Friday, August 16, 2019

Julius Evola and the Sham of Conservative Philosophy

You may have heard whisperings of the existence of something called a “conservative idea” or a “conservative philosophy.” These strange suggestions aren’t attributable just to the journalist’s performance of objectivity, to her pretense that there are two sides to every story and that her job as reporter is only to present both sides without prejudgment and to let the reader determine which is factual and which is flagrant disinformation, spin, propaganda, myth, and the like. Were the journalist’s role indeed to be so neutral, we could expect to bid farewell to every journalist in short order, since the internet allows all sides on an issue to present their versions of the story, without the need of an intermediary. But I digress.

The talk of “conservative ideas” is comparable to the Catholic Church’s insistence, when first confronted with ancient Greek and modern rationalist challenges to its dogmas, that philosophy and science can just as easily vindicate the Christian creed as these rationalist disciplines can disprove it. Thus was born systematic or “Scholastic” theology, the flaunting of logic in defense of magical thinking, ignorance, and fear-based prejudice. Likewise, “political science” arose as a rationalist discipline, as the humanities in general had to compete with the sciences for respectability. Liberals and conservatives thus had to justify their attitudes by appealing to philosophical and scientific methods.

In the United States, there were, then, the neoconservatives who rose to power under George W. Bush and who set to work disguising their warmongering as a respectable case for “regime change” in Iraq. Their ruse was exposed when their predictions of a prosperous and democratic Iraq were quickly falsified by the opposite reality (Iraq is now largely controlled by Iran), and when their “case” turned out to be a cynical pretext and an application of shock capitalism. Presently under Trump, there’s the more egregious spectacle of a wildly anti-intellectual mob of white supremacist trolls, anarchists, and fake Christians rushing to justify their cult of enslavement to a pure demagogue and conman. No longer known as “neoconservative,” this cult calls itself the “alt right” or part of the “intellectual dark web.” In the mainstream media’s simplified telling, Karl Rove served as “Bush’s brain,” while Trump supposedly has Steve Bannon to thank for the illusion of order in his official activities. But whether they know it or not, the alt right rationalize their fear and bigotry by summoning some stylings of the Traditionalist School, such as the “ideas” of Rene Guenon and Julius Evola. The Charlottesville white supremacists’ chant of “Blood and soil!” and their fear of being replaced by foreigners, for example, can be given an elaborate pseudo-justification in those terms.

Evola’s Spiritual Aristocracy

Julius Evola
Let’s focus on Evola’s defense of “Tradition” to see how this charade works. Conservatives generally look to a mythical past to justify their authoritarian character, just as progressives and socialists hold out the prospect of a utopian future as the end that justifies their weak-willed compromises with the powers that be. Evola spices up his appeal to tradition with an assortment of esoteric references in his texts. He condemns all aspects of modernity—individualism, egalitarianism, democracy, secularism, naturalism, neoliberalism (free market ideology), and even the wrong kind of dictatorship—as so many failures to abide by a more principled and spiritual social order. Genuine authority, he says, is service to a transcendent idea or principle which inspires a population to respect quality over quantity and to divide itself into a social hierarchy of castes or races.

In other words, politics is normative: everyone should be judged in accordance with how well we do in relation to supernatural principles, to principles that don’t just report on what’s normal in nature but that would shape nature into an ideal form. Traditionally, the sovereign was believed to represent a god that dwells exclusively in that higher reality; men ruled over women, because men are principled whereas women are pragmatic; and those races that inherited the blood-based qualities of the Hyperborean people—who originated these traditions—supernaturally ruled over inferior races. Alas, according to Evola, those traditions declined and there’s been an involution, a descent into decadence which we call the “progress of modernity.” Democracy, for example, elevates quantity over quality, as we count votes to decide who should rule, ignoring the qualitative differences between, say, a billionaire and a homeless person. All are equal as “individuals” or as humans, which leaves aside the spiritual dimension that alone can compel us to submit to a legitimate authority figure.

Although as I’ll show, Evola misunderstands his entire project, he doesn’t exactly hide his views, so it’s worth quoting him at length. Regarding the decline of tradition, he writes in Revolt against the Modern World (RMW),
Whenever we witness in history the triumph of sovereignty and of a unity presiding over multiplicity in a merely material, direct, and political way—intervening everywhere, abolishing the autonomy of single groups, leveling in an absolutist fashion every right and every privilege, and altering and imposing a common will on various ethnic groups—then there cannot be any authentic imperial power since what we are dealing with is no longer an organism but a mechanism; this type is best represented by the modern national and centralizing states. Wherever a monarch has descended to such a lower plane, in other words, wherever he, in losing his spiritual function, has promoted an absolutism and a political and material centralization by emancipating himself from any bond owed to sacred authority, humiliating the feudal nobility, and taking over those powers that were previously distributed among the aristocracy—such a monarch has dug his own grave, having brought upon himself ominous consequences. Absolutism is a short-lived mirage; the enforced uniformity paves the way for demagogy, the ascent of the people, or demos, to the desecrated throne.
Notice that Evola wouldn’t thereby object to illegitimate dictatorships because of anything like their violation of human rights. The problem with mere mechanistic or natural absolutism, he says, rather, is that it paves the way for further alienation from supernatural reality, for the backlash of individualists and egalitarians who will seize more power and privileges that belong properly to the spiritual aristocracy. Moreover, Evola prizes “organic” societies, not the stilted or coerced submission to false leaders, but the imperium that exhibits the kind of harmony apparent from the spirit’s control over its body in each healthy individual. For Evola, the spiritual dimension is the transcendent principle or Aristotelian final cause that unites and directs all living things, from cells to individuals to societies. Thus, writes Evola, ‘Ideally speaking, the various kingdoms were not supposed to be united to the Empire through a material bond, whether of a political or a military nature, but rather through an ideal and spiritual bond, which was expressed by the characteristic term fides, which in Medieval Latin had both a religious meaning and the political and moral meaning of “faithfulness” or “devotion.”’

His Majesty King George Tupou V of Tonga
Again, from Men among the Ruins (MAR), Evola says, “The political domain is defined through hierarchical, heroic, ideal, anti-hedonistic, and, to a degree, even anti-eudemonistic values that set it apart from the order of naturalistic and vegetative life. Authentic political ends are mostly autonomous ones (i.e., not derived from something else): they are connected to ideas and interests different from those of peaceful living, pure economics, and physical well-being, pointing to a higher dimension of life and a separate order of dignity. This opposition between the political and the social domains is fundamental.” Whereas everyone is automatically of equal value in modern society, traditional societies have secret, higher levels to which only the deserving are called. The equivalent of the aristocrat was initiated into a secret society of virile elites, into a ‘Mannerbund in which the qualification of “man” had simultaneously an initiatory (i.e., sacred) and a warrior meaning, that wielded the power in the social group or clan. This Mannerbund was characterized by special tasks and responsibilities; it was different from all other societies to which other members of the tribe belonged.’

More from MAR:The State is under the masculine aegis, while “society” and, by extension, the people, or demos, are under the feminine aegis…Thus, even in the ancient Roman world, the idea of State and of imperium (i.e., of the sacred authority) was strictly connected to the symbolic cult of the virile deities of heaven, of light and of the super-world in opposition to the dark region of the Mothers and the chthonic deities. The same ideal line runs through the themes found in primitive societies (i.e., Mannerbunde), up to the central, bright motif of the Olympian-state tradition of the Classical world and several superior Indo-European civilizations.’ Later on in Western history, Evola says,
this line leads, if not to the imperium, to the divine right of Kings; where there were no groups created by the power of a rite, there were Orders, aristocracies, political classes defined by disciplines and dignities that cannot be reduced to social values and economic factors. Then the line was broken, and the decadence of the State idea—parallel to the degeneration and the obfuscation of the pure principle of sovereignty and authority—ended with the inversion through which the world of the demos and the materialized masses emerged on the political horizon, engaging in the struggle for power. Such is the primary meaning of any democracy in the original sense of the term, and of every kind of “socialism”: in their essence they are both anti-State, and represent the degradation and contamination of the political principle. Both democracy and socialism ratify the shift from the masculine to the feminine and from the spiritual to the material and the promiscuous. This is an involution, the basis or counterpart of which is an involution occurring within the individual himself, expressed by the inner triumph of faculties and interests connected to the naturalistic, obtuse, and merely vitalistic part of the human being.
As for the racial factor, Evola appeals to a pseudoscientific concept of “blood.” From RMW: ‘Race, blood, hereditary purity of blood: these are merely “material” factors. A civilization in the true, traditional sense of the word arises only when a supernatural and nonhuman force of a higher order—a force that corresponds to the “pontifical” function, to the component of the rite, and to the principle of spirituality as the basis of a hierarchical differentiation of people—acts upon these factors.’ Here Evola supports a kind of Lamarckian fallacy, one that was apparently predominant in traditional societies, according to which your race and blood can be spiritualized or perfected by magic. For example, says Evola, “By permeating those who performed them with some kind of dreadful and beneficial psychic power, the rite and the sacrifice allowed the brāhmaṇa [from the Indo-Aryan civilization] to partake of the same nature as the evoked powers; not only would this quality abide in that person forever, making him directly superior to and revered and feared by others, but it would also be transmitted to his descendants. Having entered into the bloodstream as some sort of transcendent legacy, this quality would become the characteristic feature of a race that is activated in individuals by the rite of initiation” (my emphasis).

The Amorality of Dominance Hierarchies

Any such defense of racist, aristocratic elitism runs into two glaring difficulties. First, according to genetics and archeology, our species emerged out of eastern Africa, from dark-skinned people. To get around that awkward scientific finding, Evola develops an ancient Greek myth into a conspiracy theory, contending that the earliest humans were white Northerners from a fabled land of Hyperborea. We thus supposedly have white Northerners to thank for Tradition, culture, and the roots of civilization, even if the evidence points in the opposite direction. Second, Evola wrote before, during, and after WWII, which means the prime examples of political elitism he saw firsthand were the fascist states of the Axis powers that didn’t prove so great. Germany, Italy, and Japan lost the war, having devastated a generation and blackened the name of humanity. You might have thought the rise and fall of fascism in the last century would have given a conservative pause before he or she continued to castigate liberals and socialists for failing to be sufficiently totalitarian and hierarchical. But this is why Evola distinguishes between mechanical and organic hierarchies, between profane authoritarians and spiritual or principled aristocracies. Regardless of the historical facts of any civilization, what matters are the ideals that seem to inspire the people to unite and to follow a cadre of elites.

However, there’s a third, more ominous problem for Evola. If social hierarchy indicates some degree of oneness with a supernatural order, why are dominance hierarchies so prevalent in the animal kingdom? The biological reason why birds, fishes, and land mammals form either social hierarchies within their species or hierarchies between species in an ecosystem is that resources are naturally scarce, and organisms are genetically driven, in effect, to reproduce only some members of their kind. This natural selection happens by way of the urge to compete in niches (evolutionary roles) maintained by the environment, so that those least fit will probably die off before they have a chance to sexually reproduce. To forestall counterproductive competitions or a permanent war footing between members, though, many groups form stable social arrangements by signaling their status. Thus there are alphas, betas, and omegas, for example, that is, leaders, followers, and losers. Alphas prove themselves strongest or fittest by being the largest or the fastest or the most fearless or cunning, and the others in the group defer to these more capable creatures, because their chances of surviving in the wild are increased if they can help themselves to some of the bounty provided for members of the group. Those who are most useful to the group receive the most advantages. Mind you, some types of animals are solitary, such as alligators, owls, and bears. Regardless, they occupy a position in the food chain which comprises a greater dominance hierarchy, a position that determines whether these antisocial animals are predators or prey.    

Occam’s razor, therefore, would prohibit the positing of a “supernatural order” when mundane, more familiar factors can explain the phenomenon. Most creatures form dominance hierarchies to survive in the wild, that is, in the natural domain that’s infamous for being red in tooth and claw and for its lack of divine guidance. If the spiritual elitist wants to say that some human hierarchies are special—and not even all such hierarchies, but only the “organic” or “virile” ones—even though social hierarchies are common in animal species and need no input from spiritual principles, this begins to look like the No true Scotsman fallacy. The vast majority of social hierarchies, namely those in animal species, are compatible with the most primitive behaviours, being literally ways of organizing wild animals, including some insects such as ants and bees. But Evola wants to say that no aristocrat behaves like an uncivilized animal—even though there are alpha birds, fishes, and insects. Does the queen bee represent an ideal for insect society? Was she magically initiated into a secret clique of elites that bestowed spiritual legitimacy on her absolute authority over her subjects? If not, why believe there’s a transcendent basis of the comparable sort of power inequality in a species of higher primate? But if even animals can somehow be interpreted as living up to the elitist’s supernatural ideals, Evola loses his basis for condemning modern human societies, since there’s no chance a socialist or a democratic civilization can be made to seem more woeful than a genetically-determined dominance hierarchy that enslaves and terrorizes a group of wild animals. 

There’s also a simpler explanation of the traditionalist’s appeal to spiritual elites, the essence of which was supplied by Marx who showed how ideologies can be used as weapons by the rich to justify advantages they obtain primarily at the material, economic level. Of course, those “spiritual aristocrats” who are in reality alphas mainly in the animal sense tend to be corrupted by their privileges and to abuse their power. But these wily elites excuse their depravity by exploiting the human capacity to imagine alternatives and by convincing the gullible to accept the human dominance hierarchy because of its association with something allegedly greater, such as with Evola’s Principles, Secret Societies, and Transcendent Orders. These human alphas thus become leaders in the cultural sense, since their behaviour will indeed be understood in elevated, ideological (religious or philosophical) terms. “God” will have given them the right to rule or they’ll have become “virile” thanks to some magic ceremony of initiation. But that cultural authority will be fictional. Granted, the fiction can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, as the placebo effect can charge the ruler with superhuman levels of confidence (and arrogance), which indeed can awe or terrify the masses. None of that, however, is supernatural, since it’s all understandable at the exoteric level. The cynicism required to see through the con of the ruling elite’s ideology may be esoteric in that only social outsiders immerse themselves in that philosophical perspective, but the concepts involved in explaining the ruse are commonplace. Everyone knows what fictions, lies, and self-serving excuses are.

Not just so-called conservative philosophy like Evola’s, but the entire cultural dimension of traditional society is made up of so many excuses to behave like an animal. The self-serving myths and legends, the initiation rituals, the secret societies, the warrior’s code of honour, the aristocrat’s pompous ceremonies, the vilification of foreigners—these are all apologies for adopting the evolutionary strategy of dividing society along lines that godless nature would have anyway set into motion. Far from reaching towards some supernatural domain for his ideals, the traditionalist stoops to the wilderness and exercises his human intelligence and creativity only to deny his greater potential. The cultural embodiment of “traditions,” the filtering of the animal dominance hierarchy through human cognitive capacities to meet with the approval of self-aware, autonomous minds is a self-negating enterprise. Evola has it backwards, of course: what are supernatural (or at least anti-natural) are the humanistic adventures in individual liberty and equality which are found nowhere in the wild; meanwhile, traditionalism as a defense of elitist hierarchy, racism, sexism, and so forth is a disgraceful return to animality, and that’s so regardless of how much lipstick a pseudointellectual can smear on the pig. 

At this point, Evola might sneer at these “feminine” offerings of mere facts and logic, and resort to his development of Novalis’s magical idealism. The metaphysical idealist says there’s no reality beyond the mental. The magical idealist says our obligation is to project our minds onto the rest of nature, to magically humanize the inhuman. Thus, Evola might scoff at a falsification of his conspiracy theories, since the virile hero of his tales is beholden to a higher reality. Rather than bowing to reason or to the five senses, the spiritual aristocrat has recourse to purified intuitions, since his very blood has been made holy in virtue of his having been initiated into a secret society that imposes supernatural ideals. Here are the makings of a traditionalist defense of President Trump’s systematic irrationality, that is, of his hostility to empirical truth. Perhaps Trump is just too manly to be concerned with mere facts, since he has a fallen world to remake in honour of a more sacred order. Here, too, is an ironic rejoinder to a claim made by the likes of Jordan Peterson, that postmodern relativism and solipsism are for fools. Apparently, Peterson imbibed a scientistic prejudice from his studies in cognitive science, so he elevates mere natural adventurism and creativity, which are constrained by history and physical reality, above the wishful thinking of the “neo-Marxists” who are too afraid to leave the nest and who deny there’s any such constraint or any reality outside the text, as Derrida said. Evola, by contrast, lauds the traditional leader for his absolute sovereignty, for his ability to conform nature to supernature. The profane facts of nature can’t stand in the way of a manly hero whose legitimacy derives from his magical union with a higher realm.

The appeal to a supernatural world as the source of the revolutionary social structure known as “Tradition” (the one that’s rather old hat in the wild), the pseudoscientific concepts of race and blood, the deference to masculine intuition, the flight into idealism and indifference towards empirical truth—all of these indicate that Evola’s ideology is unfalsifiable. Historically speaking, perhaps some elites have been spiritually superior to the masses, but it’s even more apparent that the “elites” tend to be corrupted by their privileges. Only an exceptional individual could withstand the temptation to abuse her power over others, and if history recorded that aristocrats more often than not lived up to spiritual ideals, as opposed to wallowing in debauchery, the facts might support the positing of a miracle as the source of traditional politics. But it’s no accident that comedians compete in their telling of The Aristocrats joke, by piling horror upon horror in laying out what a family in show business does in an audition before an agent—the family members violate every conceivable taboo, including murdering and eating each other, for example—until the comedians get to the punch-line that the name of that family’s appalling performance is “The Aristocrats!” However, the traditionalist can dismiss every piece of evidence that the elites historically have been noble mainly in name, not in deed, by saying that such failures leave untouched the rightness of traditional principles, since those principles belong to a land beyond space and time. And this might be consistent with the traditionalist’s worldview, but that worldview as a whole remains obsolete because there’s a simpler, naturalistic explanation of the phenomenon of social hierarchy, as I showed.

Again, the true function of the specious intellectualism of traditionalists like Evola is to muddy the waters and provide cover for human animalists. Take, for example, this article which points out that in Britain, “relatively few people in a small cluster of professions and industries, living in a tiny number of neighbourhoods, are enjoying riches beyond belief. And all this while wages for the median worker barely rise, and the schools and hospitals and libraries and parks on which the rest of us depend are run down to breaking point.” In short, the wealth was supposed to trickle down, but the widening inequality shows that the opposite has happened, not just in the UK but in most capitalist societies. If the ninety percent of Britons who for decades were evidently scammed by neoliberal economists and politicians organized themselves to take righteous vengeance, no force could stop them, not even the police or the military. Most of Britain could form wave upon wave of furious proletariats, they could assault the wealthy parts of London and slaughter the wealthiest one percent of parasites, burning down their palaces and other ill-gotten booty. That is, after all, what primitive justice more or less demands, since no one can possibly earn billions of dollars. Vast private wealth is always taken without a second thought for ethics or spirituality, Evola’s rhetorical shenanigans notwithstanding. No one has ever worked hard enough or single-handedly changed the world for the better to such an extent that that person deserves to have billions of dollars while the majority in that same society can’t earn enough to save a penny. That degree of inequality has never been wholly justified.

So why don’t the British masses rise up against their monstrous overlords? Until perhaps the backlashes represented by Brexit, the election of Trump, and the overthrow of neoliberals around the world, the answer was that some late-modern version of Evola’s nonsense convinced the Western majorities that their fate is indeed deserved. Everyone is free in the marketplace to succeed or to fail, and who is the government to rob from the rich to give to the poor? Likewise, if the pampered aristocrats appeared to be lording it over the peasants who toiled in filth and obscurity until their early grave, centuries ago, that was only because the medieval feudalists had faith in a supernatural order that guaranteed the transcendent rightness of such a daily outrage. This, then, is the essence of “conservative ideas”: these are the ideas to end all ideas; they’re invitations for people to abandon critical thinking, empathy, and creativity, and to settle for animal norms.

Not only is Evola’s case for spiritual aristocracy vacuous, but his writings amount to an appeal to force. If you find yourself agreeing with him, you must be inclined to trust the intuitions of the upper class, since according to Evola the elites are magically in touch with a higher realm. Forget about the counterexamples, since facts are for weakling Jews and mewling women. Ron Susskind once quoted an infamous George W. Bush aid, giving voice to this aristocratic sentiment:
The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
If empirical truth is for girly-men, and aristocrats are powerful, arrogant alpha males who proclaim that everyone should obey their elite intuitions to enable a secret society to reshape the planet in accordance with the cabal’s affiliation with an invisible higher plane, who could stand in the way of that absolute sovereignty, before the real outcome reveals the conservative’s myth to be a disastrous fraud? Contrary to Evola, the reason modernity arose to challenge traditional societies isn’t because of any new moral failure; no, science and philosophy, democracy and capitalism arose because people got tired of the old wickedness on the part of emperors, monarchs, and popes who pretended to have divine right on their side. But if bitter quacks like Evola had their way, there would be no freedom to point out the obvious. Most of us would be neopeasants whose job would be to shut up and obey Big Brother, because only the powerful can know what’s best for society.

None of which is to say that all aspects of modernity should be wholeheartedly embraced. Scientism, consumerism, infantilization, political correctness, neoliberalism, and shallow democracy in support of plutocracy all merit philosophical condemnation. Nor do I mean to suggest even that elitism in general is wrongheaded. A vanguard of enlightened elites would be welcome. My point here, rather, is that the traditionalist, conservative case for political elitism is preposterous because there’s no such thing as a conservative idea. Ideas, properly speaking, are for those who respect the human prowess for imagination and reason, which are inherently subversive, progressive and humanistic, not regressive or “traditional.”


  1. Very good article, Ben!

    What's your take on the master/slave morality dualism present in the "Genealogy of morality" by Nietzsche? Can a master morality (in the nietzschean sense) be even possible in a modern, secular, mass society?
    Some of the characteristics of Evola's misguided elitism made me think of the type of aristocracy Nietzsche described in works such as the "Genealogy..." or "The Greek State", minus the metaphysical gibberish.

  2. Thanks, Kevin. Nietzsche's account of how slave morality overtakes the values of the power elites is plausible, but I don't think it's the whole story. Nietzsche differs from Evola, since Nietzsche's argument isn't traditionalist. Nietzsche doesn't appeal to any transcendent spiritual reality as the alleged basis of master values. His account is meant to be naturalistic, so of course the powerful are likely to have different values and characters than the weak. I've written a lot about this on my blog (see most of the links below).

    True, Nietzsche and Evola were both elitists. I'm an elitist too, but mine is closer to Jesus's: the enlightened ones tend to be among the losers and the outcasts, not the masters. Enlightenment alienates us from mass society. So those who are spiritually (or existentially) great are hardly going to be among the masters. The power elites are corrupted by their successes and by their dominance, so their values tend to be predatory or parasitic, that is, selfish and otherwise animalistic rather than far-reaching or mind-expanding. Sure, the rich become decadent and can fill their leisure time with esoteric studies, but their ideologies are typically rationalizations. They believe whatever they have to to excuse them for keeping hold of their wealth and privileges. Obviously, that's what the free market and social Darwinian ideologies are for.

    Nietzsche's defense of the master class is partly Darwinian, but he adds an aesthetic dimension since what he wants to see is a fearless, creative mentality, one that helps us cope with godless nature. Alas, the real masters (not the ideal overmen Nietzsche wanted to see rise) are too busy having their minds narrowed by their good fortune and power over others, to be thinking philosophically. True, the wealthy innovate and lead technological progress which empowers us all, to some extent. But if we look at the rise of Silicon Valley, for example, the "progress" there with smart phones and social media addicts and enslaves the majority. So that ends up being Darwinian/animalistic "creativity."

    The question I'd pose to Nietzsche is whether he thinks empathy and compassion generally are Christian and thus disposable in an existentially-respectable society. Were he to say yes, he'd have to contend with the like of Dawkins and Dennett who point out that empathy has a biological basis in our capacity to posit mental states in our explanations of each other's behaviour. Christianity hardly invented our capacity to cooperate with strangers. Presumably, Nietzsche would be in favour of compassion as long as it's honourable rather than sneaky and dishonest (like slave morality, which is based on cowardice, i.e. fear of natural reality, which leads to faith in theism).

    So should the strong empathize with the weak or should the former demonize and enslave the latter? As I think Hegel points out in his earlier discussion of master and slave, the masters seal their fate, since the master-slave relationship is toxic and self-destructive.

    You might be interested in my article on Nietzsche, by the way (the first link below).

  3. Thanks very much for the answer and the links, Ben!

    The phenomenon of compassion is very puzzling. I, for one, think that Nietzsche, generally speaking, confuses pity with compassion, and was against the former. I don't think that compassion, as understood by hindouism or buddhism, is really something you can teach or preach. It's a natural disposition present in a very few 'enlightened' (un) lucky people. I mean compassion as represented by the sanskrit phrase "Tat Tvam Asi" translated as 'you are that'. It would be ludicrous to think that one can instill such a spiritual state through abstract teachings of morality, or by means of organized religion.

    Nevertheless, the phenomenon of compassion exists, and I agree that it can be thought of as a kind of natural, nobler, elitism, as opposed to the material, filthy, pseudo-elitism, of modern society.

    On strictly evolutionary terms, however, I'm not sure it constitutes an advantage.

    1. That's true. Nietzsche might be opposed more to pity than to compassion, assuming that compassion can be honourable whereas pity usually has a Christian basis. The worst kind of pity would be the Christian kind where you pretend to care about someone who's suffering whereas you're really looking down on that person. It's the self-deception and the lack of "authenticity" or intellectual integrity that would especially bother Nietzsche, I think.

  4. Most thorough and poignant critique of Evola and his brand of Tradition I've encountered.

  5. there is so much to disagree in this article. not aiming at being thorough, serves me no purpose at all, not my fight. even the "out of africa" theory is just a theory, it has been debated and alternatives exist, so don't take it for gospel, pun intended. evola is a wayyyyy better thinker than you deliberately represent him here. i completely disagree with "most thorogh and poignant critique" assertation by uknown just above. it certainly is NOT that, it's the exact opposite, hastily conconcted and boring. you construct a deliberately simplified effigy of evola that could serve you best in burning it trimphantly. the troble is, that's not the real evola. you do that quite a lot, an intrinsic element of your style perhaps, constructing a simplified effigy of some perceived opponent or another, just for the sake of sparkly public burning. you would make a fine inquisitor ;) most are pretty dumb "thinkers" in reality, so no big deal, serves them well, one may say they deserve it for being dumb and yet pompous. have your fun writing, and i'll have my fun reading. the whole scheme breaks down though when you apply it to bigger and complex thinkers though. as i said, not my fight. for the record, most elites are any combination of dumb, insane, ridiculous, evil. it's just a sad observation that this article is not very deep, to say the least.

    1. Can you give at least an example of how I've strawmanned Evola? I provide lengthy quotations from him to represent his views.

      In any case, my main criticism, that social hierarchies are natural (found everywhere in the wild) and thus not evidence of anything supernatural is broad and doesn't even depend on the details of his mysticism. Do you deny that Evola regarded traditional social hierarchies as manifesting a supernatural order? This is just the essence of conservative propaganda, from Plato to Christianity (divine right of kings) to Evola and Hitler to the North Korean dictatorship. It's always the same: a minority of elites deserves to rule over the masses because God says so.

      But what's easier to believe, that God cares whether one glorified monkey rules over another or that social hierarchies are due to the law of oligarchy, that they evolve naturally and therefore represent in humankind the _betrayal_ of our creative potential to transcend nature? Evolva and the conservatives reverse matters, because their hallowed Traditional societies are obviously just incursions of primitive natural impulses into human affairs, dressed up with mystical and theological gibberish for rhetorical cover.