Archangels of Our Darker Natures
The following is an extract from my new book, Politics and the Occult: The Left, the Right, and the Radically Unseen (Quest Books 2008). It’s taken from the penultimate chapter, in which, among other things, I discuss the work of the Italian esotericist and fascist sympathizer Julius Evola, and his influence, as well as that of other Traditionalist thinkers, on the historian of religion Mircea Eliade. I also look at Eliade’s own involvement with far-right politics in the 1930s and 40s in his homeland of Romania. Reality Sandwich regulars might recall an earlier extract from the book, “An American Fascism,” which ran this summer. This chapter precedes that section, and my remarks here about the American Christian Right anticipate the reflections found in that previous post. The fact that this is an extract from a larger work will, I trust, excuse the few obscure references to earlier parts of the book.
One very important follower of Evola’s ideas also believed in the necessity of political violence. In Ordeal by Labyrinth, a series of interviews with the writer Claude-Henri Rocquet, the historian of religion Mircea Eliade remarked that he became “politically aware” during his time in India, where he witnessed the same repression that angered people like the theosophist and Indian Home Rule advocate Annie Besant. Eliade remarked that “One day I heard an extremist talking and I had to admit he was right. I understood perfectly well that there had to be some violent protestors too.” India, however, isn’t the only country in which Eliade’s name is associated with political violence. In his homeland of Romania, there were links between the two that, as many of his detractors believe, Eliade did his best to obscure. Although the Eliade that most readers know is the tolerant, multicultural scholar of the world’s religions, in a younger guise, Eliade was a fiercely nationalist writer, motivated by the same intolerant views that informed Schwaller de Lubicz and Eliade’s Traditionalist mentor, Evola. In an article written in 1937, “Hungarians in Bucharest,” the thirty-year old Eliade complains that over the recent Christmas holidays, three Hungarian plays were staged in his nation’s capital. But this wasn’t all. In the film Dracula’s Daughter-an admirable sequel to the Bela Lugosi classic-some of the characters call for a Hungarian Transylvania. “I would have loved to hear the audience jeer for the entire duration of the movie,” Eliade wrote. “I would have loved to see a group of students tear the film to pieces and trash the equipment.” Like many Romanians at the time, Eliade resented what he saw as Hungarian incursions into his nation, much as the British Nationalist Party is troubled by the “economic migration” of Eastern Europeans into Britain today, made possible by the European Union. Eliade made his strident remarks in print, in a national newspaper, at a time when in Germany many “patriots”-and not only students-were doing precisely the kind of thing he yearned to do, not solely to film projectors and movie screens but to people, mostly Jews, the universally unwanted guest.
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