Archive for February, 1970

The Occult War (Julius Evola)

Sunday, February 15th, 1970

( Excerpt from “Men Among the Ruins”)

Various causes have been adduced to explain the crisis that has affected and still affects the life of modern peoples: historical, social, socioeconomic, political, moral, and cultural causes, according to different perspectives. The part played by each of these causes should not be denied. However, we need to ask a higher and essential question: are these always the first causes and do they have an inevitable character like those causes found in the material world? Do they supply an ultimate explanation or, in some cases, is it necessary to identify influences of a higher order, which may cause what has occurred in the West to appear very suspicious, and which, beyond the multiplicity of individual aspects, suggest that there is the same logic at work?

The concept of occult war must be defined within the context of the dilemma. The occult war is a battle that is waged imperceptibly by the forces of global subversion, with means and in circumstances ignored by current historiography. The notion of occult war belongs to a three-dimensional view of history: this view does not regard as essential the two superficial dimensions of time and space (which include causes, facts, and visible leaders) but rather emphasizes the dimension of depth, or the “subterranean” dimension in which forces and influences often act in a decisive manner, and which, more often not than not, cannot be reduced to what is merely human, whether at an individual or a collective level.

Having said that, it is necessary to specify the meaning of the term “subterranean.” We should not think, in this regard, of a dark and irrational background which stands in relation to the known forces of history as the unconscious stands to consciousness, in the way the latter relationship is discussed in the recently developed “Depth Psychology.” If anything, we can talk about the unconscious only in regard to those who, according to the three-dimensional view, appear to be history’s objects rather than its subjects, since in their thoughts and conduct they are scarcely aware of the influences which they obey and the goals that they contribute toward achieving. In these people, the center falls more in the unconscious and the pre-conscious than in the clear reflected consciousness, no matter what they-who are often men of action and ideologues-believe. Considering this relation, we can say that the most decisive actions of the occult war take place in the human unconscious. However, if we consider the true agents of history in the special aspects we are now discussing, things are otherwise: here we cannot talk of the subconscious or the unconscious, since we are dealing with intelligent forces that know very well what they want and what are the means most suited to achieve their objectives.

The third dimension of history should not be diluted in the fog of abstract philosophical or sociological concepts, but should rather be thought of as a “backstage” dimension where specific “intelligences” are at work.

An investigation of the secret history that aspires to be positivist and scientific should not be too lofty or removed from reality. However, it is necessary to assume as the ultimate reference point a dualistic scheme not dissimilar from the one found in an older tradition. Catholic historiography used to regard history not only as a mechanism of natural, political, economic, and social causes, but also as the unfolding of divine Providence, to which hostile forces are opposed. These forces are sometimes referred to in a moralistic fashion as “forces of evil,” or in a theological fashion as the “forces of the Anti-Christ.” Such a view has a positive content, provided it is purified and emphasized by bringing it to a less religious and more metaphysical plane, as was done in Classical and Indo-European antiquity: forces of the cosmos against forces of chaos. To the former correspond everything that is form, order, law, spiritual hierarchy, and tradition in the higher sense of the word; to the latter correspond every influence that disintegrates, subverts, degrades, and promotes the predominance of the inferior over the superior, matter over spirit, quantity over quality. This is what can be said in regard to the ultimate reference points of the various influences that act upon the realm of tangible causes, behind known history. These must be taken into account, though with some prudence. Let me repeat: aside from this necessary metaphysical background, let us never lose sight of concrete history.

Methodologically speaking, we need to be careful to prevent valid insights from degenerating into fantasies and superstition, and not develop the tendency to see an occult background everywhere and at all costs. In this regard, every assumption we make must have the character of what are called “working hypotheses” in scientific research: as when something is admitted provisionally, thus allowing the gathering and arranging of a group of apparently isolated facts, only to confer on them a character not of hypothesis but of truth when, at the end of a serious inductive work, the data converge in validating the original assumption. Every time an effect outlasts and transcends its tangible causes, a suspicion should arise, and a positive or negative influence behind the stages should be perceived. A problem is posited, but in analyzing it and seeking its solution, prudence must be exercised. The fact that those who have ventured in this direction have not restrained their wild imaginations has discredited what could have been a science, the results of which could hardly be overestimated. This too meets the expectations of the hidden enemy.

After considering the state of society and modern civilization, one should ask if this is not a specific case that requires the application of this method; in other words, one should ask whether some situations of real crisis and radical subversion in the modern world can be satisfactorily explained through “natural” and spontaneous processes, or whether we need to refer to something that has been concerted, namely a still unfolding plan, devised by forces hiding in the shadows.


The Overcoming of the Superman (Julius Evola)

Friday, February 6th, 1970

Julius Evola
(Translated by Bruno Cariu)

The facility with which ideas lacking any real consistency sometimes acquire an evocative force, to the point of becoming a sort of alibi for the passions, is amazing: those who have held them to be true, experience them as such so vividly that they end up believing they have found confirmations of them in their own deepest experiences.

This can be said, for example, of evolutionism and Darwinism. The theory of the descent of man from the beast, and of the selection of the species through the affirmation of the strongest over the various conditions of the environment, through adaptation and hereditary transmission of acquired characters—this materialistic and anti-aristocratic myth of the scientism of yesterday—there isn’t anyone, now, who sees it as anything more than a wavering hypothesis, which has had its day, and which, as time goes by, is progressively stripped of its presumed ‘positive’ bases. Nevertheless, this theory, until yesterday, appeared to a whole generation almost as a revelation: not as an hypothesis among many others, to be considered and tested within the strictly scientific field, but rather as a new and certain vision of the world, an illuminating discovery, and a new consciousness acquired once and for all by mankind.

And here we find art such as that of Jack London, a typical example of the passionate alibi which we referred to. Jack London often makes us really live the theory of evolution and natural selection. Serving as the basis for his general conception of life, in a whole series of personages, vicissitudes, descriptions and episodes, it seems true, indeed obvious, to us. The evocative force of art makes it seem as if a world really existed, in which biological heredity, the instinct of conservation, and the struggle for existence were indeed the fundamental driving forces, and the supreme human type appears more or less as that of the magnificent beast, the animal which, in the fullness of all its energies and of all its vital instincts, has prevailed over everything, has resisted everything, moreover, as sum of a series of heredities transmitted to us through the dark ways of blood, from the primordial times of the savage dweller of forests and icy deserts, if not even of ferocious pre-humanity.

The atmosphere in which the myth of the ’superman’ has taken shape and developed is not very different. This is due in part to Nietzsche himself. We say, in part, because the philosophy of Nietzsche is made up of elements which are much more heterogeneous and varied than most people realize. It is however undeniable that the evolutionist superstition, with its biological appendices, has greatly influenced one aspect of Nietzschean thought, which is far from peripheral, and which is naturally the worst. And it can be said that, until yesterday, what has been most widely understood in Nietzsche is generally this aspect, precisely because it was the one which was most directly connected to ideas prevalent in our time.

The Nietzschean theory of the ’superman’ is an appendix of naturalism, and, as such, is something which belongs by now to the past, and, taken as it is, could only succeed in diverting the aspirations of the best of the new generation—to the extent that it begins and ends in the ‘religion of life’ or, better, in the ’superstition of life’. This is how we think we should describe a conception at whose center lies pure vitality, in its simply biological meaning—which natural scientists consider from the outside, with the same methods as those they apply to matter, while ‘voluntarists’, ‘intuitionists’ and ‘actionists’ try instead to know it in the form of direct feeling, of the immediate data of consciousness. But, either way, this principle is purely animal, instinctive, pre-personal life, it is the root and the deep will of that in us which is merely body and nature.

Now, it seems that the conceptions of which we are speaking cannot see anything else in man, or that, if they do discern something else, they see it only as secondary and derivative with respect to ‘life’. The ‘I’, for them, is not a supernatural principle, it is not the expression of another reality, but is more or less the feeling of the vital force, a feeling which can be increased or diminished, fortified or exhausted.

It is solely from this that the famous Nietzschean concept of the “reversal of all values”—Umwertung aller Werte—and the consequent theory of power, originate and derive their meaning. A whole system of ethical, social and religious conceptions, according to this theory, conspired for centuries against ‘life’, and favored an ominous mis-selection, by exalting as value and spirit all that mortifies and emasculates instinct, that veils or lowers the feeling of the vital force. These conceptions are the values of ‘decline’ and ‘resentment’ announced by the slaves, the weak, the underprivileged, the outcasts of nature, who, through them, have overcome the basis on which, in strong and sound times, the superman, and the right of the superman as master of men, depended, and have prevailed. Nietzsche proclaims the revolt against these “values of decline”, unmasks their poisonous nature, and offers as principle of a new judgment the criterion that only what confirms the vital instinct, what justifies the vital instinct, what strengthens the vital instinct, whose maximum expression is for him the will-to-power, can be said to be true, moral, legitimate, spiritual and beautiful; that which detracts from life, limits life, condemns life and chokes off the will-to-power, is false, immoral, bad and subversive. A new religion of the will-to-power is proclaimed by Nietzsche, as prelude to the advent of a new age of the superman.

It must be recognized that, by “will-to-power”, Nietzsche does not mean solely the will to outer dominion, but intends also inner dominion. The superman is not only the dominator of men, but also the one who knows to render his own instincts, developed up to an elementary, frightening vehemence, subject also to his own absolute mastery, and yet not in the sense of choking them off, but rather of holding them, almost like wild animals, ready to release whenever he so desires. However, in both cases, that is, as dominator of himself, as also in the domination of the exterior world, in the aspect of Nietzsche’s philosophy which we consider here, the whole thing always ends up being reduced to mere feeling. The value of the will-to-power, arduously developed through the paths of both good and evil, through the most extreme tests, bounded only by the most insane limits, ruthless both towards itself and towards others—this value is always that of an increased and exacerbated feeling of ‘life’, and of an ‘I’ which draws its self-consciousness and its self-confirmation from nothing else but this wild feeling itself.

The wave swells, but does not find outlet, does not find transfiguration. Exasperation, basically, runs in neutral; asceticism is dark, almost ‘diabolical’, enjoying itself, devoid of superior meaning.

One commentator on Nietzsche, George Simmel, has spoken about vicissitudes in which the extreme intensity of life transforms itself and almost changes into a different quality, a ‘more-than-life’. But, in the world of the Nietzschean Superman, the premises for this to achieve reality are missing: there is lacking an idea, a point of reference, which acts, so to speak, as transformer in the circuit of life, and which actualizes it as ‘light’, as ’super-life’—as revelation and affirmation of everything supernatural. Apollo, that is, the Olympian principle, the Olympian superiority, interpreted by Nietzsche as a symbol of exteriority and unreality, always remains for him a danger, the enemy of Dionysos, that is, of life, the uncontrollable impulse of life, which gorges itself on itself, says ‘yes’ to itself, and does not want to be different from what it is, considering every after-life as an illusion and as an escape for impotent and sick people. The circle remains closed. And we remain convinced that, since he evoked, even though unconsciously and on the speculative plane, an apex of life to whose intensity only a supernatural point of reference could be adequate, and since he did not possess such a point of reference, so that this intensity, forced back in itself, so to speak, caused a short-circuit—we remain convinced that this situation was what really led Nietzsche to a tragic end, to madness.

If “man is something that must be overcome”, if “man is a bridge which leads from the beast to the Superman”, this overcoming, this passage, is illusory, unless one works from the premise of the existence of two opposite natures, two opposite worlds, and if one continues instead to consider ‘life’, and ‘life’ alone, in its various forms and intensities, as everything.

Today, racism seems to build upon the worst aspect of Nietzsche’s heritage, in that it tends to reduce every value to a biological basis, to make life, blood, and race the measure and condition of every spiritual form, and thus falls into a distorting reductionism which quite simply closes off the path towards true overcoming and true super-humanity.

What we consider to be the basis of value, and what was always traditionally considered to be such, is that ‘life’ is not spirit and spirit is not ‘life’, but that spirit gives shape to ‘life’, and that what in ‘life’ shows a truly superior and dominating character does not originate from ‘life’, but is a manifestation, through or by means of ‘life’, of spirit, that is, of everything supernatural. Once the true center is recognized in these terms, clearly the first pre-condition for any true overcoming is the gradual shift of one’s self-consciousness, one’s sense of one’s own ‘I’, from the pole of ‘life’ to the pole of ’spirit’. Now, the various voluntarist, actionist, purportedly racist tendencies at work today are striving in precisely the opposite direction: by strengthening, using all possible means, the purely physical and ‘vital’ feeling of the ‘I’, they simultaneously strengthen the prison of the latter, and create a hardening, an insolence, an exasperating and materialistic perception of will, individuality, health and power, all of which represent so many obstructions to inner emancipation. And the circuits then remain closed. The point of reference for the ’self-transformation’ of the ‘intensively lived life’ into ‘more-than-life’ is lacking. The Superman does not go beyond the “beautiful domineering beast” or the “demon” of Dostoevsky—this is the reductio ad absurdum of Nietzsche. Devoid of outlet, every evoked intensity cannot but give rise to a lacerating hypertension, internally—to the dumb tragedy which the ‘titan’ always bears in himself.

The true type of the Superman is, rather, Olympian: a calm greatness which expresses an irresistible superiority, something which terrifies and at the same time compels veneration, which prevails and disarms without fighting, establishing suddenly the feeling of a transcendent force, completely under control but totally capable of release, the wonderful and frightening sense which antiquity associated which the concept of the numen. Supra-life—that is, spirit, totally realized in its supernatural aspect—which permeates and governs absolutely everything which is ‘life’, is the substance here. But this type, the true Superman, cannot be treated merely as a construction of the thought of today. There is no great tradition of antiquity, whether of the East or of the West, which did not possess it. The tradition of the ‘divine right’ of the legitimate Kings, because they were the virile bearers of a force from above, is its last echo. To conceive the sudden re-emergence of this ancient conception, in a world where every great horizon was dead, where, to serve as immediate ideological substance for its incarnation, there were only the profane and opaque myths of evolutionism and natural selection, and a confused need for force and liberation—to conceive this is also to understand the invisible genesis of the theory of the Nietzschean Superman, its limit, and the path which can lead beyond it.


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