Fascism as Anti-Modernism: Julius Evola’s Fascism Viewed from the Right.


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In the time and place Evola was writing, as in the US today, partisans of these ideas had to devote most of their effort protecting their ideologies from the more recently dominant project of revolutionizing society from above, with the result that, for practical purposes, they find themselves counted among the forces of order. But, while it may be excusable to speak of a de facto “right” that includes classical liberalism and populism, such nomenclature also opens the way to a theoretical confusion which Evola is at pains to avoid. For him, the right “ought to be defined in terms of forces and traditions that acted formatively on a group of nations… before the advent of the Third Estate and the world of the masses, and before bourgeois and industrial culture.”

Such a definition involves special difficulties in an Italian context, the author believes, since “Italy was unified as a nation above all under the banner of ideologies that derive from the Revolution of the Third Estate and the ‘immortal principles’ of 1789.” The result was “a land of parliamentary democracy and a domesticated monarchy,” strongly influenced by Freemasonry, in which revolutionary movements flourished. It was this Italy which intervened in the Great War in 1915 on behalf of global democracy and against the Central powers where, in Evola’s view, a more authentic right (along with its social basis) survived. But the results for Italy itself were contrary to the intentions of the Italian interventionists:

Existentially… interventionism had its own autonomously revolutionary significance, and the war was an occasion for the awakening of forces that were intolerant of bourgeois Italy, forces like the veterans’ movement that nourished Fascism. By rejecting a return to “normalcy” in this climate, these forces changed poles ideologically and oriented themselves towards the Right, towards the ideal of the hierarchical state and the “military nation.”

In other words, the men who made the Fascist revolution had been forcibly torn from the pursuit of the bourgeois values of comfort and security by the war; and having experienced a life of self-overcoming, risk, sacrifice, courage and honor, they were unable to fit quietly back into the world they had left. Politically, they were looking for “a superior animating and formative idea that could have made of [the state] something more than a mere structure of public administration”—something Evola calls a “myth.” But they did not have entirely clear ideas; as Mussolini himself observed, “in Fascism, the deed has preceded doctrine.” Moreover, they had to reckon with the continuing influence of the preceding liberal democratic regime, as well as make practical compromises with the Catholic Church.

(Counter Currents, April 4, 2013).

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