“One Knows the Tree by the Fruit That It Bears:” Mircea Eliade’s Influence on Current Far-Right Ideology
“A recent, well-publicized trend in the critical literature traces the formative influences of Eliade’s ‘eccentric’ scholarship directly to his checkered political history. Already infamous for his alleged associations with the Romanian Iron Guard, Eliade has come under renewed scrutiny not only on account of his methodology or his politics as discrete but objectionable matters. Rather, a veritable cottage industry has emerged, uncovering evidence that Eliade’s academic work in the history of religions is not only methodologically problematical but fundamentally ‘tainted’ by his political associations.”
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In 1937, Eliade asserted “The significance of the revolution to which d. Corneliu Codreanu aspires… its success would mean at the same time a victory for the Christian spirit in Europe” (Eliade 1937).
In Exile’s Odyssey, vol. II (pp. 65–66) of his autobiography, which covered the years 1937–1960, Eliade described the Iron Guard or Legionary movement as “The only Romanian political movement which took seriously Christianity”. He added that for Codreanu, “the Legionary movement did not constitute a political phenomenon but was in its essence, ethical and religious” and, finally, in regard to his own position “I could not conceive of disassociating myself from my generation (the Iron Guard–MW) in the midst of its oppression, when people were being prosecuted and persecuted unjustly.” (Eliade 1988).
Theodore Lavi (1972), Tik Mircea Eliade (Heb), Toladot, 1:13–18. When Scholem read the charges, he wrote to Eliade directly in an effort to allow Eliade to present a defense of the charges. Eliade’s response was evasive, causing Scholem to write in return that “since you had not been specific about the Jewish point which interested me the most”, your response “left me with a feeling of perplexity” (Scholem 1973). Scholem expressed his disappointment in Eliade’s response in a comment to another scholar, Burton Feldman, who was friendly with both Eliade and Scholem. Feldman wrote to Eliade that “I gather however that Scholem is still puzzled on that especially agonizing charge of antisemitism… He seemed to be puzzled by what he feels is a certain “reticence’ in your letter about the antisemitism charge” (Feldman 1973).
In this analysis, I have greatly relied on Idel’s perspective on Eliade. I am grateful to my friend, Prof. Felicia Waldman, who drew my attention to Idel’s book.
https://thearetesite.wordpress.com/2017/08/16/essential-reading-list/. This list appears on multiple postings online.
This account is amplified in Eliade’s Portugal Journey, pp. 108–9.
See for example Eliade’s journal entry of 7 June 1959, where he records a working lunch with Jünger (and another member of the editorial team) regarding the journal. The account appears in Eliade, No Souvenirs, Journal, 1957–1969, pp. 42–43. Recently an attempt has been made to restart the journal: https://gwendolyn-taunton.com/2013/10/22/the-new-antaios-journal-call-for-papers/.
For an excellent and informed journalistic account of this movement, with a great deal of detail on Dugin, see Clover (2016). For a biography of one of the seminal thinkers of Eurasianism in Russia, see Bassin (2016). Both of Laruelle’s books as well as Bassin contain a great deal of material on Dugin, while Sedgwick’s Against the Modern World, pp. 221–37 describes Dugin’s traditionalism. However, Anton Shekhovtsov and Andreas Umland question the identification of Dugin with traditionalism in their article (2009), pp. 662–78.
However, according to Shekhovtsov and Umland (2009, pp. 671–72), Dugin is not consistent on whether he views Eliade as a traditionalist. Sedgwick (2004, p. 11) defines “soft” traditionalism as “works in which Traditionalism is not overt”.
On Evola’s thought, see Hansen (2002, pp. 1–104), in Evola (2002), Men Amongst the Ruins: Post-War Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist. In a 1935 review of the book, originally published in Romanian but now available in English at https://www.gornahoor.net/?p=4303, Eliade described Evola as having “one of the most interesting minds of the.. generation.” The quote can now be found as the lead blurb in the English edition of the book, published by the far-right Arktos publishing house.
For Eliade’s perspective on the early correspondence, see Mircea Eliade, Journal III, 1970–78, (Eliade 1989, p. 161). Evola’s account of the meeting with Codreanu can be found in his Legionary Asceticism: Colloquium with the Head of the Iron Guard, in Evola (2015), A Traditionalist Confronts Fascism, pp. 71–76.
On their post-war relationship, see Liviu Bordas, Inedited Letters of Julius Evola to Mircea Elaide: The Difficult Encounter in Rome, Mircea Eliade’s Post-War Relationship with Julius Evola, International Journal on Humanistic Ideology, 2011.
It should also be mentioned that Evola was also annoyed at what he perceived to be Eliade’s refusal to publicly acknowledge his debt to hard-core traditionalist writers such as Guenon.
For an overview of Mutti’s career, see Giovanni Savino (2015, pp. 104–17). On Von Leers Nazi past, see Robert Wistrich (2013, pp. 152–53) and Jeffrey Herf (2009, pp. 180–81).
The English announcement of the publication of the volume can be found at https://www.gornahoor.net/?tag=claudio-mutti.
Mutti’s German volume is listed on the Antaios site at https://antaios.de/antaios-liefert-jedes-buch/3130/mircea-eliade-und-die-eiserne-garde.
The lecture was given at the annual meeting of the H. L. Mencken Club, 21–23 November 2008 and can be found at http://www.unz.com/pgottfried/the-decline-and-rise-of-the-alternative-right/. For a detailed account, see Andrew Marantz (2017). The journalist Jacob Siegel (2016) presents a good portrait of Gottfried.
For more on Sunic, see https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/tomislav-sunić.
There are many examples of Judaism being described as a “dead religion” not only linked to theological discourse. It also became a common theme among German philosophers. For Kant, see Robert S. Wistrich (2012, p. 102), n. 15; for Hegel, see David Nirenberg (2013, p. 404); for Schleiermacher, see Leora Batnitzky (2011, p. 26).
An English version of the letter can be found at https://www.gornahoor.net/?p=4949.
There, Gottfried was referring to Leo Strauss.
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Weitzman, M. “One Knows the Tree by the Fruit That It Bears:” Mircea Eliade’s Influence on Current Far-Right Ideology. Religions 2020, 11, 250. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11050250
Weitzman M. “One Knows the Tree by the Fruit That It Bears:” Mircea Eliade’s Influence on Current Far-Right Ideology. Religions. 2020; 11(5):250. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11050250Chicago/Turabian Style
Weitzman, Mark. 2020. "“One Knows the Tree by the Fruit That It Bears:” Mircea Eliade’s Influence on Current Far-Right Ideology" Religions 11, no. 5: 250. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11050250