VJMP Reads: David Seymour’s Own Your Future III

A Liberal Vision for New Zealand in 2017

This reading carries on from here.

The second chapter of Own Your Future is titled ‘Tax’. Seymour opens with a complaint about wasteful government spending, citing the example of Gerry Brownlee flying to San Francisco on the taypayer’s dollar for a photo op. Indeed this was an appalling waste of money for no benefit to the nation, but Seymour leaps from this fact to the tacit assumption that all tax money is likewise wasted.

Seymour is right when he says it’s stupid that the Government is running surpluses while the average New Zealand household is at record levels of debt. The solution is, naturally, lower taxes. Here Seymour makes a sharp distinction between “our own” money, and “another person’s” money. Not for him the interdependence of all things. In Seymour’s world, there are very clear lines over who owns what.

Government takes in taxes equal to 40% of GDP, Seymour notes – “exclusively” another person’s money. Seymour doesn’t agree with the idea that the state is the most efficient provider of many services on account of the economies of scale afforded by its unique size. For him, the Government is merely a parasitic entity that sucks tax money out of hard-working Kiwis and wastes it frivolously.

Breaking step with the usual neoliberal choice of target, Seymour points out that there is a tremendous amount of corporate welfare in New Zealand as well. This only lasts for a few sentences, because he’s soon back to crying about taxation. Bracket creep comes in for particular ire – for Seymour, the wealthy aren’t getting a big enough share of the spoils of economic growth.

True to being a politician, he is dishonest. He claims that bracket creep happens because wages rise (which is true) but he also claims that wages rise to meet the increase in the price of consumer goods. The truth is that wages are not linked to the inflation of consumer goods – they are a function of the relative leverage that the employer has over the employee. When consumer goods become more expensive, this gives the employee absolutely no additional leverage through which they can negotiate a higher wage with their employer. If anything, it gives them less leverage because the lower standard of living makes them more desperate to settle.

In one paragraph, Seymour abandons even the pretense of reasoning and simply lists American libertarian slogans: “High tax rates… drag the economy down”, “people spend their money better than governments do”, “Money goes more good in the private sector than in the public sector.” Again one senses the cold shadow of the millions starved to death by Communism.

Seymour makes some good and fair points when he talks about the bureaucratic waste in the system. The problem is that this waste is the only thing he sees – all Government spending is hip-hop tours and junkets to San Francisco. He will not acknowledge that tax money is used for anything good, or that taxpayers get anything back for their tax money. National are the good guys because they levy less tax; Labour are bad and the Greens are the worst of all.

It’s hard to disagree, however, when he complains about the top tax bracket being $70,000. One doesn’t have to be wealthy to concede that someone earning $70,000 a year is far from loaded.

In all, one feels that Seymour is capable of making some good points but has a dishonest method for selecting and presenting them to the reader. Despite that, it’s easily arguable that Seymour and his party are tasked with playing an important role in New Zealand politics – that of keeping a check on Government waste – even though they are apologists for neoliberalism.

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VJMP Reads: David Seymour’s Own Your Future II

A Liberal Vision for New Zealand in 2017

This reading carries on from here.

The first real chapter of Own Your Future is titled ‘Housing’. The degree to which Seymour is out of touch comes through again immediately, when he states a belief that an “ordinary” New Zealand family is one that owns 50ha of land. His maths seems fair when he calculates the deficit of new houses, but it is notable where he lays the blame.

Seymour is willing to appeal to “basic economics” when he points out the factors restricting the supply of housing – in particular red tape – but basic economics does not seem to apply to the demand side of the equation. Following the neoliberal playbook closely, Seymour dismisses entirely the idea that migration could make a contribution to the increase in house prices.

His logic here is curious. New Zealand’s waves of migration “have not caused food prices to double, for example”. He is comfortable with concluding therefore that “there is no evidence that immigration has increased the price of commodities”. It’s certainly an unusually high standard for a variable to need to double a second variable before it can be said to have caused it to increase.

This line of reasoning can be explained by a study conducted by Dan McGlashan, in which he found that Asians voted for the ACT Party at higher rates than anyone else. No doubt Seymour is wary of placing any blame on immigration because that’s how most of his voters got here.

Perhaps through some effort of will, Seymour holds off on mentioning the Resource Management Act until the sixth page of the essay. This is invoked to take all the blame for rising house prices. He points out that, 30 years ago, the bottom 20% of the population paid 27% of their income in rent, whereas now they pay 54%. This is a fair comment but it’s not clear that all of the blame for this necessarily lies with the RMA.

Seymour repeats the claim that only 0.8% of the land area of New Zealand is urbanised, but doesn’t mention how this compares to other countries or who benefits from raising this percentage. How does the average Kiwi benefit from urbanising more of the country for the sake of letting in more immigrants? It isn’t said.

He goes further, pillorying the Greens’ proposal to limit immigration to an increase of 1% of the population every year. Even an immigration rate of 1% is enough to double the population of the country before the end of the century. This is very interesting if one considers that the people of New Zealand have never asked for the Government to increase the population at all, much less double it.

The most striking thing about this essay on housing is that Seymour never refers to the experience of overseas countries that have had similar housing crises. Housing in Sydney, Melbourne and London has increased in price much like Auckland – do they have RMAs constricting the supply of housing? Seymour doesn’t say. What has happened in other jurisdictions that have implemented his suggestions? He doesn’t say.

One gets the feeling from this essay that Seymour is a dedicated supporter of neoliberalism, but does not feel the need to back up his assertions with real-world examples, preferring instead to use rhetoric.

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VJMP Reads: David Seymour’s Own Your Future I

A Liberal Vision for New Zealand in 2017

Today, VJMP Reads has a look at Own Your Future, by ACT Party Leader David Seymour. This is a 192-page book of essays published by the ACT Party along the lines of previous ACT Party efforts such as Closing the Gaps and I’ve Been Thinking.

Previous VJM Publishing publications, such as Dan McGlashan’s Understanding New Zealand, tells us some basic facts about the ACT-voting demographic. Although few in number (a mere 13,075 in 2017), they were the wealthiest voter base of any party, as well as the most likely to be born overseas and one of the best educated (along with the Greens). Asians like them the most, white people the next most, and Maoris the least.

We have also seen that people who donate to the ACT Party get the worst return on their investment, with the party gaining 22 votes per $1,000 spent on the 2017 campaign. This compares to 388 votes per $1,000 for Labour, 452 for National and 4,761 for the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party (even the vanity project that was The Opportunities Party managed 62 votes per $1,000 spent).

So who are ACT, in the words of their own leader?

The Introduction runs to sixteen pages, and is worth studying on its own. It starts off by telling the story of the struggles of a wealthy couple to subdivide their land. Hilariously, by the third page there’s already a reference to how, under communism, “people starved by the million”, so it’s already a fair bet at this early stage that the book will be full of far-right-wing American-style libertarianism.

On page 12, Seymour states that he grew up “not rich”, and also states that the first time he realised that the Government might not have our best interests at heart was at age sixteen. Seymour was born in 1983, which would make him around 8 years old at the time of Ruth Richardson’s infamous 1991 Budget, which ripped the heart out of the New Zealand poor. Had it not occurred to him in the aftermath of the social destruction wrought by this that the Government is not on the people’s side, then it can fairly be said that he was unusually privileged, if not actually sheltered.

In fact, the truly sheltered nature of Seymour’s life comes through in lines that would be comic genius in any other context. How else to read “Auckland Grammar is a particularly barbaric place for some kids. I vividly remember one kid getting a tennis ball to the head, it bounced lightly but its power was symbolic”?

Like most men of his time, Seymour is a materialist. He is proud to have supported liberalising the abortion laws. ACT wanted to introduce laws that would make New Zealand a better place, in Seymour’s estimation, hence his support for them. This is stated very matter-of-factly, with no explanation as to why he thought that ACT in particular were best suited to make New Zealand a better place.

Inevitably, Seymour has a go here at the eternal ACT bugbear, the Resource Management Act. He writes that the poorest fifth of New Zealanders spend almost half of their income on housing today, compared to only a quarter of their income 26 years ago. All of the blame for this can be laid at the feet of the RMA, which has strangled the rate of house building. “That’s why people are living in cars and garages.”

The obvious rejoinder to this claim is to point out that New Zealand has the highest rate of immigration of any OECD country. Seymour anticipates this, and writes of the immigration question that opinion is divided between “National’s naivete vs. the racism of New Zealand First.” Like many middle-class white people, Seymour appears to be unaware that New Zealand First’s strongest supporters are Maoris.

Seymour generally doesn’t seem bothered by anti-Maori racism, as shown by his rant about “million after million for various Maori centric projects and separatist legislation”. Racism is, perhaps, only real to Seymour when it prevents wealthy foreigners from immigrating here (after all, as noted above, Maoris don’t vote for the ACT Party).

Going by the introduction, this book seems like the closest thing to a neoliberalist manifesto New Zealand has seen recently. What Seymour appears to be about, fittingly for someone who represents foreign wealth, is freedom for money. He’s not interested in freedom for people. Freedom for people comes incidentally, in so far as those people have money.

One gets the impression that if Seymour could stuff the entire South Island into a giant machine that sorted it out into its constituent minerals for the sake of most efficiently selling it all off to foreign speculators, he would be happy to do so. This book, therefore, promises to be a journey into the mind of an absolutely fanatical die-hard neoliberal.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

VJMP Reads: Julius Evola’s Ride the Tiger X

This reading continues on from here.

The 27th essay in Ride the Tiger is called ‘Relations Between the Sexes’ and seeks to cover a different range to the essay about marriage. When the order of the world is dissolving, men and women are naturally separated. Our sexual prejudices have contaminated our ethics. Nowhere is this more evident that in the idea of sexual revolution.

Processes have worked towards a freeing of sex, but not a freeing from sex. The sexual revolution has not liberated us from the suffering caused by sexual desire; to the contrary, we are now intoxicated by it. This is contributing to the collapse of society, but we can use the space afforded by the chaos to assert higher values. Bourgeoisie values, being materialistic, cannot conceive of woman in anything more than her anatomical capacity as instrument of reproduction – in reality, she has a spiritual value.

Sexual liberty therefore leads to materialism, and thereby away from spirituality. Incredibly for the 1960s, Evola is already able to anticipate how widespread pornography has affected the “polarity” between men and women. Nowadays a naked woman doesn’t stir much more interest than the sight of a cat. This is a tragedy because the sexual union is capable of acting as a bridge to higher consciousness via “an existential rupture of planes”. Making love can be Dionysian.

Part Eight of Ride the Tiger is where Evola finally gets to the spiritual side of things. This final section is titled ‘The Spiritual Problem’, and consists of two essays. The first of these is called ‘The “Second Religiosity”‘.

In this essay Evola decries what he calls “neospiritualism”, which he describes as an attempt to lead people beyond the material without giving any credence to the old, dogmatic religious movements. He has no time for the “movements, cults, sects, lodges, and conventicles” of the modern day, and considers them also a phenomenon of dissolution. In fact, things have gone so far that we are now in the rigor mortis stage, and all that awaits is the decomposition of the corpse.

When man closed himself off to the higher, transcendent world in the 19th century, this did not liberate him from superstition but merely opened him up to the lower, primitive emotional world in the 20th. We are now in the “soulless, collectivistic and materialistic phase corresponding to the closing of a cycle of civilisation”. All of these neospiritual movements thus represent an excess of the feminine. Evola is highly cynical and dismissive of these movements.

It’s difficult to correctly discriminate between all the garbage thrown up by neospirituality and the wisdom of genuine value. The emphasis ought to go on the deconditioning of the spirit. Here, Evola is at pains to emphasise that a person cannot achieve initiation by themselves, in contrast to the belief espoused by many. One is either born initiated, or one achieves initiation by way of spiritual emergency or ordeal, or one is initiated deliberately by someone who is part of a tradition and who knows what they’re doing. This is hard to achieve because the organisations that do so hardly exist any more.

The 30th and final essay is titled ‘Death – The Right Over Life’. Evola begins here by talking about the common belief, held by Heidegger (as well as by Socrates) that life is in some way a preparation for death. Death appears to be the end of the “person”, and atheism and materialism have made this simpler to deal with. Contemplation of death is a noble endeavour, as it can lead to a heightened state of appreciation of one’s life.

The traditional doctrines had the correct approach to death. The truly differentiated man cannot believe that his being began with the beginning of his physical body. He must solve the problem of nihilism by “displacing the I towards the centre of ‘being'”. Here Evola is talking about consciousness: “the human condition οf earthly existence is only a restricted section in a continuum, in a current that traverses many other states.” This eternal truth is not easy to grasp in an age of dissolution like ours, but it is much better than the lies of theistic creation myths.

A truly differentiated man, much like the Stoics and the Pythagoreans, could never take his own life, no matter how poor his conditions. This is because to do so would acknowledge that he was not strong enough to overcome the irrational part of his being. However, one always has the moral right to exit the world, should one decide that remaining ordeals are not meaningful. The differentiated man would be extremely disinclined to take this option in any case, right or otherwise. This is because of the possibility that one has chosen and said yes to – whether before or beyond this life – all of the ordeals in it.

In the final analysis, one can say that, no matter how degenerate and dissolute the world, it can still have value. It might be that, in order to achieve the highest state of being, consciousness must challenge itself as intensely as possible. To that end, there’s little more challenging than existing in a world where everything is contrary to one’s nature.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

VJMP Reads: Julius Evola’s Ride the Tiger IX

This reading continues on from here.

Part Seven of Ride the Tiger is called ‘Dissolution in the Social Realm’. This consists of four essays. The first of these is called ‘States and Societies – Apoliteia’. In this essay, Evola contends that the sociopolitical environment has essentially collapsed, and that the right sort of person must learn to govern themselves in the absence of social guidance. This is because there are no longer any legitimate nation-states.

True leaders, Evola states, do not exist today. Neither does any movement exist that offers itself as a defender of higher ideas. The petty politicians of today are just figureheads “at the service of financial, industrial,
or corporate interests” – essentially prostitutes. Even if a party that reflected a higher truth appeared, the people are simply too base to voted for one. The only realms left for political action are the irrational and the subintellectual.

Apoliteia means detachment from the political. Evola notes that the great conflict between Western democratic capitalism and Eastern socialism requires no appeal to any higher ideal. The West is equally as destructive and nihilistic as the Marxists. However, the West does at least offer the freedom from where an assault can be mounted. The really difficult thing is to defend one’s dignity when one feels that one belongs to a different humanity.

Essay 26 is called ‘Society – the Crisis of Patriotic Feeling’. Evola immediately lays out the problem – “eνery organic unity has been dissolνed or is dissolν­ing: caste, stock, nation, homeland, and eνen the family”. The associations of today are not built on blood or ideals or anything meaningful – people only come together temporarily for economic advantage. Spiritual superiority counts for nothing. The problem can be summed up by Nietzsche: a great struggle just to win nothing. Modern states are so bloated and overreaching that they have destroyed all remaining organic bonds.

Curiously, even for writing in the 1960s, Evola can already criticise an “economy of excess” that no longer serves to meet necessities. Evola is able to deduce that overproduction has become normalised – people’s wants simply increased to meet the increase in production. Moreover, the desperate need to employ everyone has people working to produce things that no-one needs.

The modern world is absurd. Our massively increasing population is an insanity, and serves as proof that man, for all of the impulses he has overcome in his conquest of the Earth, cannot control his sexual urges. This population growth has led to the need to condition people more and more in order to force them into the workplace. The overall effect is much like a cancer. No really aristocratic soul could possibly identify with a modern world so base.

Men of our age respond even less to the old appeals for action. Appeals to religion died with World War I; appeals to the nation died with World War II. The traditional state won its power through appeals to order. It was a matter of unification from above, not below. The void can be filled if the ancient principles returned. What is needed is an invisible unity of individuals associated by their nature.

The 27th essay is called ‘Marriage and the Family’. Here Evola contends that we have to face up to the fact that the family no longer has the same meaning and importance as it once did. The essential thing is the transmission of spiritual truth from generation to generation, not merely passing on the bloodline. This loss of meaning in the idea of family combines with the trend of materialism to create misery.

Marriage is now “little more than a puritanical veneer for a regime of high prostitution”. The marriage rites that supposedly made the profane into something sacred have merely served to do the opposite. Part of the problem is that sex is seen as something sinful, which means that marriage itself is something that one only chooses to participate in because one does not want to be an ascetic.

As it is, there is no longer anything worth defending or preserving. Therefore the differentiated man cannot ready form social bonds such as marriage. He must have his own self. Part of the reason for this is, again, that if a true leader arose in today’s time, he would be the last of men to be followed. More important than ensuring a succession of blood is ensuring a succession of spiritual knowledge.

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VJMP Reads: Julius Evola’s Ride the Tiger VIII

This reading continues on from here.

The 22nd essay in Ride The Tiger is called ‘Dissolution of Modern Art’. Much like everything else, Evola contends that art has also degenerated. In the case of art, it has degenerated into a feminine subjectivity that is too afraid to say anything. Now we can no longer even speak of traditional art because no-one has any idea what that even is.

In this essay Evola echoes Plato’s description of the degeneration of political forms, only applied to the world of art. Modern art would be best served by achieving maximum craptitude, because that would provide the clean spiritual slate upon which something authentic could be written. Literature is also criticised as “fetishising” human relationships and merely documenting them with full banality.

As in many previous essays, Evola concludes that art has been given too great an importance, to the detrimental of the spiritual. What gives meaning to life can exist “even in the virtual absence of art”. Art has, in reality, undermined idealism, especially in the modern world. Positive realism lies in the assertion of values such as truth and spiritual courage. That which truly has value needs no consensus to agree.

The 23rd essay is ‘Modern Music and Jazz’. Evola has a keen interest in music and understands its development over the course of recent centuries. Perhaps weirdly, Evola writes here about the “preponderance of dance music over vocal and emotional music” – a sentiment shared by many today. He considers that the drift towards nihilism in philosophy and art has been echoed by one in music.

Music has, according to Evola, developed in ways that mirror the development of all other social movements. Therefore, the advent of jazz is no surprise – it is merely the democratisation of music, something “primitively ecstatic”. This doesn’t mean that jazz is crude, though, or that jazz players are unskilled musicians. It simply heralds the return to the world of fundamental, elemental forces.

This “Negro music” is associated with “dark forms of ecstasy” in Evola’s reckoning. He compares the feelings that arise from dancing to rhythmic music to the frenzies of the dervishes: “possessions of savage ritual”. Despite frequently being paired with drugs, these occasions cannot be compared to the ancient rites of Dionysus etc. because there is nothing sacred about them – they are mere escapism.

On the subject of drugs, the 24th essay is ‘Excursus on Drugs’. Evola considers drugs to “most visibly have the goal of an ecstatic escape”. Some of the people who choose such an escape are those who have perceived the meaninglessness of human existence. Others are “neurotics and psychopaths”. Part of the danger of drugs is, like rhythmic music, they can be used to open up awareness to a suprasensible world, such as in initiatory ritual.

Despite this caution, Evola gives due credit to the use of various drugs in sacred ritual. The Taoists considered even the use of alcohol to have a kind of magical effect, and he mentions the Central American shamanic traditions that made much use of mescaline, peyote and psilocybin mushrooms. However, he also points out that no-one really understands how to use these sacraments anymore, because no-one is capable of the necessary spiritual preparation. This leads to the risk of “possession by dark powers”.

If used correctly, nonprofanely, drugs offer the possibility of coming into contract with a superior dimension of reality. Stimulants and depressants can more or less be ignored for these purposes. Hallucinogens are excellent but have many drawbacks; their ancient use involved guiding the trip with symbols and a preliminary catharsis of emotion, two things that are seldom done today. Narcotics can be useful for the sake of dissociating from the mundane but the experience is hard to control.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

VJMP Reads: Julius Evola’s Ride the Tiger VII

This reading continues on from here.

Part Five of Ride The Tiger is called ‘Dissolution of Consciousness and Relativism’ and is comprised of two essays.

The first of these is called ‘The Procedures of Modern Science’. Here Evola begins by describing how the Western idea of Western supremacy upholds itself by appeal to its achievements in materialist science. Evola thinks that this is a gross error, and goes as far as to say that “None οf modern science has the slightest value as knowledge.” It is concerned with statistics and probability rather than truth.

The cult of scientific objectivity that Evola decries is all too willing to discard currently-held theories in favour of ones that, if adopted, provide temporary gains in terms of political power. This supposed objectivity, instead of leading to ever-refining truth, has merely caused science to lose itself chasing shadows. Einstein’s theory of relativity comes in for special criticism, being notable only for producing the bomb.

Scientism has only led to a kind of cult of quantity, which has made people obsessed with numbers and formulas and abstractions, so that we have forgotten what reality actually is and what it’s about. It’s a false logic, and it’s grossly unsuitable for anyone with spiritual pretensions.

The twentieth essay is called ‘Covering Up Nature – Phenomenology’ and continues the theme of the inadequacy of the scientific culture. Science hasn’t really got us any closer to the nature of reality, and each new “advance” merely takes us further away. After all, the world of our actual experience is still made up of fire, air, earth and water, and mathematical abstractions tell us nothing about how to deal with these.

Modern man is destructive because scientism has conditioned him to see everything as soulless. Our compulsory education system brainwashes children with this perspective from when they are very small. Even worse is the popular delusion that science can replace religion in the sense that it might give humanity a promised path to future happiness. This delusion has caused much misery.

Alchemically, this essay continues the theme of decrying the men of silver, whose preoccupations have not and can not lead to spiritual absolution. Evola gives credit to the concerns of the men of silver in so far as the discipline of mathematics cultivates clarity of thought, but all of these intellectualisms ignore the spiritual. Once one has seen the “great illusion” it’s apparent that science cannot be sufficient to solve human needs.

The twenty-first essay is called ‘Sickness and the European Culture’ and comes back to the subject of European decadence. This essay is very short, at only three pages.

Here Evola reinforces the contention that European culture has become sick because it has lost its spiritual centre. With no shared sense of spiritual tradition, the forces holding society together have weakened, and some parts of it have broken away. The tragedy of World War II is considered a natural consequence of this process of technical and scientific advancement at the expense of spiritual knowledge.

Part of the problem, Evola holds, is that politics has become separated from an intellectual and cultural class that, in its conceit, has decided it’s above the political. This is not the fault of that class so much as it is a symptom of the collapse of the unifying, transcendent and spiritual ideas that lie underneath cultural expressions such as politics and the arts.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

VJMP Reads: Julius Evola’s Ride the Tiger VI

This reading continues on from here.

Part Four of Ride The Tiger is called ‘Dissolution of the Individual’ and is comprised of three essays. The first of these, the sixteenth in the book, is called ‘The Dual Aspect of Anonymity’. Railing against the “collectivism, mechanization, standardization, and soullessness οf modern existence,” here Evola attempts to find an answer to the question of what is worth saving.

It’s at this point that Evola finally gets to the esotericism. Individualism is part of the problem facing us, he contends, because it has led to the atomisation of society. Worse, it has no spiritual basis. What is taken by Westerners to be the individual is not what a person really, fundamentally is.

In esoteric terms, Evola is here talking about the difference between silver and gold. Here the men of silver are decried for their pomposity and hypocrisy, for this has obscured the light of spiritual truth and made it more difficult for the men of gold to play their part. The false self must be transcended and the true self reconnected with, otherwise we will continue to flounder.

The seventeenth essay is called ‘Destructions and Liberations in the New Realism’. Here, Evola gives us for the first time a specific sense of what it might mean to “ride the tiger”. For him it is a life lived at the limit, in a way that actualises the “absolute person”. Most people who discover this do so through warfare, for it is here that an extreme lucidity stripping away all extraneous concerns can be achieved.

Evola makes vague hints at a gross feminising process that, he warns, will make any individualisation impossible. Crucially, however, this feminisation is necessary, to destroy the corruption of the old order. He continues to emphasise that any true revaluation of values must come from that “minority” who retain a sense of the transcendental. Anyone else will merely make the same mistakes that the other non-spiritual people have made.

What is necessary to move forwards from here is “a clear, detached, objective vision οf existence” and “a positive, existential incapacity to submit to ‘myths’ οf any kind whatsoever”. The new mythologies (such as Marxism) are not only doomed to fail, they are in fact signs of systemic failure.

The eighteenth essay is called ‘The “Animal Ideal” – the Sentiment of Nature’. Here Evola talks about the two fundamental spiritual orientations – the first being the hermit who lives without company and the second the wanderer who lives without fixed abode. Incredibly for an essay published in 1961, here Evola talks about the isolation and detachment that can be caused by modern communication technology and city life, foreshadowing contemporary sentiments about the Internet and smartphones.

Anticipating – and pre-emptively decrying – the hippie movement as a bourgeoisie failure, Evola rejects a return to primitivism as being merely a naked form of materialism. Conceding that athletics and sports may be useful (although he decries professional sport), Evola once again asserts that spiritual needs must come first. The true aristocrat of the soul must feel as comfortable among dams and skyscrapers as among trees and streams, for the former is an expression of human nature and thereby of Nature itself.

Fundamentally, a person needs to accept that “nothing extraordinary exists in the beyond”. Only the real exists and only the real can be said to exist. To this end, there is a lot of wisdom in ancient traditions, especially Zen. These allow us to cultivate an appreciation of how reality consists of both the immanent making itself transcendent and the transcendent making itself immanent.

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VJMP Reads: Julius Evola’s Ride the Tiger V

This reading continues on from here.

The 13th essay in Ride The Tiger is called ‘Sartre: Prisoner Without Walls’. This essay is very short – only three pages – and concerns itself with the attitude that one ought to take towards inherent freedom. Criticising Sartre’s conception of man as “condemned to be free”, Evola decries the idea that ultimate freedom is any kind of curse, describing this attitude as characteristic of the deep nihilism of the 20th century.

Sartre’s conception of life is, in Evola’s estimation, a fundamentally negative one in that one considers the human experience akin to being a prisoner without walls. For Evola, this maudlin attitude is not appropriate, for it brings with it suffering. Something more is needed.

The 14th essay is called ‘Existence, “Α Project Flung into the World”‘. Here Evola continues to outline his misgivings with existentialism, despite giving it credit for accurately describing the dilemma of the human condition. Existentialism also gets credit for moving beyond primitive solutions like religion and scientific materialism.

As mentioned previously, Evola’s main problem with existentialism is metaphysical. The varieties of existentialism that do not give a satisfactory answer to metaphysical questions are no better than nihilisms. For this reason, the maxim “existence precedes essence” must be rejected. A person is that which transcends the mere physical form; if not, existence is nothing more than morphing randomly into various shapes. Transcendence cannot and will not be found outside the self.

The idea of anxiety over lost choices, opportunities and paths is, for Evola, ridiculous – and materialistic. The transcendent principle ought to exclude such thoughts. The nature of things cannot usefully be said to be sinful in and of itself. Much better to adopt the ancient Greek view of cultivating appreciation of the beauty of limits and form.

The 15th essay is called ‘Heidegger: “Retreating Forwards” and “Being-for-Death” – Collapse οf Existentialism’. The problem with Heidegger, Evola contends, is that his philosophy is motivated principally by a fear of death, in particular the death of the false self, or I. It’s better to disavow identification with the I, and to choose instead to identify with the transcendent, than to march to the drumbeat of death.

Here Evola continues with his criticisms of existentialist philosophy, accusing it of promoting a bleak, sombre and submissive attitude towards the world, one of resignation. Jaspers offers no other solution but faith. In fact, none of the existentialists have offered a satisfactory solution to the problems of nihilism as outlined by Nietzsche. “Existentialism is a projection of modern man in crisis”.

Neither is faith satisfactory, for that is essentially no different from the “Catholic existentialism” that has already been rejected on account of positing the transcendent outside oneself. It must be accepted that God is dead. Transcendence ought not be conceived of as the ‘other’; rather one should begin from the point of transcendence and consider the world from that perspective.

In any case, all of these men, religious and existentialist alike, are written off as petit bourgeoisie, writing about petit bourgeoisie concerns. The real philosophy comes from the men who have survived the “storms of steel and fire” of the early 20th century: those who have been tested. These are the men who understand the true nature of things; they understand “being able to be destroyed, even, without thereby being wounded”.

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VJMP Reads: Julius Evola’s Ride the Tiger IV

This reading continues on from here.

The tenth essay in Ride The Tiger is called ‘Invulnerability – Apollo and Dionysus’. Here Evola further describes his conception of an aristocrat of the soul as someone who feels very deeply and who is very moved by things. The modern man (the man of clay, essentially), only feels very shallow emotions, and quickly moves from one such shallow impression to the next.

In this essay, Evola touches on the truly aristocratic topic of deliberately exposing oneself to great trials and tribulations, for the sake of learning one’s true nature. Alchemists will recognise this mentality as the one necessary to burn away everything but the gold so as to learn to distinguish Spirit from Nature. The purifying fire is that which burns away body and mind and leaves one with one’s true nature – it is necessary because it burns away everything shallow, leaving only actions which arise from the depths.

A person who has done this may find themselves gifted with a “transcendent confidence” that is characteristic of the aristocrat of the soul. This is important because in purifying oneself down to the gold one also strips away all of the conditioned belief in life’s meaning. To proceed past this stage, the alchemist must find within themselves the will to assert a meaning to life independent of any outside source. Then one is invulnerable.

To open oneself without falling apart is not easy in an age of dissolution. Here Evola takes care to point out that it’s very easy to fall at the second hurdle. Just because mainstream religion is bullshit doesn’t mean that we should abandon it for wild paganism and barbarianism. There is more.

The eleventh essay is called ‘Acting Without Desire – The Causal Law’. Once a person discovers their true nature, they should also learn the ability to act without desire. This entails taking the correct action at any given time instead of becoming distracted by profit or loss, or by what other people might think of you. Doing what needs to be done.

This needs to be qualified, however. There are naturalistic desires, that arise from the biology of the human animal. These are generally to be avoided. There are also, however, heroic desires, that arise from something greater than the merely physical, from something transcendent. These may be acted upon.

An aristocratic person, then, thinks not in terms of sin but in terms of error. The concept of sin is impossible because God has long been repudiated; all that remains is adherence to standards that one sets from within as an expression of one’s true nature.

One ought to act with a mind to what is effectively a law of karma, in that actions have consequences, regardless of whether those actions conform to any conception of good or evil. Those consequences are real and should be regarded as such. This is fine because the real man of gold doesn’t just live, but rather manifests himself and his true nature in the world.

This is the end of the second part of the book. The next part is called ‘The Dead End of Existentialism’, and the first essay here is the book’s twelfth: ‘Being and Inauthentic Existence’. This deals with the two types of existentialism (as Evola sees it): the philosophical, academic tradition and the practical tradition exemplified by Jean-Paul Sartre.

Evola dismisses existentialism almost entirely, for the reason that the existentialist philosophers are too much a product of their times, and because they are not themselves interested in the world beyond. The existentialists are very materialistic and this disqualifies existentialism from being a philosophy that an aristocrat might be concerned with.

Despite this, existentialism can be credited with some things. For one, the idea that “existence precedes essence” serves to keep the existentialist in touch with the metaphysical and transcendent. It also helps to highlight the dual nature of the aristocratic soul, which, as described earlier, is much deeper than that of the pleb.

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