Part 1 of 4
In 1897, Robert Lewis Dabney prophesied the triumph of women’s suffrage based on his estimate of the history and character of the only force opposed to it, Northern conservatism:
This is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is today one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will tomorrow be forced upon its timidity and will be succeeded by some third revolution; to be denounced and then adopted in its turn. American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader.
The political hegemony of the Left was and is based largely on the intellectual hegemony of Leftist ideas, chiefly freedom, equality, and progress. Today’s phony Right shares the Left’s basic worldview, but not their clarity of vision, singularity of purpose, and moral idealism. Rightists are merely tepid or retarded Leftists, who lag behind their brighter classmates. Yet the superior Leftists always bring them round in the end. In every battle between Left and Right, the Left can count on a fifth column inside every Rightist, namely his own deepest moral convictions. If one begins with Leftist premises, sooner or later, one will draw Leftist conclusions and put them into practice.
But politics is not merely a matter of intellectual influence and persuasion. It is not just about changing minds, but changing the world. And that requires organized, concerted, purposeful action. Thus politics is also about vectors of control, chains of command, leaders and followers.
Samuel Francis explained the leftward drift of contemporary politics in terms of leadership. On the Left, the leadership is always to the Left of its constituency, moving them towards ever more radical positions. Furthermore, on the Right, the leadership is also to the Left of its constituency. Thus politics moves steadily to the Left, because the Left’s radical vanguard extends its influence through the whole political spectrum and pulls it along behind.
The Right follows the Left, just as train cars follow the engine. The Leftist cars are at the front of the train and the Rightist cars at the rear, thus they reach the destination later, but in no sense do they have an independent course or motive power. There is just one engine, and the people in the engine determine the direction of the train. The people in charge of the various cars may wear uniforms and carry themselves with an air of authority. But they are just conductors and ticket punchers, along for the ride with the rest of us.
How has the Left attained such power? And can it be attained by the Right and used in reverse? The answers may be found in the Traditionalist school of René Guénon and Julius Evola.
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There is no question that technology, science, and medicine are making remarkable advances. But from a White Nationalist point of view, everything is getting worse politically, culturally, and racially. This is why so many White Nationalists are attracted to Traditionalism, which explains contemporary events in terms of the myth that history moves in cycles—beginning with a Golden Age then declining through Silver, Bronze, and Iron (or Dark) Ages, until a new Golden Age dawns.
But Guénon and Evola did not regard historical decline as a disembodied force. They thought it was produced by concrete, embodied groups of historical agents. Although human agency plays a large role in history, however, most human beings are not historical agents. They are the objects, not the subjects of history. Historical agency is the preserve of tiny elites, vanguards that extend lines of influence and control throughout the entire culture, pulling it ever deeper into decadence. The vast majority of mankind is merely along for the ride.
Guénon and Evola discuss these historical elites under the rubric of “occult war.” It is “occult” merely in the sense of “hidden.” In Evola’s words, it is “a battle that is waged imperceptibly by the forces of global subversion, with means and in circumstances ignored by current historiography.” Evola also writes that the occult dimension of history “should not be diluted in the fog of abstract philosophical or sociological concepts, but rather should be thought of as a ‘backstage’ dimension where specific ‘intelligences’ are at work” (Men, p. 236).
Evola does add, ominously, that these occult forces “cannot be reduced to what is merely human” (Men, p. 235). But occult war is not necessarily connected with the occult in the usual sense of the word, i.e., mysticism and magic, although the two senses do overlap in such groups as the Freemasons.
How does occult warfare produce political and historical change? According to Evola:
The deeper causes of history . . . operate prevalently through what can be called “imponderable factors,” to use an image borrowed from natural science. These 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 process an adequate direction that leads to the designated goal. (Men, p. 237)
As Evola describes it, occult warfare is essentially identical to metapolitics.
Metapolitics deals with the underlying causes and conditions of political change. Metapolitics operates on two levels: intellectual and organizational. Metapolitical ideas include moral systems, religions, collective identities (tribal, national, racial), and assumptions about what is politically possible. Metapolitical organizations propagate metapolitical ideas, bridging the gap between theory and practice. Examples of metapolitical movements include the European New Right and North American New Right.
Small metapolitical changes can lead to vast political transformations over time. For instance, the values articulated in the Sermon on the Mount eventually overthrew the whole ancient world. But since metapolitical causes are often remote from political effects, and since metapolitical causes are often abstract and esoteric ideas entertained by only a few, metapolitics is invisible to most people, who focus only on the concrete and immediate. Metapolitics is, therefore, “occult” in the literal sense of the word, i.e., “hidden.” But it is often hidden in plain view and need take no special precautions to conceal itself from the public eye.
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The concept of occult warfare is the Traditionalist contribution to what is generally derided as “conspiracy theories,” including both history and speculation regarding “secret societies.” This truly is hazardous territory.
Not a day goes by when my colleagues and I do not conspire together to advance the agenda of the North American New Right. And not a day goes by when our enemies do not conspire to advance their agenda. Yet if you raise the topic of conspiracy, most people are trained to roll their eyes. They do this because they are told that it is what smart people do. Many of them also have direct experience of preposterous conspiracy theories advanced by fevered, aggressive kooks. There is no question that most conspiracy theories are cranky and false, many of them ridiculously so. But what better way to conceal real conspiracies from serious, sober inquiry than fake ones that taint any discussion of conspiracy with an air of madness?
Evola, however, is “careful to prevent valid insights from generating into fantasies and superstitions,” including a paranoid tendency “to see an occult background everywhere and at all costs” (Men, p. 238). He treats all assumptions about occult warfare as mere “working hypotheses” put forth to integrate and explain empirical data. He claims that when a phenomenon cannot be entirely explained by known causes, one is entitled to conclude that unknown causes exist and to speculate about their nature.
I would like to add that some of these unknown causes might merely be random factors, since there is no reason to assume that all historical events are the product of conscious intentions (open or occult). Accidents do happen in history. But when one observes human affairs moving steadily in one direction, one is entitled to conclude that this is no accident and that conscious design is at work. And if the conscious designs of the obvious agents do not suffice to explain historical trends, then we are entitled to posit hidden agents and designs at work.
Among the testimonies that Evola considers are Benjamin Disraeli’s claims that, “The world is governed by people entirely different from the ones imagine by those who are unable to see behind the scenes,” and:
The public does not realize that in all the conflicts within nations and in the conflicts between nations there are, besides the people apparently responsible for them, hidden agitators who with their selfish plans make these conflicts unavoidable. . . . Everything that happens in the confused evolution of peoples is secretly prepared in order to ensure the dominion of certain people: it is these people, known and unknown, that we must find behind every public event. (Men, pp. 238–39)
Evola also treats the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion as evidence of occult warfare. Evola recognizes that the Protocols are not actual protocols but rather a literary presentation of a secret agenda for world domination. But in his view, the veracity of the Protocols cannot be proved or disproved by tracing their origins. Instead, their truth is proven by their correspondence to actual events. Thus, “The value of the document as a working hypothesis is undeniable: it presents the various aspect of global subversion (among them, some aspects that were destined to be outlined and accomplished only many years after the publication of the Protocols) in terms of a whole, in which they find their sufficient reason and logical combination” (Men, p. 240).
1. Julius Evola, Men Among the Ruins: Post-war Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist, trans. Guido Stucco, ed. Michael Moynihan (Rochester, Vt.: Inner Traditions, 2002), p. 235.