Debuking Julius Evola and his influence on the AltRight

This is going to be wildly off topic, but it feels pertinent. Responses like this and the attitude of you and Bhante Sujato are why I love this little community.
May all beings be happy.

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There is a concept called the alt-right pipeline, which describes the process of how individuals are radicalized through increasingly extreme content online. I think it’s important to realize their goal is not to accurately represent the Buddha, but to hook people in and push them down the pipeline.

I have heard several anecdotes online from people saying they were de-radicalized from the alt-right via (generally leftist) youtubers (e.g. contrapoints, three arrows, philosophy tube, hbomberguy, etc.).

Maybe there is a space for someone to create the same type of content for Buddhism?

Tbh, we should have a lot of compassion for these alt-right people who are likely making extreme amounts of demerit for misrepresenting the Buddha in this way.

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You are tying to use reason to disprove what is based in the irrational. Fascism itself openly embraces the irrational, and fascists won’t be interested in what’s reasonable or logical. Using the Dhamma in this way is just a means to an end.

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Not sure how many are aware, but the translator of The Doctrine of Awakening by Julius Evola was Harold Edward Musson, who, accompanied by Osbert Moore in 1949, would go on to ordain in Ceylon as Vens. Nanavira and Nanamoli respectively. It appears that Evola was an early influence on both while they were still laymen (Musson translated the book to English while stationed in Italy during WWII). I skimmed Ven. Nanavira’s biography last night to see if I could get a better idea of how he understood Evola’s views, but all I could find was a short quote that Nanavira later had “considerable reservations” about the work (though no source was provided for that - probably one of his letters - I’m still searching). A nearby footnote indicates that early on - since there were so few books available in the UK about Buddhism - that Musson’s translation of Evola was an important early exposure for Moore as well. I’ve not had a chance to parse Nanamoli’s biography, and there’s no mention of the extent to which either was aware of Evola’s more troubling views (the work in question was originally published in Italian in 1943, it seems the worst of Evola came later?). Take this with a grain of salt, but considering how personally both monks took on the Dhamma, and the body of work they produced, it seems very unlikely that Evola’s early influence remained in the years that followed their ordination.

I gave The Doctrine of Awakening a quick glance last night and, like pretty much everyone who approaches the Dhamma for the first time, it seems likely that Evola thought it more as something to be used to further his own interests in the world - something to add to the identity for the gain of success, comfort and security. Considering AN 4.159, it is feasible that one could pick up the Dhamma still full of craving, desire, and conceit, and through those wrong views gain right view; but in doing so one must be willing to shed the absolute pinnacle of what they prefer, and whatever goal or ideal is representative of that preference. Evola shows no interest in doing so. His description is one of someone who believes he has grasped the “method” and finds it a useful tool for the refinement of his own worldliness.

Having dealt with - as a moderator on DW - the influx of many groups who use the Dhamma as a tool in the same way, it is always abundantly clear that something other than liberation is sitting at the pinnacle for them. An easy way to rebuke their views is to simply point out that Dhamma has not been given priority, and they are in the direction of enhancement rather than cessation, which is far from the point. Also it is pure sīlabbata-parāmāsa to take on asceticism in the manner Evola describes it: the idea that the duty in itself is enough for liberation; failing to see that purification of virtue is not a means for just any end, but meant to serve as an enduring basis for something you have yet to understand.

All in all, alt-right Buddhists (or anyone who upholds a worldly ideology above all) typically crack under the pressure of their own views. They are controlled, but not tranquil, and aggressive, but not confident. They uphold their acquisition above relinquishment, which is to say they are just as deluded as anyone else who isn’t hedging against wrong view. It isn’t really necessary to rebuke these views, but to represent the Dhamma in much higher standing (which it is). They simply can’t keep up because they would have to displace their view to do so.

The issue gets complicated, however, when those wishing to debunk the Evolas of the world themselves uphold an opposing view that may be just as worldly - far less in the direction of ill-will but not in the direction of relinquishment either. No good can come from that sort of confrontation.

The intent should always be to show that such a person’s placement and usage of the Dhamma is more auxiliary than primary and therefore something else is present that they still consider more valuable than development towards nibbana. Bring that to the fore (in a discussion if possible) and it should expose that identity is of the utmost priority to such a person, i.e. not the Dhamma.

Just my take. :slightly_smiling_face:

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This a a new topic for me, and I’m only hearing about this issue/JE here for the first time, so please forgive my ignorance. I really don’t want to stir the pot, but I saw this comment and it got me thinking.

I do think Erik’s comment seems to point to a potential antidote the OP requested (practical and actionable right now - sorry @faujidoc1 :blush:). And it looks like it worked?

Are there any similar Buddhists/groups speaking out against this co-opting of a religion for nefarious reasons? Looks like it will only spread. I live in a very multicultural neighborhood and was surprised to see a white nationalist party sign on my street during a recent election. :scream: and this person got some votes(!). So this problem is not going to go away.

I’ve seen on the news how there are Muslim groups who work hard on deradicalizing young Muslim men who get pulled into this sort of extremist ideologies specific to their religion. Most of them proactively start by looking for the reasons why these youth turn to such groups and don’t waste time in engaging them to stop them from going on that path.

Actively spreading information about the actual Dhamma teachings can be a good antidote for debunking this person’s delusional writings. But sometimes you may need to get some boots on the ground, so to speak, to deal with delusional human beings actually getting caught up in it.

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Some personal comments:
This is the first time I heard of J Evola. There was not one reference to his writings in the OP and I assumed he is someone posting online!!!
Now I realise he is dead and should be thought of as someone whose writing is influencing the present. Thanks to those who supplied references and links that we can download and learn from.

I know and respect you personally on and off line, so I absolutely accept the truth of this statement; however, could you supply some starter names/links to follow up please?

I know and respect you too, having worked with you online, and it is easy for me to accept the truth of this, but it is “news” for me, and again I would like to follow up, so a couple of references please Erik.

I presume you refer to their use of the Dhamma rather than ours … assuming I got this right, then I agree with you. But how would you suggest we attempt to counter such damaging ideas?

I wish it could be otherwise.

And it is the same with Christianity: both historically, and currently in the USA.

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If you like I can move the non-JE and non-alt Right material away from this thread.
Also now I realise JE is dead, a historical figure who is influencing the alt-Right, I think we could change the thread title to “Rebuking Julius Evola and his influence on the AltRight”.

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Humm, I do like the sound of that yes :slight_smile: Though I think we should keep the cats hugging…it makes me happy and is good for thread spirits

Yes, I think this is a marvelous idea actually.

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I suggest you read the article by Gleig and Artinger I already linked to above which discusses Evola’s influence and those perpetuating it.

Sorry, but I’m not going to provide any links. There is no way I am going to give these people and their views any publicity even for critical purposes. In fact people posting links to such websites caused a huge problem on this forum a while back, because of vile racist and mysogynistic views and would actually violate our forum policy.

I’m reluctant to even name names quite frankly but can mention the main figures who I think are mentioned in the article I linked to above: Brian Ruhe, (ex) Ven Puññobhaāsa, and Jason Manu Rheume.

Their opinions on this issue can be seen on social media chats, other Dhamma forums and on their own pages and video channels. They have thousands of supporters around the world. They are not subtle about their political views and somehow mould their understanding of Buddhism to fit those. Worryingly, people come across such people and share these things often without knowing the full picture of what they are endorsing. What is publicly available online is only the tip of the iceberg and there are private groups where things are discussed more freely.

Having done several deep dives into the alt right Buddhist scene and seen the pervasiveness of its influence in unexpected quarters, this is not something I would generally recommend others
to do themselves, as it can lead to a real loss of faith in fellow Buddhists and humanity generally! Seeing things like a monk giving a nazi salute to a Buddha image, reading why women are biologically inferior, or why the Buddha had to have had blue eyes, why Buddhism is inherently racist (and that’s ok), seeing Nazi flags, imagery and leaders photos on Buddhist sites, hearing why Jewish people are inferior etc none of this is good for anyone! It’s darkness and it’s stomach churning… but it’s real and out there.

But one thing, I would suggest to members here who have been commenting in somewhat idealistic tones without perhaps knowing the full extent of this issue at least do some basic research themselves before commenting!

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This is wonderful, I like these ideas. I think your thoughts on this are good and agree with everything in this post very much so.

I think there are probably some more like us but I don’t personally know them, I know the Dalai Lama has been talking out against co opting of buddhism for nefarious reasons. But we definitely need more good hearts in the world to help quell this.

This is true! I think we can learn alot from our islamic friends who take away the radicalization forced on them.

I have nothing to say about this other than I agree completely. Sadhu sadhu sadhu. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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I can’t help but think the reasoning behind alt right people going to buddhism is directed at separating the historic bond Jewish and buddhist people have had in places like america for several years now.
I believe that we can preserve our bond with our friends though, and make our community stronger than their hate.

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It’s already downloaded for when there’s a quiet moment :grinning:. I totally understand that you wouldn’t want to offer publicity in public places. However , I do see a bit of a difficulty here in that if I didn’t have this trust in you personally I would have simply discounted your post.

@Erik_ODonnell would you be kind enough to PM me?

Of course we keep the :cat: :cat2: 🐈‍⬛.
Title done.
I’ll divide the threads on a bigger machine when I get home.

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Ahh yes, I’m familiar with that. Growing up online was interesting, I was more sensitive to subtle cultural shifts and as time went on these figures would gradually expose you to alt-right/fascist ideas in small doses. It’s scary how well it works, they’ll hook onto anything they can to shove you down the rabbit hole. Outside of buddhism, popular spiritual corners tend to be neo-paganism, christianity, and occultism especially.

I think this is a brilliant idea actually, having someone like Hbomberguy, three arrows, philosophy tube, etc could help a lot with fascists attempting to take over the dhamma. I imagine it would also help people de radicalize and has some other unforeseen good affects.

I agree, I feel bad for people who act in monstrous ways, and worse yet for their victims. When we are compassionate, I think it helps us deal with the people who are acting monstrous much better as well. We think clearer.

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I did not read Evola’s book, and i know very little about fascism, but i think a better way of investigating or discussing ideas is to leave the author (or his ideological orientation) out of the equation. The following method leads nowhere in my opinion:

1- Evola was a fascist
2- Fascism is evil
3- He wrote a book
4- His understanding of Buddhism must be driven by his fascist views
5- Let us rebuke him

Instead, claims in his book can be investigated without referring to any of the above.

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With respect, probably it’s good for you to read his books and learn about fascism before telling others how they should go about dealing with either of these issues! :blush:

EDIT I just accidentally came across your other posts on this topic on another thread.

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How would reading Evola’s book or about fascism affect my input the method, Bhante?

I fail to see the connection with my other post. Could you please elaborate?

Fascism is, roughly speaking, the political ideology of Nazi Germany, and one with which Mr Evola admired very much. To the point of even having great affection and longing to be part of himmlers inner circle.
However, Evola did not call himself fascist. Rather hilariously he described himself as super fascist.

A small source on examples of fascism.
I understand your point, and there are times where even this would make sense, but in this case his ideological orientation is an inherent part of the problem and is the thing that needs to be countered.

*Super fascist :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:
That said, it’s not a question of “must be driven” it is, in his own words, directly driven by his fascist ideology.
I think we can also affirm that fascism is evil, given the term was technically started by the Nazi Party of Italy’s leader Mussolini to describe his ideal rule and genocidal urges.

I’m not sure I understand what you mean, you can’t exactly investigate any of what Evola wrote without bringing up his fascism since fascist ideology was the entirety of what inspired him and his only reason, in his own words, for writing about buddhism was to contribute to his fascist interpretations of hinduism.

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What he believed might have influenced his understanding of Buddhism or Hinduism, but this would be his problem, why to make it ours? Instead, we can examine his interpretations of what the Buddha taught and avoiding entanglement with what could be his motives. If he was driven by ideology, should we do the same? How does that make us better? When prince Abhaya pinched his son as a cheap debating trick, the Buddha was not swayed by that.

Likewise :slight_smile: The alt-right pipeline is a general concept, so I feel it’s fine to link to these resources in the thread.

Here are some resources:

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