Alain de Benoist's 'Multiculturalism': A Problem In Defining A New Right Position


In the ongoing discussion of New Right ideology and its Australian discourse, I would make some necessary comments concerning errors in the thought of Alain de Benoist, the veritable founder of this ideological school. Over the last decade we have seen him effectively espouse a type of multiculturalism, whereby alien groups on European soil are invited to protect their 'identities' inside their "communities" as long as native-Europeans may reproduce theirs. Abolished from his thought was the idea that Europe was the homeland of the Europeans and not a place for settlement by others. This pattern of thought has grown stronger and more detailed. Whilst the European New Right ideological school was in many ways Europe-centric, it had and has a general applicability to any nation formed in the European style by settlers from the old Continent. In that sense its central formulae are relevant to Australians. Now we see an error of monumental consequence emerge at its core. We have seen the international New Right - split upon the question.

In the recent local debate, New Right Australia New Zealand addressed questions of mine mostly related to this overall issue. This has been done so in a most professional manner; there can be little doubt that these compatriots have made it clear that they do not favour anything less than a commitment to Australia's future as a European society. They rejected any suggestion that Australia could be partitioned (sic) into apartheid-like "communities" where different recent immigrant racial groups, even if true to their identities, could live out a permanent existence upon this Continent. This denial of Australian nationality was not accepted and the right to to the Continent of the two primary races - Aboriginal and European - was held as canon.

But we are still left with the vital question: how could such an error have arisen in the thought of de Benoist and what does it mean for New Right discourse in Australia?

There is basically nothing 'new' on the facts presented here. I cite two articles that should be known to New Right devotees:

First, a piece by Michael O'Meara: "Benoist's Pluriversum: An Ethnonationalist Critique,"at:

Benoist's Pluriversum: An Ethnonationalist Critique

O'Meara's article was reproduced on the New Right Australia/New Zealand website at:

O'Meara

Second, readers should examine the interview with de Benoist that precedes O'Meara's article in the issue of The Occidental Quarterly.We see de Benoist espouse his line.

Third, I reproduce a long section of O'Meara's creditable work: New Right New Culture as immediately below. I would then offer certain comparative historical comments on de Benoist's defence of multiculturalism which might place the matter in a light relevant to problems of building a counter-ideology to liberalism.

O'Meara says:

"In contrast to liberalism's homogenized world of fractured cultures and peoples, New Rightists advocate a heterogenous world of homogenous peoples, each rooted in their own culture and soil.

Every people, they claim, has a droit a la difference: that is, the right to pursue their destiny in accord with the organic dictates of their own identity. They see, moreover, no convincing reason why Europeans should feel obliged to abandon their millennial heritage for the sake of a dubious cosmopolitan fashion.

Recently, however, the Grece's opposition to multiculturalism has undergone a significant shift. Until 1998, it consistently opposed multiculturalist efforts to recognize immigrant communities as separate legal entities, for it claimed these efforts threatened the integrity of French communities -so that immigrants would be able to'keep alive the structures of their collective cultural existence'.

For some, this shift constitutes nothing less than identitarian betrayal, for others a recognition that Europe's enemy is not the immigrant per se, but the system responsible for immigration.

When Grecistes first sloganized the droit a la difference, they sought to rebuff liberal efforts to stigmatize European identitarianism as a form of racism. At a certain point, however, its defence of cultural/ethnic difference took on a life of its own. From defending the French in France and Europeans in Europe, la droit a la difference gradually evolved into an abstract defence of identity. This eventually led to a qualified form of multiculturalism, as the Grece reversed much of its earlier argumentation and joined the liberal chorus demanding the institutional recognition of the immigrants' cultural identity."

O'Meara continues:

The problem with its metapolitics, however, did not end here, for its defense of European identity has consistently been waged on the Left's cosmopolitan terrain - in that it fought not for the primacy of their own people, but for the application of pluralistic standards to support Europeans in the defence of their heritage.

In assuming in this way the ground of their adversaries, Grecistes could not, however, but compromise their identitarianism, for Europeans never needed to justify being European: more to the point, they were obliged to assert a monopoly in their own lands. Le droit a la difference ended up, then, parroting the ideology of liberal pluralist society and its relativist values.

Needless to add, this augurs badly for the future of the Grece's identitarianism, for it now tacitly acknowledges the right of non- Europeans to occupy and partition European lands. As a result, the mantle of European identitarianism is beginning to pass from Benoist's organization to those associations and concerns linked to the more steadfast, and racially conscious identitarianism of Robert Steuckers, Guillaume Faye, Pial Vial, Pierre- Krebs, and others, whose understanding of he New Right project, while still metapolitical, continues to aim at a revolutionary transformation of the state, rather than a compromising reconciliation with its liberal policies."

O'Meara's analysis follows upon the criticism of others of the New Right school.

So, do we partition de Benoist then, as the New Leftists once did to Karl Marx, locating for ourselves a "young de Benoist" and an "old de Benoist"? In one sense we must. There can be little doubt as to the general importance of his earlier thought. Yet, more importantly now, we need to place the transformation in de Benoist into a comprehensible formula we can understand, such that we can identify the processes of ideological drift in others who would derail the New Right project

Incorrect ideas do not fall from the sky. It is very rare for someone espousing one 'line' to jump to another mutually exclusive of the first. Rather, there must be a long period of preparation that prefigures the change. If I may, I would invoke Mao's theory of contradictions, his contribution to the marxian dialectic. It is that things contain various components, main aspects and minor aspects. When one or another is put to new circumstances, it begins to develop according to its stimulus. It may transform itself from "quantity to quality". It may turn the overall thing into its opposite. Things develop by the process of contradiction. The process is permanent.

O'Meara has given us certain facts. The concept of the right to difference is, in one sense, a liberal notion. It is a liberal notion at the highest and best meaning of that term, almost the Enlightenment sense of the term. In itself, it is perfect sense. In that meaning, it is actually also a conservative principle: it is the world that is necessarily diverse and this diversity need not, should not, be replicated in our suburbs our cities, our countries. This is the inversion of the liberal principle which wants diversity localised to the detriment of identities by nation. However, the conservative principle is definitely related to the liberal principle. In that sense, under certain circumstances, it can transform into its opposite.

The application of marxist paradigms are useful to some types on intellectual debate. First we see that marxism in the long years of the Second International was transformed into something which despite its rhetoric, accommdated itself to capitalism and the state. Tested in 1914 with war, it cracked at the point of its core myth: the world-wide solidarity of the working class. The revisionist tendency grew up even in the name of opposition to revisionism. Is this a parallel with international New Right? Battered, unable to affect change itself, elements of it accommodated themselves to ruling ideas? It has obviously happened. Tested by the need to proceed to action and by the long years of stigmatization, some cracked. It matters not that the school was the creation of a singular figure who passed over into the liberal camp. Did not the giant of pre 1914 socialism, Karl Kautsky, do exactly that? Second, we see that it is right to rebel against incorrect ideas, to return to fundamentals, to start again, albeit on a higher level. From the attack upon the 'conservative' aspect of the right to difference, it is possible to see a reaffirmation and development of the truth and that has certainly happened.

However, it is all a stern warning. There will be constant pressures from the intrinsic character of those aspects of New Right ideology just discussed to conform to liberal ideology, as much as strategic or tactical failures may induce the spirit of compromise. All this cannot always be easily identified simply, but New Right protagonists need always be on guard. Perhaps this is even more so in Australia where the school is weaker and where the political movements that may support New Right views are more marginalised than their Continental cousins. Nonetheless, the future looks bright.



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