Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Eliade and the radical right

Mark Weitzman of the Simon Wiesenthal Center has just published an (open-access) article, "'One Knows the Tree by the Fruit That It Bears:' Mircea Eliade’s Influence on Current Far-Right Ideology," Religions 2020, 11, 250.

In this, he revisits Eliade's Romanian years and his relationship with Julius Evola, and shows how he has been cited by Alain de Benoist, Guillaume Faye, Alexander Dugin, Claudio Mutti, and Paul Gottfried, and is present on Arktos and Counter-Currents. He concludes that "almost thirty-five years after his death, Mircea Eliade is unquestionably a figure of some influence in extremist intellectual circles today, perhaps even more so than in respectable academic circles."

It is clearly true that Eliade is a figure of some influence for thinkers of the radical right. What Weitzman spends less time on is the (perhaps more interesting) question of exactly what it is in Eliade's work that all these thinkers are using. Weitzman suggests that Eliade's project of (in Eliade's own words) "recovering and reestablishing meanings that have been forgotten, discredited, or abolished" may fit with the project of "those who want to restore an archaic world that embraces traditional forms of human inequality and who reject modernity and its associated vices and failings." This is probably true. But is this all there is to it?


达威德 said...

Every few years we see a new intellectual rewriting the same article, just updating it to the form of "right" more fashionable at the time. Furio Jesi did so as early as in 1979 (see Cultura di destra), then we had Dubuisson and his "Mythologies du XXe siècle" (1993), now Mark Weitzman. The arguments are always the same. Eliade and Codreanu, Eliade and Scholem, Eliade and Guénon, Eliade and Evola, Eliade, Schmitt and Jünger, even the (in)famous "trojan horse"! On all these topics "much ink has been spilled and many words have been typed", even though Weitzman's bibliography ignores most of it. Perhaps he can't read French or Italian? If so, it is very unfortunate since scholars like Carlo Grottanelli, Natale Spineto and Paola Pisi (definitely not "apologists" or members of the "alt-right") have said a lot on the subject that may enlarge Weitzman's views. Also, I find very peculiar that, to my knowledge, Eliade's intellectual bonds with antifascism (Cesare Pavese, the Beat Generation) is far less explored than his "traditionalism", or his militancy in an allegedly "reactionary front".
About "recovering and reestablishing meanings that have been forgotten, discredited, or abolished". Is it enough to establish a reactionary front? At this regard, I believe that it would be much more appropriate to explore the concept of “archetype” in Eliade’s work. The complexity of eccentric thinkers, especially those of the first half of the Twentieth Century (Eliade but also Cioran, Guénon, Heidegger), deserve much more than political simplifications.

Marco said...

Paola Pisi and Cesare Pavese are not antifascist.

达威德 said...

Never affirmed that Paola Pisi was antifascist. I just wrote that I won't include her in the list of "apologists" and that her scholarly work about Eliade can be very useful to discredit the myth of "Fascist Eliade", as well as of "Traditionalist Eliade".
About Pavese. Well, a complex figure, but I think it will be quite problematic to include him in the "alt-right pantheon" (even though certain extremist movements tend to appropriate every "Non-Aligned" intellectual). Whatever one may think about Pavese, my point is that rather than proposing over and over the same old theses of "Fascist Eliade" (without new material) it would be more useful to explore the reason why his thought has inspired thinkers and movement of very different political orientation.