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Nerd Among the Ruins, Part II
The Struggle of Cosmos and Chaos, Initiation and Counter-Initiation
Back in July, I rhetorically asked the question “why has our world gone so crazy?” The answer, I suggested, was that:
Our contemporary consensus is not just wrong here and there, not just mildly out of step on reality. It is wrong on the fundamentals. The very building blocks of our entire society are misshapen and fractured, and they do not fit together. They are, in fact, so broken that they are leading us to ruin.
The essay proved popular (even landing a front page spot on Lew Rockwell) and I think it did a good job of explaining where our contemporary consensus has departed from reality and what might be required to return to a sane world. But the essay left unexplained the question of how the contemporary consensus had to come be so wrong. If the answer to “why has our world gone crazy?” is “because our consensus worldview has gone crazy,” then the next logical question is “why has our consensus worldview gone crazy?
In August, I wrote a follow-up piece called The World is Run By Spin in which I explained that the world is run by a “segmented polycephalous ideological network” that uses horizontal linkages between elites with shared ideology. That article explains how the contemporary consensus is maintained and its ideology implemented. But it, again, does not explain where it how it came to be.
Perhaps the most common explanation for the pathway that Leftism has lately taken is the suggestion that “wokeness is a religion.” For instance, National Affairs writes that “wokeness is quickly becoming the established faith in the legal and regulatory framework of the American political system, as well as in elite corporate culture and academia.” Humanitas Magazine calls wokeness “a new national church… pledged to the destruction of Racism, Patriarchy, and Heteronormativity.” The National Post notes that “wokeness appropriates many concepts found in traditional faiths, such as blasphemers (those who have “problematic” opinions) and heretics (those who are targeted by social media mobs).”
The argument for how this occurred goes more-or-less as follows: Human beings have an innate religious instinct that causes them to believe in and even seek out something greater than themselves. Human beings also have a moralizing instinct that causes them to want to display virtue to their fellow humans. At any given time, these two instincts guarantee that every human society will have some sort of religion. The only question is what that religion will be. In the West, that religion used to be Christianity. But now that Christianity’s grip over the hearts and minds of the masses has been loosened by the progress of science, the critiques of atheism, and the pleasures of materialism, a new religion has taken its place. Or so the argument goes.
But is that all there is to it? Has the pre-apocalyptic debacle we call Clown World come about merely from the interplay of human nature and historical currents? Or is there something more sinister at work?
Julius Evola and his fellow Traditionalist traveler Rene Guenon would certainly agree that the contemporary consensus of the modern world is gravely erroneous. They would also agree that this consensus or worldview has taken on the form of a religion (they would call it a “counter-tradition”). But Evola and Guenon would go one step further and offer an explanation of why this has all occurred. And their explanation would be, bluntly, occult action.
As I explore their esoteric worldview below, I will remind the reader of what I said in Part I of this series: By exploration I imply neither expertise nor endorsement. I aim merely to lay out their ideas for the reader and for myself to the best of my understanding.
There’s an (Occult) War on For Your Mind
In Volume I of his 1927 book Introduction to Magic, the young Julius Evola (under the pseudonym of Arvo) laid out the nature and influence of the forces of chaos:
As a starting point, we may take the general idea that forces exist which attempt to insert themselves into the human domain, both at an individual and at a collective level, not only in order to mislead every aspiration to true spirituality, but also in order to create new currents, suggestions, and ideological systems. These are such as to blur the vision of truth, to falsify values, and to favor the emergence of inferior influences, namely of every form of materialism, disorder, and subversion…
Generally speaking, there is no subversive movement in history and in human thought that does not have “occult” origins. What needs to be understood is that one of the most recent “confections” devised by the dark forces is the “positivist” theory, which adamantly denies the existence of such backgrounds… The most recent trick of the devil is to persuade people he does not exist.
In his 1937 book The Mystery of the Grail, Evola again warned that the forces of chaos were at work to create a “counterfeit empire,” an evil opposite of the spiritual Holy Roman Empire that Evola called for. He noted:
We see the reemergence of a universal future empire of organizations that work underground for its advent, though in a counterfeit that I do not hesitate to call “Satanic” because what is effectively happening is the destruction and the uprooting of all that is traditional…
Finally, in Men Among the Ruins, published in 1953, Evola devoted an entire chapter to what he now called the occult war:
The occult war is a battle that is waged imperceptibly by the forces of global subversion, with means and in circumstances ignored by current historiography.
It is necessary to assume as the ultimate reference point a dualistic scheme not dissimilar from the one found in an older tradition. Catholic historiography used to regard history not only as a mechanism of natural, political, economic, and social causes, but also as the unfolding of divine Providence, to which hostile forces are opposed… forces of evil, forces of the Antichrist.
This occult war, Evola explained, pits the “forces of cosmos” against these “forces of chaos”:
To the former [cosmos] corresponds everything that is form, order, law, spiritual hierarchy, and tradition in the higher sense of the word; to the latter [chaos] correspond every influence that disintegrates, subverts, degrades, and promotes the predominance of the inferior over the superior, matter over spirit, quantity over quality.
Evola saw the subtle action of the spiritual forces of chaos on the minds and hearts of human beings as the true explanation for why our world has gone crazy:
These [occult] causes are responsible for almost undetectable ideological, social, and political changes, which eventually produce remarkable effects: they are like the first cracks in a layer of snow that eventually produce an avalanche. These causes almost never act in a direct manner, but instead bestow to some existing processes an adequate direction that leads to the designated goal. Thus, men and groups who believe they are pursuing something willed by themselves become the means through which something different is realized and made possible…
[H]istorians encounter several instances where the “causal” explanation (in the deterministic, physical sense) is unsatisfactory, because things do not add up and the total does not equal the sum of the apparent historical factors—almost as if someone adding five, three, and two ended up not with ten, but with fifteen or seven. This differential… offers the most valuable material for the investigation of the occult causes of history…
We need to refer to something that has been concerted, a still unfolding plan devised by forces hiding in the shadows… The primary ideologies that are responsible for the modern disorder did not arise spontaneously, but have been evoked and supported by forces that knew they were false, and had in mind only the latter’s destructive and demoralizing effects.
Evola, then, suggests that we will know that occult forces are at work when the apparent facts of the matter don’t add up. They will never be revealed directly; we must infer their existence by abduction, as a causal explanation for a state of affairs that is otherwise inexplicable. But Evola is confident that those who have eyes will see:
One cannot help feeling that one is confronting a force that, on the spiritual plane, acts against the spirit itself: a dark force of anti-tradition and counter-initiation…
Anti-Tradition and Counter-Tradition
The words “anti-tradition” and “counter-initiation” are derived from the early writing of Evola’s colleague, Rene Guenon. The creator of the Traditionalist school, Guenon eventually explained both ideas in detail in his magisterial 1945 book The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times.
According to Guenon, anti-tradition is the “negation” of tradition by the expression of “integral materialism;” it is, simply put, what we Substackers might call “liberalism,” “secular humanism,” and/or “modernity.” But counter-tradition, counter-tradition is something more than just a mere negation; it is a “subversion,” a “counterfeit,” what Tolkien might call the mockery of good by evil. It is a false religion that will replace the true religions of Tradition. Those who bring about the counter-tradition are the “counter-initiates,” the demonic counterparts of the saints and heroes of Tradition, and they will be led by none other than the Antichrist. Guenon said:
After having worked always in the shadows to inspire and direct invisibly all modern movements, [the forces of chaos] will in the end contrive to ‘exteriorize’ something that will be as it were the counterpart of a true tradition… the most extreme and most gigantic of all parodies.
We have only so far seen, despite all the falsifications of the modern world, some very partial ‘trials’ and some very pale ‘prefigurations’ of it; something much more formidable is in preparation for a future considered by some to be near…
Guenon stressed that the counter-tradition “cannot be regarded as a purely human invention,” but rather has at its source an ancient and evil principal:
This extreme degeneration must go a very long way back into the past; and, however obscure the question of its origins may be, there is some plausibility in the idea that it may be connected with the perversion of one of the ancient civilizations… The sixth chapter of Genesis might perhaps provide, in a symbolical form, some indications relating to the distant origins of the “counter-initiation.”…
The Traditionalist school, then, writing from 1927 to 1953, made some very bold claims and predictions:
The culture war between tradition and modernity is actually an occult war between the forces of cosmos and the forces of chaos;
This occult war has been ongoing since ancient or Biblical times;
Throughout that time, the forces of chaos have been the cause of every ideology and influence that disintegrates, subverts, and degrades traditional society;
These forces have worked indirectly, to subtly influence human hearts and minds in ways that lead them to degeneration;
The forces of chaos have until recently worked merely negate tradition, but that project of anti-tradition is now complete;
Therefore, forces of chaos are now beginning to actively create a counter-tradition, which will be openly predicated on a debased, infrahuman, and inverted spirituality;
The influence of these forces can be adduced by noting when the materialist causes of history do not actually explain what is actually happening; and, finally,
The ultimate goal of this counter-tradition is to establish a global totalitarian empire and church that is a dark parody and inversion of the true empire and true church of Tradition.
In today’s parlance, what Evola and Guenon offer might be called a “unified field conspiracy theory.” For Traditionalism, everything happening now is all part of the occult war — spiritually evil forces are subtly influencing secret societies through satanic symbolism to bring about a global empire of evil and a global church of chaos. It’s a right-wing singularity where Alex Jones super-collides with Cardinal Carlo Maria Vigano.
And, if Julius Evola and Rene Guenon were alive today, they would look at today’s world, with its Great Reset, its Satanic and Illuminati symbolism, its pedophiliac fashion labels, they would look at that and certainly say: “Everything is happening as we have foreseen.”
What Is To Be Done?
The founders of the Traditionalist school were men of, we might say, pessimistic disposition towards the near future. Confronted with the forward march of progress, Rene Guenon retreated to Egypt, took up the study of Sufi, and never stepped foot in Europe again. Julius Evola retired to his apartment in Rome, refusing all visitors, and avowed himself apolitical. Both felt that the West was going to proceed on a dark path for, at the very least, the rest of their lives.
But they were not entirely nihilistic about the final outcome. In Men Among the Ruins, Evola cautioned that purely secular and materialist resistance could never stop the inexorable advance of the counter-tradition, but something greater could:
There is little hope that anything may be saved when among the leaders of a new movement, there are no men capable of integrating the material struggle with a secret and inexorable knowledge, one that is not at the service of dark forces but stands instead on the side of the luminous principle of traditional spirituality.
To Evola, then, any hope for a brighter future depended on a new generation of initiates, of heroes and saints, Apollonian men of power, arising to lead it. He thought that such initiation might come through a new order devoted to the chivalric tradition symbolized by the Holy Grail:
Just as the ascetic-monastic orders played a fundamental role during the chaos that brought about the collapse of the Roman Empire, likewise an order following in the footsteps of the [Knights Templar] could have a decisive role in a world such as the modern one… The Grail retains the meaning of a symbol in which the antithesis between “priest” and “warrior” is overcome…
While he calls for the rise of an order of paladins, of warrior-priests who can wage war as a sacred duty, Evola is circumspect about the immediate effect such an order would have:
Even if [an order] were to come to be, to believe it would be able to exercise an influence directly and sensibly on the general historical forces that are dominant today—that is hasty. Even the Rosicrucians, back in the eighteenth century, regarded this attempt in vain.
[T]hose who have received “the sword” must wait for the right time to wield it, the right moment being only that in which forces, the power of which is still unknown… will encounter a real limit and the cycle will end. The right moment will be that, in which, even before the most extreme existential situations, a desperate defense instinct rising from the deepest recesses will eventually regalvanize and give strength to myths and ideas connected to the legacy of better times.
Until that time comes, Evola would advise the would-be paladin to stay fit, keep his sword sharp, and seek out his brothers-in-arms, remembering always that “avenging and restoring heroes are not mere fancies of a dead and romantic past, but rather the truth of those who, today, alone may legitimately be said to be alive.”
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