Translated by Greg Johnson
Spanish translation here
Thomas Ferrier: Tuesday, May 21 at 2:40 p.m. on the very altar of the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris, the historian Dominique Venner, author of Le Cœur Rebelle [The Rebel Heart] (autobiography), an Ernst Jünger biography, Histoire et tradition des européennes: 30,000 ans d’identité [History and traditions of Europeans: 30,000 years of identity], Le Siècle de 1914 [The Century of 1914], Le choc de l’Histoire [The Clash of History], etc. . . . and also editor of the journal Nouvelle revue d’Histoire [New Review of History], ended his days.
Guillaume Faye: The news came as a shock. Immediately the voluntary death of the Japanese nationalist, Mishima, came to mind. First of all, in immolating himself in Notre Dame, Venner intended to reappropriate the Christian sanctuary as pagan. To immolate oneself on a Christian altar as if it were a blood receptacle in the Capitoline or Delphic manner is a first in history. Venner wished to knock his contemporaries silly with this gesture. At first I thought, “What a pity!” Venner decided to conclude his life by his own will, to organize his “fall,” as screenwriters and playwrights say. Do not leave one’s death in the hands of fate, but of choice. Choose an end and give it meaning. The Roman ethics of Regulus in its dark splendor. Fiat mors tibi. Your death belongs to you; even the gods do not decide, for the heathen is a free man. The absolute opposite of the pagan is the follower of Islam, that is to say, of submission.
TF: What do you think the man, his work his ideas, and what you think is the best lesson to be learned?
Guillaume Faye: I wrote a long text on this issue as well as a funeral tribute to Venner, “The death of a Roman,” that I sent to Roland Helie to post it on the Internet. I refer you to it. In 1970, Venner was the one who brought me into the identitarian milieu of the European resistance, to use an uncommon phrase. I will say no more. Regarding his work and ideas, it seems to me that he decided to approach things from a historical and indirect perspective rather than the polemical and politically straightforward strategy of his youth. Nevertheless, his final message is quite clear when read honestly: Venner rebelled against the destruction of the European ethnic identity. And he tried to resolve his own contradictions.
TF: Do you think that his gesture should be seen as an act of desperation or a political act? Or both?
Guillaume Faye: It is very difficult to get into the skin of a man who killed himself. There is necessarily a mix of inner motivations and exterior causes. Nevertheless, we can give a political meaning to his despair (the causes of which are complex). In this way Venner followed Mishima exactly. But it is shameless and despicable to interpret–or worse, to sully–such an action, as did Femen. Suicide is a mystery. In the religions of salvation (for which suicide is sinful ) martyrdom replaces suicide. But that is another debate. In Islam, martyrdom, as a sacrifice that kills enemies (e.g., terrorist attacks) betrays a perverse mentality of paranoia linked to mental pathology.
TF: Do you think that it could really serve to “awaken consciences,” which he vowed in his last editorial on his blog? Can it really have an impact and, as we say, “change things”? Do you really believe that it can lead to an overhaul of concrete policies like, for example, the immolation of Jan Palach in 1968?
Guillaume Faye: That is possible. Since Neolithic times, sacrificial death has had a weighty meaning for practically every people. Even though our age is trying, in vain, to empty it of this dimension. Dominique Venner’s suicide in the choir of Notre Dame will be a landmark. It is not destined to be an “event” swallowed up by current events, like a defeat of a sports team. A myth will be created, in the form of an example, around this voluntary death. But it will take some time. Venner did not kill anyone but himself. He did not detonate a suicide vest. He interrupted his life and put his plunge into death in service of a message. He followed precisely in the footsteps of Yukio Mishima. Now, what I said is not a certainty. Everyone follows his path. Personally, I have never considered suicide as a means of sending a message. Simply because death interrupts the flow of the message. Unless you think you have said everything . . .
TF: Looking at everything that has happened (or rather not happened) since the beginning of the “national movement” in the broad sense, do you not share the conclusion stated by some, who display a certain wry cynicism—for example, a recent editorial by Philippe Randa echoing the conclusions of Nicholas Gauthier and Alain Soral—if not the nihilism that Nietzsche denounced? In other words, his suicide was forgotten by the media a week later. Now, more than four months later, did it really “do something”?
Guillaume Faye: Again, the commentaries of Randa, Gauthier, and Soral are beside the point, too tied to current events. The media does not matter. Venner’s voluntary death is a fact that transcends the media and which will be remembered. Today’s “national movement” is not a proper receptacle. Venner wished to give his tragic gesture a historic dimension, not create a fleeting media phenomenon. He was not addressing his friends, his family, or the “movement”—the so-called extreme Right. He was addressing his people, that is to say, Europeans, and his message focused primarily on the preservation of their ethnic identity which is currently threatened.