Sunday, September 24, 2023

Special issue on Hans Thomas Hakl and Julius Evola

The journal Religiographies has just published a special issue (available here) on “Hans Thomas Hakl and his Library” (library pictured to the left). Much of the special issues is in fact about Hans Thomas Hakl and Julius Evola, as it is for his work on Evola that Hakl is best known, at least among those who have not visited his library.

One article is devoted to Hakl and Evola: “The Philosophical Gold of Perennialism. Hans Thomas Hakl, Julius Evola and the Italian Esoteric Milieus,” by Francesco Baroni. Evola is also discussed in most of the other articles. In “Hans Thomas Hakl: Reminiscences and Reflections on the Challenges of Studying Esotericism in Problematic Contexts,” Marco Pasi addresses “the perceived connection between modern and contemporary esotericism and far-right politics.” In “Hans Thomas Hakl: Three lives in One,” Bernd-Christian Otto explains how Hakl encountered Evola and covers the work he did on him. Evola is also discussed in Joscelyn Godwin’s short “Hans Thomas Hakl: Personal Reminiscences.” 

Most interesting for those interested in Evola, however, is Baroni’s article. Here is the abstract: 

This article examines the relationship between the Austrian entrepreneur and scholar Hans Thomas Hakl (born 1947) and the esotericist Julius Evola (1898–1974), the most influential Italian representative of the so-called “Traditionalist School.” Best known as a far-right ideologue, Evola was frequently blacklisted from academia, and received scarce scholarly attention until the 1980s. After translating Evola's main books into German, Hakl has established himself as one of the most reliable specialists of Evola, thus contributing to his international resonance, as well as to his recognition as a legitimate object of academic research. As Hakl has shown in his publications, Evola has been a significant personality in 20th-century cultural history. His groundbreaking contributions on Eastern spiritualities and hermeticism, for instance, have interacted with mainstream culture more than many were willing to admit, which is confirmed by Evola’s lasting relationships with famous scholars of religion such as Mircea Eliade and Giuseppe Tucci. Later on, in the context of globalization, Evola’s idea of Tradition was seen as a tool for negotiating alternative worldviews, as well as for a radical reshaping of cultural identities. Our research took place mainly in Graz, where Hakl’s archives are located. Access to these facilities proved invaluable, enabling the identification and study of unpublished documents. 

The occasion for the special issue is that Hakl has donated his magnificent library to the Giorgio Cini Foundation in Venice, the institution that sponsors the journal Religiographies.

Saturday, September 02, 2023

The influence of Traditionalism on contemporary Dutch politics

Guest post by Milan Reith

In recent years Traditionalist ideas have surfaced on the fringes of Dutch politics, yet another instance of their ongoing revival. The most notable examples of this phenomenon coalesce around a network of individuals connected to the far-right political party Forum voor Democratie (FVD). Originally founded as a conservative think tank, this organization later evolved into a political party which did very well in the 2019 provincial elections, and has since undergone a significant process of radicalization. While its political agenda initially centered around Euroscepticism, it has increasingly begun to put forward conspiratorial, antimodern and racist ideas, leading to a considerable loss of electoral support.

In 2022, the affiliated youth wing of FVD published a special issue of their periodical De Dissident dedicated to the topic of “Tradition” (see image). Some pieces of note within this special issue include an interview with Alexander Dugin and a new Dutch translation of an article by Julius Evola. This translation was completed by Massimo Etalle, who is the editor-in-chief of the magazine in question, as well as the interviewer of Dugin. As it happens, this marks the second time Evola has been translated into Dutch, with the first instance being a translation of Evola’s book Orientations which was completed by the Flemish nationalist Peter Logghe in 1982.

In the interview titled “Western Europe has chosen Satan,” Dugin repeats his familiar talking points, portraying traditional religion and extremist politics as indispensable instruments in the fight against modernity. In the course of the discussion, he particularly emphasizes active resistance against the forces of modernization, reminiscent of Evola’s distinctive brand of Nietzschean esotericism. This hostile dimension is confirmed in the conclusion of the piece, where Dugin stresses the need for young people in the Netherlands to read authors such as Guénon and, especially, Evola, as he emphasized the need for practical action.

Owing to this renewed appreciation for Traditionalism within the FVD, it is perhaps unsurprising that the party leader Thierry Baudet has routinely put forward ideas which mirror the sentiments of Dugin’s political thought. For example, Baudet’s framework for viewing the geopolitical sphere as a clash between Russian and American civilization owes much to Dugin’s theories. Whereas Baudet perceives America to be guided by a globalist conspiracy, he praises Russia as the only country offering a conservative resistance against the progressive agenda.

The special issue of De Dissident marks an attempt to introduce Traditionalism to a broader range of readers in the Netherlands. Although the target audience is already somewhat embedded in a subculture of conspiracy, nationalism, and a deep sense of nostalgia, they are likely not overly familiar with the thought of either Evola or Dugin. In that regard, it is certainly significant to see FVD make the decision to go in this particular direction. This development once again highlights the significance of Traditionalism as a source of inspiration for the contemporary far-right.

Milan Reith is pursuing both a research master's in philosophy at Radboud University, and a master's in religious studies at the University of Amsterdam. He is primarily interested the relationship between esotericism and politics in the twentieth century.

Monday, August 28, 2023

New article on Traditionalism in Hungary

A new article examines the past and present of Traditionalism in Hungary. It is Magdalena Marsovszky, “’Gegen die moderne Welt’. Julius Evola in Ungarn” [Against the Modern World: Julius Evola in Hungary], Zeitschrift für Rechtsextremismusforschung 3, no. 1 (2023), pp. 19-34, available here (try here if the download does not work).

The first half of the article introduces Julius Evola and his thought. It then traces his influence though the Hungarian writers and philosophers Béla Hamvas (1897-1968), András László (born 1941), and Tibor I. Baranyi (born 1967). This, argues Marsovszky, matters much more than Evola’s own visits to Hungary between 1936 and 1942. Although he was invited by Countess Eduardine Zichy (1877-1964), the president of the Hungarian Literary Society who was supported by the minister of culture and education, Evola’s last Hungarian lecture, on “The Mystery of the Grail and Reich Thought" in March 1942, attracted only a small audience of 25.

The Hungarian Traditionalism of Hamvas, in contrast, grew in popularity after the 1960s and especially after the fall of Communism in 1989. Hamvas drew on Evola, René Guénon, and Guénon’s main German collaborator, the philosopher Leopold Ziegler (1881-1958), author of Überlieferung (Tradition, 1936). It was then further spread by Hamvas's follower László, and László’s follower Baranyi, both of whom taught at the King Atilla Academy established by the political party Jobbik, which she says has continued operating underground since its official closure in 2016.

Marsovszky considers Scientia Sacra (Sacred Science, i.e. Tradition, 1942-43) as Hamvas’s main work, and sees it following Evola in its conviction that decline from the Golden Age could be arrested through cyclical reincarnations of ‘initiatic communities’ following an ancient traditional Boreal higher order. He also followed Evola’s understanding of race as metaphysical and spiritual rather than biological (thus rejecting Nazi racism). She considers his most important departure from Evola and Guénon to have been his inclusion of Christianity in the perennial philosophy, which she believes Hamvas took from Ziegler.

“Today,” writes Marsovszky, “Hamvas's theses are often regarded in Hungary as a democratic alternative to the biologistic descent-oriented direction of the ethnic nationalists and are also classified by anti-fascists as anti-fascist, while Hamvas's and Evola's neo-Right ideology is not reflected upon analytically.” She continues “The fact that democracy in Hungary has not been able to become stable since the fall of communism in 1989 and that society has been infiltrated by anti-modern, anti-democratic attitudes is partly due to the dissemination of Evola's theses.” Although Jobbik and the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán are politically opposed, she believes, they in fact share much the same basic ideology.

As noted in an earlier blog post (here), the only book by Hamvas available in English remains his remarkable The Philosophy of Wine. Readers who want to get a feel for the dimensions of Hungarian Traditionalism can visit the Traditionalist publisher Kvintesszencia Kiadó at, and may consult Metaphysicum et politicum - A magyar tradicionális iskola bibliográfiája [Metaphysicum et politicum - Bibliography of the Hungarian Traditionalist School] by the Hungarian Traditionalist Ferenc Buji (Debrecen: A Metafizikai Hagyomány Centruma, 2008). In 334 pages, this lists and comments on Hungarian Traditionalists authors, publishers, and periodicals prior to its publication. It is available here.

Sunday, August 13, 2023

New thesis looks at Pouvourville and his impact on Guénon

A new thesis sheds new and important light on Eugène Albert Puyou de Pouvourville (1861–1939), his understanding of Taoism, and his influence on René Guénon. It is "Chinese Whispers: Albert de Pouvourville, René Guénon, and Traditionalism’s Hidden 'Chinese Roots,'" by Davide Marino, submitted at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and available here.

The main significance of the thesis is that it argues that the impact of Pouvourville on Guénon was comparable to the impact that Ivan Aguéli had, an impact that, as I argued in "The significance of Ivan Aguéli for the Traditionalist movement" (see here), is greater than generally realized. Likewise, the impact of Pouvourville was greater than has been realized.

The thesis consists of an introduction, eight chapters arranged in three sections, and a conclusion. The chapters are

Part I: Framework
1. Occultism, Traditionalism and the Crisis of Authenticity 
2. Orientalisms

Part II: De Pouvourville, Guénon and the Birth of Traditionalism

3. Albert de Pouvourville’s Colonial Occultism
4. De Pouvourville Meets Guénon
5. De Pouvourville’s Influence on Traditionalism
6. Making Masters and Losing Friends

Part II: Two Shades of Esoteric China

7. De Pouvourville’s Tradition orientale
8. Traditionalist China

The central argument is that "the orientalist interpretation of China proposed by the occultist Albert de Pouvourville become the metaphysical core of René Guénon’s esoteric movement (Traditionalism)," While Aguéli contributed the Sufi pair of bāṭin and ẓāhir to Traditionalism's pair esoteric and exoteric, and Aguéli's binary of traditional Sufism and modern reformism to Guénon's binary of tradition and modernity, Pouvourville's contribution was even prior to that, as Marino argues in chapter 5: "From fundamental elements of Traditionalism like intellectualism and the theory of 'multiple states of Being' to secondary aspects like a distaste for Buddhism and contempt for 'sentimentality,' de Pouvourville’s teachings can be found all across Guénon’s work."

Wednesday, August 02, 2023

Evola merch

Evola T-shirts have been available for some time from several suppliers, including the online marketplace Redbubble in the US, who also sell mugs against the modern world, and Motpol in Sweden. Now Evola busts are also on sale. There are currently two suppliers. ProperCrafts in Romania will sell you a bust (see photo) made in a special eco-friendly plastic, in varying heights and colors. Heretic Camp in Ukraine will sell you an enameled plaster bust. ProperCrafts seems to be a commercial venture, and can also sell you busts of Mussolini, Julius Caesar, Boris Johnson, and Joe Biden. Heretic Camp specializes in Black Metal Music tracks, and busts are a sideline. It seems to be connected to the Azov Brigade.

My thanks to AK for pointing me to ProperCrafts.