Evola in Middle Earth
So what is this supreme Source of Truth telling us? Revolt agains the Modern World consists of two parts: the first is doctrinal and discusses the various elements of “the World of Tradition,” whereas the second should perhaps not be called historical – for how could it be that, on the foundations just outlined? – but does tell a grand story of spiritual decline and degeneration through the ages. Like Guénon, one of his major influences, Evola distinguishes between four stages of human and cultural development, from the Golden Age to the modern world (the kali yuga). The metaphysics of Tradition according to Evola are built upon the primacy of Being; on the notion of one absolute Spiritual Center that is the exclusive source of legitimate Authority, reflected in an ideology of Sacred Kingship; on the notion of a “natural” social hierarchy of four castes, with spiritual leaders at the top and servants (including slaves) at the bottom; on the primacy of masculine “virile” qualities over their feminine counterparts; and on an ascetic warrior ethics grounded in honour and heroic values. If anything stands out as central in this overview, it is Evola’s obsession with power.
Je vous dis un secret. Voici le temps où l’époux couronnera son épouse: mais où est la couronne? Vers le Nord … Mais d’où vient l’épouse? Du centre, où la chaleur engendre la lumière, et se porte vers le Nord … où la lumière devient brillante.
It’s a complicated story (more so than I first realized myself: I want to thank Francesco Baroni and Hadi Fakhouri for alerting me to the background for Saint-Martin's translation), but the point is simple. It is only on the basis of strict philological criticism, going back to the original sources and analyzing the intended meaning of terms in their initial context, that one can possibly evaluate the truth of any of the countless historical claims on which Evola builds his narrative. If one would take the (considerable) trouble of doing so, then the narrative would quickly start crumbling before one’s gaze. One would discover the enormous extent to which Evola was relying on dated, questionable, or wholly corrupt sources and on scholarly interpretations riddled with assumptions that often tell us more about the authors and their culture or personal preoccupations than about the texts and traditions they were studying.
Obviously the enemy Saruman, with his “mind of metal and wheels,” mirrors the spirit of the Industrial Revolution and its destructive effects on nature (the Ents) and traditional communities (the Shire). In other words, he stands for modernization as a negative force. All readers of Tolkien instinctively take the side of the Hobbits (that is to say, of traditional culture) and the Elves (that is to say, of an elite culture that embodies high spiritual values). Quite as instinctively, they embrace the notion of a sacred “bloodline” of Kings who are destined to rule: it would be ridiculous to imagine a democratic Middle Earth where Aragorn would have to stand for election and get his legislation through parliament. Middle Earth is a traditional hierarchical society where everybody seems to accept his or her appointed rank and station, where families are intact, where men are real men and women are real women. It is inhabited by a whole series of higher and lower races (Elves at the top, Men in the Middle, Orcs at the bottom), and although these may form coalitions of friendship, it is well understood that ultimately they are supposed to stay in their own homelands. Nor would they wish otherwise: they are all proud of who they are and determined to protect their own culture.