The fallibility of “Being Oneself” – Julius Evola


After discussing in concise and articulate terms, as Evola is want to do, the multitudinous nature of a man’s identity or ‘self’, the author addresses the inherent fragility of man’s self-identity, a trait of which all of us in the modern world are only too well aware:

“One can see now how problematic is the very point that has hitherto seemed fixed: fidelity to oneself, the absolute, autonomous law based on one’s own “being,” when it is formulated in general and abstract terms. Everything is subject to debate – a situation accurately exemplified by characters in Dostoyevsky, like Raskolnikov or Stavrogin. At the moment when they are thrown back on their own naked will, trying to prove it to themselves with an absolute action, they collapse; they collapse precisely because they are divided beings, because they are deluded concerning their true nature and their real strength. Their freedom is turned against them and destroys them; they fail at the very point at which they should have reaffirmed themselves – in their depths they find nothing to sustain them and carry them forward. We recall the words of Stavrogin’s testament: “I have tested my strength everywhere, as you advised me to do in order to know myself… What I have never seen, and still do not see, is what I should apply my strength to. My desires lack the energy; they cannot drive me. One can cross the river on a log, but not on a splinter.” The abyss wins out over Stavrogin, and his failure is sealed by suicide.
The same problem evidently lurks at the centre of Nietzsche’s doctrine of the will to power. Power in itself is formless. It has no sense without the basis of a given “being,” an internal direction, an essential unity. When that is wanting, everything slides back into chaos. “Here is the greatest strength, but it does not know what it is for. The means exist, but they have no end.”
… the phenomenon of remorse is closely linked to the situation of a divided and self-contradictory being. Remorse occurs, when despite everything, a central tendency survives in the being and reawakens after actions that have violated or denied it, arising from secondary impulses that are not strong enough to completely supplant it. Guyau speaks in this sense of a morality “that is none other than the unity of the being,” and an immorality that, “on the contrary, is a splitting, an opposition of tendencies that limit one another.”

This portion of Evola’s work, Ride the Tiger, struck me as extremely pertinent to the current age. All around us on a societal level we see contradiction, confusion, and ultimately multiple competing attempts of individuals to define their own identities through outward actions that challenge the identities of others, and perhaps other parallel identities of their own.

Simultaneously, on the individual level, the emphasis is on self-improvement or self-discovery and self-fulfilment. The ideal man is seen to be one who has achieved an internal consistency or harmony, which is said to ultimately lead to the ‘happy life’. The evil man is said to be fraught with inconsistency and therefore suffers in his own prison of continual misery, perpetually forced to ask himself the question “who am I?”. However as Evola points out, in the current age of such strife on the collective level, and in which individuals are effectively cast adrift, asked to find themselves as separate from any outside guidance, inconsistency has become the norm as opposed to the exception. In addition, it is apparent that consistency of action and morality are not necessarily one and the same. Often to do the virtuous thing, one must act against one’s base nature. On the other hand, it is possible for those who carry out virtuous acts to do them for non-virtuous reasons.

The irony does not escape me of including this piece: The blog is after all named Freedom in the UK, and this is in effect the beginnings of an argument formed in opposition to an unchallenged freedom for mankind. For this reason, I will perhaps consider renaming the blog.

The more that I find myself researching the Alt Right, and far right ideology, the more I lean towards the idea that nationalism should precede freedom, or more that one cannot exist without the other. For what good is freedom if it serves ultimately to destroy free individuals. Some temperance is required. As an objectivist, for the most part, especially metaphysically and epistemologically, I see that Evola holds much of the same criticisms of Nietzsche’s worldview as did Rand; namely that his ‘will’ is insubstantial, mystical, and as Evola points out inherently insufficient a force alone to drive the human engine. Where Rand would have the difficulty with Evola’s ideas is likely in his emphasis on Tradition; however, I am increasingly of the view that this falls under the category of Ayn Rand’s notion of ‘rational self-interest’. I am increasingly of the belief that it is in man’s rational self-interest to have a degree of collectivism within his own nation, and even more so, for there to be hierarchy in society outside of the mere economic.