Revolt Against the Modern World, Part I

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woman-571715_960_720Julius Evola’s work is one of those magnificent manifestations of human greatness that lie so removed from the mediocrity and narrow-mindedness of modern man that it is, more often than not, ignored or set aside for its apparently cryptic character.  Those who would condemn said author on political grounds have usually been guilty of forcing their own propaganda on to people who, in reality, simply do not fit their simplistic models.  Julius Evola was first and foremost a traditionalist with a predilection for ancient solar and aristocratic traditions in particular.  This would immediately put him at odds with the egalitarian and pro-plebeian secular humanist values of modern Democratic and Marxist ideologies which borrowed directly from Judeo-Christian thought1.

Evola’s mangnum opus, Revolt Against the Modern World, is divided into to main sections.  The first of these gives the reader an overview of aspects of Tradition that Evola wishes to clarify in view of the often distorted characterisations that have survived in the eye of modernity.  Its title, ‘The World of Tradition’ already hints at the author’s belief that human beings in this ancient past lived through a fundamentally different experience of life from ours, which essentially amounted to them belonging to a literally different world from ours.

“whenever the ‘historical’ and ‘scientific’ methods of modern man are applied to traditional civilizations, other than in the coarser aspect of traces and witnesses, the results are almost always distortions that destroy the spirit, limit and alter the subject matter, and lead into the blind alley of alibis created by the prejudices of the modern mentality as it defends and asserts itself in every domain.”

—Julius Evola, Revolt Against the Modern World, Preface

Julius Evola’s Revolt Against the Modern World goes far deeper than any popular book on history, archaeology or esoteric topics, although it uses elements of all and belongs to none of those categories.  It is not an academic treatise because its methodology and pressing tone, by its own admission, cannot allow itself to be distracted, detained or confused by methods and approaches that simply do not fit the study of the topics at hand.  Evola nonetheless shows himself as knowledgeable as any professional in academic circles from the technical standpoint of the study of ancient traditions.

“Thus, what I call ‘traditional method’ is usually characterized by a double principle: ontologically and objectively by the principle of correspondence, which ensures an essential and functional correlation between analogous elements, presenting them as a simple homologous forms of the appearance of a central and unitary meaning; and epistemologically and subjectively by the generalized use of the principle of induction, which is here understood as a discursive approximation of a spiritual intuition, in which what is realized is the integration and the unification of the diverse elements encountered in the same one meaning and in the same one principle.”

—Julius Evola, Revolt Against the Modern World, Preface


§ The true nature of regality in the World of Tradition

“May our leader be our bridge.”

According to Evola’s view, the basis for the ascension of a superior caste, of nobility, had all to do with the superiority of their actions and the effectiveness of their decisions in the long run; that is, not with respect to their immediate effect only, but according to their ultimate consequences in and through nature.  The nobleman differentiated himself from the plebeian through his spirit and thought, by being able to transcend his own animalistic nature and put higher values into action.  This is precisely what Evola calls a ‘transcendent approach’: heroic action and contemplation.

“Kingship was the supreme form of government, and was believed to be in the natural order of things.  It did not need physical strength to assert itself, and when it did, it was only sporadically.  It imposed itself mainly and irresistibly through the spirit.”

—Julius Evola, Revolt Against the Modern World, Chapter 2: ‘Regality’

These were not merely temporary and impulsive gestures as they are seen in the modern and passing idea that the modern world has today of the hero in the sportsman or the civil servant that aids a citizen in distress.  Attached to the idea of true regality (royalty) is the institution and preservation of traditions that reinforce and cultivate the mentality and overall spirit that is, in essence, what constitutes the superior caste.

“According to traditional man the physical plane merely contains effects; nothing takes place in this world that did not originate first in the next world or in the invisible dimension.”

—Julius Evola, Revolt Against the Modern World, Chapter 5: ‘The Mystery of the Rite’

Even more telling is the idea that royalty had a different destiny in the afterlife.

“The belief that everybody’s soul is immortal is rather odd; very little evidence of it can be found in the world of Tradition.

(…)

A regal or an aristocratic tradition arises whenever there is a dominion over the totems and not a dominion of the totems, and wherever the bond is inverted and the deep forces of the stock are given a superbiological orientation by a supernatural principle in the direction of an Olympian ‘victory’ and immortality.”

—Julius Evola, Revolt Against the Modern World, Chapter 8: ‘The Two Paths in the Afterlife’

This was not some arbitrary and superstitious assignment of privileges, but an earned merit which had to be acquired by each individual no matter who his parents were.  Lineages were created because it was thought that propensities towards greatness were lying dormant in family traits.

“If we refer, however, to the Indo-Aryan tradition in which the caste system was the most rigorously applied, simply to be born in a caste, though necessary, was not considered enough; it was necessary for the quality virtually conferred upon a person at birth to be actualized by initiation.”

—Julius Evola, Revolt Against the Modern World, Chapter 9: ‘Life and Death of Civilizations’

What is hinted at is, furthermore, a conscious directing of the excellence of the lineage that is not a mere play of eugenics, but a cultivation of excellence that in each generation evaluates worth and strives to cultivate the best inner traits of the family while adopting new blood when the individual carrying it is deemed exceptional.

“Both the higher castes and traditional aristocracies, as well as superior civilizations and races (…) cannot be explained by blood, but through blood, by something that goes beyond blood and that has a metabiological character.”

—Julius Evola, Revolt Against the Modern World, Chapter 9: ‘Life and Death of Civilizations’

That this became perverted and only a memory with the passage of time is what Evola himself identifies with the decay of humanity and the advent of the current Dark Age.

“Rites, institutions, laws, and customs may still continue to exist for a certain time; but with their meaning lost and their ‘virtue’ paralyzed they are nothing but empty shells.”

—Julius Evola, Revolt Against the Modern World, Chapter 9: ‘Life and Death of Civilizations’


§ Further

“One would look in vain for ‘religion’ in the original forms of the world of Tradition.  There are civilizations that never named their gods or attempted to portray them.”

Evola goes on to discuss the difference in perceptions of the world and the experience of life as a whole between modern world human beings and those living in closer connection with nature and its rhythms.  Both time and space are said to be perceived differently, everything is perceived as being interconnected rather than strictly separated.

We will not, however, continue to discuss these details and the reader is encouraged to pick up Revolt Against the Modern World for this article is but a brief introduction and overview of what I personally perceive as some of the most general and main points made in this first part of the book.  In the future, we will be discussing the second part of Julius Evola’s book a chapter a time.  This second part is titled ‘Genesis and Face of the Modern World’, and is more pressing for us to study.  The first part of the book is nonetheless a necessary read if one is to understand what follows.


1 The wording of pro-secular humanism sources is very telling, confusing and accusing anything that does not agree with their own particular views as “superstition”, “pseudoscience” or “barbarism” without even beginning to understand it.

5 comments on “Revolt Against the Modern World, Part I”

  1. Good introduction and I agree with you. J. Evola’s work has been underestimated. Currently I’m reading his ‘The Doctrine of Awakening’ and ‘The Hermetic Tradition’ and both works are excellent. Through the years I have come a bit more critical with regard to Evola’s view on the Solar Tradition. In my blog I reflect on the Solar Tradition and from an acephalic (Georges Bataille) point of view, I see the Sun not a a source of Light and Wisdom, but rather a deadly source of unforgiven and relentless energy. But this view does not rule out or contradict Evola’s. George Bataille and Evola were both in a way traditionalists as they favoured an aristocratic view on society. Bataille’s case is of course not that easy but he was an anti-modernist of which many academics are still quite critical. Anyway, like your blog and articles. Keep up the Work. It’s important in the plebeian world of today.

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    1. As pertaining the sun itself, you may want to see the more balanced view of Varg Vikernes on this issue. As I understood his words, the sun is both a life-giver and a destroyer if you expose yourself too much to it. To know how to use it and perceive it lies in the judgement of humans.

      Secondly, I do not think we should looking at it from a literal and simplistic manner, because although I personally do not ascribe to Evola’s predilections, I understand his meanings as one way of doing things that fits a certain type of mind. This is not relativism, but the realist accepting that not all people are given to the same path and same way of thinking.

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      1. Most certainly, it is not to be seen as something simplistic. It is far more complicated than most people tend to see. Evola’s work has therefore not been fully appreaciated. The academic world shuns away from his work and abolishes it, Georges Bataille’s work has been over-academized and he has been turned into a postmodern philosopher while he himself was quite against such ‘labels’.

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      2. Academia has proved, once and again, that it is not fertile ground for great minds. The very contrary is true, in my experience, and in academia you find plenty of very narrow-minded and rather dumb people who are endowed with the only talent of being able to memorize, perform tasks like robots and generally stay within the lines delineated for them to follow instructions. They have been rather the necessary evil for an industrialized society to keep control of scientific progress and an overall oversight of the ideas that are deemed accepted by the status quo.

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