Defence

In April 1951, Julius Evola was arrested at his residence on the Corso Vittorio Emanuele by members of the Political Police of Rome. He was accused of having been the « intellectual leader », the « inspirer », with his « nebulous theories », of a group of young men who themselves were accused of having set up underground combat organisations : the F.R.A (Fasces of Revolutionary Action), and the ‘Black Legion’, a neo-fascist-orientated group, and who were charged with attempting to rehabilitate Fascism and with « having attempted to re-form the disbanded Fascist party ».

It was perfectly consistent with the intolerant logic of democracy to throw in jail a man such as Julius Evola, described by the officers leading the investigation as « spiritual father of all the indicted. » And the fact that he was certainly the first person in Italy to have been incarcerated for his convictions by the post-war democratic regime is not devoid of significance. It is no more than the exact truth to say that he accepted this unexpected misadventure with the most complete indifference. Hard though the conditions of his detention in the Regina Coeli Prison (sic) were, the experiences which he had undergone throughout in his life had been such as to make it impossible for his serene detachment to be affected by them. So much so that, reading his self-defence, we sometimes gain the impression of a sort of amusement on his part, in this confrontation with accusers as biased and dishonest as they were culturally clueless.

His trial began in the first days of October, 1951, at the Court of Assizes of Rome. The case for Evola’s defence was presented by Francesco Carnelutti, a famous advocate and a man of character, whose formation, both cultural and ideological, was nevertheless quite far removed from that of Evola.

Contrarily to what has been alleged elsewhere, the prosecution demanded a sentence of eight months in prison for Evola, and was far from content with his acquittal for lack of proof. However, the hearings ended with this result on the 20th of November, 1951, and Evola was discharged.

Defence

Gentlemen of the Court!

The charge on the basis of which I was originally arrested is based upon Article 1 of Law Number 1546 of 1947 (1) : that, with others, I sought to promote, by means of various organisations, and especially of the one which is claimed to lie behind the youngsters of Imperium (2), the reconstitution of the disbanded Fascist party. This accusation deserves not more than two words : it is completely unfounded.

No facts whatever have been adduced against me which could make anyone think that my relations with any of these groups developed otherwise than on the purely intellectual and doctrinal plane which concerns the state, ethics and one’s vision of life. I must state that these relations, though tendentiously and arbitrarily highlighted by police headquarters, have not been of greater importance than those I have had with various other groups, monarchical, nationalist, or independent, such as, for example, Il Nazionale of E.M.Gray or Il Meridiano d’Italia (MSI). Certainly, towards the youngsters of Imperium I felt particularly inclined for these two reasons : first, because they insisted on the necessity of an inner, spiritual revolution of the individual as presupposition of the political struggle – and the director of Imperium, Erra, in his cross-examination, has made this point very clear – and, in the second place, because, among all the currents of the MSI, this group defended right-wing positions, linked to spiritual and hierarchical values, as against the socialistic tendency widely represented in that party.

Clandestine organised initiatives are completely foreign to me and I have not heard of any such initiatives. In the face of certain activist stirrings, I have often urged that arms should not be supplied to the adversary by any such initiatives, arguing that no serious person could imagine, given the international situation, that the preconditions are at all present in Italy for either a true revolution or an anti-democratic coup d’état. I stated exactly this, not only in a letter that the police headquarters have sequestered, and which they were very careful not to produce, but also – for example – in an article in Il Nazionale, ‘Trarre partito dall’ostacolo’ (‘Taking Advantage of Obstacles Themselves’), in which I said that the greater penalties provided for the purpose of anti-Fascist repression by the new Scelba bill should encourage the salutary renunciation of exterior and more or less anachronistic forms of expression and activism, and lead us to focus instead on serious doctrinal preparation.

Although they speak of « ideological complicity », no incitement to terrorist or clandestine actions, even indirect or unintentional, has been found by them in any of my writings. Police headquarters, in their report, try absurdly to establish a connection between the constitution of the ‘Black Legion’, on the one hand, and a point in my essay ‘Orientamenti’, in which I said that the tragic character of our times requires a sort of ‘Legionarism’, on the other. But I explain in that work exactly what I mean by this : namely, Legionarism not as an organisation, but as a Spirit, an inner attitude. Here are the precise words : « I speak of the attitude of one who knows how to choose the hardest path, of one who is capable of fighting on, even knowing that the battle is materially lost, and who assumes the ancient principle, that faithfulness is stronger than fire. » (‘Orientamenti’, pp. 5-6). I discuss this further (p. 22), when speaking of « the man standing among the ruins ». This simply concerns an ethical, heroic, spiritual attitude. This cannot be misunderstood, and if nevertheless it is misunderstood, I am not responsible for the misunderstanding. Nor have I ever encouraged the formation of parties or subversive movements. I reject the very concept of parties. Here is how (p. 6), I present the task before us : « A silent revolution, commencing in the depths, so that it is at first in the interior of the individual that the premises of that order are created, which, at the right moment, will be able to affirm itself externally, supplanting in a fulminating manner the forms and forces of a world of decay and corruption ». If I may cite two other excerpts (p. 5) : « to raise oneself, to rise again inwardly, to give to oneself a form, to create in oneself an order and an uprightness », instead of « going against the demagogy and the materialism of the masses, » and to align oneself – this is what I said, verbatim – « against those who only manage to think in terms of programmes, problems of organisation, and parties. » (pp. 6-7) : « In the face of a faceless world, whose principles are ‘No-one requires you to do anything at all,’ ‘First the stomach, then morality,’ and ‘These are not times in which one can afford the luxury of having a character,’ I say finally : ‘This is our path, this is our nature. What can be achieved today or tomorrow will not be achieved through the ability of agitators or political schemers, but through the natural prestige and recognition of men of quality who take responsibility for their own thought. » Apparently, I, who advocate remaining, despite this whole world of ruins, on such a level of high ethical tension, am, as the police headquarters express it, an « evil and dark character » – an instigator of youthful fanaticism!

I shall now turn to the second charge, which is that I propound « exalted ideas peculiar to Fascism » in articles published in various issues of the reviews La Sfida and Imperium, and in my essay ‘Orientamenti’, these being « many consecutive actions of the same criminal design. »

In this respect, I must above all highlight a significant positive fact.

This offence has been attributed to me only on the second thoughts of the public prosecutor ; it does not appear in the charge he presented when he interviewed me. It is obvious that it is an expedient, a ‘tactical shift’, an attempt to secure a consolation prize in the predictable event of the collapse of the first and principal charge. One need only glance at the dates of the inculpated writings to be convinced of this : they originate between six months and two whole years before my arrest. ‘Orientamenti’ bears the date 1950, although it was in fact published a year before that, and, what is more, it is a summary of articles already published elsewhere, compiled on the initiative of a group which is other than Imperium and which merely availed itself of the distribution network of this review. How on earth can it be that, after so incredibly long a time, awareness dawned of these « consecutive actions of the same criminal design »? There are two possibilities : either it is necessary to admit that the political surveillance of the press has a really singular rhythm and promptness ; or it is necessary to admit the other hypothesis, the only sensible one, which is to say : these writings were chosen – as opposed to a great many other writings of mine, of the same spirit, some much more recent, published in newspapers equally carefully scrutinised by the political police, such as Il Meridiano d’Italia, Rivolta Ideale, and Lotta Politica – not for their intrinsic content, but solely for the reason that they were published in the papers of the group Imperium, in order to establish a non-existent complicity on my part in the alleged illegal organised initiatives of this group. Such a trick cannot but become evident to the eyes of an objective judge.

This is not all. The original report from police headquarters hardly addresses at all the alleged offence of « rehabilitating Fascism » that I supposedly commit via these writings of mine. Arrogating to themselves the competence, the authority and the function of judge in the fields of higher culture, philosophy, and racial doctrine, not fearing to delve to the fundaments of all I have said on Darwinism, on psychoanalysis, and on existentialism, this report of the Political Police seeks to denigrate me as a writer, presenting me as a dilettante only known by conventicles of esotericists, who, with his philosophical-magical morbid theories – they go so far as to speak of « insania mentis« ! – intoxicates the young neo-Fascists and is responsible for their inconsiderate actions. And to cap it all, it turns out from this report that its compiler has no idea what the word ‘esoterism’ means!

Thus we find ourselves in a field which goes completely beyond the positive matter of the charge, which refers to Article 7. And, even though it is extremely unpleasant to talk about oneself, a short rectification of this twisted caricature of my figure is necessary.

If I was only a dilettante and a fanatic, unknown outside the indicated conventicles, one asks oneself why on earth first-rate publishers – such as Laterza, the publisher of Croce, Bocca and Hoepli – should have printed various works of mine, including some which dealt with racism. More than one of these works have been reprinted, and several have been translated into various foreign languages. One also asks oneself why I should have been invited to present entire courses of lectures at Italian universities – Milan, Florence (3) – as well as in foreign ones – Halle, Hamburg – and been invited to speak to foreign societies open only to the leading representatives of traditional and aristocratic European thought – such as the « Herrenklub » of Berlin, Countess Zichy’s « Association of Culture » in Budapest, and Prince de Rohan’s « Kulturbund » in Vienna?

What they seek to present as unbalanced, dark, « magical », theories are in reality systematic studies of metaphysics, orientalism, asceticism, the science of myths and symbols ; studies, I reiterate, which have received considerable praise abroad. I will limit myself, in this respect, to pointing out that, this year, Luzac of London, the most prominent publishers in Europe in this field, published a work of mine on Buddhism, ‘The Doctrine of Awakening’.

The police report calls for correction in another area, namely, with respect to racism. Seeking again to show me in a tendentious light, they present me as a fanatical Nazi-Fascist, who, in his lectures abroad, attacked Latinity and denigrated Italianity, to the advantage of the Aryo-Germanic idea, something which apparently caused concern even to the Fascist hierarchs when their consulates informed them of it.

All this is a misunderstanding derived from incompetence and defective information.

It is necessary to know that, in modern racial studies, ‘Aryan’, and even ‘Nordic’, do not at all mean ‘German’ : the word ‘Aryan’ is, rather, synonymous with ‘Indo-European’, and properly designates a primordial, prehistoric race, from which the first creators of the Indian, Persian, Hellenic, and Roman civilisations are derived, and of which the Germans are only a late branch run somewhat to the wild. All this is indicated in the clearest manner in my works ‘Revolt against the Modern World’ and ‘Sintesi di Dottrina della Razza’. The racism which I have defended, far from being an ‘extremism’, is part of my attempt in various contexts to correct ideas which, both in Fascism and in National Socialism, were developing in a deviated direction. I opposed, to materialistic and vulgarly anti-Semitic racism, a spiritual racism, by introducing the concept of « race of the spirit » and developing on this basis an original doctrine. To the Aryan-Germanic ideal, defended by National Socialism, I opposed the Aryan-Roman ideal ; I indeed attacked the confused idea of Latinity, not in favour of the Germanic idea, but rather to exalt the concept of pure Romanity, conceived of as a much more august and original force than merely what is generically Latin.

This is not all. The police prosecutor seems to be unaware that this lecture of mine of which he speaks, whose title, significantly, was ‘The Aryan-Roman Revolution of Fascist Italy’, was given in various German towns, and was translated into Italian and published in Rassegna Italia (4). I attach here the text, in which I stressed what aid the ancient, classic, and Roman idea could offer for the purpose of rectifying various then fashionable ideas in Germany and leading them to a higher, spiritual, level. It is possible that some Italian consul abroad, not having any comprehension of these studies, may have sent alarming reports. But, as regards the supposed worry which my racism purportedly awakened even among the Fascist hierarchs, things were quite different to what the police suggest. After my lectures, Mussolini, of his own accord, arranged to speak to me, to express his approval of my racist formulations, because he believed they were able to ensure an independent position, or rather a superiority, with respect to National Socialist ideologies, for Italian thought – Dr. Luchini, the former head of the Office of Race, could give a precise deposition on this matter (5). And I must say that this recognition spontaneously shown by Mussolini to a non-Fascist, that is to say to a non-party member, is one of the most gratifying memories of my life. However, I should say that the theory of race, in relation to the body of my ideas as a whole, is only quite a subordinate matter, of secondary importance, despite what some believe.

When, therefore, the police report suggests that, during a certain period of Fascism, I would have been « watched » for obscurely indicated motives – personal and, they add, for… magical activity – in this it lacks, to say the least, decency ; they should recall to whom, in cases of this type, they themselves offered their obedience – their officials all joined the Fasces, while I never did. Since I retained the capacity for independent thought, in Fascism I had either devoted friends, or deadly enemies, who sought by every means to undermine me, spreading rumours and nonsense of all sorts. Among these enemies were Starace and his confederates, who even sought to use the police headquarters of that time, with worthless results. And today it seems that the police headquarters do not hesitate to unearth all those old stories against me : used yesterday to make me appear anti-Fascist and today instead to confirm the accusation of Fascism.

Why is it not reported, rather, that in 1930 the Political Police commanded me to suspend the newspaper I edited, La Torre? And for what reasons? For « attacks on Squadrism ». In fact, of course, I had not attacked Squadrism in itself, but only certain crooks, protected by Starace, who used Fascism and Squadrism to accomplish all sorts of things, and who, to get the better of me, used the police itself. I am not seeking in the slightest to present myself either as an anti-Fascist or as the victim of Fascism. But all this must duly be recalled, to explain the methods which they are trying to use against me.

Now that all this has been stated and any tendentious outline has been removed, let us get to the point : the charge of having defended « ideas peculiar to Fascism ». Here I am utterly perplexed, because the accusation does not mention the articles in question, nor does it – as is usual – indicate some specific excerpts which would correspond to the elements of the offence, nor, finally, more generally, does it indicate what these « ideas peculiar to Fascism » would be.

(Here the prosecutor, Dr. Sangiorgi, declares that it is not a matter of specific excerpts from the writings of Evola, but of their general spirit. As for the « ideas peculiar to Fascism », he adds that, for him, they can be referred to monocracy, to hierarchism, and to the concept of aristocracy or elitism. After all this, at his request, is written down, Evola carries on) :

All right. As for monocracy, this is just a different name for monarchy, in the original, not necessarily dynastic, sense of the word. As for hierarchism, I must say immediately : I defend the idea of hierarchy, not of hierarchism. Having said that, I should add that, if these are the terms of accusation, I should have the honour of seeing seated in the dock with me such persons as Aristotle, Plato, the Dante of ‘de Monarchia’, and so on up to Metternich and Bismarck. I reject the accusation of defending ideas peculiar to Fascism, because the expression « peculiar » contained in Article 7 means specifically ideas which were not simply present in Fascism, but which can be found only in Fascism, and not elsewhere.

Now, as far as I am concerned, this is absolutely not the case. I defended, and continue to defend, « Fascist ideas », not insofar they are « Fascist », but to the extent that they resume a tradition higher than, and anterior to, Fascism, to the extent that they belong to the heritage of the hierarchical, aristocratic and traditional conception of the state, a conception of a universal character which maintained itself in Europe until the French Revolution. In reality, the positions which I defended, and continue to defend, as an independent man – because I never joined any party, neither the PNF, nor the PRF, nor the MSI (6) – cannot be called « Fascist », but rather traditional and counter-revolutionary. In the same spirit as Metternich, Bismarck or the great Catholic philosophers of the principle of authority, de Maistre and Donoso Cortés, I oppose in the name of the ‘World of Tradition’ all that, directly or indirectly, derives from the French Revolution and which, according to me, has as its final result Bolshevism. All this emerges in the clearest manner from my fundamental work, handed to the Court, ‘Revolt against the Modern World’, whose two parts are entitled, specifically, ‘The World of Tradition’ and ‘Genesis and Face of the Modern World’. In the preface, I indicate that this book is the key to understanding my explicitly political writings properly ; and here is how the English critic McGregor speaks about this work, in a comment reproduced in the second edition : « more than the masterpiece of the Italian Spengler, I would call this book the bulwark of the traditional and aristocratic spirit ». This position of mine is quite well-known, and not only in Italy. In a very recent book by the Swiss historian A. Mohler (‘Die konservative Revolution’, Stuttgart, 1950, pp. 21, 241, 242), I am done the honour of being put side by side with Pareto and I am considered as the main Italian representative of « conservative revolution ».

This is why, as far as I am concerned, there are no grounds whatsoever for speaking of the rehabilitation of « ideas peculiar to Fascism ». My principles are simply those which, before the French Revolution, any person of noble birth would have considered healthy and normal. I leave indefinite, today, the dynastic and institutional question ; nevertheless, what I wrote, in the inculpated articles and in ‘Orientamenti’, could just as well be interpreted as defences of the monarchical and hierarchical pre-constitutional and traditional idea, defences which are still not punishable by any law, because, if Article 1 of the exceptional law has its counterpart in Article 2, which forbids the restoration of monarchy – at least by violent means – Article 7 has no counterpart banning ‘monarchical’ ideology.

As for historical Fascism, if I supported those aspects of it which can be seen to receive their justification from the ideas I have outlined, I also fought against those aspects of it which I felt to be more or less the effect of the materialist political climate of recent times, and consequently, criticism of what is vulgarly considered to be Fascism today is frequent in these writings of mine which my opponents seek to inculpate. I will limit myself to a few essential points.

[1] I opposed totalitarianism in the name of the ideal of an organic, differentiated state, and consider « Fascist hierarchicalism » a deviation. In ‘Orientamenti’ (pp. 13-14), I state that totalitarianism represents a wrong direction and the abortion of the requirement for a manly and organic political unity. « Hierarchy is not hierarchicalism – this latter is an evil, which, unfortunately, to a minor degree, seeks to pullulate again – and the organic conception has nothing to do with statolatric sclerosis or with levelling centralisation. » I took an even more explicit and energetic stand against totalitarianism in an article, which I proffer to the Court, entitled « Organic state and Totalitarianism », which was published in Lotta Politica, the official organ of the MSI. I defended the same thesis, on the plane of culture, in the inculpated journal, Imperium (no. 2), where, I criticise the ideas of the writer Steding, recognising with him that the evil from which modern culture suffers is particularism, due to the paralysis of a central guiding idea, but opposing the totalitarian solution, in which there is no spiritual, organised and transcendent principle, but merely the brute political will tyrannically to subdue and standardise culture, the limiting case of which is found in Sovietism.

[2] A specifically Fascist conception was that of the so-called « ethical state » of Gentile. I opposed him quite bluntly in ‘Orientamenti’ (pp. 20-21).

[3] Some like to depict Fascism as a « sinister tyranny ». In the period of this « tyranny », nothing like the present situation ever happened to me. Whatever the outcome of this situation may be, the motto from Tacitus which I endorse in ‘Orientamenti’ is « The supreme nobility of the leaders is not to be owners of slaves, but masters who love freedom also in those who obey them. » (p. 14)

[4] I reject any demagogic-dictatorial solution to the problem of sovereignty. True authority, I say there (p.15), cannot be that of « a tribune or a populist leader, the holder of a mere formless spiritual power, lacking any higher chrism and depending rather on the precarious prestige conjured from the irrational forces of the masses ». In what is called « Bonapartism » I see « one of the dark apparitions of the Spenglerian ‘decline of the West' », and I recall the sentence of Carlyle about « the world of the domestics which wants to be ruled by a pseudo-hero. » (pp. 12-13)

[5] I repeatedly attacked the theory of ‘socialisation’, which, as is well-known, was a watchword of the Fascism of Salò. I did not adhere to the doctrine of Salò, the so-called Verona Programme, but I approved the attitude of those who fought in the North on the principle of honour and fidelity. In socialisation I see a disguised Marxism, a demagogic tendency. On this, see ‘Orientamenti’ (pp. 11-12), and more than a third of the inculpated article ‘Due Intransigenze’ (‘Two Intransigences’) (Imperium, no.4). As a matter of fact, the real effect which I wished to have on the youngsters of the Imperium group, and of other youth currents, was in the sense of an opposition to the materialist and left-wing tendencies present in the MSI.

[6] The defence of the corporatist ideal does not constitute a crime, given that it is found in legal parties of today, for example, the PNM (7) and the MSI, and even in some currents of political Catholicism as well. Anyway, I was critical of certain aspects of corporatism, such as its tendency to become a mere bureaucratic superstructure beneath which class hostility persisted ; I opposed to this an organic and non-class-based reconstruction of the factory economy (pp. 12-13).

Finally, I shall mention briefly the theses contained in my articles in the first issue of Imperium and in La Sfida.

The former simply recalls what the meaning of the word Imperium was in the original Romanity : how it was synonymous with auctoritas and with power derived from divine forces, from above. I affirm there that the crisis of the modern political world reflects the crisis of this principle or power, and of the heroic values which were linked to it.

The article in La Sfida, signed with the pseudonym « Arthos », and reproduced in ‘Orientamenti’ (pp. 8-9), is based on the principle of Metternich : « With subversion one does not make a pact. » Starting from Engels’ proposition that liberal revolution just prepares for, and works for, communist revolution, I argue that, since communists base their subversive radicalism on this axiom, it is from here also that one must start if one wishes to act in the opposite direction, that is in the counter-revolutionary one of a true reconstruction, without making concessions to subversion.

Neither references to Fascism nor to the men of Fascism can be found in either of these texts. I shall conclude.

Having demonstrated merely from the inculpated writings – limiting the discussion to them and refraining from referring, as one should do, according to scientific honesty, to my books – that I am against totalitarianism, against demagogic dictatorship, against the « ethical state », against any form of desacralised authority, against a « merely individual and formless power », against despotism – see Tacitus’ words – against socialisation, even against a certain corporativism, I ask what remains and where on earth the offence of ‘rehabilitating Fascism’ can be discerned.

In fact, the main ideas which I have defended, as I have said, may be present in Fascism, but they are not « peculiar » to Fascism, as Article 7 would require. What remains is essentially part of the domain of ethics and of the conception of life and, as for politics, it boils down to a traditional and, if you like, « reactionary » attitude of intransigence, a resolute stand against subversion, individualism, collectivism, demagogy, in any form it appears, against the world of political schemers and people without character.

Thus, what the Court, as far as I am concerned, is called to decide is whether the climate of present Italy is such that one who, declaring his desire to remain outside any partisan or organised activity, defends such positions as these, on the plane of pure doctrine, should expect to be brought before a tribunal and accused of « ideological offences ».

Julius EVOLA

 

(1) The so-called Scelba bill, to which Evola refers again subsequently. This was an anti-Fascist bill which became law in 1953.

 

(2) A monthly edited by Enzo Erra, of which four issues were published : the first three (May-June 1950) contain the articles by Evola which caught the attention of the Political Police and which were the basis for the essay ‘Orientamenti’ (‘Orientations’).

 

(3) The lecture courses on the problems of race were given at the request of Minister Bottai at the University of Milan in March-April 1940 and at the University of Florence in December 1941.

 

(4) This appears as ‘Il significato di Roma per lo spirito ‘olimpico’ germanico’ (‘The signification of Rome for the ‘Olympian’ Germanic spirit’), in the November 1942 issue, and was republished in a modified form in ‘L’Arco e la Clava’ (1968).

 

(5) This meeting took place on 12th of September, 1941.

 

(6) Evola applied to join the PNF at the end of 1939, only because membership was a precondition for army service. The request was denied in May 1943!

 

(7) Partito Nazionale Monarchico: a monarchist party founded in 1947 which « won a few electoral successes » (sic) in the 1950’s.

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