather than speaking of 'Lesser Mysteries' and 'Greater Mysteries' as degrees in the same development but as attaining a transcendent character only in the latter, they speak of the duality of the lunar, Demetrian or telluric mysteries on the one hand, and the solar or Ouranic mysteries on the other ; since, according to a better founded doctrine, the 'Lesser Mysteries' can be associated with the former of these, it is obvious that there is a contradiction between them and the tradition of royalty, except in a few cases of evident degeneration.

    In any case, we have now set forth succinctly the general principles on the basis of which the problem of the duality of traditions can be understood, before turning to what follows from it in the study of the metaphysic of history.



    Notes:

    1) Pietro Negri : "Della tradizione occidentale" ('Introduzione alla Magia quale Scienza dell'Io', Fratelli Melita Editori, vol II p. 58) - 'About the Western Tradition'.

    2) Arvo : "Sulla contro-iniziazione" ('Introduzione alla Magia quale Scienza dell'Io', Fratelli Melita Editori, vol. I p. 268) - 'On the Counter-Initiation', 'Introduction to Magic', Inner Traditions, 2001.

    3) It must also be noted that, while almost all the greater regular traditions had as their 'sacred language', that of the races in which they formed, this is not the case for the Christian-Catholic tradition, which, in this respect too, appears to be hybrid : its sacred language is Latin, the ancient language of Rome, while the Old and New Testaments, which are the basis of this tradition, were originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Coptic.

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    Post Evola's Revolt Against the Modern World

    Last edited by Moody; Thursday, November 23rd, 2006 at 07:18 PM.
    Why are there beings at all, & why not rather nothing?
    [Leibniz/Heidegger]

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    Post Re: Evola's Revolt Against the Modern World

    I have copies of both Men Amongst the Ruins and Revolt Against the Modern World. Evola's discussion and advocation of Traditionalism is brilliant and I highly recommend Evola's masterwork (Revolt Against the Modern World) to those interested in European racial, cultural and spiritual preservation as a position from we can attack modern diseases such as Feminism and other forms of decadence.
    All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream at night, in the dusky recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity. But the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams, with open eyes, to make it possible.

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    Post Re: Evola's Revolt Against the Modern World

    I have copies of both those books too.
    Which one do you regard as the most important to read first?
    Why are there beings at all, & why not rather nothing?
    [Leibniz/Heidegger]

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    Post Re: Evola's Revolt Against the Modern World

    Men Amongst the Ruins is more practical, while Revolt Against the Modern World covers a lot more. Asking that question depends ultimately on the individual. To ask that question is akin to asking the Communist whether it is more important to read Marx's Das Kapital or The Communist Manifesto. It depends on what one aims for. If one wants a practical understanding of Evola's ideas, then Men Amongst the Ruins is perfect. If one wants a total understanding of Evola's weltanshauung, then Revolt Against the Modern World is the one and only book for that purpose.
    All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream at night, in the dusky recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity. But the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams, with open eyes, to make it possible.

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    Post Re: Evola's Revolt Against the Modern World

    I personally think Revolt is the place to start. It contains the clearest exposition of Evola's doctrine of Traditionalism. Men Among The Ruins , although well worth a thoughtful read, was written following contingent political events. Many of the positions it embraces were later modified by Evola in Riding the Tiger.
    BLUT UND BODEN!

    Some find it in a flag, some in the beat of a drum
    Some with a book, and some with a gun
    Some in a kiss, and some on the march
    But if you're looking for Europe, best look in your heart

    (Sol Invictus)

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    Post Re: Evola's Revolt Against the Modern World

    Troy Southgate has written an analysis of Men Among the Ruins.

    It was published in Pravda:

    Julius Evola: A Radical Traditionalist
    http://english.pravda.ru/columnists/.../04/29704.html
    (note the links to all parts)

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    Post Re: Evola's Revolt Against the Modern World

    Last week, to celebrate the 30 years since the death of the Baron, the national-revolutionary squat 'Casa Pound' organized a conference. I was told by a friend in Rome that the city is plastered with posters like this one (note the resemblance of Evola's portrait with that of Che Guevara! ):

    BLUT UND BODEN!

    Some find it in a flag, some in the beat of a drum
    Some with a book, and some with a gun
    Some in a kiss, and some on the march
    But if you're looking for Europe, best look in your heart

    (Sol Invictus)

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