The French Ideologues Who Inspired the Alt-Right

Dana Kennedy, Daily Beast, December 5, 2016

Alain de Benoist is the prolific and quintessentially Gallic icon of France’s New Right, the political and philosophical school of thought that formed in Nice in January 1968–and somehow wound up as a principal inspiration for America’s alt-right.

Benoist, 72, and Guillaume Faye, 67, another key figure in the often-controversial Nouvelle Droite who later broke with Benoist, are far from household names in Europe or the United States. But references to these two elderly French intellectuals pop up regularly in the alt-right and pro-Donald Trump forums on Reddit and 4chan. Their work is reviewed and promoted by many key white nationalists in the U.S., including Richard Spencer and Greg Johnson.

Ideas cribbed from the New Right, which peaked in the 1970s, are also part of the engine fueling the rapid rise of the extreme right in Europe, including the brand-new, anti-immigration National Party in Ireland, whose first meeting at a five-star hotel in Dublin was canceled this week after a public outcry.

In particular, Faye’s Why We Fight–a call to whites to unite against the “colonization” of Europe by non-whites–has become the literary cri de coeurfor right-wing nationalists all over the world, from 65-year-old Jared Taylor, the founder and editor of the white-supremacist American Renaissance magazine, to a young Swedish man called “The Golden One” who has thousands of followers on YouTube, to a 28-year-old Paris-based porn star-turned-alt-right goddess named Electre.

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Reached at his home in Paris this week, [Benoist] laughed and then started coughing when asked if he ever envisioned that the ideas contained in his more than 100 books–such as Manifesto for a European Renaissance or On Being a Pagan–and his more than 2,000 articles could ever be linked with the real-estate developer soon to occupy the White House and his consigliere, Steve Bannon, the former chairman of Breitbart News.

“Monsieur Trump?” said Benoist. “I know him only by reputation. Monsieur Bannon, non. I know nothing of their milieu and I find it hard to believe they know much about mine.”

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Benoist, once the culture editor at Le Figaro, told The Daily Beast he feels some of the alt-right is “white supremacist” but rejects that label himself, and indeed he has written extensively against racism. He’s also long been opposed to the National Front, though many others in the New Right have been allied with it. He considers Faye, long the bad cop to Benoist’s good cop in the Nouvelle Droite, to be an “extremist.”

Yet while Benoist claims to know little about the alt-right, he and Faye have appeared at white-nationalist conferences in the U.S., including Jared Taylor’s annual American Renaissance conference.

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