On 21 May 2013, the new right, formerly old right, French historian Dominque Venner shot himself in the mouth using a Belgian 9mm pistol in front of the altar at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. M. Venner considered his final act as a dual protest against the new French law allowing “gay marriage” and the “replacement” of the French people by immigrants from Africa and the Maghreb. Friedrich Nietzsche passed the breaking point into insanity when he witnessed a horse being beaten. Dominique Venner passed that point when he read this in a blog entry by an Algerian, which “chilled his spine”:
In any event, in 15 years Muslins will be in power in France and will repeal that law.
The logic of that is unassailable and led M. Venner into a state of inner contradiction: Either end immigration and retain gay marriage or else increase immigration and gay marriage will disappear. This existential angst led him to his ostentatious “beau geste”. This is how he justified himself in a blog entry from earlier that day:
Certainly new, spectacular, and symbolic gestures are necessary to shake up the lethargic, to rattle the consciousness of those anaesthetized, and to awaken the memory of our origins. We are entering a time where words must be authenticated by acts.
It is necessary to also remember, as Heidegger brilliantly formulated it, that the essence of man is in his existence and not in “another world”. It is here and now that our destiny is played out right to the last moment. And that last moment has as much importance as the rest of one’s life. That is why it is necessary to be oneself up until the last instant. It is in deciding oneself, in truly willing one’s destiny, that a man is the victor over nothingness. And there is no way out of this requirement since we have only that life in which it is possible either to be completely ourselves or to be nothing.
Now a beau geste appears noble in form, but is meaningless in substance. Nevertheless, there are those attracted to that gest, like vultures hovering over a carcass; they are quick to discern some meaning in that act of despair. Thus as a jest is not funny when you have to explain the punch line, a geste is not meaningful if you have to explain the meaning. Certainly those who were intended to be shocked, shaken, and awakened, derived nothing from it.
What M. Venner failed to notice is that population replacement has been going on for quite some time. The France that was shaped over the course of 1000 years by 40 Catholic kings—as Charles Maurras put it—had ended 225 years ago. Its Catholic population, structured by the three estates, was replaced by Jacobins, atheists, philosophes, Masons, Huguenots, and other assorted aliens. Just as a man is “brain dead” before the complete lifelessness of the body, so also was France spiritually dead a long time ago; in social terms, it may take a few generations for that death to be fully noticed on the material plane.
Into that existential situation, M. Venner was thrown. His failures reflect his failure to understand it. He flailed about, looking for some spiritual value to revive the corpse. Dissatisfied with what he saw available, he went back 3000, then 30,000 years. He believed life moves in a circle, but the circle did not close; in that respect, it was more like a line and all he could see was the end of the line, not the recurrence of the past.
Unfortunately, M. Venner was part of the vulgarity he opposed. As we know, the revolutions from below, like those of the Jacobins and the Bolsheviks, are always atheistic; they deny transcendence, and want only to overturn the established order of things. Likewise, for M. Venner all that counts is “existence”. In that case, his view of existence is no more valid than that of the bus driver who transported him to Notre Dame. So he wanted a beau geste to awaken the masses, but it is the ideology of the masses that is itself the problem. If there is nothing but the existence of individuals, then sexual orientation or country of origin—the primary concerns of M. Venner—has no significance. There is nothing to awaken.
What he could not come to grips with, as he had no Negative Capability, was that the Islam he hated had become the bearer of Tradition in France. He weakly objected that the West, unlike Islam, respects women. If he means contemporary, sexualized and militarized Western women, ready for front-line combat, his case may be hard to make. This is the main point made by Guido De Giorgio.
Ultimately, M. Venner has nothing to offer us men of Tradition. Rather than drawing on France’s 1000 year spiritual heritage, he relies on the “brilliant formulation” of Martin Heidegger, the German. He pays lip service to some mythical ethnic spiritual tradition that would unite the French, much like the Jews, but forgets that a Tradition is not man-made but descends from above. Rather he should have pulled from France’s spiritual tradition what he could, just as it had preserved and integrated the important features of the earlier mystery cults and neo-Platonic systems.
Instead he offers us the vulgarity of the masses dressed up as something higher. The mystery religions taught the One God, just as did the Academy, the Lyceum, and the Stoa. That was unknown to the masses who were polytheists or atheists. Only with the Christian teachings was the God made known to all. The New Right promotes everything opposed to Tradition: atheism, neo-paganism, zoological racism, ethnic anti-Semitism, and even, ironically (considering M. Venner’s position), homosexuality. Everything M. Venner found valuable in the glory of Greece and the grandeur of Rome, then so do we. As we’ve said many times, we love our pagan past. Yet we love our recent past even more.
He considered the ultimate choice between one’s identity and death as a brilliant insight. Since he could no longer identify as a Frenchman as it is now understood, he chose death. However, we see things differently. We have to establish our identity, to realize (make real) all our possibilities; that is a task in time, not a static state of being. Death will come soon enough. In the meantime, we engage in spiritual combat, both internally and externally. We will win, we will lose, but ultimately we will prevail since the world is a line not a closed circle.