The Right

Beyond Fascism?

I’m sure that we have all got used to being told that fascism (and Nazism in particular) are left-wing phenomena. There is some truth to this idea (in as much as successful fascist movements have generally needed to develop a populist appeal at some stage during their rise to power) but it totally ignores any evidence which suggests that such movements most often end up in alliance with the more traditional conservative forces of the country that they wish to rule. Populism is, in any case, very tenuously linked to ‘leftist’ ideals – especially since the rise of the Leninist vanguard party at the beginning of the last century.

Edmund Standing and others have written some great articles at HP exposing the BNP and showing how Nick Griffin has adopted a ‘populist’ appeal on immigration whilst he attempts to suggest that his party is operating over the heads of the traditional politicians and appealing directly to working-class people. The BNP, informed by Griffin’s background as a ‘third positioner’ have also to some extent attempted to throw off the constraints of British Nationalism in favour of a pan-European Aryanism. As a result, many now question whether it is possible to call the BNP ‘fascists’ – especially as Griffin’s position as ‘the leader’ is not nearly strong enough for him to be compared to a Mussolini or even a Mosley. Whether Griffin’s tradition wins out (at least in the UK) I expect we will know immediately after the next election.

But there are other traditions and forces on the radical right without which it is difficult to make sense of the new right/new fascism/post-fascism (whatever you feel most comfortable calling it) of the early 21st century. One particularly potent strand is informed by the traditionalist and counter-revolutionary philosophy of Julius Evola .

Evola’s works only began to be translated into English about 20 years ago but they have a long history in mainland Europe. Perhaps most use of Evola’s theories has been made by Alain De Benoist’s Nouvelle Droite (New Right) A party which has attempted to play down the rabid anti-Semitism in Evola’s works in order to pull together a new movement based primarily on opposition to the USA and all things American. De Benoist’s philosophy can be roughly summed up through his most famous saying:

“Better to wear the helmet of a Red Army soldier, than to live on a diet of hamburgers in Brooklyn.”

If you think that statement to be true then perhaps Evola’s works could be for you?

However, there is nothing remotely ‘left-wing’ about Julius Evola. He believed that society took a wrong turn at the enlightenment and his works are predicated on there being an ‘initiated elite’ who understand that modernity is in terminal decline. After the inevitable (and apocalyptic) end of modernity a new way of living will emerge. If you are not one of the initiated, if you do not carry with you the ‘best’ of European traditions, then you are as worthless as a weed or insect and your life and opinions worth less than those of an edible animal. Evola’s world is that simple, although the appeal to a radical right basing itself primarly on class rather than race should be fairly obvious.

At his trial in 1951 for attempting to revive fascism in Italy (he was acquitted) Evola stated:

‘My principles are only those that before the French revolution every well-born person thought were sane and normal’

Many of Evola’s writings muse on what will happen after the inevitable end of modernity. He puts forth a cyclical concept of history in which ‘iron ages’ (like our own) are replaced by ‘golden ages’ in which aristocratic elites can emerge from a new warrior class. All this is driven by a neo-Platonist belief in higher spiritual powers of which humanity are merely a material shadow.

In the thirties Evola thought fascism could hasten the arrival of his golden age (although Mussolini turned out to be far too ‘populist’ for his liking) but by the late sixties he could see signs of the impending ‘end’ everywhere, not least in the revolts of the 68’ers (who he characterised as knowing that something was wrong but for the most part being not quite intelligent enough to realise why.) The increasing ‘feminisation’ of society was another of his bête noire’s and Evola is particularly scathing in his writings about the sexual habits of the masses and the ‘scourge’ of psychoanalysis. Marxism is regarded as the most degenerate form of modern thought, although he did not record his attitude to Marxism-Leninism and its own elitist traditions in any detail . Tradition is Evola’s watchword. Although Western traditions are best, eastern ones also have their place. His book title ‘riding the Tiger’ (the metaphor is used to invoke the Initiated man holding on to the forces of history until he has both exhausted and tamed them) is taken from Zen Buddhism and Evola was interested in all forms of spirituality including magic.

Now I don’t want to be seen as constructing a conspiracy theory and attmpting to scare the HP readership shitless with the fearsome potential of what is quite obviously a small branch of the mainstream radical right, but It should not take too much of a jump in imagination to see why Evola’s works would appeal to everyone from the baby-boomer ’68er’s’ who have in the past flirted with ‘spirituality’ in all its esoteric forms to the religious conservative who sees nothing but degeneration in the modern world, the fascist disgusted with popularising turns and even the discontented and defeated vanguardist of the Leninist elite.

A facebook search for ‘Julius Evola’ turns up a group which has 2341 members and which is partially administered by none other than
Troy Southgate (the name always seems to crop up whenever I attempt to go beyond the ‘fascist’ mainstream on HP.) I just think it is worth knowing what is brewing out there so that when someone starts quoting Evola at you at a party you don’t just smile and walk away (particularly as they might just be about to bomb the party.)

So what does (the initiated) one do whilst awaiting the apocalypse? Evola’s answer is ‘Apolitia’ – distancing oneself. There is no reason for the initiated to exclude political activity if that is what they want to do. Evola basically says that if you keep your distance you can do whatever you like, there is no morality at the end and there is no obligation either to hasten the end of modernity or to delay what is coming. All this can be (and has been) used to justify neo-fascist terrorism (in fact it could be used to justify almost anything at all.) And while I have heard unsubstantiated reports of Evola’s works being found in Al Qaeda training camps, it really shouldn’t be hard to see how this ‘philosophy’ could appeal to any disillusioned follower of any religion or ideology or indeed anyone slightly discontented with civilisation as we know it. We may have quoted Che and flirted with Trotskyism ‘back in the day’ but Evola’s ideas are something else entirely. What exactly would you do if your son or daughter started buying his books?

Evola’s appeal seems to begin with his dismissal of modernity and the unbending certainty that he is right. Like many other ‘radical rightists’ (especially those of a religious or spiritual bent) he thought that he had to test himself against the forces of nature. Before WW2 he was a mountineer and during bombing raids on Vienna at the end of the war he walked the streets convinced that he would either be killed or initiated into some deep new form of knowledge about himself. Let us hope that what actually happened to him (he was hit by shrapnel and spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair) serves as a suitable metaphorical warning for those for whom the certainty of their own rightness often overrules their consideration for anybody else.

Professor Paul Furlong’s Book ‘Beyond Fascism’ will be published later this year.