Tonight I am going to deal with a somewhat novel, to my knowledge, theme, namely, the history of the last 250 years surrounding a French political current: revolutionary nationalism.
I thank Serge Ayoub for having given me the honor of appearing before this conference to speak on a movement to which I belonged for thirty five years. I hope to bring you some new information. That said, it is necessary that you are aware I can only scratch the surface of my subject in the time allotted to me for this speech. My dilemma was to find a third way, we never escape it, between inflicting an inaudible and interminable thesis on you and contenting myself to name drop without permitting you to place the cited groups in perspective. Moreover, pardon my oratorical weaknesses, I am a man of writing and taking the public stage is neither my habit nor my strong point.
Before addressing the history of revolutionary nationalism it is suitable to analyze precisely what is hidden behind this term. We can do this using three definitions: the first considers revolutionary nationalism as a European version of the national liberation movements in the Third World, the second sees it as a nationalist left, finally the third as an ideology where the political extremes join.
The idea of revolutionary nationalism as a European version of the national liberation movements of Third World countries is seductive, it was developed by François Duprat particularly in his writings in the 1970s. That corresponds well to geopolitical reality: Europe occupied, starting from 1945, by the USA and the USSR, then by the USA alone. On the other hand, where this definition fails, by its overly restrictive aspect: firstly it only applies to a recent historical period, then it doesn’t permit the understanding of the ideological specificity of the NR movement.
Then we can go a bit further, and complete what we just said by affirming that this current is a nationalist left. The idea is defended in Europe by a certain number of groups that have taken this definition as a name, I knew at least some examples in Italy – where the great NR daily Rinascita presents itself as the organ of the nationalist left – and in Spain.
In the first half of the first decade of the 21st century, Thomas Ferrier, a young historian from Nancy published many theoretical writings on this theme.
For him, there only exists six political currents, three on the left and three on the right. Namely: the social democratic left, the internationalist left, the nationalist left, the liberal democratic right, the conservative right, and the nationalist right.
Starting from these premises, he developed the following theme: “the social democratic left and the liberal democratic right join at the center. The nationalist right is halfway between the nationalist left and the conservative right. The nationalist left is halfway between the nationalist right and the internationalist left.”
To simplify, the nationalist left has the economic program of the internationalist left and the political program of the nationalist right. In contrast to the international socialism of the extreme left, the nationalist left proposes national socialism.
He then proposed a certain number of divides permitting the differentiation between the nationalist left and the nationalist right: “The proletarian / bourgeois divide: the nationalist right defends the bourgeoisie while the nationalist left defends the model of the worker (Ernst Jünger) or the proletarian (Filippo Corridoni), associated with the cult of heroes (Carlyle, Nietzsche)”
The secular / Christian divide: the nationalist right is naturally Christian or mostly agrees with Christianity, the nationalist left is often atheist and generally secular.
The 1789/ anti-1789 divide: the nationalist left recognizes itself as the heir of the French Revolution while the nationalist right is hostile to 1789.
The republican / monarchist divide: the nationalist left is republican and the nationalist right is monarchist, even if it pretends to accept the republican principle.
The democratic / aristocratic power divide: the nationalist left is for democracy while the nationalist right is quite opposed.
The socialism / liberalism divide: the nationalist left is socialist, the nationalist right is anti-socialist and economically liberal.
The Europe / Anti-Europe divide: the nationalist left is for European unification, even for the concept of the European nation; the nationalist right is hostile to any European construction, at most defending the oxymoronic concept of the Europe of Nations.
That has something seductive enough as well, but which is not totally satisfactory as much historically as ideologically, in my opinion. Actually, revolutionary nationalism from its historical origins, we will see, is both the left and the right and it defends ideas that are often syntheses coming from the right and the left. Thus declaring it as “nationalist left” has, in my eyes, a deleterious effect regarding our specificity.
Hence it’s the third definition I propose to you. In order to understand it, we must abandon the idea of a linear representation of the political world where the extremes extend to infinity in favor of a circular representation where a left and right exist facing the center and the two centers face them: one hard and the other soft. A French author, Fabrice Bouthillon, explained it well in a recent text where he wrote: “In order to revive what was undone by the French Revolution which had multiplied across the whole of Europe after 1789, attempts at compromise between the right and left constituted centrisms … There exists two types of centrism, either by subtraction, or addition of extremes.” The model of the second, which is actually a radical centrism, combining the extreme right and the extreme left, is what we name revolutionary nationalism: a current that assimilates the notions of the right and left.
The idea is not recent, we already find it among the German NR of the 1930s that presented itself as “ links leute von recht” and among Oswald Mosley, after the Second World War, to only cite two examples. The university academic Jean-Pierre Faye had already developed in the 1970s, a somewhat similar analysis holding that the NR were those who found themselves between poles of a magnet, taking the traditional form of a horseshoe.
Thomas Ferrier, who I just quoted, when he spoke of the nationalist left, also proposed to us, a genealogical tree thus conceived: “The most nationalists revolutionaries in 1789, the most nationalist Communards (the Blanquistes, Louis Rossel), the tradition of French national socialism of the 19th century: Charles Fourier, Joseph Proudhon, Auguste Blanqui, Benoît Malon, Albert Regnard, Georges Sorel, Jules Guesde, Jean Allemane, Jean Jaurès, young Maurice Barrès, the French national socialism of the 1920s and 1930s: Georges Valois, Marcel Déat, the Belgian Henri de Man, Gaston Bergery, the French national socialism of the resistance (Charles de Gaulle in a certain way, Philippe Barrès) and collaboration (Charles Spinasse, the paper Le Rouge et le bleu, Pierre Drieu la Rochelle, Marcel Déat again, etc.), post-war national socialism, sometimes becoming European socialism: Jean-Pierre Chevènement of Patrie et progrès, people like Jean Thiriart or François Duprat.”
There we have the essentials that I am going to develop afterwards, with the reservation that Thomas Ferrier did not perceive, or did not want to perceive, the influence of certain currents purely on the right in the genesis of the NR current, which I’m going to stress a bit.
Firstly, we focus on our distant ancestors, on those whose historical action inspired our engagement whether yesterday or today: the sans-culottes, the “montagne blanche”, and radical Bonapartism.
In these three cases, it is suitable to note before going further that the groups concerned were essentially populist, even proletarian. It’s important and suitable to note the persistence of this phenomenon summarized later by Jean Jaurès in his famous phrase: “For he who has nothing, the nation is his only good.” Moreover, these three currents were essentially favorable to larger democracy in their claims, even towards a sort of class struggle because they perfectly identified the bourgeois’ membership among their enemies.
During the Revolution of 1789, the sans-culottes had as their slogan: “Vive la Nation!” Why? Because the Great Revolution had transformed the kingdom of France into the French nation. The subjects then became a people of citizens and the appearance of the nation was not an abstract principle but a practical policy permitting the elaboration of rules of law defending the collective interest in the face of individual interests.
Under the Convention, the constitution of June 24th 1793 (or year I) is doubtlessly a model for us as it seeks to establish a true popular sovereignty thanks to frequent elections and universal suffrage, the imperative mandate, the possibility for the citizens to intervene in legislative processes and all power attributed to an annually elected legislative body. But what is more interesting for us, is the decree of August 23rd 1793 concerning the Army of year II. We find there the theme of the armed people and total mobilization, the basis of the entire NR vision of society. I cite this famous decree: “From this moment until the moment the enemy has been chased from the territory of the Republic, all French people are on permanent requisition for service of the army. Young men will go into combat, married men will forge arms and transport supplies; women will make tents and serve in hospitals; children will cut up old clothes; the elderly will appear in public places to excite the courage of the warriors, preaching hate for kings and the unity of the Republic.”
Furthermore, it is not insignificant, in my eyes, that certain Jacobin generals like Moreau and, to a lesser degree, Pichegru, participated in plots with radical royalists like Cadoudal under the Consulate. There we have the start of an oxymoronic policy that continued with the “ montagne blanche” – a current also called “Carolo-Republican” – a legitimist royalist movement appearing the in South of France following the July Revolution of 1830.
Although it is rather fascinating, it is known very little in our milieus though it would have a non-negligible influence in its time, to the extent that Karl Marx mentioned it in his Communist Manifesto.
Without lingering on the details, we can give it three characteristics:
1 – It’s a popular movement (small farmers, artisans, laborers) opposed to the Louis-Phillip era bourgeoisie that socially and politically oppressed its members.
2 – It’s a democratic movement that invokes universal suffrage as the sole means of restoring legitimate monarchy.
3 – It’s a movement that surpasses political divides because it makes numerous alliances with the most radical republicans to impede the bourgeois pro-Louis-Phillip candidates or moderate republicans.
As for Radical Bonapartism, they would not progressively rally to the camp of moderates and conservatives after 1870 but would continue the political combat for an imperial restoration. There as well, as with the “montagne blanche,” it demonstrates a hyper-democratization by declaring itself in favor of plebiscites and referendums, going as far as adopting self-declared names synthesizing its orientation with an appeal to the people because it successively appointed Plebiscite Committees and Parties.
Also, it is important to reveal that it was the first nationalist political structure that has no discontinuity between them and us because the organizations I just cited existed until the Second World War and they would give numerous militants to the nationalist movements of the 1930s.
When I spoke of the Sans-culottes or the Montagne Blanche, we have a parentage of desire or reference, there we have a real ideological parentage because the personalities that could have influenced us were themselves influenced by the ideas of these parties or their press organs like L’Appel au peuple or L’Autorité.
Because I speak of direct parentage, now we arrive at the first groups we can really consider as NR. They are those that Zev Sternhell defined as the revolutionary right. I recommend you read his book which exists in paperback edition. You will find there, at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, many of the themes we still defend actually appeared then.
Marc Crapez, another author who dealt with this period, prefers, rightly, the term national socialism to that of revolutionary right and he holds that it’s a current directly derived from the French Revolution. He dates its first manifestation to the end of the Second Empire with a renewal of Hébertisme (the name comes from Jacques-René Hébert, leader of the “les exagérés” faction who were the most extreme and nationalist montagnards), which was succeeded by the Boulangistes, the Blanquistes, and the young syndicalists of Biétry. In this movement, quite vast and often confusing, we must say a word about the short but significant experience that summarizes this political family well: that of La Cocarde. This daily was published from March 1888 to 1905. From September 1894 to March 1895, it was a “national socialist” organ under the direction of Maurice Barrès. La Cocarde illustrated, at the turn of the century, the multiple convergences between the extreme right and the extreme left (criticism of representative democracy and moderate republicanism, activism, nationalism, revanchism, etc). La Cocarde was anti-parliamentarian and xenophobic, but it spoke with esteem for Jean Jaurès and with emotion for the French Revolution. Barrès, during the period where he directed the paper, attempted to reconcile nationalism and socialism. He wanted to organize labor, abolish the proletariat, and reduce the omnipotence of the state by decentralization.
In the heritage of this national socialism we find Gustave Hervé. He came from the extreme left and in 1912, he undertook an evolution towards patriotism of the heart and mind. In July 1914, he became one of the most virulent socialists in favor of national defense.
He even transformed the title of his press organ La Guerre sociale to La Victoire, in January 1916.
In 1919, Gustave Hervé created a little National Socialist Party, where he was joined by figures of the pre-war extreme left like Alexandre Zévaès, a former Guesdiste deputy, Jean Allemane, leader of one of the socialist parties in the period 1890-1902, and Emile Tissier (he was also an ex-Marxist Guesdiste).
During the March on Rome (1922), Hervé saluted his “valiant comrade Mussolini.” His National Socialist Party became, in 1925, the Party of the Authoritarian Republic then the National Socialist Milita in 1932 of which he gave leadership to a certain Marcel Bucard who left it, at the end of 1933, to found Francisme.
In a tradition more marked by the right, and a bit more tardily, we must take into account, in 1912, the experience of Georges Valois’ Cercle Proudhon which emerged from anarchism to enter into Action française.
Valois serves us as a bridge to the 1930s. You are aware that he founded, in 1925, le Faisceau with a daily, Le Nouveau Siècle. Le Faisceau was created on the Mussolinian model, but it was “neither anti-socialist, nor anti-communist, nor anti-Semitic.”
Denouncing the impotence of parliamentarianism, the weakness of the old parties, the “lacking peace,” le Faisceau had the goal of creating a true “national and popular state” beyond the parties and classes. Also, emphasis was put on the defense of worker’s interests and the organization of justice in social life.
When Valois dissolved le Faisceau in March 1928, a party of his close associates displayed their disagreement with him and created the Revolutionary Fascist Party with Philippe Lamour and Pierre Winter. We find them shortly after among the leaders of what was named “the non-conformists of the 1930s,” created with the architect Le Corbusier, of journals like Plans and Prélude, working in concert with small groups like Ordre nouveau, le Mouvement travailliste français, le Front social or le Front national syndicaliste. It’s incontestable that the NR are the their direct heirs, 1000 times more than the leagues.
Next we come to the somber period of the Second World War. Not ignoring that National Socialism had, in Germany, severely repressed the NR current whose principle leaders knew exile or camps.
In France, a part of our great ancestors would choose, at one moment or another, resistance within France rather than London. Some lost their lives like Jean Arthuys or Georges Valois. After the war we certainly find them in the Rassemblement du Peuple Français (Translator’s Note: A Gaullist Party), while others like Alexandre Marc, would continue, via La Fédération, then in various circles, an ideological work closer to that of the NR and often influencing the principal turn towards European nationalism.
Another part including the NR would claim a possibilist, even collaborationist attitude motivated by reflections that are hardly comprehensible today.
Doubtlessly a part of what they call the collaborationist left, in particular Marcel Déat, had very interesting ideological bases and merits dispassionate study. We must also speak of the Mouvement social révolutionnaire where Abellio militated as well as the Mouvement nationaliste-révolutionnaire formed by Trotskyites who rallied to the national revolution.
I just cited Marcel Déat and the partisans of Leon Trotsky. In a surprising manner, it’s a disciple of the second, René Binet, and a nephew of the first, Charles Luca, who maintained the flame of revolutionary nationalism in the years 1940-1960.
René Binet began to militate in the 1930s with the Communist Youth of Havre. Expelled in 1935, he oriented towards the 4th International and participated in the formation of the Parti communiste internationaliste in March 1936, where he was a member of the central committee. He also wrote in the Trotskyite journal La Vérité and he directed the local journal of the PCI, Le Prolétaire du Havre. During the war, he became a collaborator. A thesis has been advanced that he firstly infiltrated a left wing collaborationist group for the Trotskyite movement before being won over to the ideas of the new order. Whatever the case, after the war, in 1946, he created the Parti républicain d’unité populaire (PRUP), regrouping about a hundred people, for the most part former Trotskyites or PCF militants – including Maurice Plais, former communist assistant to the mayor of Clamart – which fused with the Forces françaises révolutionnaires in 1947 and became the Mouvement socialiste d’unité française in 1948, which was outlawed the following year. He was the French contact of Francis Parker Yockey and he contributed to the creation of the European Social Movement, with Maurice Bardèche. He died accidentally in 1957.
At this time, he had already been replaced by Charles Luca. He created a series of organizations that were successively dissolved: in 1947, the Commandos de Saint-Ex, dissolved by the minister of the interior Jules Moch in November 1949 for disturbing the public order. They were immediately reconstituted, under the name of Mouvement national Citadelle, which took the name Parti socialiste français in October 1953, then two years later, Phalange française.
Significantly, this group would be the French brother party of the Deutsche Soziale Union of Otto Strasser.
It would be dissolved in May 1958 by a decree from the Pflimlin government. The organization would be immediately reconstituted under the name Mouvement populaire français (a significant name as the international organization of the Strasserites was then named the European Popular Movement) which would be dissolved again in summer 1960. Then Charles Luca left first class leadership and he died twelves years later.
The time then came for Jean Thiriart, also a former communist who passed to collaboration.
Condemned to three years in prison from the “Liberation,” Thiriart only politically resurfaced in 1960, by participating, during the decolonization of the Congo, in the foundation of the Comité d’Action and de Défense des Belges d’Afrique which became a few weeks later the Mouvement d’Action Civique. In a short time Jean Thiriart transformed this Poujadiste groupuscule into an effective revolutionary structure which – believing that the seizure of power by the OAS in France would likely be a great springboard for European revolution – gave support to the secret army.
Simultaneously, a meeting was organized in Venice on March 4th 1962. Participating in it, besides Thiriart who represented the MAC and Belgium, were the Italian Social Movement for Italy, the Socialist Reich Party for Germany, and the Union Movement of Oswald Mosley for Great Britain. In a common declaration, these organizations declared that they wanted to found a “A National European Party, centered on the idea of European unity, which does not accept satellization of Western Europe by the USA and does not reject reunification with the territories of the East, from Poland to Bulgaria, through Hungary.” But the European National Party would only have an extremely brief existence, the nationalism of the Italians and Germans rapidly broke up their pro-European engagements.
That added to the end of the OAS caused Thiriart to reflect, who concluded that the only solution was in the creation from scratch of a Revolutionary European Party, – the “Historical Party”- and in a common front with parties or countries opposed to the order of Yalta.
Culminating with the work started since the end of 1961, the MAC transformed into Jeune Europe in January 1963, a European organization that embedded itself in Austria, Germany, Spain, France, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Switzerland, and which take the name le Parti communautaire européen (PCE) in 1965.
The originality of Jeune Europe resides in its ideology, European National- Communitarianism, which Thiriart presented as an “elitist and European socialism,” non-bureaucratic and centered by European nationalism. Challenging the romantic notion of the nation, inherited from the 19th century, which fits into ethnic, linguistic, or religious determinism, Thiriart considered the concept of the nation as a community of destiny like that described by José Ortega y Gasset, as more consequential, that is to say the concept of the nation as dynamism, as movement, as becoming. Without totally rejecting the common past, he thought that “this past is nothing in regards to the gigantic common future… What makes the reality and viability of the Nation, it’s unity of historical destiny.” Defining himself as a “Jacobin de la très grande Europe,” he wanted to construct a unitary nation and spoke in favor of a “fusion-state,” centralized and transnational, the political, juridical, and spiritual heir of the Roman empire, which would give all its inhabitants European omni-citizenship. He would summarize in 1989: “The principal axis of my political-historic thought is the unitary, centralized state, the political state, and not the racial state, the remembered state, the historical state, the religious state.”
Although implanted in six countries, this militant structure never counted more than 5,000 members across the whole of Europe. Of this total, two thirds were concentrated in Italy. In France, because of its support for the OAS, Jeune Europe would be outlawed, which constrained the movement to remain semi-clandestine and would explain its negligible influence, it’s effective membership never surpassed more than 200 adherents.
Nevertheless, the new movement was very strongly structured, it insisted on ideological formation in true cadre schools from October 1965, Thiriart had elaborated a “physics of politics” founded on the writings of Machiavelli, Gustave Le Bon, Sergei Chakhotin, Carl Schmitt, Julien Freund, and Raymond Aron. He also tried to put in place a central syndicate, les Syndicats communautaires européens. Furthermore, Jeune Europe wished to found European Revolutionary Brigades to start the armed struggle against the American occupier, and searched for external support. Thus contacts were made with the People’s Republic of China, Yugoslavia, and Romania, and even with Iraq, Egypt, and the Palestinian authority.
The press of the organization, first Jeune Europe, then La Nation Européenne, had a certain audience and counted collaborators among which we can cite the writer Pierre Gripari, the Alpes-Maritimes deputy Francis Palermo, the Syrian ambassador to Brussels Selim El Yafi, that of Iraq to Paris Nather El Omari, as well as Tran Haoi Nam, head of the Viet Cong mission to Algiers, and more personalities such as the American Black leader Stokely Carmichael, the coordinator of the executive secretariat of the FLN Cherif Belkacem, the commandant Si Larbi and Djambil Mendimred, both directors of the Algerian FLN, and the predecessor of Arafat at the head of the PLO, Ahmed Choukeri, granted interviews to it without difficulty. As for General Peron, in exile in Madrid, he would declare “I regularly read La Nation Européenne and I entirely share its ideas. Not only that which concerns Europe but the world.”
If Jean Thiriart was recognized as a revolutionary to be reckoned with – he met Chou En-Lai in 1966 and Nasser in 1968, and was forbidden to visit in five European countries – and if the military support of his militants in the Anti-Zionist combat was incontestable – the first European who would fall, arms in hand, in struggle against Zionism, Roger Coudroy, was a member of Jeune Europe – his allies remained remained prudent and did not accord the desired financial and material aid to Jeune Europe. Furthermore after the crises of decolonization, Europe benefited from a decade of economic prosperity with made the survival of a revolutionary movement very difficult. In 1969, Jean Thiriart ended the experience of Jeune Europe. The date was quite strange and showed that hadn’t grasped the importance of the events of May at all and the influence they would have. He disappeared from the field of battle until the 1980s where he would reappear and militate for a time with us.
Revolutionary nationalism would then know a period of very low tide where the only active organizations were Organisation lutte du peuple of Yves Bataille and, on the theoretical level, Les Cahiers du CDPU of Michel Schneider.
For the OLP, I believe we were never more than 30 members, but, with the team of Cahiers, we marked the history of the French NR movement as its upholders and ideological smugglers in a difficult period. The thought of Thiriart was maintained and it’s through this channel that the theses of Italian groups of the time, including those of Freda, penetrated into France.
Likewise and a little bit later, François Duprat, starting from 1973, would convince a certain number of militants, by studying the examples of failures and success in foreign countries, that factionalism was useless and it was preferable to act as an ideological and strategic stimulus within a large electoral party.
His position broke with the express wish of creating Leninist type NR parties during the last 25 years.
It’s this strategic turn that explains the oscillation which would mark the future history of NR groups until our day and explains its principal splits. An oscillation between the will to create an autonomous party and that of practicing a certain entryism. Thus GNR and Unité radicale would choose the form of tendency more or less organized within the Front National, and Mouvement nationaliste-révolutionnaire, Troisième voie and Nouvelle résistance would choose that of an autonomous movement. When a certain number of Troisième voie cadres wanted to change strategy, they knew it would lead to a split, and it would be the same for Nouvelle résistance and Unité radicale.
So from 1973 until our day we would see five organizations that would be born from one another.
Not everyone had equal value and incontestably there would be a movement of decline in organizations that would touch the movement from the end of the 1990s. The rise of the Front would attract all the valuable cadres that were then situated in the groupuscules, where there was very sharp decline in quality both on the organizational and intellectual level.
Starting from 1973, Duprat launched Les Cahiers européens, which gave important support to the first presidential campaign of Jean-Marie Le Pen in 1974. In June, the leader of the FN addressed them with a clear message; there he affirmed: “The place for revolutionary nationalists is withing the FN, which authorizes double membership and respects the ideological choices of its adherents.” Consequently in September 1974, Duprat and his partisans joined the FN, in November they created Le National, the party’s organ.
Within the FN, Duprat was charged with the Electoral Commission, that is to say he was responsible for strategic and propaganda questions: in sum, he ran the machine. For Alain Rollat (in Les Hommes de l’extrême droite, Calmann-Lévy, 1985.) “François Duprat appeared as the real number two in the party. He was a remarkable organizer along with the éminence grise Jean-Marie Le Pen. The FN owes its internal discipline to him.”
Simultaneously, François Duprat developed his tendency. In order to do this, he created the Groupes nationalistes-révolutionnaires in 1976, whose influence within the party would soon be important: Alain Renault, the right hand of Duprat, became assistant secretary general of the Front and in the legislative elections of 1978 a third of the candidates came from the GNR.
But everything did not go smoothly, and at the 4th congress of FN (Bagnolet, 1976), certain nationalist elements did not hide their hostility to the NR. However, the political importance of François Duprat made them untouchable. When he was assassinated, everything changed, and it was the purge! It was lead by Michel Collinot and Jean-Pierre Stirbois. At the FN congress in November 1978, Alain Renault tried to convince the audience that “no purge was directed against the true revolutionary nationalists, and that they continue to have their place within the Front,” but no one believed him. The NR militants either were expelled or resigned; they then participated with what remained of Organisation lutte du peuple and the Groupes d’action jeunesse in the creation of the Mouvement nationaliste-révolutionnaire that would be directed by Gilles Malliarakis. Mouvement nationaliste-révolutionnaire transformed into Troisième voie in 1985 and broke up between pro and anti-Le Pen factions in 1991. The latter created Nouvelle résistance.
Troisième voie knew some great successes. It published a quality monthly sold at newsstands, I remember a meeting where we filled la Mutualité (Translator’s note: a large conference hall in Paris), etc. What put it at a disadvantage and finally lead to its disappearance was the rise of the Front National which consumed nearly all of its space, but above all the personality of its leader Jean-Gilles Malliarakis who prevented any teamwork and was the cause of departure for all its quality cadres one after the other.
Nouvelle résistance would be the last purely NR experience in France. I was in it, I was even the deus ex machina and I confess that we were far into political hysteria and nationalist leftism. We also did non-negligible theoretical work, we published a weekly and put a printed newspaper in newsstands. But we were also totally out of step with the movement which explains how Troisième voie began with 175 members and finished with about thirty a few years later. Hence the necessity of creating Unité radicale and ostensibly modifying the ultimate bottom line in order to keep our heads above water.
This latter groups was presented in an entirely caricatured fashion by the media and the Maxime Brunerie affair didn’t help things.
In reality, we were very far from what has been told and the organizational model that inspired us was the work of the Trotskyites of Militant (Translator’s note: British Trotskyite entryist group) within Labor, it goes to show!
In fact, it was the split of the FN and then the wrong choice made that was the cause our final failure.
Before concluding, I would like to touch upon a theme without which my subject would not be complete: the desire that has always animated the NR since the beginning, to lead a fight on the continental scale.
You may say that, in a certain measure, it’s normal for a current professing great European nationalism. That’s right, but what we must take into account, is that the will to create an NR international was manifest even before this component of NR thought actually appeared. Doubtlessly because it’s the only nationalist current where we fight more for a conception of man that includes a connection with the nation rather than defending a nation independently of the idea it conveys.
Anyway. Starting from Biétry, there was an attempt to create a European structure with strong links to the Union of the Russian People among others. In the 1930s, we found the staff of the journal Plans et Ordre nouveau trying again to create European coordination and such they entered into contact with Ramiro Ledesma Ramos, Harro Schulze-Boysen and Otto Strasser. After the Second World War we would successively see the European Liberation Front of Francis Parker Yockey, the European Popular Movement of Otto Strasser, Jeune Europe of Jean Thiriart, the Liaison Committee of European Revolutionaries, the Groupe du 12 mars, and a new European Liberation Front.
I don’t believe I’m revealing a state secret by telling you that Serge actually worked to develop the relations of Troisième voie on the European level.
So what must we think of these international relations? Is it an international of mailboxes as some say ironically or does it go further?
Having been one of the leaders of the European Liberation Front, I can tell you that the political interest is immense. Thus we can have a mutual exchange of ideas and themes of combat there, the possibility of discovering new fields of action and new strategies, of enriching ideological experiences lead elsewhere, and also leading campaigns on the European level against the common enemy.
Of course, European combat is not the panacea, but it would be an error to neglect it.
Now I come to the conclusion.
Since the beginning of my exposition, I have spoken to you about groupuscules. For 35 full years, I was a member of a certain number of them and I directed others, so I’m well placed to know exactly what it is, not being fooled about their number of militants and their real influence.
So you are entitled to wonder about the real interest of this commitment. I’ve done it too, on numerous occasions: why all the expense of time and money, why so many human sacrifices, ultimately, only to labor in vain?
To tell you the truth. It’s been a very long time since I abandoned the hope of organizational success. On the other hand, I have always been convinced by the righteousness of ideas and their possible influence. Thus, I have often cited Gilles Martinet, who spent a part of his life in groupuscules of the hard left: “I never believed in the future of small organizations situated on the margins of large historical formations. And yet, I myself participated in the creation and direction of many of them. What I believed is that their existence and their combat could lead to changes withing the big parties.”
The role that the French NR had within the nationalist movement was to serve as an ideological laboratory and as carriers of ideas. That’s what Nicolas Lebourg, a hostile but honest university academic, understood well in his thesis “Les nationalistes-révolutionnaires en mouvements (1962-2002)” writing (p. 704): “Even within the competitive political system, groupuscules find their importance in their work as ‘watchman’ and furnishing concepts and discursive elements to populist structures that have, for their part, access to media space” and explaining that the revolutionary nationalists furnished the Front National with many of its essential ideas including anti-Americanism and anti-immigration, and according to its own terms, “thus armed it verbally and ideologically.” A substantial action which, I hope, is not finished.
But in order to play this role of ideological laboratory and carrier of ideas, it is still necessary to have a structure, a press, activists, etc. It’s what justifies the small groupuscules with which I participated and it’s what always justifies them in the eyes of some.