Following the publication of Pages celtiques by éditions du Lore and the trilogy Europa by éditions Bios of Lille, Monika Berchvok subjected the author of these works, Robert Steuckers, to a rapid fire volley of questions, showing that even the rebels of the young generation of the 2010s want to know the oldest roots of this silent revolt which is growing across all of Europe. Monika Berchvok previously interviewed Robert Steuckers during the publication of La Révolution conservatrice allemande by éditions du Lore in 2014.
Your career is extremely intellectually wealthy. What is the origin of your engagement?
To speak of intellectual wealth is certainly exaggerated: I am above all a man of my generation, to whom they still taught the “basics”, which today, alas, have disappeared from academic curricula. I experienced my childhood and adolescence in a world that was still marked by quiet tradition, the mores and manners were not those of the industrial world or the service sector, where we increasingly separate from concrete and tangible reality, increasingly acquiring an unbounded pretension and arrogance against “provincials,” like me, who remain anchored in the muck of reality with their heavy boots (yes, yes, that’s from Heidegger…). My father, who really hadn’t been to school, except to the primary school in his Limburg village, wanted nothing to do with the fashions and crazes that agitated our contemporaries in the 1960s and 70s; “all fafouls,” he claimed, “fafoul” being a Brussels dialect term used to designate idiots and cranks. I lived in a home without television, far from and hostile to the mediocre little universe of the pop tune, variety show, and hippy or yéyé subculture. I still thank my progenitor, 25 years after his death, for having been able to totally resist the miserable abjection of all those years where decline advanced in giant steps. Without television, it goes without saying, I had a lot of time to read. Thanks Papa.
Next, I was a gifted student in primary school but fundamentally lazy and desperately curious, the only life saver, to avoid ending up a tramp or a prole, was learning languages to a competent level because, in Brussels, I lived on a street where they spoke the three national languages (and the dialectical variants), with the Russian of a few former White officers and their children who wound up in our fair city in addition. With this linguistic plurality, the task was already half done. Clément Gstadler, a neighbor, an old Alsatian teacher who had ended up in Belgium, told me, donning his ever present traditional hat of the Thann countryside and with a razor sharp Teutonic accent: “My boy, we are as many times men as languages we know.” Strengthened by this tirade hammered into me by Gstadler, I thus enrolled, at the age of eighteen, in Germanic philology and then in the school of translators – interpreters.
The origin of my engagement is the will to remain faithful to all these brave men that we consider anachronistic today. On their certitudes, under siege, we must erect a defensive structure, which we hope will become offensive one day, resting on principles diametrically opposed to the hysterics of the trendy people, to construct in our hearts an alternative, impregnable fortress, that we are determined never to give up.
Dilthey, with whom the alternative minded of our type unfortunately aren’t familiar enough, partially constructed his philosophical system around one strong simple idea: “We only define what is dead, the things and facts whose time has definitively ended.” This fight is not over because I haven’t yet passed from life to death, doubtlessly in order to thwart those who my stubbornness displeases. It is evident, as a child of the 1950s and 60s, that my first years of life unfolded in an era where we wanted to throw everything away. It’s of course a gesture that I found stupid and unacceptable.
Retrospectively, I can say that I felt, in my young mind, that religion left the scene as soon as it renounced Latin and the spirit of the crusader, very present in Belgium, even among peaceful, calm, authors, like a certain Marcel Lobet, totally forgotten today, doubtlessly because of the excessive moderation of his words, nevertheless ultimately invigorating for those who knew how to capture their deep meaning. The philosopher Marcel Decorte, in his time, noted that society was disintegrating and that it was collapsing into “dissociety,” a term that we find again today, even in certain left wing circles, to designate the present state of our countries, weakened by successive waves of “civilizational negationism,” such as the ideology of Mai 68, New Philosophy, neo-liberal pandemonium, or gender ideology, all “dissociative” phenomena, or vectors of “dissociation,” which today converge in the Macronist imposture, mixing together all these baneful delusions, seven decades after opening Pandora’s Box. Thus the metapolitical combat must be a combat that unceasingly exposes the perverse nature of these civilizational negationisms, continuously denouncing above all the outfits, generally based beyond the Atlantic, that fabricate them in order to weaken European societies to create a new humanity, totally formatted according to “dissociative” criteria, negators of reality as it is (and cannot be otherwise, as the relevant philosopher Clément Rosset remarked, who unfortunately passed away in recent weeks). To make a metaphor with the ancient world, I would say that a metapolitical combat, in our sense, consists of, as the European history expert of Radio Courtoisie Thomas Ferrier said, putting all these negationisms in Pandora’s Box, from which they sprang, then closing it.
You mention “bio-conservatism” in your recent works? What does this term cover?
I didn’t mention “bio-conservatism.” My editor, Laurent Hocq of Editions Bios, believes that it’s a path we will need to explore, precisely in order to fight “civilizational negationisms,” notably all the elements that deny the corporeality of man, his innate phylogenetics, and his ontology. For me a well conceived bio-conservatism must go back to the implicit sociology that Louis de Bonald sketched in the 19th century, critiquing the individualist drift of the Enlightenment philosophers and the French Revolution. Romanticism, in its non-ethereal or tearful aspects, insists on the organicity, vitalist and biological, of human and social phenomena. We must couple these two philosophical veins – traditional conservative realism and organic Romanticism – and then connect them to the more recent and more scientifically established achievements of biocybernetics and systems theory, while avoiding falling into perverse social engineering as desired by the Tavistock Institute, whose cardinal role in the elaboration of all forms of brain washing that we’ve endured for more than sixty years was investigated by the “conspiracy theorist” Daniel Estulin, now living in Spain. The “Tavistockians” used biocybernetics and systems theory to impose a “depoliticized” culture across the Western world. Today these disciplines can be perfectly mobilized to “re-politicize” culture. Laurent Hocq wants to initiate this work of metapolitical mobilization with me. We will have to mobilize people competent in these domains to complete the task.
At the end of the road, rethinking “bio-conservatism” is nothing more or less than the will to restore a “holistic” society in the best sense of the term as quickly as possible, that is to say a society that defends itself and immunizes itself against the fatal hypertrophies leading us to ruin, to degradation: economic hypertrophy, juridical hypertrophy (the power of manipulative and sophist jurists), the hypertrophy of the services sector, hypertrophy of petty moralism detached from reality, etc.
Localism is also a theme that often reoccurs in your recent books. For you the return to the local has an identitarian dimension, as well as a social and ecological one?
Localism or the “vernacular” dimensions of human societies that function harmoniously, according to timeless rhythms, are more necessary than ever at a time where a sagacious geographer such as Christophe Guilluy notes the decline of “France from below”, the marvelous little provincial towns that are dying before our eyes because they no longer offer a sufficient number of local jobs and because their light industry has been relocated and dispersed to the four corners of the planet.
Attention to localism is an urgent necessity in our time, in order to respond to a terrifying evil of neo-liberalism that has expanded since Thatcher’s accession to power in Great Britain and all the fatal policies that the imitators of this “Iron Lady” have seen fit to import into Europe and elsewhere in the world.
The refusal of the migratory “great replacement” happens through an understanding of immigration movements in the era of total globalization. How can the tendency of migratory flows be reversed?
By not accepting them, quite simply. We are a stubborn phalanx and it is imperative that our stubbornness become contagious, taking on the appearance of a global pandemic.
Nevertheless, when you mention the fact that there must be an “understanding of migratory movements,” you indirectly underline the necessity of deeply understanding the contexts from which these migrants come. For half a century, and even longer since Mai 68 had antecedents in the two decades that preceded it, we have been fattened on junk culture, of inane varieties, which occupies our minds with time consuming spectacles and prevents them from concentrating on things as real as they are essential. A good state is a state that inquires about the forces at work in the world. Whether migratory flows are accepted or not, every host state, guided by a healthy vision of things, should draw up an economic, ethnic, and social cartography of the populations coming from the emigrants’ countries.
For Africa, that means understanding the economic state of each migrant exporting country, the possible system of kleptocracy that reigns there, the ethnic components (and the conflicts and alliances that result from them), the history of each of these political or anthropological phenomena, etc. This knowledge must then be delivered by an honest press to the citizens of our countries, so that they can make judgments about credible pieces and not be forced to vote according to unremitting propaganda based on inconsistent slogans.
For Syria we should have known, before the waves of refugees spilled into Europe, the religious and tribal structures of the country in a very precise manner: actually, the media, generally uncultivated and dependent on the “junk culture” imposed on us for decades, discovered the Syrian divisions that had been ignored until now. Only a handful among us has a clear notion of who the Alawites or Yezidis are, knows that the Syrian Christian communities have complicated divisions, understands the tacit alliance that unites Alawites with Twelver Shiites, understands that the principal enemy of the Ba’athist political system is the Muslim Brotherhood, which fomented the terrible disorders of 1981-1982 that ravaged Syria in the time of Hafez al-Assad, father of the current president. In short, the general public knows nothing about the complexity of Syria. The only bone it has to gnaw is the slogan that decrees Assad is a horrible monster, fit to be eliminated by fundamentalist assassins or American bombs.
For Africa, the only means of reducing the waves of refugees, real or solely economic, would be to put an end to evidently very kleptocratic regimes, in order to fix the populations on their native soil by redirecting sums of money toward infrastructural investment. In certain more precise cases, that would also happen through a return to a subsistence agricultural economy and a partial and well regulated abandonment of monoculture which doesn’t properly nourish populations, especially those that have opted for rural exodus towards the cities and sprawling slums, like Nigeria for example.
For Syria, we should have established a filter to sort refugees but that would have, ipso facto, privileged Muslim or Christian communities allied to the regime, to the detriment of the hostile social classes, who are totally un-integrable into our European societies, because the Salafism that animates them is viscerally hostile to all forms of syncretism and all cultures that do not correspond to it 100%. Moreover, as a general rule, the reception of migratory flows coming from countries where there are dangerous mafias is not recommended even if these countries are European like Sicily, Kosovo, Albania, or certain Caucasian countries. All immigration should pass through a well established anthropological screening process and not be left to chance, at the mercy of the “invisible hand” like the one that all the liberals expect the world to be perfected by. Non-discernment in the face of migratory flows has transformed this constant of human history into a catastrophe with unpredictable repercussions in its current manifestations, as evidently these flows do not bring us a better society but create a deleterious climate of inter-ethnic conflict, unbridled criminality, and latent civil war.
Reversing the tendency of migratory flows will happen when we finally implement a program of triage for migrations, aiming for the return of criminals and mafiosos, the psychologically unbalanced (that they deliberately send here, the infrastructure capable of accommodating them being non-existent in their countries of origin), politicized elements that seek to import political conflicts foreign to us. Such a policy will be all the more difficult to translate into daily reality where the imported mass of migrants is too large. Then we cannot manage it in proper conditions.
Jean Thiriart was firstly a neighbor for me, a man who lived in my neighborhood. I can note that behind the sturdy and gruff sexagenarian hid a tender heart but bruised to see humanity fall into ridicule, triviality, and cowardice. I didn’t know the activist Thiriart because I was only twelve when he abandoned his political combat at the end of the 1960s. This combat, which extended over a short decade starting from Belgium’s abandonment of the Congo and the tragic epilogue of the war in Algeria for the French, two years later. Thiriart was motivated by a well developed general idea: abolish the Yalta duopoly, which made Europe hemiplegic and powerless, and send back the Americans and Soviets in succession in order to allow the Europeans to develop independently. He belonged to a generation that had entered politics, very young, at the end of the 1930s (the emergence of Rexism, the Popular Front, the war in Spain, the Stalinist purges, Anschluss, the end of the Czechoslovakia born at Versailles), experienced the Second World War, the defeat of the Axis, the birth of the state of Israel, the coup in Prague, and the blockade in Berlin in 1948, the Korean War, and the end of Stalinism.
Two events certainly contributed to steer them towards an independentist European nationalism, different in sentiment from the European nationalism professed by the ideologues of the Axis: the Hungarian Revolt of 1956 and the Suez campaign, the same year, the year of my birth in January. The West, subjugated by Washington, did nothing to aid the unfortunate Hungarians. Worse, during the Suez affair, the Americans and the Soviets forced the French and British to unconditionally withdraw from the Egyptian theater of operations. Thiriart, and a good number of his companions, temporary or not, observed that the duopoly had no desire to dissolve itself or even to fight each other, to modify one way or the other the line of the Iron Curtain that cut Europe across its center, to tolerate any geopolitical affirmation on the part of European powers (even if they were members of the UN Security Council like France and the United Kingdom). The decolonization of the Congo also demonstrated that the United States was unwilling to support the Belgian presence in central Africa, despite the fact that Congolese uranium underpinned the nuclear supremacy of Washington since the atom bombs fabricated in order to bring Japan to its knees in 1945. A little history, Hergé’s brother was the only Belgian military officer not to chicken out and he showed an arrogant hostility to the NATO troops who came to take control of his Congolese base.
One thing leading to another, Thiriart would create the famous movement “Jeune Europe” that would inject many innovations into the discourse of the activist milieu and contest the established order of what one could classify as the extreme-right in its conventional forms, petty nationalists or Poujadists. The “habitus” of the extreme-right did not please Thiriart at all, who judged them unproductive and pathological. A reader of the great classics of the realist politics, especially Machiavelli and Pareto, he wanted to create a small hyper-politicized phalanx, rationally proceeding from truly political criteria and not thin emotions, creating only behavioral indiscipline. This political hyper-realism implied thinking in terms of geopolitics, having a knowledge of the general geography of the planet. This wish was realized in Italy alone, where the magazine Eurasia of his disciple and admirer Claudio Mutti has done remarkably well and has attained a very elevated degree of scientific precision.
To bypass the impediment of Yalta, Thiriart believed that we needed seek allies across the Mediterranean and in the East of the vast Soviet territorial mass: thus the attempt to dialogue with the Nasserist Arab nationalists and the Chinese of Chou Enlai. The Arab attempt rested on a precise Mediterranean vision, not understood by the Belgian militants and very well comprehended, on the contrary, by his Italian disciples: according to Thiriart this internal sea must be freed from all foreign tutelage. He reproached the various forms of nationalism in Belgium for not understanding the Mediterranean stakes, these forms turned more towards Germany or the Netherlands, England or the Scandinavian countries, an obligatory “Nordic” tropism. His reasoning about the Mediterranean resembled that of Victor Barthélémy, an adviser of Doriot and also a former communist, a reasoning shared by Mussolini as mentioned in his memoirs. Thiriart very probably derived his vision of Mediterranean geopolitics from a feeling of bitterness following the eviction of England and France from the Mediterranean space after the Suez affair in 1956 and the war in Algeria.
According to Thiriart, the Europeans shared a common Mediterranean destiny with the Arabs that could not be obliterated by the Americans and their Zionist pawns. Even if the French, the English, and the Italians had been chased from the Arabophone North African shore, the new independent Arab states could not renounce this Mediterranean destiny they shared with non-Muslim Europeans, massed on the Northern shore. For Thiriart, the waters of the Great Blue sea unite, not separate. From this fact, we must favor a policy of convergence between the two civilizational spaces, for the defense of the Mediterranean against the element foreign to this space, interfering there, constituted by the American fleet commanded from Naples.
The idea of allying with the Chinese against the Soviet Union aimed to force the Soviet Union to let go of its ballast in Europe in order to confront the Chinese masses on the Amur River front. The dual project of wagering on the Nasserist Arabs and the Chinese marked the last years of Thiriart’s political activity. The 1970s were, for him, years of silence or rather years where he immersed himself in the defense of his professional niche, namely optometry. When he returned to the fight at the start of the 1980s, he was nearly forgotten by the youngest and eclipsed by other political and metapolitical lines of thought; moreover the given facts had considerably changed: the Americans had allied with the Chinese in 1972 and, since then, the latter no longer constituted an ally. Like others, in their own corners and independently of each other, such as Guido Giannettini and Jean Parvulesco, he elaborated a Euro-Soviet or Euro-Russian project that the Yeltsin regime didn’t allow to come to fruition. In 1992 he visited Moscow, met Alexander Dugin and the “red-browns,” but unexpectedly died in November of the same year.
What we must retain from Thiriart is the idea of a cadre school formed on principles derived from pure political philosophy and geopolitics. We must also retain the idea of Europe as a singular geostrategic and military space. It’s the lesson of the Second World War: Westphalia defended itself on the beaches of Normandy, Bavaria on the Côte d’Azur and along the Rhône, Berlin at Kursk. Engines allowed for the considerable narrowing of the strategic space just as they allowed for the Blitzkrieg of 1940: with horse-drawn carts, no army could take Paris from Lorraine or Brabant. The failures of Philip II after the battle of Saint-Quentin prove it, Götz von Berlichingen never went past Saint-Dizier, the Prussians and Austrians never went past Valmy, and the armies of the Kaiser were stopped on the Marne. One exception: the entrance of the allies into Paris after the defeat of Napoleon at Leipzig. The United States is henceforth the sole superpower, even if the development of new arms and imperial hypertrophy, that it imposed on itself through unthinking immoderation, slowly break down this colossal military power, recently defied by the new capabilities of Russian or perhaps Chinese missiles. European independence happens through a sort of vast front of refusal, through the participation of synergies outside of what Washington desires, as Armin Mohler also wanted. This refusal will slowly but surely erode the supremacist policy of the Americans and finally make the world “multipolar.” As Thiriart, but also Armin Mohler, doubtlessly wanted, and, following them, Alexander Dugin, Leonid Savin, and yours truly want, multipolarity is the objective to aim for.
Three German author seem to have left their mark on you particularly: Ernst Jünger, Carl Schmitt and Günter Maschke. What do you retain from their thought?
Actually, you ask me to write a book… I admire the political writings of the young Jünger, composed in the middle of the turmoil of the 1920s just as I also admire his travel narratives, his seemingly banal observations which have made some Jüngerians, exegetes of his work, say that he was an “Augenmensch,” literally a “man of the eyes,” a man who surveys the world of nature and forms (cultural, architectural) through his gaze, through a penetrating gaze that reaches far beyond the surface of apparent things and perceives the rules and the rhythms of their internal nature.
Very soon I will release a voluminous but certainly not exhaustive work on Carl Schmitt. Here I want to remind people that Carl Schmitt wrote his first relevant texts at the age of sixteen and laid down his last fundamental text onto paper at 91. So we have a massive body of work that extends over three quarters of a century. Carl Schmitt is the theorist of many things but we essentially retain from him the idea of decision and the idea of the “great space.” My work, published by éditions du Lore, will show the Schmitt’s relation to Spain, the very particular nature of his Roman Catholicism in the context of debates that animated German Catholicism, his stance in favor of Land against Sea, etc.
Speaking about Günter Maschke interests me more in the framework of the present interview. I met Günter Maschke at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 1984, then during a small colloquium organized in Cologne by high schoolers and students under the banner of the Gesamtdeutscher Studentenverband, an association that intended to oversee the student organizations which, at the time, were working towards the reunification of the country. Maschke was a thundering and petulant former leader of the activist years of 1967 and 1968 in Vienna, from which he would be expelled for street violence. In order to escape prison in West Germany, because he was a deserter, he successfully defected, via the French collective, “Socialisme ou Barbarie,” first to Paris, then Cuba. He then settled in the insular Castroist Carribean republic and met Castro there, who gave him a tour of the island in order to show him “his” sugar cane fields and all “his” agricultural property. Maschke, who can’t hold his tongue, retorted to him, “But you are the greatest latifundist in Latin America!” Vexed, the supreme leader didn’t renew his right of asylum and Maschke found himself back at the beginning, that is to say in a West German prison for thirteen months, the span of the military service he refused, as demanded by the law. In prison, he discovered Carl Schmitt and his Spanish disciple Donoso Cortès, and in the cramped space of his cell, he found his road to Damascus.
Many activists from 67-68 in Germany henceforth turned their backs on the ideologies they professed or utilized (without really believing in them too much) in their youth years: Rudi Dutschke was basically a anti-American Lutheran nationalist; his brothers gave interviews to the Berlin new conservative magazine Junge Freiheit and not usual leftist press, which repeats the slogans of yesterday without realizing that it has fallen into anachronism and ridicule; Frank Böckelmann, who was presented to me by Maschke during a Book Fair, came from German Situationism and never hesitated to castigate his former comrades whose anti-patriotism, he said, was the mark of a “craving for limits,” of a will to limit themselves and mutilate themselves politically, to practice ethno-masochism. Klaus Rainer Röhl, a nonagenarian today, was the spouse of Ulrike Meinhof, who sunk into terrorism with Baader. Röhl too became closer to the nationalists while the articles of Ulrike Meinhof in her magazine konkret would trigger the first fights in Berline during the arrival of the Shah of Iran.
Uli Edel’s film devoted to the “Baader Meinhof Gang” (2008) also shows the gradual slide of the terrorist “complex” in West Germany, which arose from an idealistic and unreasoning, uninhibited, and hysteric anti-imperialism, but often correct in some of its analyses, to pass into an even more radical terrorism but ultimately in the service of American imperialism: in his film, Edel shows the stakes very clearly, notably when Baader, already arrested and sentenced, speaks with the chief of police services and explains to him that the second generation of terrorists no longer obeys the same guidelines, especially not his. The second generation of terrorists, while Meinhof, Baader and Ensslin (Maschke’s sister in law!) were imprisoned and had not yet committed suicide, assassinated statesmen or economic decision makers who correctly wanted to pursue policies in contradiction with the desires of the United States and free West Germany from the cumbersome tutelage that Washington imposed on it. This shift also explains the attitude taken by Horst Mahler, Baader’s lawyer and partisan in armed struggle in his time. He would also pass to nationalism when he was released from prison, a nationalism strongly tinted with Lutheranism, and he would return to prison for “revisionism.” The last I heard, he was still languishing there.
At the start of the 1980s, Maschke was an editor in Cologne and notably published the works of Carl Schmitt (Land and Sea), Mircea Eliade, Pierre Drieu la Rochelle, Agnès Heller, and Régis Debray. Every year, in October when the famous Frankfurt Book Fair took place, Maschke, who thought I had the countenance of an imperturbable young reactionary, had Sigi, his unforgettable spouse who left us much too soon, set up a cot in the middle of his prestigious office, where the most beautiful flowers of his library were found. So every year, from 1985 to 2003, I frequented the “Maschke Salon,” where personalities as prestigious as the Catholic and conservative writer Martin Mosebach or the Greek political philosopher Panajotis Kondylis, the ex-Situationist Franck Böckelmann,or the Swiss polemicist Jean-Jacques Langendorf dropped by. These soirees were, I must admit, pretty boozy; we sang and performed poems (Maschke likes those by Gottfried Benn), the fun was de rigeur and the ears of a good number of fools and pretentious people must have rung as they were lampooned. I inherited a frank manner of talking from Maschke, who often reproached me, and he helped consolidate my mocking Bruxellois verve, which I owe to my uncle Joseph, my mother’s very sarcastic brother.
I can’t finish this segment without recalling the fortuitous meeting between Maschke and Joschka Fischer, the year where the latter had become a minister in the Land of Hesse, the first step that would lead him to become the German minister of foreign affairs who made his country participate in the war against Serbia. Fischer strolled down the long hallways of the Book Fair. Maschke came up to him and patted his stomach, very plump, saying to everyone: “Well, comrade Fischer, fattening up to become minister.” Next followed a torrent of acerbic words poured out on the little Fischer who looked at his sneakers (his trademark at the time, in order to look “cool”) and stammered apologies that he wasn’t. Scolding him as if he was only a dirty brat, Maschke proved to him that his Schmittian neo-nationalism was in accord with the anti-imperialist tendencies of the 1967-68 years, while Fischer’s alignment was a shameful treason. The future would give him ample justification: Fischer, former violent Krawallo (hooligan) of Hessian leftism, became a vile servant of capitalist and American imperialism: the dithyrambic phrases that he pronounced these last weeks praising Chancellor Merkel only accentuate this bitter feeling of betrayal. These remarks are evidently valid for Daniel Cohn-Bendit, today a war monger on sale to Washington. Jean-François Kahn, in an interview very recently accorded to Revue des deux mondes, spoke of him as a former sixty-eighter turned neocon in the style of the East Side Trotskyites.
In his quest after his return from Cuba and his stay in a dreary Bavarian prison, Maschke, unlike Mahler or Dutschke’s family for example, evolved, with Schmitt and Donoso, towards a Baroque and joyous Catholicism, strongly tinted with Hispanicism and rejected the uptight, Protestant, and neo-Anabaptist violence that so clearly marked the German extra-parliamentary revolutionaries of the sixties. For him as for the director Edel, the Ensslin sisters, for example, were excessively marked by the rigorous and hyper-moralist education inherent to their Protestant familial milieu, which seemed insupportable after his stay in Cuba and his journeys to Spain. Also because Gudrun Ensslin fell into a morbid taste for an unbridled and promiscuous sexuality, resulting from a rejection of Protestant Puritanism as Edel’s film highlights. The Maschkian critique of the anti-Christianity of the (French) New Right is summarized by a few choice words, as is his habit: thus he repeats, “they are guys who read Nietzsche and Asterix simultaneously and then fabricated a system from this mixture.” For him, the anti-Christianity of Nietzsche was a hostility to the rigors of the Protestantism of the family of Prussian pastors from which the philosopher of Sils-Maria came, a mental attitude that is impossible to transpose in France, whose tradition is Catholic, Maschke doesn’t take the Jansenist tradition into account. These anecdotes show that any political attitude must fall back into a kind of Aristotlean realism.
You return to the contribution of the Celtic world to our continental civilization in your book “Pages celtiques.” What do we retain from the “Gaulish” in our European identity? You return to the Irish and the Scottish nationalist movement at length. What lessons should we draw from their long struggles?
In “Pages celtiques”, I wanted, essentially, to underline three things: firstly, the disappearance of all Celtic cultural and linguistic references is the result of the Romanization of the Gauls; this Romanization was apparently rapid within the elites but slower in the spheres of popular culture, where they resisted for five or six centuries. The vernacular culture retained the Celtic language until the arrival of the Germans, the Franks, who took over from the Romans. We can affirm that the popular religiosity retained the religiosity of “eternal peasants” (Mircea Eliade) and it remained more or less the religion whose rituals were practiced by the Celts. This religiosity of the soil remained intact under the Christian veneer, only the religion of the elites from the start. The dei loci, the gods of places, simply became saints or Madonnas, nestled in the trunks of oaks or placed at crossroads or near springs. The “de-Celticization,” the eradication of the religion of “eternal peasants,” occurred under the blows of modernity, with the generalization of television and … with Vatican II. What the French still have from the “Gaulish”, was put to sleep: it’s a fallow field awaiting a reawakening. Our essence, in Belgium, was deeply Germanized and Romanized, in the sense where the Eburons, the Aduatuques, and the Treviri were already partially Germanized in the time of Caesar or later when the Ingvaeonic Germanic tribes settled in the valley of the Meuse served Rome and rapidly Latinized.
Secondly the Celtic contribution is equally Christian in the sense where, at the end of the Merovingian era and at the start of the Pippinic / Carolingian era, Christian missions were not only guided by Rome, they were also Irish – Scottish with Saint Columban, who settled in Luxeuil-les-Bains, the formerly Gaulish, then Roman, thermal baths site. Lorraine, Alsace, Franche-Comté, Switzerland, Wurtemberg, Bavaria, Tyrol, and a part of Northern Italy received the Christian message not from the apostles who came from the Levant or missionaries mandated by Rome but from Irish – Scottish monks and ascetics who proclaimed a Christianity closer to the natural religiosity of the indigenous peoples, with some pantheist dimensions, while advocating the large scale copying of ancient, Greek and Latin manuscripts. The Christian, Celtic, and Greco-Latin syncretism that they offered us remains the foundation of our European culture and any attempt to remove or eradicate one of these elements would be a useless, even perverse, mutilation, that would deeply unbalance the foundations of our societies. The smug and foolish moralism, proper to the recent history of the Church and its desire to “third worldize,” also ruined all the seduction that the religion could exercise on the popular masses. Failing to take the vernacular (Celtic or otherwise) into account and ceasing to defend the heritage of the classical humanities (with the political philosophy of Aristotle) at any price has separated the masses from the intellectual and political elites of the Church. The parishes have lost their flocks: actually, what did they have to gain from hearing the moralizing sermons without depth repeated ad nauseum that the Church henceforth offers to them.
Thirdly, in the 18th century, the Irish, Scottish, and Welsh Enlightenment philosophers were certainly hostile to absolutism, calling for new forms of democracy, demanding popular participation in public affairs and calling for a respect of vernacular cultures by the elite. The enlightenment republicanism of the Irish, Scottish, and Welsh hostile to the English monarchy which subjected the Celtic peoples and Scottish people (a mixture of Celts, Norwegians, and free Anglo Saxons) to a veritable process of colonization, particularly cruel, but this hostility was accompanied by a very pious devotion to the cultural productions of the common people. In Ireland, this republicanism was not hostile to the homegrown and anti-establishment Catholicism of the Irish nor to the multiple remnants of pantheist paganism that was naturally and syncretically harbored in this Irish Catholicism. The representatives of this religiosity were not treated as “fanatics,” “superstitious,” or “brigands” by the Republican elites. They would not be vilified nor dragged to the guillotine or gallows.
The Celtic Enlightenment philosophers of the British Isles did not deny rootedness. On the contrary, they exalted it. Brittany, non-republican, was the victim, like the entire West, of a ferocious repression by the “infernal columns.” It largely adhered to the ancien régime, cultivating nostalgia, also because it had, in the era of the ancien régime, a “Parliament of Brittany,” that functioned in an optimal manner. The uncle of Charles De Gaulle, “Charles De Gaulle No. 1”, would be the head of a Celtic renaissance in Brittany in the 19th century, in the framework of a monarchist ideology. In the same era, the Irish independence activists struggled to obtain “Home Rule” (administrative autonomy). Among them, at the end of the 19th century, was Padraig Pearse, who created a mystic nationalism, combining anti-English Catholicism and Celtic mythology. He would pay for his unwavering commitment with his life: he would be shot following the Easter Rising of 1916. Likewise, the union leader James Connolly mixed syndicalist Marxism and the liberatory elements of Irish mythology. He would share the tragic fate of Pearse.
The leaders of the Irish independence movement offer to political observers of all stripes an original cocktail of nationalist labor unionism, mystic Celticism, and social Catholicism, where the ideology of human rights would be mobilized against the British not in an individualist sense, featuring, for reference, a man detached from any social bond with the past, thus a man who is modeled as a “nameless apostasy from reality.” On the contrary, from the start Irish Republican ideology reasons according a vision of man that fits into into a cultural, social, and bio-ethnic whole. All that must also be the object of legal protection with a corollary that any attack, anywhere in the world, on one of these ethnic-social-cultural ensembles is an attack on a fundamental human right, the right to belong to a culture. So the rights of man, for the Irish, are inseparable from the cultures that animate and feed human societies.
After the Second World War, the Welsh would take up the cause of the Bretons pursued by the Republic, which would be condemned by the International Court of Human Rights for crimes against Breton culture: this fact is quite evidently forgotten, because it was knowingly hidden. Today, notably following the peremptory tirades of the “nouveaux philosophes,” whose path begins around 1978 and continues today, forty years later (!), with the hysterical fulminations of Bernard-Henri Lévy, the Republic sees itself as the defender par excellence of human rights: it is henceforth piquant and amusing to recall that it was condemned on a charge brought by the Welsh and Irish for crimes against a vernacular culture of the Hexagon, and consequently any politically act that ultimately infringes the rights of a people’s culture, or denies it the mere right to exist and propagate, is equally a crime liable for an equivalent sentence. So there exist other possible interpretations and applications of human rights than those that automatically treat anyone who claims an identity rooted in physical belonging as backwards or potentially fascist. Thus human rights are perfectly compatible with the right to live in a rooted, specific, and inalienable culture that ultimately has a sacred value, on soil it has literally turned for centuries. Hervé Juvin, through an original and politically relevant interpretation of the ethnological and anthropological works of Claude Lévi-Strauss and Robert Jaulin, is the one who has shown us the way to follow today in order to leave behind this deleterious atmosphere, where we are called to swear an inextinguishable hatred towards what we are deep within ourselves, to rob ourselves of what’s deep in our hearts in order to wallow in the nihilism of consumerism and political correctness.
I partially owe this Celticism,both revolutionary and identitarian, to the German activist, sociologist, and ethnologist Henning Eichberg, theorist and defender of identities everyone in the world, who expressed an analogous Celticism in a militant and programmatic work, published at the start of the 1980s, at the same time Olier Mordrel published his “Mythe de l’Hexagone.” Elsewhere, my friend Siegfried Bublies would give the title Wir Selbst to his non-conformist, national-revolutionary magazine, the German translation of the Gaelic Sinn Fein (“We Ourselves”). Bublies was the editor of Eichberg’s polemical and political texts, who passed away, alas too soon, in April 2017.
In “Pages celtiques”, I also pay homage to Olier Mordrel, the Breton combatant, and define the notion of carnal fatherland, while castigating the ideologies that want to eradicate or criminalize it.
You’ve restarted Trans-European activities. How do you the judge the evolution of “identitarian”forces in Europe?
No, I’ve restarted nothing at all. I’m too old. We must leave it to the youth, who are doing very well according to the criteria and divides inherent to their generation, according to modes of communication that I haven’t mastered as well as they have, such as social networks, videos on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, or others. The institutions challenging the ambient mismanagement are multiplying at a good pace because we are experiencing a consolidated conservative revolution in relation to what it was, lying fallow, twenty or thirty years ago. It’s true that the dominant powers have not kept their promises: from the Thirty Glorious Years, we’ve passed to the Thirty Piteous Year, according to the Swiss writer Alexandre Junod, who I knew as a child and has grown up so much … And he is still optimistic, this boy: if he wrote a book, he would have to mention the “Thirty Shitty Years.” As we’ve fallen very very low. It’s really the Kali Yuga, as the traditionalists who like to mediate on Hindu or Vedic texts say. I modestly put myself in the service of new initiatives. The identitarian forces today are diverse but the common denominators between these initiatives are multiplying, quite happily. We must work for convergences and synergies (as I’ve always said…). My editor Laurent Hocq has limited himself to announcing three international colloquiums in order to promote our books in Lille, Paris, and Rome. That’s all. For my part, I will limit myself to advise initiatives like the “Synergies européennes” summer universities, even if they are very theoretical, as they allow me to encounter and adapt fruitful strategies for the years to come.