INSIDE MEMORY´S LABYRINTH: Bo Cavefors and Julius Evola
My blog entries may be likened to the game where you draw a line between points provided with numbers until an image emerges. For me, the points are constituted by memories; some close, others distant. At first it seems like the memory points are disconnected, but soon a context, a story, appears. The process is set off by something I have read, heard or seen and eventually a string of memories is formed.
The starting point of the following essay is a comment that President Trump's advisor and "chief strategist" Steve Bannon made in July 2013. Bannon was then managing The Government Accountability Institute (GAI), a conservative "research association" with a self-imposed task to "investigate and expose crony capitalism, misuse of taxpayer monies, and other governmental corruption or malfeasance."
Bannon characterizes himself as an alternative conservative Catholic and had by his friend Benjamin Harnwell, founder of the Dignitatis Humanae Institute (DHI), in 2013 been invited to give a lecture at the Institute's annual conference in the Vatican. DHI is one of several working groups operating under the umbrella of the European Parliament. The organization arranges an annual conference with exclusive invitees. DHI states their task as monitoring and promoting what its members have defined as "human dignity", declaring that since humans are created in God's image this signifies that they develop from conception to natural death. The most effective way to safeguard this state of affairs is to "actively promote the Christian faith in the public domain". This means among other things that DHI is opposed to abortion and homosexuality and wants to counter the forces that are believed to undermine the traditional family and thereby "erode one of western civilization´s pillars”. DHI proudly declares that it is a conservative organization, which safegurads traditional Catholic values.
Steve Bannon was in 2013 unable to personally attend to DHI's annual conference and therefore he gave a speech and answered questions via an Internet link. He answered a question about Vladimir Putin's worldview by noting that Putin is "very, very, very intelligent" and that:
when you really look at some of the underpinnings of some of his [Putin´s] beliefs today, a lot of those come from what I call Eurasianism; he’s got an adviser who harkens back to Julius Evola and different writers of the early 20th century who are really the supporters of what’s called the traditionalist movement, which really eventually metastasized into Italian fascism. A lot of people that are traditionalists are attracted to that.
Julius Evola? The name brought back a string of memories, beginning in 1977 when I wrote a novel. As usually is the case with me, the story evolved while I was writing it and after a month I had finished Alfio Scandurra. I got the name from a Sicilian carabiniere who had signed a paper certifying that I had been robbed of a wristwatch. As soon as I got back to Sweden and had received a new watch from the insurance company, I began writing.
The criticism was not particularly gracious. One paper wrote: "The only redeeming with Lundius´s novel is that it is only ninety pages long," while other reviewers found it to be "totally irrelevant", or "too messy, confusing and devoid of substance ". I don´t know. I have not read it since I got it published by Bo Cavefors in Lund.
That I sent the manuscript to Cavefors Publishing was due to the fact I lived in Lund where the publisher was established and I thus entertained a vague hope of being able to meet with him after my novel had been rejected. After just a month I found a friendly rejection letter in my mail box. It was written by Bo Cavefors himself and since I had a high opinion of both Cavefors and his company I was both happy and grateful.
I was an avid reader of much of the publisher's releases and had devoured the decadent, and pataphysical stories in collections like Fantastika and In Search of the pig that escaped. Cavefors published a wealth of interesting literary acquaintances like Tadeusz Borowski, Roald Dahl, Karl Marx, Richard Brautigan, Ivan Goncharov, Michel Foucault, Hermann Broch, Ezra Pound, Lautréamont, and Alfred Jarry, as well as African authors like Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Wole Soyinka, Ousmane Sembène and Camara Laye. In short, Bo Cavefors was knowledgeable and headstrong, though there were also some substantial lows like Mao's military writings, not to speak of Kim Il-sung´s illegible concoctions.
Bo Cavefors wrote that he had read my novel with great interest, and though it "was far from finished", I was welcome to drop in at his office, if I wanted to. Of course I wanted to see him. His office was in a famous villa not far from the cathedral and had belonged to the famous architect Helgo Zetterwall, who in the mid-1800s had restored Sweden´s cathedrals, as well as he had designed the imposing main building of Lund University.
Cavefors received me behind his desk in a bright, elegant salon with Ionic columns. Bo Cavefors, who at the time was forty-years, gave with his high forehead, thin hair and unusually blue eyes a charismatic impression. For some reason, I came to think of Mussolini, not in a negative sense, rather through the fact that Cavefors appeared to be sure of himself. Mussolini had been blinded by the role played by himself, while Cavefors gave an honest impression; open-hearted, kind and sharp. He asked me if I had been offended by him writing that my novel "was far from finished."- Not at all, I answered truthfully.
- I liked it, he added, and continued:
- You do not write like most young writers do nowadays. Did you send the manuscript to me because you had a feeling that I would appreciate it?
I admitted that I liked most of the books he published.
- I will be honest with you, he said. I think you have talent and could develop into an able writer and already now you seem to have a well-stocked cupboard of experiences to draw from. However, if I publish your novel it may prove be a disservice to you. If a young debutante like you can get a novel so easily placed, it may mean that it can be hard to write and publish another one.
- Due to the negative reviews?
- I assume they will be quite benevolent.
- Why would I then find it difficult to write again?
- Like I said ... your novel is not finished yet. It can be improved. However, if you want me to publish it, I'll do it at once.
- Sure, I would be very grateful if you published it.
And he did so, in a very short time and for me it was nice experience and not at all inhibiting to see it in print. Nevertheless, Bo Cavefors´ words have followed me through life. I did not forget what he said about the "experience cupboard” and what I considered to be a warning to take my writing too seriously. I still consider myself to be an amateur writer, someone who writes for his own pleasure and this realisation has probably protected me from writer's block and from being hypersensitivity to scathing criticism.
In my small hometown of Hässleholm, the father of a former classmate of mine, Per-Erik Lindahl, had written a comprehensive biography, The Oscillations of the Anxiety Wheel, about the remarkable Erik Hermelin, who after being admitted to St Lars Mental Hospital in Lund had translated a variety of poets and mystics from ancient Persian, as well as the Swedish mystic Emanuel Swedenborg from Latin and Jacob Boehme from German. The year before Cavefors published my Alfio Scandurra he had published Lindahl's book. Per-Erik Lindahl, who was teacher in the Swedish language and literature at the Technical School where my mother worked as a school nurse, warned me the only time I met him: - Beware of Cavefors.
- How so? I wondered in surprise. He has been very straight with me.
- Did he pay you?
- Absolutely! He read my manuscript himself, made good comments, gave me a decent standard contract and paid according to the established rules
- Oh, that was interesting. For he has pulled me by the nose in different ways. Cavefors is an intelligent, highly cultured and well-read man, but he harbours a lot of strange ideas and is certainly not to be trusted.
It was from Lindahl that I found out that Bo Cavefors planned to publish the memoirs of the aged and blind Nazi Per Engdahl. A colleague of Lindahl, the math teacher Barwart Giese, was an unrepentant Nazi. I once got into loggerheads with him when my mother one summer had invited the members of Hässleholm´s church choir to our cottage in the woods. At that occasion, the humourless Giese had in a completely uninhibited manner exposed stale and utterly loathsome racist opinions, thus making all present squirming from embarrassment. Young and inexperienced as I was, I was unable to keep my big mouth shut, something that resulted in an unpleasant quarrel between me and the Nazi troglodyte. I considered Barwart Giese to be an evil old man, but at the time he was actually younger than I am now.
My father, who worked at Hässleholm´s local newspaper Norra Skåne, told me that Giese was President of the ill-famed Malmö Section of the Swedish National Association (SNF), a notorious Nazi organization that had survived World War II. I do not know if Giese was still alive when SNF´s Malmö Section in 1990 applied to join the American Ku Klux Klan. It is quite possible, if that had been the case Giese had at that time been 79 years old.
Well, Per-Eric Lindahl told me that Bo Cavefors had contacted Barwart Giese´s former party comrade, the Fascist/Nazi Per Engdahl and asked him whether he wanted to write his memoirs. To me it appeared inconceivable that the friendly and eagle-eyed Cavefors had offered a perverse reactionary to publish a book. I felt uncomfortable to have been published by such a man and began to wonder what kind of oddball Cavefors could be.
The cornerstone of Barwart Giese´s political beliefs was brazen racism and I suspect that it was the same with Per Engdahl, though he presented himself as a cultured poet and intellectual, with extensive international contacts, good friend and adviser to admired Swedish politicians. Not least did Engdahl claim in his Filibuster in the Swedish Welfare State that he was on good terms with moderate and influential Social Democrats like Ernst Wigforss and Tage Erlander. However, it was a well-known fact that Engdahl out in Europe had been helpful in resurrecting the hideous ghost of Nazism and tried to make it presentable again. Not the least had he been one of the main organizers of what has been called The Nordic Ratline.
The rat lines were an international network, which after the war brought wanted mass murderers and war criminals to security in Latin America and the Middle East. The main escape routes went over the Spanish ports of Algeciras and Valencia to Buenos Aires and the Italian port of Genoa to Alexandria. Engdahl collaborated with prominent Nazi smugglers like the former SS Obersturmbannführer Otto Skorzeny in Spain and the Croatian Franciscan monk Krunsolav Draganovic in Italy, the latter also had contacts with the US Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC), which later was integrated with the CIA. CIC was interested in the scientific/technical skills of some Nazi criminals, while they also wanted to build up spy- and resistance networks in communist-controlled Eastern Europe. In connection with his "rescue missions" Per Engdahl visited several prominent, wintering Nazis and Fascists in France, Spain and Italy.
In his autobiography, Per Engdahl tells us about the sufferings and killings that befall Nazis and Fascists in postwar Europe. He qualifies the Nuremberg Trials as the "so far darkest chapter in European legal history".
Nuremberg etched itself into our consciousness as a triumph of Evil. If there ever is to be spoken about "crimes against humanity", it is the Nuremberg trials.
The state organized and systematic mass slaughter of millions of Jews, Gypsies, prisoners of war, homosexuals, mental patients, opposition members, etc. that is unprecedented in human history, is by Per Engdahl mentioned only en passant and in the manipulative apologetic manner that permeates his entire autobiography. Of course, there is not a trace of the fact that those criminals who Engdahl labels as "freedom fighters" generally were racist mass murderers, or people who had supported and pardoned murder and inhumane treatment of their fellow human beings. In his book, evildoers do instead appear as stalwart champions of individual freedom against a stifling, levelling democracy, which favours miscegenation and degeneration:
Atrocities were carried out on both sides. They do not excuse one another. The only difference is that the transgressions of one side have for more than 30 years been granted constant publicity, while the misdeeds of its opponents, which was not a lot better, have been covered up and darkened. On the one hand, one side controls all the media, while the other has been forced into silence. Over time this will prove to be a dangerous game. The slogan that has been repeated for decades now, that "We must not forget" has also been heard by those who have been silenced. This keeps hatred alive. The memory is not worse on one side, than on the other. The thirst for revenge is kept alive and is now passed on to a new generation. Europe cannot afford such a vendetta. It is not inconceivable that repressed feelings may someday come in handy for some non-European superpower on the rise. The old victors still dominate the scene. But for how long? And what will come next?
Such devious siren songs have brought both unsuspecting and unscrupulous individuals into the pens of the abyssal Right. Engdahl´s history falsification rantings, lousy poetry and even worse politics have made violence and suffering abstract. His entire worldview, like that of Trump and the Sweden Democrats, is nothing but a simplified sheet without depths or shadows and it makes me think of Jean Baudrillard´s descriptions of our post-modern consumer society, where everything is being turned into a spectacle. Economy, art, politics and sexuality are mixed together into a show. Reality does not exist anymore. We have entered a world of illusions. Who can seriously identify her/himself with the sufferings of a concentration camp inmate, or a raped and tortured refugee? Idiotic extremist parties are paying tribute to "their own people", their own unique culture, while erecting walls and implementing entry bans, attacking free speech and opposite views:
… the notion of freedom for all, a new and recent idea, is already fading from the minds and mores, and liberal globalization is coming about in precisely the opposite form — a police-state globalization, a total control, a terror based on ‘law-and-order’ measures. Deregulation ends up in a maximum of constraints and restrictions, akin to those of a fundamentalist society.
Ideological constructions like Nazism and "alternative conservatism" create utopian dreams instead of recalling what they actually have resulted in - unrestrained terror, mass slaughter and misanthropy.
In 1942, Per Engdahl´s reality counterfeiting attracted the sixteen-year-old, enterprising and in many ways admirable Ingvar Kamprad, IKEA's founder, to write a letter in which he declared himself to be interested in "genuinely Swedish literature" and wondered if he could receive some free copies of Vägen Framåt, “The Way Forward”, a paper published by Engdahl's Nazi party. The alert young man concluded his letter with "in the hope of good relations and with a Nordic greeting I sign, Ingvar Kamprad". Good relations were established and a friendship developed between the Nazi leader and Kamprad, who invited Engdahl as one of few non-relatives to his wedding in 1950.
As late as 2010, Kamprad declared that "Per Engdahl is a great man, and I will maintain that as long as I live." In Älmhult, the cradle of IKEA, which is not so far from my birthplace and where I have occasionally ended up, there are very few IKEA employees and locals to be found who speak ill of Ingvar Kamprad. It is possible that even Per Engdahl, despite its obstinate defence of mass murder and distressing racism, was a likable person. It is easy to overlook distasteful opinions of pleasant acquaintances and interaction with such people may even make you blind to the serious nature of their thinking. In defence of his commitment to an open racist party that minimized Nazi atrocities Kamprad directed attention to a different aspect of Engdahl's ideology:
They called me a Nazi, but the truth is that I could have been called a Fascist instead, because the corporatist doctrine, i.e. that everyone who worked for example in the leather industry stuck together, like everyone in the agricultural sector, that was the basic idea of the corporative doctrines which I then, as a young man, believed in. But it turned out that it was wrong and today I have a completely different view.
Bo Cavefors also mentioned corporativism, while remaining silent about Englund´s racism when he asked him to write his autobiography:
Given the long time you have been politically active in Sweden and internationally for the corporative movement, I think it would be in the public interest to have your explanation of what had been essential for you and also your analysis of the future.
His blatant anti-Semitism is absent from Engdahl's memoirs. In the Way Forward he used to publish distasteful dithyrambs, which he in his memoirs described as objective arguments in support of the emergence of an equitable Swedish society - not a word about the fire and brimstone racism he expressed in those bygone days. The same year as the Wannsee Conference adopted the guidelines for how the "final solution", i.e. the total extermination of the Jews, would be coordinated and streamlined, the Way Forward published the Swedish Opposition´s party program:
If a people has both physical and spiritual health, if it is in a good disposition to pass on such a state of wellbeing through generations, people do not have to despair about their future and the preservation of their race. But if a people does not protect these good capabilities by allowing less worthy racial elements to intrude and interfere with the working masses, if persons with bad disposition, physically crippled, untalented and morally lax, are allowed to develop freely, then a nation´s material and spiritual standards will be undermined.
In fairness it should be noted that similar notions could be expressed from all contemporary Swedish political camps, also from generally decent Social Democrats. Thus could Arthur Engberg, who was a respected Social Democratic Minister of Education in the 1930s, during the previous decade welcomed the founding of a Swedish State Institute for Racial Biology at the University of Uppsala with the words:
However, it is strange that while we are so very keen to trace the pedigrees of our dogs and horses, we are not at all so keen to make sure how to preserve and protect our own Swedish public stock. It is high time that this now takes place.
Nevertheless, the racism of some Social Democrats was far from being shared by all party members and it was far from being as radical and immutable as those of Engdahl's supporters, who by their frequent German contacts were well aware of the merciless Nazi persecution of "less worthy races". Even if Engdahl did not directly advocate liquidation of “less valuable” races, he wanted to implement forced "sterilization of all inferior racial elements", "marriage bans for overseas races," "a complete halt to all immigration of Jews", "no Jews in leading positions" and that:
All Jews in Sweden shall be forced to join an organization, which leadership will be responsible for the Jews' behaviour and handle all negotiations between the Swedish government and Jews residing in Sweden.
Such views do now appear to be absurd, though it may be argued at the time they were expressed the entire Swedish society was basically impregnated by racism. The Swedish Army´s Manual for Soldiers, which was introduced in 1929 and up until 1938 distributed in 100 000 copies to all conscripted soldiers. Enlistment for all eighteen years old citizens was obligatory at the time and even when I made my military service back in 1974. It was not until 1938 that the following paragraph was abandoned, probably due to the disturbing news about racial persecutions in Germany.
It is upon our people's racial characteristics that our abilities and power ultimately are based. For a nation the conservation and breeding of good properties are of outstanding importance in the permanent and continuous power competition between nations. A nation's power, prosperity and culture depend thereof. Therefore, mixing with a non-equal race is an extreme threat to a people of a high standing.
I read Engdahl's deeply dishonest autobiography, his self-righteous corrections of his life story and distorted ideology, as well as some texts written by and about this bigot with whom we find some of the mainsprings to the currently so appallingly successful Sweden Democrats. Right wing extremists still celebrate Per Engdahl´s great knowledge, his intelligence, and especially his poetry. In several volumes, Engdahl published his grandiose and pathetically bad poetry. Below an example in my translation, which is no worse than the Swedish original:
If you have an enemy, sullen and without any joy.
one who you want to humiliate and destroy,
just spread a rumour that he´s a Fascist,
then he will be worse than any racist.
And if your rival is nice to be with
harmless as Svensson or Smith,
you may send him off to Benghazi,
just by calling him a Nazi.
That Bo Cavefors opened up his publishing company for a chauvinist like Engdahl might possibly be justified that by giving voice to an old Nazi tinged Swede could be considered as rendering some relief to the otherwise politically correct and doctored history writing that media mainstream has so far provided us with. Cavefors is probably right when he declares:
I am of the definite opinion that one cannot discuss or criticize another person, a religion or a political movement, terrorists or demonstrators, if you do not know what such people write and think. To be able to argue with Hilding Hagberg we must initially take him seriously. I was certainly provocative when I published this RAF book (Cavefors had illegally published the texts of the terrorist group The Red Army Faction, commonly known as The Baader-Meinhof Gang, in both Swedish and German) and I've been that all the time. I published Hagberg´s memoirs, Kim II Sung, Marx, Stalin, Lenin, Althusser, Jünger - the whole lot.
The Swedish Communist leader Hilding Hagberg could possibly be considered as the Nazi Per Engdahl´s complete opposite, though they coincided in their admiration for power-hungry autocrats and their brutal persecution of dissidents. Hagberg´s opinion about Stalin may just as well be equated with Engdahl's reverence for the "Godsent" Adolf Hitler:
Stalin's life work symbolizes everything what the noblest sprits of a people may dream of and wanted to achieve through their struggle.
Perhaps one of the sources behind Cavefors´ detached and "objective" view of his publishing endeavours may be found in Ernst Jünger´s texts, which Cavefors appreciates. In his novel Eumeswil from 1977 Jünger explores in much detail the concept of Anarch. The novel largely lacks action, in a strange fashion the text appears like an ocean with ripples moving on its surface. It has a narrator, Manuel Venator, who along with his work as a historian is “night steward” at the Kasbah, residence of the dictator of the small state of Eumeswil. The country gives an impression of being a kind of Arabian Nights inspired feudal state, located by the Mediterranean coast of northern Africa. We find ourselves in a distant future where ideologies, or as postmodernists call them "great stories", have become "stale". Society is global in the sense that people and cultures from all around the world come together in Eumeswil, which is dominated by a Machiavellian tyrant who rules his kingdom through a ubiquitous network of informants. If his power is threatened The Condor, as he is called, does not hesitate to use violence, yet he allows his subjects to live quite free from repressive control and complicated regulations.
Manuel Venator realizes that the world is imperfect, that something is wrong from the beginning. A human paradise cannot be created on earth and we should therefore not strive for an ideal form of society. Instead we ought to try to deliver ourselves from any form of “progressive thinking” and even within a dictatorial system be able to protect our personal freedom. We should learn to know ourselves, while thoroughly studying the rules that govern our existence. An Anarch is someone who:
fights alone, as a free man, and would never dream of sacrificing himself to having one inadequacy supplant another and a new regime triumph over the old one. In this sense, he is closer to the philistine; the baker whose chief concern is to bake good bread; the peasant, who works his plow while armies march across his fields.
An Anarch limits himself (men and not women are always at the centre of Jünger´s stories and musings) to study his surroundings and immerse in all sorts of cultural expressions, mainly books. In an essay Bo Cavefors explains:
... love is anarchic but not marriage, "the warrior is anarchic but not the soldier. Manslaughter is anarchic but not murder. Christ is anarchic, not Paul." A free man is anarchic, but not an anarchist.
I am troubled by such notions, they appear as arrogant and misanthropic. An Anarch is far removed from what I consider to essential for a human society and interactions between individuals, namely compassion.
People who chose to belong to a particular group, it may be anything from UFO believers, gangsters, Nazis and jihadists, radical feminists or sadomasochists, often live within a universe, which presence the uninitiated cannot even imagine. The homosexual icon Christopher Isherwood wrote in his diaries how he during nights disappeared from the world of “Average Joes” and entered the twilight zone of a secret gay community:
An enormous subterranean world, a delicious purgatory, a naked democracy in which the only class distinctions are anatomical. And that this underworld merely has a number of different entrances and vestibules in all the cities of the world. You could enter it in Sydney and emerge from it to find yourself in Jermyn Street [a street in central London famous for shops that aim at gentlemen's clothing market].
In 1997 the Swedish author Bengt Jangfeldt opened the door to such a world. I was going to have an essay published in a journal run by him and the poet Gunnar Harding and in anticipation of that I visited their office in Stockholm to submit a few illustrations. Jangfeldt who saw that I had published a novel with Cavefors took out a magazine:
- Do you know what Bo Cavefors is doing these days when he no longer has his publishing house?
No I did not know that. I did not live in Sweden and had poor knowledge of what was happening there.
- Stuff like this. I cannot understand the value of it all, to me it is quiet unpleasant.
He gave me the magazine, Svarta Fanor, Black Banners. It was illustrated with explicit photographs of homosexual sadomasochism and presented articles about neighbouring phenomena, as well as writers who devoted themselves to such activities, some of them harbouring ideas that could be considered as being far to the right of current views. Cavefors´ own contributions were occasionally well-written, though the entire genre appeared not only as disturbing but outright unsavoury. It appeared as if Cavefors surrounded himself with a coterie of like-minded young men and staged performances, often with the naked Bo Cavefors at the centre of the action. It all made me think of other bisexual cultural celebrities. Writers such as Oscar Wilde, Stefan George and Yukio Mishima, who had behaved in a similar manner.
What worried me was the perverted enticement of what is sordid and illicit. Like Pasolini´s tributes to Ragazzi di vita, “Boys of Life” - poor, petty criminals and sexually liberated young men. His dealings with such ragazzi came to cost him his life. Like Fassbinder, Pasolini appeared to be both attracted to and discouraged by the perversions of society's darker side. His last film was the distasteful sadomasochistic Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom and in his last film Fassbinder wallowed in an aestheticizing portrayal of homosexuality and criminality, based on Jean Genet's outlandish novel Querelle.
Certain intellectuals seem to suffer from hybristophila, a morbid attraction to crime and criminals. Something that among other reasons may be due to a desire to be free and independent. Épater la bourgeoisie, to alarm the conformists, was a rallying cry that brought together brilliant poets like Baudelaire and le enfant terrible Arthur Rimbaud, who was uninhibitedly bisexual and a petty criminal. The fix star for this French tradition was, and remains, the Marquis de Sade, who wrote chilly, tedious novels, brimming with detailed descriptions of grisly, sexual abuse, violence, crime, blasphemy and philosophical attacks on Catholicism. de Sade eventually became an ideal for modernists, Dadaists and Surrealists, probably beginning after Guillaume Apollinaire in his book Le Marquis Divin, written in 1909, had celebrated the perverted aristocrat as the "freest spirit that ever existed."
Apollinaire's boundless admiration for a mad prophet who had violated all conceivable decency and regarded humanity with pitch black contempt, have inspired such diverse writers and thinkers as Mishima, Celine, Beckett, Barthes, Weiss, Angela Carter, Susan Sontag, Adorno, Lacan, etc., etc. In her essay Must we burn de Sade? the feminist icon Simone de Beauvoir wrote that the radical pervert represented a revolutionary philosophy of freedom that was a forerunner to existentialism.
Beauvoir's beloved companion Jean-Paul Sartre, who I always have been rather uneasy about, wrote more than six hundred closely printed pages about the self-revealing and play-acting Jean Genet's penchant for crime and other forms unrestrained behaviour - Saint Genet, comédien et martyr. Michel Foucault and Georges Bataille wrote about, was fascinated by and practiced sadomasochism. People are enchanted by Charles Bukowski´s depictions of sex and alcoholism at the bottom of society, or novels like William S. Burroughs´ outrageous The Wild Boys: A Book of the Dead from 1971, fantasising about a gay youth movement which goal is the destruction of Western civilization through an apocalyptic devastation by the end of the twentieth century.
A "novel" about an author and enfant terrible, who through his persona summarizes an entire era is Emmanuel Carrère´s Limonov. Like Sartre, in his Saint Genet Carrère seems to be overwhelmed by his protagonist, though Carrère´s novel lacks Sartre's psycho-philosophical speculations about his hero's character and behaviour. Veniaminovich Eduard Savenko, who uses the pseudonym Limonov, is a Russian, violent and skilled writer and poet, dissident, active participant in the wars in Bosnia and Transnistria, bisexual, ardent nationalist, whimsical publicity seeker, truth-teller, etc., etc.
Limonov appears to be what Americans may label as “bigger than life” and it is no wonder why Carrère wrote about this man with a mixture of amazement and admiration. Limonov was a juvenile delinquent, an admired writer in Russia and France, homeless in New York City until he ended up as butler to a millionaire, bellicose friend and fellow-traveller with ruthless Serbian gangsters and war criminals like Željko Ražnatović, aka Arkan, and Radovan Karadzic. In Russia, he supported the "Black Colonel" Viktor Alksnis, founder of an ultra-nationalist party, the National Salvation Front and Yury Kostenko, a veteran from the war in Afghanistan who headed a private army of right-wing militias in Transnistria, a self-proclaimed state that most other nations consider to be part of Moldova. Kostenko´s gangster methods was apparently so exaggerated that he was obviously murdered by his own followers.
It was while he fought under Kostenko that Limonov met Aleksandr Dugin, who with his overgrown beard can bring to mind Russian Orthodox monks, or Grigori Rasputin. Dugin speaks and reads a variety of languages. His thinking is a thicket of influences from medieval writers, alchemy, hermitism, oriental mysticism, theosophy, racism, Pan-Slavism, fascism and National Socialism. Until 2014, Aleksandr Dugin was heading the Department of Sociology at the State University of Moscow, but was forced to resign after a speech in support of Russian intervention in Ukraine, which he concluded by yelling, "Kill, kill, kill!"
Aleksandr Dugin is inspired by Julius Evola´s writings and advocates the creation of elitist men's groups and, like the Italian ideologue, who despised fascism, communism and the Nazi state, but appreciated SS and Himmler's preposterous research institute Ahnenerbe, Dugin may burst out in unrestrained tributes to Nazi racist-based ideologies and with forked tongue declare that he:
by no means support the racist and chauvinist aspects of National Socialism that determined the nature of its ideology. The excesses of this ideology in Germany are a matter exclusively of the Germans, while Russian fascism is a combination of natural national conservatism with a passionate desire for true changes. […] Waffen-SS and especially the scientific sector of this organization, Ahnenerbe [was] an intellectual oasis in the framework of the National Socialist regime.
An unappetizing gibberish that resembles Per Engdahl's harangues:
… and for sure the Waffen-SS, with its Nordic, Dutch, Flemish, Spanish and French formations emerged as a Europe in miniature, a collaboration between patriots across borders in the struggle for the common European heritage. The concentration camp horrors we became only later fully aware of, we, like most others. But regardless of this the dream does not die, the idea was not extinguished.
Like Engdahl, Dugin is a chauvinist who collaborates with like-minded fanatics in other countries. Engdahl strived for a European Union based on the Fascist /Nazi ideas, while Dugin pursues what he calls an "Eurasian Union" and has to that end established a political organisation, The Euroasian Party. He is an appreciated lecturer and advisor in both Turkey and Iran, where he advocates a close cooperation between "Aryan Persians, Turkish peoples and the Slavs".
It was, of course, Aleksandr Dugin who Steve Bannon alluded to when he mentioned that Putin "got an adviser who harkens back to Julius Evola" and mentioned that several of Putin's ideas find their origin in what Bannon called "eurasianism". Dugin is well known in Russia and apparently played an important role when it came to mediate between Putin and Erdogan after the Turkish army in November last year shot down a Russian attack plane. However, state officials deny that the Russian government has any dealings whatsoever with Dugin.
While Dugin and Limonov in 1993 socialized during the Transnistrian evenings, Limonov, who probably was inspired by all the vodka he consumed, became impressed by Dugin´s verbiage and education, especially his tales about his great role model – the Baltic-German Junker and madman Roman von Ungern-Sternberg, who in 1918 with his private army exerted a reign of terror in Mongolia, converted to Buddhism and considered himself to be an incarnation of Genghis Khan, while piles of corpses grew around him and he planned to conquer Russia and Western Europe.
The two cronies decided to jointly establish a National Bolshevik Party and publish a magazine called Limonka, Grenade. Their party symbol was the red and white Nazi flag, but instead of the swastika at its centre it carried the communist hammer and sickle. Limonov surrounded himself with handsome, black uniformed young men and the party attracted much attention, though it had little electoral success. Soon Limonov´s and Dugin´s road parted and the party, which originally stood on the Russian dissidents' side against Putin and was thus thwarted by the authorities, finally had to be closed down. Nevertheless, Limonov and Dugin have once again joined forces in their support for Putin and the war against Ukraine.
A few years after my meeting with Jangfeldt I went by train from Rome to Stockholm. While I was having lunch in the dining car three well-dressed, elderly gentlemen turned up and wondered if they could share the table with me. All three were grey-haired, short-cropped and upright. At that time, I spoke better German than I do now and was intrigued when I heard that they were Junkers who with their families had been forced to flee from East Prussia after the Second World War. All three were lawyers, experts on international law and in some manner linked to the EU. They told me they had participated in a "Catholic Conference" in Rome and were now on their way to Innsbruck. Clearly amused by meeting with a Swede who knew something, but not much, of what a Junker was, apart from an airplane, they ordered more wine and became quite talkative. Soon they paid tribute to their own social class while pouring poison over everything and everyone they considered to be opponents to what they labelled as the "new world order".
Junkers had once been aristocratic landowners who owned and controlled most of the land in East Prussia, where the peasants lived under serf like conditions. Since the reunification of Germany in 1871, the mostly very conservative Junkers came to be a major influence in the Government and especially the army. The distinguished gentlemen at the restaurant table, spoke warmly of what they referred to as das Preussische Krieger Ideal, the Prussian Warrior Ideal. An honourable officer tradition perpetuated within their aristocratic circles ever since the Crusaders of the Teutonic Order, who beginning in the 1220s had conquered Prussia, Christianising, germanising or simply exterminating the pagan Prussians. This Krieger Ideal had according to my table companions been dragged through the mud, first by the sordid Nazis, then by the loathsome Communists and now the poor Junkers´ high ideals were threatened by the onslaught of Ossies, brainwashed communists who were moving westward after the unification of Germany, to say nothing about the surging "hordes" of "Negroes and Orientals".
I was amazed by the Junkers´ uninhibited bragging and their assurance that only "a strong Europe united under a monarchist, feudal rule" could impede the general decadence. Only religion could save Europe and that was why they now sought the support of conservative Catholics. That was the first time I heard about Julius Evola, who according to the Junkers had been an amazing, human being:
His ideal was a proud and aristocratic Europe. He turned to the elite to realize this dream and not to the uneducated, bastardised masses. Forces fighting for higher ideals than economic reasons, party-interests, feminism, consumerism and spineless conformism. European society must be based on a male ideals, like those of the Indian Brahmins, Japanese samurai and - why not? - the Teutonic Ständerstat.
My question if they were Catholics annoyed the Junkers. Of course they were fervent German Lutherans. Nevertheless, they were intelligent, thinking, Protestants as well! Evola had not been a Catholic either, but a thinking Buddhist. He was like my Prussian table companions a traditionalist and according to them tradition was for an Italian the same as Catholicism - medieval Catholicism, like the one of Dante and Thomas Aquinas. Traditional Catholicism! Like their Catholic friends the Junkers detested everything connected with the Second Vatican Council. A united Europe, a new European order, would end democracy once and for all. The old European princely families and the Prussian Warrior Ideal would be reinstated. "Read Evola" the Junkers told me.
I was taken aback. Where these crazy remnants of a feudal past really senior lawyers working for the EU? Had I like Isherwood ended up in a parallel world, which hitherto had been unknown to me? Since then I have read quite a lot about and by Evola and marvelled at the fact that such crazy concoctions could be taken seriously and written about with respect by people like Cavefors and the highly cultured Marguerite Yourcenar, author of Memoirs of Hadrian and A Coin in Nine Hands, a novel about a lady who tried to assassinate Mussolini. Was it her lesbian orientation that made Yourcebar appreciate bisexual writers like Evola and Mishima?
Julius Evola began his career as a Futuristic and Dadaist painter. His abstract paintings are OK, but his awkward depictions of women reveals his amateurism. Evola can indisputably be called a misogynist. He despised women and on several occasions he quoted approvingly the stock conservative Joseph de Maistre's statement that “a woman can be superior only as a woman, but as soon as she tries to imitate a man, she is nothing but a monkey.”
According to Evola a woman had to submit to a man in everything. Evola wrote a lot about heterosexual sex and in his youth enthusiastically participated in tantric and sadomasochistic orgies. He was in fact early on deeply interested in Hindu and Japanese philosophy, in particular theories about how male virility could be increased through discipline, meditation and yoga. He was also a skilled mountaineer, hailing adrenaline increasing endeavours, especially war and fighting. Cavefors wrote:
Like Jünger and Schmitt, Evola is part of a centuries-old conservative radical tradition, independent of religions, political entities and ethnic differences. [...] Evola stands remote from aesthetic compromises, a man´s being must be given an opportunity to partake in bold adventures without having to rely on the instructed and uniform grammar of poetry and authors "who have yielded to reality". Existential openness does of course require that a volunteer who dares to venture into such a realm is willing to open ears and eyes to capture the mysterious existence beyond Jewish and Christian dogmas.
Cavefors white washes Evola and in a later blog post I might elaborate on Evola´s and like-minded authors´ deplorable racism, including similar notions that have seeped into nationalist parties´ notions, where among several others we find the root system of the Sweden Democrats. For now it may be sufficient to briefly mention Evola´s beliefs in the Theosophists´ bizarre ideas about "root races" and sunken continents. In his book Il mito del sangue. Genesi del razzismo, The Blood Myth. Genesis of racism, from 1937 Evola approvingly cites Herman Wirth´s ideas about an Atlantic-Nordic race and as far as I know Evola never distanced himself from those cheesy theories.
Herman Wirth became in 1935 director of SS's research department Ahnenerbe, but was dismissed already in 1938 after it had been revealed that he had fiddled away large amounts of money and personally manufactured several "antiquities" that proved the existence of an ancient and technically advanced Nordic race. Furthermore was Himmler not particularly fond of Wirth´s theories about an original matriarchate. Himmler did however continue to believe in most of what Wirth wrote and persisted in supporting him financially. After the war, Wirth moved to a farm outside my hometown of Hässleholm in Sweden, where he lived until 1953 when he and his family moved to Bjärred outside the university town of Lund, just north of Malmö, where he maintained good contacts with Per Engdahl. However, after repeated accusations of financial irregularities and other problems Wirth moved back to Germany in 1958.
Well, in accordance with Wirth´s theories Evola asserted that in ancient times there existed an extensive, advanced culture in the Northern Hemisphere. However, a sudden shift of the Earth's axis forced the Aryan Hyperboreans to emigrate further south, to the now sunken continent of Atlantis, where they met with "proto-Mongols" and "proto-Negroes" from another sunken continent - Lemuria, which was located where we now find the South Pacific. The Atlantean culture was patriarchal and strictly hierarchical, while Lemurian culture was matriarchal and democratic. Through a strict caste system most Atlanteans avoided to mix with the Lemurians, whom they ruled over and subjugated to inferior positions. However, the ancient continents eventually disappeared during cataclysms caused by continental shifts and of the four major eras that have marked human civilization, we now live in the last and worst – the Kali Yuga. Some remains of the sophisticated Atlantean culture continued to influence Europe and some parts of the Orient, particularly in the form of feudalism, caste systems, monarchy and male warrior ideals, though these remnants are now under threat of extinction by decadent and feminized descendants of the Lemurians, who thrive in a climate of democracy, flabby and immoral existence.
I cannot understand how a "philosopher" propagating such flimsy ideas can be taken seriously. Evola was very influential in Fascist Italy, which he nevertheless found to be too "democratic" for its taste. He was also a popular lecturer in Germany and its allied states and vassals. Evola despised the Nazis, but was attracted to the SS, which he regarded as a military order, like the Indian warrior caste and the Japanese samurai. Himmler and Hitler sought his advice and in 1943 Evola spent several months in Hitler's Wolfsschanze, Wolf Lair, the Führer headquarter in the woods outside of Kętrzyn in north-eastern Poland. Due to some unknown reason Evola returned to Wolfsschanze on July 20, 1944, when he came in the company of Mussolini, arriving just a few hours after the failed attempt on Hitler´s life. We glimpse him in the background of a photo taken on the same day.
Evola was offered a leading role in Mussolini's government in Saló in northern Italy, established after the rest of Italy had capitulated to the allied forces and declared war on Germany, but he refused to deal with the Fascists and instead began to cooperate with Ahnenerbe and Waffen-SS. His position in the SS has never been revealed and Evola himself was reticent about his role, though evidence suggests that when Himmler realized that the war was lost, he planned to convince the Allies that they should spare him and his SS to use them to infiltrate and fight against the communists in the east.
Apparently, Evola was commissioned to build up Nazi resistance groups and organize them as some kind of Freemason lodges, something he claimed expertise on. That was probably why he found himself in Vienna on January 21, 1945, when he was hit in the back by bomb shrapnel and became paralyzed from the waist down. In Vienna, Evola had been researching documents about Freemasons that had been amassed by Ahnenerbe, but was lost forever during the chaos that followed the War. In spite of the vigilance and presence of Soviet occupation forces, Evola was under false name treated at various nursing homes and sanatoriums in Austria and Hungary, before he under the auspices of the Red Cross was returned to Italy on August 10, 1948.
Since then the paralyzed Julius Evola incubated like an old vulture in his apartment in central Rome, where he wrote book after book and gathered a coterie of young Neo-fascists, while "old fighters" regularly appeared to seek advice from their oracle. Evola could very well be characterized as an Anarch in Jünger´s sense. In Riding the Tiger, from 1961, he wrote:
Apoliteia is the interior distance, unassailable by this society and its "values"; it does not accept being bound by anything spirituality or morality. Once this is firm, the activities that in others would presuppose such bonds can be exercized in a different spirit. Moreover, there remains the sphere of activities that can be made to serve a higher-ordained and invisible end …
Evola is a murderous Anarch, calling for violent action. In his Men among the Ruins from 1953 he wrote that strong, bellicose men are needed to change Europe:
It remains to be seen which and how many men, in spite of it all, still stand upright among so many ruins, in order that they may make this task their own. […] It is not a question of contesting and polemicizing, but of blowing up everything.
Evola´s name surfaced on international headlines after Neo-fascists on the 2nd of August 1980 detonated a bomb at Bologna´s railway station, killing 85 persons and wounding 200. It was revealed that one of the men behind the terrorist attack, the young Roberto Fiore, was an enthusiastic fan of Evola, from whose writings he embraced the idea of a so-called "third position", which meant armed struggle against both communism and capitalism. When the attack in Bologna was carried out Evola had been dead for six years, but his teachings could obviously continue to inspire Europe´s abysmal Right. Bannon´s mentioning of Evola for a group of reactionary Catholics did not surprise me at all. In fact Catholic right-wing forces are currently mobilizing themselves against our present, hopefully sane Pope and many of them are familiar with Evola´s writings.
Evola was actually a mystic inspired by Oriental religions, who often attacked the Catholic Church, but at the same time he was motivated by a religiously inspired view of life and advocated a monarchist-feudal society, thus he could ally himself with Catholic black coats. A few years ago, I learned that a friend of mine here in Rome for several years had been plagued by a reactionary husband who was intensely involved with Fascist inspired Catholic associations, which fought against feminism and democracy while they confessed adherence to the Third Position. It would not surprise me if many such personages listened to Bannon´s speech to the participants of the conference organized by the Dignitatis Humanae Institute. Fanatics who now is breathing morning air when a conservative Catholic like Bannon acts as advisor to Trump and a crazy Evola admirer like Aleksandr Dugin has Putin´s and Erdogan's ear, while my Junker table companions from the train to Innsbruck act as lawyers on EU's behalf.
And Cavefors? What about him? I do not know what he is doing now, though I could not help being both grateful and touched when I several years ago read Cavefors´ review of one of my novels, in which he recalled how I had turned up at his publishing house "dressed in an elegant white suit, slim and blond, rather romantic" and continued by noting that “Alfio Scandurra was a book that did not fit in at a time when the 68ers ruled almost unmatched and decided on what could be said and written." Especially flattering was Cavefors claim that "Lundius´ novel remains today, in 2007, more fuming up-to-date than almost anything that was written in Swedish in the 1970s." However, now after everything I have written in this essay, I fear that Cavefors maybe regarded me as one of his cynical Anarchs, when I actually do not want to appear as an unworldly elitist, but rather as a fellow human being without any elitist ambitions. I would rather be connected with the kind of thinking that the unfortunate Swedish poet Bengt Lindner (1757 – 1793) expressed in lines like:
On Nova Zembla´s peaks, in vales of parched Ceylon,
The man of hapless lot is as my friend and brother.
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