- A Response to Alain de Benoist
French New Right (nouvelle droite—ND) intellectual leader Alain de Benoist commented on my article entitled “The French New Right: Neither Right, nor Left?”1 This piece is a response to “Alain de Benoist Answers Tamir Bar-On.”2 The purpose of this response is fourfold: (1) to highlight my main arguments about the ND; (2) to set the record straight by showing numerous examples of de Benoist’s attempts to discredit my works through lies, ad hominem attacks, selective citations, and reductionism—or the attempt to explain my works away by not examining all my texts carefully and claiming that the researcher is illogical, irrational, or a mere polemicist with a political axe to grind; (3) to respond to the numerous false claims de Benoist makes in his piece, including his deep cultural biases and superficial arguments based on passions rather than evenhandedness and logical clarity; and (4) to situate ND intellectuals as “reactionary forces,” in the sense highlighted by Antonio Gramsci, who are not wedded to a progressive project.3
Let me begin with some general comments about de Benoist’s piece. While de Benoist was supposed to respond to my aforementioned piece, he in fact responded to all my works on the ND. His response ignored my main insights with respect to the ND, which can be found in two books, numerous peer-reviewed pieces, and several articles in books.4 The irony [End Page 123] is that de Benoist claims to rail against “all forms of reductionism,” yet he interprets my texts in a purely negative and reductionist manner.5 He privileges his fame, authority, and style above a careful, even-handed, and substantive analysis of my texts. Does he ever ask why some scholars without any links to any political movements or parties, including this author, continue to interpret ND texts in a manner that links its thinkers to fascism, or to a new variant of “cultural racism”?6 So, for example, in a 2013 piece in an edited collection entitled Analyzing Fascist Discourse: European Fascism in Talk and Text, the French scholar Brigitte Beauzamy argues that the ND engages in what Stephen Reyna called “dazzling theory,” which is “formulated at a high level of abstraction” and incorporates “pompous formulations and a large variety of references, including to some extreme-left theory (‘rightist Gramscism’) to produce a racial argument dressed in a highly complex fashion—a ‘high culture’ version of fascist arguments.”7 Or, the Israeli political scientist Alberto Spektorowski correctly saw through the ND’s embrace of cultural ethnopluralism: “It sets a new basis for organic identification, deeper and more authentic than the nation-state, and is the most propitious framework for the raising of populist anti-liberal elites. It justifies segregation of foreigners, however, with clean hands, and sets the intellectual basis for a new European union, anti-liberal, and culturally homogeneous [my emphasis].”8 As Roland Axtmann argued in relation to GRECE, the key ND think tank, “The flipside of [GRECE’s position] is the claim that … differences have to be preserved at all cost: they must be cultivated, developed and defended against any attempt to abolish them. As a result, this particular version of the right to difference is organized around a ‘mixophobic’ core: it is ‘haunted’ by the threat of the destruction of identities through interbreeding—physical and cultural crossbreeding.”9 Thus, while de Benoist and the ND deny that they are racist or fascist, numerous intellectuals differ with their claims.
De Benoist mocks me throughout the piece on practically every page, which highlights his poor intellectual arguments based on ad hominem attacks and his failure to debate an academic opponent with honor and a modicum of respect. His approach is shameful and here is a just a sample of this approach: [End Page 124]
1. My works are explained as “a modern form of sophistry,” although he is kind to compare my works to “the eristic dialectics of Schopenhauer.”
2. In reference to my Where Have All the Fascists Gone? he writes, “a ridiculous title.”
3. He condescendingly asserts: “He does not know very much about the history of ideas...