Alain de Benoist

French political theorist

Alain de Benoist (born 11 December 1943), also known as Fabrice Laroche, Robert de Herte, David Barney, and multiple dozen other pen names, is a French political philosopher and journalist, a founding member of the Nouvelle Droite (France's New Right), and the leader of the ethno-nationalist think tank GRECE.

Quotes edit

The Problem of Democracy (2011) edit

Arktos Media Ltd. ISBN 9781907166174
  • The promotion of ‘average’ individual causes a general levelling down.
  • A collection of errors does not make a truth: quality cannot stem from quantity – a value is not a weight. The reasons of the majority cannot be taken as good reasons.
  • Contrary to what is all too often claimed, voters do not wish the men they have elected to be in their image. Voters love greatness and are capable of recognizing it. They love courage, even when they personally lack it.
  • Far from being ‘an effective counter-force to the fanatics’, apathy plays in their favour: for under these conditions, ‘fanatics’ may easily be the only ones capable of mobilising public opinion. The prevalence of greyness brings out colours — whatever they may be. When political life is in decline, violence and terrorism appear as the only means of striking an anaesthetised public opinion with no power over legal procedures. Apathy is a real gift to extremism.
  • Humanity is necessarily pluralistic. It presents incompatible value systems. It is comprised of different families — and does not constitute a family in itself (‘species’ is a biological notion with no historical or cultural value). The only ‘families’ in which genuinely ‘fraternal’ relations may be entertained are cultures, peoples and nations. Fraternity, therefore, can serve as the basis for both solidarity and social justice, for both patriotism and democratic participation.

Beyond Human Rights. Defending Freedoms (2011) edit

Translated by Alexander Jacob, edited by Matthew Peters & John Black Morgan. Arktos Media Ltd. ISBN 978-1-907166-20-4 (Original work published 2004 as Au-delà des droits de l'homme. Pour défendre les libertés)
  • In reality, as their theological roots demonstrate, human rights are only law contaminated by morality.
  • Universalism is a corruption of objectivity. Whereas objectivity is achieved from particular things, universalism claims to define particularity from an abstract notion posed arbitrarily.
  • When one speaks of a ‘human right’, does one mean that this right possesses an intrinsic value, an absolute value or an instrumental value? That it is of such importance that its realisation should take precedence over all other considerations, or that it just counts among the things that are indispensable? That it gives a power or a privilege? That it permits an immunity or that it confers an immunity?

On Being a Pagan (2004) edit

Translated by Jon Graham, edited by Greg Johnson. Atlanta, Georgia: Ultra. (Original work published 1981 as Comment peut-on être païen?)
  • There is no need to ”believe” in Jupiter or Wotan... Contemporary paganism does not consist of erecting altars to Apollo or reviving the worship of Odin. Instead it implies looking behind religion and, according to a now classic itinerary, seeking for the “mental equipment” that produced it, the inner world it reflects, and how the world it depicts as apprehended. In short, it consists of viewing the gods as “centers of value” and the beliefs they generate as value systems: gods and beliefs may pass away, but the values remain.
  • When it comes to specifying the values particular to paganism, people have generally listed features such as these: an eminently aristocratic conception of the human individual; an ethics founded on honor (“shame” rather than “sin”); an heroic attitude toward life’s challenges; the exaltation and sacralization of the world, beauty, the body, strength, health; the rejection of any “worlds beyond”; the inseparability of morality and aesthetics; and so on. From this perspective, the highest value is undoubtedly not a form of “justice” whose purpose is essentially interpreted as flattening the social order in the name of equality, but everything that can allow a man to surpass himself. To paganism, it is pure absurdity to consider the results of the workings of life’s basic framework as unjust. In the pagan ethic of honor, the classic antithesis noble vs. base, courageous vs. cowardly, honorable vs. dishonorable, beautiful vs. deformed, sick vs. healthy, and so forth, replace the antithesis operative in a morality based on the concept of sin: good vs. evil, humble vs. vainglorious, submissive vs. proud, weak vs. arrogant, modest vs. boastful, and so on. However, while all this appears to be accurate, the fundamental feature in my opinion is something else entirely. It lies in the denial of dualism.
  • Paganism therefore implies the rejection of this discontinuity, this rupture, this fundamental tear, which is the “dualistic fiction,” which, as Nietzsche wrote in The Antichrist, “degenerated God into the contradiction of life, instead of being its transfiguration and eternal Yes!
  • In the Bible, man is only free to submit or be damned. His one freedom is the renunciation of that freedom. He finds his “salvation” by freely accepting his subjugation. The Christian ideal, says Saint Paul, is to be freely “subservient to God” (Romans 6:22).
  • The martyr is the exact opposite of the pagan hero personified in the Greek and Germanic heroes … For the pagan hero, a man’s worth lay in his prowess in attaining and holding onto power, and he gladly died on the battlefield in the moment of victory.
  • Alone of all the animals, man’s actions are not predicated by his membership in a species. In the spirit of Judeo-Christian monotheism, it is thus necessary that he could have “acted” differently. In short, Yahweh would have preferred that man had not emerged from “nature.” This is the meaning of the story told in the first chapters of Genesis. As long as the “first men” were only “natural beings,” as long as their humanization had not truly been achieved, they could not fully display their creative powers. They could not set themselves up as rivals of Yahweh.
  • But for man to set himself up as man, means the adoption of a super-nature, a superior nature that is nothing other than culture whose effect is the emancipation of reflective consciousness from the repetitious constraints of the species. What this means especially is that man is given the possibility of going beyond himself and transforming. In other words, to ensure that each “super-nature” obtained is simply a step towards another “super-nature.” Now this project is the equivalent of making man a kind of god — allowing him to participate in the Divine — a perspective the Bible depicts as an “abomination.” Accordingly, the monotheist declaration is first and foremost a solemn prohibition against man establishing himself as a god. The reason for this is that when man has gone beyond his original status (the episode of “original sin”), to one that is fully autonomous he thereby takes on a super-humanity that confirms him as the cause of himself.
  • A connection could be drawn between the secular ascent of biblical values in today's world and the depreciation of beauty that characterizes it on so many levels. Beauty today is often depreciated as monotonous or denounced as a constraining norm, when it is simply reduced to a pure spectacle accompanied by a rehabilitation or even exaltation of deformity and ugliness, as can be seen in many areas. The degeneration of beauty and the promotion of ugliness, tied to the flowering of intellectualism, could be certainly be part of the Umwertung stigmatized by Nietzsche.
  • Nor is there any valid reason to reject the idea of God or the notion of the sacred just because of the sickly expression Christianity has given to them, any more than it is necessary to break with aristocratic principles on the pretext that they have been caricatured by the bourgeoisie.
  • Paganism sacralizes and thereby exalts this world whereas Judeo-Christian monotheism sanctifies and thereby retreats from this world. Paganism is based on the idea of the sacred.
  • If all men are brothers outside of any specifically human paradigm then no one can truly be a brother. The institution of a symbolically universal “paternity” annihilates the very possibility of true fraternity, in such a way that it proclaims itself in the absolute by the very thing that destroys it.
  • Adam and Eve, placed in the garden of Eden, find themselves forbidden to eat of “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:17). Catholic theologians believe this “knowledge” forbidden by Elohim-Yahweh is neither omniscience nor moral discernment, but the ability to decide what is good or evil. Jewish theology is more subtle. The “tree” of the knowledge is interpreted as the representation of a world where good and evil “are in a combined state,” where there is no absolute Good and Evil. In other words, the “tree” is a foreshadowing of the real world we live in, a world where nothing is absolutely clear cut, where moral imperatives are tied to human values, and where everything of any greatness and importance always takes place beyond good and evil. Furthermore, in the Hebrew tradition “to eat” means “to assimilate.” To eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is therefore to personally enter this real world where human initiative “combines” good and evil. Adam’s transgression, from which all the others are derived, is clearly “that of autonomy,” accordingly, as emphasized by Eisenberg and Abecassis, this would be “the desire to conduct his own history alone in according to his own desire and his own word or law.
  • "One can have a society without God,” writes Régis Debray, “but there cannot be a society without religion.” He adds, “Those nations on the way to disbelief are on the path to abdication.” One can also cite Georges Bataille, according to whom, “religion, whose essence is the search for lost intimacy, boils down to a clearly conscious effort to become entirely self-conscious.”
  • Yahweh accepts that man has a history, but he strives to neutralize it by giving it a purpose, which is precisely the return to the pre-historical state of paradisiacal “innocence.” (Yahweh only accepts history in order to assign it an end.)
  • In fact, it is not a question of going back to the past, but of connecting with it — and also, by that very fact, in a spherical conception of history, to connect to the eternal and cause it to surge back, to have consonance in life, and to disentangle itself from the tyranny of the logos, the terrible tyranny of the Law, so as to reestablish the school of the mythos and life.
  • The opposite concept of the Latin religio should be sought in the Latin verb negligere. To be religious is synonymous with responsibility, not neglect. To be responsible is to be free — to possess the concrete means of exercising free action. At the same time, to be free is also to be connected to others by a common spirituality.
  • The world only hides one thing, says Clément Rosset, and that is that it has nothing to hide. It is sufficient onto itself for its own unveiling. Meaning only appears as the result of the representations and interpretations man may give to it.
  • Faith and science thus find themselves reconciled, not in the way of the scholastic, who claims to prove the reality of his dogmatic propositions by means of universal reason, but by the assertion of the overall oneness of the real that has no double or reflection.
  • As only God has an absolute value, everything that is not God can have only relative value. To be created means that one’s being is not due to oneself but to something other than oneself. This creates a perpetual sense of self-loss within one’s own state of unfulfillment. It means that one is not self-sufficient but a dependent being—one’s state of existence is caged from the start inside that dependency. Creation therefore does not posit man’s autonomy. It circumscribes it, and by virtue of this, in my opinion, invalidates it.
    Indeed, man has no right to enjoy this world except on condition of acknowledging that he is not its true owner but at best its steward. Yahweh alone is the owner of the world. “The earth belongs to me, and you are nothing but strangers and guests to my eyes” (Leviticus 25:23).
  • In paganism, on the contrary, good cannot be separated from beauty, and this is normal, because the good is form, the consummate forms of worldly things. Consequently, art cannot be separated from religion. Art is sacred. Not only can the gods be represented, but art is how they can be represented, and insofar as men perpetually assure them of representation, they have a full status of existence. All European spirituality is based on representation as mediation between the visible and the invisible, on representation by means of depicted figures and signs exchanged against a meaning intimately tied to the real, the very guarantee of this incessant and mutual conversion of the sign and meaning. Beauty is the visible sign of what is good, ugliness the visible sign of not only what is deformed or spoiled but bad.

See also edit

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