Posted on January 13, 2021

Guillaume Faye, France’s Prophet of Civil War

Blake Smith, Washington Examiner, December 31, 2020

For a moment a few years ago, it seemed that an international movement of racists was emerging to threaten liberalism, as white nationalists in the United States allied with “Identitarians” in Europe. The far-right French writer Guillaume Faye, who died last year, was one of the main figures in this drama, and his ideas were the subject of worried analyses in venues of mainstream American opinion. {snip}

{snip} With the “alt-right” now only a memory, it might seem pointless to reflect on Faye’s influence. But his writings reveal why appeals to white identity still resonate in France — and why, for some, a “racial civil war” is not a nightmare but a hope.

Born in 1949, Faye came to public attention in France first as a partner and then as a critic of Alain de Benoist, the leader of the French “New Right.” Emerging in the late 1960s, the New Right preserved some elements of fascist ideology while “modernizing” others. Its members translated anti-liberal thinkers such as Carl Schmitt, but they also accepted the appearance of new immigrant minorities in Europe and adopted Marxist critiques of capitalism. De Benoist, for instance, argued that because the U.S. posed a threat to traditional cultures around the world, Europe’s far-right had to ally with non-European immigrants in a “common struggle” against American hegemony.


After leaving the New Right for several years of anonymous work as a radio DJ and pornographer, Faye attacked his former ally de Benoist in a series of books, of which the most notable is Why We Fight (2001). Faye argued that the New Right was pursuing a counterproductive “metapolitical” strategy, trying to insert its ideas and acolytes into elite networks through the influence of think tanks and small magazines. Likewise, it had been wrong to see the U.S., not immigration from Islamic countries, as the chief danger facing France.

In both cases, Faye argued, de Benoist had not been a serious student of anti-liberal political theory. From Vladimir Lenin, he should have learned that power is won not through the whispering of subversive ideas but through the formation of an organized “vanguard.” From Schmitt, he should have learned that one does not choose an “enemy” against whom to define oneself. Rather, “the enemy is the one who declares himself your enemy.” And Europe’s enemy, Faye argued, is not the cultural influence of the U.S. but the existential menace of Islam.

Islam, Faye argued, should be understood not as a system of belief but rather as an expression of the will to power of a biological and social group, a “race,” opposed to Europeans. By accepting the label of “racist,” Faye was able to link what sociologist Emmanuel Todd identifies as the two sources of French opposition to Muslim immigration. The first, which is the basis of the electoral power of the National Front (now the National Gathering), is the “Arabophobia” of the working class, which resents immigrants for their criminality and their receipt of generous welfare benefits from the state. The second is the “Islamophobia” of French intellectuals — their fear of Muslims’ increasing hostility to French liberal norms of secularism, free speech, and rights for women and sexual minorities.


{snip} Faye’s racism, based on a pan-European white identity, offered a bridge between the two. He argued that the increasingly frequent everyday acts of what the French call “insecurite” (insults, theft, violence) committed by Arab and African Muslims were part of the same problem as Islamist terrorism. Both, he insisted, are forms of anti-white racial aggression. They cannot be addressed through appeals to the supposedly universal values of the French republic nor through the solutions offered by quietist members of the far-right such as de Benoist.