True Right: Julius Evola, Sovereignty and Tradition

Gwendolyn Taunton

This article is an extract from the original in Aristokratia Vol. II

Not to know what happened before you were born is to be a child forever. For what is the time of a man, except it be interwoven with that memory of ancient things of a superior age?
– Cicero

julius evola, aristocracyEvola’s theories concerning the role of the Kṣatriya varna (caste) in antiquity are both a progression on and a refutation of Rene Guénon’s work. Despite their sharing of the same foundational source in perennial philosophy, there are a number of points on which they differ, the most obvious point of contention being the role of the Kṣatriya in relation to a hierarchical model of civilization. Guénon held that the textual model in Hinduism was correct, with the Brahmin holding all power as priests/philosophers in Traditional India. Evola, however, declared that this model was theoretical only – in practice the Kṣatriya varna held all the power. Normally associated in the West with the military, Evola instead offered a paradigm which depicted the Kṣatriya as the aristocratic caste – composed of the nobility as well as the warriors. Because Evola links the Kṣatriya to aristocracy, this becomes a central motif that is of extreme importance. The context of his dispute with Guénon is usually misunderstood, even in Traditionalist circles. The root of this debate is best explained by Evola himself in The Path of Cinnabar;

Yet, Guénon argued in favour of the legitimate pre-eminence, in the present age, of priesthood (here associated with ‘wisdom’ and ‘knowledge’) over kingship and the warrior caste of the Kṣatriya (associated with action). By contrast, I argued that both poles being the product of recent dissociation, one cannot be regarded as possessing greater dignity than the other: for both poles, I suggested, are equally remote from primordial unity. I also suggested that an orientation towards sovereignty might provide a better foundation for my attempt to reintegrate that condition of centrality (i.e. the condition of the Absolute Individual) which Guénon himself had described as the primordial condition of humanity. To describe the achievement of this reintegration ‘by means of action’ (.i.e. on the basis of a warrior, vital disposition), I used the term ‘heroic’ (in the sense in which it was used by Hesiod).[1]

It is clear that Evola is not merely arguing over the hierarchy inherent in the varna system simply based on historical evidence, but rather as a medium by which to connect his earlier theory of the Absolute Individual with Tradition. Seen in this light, the Evolian model of sovereignty borrows from esoteric techniques of auto-deification and apotheosis. The two aspects of his philosophical predisposition Evola is conveying here are, in his words, “an impulse towards transcendence”, and the “warrior spirit” (Kṣatriya in Hinduism), is defined as “a human type tending to action and affirmation”.[2] To Evola, this active path to the divine and the model of sovereignty represented the via umida, the wet path, suited to the active masculine Western character.[3] It is only in relation to this facet of Evola’s philosophy that the emphasis in Men Among the Ruins on obedience, loyalty, and the warrior caste can be understood.[4] To a certain extent, these ideas are also supported by the texts themselves, such as the Laws of Manu and the Brhad Aranyaka Upanisad which states that: “This is why nothing is greater than the warrior nobility; the priests themselves venerate the warrior when the consecration of the king occurs.”[5]

Evola’s conceptualised notion of sovereignty combines the Absolute Individual with Traditional esoteric lore surrounding monarchy. This portrays the sovereign in a similar manner to the ancient Indo-European models of divine kings or Cakravartin [6] who, although mortal, have been deified.[7] Evola says that:

The Egyptian Pharaoh was believed to be the manifestation of Ra or Horus. The kings of Alba and Rome were supposed to be the incarnations of Zeus; the Assyrian kings of Baal; the Persian shahs of the god of light. The Nordic-Germanic princes were believed to derive from the race of Tiuz, Odin, and of the Aesir. [8]

These God Kings are possessed of the numinous to such an extent that they glow with a holy fire, often referred to as tapas in Hinduism and the hvareno (the “glory” that the king possess) is a supernatural fire characterizing heavenly (and especially solar) entities that allow the king to partake of immortality and that give him victory in the Zoroastrian Tradition. [9] Evola also states that this “presupposes that the royal condition enjoys a higher power of knowledge […] The Mazdean royal “glory” is also the virtue of a supernatural intellect.” [10] This divine solar fire of sovereignty is also present in Hinduism;

By coming forward, he [Agni] has created kingship in this world. He has conferred on you [Rohita] majesty and victory over your enemies.[11]

The sovereign and model of government Evola espouses can never be purely political as understood by Western democracy, as it is deeply entwined with the world of Tradition. The true Ruler, with an imperial nature, is exactly he who has the greater quantity of being, which immediately means a higher quantity of being, or vitus, by which the others – without, in a certain sense, his needing to intend this to happen – are inflamed, attracted, overwhelmed. [12] Thus, the true Evolian ruler can never be a tyrant, but is rather one who rises to power without any effort or strenuous activity on their own part – their rule is quite literally ordained by the Gods and by fate, and nothing will deter nor impede it. In this regard it bears similarities to both Gustav le Bon’s work on the use of ‘mystification’ in politics and Max Weber’s study of charismatic leadership. To Evola’s way of thinking the foundation of every true State is the transcendence of its own principle, namely the principle of sovereignty, authority, and legitimacy. [13] Here Evola echoes the ideas of Mircea Eliade and Rudolf Otto, wherein contact with the sacred is not mere experience of the numinous, it is the raw power that is transcendent in the primordial current of the numinous itself; it is the essence of sacrality made manifest in the material world. Paul Furlong believes that in this context;

It applies to all authority in a properly established state (that is, a state founded on the principles of Tradition), to religious and military orders within it, to the family, but pre-eminently to the state. This is not the same as Arendt’s transcendent extra-political authority; it is not subject to a code, or ratified by reason, still less dependent on the will of the tyrant. It is the expression of politics within the state, and has absolute authority over all units that are formed by the authority of the sovereign. It is dependent on the moral qualities of the sovereign, which are by definition transcendent. [14]

A true sovereign then is not just a ruler or a person in authority, but one who is by their very essence separated from the average man by being in possession of a spark of divinity that draws and binds the State into service by the force of their personality and the power of their presence. This preternatural aspect of the true sovereign does not struggle for power, but rather power is drawn to them. As Evola says, it is for one who can say at the zenith;

I am the way, the truth and the life, and thus give a unity, meaning, and justification to countless individuals, to that whole system of life’s inferior determinisms, that they did not have before. For the inferior person never lives his own life as perfectly as when he is certain that his existence has a centre and a goal in something superior. [15]

Thus, in the presence of the sovereign, civilians are drawn in and incorporated into his wider sphere of influence. What constitutes the State and the nature of society is therefore related by the will of the sovereign; any political order that claims other sources of legitimacy has its basis in naturalistic organisation and forms of expression, which are necessarily inferior and incapable of providing the progression to the higher “rigorous political doctrine”. [16] It is the king therefore, around which the structure of society is composed, including class, rites, laws, and the sacred system that was called dharmanga in India. As the king is appointed by God, so too is the world of mortals decided by the king.[17] On this topic, Evola cites Joseph de Maistre;

God made kings in the literal sense. He prepares royal people; maturing them under a cloud which conceals their origin. They appear at length crowned with glory and honour; they take their places; and this is the most certain sign of their legitimacy. The truth is that they arise as it were of themselves, without violence on their part, and without marked deliberation on the other: it is a species of magnificent tranquility, not easy to express. Legitimate usurpation would seem to me to be the most appropriate expression (if not too bold), to characterize these kinds of origin, which time takes to consecrate.[18]

The true kings therefore, are appointed not by human law, but by divine law. This legislative function, once transmitted is then brought into the domain of political power in the service of creating the Traditional State. For example in Ancient Rome, this was to be regarded as a legitimate and necessary reaffirmation of the values of a Traditional State.[19] In Ancient Rome, Evola saw a reflection of his ideal political model, and this, along with Indian influences, was perceived by Evola as the most effective form of government. Imperial Rome and Vedic India are the closest existing historical regimes to his theory, although parallels can be found in other epochs and cultures to a lesser degree. It is Rome however which occupies the central position for Evola – a factor which is hardly surprising considering his own Latin heritage. In Rome we see Evola’s premise of the divine sovereign depicted as the God Sol (Sun) presenting the emperor with a sphere (the symbol of universal dominion) and with the titles sol conservator and sol dominus romani imperii, which are used to describe Rome’s stability and ruling power, referring to the brightness of the sun.[20] The ancient Roman notion of imperium belonged to the domain of the sacred, expressing itself as an almost mystical power and auctoritas inherent in the one who had the function and quality of leadership, exemplifying both religious and warrior orders as well as the patrician family, the gens, the State, and the res publica.[21] The fact that Imperial Rome was the closest to Evola’s political ideal is illustrated by the following quote concerning the nature of Imperium, and what is essentially intended by Evola to be a new model, not just for politics, but for civilization.

Rome was simultaneously a material and spiritual power: it arose ‘to rule the earth’s peoples with authority and discipline, to order peace, to be mild toward the vanquished, and to crush the defiant’ [Virgil, Aeneid, VI, 852-854], and at the same time was something sacral […] in which there existed no expression of life, be it in public or private, in war or piece, that was not strictly accompanied by a ritual or symbol – a cultural formation of mysterious origin that had its demigods, its divine kings […] The resurgence of Rome should coincide with the formation of a true sacral monarchy. We quote: “Of course, this also implies the affirmation not only of the concept and right of the nobility, but also of the monarchy […] It must be renewed, strengthened, and dynamized as an organic, central, absolute function that embodies the might of power and the light of the spirit in a single being; then the monarchy is truly the act of a whole population, and at the same time the point that leads beyond all that is bound by blood and soil. Only then is one justified to speak of an Imperium. When it is awakened into a glorious, holy, metaphysical reality, the pinnacle of a martially ordered political hierarchy, then the monarchy once again occupies the place and fulfills the function that it once had, before being usurped by the priestly caste.” [22]

This new Rome, which Evola anticipates, is to be based not on elections and democratic procedures, nor any modern political movements. Instead it is a continuation of Ancient Tradition. As such, it cannot rightly be placed in a modern political system, for it predates democracy and the whole electoral process. It is explicitly not Fascism or any other democratic system. The true political ideal of Evola is the restoration of what he calls the ‘True Right’ – the aristocracy, packaged in a new radical form and is completely different from the ‘Right’ as it is referenced and understood today. In a way, Evola can be said to be the Father of the actual ‘True Right’. However, this should not be confused with the American based ‘Alt-Right’, which is a thoroughly plebeian movement and thus in direct opposition to any form aristocracy.

[1] Evola, J., Path of Cinnabar (UK: Integral Tradition Publishing, 2009), 103.
[2] Furlong, P., Social and Political Thought of Julius Evola (UK: Routledge, 2011), 7.
[3] Ibid.,14.
[4] Ibid., 41.
[5] Evola, J., Revolt Against the Modern World (US: Inner Traditions International, 1995), 68.
[6] A Hindu term used to refer to an ideal universal ruler, who rules ethically and benevolently over the entire world and is the embodiment of dharma or the divine law.
[7] Taunton, G., Emperor of the Sun in Aristokratia Vol. II (Manticore Press, 2014).
[8] Evola, J., Revolt Against the Modern World, 8.
[9] Ibid., 9.
[10] Ibid., 20.
[11] Ibid., 9.
[12] Evola, J., Heathen Imperialism (France: Thompkins & Cariou, 2007), 56.
[13] Evola, J., Men Among Ruins: Post War Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist (US: Inner Traditions International), 122.
[14] Furlong, P., Social and Political Thought of Julius Evola, 57.
[15] Evola, J., Men Among Ruins: Post War Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist, 31.
[16} Furlong, P., Social and Political Thought of Julius Evola, 57.
[17] Evola, J., Revolt Against the Modern World, 20.
[18] Evola, J., Revolt Against the Modern World, 15.
[19} Furlong, P., Social and Political Thought of Julius Evola, 57.
[20] Evola, J., Revolt Against the Modern World, 9.
[21] Evola, J., Men Among Ruins: Post War Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist, 122.
[22] Evola, J., Men Among Ruins: Post War Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist Men Among Ruins, 39.

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