Part 3: The Beginnings of the Nouvelle Droite"/>
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Alain de Benoist’s Vivid Memory
Part 3: The Beginnings of the Nouvelle Droite

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Part 3 of 3

Alain de Benoist
Mémoire vive: entretiens avec François Bousquet
Paris: Éditions de Fallois, 2012

During the years 1966–’67, the movement in which Benoist had been a militant went into its death throes. Europe-Action ceased publication following its November 1966 issue; the FEN held its last summer training camp in 1967. Concurrently, Benoist was undergoing a personal evolution which might be summed up as the victory of the philosophy student over the militant.

I felt a strong desire to start again from scratch. At twenty-three, I had just passed several years in a milieu where I had the feeling of having “seen it all.” I had learned a lot, but also experienced its limits. I was aware of having said a lot of stupid things, of having repeated slogans only because they corresponded to what “we” were supposed to think. I wanted to submit all that to a critical examination, perform a sort of triage between the correct ideas that could be kept and the false ideas that had to be abandoned.

I had definitely concluded that I was not a man of power but a man of knowledge. The life of reflection, not to say the vita contemplativa, was more important to me than the vita activa. After having forced my own nature for a time, I had found myself. I aspired to reconstruct a general view of the world on a new basis.

In the fall of 1967, I went to stay in Denmark for a week or so, on the coast of the Baltic, in order to reflect calmly upon what I wanted to do: viz., to lead a “theoretical” life, as Aristotle said—but how?  I did not want to set forth any catechism of ready-made ideas, but to set in motion a train of thought. I could imagine the starting point, but did not wish to prejudge where it would lead. It was a matter of taking clear positions, engaging oneself completely, but never forgetting the primacy of questioning.

A few weeks later I arranged a working seminar in an old barn in the Vendée where a FEN summer training camp [presumably the last] had just been held. It was during this meeting that I announced my intention of launching a review entitled Nouvelle Ecole.

The inaugural meeting of the Groupement de recherche et d’études pour la civilisation européenne (GRECE) took place at Lyons, May 4–5, 1968. But the idea had been in the air for some time. At the beginning, I conceived GRECE quite unrealistically as a kind of synthesis between the Frankfurt School, Action Française, and the Centre nationale de recherche scientific!

From the chronology, we can see that the Nouvelle Droite was not, as is so often asserted, a “response” to the events of May 1968. Benoist, however, did take an interest in the events of that “revolutionary” month, and witnessed many of them close up.

It was only afterwards that I understood that there were in fact two different “May ’68s.” On the one hand, there was the initiation of a radical critique of consumer society, the society of the spectacle and mercantile values, with which I could only sympathize. On the other hand, it was a pseudo-revolution of “desire” (“untrammeled enjoyment,” “it is forbidden to forbid,” “the beach on the pavement”) which betrayed a spoilt-child individualism beneath its revolutionary appearances. Unfortunately, it was the second tendency which won out.

By 1970, GRECE was expanding rapidly, with “circles” forming in most of the major university towns: the Vilfredo Pareto Circle in Paris, the Henry de Montherlant Circle in Bordeaux . . . even a Leconte de Lisle Circle on the island of Réunion!

By the fall of 1968 it acquired a modest internal newsletter, Eléments, which expanded over the years until it became autonomous, the magazine for the general public it is today. Beginning [also] in 1968, GRECE has organized a national colloquium every year, as well as a summer university which is held in a big provençal building at the foot of the Roquefavour Aqueduct near Aix-en-Provence.

It was a matter of creating a working community, even if the first term was forgotten by some. But it is true that we attached great importance to the idea of community. We appropriated the classic distinction made by Ferdinand Tönnies between community, inherited or acquired, but always founded upon organic bonds, and society, of a contractual nature, and thus more artificial and “mechanical.”

Most of the members of GRECE were then between twenty and thirty years old. Some were still students. It was the time of first marriages and the arrival of first children. Since we were not Christians, there were no baptisms or church marriages. Some members wanted us to work out substitute rites.

I myself got married June 21, 1972—the day of the summer solstice—to a young German from Schleswig-Holstein, Doris Christians, who all her life has always remained a wonderful wife. We would have two sons: Frédérik (1978) and Adrien (1981).

Benoist describes the 1970s for GRECE as a period of “systematic exploration of the ideological landscape, with inevitable ambiguities, some theoretical wavering or mistakes.”

I wrote a number of articles on the nexus between culture and politics. I was struggling to define the idea of “cultural power.” I insisted on the role of culture as an element in political change. A political transformation [merely] sanctions a revolution which has already occurred in minds and mores. Intellectual and cultural work contributes to this mental change by popularizing values, images and themes which break with the order in place or with the values of the dominant class.

The first polemics against GRECE came at the end of 1972 from a far-right royalist organization which accused them of “racism.” Some members even attacked a GRECE seminar, pick-handles in hand. This had no lasting effect, and GRECE “established itself definitively in the intellectual landscape during the next five years.” In 1976, members established the publishing house Copernic, which published some fifty titles over the next few years.

In 1977 a series of events began which would turn Benoist’s little “working community” into an international media sensation. A close associate, the author and journalist Louis Pauwels, began to produce a Sunday supplement for the newspaper Le Figaro in which Benoist published interviews and book reviews. This venture proving successful, in October 1978 it was upgraded to a weekly magazine, Le Figaro-Magazine. Benoist worked closely with Pauwels on the project, and induced many of his associates to write for the magazine. “Nearly all [Pauwels’] editorials were a fairly faithful reflection of the ideas and work of the Nouvelle Droite,” remembers Benoist. After ten weeks of publication, the magazine had boosted Le Figaro’s circulation to 400,000, and it eventually shot up to 850,000.

By the summer of 1979, the ideological mainstream was worried. On the 22nd of June, Le Monde launched an attack under the title Le Nouvelle Droite s’installe (“The New Right Settles In”). This was the first appearance of the term “nouvelle droite,” which had never been used by Benoist or his associates to describe themselves. On July 2nd, the Nouvelle Observateur followed up with a cover story about GRECE. “From that point on,” remembers Benoist, “a snowball effect took hold.”

Within the space of a few weeks, several hundred articles were devoted to the Nouvelle Droite. After the articles there were books, then radio and television programs. I was giving swarms of interviews. One of the most memorable was two full pages in France-Soir of 20th July on the theme “What to Think of the New Right?” Playboy devoted their interview of the month to me. I was also pressed with questions by the television networks of France, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Japan, Denmark, Israel, Mexico, Brazil, Lebanon, etc. They asked whether I was considering running in the presidential elections. It was surreal.

We may note that not a single English speaking country appears in Benoist’s long list of international media which took an interest in the Nouvelle Droite.

On October 3, 1980 a bomb went off in a Paris synagogue, a crime later shown to have been the work of Middle-Eastern terrorists. The head of Licra (French acronym for International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism) declared that the attack was the consequence of a certain intellectual “climate” to which Figaro-Magazine had contributed. Hysterical reactions followed, and the police told Pauwels and Benoist that they could not guarantee their safety, and recommended that they “beat a retreat.”

I had to leave my house and spend several days undercover in Paris. Pauwels and I arranged a few discreet meetings. He wore dark sunglasses and looked over his shoulder as he spoke. It was like being in a John Le Carré novel. Two months later, a national colloquium organized by GRECE was forcibly attacked by a band of zealots. One of our friends lost an eye in the course of the brawl.

 

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18 Comments

  1. Deviance
    Posted July 25, 2012 at 2:29 am | Permalink

    I am not fond of Alain De Benoist, who on the course of his life more and more departed from “materialist racism” (i.e. reality) to go toward constructivism and philo-Semitism.*

    But I found this translated extract from Mémoire vive fascinating. It shows very well how an orchestrated and panicky mass media campaign at the beginning of the 1980s in France, supported by 100% Jewish newspapers and foundations (not 50%, not 80%: 100%*), managed to kill the rising tide of sociobiology and reactionary politics, and sit the Left on the throne.

    What happened in France during this period gives the lie to the idea that Jews played a non-important part in the Western egalitarian cultural revolution. They were its sole creators and benefactors, those who wrote cheques at the right moment and commanded TV news to run propaganda documentaries at the right moment.

    [1] Debates rages on in the French nationalist sphere as to if it was out of real beliefs or out of personal interest; he perhaps wanted to continue being perceived as an apolitical philosopher by French newspapers and avoid the stigma of neo-nazism.

    [2] The LICRA is the French equivalent of the ADL. As to Le Monde, le Nouvel Obs and Libé, they are basically Jewish gazettes, with either Jewish editors-in-chief or Jewish stockholders, and a heavily pro-Jew editorial line.

    ———–

    By the summer of 1979, the ideological mainstream was worried. On the 22nd of June, Le Monde launched an attack under the title La Nouvelle Droite s’installe (“The New Right Settles In”). This was the first appearance of the term “nouvelle droite,” which had never been used by Benoist or his associates to describe themselves. On July 2nd, the Nouvelle Observateur followed up with a cover story about GRECE. “From that point on,” remembers Benoist, “a snowball effect took hold.”

    A small typo you should correct. In French, we always say “la” for a feminine word.

    • Basileus
      Posted July 25, 2012 at 7:16 am | Permalink

      “What happened in France during this period gives the lie to the idea that Jews played a non-important part in the Western egalitarian cultural revolution.”

      During this period the Front National started to gain notoriety and the Jews sided with the Blacks and Arabs immigrants against the FN.

    • phil white
      Posted July 25, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      Assuming the general white population awakens in time to our programmed elimination by assimilation how should we free ourselves from the Jewish immigration propaganda?

      • Deviance
        Posted July 25, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

        There isn’t at this point any evidence that the White population is awakening. Frankly, I’d wish to be optimistic, but a lot of great and intelligent civilizations, peoples and races have disappeared in history out of the same problems we are facing.

        • Greg Johnson
          Posted July 25, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

          Was there a time when you awakened?

  2. Rhondda
    Posted July 25, 2012 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    Perhaps I am being picky, but this series does not seem to be up to your usual standard. Did Benoist really refer to himself in the third person and switch to first now and then?

    I find the following quote to be tres amusing.

    We may note that not a single English speaking country appears in Benoist’s long list of international media which took an interest in the Nouvelle Droite.

    Yet, in the previous paragraph, Canada is listed as a country whose media did interview him. Oh, I get it, Quebec is not in Canada hey?

  3. Posted July 25, 2012 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    As someone who traveled a seemingly byzantine journey to the NR/NC – I have a Masters in Black Studies, I love the few lines on AdB watching May 68 go down. His being influenced by the post-68 critique of materialism is most informative, perhaps only because I too still use this critique. Nonetheless, the best of that generation, namely Foucault and Deleuze, were giants unfortunately convinced that socialism and hedonism were an “exit” from vulgar modernity. If we had had thinkers of that quality . . .

    • Say what?!?!
      Posted July 25, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

      Mark, do you really have a Master’s in Black Studies? Would love to hear about your journey to white nationalism plotting your trajectory as it coursed through this realm of pseudo-intellectualism. Actually, as I write this I wonder if it wouldn’t be interesting to hear other people’s stories of awakening. Might make an interesting read. Could even be serialized — once weekly where Greg posts short narratives (100 words or less) of 3 or 4 readers’ stories of awakening — sincere white nationalists only of course.

      • Greg Johnson
        Posted July 25, 2012 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

        Great idea. We need to dust off the White Awakenings series that flopped when I first tried it. But they don’t have to be that short.

  4. Deviance
    Posted July 25, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    Was there a time when you awakened?

    Is this question addressed to me?

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted July 25, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

      Yes. If you woke up, logically other people can too. I woke up. I woke up other people. They woke up other people. Unless you posit that this process is futile, then it seems reasonable that our people are waking up. It may not be enough to save us. But there are definitely A LOT more people in this than there were 10 years ago.

      • Deviance
        Posted July 25, 2012 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

        Was born in a leftist family, received a leftist education. Used to consider with disgust and anger pro-white politicians. I therefore did wake up.

        I started to have doubts on egalitarianism when I was 13, these doubts were confirmed by my discovery of HBD/sociobiology when I was 15. Becoming Jew-aware and opposed to democracy (these things go in pair) took the biggest time, approximately 3 years dedicated to the cold analysis of all evidence on the topic. Today I am 19.

        Tried to wake up people of my age, partly succeeded. Tried to wake up adult people, completely failed.

        But there are definitely A LOT more people in this than there were 10 years ago.

        Agree. The Internet was a blessing for our cause. I was not here to see it, but from what I’ve heard the WN scene used to be pretty pathetic back in the 80s and 90s.

        It may not be enough to save us.

        That’s my point. Not trying to spread defeatism in the movement. Sincerely not. But I have strong doubts we can ever win this thing democratically. Intelligent people are outnumbered by sheep.

        On a historical level there is also a strong case for our inability to stop our decline. Cf. Spengler, Evola, Guénon, etc. History does not predict the future of course, but…

        I stay open to strategic and tactical discussions. I am for example a big endorser of separatism.

        • Greg Johnson
          Posted July 25, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

          Let’s say you believe in the Traditionalist cycles of history. We are definitely in the Dark Age. We can’t reverse that. But we can lend our shoulder to the wheel of time. That which is falling should also be pushed. And if we are lucky, we will live to see the dawn of the new Golden Age. Besides, another part of Traditionalism is the idea of duty. If you are a fighter, you are called to fight, regardless of the consequences. The gods take care of those. So you fight even if you can’t win, and who knows, your fight might hasten the coming of the new age, in which case you will win.

          Let’s say you don’t believe in Traditionalism. Let’s say that you believe in a metaphysics of the will. Let’s say you believe that man really can shape history. Then you fight against the system, and you might win and we will see the Golden Dawn, or you might not.

          Now, from a pragmatic point of view, both of these options are the same: one fights.

          But one needs to fight FOR something more concrete than a new Golden Age. One therefore needs more proximate and concrete goals that are intelligible and motivating to our contemporaries, goals that can seem moral, desirable, and feasible. So yes, endorsing something like peaceful separation is a good thing, even though you might be skeptical that it will really turn out that way.

        • Greg Johnson
          Posted July 25, 2012 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

          I wish I knew what you know at the age of 19. Slow learner here, I guess. Although events have been arguing more and more in our favor recently, even when we have not been able to get the word out.

  5. Deviance
    Posted July 25, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think you are a slower learner than me. Having access to the Internet as a teenager strongly helped me. Internet is a great accelerator of ideological and political formation, by removing time and monetary barriers to information.

    Being able to “google” something instead of spending your entire day looking for a book in a library certainly helps. Having access to Wikipedia also helps.

    Without the Internet my awakening would probably have taken 10 years more. That’s roughly the awakening of Kevin MacDonald: in his late twenties.

    Let’s say you believe that man really can shape history.

    I do! I don’t believe there are supernatural forces at play in social dynamics… simply the laws of nature and power.

    Breaking them is very hard though. I have spent literally entire days without sleep trying to figure out a way to remove Jewish influence from power, and to repair the catastrophe of WWII.

    I came to the conclusion the only answer is separatism, first on an intellectual, relationship and economic level, then on a territorial level.

    • White Republican
      Posted July 26, 2012 at 7:00 am | Permalink

      “The Internet is a great accelerator of ideological and political formation, by removing time and monetary barriers to information.” That can be true, but it is only as good as its user, and most people lack the interest and discipline needed for serious learning. As Ezra Pound put it, “Real education is ultimately limited to men who insist on knowing; the rest is mere shepherding.”

  6. phil white
    Posted July 26, 2012 at 6:01 am | Permalink

    @ At Deviance.
    As to waking up old people I go to t party meetings. After wearing my “European Americans United” T shirt there a few times I made a comment that we needed to end immigration or we would be flushing our grand children down the tube.
    I got a spontaneious round of aplause. At the end of the evening many more people than usual came over to my table to pick up the “Take America Back” bumperstickers.
    As to separatism check out the Pioneer Little Europe movement over at stormfront.org.
    As to the Jewish question after our victory we will have to establish a de-Zionization program similar to the de-Nazification program implemented in post-war Germany.
    Jewish culture needs to be rebuilt for the sake of every white nation if not for the sake of the world. It might even benefit the Jews, but who cares?

  7. Posted July 26, 2012 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    While no Francophone, I must point out that the usual translation of this, which I like to use myself, from Fredy Perlman of Detroit’s Fifth Estate, most likely, is “Beneath the pavement, the beach” which makes the point that anarchistic mutual cooperation underlies and precedes the state/capitalist superstructure and will survive it.

    “On the other hand, it was a pseudo-revolution of “desire” (“untrammeled enjoyment,” “it is forbidden to forbid,” “the beach on the pavement”) which betrayed a spoilt-child individualism beneath its revolutionary appearances. Unfortunately, it was the second tendency which won out.”

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