May 30, 2009

Apoliteia

Through much of my last rereading of Julius Evola’s “Ride the Tiger” I have not been able to overlook spiritual and practical parallels of Evola’s ‘differentiated’ type of man to Jünger’s anarch. These become so obvious in the chapter “States and Parties: Apoliteia”, that I must comment.

Both Evola’s differentiated man and the anarch have recognised the unworthiness of the ideas, motives and goals given by life and politics today. This makes them apoliteia....

From Evola:

“After taking stock of the situation, this type can only feel disinterested and detached from everything that is “politics” today. His principle will become apoliteia, as it was in ancient times”.
“Apoliteia” refers essentially to the inner attitude…. The man in question recognizes, as I have said before, that ideas, motives, and goals worthy of the pledge of one’s true being do not exist today….”

And from Jünger:
"As a historian, I am convinced of the imperfection – nay, the vanity – of any effort. I admit that the surfeit of a late era is involved here. The catalogue of possibilities seems exhausted. The great ideas have been eroded by repetition; you won’t catch any fish with that bait.”

Inner detachment, apoliteia, brings freedom to their life-involvements, such as employment or even politics itself. They are equally free to be, as not to be, involved with any particular activity or role....

From Evola:
“As conceived here, apoliteia creates no special presuppositions in the exterior field, not necessarily having a corollary in practical abstention. The truly detached man is not a professional and polemic outsider, nor conscientious objector, nor anarchist. Once it is established that life with its interactions does not constrain his being, he could even show the qualities of a soldier who, in order to act and accomplish a task, does not request in advance a transcendent justification and and a quasi-theological assurance of the goodness of the cause. We can speak in these cases of a voluntary obligation that concerns the “persona”, not the being, by which – even while one is involved – one remains isolated”.
“Apoliteia” is the inner distance unassailable by society and its “values”; it does not accept being bound by anything spiritual or moral. Once this is firm, the activities that in others would presuppose such bounds can be exercised in a different spirit.”
“Apoliteia, detachment does not necessarily involve specific consequences in the field of pure and simple activity. I have already discussed the capacity to apply oneself to a given task for love of the action in itself and in terms of an impersonal perfection.”

And from Jünger:
“I have to succeed in treating my work as a game that I both watch and play…. It presumes that one can scrutinize oneself as from a certain distance like a chess figure – in a word, that one sees historical classification as more important than personal classification. This may sound exacting; but it used to be required of any soldier. The special trait making me an anarch is that I live in a world which I ‘ultimately’ do not take seriously. This increases my freedom; I serve as a temporary volunteer.”
“I serve the Condor, who is a tyrant – that is his function, just as mine is to be his steward; both of us can retreat to substance: to human nature in its nameless condition.”
“Working somewhere is unavoidable; in this respect, I behave like a condottiere, who makes his energy available at a given moment, but, in his heart of hearts, remains uncommitted. Furthermore, as here in the night bar, work is a part of my studies – the practical part."

Liberated from aspirations or beliefs in no-longer existent higher causes within life, both Evola’s type and Jünger’s anarch are free to take on life involvements, such as employment or even political associations - either because they simply appeal to them or because they are useful to their practical self-perfection. Any such commitment is temporary, conditional and ultimately superficial, that is, it remains outside their true inner being.

Psychologically speaking, neither figure identifies themselves with their life-roles and associations; these have useful functions, but are not substantial, do not regard their true inner being. The resulting detachment allows them life involvements which for others would require or presume inner identification with the external cause, be it the tyrant’s, the democracy’s or the religion’s. Neither driven nor limited by such moral or spiritual beliefs, their involvement in life is of a freer, less compulsive nature.

A job is a function of life, which engages only the persona, to use Evola’s term, the historical classification in Jünger’s. The soldier or the condottiere also sees their involvement with the cause in this context, as the involvement of the external persona with the external historical situation. But beyond or above the persona, inner substance or being protects the anarch as it does Evola’s differentiated man, provides them with an inviolable inner fortress - as a base for excursions into life and as a sanctuary to retreat to from life.