The somewhat charming yet utterly meaningless use of ‘friendship’ in Paris Hilton’s ‘best british friend’ catchphrase echoes the commonplace critique of the superficial status of ‘friendship’ in the world of social and processional media. When social relations are managed through dating, socializing and networking sites they are accordingly understood. A possible polemic critique of their effect on our conception of the lover, friend or colleague may situate these as aspects of ‘the collectivism, mechanization, standardization, and soullessness οf modern existence.’ (Evola 1961)
Julius Evola argued that this polemic critique was already used by the 1950s and 60s intellectuals, who ventured a ‘defense of the personality’. Personality, it was held, was in crisis. Evola dismisses this critique by distinguishing between a ‘person’ and an ‘individual’. The latter, he suggested is a concept ‘of an abstract, formless, numerical unity’, where the ‘individual’ lacks ‘quality of its own’ and thus distinction. Evola’s concern with the personality defenders is their ‘nonexistence of a spiritual basis’ and a descension to a conception predominated by a ‘vanity of the I’.
The person is differentiated from the individual in that ‘he has a form, is himself, and belongs to himself’. Such “persons” in Evola’s esoteric conception belongs in a system of ‘organic, differentiated and hierarchical relationships’. Regarding friendship to this end Nietzsche lends a hand. His notes reveal a claim that physiological conditions underly all virtues.
‘Pity and love of mankind as development of the sexual drive. Justice as development of the drive to revenge. Virtue as pleasure in resistence, will to power. Honour as recognition of the similar and equal-in-power.’ (Nietzsche 1883-1888/1968, p. 148, Paragraph 254)
In the mass regimes of social media hierarchy is senseless and anathema. To genuinely engage in friendship, as personal relations, is to dare to recognise its fundamental hierarchical nature and know one’s place: above and below others, but next to one’s friend.
In the name of love, know your place, social engineers!
Evola, Julius. 1961. Ride the Tiger – a Survival Guide for the Aristocrats of the Soul.
Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. 1968. The Will to Power. Edited by Walter Kaufmann. Translated by Walter Kaufmann and R. J. Hollingdale. New York: Vintage Books.