Dugin and Julius Evola - left hand path and the 'chaos star'

In most places in The Fourth Political Theory when he mentions Guénon he links his name with that of Julius Evola. Evola was an early admirer of Guénon but where Guénon was quite apolitical - with regard to the 'modern world' I think he would endorse the cry in Revelation (18.4): 'Come out of her my people' - Evola was politically active, and particularly so in Mussolini's Italy. He never joined the Fascist Party but, as he explained later:

'As long as Fascism existed and could be considered a restorative movement in progress, with its possibilities not yet exhausted and crystallised, it was only fair not to carry criticism beyond a certain point. Those who, like us, while defending an order of ideas that coincided only in part with Fascism (or German National Socialism) did not condemn these movements (despite being well aware of their problematic or deviant aspects) did so counting on precisely on further possible developments - to be enthusiastically favoured by every means - that would have rectified or eliminated these problems.' (Fascism viewed from the Right, p.25)

Where Guénon saw the fourteenth century as the moment when Western Europe lost its knowledge of the Tradition, Evola, more modestly and more conventionally, points to 1789, and identifies himself with the great counter-revolutionary theorists Joseph de Maistre, Louis de Bonald and Donoso Cortés. But unlike them he did not regard the Church as a valid source of spiritual authority, arguing against the concordat (in 1929, between the Italian state and the Vatican, which gave the Church authority over the Italian education system) and calling on Mussolini to identify Fascism with Pagan Rome rather than Christian Rome. In his essay on the metaphysics of National Bolshevism Dugin has a section on 'Traditonalism (Evola, the look "from the left")' in which he complains against Evola that 'there is a certain discrepancy between his metaphysical doctrines and political convictions, which is based in our opinion on some inertial prejudices, characteristic for the “extremely right” circles of the Middle Europe in that time.'

What he likes about Evola is something apparently quite contradictory to a simple counter-revolutionary longing for order. Evola also had a lively interest in the more extreme ecstatic and sexually charged traditions of, for example, Tantric Buddhism and while his books on Fascism and Naziism seem to at least want to operate in the sphere of practical politics and social responsibility, Evola also had the idea of 'the left hand path' which Dugin summarises as follows (I've again done some tidying up of the translation):

'there were periods in Evola`s personal destiny, the earliest [Evola was a Dadaist in the early 1920s - PB] and the last one, during which he had almost nihilist, anarchist views towards the surrounding reality, proposing nothing but “to ride the tiger”, i. e. make common cause with the forces of decline and chaos, in order to overcome the critical point of the "decline of the West" ... in his writings of even the middle, maximum conservative period the necessity of an appeal to some esoteric tradition is accentuated, which, generally speaking, does not quite fit the monarchic and clerical models, characteristic of the European conservatives politically connected with him. It is not just the question of his anti-Christianism, but the question of his heightened interest in the tantric tradition and Buddhism, which within the frames of the Hinduist traditional conservatism are considered as quite heterodox and subversive [Guénon regarded Buddhism as a Hindu heresy - PB]. Besides, Evola`s sympathies with such characters as Guliano Kremmerz, Maria Naglovska  [author of, among much else, Advanced Sex Magic: The Hanging Mystery Initiation - PB] and Aleister Crowley, who were undoubtedly reckoned by Guenon among the representatives of a “counter-initiation”, in the negative, destructive trend of esoterism, are absolutely scandalous. So, Evola, constantly talking about the “traditionalist orthodoxy” and strongly criticizing the subversive doctrines of the “left”, constantly appeals directly to the obvious heterodoxy ...

'The demolition of Churches isn’t just the negation of religion, it is a special ecstatic form of the religious spirit, insisting on the absolute, concrete character of self-transformation “here and now”. The phenomenon of Old-Believers` self-immolations or Khlysts` zeal [Khlysts were a sect in some ways analogous to Western Pentecostalists laying emphasis on direct experience of the work of the Holy Spirit - PB] belongs to the same category. Guenon himself in his article called “The Fifth Veda” devoted to Tantrism, wrote that in some special cyclic periods, which are very close to the end of the “Iron Age”, “Kali-Yuga”, many ancient traditional institutions lose their stamina and therefore metaphysical self-realization needs special non-orthodox ways and methods ... In other words, while the traditional conservative institutions, such as monarchy, church, social hierarchy, caste system etc., fall into decadence, the special, dangerous and risky, initiatic practices, associated with the “left-hand path”, become the most up-to-date.

'The traditionalism, characteristic for National-bolshevism in the most common sense, is certainly this “left esoterism” ... Rationalism and humanism of the individualist kind has overcome even those contemporary world organisations which nominally have a sacred character. The establishment of Tradition in its true nature is impossible by the gradual betterment of the political environment. This, the way of “right-hand esoterism”, is in the present eschatological situation doomed [the original says 'deemed' - PB] in advance . Moreover, the appeal to evolution and gradualness just opens the way to the expansion of liberalism. Therefore the National-bolshevik understanding of Evola consists in accentuating those points which are directly combined with the “left hand” doctrines, traumatic spiritual self realisation in a concrete revolutionary and transforming experience, beyond conventions and habits, which have lost their sacred justification.

'The National-bolsheviks comprehend the “irrational” not just as “not rational”, but as “the aggressive and active destruction of the rational”, as a fight with “everyday consciousness” (and “everyday behavior”), as submersion into the “new life” element, that is the special magic existence of a “differential human”, who has discarded all outer bans and norms.'

All this might be rather familiar to those of us whose quest for the spiritual life goes back to the 1960s and we can perhaps see how Dugin would have been able to get on with the punk poet Limonov. The reference to the ecstatic destruction of churches may also be interesting. It may just refer to the destruction of churches by the Bolsheviks or to Evola's anti-clericalism. But it might also refer to the wave of church-burnings that took place in Norway in the early 1990s under the influence of Satanist 'Black Metal' music. The 4pt website includes an interview with Alex Kurtagić, a major figure in the Black Metal, and anti-egalitarian right wing, scene.

But the main point to be retained is the idea of making 'common cause with the forces of decline and chaos, in order to overcome the critical point of the "decline of the West."' Here it might be worth noticing the symbol that Dugin uses for the Fourth Theory. It is an eight-armed star formed through a diagonal Saint Andrew’s Cross superimposed on a vertical St George’s Cross somewhat in the manner of the Union Jack except that each of the arms is tipped with an arrow head. So it is pointing in eight directions simultaneously. Wikipedia informs us that this is called the ‘chaos star’ and was devised by the science fiction writer Michael Moorcock, though it appears earlier in Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot pack. It has been widely adopted by role playing video games, punk and metal bands and is also used in a new variety of magic called ‘Chaos Magick’.