Recognitions by Julius Evola
I have read Recognitions – Studies on Men and Problems From the Perspective of the Right by Julius Evola. The book contains a collection of essays that Evola wrote towards the end of his life. As the subtitle suggests, many of the essays discuss other thinkers and authors. The essays are, moreover, quite diverse in terms of topics. They are also, in my humble opinion, quite varying in terms of how interesting and insightful they are. As I might have mentioned before, the esoteric and historical observations of Evola are more interesting than his philosophical ones. Regarding the edition, I must give credit to John Bruce Leonard, the translator, for the amount of informative footnotes that help the reader understand the context of certain references (i.e. to persons and books, etc.).
The Fifth Estate – The Forces of Chaos
In an interesting essay titled The Advent of the “Fifth Estate”, Evola discusses the Four Estates and, interestingly, also a Fifth Estate. The Four Estates are, as may be familiar to some, the following:
- The First Estate = spiritual and sacral authority.
- The Second Estate = the warrior aristocracy.
- The Third Estate = the bourgeoise.
- The Fourth Estate = the working masses.
The French Revolution can be classified as a revolution of the Third Estate. The Bolshevik Revolution can be classified as a revolution of the Fourth Estate. What, then, might the Fifth Estate be? Evola explains it thus:
‘The four-part descent in level of civilization and of social organizations is a reality; likewise is the emergence, upon the point of reaching the final step, of the nether forces, the forces of chaos, which in a certain sense cannot be said to belong to the properly human world, and which can perhaps best be comprehended by the formula of the advent of the Fifth Estate.’Julius Evola – Recognitions. Page 30.
Evola on Christianity and Catholicism
In the essay titled Quo Vadis, Ecclesia?, Evola discusses the future of the Catholic Church as well as Christianity in general. In the essay he takes issue with the growing ‘progressivism’ of the Church after the Second World War. As is known, the Church has become increasingly Left-wing over the last few decades (even more so now than during Evola’s life). Evola writes about Christianity in many other books (as we have seen in our previous reviews). Below are some quotes that can serve to illustrate his relationship with Christianity and Catholicism quite well:
‘From the sociological point of view original Christianity was effectively socialism avant la lettre; with respect to the classical world and civilization it represents an egalitarian revolutionary ferment. It leveraged itself upon the mood and the needs of the masses, of the plebs, of the disinherited and of the traditionless members of the Empire; its “good news” was that of the inversion of all established values.’Julius Evola – Recognitions. Page 112.
We have encountered Evola’s critique of Christianity as a doctrine for the Lower before. The quote continues:
‘This background of Christianity and its origins was more or less limited and rectified with the formation of Catholicism – thanks, in grand part, to a “Roman” influence. This overcoming was manifested also in the hierarchical structure of the Church; historically it had its apogee in the Medieval Period, but its orientation did not fail in the period of the Counter-reformation – not, finally in that which was called “the alliance of the throne with the alter,” Catholicism’s consecration of legitimate authority from the heights, according to the rigorous doctrine of Joseph de Maistre and Doneso Cortes, and with the Church’s explicit condemnation of liberalism, democracy, and socialism – and lately, in our century, in the period of modernism. But now this entire valid superstructure of Catholicism seems to crumble and to bring the emergence precisely of the promiscuous, anti-hierarchical, “social” and anti-aristocratic substrate of Christianity.’Julius Evola – Recognitions. Page 112, 113.
In The Path of Cinnabar (which will be the subject of a coming review), Evola discusses the topic further:
‘And while I recognised Catholicism as a positive religion, I also personally witnessed the disgraceful effects of its dissolution into emotional, sentimental and moralistic forms in the context of modern bourgeois society, which is marked by Catholicism’s lack of interest in emphasising true holiness and transcendence, symbols, rites and sacraments.’Julius Evola – The Path of Cinnabar. Page 9.
In another passage in The Path of Cinnabar, Evola notes the following in regard to the influence René Guénon had on his views on Catholicism. The book Evola refers to below is The Mask and Face of Contemporary Spiritualism.
‘What was new in this book was my willingness to acknowledge the ‘traditional’ side of Catholicism. Nevertheless, I could not avoid expressing certain reservations. Firstly, I maintained that Catholicism ought to be distinguished from primitive Catholicism, and that the latter is to be held in lesser esteem.’Julius Evola – The Path of Cinnabar. Page 130.
As the quote above shows, Evola had a healthy appreciation for Catholicism – i.e. Christianity that underwent a thorough Romanisation and Germanisation (as we have discussed in previous reviews). Below is another quote that illustrates Evola’s view of Catholicism – which can best be summarised as good but not good enough.
‘Whoever is traditional by being Catholic, is not traditional but halfway.’Julius Evola – Recognitions. Page 120.
Evola on Contrarians
In the essay titled Biological Youth and Political Youth, Evola states the following in regard to contrarians:
‘Many feel the need to agitate in order to feel their individuality, their own importance; they must counterpoise themselves at all costs to something or to someone.’Julius Evola – Recognitions. Page 45.
I thought this quote would be good to share considering the amount of contrarians that are drawn to dissident politics in the current year as well. It seems that for some, being in opposition to anyone is more important that promoting a good message. As I have mentioned before, I am not a contrarian; I am merely, by necessity, forced to be a political opponent to the regime – as is the duty of every self-respecting European man.
The Colour Red
In the chapter titled The Inversion of Symbols, Evola (correctly) laments the subversion of the colour red, which, regrettably, has become associated with Communism. As we have noted in previous books by Evola, the colour red has traditionally been associated with both regality and action – as opposed to the white of priestly contemplation. The colour purple has always been associated with royalty and has, fortunately, not been contaminated by any associations of the Left-wing. On a personal note, I like the colour red and deem it appropriate to take back this sacred colour. Many Legio Gloria garments are in Burgundy red.
Recognitions is 311 pages long and is written in Evola’s typical fashion. As mentioned above, the essays vary in terms of how interesting they are – in my humble opinion, the essays dealing with history and spirituality are much more interesting than the ones dealing with the philosophy of others. Overall, the book is insightful and I can recommend it for appreciators of Evola. I would probably recommend reading Metaphysics of Power or The Bow and the Club before Recognitions – both of those titles follow a similar structure (being collections of essays).
Lastly, I discuss Evola’s teachings in Podcast Episode 24. Julius Evola for those who are interested in his views and my perspective upon them.