Anyone who was waded through online conspiracy theories has no doubt encountered ample stories and allegations surrounding Aleister Crowley: that the famed British magi was a Satanist and intelligence asset engaged in nefarious schemes and that he left a fanatical group of followers in his wake that manage a shadowy underground network engaged in terrorism, drugs, pedophilia and ritual murder. Or something along those lines.
While there can be no doubt that Crowley was an occultist (but not a Satanist, as if often alleged) and that he had a relationship with British intelligence, much of everything else one encounters in this regard concerning Crowley is highly suspect, to say the least. This is partly the result of the Christian right's obsession with some type of Satanic conspiracy at the heart of modern liberalism and/or the New Age movement.
If they were to set their gaze upon the murky netherworld of what is commonly referred to as "Traditionalism," they would be on much firmer footing.
Traditionalism is a philosophical school that emerged in the early twentieth century. It derived in part from perennial philosophy, the notion that all of the world's great religions all share a similar origin. To Traditionalists, this philosophy has been gradually lost and/or degraded in the West since roughly the onset of the Renaissance. It went into overdrive in the twentieth century with the increasing abandonment of traditional social structures and the rise of materialism in both communist and capitalist societies.
In the years following the First World War Traditionalism became increasingly associated with fascism. One of the most influential thinkers in Traditionalism was Julius Evola, who briefly courted Mussolini before his views were deemed to extreme for Italian fascism. From there Evola's gaze would shift to Nazism, which he ultimately found too tame as well. He saw both ideologies as displaying great potential but ultimately being derailed by the pandering to the Church and the working class that both Mussolini and Hitler engaged in.
Evola, a philosopher and occultist, was in many ways everything the conspiratorial right has long accused Crowley of being. In the post-war years he appears to have played a key role in the spread of right wing terrorism and US intrigues in the Italian state and beyond.
"Evola and members of the radical fascist group Fasci d'Azione Rivoluzionaria (FAR) were arrested in April 1951 and charged with plotting to overthrow the state. The crackdown was orchestrated by Christian Democratic Interior Minister Mario Scelba in conjunction with SIFAR, Italy's postwar secret service. After six months in jail, Evola was charged with being 'the spiritual father' of FAR. Although ultimately acquitted of the charges, his arrest had clearly been a warning from the Christian Democratic establishment, as well as the CIA, to get in line.
"Two years later Evola published Gli uomini e la rovine (Men Among the Ruins), in which he seemingly abandoned his anti-American stance. He now argued that 'the immediate task is that of "reinforcing the state," while malgre soi [in spite of oneself] keeping it within the Western alliance (malgre soi because American materialism is as much an enemy of traditional values as Russian totalitarian collectivism).'
"What did Evelyn mean by 'reinforcing the state'? And why did he now argue for keeping Italy 'within the Western alliance'? Had he yielded to American pressure? Or did his decision have something to do with the fact that Men Among the Ruins was published in 1953, shortly after Allen Dulles became the new director of the CIA? One clue comes from the man who wrote the introduction to the book, Prince Junio Valerio Borghese, the 'Black Prince' of Italian far-right politics...
"At the end of the war Borghese opened up contact with the OSS's James Jesus Angleton. Angleton, who later became one of the CIA's most powerful officials, ran the OSS's 'X-2' counterintelligence branch for Italy during the war. He personally saved Borghese from certain partisan execution by dressing him up in an American uniform and driving him south to Rome for interrogation. Although Borghese was convicted of war crimes, the Italian Supreme Court of Appeals ordered him released from jail in 1949. After regaining his freedom, the Black Prince became a hero for MSI hard-liners.
"Borghese was also courted by the American embassy, the Vatican, and the Christian Democrats. All them wanted him to become the leader of the new pro-NATO 'national front' because the MSI was still considered an unreliable 'hotbed of anti-American and anti-Atlantic sentiment' that could hinder Italian integration into the Western alliance 'unless the party's moderates were able to obtain control and enforce internal discipline.' Given his reputation, the CIA believed that Borghese was the perfect candidate to lead the new front. The MSI, however, was terrified of losing him. Some Salo veterans visited his castle at Artena to warn him about 'reactionary forces' behind the 'national front' and begged him to join the MSI. MSI Secretary Augusto De Marsanich even offered to make him the group's honorary president. The Evolians also hoped that he would help in the struggle against the MSI's parliamentary 'softs.' Borghese officially join the MSI in November 1951, and one month later, on 2 December 1951, he became the MSI's honorary president.
"Borghese's importance for the CIA went beyond politics. The CIA-backed SIFAR spy agency began organizing secret squadrons (many composed of ex-officials of the SID, Mussolini's a secret police) for espionage and 'counter-espionage' operations against the left in 1949. The CIA then created an underground army of ex-fascist combat veterans in an operation codenamed 'Operation Gladio' (Gladio being the name for a Roman double-edged sword). Gladio, however, couldn't succeed without Borghese's tactic approval."
(Dreamer of the Day, Kevin Coogan, pgs. 330-332)
Operation Gladio was eventually expanded throughout West Europe by the CIA and Pentagon. In theory this secret army would launch a guerrilla war against the Soviet Union in the event of Western Europe being overrun and occupied.
That was the theory, anyway. The actuality appears to have been quite different. Gladio forces were overwhelming recruited from the far right and ample evidence has surfaced over the year to indicate that their primary purposes was to launch terror attacks in Europe that could be blamed on the Communists and left in general. This was to ensure that Western Europe remained in the NATO camp throughout the Cold War.
This blog has already addressed Gladio operations in Italy during the so-called "Years of Lead" before here. More information on Gladio's role in Belgium's "Bloody Eighties" can be found here and here.
The great Kevin Coogan firmly believed that Evola collaborated with US officials to launch Gladio. Later, he appears to have provided the ideological basis for a new generation of neo-fascist terrorists to sign on with it.
"Seen in this context, the fact that Prince Borghese wrote the introduction to Men Among the Ruins takes on special significance. Franco Ferraresi's commentary on Evola's idea of the State as expressed in the book also takes on an added level of meaning:
The notion of using the forces of the 'true Right' for the defense of the State against subversion corresponds to a lasting concern of Evola's. Industrial society has made the State a hostage in the hands of trade unions and organize masses, which can jam the whole machinery with strikes and sabotage. The Army and the police, 'given the level reached in Italy by the communist gangrene,' might not be able to provide an adequate defense. Hence the need, for the right, to gradually organize a close network of task forces, 'ready to quickly intervene against all possible emergencies,' in order first and foremost to uphold 'against the rabble, the State and its authority (even when it's an "empty State").'
"Evola's Gladio-like notion of 'reinforcing the State,' even an 'empty state,' operated on two levels. Networks of fascist loyalist in the armed forces and intelligence services now pushed closer and closer to centers of power, using the imminent danger of communism or terrorism (from either the 'left' or 'right') as justification for their rise. These networks also sponsored far-right paramilitary shock-troops to intervene in crisis situations. The most important of these groups was Giuseppe 'Pino' Rauti's Ordine Nuovo (New Order, or ON), which split from the MSI after its 1956 congress chanting, 'Fewer double-breasted suits and more cudgels.' Rauti's move was ideologically inspired by Evola, whom Rauti worshiped. Rauti also maintained close ties to Italian military intelligence. Organizations like Ordine Nuovo were regularly employed as street fighters against the left; they also engaged in bombings and killings, and helped create a popular climate for more repressive measures against 'anarchy' from either the right or left – a kind of political yen/yang that justified the flourishing of the secret state. As part of the strategy of tension, rightist operatives and police agents used left and anarchist groups that they had created, or legitimate sects that had been infiltrated. By the 1970s the social crisis in Italy had also given rise to an entire independent subculture of armed sects on both the left and the right."
(Dreamer of the Day, Kevin Coogan, pgs. 333-334)
While the Ordine Nuovo was certainly one of the most notorious fascist terror networks in Italy during this era, it was hardly the only one to be heavily influenced by Evola.
"In another right-wing manual of the period, La lotta politica di Avanguardia Nazionale (1974-75), the so-called black bomber, Stefano Delle Chiaie, portrayed his followers in Avanguardia Nazionale as an Evolian 'elite of heroes.' Moreover, when Clemente Graziani, the leader of the Movimento Politico Ordine Nuovo (MPON), following Pino Rauti's return to the MSI in 1969, sought to defend the need for a truly revolutionary right-wing organization in Italy, he patterned his argument, in Processo a Ordine Nuovo, processo alle idee, on Evolian ideas. The bibliography of this tract was made up almost entirely of books by Evola. Graziani stated succinctly that 'the work of Ordine Nuovo from 1953 to today has been that of transferring Evola's teachings to the political plane.' On the question of violence, he reminded his readers, 'We are not Christians.' No, they were revolutionaries in the civil war that had already erupted would fight: 'we intend to react, in a virile manner, responsibly, but to react....' Graziani did not oppose violence on principle; but then he asked who did. Perhaps not even the bourgeois revolutionaries, who thought violent acts against the established order of their day had founded the modern Italian state, now in its death agony...
"Cavalcare la tigre also made a deep impression on the neofascist generation of 1977 – those youths who believe that only a violent rejection of the status quo would enable Italy to escape a dual enslavement, to Marx and to Coca-Cola. For them Evola was a beacon in the long night of Italy's spiritual crisis, and they turned to him for instruction on how to validate themselves in a worthless age. What they learned, particularly from Evola's final homilies, was the paramount need to do battle against the forces of darkness, the Christian Democrats and Communists. 'Nothing in the system deserves to be saved,' Evola exhorted, and the implications of his exhortations were not very subtle. For example, in 1970 he wrote, 'It is not a question of contesting and polemicizing, but of blowing up everything.' Three years later Evola was warning his followers about the imminent decisive hours as the Left, emboldened by the undoing of Italy's government, prepared to take power. Only armed resistance offered the Right any hope of victory, he counseled
"If Salierno's testimony is reliable, we can conclude that all along Evola, in his private audiences with right-wing youths, freely advocated violence without truce. Toward the end of his life, even in his public statements on the question of terrorism, Evola hardly bothered to conceal his true sentiment, that terrorism should be ruled out only when the odds against it success were overwhelming. He added, however, that if 'the person responsible for this contemporary subversion [could be kept] in a constant state of physical insecurity, that would be an excellent thing.' Evola's message here resembled Marx's view of terrorism in The Civil War in France: not to be employed indiscriminately, but only when the authentic revolutionary cause will be served effectively by it. As the German poet Gottfried Benn (1886-1956) had written more than thirty years earlier in an admiring review of La rivolta contro il mondo moderno, Evola appeals to those 'black monks' who await the stroke of midnight; 'when the time is full they will guide the forces of the resurrection.' "
(The Revolutionary Mystique and Terrorism in Contemporary Italy, Richard Drake, pgs. 131-132)
|Stefano Delle Chiaie, the infamous Evola acolyte and Gladio asset linked to terrorism throughout Europe and South America|
|Baron Benoit de Bonvoisin, the "Black Baron"|
|one variation of the Black Sun|
And now it would seem that Evola is enjoying something of a Renaissance. Throughout Europe and America, Evola is increasingly being cited as an influence by far right political parties and the American alt-right. The New York Times recently carried a curious article that outlined this resurgence:
"... Today, the Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn includes his works on its suggested reading list, and the leader of Jobbik, the Hungarian nationalist party, admires Evola and wrote an introduction to his works.
"More important for the current American administration, Evola also caught on in the United States with leaders of the alt-right movement, which Mr. Bannon nurtured as the head of Breitbart News and then helped harness for Mr. Trump.
" 'Julius Evola is one of the most fascinating men of the 20th century,' said Richard Spencer, the white nationalist leader who is a top figure in the alt-right movement, which has attracted white supremacists, racists and anti-immigrant elements.
"In the days after the election, Mr. Spencer led a Washington alt-right conference in chants of 'Hail Trump!' But he also invoked Evola’s idea of a prehistoric and pre-Christian spirituality — referring to the awakening of whites, whom he called the Children of the Sun...
"A March article titled 'An Establishment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right' in Breitbart, the website then run by Mr. Bannon, included Evola as one of the thinkers in whose writings the 'origins of the alternative right' could be found.
"The article was co-written by Milo Yiannopoulos, the right-wing provocateur who is wildly popular with conservatives on college campuses. Mr. Trump recently defended Mr. Yiannopoulos as a symbol of free speech after demonstrators violently protested his planned speech at the University of California, Berkeley."
But Evola's resurgence among the alt right is not the most intriguing aspect of The Times' article. Far more eyebrow raising is the fact that Steve Bannon, Trump's campaign manager turned "chief strategist" and recent addition to the National Security Council, is aware of Evola. The Times noted:
"Those trying to divine the roots of Stephen K. Bannon’s dark and at times apocalyptic worldview have repeatedly combed over a speech that Mr. Bannon, President Trump’s ideological guru, made in 2014 to a Vatican conference, where he expounded on Islam, populism and capitalism.
"But for all the examination of those remarks, a passing reference by Mr. Bannon to an esoteric Italian philosopher has gone little noticed, except perhaps by scholars and followers of the deeply taboo, Nazi-affiliated thinker, Julius Evola...
"As Mr. Bannon expounded on the intellectual motivations of the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, he mentioned 'Julius Evola and different writers of the early 20th century who are really the supporters of what’s called the Traditionalist movement, which really eventually metastasized into Italian Fascism.'..
"In his Vatican talk, Mr. Bannon suggested that although Mr. Putin represented a 'kleptocracy,' the Russian president understood the existential danger posed by 'a potential new caliphate' and the importance of using nationalism to stand up for traditional institutions.
" 'We, the Judeo-Christian West,' Mr. Bannon added, 'really have to look at what he’s talking about as far as Traditionalism goes — particularly the sense of where it supports the underpinnings of nationalism.' "
One is thus tempted to dismiss Bannon's mention of Evola as hyperbole on the part of the press at this point, and yet Breitbart (which Bannon ran prior to signing up with Trump) appears to have been promoting Evola in early 2016, months before Bannon signed up as Trump's campaign manager. While Bannon may be widely mocked, close associates insist that he is extremely intelligent and well read, both of which are frankly a prerequisite before tackling Evola. And no doubt Evola's ideology, which called for the infiltration and eventual conquest of the state by an initiated fascist elite, would have had a certain appeal to Bannon.
The New York Times of course can't resist a bit of Russian conspiracy theorizing. It goes on to note:
"As Mr. Bannon suggested in his speech, Mr. Putin’s most influential thinker is Aleksandr Dugin, the ultranationalist Russian Traditionalist and anti-liberal writer sometimes called 'Putin’s Rasputin.'
"An intellectual descendant of Evola, Mr. Dugin has called for a 'genuine, true, radically revolutionary, and consistent fascist fascism' and advocated a geography-based theory of 'Eurasianism' — which has provided a philosophical framework for Mr. Putin’s expansionism and meddling in Western European politics."Everything the mainstream media says about Russia should be taken with a heaping grain of salt, but there is some basis to what The Times is alleging. Russia does in fact possess a vigorous Traditionalist movement that Aleksandr Dugin helped spearhead. And Mr. Dugin did derive much of his influence from Evola, as did early Russian traditionalists.
"Golovin, Jamal and (later) Dugin worked on reconstructing Traditionalism from the books they found in the Lenin Library, sometimes attempting to guess the contents of unavailable books from their titles alone. Although Guenon's Symbolisme de la Croix was unavailable (held in the 'closed section' of the library), Evola's Pagan Imperialism (in the revised, more Traditionalist Leipzig edition of 1933) had been placed in the library's open collection when it was acquired in 1957 – whoever was responsible for these decisions obviously looked no deeper than the books' titles. Russian Traditionalists, though taking their lead from Guenon's explanations of modernity, generally reacted to it (after 1991, at least) more on the model of Evola."
(Against the Modern World, Mark Sedgwick, pg. 222)
"There were many reports that the Eurasian Movement received generous financial support from branches of associations of retired officers of the SVR and FSB, the foreign intelligence and domestic security agencies into which the Soviet KGB had been divided in 1991. Dugin's second-in-command in the Eurasian movement, Peter Yevgen'evich Suslov, was also a former intelligence officer. After service in the KGB's First Main Directorate, Suslov retired from the SVR as a colonel in 1995. According to one controversial and unconfirmed report, he had specialized in assassinations and was linked with Maxim Lazovsky, a former KGB and FSB officer implicated in allegedly fabricating 'Chechen terrorist' bombings in Moscow in 1994. Support from retired FSB and SVR officers does not definitely indicate the active support of serving officers or of the FSB itself, but it does imply at least a cooperative relationship with the FSB and the Kremlin. Given that President Putin himself had once served in the KGB's First Main Directorate (later the SVR), there was a tendency for intelligent officers to be entrusted with certain delicate tasks – not because those tasks were necessarily related to intelligence work, but because intelligence officers were seen as being trustworthy, reliable, and effective. There is thus a possibility that, in one way or another, Suslov was a Kremlin representative in the Eurasian Movement's leadership."
(Against the Modern World, Mark Sedgwick, pgs. 235-236)
|the emblem of the FSB|
Still, I find the bizarre spiritual overlap between elements of the American and Russia far right to be extremely interesting. As was noted before here, Rick Joyner and other radical Christian fundamentalists belonging to the Oak Initiative have also forged links with their counterparts in the World Public Forum, which was co-founded by Vladimir Yakunin, a close associate of Putin. If the evangelical have made common cause, would the resurgent Evolites not consider similar alliances?
Trump is not Putin's puppet, not by a long shot. But there does appear to be a surprising amount of overlap among the America and Russian Christian fundamentalists and Evolites among the far right. There are likely more than a few intelligence asset among this motley crew as well. And there does appear to be compelling evidence of organized crime links between Russian and the Trump team.
What it amounts too is that there appears to be some very shadowy and sinister non-state forces behind the resurgence of the far right across the globe and that this resurgence may be driven by some very warped spirituality. Where all of this is heading I do not pretend to know, but it will surely be unlike anything we have witnessed in the post-war years. And with that I shall sign off for now. Until next time dear readers.