Nouvelle Droite

far-right political movement that emerged in France during the late 1960s

The Nouvelle Droite (English: "New Right"), sometimes shortened to the initialism "ND", is a far-right political movement which emerged in France during the late 1960s. The movement has links to older fascist groups, and political scientists regard it as a form of fascism, although this characterisation is rejected by many of the ND's adherents. The Nouvelle Droite is at the origin of the wider European New Right (ENR).


  • In France, the movement known as “Nouvelle Droite” would become one of the most mediatized, most developed, and best known examples, even though, strictly speaking it was not a fully formed doctrine but rather an evolving nebulous body made up of individuals, movements, publications, and doctrines and within which we encounter the classic themes of prewar right-wing extremism: hatred of equality, democracy, Judeo-Christianity, American imperialism, the neoliberal plutocracy, and racial mixing; the exaltation of an imperial, aristocratic, elitist, and even “pagan” Europe; and advocacy of racial inequality and, of course, of an “Indo-European heritage.” All of this was wrapped up in the traditional “neither left nor right” rhetoric of the extreme right.
    • Jean-Paul Demoule - The Indo-Europeans_ Archaeology, Language, Race, and the Search for the Origins of the West
  • By rejecting Christianity as an alien ideology that was forced upon the Indo-European peoples two millennia ago, French New Rightists distinguished themselves from the so-called New Right that emerged in the United States during the 1970s. Ideologically, [the European new Right group] GRECE had little in common with the American New Right, which [the European new Right ideologue] de Benoist dismissed as a puritanical, moralistic crusade that clung pathetically to Christianity as the be-all and end-all of Western civilization.
    • Martin A. Lee, The Beast Reawakens, Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1997
  • My own impression is that the Nouvelle Droite is by and large a respectable intellectual movement of the Right, but that precisely this respectability makes it attractive as an umbrella for nostalgics of the 1930s, for IE romantics, as well as for plain crackpots. The same phenomenon is in evidence in related movements throughout Europe: their periodicals present a curious mixture of healthy non-conformism and sarcasm vis-à-vis the dominant “political correctness”, often in the form of thoughtful and original critiques, with deplorable flare-ups of obsolete race thinking and starry-eyed “traditionalism”, i.e. a dogmatic kind of nostalgia for pre-modern culture. (...) The main problem with the Nouvelle Droite in the present context is that it continues to see other cultures, and India in particular, through the ideological lenses developed by European thinkers in the 19th century. The Nouvelle Droite people, rather than acquaint themselves with the reality of other cultures, often prefer to stay with their own coloured versions of them, e.g. René Guénon’s explanation of Taoism rather than living Taoism. (...) If IE is the basis of European identity, one can understand that a European Urheimat for IE would be preferred over an Asian one. Consequently, some of the Nouvelle Droite authors are very attached to the idea of the Aryan Invasion as a necessary implication of the presumed European character and origin of the IE family.
    • Elst, K. Update on the Aryan Invasion debate (1999)
  • My own reasons for rejecting the Nouvelle Droite after initial sympathy in the early 1990s were mainly the following:
    (1) a specific instance of papering over the nasty collaborationist aspects of the careers of two Belgian writers in Nouvelle Droite articles about them, exposed in a reader’s letter; not being very knowledgeable about that part of our history, I felt cheated;
    (2) the lack of scholarly seriousness among its second-rank writers and their palpable subjection of method to eagerly held beliefs, esp. on topics like Pagan and Indo-European history;
    (3) my suspicions against the rather pompous use of obsolete terminology (e.g. why describe a hoped-for confederal democratic unity for Europe as an “Empire”, after the model of the Holy Roman Empire, when “confederacy” would do the semantic job less ambiguously?) as arguably an implicit admission of nostalgia for premodern social relations;
    (4) my nagging suspicion that its critique of egalitarianism in the name of “differentialism” could at heart simply be a plea against equality in favour of inequality, Old-Right style;
    (5) its sympathy for Islam, one element which it does indeed have in common with Hitler and Himmler and the authors discussed by Poewe, and strange for alleged neo-Pagans given that Mohammed’s career consisted in the extermination of Paganism from Arabia;
    (6) its lack of a credible philosophical or religious backbone, compensated for with restless explorations of Pagan mythologies and frivolous exercises in aimless erudition or contrarious rhetoric (the annual conference in Paris is called Journée de la Pensée Rebelle, “day of rebellious thought”, a sign of prolonged adolescence), which struck me by its contrast with the solid philosophical and religious grounding of modern Hindu thinkers whom I had read, such as Sri Aurobindo, or whom I knew in person, particularly Ram Swarup and Sita Ram Goel; and finally
    (7) my scepsis vis-à-vis its central theme of “identity”.
    • Elst, K. The religion of the Nazis, in Elst, K. Return of the Swastika (2007)
  • Then again, if the company people keep is to decide whether they are politically respectable, then the Nouvelle Droite stands exonerated. The lengthy attention in articles, and subsequently the invitation to contribute, which Alain de Benoist received from the American liberal periodical Telos, would not have been possible if the top-class intellectuals on the Telos editorial board had smelled a Nazi there. The membership list of the patronage committee of the periodical Nouvelle Ecole includes many top-ranking intellectuals including a virtual who’s who of Indo-European studies. Many of the professors in this field clearly don’t see the New Right as a continuation of the worst possible misuse of their field of scholarship, viz. the Nazi distortion of the “Aryan” heritage.
    • Elst K. Return of the Swastika : Hate and Hysteria versus Hindu Sanity (2007)
  • As a privileged witness, I would consider it a reassuring fact that the Nouvelle Droite clearly doesn’t mind giving a hearing to people it disagrees with. That in itself is a commendable counterpoint to the prevalent leaden atmosphere of la pensée unique, i.e. of the single imposed opinion.
    • Elst K. Return of the Swastika : Hate and Hysteria versus Hindu Sanity (2007)
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