From Race to Culture: the New Right view of European Identity (Pierre-Andre Taguieff)

From Race to Culture: the New Right view of European Identity


Pierre-Andre Taguieff

It is no accident that most of the representatives of “European religion” also became defenders of liberty and positive tolerance.

Alain de Benoist

Two thousand years of fleeing from its own identity led the West to the illusion that it was possible to remake an identity using great “universal” principles which it then had the right to impose on the rest of the known world.

Alain de Benoist



The New Right: Evolution of a Doctrine

Since 1978 the label “New Right” has generally referred to the Groupement de Recherche et d’Etudes pour la Civilisation Europeenne (GRECE), founded in 1968. Nevertheless, the New Right may also refer to one of the ideological and political currents which appeared on the French scene in the 1970s — one of the “new” ideologies of the Right or, more precisely, one of the new doctrinal syntheses whose objective is to reorient political life. Irrespective of later political associations, three ideological traditions can be distinguished, each of which can in turn be divided into “schools of thought” or intellectual orientations: first, traditional counter-revolutionaries (legitimism and/or “integralism”), integral nationalism in the tradition of Charles Maurras and Gnostic inclinations allied to [Rene] Guenon or [Julius] Evola; second, Europeanist conservative revolutionaries who are partisans of a “third way” (revolutionary nationalists, neo-fascists, and neo-pagans associated with GRECE); and third, neo-conservatives of a “liberal” stripe (the national liberalism of the Club de l’Horloge such as the “new republican, liberal national populism,” the “popular capitalism” of the National Front, the anti-state libertarians, and the “new economists”). Clearly all of them can be distinguished in terms of their relation to economic liberalism. Counter-revolutionary traditionalists and conservative revolutionaries include all of the Right’s anti-liberal schools and confront the many liberal neo-conservative schools.

Until 1979 the label “New Right” could be applied to both GRECE (the “metapolitical” or “cultural” wing) and the Club de l’Horloge (the main political wing founded in 1974 by at least two members of GRECE, Yvan Blot and J.Y. Gallou). Thereafter, the Club’s unconditional allegiance to economic liberalism and the Western Alliance caused it to break with GRECE — a break exacerbated by the latter’s turn against the West between 1975 and 1980. A common rejection of egalitarian ideology could no longer hide profound differences: on the one side, anti-communism, pro-Americanism, moral conservatism, liberalism, and a return to traditional Catholicism; on the other, a trenchant anti-Americanism, reformulating the old refrain “Neither Washington nor Moscow” — the attempt to find a “third waay,'”‘organic democracy,”[1] anti-liberalism and anti-economism, postmodernism and a “right-wing” pro-Third World stance, the reaffirmation of paganism and the unconditional rejection of “Judeo-Christianity.”[2] Thus we should reserve the label “New Right” for GRECE alone. Owing to its refusal to compromise on the question of universalism — it denounced the “ideology of human rights” — and its rejection of liberal concepts in the 1980s when neo-liberalism and humanitarianism were tiding high, GRECE was marginalized on the French ideological and political scene.[3] However, it did not thereby lose its international audience because the untimely firmness of its anti-economic and anti-universal positions were in line with the movements on the Left that challenged dominant utilitarian and humanitarian ideas.[4]

The appearance on the “Right” of a “new pro-Third World stance,” based on the defense of peoples against Western economic and humanitarian imperialism,[5] would seem to indicate the political orientation required of any attempt to find a “third way.” But such a stance is not without its ambiguities. For example, non-European immigrants are to be returned to their home countries under the pretext of the right “to difference” and respect for cultural identities. But the logical consequence of making “cultural” differences absolute is the call to exclude foreigners considered “undesirable” because they cannot be assimilated. Claiming that “multiracial society is the breeding ground of racism,” Guillaume Faye defines the third way (between racism and anti-racism) as follows: “To go to the heart of the right to difference, one must reject multiracial societies and concur with the immigrants themselves that they be returned to their own countries.”[6]

In my view, this statement illustrates the appearance of a differentialist racism — a racism no longer heterophobic but heterophile in its arguments and themes. Presenting itself as an “authentic” anti-racism, this neo-racism has two other major characteristics. On the one hand, its ideological parameters are no longer defined in terms of inequality — a fixed universal scale of values, a concern for status, an obsession with hereditary defects and with the rise of “inferior” peoples — but in terms of the distance between “cultural” communities. It postulates a radical heterogeneity, between “mental” (“cultural”) traditions. Affirming differences provides the pretext for affirming the incommensurability of different cultures (absolute cultural relativism). On the other hand, this “cultural” racism moves from the idea of zoological races (physical anthropology) to that of ethnicity and “culture” (social or cultural anthropology) where some positions held by the ethnological community can be legitimated.[7]

The differentialist imagination wants to preserve collective identities (and inter-communitarian differences) at all costs. It is haunted by the threat of the destruction of identities through inter-breeding –physical and cultural cross-breeding.. This is the “mixophobic” core of differentialist racism. Moreover, the right to difference is presented as the most effective ideological weapon against “all totalitarianisms.”[8] Apart from its anti-racism and its pro-Third World stance, it is therefore also anti-totalitarian. The strategic intelligence of the New Right excels in opposing the ideas and positions of its adversary — the hegemonic intellectual Left — by recovering, diverting and reversing them. The danger in this is that the New Right will be unable to distinguish itself from the Left and will thereby lose its ideological particularity. Owing to the subtlety of its reaction and response, it also risks aligning itself with the very positions of its adversary which it tries to distort and disarm.

Despite a nucleus of common and recurrent convictions and positions –the rejection of egalitarianism, of liberal and Marxist economics, of “Judeo-Christianity,” and its defence of the cultural identity of Europe and the goal of a “third empire” — one cannot attribute to GRECE an ideological homogeneity it seems it never had.[9] Since 1980/81, it has been possible to distinguish five different, even divergent positions within the team of directors at GRECE. These positions are reflected more obviously in its sphere of influence and especially among its sympathizers. The first is found in the traditional anti-modem faction comprised of the supporters of Guenon and Evola; the second, in the nostalgic, communitarian, romantic and reactionary volkisch faction that is openly nationalistic (either for France or Europe); the third is located in the anti-Judeo-Christian faction that is neo-pagan, ethno-pluralist, Europeanist and pro-Third World (integrating Georges Dumezil and Louis Dumont and then Martin Heidegger into its scientific system of legitimation);[10] fourth, the postmodern, anti-Judeo-Christian faction which has imperialist aims (Europe as the third empire),[11] a “Faustian” and pluralist — differentialist -interpretation of techno-science as a dehomogenizing force[12], and which celebrates the power of “disinstallation” and metamorphosis attributed exclusively to “European identity”; and finally, the scientific faction that is either positivistic or neo-gnostic. On the most charitable interpretation, the doctrine of the New Right appears to be very heterogeneous, pluralist and diverse; on the most pessimistic, it appears to be on the verge of disintegration.

After a period of stabilization and relative doctrinal unity (1972-73/1979-80), the New Right entered a period of uncertainty and attempted to redefine both its intellectual and cultural foundations as well as its orientations and political objectives. It is useful to mention briefly the four doctrinal phases which have characterized GRECE’s evolution since its inception.

  1. When the body of the doctrine was formulated, inequality — inter-individual, inter-genetic — and genetic determinism — the spread of psychological notions of hereditary intelligence as well as research in physical anthropology and “scientific” raciology — were emphasized. An explicitly biological racism and scientism characterized this first doctrinal stage, which can mainly be found in the tradition of “biological realism” in the “Message from Upsala” (1958-60) and in Europe Action (1962-67). Thereafter, the main enemy clearly became Marxism-Leninism and the communist movement (1968-72).
  2. When the doctrine solidified, the accent was on the idea of the elite, the diversity of mental types and the misdeeds of “Judeo-Christianity” in the history of Europe (1972/1978-79). A specific doctrine of anti-egalitarianism and European paganism was in evidence –a doctrine of neo-aristocracy a la Nietzsche, articulating a more or less differentialist “anti-racism” (1975) as well as a “scientific” doctrine of European cultural identity (based on an use of the works of Dumezil). Also in evidence was the beginning of a culturism of the Right, whose main enemy was the egalitarianism born of monotheism.
  3. When the doctrine was readapted, cultural identities and differences were emphasized in the context of an ethno-pluralism and a radical cultural relativism (largely borrowed from the leftist intelligentsia) opposed to Western “ethnocidal” universalism. Right-wing ideas began to be eliminated; there is an insistence on the primacy of the economy, a violent protest against liberal capitalism, a denunciation of “reductionism” (including the genetic determinism of socio-biology) anti-totalitarianism, and the development of the differentialist thematic — the “cause of the peoples” and the “rights of the peoples” –in opposition to human rights — a system of abstractions serving Western imperialism. The main enemy again changed and assumed the unexpected shape of the US — Westernism, Americanism, Atlanticism, universalism, liberal cosmopolitanism, the ideology of the market.[13] These are the names of the new anathema.
  4. Taking into account only the works of Benoist and Faye, the period between 1984 and 1987 signaled a second doctrinal fixation centered on a differentialist pro-Third World stance, a postmodernism “of the Right,” and the rediscovery of the “sacred” as the basis of a “deeply rooted” European identity. Despite its many tendencies and the loss of consensus (at the top levels and in its spheres of influence), the New Right found a new orientation — the defence of identities and of rootedness, respect for absolute differences in opposition to “advocates of a decline of humanity”[14] and to American-Soviet domination. The New Right presented itself as the party of diversity and tolerance in opposition to the party of imperial uniformity and the deculturation of peoples. The grandiose metapolitical goal was “to keep all cultures alive . . . . to attempt to preserve the diversity of the world.”[15] Although this goal may appeal to many people of all persuasions today, the idea of allying a (free) Europe with an (emancipated) Third World against the two blocs, even if it has the advantage of giving political content to the important idea of a “third way” — other than social democracy — runs the risk of becoming an abstract utopia, a dream to compensate the disenchanted and the losers. This is the price of its persuasive power. By attempting to occupy the middle ground between the Left and the Right, this idea may well cause the New Right to self-destruct by eliminating all doctrinal differences. The very success of this strategy of bringing together the New Right and the New Left, pursued since 1977-78, may well spell the end of the New Right.[16] By eradicating all the theoretical and practical-strategic boundaries between itself and the Left, between anti-liberal and Third World factions, the New Right may cap its political and ideological marginalization between 1980 and 1984 by simply disappearing. This pragmatic paradox will affect the future success of its cultural or metapolitical strategy and is perhaps what makes the New Right “new.”


Judeo-Christian Egalitarianism as the Main Enemy (1972-79)

After adopting the doctrine of “biological realism” (as racism was called by French neo-fascist groups in the 1950s and 1960s), and after its first soul-searching transitional period (1968-72), GRECE proceeded to formulate its first doctrinal synthesis — anti-egalitarianism based on a racial opposition to Judeo-Christianity (1972-1979). Although this doctrine was not abandoned, it was regrounded in the context of a new ideological problematic which was more permissible and acceptable in the new climate. After 1980 the Judeo-Christian argument was no longer based on the natural inequality between individuals and races but rather on the natural differences between cultures and ethnies.

In an interview early in 1977, the then Secretary General of GRECE, Jean-Claude Valla, identified “egalitarianism” as the main metapolitical enemy[17] and justified his assertion by reiterating the first of the “12 points” listed in a manifesto published the same year under the title “Situations.”[18] These 12 “points” are as follows: 1) Against egalitarianism; 2) Against uprooting; 3) Against intellectual terrorism; 4) Against the degradation of education; 5) Against the “exploiters of sex” and taboos; 6) Against the merchants of illusion; 7) For an organic society; 8) For European culture; 9) For a qualitative economy; 10) For a true science of man; 11) For a politics of sport; 12) For the renewal of traditions.

Valla begins with a diagnosis of the “crisis” of contemporary societies, which are especially undermined by the “deliberate subversion” of”a specific intelligentsia”[19] and characterized by “negativity in absolutely every field” -a “protest” seeking to “abolish the very foundations of our culture.”[20] He explains why he denounces this “profoundly regressive project”: the founders of GRECE “have confirmed [its] effects.”[21] More specifically, “they have identified the logical connection between different kinds of protests, . . . [and] clearly discerned the common denominator underlying them;” this was their claim to fame. This common denominator is precisely what the doctrinaire New Right calls “egalitarianism,” “egalitarian thinking,”[22] or “egalitarian ideology.”[23]

The interpretation of “Against egalitarianism” in the 1977 synopsis begins as follows: “Egalitarian thought today is the common denominator of universalist doctrines and ideologies of standardization.”[24] The doctrinal attribution — “ism” — poses a problem because, for GRECE, egalitarianism does not refer to a doctrine or an ideology in the strict sense. Rather, egalitarianism refers to a way of seeing the world and, more precisely, the core of a conception of the world consistent with a specific mentality that could be identified with a mental type. Hereafter, it is a way of thinking which can assume several apparently heterogeneous and even contradictory ideological or doctrinal forms in history. However, using the term in the singular indicates their “common denominator” -their common nature. Explicit in the texts of the New Right is the idea that egalitarianism is a trans-historical and meta-doctrinal mentality, foreign to the European mind: “Originally, nothing was stranger to the European mind than this type of thinking –egalitarian thinking. All ancient societies were organic societies. In such societies, politics was synonymous with power relations where social relations were structured according to a certain number of hierarchies, and individuals were taken for what they are, i.e., for persons identical to no one else.”[25]

The first reason for rejecting egalitarianism is thus that it is of foreign origin — extra-European. The first anti-egalitarianism act is therefore one of spiritual xenophobia. A second reason to reject it is that it was introduced into the European mind by Judeo-Christianity [26] or, more simply, just Christianity. [27] According to Herte: “Judaism is certainly right for the Jews, as Islam is for the Arabs, and we cannot accept the racist practice of imposing our cultural model on foreign peoples.”[28] Already here we find the basic argument of differentialist racism — to be anti-racist is to believe that every race, ethnic group or culture must preserve its difference at all costs. It must cultivate, develop and defend that difference against all attacks and above all not attempt to abolish it. Racism is indistinguishable from the universalization of particular values and norms; it is universalist by definition, and the demand for universality, conceals imperialist goals — it is a specific form of the will to power. The demand for equality, which in modern times has been made under the universal slogan that “All men are equal,” henceforth should be understood only in terms of the specific mentality of which it is an attribute. It is sufficient to apply this principle to the penetration of Judeo-Christianity into European culture: “There is no reason why Europeans should continue to model their thinking according to a religious ideology foreign to them.”[29]

The metaphor of “penetration,” as well as “infiltration”[30] is used to explain how the “germs” of this foreign mentality were introduced into Europe: “Egalitarianism penetrated European culture at a critical stage at the beginning of our epoch, via the new anthropology of Judeo-Christianity.”[31] Valla reiterates this assertion and explains: “After the idea of ‘equality before God’ was introduced into European thinking by Judeo-Christianity, egalitarian ideology was secularized in the 18th century.”[32] Genealogy is essential — modern egalitarianism is presented as the product of a gradual secularization of the Christian doctrine and, more precisely, of the anthropology it presupposes. At the beginning of the Christian era: “The diversity of the world was affirmed for the first time as a secondary phenomenon. Apart from the individual characteristics which each person possesses (qualities and defects, merits and gifts, etc.), there is something essential which presumably makes us equal in the eyes of God.”[33] Now, the history of the West is the history of the rise of egalitarianism, which, after the secularization brought about by the Enlightenment, ultimately became the dominant ideology, of Western society. More precisely, it became indistinguishable from its axiological and normative core, which is the common root of all the major ideologies in apparent conflict on the political scene — liberalism, socialism, communism, anarchism. The process of secularization is progressive; “At the start, egalitarian anthropology could only be stated in theological terms — in the myth of equality before God. Thereafter, however, it gradually and inevitably became secularized. This was the case when democracy, socialism, and communism appeared on the scene, when egalitarianism was ‘brought down to earth,’ when a here below was substituted for the beyond. Now this secularization of Christian theology has come to an end. Even the Church recognizes in modem egalitarianism the child it begat long ago.”[34]

The secular growth of “Judeo-Christian” egalitarianism was therefore imperialistic — it tolerated no external frontiers and hence became imperceptible: “Thereafter after its secularization in the 18th century, the hold of this ideology on Western societies became increasingly strong. With a kind of internal momentum, it succeeded in penetrating all spheres, and today we are witnessing the result of this extraordinary flowering.”[35] Monotheism and egalitarianism presuppose each other; they can be understood as synonymous — as metonymies. The one is reduced too the other and thinking becomes impoverished and homogenized; “Especially characteristic of egalitarian thinking is that it tends to be ‘monotheistic’ and reductive. Given that individuals are essentially identical (and this essential identicity [sic] is the basis of that same equality, which creates their rights), egalitarianism tends to reduce everything to the Unique. It tends to eliminate the diversity of the world.”[36] This is the first basic argument against “monotheistic” egalitarianism — it is accused of trying to reduce everything to one and the same thing. It is indistinguishable from imperial rule, which makes everything identical.

This argument is formulated either on an aesthetic level — the complaint about the reduction or even the elimination of the beauty of the world deriving from its diversity — or on an epistemological level — the complaint about its reductionist thinking or about its summary materialism (the systematic reduction of the superior to the inferior) — or on a bio-cosmic level. At this point the second basic argument against egalitarianism appears. It consists in opposing the presumed identitarian ideal of egalitarianism to the biological tendency to differentiation, conceived as increasing inequality, or in opposing equality in and of death to the hierarchical difference which supposedly characterizes all living things.

Valla reformulates the old romantic dichotomy between the mechanical and the organic, the inert and the vital, by introducing metaphors of entropy and negative entropy: “Now, the world is diverse. It is in fact nothing but that — diversity. All diversity generates inequalities. This is characteristic of all living systems. The evolution of living things is evolution toward increasing differentiation, toward the increasing distinction between subject and object. In other words, the great law of life is evolution toward increasing heterogencity. wherein living systems are opposed to physical systems which are themselves becoming more homogeneous and acquiring greater identity by gradually losing energy (which physicists call entropy). On the one hand, there are organic processes; on the other, mechanical processes. All doctrines which have as their goal the progressive egalitarianism of all living things are materialistic (with respect to macro-physics) and, whether explicitly or not, mechanistic. The logical conclusion of this tendency is decline and disappearance — the absolute homogeneity which is death itself.”[37]

This long quotation is interesting because it summarizes a world view –a general onto-cosmology which grounds an ethics and a politics based on the following axiological and normative opposition: everything good favors (or moves toward) differentiation, i.e., increasing inequality; everything bad favors (or moves toward) homogenization. This is precisely the criterion which Benoist uses to define and contrapose attitudes on the Right and the Left: “By pure convention, I define the Right as that attitude which wants to take into consideration the diversity of the world. Consequently, the relative inequalities which necessarily follow from it are good. The homogenization of the world extolled and fulfilled in the bi-millennial discourse of egalitarian ideology is evil.”[38] The idea implicit in the final point here is crucial. If egalitarian ideology has been embodied in a “bi-millennial discourse,” this is because it is clearly indistinguishable from the development of Christianity, which means that anti-egalitarianism implies anti-Christianity. Also of interest: the thesis of the radical pluralism of values implies a polylogism[39] prohibiting dialogical communication and an absolute cultural relativism (which links the inability to communicate with the incompatibility, of world views) and is compatible only with the affirmation of relative inequalities. Differentialist racism contests the “racism” of any projection of differences or inequalities on to a single or universal scale of values.

Here we find a thematic constant, which recurs almost obsessively in the New Right’s discourse — a pair of opposites beginning with diversity vs. uniformity that becomes a chain of equivalencies between presupposed opposites such as concrete vs. abstract, plural vs. singular (unique), particular vs. universal, etc.[40] Since 1986 GRECE, in the person of its philosopher [Benoist], has refused to situate itself in a parliamentary political topography and has also refused the label “Right.”[41] It will, however, redefine itself in terms of the same system of values and norms: “Already on the international level, the major contradiction is no longer between Right and Left, liberalism and socialism, fascism and communism, ‘totalitarianism’ and ‘democracy’. It is between those who want the world to be one-dimensional and those who support a plural world grounded in the diversity, of cultures, between those who defend the cause of peoples and those who defend the rights and duties of the citizens who constitute them.”[42]

What obviously follows from these primitive definitions and postulates is that the “enemy” cannot be identified by a particular ideology, doctrine, intellectual tradition or political tendency. The first act of all politics — the identification of the enemy — takes place here on a metapolitical level. According to Valla: “The enemy is all those doctrines and practices which represent and embody any form of egalitarianism.”[43] Benoist further elaborates: “The enemy is not the ‘Left’, ‘communism’, or even ‘subversion’, but rather that very egalitarian ideology whose religious or secular, metaphysical or ‘scientific’ formulations have flourished for two thousand years. The ‘ideas of 1789’ are just a stage in this development; real subversion and communism are the inevitable result.”[44]

In these transitional texts there is a double ideological and political rupture. There is a break with the anti-communist ideology which became a world view. In effect, communism is no longer the main enemy; it is only one among other forms or manifestations taken by the enemy.[45] There is also a break with the ideology of the West. Far from something to be defended at all costs, the West is defined as the product and current propagator of a process of mental colonization, even of cultural alienation, of which Europe is the victim, for which it is paying the price of its cultural identity, and from which it should free itself.

Within the sphere of the nationalist French Right, GRECE’s position with respect to Marxism is the touchstone of its originality. The lack of emphasis on Marxism and communism — treated as simple effects among others — makes it possible to distinguish GRECE’s polemical-logical discourse. Not without reason, GRECE also insists upon the historical or genealogical (homage to Nietzsche) aspect of its own metapolitical procedure: “Marxism did not arise from spontaneous generation. It is the cause of a mental degradation. But it is also the consequence of another cause; it was engendered by something other than itself. Our originality . . . is the ‘genetic’ or, if you will, the genealogical character of our procedure. We are not content with identifying the symptoms and their immediate causes. We attempt to trace the ultimate causes which are the true source of what many deplore today. And we say that there is no use in struggling, particularly against Marxism, if at the same time one does not have the courage and vision to struggle against the cause of Marxism — against what invariably produces Marxism, which is to say the idea, the mentality, that egalitarian ‘anthropology’ of which Marxism is only a result.”[46] From Judeo-Christianity — the “bolshevism of antiquity” — to Marxism, there is a straight line, a transformational evolution divided by stages. It is this idea which distinguishes GRECE within the camp which identifies itself as the Right — Marxism (and/or communism) is only the ultimate effect of the “Christianization” of Europe. It is not a foreign body, a rotten fruit or a perverse reject which appeared in Western history in the 19th and 20th centuries.

What results from this “abstract” identification of the enemy as an egalitarian mentality is a redefinition of strategy. Two principles must rule the culture war, making it possible to fight effectively. First, the deep-seated causes must be eradicated: “Calling the egalitarian conception of the world into question today seems to be the fundamental condition for an effective struggle against negativism, reductionism and ‘massification’. It is not sufficient to complain about the symptoms of decadence. One must identify their causes. Only by acting on the causes will the effects be modified completely.”[47] Second, it is necessary to elaborate something like a counter-Marxism, i.c., a body of doctrines sufficient to oppose a world view as “total” as that of Marxism or communism: “One cannot effectively combat Marxism by simply criticising its most flagrant mistakes and weaknesses. What is needed is a real alternative — a complete ideological and theoretical corpus which would provide a real substitute for those people currently seduced by Marxism.”[48] To do this, one must begin “a systematic, more methodical, more obstinate search for the roots of a specific world view.”[49] They understand well Evola’s mctapolitical lesson.



From Sleeping to Awakening: From Alienation to liberation

Summing up the genealogical critique of egalitarianism as the invader of Europe, Benoist recast it in a cyclical theory inspired by Guenon and Evola; “Today our civilization is dying of an egalitarianism which seems to triumph everywhere. Thus the egalitarian cycle is reaching its end. In our culture, and in terms of the classical process of the development and degeneration of cycles, the idea of egalitarianism passed from the stage of myth — equality before God — to the stage of ideology –equality before men — then to the stage of ‘scientific’ pretention –affirmation of the ‘egalitarian fact’ — in short, from Christianity to democracy, then to socialism and Marxism. Christianity can be strongly criticised for having started this egalitarian cycle by introducing into European thought a revolutionary anthropology with a universalist and totalitarian character.”[50] Egalitarian ideology is summarized in the following way: “In monotheism, men are believed to be essentially identical: they are equal before a God who created them all in his own unique image.”[51] Now it happened, as it was “bound” to happen, that this egalitarian discourse was “‘brought down to earth’ in the process of secularizing “the ‘myth’, of attempting to substitute the future for the beyond. In fact, one reaches the point where if men are equal before the Law (of God) they also must be in some way equal before the law (of men), which is its terrestrial counterpart. This happened in 1789.”[52] Thus Christianity and the effects of secularization — different forms of the ideology of “human rights” — belong to the same mental tradition: “Here we see not real opposites but variations on the same theme or, more precisely, different antitheses within the same process.”[53]

Now “every egalitarian or universalist ideology is necessarily totalitarian because it tries to reduce all social and spiritual reality to a single model. Implicit in the idea of monotheism is that there is only one truth, only one God, and only one type of man who pleases God.”[54] But if egalitarianism “is coming to the end of its cycle (given that this end coincides necessarily with the stage of its greatest influence)”[55] and if, as a result, we are “now living in an interregnum” characterized especially by a revealing vacillation, then: “As Christianity ‘moves to the Left’, it is inevitable that anti-communism should to a certain extent ‘move to the Right’.”[56]

What should authentic Europeans expect if they are by nature strangers to egalitarian values? Benoist’s answer to this question utilizes the classical metaphor of awakening, which he borrowed from Evola: “We do not need to convince as much as to awaken a certain sensibility. Those who hold to egalitarian ideologies try to ‘convince’; for them, there is a universal reason present in all men. For our part, we believe neither in the equality of men nor in the universal demonstration of ‘truths’. So we have not only to address the mind but the heart and soul as well. That is why we speak of images rather than concepts — in order to bring to the surface a sensibility which has been repressed in the unconscious of our peoples by two thousand years of egalitarianisrn. This is where our ambition resides.”[57] One can only “awaken” what already exists in a dormant state. The primary objective is very much a European cultural renaissance. The original and substantial identity of Europeans — their ethno-cultural identity — must return, and will return because it can do so. Clearly it has not been destroyed by the “infiltration” of Judeo-Christianity but only brought to a point of crisis.

“In my opinion, Europe was born of a tension between two contradictory tendencies. It grew out of an identity crisis which over the centuries it stopped trying to resolve. It exported its own concerns to the rest of the world, always believing it could ground its own identity on the destruction of the identity, of others; it spread its essentially ethnocidal ‘civilization of emptiness’ (as Robert Jaulin describes it) everywhere.”[58] The identitarian concept of Europe stands out clearly in a metaphysics of historical alienation: “For fifteen centuries the history of Europe has been the history of an internalized identity, crisis. Europe has been in a crisis from the time it could no longer say, with Cicero, ‘Sua civique civitati religio . . . est, nostra nobis’ [each state has its religion, we have ours].”[59] Here is the basic thesis: Europe has a substantial identity which was compromised by Christianity — a system of foreign ideas and attitudes. Attempts to undo alienation were undermined by effects which were neither desired nor foreseen and very negative: “Westerners unconsciously tried to resolve this crisis by attempting to convert the whole world to their way of life, which they considered the best and ultimately the only possible one. The result was colonialism, racism, the erosion of collective identities. In my view, Europeans today are consequently suffering from this disastrous result.”[60]

Two points are worthy of note. First, the words “colonialism,” “racism,” and the phrase “erosion of collective identities” are treated as equivalent in keeping with the traditional communitarian characterization of racism as an appeal to universalism.[61] Second, it is peculiarly contradictory to postulate an original and substantial identity for Europe (which can be estranged and then rediscovered) and at the same time to denounce Aristotle’s logic and his “principle of identity” as “worn-out propositions.”[62] So Benoist calls into question the obsolete principle of identity but does not hesitate to deplore the erosion of collective identities. In fact he presupposes identity –collective identity, even European identity.[63] He contends that Europeans not only can but must “seek what constitutes their proper identity.”[64]

Such a metaphysics of Europe history is presented as a history of decadence. But in this crisis, metaphysics does not end in historical fatalism, nor does it end in a contemplation of decadence; “Everything can return. To go back to the source is to take up again the possibility of another beginning. I am not trying to command assent but perhaps to awaken a form of memory beyond mere recollection.”[65] New Right doctrine appears to be focused on the representation of an original Indo-European identity: which has been attacked, colonized and corrupted by a “foreign mentality”: Judeo-Christianity. Fundamentally egalitarian, the latter has brought about the decadence of the European mind and ultimately caused the decline of Europe. The renaissance of European civilization is indistinguishable from the return of an original European identity purified of its monotheistic germs.


Toward a “Second Paganism”

The question of “European identity” is still central in GRECE’s latest doctrinal synthesis and is postulated in response to “challenges” to that identity. Having diagnosed the three manifestations of the malady of European culture, Faye indicates the paradoxical task for the “metamorphic” European peoples.[66] In so doing, he assumes the Nietzschean role of the “philosopher-doctor”: “The three great challenges which confront European identity, today and call its historical continuity into question are multi-racialism, the destrucfort of its own culture and tradition, and the shock of techno-economic civilization, of the ‘techno-cosmos.’ None of these challenges, which together constitute both a threat of dissolution and of external homogenization, are insurmountable. Moreover, it is only by surmounting these challenges that Europeans can begin a new stage in their history because, as always, the ‘metamorphic’ peoples to which they belong must live and must assume the following paradox: to remain true to themselves they must undergo a mutation of themselves — a transgression of self which can only be accomplished by abandoning the Judeo-Christian, the humanist and the universalist parts of our heritage. This condition is necessary in order to rid ourselves of nihilism — that malady peculiar to modern Europeans, as Nietzsche sensed, which is entirely the result of the Judeo-Christian mentality.”[67]

Paradox — the rhetorical trope also found in the inherited self-designation of “conservative revolution” — is the method called upon to solve the problem. Characteristically, the oxymoron or the paradox is the only rhetorical means of surmounting an antimony modeled on an argument. Neither conservatism nor progressivism but rather “metamorphism,” synonymous with “true traditionalism,”[68] is positive as the principle of a “culture” or a “neo-European civilization” which remains to be constructed. This is “revolutionary traditionalism” or the “conservative revolution.” It must be built with a Faustian spirit, considered to be the essence or “the spirit of the European tradition,”[69] which is “pagan to the core.”[70] This spirit is defined in terms like “assault,” “energy,” and “pride.”[71] It attempts to “make the human divine”[72] and, more specifically, is capable of founding the age of a “second paganism,” itself defined by a negative conjunction: “And if, in order to overcome moribund religions, a ‘second paganism’ must be built today for the future, it should be sought in the double movement of surpassing ‘beliefs in the divine’ and of refusing atheism — in the affirmation of a transcendence within immanence, in the substitution of the superhuman for the divine.”[73]

Instead of calling upon a nostalgia borrowed from Heidegger (a la Benoist’s theme of self-forgetfulness) or for a voluntarism borrowed from [Ernst] Junger, here the Nietzschean vulgate is embellished: “The gods may descend into us, and it is we, their new masters, who will call upon them. Possibly the great fignre of the engineer is the one who will make the appeal.”[74]


The Only Way to Happiness: A Third Way

The scheme begins with the coincidentia oppositorum — a miraculous synthesis of contraries, the paradoxical unity and identity of “neither one nor the other” (a neutral expression) and “both the one and the other” (a complex expression). The complex-neutral — a rhetorical trope — founds the “third way.”

Europe is the center of an identitarian myth based on the phantasm of an original, pure, ethnic and cultural difference. It is accompanied by a phantasm of decadence attributed to the “colonization” of the European mind and by “the monotheism of ‘religions of the Book’.” In this both GRECE and the Club de l’Horloge (at least until 1979 and in its most discreet version) adopted a doctrinal position of neo-fascism. In 1961, Maurice Bardeche presented Europeanism as an “almost unavoidable derivative” of the spirit of fascism after the destruction of those states which embodied it.[75] He described the European expansion of fascist nationalism in this wav: “Neo-fascism puts the independence of the nation above everything else. But it also believes that in the modern world our European nations can no longer ensure effectively the defense of their territory on their own and cannot even claim to have a really independent economy of their own. Whether sincere or not, the dream fascist powers had before the war of building a European empire, is a serious and urgent task for our time. Our nations cannot regain the power they lost so completely in 1945 except within this European empire, which is the only wav to ensure their defense and their true freedom. Doctrinaire neo-fascists are thus resolutely European.”[76]

From the “third force” to the “Third World” by means of the “third way” — the subsequent paths of the New Right were well marked at the beginning of the 1960s: “Neo-fascism considers itself as much estranged from the democratic world as from the Marxist world. It does not want to become embroiled in the struggle between capitalism and Marxism and will always seek a third way to affirm its own position between the two camps. . . . The island of Europe is only one application of this position at a particular moment in history.”[77]

It is this model of the third way which provided the collection of rhetorical operations required to legitimate the turn to the Third World in the doctrine of the New Right. The new alliance between a Europe freed from the West and a non-aligned Third World can only be grounded on a reduction of adversaties — Moscow and Washington — to something identical, unique and homogeneous. This makes it possible to consider the third way the only way to happiness for all “rooted” cultures. In the face of the intrinsically negative Same stands the absolutely positive Other — as long as the other of the Other is embodied in the identitarian We of the Europeans. The appeal to tolerance does not exclude the affirmation of such a Manichean dualism. In 1986, when Benoist introduced the charter of the Right’s pro-Third World stance (the last avatar of the differentialist doctrine), he defined the split beyond all imaginarv splits: “Far beyond the split between Right and Left, the fault lines of opposition will be . . . those situated beyond liberalism and socialism, beyond Washington and Moscow, beyond conflicting but connected (because they share the world between them) ideologies. |These are the ideologies of| those who believe, whatever their domain (sic), in the possibility. of a third way — in the way of autonomy and thus of liberty — and those who . . . accept the bipolar vision, alignment, and de facto subjection.”[78]


Differentialist Culturalism and Anti-Totalitarian Legitimation (1980-1987)

GRECE’s second doctrinal synthesis began to crystalize in 1980. It was characterized by a radical anti-universalism and its positive corollary — the culturalist variant of the ideology of difference which largely derived from the radical ethnopluralism of the leftist denigrators of the “ethnocidal” West. (Historically, Robert Jaulin is its leading figure.) Since 1980-87 the differentialist problematic has remained the basis of all GRECE’s arguments, only the reference to “nominalism” has been more or less abandoned owing to criticism formulated in Les Temps Modernes (February 1984).

In large red and yellow letters on the first cover page of its journal Elements, GRECE published the two last slogans relating to the culture war: “The fight to difference” and “To end all totalitarianisms.” Both equally prescriptive slogans have become inseparable in the new public and exoteric argumentation of the New Right. Accordingly, the editorial board explains: “To end all totalitarianisms one must recognize each culture’s right to difference. European peoples must explore the depths of their spiritual identity. Athena’s voice has always guided those Europeans who sought their origins.”[79]

The crux of the formal definition of “totalitarianism” is that it denies “the right to difference.” The first proposition is followed by a second: If tolerant pluralism is characteristic of the European mind, then the origin of totalitarianism as such, and the origin of all totalitarianisms (variants of the first), is monotheism. But still this needs clarification — it is a de-territorialized monotheism, which goes beyond the strict boundabes of a particular people (the Hebrew people) or a particular culture. This argument is simultaneously exoteric, tactical[80] and constitutive — the differentialist position is defined primarily by the rejection of universalism. The New Right explicitly targets universalism, which is reputedly peculiar to “Judeo-Christianity” or “Christianity” tout court. GRECE’s 14th national coloquium (held at the Palais des Congres, Paris, December 9, 1979) was devoted to the programmatic theme: “Against totalitarianisms: For a new culture.” The Secretary-General, Pierre Vial, “vigorously denounced monotheistic totalitarianism” in his presentation on “religious totalitarianism.”[81] In fact, the first statements in the text concerning Vial’s address are unambiguous: “Totalitarianism was born 4000 years ago somewhere between Mesopotamia and the Jordan valley. It was born on the day when the idea of monotheism appeared. The idea of monotheism implies the submission of the human being to the will of a single, omniscient, eternal, all-powerful god. The Eternal. The Omnipotent One. These are the names given to the god-judge of monotheism by that work praising totalitarianism called the Bible” (typescript, page 1). The summary, of this passage offered by the editorial board of Elements explains some of its aspects but includes a disavowal of it in many respects: “In reality, the birth of totalitarianism in the West coincided with the rise of Christianity: ‘Whoever is not with me is against me’ (Luke 11: 23). For Pierre Vial . . . this statement, attributed to Christ, ‘summarizes the totalitarian character of all monotheism.”[82] His address, devoted to religious totalitarianism, consisted in a kind of genealogy of Christian monotheism supported by a close reading of the Bible. In Vial’s mind, . . . his critique did not target monotheism as the ideological and historical foundation of a particular culture — Jewish culture — because the centuries have constandy proved the richness and singularity of this culture.”[83]

I will not insist on the all too obvious contradiction: on the one hand, the affirmation of the totalitarian character “of all monotheism”; on the other, the restriction of the totalitarian spirit to that one monotheism which departed from the strict boundaries of “Jewish culture.” More important than this rather incoherent argumentation, connected to some prudential imperatives, is the distinction between a good particularist monotheism and a bad universalist monotheism. Vial’s and-monotheistic criticism “specifically targets Christianity which, by stripping monotheism of its national Jewish specificity and giving it a universal value, always contests the people’s right to cultivate their own spiritual roots.”[84] Monotheism is good for the Jews; it is good only for the Jews: “Jewish monotheism only becomes really totalitarian when it has ceased being Jewish.”[85] It is the process of universalization which brings to the surface, if you will, the totalitarian potentials of monotheism. Thus monotheism is considered to be the origin of totalitarianism, of all forms and variants of it.[86] It unfolds and is revealed when the same monotheism “parades its claim to submit to the law of the one god all those peoples with different religious conceptions.”[87]

Apart from their interest as striking summaries of the “monotheistic” genealogies of totalitarianism, these formulas have the advantage of clearly articulating the anti-totalitarian theme and the unconditional imperative of the fight to difference. The underlying opposition is axiological — the positive value of difference is opposed to the negative value of uniformity. This axiological opposition is itself placed in a metahistorical context, where it is assigned an origin in “the conflict between paganism and Christianity [which] issues from the struggle between two irreconcilable conceptions of the world.”[88] This is how the axiom of the struggle of mentalities — an acceptable reformulation of the struggle of races — is expressed. The principle of difference/diversity is opposed to the principle of uniformity/universality even as pagan culture or European mentality is opposed to monotheistic culture or biblical mentality. Jean Varenne, who later became president of GRECE, thus tried to “demonstrate in what sense totalitarianism is fundamentally foreign to the most specific and an-dent European mentality.” It took only a few words: “The tripartite principle, which Indo-European studies have made evident — the differentiation and hierarchical structuring of the functions of sovereignty, defense and production — prohibits the reduction of social life to a single function, especially the economic function (or the military one, in the case of Nazism or fascism. . .), and favors the spread of individual and collective freedoms.”[89] Here is the good news: “Old Indo-European societies did not know the totalitarian spirit.”[90]

Oppositional pairs follow each other and are linked together: paganism vs. monotheism, difference vs. uniformity, freedom vs. slavery, particular vs. universal, anti-totalitarianism vs. totalitarianism. All that remained was to impute to totalitarianism (which, as something cultural, becomes a metaphor) the tendency to eradicate collective differences, to attribute to it the supreme fault of suppressing differences and promoting standardization — the egalitarian tendency: “Cultural totalitarianism, which has as its goal the alienation of the spirit, the destruction of differences and national entities, is imbued with the germs of egalitarian ideologies.”[91] The polemical coupling of the demand for equality (not distingnished from egalitarian ideology) and the active hatred of cultural diversity is central to GRECE’s argumentation. If the demand for equality, which in modernity is the demand for universality (“all men are created equal”), is indistinguishable from the tendency to “leveling from below” (the egalitarian ideal of resentment) and the will to suppress cultural differences (ethnocidal will), then the authentic anti-totalitarian position is defined irrefutably as anti-egalitarian and differentialist. To struggle against totalitarianism is to reject all the supra-ethnic forms of monotheism. It is to denounce the demand for universality as the pretext for the uprooting linked to cultural imperialism (global ethnocide) or economic imperialism (plutocratic cosmo-politanism). It is also to challenge the egalitarian ideal as a rose for the negative desire to standardize from below.

This is how the anti-totalitarian ideology dominant among the leading intelligentsia (always situated “on the Left”) at the end of the 1970s was recuperated and turned around by the New Right — a striking illustration of the strategy of retortion which seized upon a prior ideological theme: the fight to difference. The New Right’s denunciation of “cultural totalitarianism” follows upon and brings to fruition the idea of “cultural genocide” pursued by the extreme ethno-pluralist Left in the 1970s. The differentialist formulation of racism includes two arguments external to that strategy, arguments adapted to the values current among the types of public being targeted — anti-Americanism and anti-capitalism (anti-economism, anti-materialism). Benoist concludes a long study on “racist totalitarianism” with the following diagnosis: “Today, and especially since the end of WWII, we are witnessing a considerable degree of standardization . . . . In our view, this standardization is consistent with the progress of a dominant egalitarian ideology which, believing that differences between peoples and cultures are transitory and of little consequence, naturally tends to be little concerned with the progressive erosion of diverse cultures. It is also consistent with the diffusion of Americanism throughout the world — with a materialistic and moralizing ideology of a “universal republic” where the heterogeneity of its human constituents no longer leaves room for consensus except on the level of things.”[92] This diagnosis is followed by the positing of an alternative which gives the doctrinal differentialist “reasons for hope” — either the progress of global egalitarianism and standardization or the development of differential abilities and the affirmation of collective identities. Benoist states: “Given this situation, we see reasons for hope only in the affirmation of collective singularities, the spiritual reappropriation of heritages, the clear awareness of roots and specific cultures. . . . We are counting on the breakup of the singular model, whether this occurs in the rebirth of regional languages, the affirmation of ethnic minorities or in phenomena as diverse as decolonization . . . [whether in the] affirmation of being black, the political pluralism of Third World countries, the rebirth of a Latin-American civilization, the resurgence of an Islamic culture, etc. . . . “[95] The metahistorical conflict between paganism and monotheism is reformulated in neutral terms with an ideologically acceptable supplement, thanks to an eminent heterodox Marxist: “along with Henri Lefebyre, we interpret this play of influences as the effect of a ‘titanic struggle in which homogenizing powers conflict with differentialist capabilities.”‘[94]

There is still the question of the definition of “cultures.” Benoist lists three characteristics: 1) culture “includes everything added to nature and, as such [sic], it derives from what is specifically human in man”[95]; 2) “these cultures, as constantly renewed destinies, are grounded only in collective identities”[96]; 3) finally, these cultures are “founded only on the right to difference, certainly the right to individual difference, but also and especially the right to collective difference.”[97] The right to difference has “its counterpart” in a duty: “To claim the right to difference implies the duty to exercise it in practice; first of all, to find in this difference the sources of new norms.”[98] This means “turning the support of collective identities . . . into a means of restructuring the destiny of peoples, a means of deepening the constitutive values of one’s heritage.”[99]

These are the principles of what Benoist calls “our anti-racism.” This anti-racism is differentialist, i.e., it calls into question all forms of the demand for universality. Differentialist anti-racism implies the development of”an education in diversity” which attempts to utilize feelings of belonging “for positive and fertile confrontations. It not only admits the Other but encourages him to perpetuate his difference and proposes that all peoples constitute their own specific difference in order to create higher forms from this specificity.”[100] Thus GRECE’s differentialist “anti-racism” defines racism — its idea of racism — as one of the historical forms of totalitarianism which issued from monotheism. In this perspective, there is only a universalist racism.[101] The ethical and political “anti-racism” of the New Right is summed up in a prescription: “the legitimate defense of singularities and collective identities.”[102] The final proposition concerning the alliance of all the particular means of identitarian self-defense against the universalist monster which supposedly wants to devour them reads as follows: “There is an . . . urgent necessity for all peoples, all races, all cultures still conscious of themselves to unite against their common enemy — those who want to destroy them in orrder to impose upon them the same mode of existence, the same standard of living, the same impoverishing and destructive pseudo-civilization.”[103]

The theme of GRECE’s 15th national colloquium (held at the Palais du Congres, Versailles, May 17, 1981) was accordingly “the cause of peoples”. Five years later, Benoist published the ideological charter of differentialism promoting peoples’ rights against human fights, the defense of the cause of peoples against the ideology of “the rights of abstract ‘man’,”[104] the choice of “rooted cultures and differentiated ways of life” against “global uniformity,”; in short, “Europe and the Third World against the West.”[105] These are the standard formulations of the deepest divisions and of the principal conflict. Among the “major challenges” to “European identity,” Faye logically concludes: 1) “multiracial society,” is a challenge to our personal anthropology”[106]; the “threat” of multiracial society to “European civilization” is that it destroys “the relative ethno-cultural homogeneity of the inhabitants of Europe”[107] on which “identity, the deep feeling of belonging, and the value of the idea of citizenship”[108] are grounded; 2) “deculturation and the loss of traditions [are] a challenge to our cultural memory”[109]; they pose the threat of the “forgetting of origins” and the “loss of one’s heritage,”[110] “the abandonment of one’s own culture ]European civilization] and the idea of adopting a new one.”[111] The New Right also, makes memory sacred in its own way.


Behind the Glorification of Difference: The Fear of Intermingling

A paradox of what is called “racism” is that it can be expressed either in terms of zoological race or in terms of culture, intellect, tradition, religion, etc.; in short, in terms of “particularities” or “collective identities.” On closer examination, racism appears more complex than naive anti-racism makes it out to be. It is more difficult to identify precisely and to combat effectively than is generally believed. Its most radical forms are not alwavs the most visible.[112]

I distinguish two forms of racism. One is universal and postulates the existence of a universal scale of values between races which accordingly are seen as apt, less apt, or inept with respect to variable criteria. The other is communitarian and turns the difference or identity of a group into an absolute. Here it is less a question of inequality than of the inability to communicate, of being incommensurable or incompatible. As a result, the human race is divided into closed totalities. The differentialist imperative is the demand to preserve this or to purify the properly communitarian entity. If inegalitarian racism is haunted by the loss of status, the abasement of superiors, then differentialist racism is haunted by the loss of distinctiveness, the eradication of the distinctive identity of the group.

Inegalitarian racism may be understood in terms of the classical “exploitation theory of racial prejudice” (Gordon W. Allport). It presupposes a system of imperial and/or colonial domination and exploitation which the ideology of the inequality of human types legitimates — grounds and justifies. I should explain that the universality implicit in inegalitarian racism is derived from the presupposition of a unique model for the hierarchical classification of races or civilizations. This formal universalism has nothing to do with the demand for universality which grounds all ethics focused on respect of the person. In my opinion, there is no substantial anti-racism that does not postulate the infinite dignity of each and every individual no matter what his or her system of appurtenances (of “origins”), no matter what his or her abilities (intellectual, social, etc.). This is the core of ethical anti-racism, which remains untouched by any and all ideological instrumentalization. What I call differentialist racism cannot be reduced to the theory and practice of inequality which legitimates domination and exploitation. Rather, it is imbued with the categorical imperative of preserving the identity of the group, whose very “purity” makes it sacred — the identity of heredities or heritages. It stigmatizes the mixing of bodies and cultures (or mental forms) as the supreme evil (stain) and oscillates in its socio-political manifestation between a system of exclusion -separate development or discrimination — and a system of extermination -apartheid or genocide. Of course, histtory generally provides “impure” exampies or syncretic illustrations of these ideal types of racism. But to confuse them is a theoretical error with grave consequences for the anti-racist struggle as well as for the understanding of the phenomena associated with racism.

The last doctrine of the New Right (since 1979/80) gives precedence to the idea of difference — what Benoist calls his anti-racism is defined by a radical interpretation of the “right to difference.” Since racism is defined as a lack of respect for differences, the New Right rejected the very idea of a “differencialist racism.” Respectability forced its hand. For the New Right, racism can only be a variant of biblical universalism — the ideological inheritance of a monotheism which “reduces” human diversity, a machine to eradicate differences. The polemical character of such a definition is all too obvious. In the struggle against “Judeo-Christianity,” effects which are only contingent and derived from modes of legitimation are attributed to the core of biblical monotheism. This reaches such a level of ideological delirium that any doctrine at all could be used to rationalize any practice. If we agree with the New Right that there are universalist legitimations of colonial or imperial racism, we should nevertheless clarify two things — this universalism is a pseudo-universalism, and the anti-racism which follows from it implies that the demand for universality has priority with respect to particularities. The right to difference is only a secondary implication of a well-grounded anti-racism — to accord it a primary place would be to succumb to the premises of racism. The respect for persons includes respect for their “cultural” choices. It is because universalism is not sufficiently universalist that it admits a racism which is at once reductive and homogenizing and which does not respect the diversity of forms of life and thought. Universalists will have to try harder!

In its current form, anti-racism is open to criticism of its three types of “weaknesses” — its political uses, its contradictions and inconsistencies reflected in the welter of its slogans and battle cries, and its lack of a theoretical foundation. Too often the anti-racist struggle takes its concept of racism from an anti-fascist discourse which is as obsolete as it is frozen in a commemorative posture. Today it is in danger of taking the concept ready-made from the new racists, who reduce it to the lack of respect for difference. This “totalitarian racism” is reduced to a necessary effect of a universalism of Judeo-Christian origin.

The difficulty anti-racists have had over the past ten years when they have tried to define what they are fighting results from the difficulty of defining racism. Anti-racists are behind in the fight against their main enemies. They continue to see racism only in the rejection of difference (heterophobia), and this blinds them to the appearance of softer, new and euphemistic forms of racism praising difference (heterophilia) and substituting “culture” for “race.” It is hardly understood that the norm of respect for difference, far from embodying that fundamental human right which is the right to difference,[113] serves to make presentable, even honorable, the obsession with contact — the phobia of mixing — which is the core of racism. To keep one’s cultural distance is to avoid all cross-breeding — the supreme threat, the cause of an inevitable decline.

My working hypothesis is that racism can be expressed both in the rejection and in the praise of difference, in terms of either races or culture, intellect, tradition and belief.[114] But it is fundamentally mixophobic. Without postulating a division of labor, the recent formulations of national populism are clearly rooted in the ideology of difference put forward by the New Right. The racism of exclusion is given a place of honor in the general demand of the fight to difference. On September 19, 1982, Jean-Marie Le Pen proclaimed “We not only have the right but the duty to defend our national character as well as our fight to difference.” In April 1985, Brigneau wrote in Minute: “It is preferable to avoid mixing and cross-breeding. It is preferable to preserve the superiority, of the race to which I belong — its difference, its originality.” In September 1987, Le Pen wrote: “I love the North Africans. But their place is in North Africa. . . . I am not a racist but a nationalist. . . . To be harmonious, a nation must have a certain ethnic and spiritual homogencity.” Therefore, “the problem of immigration [must] be solved for the benefit of France bv a peaceful and organized return of immigrants.”[115]

Beginning in 1980, the New Right reformulated its basic arguments concerning the rejection of aliens who cannot be “assimilated” –individuals from outside Europe. However, a tolerant differentialism forces its hand by insisting on the interest the expelled people themselves have in returning to their own countries. Those forced out should themselves be convinced of the fact that they are not wanted outside their countries of origin.

One should bear in mind the New Right’s peculiar way of legitimizing the problem. Under the rubric of “another pro-Third World stance,” indistinguishable from an “authentic differentialism” (the defenders of a multicultural society are by definition inauthentic), Faye asserted (with the complacency of a cynic and the naivete of a dogmatist) that “in keeping with the core of the right to difference doctrine, we must reject multiracial society and envisage, together with the immigrants themselves, their return to their countries of origin.”[116]

Whereas advocates of national populism argue that Arab-Islamic immigrants cannot be assimilated in a country like France, shaped by centuries of Catholic monarchy, the Europeanist New Right argues that the cultural traditions of immigrants are radically foreign to those of a pre-Christian European civilization which continues to exist beneath the mental colonization brought about by twenty centuries of biblical monotheism. The two positions do not appeal to one and the same substantive identity when they claim that immigrants from outside Europe are by nature foreign to it. But in both cases, the difference between “us” and “them” is made absolute and is the basis for the prescription: exclusion/expulsion. “We” are the descendants and inheritors of the Crusaders — the last legitimate sons of the Indo-European cavaliers. Safeguarding the integrity of “us” implies the absolute rejection of any heterogeneous, ethno-cultural elements in the national body. Pluralism can only regulate relations between ethnic groups, races, nations. It is thus not a question of practicing pluralism or differentialism in the internal affairs of human groups, wherever they may be. The praise of difference translates as respectably as possible into the will to hold others at a distance. One can detect in arguments rejecting multiracial or pluricultural society the hidden notion of the inevitability of racial struggle, together with that of a fatal conflict between populations which come into contact with each other.

“The right to difference” changed from being a means of defending oppressed minorities and their “cultural rights” into an instrument for legitimating the most extreme appeals for the self-defense of a “threatened” national (and/or European) identity.[117] After its appearance in the anti-Western sphere of influence of the far Left, the real question of ethnocide has degenerated into an instrumental myth in the nationalist propaganda for France — the National Front — and for Europe — the New Right. It is not surprising that a master of legitimation such as Benoist has added quite a few nuances, restrictions and other disavowals (like the new version of the soul supplement — the “dialogue between cultures” — found in the accepted discourse of international relations) to demands for exclusion justified by differentialism. The New Right has taken up the theme and reoriented it under the false premise that, in order to have “dialogue,” “cultures” must be “rooted.” This is a paradox which may have infinite interpretations — to be open, a culture system must be closed. This is also a truism.

Within a decade, the theme of difference has moved from the far Left to the far Right. Maybe it is only returning to its true intellectual origin. Evola, who understood the question well, stated: “The racist recognizes difference and wants difference.”[118] If differentialist arguments have found a welcome home in xenophobic nationalism, it is because they have always dosely accompanied it and subscribed to its basic themes. According to J. Ploncard d’Assac, the nationalism of the Right implies the right of peoples to remain what they are.” This is why returning to one’s origins so often turns into national racism.

* Originally published in L’Europe au Sortir de la Modernite (Strasburg: Cerf/Cerit, 1987), pp.31-68. Translated by Deborah Cook.


  1. Alain de Benoist, Orientations pour des Annees Decisives (Paris: Le Labyrinthe, 1982) and Democratie: Le probleme (Paris: Le Labyrinthe, 1985).
  2. Alain de Benoist (in collaboration with Thomas Molnar), L’eclipse du Sacre (Paris: La Table Ronde, 1986).
  3. See Alain de Benoist, Europe, Tiers Monde, Meme Combat (Paris: R. Laffont, 1986).
  4. Cf. Bulletin du M.A.U.S.S., No. 20 (December, 1986).
  5. Benoist, Europe, Tiers Monde, Meme Combat, op. cit.
  6. Cf. Elements, Nos. 48-49 (Winter 1983/84), pp. 73 and 76. Cf. also Guillaume Faye, Les Nouveaux Enjuex Ideoloques (Paris: Le Labyrinthe, 1985).
  7. Cf. Claude Levi-Strauss, Le Regard Eloigne (Paris: Librairie Plon, 1983).
  8. Cf. Elements, No. 33 (February-March 1980).
  9. This has been emphasized by Anne-Marie Duranton in her unpublished doctoral thesis (Universite de Paris X-Nanterre, 1984): “Le GRECE de 1968-1984”.
  10. Benoist, L’Eclipse du Sacre, op. cit.
  11. Guillaume Faye, Nouveau Discours a la Nation Europeenne (Paris: Albatros, 1985).
  12. Faye, Les Nouveaux Enjuex Ideoloques, op. cit.
  13. The beginning of the intermediary phase (1979-83) can be dated to the publication of Alain de Benoist’s ldees a l’Endroit (Paris: Hallier, 1979).
  14. Guillaume Faye, Les Nouveaux Enjuex ldeoloques, op. cit., p. 135.
  15. Benoist, Europe. Tiers Monde. Meme Combat, op. cit., p. 222.
  16. Those who opposed this strategy rallied around the National Front. Faye broke with the New Right in 1987.
  17. See the “Interview with Jean-Claude Valla,” in Dix Ans de Combat Culturel pour une Renaissance (Paris: GRECE, 1977), pp. 59-80. For his arguments concerning “egalitarian-ism,” see pp. 68-70. Reprinted by Pierre Vial as “Jean-Claude Valla: une Communaute de Travail et de Pensee,” in Pour une Renaissance Culturelle (Paris: Copernic, 1979), pp. 30-33.
  18. Dix Ans, op. cit., pp. 83-96.
  19. Ibid., p. 67 and “Jean-Claude Valla,” in Vial, Pour une Renaissance Culturelle, op. cit., p. 29.
  20. Ibid., pp. 67 and 30 respectively.
  21. Ibid., pp. 68 and 30 respectively.
  22. “Situations” in Dix Ans, op. cit., p. 83; and “Jean-Claude Valla in Vial, Pour une Reaissance Clturelle, op. cit. p. 68 and Dix Ans, op. cit. p. 31.
  23. Ibid., pp. 68 and 30 respectively.
  24. Ibid., p. 83.
  25. “Situations,” in Dix Ans, op. cit., pp. 83-84.
  26. Ibid., p. 84; Valla, op. cit., p. 68 and Vial, op. cit., p. 30.
  27. Cf. “La Question Religieuse: Entretien avec Robert de Herte,” in Dix Ans, op. cit., p. 199. (Benoist — a.k.a. Herte — is more willing to speak, quite prudently, of “Christianity”).
  28. Ibid.
  29. lbid.
  30. Cf. Alain de Benoist, “Le ‘Bolchevisme’ de l’Antiquite,” in Les idees a l’Endroit (Paris: Hallier, 1979), p. 170. “An oriental religion by origin and in terms of its basic characteristics (Guignebert), Christianity infiltrated ancient Europe almost surreptitiously.”
  31. “Situations,” in Dix Ans, op. cit., p. 84.
  32. Valla in Vial, op. cit., p. 30.
  33. “Situations,” in Dix Ans, op. cit., p. 84.
  34. Ibid.
  35. Valla in Vial, op. cit., p. 30-31; Dix Ans, op. cit., p. 68.
  36. Ibid., pp. 31 and 68 respectively.
  37. Valla in Vial, op. cit., p. 31; Dix Ans, op. cit., p. 68.
  38. Alain de Benoist, “Droite: l’Ancienne et la Nouvelle,” in Les Idees a l’Endroit, op. cit., p. 58. Cf. also his “Introduction” to Vu de Droite (Paris, Copernic, 1977), p. 16.
  39. Cf. Ludwig von Mises, Le Gouvernement Omnipotent. De l’Etat Totalitaire a la Guerre Totale (1944), French translation by M. de Hulster (Paris: Librairie de Medicis, 1947), pp. 411 ff. Polylogism is particularly well illustrated with the racism of National Socialism: “the logical structure of the mind, they [the Nazis] said, is different depending on the nation and the race” (p. 213).
  40. Cf. Chaim Perelman and Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca, Traite de l’Argumentation (Paris: P. U. F., 1958), Vol. 11, Part 3, Chapter IV: “La Dissociation des Notions,” pp. 550ff: and Chaim Perelman, L’Empire Rhetorique (Paris: Vrin, 1977), Chapter XI, pp. 139-150. There is no philosophical thought (and we would add, no ideological thought) which does not create or have recourse to pairs of opposed and hierarchical terms. The paradigm for this is appearance/reality. The first term is given; the second, constructed, normative and explanatory. For example: sensible/rational, body/soul, being/becoming, plurality/uniqueness, particular/general. Cf. also Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca, “Les Couples Philosophiques. Une Nouvelle Approche,” in Revue lnternationale de Philosophie, Vol. 33, Nos. 127-128 (1979), pp. 81-98.
  41. See Benoist’s statement, “for someone like me who has never belonged to a family of thought except in a conditional and critical way, who no more recognizes himself in the official Right than in the institutionalized’ Left “in Europe, Tiers Monde, Meme Combat, op. cit, pp. 7-8.
  42. Ibid., p. 17.
  43. Valla in Vial, op. cit., p. 31; Dix Ans, op. cit., p. 69.
  44. Benoist, Les ldees a l’Endroit, op. cit., p. 58, Cf. also Benoist, Vu de Droite, op. cit., p. 16.
  45. One can certainly discern differences in tone between Valla, whose views are closer to classical anti-communism, and Benoist, who increasingly takes a “neutral” stance toward the opposition between communism and liberalism, even to the point of denying their natural difference. Valla states: “In the forefront of these [doctrines representing egalitarianism there is] of course Marxism, which is the most extreme and most terroristic form. The considerable influence of Marxism in contemporary thought today . . . is one of the main causes of the current crisis.” See Valla in Vial, op. cit., p. 31; Dix Ans, op. cit., p. 69. By contrast, Benoist, who since 1981-82 has continued to advance more radical positions than he took in 1974-75, now considers “American” liberal capitalism to be the main enemy. It is sufficient to note that America is the incarnation of a full-blown egalitarian ideology to see the thread that ties together GRECE’s positions in its second and third periods. Cf. “L’Amerique,” in Nouvelle Ecole, Nos. 27-28 (Fall-Winter 1975); and Alain de Benoist, “L’Ennemi Principal,”in Elements, No. 41 (March-April 1982), pp. 37-40, 47-48 (reprinted in Orientation pour des Annees Decisives, op. cit.).
  46. Valla in Vial, op. cit., p. 32; Dix Ans, op. cit., p. 69.
  47. “Situations,” in Dix Ans, op. cit., p. 84.
  48. Valla in Vial, op. cit., p. 32; Dix Ans, op. cit., p. 69.
  49. Pierre Vial,” ‘Nouvelle Droite’ ou Nouvelle culture?,” in Vial, op. cit., p. 18. Julius Evola’s influence should not be ruled out here. Cf. Pierre-Andre Taguieff, “Julius Evola: Pensur de la Decadence. Une ‘Metaphysique de l’Histoire’ dans la Perspective Tradionnelle et l’Hyper-Critique de la Modernite,” in Politica Hermetica, No. 1 (December 1987), pp. 11-48.
  50. Cf. Benoist’s September 1976 interview in Elements: “La Question Religieuse: Entretien avec Robert de Herte,” in Dix Ans, op. cit., p. 199.
  51. Ibid., p. 200.
  52. Ibid.
  53. Ibid.
  54. Ibid., p. 201.
  55. Ibid., pp. 220-221.
  56. Ibid., p. 221.
  57. Ibid., p. 221 (italics added). These are the last sentences in the interview. On the contraposition of convincing (rationalism, universalism, egalitarianism) and awakening (aristocraticism, differentialism), which originated in Evola, see Benoist, Vu de Droite, op. cit., pp. 26 and 433.
  58. Benoist, L’Eclipse du Sacre, op. cit., pp. 216-217.
  59. Ibid., p. 241.
  60. Ibid.
  61. On this point, see Pierre-Andre Taguieff, La Force du Prejuge. Esai sur le Racisme et son Doubles (Paris: La Decouverte, 1988), pp. 393-410.
  62. Benoist, L’eclipse du Sacre, op. cit., pp. 243-244. “Biological organicism, the principle of indeterminism in physics, holism in sociology, temporal duration in history and synchrony in ethnology, systematics, the archetypical unconscious, interpersonal analysis, etc. are all notions which call into question old presuppositions such as the logic of Aristotle’s principle of identity, determinism, linear causality, a priori forms of perception, and the irreversibility of space and time — all inherited from Averroes and continued by the scholastics and by Descartes.” Prevert’s inventory of dualisms raised to the level of a definite argument! For an interesting defense of the organicist paradigm, see Roberto Fondi, La Revolution Organiciste. Entretien sur les Nouveaux Courants Scientifiques, Preface by Remy Chuvin, “Introduction” by Giovanni Monastra, tr. into French by Philippe Bayllet (Paris: Le Labyrinthe, 1986). This demonstrates GRECE’s break with dogmatic Darwinism.
  63. See also Benoist, L’Eclipse du Sacre, op. cit., pp. 216-218.
  64. Ibid., 217.
  65. Ibid., p. 245. In the final analysis, he seeks to “awaken” a deep traditional-communitarian we that is asleep, imprisoned or in exile.
  66. At the conclusion of Les Nouveaux Enjuex Ideoloques, op. cit., This is the eighth volume of Cahiers de la Nouvelle Droite.
  67. Ibid., p. 131. On the “European”-Promethean theme of accepting challenges, cf. Alain de Benoist, “L’Europe Retrouvee,” in Maiastra. Renaissance de l’Occident? (Paris: Librairie Plon, 1979), p. 301: “a . . . common characteristic of the European mentality seems to reside in a constant tendency to accept the challenges of existence.” If the motif stems from Arnold Toynbee (challenge/response), it reached GRECE via L. Rougier, Le Genie de l’Occident (Paris: Laffont, 1969).
  68. Ibid., p. 132.
  69. Ibid., pp. 132-133.
  70. Ibid., p. 133.
  71. Ibid.
  72. Ibid.
  73. Ibid.
  74. Ibid.
  75. Maurice Bardche, Qu’estce que le Fascisme? (Paris: Les Sept Couleurs, 1961), p. 199. On Bardeche’s role in the history of European neo-fascism, see Angelo del Boca and Mario Giovana, I “Figli del sole”: Mezzo Secolo di Nazifascismo nel Mondo (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1965), pp. 79ff, 129ff, and 226ff.
  76. Ibid., pp. 112-113.
  77. Ibid., pp. 114-115.
  78. Benoist, Europe, Tiers monde, Meme Combat, op. cit., p. 17. On the Nietzschean origins of Benoist’s advocacy of a third way for Europe, see Pierre-Andre Taguieff, “Alain Benoist, Philosophe,” in Les Temps Modernes (February 1984), pp. 1449ff.
  79. Elements, No. 33 (February-March 1980), p. 3. The reference to Athena is illustrated by a photograph reproduced on the cover (“the sun on the tip of Sounion”).
  80. The charge of anti-Semitism, which has radically discredited all ideological and political positions since 1945, must be avoided at all costs. The New Right exploits the anti-Christian formulations of anti-Semitism instead of its anti-Zionist reformulations.
  81. Elements, No. 33 (February-March 1980); p. 10.
  82. This lapse is important, since its many restrictive explanations have served to mask deep-rooted motives. The disavowal follows almost immediately in the previously cited summary (“for Pierre Vial . . . evidently not . . .”: surely this is no evidence!). It should be noted that the full text of Vial’s address was not published subsequently; only journalists invited to the colloquium were given access to the typescript.
  83. Elements, No, 33 (February-March 1980), p. 12. (italics added).
  84. Ibid.
  85. Ibid.
  86. Ibid., p. 10: “to study the foundations of totalitarian ideology and to participate in a innovative and detailed critique of its different manifestations throughout history.”
  87. Ibid., p. 11.
  88. Ibid., p. 10.
  89. Ibid.
  90. Ibid.
  91. Ibid. From “cultural genocide’ to “cultural totalitarianism”. . . . One would have to analyze more specifically the dissemination of the euphemistic metaphor (“cultural”) by examining common nouns for the absolute ideological evil (“genocide,” “totalitarianism.” etc.) to which the metaphor is attributed.
  92. Ibid., p. 19.
  93. Ibid., pp. 19-20.
  94. Ibid., p. 20. The context for the precise citation follows: “Is the modern world collapsing into a bloody chaos? . . . This chaos makes sense if one perceives in these conflicts and confrontations the titanic struggle between homogenizing powers and differentialist capabilities. See Henri Lefebyre, Le Manifeste Differentialiste (Paris: Gallimard, 1970), Ch. 1, p. 49. To my knowledge, this is the first scholarly treatise in the French language of the catastrophe interpretation of the “threat of homogenization” (p. 51), of the “homogenizing forces” which “have enormous resources at their disposal” (p. 49). In the midst of the rising differentialist wave, Lefebyre demonstrated a certain clarity of mind when he distinguished “a double critique” of this “threat of homogeneity” — “a rightist critique exhibiting a taste for the past and nostalgia, and a leftist critique retaining all the elements of revolt and revolution” (p. 51). But he failed to mention what he could not foresee in the realm of ideology at that time — the possibility of a rightist critique which is not nostalgic but revolutionary. Although GRECE already existed (1968), its principal doctrine emphasizing difference had not vet been elaborated (which occurred between 1972 and 1980). The same reference to Lefebyre is made by Benoist in a study in which he analyzes and discusses the model of “differentialist racism,” which 1 described in “Racisme: Remarques Autour d’une Definition,” in Andre Bejin and Julien Freund, eds., Racismes. Antiracismes (Paris: Librairie des Mridiens, Klincksieck, 1986), p. 244.
  95. Elements, op. cit., p. 20.
  96. Ibid.
  97. Ibid.
  98. Ibid.
  99. Ibid.
  100. Ibid.
  101. “Judeo-Christian universalism is really the matrix for racism.” See Faye, Les Nouveaux Enjuex Ideoloques, op. cit., p. 45. On how such a definition was produced, see Taguieff, La Force du Prejuge, op. cit., pp. 393-410.
  102. Elements, op. cit., p. 20.
  103. Ibid.
  104. Europe. Tiers Monde, Meme Combat, op. c/t., p. 17.
  105. Ibid., p. 19.
  106. Faye, Les Nouveaux Enjuex Ideoloques, op. cit., p. 14.
  107. Ibid., p. 17.
  108. Ibid.
  109. Ibid., p. 14.
  110. Ibid., p. 41.
  111. Ibid.
  112. For a more elaborate analysis, see Taguieff, La force du Prejuge, op. cit.
  113. Cf. Roger Mehl, “Dissidence et Droits de l’Homme,” in Revue d’Histoire et de Philosophie Religieuses, Vol. 65, No. 2 (April-June 1985), pp. 189ff.
  114. Cf. Pierre-Andre Taguieff, “Le Neo-Racisme Differentialiste,” in Langage et Societe, No. 34 (December 1985), pp. 69-98.
  115. Arabies, No. 9, p. 36.
  116. Elements, op. cit., No. 48 (Winter 1983/84).
  117. Paulin J. Hountondji (National University of Benin) has developed a similar criticism of the political uses of absolute cultural relativism. She opposes a certain integrationism of the “Negro difference” –especially derived from a particularist reading of the “ethno-philosophical” hypothesis and the dogmatic demand for a “Negro” cultural identity. (Recall L. S. Senghor’s 1939 statement: “Emotion is as Negro as reason is Hellenic.”) Cf. Paulin J. Hountondji, “Pieges de la Difference,” in Diogene, No. 131 (1985), pp. 51-61. The problem is well-defined by Kouadio Augustin Dibi, “L’ldee d’une ‘Philosopohie Africaine’: du Psychologisme a l’Etre devenu,” in Les Etudes Philosophiques, No. 4 (October-December, 1982), pp. 385-392; and by Jean Kinyongo, “La Philosophie Africaine et son Histoire,” in Les Etudes Philosophiques, ibid., pp. 411-414. It looks as if the New Right has defined what one might call a European ethno-philosophy — something akin to original Greek philosophy in which all universalist aims are eliminated.
  118. Julius Evola, Elements pour une Education Raciale, tr. Gerard Boulanger (Puiseaux: Pards, 1985) p. 29.


[Telos, 00906514, Winter93/Spring94, Issue 98-99]





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