Sunday, January 02, 2022

Julius Evola’s impact on the postwar and contemporary radical right

A new-ish article gives a concise account, in English, of Julius Evola’s ideological impact on the postwar and thus also the contemporary radical right. It is “CasaPound Italia: ‘Back to Believing. The Struggle Continues’” by Elisabetta Cassina Wolff, in Fascism 8 (2019) pp. 61-88, available on academia.edu. Not everything in the article is new, but much of the work on which it draws has been available only in Italian, and the story is clearly and convincingly told.

Much of the article deals with Evola’s disciple Pino Rauti and his Centro Studi Ordine Nuovo (New Order Study Group). It then proceeds through later groups (Roberto Fiore’s Terza Posizione, International Third Position, and Forza Nuova, and then Gabriele Adinolfi’s Centro Studi Orientamenti e Ricerca) to Gianluca Iannone and CasaPound Italia. This is one of contemporary Europe’s most important radical right groups. The article reports that in 2018 it had some 230,000 followers on Facebook.

The article’s conclusion is that “all these movements have contributed to the survival and dissemination of typical fascist ideology,” as “there has been a constant evolving of right-wing radical discourse.” I am not sure this really works. How should one conceive of a single “typical fascist ideology” if it has been constantly evolving? In fact, the article shows evolution more than anything else, and also shows that Evola, Rauti, and the Centro Studi Ordine Nuovo were responsible for much of this evolution.

The article argues that Centro Studi Ordine Nuovo was important for its diffusion of Evola’s ideas in Italy and abroad, and through this activity also of a general shift away from “the traditional and national authors of historical Fascism” like Benito Mussolini and Giovanni Gentile to a whole range of new authors, including Evola himself, as well as others from Oswald Spengler and René Guénon to Corneliu Zelea Codreanu and Knut Hamsun. All these new authors are reference points for CasaPound today, and also, one might add, for the broader radical right. Evola, Rauti, and the Centro Studi Ordine Nuovo further reoriented the radical right away from “historical Fascism” (and its “stigma”) to the confrontation with modernity and the consequences of the French Revolution, against “the moral decadence deemed as a con¬sequence of the cultural hegemony of the humanitarian, globalist and Marxist left.” And, perhaps most importantly, they reoriented the radical right away from a focus on a narrowly defined nation (state) to “an ideal nation… [that] transcends physical boundaries and includes all people who are loyal to tradition,” and also away from biological racism to culture and thus to today’s Identitarianism.

The article also comments on the “theoretical distinction” often made by scholars between a mainstream or “institutionalized” parliamentary right and a radical or extremist extra-parliamentary right. In Italy, “the distinction is indeed a theoretical and academic one; the very same people continuously went in and out of the [institutionalized] MSI and the contraposition between parliamentary and non-parliamentary activity was never clear-cut.” I suspect that the same is true of most other countries.

An important article, well worth reading.