This is part of the introductory essay to the American edition of Julius Evola’s Men amid the Ruins. As the essay is very lengthy (over forty thousand words) I’ll be posting it part by part instead of cramming too much information into too small a space. Credit goes to where it is due; notably to the author, Dr H.T. Hansen, and of course to everyone at Inner Traditions.
Part X: Evola’s Attitude Toward the Jews
In the above-mentioned polemic, Grimaldi characterized Evola as a “Jew lover.” It goes without saying that this misses the mark by a long shot and merely reflects the anger of the attacker. There are so many comments against the Jews in Evola’s work, ranging from simple criticisms to truly painful ones, that there can be no doubt about his basic attitude. Evola himself would have been the last to deny that. But here a distinction has to be made. His writings never spoke out against orthodox religious Judaism. On the contrary; as an example, he writes in his Tre aspetti delproblema Ebraico (Three Aspects of the Jewish Problem), Rome, 1936, p. 23: “There are elements and symbols in the Old Testament that possess metaphysical and therefore universal value.” Or in Revolt Against the Modern World (p. 281): “In contrast to orthodox Judaism, early Christianity can at most claim a mystical character on the same line as the prophets. […] And whenever a true esotericism was subsequently created in the West, it was essentially found outside of Christianity with the help of non-Christian currents, like the Hebraic Kabbalah. […]” Evola even names operative Kabbalah as one of the few paths that can still be followed successfully in the West today.
Evola’s attacks are more often directed against the Jews as symbol of the rule of economic-materialistic individualism and the hegemony of money. In other words: in the Jews he is fighting materialism. The fact that in doing so he again brings up all the well-known prejudices and generalizations shows that he too was dependent on the preeminent Zeitgeist. Thus, he speaks of the grovelling hypocrisy, the Mammonism of the Jews, and their desire to dissolve hierarchical societies, as well as of a “Jewish threat” in general. These are the same accusations that Martin Luther brought up, and which Karl Marx presented in his tract Zur Judenfrage (Concerning the Jewish Question), published 1844 in the Deutsche finnzosische Jahrbiicher in Paris. The worst passages seem to be those to which Professor Franco Ferraresi of the University of Turin refers in his contribution “Julius Evola et la Droite radicale de l’apres-guerre” (“Julius Evola and the Radical Right in the Post-war Era,” in Politica Hermetica, I, p. 100) and which deal with the death of Corneliu Codreanu.
Codreanu, the charismatic leader of the simultaneously political and mystical Christian “Iron Guard” movement in Romania, which saw itself as a part of the army of the Archangel Michael, was definitely one of the very few indisputable “heroes” and models for Evola. Everything he wrote about him amounted to a panegyric and therefore the pain about Codreanu being “shot while escaping,” which he attributed to the Jews seems to have been genuine and to explain the decline of his high standards. (De Felicewrites in his Der Faschism ts: Ein Interview, p. 98:
Strictly speaking, Codreanu is no Fascist. He fights against middle-class values and institutions. His movement is everything but petit-bourgeois; it is rather a movement of students of the lower classes, a popular peasant movement. Anything but a middle-class movement.
It general, it is obvious that Evola chose a much more incisive and polemical tone in his newspaper articles than in his books. But we do not believe that Evola aimed at a “gripping journalistic style” (as still practiced today), used for effect; rather, it seems likely that he wrote these articles under the pressure of a deadline, and therefore in a tone that was much too immediate and emotional. In any case, the fact remains as such.
A lot certainly has to be attributed to the Zeitgeist, which apparently included certain patterns of thought that were never questioned. It is indeed astonishing that even recognized critical minds like Karl Kraus (a Jew himself) continually spouted the usual anti-Jewish prejudices (regarding this, see the interesting research of Jacques le Rider, Der Fall Otto Weininger [The Case of Otto Weininger], Vienna, 1985, and Das Ende der Illusion [The End of Illusion], Vienna, 1990). If one adds the amount of slander that was spread about the Jews in the Fascist era by newspapers that are still important to the present day, such as La Stampa and Corriere della Sera, then the situation becomes a little easier to understand (regarding this, see excerpts in Renzo de Felice’s Storia degli Ebrei Italiani sotto il Fascismo [The History of the Italian Jews under Fascism], Turin, 1972, p. 260).
In light of all of Evola’s well-known anti-Jewish remarks, how could he ever have been called a “Jew lover”? We have already shown a few reasons. Since Evola set supreme importance on the spiritual attitude, a Jew could of course also espouse “Aryan” thought (see “Scienza, razza e scientismo” [Science, Race, and Scientism], in Vita Italiana, XXX, no. 357, December 1942, pp. 556–563; there, he writes verbatim: “For example, can an ‘Aryan’ have a Jewish soul or inner race and vice versa? Yes, it is possible. […]”). And Evola had surely noticed that especially in Germany some Jews felt more “Aryan” than many Germans, and this was not only in intellectual circles. In exactly this sense one must assume that Evola did not at all regard the Jews Weininger and Michelstaedter, to whom he owed so much, as “Jews,” independently of their heritage. That an opinion like this was a danger to mass propaganda could not go unnoticed by the political observers of the day. Basically, Evola did not indict the Jewish people (although naturally there were exceptions), for he did not even acknowledge them as a “biological” race, due to the miscegenation that they themselves admitted; it was Jewry as an idea and “spiritual race” that had been forged together by a common, strictly preserved body of thought (Old Testament, Torah, Talmud, for example). If one rereads (see above) what Otto Weininger said about Jewry as “spiritual direction,” “psychic constitution,” and “Platonic idea,” one will understand what Evola really meant. Contemporary quote from his own hand will underscore this view. Thus he writes in the aforementioned Tre aspetti del prohlema Ebraico (p. 42):
Are ‘rationalism,’ and ‘calculation’ purely Jewish phenomena? If one wanted to answer ‘yes,’ one would also be forced to believe that the first anti-traditional, critical, antireligious, and ‘scientific’ upheavals of ancient Greece had also been introduced and supported by Jews; that therefore Socrates was a Jew, and that not only the medieval nominalists, but also Descartes, Galileo, Bacon, etc., were Jews. […] Even if the passion for the lifeless number and abstract reason is an outstanding characteristic of the Semites […], it nevertheless seems clear that one can speak of a Jewish spirit in this regard only if it destroys everything through rationalism and calculation, if it leads to a world that consists only of machines, objects, and money instead of persons, traditions, and fatherlands, and if one uses the expression ‘Jewish’ in a symbolic sense, without necessarily referring to the race. […] In the concrete development of modern civilization, the Jew can be seen as a force that worked together with others for the proliferation of the ‘civilized,’ rationalized, scientific, mechanistic, modern decadence. But he certainly cannot be singled out as the single, far-seeing cause. It would be nonsense to believe anything of the kind. The actual truth is that one would rather fight against personalized forces than against abstract principles and general phenomena, because the former can also be attacked in a practical manner. And so people have turned against the Jew to the degree that he seems to embody a type that is also present in other areas, and even in nations that have been virtually unaffected by Jewish immigration.
Even in his introduction to the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which we will deal with later, he writes on page xix:
We want to mention right away that we personally cannot follow a certain fanatical anti-Semitism that sees the Jews everywhere as dens ex machina and finally ends in a kind of ambush itself. Guénon himself has referred to the fact that one of the means used by the masked forces to defend themselves consists of directing the entire attention of their enemies in a tendentious way toward those who are only partially the real cause of certain upheavals. Once they have created a scapegoat in this manner, which suffers the full brunt of reaction, they themselves are free to continue with their intrigues. In a certain way, this is also true of the Jewish question. […]
In “Inquadramento del problemo ebraico” (Categorization of the Jewish Question; in Bibliografia Fascism, XIV, no. 8/9, 1939, pp. 717-728), he writes concerning the same question:
A serious formulation of the Jewish problem cannot overlook that which concerns the ‘Aryan’ peoples themselves: the Jew must be prevented from becoming a kind of scapegoat for everything that in reality the non-Jews also have to answer for.
In 1942, Evola writes in his above-mentioned essay “The Misunderstanding of Scientific Racism”:
Because it is useless to try to hide it from oneself, people today are often wondering if the Jew isn’t ultimately a kind of scapegoat. The cases are so frequent in which the characteristics that our doctrine attributes to the Jews are fully and brazenly exhibited by ‘Aryan’ speculators, profiteers, upstarts, and – why not – even by journalists, who do not hesitate to use the most twisted and disloyal means for polemical ends.
Even in a publication such as La Difesa della Razza, which was remarkable for its viciousness concerning the Jewish question and sometimes included despicable articles of the Stzirrner variety, Evola expounded his views (for example, in the article “Razza, eredita, personalita” [Race, Heredity, Personality], April 5, 1942). Evola also confirms his values in his book Il Fascismo (p. 180), although this was not written until 1970:
One must realize that with Hitler anti-Semitism had the role of a veritable obsession, whereby it is not possible to fully explain the causes of this anti-Semitism in its almost paranoid aspect, which had such tragic consequences. Hitler’s anti-Semitism had a forced, fanatical character and points to a lack of inner control. This has led to a stain of infamy on the Third Reich that will be very hard to wash away.
We have already discussed the difficulties that Evola had to deal with during the Fascist era on account to his opinions, which may well stand as evidence for the integrity of his attitude. Despite her understandable condemnation of Evola’s views, even Adriana Goldstaub admits that Evola did not deem all Jews, nor the Jews exclusively, responsible for the decline of the modern world (see her contribution to the debate at the symposium at Cuneo in 1982: “Fascismo Oggi: Nuova destra e Cultura reazionaria negli anni ottanta,” Istituto storico Bella Resistenza in Cuneo, p. 175). The often quoted and knowledgeable expert Renzo de Felice confirms in his History of the Italian Jews under Fascism (p. 465):
[…] we are forced to admit that among the creative and cultured ones – as among the politicians – seen from a certain standpoint, the most respectable ones were the convinced racists. With this we do not mean a Landra or a Cogni, those pale and submissive ‘vestal virgins’ of Nazi racism, but an Evola and an Acerbo, who both created their own path that they followed to the end with dignity and seriousness. And this in contrast to many who chose the way of the lie, of slander, and the total obscuration of every cultural and moral value. […] Evola himself also very decidedly discounted any theory of pure biological racism, going so far that he attracted the attacks and sarcasm of a Landra upon himself. I do not mean by this that the ‘spiritual’ theory of races is acceptable, but it at least had the advantage of not completely discounting certain values. It also renounced the German and German-derived contusions and tried […] to confine racism to the plane of a cultural problem worthy of the name.
The attitude of Evola toward the Jews that we have sketched here-that is, to see “Jewishness” as a certain “spiritual attitude,” an idea derived from Weininger, was anything but singular or rare. As Jacques le Rider shows in his book The End of lllusion, this attitude characterized a whole epoch: the era of fin-de-siecle Vienna, which Weininger was a part of. And perhaps we should not underestimate the influence of Michelstaedter, who studied in Vienna at this time and was surely much affected by the intellectual life that flourished there. Because not only “anti Jewishness” characterizes the Viennese modern era (even though the Jews were the essential proponents of that modernism); it was marked also by “anti-democratism,” “anti-feminism,” and “anti-intellectualism,” which are all found in Evola’s work in modified form. Even the passion for Meister Eckhart was especially pronounced during this time and, for example, influenced the philosopher Fritz Mauthner, who was also interested in Buddhism.
In his study, Jacques le Rider introduces many examples and an interesting analysis of this negative attitude toward the Jews. We have mentioned Karl Krausand his famous publication Fackel (Torch). Even the intellectual poet Hermann Bahr, co-publisher of Die Zeit, who is above suspicion, speaks of the “judaicized Viennese” whereby he obviously means the intellectual attitude and not the biological heredity. According to him, the Viennese were already judaicized “even before the first Jew arrived” (quoted after Jacques le Rider, Das Ende der Illusion, p. 239). Le Rider shows further that Sigmund Freud himself […] [Text Missing] […] dei protocolli provata dalla tradizione ebraica” [The Authenticity of the Protocols as Proved by the Jewish Tradition]) in which he included a mass of quotations allegedly from the Talmud and other Jewish religious writings. However, these quotes were taken not from the original writings but from second – or third-hand sources, such as Rohling’s Talmudjuden and Theodor Fritsch’s Handbuch der Judenfrage, whose dubious scholarship and zealous bias should have been obvious to Evola. In making such a serious accusation it would have been his duty either to look up the primary sources himself or to consult knowledgeable and unbiased experts. Evola certainly did this in other areas: his studies of the ancient scriptures of Buddhism and Tantrism, Zen and alchemy were marked by an all-encompassing meticulousness. As Professor di Vona of the University of Naples confirms (Hermeneutica, 6, p. 84), Evola’s esoteric studies were far more important and their research methods more strict than his comparable political works, which were characterized by an emotionality rooted in the times. Carlo Mattogno, who is probably more partial toward Evola, in a series of articles for Orion examined the aforementioned quotes allegedly stemming from old Hebrew sources, and proved that they were either falsified (though long before Evola), taken out of context, or in some cases freely invented. Barely a single quote was reproduced correctly! (See Carlo Mattogno’s articles in Orion, no. 22, July 1986, p. 169; vol. IV no. 12, December 1987, p. 94; vol. VI, no. 3, March 1989, p. 232.)
Even if some things announced in the Protocols, although already easy to recognize at the time of their publication, such as Liberalism and Rationalism and the dissolution of family ties, have come to pass, there are scores of contradictions and absurdities in them that destroy their “authenticity.” In his preface, Evola himself described certain parts of the Protocols, especially toward the end, as “fantasy.” A list of these contradictions is presented in Pierre Charles’s Les Protocoles des sages de Sion (Paris-Tournai, 1938). A condensed Italian version of (his book also appeared in Orion (no. 46, July 1988, a National-Bolshevist magazine that even partially subscribes to these conspiracy theories, and therefore can hardly be classified as pro Jewish). Further details regarding the Protocols can he found in the works listed in the bibliography [see page 104]. The thirteenth chapter of Men among the Ruins contains Evola’s detailed views regarding this subject.
In spite of these factual and intellectual derailments, we do not wish to ascribe any malice, dishonesty, or egotism to Evola in this matter – just sheer carelessness, a lack of serious research, and the reckless assimilation of prejudices that happened to coincide with his own views. But here it also applies that it is easier to recognize the prejudices of others in the past than our own current ones. Without wanting to belittle them, because these questions can rightly unleash incredible emotional currents (and, of course, quite apart from the much greater personal suffering of those who were affected) there seems to be a certain psychological analogy between the past persecution of the “Jew” and today’s hunt for the “multinational.” In this century, mechanization, technological advance, dehumanization, and the dire dependence of large parts of the world have grown to such an extent that one simply longs for clear, simple, monocausal explanations for the misery. And “proof” for the “guilt” of the Jews yesterday and the “multinationals” today can be found or constructed again and again, which does not necessarily imply malice, but can be an expression of mere overzealousness. As is so often, here too the road to Hell can be paved with good intentions. After all, the real direction of both attacks is essentially the same. One is aiming for “free capital” that according to our economic laws is always invested where the highest returns are expected, without caring much for the resulting human consequences. But the much despised “capitalists,” or rather the “managers” who actually wield the power today, are, in the present as in the past, the expression of a materialist worldview to which we all contribute our support. Only a different order of values, in which the material values are important but do not occupy the highest position, can change this situation. The mere search for scapegoats certainly will not solve anything, for he who seeks will always find. And those somewhat familiar with the shadow problem of psychology will know that the “scapegoat” thus discovered is nothing but a rejected, suppressed part of our personality that is forcibly projected to the outside.
To conclude this chapter on Evola’s racism, we want to mention Robert Melchionda’s thesis that views Evola as “antiracist” par excellence (II volto di Dionisio, p. 208). The reasoning behind this thesis, which seems strange after all the foregoing arguments, is as follows: since someone’s race, in the usual sense of the word, is connected to the corresponding physical characteristics that cannot be changed at will, the word “race” really expresses the “unchangeable,” the “immutable.” In contrast, to Evola it is the spirit and not the body that contains the primary racial characteristics. But according to Evola, the spirit above all represents “absolute freedom” and rules the physical body. However, this “absolute freedom” also makes a change in the “spiritual race” possible and thus race has ceased to be the deciding, unchangeable factor. The reality is a “freedom of race” of a scope not even postulated by the “antiracists.”
In summarizing, we will let Giovanni Monastra have the final word (Anthropologie aristocratique et Racisme):
Evola’s ambition was to apply the traditional worldview as he understood it to a specific aspect of reality: the differences that can be found in humans, both collectively and individually.