Youth, Beats, & Right-Wing Anarchists,
Part 2: Youth in Revolt Against the Modern World
Part 1 of 2
We would now like to consider the concerns of young generation a little more specifically. There are youths who revolt against the socio-political situation in Italy, and who are at the same time interested in what we call, in general, the world of Tradition. While, on the one hand, they oppose the leftist forces and ideologies that dangerously encroach on the practical plane, on the other hand, they look towards spiritual horizons, and take some interest in the teachings and disciplines of ancient wisdom, if so far only theoretically, then still in more practical terms than the confused approaches of the “mystic beat.” We thus have forces that are potentially “on guard.” The problem is to come up with directions that are able to give a positive orientation to their activity.
Our book Ride the Tiger, considered by some as a “manual for the right-wing anarchist,” resolves the problem up to a certain point, insofar as it deals essentially – a thing that has not been stressed enough – only with a quite specific differentiated type of man, with a high level of maturity. Consequently, the orientations that are offered in that book are not always adapted, or, generally speaking, realizable, for the category of youth to which we have just alluded.
The first thing to recommend to those youths is prudence regarding all forms of interest or enthusiasm that might be of merely biological origin, that is to say, due to their age. It remains to be seen whether their attitude will remain unchanged with the coming of adulthood, when they will have to solve the concrete problems of existence. Unfortunately, our personal experience has shown us that this is rarely the case. By the turn of, let us say, their thirties, only a few maintain the same positions.
We have already spoken of a youth that is not only biological, but that also has an internal, spiritual aspect, necessarily not conditioned by age. That superior youth can however manifest itself in the other youth. We will not say that it is characterized by “idealism,” because the term is worn-out and ambiguous, and because the capacity to “demythologize” ideals, by nearing the ground level of conventional values, is a quality that these youths share with other currents of an ultimately quite different orientation. We would rather speak of a certain capacity for enthusiasm and élan, unconditional devotion, and detachment from bourgeois existence and from purely material and selfish interests. However, the first task is to assimilate those dispositions that, among the best, thrive in parallel to physical youth, to make of them permanent qualities, resisting all the opposing influences to which one is fatally exposed with age. As regards non-conformism, the first thing required is a lifestyle that is strictly anti-bourgeois. In his first period, Ernst Jünger was not afraid to write: “Better be a delinquent than a bourgeois”; we are not saying that this formula should be taken to the letter, but it indicates a general orientation. In daily life one must also be careful of traps presented by sentimental affairs such as marriage, family, and everything belonging to the residual structures of a visibly absurd society. That is a fundamental point. On the other hand, for the type in question, certain experiences, the whole problematic character of which we have seen in the case of “beats” and “hipsters,” might not offer the same dangers.
To counterpose to the weight of self-discipline as such, such a youth has to develop a taste for self-discipline which is free-form, detached from every social or “pedagogic” need. This is the problem of youth’s formation, in the most objective sense of the word. The difficulty is caused by the fact that all such formation presupposes, as a point of reference, certain values, while the rebellious youth rejects all the values, all the “morals,” of current society, and of bourgeois society in particular.
However, here, a distinction has to be made. There are values that have a conformist character, and an entirely external, social justification — apart from certain “values” that remain such because their original foundations are irrevocably lost. On the other hand, certain other values are offered merely as supports, to guarantee a being a true form and firmness. Courage, loyalty, straightforwardness, the disgust for lying, the inability to betray, the superiority to all petty egotism and to every inferior interest, can be counted among values that, in a sense, rise above “good” as much as “evil,” and that stand on a non-”moral,” ontological, plane: precisely because they provide the basis for a “self,” or reinforce it, against the condition presented by unstable, fugitive, amorphous nature. Here there is no imperative. The natural disposition of the individual alone must decide. To use an image, nature presents us with as many substances that have attained a complete crystallisation, as it does ones that are imperfect and incomplete crystals, mixed with flimsy gangue [the mineral or earthy substance associated with metallic ore — trans.]. Of course, we will not call the former “good” and the latter “bad,” in a moral sense. They are rather different degrees of “reality.” The same holds true for the human being. The problem of the formation of the youth, and his love for self-discipline, should be measured on that plane, beyond all the criteria and values of social morality. F. Thiess has justly written: “There is vulgarity, meanness, baseness, animality, perfidy, just as there is the stupid practice of virtue, bigotry, the conformist respect for the law. The former is worth as little as the latter.”
In general, every youth is characterized by a surplus of energies. The question of their use arises in a world like ours. In this respect, one could first consider the external, physical development aspect of the “formation” process. We would do well not to recommend the practice of modern sports in their quasi-totality. Sport is in fact one of the typical factors of the brutalization of the modern masses, and a vulgar character is nearly always associated with it. But certain particular physical activities could be admitted. One example is offered by high-altitude mountaineering, providing it can be restored to its original form, without the technical aids and the tendency towards sheer acrobatism that have deformed it and rendered it somewhat materialistic in recent times. Parachuting can also offer positive possibilities – in these two cases, the presence of the risk factor is a useful support for inner strengthening. As another example, one could mention Japanese martial arts, provided that there is the opportunity to learn them according to their original tradition, and not under the forms nowadays so widespread in the West – forms deprived of that spiritual counterpart, thanks to which the mastering of these activities could be tightly linked to subtle forms of internal and spiritual discipline. In recent times, certain student corporations of central Europe, the Korpsstudenten that practised Mensur – that is to say, cruel but non-fatal duels, following precise norms (with facial scarring for marks) – with the goal of developing courage, firmness, intrepidity, resistance to physical pain. While certain values of a superior ethics, of honour and of camaraderie were privileged, without avoiding certain eventual excesses, those corporations offered various possibilities. But the corresponding socio-cultural contexts having disappeared, anything of this sort today in Italy is unthinkable.
The overabundance of energies can also lead to various forms of “activism” in the socio-political domain. In these cases, a serious examination is essential, in the first place to ensure that the eventual engagement with ideas opposed to the general climate is not just a way of wasting energy (all the more as, in different circumstances, even very different ideas could likewise serve the same goal): that the starting point and the motor force are a true identification with these ideas, arrived at on the basis of thoughtful acknowledgment of their intrinsic value. That being said, in relation to any sort of activism, the difficulty is that, although the type of youth to which we refer may already have understood what ideas are worth fighting for, he could hardly find, in the current climate, any fronts, parties, or political groups truly and uncompromisingly defending ideas of that type. Another circumstance – namely, that, given the stage at which we currently are, the fight against the political and social movements that nowadays dominate has little chances of achieving appreciable global results – has little weight in the final analysis, because here the norm should be to do what must be done, while being ready to fight, eventually, even on lost positions. At any rate, to affirm today a “presence” by action will always be useful.
As for anarchist activism of mere protest, this could range from certain violent manifestations labeled as “pertaining to the underground,” such as those of the youth of certain nations (we have already discussed the case of Northern European countries, where reigns the “welfare state”), to terrorist acts, such as those used by old-school, nihilistic, political anarchists. We must exclude the motives of certain “beats,” that is to say, the desire for some violent action just because one needs the sensation it brings – even in the context of a mere outlet of energies, such an activism seems unfounded. Surely, if there could be organized today a sort of active “Holy Vehm,” able to keep those mainly responsible for contemporary subversion in a status of continuous physical insecurity, that would be an excellent thing. But that is not something that the youth can organize, and, moreover, the defense system of the current society is too well-built for such initiatives not to be intercepted from the start, and paid for at a too-high price.
One final point has to be considered. In the category of the youths that we are presently discussing, who, in the context of the current world, can be defined as “right-wing anarchists,” we find some individuals on whom, simultaneously, the perspectives of spiritual realization that have been presented by serious proponents of the traditionalist movement, with references to ancient sapiential and initiatic doctrines, exert an attraction. This is something more serious than the ambiguous interest exerted by the irrationalism of a misunderstood Zen among some American “beats,” if only because of the different quality of the sources of information. Such an attraction is understandable, if we consider the spiritual vacuum that has been created, following the decadence of the religious forms that have dominated in the West, and the questioning of their value. Distinct from these, it can be observed that there is an aspiration towards something really superior, and not to worthless substitutes. Nonetheless, when speaking of youth, we must not nourish aspirations too ambitious and removed from reality. It is not only necessary to have the required maturity; what must also be taken into account is the fact that the path which we have indicated in the previous chapters (XI and XV) requires, and has always required, a particular precondition, something similar to what is known as a “vocation,” in a specific sense, in religious orders. It is known that in these orders a certain amount of time is left to the novice so that he may verify the authenticity of his vocation. Here, we must repeat what we have said before about the more general vocation that one can sense as a youth: one has to see whether it strengthens rather than weakens with age.
The doctrines to which we refer must not be allowed to give birth to the illusions sponsored by the many impure forms of contemporary neo-spiritualism – theosophy, anthroposophy, etc. – that is to say, to the idea that the highest goal is within the reach of all, and realizable by this or that expedient; it should rather appear like a distant watershed, to be reached only by a long, difficult and dangerous path. In spite of that, we could always indicate, to those who nurture a serious interest, certain preliminary and momentous tasks. In the first place, they could devote themselves to a series of studies regarding their general view of life and of the world, which is the natural counterpart of these doctrines, so as to acquire a new mental formation, that corroborates on a positive basis the “no” they must pronounce to all that exists today, and to eliminate the various severe intoxications caused by modern culture. The second phase, the second task, would be to surpass the purely intellectual phase, by making “organic” a certain set of ideas, that determine a fundamental existential orientation, and give thereby the sentiment of an unalterable, indestructible security. A youth that would gradually arrive at that level would have already gone a very long way. One could leave undetermined the “yes” and the “when” of the third phase, in which, while maintaining the original tension, certain “deconditioning” acts could be assayed in respect of the human limit. In that connection, imponderable factors come into play, and the only reasonable thing to achieve is an adequate preparation. To expect any immediate results in a youth is absurd.
Various experiences have convinced us that these final brief considerations and clarifications are not unnecessary, even though they obviously concern a highly differentiated group within non-conformist youth: the group of those who have accurately perceived the specifically spiritual problem. We have thus gone well beyond what is commonly called “the problem of youth.” The “right-wing anarchist” can be conceived as a sufficiently distinct and comprehensible type, as opposed to the stupid youth, the “rebels without a flag,” and those who offer themselves to adventure, and undertake experiences that provide no real solution, no positive contribution, since they do not already have an internal form. In all rigor, one could object that this form is a limitation, a form of bondage, and that it contradicts the initial claim, the absolute liberty of anarchism. But since it is quite unlikely that anyone who makes such an objection has in mind transcendence in the real and full sense of the word – the sense this term has, for example, in high ascesis – one need only answer that the other alternative concerns a “burned-out” youth, so much so that, no solid center having resisted the trial represented by the general dissolution, it may well be considered as a pure existential product of that same dissolution, such that this youth greatly deludes itself in thinking that it really is free. Such a youth, whether rebellious or not, draws little interest from us, and there is nothing to be done with it. It can only serve as a case study within the general framework of an epoch’s pathology.
1. In this connection, a reference to ancient Arabo-Persian civilization might be of some interest. That passivisation possessed the word “futâwa,” derived from “fatà,” meaning youngster, which indicated the quality of “being youthful” precisely in the indicated spiritual sense, not defined by age, but by a particular disposition of the soul. Thus the “fityân” or “fityûh” (the youth) were conceived of as an Order, and a particular rite (with a ritual libation) consecrated this quality of “being youthful,” and provided at the same time a sort of solemn rite to maintain it. A similar terminology has been used among the followers of Ali, and in Sufi circles.