I have recently been reading Men Among the Ruins: Post-War Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist by the Italian philosopher, Julius Evola, and have myself been reflecting on some of the concepts expressed in the book, particularly with regards to authority and the nature of the ‘nation’ and the ‘state’. I wish to explore what it means to be a member of each group and in what context the individual is required to identify with the collective. I also want to elaborate on the nature of institutions that may be functional in their purpose, but prove to be dysfunctional due to corruption and lack of direction from above. The main difference between society as viewed from a Traditionalist perspective, as opposed to ‘progressive’, is that there is seen to be a need to preserve what works and to base institutions and societal roles on a spiritual basis rather than on the notion of utopianism and goals founded on material concerns. It is for this reason that confusion may arise with regards to what the purpose of each component of society is for and how they are meant to interact with the individual and serve the nation as a whole. I also wish to outline the problems we face because our society lacks a spiritual foundation and some suggestions for how to remedy this, with reference to Evola’s book.
First of all, let us define what is meant by ‘nation’ and ‘state’. As far as I am concerned, the nation is an organic entity which is based on shared blood and soil, an association between a folk and the homeland which they inhabit. One can be born into a nation and have no further requirement than to continue to uphold the traditions and well-being of the nation through producing offspring and co-operating with other members of the same nation, as there is a shared interest based on similarity of values and principles. The nation corresponds to the feminine principle and comes out of our connection to the Earth and Nature, which is expressed through culture. The state, on the other hand, is defined by Evola in terms of the männerbund, a Teutonic concept related to the Latin term comitatus, or a ‘warband’ in which a man pledges allegiance to a liege lord. This forms the basis of the state, and has more to do with the idea of ‘all for one and one for all’, which is rooted in the masculine principle and the need for heroism from those who participate in it. To contrast it with the nation, of which the customs and folklore are traditionally held by the women of a nation, the state exists to form the protection of the nation and to provide direction for the society as a whole.
Therefore, Evola relates the formation of the state to that of an ‘Order’, or of a society of men which is entrusted to hold and wield power for the sake of allowing the spiritual development of the individuals within its ranks. This is the main difference between the state and the nation in a functional sense; the nation requires the collective to act as one entity, while the ‘Order’ which forms the basis of the state is made up of men who can excel as individuals in their own capacity, though they follow the guidance of their superiors in order to ascend the hierarchy and to develop spiritually. Thus, while hierarchy is necessary to maintaining a cohesive and functional society, it is dependent upon the law of reciprocation and on the obligations between a lord and his follower. An example of this in a historical context would be the clan system in the Scottish Highlands. While each clansman was obliged to obey his chieftain as part of his warband, these requirements were contingent on the agreed upon contracts and the chieftain was not seen as superior to the clansman in a literal sense, as they were both of the same kin and therefore part of the same ‘nation’ or tribe. Thus, the ‘Order’ existed within a nation to act as a guiding force and to protect the tribe or clan through either military or spiritual means, though both aspects were usually present. Each clansman was expected to excel both in his own capacity and also alongside his brothers-in-arms.
Why this structure is missing in Modern society is due to the fact that it has no basis in spirituality and therefore is driven by material motives. It is not, as Evola says, “directed from above” (that is, the cosmic and divine plan of the Creator), but rather “from below” (the selfish and egoistic needs of the individual). It is this deference to the divine that pushes Traditionalism as a philosophy beyond the narrow confines of ‘individualism’ and ‘collectivism’, which both find their political expressions in liberalism and socialism respectively. After the merchants took control of society from the medieval warlords who became indebted to them, the West lost its spiritual centre and devolved into a state whereby individual whims and desires formed the motives behind political action.
Instead of being rooted in either valour or wisdom, the desire for wealth and material comfort dominated the actions of the Western nations and, with the advent of the Industrial Revolution, formed the social class which became known as the bourgeoisie; a way of living which was loathed by Evola for its rejection of heroism in favour of liberal values. Industrial society also gave rise to the proletariat, who consisted of the have-nots and underlings of such a materialistic society and eventually provided the forces of Marxism with their footsoldiers. It is these conditions of dysfunctional and conflictive tendencies which have given rise to a confused and muddled mob of consumer slaves, whose sole purpose in life seems to be to satiate as many desires as possible before death and to strive for conditions in which struggle is absent and definition and distinction lose meaning.
It is for this reason that the state has morphed from a paternalistic and protective force into one which routinely abuses and infantilizes its subject population for the sake of maintaining control. This is achieved through collaboration with corporations to provide distractions in the form of mass media, while at the same time applying censorship and suppression or manipulation of information in order to maintain the structure that already exists. This, however, is a dangerous method, for the state can only maintain itself through being a dynamic and spiritually strong entity; as opposed to a cancerous bureaucracy which makes life more difficult, not in the sense of comfort, but in terms of allowing both the individual and the collective to achieve their full potential.
Subsidizing certain businesses over others and allowing regulation to run rampant only strangulate the economy of a nation and make it difficult for private enterprise to flourish without government support. Though I am not necessarily advocating free-market capitalism (which is one of the reasons why we are in this mess in the first place), it is clear that the current economic structure relies too heavily on government intervention and prioritization of certain businesses over others. There is also a sense of lost purpose following de-industrialization of Western countries, and many who struggle with unemployment or lack of fulfilment in their jobs feel resentful of a system which seems to favour foreigners and the elites over the native inhabitants of Western lands.
It is the definition of human motivations purely in economic and material terms that lead people to adopt the mantras of capitalism and communism, for these ideologies lack an integrated understanding of society as a living entity, which has needs beyond purely the sensory. It is because of the quest for maximum comfort that we are expected to accept all lifestyles and behaviours no matter how degenerate and perverted, even if they do not extend beyond the individual. The reason that such passive acceptance of ‘individual rights’ is such a problem is because this leads to everything becoming defined in terms of subjective experience, and so the society as a whole loses all meaning beyond the individual.
Such conditions are exploited by those who have the intelligence to manipulate, but lack the empathy and appreciation for cosmic order that is required of those who hold power. This is because we have been convinced that there is no divine realm, as in the words of Friedrich Nietzsche: “God is dead, and we have killed him”. Spiritual values are seen as ‘abstract’, ‘vague’ and lacking the utilitarian application in which to achieve ‘realistic’ objectives. Because of its transcendent nature, spirituality can only be understood and utilized by certain people, which goes against the notion of ‘equality’, and so is spurned by most Modern ideologies. If there exists a natural hierarchy that is necessary for existence, then what need is there to erase distinctions between people in order to advance ‘social justice’?
The situation is now becoming tense, because there is a welling up of energy from those who wish to restore the natural order and resist attempts to remove distinctions between nations and peoples, while at the same time there is strong resistance from those who hold liberal or socialist values and wish to preserve the present course. Any attempt to reverse the downward trend into rampant egoism is met with responses which accuse proponents of Traditionalism of “backwards-thinking”, “bigotry” and associating with ideas relating to National Socialism or fascism. While Evola acknowledges the facets of these ideologies which correspond with Traditionalist thinking (such as the acknowledgement of natural hierarchy and the need to exalt the state and nation beyond the individual), he also criticizes them for appealing to populist sentiment and for placing too little focus on the spiritual realm in favour of realpolitik. Indeed, he criticizes both nationalism and totalitarianism, because both attitudes take the concepts of the nation and the state literally and see such things as imbued with some sort of divinity in and of themselves.
In this way, even perspectives that are usually seen as ‘right-wing’ come under scrutiny from a Traditionalist perspective, because they may place too much emphasis on social or economic concerns while ignoring the spiritual element, and so become no less an impediment than liberalism and socialism. For a society to function properly, there needs to be an acknowledgement of the divine as a guiding force and for that force to be invested in particular individuals, such as kings, priests and warriors. However, because people may easily confuse the divine attributes of a particular role with the individual who fulfils that role, it is necessary for there to exist an Order whose motivation is to find not only the best and most capable person for the job, but also one who is ‘pure of heart’; whose intentions are based on recognizing their spiritual being as a driving force behind their actions and not to use their position to fulfil selfish motives, as is so often the case today.
Indeed, there exists no state at present that is based on such principles, and so I caution against attributing any authority to any state existing today, as authority is something which can only be invested in those who are doing what they do for more than self-interest and who strive towards a higher purpose. It is also for this reason that I do not place too much importance on the principle of liberty, which is an oft misunderstood concept. While civil liberties are necessary to be maintained in order to prevent abuse by so-called authorities and malicious individuals, it is not a license to do whatever one wants as long as it “does not harm anybody else”. Each action has a ripple effect that radiates outwards, and so everything that you do will set an example for others around you, especially impressionable beings such as children and adolescents.
The promotion of such principles is described by Evola as “reactionary”, though not in the sense of existing solely in opposition to something else, but as a way to mitigate the destructive tendencies of progressive thinking and to form a basis from which to act. This constitutes a “conservative revolution”, which has its antecedent in Germany after the First World War and was largely extinguished under the Third Reich; a movement based on opposition to the rising tides of liberalism and socialism which threaten the cohesion of a nation by splitting it into competing factions in the form of ‘class warfare’ (though such narratives are now more commonly framed on perceived conflicts based on race or gender).
However, this ‘revolution’ is not meant to be taken in a political sense as is touted by Marxists, but is based on the concept of a spiritual revolution whereby a new society is formed by those who choose to embody these principles. This can only be achieved through individual efforts in conjunction with a collective will and must operate outside of the framework of the current political paradigm, as engaging in such a system will only taint our movement and open it up to infiltration by deep-state operatives. We can see how the Neo-Marxists have achieved their objectives by infiltrating our institutions and corrupting them from within. Because of this, I do not believe that we can retake these institutions, but rather create our own outside of the established systems and build a parallel society which is based on conservative values and spiritual ideals. A system built on lies and deceit will eventually fall, while one centred in eternal truths will withstand the test of time.