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.