Part 2 of 4
Guénon and Evola believe that the occult war is carried on by secret initiatic societies. Just as Tradition is propagated through initiatic societies, the Counter-Tradition is propagated through counter-initiatic societies, which are profane images of genuine initiatic orders teaching inverted doctrines that promote decadence and decline.
The secret initiatic society is the ideal vehicle for both Tradition and Counter-Tradition, for three basic reasons.
First, both Tradition and subversion are based upon bodies of eternal principles that must be propagated over time through a process of initiation, i.e., the communication of doctrines from teacher to student in a hierarchical course of study, in which lower degrees lay the foundations for higher ones.
This, of course, describes any educational process, even the most trivial. But only an organization whose teachings evoke the utmost piety, and whose process of initiation evokes the utmost solemnity, can hope to persist through the ages. Thus the foundation of its doctrine must be eternal truths—persistence in time being the consequence of pursuing eternal truths and living in accordance with them.
Second, both Tradition and subversion are not merely matters of theory. They also involve action: actions that embrace the globe, span the ages, and determine the destinies of nations, civilizations, and races; plans of action that unfold over generations, centuries, even millennia. No organization can hope to motivate people to toil in the pursuit of aims that will never come to fruition in their lifetimes unless it can mobilize the highest form of impersonal idealism. But the highest form of idealism is only evoked by the highest good, which again requires a foundation in eternal truths.
Third, an organization that perpetuates itself over millennia and acts on a global scale, for good or evil, is bound to make enemies. Thus to persist, it must be secret. Secrecy also serves another purpose, allowing initiates to penetrate and influence, for good or evil, other organizations that would resist them if their competing loyalties were known. A third purpose of secrecy is that it allows an organization to survive changes of regimes, even the fall of whole civilizations. For a secret society may penetrate all of the institutions of a given society, but it should also depend on none of them. Its substance should lie within itself, ultimately grounded in its orientation to the eternal, the most substantial thing of all.
Archimedes claimed that he needed only two things to move the world: a lever and a place to stand. The place to stand cannot move, but it allows one to move other things. To move the world, one must have a place to stand outside the world. To move all of history, one needs a place to stand outside history: a secret society that does not move with history, because its foundations are above history and above politics, in a doctrine that does not change because it is based on the eternal.
If one is to move history, rather than be moved by it, one must be an unmoving axis around which all other things revolve. One must be like Aristotle’s god, the Unmoved Mover, who does not move because he is complete and self-contained (substance itself), but who sets the rest of the world in motion, because all things seek to imitate his aloof self-sufficiency. One must be like the Taoist Sage-Emperor, who acts without acting, simply by incarnating the unchanging principle of order around which all other beings arrange themselves.
One can hypothesize the presence of an initiatic Traditional body at work wherever one finds a hierarchical social order that is oriented toward the transcendent and that persists over a long period of time: Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia, India, China, Japan, the Hellenic world, the Hellenistic world, Rome, Byzantium, the Catholic Church, and the Old Regimes of Europe.
One can hypothesize the presence of an initiatic Counter-Traditional body at work wherever a steady trend toward disorder persists. In the case of the rise of modernity, many different groups and interests were united in working to overthrow the old order: Protestants, Neo-Pagans, natural scientists, rationalist and empiricist philosophers, capitalists, and political liberals were among the first wave. Subsequent waves included Jews, socialists, anarchists, and Communists. But since the Second World War, the Jewish element of subversion and hegemony has become dominant.
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If an initiatic secret society grounded in the eternal is the place where one stands, what is the lever? What are the means by which one moves history? The short answer is: by any means necessary. If the metaphysical foundations and practical aims of a secret order are as fixed and unchanging as Being itself, the means by which it seeks to influence and direct history should be as manifold and shifting as the historical flux. Absolute dogmatism about foundations and aims can be wedded to absolute pragmatism about means. Truth and order—as they define them—may employ lies and chaos. Good—as they define it—may be pursued by any means, including evil ones, provided that they really are means. If the ends do not justify the means, nothing will. All of these techniques, however, fall under two basic headings: the spreading of ideas and the infiltration and subversion of institutions.
In Men Among the Ruins, Evola develops a number of Guénon’s ideas on the tools of occult warfare (see pp. 244–51).
First, the promulgation of materialistic and positivistic prejudices about historical causation blinds the intelligent to the occult dimension of history.
Second, to prevent those who reject materialism from finding the truth, false spiritual or idealist conceptions of history (e.g., Hegel, Bergson) are promulgated.
Third, when the effects of subversion begin to show up on the material plane and provoke a reaction in the name of ideals drawn from the traditional past, the agents of subversion promulgate counterfeit or distorted versions of these ideas, so that “reaction is contained, deviated, or even led in the opposite direction” (Men, p. 245).
Fourth, since “the basis of the order to be destroyed consist[s] in the supernatural element—that is, in the spirit—conceived not as a philosophical abstraction or as an element of faith, but as a superior reality, as a reference point for the integration of everything that is human” (Men, p. 245), all genuine spiritual longings must be channeled into inverted forms of spirituality directed toward the aims of the Counter-Tradition.
Fifth, to weaken, derail, and destroy any genuine opposition that might remain, the enemy encourages them to attack those who share the same principles and to adopt the principles of their enemies. An example of the first tactic is to promote infighting among the resistance: “thus, they attempt in every possible way to cause any higher idea to give in to the tyranny of individual interest or proselytizing, prideful, and power-hungry tendencies” (Men, p. 247). An example of second tactic is to encourage the opposition to embrace the principles of the enemy in order to gain momentary rhetorical or political advantages. A good contemporary example is the tendency of White Nationalists to appeal to forms of moral universalism that undermine all nationalism simply to score cheap points against Zionism. (See my essay “White Nationalism and Jewish Nationalism.”) Evola stresses that “unconditioned loyalty to an idea”—as opposed to the egotism that leads to infighting or the pragmatism that leads one to adopt the enemy’s ideas—“is the only possible protection from occult war” (Men, p. 247).
Sixth, if the forces of subversion are in danger of being unmasked and punished, they will deflect public anger onto scapegoats. Evola actually suggests that the Protocols might be an attempt to make Freemasons and Jews into scapegoats for a much deeper conspiracy (Men, p. 248). Evola would probably not entertain such thoughts today, but the specifically Jewish nature of the ruling powers was not so apparent in 1953 when Men Among the Ruins was first published.
Seventh, when subversion progresses far enough to provoke a reaction, this reaction can be diverted from the pursuit of a healthy new society based on eternal truths toward a return to an older form of society in which the sickness is merely not so advanced. In America today, this is manifested in reactionary nostalgia for the 1980s or the 1950s or the 19th-century or the Founding era. Of course, if we could return to the 1950s, our descendants would be coping with the same problems 60 years later.
Eighth, all principles or institutions may be undermined if people confuse them with their representatives. All representatives are inevitably imperfect, but when these imperfections come to light, the agents of subversion argue that it is the institution or principle that must be replaced, not their fallible representatives.
Ninth, Evola claims that one of the principal tools of subversion is to infiltrate Traditional organizations and replace their leadership, in order to destroy the organization outright or to use it to further the ends of subversion. Evola claims that Freemasonry was originally a vehicle of genuine Tradition, but it was infiltrated and taken over by partisans of the Counter-Tradition (Men, pp. 250–51).