Guillaume Faye at the American Renaissance conference near Washington in 2006

Guillaume Faye: the Sartre of the Right

One of the leading intellectuals of the French 'New Right' who later developed his own ideas around the fate of the West has just died. Dan Roodt looks at the man and his ideas, comparing him to Jean-Paul Sartre on the Left.

Published: March 15, 2019, 4:34 pm

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    Guillaume Faye died between 6 and 7 March, leaving behind a number of writings that might only now be properly read as we lose the facility of just asking him a question at one of his many public lectures given all over the world. I met him twice in America, in 2006 and 2012, and immediately felt an affinity for his iconoclastic intelligence and probing wit.

    A prophet is not without honour save in his own country, as the saying goes, and perhaps this was also the case with Faye. Shortly after the announcement of his death, I was shocked to read some disdainful remarks on him by some former colleagues and friends from the days when he was a member of the French nouvelle droite (New Right), more particularly the GRECE. The latter acronym stands for Groupement de recherche et d’études pour la civilisation européenne and is mostly associated with its founder Alain de Benoist who later criticised Guillaume Faye as an “extremist”.

    Liberals or leftists would probably say the same thing about Benoist himself. The English Wikipedia describes GRECE as “an ethnonationalist think-tank”. Benoist has always been very careful not to call himself a nationalist; in an interview with BuzzFeed he described himself as a supporter of Bernie Sanders and Jean-Luc Mélenchon. The same interview mentions: “One of his most bitter fights was with Guillaume Faye, who split with de Benoist in the mid-’80s as Faye began taking the kind of overtly racist positions de Benoist wanted to leave behind.”

    The R-word, which occurs at least once in every leftist speech or publication. Looking at it now, the positions of Benoist and Faye are of the same order, concerned with saving European and Western identity. Both were implacably opposed to the laissez-faire immigration preached by the left and immigrationists. But perhaps Faye, ever the avant-gardist, wanted to go further, and push the argument to the limit, where it becomes politically incorrect.

    Many French intellectuals of his generation openly called for Marxist revolution, even paedophilia, such as Daniel Cohn-Bendit, the European MP and former Maoist student leader from the May 1968 revolt in Paris. Yet somehow people and especially the media are not scandalised by that. Jean-Paul Sartre, who sold millions of books depicting Western man as solitary, lonely and absurd, even defended left-wing terrorists. He and his companion, Simone de Beauvoir, had themselves photographed with Fidel Castro and Ché Guavara who had shot thousands of people in cold blood. Yet somehow that was considered glamorous.

    That’s why I compare Guillaume Faye to Sartre: he was an engaged intellectual who wanted to change the world. I came across a quote from Faye in an interview on Nietzsche which supports this view:

    “It is very strange, for the publicity-conscious whose ideology, politically correct and conformist, is exactly the contrary of Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophy. In reality, the pseudo-Nietzscheans have commited a serious philosophical error: they have retained that Nietzsche was an opponent of the established order but pretended not to understand that it was their own order: the egalitarianism which came from a secular interpretation of Christianity. Christianomorphic from within and without. But they believed (or pretended to believe) that Nietzsche was a kind of anarchist, whereas he proposed an implacably new order. Nietzsche wasn’t, like his imitators, a rebel in slippers, but a revolutionary visionary.”

    Faye understood perfectly that the struggle between the left and the right in the West over the last two centuries could be traced back to two sets of ideas, personified by two figures as divergent as Karl Marx and Friedrich Nietzsche. On the one hand, the stress on ressentiment, jealousy, socialism, punishing those with talent or beauty, culminating in white guilt, and on the other, Nietzsche’s emphasis on breeding and descent, aristocratic values and tastes, an amoral innocence.

    Faye also invokes Nietzsche’s idea of the “good European” when he speaks of his own European or Western nationalism, embracing all European peoples as the national components of one civilisation. He thought that “narrow nationalism” had led to the fratricidal world wars of the twentieth century and was not ashamed that he considered an Italian or a German as his countryman and his brother but not an African or Arab who held the French nationality.

    Such pronouncements brought Faye into conflict with the French authorities and left-wing NGOs who accused him of “racism”. After the publication of his book, La colonisation de l’Europe (The colonisation of Europe), he was fined 300 000 French francs (about €50 000) for daring to challenge the notion that it was possible to “integrate” millions of third-world immigrants in France.

    In that book he clearly states that Islam is incompatible with Europe. He firmly rejects the notion that the Maghreb or North Africa could ever become part of France as some Socialists have argued. “The Maghreb has nothing to bring to Europe, no economic or geopolitical advantage. Such a marriage would be to tie oneself to a parasitical structure.” (La colonisation de l’Europe, p. 41.)

    However, Faye also sees the hand of America in pushing Europe towards Islam and keeping the artificial divide between “Westerners” and “Slavs” in place. A weak Europe ensures the global hegemony of the USA.

    On the other hand, Faye distinguishes between those Muslims of more or less European descent, such as the Turks, and the African or Middle-Eastern ones. He refers to Germany which, until it decided to welcome Middle-Easterners, had far fewer immigration problems, such as crime and riots, than France. “Which proves that it is not the fact of being legally foreign which renders the immigrant unassimilable, it is his ethnic origin. The Turks of Germany, who are foreigners, present far fewer problems and cost far less to the German people than the Afro-Arabs to the French nation, and yet the latter are largely of French nationality!” (La colonisation de l’Europe, p. 42.)

    A little bit like the nineteenth-century biologist Georges Cuvier with his doctrine of “catastrophism” by which he explained the evolution of the Earth, Faye attaches a lot of importance to catastrophes. He foresees a coming catastrophe when immigration, race-mixing and the final conquest of the West by the Third World will lead to a collapse of civilisation, specifically in Europe, but possibly even on a global scale.

    His doctrine of “archeofuturism” presents a way out of the coming catastrophe. While humanity will revert to its primitive, tribal prehistory as held sway in Africa and parts of Asia until the twentieth century, an elite minority will be able to harness technology in order to shape a new civilisation. That is why his book Archeofuturism has the subtitle: “European visions of the post-catastrophic age.”

    At the start of the second chapter of Archeofuturism, he states: “Only radical thought is fruitful, for it is the only one capable of creating daring ideas to destroy the ruling ideological order and enable us to free ourselves from the vicious circle of a failing system of civilisation.”

    A “convergence of catastrophes” will plunge Europeans into a new Dark Age, wiping out modernity – which was a kind of Protestant and Anglo-Saxon aberration, anyway. He calls modernity a “pyrrhic victory”, carrying the seeds of its own destruction. He distinguishes five “lines of catastrophe” that will overwhelm modernity:

    1. Metastasis of the European social fabric, essentially the demographic colonisation of the northern hemisphere housing the developed centres by the global South.
    2. Economic and demographic crisis, with the spread of poverty and unemployment, a little as is happening in France and southern Europe already, resulting in a “Third-World Europe”.
    3. The chaos of the South, spreading from gigantic Third-World metropolises such as Rio de Janeiro, Lagos, Kinshasa, Mexico City, Kuala Lumpur and so on, where a violent, criminal underclass coexists with a superrich elite protected by armed private militias.
    4. A global economic crisis, characterised by falling markets, depreciating currencies, defaults on sovereign debt, such as we have already seen but not yet on a really catastrophic scale.
    5. The surge in fundamentalist religious fanaticism, particularly from Islamists, but also from some Hindus.
    6. A confrontation between North and South on theological and ethnic grounds, with the racialisation of all politics. “Paradoxically, egalitarian cosmopolitanism has led to globalised racism,” Faye writes.
    7. The unchecked pollution of the planet.
    8. The proliferation of nuclear weapons, especially in Asian countries.

    Once the catastrophes have reached their apogee, with the collapse of modern systems, Guillaume Faye says that “humanity will revert to its archaic values, which are purely biological and human (i.e., anthropological): the separation of gender roles; the transmission of ethnic and folk traditions, spirituality and priestly organisation; visible and structuring social hierarchies; the worship of ancestors; rites and tests of initiation; the re-establishment of organic communities (from the family to the folk); the de-individualisation of marriage (unions must be the concern of the whole community and not merely of the married couple); an end of the confusion between eroticism and conjugality; the prestige of the warrior caste; inequality among social statuses…”

    Apart from his pessimism on the future of modernity, Guillaume Faye will be remembered for his fiery call to arms, entitled Why we fight: a manifesto of the European resistance. First published in the original French in 2001, it exhorts people of a common European civilisation to unite against the many threats facing them. Faye says:

    “ I’ve always been a ‘nationalist’ — never a ‘French nationalist’, but rather a ‘European nationalist’. Despite dreams of grandeur (which have eluded her), France is too small. To exist, to defend ourselves, to assert ourselves in an increasingly hard world, it’s necessary to regroup at a larger level, as a continental bloc.”

    However, any confusion with the type of cosmopolitan “Europeanism” of the EU politician Guy Verhofstadt, for example, is hastily dispelled by Faye. His Europe, as he puts it, would be “(t)he Pentagon’s nightmare… an ethnocentric Eurosiberia. That is, a long-term union of West and Central European peoples with the Russian Federation — a union free of Islamisation, American hegemony, and non-European colonisation.”

    Elsewhere in the same manifesto, he alludes to Europe’s Promethean ability to rise above near-fatal challenges:

    “One must always hope. Our people still possess immense resources. Despite the ongoing subversion, the tragic creativity of European civilisation has yet to be extinguished.”

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