This is a continuation of our interview with John Morgan, Editor-in-Chief of Arktos. This innovative firm publishes books about alternatives to modernity, including traditionalist, new right and ecofuturist literature. John was kind enough to take the time answer a lengthy interview, of which part III of IV is presented here.
With The Path of Cinnabar, you’ve begun publishing Julius Evola titles. As the dominant voice of radical traditionalism, he merges the Nietzschean critique of herd morality with the upright values of the old VÃ¶lkisch Right. Are you going to publish more Evola? Do you think my assessment of his ideology was accurate?
Actually, our first Evola translation was Metaphysics of War, which is a collection of essays he originally published in various journals and newspapers during the 1930s and â€˜40s. ITP first published it in 2007, and Arktos brought out a new and much-improved edition earlier this year.
I would have to respectfully disagree with your characterization of Evola, however. While Nietzsche was very important to Evola in his youth, and he continually referred to Nietzsche in his work, I donâ€™t think he could accurately be called a Nietzschean. In The Path of Cinnabar, which was written near the end of his life, Evola lauds Nietzsche for his critique of modernity and its problems, but says that the solutions proposed by him were â€œhazy and dangerous.â€ Evola believed that a true Ãœbermensch could only achieve genuine transcendence through a study and practice of the techniques advocated in the ancient sacred texts, most especially the Vedic and Buddhist traditions, which Nietzsche was unfamiliar with and uninterested in except in a superficial way. As for the VÃ¶lkisch Right, while it is true that Evola associated with some representatives of that tradition, such as at the Herrenklub in 1930s Berlin, his own philosophy is very much at odds with it. Again, referring to Cinnabar, Evola criticizes Hitler for having embraced a VÃ¶lkisch concept of the Reich rather than a more traditional notion of empire as had existed in Europe previously. The examples Evola advocated as ideals go much further back. He wasnâ€™t very interested in anything from modern times. The Holy Roman Empire of the Medieval era, and the Roman Empire of Antiquity, were deemed far superior in Evolaâ€™s eyes to any modern ideology or political system.
I donâ€™t really see how one can classify Evola any more specifically than by saying that he was a traditionalist. It wouldnâ€™t even be accurate to say that he had an ideology, since he rejected such modern notions. The only thing that Evola tried to convey in his work was the transcendental perspective and knowledge as conveyed in the worldâ€™s sacred texts, and how this knowledge had been put into practice in earlier, healthier eras. He is frequently associated with Fascism and National Socialism by both supporters and detractors, but if one actually reads what he wrote about them, itâ€™s clear that he only saw in those ideologies a hope for them to act as a bridge to something more traditional, rather than systems that were good as an end in themselves. In the last period of his life, he rejected the idea of politics altogether, as he thought that civilization was too far along in the degeneration of Kali-Yuga for any meaningful political redress to be possible.
You’ve published some really provocative books. Tomislav Sunicâ€™s Against Democracy and Equality speaks a dangerous message, which is that the path that Western civilization has taken for the past 200 years is fundamentally wrong. Do you think the average reader of political books is going to be able to accept such a radical concept, even though it’s well-supported by argument and facts?
Iâ€™m not certain who the average reader of political books is. If youâ€™re talking about mainstream readers who still believe in American and European sociopolitical structures as they are currently constituted, then yes, I am sure some of our books might be a bit shocking. However, when we make decisions regarding potential new publications, we donâ€™t necessarily look for the most radical or strange ideas and theories, but rather those that we actually think are needed or which we believe people want to read. And speaking of Sunicâ€™s book specifically, I donâ€™t really think that the ideas of the European New Right are all that shocking. I believe that many sensible people respond favorably to them when they are clearly explained, since these ideas emerge from very natural observations about reality. And it seems that more people from all points of the spectrum are beginning to question the assumptions underlying our societies, so I donâ€™t believe that the idea that we are on a wrong course is all that shocking anymore, even if people might disagree about the necessary solutions.
I suppose that one idea that American readers might have trouble grasping at first is the fact that, according to the European political tradition, there is no real Left/Right dichotomy in America. What we have are merely two branches of the liberal tradition with somewhat different priorities â€“ both adhering to the belief that economics is the most crucial aspect of society and trumps all other concerns. In essence, the United States is really as much a single-party system as the Soviet Union was. There is no genuinely Right-wing tradition in America, except for a few tiny groups lurking in the undergrowth.
Guillaume Faye’s Archeofuturism caught my eye as it is both conservative and forward-looking; most people think of conservatives as backward looking, but his point is that conservatism is based on eternal principles that can be carried forward as well. Do you think that’s accurate?
Yes, I think that is a good description of the theme of the book. In it, Faye describes, accurately I think, the true Right as being divided between traditionalists, who want a return to the ways of life and ideas of the past, and futurists, who want to embrace the latest science and technology to create something entirely new. Faye argues that the way forward is to develop a synthesis of the two â€“ to embrace the new, without turning our backs on the principles which made Western civilization great in the first place. I donâ€™t know that I, personally, agree completely with this idea, as it seems a bit overly idealistic. He proposes that 90% of Europeans will live a traditional life akin to ancient times, while 10% will live a technocratic existence among the fruits of high technology, which seems unworkable to me (although rather like India today!). Still, the book provides much food for thought, and can serve as a good myth to drive us toward a different future, as Faye himself asserts in it.
What is this “New Right” concept, anyway? Right-wing concepts are always nebulous.
Thatâ€™s a difficult concept to summarize in just a few sentences, but Iâ€™ll try. Itâ€™s first necessary to explain that the label â€œNew Rightâ€ is not a name which its theorists have ever applied to themselves, but is rather one that was given by their detractors. Still, for convenienceâ€™s sake, itâ€™s a term that has grudgingly been accepted. Thereâ€™s not even a unified New Right movement, since it consists of a number of sub-groups and authors with very different philosophies. One of the things they all agree on, however, is that they are attempting to transcend the traditional categories of Left and Right, although I think itâ€™s clear that they draw more from the European Rightist tradition â€“ the â€œtrue Rightâ€ that Evola spoke of, which existed everywhere prior to the American and French revolutions â€“ than from the Left. These days, the school can be said to be polarized around two individuals, primarily â€“ Alain de Benoist, who founded GRECE, the first New Right group, in France in 1968, and Guillaume Faye, who is an independent author. De Benoist advocates a communitarian solution to Europeâ€™s ills, with small, local communities based on traditional social values and customs with no more than a loose confederation, rather than a central authority, to bind them. Faye, on the other hand, advocates what he terms â€œEurosiberia,â€ which he says will come about after all non-European immigrant populations have been expelled from European soil. It would be an empire stretching from Ireland to Siberia which would respect local communities within its borders, and yet preserve European culture and autonomy from outside influences. This is a very brief summary, but itâ€™s the best I can do here. Interested readers should read Tom Sunicâ€™s Against Democracy and Equality and Michael Oâ€™Mearaâ€™s New Culture, New Right, which are so far the best â€“ and only! â€“ introductions to the European New Right in English.
Do you draw a distinction between the nation and the nation-state? What is it? Does this mean there’s a difference between nationalism and patriotism?
The nation-state is a modern concept that emerged from the French Revolution, which understands itself as wielding sovereignty over a specific geographical area. The nation traditionally refers to a community that shares a common language, culture and ancestry. The idea, which is prevalent in America and France today, that someone is a part of the nation simply by virtue of having been born within the nationâ€™s borders, or because one passed a civics exam, is an entirely modern occurrence which would have puzzled our ancestors. Itâ€™s common now for some on the Right to refer to themselves as â€œWhite nationalists,â€ meaning that they regard all other Whites as part of their community. Itâ€™s a step in the right direction, but does a disservice to the many unique nationalities and communities which comprise the White world. I donâ€™t think the answer to the melting pot of America is to set up a melting pot of White peoples. As for patriotism and nationalism, itâ€™s only natural that people from the same cultural and linguistic background should feel a closer affinity with each other than with others, unlike the situation we have in America today. At the same time, however, we canâ€™t deny the role that the nation-states we live in have played in our lives. Even though they are flawed, they are not entirely negative, and we do owe them a certain debt. So, while I feel a kinship with others of European descent, I donâ€™t feel that I can just reject my homeland, the United States, out of hand because it is comprised of people from many different communities. We can call for change, of course, but that doesnâ€™t free us from our obligation to remain good citizens and neighbors.
Do you think the world is on the verge of admitting the past century, and possibly the past two centuries, were an error, and re-tracing its steps to start off in a different direction that is more compatible with our past?
The world is a big place! Are we to speak of the United States, France, Germany, Russia, India, China, Iran, etc., as one? I think itâ€™s impossible to say anything in such broad terms with any meaning. Speaking strictly about America, there does seem to be an increasing sub-culture that questions the assumptions of modernity, but itâ€™s still a very tiny minority. Most Americans, it seems to me, are still convinced that we can save ourselves by â€œvoting the bastards out of Washingtonâ€ and replacing them with others. That doesnâ€™t suggest to me that a large number of people believe that America was flawed from its conception.