2019, Jean Thiriart, Jean Thiriart and the “Great Europe” : Interview with Yannick Sauveur, Rébellion, Yannick Sauveur
Yannick Sauveur was one of Jean Thiriart’s close associates for nearly twenty years. He revisits the thought of this figure of the “Great Europe” for us.
R/ How did you know Jean Thiriart?
Before responding to your question, I would like to clarify my journey for you: I took my first steps in the Mouvement Jeune Révolution (MJR), a movement created by Captain Pierre Sergent in 1966 as a continuation of the OMJ (OAS Métro Jeunes). The MJR attracted me with its neither right nor left, neither capitalism nor communism positions. I realized, like other leaders and militants, taking into account the evolution of the movement (MJR then Action Solidariste MJR then Mouvement Solidariste Français and GAJ) that the aforementioned positions were a decoy and that the movement was the umpteenth variety of the extreme right. But, from that time, I felt neither right wing nor extreme and I had already declined to take part in these splits that seemed quite artificial to me. In a confused manner I already sensed the System’s great interest in taking advantage of these divisions, including those of pseudo-opposition movements, which were created by the regime if need be or rendered it great service, consciously or not.
During the course of 1973, this consideration lead me to quit the Mouvement Solidariste Français (MSF) in order to join Organisation Lutte du Peuple (OLP), the organization founded by Yves Bataille, a defector from Ordre Nouveau. Beyond what originally attracted me to MJR, I understood that Politics could not limit itself to the pettiness of domestic policy, everyday politics. On the contrary, OLP’s preoccupations were focused on international politics, the politics of blocs, European independence and sovereignty vis-à-vis the USA and the Soviet Union. Geopolitics necessarily seemed to take precedence over the ideology in the exact measure where we sensed freedom was gauged on the European scale, Europe as the master of its destiny. These ideas had been expressed by Jean Thiriart during the 1960s in his writings: Un Empire de 400 millions d’hommes L’Europe, Brussels, 1964 and La Grande Nation. L’Europe unitaire de Brest à Bucarest, 1965, then in La Nation Européenne.
Following this initial intellectual encounter with Jean Thiriart, a second one, physical this time, took place during a militant voyage that took us from Paris to Brussels via Rome and Munich. In Rome, we met the militants of Lotta di Popolo.
Our meeting with Jean Thiriart in July 1973 at his store (Opterion, avenue Louise in Brussels) would be brief and rather cold. Distanced from all active politics for nearly five years, he didn’t necessarily see four young militants barging into his place positively. We must recognize that presenting ourselves as such, in his professional venue, was doubtlessly not the best idea for an introduction. Thiriart was naturally distrustful, and very absorbed in his optometric activities, he didn’t want to hear about politics anymore. His wife, Alice, who was not without influence on him, also feared the reemergence of the political virus. In fact, as will be explained later, he no longer wanted to be the leader of a movement and terribly distrusted militants, young ones especially.
Nevertheless undiscouraged, I re-initiated contact personally in the summer of 1974, and I found another man there, approachable even warm. The private man was infinitely different from the public man and those who rubbed shoulders with him in these circumstances unanimously recognize the empathy that his personality radiated. Henceforth, our relations endured until his death, in November 1992.
R/ What was his conception of the European idea?
The major basic ideas were present very early in the history of the movement directed by Thiriart. We already find them in the Manifeste à la nation Européenne whose first version appeared on September 1st 1961 and which would be revised many times.
On foreign policy, the manifesto (in its 1962 version) summarizes that “Europe must obtain for itself peaceful co-existence with the Soviet Union, otherwise the USA will haggle an accord with Moscow on our backs.”
The Europe he envisions is a unitary Europe, a Europe of Europeans against a “Europe of fatherlands,” for a European patriotism against “constrained nationalisms”, a Jacobin and imperial Europe. Europe must be one and indivisible, its preoccupations and combats likewise. Only the unitary Europe would give Europe the power to face the blocs (the USA and the Soviet Union at the time). He advocated for withdrawal from NATO and the creation of a European Army. Economic nationalism must be a factor for Europe’s unification.
Jean Thiriart didn’t have words harsh enough for the petty nationalisms embodied in France by Michel Debré, Prime Minister for 1959 to 1962, or the extreme right movements in Italy, Germany, or elsewhere. For Jean Thiriart, one of the ideological tragedies of obtuse “petty nationalism” was that “German nationalists” were only interested in Berlin and German reunification, “French nationalists” were only interested in Algeria, “Belgian nationalists” only humiliated by the Congolese affair of 1960. That’s why he was strongly involved in supporting the OAS during the Algerian affair because “beyond the war in Algeria, beyond the FLN and OAS, we see the future of Europe. We need a solution that leads or returns Muslim Africa to the European community. We need a solution that keeps a European army in Algeria without humiliating the pride of Algerian Muslims …”
Jean Thiriart didn’t confound Europe and the West. “The West goes from Bucharest to San Francisco, with its priests, its rabbis, its bourgeoisie, its outmoded nationalisms and pretend values.
Europe will be something totally cut off from the USA by an ocean. Europe will also be something that extends past Bucharest, the extends past the Urals. Europe will go to the Chinese border in Manchuria. Europe will go to the Indian Ocean. For me Europe is firstly labeled in geopolitical terms.” (106 réponses à Mugarza).
Thiriart’s unitary Europe is inseparable from the concept of omnicitizenship, “By omnicitizenship, I mean any citizen, any place, can run for any office, up to the supreme level.
It’s this absence of the least discrimination, the least restriction; its harmful “dosage” is unknown. […] The principle of non-discrimination by territorial origin is a key principle of our unitary solution to consolidate Europe.”
R/ In 1989 the Berlin Wall collapsed. How would Thiriart analyses the opportunities that emerged from this new world?
Long before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Jean Thiriart placed his hopes in a reorientation of alliances with a Great Europe extending to Vladivostok. Thanks to his translator Viktor Nikolaev, he had many of his translated texts sent to the Soviet Union. In fact, Jean Thiriart’s position evolved from the sixties: “My perspective of a Europe formed WITH the USSR or more exactly (peacefully) BESIDE it progressively changed , from 1982 onward, to a Europe formed THROUGH the USSR.” In these conditions, the fall of the Berlin Wall followed by the disintegration of the USSR would reshuffle the cards and open other horizons. Would Jean Thiriart’s ideas finally enjoy a favorable reception in Russia? That would be the reason for the voyage to Moscow he undertook in August 1992 and the various contacts established: Besides Alexander Dugin and Anatoli Ivanov, he had meetings with:
– Yegor Ligachev (born in 1920), the former leader of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the USSR, the number 2 of the CPSU.
– Sergey Baburin, leader of the opposition within the Parliament of the Russian Republic and leader of the “Rossiya” group of deputies, deputy, jurist.
– Viktor Alksnis, nicknamed “the black colonel,” of Latvian origin and former military engineer in the Baltic fleet, member of the CPSU from 1974 until its banning in 1991. Close to Sergey Baburin and Alexander Dugin.
– Gennady Zyuganov, former adviser to Gorbachev on issues relating to anti-Soviet movements, intelligence and secret services, founder of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF).
– Geydar Dzhemal, founder of the Islamic Renaissance Party (PRI) in 1991.
– Alexander Prokhanov, director of the newspaper Dyenn.
-Nikolai Pavlov, associate of Sergey Baburin.
– Valentin Chikin, director of Sovetskaya Rossiya, associate of Ligachev.
– Eduard Volodin, philosopher and advocate of the national communist synthesis.
R/ Russia has a central place in Jean Thiriart’s thought?
From 1964, while the Atlanticists of all stripes were violently anti-communist, Jean Thiriart developed a unique position: “The key to European diplomacy will be peaceful neighborly relations with the USSR. Only a strong and united Europe can force Moscow to understand that it’s also in the USSR’s interest (Un Empire de 400 millions d’hommes L’Europe, p.24).” And he already envisioned Europe from Brest to Vladivostok: “Let’s make a brief incursion into the realm of anticipation and let’s imagine the stage following Europe’s unification. It will inevitably inscribe itself, from the facts of political geography, in terms of a Brest- Vladivostok axis (…) All European policy will consist of building its strength and demonstrating its power to the USSR in order to lead the latter to a more realistic position (…) But the great prelude to our entire policy of rapprochement with Moscow, my sine qua historical position, is the liberation of our provinces and capitals from the Center and the East of the great European fatherland. (ibid. p. 28-31).”
“Great Europe (…) extends from Dublin to Bucharest. Greater Europe stretches from Dublin to Vladivostok.
Russian extends to Vladivostok. Of course Europe will inherit this geographical profile.” (L’Europe jusqu’à l’Oural, un suicide! In La Nation Européenne, n° 46 – 15/02-15/03/1966).
For Thiriart, the only schema he envisioned (even if he was aware that it fell within the long term) was that of a greater Europe as Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals was “nonsense:” “We must firstly create the great Europe extending to Bucharest. Then we must demand the greater Europe with the Russians cured of their pretension of hegemony over Europe’s interior.
And this greater Europe will extend to Vladivostok – and not to the Urals as the very poor geography student who responds to the name De Gaulle believes” (ibid).
After the end of Jeune Europe and the La Nation Européenne (1969), Jean Thiriart retired from all militant political activity. He picked up the pen again at the start of the eighties. There’s no 180 degree turn but rather there’s evolution of his thought: “My position is that we mustn’t fight against the USSR, a European power, but we must fight against the fossilization of Marxist thought.” (106 réponses à Mugarza) He explained his progression: “From 1980-1981 (…) the following schema grew inside of me: let’s no longer rely on Brest – Bucharest unity as the preparatory phase of Dublin – Vladivostok unity, but directly pass to the Vladivostok – Dublin phase.
(…) My slide towards communism hasn’t escaped many observers. This slide was already implicit, subtly appearing in my writings from 1966 to 1968.” De-Marxified communism understood according to Thiriart’s terms “purged of its ideology,” “renovated, rendered clearer.” He also evoked a “Spartan communism.”
Because the “USSR is the the last European power not domesticated by the American – Zionist project of global domination” Jean Thiriart’s thought progressively evolved towards the Euro – Soviet Empire.
R/ You rediscovered a forgotten text “ L’empire euro-soviétique”. What does this rare document contain?
Actually, I neither discovered nor rediscovered it because I knew of this text during its composition and I have successive annotated, struck-through, penciled-in versions. I worked from two versions only to remember that the latest one seemed to correspond the most to Thiriart’s final thought and in which he returned to certain references and formulations. For example, he suppressed any reference to Francis Parker Yockey that José Cuadrado Costa had suggested in a preceding version.
I also tried to be as faithful as possible to Jean Thiriart’s wishes ordering the table of contents. In addition to the labor of re-writing, I added footnotes because the base text didn’t contain them and limited itself to anticipating them in the future. They are observations or complement the information in the original text. They also include many bibliographic facts.
Finally, in a long preface I sought to explain the origin of this text, putting it in perspective with its time and situating it contemporaneously. It seemed interesting to me to exhume this document and its publication thirty years after its composition shows a certain clairvoyance.
L’Empire Euro-soviétique de Vladivostok à Dublin is a very dense text. The guiding line is as follows: Jean Thiriart returns to his evolution from 1964 to 1984 in order to explain why “I came to consider as the USSR as the last and only chance for Europe to unite today” then he looks at the broader picture of the present (1984) geopolitical situation, namely a declining USSR and the United States on the way to planetary hegemony. He then exposes what he calls an “explosive algebra” or the “great switch-over,” the USSR reinforcing Western Europe. He indulges in a certain number of geopolitical considerations connected with the “third world war.” We must have in mind the bellicose climate that reigned at the start of the 1980s and I recall the “war psychosis that was developing in every level of French public opinion” (Pierre Viansson-Ponté in Le Monde). The bellicosity of the Israeli – Zionist lobby is highlighted and Thiriart makes a parallel with 1939: “Die for Danzig?” (Marcel Déat) will become “Die for Tel-Aviv?” Jean Thiriart has no illusions about the USSR as it was. It must radically change and propose a “European discourse,” which is supposed to surpass Marxist communism and its conception of the nation to promote a “community of destiny” henceforth this notion of Empire. He contrast the Empire that unites with the imperialism of domination (of the United States). Who will form this greater Europe? Referencing Alexander Zinoviev (The Yellow House), Jean Thiriart also desires a new Stalin. This new Stalin will have the duty of creating European unity tomorrow: “A new Phillip of Macedon, a new Stalin, that’s what we need to give birth to the unitary Europe.”
R/ Do you think Thiriart’s thought is still relevant?
Yes incontestably and I don’t think I’m the only one to think so if I judge by the interest he arouses today. In Sweden, in Eastern Europe, in Italy, in Spain, in England, in Latin America, in Australia, Jean Thiriart is translated, cited, mentioned favorably. Academic works, books are in progress. The magazine of geopolitical studies Eurasia, directed by Claudio Mutti, very regularly reproduces writings by (or on) Thiriart. In Robert Steuckers’ work Europa (three volumes), two chapters are devoted to Jean Thiriart.
The retrospective relevance of Thiriart’s writings in the light of ongoing tensions and upheavals is evident upon reflection because the Russian enemy has replaced the Soviet enemy (from the point of view of American strategy!), and Europe, absent or insignificant on the international scene, is still the same political dwarf under the American thumb. Do we need to clarify that the European Union has nothing to do with the Europe we want: powerful, independent, removed from NATO.
From Thiriart’s thought, we must retain an authentically political methodology and reasoning, detached from emotions and literary verbiage, as well as the games of everyday politics.
We must also insist on Thiriart’s organizational sense that created a structured, disciplined,militant unit, Jeune Europe, with its press, its cadre school, its camps, a Party that was a sort of prefiguration of the unitary Europe.