Archeofuturism: European Visions of the Post-Catastrophic Age
by Guillaume Faye; translated by Michael O’Meara
Arktos, 249 pages, $25.
As humans, we study our world to estimate the best responses to its demands. We then make a choice, and act on it, then observe the results to see if our estimations were correct. If they were not, we correct while trying to learn from the error. That is well and good, when buying a cement mixer — but what about a whole civilization?
Sometime 400 years ago, as our civilization prospered, the decision was made to modernize. This came about through a belief in the equality of all human beings and a drive toward external mechanisms, namely technology and political control systems. Guillaume Faye, the seasoned rising star of the New Right movement in Europe, explores our correction of this mistake in his landmark book Archeofuturism: European Visions of the Post-Catastrophic Age.
One of the more important things I’ve read this year, this book upholds an offhand feel throughout; an honest, end-of-the-night, when the wine and cigarettes are low and people are too tired to do anything but blurt out the big ideas that haunt them in their dreams feel. The content is dynamic, especially the first half, but the real force of power here is the style, an excitedly taboo-breaking, honest and hopeful look at re-creating ourselves so we have a future. This is not a book of resentment, but of joyful charging ahead.
A large influence on this stylistic breathlessness is the composition of the book, which is a collection of essays and a short sci-fi story to show us these ideas in practice. The second section, a thorough and high-energy explication of where Nouvelle Droite beliefs lead, the reasons for them and finally, how they can be better applied toward a theory of the future, will interest new right and deep ecologists the most as it joins the ideas of both into not a resistant/revolutionary culture but a remaking/revolutionary one.
Archeofuturism, Faye writes, escapes the boutique right-wing airy intellectualism of GRECE, which he critiques in the first book. Pointing out the failure of “ambiguous and incomprehensible ideological axes,” he proposes instead a transition from the rearward-looking “conservative” outlook to one that acknowledges what was lost, and the current state of disaster in the West, and plans for rebuilding afterward.
In his new theory of Archeofuturism, Faye proposes a “vitalist constructivism” that implements a quasi-feudal, national but not jingoistic, united Europe that applies the traditional spirit and learning to a future in which technology plays a central role. His unstated point is that the tool must again serve the man, after centuries of the reverse; he appeals to a sense of both the pragmatic in finding historically valid solutions through tradition, and the spirit of tradition, which is one of a constructive, upward society.
He proposes that we adopt this new outlook through a voluntaristic method, first changing our values, then our art, and then finally our political expectations at about the same time a “convergence of catastrophes” (environmental, political, economic) devastate Europe. Faye’s call is for Europeans to return to being “soldiers of the Idea” again, and for them to take up not a corrective action, but a constructive desire to rebuild and build it bigger, better and more exciting than before.
This fusion of both conservative and revolutionary thought takes the best of liberalism and the best of conservatism and takes them out of their handily domesticated roles as token opponents. He points out that our current ideological menu is carved from “soft ideology,” or that which passively deals with splitting up the wealth of an industrialization binge. He emphasizes a number of points all conservatives and pro-Europid readers can enjoy:
- Modernism is an attachment to the past. According to Faye, modernism is backward-looking as it tries to un-do conditions of nature that offend our egalitarian sentiment. What defines modernity is egalitarianism, or the idea that we’re all equal (in political power, in ability, in right to property). As a result, we’re constantly trying to force equality on nature while it resists us.
- Extreme leftism is a token act which reinforces the power of the modern nation-state. This point struck me as the most controversial, yet most sensible. If you are in power, and want to stay there, you need to give your citizens petty acts of rebellion that feel extreme but are in fact a repetition of the dominant philosophy. The state and its corruptors benefit from equality because it keeps smarter voices from rising above the herd.
- The modern world exists in a state of “soft totalitarianism” where those with unpopular opinions are simply ostracized, which in a liberal capitalist democracy effectively starves them into submission. He praises the American method of “soft imperialism” and shows how this is the future: indirect rule, with a reward/threat complex administered by social and business factors; the “1984” vision is obsolete.
- Romanticism. Faye writes convincingly of his efforts to join “Cartesian classicism,” or a sense of space as being equal in all directions, with “Romanticism” which he expresses here as the idea that will or will to power can change the world radically even if small in stature. The joining of these two represents the expression of both ancient philosophy and a new type of “freedom” for humanity.
- Roots and method of modernity. Modern society consists of secularized evangelism, Anglo-Saxon mercantilism, and Enlightenment individualism, its methods are economic individualism, allegory of Progress, cult of quantitative development and abstract “human rights.” It is amazingly refreshing to see this spelled out so clearly and simply.
- Multiple factors doom modernism which was always unrealistic. “Europe is turning into a third world country,” he writes, summing up the disasters. If you see this book in a store, pick it up to read page 59 for an insightful list of modernity’s failings.
- Heterotelia. Following Nietzsche’s example, Faye needed a concept that explains how what we intend does not always result in a perpetuation of that state when put into practice. For example, political equality ends in inequality through social instability; multiculturalism ends in race war; letting economy lead ends in poverty because speculative finance is easier than generating real wealth. He explains our past failings and the need to be alert in the future through heterotelia, which means that “ideas do not necessarily yield the expected results.”
- Ethno-masochism. Faye illustrates how the West, in a suicidal bid to become morally/socially impressed with itself, has inflicted upon itself the unworkable scheme of multiculturalism and in doing so, has imported Islam, an “imperial theocratic totalitarianism.” Unlike many new right writers, he endorses the idea of European culture as superior in addition to being worth saving for its unique virtues.
- North versus South. History begins with anthropology, Faye writes, so we must see the conflict in humanity as one between Northern peoples who are prosperous, and the “third world” Southerners who are attempting to colonize the North on the back of its technology and liberal egalitarianism. He suggests a Eurosiberia stretching from the UK to the borders of China, and claims East-West conflict is less likely as a source of conflict.
Against this cataclysm Faye posits Archeofuturism, or a futurism equally balanced by the spirit of traditionalism, which is (a) learning from the past and (b) a type of reverence for life that emphasizes family, punishment being more important than prevention, duties coming before rights, solemn social rites, the aristocratic principle and a “freedom” defined not as the ability to act randomly, but as a sense of having a place and being freed from a chaotic society with excessive pointless competition. This synthesis of the best of capitalism, socialism and our monarchic past fully lives up to the title of this book.
Good luck finding a short review of this book. The first half of it is packed chock-full of interesting ideas that like new melodies can infect the head for days as it dissects them and their context. The second half both addresses common objections and provides background, and takes the form of a short science fiction story in the tradition of Asimov and Heinlein that explains how technology will help humans evolve. The concepts are mind-blowing and more daring than anything sci-fi has attempted since Shockwave Rider, and this icing on the cake makes reading this book have a natural rhythm from the extreme, to the professorial, to the radical yet calming.
History is like a supertanker ship; it takes miles to begin to turn around and there are no brakes. The egalitarian experiment in Europe is only a few centuries old yet has wreaked utter havoc on all the subtler parts of existence, things that most people don’t notice because they are easily distracted by shiny objects. Faye brings these alive, shows us exactly why they are endangered, and then shows us a plausible and gradual (e.g. non apocalyptic, non-Utopian) solution toward which we can move if we believe life is worth saving. Clearly he does, and it infuses this book with a fervor and wisdom that few attain.