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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

New book on Eurasianism in Turkey

A new book on Eurasianism in Turkey has just been published, The Foreign Policy of Modern Turkey: Power and the Ideology of Eurasianism, by Özgür Tüfekçi (London: I. B. Tauris, $95).

Tüfekçi understands “Eurasianism” broadly, as the idea that Turkey should turn towards Russia rather than the West. He starts off in the nineteenth century, moves on to the period of Turgut Özal (1983-1993) and then to the present day, to Doğu Perinçek and the İşçi Partisi (IP, Workers' Party) and Alexander Dugin, a relationship already mentioned on this blog.

I have not yet been able to look at the book itself. The chapter titles look a bit clunky. But the long view may be interesting.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Traditionalism in Indonesia

A new article covers the topic of Traditionalism in Indonesia, a topic that has been covered in one PhD dissertation in Indonesian (and briefly on this blog) but has otherwise been largely ignored, certainly in Western languages. The article is by Asfa Widiyanto, and is “The Reception of Seyyed Hossein Nasr’s Ideas within the Indonesian Intellectual Landscape,” Studia Islamika: Indonesian Journal for Islamic Studies 23, no. 2 (2016): 193-236, DOI: 10.15408/sdi.v23i2.3002.

Widiyanto dates Nasr’s influence in Indonesia to three lectures that he gave during a visit in 1993, which attracted much attention. Some Indonesian translations of his books were then already available, but more have been published since 1993. Nasr’s views have also been promoted in the journal Ulumul Qur’an, which has published many articles with a Traditionalist perspective, and may even in some sense be a Traditionalist journal.

Widiyanto identifies a number of Indonesian scholars who have been influenced by the work of Nasr and Schuon, and lists many of their publications. He pays special attention to Nurcholish Madjid (1939-2005), a prominent Muslim intellectual whose PhD thesis at the University of Chicago was supervised by Fazlur Rahman, and who became Indonesia’s leading exponent of Traditionalist ideas. It was Madjid who was credited with persuading President Suharto to resign in 1998. Madjid was more enthusiastic about perennialism’s pluralism, which he likened to the non-denominational theism of Pancasila, Indonesia’s official state philosophy, than about its anti-modernism, which he rejected. In Widiyanto’s view, this corresponds to Nasr’s general reception in Indonesia.

Widiyanto also singles out Komaruddin Hidayat (born 1953), a professor of philosophy with a PhD from the Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara, a former rector of the Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University in Jakarta, and an active journalist. An editor of Ulumul Qur’an, Hidayat is evidently now Indonesia’s leading Traditionalist.

Both Madjid and Hidayat are evidently significant figures in Indonesia, more important than Traditionalists are in most countries. They seem, however, to be “soft” Traditionalists more than “hard” Traditionalists.

Widiyanto spends some time on the issue of whether Nasr can be considered a Shi'i, an issue that has not caused much concern elsewhere, and argues that he is more scholar than Shi'i. He does not explicitly ask to what extent Traditionalism is Western and to what extent it is Islamic, but addresses this question obliquely, referring to Nasr’s debt to Suhrawardi, and concluding that “Nasr’s popularity in Indonesia is not merely due to his Perennialist ideas but also due to the fact that he represents an advocate of living Islamic philosophy, which survives in the Persian world most notably in the form of the School of Illumination.”

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

JAAR review of The Study Quran

A review of The Study Quran, edited by Seyyed Hossein Nasr and others and previously mentioned on this blog for its Maryami connections, has just been published in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, possibly the world’s leading journal in the field. It is by Aisha Geissinger, a Quran specialist and assistant professor at Carleton University in Canada, and is careful and fair.

Geissinger welcomes The Study Quran as “a fascinating example of what could be termed the ‘next stage’ in the publication of confessional literature that reflects the reception of the Qur’an by believing Muslims writing in English” because, unlike other English translations, it really engages with the techniques and history of tafsir (exegesis) and “vividly conveys something of the Qur’an’s long and intellectually vibrant history of interpretation.”

She notes, however, that—like all other translations—The Study Quran presents one particular perspective. She characterizes this perspective as “broadly... neo-traditionalist” and sometimes perennialist. The selection of “traditional” material, she concludes, produces “a twenty-first century CE construction of an ostensibly timeless ‘tradition.’” And how, I wonder, could it not?

My thanks to OA for drawing this review to my attention.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Guénon and Iurii Mamleev

The impact of René Guénon on Iurii Mamleev is discussed in a new article by Oliver Ready, “'Questions to Which Reason has No Answer:' Iurii Mamleev’s Irrationalism in European Context” (in Facets of Russian Irrationalism Between Art and Life: Mystery Inside Enigma, edited by Olga Tabachnikova; Leiden: Brill Rodopi, 2016, pp. 496-518). Guénon, in fact, is the major part of the European context in which Ready seeks to place Mamleev; the other major part is the anti-psychiatry of R. D. Laing.

Mamleev (1931-2015) is of interest both as one of modern Russia’s most remarkable authors and as the owner of the flat in Iuzkinskii Lane, Moscow, where a group of dissident intellectuals gathered, later known as the Iuzkinskii Circle and, as Ready says, now much mythologized. Among the members of the Iuzkinskii Circle were the poet Evgenii Golovin (1938-2010), Geydar Dzhemal (1947-2016), and Alexander Dugin. It was through the Iuzkinskii Circle that Traditionalism really entered Russia.

Ready argues that Mamleev is heir both to the venerable Russian tradition of irrationalism and to Guénonian Traditionalism. He bases this argument on Mamleev’s references to Guénon is his non-fictional work and on a reading of Mamleev's fiction. It was Guénon, according to Ready, who provided Mamleev with the killer condemnation of modernity and of reason, with a powerful justification for the view that “if the world has gone mad, it is because of an excess, not a lack, of reason.” The Soviet Union was, of course, hyper-modern in its respect for reason.

Mamleev was far from the first Russian author to see reason not as the key to understanding reality but as an obstacle to understanding reality, nor the first Russian author for whom irrationalism and the grotesque could force readers to look beyond the human to the mystical unknown. But while the broad Russian tradition promotes values of humility that may be seen as Christian, Ready argues, Mamleev “affirms a hierarchy of spiritual knowledge and enlightenment” that he takes not from Dostoevsky but from Guénon.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Bannon and Dugin

Although the Bannon and Evola story seems to have died for a while, the Bannon and Dugin story goes on and on. Among the highlights is a piece in Newsweek on “Alexander Dugin and Steve Bannon’s Ideological Ties to Vladimir Putin’s Russia” on April 17 and now “Russia’s Alt-Right Rasputin Says He’s Steve Bannon’s Ideological Soul Mate” in The Daily Beast on April 24. The summary of this article is:
Alexander Dugin says Trump’s a traitor to the alt-right because of his ‘unforgivable’ attack on Syria, and Putin’s a big disappointment. But Dugin still digs Bannon. 
I wonder whether one day Bannon will go public with his views on Dugin.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

New article on Schuon and race

An important article on Frithjof Schuon has just been published in Numen 64 (2017), pp. 258–293: This is Gregory A. Lipton, "De-Semitizing Ibn ʿArabī: Aryanism and the Schuonian Discourse of Religious Authenticity."

Lipton starts by noting the importance of Schuon for contemporary understandings of Ibn Arabi and commenting on the "posthumous Schuonian renaissance." He then goes on to make two arguments:

Firstly, he demonstrates by numerous citations from Schuon's works that Schuon subscribed to understandings of race and of the opposition between Aryan and Semite that were developed in the nineteenth century by theorists such as Ernest Renan and Joseph Arthur de Gobineau, and incidentally underpinned Nazi racial theory--I say "incidentally" because Lipton is not arguing that Schuon was a Nazi, merely that he subscribed to understandings that the Nazis also subscribed to.

Secondly, he shows that Schuon disliked what he saw as Semitic in Ibn Arabi, preferring Vedanta and Plato as Aryan. He was sometimes very critical of Ibn Arabi, for example for his “abrupt and unintelligible denominationalism.” Lipton understands Schuon's and the Maryamiyya's turn away from its originally very Islamic Sufism to a more universal understanding that de-emphasized Islam and instead emphasized the Virgin and Vedanta as a response to this problem, as "de-Semitizing."

The article is clearly written, tightly argued, and entirely convincing. There may also, however, have been other reasons for Schuon's turn away from Islam.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Traditionalism and the Aga Khan?

An interesting article in Religions 9 (2016), the journal of the Doha International Center for Interfaith Dialog, has been brought to my attention. This is “Integral Pluralism as the Basis for Harmony: The Approach of His Highness the Aga Khan” (pp. 147- 62) by Ali Lakhani, a shortened and edited version of an article originally published in the Traditionalist journal Sacred Web in 2014, “Living the Ethics of One’s Faith: The Aga Khan’s Integral Vision” (no. 34, pp. 33-62). The article is interesting because the Aga Khan’s “integral pluralism” and “integral vision” appear as remarkably Traditionalist. Whether this has a basis in reality or is wishful thinking on the part of Lakhani is not known.

The Aga Khan (pictured) is, of course, the 49th imam (leader) of the Nizari Ismailis, a minority branch of Shi’i Islam that now has some five to ten million followers worldwide. The Nizari imams are descended from the Fatimid Caliphs, and thus from the Prophet Muhammad’s son-in-law and grandchildren. Lakhani, the founder and editor of Sacred Web, is a one of the most prominent Traditionalists of the generation following Seyyed Hossein Nasr. Born in England in 1955, he is now a successful lawyer in Canada. He is also an Ismaili, and active within the Ismaili community. He was the first chair of the Ismaili Conciliation and Arbitration Board.

In the 2016 Religions article, Lakhani describes the Aga Khan’s “integral pluralism” as a combination of pluralism and being “true to universal and perennial principles.” This, according to Lakhani, “lies at the heart of the Aga Khan’s interpretation of Islam.” The 2014 Sacred Web article does not use the phrase “integral pluralism” or talk of the perennial, but it does ascribe to the Aga Khan a belief in “a unifying spiritual vision” and explains that he “does not seek a consensus based on outward forms, but on underlying principles that are universal, yet expressed within the Muslim tradition.”

From one perspective, this is uncontroversial, like being true to universal principles. From another perspective, this is precisely the Traditionalist view of the relationship between the exoteric and the esoteric. But is it also the Aga Khan’s view? Lakhani also ascribes to the Aga Khan, whom he sees as “a defender of cohesive traditional Muslim values,” “a trenchant critique of modernism” that sees “rampant materialism” as “a loss of verticality.” These, too, are characteristically Traditionalist conceptions. The 2016 article backtracks slightly, stressing that “The Aga Khan’s attitude to modernity is to embrace the modern world (for Islam is a faith for all time) while being critical of the modernist ethos which rejects the spiritual basis of life.”

Sacred Web is an overtly Traditionalist journal, but Religions is not. It is, however, edited by Patrick Laude, co-author of Frithjof Schuon: Life and Teachings (SUNY Press, 2004), and many of the original International Advisory Board, which includes Seyyed Hossein Nasr, are Traditionalists.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Sami Yusuf now a Traditionalist

Guest post by Neon Knight

English Muslim singer Sami Yusuf is now a Traditionalist, and almost certainly a disciple of Seyyed Hossein Nasr.

Yusuf, a million-selling artist who regularly fills football stadiums in the Middle East, performed a benefit concert for Nasr's Foundation for Traditional Studies and has collaborated with him on "Songs of the Way," a musical tribute to Nasr which features the latter reading his poetry on six of its twelve tracks. In an interesting interview, Yusuf discusses his Traditionalism. On his website, he describes "Songs of the Way" as follows:
The inspiration that animates this work, its life and soul, is the poetry of Seyyed Hossein Nasr, for it expresses timeless Truth and a life devoted to attaining it. The dimensions of this personal yet universal message evoke a diversity of responses, of spiritual states and perspectives, expressed in the Songs of the Way. The yearning lament of the kamanche and the ney, the interiorizing fervor of flamenco guitar, and the nobility of the classical Middle Eastern Sufi style all express human responses to a Divinity that transcends us. They call us to remember the Sacred within us, and ultimately, like everything beautiful, manifest aspects of Divinity Itself. And amid these tones there is the voice, the sound closest to our heart, which soars to evoke the cadence that we heard before the world was born.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

More on Bannon and Evola

There has recently been a lot of linking of the names of Julius Evola and Steve Bannon, encouraged by an article in the New York Times on February 10, 2017 by Jason Horowitz, "Steve Bannon Cited Italian Thinker Who Inspired Fascists." In this aticle, Horowitz was careful not to identify Bannon as an Evolian, despite his referfence to Evola, but other journalists have been less careful.

One of the most interesting articles since Horowitz's piece has been Alastair Crooke's "Letting Russia Be Russia," published on March 17, 2017 on Consortiumnews. Crooke discusses Dugin, Evola and Bannon, and lists ways in which Bannon's 2010 film Generation Zero reflects Traditionalist views. "I do not know whether Bannon or Trump have read Evola," concludes Crooke, "but his sprit, and that of other Radical Traditionalists, has certainly permeated the thinking of the Alt-Right circles in which both men have been moving." That, I think, is a fair assessment.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

The Philosophy of Wine

A new book by the Hungarian essayist Béla Hamvas (1897-1968) is now available in English translation. The Philosophy of Wine, written in 1945, has been published by Media Kiadó in Budapest, finely printed and bound.

Hamvas was primarily a literary figure, but was also a Traditionalist, introducing Guénon and Evola to certain Hungarian circles during the interwar period. His Scientia Sacra (1943-44) is his most Traditionalist work.

The Philosophy of Wine is the only work by a Traditionalist I have yet read that has made me laugh aloud. Traditionalists tend to treat serious topics seriously, but Hamvas uses humor, and uses it well. Wine, he explains in the book's introduction, actually stands for the divine, and philosophy for metaphysics, but a book about the metaphysics of the divine would not go down well, so he has written about wine instead. And the book is indeed about wine, and the pull-out map of wine regions in Hungary is very useful. But the book is not only about wine. It is also about modernity and esotericism and the One, and it is an attack on modernity's representatives--atheists and scientists--and also on pietists and puritans. A puritan, Hamvas explains, is "a pietist turned terrorist," a phrase that must have carried special meaning as Communist puritans tightened their grip over Hungary, forcing Hamvas out of literary life into a job as a warehouseman.

The strength of The Philosophy of Wine is its humor and its elegance. It is an extended essay with short chapters. It also advances an interesting idea at a theoretical level, however: that "the golden age is not a historical period but a condition."

The Philosophy of Wine is available from Bookline for 2,550 HUF ($9) plus postage.

My thanks to JM for providing me with a copy of the translation and of related material.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Albert Gleizes and Traditionalism

My attention has been drawn to an interesting new article on the relationship with Traditionalism of the French Cubist painter Albert Gleizes (1881-1953). Witten by the painter and scholar Peter Brooke, it is entitled "Albert Gleizes, Coomaraswamy and 'Tradition,'" and is available here.

Brooke starts with a general discussion of Gleizes and Traditionalism, including the split in Gleizes' following between pro- and anti-Traditionalist factions that resulted in two rival artistic journals, L'Atelier de la rose (Traditionalist) and Zodiaque (Catholic). He then asks (a) what Guénon saw in Gleizes, (b) what Coomaraswamy saw in Gleizes, and (c) what Gleizes saw in Guénon and Coomaraswamy.

My thanks to SJ for drawing my attention to this article.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Arktos's Jorjani attacks perennialism

Ever since its launch in 2010, Arktos has been one of the major platforms for Traditionalist writings. But now its new editor-in-chief, Jason Reza Jorjani (born 1981, pictured), an American who describes himself as of Persian and Northern European descent, has published "Against Perennial Philosophy" (AltRight.com, October 21, 2016), in which he identified Traditionalism as the "greatest enemy."

The original basis of Arktos was that while there was wide agreement in certain circles that "that something has gone terribly wrong with the modern world," there were differences about whether the problem was political, sociological, spiritual or metaphysical, and consequent "internal squabbles." Arktos therefore sought to provide useful resources for what it called "the subculture of anti-modernity," not to "seek consistency." Its initial offerings, some of which it published itself and some of which it resold, included books by Frithjof Schuon, Ananda Coomaraswamy and John Michell, as well as Julius Evola, Alain de Benoist and Carl Schmitt. Since 2010, Arktos has commissioned and published English translations of Evola and Dugin, and carries works by both Benoist and the other leading author of the French New Right, Guillaume Faye. It sells most of the authors on Amazon's "top ten" list (see post here).

In his "Against Perennial Philosophy," a version of a lecture given to an American group called "Iranian Renaissance," Jorjani concludes that
Our greatest enemy in this venture [an Iranian renaissance] is not Islam, but the Traditionalist mentality of Javidan Kherad [Persian: eternal wisdom] or “Perennial Philosophy” that cannot tolerate fundamental uncertainty and honest intellectual conflict. This Javidan Kherad, which Leibniz imported into the West and Guénon later elaborated and used to legitimate Islam, has its origins in a false reconstruction of Sassanian culture on the basis of an Islamic-Mongol mentality that is truly going to be the death of us if we do not have the courage to free ourselves from it.
Jorjani certainly knows his Traditionalist history. Not only does he know about Javidan Kherad and the role played by Leibniz as well as by Guénon, but in his article he also refers to the Imperial Iranian Academy of Philosophy, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, and even Peter Lamborn Wilson (Hakim Bey).

Leaving aside possible reconstructions of Sassanian culture, Jorjani's argument is in many ways a classic one. "Revolutionary scientific and sociopolitical breakthroughs" require brilliant thinkers and freedom of thought, and brilliant thinkers are Aryan (which of course includes the Iranians, but not the Arabs), and the enemies of freedom of thought are the Abrahamic revelations and the problem that "if a society believes that there is an eternal, unchanging Wisdom that can be definitively attained... then that society will never see... scientific and political revolutions." If Christianity is preferable to Islam, that is because it is more incoherent, and so less powerful as "an eternal, unchanging Wisdom." In pitting Aryan Iranians against non-Aryan Arabs, Jorjani is following an argument that was developed in the nineteenth century and never became as problematic in Iran as it did in the post-Nazi West. In identifying Christianity as an obstacle to free thought, he is following many people, including Evola. In placing Islam in front of Christianity as an enemy, he is following Guillaume Faye--and abandoning Traditionalism.

That Jorjani is an anti-perennialist may have implications for the future of Arktos, though Arktos's original editor in chief, John B. Morgan (born 1973), notes in a comment to an earlier version of this post that "Arktos has always been a collective venture, and is subject to the decisions made by its Board and by its shareholders." According to Morgan, who remains on the board of Artktos, there is no intention to change the broad direction noted above. It also has wider implications. Jorjani has recently teamed up with Richard Spencer (born 1978) of the the National Policy Institute and, most famously, of the controversial 2016 post-election rally at which he controversially declared "Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!" Spencer was mentioned sympathetically in "An Establishment Conservative’s Guide To The Alt-Right" on Breitbartpreviously edited by President Trump's powerful advisor Steve Bannon. Some have therefore associated Bannon with Traditionalism, pointing out that Spencer was married to Nina Kouprianova, the Russian-born translator of Dugin into English, and that Bannon has one one occasion referred to Dugin and Evola (see post here). But Bannon's association with Spencer is so weak as to be non-existent, and Jorjani is now identified not with Traditionalism but with an understanding of Islam as the enemy. Spencer is no longer married to Kouprianova.

Corrections: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Richard Spencer writes for Breitbart. The Spencer who write for Breitbart is Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch, not Richard Spencer of the NPI. The earlier version also suggested that the appointment of Jorjani might have been responsible for a change in the direction of Arktos, a suggestion against which John B. Morgan argues in a comment to this post, and which I have therefore withdrawn.

Another book on Eurasianism

Alexander Dugin and Traditionalism are discussed in a new collection edited by Mark Bassin and Gonzalo Pozo, The Politics of Eurasianism: Identity, Popular Culture and Russia's Foreign Policy (London: Rowman and Littlefield, 2017).

The book takes "Eurasianism" in its widest sense, and Dugin's Eurasianism--what some call "Neo-Eurasianism"--is thus only one of the topics considered.

The book is divided into four parts.

  • Part I, on "Eurasianism, Nationalism and Ideology," contains three chapters discussing Eurasianism in general terms. 
  • Part II, "The Cultural Politics of Eurasianism," contains three chapters looking at the status of Eurasianism in post-Soviet Russian life, as "alternative history" and in movies. 
  •  Part III looks at "'Project Eurasia' and Russia's Foreign Policy," and contains four chapters. Marlene Laruelle asks how Eurasianism sees China,  Gonzalo Pozo looks at the Eurasian Economic Union, Anton Shekhovtsov looks at "Aleksander Dugin's Neo-Eurasianism and the Russian-Uranian War," and Richard Sakwa looks at whether Eurasia really exists
  • Part IV looks at Eurasianism outside Russia: In Tartarstan (Victor Shnirel’man), Hungary (Balázs Trencsényi), Turkey (Emre Erşen), Kazakhstan (Luca Anceschi) and Germany (Ian Klinke on Alexander Rahr). 
Traditionalism is discussed explicitly only by Balázs Trencsényi, who notes its importance for the post-1980s alternative intellectual milieu in Hungary that drew on the work of Béla Hamvas, and the importance of this milieu and of Traditionalism for the Jobbik leader, Gábor Vona. This, in the view of Trencsényi, is one reason why Vona and Dugin see eye to eye. Another reason, he suggests, is that there is some evidence of Russian financial support for Jobbik. Trencsényi, incidentally, wrongly identifies Guénon as "an adherent of fascism."

Dugin is discussed especially by Shekhovtsov and by Erşen. Shekhovtsov shows that Dugin has long argued for the division of the Ukraine, explicitly in Foundations of Geopolitics (Основы Геополитики, 1997), but it is not clear to what extent he has actually played an important role in the recent Russian intervention. As Shekhovtsov reminds us, members of the Eurasian Youth Union (Евразийский Союз Молодежи, ESM) were early supporters of the secession of eastern Ukraine and established several branches there, but after their role in the spectacular destruction of Ukrainian national symbols atop Mount Hoverla in 2007 (see blog post), they suffered a split, were targeted by the Ukrainian security services, and declined in Ukraine. Other secessionists remained on good terms with Dugin, however, and when secessionism re-emerged after 2014, Dugin supported secession in his public pronouncements, and also encouraged ESM members to volunteer for action. So, however, did many other groups, and thus, as Shekhovtsov says, it "seems impossible to establish how successful or efficient the ESM was in recruiting the volunteers."

Interestingly, Shekhovtsov refers to a report by the Center for Economic and Political Reform, a Russian NGO, which shows Russian state financial support for the ESM (report available here). Dugin is often said to be close to the Russian state, but this is just as often disputed. Financial support for the ESM is evidence of a good working relationship. Sakwa, however, argues that Dugin’s "influence on Russian regime politics has been minimal" and notes that after his “militant and uncontrollable support for the insurgency in the Donbass," the Russian regime “fought back to control the monster of Russian nationalism." This makes sense: the Russian government undoubtedly wishes to use nationalism and Eurasianism, not be be used by it.

Erşen also considers Dugin's influence in Turkey. He covers familiar ground, and makes an important point: that while Dugin's anti-Westernism easily finds an appreciative audience in today's Turkey, his pro-Russianism does not.


Australian Traditionalism: James McAuley

A new article by Jean Page explains the conversion to Catholicism and subsequent political activities of the Australian Traditionalist James McAuley (1917-76). McAuley (pictured right) is best known for his part in the 1944 Ern Malley hoax, discussed in Peter Kelly's Buddha in a Bookshop (2007), reviewed on this blog. But he was also one of Australia's leading readers and exponents of Guénon and the other Traditionalists.

McAuley's search for tradition led him to one of the most traditional (in certain senses) of all societies: New Guinea, which he first visited in 1944. It was not, however, the Papuan and Austronesian inhabitants who ended his search, but a group of French Catholic missionaries at Kubuna. After long conversations in 1951 with the aged Archbishop Alain Marie Guynot de Boismenu (1870-1953), which included discussion of Traditionalism, McAuley joined the Roman Catholic Church.

After this conversion, McAuley remained a "soft" Traditionalist. He wrote articles with titles like "Tradition, Society and the Arts" (1952), and in 1954 objected to the plan to "develop" traditional communities, much as the soft Traditionalist E. F. Schumacher did, writing that "the world of industrial progress is a world of disinherited beings, cut off from the deepest sources of human satisfaction, restless and jangled, driven by unstilled cravings through a course of life without meaning or direction." He joined B. A. Santamaria (1915-98) in working against the influence of Communism in Australia.

The article, "Land of Apocalypse: James McAuley’s Encounter with the Spirit: the French Catholic Missions of the Sacred Heart, Kubuna and Yule Island, New Guinea," Journal of the Australian Catholic Historical Society 37 no. 1 (2016), pp. 18-31, is available online.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Traditionalism in India: A. K. Saran

A new article draws attention to an Indian Traditionalist who has until now not attracted much attention internationally, Awadh Kishore Saran (1922-2003), pictured, an academic sociologist. He taught at Lucknow University and Jodhpur University, and was a Senior Fellow at the Indian Council of Social Science Research. In 1962 he joined Pitrim Sorokin, Henri Lefebvre and Ernest Gellner in a round-table discussion of sociological theory at a conference in Washington, DC.

The article, R.K. Misra, "Between Tradition and Modernity: Some Reflections on Professor A.K. Saran’s Intellectual Sojourn," Dialogue Quarterly 17, no. 4 (April 2016), pp. 18-26, is available online. It explains that Saran read Ananda K. Coomaraswamy as a young man, and then René Guénon, Frithjof Schuon, and Marco Pallis. He became well known in certain circles as a critic of modernity. The book considered his best is Traditional Thought: Toward an Axiomatic Approach: A Book on Reminders (Varanasi: Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, 1996).

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Amazon's Top Ten for Dugin Fans

Amazon.com has just sent me a reading list of books that its systems think a reader of Alexander Dugin might like:
  1. Alexander Dugin, The Fourth Political Theory
  2. Alexander Dugin, Eurasian Mission: An Introduction to Neo-Eurasianism
  3. Alexander Dugin, Last War of the World-Island: The Geopolitics of Contemporary Russia
  4. James Heiser, "The American Empire Should Be Destroyed": Aleksandr Dugin and the Perils of Immanentized Eschatology
  5. Alexander Dugin, Putin vs Putin: Vladimir Putin Viewed from the Right
  6. Guillaume Faye, Archeofuturism: European Visions of the Post-Catastrophic Age 
  7. Daniel Friberg, The Real Right Returns: A Handbook for the True Opposition 
  8. Tomislav Sunić, Against Democracy and Equality: The European New Right 
  9. Julius Evola, Fascism Viewed from the Right
  10. Gregory Hood, Waking Up from the American Dream 
Heiser's book is a thorough account of Dugin's life and thought. It stresses how important Traditionalism is for Dugin. The other authors (apart from Evola) are all from the European New Right, with only one American, Hood, who comes last on the list, in tenth position. Dugin in the US remains associated more with the European New Right than with the American Alt-Right, it seems.

Faye is the second most important writer in the French New Right after Alain de Benoist, differing from Benoist especially in his view of Islam, which he sees as a major threat to European civilisation. Archeofuturism is one of his most important books. Sunić is a former Yugoslav dissident, now a Croatian, also identified with the French New Right. Friberg is notable because he is not French but Swedish, and comes from a new generation (he was born in 1978). He is a widely read New Right author, and shares Faye's understanding of Islam as enemy. Hood is also from a new generation (born 1980); he is an American White Nationalist and Alt-Right figure.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Nasr on Schuon

In 1999, Seyyed Hossein Nasr published a book of verse, Poems of the Way. One of these poems, in Persian, addresses Frithjof Schuon. It is available in translation, with a transliteration of the Persian, on the website of the Muslim Women's Coalition. Schuon is addressed as "my Shaykh, my ‘Isa" (shaykh-e man o ‘isá-ye man), as he was Nasr's shaykh, and his Muslim name was ‘Isa Nur al-Din.

Two couplets are especially interesting. One raises interesting theological and philosophical questions about the nature of union, which is generally understood as being between the soul of the individual believer and the One (God). Schuon writes:
My soul came alive from thy soul; my heart became filled with light
The longing for union with thee is my suffering, O my Shaykh, my ‘Isa 
The other interesting couplet neatly encompasses the Maryami view of Schuon's position and blessings:
As Ahmad chose thee, Jesus breathed in thee with his breath
Mary took thee in her embrace, O my Shaykh, my ‘Isa 
My thanks to Neon Knight for bringing the poem and website to my attention.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

New articles on Evola

Four new articles on Julius Evola have come to my attention. Details and abstracts are given below. Why one of the abstracts is in German, even though the article itself is in English, I do not know. Happy reading!

Elisabetta Cassina Wolff, "Evola's interpretation of fascism and moral responsibility," Patterns of Prejudice 50 (2016), pp. 478-494.
The ideological influence that several right-wing radical thinkers exercised on the Norwegian ‘lone wolf’ terrorist Anders Behring Breivik raises the question of how far a writer can be held responsible for acts of terrorism s/he may have influenced. Italian history provides a vital lesson in this respect: namely, the role played by the Italian traditionalist Julius Evola in the crucial passage from Fascism to neo-fascism. After reviewing Evola’s ideological development, Wolff then analyses Evola’s influence on a young generation of neo-fascists in Italy. Another relevant topic is the ideological continuity between Fascism and neo-fascism identified here, as centred on Evola’s view of ‘general fascism’ as the Traditional right. 

Elisabetta Cassina Wolff, "Apolitìa and Tradition in Julius Evola as Reaction to Nihilism," European Review 22 (2014), pp. 258-273.
This article deals with the figure of Julius Evola, philosopher and well-known freelance political commentator both during and after Italy’s Fascist dictatorship. My analysis of his intellectual production and political role in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s is a case study that focuses on both continuity and discontinuity of ideological issues in the crucial historical period between the Fascist regime and the establishment of neo-fascism in postwar Italy. Special attention will be paid to unchanging elements in Evola’s philosophy, such as criticism of modern society, rejection of faith in progress, reference to traditional values as reaction to nihilism and belief in the existence of a spiritual hierarchy. A central issue is the ideological influence that Evola exercised on a young generation of neofascists in Italy after the Second World War, based on the intention of offering them new rules of conduct in a post-nihilist world. It is exactly this phenomenon that enables us to put in question the declared apolitìa of Evola. 
Hans Thomas Hakl, "Julius Evola and the UR Group," Aries 12 (2012), pp. 53-90.
Die Gruppe von UR, die von 1927–1929 bestand, wurde im Wesentlichen vom italienischen Mathematiker, Neu-Pythagoreer und Hochgradfreimaurer Arturo Reghini sowie von Julius Evola begründet, der damals bereits seine dadaistische und philosophische Periode beendet und sich intensiv mit fernöstlicher Spiritualität beschäftigt hatte. Auf Grund ihres umfangreichen Lehrmaterials und wegen der hoch qualifizierten Mitglieder (darunter Altphilologen, der Begründer der Freudschen Psychoanalyse in Italien, Literaten, erfahrene Mitglieder anderer magischer Gruppierungen sowie die Spitze der Anthroposophie in Italien) muss die Gruppe von UR zu den interessantesten magischen Bünden des 20. Jahrhunderts gerechnet werden. UR veröffentlichte zur Zeit ihres Bestehens regelmäßig Monatshefte, die insgesamt auf über eintausendzweihundert Seiten konzentriertes praktisches Material aus allen Epochen und Weltgegenden vorlegte. Das Ziel der Gruppe war nicht Mystik oder schöngeistige Philosophie, sondern einen tatsächlicher Zugang zu transzendenten Bereichen aufzuzeigen. Dazu wurde ein nachvollziehbarer Stufenweg vorgezeichnet und in möglichst klaren Worten erläutert. Praktische Texte aus der Alchimie, dem Tantrismus, Buddhismus, der antiken Theurgie und der Sexualmagie wurden zusätzlich beigezogen. Der Stufenweg sollte zu einer echten Gottwerdung (nicht Gottähnlichkeit) führen nach dem Satz Meister Eckharts: "Soll ich Gott unmittelbar erkennen, so muss ich schlechthin Er und Er muss ich werden." Die Möglichkeit dazu bot der Aufbau eines unzerstörbaren "Diamantkörpers", der auch den physischen Tod überstehen sollte. Die Gruppe von UR war in zwei Fraktionen aufgeteilt. Die eine, die praktisch verwertbare Texte übersetzte und kommentierte und eine zweite innere, die diesen Weg praktisch verfolgte und die dabei gemachten Einzel- und Gruppenerfahrungen in unmissverständlicher Sprache beschrieb. 
Liviu Bordaş. "The difficult encounter in Rome. Mircea Eliade’s post-war relation with Julius Evola – new letters and data," International Journal on Humanistic Ideology 2 (2011), pp. 125-158.
Our knowledge of the post-war relationship between Eliade (1907-1986) and Evola (1898-1974) was based mainly on fifteen letters of Evola, and on two recollections from Eliade’s journal and memoirs. The article presents and discusses new data supplied by eight inedited letters of Evola and four entries from Eliade’s unpublished journal. This data is corroborated with Evola’s reviews of Eliade’s books, with the reciprocal quotations in their works, as well as with various mentions from their correspondence with other persons. The new information helps to draw a clearer picture of their epistolary relation, re-established in September 1949, of their two encounters in Rome (May 1952 and April 1955), as well as of the successive moments of fracture between them (1955 and 1964). It also brings into discussion topics such as yoga, esotericism, racism or fascism, which provide seed for further inquiry.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Huston Smith (1919-2016)

Huston Smith, America's best-known "soft" Traditionalist, died on December 30, 2016 in Berkeley, California, aged 97.

Smith was born to American Methodist missionary parents in Soochow (now Suzhou), China in 1919. He moved to America for his education, studying at Central Methodist University and the University of Chicago, and then pursued a distinguished career as one of America's leading scholars of religion. His last post was at Syracuse University. He published many books, of which the most successful was The Religions of Man (1958), reissued in 1991 as The World's Religions. This became very well known in the USA, selling more than three million copies, but remained little known in the UK.

Smith encountered Frithjof Schuon late in his career, in 1974. "He looked every inch a figure of mystery and romance," wrote Smith, "He wore flowing robes, and upon entering his presence, you kissed the ring on his finger.... The Romantic poets (Shelley, even Yeats) had fantasized about a fraternity of hidden adepts who practiced in secret throughout the world. Schuon headed such a secret order of Sufi adepts." Smith joined it, later attending his first dhikr in Tehran. He wrote of this in Tales of Wonder: Adventures Chasing the Divine, an Autobiography, excerpted in The Huston Smith Reader.

Smith continued to pray the five prayers and to fast Ramadan (though he later gave this up "because it caused too much havoc in my household"), but he also continued much of his earlier religious practice. It seems that the Maryamiyya provided access to Islam, and that Islam provided one part of his religious life, just as Schuon and Traditionalism provided one part of his religious understanding. The strongest Traditionalist influences in his later work are to be found in Forgotten Truth (1976) and Beyond the Postmodern Mind (1982).

رحمه الله