Traditional Emancipation

Man and Woman in Revolt against the Modern World by Baron Julius Evola Inner Traditions international 1995.

IT SEEMS PRETTY IRONIC that, in these times at least, women are more likely to be attracted to balding men with bad breath and blossoming beer-guts than the woefully neglected works of Traditionalist thinkers like Rene Guénon, Miguel Serrano or Mircea Eliade. Indeed, ever since the rise of the feminist movement and the concomitant enticement of women into the workplace, the average European female has looked with increasing scorn upon the allegedly restrictive and oppressive nature of home and hearth. According to the Germaine Greer and Andrea Dworkin schools of thought, discarding your bra amid the phallic pyres of pseudo-rebellion or relinquishing control and responsibility of one's children are seen as positive and necessary steps for the advancement of womankind. For most women, however, the so-called 'liberation' of their gender has led to little more than a pseudo-egalitarian wage-slavery beneath which they are expected to toil equally alongside their male counterparts. The well-known Greek author, Arianna Stassinopoulos, who has an advantage over this writer in that she is a woman and therefore perhaps more qualified to write on such matters, explains thus:

"The Female Woman parts company with Women's Liberation because of the fundamental qualitative difference between liberation and emancipation. Liberation is not an extension of emancipation: it is not merely a furthering of women's legal, social and political rights in society. Emancipation insists on equal status for distinctly female roles. liberation demands the abolition of any such distinctive roles: the achievement of equality through identical patterns of behaviour. Emancipation means the removal of all barriers to female opportunities – it does not mean compelling women into male roles by devaluing female ones." [From The Female Woman, Davis-Poynter, 1973, pp. 14-15]
Perhaps even Baron Julius Evola (1898-1974), that decidedly male scholar and long-presumed misogynist, would agree with the conclusions of Ms. Stassinopoulos? Furthermore, by examining Evola's thoughts on the frenetic and often-contentious relationship between men and women, many soon discover to their immense surprise that this erudite Sicilian of noble birth was far from being a misogynist of any kind. Indeed, let us now turn to the Baron's highly-regarded opus, Revolt Against The Modern World [published by Inner Traditions International, 1995], which contains a whole chapter on the relationship between 'Man and Woman'. Evola begins by addressing humanity's sexual characteristics, pointing out that whilst the supernatural principle is decidedly masculine, nature itself is distinctly feminine. This is represented by the Far Eastern concepts of Yin (male) and Yang (female), a true synthesis of opposites. Women are perceived as a danger for those seeking the path of the supernatural, acting as both a generative and centrifugal force in contrast to the male's cold and immobile opposite. In the Hindu tradition this is represented graphically by the divine couple, Shiva and Shakti, whose act of sexual intercourse (viparita-maithuna) symbolises the male wick upon which dances the highly animated and energetic flame of womanhood:
"This norm obeys the principle of the caste system and it also emphasises the two cardinal tenets of dharma and of bhakti, or fides: self-subsistent nature and active dedication." [Ibid., p. 158] Indeed, according to John Mumford, "personifying as female that which is manifest power and energy is not an idea exclusive to Eastern thought. Buried deep in the racial consciousness of Western man is also the concept of feminine power" [From Sexual Occultism: The Sorcery of Love In Theory and Practice, Compendium, 1977, p. 19].

Whilst male and female are complimentary to one another, they each have their own distinct paths to follow. The path of the male is one of an active and contemplative asceticism, whilst the female path is rather similar in that it seeks expression by way of the mother and lover. Indeed, whilst his is a form of 'active heroism' hers becomes a 'passive heroism' whereby the woman gives of herself for another (a loved one or a son, perhaps) and through this finds herself:

"To realise oneself in an increasingly resolute way according to these two distinct and unmistakable directions; to reduce in a woman all that is masculine and in a man everything that is feminine; and to strive to implement the archetypes of the 'absolute man' and of the 'absolute woman' - this was the traditional law concerning the sexes according to their different planes of existence." [p. 159]
Therefore women participated in the hierarchical order through man, something Evola regards as being "proper to the pure feminine nature" [Evola, op. cit., p. 160]. He further demonstrates this point by alluding to the fact that within Aztec civilisation those women who perished in childbirth were equated with the warriors who had died in battle.

Man himself is vital to the fulfilment of the female and, even in death, acts as a mystical doorway for his counterpart. This key traditional component is vigorously expressed by committed Hindu women who leap into the flames of their late husband's funeral pyre in order to secure immortality for themselves. The Incas also believed that women should follow their husbands into the afterlife by committing deliberate and well-intentioned acts of suicide. The devotion and self-sacrifice of the traditional woman in relation to her loved one clearly knows no bounds. In life, however, this spiritual ethos is reflected within the Islamic harem:

"it seemed natural for a woman to concentrate all her life on one man only, who was loved in such a vast and unselfish way as to allow other women to share in the same feeling and be united to him through the same bond and the same dedication A love that sets conditions and requires the reciprocated love and the dedication of a man was reputed to be of an inferior kind" [Ibid., pp. 161-2].
This may sound rather harsh and patronising to the modern reader, but this form of unconditional loyalty and devotion on the part of a woman is perceived as a means to higher ends. Indeed, viewed in its most basic and instinctual form such as within the sexually promiscuous community led by Charles Manson in the late-1960's, for example - the concept of the polygamous male surrounded by adoring and consenting female partners is perhaps difficult to accept. However, Evola tells us that in Ancient Greece "concubinage enjoyed a sort of regular character and was legally acknowledged as a way to compliment the monogamic marriage and in which sexual exclusivism was overcome" [Ibid., p. 163]. Despite having conflicting reasons for doing so, several leading figures in Psychology from the last century would undoubtedly have agreed.

The controversial support for polygamy expressed by the likes of C.G. Jung and Otto Gross is here shown to have concrete roots in the traditional sphere. To suggest that Evola's views on the role of the traditional woman would meet with the vitriol and hysteria of our contemporaries in the liberal establishment is an understatement. But, regardless of whether the 'liberated' purveyors of sexual egalitarianism like it or not, male impotence and the concomitant growth of Feminism during the course of the last few decades has led to a sexually-divisive individualism:

"In a society that no longer understands the figure of the ascetic and the warrior; in which the hands of the latest aristocrats seem better fit to hold tennis rackets or shakers for cocktail mixes than swords or sceptres; in which the archetype of the virile man is represented by a boxer or by a movie star if not by the dull wimp represented by the intellectual, the college professor, the narcissistic puppet of the artist, or the busy and dirty money-making banker and the politician - in such a society it was only a matter of time before women rose up and claimed for themselves a 'personality' and a 'freedom' according to the anarchist and individualist meaning usually associated with these words." [Ibid., p. 163]

Evola rightly describes this process as a form of irresponsible abdication on the part of man:

"What truly amounts to an abdication was thus claimed as a 'step forward'. After centuries of 'slavery' woman wanted to be themselves and do whatever they pleased. But so-called feminism has not been able to devise a personality for women other than by imitating the male personality, so that the woman's 'claims' conceal a fundamental lack of trust in herself as well as her inability to be and to function as a real woman and not as a man. Due to such a misunderstanding, modern woman has considered her traditional role to be demeaning and has taken offence at being treated 'only as a woman'. This was the beginning of a wrong vocation; because of this she wanted to take her revenge, reclaim her 'dignity', prove her 'true value' and compete with men in a man's world. But the man she set out to defeat is not at all a real man, only the puppet of a standardised, rationalised society that no longer knows anything that is truly differentiated and qualitative. In such a civilisation there obviously cannot be any room for legitimate privileges and thus women who are unable and unwilling to recognise their natural traditional vocation and to defend it (even on the lowest possible plane, since no woman who is sexually fulfilled ever feels the need to imitate and to envy man) could easily demonstrate that they too virtually possess the same faculties and talents - both material and intellectual - that are found in the other sex and that, generally speaking, are required and cherished in a society of the modern type. Man for his part has irresponsibly let this happen and has even helped and 'pushed' women into the streets, offices, schools, and factories, into all the 'polluted' crossroads of modern culture and society. Thus the last levelling push has been imparted." [Ibid., p. 164]
The more astute reader will recognise that, far from condemning women or seeking to relegate or limit their role to one of irrelevant servitude, Evola is actually differentiating between natural femininity on the one hand and feministic artificiality on the other. He understands that woman can only find self-satisfaction and personal fulfilment when she perceives of herself in relation to man. Just as tribal peoples from Namibia will never find peace and acceptance within a sprawling Western metropolis which is alien to their traditional values and way of life, so then must women achieve their true destinies by seeking to resolve – rather than to resign - themselves to the fact that they each represent a complimentary aspect of our wider humanity. More essentially, perhaps, it is man who must be blamed for the current plight of the modern world.

Evola rightly points out that even in former times this very process contributed to the general decline of ancient civilisation, a cycle of decadence and decay to which man himself must be made fully accountable. Even feminism, says Evola, is the result of male weakness: "It should not be expected of women that they return to what they really are and thus re-establish the necessary inner and outer conditions for a reintegration of a superior race, when men themselves retain only the semblance of true virility" [Ibid., p. 169] So Evola is not the transparent bigot or misogynist that he is often made out to be. On the contrary, his work is aimed at both sexes and genuinely seeks to reconcile the relationship between men and women so that we can all discover our true function, not only in life, of course, but also in death.

Troy Southgate

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