Gli Uomini e le Rovine (1953/1972)
After the two world wars, Julius Evola (1898-1974) wrote the first version of this famous/notorious book. A few new versions saw the light and this English translation is based on the 1972 reprint. This English version is also famous/notorious, especially in the music scene were most of my music comes from, because of the involvement of Michael Moyniham (editor, translator) and Markus Wolff (translator). The book itself was translated by Guido Stucco, a foreword and another translation are from the hands of Joscelyn Godwin (a renowned writer of his own). There is a very long, but very interesting preface written by H.T. Hansen for a German version, but it was enlarged a bit by Hansen himself and translated to English by Moynihan. That as information of the publication that this review is based on.
I didn’t really plan on reading this almost purely political book of Evola, but in the end I decided to do so anyway and with no regret. Hansen in his 100 page preface puts Evola in the place where he belongs: a metaphysician so radical in his views that he got both friends, but also fierce enemies in the political spectrum from the left to the very far right. In fascism (Italy) and later National Socialism (Germany) Evola saw a possible return to an aristocratic society built on higher principles. He was disappointed in both currents and did not shy to speak of his reserves even when these parties were at power. In Men Among The Ruins Evola gives a guideline of how a pan-European political system should work and in doing so, he portrays his accurate and sharp view on developements of his time, that for a large part can still be found within our own society. He rages against democracy, communism and a whole range of ‘political systems’ which he (I think) gives his own terms, such as “Bonepartism”, “Machiavellism”, etc. Tendencies in society such as the ever growing materialism, craving for equality, economy, etc. are sabred down. In short I can say that almost any system, party or tendency is burned to the ground by the extremely elitaristic thinker, with words so fierce that I had to laugh out loud numerous times. What you get may seem like an alternative, but later (Cavalcare le Tigre (1961)) the writer admits that his efforts have been futile. In a way Man Among The Ruins is a political handbook which offers systems, ideas and even a worldview for those looking for a “conservative revolutionary” ideology. Evola does not spare anyone though, so the parties for which this book could have been intended, often feel offended (and not without reason). It is not for nothing that Evola came to regard himself as “apolitical” and “fascist nor anti-fascist” and his whole system of ideas can only be appreciated by people who do not feel easily personally attacked. With this in mind the book is hardly a handbook, because Evola does not seem to have had many people with similar ideas. Nowadays -however- now that the taboos arisen by the world wars and the reactions after it seem to crumble down a bit, Evola has a growing attention of scholars and random readers that do not necessarily are politically radical, people like myself. I agree with the writer about the idea that we have lost the Tradition and especially the spiritual way of living. Too much stress came on the lower ratio and the ‘voice of the masses’ which both for some reason enjoy an ever growing respect. Something got lost and we can see that all around us. Evola puts a few alternatives beside that, but his ideas are very utopical (and he realised that himself later). Still Men Among The Ruins is a book that you can read for some radically different views that force you to overthink your own. Be warned though, you have to be able to stand reading about fascism, racism, etc. in neutral and positive ways (but with Evola’s ideas in mind as shown in the preface, this becomes easier) and not shy harsch words on ‘holy houses’. Evola was an interesting thinker, too radical for his own good and with too much stress on some parts of his worldview, but personally I am of the opinion that he deserves to be read with the necessary warnings, but also relativations and with him put where he belongs, not where he is put by people with other agendas.
Added to the book itself is Evola’s defence statement from when he was sued for glorifying fascism (among other things). In it you can see how intelligent the man was and well able to stand up for himself. He was fully acquitted of the charges.
Read quotes of Evola here.