World

Prophets of a super-race

Marci McDonald August 20 1979
World

Prophets of a super-race

Marci McDonald August 20 1979

Prophets of a super-race

World

Marci McDonald

At first glance, it looked like another intellectual novelty. In the land which gave the world the New Wave in films, les nouveaux philosophes in the classroom and la nouvelle cuisine on the restaurant table, every newspaper and dinner party conversation was suddenly humming with the discovery of a new political right wing, une nouvelle droite. Le Monde has devoted front-page editorials and the leftist daily Le Matin an investigative series to sending up the alarms against a sinister new set of elitist theories which haven’t passed as currency in Europe since the heyday of Adolf Hitler.

In books, magazine columns and the back rooms of power, a small but influential nucleus of young French professionals is promoting the credo that the sickness of present-day society is rooted in its misguided notion that all men are created equal. In an effort to combat the lurking armies of Marx, the proponents also reject the battalions of liberalism, democracy and the Judeo-Christian tradition. “The enemy,” writes their chief thinker, 35year-old journalist Alain de Benoist, “is this egalitarian ideology whose formulas have flourished for 2,000 years.”

The New Right was born out of the student uprisings of May, 1968, when, fed up with the stranglehold the left had held on ideological fashion ever since the war, a small group of postgraduates decided, as Benoist puts it, “to start again from zero.” That left them with the celebration of a pagan meritocracy—a Darwinian society which owed its allegiance to the Acropolis of Athens and the bloody tooth and claw of Germano-Celtic legend.

Dusting off Nietzsche, widely discredited as the philosopher-mentor of the Third Reich, they resuscitated his Superman. In this case, the super-race is no longer Aryan but Indo-European. To back up their arguments for Indo-European supremacy and against cafê-au-laiticization, their euphemism for race-mixing, they have invoked the authority of a controversial group of geneticists and biologists whose explosive theories they present as scientific fact. Among their favorites is U.S. psychologist Arthur Jensen, who postulates that blacks have lower IQs be| cause of their genes, and J.D. Hofmeyer, a > South African who likes to show that 3 black African civilization is 140,000 years 2 behind Europe. S

If such ideas have always had their following in a lunatic fringe on all continents, the French New Right can’t be so easily dismissed. It has adopted the strategy that “the real power in any society is cultural, not political.” Accordingly, its members have bypassed the ballot box and France has been startled to learn that they have penetrated to the highest places in both press and government.

Starting with a small “society of thought” called the Group for the Research and Study of European Civilization—which translates neatly into the French acronym GRECE (Greece)—their numbers have swelled to a select membership of 1,500 journalists, publicists, teachers and civil servants. If the subscription lists of their three related publications are any measure, they can claim

another 10,000 to 15,000 sympathizers. As well, they have founded their own thriving publishing house, Editions Copernic, and have circles in France’s most prestigious universities including the Ecole Nationale d’Administration, President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing’s alma mater.

Out of that circle has grown an even more select group, the Club de l’Horloge (named after a clock in their original meeting room). Its president, Yvan Blot, 31, is himself the right-hand man of the Gaullist party’s secretary-general, and its hand is thought to have been behind the government’s stiff new legislation on immigrant workers and law and order.

Although the Club de l’Horloge members prefer to refer to themselves as “republicans,” in their last collective book, The Politics of the Living, they declared that “race-mixing” was the road to “an immense rétrogradation” of European racial stock and, eventually, genocide. That book bears striking similarities to another published this spring by former interior minister Michel Poniatowski, which Benoist himself is rumored to have ghostwritten. He declines the credit, but does admit with pride to being the inspiration behind certain biological chapters. Poniatowski is, after all, Giscard’s closest friend and adviser.

But the New Right’s greatest coup to date may have been to install itself in the weekly Le Figaro Magazine, launched last year by French press baron Robert Hersant, a onetime Nazi collaborator. The magazine’s director, Louis Pauwels, admits to his credentials in the Nouvelle Droit. His editor-in-chief, Jean-Claude Valla, is one of the co-founders of GRECE and his cultural editor is Benoist, who rattles on freely about Indo-Europeans, while other writers laud the glories of bygone Greece and lament the tribulations of former Nazi leader Rudolf Hess, jailed in Berlin’s Spandau prison since the war.

Nevertheless, in a country where the socalled Pont Neuf, the “New Bridge” over the Seine, turns out to be one of the oldest, it is not surprising that the New Right’s themes seem to be much the same as those of the Old Right, albeit updated with a new vocabulary of technocracy and science.

When the first headlines broke over the New Right, there was talk that nothing would nip its spread faster than the harsh light of publicity. And in fact, Giscard d’Estaing became alarmed enough to prompt two of his own party’s leading

young spokesmen to denounce it. But, contrary to rumor, Le Figaro Magazine continues to thrive and, once exposed, the new rightists have not shrunk from publicity. “The important thing is not what people are saying about us,” smiles Alain de Benoist, “it’s that they’re talking.”