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Friday, September 26, 2014

Eliade and Traditionalism

An interesting new article on Eliade and Traditionalism: Timotheus Lutz, "Mircea Eliade's 'Traditionalism': Appearance and Reality," Hyperion 2015. The article quotes several comments on Traditionalism and Traditionalists (Guénon and Coomaraswamy) by Eliade of which I was not previously aware. I am not sure I agree with the article's conclusions, but the research on which it is based is certainly valuable. Thanks to CG for drawing my attention to this article.

Traditionalist postage stamp

Only just found: the world's only known Traditionalist postage stamp.

Issued by the Moldovan Post Office (Posta Moldovei) in 2007, a series of three stamps featured the Romanian playwright Ion Luca Caragiale (1852-1912), the Moldovan opera singers Anastasia Dicescu (1887-1945) and Maria Bieșu (1935-2012), and Mircea Eliade (1907-1986).

Inset in the Eliade stamp, shown here, are two well-known photographs of Eliade, the covers of two of his better known books (The Myth of the Eternal Return and the History of Religious Ideas), and--less predictably--a photograph of Guénon and Schuon in Cairo.

The stamp was designed by Elena Karacenţev (b. 1960), a Moldovan artist who grew up in what was then Leningrad, and so perhaps discovered Eliade in a Russian version.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Traditionalism in Hungary

Gábor Vona in front of the Jobbik emblem
TGP has just drawn my attention to the rise of the influence of Evola in Hungary.

Gábor Vona (in Hungarian, Vona Gábor), the leader since 2006 of Jobbik (the Movement for a Better Hungary, which holds 12% of the seats in the Hungarian parliament and is the country's third political force), is a declared admirer. He wrote the introduction to a recent collection of Evola's work, Jobboldali fiatalok kézikönyve (Manual for Nationalist Youth, 2012), and in 2010 wrote:
My idea of society and people was formed and developed by such great thinkers as Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Mircea Eliade, Rüdiger Safranski, Konrad Lorenz or the all time favourite, Master Eckhart. But If I had to define the category to which my thinking and my perception belong to it would have to be the following: traditionalist. Here I should emphasize Béla Hamvas, Julius Evola and René Guenon. 
Béla Hamvas (1897-1968) was the Hungarian writer, journalist and librarian who introduced Traditionalism into Hungarian circles before the Second World War.

It is unclear what influence Evola has within Jobbik, and it can be assumed that few of the million Hungarians who voted for Jobbik at the last election have read him. But Vona bases his assessment of Islam on a Traditionalist analysis, and this analysis has policy consequences, with Jobbik for example taking a determinedly pro-Palestinian stance, and Vona happily visiting Turkey as well as Russia. He was in Moscow at the invitation of Alexander Dugin in 2013, and is a staunch supporter of Dugin's Eurasianism. Commentators are unsure how to describe Jobbik, with the British Guardian for example reaching for labels like "Fascist" and "extreme right." "New Right" seems a better label.

The Manual for Nationalist Youth was published by Kvintesszencia Kiadó, a publisher run by Tibor Imre Baranyi which now has 19 Traditionalist titles in Hungarian: 6 by Evola, 6 by Guénon, 2 by Schuon, and 5 by Hungarian Traditionalists (2 by András László, 2 by Tibor Imre Baranyi himself, and 1 by Róbert Horváth). András László (b. 1941) was the successor as Hungary's leading Traditionalist to Béla Hamvas; Róbert Horváth is a younger Hungarian Traditionalist.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Lord Northbourne, organic agriculture, and Schumacher

Lord Northbourne in 1956
John Paull has just published a short biography of Lord Northbourne (1896-1982) in the Journal of Organic Systems, “Lord Northbourne, the man who invented organic farming, a biography,” Journal of Organic Systems 9 (1), 2014, pp. 31-53.

Northbourne is generally known to those with an interest in Traditionalism as the first English translator of René Guénon’s The Reign of Quantity (1953), of Frithjof Schuon’s Light on the Ancient Worlds (1965) and of Titus Burckhardt’s Sacred Art in East and West (1967). John Paull’s article argues convincingly that Northbourne’s 1940 book Look to the Land invented the term “organic farming,” which Northbourne put in opposition to “chemical farming.” He did not actually invent organic farming, however, but rather repackaged ideas deriving ultimately from Rudolf Steiner and Koberwitz via Ehrenfried Pfeiffer’s Bio-Dynamic Farming and Gardening; the term was then picked up and popularized by Jerome Rodale with his periodical Organic Farming and Gardening.

According to Paull, it was after the publication of Look to the Land that Marco Pallis got in touch with Northbourne and introduced him to Traditionalism. This led to Northbourne’s Religion in the Modern World (1963), to a number of articles in the Maryami-aligned journal Studies in Comparative Religion between 1967 and 1974, and to a final book, Looking Back on Progress (1970). It seems that it was Northbourne who introduced E. F. Schumacher to Traditionalism: Schumacher and Northbourne were both active in the Soil Association, which promoted organic farming. Northbourne may thus be important for the environmentalism of Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Prince Charles.

Northbourne was the fourth baron, descended from the first baron, a friend and colleague of Prime Minister William Gladstone. He was educated at Eton and Oxford, where he was president of the Oxford University Boat Club and for some time lectured on agriculture before succeeding to the family estates in Kent, where he lived for the remainder of his life.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Traditionalists banned by University College London Student Union

Discussion continues concerning the decision of the student union at University College London (UCL) to ban a Traditionalist reading group initially called "Tradition UCL" but renamed, at the time of its banning, "The Nietzsche Club." This was a smart move on the part of the UCL Traditionalists, as the ban has been most frequently reported as the banning of Nietzsche, and criticized as such.

The Nietzsche Club put up some posters entitled "Too much political correctness?" and "Equality is a false god" and advertising readings of de Benoist, Evola, Heidegger, and Nietzsche. They were, then, somewhere between political Traditionalism and the New Right. The student union voted to ban them on March 11, 2014 on grounds of protecting UCL students against the dangers of fascism, but the Trustees of UCL then suspended the ban while they took legal advice. Nothing has happened since, but the story passed from online news source to online news source until it was picked up by The Huffington Post on June 3 and The Daily Beast on June 6. And then by this blog.

It is not clear how many students were involved in the club, but their reading list has certainly reached a far wider public as a result of the ban than it did as a result of the initial advertisements.It also seems that the UCL student union is itself somewhat political, as the motion banning the Nietzsche Club noted that "fascism is used by the ruling class to divide workers and students... to split them and thus... undermine their resistance to... consequences of the crisis of the capitalist system."