This article was published on the excellent French website, fdesouch.com.
One day in 2014, Romain, a 25-year-old man from Lille, decided to leave France. Something no longer suited him in this country where he had grown up. He also felt a desire to have a look elsewhere. So the former mechanic took his motorcycle and musical instruments and headed east with no destination in mind. On an impulse, he stopped in Budapest. Today he says he does not regret this random choice. In retrospect, he realized what increasingly bothered him about France: its ethnic and cultural diversity. Romain (who did not wish to give his last name) did not start out with a communitarian nature, but now he says without apology: “There is a certain homogeneity here, and I feel at home.” He is happy to live with “men of European stock, Catholics.”
How many young people are there who, like Romain, have decided to break with a country they no longer feel is their own? Within the French community living in the East—which has continued to grow in recent years—such talk is heard more frequently and more openly, to the point it can no longer be considered a mere secondary symptom. Several thousand Frenchmen have gone to live in these countries during the last few years. Among them it is not difficult, through simple word of mouth, to find expatriates who have no hesitation about explaining (without any apparent hatred) how this cultural question sprouted in their minds until it became obvious: so much so that some of them describe themselves as “identitarian emigrants.”
Gregory Leroy, 31, decided in this way to live in Poland. He found a more uniform world in better conformity with his aspirations: “I travelled a lot and learned that I am not a fan of multicultural countries. I think it is important to meet people who resemble us in the streets, and that’s the way it is here.” Leroy grew up in a suburb of Paris, but emigrated in 2012 following a tip from a friend of his brother, who advised him to settle in Warsaw. There he created Hussard, an antiterrorist educational organization that offers “a three-day initiation into the art of war,” and whose webpage adopts a martial tone resolutely in line with that of the Polish Right now in power:
“Coercive French legislation regarding legitimate self-defense and possession of weapons favors the emergence of a class of ultra-violent repeat offenders whose logical development is jihadism.”
Multiculturalism is obviously not these atypical expatriates’ cup of tea. So it is with “Gabriel” (who prefers not to give his real name). Originally from the French Alps and with a promising career in finance, this young man of 35 left France as early as 2005, and has been living for 10 years in Budapest. He does not hesitate to attribute the quality of life he has found to the cultural and ethnic homogeneity of his adoptive country. “If you mix people up too much, it does not work,” he declares.
Exactly what does he think is not working in France? It only became obvious to him, he says, by way of contrast when he went back to his native country for a visit: “I realized that day-to-day insecurity has come to seem normal to us.” He says he has the same impression each time: “It only takes an hour or two in France for that feeling of insecurity to reappear. The people here [in Budapest] are more civilized. They don’t scream in the metro. They know how to behave.”
Gregory Leroy feels the same way each time he goes back home. In 2014, he was staying at an Ibis Hotel in his native Paris suburb when a woman was attacked in the street below. “No one intervened,” he says with regret. He was surprised at what he saw, which he says would be impossible in Poland. He says he has other anecdotes of the same kind, and that they have driven him to a definite conclusion: “Insecurity is a problem closely tied to multiculturalism. I think people steal less when they resemble one another.” Romain, the 25-year-old from Lille, explains his Hungarian exile in no other way: “Here there is mutual respect. There is less incivility. There may be some, but nothing comparable to France.”
Romain, who has traveled in Africa, England and Germany, reproaches his own country for repudiating its attachment to the land and for its increased atomization:
The people have been detached from their own land. In Hungary, for example, property tax does not exist. In France, the cost of apartments, the abandonment of the countryside, city life and the need for mobility in the work market have created and reinforced individualism. Here I have the impression of being in the France of long ago, the France my grandparents told me about.
But the young man, whose dream is to acquire a small piece of cultivable soil in the Hungarian countryside, refuses to be dismissed as living in the past. He defends himself by referring to ecological ideas.
Bruno Guillot, who lives in Poland, also regrets a “lack of roots in the French”—an observation he extends to the cultural domain. According to him, great migratory movements are the problem. Even in Poland: “Here there are many Ukrainian and Belarusian immigrants. You might think it would work because they are all Slavs, but they don’t connect!” Although his Christian faith commands him to take in refugees, he fears the danger of too great a number. He is disturbed by the influx of all these migrants who, “unlike the French, have a tribal consciousness.” He fears that from now on, French identity, which in his view lacks all affirmation, will be nibbled away by other, stronger identities.
Gregory Leroy still admires the cityscapes of Paris: “Paris is more beautiful than Warsaw, but there is a heaviness in France; you feel that nothing is possible. The energy of Poland more than makes up for its architectural shortcomings,” he assures us.
In order to stay in Poland, Bruno Guillot has temporarily abandoned his work as a surveyor. He has accepted a less interesting job. To make up for it, he is thinking of returning to France for short contract work. The young Catholic now defines himself as a “precursor of militant emigration.” In the near future he hopes to create Franco-Polish neighborhoods on the outskirts of Warsaw where other ethnically ill-at-ease compatriots can move… He gladly admits the contradiction between his status as a migrant and his identitarian demands. He says he is taking language courses, and will be able to feel perfectly Polish in the long run.
They all say the same thing: They love their native country, but have no intention of returning to it.
Translated from the French for American Renaissance by F. Roger Devlin.