Bela Hamvas: Modern Apocalypse
The latest book by Giulio Evoli (Rivolta contro il mondo moderno, Milan 1935) is not only an opportunity, but also a call for man to think about everything that has become known in recent years as the global crisis. The seriousness of Evola is beyond doubt. The meaning of his works can be compared to that of Valery in France, Ortega in Spain and Keyserling in Germany; he is a type of new thinker who, in olden times, would have been called a little scornfully „the wise man of life”, but this term does not fit him very well. In the old world there was no place for such a thinker. In a sense, he is an archaic philosopher, as universalist as naïve. Evola is not a so-called specialist: neither a psychologist, nor a sociologist, nor a historian. He does not study invisible things, there are no aesthetic, moral or philological points of view in his works. The subject of his reflections is „everything”. Not only culture, but also man; not only natural, but also supernatural; not only the soul, but also the spirit; not only life, but also what is beyond life. He looks at all of this not separately, but together. This is what is naïve about these types of modern thinkers. Evola looks at everything holistically. He does not recognize specialization and differentiation. His thinking is like Heraclitus or Empedoclesis: archaic. The subject of Evola’s book is everything, more precisely: „everything” in crisis. That is why it is an invitation to look at what a crisis is.
The chaos surrounding this issue requires caution. The lively noise that is common when discussing this matter raises doubts. So, before talking about the true nature of the crisis, the question must be asked: can we talk about the crisis at all? Caution and anxiety are not unfounded. In all ages the world has leaned towards thoughts that have caused fear. People, especially the masses, like to feel scared. For many, the spiritual crisis today is dangerously similar to collective hysteria. A wonderful opportunity to be afraid – and to speak about this, to say that societies are disintegrating, impoverished, that there is a threat of terrible wars, armed nations are blackmailing each other, instigators are instigating classes against each other, Church institutions and states are decaying, morality is turning into hypocrisy and, as Coudenhove says, „Christianity will serve as a commodity for colorful nations”. The subject is a disturbing one, both for conversation and reading, but that’s what makes it interesting. „The death of the white race”, „the twilight of Europe”, „the agony of Christianity”, „economic catastrophe”, „production crisis”, „the collapse of spirituality” – are these not pompous enough topics for a man to quake with fear? But what is this crisis really about it? Is there a crisis at all? Aren’t these phenomena always existing? There is always a crisis. If one reaches for the oldest literary works, one immediately comes into contact with the spirituality that condemns the present day and if people won’t convert to the right path, they will fall into emptiness. The apocalyptic voice of Lao-Tsu, Buddha, Heraclitus can be recognized just as easily as some gnostics, true and false evangelists, John Chrysostom, Savonarola, Cardinal Newman. The thinker, who criticizes a lot, is always accompanied by an apocalyptic tone. The most recent times – arbitrarily significant since 1750, from Montesquieu to Rousseau, Hoerderlin, the Romantics, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Marx, Nietzsche to Evola – speak with the same tone and do not bring anything new. This eternal spiritual crisis has only been treated in a modern way: the apocalyptic tradition, due to the flood of books and press, has turned into hysteria. There are as few crises today as there were in times of Lao-Tsu, or even less: today’s times are not accidentally called crises times, but not more than at any other historical moment.
So when there is talk of a crisis, when there is a commotion about it, we are, in fact, dealing with an extremely simple and natural phenomenon that always takes place. Someone who is hypersensitive simply reacts too emotionally to a situation that he does not want. There are great words flocking together to describe insignificant phenomena. If a comet approaches, fear of the end of the world appears immediately. Everyone knows that around the thousandth year, there has been a kind of mass madness spreading all over Europe! Maybe there is a similar reason today, but it is not worth looking for it. This does not lead to anything. Western culture is not dying, nothing is decaying. The world is changing, but it is its nature. You don’t have to give up reason and to be afraid of what comes – in fact, it won’t differ from what is and what was.
In the literature of the crisis there may be such a point of view that the crisis exists. A literary critic, however, must at this point say that writers may be wrong and we must support the possibility that there is actually no crisis.
It is beneficial to look at the literature of the crisis to understand how the above conclusion is reached. Kierkegaard writes: „Time without pain has no price, the whole life moves as if on a representative stage, there is no hero, no thinker, no lover, no knight, all these are just roles and obliqueness”. Hoerderlin: „You see craftsmen, but not people; thinkers, but not people; priests, but not people, lords and servants, but not people – is it not like field after a battle, where hands, bodies, legs and all body parts lie about, while the life-giving blood sinks into the sand?” How does Kierkegaard explain this kind of transformation? „They leave everything as it is, but secretly they try to take advantage of everything, so that life accumulates in touched elations and exhausts in the transformation of manifestations of inner life into the reflection that everything remains unchanged, but their lives create their own private ambiguities, appropriates a different sense… the time of suffering goes forward, exalts or collapses, suffocates the time of reflection, hinders, eliminates…. The leveling in modern times corresponds to what was fate in antiquity”.
But it is not yet the voice that emphasizes the inevitability of the fall, as Spengler does: „We were born at that time and we must boldly walk our paths. There is no other option but to persevere in our places, without hope and without faith in salvation.” Nor is it the voice of someone who feels decadence on his own skin: „choking fear, demonism, boredom, weakness, excess, disappearing ability to feel nature, social alienation, tendency to mystification, homelessness, family degradation” (von Sydow). With just one glance, man embraces social forms: „The meeting place, which was café, was full of traffickers, soldiers, drunkards, revolutionaries and women of dubious morality”. „Cynicism, prostitution, perversion and complete perdition” (Coudenhove).
Gundolf defines European spirituality as follows: „A European resorts to the peace of the tropics, to exotic animals, to Russian emotionality, to the American world of machines, to Chinese culture and then to so-called humanity. These worlds, once, in their times, were true and real, but without roots for a European; these are not worlds, but experiences or drugs, and at best anxious and excited signs of escape in time, which will pass away with man anyway”.
Coudenhove distinguishes four degrees of such degradation: turning away from the Church (Reformation), from dogma (Enlightenment), from God (materialism), and finally from morality (cynicism) – „where there are no principles of God, there is no value; where there is no value, there is no morality… after the bankruptcy of Christianity there was the bankruptcy of idealism and then the moral bankruptcy”. „Morality has become a conventional lie to oppress the unconscious…. under the guise of altruism, capitalists, demagogues, extortionists, swindlers share power over the world…. Honesty has become a sign of wickedness and an object of ridicule.”
Lessing noticed the destruction of nature and wrote: „what a monster they call a European lady. Around her neck a sobole, around her waist a viper, her boots are veal, an ivory on her box for cosmetics, her gloves are a young kid, and on her head with a birdbrain, just like with all mindless and soulless nature murderers – the plume of the winner: exotic feather of a bird”, („Let the fashion get what she wants, feathers are pulled out to 300 million singing birds, swallows, heavenly birds and hummingbirds every year”). „In two thousand years, the forest and the sea and the earth, all the blooming beauty has become the prey of man”.
According to another author (Ferdinand Fried), the four world powers today are: Catholicism – a spiritual phenomenon of exhausted humanity, nationalism – the active soul of the man on the front from the survivors of the World War, Americanism – a technocrat and the anarchy of Russian Bolshevism. The social classes in power have fallen one by one, the 20th century is a century without reminiscence, without productive thinking – the primitive nature of civilization and terrifying soullessness of technology – the most famous thinkers of the century are against their own century, the spread of false information and the double standards of philanthropy, the soul of stone and moral shamelessness, the end of science, atonal music, etc.
Or the same Ferdinand Fried in his book on capitalism: „members of modern society communicate with each other only by means of props, exchangeable, coming out of circulation, used money… Theater art, artist, book – it’s all money…. People, personalities don’t matter anymore…. Even more shocking is the objectification in love and family. In our times, it has become a primary right to do business out of love”. A voice from America: in today’s world there is an „unclean situation”, social life is „corruption and ignorance” (Richard Bie). And another one from there: the house turned into an anthill, because women who want power are not able to create a home. The 'hard-headed’ type sucks in humanity. Contemporary civilization is noisy, crowded, chaotic, crowded, dirty, dusty, and the soot of civilization (Adams). „Selbstzersterung der Menschheit… Wir stehen im Zeitalter der Untergangs der Seele… Die meisten leben schon nicht, sie existieren nur” (Klages). Let a Dutch thinker speak: „The uniqueness of modern times is a lack of awareness, art without awareness, science without awareness, Christianity without awareness and everything without awareness of its conditions – perverse” (Huizinga). Or Englishman: most people are already living with the smallest things and the most they can do today is to take a position „against the living death of the modern material civilization” (T. S. Eliot). Or Frenchman: „terrible shivers run over the spinal cord of Europe… We feel that civilization is passing, just like every life” (Valery). Spanish: „They were purging reason so long, that they had cleared it of life, reason became severe and thick, there was something barbaric left” (Ortega). Italian Evola: „The real destruction of all kinds of order is matter, gold, cars, power of numbers; hierarchy and humility of spirit, deeds and a sense of great power of spirituality have been lost, contemporary man does not know nature, does not know thanksgiving, does not know the country, Europe has lost its center, and all this has been done by the Western civilization we know; this success is above all the effect of faith in superstition.”
On top of this, there is the complete lack of exit, which Charles Peguy explains as follows: „Everything that has been publicly called upon to sustain culture, everything that could protect it, commits the greatest betrayal against it.”
It is difficult to oppose quotations. The whole literature of the crisis is full of such miraculously proven statements. But already in the same review one can see how much emotionality, and how little sense of reality is in these accusations, in the end result. When gathering all this information, it is immediately obvious that all these thinkers make the biggest mistake that thinkers can make: they see the causes in signs. It was possible to find out the obvious; the hysteria of the crisis is valid in circular expressions: The hysteria of the crisis applies to circular expressions: „success of superstitions”, „detachment from nature”, „social crisis”, „moral collapse”, „cynicism” and others. These are words that have even filled columns of newspapers. The leading tone is felt: „blaspheme de l’amour”, i.e. a violent outburst of love for humanity, prophetic indignation, the throwing of curses on the situation in the world, a voice foretelling the misfortune, gloomy blackmail with a whip, blind self-confidence of every author, the belief that world history has only revealed its secrets to him only, and that all the others are politely worthy of pity as people wandering.
No matter how disbelieving a man would be about this prophetism, how coldly he would accept this apocalyptic fever – one cannot deny that these authors, in spite of everything, are today the most eminent minds of Europe. There is no doubt that Danish Kierkegaard, Frenchman Valery, American Adams, Englishman Eliot, Dutch Boerger, Russians: Berdyaev, Arsenev, Merezhkovsky, Germans: Klages, Lessing, Keyserling, Spengler, Spanish Ortega, or Italian Evola are at the top of spirituality. And if a man goes even further, he is able to see such phenomena as George’s circle in Germany, Nouvelle Revue Francaise in France, Criterion in England, as well as novelists (Lewis, Dreiser, Doeblin, Du Gard, Papini, Sinclair, de la Serna, Powys and others), scientists (Otto, Uexkuell, Chamberlain, Prinzhorn, Frobenius and others), it will inevitably come to his consciousness this truth that „the most eminent thinkers of those times have taken a stand against their time,” moreover, even: that the first sign of an outstanding man today is the extent to which he radically opposes „everything” in modern times. Is it possible to suppose that there used to be times when the greatest thinkers could have been mistaken in their opinion?
Oswald Spengler’s book Untergang des Abendlandes familiarized us with the crisis of modern Europe. This does not mean, however, that it was the first one which touched this problem. When Untergang appeared, Klages and Lessing had already completely closed their philosophies, and for each of them the fundamental issue was the crisis; already in 1914 Rudolf Pannwitz’s book Krisis der europaeischen Kultur appeared, a work in all its aspects in line with Spengler’s book; even George’s circle since the 1890s has constantly focused on this idea; Spengler, Klages, Lessing, Pannwitz, George drew from Nietzsche’s Wille zur Macht. This book was the first unsurpassed criticism of modern times. From what Nietzsche included in his works, even in the titles themselves – no one could say anything more important than „European nihilism” and „Accusation of the greatest values to date”. All writers, whether consciously continuing Nietzsche or not, whether they create science or philosophy, whether Spaniards, Italians, Germans, Englishmen, Russians, Americans, French, whether they know Wille zur Macht or not, actually refer to Nietzsche; none of them can say something that Nietzsche would not have said before.
The basic value of Wille zur Macht does not stem from the fact that it expresses a crushing criticism of its time, or from the fact that it does not leave alive any of the „previous values”. Criticism is not important, but the point of view. In the nature of this point of view, there is no room for doubt. “Politicians and bankers,” writes Nietzsche, „smile over me when I say that I am not going to take anything but religion seriously; they do not know how I smile over their politics and finances.” To avoid misunderstandings: Nietzsche blamed not the Christian Church, Voltaire had already done so; he judged not Christianity, Marx had done so; but they both left something else: Voltaire – Christianity itself, and Marx – humanistic thought. Nietzsche rejected the Church, Christianity, but also humanism. This means that apart from religion itself, Nietzsche did not take anything seriously at all, he did not consider anything else worthy of criticism. The contemporary crisis is a crisis of religion. Everything else comes from this one thing: politics, society, economy, art, philosophy. Religion is the deepest point of all existence: the transcendent summit of existence, from which the meaning, purpose, beauty and richness of life derive. Religion is the inspiration of human life. What distinguishes Nietzsche’s thought is not his destruction of religion, it is exactly the other way round, the consciousness of man understands to what terrible godlessness Europe has fallen into. Nietzsche did not fight religion, he was the one whose criticism most fully felt the complete unproductivity and contentlessness of living without religion.
Let the following quotation from world thoughts show that the matter is much more serious, more difficult and darker than man can realize at first glance. Rozanov says about apocalyptism: „If you look at the continuity of apocalyptic thought, you may ask: what is it all about, where is the secret of the sentence stored in the Church, from where is this poison, indignation, crying and gnashing of teeth? (because it is a book about crying and grinding of teeth) – then man will move to our times: yes, the cause is here: in the helplessness of Christianity, in the fact that man is unable to arrange his life, unable to live an earthly life. This is understandable from the moment it is explained that it is not Christ who gives bread, but the factory, as cynically and thickly spoken in our times. Everyone has forgotten Christianity. In one moment they forgot. Because it doesn’t help, it does not prevent wars or unemployment. It always sings, like some maiden. We have already heard it, we have heard it for a long time. Now enough. And the most terrible thing is that many people don’t even guess that it wasn’t the human heart that made Christianity rotten, but it was Christianity that made such a human heart. This means crying of the Apocalypse. Without this, there would be no new life and no new eternal existence. Without this there would be no Apocalypse at all. The Apocalypse wants and needs a new religion, it calls for a new religion. It is its essence.”
It is possible that his brutality, exalted terms, crazy elevations are the voice of Rozanov, Russian messianic demonism, but it can be deduced from the fact that the apocalyptic attitude, ruthless criticism of the age, angry prophetism are directly coming out of the human heart, which has become godless. Nowhere is it so necessary to take as a means of defense this „blaspheme de l’amour” as in this case, because nowhere does the author needs so much justification for his voice and thoughts. There is something that has to be forgiven about him. But there is one thing that cannot be called into question: what he says comes from within, which suffers from godlessness.
This example is certainly a good one for one reason: that we feel what kind of religious crisis Nietzsche is talking about. It is neither sentimental, nor dogmatic, nor social, nor philosophical, it stands above feelings, thoughts and concrete life situations, it is not about taste, judgments or attitudes, it is above all a desperate crisis of existence suffering from emptiness. What is painful and bitter in Nietzsche’s religious criticism is a wild cry. Godlessness, or what Nietzsche calls nihilism, is: a lack of transcendent, atheism, areligiousness, internal impoverishment, primitivised life, this „malum metaphysicum” whose signs are: the ruin of states, social disorder, economic collapse, the collapse of moral laws, all this favors modern technocracy, terrorist state structures, corruption, indifference, unrestraint and degradation. The central point of the modern apocalypse is the crisis of religion.
This does not mean that the original position has to be changed, moreover, even more than ever, it cannot be forgotten for a moment that perhaps all this is not the case at all, that there is no question of a crisis at all, and that there are no problems with religion. Everything presented above sounded very interesting, but completely unconvincing, so that such views could be shared. If this position does not change the facts, it certainly protects the observer from being influenced. In addition, it gives the right to ask further questions. Consideration, as usual, will be sensitive again. From the deliberations so far it can be seen that either Europe is in an unprecedented crisis, or those who without reason have written the above mentioned quotes have a dangerously ill imagination. It is therefore necessary to analyze the real essence of what they have described as a religious crisis.
Keyserling writes: „The basic fundamental questions are how I understand the world, how deeply I understand it. All sensitive relationships lead to something deeper. And so on indefinitely. The conclusion is that metaphysical knowledge is deeper than experience; the religious experience of the world does not mean another way, but a deeper fundamental spiritual experience.” Humanity, i.e. science, philosophy, art and the worldview of recent times have ceased to draw from the depths of experience and have fallen into soullessness. There was some kind of blindness to the transcendent. „Ein Mensch kann an nichts anderen zugrunde gehen als an einem Mangel an Religion” (Weininger). However, this blindness and spiritlessness never depends solely on man. „If we see – Peguy writes – that metaphysics, philosophy, religion are being lost, then not only do we have to say that they are being lost… At the same time we need to know that together with them we also lose ourselves… If some metaphysics, philosophy, religion disappears from mankind, then to the same degree, or even to a greater one, this humanity will disappear from metaphysics, philosophy, religion”. This is what this nietzschean „anti-Christianism” is in all its essence. Nietzsche sees that Christian faith is lost for mankind in its deeper dimension, but at the same time, even more so, mankind turns out to be lost for Christianity. The feature of modern man is nihilism and blindness to the transcendent. If nihilism accumulates, it does not yet mean that modern man has abandoned the religion that has abandoned him; apart from his beliefs and the distance he has to religion, he remains at an image that he no longer subjectively believes in, and which has no objective historical reality or confirmation. It is precisely this extreme nihilism that is now in power in Europe. Such a world view, Loewith writes: „is not yet perfect like atheism, which no longer believes in Christ, in God, but instead believes in Nothing, like a hidden deity… atheism from the development of our relations is only the penultimate effect… just as scientific positivism was preceded by the philosophy of disappointment… Because of the shortcomings of some new faith, for the time being they do not believe in anything… Man is now in such a transitional state, when he no longer believes in anything at all and, regardless of this, leaves everything the old way… He does not believe in Christianity, the afterlife, but remains faithful to the forms of the world’s eschatology, rejects Christian renunciation, but does not become more self-confident”. As Nietzsche himself writes: „The practice of every moment, every intention, everything connected with value, every behavior is anti-Christian today. Infant of what kind of monster will endure this feeding with untruth to create a modern man who, without worrying about anything, is not ashamed when they call him a Christian?”
After all that, one can ask oneself: if the consciousness of modern man is not religious, what kind of consciousness is it? Of course, he is ruled not by the depth of experience, but by an empirical, non-transcendent consciousness. His view of the world does not come from above, from God, but from below, from man. The consciousness of modern man is not religious, but humanistic. There is no admiration for the supernatural. There is no universal behavior. There are no cosmic beings. At the same time it is: rational, empirical and humanistic. This is the source of all that is modern: materialism, technocracy, socialism, economic orientation, profit maximization, corruption, politics (significantly humanistic), modern sciences (half-life of results, deficiencies of great mutual relations, laboratory work, philology) – these are the causes of the modern world-view, moral, social and economic crises of states and societies.
It would be wonderful to believe that this view is only a Nietzschean „repoganisation”, as Keyserling calls it, a call to return to paganism. Those who, contrary to all this, call themselves Christians, in the end are in the same situation: Christianity does not exist at all. Kierkegaard said that nineteen centuries, such as they were, must be thrown out through the window of the world history, as if there were no Christianity at all, and start anew the „practice” of entering into Christianity. Berdyaev is not so strict, but the history of the last four centuries, modern times, he completely excludes from the history of Christianity. According to Eliot, the first chapter of Christianity ended with the dusk of the Middle Ages. In French Catholic writers (Bloy, Peguy) we can find literally the same thought about modern times. Everyone is quite unanimous about the reason for this, tracing it in the humanization. There is no difference of opinion between the re-paganized people and Christians as far as the real cause of the contemporary religious crisis is concerned – the humanization of religion. The difference is that the Christian type believes in a new vitality of Christianity and the heathen does not. “Christianity,” writes Evola, „can no longer be a rescue today if it lacked the strength centuries earlier, when it undoubtedly had a more comfortable material, intellectual and moral situation. Could this religion, which is not in control of itself at the moment, prevail again today? While profane science, secular culture and mass spirit are growing in strength?… There can no longer be compromises and adaptation. The game of compromise and adaptation has done nothing to prevent the disappearance of Western civilization. Either there will be one religion again and the transcendent will again manifest itself in it in an absolute way, or the whole religion will be worth nothing.” The Christian type admits that the Christian religion has so far achieved little importance in the history of mankind, but the reason for this was that it was not „true” and that the period is only now actually happening. At the same time, both directions of thought meet at one point: this is an absolute and merciless judgment over what they call humanism.
In criticism of humanism, apart from Nietzsche, Evola went farthest. He has drawn the general outlines of the history of humanization. The starting point is the ancient kingdom of God. This aristocratic caste order „is not a rhetorical figure, but the most true reality – our culture lacks a vision of the kingdom, which is a characteristic for a politician: a layman and a profane”. Kings – heroic Basileuses – are universalistic cosmic beings. It is not about allegory, but about metaphysical reality. The Sun – King, who endows life, whose „right to reign comes from heaven”, which exists not through action, but through radiation (Wei-wu-Wei, according to Lao-Tsu, which can be translated as „action without action”), which represents and means supernaturality, which gives every human being transcendent certainty. The royal order is a caste order: principles, measures, boundaries, forms. This is what the law, the judiciary, the economy, morality, the arts are called for. Everything is sacred because the whole world is ritualized and sacred.
In the beginning the kingdom was replaced by the papacy. Then the power of magnates and knights followed. At the end of the bourgeoisie and proletaryat. This is the process of humanization in history. Evola dedicates the largest part of his book to explain it. Today, the former „mother”, a noble being, has been completely removed from governing and from the „court”, and her place has been taken over by the creatures of the lower order. The cause of Europe’s desolation is humanisation: the abolition of the caste barrier – positivist science and the reign of philosophy – faith in the mechanisms of technology and governance. Power is not a mechanism, but a transcendent reality. Leading castes fall as soon as they get bogged down to never rise again, and their servants come to power. “The victory of the democratic movement,” writes Ortega in Democratia morbosa – “against what is privileged, caste, constitutional, etc., is moral perversion, this is what is called plebeianism.” These are the times of the Third International, when it was believed that work sustains society. The essence of slavery: work. „Generally speaking about slavery only today is it possible to start a conversation”. “The tools of life have become more important than life itself, more so: tools have plunged life into tools (Evola). (Man as a 'consumer’, as a 'taxpayer’, as 'human resource’ – statistical worldview etc.) Parallel to this process, when wisdom, or sacred knowledge, turns into „science” and is accessible to everyone, reason will socialize in the same way as power. „Knowledge is just as aristocratic, individual, true, substantial, organic, qualitative as science is civilizational, democratic, abstract, social, levelling and quantitative.” In culture, everything is as closely connected as possible: power is only the other side of what is knowledge, social order is the other side of what is art, economy, morality, and the highest peak, and the greatest depth is the cosmic consciousness of man: that is religion. If people do not respect such authorities in the spiritual order,” writes Guenon, „they do not respect power, and profanes touch sanctity… infernal judges the heavenly, a fool stands above the wise man, a mistake overcomes the truth, human replaces the divine, the earth plays the role of heaven…”. In human consciousness, humanum replaces divinum: this is how religion is transformed – at first, instead of a relationship with a transcendent, [it is transformed] into a religion of compassion and mercy, and then into a religion of brotherhood, equality, that is, God’s religion is transformed into a human religion, so heaven is transformed into earth, sacral into social, wisdom into science, poetry into philology, art into virtuoso shows, and humanity into a crowd. This is the „grassroots barbarity” as Ortega wrote; „crowd-mindedness” as Americans say; „levelling” as Kierkegaard wanted; „Sklavenmoral” as Nietzsche called it. (…) „The consciousness of the modern man, leaving all other aspects aside, refers only to the naked humanistic order… and it only means that it deprives one’s own life of meaning. And to deprive oneself of sense is to deprive oneself of one’s life, to falsify the rules, to mix castes, to make the cosmos chaotic… It’s like taking the way to a fallen world, where everything depends on randomness, and where in the end everything is blurred and deteriorated” (Evola). This is the only way in which a modern materialistic economy could have been created, servile to the principles of matter – „economic determinism is today a God before whom we fall down” (Eliot). The modern humanistic-social-economic-atheistic-cynical-scientific man is actually „a type from the fallen world, as Berdyaev writes, who is accompanied by Christiansen, who states that modern man is the result of a demonic judgment, while Evola believes that the modern crowd is „the return of the old totemistic hordes, the spread of plebeianism, approximation to a homogeneous agglomerate, the effect of the demonic collectivism”. „The crowd inevitably demoralizes itself if it becomes unreligious, it simply decays morality because it encounters materialism on its unreligious path” (Boerger). Hence the leveling of the modern man, the double standards of the contemporary face: „Caesar together with a butler”, as Romier, a terrorist and a slave writes. However, slavery is no longer just a social state, because it has gone beyond society: modern man is a „pariah,” as Evola claims. This comes from within him – a slave does not do circumstances, but the fact that he was born a slave in the soul and does not know what else he should serve (work as the greatest dignity) – it was not the relations that made him a slave, but exactly this. That is why so much dependence, uncertainty, susceptibility to influence, formlessness, ignorance, limitations and blindness to the transcendent. There is a correlation between society and man: specific people correspond to certain communities – royal people, royal order; outcasts and pariahs correspond to decay, chaos, infernality and it is no longer society, but an extra-social state; space man corresponds to „beautiful order”, humanistic chaos to: socialism, science, economic collapse, generally speaking, irreligiousness.
If someone asked now, but not a writer of the crisis, but a critic of the literature of the crisis, or an outside observer, what conclusion he would draw from the above, he should be answered as follows: at the heights of European spirituality since the eighteenth century there can be felt clear concern. Perhaps the first sign of this anxiety was Montesquieu’s book on the collapse of the Roman Empire. Initially, there appeared a veiled critique of the century, which was to flourish over time in contemporary apocalypticism. The voice solidified, became more serious, and became more and more loud – until Nietzsche, with whom he reached the highest point, but at the same time with whom he ended. After Nietzsche two trends can be distinguished: the first – criticizes further and despairs, the second – starts from the point Nietzsche has reached, and even if it does not know how to express, and even less how to solve problems, it certainly gives us a sense of their importance. It is possible that Western culture will destroy itself on its own. Humanity has run out of culture. Perhaps the next hundred years will bring us great changes, and perhaps, as Nietzsche argued, all this is not so important, because the essence of the problem can be found elsewhere. Civilization may be outdated, but humanity will remain, and perhaps Valery is right when he says: „Reason must be wrong as many times it draws unfavorable conclusions for itself”. Maybe there is a crisis, but the apocalyptics exaggerate it. The most important thing is man. This man is not in danger. Books such as Erwin Reisner’s, who sees history as „falling into sin and the way to the Final Judgement”, are just as unfounded as apocalypses of Russian Rozanov or Frenchman Bloy. These books are better signs of a crisis than critical works. The idea that there is no crisis at all can be maintained, but it is just as unnecessary as claiming that the crisis is destiny. Because whoever denies the crisis rejects reality. It is enough to look around the world and a whole series of crisis situations will be felt tangibly. At the same time, the one who sees a new flood or a migration of peoples in the modern world also rejects reality. Valery says that the situation of the world is never without a way out, because it never depends on those who do not believe in life, but on those who believe in it. It is history that has proven itself more than once.
As far as the way of solving the crisis is concerned, the thought of the most eminent representatives of spirituality is fairly homogeneous. “The world,” writes Evola, „is only now realizing its darkening fate, but for hundreds of years there have been causes that have caused internal degradation of spiritual and material states to such an extent that for most people not only the road to health and normality is lost, but also the ability to understand what health and normality mean… The fact is that today’s man is not able to find anything in past eras that he could turn into history anew.” “In so far as necessary, disintegration and rebellion would be ideal… a great holistic catharsis… compulsory and merciless demolition… so that everything becomes meaningful anew, so that everything that has been stripped of holiness will appear in a new chastity…”. The rise of the crisis is not dangerous, quite the contrary: it is correct, because it speeds up the resolution of the crisis. This is Nietzsche’s view: not to preserve today’s world, but to influence it so that as soon as possible it throws out of itself what needs to be banished anyway.
It seems that the only cause of the crisis is related to what Prinzhorn says: „the human person, just as the place of man in the world can only be understood religiously”. Religion means what Evola calls for: „Let man himself discover the deepest roots of his own life”. The result of this relapse is: „if a state is not sacred, then it is not a state”, „if power is not based on religious principles, then it is not power”, „we finally have to wake up and jump on an equal footing… ready to tear off the dirty skin of rhetoric, sentimentalism and religious hypocrisy, all that filled and humanized the West…”. „Science narrows itself towards a deeper reality of man… with this there is a need for holy, intimate, mysterious, creative knowledge…”. „It is a perfect mistake to think that the state can be something other than civitas diaboli, provided that the empire does not resurrect…”. The heralds – guardians (ergegoroi) – of this world are specific people. Their behavior is such: They „exclude themselves from the general decay, speed up the rhythm of the so-called „shifting”, i.e. they strive directly for a given historical epoch to end as soon as possible – on one hand patiently, constantly and with merciless certainty they ruin, and on the other hand they create the world anew”. Evola almost literally says what Nietzsche and his contemporaries did: Ortega, Valery, Keyserling. In the same way, he sees a new type of man bloom among the disorder of things, and his thought interacts with his predecessors when he writes that „it is not necessary to talk about political, social or economic reforms, because the thought that wants to achieve renewal in such ways is simply ridiculous – it’s like someone sticking plasters on a sick body when blood is poisoned”.
Literature on how to solve the crisis is just as noteworthy as the crisis itself.
Translated by: Piotr Roszkowski
Linguistic check: Stanisław Król
Graphic design: Resistance Arts