Translated by Cologero Salvo
Right and Left are designations that refer to a political system already in crisis. In traditional systems of government, they were non-existent, at least if taken in their current meaning. In them there could be an opposition party, but not a revolutionary one, nor one that put the system itself in question, but rather it was loyalist and, in a certain way, workable. So in England, where one could speak of His Majesty’s most loyal, or of a “very loyal opposition of His Majesty.” Things changed after facing the subversive movements of more recent times, and it is known that at their origin, the Right and the Left were defined on the basis of the places the opposed parties respectively occupied in parliament.
Depending on the levels, the Right assumes distinct meanings. There is and economic Right on a capitalistic base not without legitimacy if it does not abuse its power and if its antithesis is socialism and Marxism.
As to a political Right, it strictly acquires its full significance if a monarchy exists in an organic State: as was the case especially in central Europe, and also partly in conservative England.
But we can also disregard institutional presuppositions and speak of a Right in terms of a spiritual orientation and a vision of the world. Then to be of the Right means, beyond being against democracy and every “social” mythology, to defend the values of Tradition as spiritual, aristocratic, and warrior values (in a derivative way, also with reference to a strict military tradition as, for example, happened in Prussianism). It means beyond nourishing a certain disdain for intellectualism and for the bourgeois fetishism of the “cultured man” (the representative of an old piedmontese family paradoxically had this to say: “I divide our world into two classes: the nobility and those who have a university degree” and Ernst Jünger, in support, valorized the antidote constituted by a “healthy analphabetism”).
To be of the Right means also to be conservative, however, not in a static sense. The obvious presumption is that there is something of substance worthy of being conserved, which however puts us facing a difficult problem or refers to what constituted the immediate past of Italy after its unification: the Italy of the nineteenth century has certainly not left us a heritage of superior values to preserve, deeds to serve as the base. Even going further back in Italian history, we encounter only sporadic positions of the Right; it lacked a formative unitary force which existed in other nations, made solid by time from ancient monarchical traditions of an aristocratic oligarchy.
However, in affirming that a Right must not be characterized by a static conservatism, we mean that rather there must be certain values or certain ideas based on solid ground, but that different expressions must be given to them, adequate to the development of the times, in order to not let them be bypassed, in order to take back, control, and incorporate everything that little by little is manifested with changing situations. This is the only sense in which a man of the Right can conceive “progress”; it is not a simple movement forward, as too many often think, especially among the left; Bernanos was able to speak aptly of a “escape forward” in this contest (“imbeciles, where are you fleeing ahead?”). “Progressivism” is a foible foreign to every positions of the Right. It is also, because in a general consideration of the course of history, with reference to spiritual values, not to material values, technical achievements, etc. the man of the Right was led to recognize a descent, not progress nor a true ascent. The developments of current society can only confirm this conviction.
The positions of a Right are necessarily anti-corporate, anti-plebian, and aristocratic; thus their positivie counterpart will be to see value in the affirmation of the ideal of a well-structured, organic, hierarchical State, straight from a principle of authority. In this last regard, they therefore overlook the difficulties with regards to that from which such a principle can draw its foundation and its blessing. It is obvious that it cannot come from below, from the demos, in which, without offending the Mazzinians of yesterday and today, it does not express in the least the vox Dei [voice of God], if anything , the contrary. And one must also exclude the dictatorial and Bonapartist solutions, which can only have transient value, in emergency situations and contingent and short-term goals.
Again, we find ourselves compelled to refer instead to a dynastic continuity, provided, considering monarchic regimes, we keep in view at least what was called “authoritarian constitutionalism,” or rather a power that is not purely representative, but also active and regulatory, on the level of that “decisionism” which De Maistre and Donoso Cortes had previously spoken about, in reference to decisions constituting the last resort, with all the responsibility tied to it and which must be assumed in person, when one is found facing the necessity of a direct intervention because the existing order has become a crisis or new forces push onto the political scene.
Let us repeat however that the rejection in these terms of a “static conservatism” does not concern the level of principles. For the man of the Right, principles always constitute the solid base, the terra firma in the face of change and contingencies, and there the counter-revolution deserves a precise catchword. If we want, we can refer here instead to the formula, paradoxical only in appearance, of a “conservative revolution.” It concerns all the initiatives that are imposed through the removal of negative factual situations, necessary for a restoration, for an adequate revival of what has an intrinsic value and cannot be an object of discussion. In effect, in conditions of crisis and subversion, it can be said that nothing has a character so revolutionary as much as the renewal of such values. An ancient saying usu vetera novant [the use of old and new], and it emphasizes the same context: the renovation that can actualize the revival of the “ancient”, i.e., the unchangeable traditional legacy.
With this, we believe that the positions of the man of the Rights are sufficiently clarified.
Source: This essay by Julius Evola was originally published in the journal “Roma” on 19 March 1973 under the title “Essere di Destra.”