Archeofuturism: European Visions of the Post-Catastrophic Age
Arktos Media Ltd., 2010
“The modern world is like a train full
of ammunition running in the fog.”
Most thought described as “conservative” is a kind of political hygienics: it takes its bearings by what is natural, normal, or best in the social order. One hazard of its focus on right order is to leave us unprepared in extraordinary situations. Thus, we all know otherwise intelligent conservatives who would continue, even as blood was running in the streets, to talk of the need for electing fiscally responsible Republicans to office. The best treatment for this sort of blindness is a crash course in political pathology such as the book under review.
Author Guillaume Faye was for many years a luminary of Alain de Benoist’s Group for the Research and Study of European Civilization. Beginning from the principle “no Lenin without Marx,” Benoist conceived his activities as part of a Gramscian (or Cochinian) strategy to undermine the hegemony of liberalism. In the early 1980s, remembers Faye, each issue of his journal Eléments was “an ideological barrage that sparked outraged reviews from the mainstream press,” and people sat up and took notice of the Colloques parisiens his organization sponsored. The well-educated men of this “New Right,” as it came to be called, looked down on the young Front National as a “microscopic group of good-for-nothings,” and even barred “that pirate-faced old soldier” Jean-Marie Le Pen from their meetings.
Yet within a few years the tables were turned, as dissatisfied New Rightists flocked to the Front. Any misgivings they had about Le Pen’s vulgarity were outweighed by the impression that his organization was where something was happening. Faye, too, eventually concluded that the New Right had become a mere literary salon: “from 1986 I began to feel that a clique spirit and literary pagan romanticism were prevailing over historical will. . . . In order to prove effective, ideological and cultural action must be supported by concrete political forces which it integrates and extends.”
Archeofuturism marks the author’s return to the political arena after an absence of twelve years. Its first chapter is devoted to a friendly critique of his former colleagues. For example, he finds in New Right publications an overemphasis upon folkloric aspects of European heritage such as “Breton bonnets” and “Scandinavian woodcarvings.” Such charming but innocuous traditions have their equivalents among all peoples on earth. Faye would rather maintain “the creative primacy of Western civilization” represented by our tradition of scientific research, philosophy and engineering, as well as our unparalleled artistic and literary “high” culture.
Faye also considers the New Right wedded to a faulty political paradigm in which “America”—conceived narrowly as the Hollywood/Wall Street/Foggy Bottom axis—is the enemy. This way of thinking is well-expressed in the title of Benoist’s book Europe-Third World: the Same Struggle. Benoist invites the entire non-American world (even Muslims!) to “a fruitful exchange of dialogue among parties clearly situated in relation to one another.” In other words: multiculturalism with one place at the table reserved for White Europeans. Faye rightly dismisses this as “a Disneyland dream.”
Starting from what Faye considers a correct Nietzschean assessment of primitive Christianity as an egalitarian, leveling and ethno-masochistic movement, the New Right launched an ill-considered attack on the folk Catholicism of ordinary Frenchmen. Meanwhile, they ignored their proper target: a return to the “bolshevism of antiquity” among the high clergy, marked by immigrationism and self-ethnophobia. This is the tendency some have called the “degermanization of Christianity.” The New Right would have done better to ally itself with Catholic traditionalists in combating it rather than alienating its natural allies.
Lastly, while the New Right professed admiration for the German jurist Carl Schmitt, it never made any practical application of his Ernstfall concept: the “serious case” which cannot be met within the normal framework of constitutional law. When Hannibal is at the gates of Rome, when the Royal Guards mutiny—no appeal can be made to law. Such contingencies can only be met with the virtue of prudence, i.e., the ability to make sound judgments about what to do in particular cases.
This blind spot may be fatal, for Faye is convinced that the liberal regime is driving Western civilization toward an Ernstfall the like of which the world has never seen. He describes it as a “convergence of catastrophes.” Elements include: the failure of multiracialism, the disintegration of family structures, disruption in the transmission of cultural knowledge and social disciplines, the replacement of folk culture by the passive consumption of industrially produced “mass culture,” increasing crime and drug use, the decay of community, anti-natalism, nuclear proliferation and the re-emergence of viral and microbial diseases resistant to antibiotics, public debt, and the privileging of speculative profits, i.e., the construction of our economy atop the stilts of investor confidence rather than upon the solid ground of production.
Furthermore, liberal ideology has propounded a utopian ideal of universal “development,” whereby every last African hellhole is supposed to become an affluent, tolerant, democratic, and efficient consumerist society. The nations of the South were won over to this project, dazzled by the deceptive prospect of economic growth. They set in motion a process of industrialization that has devastated the natural environment, undermined their traditional cultures, and created social chaos, including urban jungles like Calcutta and Lagos. Resentment at the broken promise of “development” runs deep; the resurgence of religious fanaticism is one of its expressions.
Under the banner of “inclusion,” the liberal regime is now importing legions of immigrants who will function as the “fifth column” of an aggressive South. “The ethnic war in France has already started,” writes Faye in 1998, seven years before les émeutes des banlieues.
These are the lines of catastrophe which Faye expects to converge in about the second decade of this century. His prophecy is reminiscent of Andrei Amalrik’s 1969 essay Will the Soviet Union Survive Until 1984?—which, of course, proved uncannily accurate. Still, the wise reader will not want to overstress Faye’s time frame; much is clear about the crisis we face, but not even the angels in heaven know the day or the hour.
The author emphasizes that the impending meltdown presents us with opportunities: “When people have their backs against the wall and are suffering piercing pains, they easily change their opinions.” The stormy century of iron and fire that awaits us will make people accept what is currently unacceptable. The right today must position itself to be perceived as “the alternative” when the inevitable crisis hits. This means discrediting leftist pseudo-dissent, which is merely a demand for the intensification of official ideology and praxis. It also means acquiring the monopoly over alternative thought: not by imposing a party-line, but by uniting all healthy forces on a European level and abandoning provincial disputes and narrow doctrines.
Faye’s book is intended as “a sort of mental training for the post-catastrophic world.” The title Archeofuturism refers to the principles appropriate to reconstructing our civilization. “Archaic” must be understood according to the root sense of the Greek noun archè: both “foundation” and “beginning.” The archai are anthropological values which “create and are unchangeable;” they refer to the central notion of “order.”
Such foundational values include:
the distinction of sex roles; the transmission of ethnic and folk traditions; spirituality and priestly organization; 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-individualization of marriage [and] an end to the confusion between eroticism and conjugality; the prestige of the warrior caste; inequality of social status—not the unjust and frustrating implicit inequality we find today in egalitarian utopias, but explicit and legitimated inequalities; duties that match rights, hence a rigorous justice that gives people a sense of responsibility; a definition of peoples—and of all established groups or social bodies—as diachronic communities of destiny rather than synchronic masses of individual atoms.
Faye calls these “the values of justice.” We need not doubt they will return once the hallucinations of equality and individual emancipation have dissipated, for they follow from human nature itself.
The real danger is that we may end up having them imposed on us by Islam rather than reasserting them ourselves from our own historical memory. For Islam is the symbolic banner of Southern revanchisme, and the mindset of the South remains archaic. It takes for granted the primacy of force, the legitimacy of conquest, ethnic exclusivity, aggressive religiosity, machismo, and a worship of leaders and hierarchic order. Muslim employment of liberal cant—complaints of “discrimination” and “intolerance”—are the merest fig leaf for a Machiavellian “strategy of the fox” against Europe. In order to oppose the invaders, we must revert to an archaic mindset ourselves, abandoning the demobilizing handicap of “modern” humanitarianism.
Faye is perhaps at his best explaining the behavior and motivations of the “petty, inglorious princes who pretend to be governing us.” For example, he notes the increasing importance of “consultation” in French political life; authorities “consult” representatives of various approved interest groups, such as labor unions and non-White ethnic blocs, and then formulate policy on the basis of the lowest common denominator of agreement between them. The real point of this, of course, is to avoid the risks and responsibilities of actual leadership. (Try to imagine De Gaulle behaving this way.) But it is presented to the public as a wonderful new way of “modernizing democracy.”
A related symptom is the rise of negative legitimization, or what the author calls the “big bad wolf tactic”:
Politicians no longer say, “Vote for us, because we’ve got the right solutions and we’ll improve your living conditions.” That is positive legitimization. Instead they say (implicitly) “Vote for us, since even though we’re a bunch of good-for-nothings, bunglers and bullies, at least we will protect you from fascism.”
Four years after these words were written Le Pen made the presidential run-offs and, sure enough, all the bien pensants showed up at the polls with clothespins on their noses to support the crook Chirac!
Egalitarian reform serves as a convenient pretext for the elites to enact measures whose practical effect is to entrench their own position. Thus, they have sabotaged the French educational system by eliminating selectivity and discipline. But it is only these which give the talented outsider an honest chance against the untalented insider. As Pareto put it: the more rigorous the (rationally planned) selection in a social system, the greater the turnover in the elite. Without objective standards, on what grounds can one argue against elite self-perpetuation?
But the regime’s most breathtaking hypocrisy is found in its demonization of the National Front. The Front has broken the tacit ground-rules of the managerial regime by “engaging in politics where it has been agreed that one should only engage in business”; it has sought popular trust with a view to implementing a program, where the established parties “communicate” and maneuver with a view to re-election. Timid careerists denounce the Front as a threat to the Republic because they fear it as a threat to themselves.
Faye considers the National Front a genuinely revolutionary party. Yet he apparently has never been a member, and is not really a French nationalist. In his view, Le Pen’s romantic and backward-looking devotion to the French state embodies a great deal of latent Jacobinism. It is this state, after all, which has “naturalized” millions of Afro-Asiatic “youths” who do not see themselves as French at all. Moreover, a nation state, even run on patriotic principles, would be an entity too small to defend the French ethnos effectively in the contemporary world. Would a federal European state be any more capable of doing so? “I believe it would,” says Faye, “provided it is exactly the opposite of the European state currently being built.”
Those who believe that an imperial and federal European state would “kill France” are confusing the political sphere with the ethno-cultural one. The disappearance of the Parisian regime would in no way threaten the vigor and identity of the people of France. Moreover, a European federal state would breathe new life into autonomous regions: Brittany, Normandy, Provence, etc.
The European Union is a ghastly bureaucratic mess, but it is also one of the “forces in being.” Why turn our backs on it or work to destroy it when we can instead hijack it and turn it to our own purposes? Faye calls for the transformation of the EU into “a genuinely democratic and no longer bureaucratic European government with a real parliament and a strong and decisive central power.” He describes this position as European Nationalism, and dreams of a Eurosiberian Federation extending from Brest to the Bering Strait.
While Faye disagrees with Benoist’s interpretation of America as an enemy (hostes), he continues to view her as a rival and opponent (inimicus). This American reviewer does not grasp why the case for including a chastened post-imperial United States in a Northern Federation would be any weaker than the case for including Russia.
The Eurosiberian Federation is to be characterized by a two-tier economy. The elite (20% of the population) will continue to live according to the techno-scientific economic model based on ongoing innovation. They would form part of a global exchange network of about one billion people, including the elites of other civilizational blocs. As Faye notes, “the essence of technological science is not connected to egalitarian modernity, but has its roots in the ethno-cultural heritage of Europe, and particularly ancient Greece.”
Among the first exploits of this new elite shall be exploring the “explosive possibilities of genetic engineering.” These include inter-species hybrids, man-animal chimeras, semi-artificial “biolithic” creatures, and decerebrated human clones. Faye is utterly contemptuous of moral or religious scruples in this domain, which he oddly attributes to the ideology of liberal modernity more than to Christianity.
The remainder of humanity would live in archaic, neo-traditional communities. The techno-scientific portion of humanity would be under no obligation to help (i.e., “develop”) everybody else. Nor would they have any right to interfere in their affairs.
In sum, for the elite: promethean achievement, linear time and futuristic technology; for the rest: neo-feudalism, cyclic time and timeless, “archaic” values.
But it is not clear how the elite could avoid “interfering” in the affairs of people they are supposed to govern. Moreover, how would the elite perpetuate itself? It seems clear that Faye does not intend a hereditary aristocracy. Perhaps there is some sort of test or initiatory ordeal for prospective members. But then families would be divided between the classes, which would involve many difficulties. In the fictional portrayal of his ideal future society which closes the book, Faye refers in passing to something called “the Party.” This reviewer would need to hear a lot more about this shadowy organization before signing on to Faye’s proposals. The two-tiered economy is altogether the least satisfactorily worked out part of the book.
Yet the author is aware that men never get what they plan for: somewhat grandiloquently, he calls this heterotelia. And he distinguishes “worldview” (an idea of civilization as a goal and some values) from “ideology” and “doctrine” (applications to society and what tactics to use). So we can follow him for the first mile.
Archeofuturism should have a bracing effect on anyone more accustomed to reading the despondent Cassandras of paleoconservatism. “Realism,” he reminds us, “is often disheartened fatalism.”
Those who blame others, enemies and the political climate for their own failures do not deserve to win. For it is in the logic of things for enemies to oppress you and circumstances to prove hostile. The mistake lies in exorcising reality by adopting the morals of intention as opposed to those of consequences.
We must reject the pretext that radical thought would be “persecuted” by the system. The system is foolish. Its censorship is as far from stringent as it is clumsy, striking only at mythic acts of provocation and ideological tactlessness. Talent always prevails over censorship, when it is accompanied by daring and intelligence. A right wing movement can only prove successful through the virtue of courage.
There is no excuse for being taken by surprise when the liberal regime disregards its own principles in order to fight us (as the British establishment is doing with the BNP). Of course we should publicize and ridicule their inconsistencies, but it is silly to be indignant over them: repression simply means that the regime recognizes us as an Ernstfall, a mortal threat, and that is precisely what a serious right ought to be. Attempts to shut us down are symptoms of growing success and should strengthen our resolve.