Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Evola and Tolkein

A new article on how the thought of Julius Evola and J. R. R. Tolkien came together in Italian "Hobbit Camps" in the late 1970s and early 1980s has just been published by John Last. It is "How ‘Hobbit Camps’ Rebirthed Italian Fascism."

As Last shows, there was something of the (lowercase t) traditionalist about Tolkien, both in his dislike of modernity and his interest in ancient myth. This fitted well with the mood of the Italian Right, as did the work of Evola.

It would be interesting to know whether this is just coincidence, or whether there is a deeper connection. What inspired Tolkien, other than the myths he worked wth as a scholar?

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Traditionalism is now trendy

Traditionalism in now trendy. At least, it is the topic of an article in what may be the UK's trendiest magazine, Tank (pictured).
"This autumn, at a time when the world feels at its most divided – its most partisan – we’re throwing our very own Party Issue. While party politics in America are transformed into a school-canteen food fight, here in the UK there has been a resurgence in political party membership. From the history of Notting Hill carnival to the etymological roots of the word “party”; from an LSD library to the rise of Traditionalist philosophy, our contributors include the acclaimed novelist Ottessa Moshfegh, the writers Charlie Fox, Emily Segal and Justin E.H. Smith, and the photographers Osma Harvilahti and Jody Rogac, among many more."
Among the "many more" is Mark Sedgwick, with "The ideology of the new paradigm."

Saturday, September 02, 2017

How the New Right gained traction

A PhD dissertation on the New Right, covering also the impact of Traditionalism, has just been successfully defended at Aarhus University. The dissertation was by Jacob Christiansen Senholt, entitled “Identity Politics of the European New Right: Inspirations, Ideas and Influence.”

In the dissertation, Senholt distinguishes three main inspirations: the “Counter-Enlightenment” from Herder onwards, the Conservative Revolution from Spengler onwards, and Traditionalism from Guénon onwards. Even if New Right thinkers sometimes criticize Traditionalism and try to distance themselves from it, its impact still remains clear.

For ideas, Senholt stresses especially “metapolitics,” the idea that politics can be changed by changing the way issues are conceived and discussed.

For influence, Senholt notes that the New Right is suddenly important and everywhere. This, he thinks, is because circumstances have changed, not because the New Right has. The New Right has actually been saying much the same thing for thirty years, without having much impact. Now, suddenly, issues relating to identity, to migration and globalization, have given it traction.

A fine dissertation. The supervisors were Ole Morsing and Mark Sedgwick.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Dugin the puppet-master?

Sometimes it seems that the Western media really loves Alexander Dugin. First we had Dugin as "Putin's brain" (as if Putin didn't have a brain!) and now we have Putin as Dugin's puppet--honestly, and in the Huffington Post, too!
“Okay, so a weird mystical guru is using Vladimir Putin as a puppet to implement his spiritual goal to destroy the West and end the world, in order to bring about the spiritual transformation of society. What can I do about it?”
asks James Carli in "Aleksandr Dugin: The Russian Mystic Behind America’s Weird Far-Right," before suggesting organising against the Right and re-reading Rousseau.

Carli recognises elsewhere in the article that "experts are divided about the extent of Dugin’s influence," but even so he goes on to suggest that Dugin is manipulating Putin. Why is it, one has to ask, that there is this desire to explain the whole of Russian foreign policy in terms of the ideas of one thinker? Is it perhaps to avoid more difficult discussions?

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Traditionalism in Contemporary Russia

Guest post by Rustem R. Vakhitov

Mark Sedgwick’s Against the Modern World was not published in Russian until ten years after its first publication, by when the picture of Russian Traditionalism, which is depicted in several chapters in the book, had changed a lot. In my review of Sedgwick's book, I wrote that it is necessary for the Russian reader to make some adjustments, which I will try to do here.

During these ten years, many Russian traditionalists of the older generation, some of whom were interviewed by Sedgwick, have passed away: Mamleev, Dzhemal, Karpets, Golovin, Medvedev, and Vanyushkin--Victoria Vanyushkin was the leading representative of Russian Evolianism and the translator of the books of Evola, Eliade, Alain de Benoist and Guido de Giorgio into Russian. Unfortunately, Sedgwick did not mention her in his book. The journal Magic Mountain (Волшебная Гора) comes out much less often (since Medvedev's death, only two issues have been published, in 2012 and 2016), and the journal The Age of Bronze (Бронзовый век, edited by Golovin’s student Oleg Fomin-Shakhov, also not mentioned by Sedgwick) stopped publication in 2003. The journal Empire of the Spirit (Империя духа), which was dedicated to religion and interfaith dialogue and was edited by Sergei Ryabov, a pupil of Mamleev and Golovin, also stopped publication in 2009. Alexander Dugin turned more to academic philosophy and sociology during the 2010s, and his former associates Arkady Mahler and Pavel Zarifullin moved away from his movement. The Guénonian line in the Dugin paradigm is now developed by Natella Speranskaya, the head of the Tradition Center, a part of Dugin’s Center for Conservative Studies at Moscow State University. In October 2011, in the Moscow Region, the Center held a large-scale international conference of researchers and adherents of Traditionalism, in which the majority of representatives of this direction from Russia and CIS countries participated (see Speranskaya’s post).

In 2009, the Intertraditional Movement (движение Интертрадиционал) was established, uniting several Traditionalist groups, mostly from Russia and Ukraine. Its leader was a Russian-speaking Ukrainian poet, musician, philologist and philosopher, Maxim Borozenets, who lives in Denmark. He developed a paradigm of primordial linguistics and semiotics, as well as the ideology of “Enarchism” (from the Greek "en archae," in the beginning), connecting the concept of tradition in the Guénon-Dugin sense with revolution (a synthesis of leftist, and even of some Marxist, ideas, and nationalism). The Intertraditional website was the corresponding internet forum. There were also two issues of an eponymous journal. In 2014, this interesting and promising project broke up due to political differences between Russian and Ukrainian members (see Oleg Gutsulyak’s post).

Two notable figures in contemporary Russian Traditionalism are Traditionalist Orthodox philosophers, Alexander Ivanov, the creator of the "Austrasia" project (, and Maxim Medovarov, a researcher in nineteenth-century Russian conservative philosophy. Both young authors are developing the ideas of Stefanov, Dugin, Karpets and Fomin-Shakhov.

Contemporary Russian Traditionalism has no major print base like the 1990s publications Elements, Magic Mountain, and The Age of Bronze. Individual Traditionalist authors are published on the website The Russian Idea: Website of Conservative Political Thought, which seeks to unite writers on and researchers into conservatism with conservatives of different directions. There was recently an interesting discussion on this website about the fate of Traditionalism in Russia, during which Maxim Medovarov, in “Guenon's reception in Russia is just beginning,” suggested that the 1990s were the time of Russian first intellectuals’ encounter with the ideas of Traditionalism, and that real Traditionalist studies in Russia are only just beginning.

Rustem R. Vakhitov is a Candidate of Philosophy, a researcher into Eurasianism and Traditionalism, and a political writer in Russia.