The best way to describe this book is as a “Pagan Systematic Theology.” That’s not entirely accurate, though. Julius Evola, though an enemy of Christianity, isn’t so stupid to think that the pagan gods actually exist. In fact, Evola is quite clear that the “God-principle” is at best removed, if non-existent.
Rather, paganism–or better, the ancient tradition–is an instantiation of the realm of the Forms. And as long as Evola sticks with quasi-Platonic concepts, he’s okay. In fact, he is quite insightful.
Evola as Anti-Positivist
The danger of the “unconscious:” It’s easy to criticize materialism and positivism as blocking man’s path up to God; but the occult religion opens the path below man–which is equally deadly (xii). While Evola’s larger vision is incompatible with Christianity, there is some truth in this: you simply do not want to “let yourself go” with your unconscious. That is how demons enter.
For Evola “Tradition” isn’t something proved or demonstrated. It is remembered. It just “is.” It’s origin is “nonhuman” (Evola xxxiv). Presumably by this he means “transcendent,” which would be “universal” (xxxv).
Key to his argument is the Doctrine of “two natures.” There is a superior realm of being and an inferior realm of becoming (3). The invisible element is always “more real” and anchors the visible.
The realm of “nature” was flux. It is an eternal state of “deprivation.” It reveals a lack of direction. Matter = becoming. There must be a transcendent order that gives meaning to this flux. This is where Evola advances the idea of “divine kingship” as a bridge between the two realms.
So far, so good. This is Plato 101.
Kings in traditional societies were viewed as “mediators” (pontifex). They possessed a transcendent quality that allowed them to participate in the Forms. “The roots of authority always had a metaphysical character” (8). Kingship is often associated with the solar symbol. The solar glory denoted a metaphysical reality (9). The king draws his authority from the “above” and not from the earth.
The Law, The Empire, the State
A transcendent realism is the presupposition of law (21).Law has to have a divine character. Doctrine of the two natures reflects the relationship that exists between state and people. Legitimacy can never derive its principle from the demos (24).
So far all of this is good and is the same as you would find in any monarchist/anti-republican treatise. But Evola takes it several steps further in a) defending the Hindu caste system and in an open attack on Christianity.
In a harsh, cruel way the caste system makes sense. It reflects an ordered hierarchy. On the other hand, it seems that the people who actually like the caste system are already at the top (remember Uncle Ruckus’s defense of slavery?). Warning: Language.
Evola dislikes Christianity because it relativised the warrior caste society, or so he thinks. His understanding of Christianity is appallingly bad (though he does have some sympathy for Eastern Orthodoxy). His problem is that Christianity borrowed disparate elements from the different polar societies. Well, maybe so but that’s not a refutation. It’s a rebuttal.
There is little reason for me to offer a detailed refutation of his system. In fact, I’m not sure why he cares. He holds to a cyclical view of history and since Kali Yuga is about to end, we’ll get a go at it next go around.