National Socialism as Anti-Modernism? Julius Evola’s Notes on the Third Reich.


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The basic thrust of the study is that National Socialism is significantly inferior to its Italian cousin from a traditionalist perspective, and this even though Germany presented a far more favorable setting for a “revolt against the modern world.”

Even after the military collapse and the revolution of 1918, and despite the social chaos, remnants survived with deep roots in that [pre-modern] hierarchical world, which was at times still feudal, focused on the values of the state and its authority that were part of the earlier tradition, in particular of Prussianism. This was the tradition because of which the Central Powers had appeared in the eyes of the western democracies as an ‘intolerable obscurantist residue.’ In fact, in central Europe the ideas of the French Revolution had never taken root as they had in the other European countries.

As in Italy, returning veterans played an essential role in maintaining older ideals: “the war was a test that, in the best of them, had provoked a process of purification and liberation.” Those who were able joined the Reichswehr, the official armed forces of the Weimar Republic, which were limited to 100,000 men under the Versailles Treaty.

[I]mbued by a rigorous sense of honor and discipline… [the Reichswehr] did not accept the new regime, and maintained the ideas, ideals and ethos of the previous tradition, which had shaped the officer corps. The Reichswehr did not consider itself as a simple military force at the disposition of a bourgeois parliamentary regime, but rather as the representative of a vision of life and also of a political idea.

Veterans unable either to fit back into civilian life or to find a place in the official army could join the Stahlhelm or any of a number of so-called Freikorps. The Stahlhelm was a veterans’ organization which served as the armed wing of the Deutschnationalen Volkspartei, the principal German nationalist party of the 1920s, protecting its meetings from disruption by leftist thugs. The Freikorps were unofficial anti-republican paramilitary units. In Berlin, Freikorps units played a critical role in subduing the proto-communist Spartacist uprising and later made an unsuccessful bid to overthrow the Republic (the Kapp Putsch of 1920).

The period of the Weimar Republic also witnessed the flourishing of a number of anti-liberal and anti-democratic intellectual currents now commonly grouped under the umbrella term “Conservative Revolution.” Some of its representatives, among the finest minds of their time, became enthusiastic admirers of Evola through his books Pagan Imperialism and Revolt Against the Modern World. Evola even got invited to address important conservative groups such as the Berliner Herrenklub.

Evola wrote of the men of the Conservative Revolution that “[t]o allow themselves to be carried away by a mass movement that had to be politicized and fanaticized with propaganda, settling every scruple aside, was contrary to their anti-demagogic mentality and seemed to them a ‘rather dirty’ affair.”

(Counter Currents, May 17, 2013).

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