Europe as an antidote to the crisis of modernity: insights from two Far-right authors

From Sofia Miola, Phd Student, University of Pavia, Visiting Researcher at the Hamburg Institute for Social Research 

Jean-François Thiriart and Julius Evola

According to many authors of the Far-right in the latter half of the 20th century, the Western world was perceived to be inevitably on the verge of collapse. It was from these premises that figures like Julius Evola (Rome, 1898-1974) and Jean-François Thiriart (Brussels 1922-1992) sought to establish a theoretical basis for a new political entity: Europe. Evola saw Europe as the last chance to avert impending collapse, while Thiriart envisioned it as a means to liberate from foreign control amidst Cold War tensions. Although various Far-right thinkers developed the concept of Europe, this paper specifically compares the perspectives of Thiriart and Evola.

One of the first essay was Evola’s Gli uomini e le rovine, published in 1953 but not widely circulated until the mid-1960s. Evola proposed Europe as the solution to modern society’s decline. Instead of offering a structured plan, Evola highlights the imperative of overcoming the crisis through Europe, delineating the necessary prerequisites and advisable strategies while cautioning against ineffective approaches. He wrote

The idea is gaining ground in the most conscious minds that […] the essential condition for Europe’s survival is to form a bloc, to become one, other than as an empty geographical designation on the same material level among the powers that tend to control the world. […] However, this situation of necessity gives rise to a double internal problem: […] if we want to give Europe a firm foundation […], we must take a stand against what is generally called “modern civilisation”, with appropriate initiatives in the sense of a spiritual and mental detoxification work; on the other hand, the problem of that kind of “metaphysics” with which today a national as well as a supranational, European principle of true authority and legitimacy can be founded.

The double problem can be translated into a double imperative. It remains to be seen who, and how many, will still be able to understand it in the midst of so many ruins.

In contrast, Thiriart, in his 1964 essay, asserted Europe was destined to be a nation, rooted in its shared past and cultural heritage. Consequently, Europe needed to regain its status as a world leader.

Europe has […] all the characteristics of a natural conglomerate, and because of its high level of culture and civilisation, and also because of its privileged central geographical position, it is destined, more than any other, to be the main factor of balance in the world and, at the same time, a condition of survival for Europeans. […] Europeans have a very important common past. This past is nothing compared to the gigantic common future that awaits them. For us, a nation is first and foremost a community of destiny. In principle, a nation is […] unity of historical destiny. When men [….] have reached an almost identical level of maturity, when they share a common culture, when geography makes them immediate neighbours, when they are threatened by the same dangers and the same enemies, then all the conditions are present for the formation of a nation. For us, nationalism is the desired identity of destiny for a great common project.

Taking a broader perspective on the two essays, both underscored the vital importance of Europe in shaping the continent’s political landscape. Thiriart posited that Europe’s demographic, economic, and cultural superiority, stemming from its historical contributions to civilization, positioned it uniquely. He expressed regret over Europe’s present dependency on both the United States and the USSR, which he believed limited its capacity to exert rightful leadership. Consequently, he urged Europe to regain its sovereignty to effectively fulfil its global responsibilities, emphasizing the importance of breaking free from influences originating from both the Western and Eastern blocs. Thiriart envisioned a free and unified Europe extending from Brest to Bucharest. On this point Evola disagreed because the reunification with Eastern Europe was necessary but not possible. He said that it was essential to create an organic Europe, in which each country would have its internal balance and than a higher authority would govern all of the countries. On the other hand, both rejected democracy as a valid political system, seeing in it a false kind of freedom. In fact, both criticized the parliamentary system and elections because they could easily be manipulated by external powers. Thus, they shared an anti-democratic, anti-liberal and anti-parliamentary vision, but they did not agree on a concrete proposal for the political organisation of Europe: Evola spoke of a federal empire while Thiriart was in favour of a collection of nations forming a single nation of Europe.

Despite their differences, these ideas continued to influence the European Far-right, shaping its political discourse during and after the Cold War. Their visions of Europe, though differing in approach, left enduring traces in Far-right ideology, reflecting ongoing debates within the movements.

 

 

Sources

J. Evola, Gli uomini e le rovine. Orientamenti, Roma, Edizioni mediterranee, 2015.

J. Evola, Orientamenti. Unidici punti, Padova, Ar, 2023.

J. Thiriart, Das vierte Reich: Europa, Lübeck, Riedel, 1966.

P. Missiaggia e M. Battarra (eds.), Europa nazione. Jean Thiriart il cavaliere eurasiatico e la Giovane Europa, Milano, AGA, 2021.

 



Cite this blog post
Editorial Board (2024, March 5). Europe as an antidote to the crisis of modernity: insights from two Far-right authors. (De)Constructing Europe. Retrieved June 13, 2024, from https://doi.org/10.58079/vyrb

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