Tuesday, March 03, 2020

New article on Traditionalism in Sweden

Olav Hammer has just published an excellent article on "Traditionalism in Sweden" in the International Journal for the Study of New Religions 10.1 (2019): 5–24.

After a general introductory discussion of Traditionalism, Hammer looks especially at three Swedish figures: Ivan Aguéli, Kurt Almqvist (1912–2001), and Tage Lindbom (1909–2001). The most interesting of these sections are those dealing with Almqvist and Lindbom, given that Aguéli has been discussed before.

It it not known how Almqvist first encountered Traditionalism, but he traveled to Switzerland to meet Frithjof Schuon in 1941, becoming Muslim and joining the Maryamiyya. After the war he became Sweden's leading Traditionalist, publishing two Swedish translations of selected works by Schuon and Guénon, and several Traditionalist books of his own, starting with Den glömda dimensionen (The Forgotten Dimension, 1959) and ending with Ordet är dig nära: om uppenbarelsen i hjärtat och i religionerna (The Word is Near to You, On Revelation in the Heart and in the Religions, 1994).

Almqvist's most important reader was Lindbom, originally a prominent member of Sweden's dominant political party, the Social Democrats. Lindbom contributed to establishing the postwar Social Democratic model in Sweden, but then became disenchanted, publishing Efter Atlantis (After Atlantis), which questioned socialism in particular and political ideology in general, in 1951. Some years later he read Almqvist's Den glömda dimensionen, contacted its author, and ultimately also joined the Maryamiya, in 1962, the year in which he published Sancho Panzas väderkvarnar (The Windmills of Sancho Panza), a more thorough attack on modern politics. A number of similar works followed, including Mellan himmel och jord (Between Heaven and Earth, 1970) and Agnarna och vetet (The Chaff and the Wheat, 1974), which Hammer discusses in some detail. Hammer sees Lindbom as "a right-wing political writer par excellence," a Sufi (as a Maryami) whose politics were paradoxically closer to Sayyid Qutb than to Sufism, given that--like Qutb--he dismissed human ideologies and turned instead to Divine authority.

Lindbom is interesting not only as a Swedish Traditionalist but also as a rare example of an explicitly political Schuonian Traditionalist.  There are many political Traditionalists, of course, but they generally follow Julius Evola, not Schuon. Followers of Schuon and Guénon may have political views, but they do not normally write about them, given the primacy of the transcendent over the political. Lindbom, however, was well established in political life before he encountered Traditionalism, and first became a Maryami relatively late in life, at the age of 53. This may be why he did not drop his earlier political interests and emphases.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You know, Guenon was extremely "political" and this is mainly evidenced by his book, "Spiritual Authority and Temporal Power". The model there is for a spiritual elite to guide a temporal power as the structure for a traditional society. Elsewhere, as well as in the stated book, Guenon states that the Catholic Church combined with esoteric brotherhoods such as the Freemasons, ought to take up the role of the spiritual elite, as for the temporal power, I suppose some sort of renewed army of knights would spring up to enforce their will. In practice, Guenon was involved with some people and groups that had political ambitions, such as Charles Maurras, Ferdinand Gaumbalt and Leon Daudet, connected to the "Action Francaise" group. Guenon was also, according to some, not only the head of the Order of the Renovated Temple, but also, he was its founder or at least, connected to its founder, where he/they willingly manipulated its members through psychic phenomena he/they caused. Later on in life, he started his lodge, tried to start a tariqah with Schuon, then Valsan and of course, worked with many diverse groups, even those that were formally opposed to each other, such as Masonic and anti-masonic groups, behind the scenes. Guenon desired either a return to a sort of monarchy that answered to legitimate papal authority, or, the Islamicization of the West and by extension, the world if the former desire proved unfeasible. Other than Charles Andre Gillis, who explicitly desires a global Islamic Caliphate under the rule of the Mahdi as the temporal power and Jesus as the spiritual authority, it seems strange many guenonians don't seem to get this. So in that sense, Evola is not the only "political traditionalist". (Interestingly, there's this group at the website "gornahoor.net" that explicitly is trying to form a "spiritual and martial" elite in the west, guided by Traditionalist teachings as well as teachings from Tomberg, Moravieff and St. Bernard...)