Part 2 of 2
President de Gaulle: The Illusions of Grandeur
The Fourth Republic, widely considered just as indecisive and decadent as the previous parliamentary regime, was incapable of maintaining the empire. In Indochina, a long war of attrition was waged, the politicians not having the will to send draftees, preserving the public from this hardship.
Instead, in line with a traditional fascist critique, petty-bourgeois France only had the will to send French volunteers, her colored soldiers (especially Arab Muslims) from the rest of the empire, and the Foreign Legion (which was now stuffed, the mauvaises langues noted, with Waffen-SS veterans seeking a new life . . .).
What’s more, the whole French war effort was financed by the United States, which, having facilitated the conquest of a third of the world by communism, had rediscovered its anti-Bolshevik convictions. This was not enough. The Vietnamese nationalists — fighting under the banner of communism and aided by an already powerful China — triumphed. The French in effect went to war with Asia and lost, a distinction the Americans would also acquire over the next two decades.
In these years of exile De Gaulle was a strange quasi-fascistic rabble-rouser leading the Rally of the French People (RPF), undermining the Cold War consensus, always appealing to French ethnocentrism: e.g., railing against the abandonment of Indochina, against the foundation of the rather inoffensive Federal Republic of Germany (“No more Reichs!”), and against the European Defense Community, his parliamentary deputies often voting in a ironic agreement with the Communists.
De Gaulle would only return to power in 1958, on the back of the Algerian crisis, where the parliamentary republic was simply too weak to decide the issue. France, like the rest of Europe barring little Portugal, did not have the will to maintain an empire. The colored populations were expanding rapidly thanks to European medical and sanitary technology. Nationalist and socialist agitation in the colonies naturally grew with urbanization, literacy, and communist propaganda. Finally, the Europeans’ moral self-confidence was undermined by the implications of the egalitarian civil religion, symbolized by the commitments of the Charter of the United Nations.
But if the regime could “let go” of Morocco or Tunisia in 1956, it could not abandon 1 million European settlers in Algeria without a fight. Albert Camus, a leading humanist intellectual himself of Euro-Algerian settler origin, was caught up in the contradiction: “People are now planting bombs in the tramways of Algiers. My mother might be on one of those tramways. If that is justice, then I prefer my mother.” Universal human rights and brotherhood, of course! But even Camus could not applaud ethnically cleansing his own people in the name of some Kantian imperative.
Sartre — the leading “moralist” of the now hegemonic Left — had fewer qualms, writing in Frantz Fanon’s ode to postcolonialist anti-European revolution:
[I]n the first stage of the revolt, one must kill: To kill a European is to kill two birds with one stone, to eliminate at once an oppressor and an oppressed: There remains a dead man and a free man, the survivor, for the first time, feels a national soil beneath the soles of his feet.
De Gaulle for his part is supposed to have said concerning Sartre: “One does not put Voltaire in the Bastille.” (In contrast, at the Liberation he expressly refused to pardon the fascist writer Robert Brasillach, who was thus executed for his opinions.)
Caught between a fruitless, perhaps eternal war in Africa and an embittered military establishment unwilling to give up Algeria after so much sacrifice, De Gaulle was in effect called in to resolve the crisis. Over a difficult four years, Algeria was eventually let go. Messily. The 1 million Europeans had to flee in a hurry. The harkis, Algerian Muslims who had fought on the French side as soldiers, were butchered by the Algerian nationalists by the thousands as collaborators.
Self-styled realists like Raymond Aron argued that leaving Algeria was inevitable given the demographics involved. De Gaulle in private explicated the ethno-nationalist grounds: 10 million Muslims today, tomorrow 40 million, how can we assimilate that? Yet, for many on the French Right, this abandonment of French Algeria was another reason to detest De Gaulle. Jean-Marie Le Pen, not facing the constraints of power but basing his career on appealing to the same Right-wing, ethnocentric instinct which De Gaulle had appealed to as leader of the RPF, condemned this renunciation.
The historian Dominique Venner, who had fought as a soldier in Algeria, came to hate De Gaulle for this too. Perhaps leaving Algeria was justified on realistic ethno-nationalist grounds (unless one had the will and ruthlessness of a Hitler in segregating and eliminating the natives, but Europeans had long become far too soft for such brutality). But if France did not have the will to defend the livelihood of the 1 million sons of Europe on Algerian soil, who is to say that she would have the will to defend that of the Europeans on the Continent itself?
After 1962, De Gaulle was free as President of the Fifth Republic to do as he liked as a kind of Roman temporary dictator, dominating television and enjoying a constitution drafted for him sur mesure. This was the time of the great éclat of his foreign policy, causing great consternation to the Americans and their Western European satellites: Twice vetoing the entry of the British “Trojan horse” into the European Economic Community, evicting U.S. soldiers from French soil, withdrawing from NATO’s unified military command, developing an independent nuclear force de frappe, and maintaining a neocolonial French domination of francophone black Africa (la Françafrique).
Gaullism would long resonate with the French ruling elite, a satisfying response to their nation’s historic decline and the hegemony of “the Anglo-Saxons.” France would be the most independent, one could say most obnoxious, member of the Western alliance, but also in a sense the Western European country with the greatest vestigial will-to-power. Thus France insisted on the use of the French language, defended the exception culturelle, developed a considerable spying apparatus, maintained a substantial army with frequent deployments, and sold weapons to the anti-Zionist Arab nationalist states. France also was the impetus behind the (largely failed) efforts to foster European unity and independence from the United States, through the euro common currency as a rival to the U.S. dollar, and the mirage of a Europe de la défense and a Europe puissance.
Yet what, ultimately, did De Gaulle accomplish that was lasting? I believe the fundamental weakness was the lack of any systematic cultural or educational policy. De Gaulle, as a small dictator, is a titan compared to the democratic politicians we are used to (contemplate that his seat has since been occupied by the likes of Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande . . .). But he remained a “democratic politician,” that is to say: An inevitable follower of the wider cultural and social trends.
De Gaulle — unlike the fascist dictators — was not a Platonic or Rousseauist politician who put education of the citizenry (and in particular of an enlightened ruling elite) as the fundamental foundation of his work. He was far more interested in the apparent grandeur of diplomatic high politics, with its summits of statesmen and dramatic press conferences, than in education and culture. De Gaulle allowed society to develop “freely” — growing ever-softer with postwar prosperity and consumerism, and under a liberal-communist cultural establishment.
In that context, De Gaulle’s austere, conservative, basically nineteenth-century, brutal, and martial mindset was completely out of sync with the new society. Thus, the eve of his reign was marred by May ’68, part of that wider Western cultural revolution which was naturally made more dramatic and theatrical in France, led among others by the Jewish revolutionary pedophile Daniel Cohn-Bendit (who has continued to prosper ever since, changing his spots, but always pushing the same poisonous message of self-indulgence and anti-nationhood).
De Gaulle survived May ’68, but his heart was no longer in it. He resigned shortly thereafter to write his memoirs. What was it all for? I cannot say. But I can say that André Malraux — an early glitzy “media-intellectual” who also served as De Gaulle’s cultural minister — has a revolting conclusion to his memoirs of his final conversations with the retired General:
Alone at Colombey between memory and death, like the grand masters of the knights of Palestine before their grave, he [De Gaulle] is still the grand master of the Order of France. Because he took this upon himself? Because he has, for so many years, held up her corpse at the end of his arms, having the world believe that she is still alive?
How can one estheticize decadence so? Following Nietzsche, Malraux and Camus cited nihilism or “l’absurde” as what was plaguing European Man. De Gaulle for his part is quoted as saying: “I can admit that a civilization be without a faith, but I would like to know what it will put in its place, consciously or not.” Well, some men of the Right attempted to found a new faith fit for the twentieth century, but De Gaulle was not among them.
The Downward Path
Thus, while De Gaulle fashioned a pugnacious France with a certain éclat internationally, the foundations were wholly unsound. There was no systematic attempt to arrest French decline. And that De Gaulle was unsystematic and a slave to wider socio-cultural trends is nowhere more evident than in the area of race and immigration. We are told that the Second World War was fought to prevent the victory of crazed Nazis who, inspired by pseudoscientific nonsense, sought to impose the domination of the Nordic-Aryan “master race” upon the world. It is then perhaps surprising that in June 1945 De Gaulle himself expressly instructed the Justice Ministry to adopt a more “Nordic” immigration policy:
In terms of ethnicity, it is appropriate to limit the arrival of Mediterraneans and Orientals who have since a half-century profoundly changed the composition of the French population. Without going so far as the United States by using a rigid system of quotas, it is desirable that the priority be given to Nordic naturalizations (Belgians, Luxembourgers, Swiss, Dutch, Danish, Germans). One could consider a proportion of 50% for this element.
De Gaulle then seems to have even at the end of the war been influenced by the Nordicist racial theories fashionable at the time. Such ideas and policies would after the war increasingly be deemed simply “racist” and therefore supremely evil as such. De Gaulle could still talk privately of unassimilable Arabs or write in his memoirs on white Europe, but there simply was no attempt to fashion a coherent or lasting immigration policy, let alone a wider progressive population policy.
Since De Gaulle’s departure, his œuvre has steadily unraveled with each new president and today almost nothing remains of the “French exception.” The European Union’s promises are unkept, while the French military — the last and declining vestige of her will-to-power — is made to enthusiastically serve purely Anglo-Zionist interests, notably the destruction of Libya and Syria.
The roots of this decadence go back to the Second World War. The Gaullist-Communist coalition created a France which was “sovereign,” but parliamentary, Zionist, corrupt, traumatized, and purged of the Right. She had a place in the egalitarian order only by purging herself and submitting to the war’s egalitarian mythology. This made her position precarious: The Gaullist mythology rested on fragile claims that “real France” had been in London and on a preponderant role for the Resistance (“Paris liberated itself,” De Gaulle asserted).
The egalitarian civil religion would naturally intensify and grow ever-more Judeocentric over time: Thus De Gaulle’s convictions too would be considered politically incorrect and France herself would be deemed a guilty, illegitimate nation because of her conduct in the Second World War (hence the harassment at the end of his life of President François Mitterrand, who had been a minor Vichy official during the war). This was reflected in the prominence given to Bernard-Henri Lévy’s L’idéologie française in the 1970s, an anti-French book equating French history with the highest evils of fascism and anti-Semitism, and thus legitimating the effort to destroy her very nationhood through “multiculturalism.”
Thus today France is no longer a proud and independent great nation, but a guilty nation, one guilty of the Shoah, and thus must give way to new forms. The state itself merely echoes and magnifies the globalist ideology in its more and more comical forms: While France abnegates powers to the European Union, the population becomes ever more post-European.
French leaders have been more interested in safeguarding French pride than French well-being. Like the fable of the frog and the ox, the French demand the respect accorded to a high nation of 150 million. But the population numbers only 65 million, and the best and brightest are often not among them.
To put things the most curtly: De Gaulle claimed to fight for “French greatness” and a “European Europe,” today, both France and Europe are destined to have a Judeo-American spirit and an Afro-Islamic body.
What did De Gaulle know? Towards the end of his presidency, at the height of his powers, he deemed the Jews “an elite people, self-confident, and dominating.” Raymond Aron once mysteriously remarked on his experience among the Allies in London of 1940: “even though we were on the other side [against the Axis], the Jewish question was present with a kind of obsession.” Because of fears surrounding a perceived “war for the Jews”? Because De Gaulle and Churchill’s only chance of victory against Hitler indeed lay in the enlistment of America and therefore among other things in the strength the Jewish lobby in that country, against the “isolationist” American majority and their German fellow Europeans? The end is in the beginning.
De Gaulle’s legacy lives on primarily symbolically. The image he fashioned of France in the 1960s, of a proud and sovereign nation with her own will and inner life, as an actor in world history, remains. Soralism seems an outgrowth of the nostalgia for the assumptions of that era. Alain Soral was born the year the General took power in 1958 and that epoch imprinted upon him. Hence his visceral rejection of the emerging New World Order, with very different assumptions, in which France is at best a mere satellite and in fact is being steadily dissolved into nothing at all.
De Gaulle’s failure is the same as that of all the great conservative statesmen, such as Bismarck and Franco. The fascists, for their part, believed decadence could be arrested through a new political religion, a cult of aristocracy and nation, overcoming individual caprice and egalitarian narcissism by appealing to the immemorial tribal and spiritual instincts for love and sacrifice. We will never know if this could have succeeded.
And how seductive are the forces of degeneration! No wonder, in the age of comfort, we are living the Great Slouching. How difficult it is to raise man upward in common endeavor, and to sustain this union through inspired will! As the Priestess once noted:
All men, inasmuch as they are not liberated from the bondage of Time follow the downward path of history, whether they know it or not, and whether they like it or not. Few indeed thoroughly like it, even at our epoch [. . .] Yet, they follow the fatal way. They obey their destiny.
1. On this I note that the Jewish writer Karl Popper dedicated two big volumes to explaining that totalitarianism, and in particular National Socialism, descends from Plato. Furthermore, it is said that Western philosophy is largely “a series of footnotes to Plato,” and Bertrand Russell observed: “Hitler is an outcome of Rousseau; Roosevelt and Churchill, of Locke.” One mainstream account of De Gaulle’s education policy quotes him as distancing himself from “the totalitarian way” and argues that “he ultimately acted, in this world which was unfamiliar to him [. . .], as a democrat.” François Mayeur, “De Gaulle et l’Éducation nationale,” De Gaulle en son Siècle, Moderniser la France (Paris: Plon, 1992), volume 3. http://www.charles-de-gaulle.org/pages/l-homme/dossiers-thematiques/1958-1970-la-ve-republique/de-gaulle-et-l-education/analyses/de-gaulle-et-lrsquoeducation-nationale.php
2. One could argue De Gaulle’s second great weakness was in not recognizing that France alone was too small to really affect the new order and that he did not really pursue a united Europe: A fair point. His European policy can be summarized: Keep Britain out, try to convert West Germany to non-alignment (failure), dispel the “federalist” illusion (and one cannot emphasize enough the sophistry of the oh so pious “federalism” of the early postwar years, basically a cover for Cold War strategizing), and secure agricultural subsidies for French farmers. These are a decidedly modest and “negative” achievements. Like too many European nationalists, De Gaulle tended to equate “Europe” simply with his own country alone. I tend to think that he was simply too much of a nationalist and too much of a realist to put much stock in a multinational and multi-state confederation . . . and here his thinking on the irreducibility of nation and state strongly recalls Hitler’s. But I believe only a great cultural policy at the European level — and I mean something very great indeed — could provide solid and fertile foundations for a politically united Europe. And De Gaulle was not interested in pursuing such a cultural policy even in France, let alone Europe, with the inevitable compromising with the petty-bourgeois parliamentary regimes making up the Six.
3. André Malraux, Les chênes qu’on abat… (Paris: Gallimard, 1971), 235.
4. Ibid., 228.
5. Alain Drouard, “La création de l’INED,” Population, n. 6, 1992, 1458. http://www.persee.fr/docAsPDF/pop_0032-4663_1992_num_47_6_3930.pdf
6. For instance, Argentina has an elegant solution, preempting untold amounts of ethnic strife, as her constitution simply states: “The Federal Government will promote European immigration.”
7. In a 1951 speech to the B’nai B’rith of France. Raymond Aron, Essais sur la condition juive contemporaine (Paris: Tallandier, 2007), 32.