Archeofuturism: European Visions of the Post-catastrophic Age
Guillaume Faye, trans. Sergio Knipe. Arktos, 2010. 249 pp.
It has been 20 years since Guillaume Faye’s visionary Archaeofuturisme first appeared, and just under a decade since it has been circulating in English from the Arktos publishing house. In that time, Faye has become one of the giants for many in the dissident Right – one of the most prolific writers of the Nouvelle Droite Old Guard, his writings along with those of his friends and rivals of the intellectual French Right are responsible for giving form to the substantial discontent in so many young men in the West today.
He paved the way for the arrival of Alexander Dugin in rightist intellectual circles, offering what might be considered a Fourth Position before there was a Fourth Political Theory. It seems fitting, then, with the Trumpian moment having passed and Western Dissent once again reconsidering both immediate tactics and grand strategy, to revisit what is Faye’s single greatest contribution to the Dissident sphere.
Archeofuturism belongs to an established tradition of navigating a path between the comfort of modernity and the community of traditional life-ways. After a century of strong reaction against the Revolutions and Enlightenment, Charles Maurras represents what is probably the first attempt at reconciliation with the conclusions of modernity, proposing an alternative modernity that provided what Liberal modernism could never offer to a people – a soul. The atheist Maurras was a crusader for Catholic France, just as the amoral, even immoral, Faye offers a path for a decidedly moral society.
From Maurras to the Futurists in Italy to the Juniclub of “conservative revolutionaries” in Germany, a seedbed was laid that Archeofuturism, and much of the rest of Faye’s corpus, is cultivating. Even though the books takes on the tone of a manifesto (few of Faye’s works lack this trait), there is really very little new or genuinely original in the text. Rather, what Faye represents is a great synthesis of an intellectual current which, for all its defeats, refuses to die or be killed.
Archeofuturism is lindy.
More precisely, the idea of finding synthesis of modernity and all its wickedness with the virtues of a more rooted age and race has demonstrated its staying power as people continue to look for a means to reclaim what has been taken from them without losing what has been given to them. The 20th century gave the West greater diversity of thought than perhaps any previous time, all of it concentrated among dissidents, who are almost invariably Rightists.
Diversity, though, is the key to defeat: the Left is victorious, it is regularly observed, because it has two things – broad unity of purpose rather than ideas and institutional power. The Right fails for the same reason – it grounds itself in ideas rather than common purpose, and therefore fails continuously to build anything resembling institutional power. Faye, for all his faults, has at least set himself to the task of creating unity across the dissident spectrum, particularly between the dialectic he finds in the forward-looking biodeterminists and the backward-looking primitivists, both of whom, he correctly observes, are united in their common interest in building a society around the natural state and inclinations of mankind.
There are major dangers in his approach, the foremost of which is the amoral grounding of his worldview. France has a complicated relationship with religion, and it was doubtless safer in the 1990s to be the amoral Rightist. What this has accomplished, however, in subsequent years, is to offer an alternative to modernity which is decidedly less attractive than modernity. The absence of an absolute, the void at the root of materialism, is itself powerless to command obedience and organisation – if all of life is merely sex and death, why not put off the latter with as much of the former as possible?
Even better, glory in both, to the detriment of posterity and in ignorance of the past. It is impossible to build an order upon such bases, but Faye nevertheless glories in moral transgression – participation in pornography, for example – but appeals to a Christian in all but name sympathy for the exploited global poor in his proposal of decebreated clones for slave labor in his futuristic society. The work is unfortunately burdened with several such contradictions which continue to plague the Amoral Right.
This is not to accuse Faye of merely edge-posting; in many ways, he comes to this conclusion because he is a post-Christian calling for a return to pre-Christian ways. In this respect, Archeofuturism anticipates Bronze Age Mindset. Consider the three theses he lays out: that “civilisation, a product of modernity and egalitarianism, has reached its final peak and is threatened by the short-term prospect of a global cataclysm resulting from a convergence of catastrophes“, and as a result “the individualist and egalitarian ideology of the modern world is no longer suitable in an increasing number of spheres in our civilisation“, so it is therefore “necessary to adopt an archaic mind-set, which is to say a pre-modern, non-egalitarian and non-humanistic outlook“.
He is actually, in so many words, calling for precisely a Bronze Age mindset; a post-catastrophic mindset, which allows for the inexorable cleavage of the dialectic which dominates mankind between the eternal peasant who thrives in primitive stasis and the eternal hero who must continuously face and overcome adversity, constantly improving and moving forever upward. The latter is almost always a barbarian, the former always a savage, and between the two of them the trappings of civilized man become possible in the West.
Such a radical break in mindset occurs frequently across broad dissent as the dissident becomes increasingly aware of how much he is enthralled to the worldview he has at its heart rejected. The bundle of beliefs packaged as the red pill strikes at the core tenets, and the worldview thereafter rots from the inside out. Faye is convinced this will be thrust upon people, forced by catastrophe into existence.
Peter Brimelow is fond of reminding his audiences that nothing grows to the sky, and this sort of optimism is precisely at the heart of Faye’s work. The collapse he anticipates will come between 2010 and 2020, a hope which may have seem measured in 1998, perhaps even already fulfilled in 2016, but which to us today must appear exuberant. Faye is open to the critique that he gets ahead of himself with his Archeofuturist Age; PissEarth 2025 seems more likely, because modernity is far more anti-fragile than Faye and his fellow Boomer generation dissidents are willing, or perhaps able, to admit.
It is a criticism hard for the book to answer in its context; the late 1990s were a different world, even for a Europe already feeling the pressures of the latter-day Muslim horde camped at the city gates – a mere 20 years on and the army has relocated to their town squares. Faye had not yet witnessed the liberalization of Islam in Europe’s capitals, underestimating the degree of selective reinterpretation of the law practiced by Talmudic poskim and Muslim ulama alike. This places him at a decided disadvantage on religious issues as he, like many others in the Nouvelle Droite, fail to ascertain the true target of the various groups that have targeted the intellectual ruins of Western Civilization for destruction.
Nevertheless, he is correct that a catastrophe is coming, and we must operate as though it has already occurred. This is where the book comes into its own and reveals its true utility and genius for the enduring Dissident Right. The hermeneutic of suspicion cultivated by conspiratorial thinking is itself enough to banish the aforementioned optimism about the end; it is the key to our survival, in fact. It can never become, however, a crutch or an excuse. Faye is right to declare:
This is not a conspiracy, it’s something worse. It’s a kind of ‘logic’ – a form of collective resignation. Conspiracy theorists are wrong. A strong folk will not let itself be captured or crushed by the system by which it is ruled. All peoples are responsible for their own destiny. What we get is our own fault, not that of others. We are the actors and guilty of our own defeats. A folk is never the passive victim of its own cultural and ethical effacement: it is its author and an accomplice to it out of resignation and an unwillingness to defend itself…. A ‘secret orchestrator’ has little power when faced by a folk determined to resist it with all its might.
The system is not broken, or the result of an evil cabal of elites – it is robust, and working precisely as it is meant to run. It is driven by the worst intents of all humanity, which is, at its beating heart, made up of people who imagine themselves to be individuals, and therefore given to doing harm to one another and multiplying evil for themselves. Modernity enables this tendency rather than controlling and suppressing it, as all traditional societies have done throughout the ages. Western Civilization has surrendered itself, it has not been conquered, and it is therefore the struggle against the weakness of the West which is the paramount struggle of the contemporary Dissident – a lesson Western Dissidents seem resolutely opposed to learning.
Just as important is the other lesson the Dissident Right refuses to learn, which Faye was already decrying before there was a BAP, before “Right-wing Activism Always Fails”, before Moldbug and Passivism were even entertained on the fringes of the fringe. Dissidents do not win in open battle without institutional support. Faye, to his credit, appeals to Machiavelli, deploying the dialectic of the Strategy of the Lion and the Strategy of the Fox. The global revolution for Faye is a supremely practical one – a long infiltration done by those who “know how to lay ambushes and show patience and steadfastness, and to conceal their radical aims“. Here Faye lays the groundwork for those today proposing another “long march through the institutions“, but does so 15 to 20 years before it became a mainstream approach among the Dissident Right.
Faye’s appeal to enemy intellectuals like Dobard and Gramsci also foreshadows the rising tendency on the Right to do this, but also anticipates the pitfalls of this approach, most of all the embrace of the immoral or amoral that leads him to condemn “the egalitarian sacralisation of human life… inherited from secularised Christianity”. Here he misses the point: the sacralisation of human life is at its root not egalitarian, since egalitarianism seeks to eliminate that which tends towards hierarchy, and nothing displays hierarchy more clearly than natural life. To embrace a pure eugenic model which decries valuing life as sham ethic is to desire an egalitarian end which eliminates the inferior, rather than an egalitarian end which eliminates the superior.
This is a trap of the modern Faye seems unable to escape: that the superior can cease to be superior if they are deprived of their responsibility to the inferior; to breed men like cattle may produce the best genetic specimens, but without a spiritual goal, a higher purpose, provided by the care of the noblesse oblige of the aristocrat, one is left with a race of Eloi, a sham aristocracy, afflicted with its own sort of debilitating equality. Especially lacking the wisdom of a morality, one will find the result of the best eugenic project to be something slightly less than human.
For all the faults of the work, though, it would be a greater fault would be to ignore it or discount it because of its faults; he is right to propose we read Gramsci, Dobard, and the rest, and applying this broadly it behooves the moral right to read him as well. He did, after all, provided a real challenge to the Right, both of his own day and in subsequent generations, and made it possible for BAP and Moldbug, among other leading theorists of the contemporary Dissident Right, to find an audience primed for their superior articulation of ideas that Faye was alone in advancing in the late 1990s. As such, Archeofuturism is not only an informative work on dissident thought, but an artefact of the history of the Right, which makes it uniquely important because the nature of the Right demands it cultivate an historically minded culture.
In light of Faye’s passing, it seems all the more appropriate to consider his legacy preparing the way for the dominant schools of thought in the Dissident Right. Especially in regards to the first chapters of this work, which deal primarily with French politics, he has been vindicated by the failure of Front Nationale and the rise of the stubborn Gilet Jaunes. While other members of GRECE and of the Nouvelle Droite more broadly are interesting to read, Faye was unique, a spiritual son and true successor of Charles Maurras, the last French political activist who can really rival Faye in output and perennial significance. We can scarcely understand the present and future of the Western Right without reading Faye.