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Populism in its Pure Form

1,025 words

Interview by Nicolas Gauthier

Translated by Greg Johnson

Boulevard Voltaire: For about ten days now, France has been living in the era of the yellow vests, and opinions about it are already piling up. Flash in the pan or groundswell? New Fronde [a series of civil wars in France between 1648 and 1653]? New Jacquerie [a peasant revolt in northern France in 1358]? What is your feeling?

Alain de Benoist: Five years ago, almost to the day, on November 23, 2013, you asked me about the red caps movement. I then drew your attention to the fact that “all protests or uprisings of some magnitude which we are witnessing today are born on the margins, or away from parties and unions, which are obviously no longer capable of embodying or relaying the aspirations of the people.” My conclusion was this: “Just one watchword: red hats everywhere!” Well, here we are: the yellow vests are the red hats everywhere. After years and years of humiliation, impoverishment, and social and cultural exclusion, it is simply the people of France speaking again.

Even if the lower classes and the lower middle classes are the driving force — which gives the movement an extraordinary class dimension — the yellow vests come from different backgrounds; they bring together young and old, peasants and businessmen, as well as office employees, blue-collar workers, and managers. Women as well as men (I think of those septuagenarian pensioners who do not hesitate, despite the cold, to sleep in their cars so that barricades can be held fast, day and night). People who do not care about the Right or the Left, and who for the most part never even participated in politics, but who fight on the basis of what they have in common: the feeling of being treated as second-class citizens by the media caste, considered as conscriptable and exploitable at the mercy of the predatory oligarchy of the rich and powerful, never to be consulted, but always to be deceived; indeed, to to be the “scapegoats” (François Bousquet) of France’s dregs, this “peripheral France” that is today undoubtedly the most French in France, but who are nevertheless abandoned to their fate to be victims of unemployment, declining wages, insecurity, relocation, immigration — and after years of patience and suffering, they ended up saying: “That’s enough!” That’s the yellow vests movement. I respect them, I respect them all!

Boulevard Voltaire: What strikes you the most about this movement?

Alain de Benoist: Two things. The first, and the most important, is the spontaneous nature of this movement, because this is what is most frightening to the public authorities, who don’t know to whom they should talk, but also the parties and unions, who discover with astonishment that close to one million men and women can mobilize and unleash a solidarity movement that has rarely been seen (seventy to eighty percent of the public support them) without even having to think of how to appeal to the people. The yellow vests are a perfect example of popular self-organization. No leaders, small or great, neither Caesars nor tribunes — only the people. Populism in its pure form. Not the populism of parties or movements that claim this label, but what Vincent Coussedière called the “populism of the people.” Frondeurs, sans-culottes, communards, it does not matter under which label one wants to place them. The people of the yellow vests have not entrusted anyone to speak for them. They have asserted themselves as a historical subject, and for that, too, they must be approved and supported.

The other point that struck me was the incredible hate speech directed against the yellow vests by supporters of the dominant ideology, that sad alliance of laughably affected petty technocrats and the financial markets. “White trash,” “morons,” and “nerds” are the words that are heard most often (to say nothing of “brownshirts”!). Read the letters of the readers of Le Monde, and listen to the moral Left — the kerosene Left — and the well-behaved Right. Until now, they held themselves back, but not anymore. They have now let go, expressing their arrogance and class snobbery in the most obscene manner, as well as their sheer panic at being immediately dismissed by beggars. After the formidable demonstration in Paris, they no longer have the heart to tell those who complain about the price of gas that they only have to buy an electric car (the modern version of “Let them eat cake”!). When the people fill the streets of the capital, they raise the drawbridge! If they express their naked hatred of this popular France — the France of Johnny, the one who “smokes cigarettes and drives diesel” — of the France that is insufficiently diverse, excessively French, those who Macron has described as illiterate, lazy people who want to “fuck in the brothel” — in short, the little people, they know that their days are numbered.

Boulevard VoltaireWe can see how the movement started, but it is not very clear how it will end, supposing, moreover, that it must end. Are there elements in place to allow this revolt to be translated into political terms?

Alain de Benoist: It is not in these terms that the problem arises. We are in the midst of a groundswell that is not about to falter, because it is the objective result of a historical situation that is itself bound to last. The gasoline question was obviously only the last straw that broke the camel’s back, or rather the drop of gasoline that blew up the can. Right away, the real demand was: “Macron, resign!” In the immediate future, the government will use the usual maneuvers: repress, defame, discredit, divide, and wait for it to unravel. It may unravel, but the causes will always be there. With the yellow vests, France has arrived at a pre-revolutionary state. If they radicalize even more, so much the better. If not, this will still have been a major warning sign. It will be worth repeating. In Italy, the Five Star movement, which was also born out of a “day of anger,” is now in power. In France, the final explosion will occur in less than ten years.



  1. Traddles
    Posted December 7, 2018 at 4:35 am | Permalink

    It’s interesting how the French have been so maligned in the US for their supposed cowardice and decadence, yet the French “Deplorable” types have been the first in the West to actually act against Globalism on a large scale, beyond just the ballot box. I have read some commenters speculate how the Yellow Vests are also largely a repudiation of the 68’ers, who wrecked our cultures throughout the West. I hope and pray that this is true, and that the Yellow Vests will have a profoundly positive, lasting effect.

    The “surrender monkey” appellation was always severely inaccurate, but I believe it was especially pushed by the Neocons. Anyone with a passing knowledge of French history knows that the French have always had their share of honorable heroes, from Charles Martel to Turenne to Ney to De Gaulle, Bigeard and Massu, and unknown guardsmen, poilus and paras. Anglophile that I am, I have a lot of respect for French culture.

    • Benjamin
      Posted December 7, 2018 at 5:47 am | Permalink

      Evola himself initially supported the ‘68ers

      • Traddles
        Posted December 7, 2018 at 7:54 am | Permalink

        Interesting about Evola. I wonder why he initally supported them! I have very little knowledge of Evola, but one would think he would quickly recognize their evil tendencies. I believe it was clear to many within and outside France from early on that the “Soixante-Huitardes” had hedonistic, nihilistic and New Left tendencies, and were no friends of the West and small-c tradition. Roger Scruton, as a naive student from an un-posh background, immediately realized upon seeing them in the streets that they were against all he stood for.

        • Benjamin
          Posted December 8, 2018 at 8:58 am | Permalink

          Probably for the same reason I supported and attended the #Occupy Movement when it was going on in my city.

          Folks on the dissident right, spiritually, have more in common with White Bernie Bros and socialists who’re similarly aged Millennials than we do with normie liberals and conservatives– assuming their criticisms of The System are primarily economic and not, say, about gender pronouns.

          The same held true for Hitler & the NatSocs: they called themselves that to attract working class Germans who would’ve otherwise sided with the communists.

          Plus, when you have really big tent movements like the ’68ers, Occupy, etc– they’re broad enough that wide swaths of people can come together and support the cause, even if for wildly different reasons.

      • nineofclubs
        Posted December 8, 2018 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

        This is a good article on the relationships between the 68’ers, the French Communist Party (PCF) and the French working class.

        Towards the end of the article, the author notes that the working class were – and still are – suspicious of ‘bobo’ (bourgeois, bohemian) politics and are socially conservative. The French Communists faithfully represented this tendency and were thus regarded as sell-outs by the Trots, hippies, anarchists and other bobo degenerates who made up the 68 movement.
        The author goes on to say that after the late 80’s decline of the official Communist Party, the Front Nationale absorbed much of the working class support that the PCF previously held.


    • Spencer Reesh
      Posted December 7, 2018 at 6:24 am | Permalink

      The white flag “surrender” stereotype of the French is based on the fact that the German Nazis had a tremendous amount of support in France, and Marshal Petain was a Nazi collaborator. So in effect, probably at least half of the French people at the time viewed the German Nazis as liberators. It is western propaganda that their surrender was out of fear or weakness. They simply preferred national socialism to the Marxism that was brewing as the alternative.

      • Traddles
        Posted December 7, 2018 at 7:59 am | Permalink

        And there is, of course, no reasonable attempt by our Smart Set to understand why so many French of the time were collaborators. The latter are just dismissed contemptupusly and unthinkingly as “Nazis” and traitors, and that’s supposedly that. End of story. Whereas the real story, as you know, is quite complex.

        • Spencer Reesh
          Posted December 7, 2018 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

          Correct. And once that stereotype was memed into the narrative, 3-4 generations later it isn’t even questionable. It is true orthodoxy, with a religious zeal. To even step outside the box and question the narrative makes YOU a traitor more evil than the very worst French collaborator.
          I was basically that NPC only 6-7 years ago up until the Treyvon Martin incident, when my whole worldview began to crumble.
          We live in an age where to be a traitor, you have to be a traitor to an ideal or a philosophy rather than an actual traitor to your people. And upside down world where your identity is tied up in material things rather than deep genetic things. I hate the west. It isn’t worth saving anymore.

          • Dag
            Posted December 8, 2018 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

            Hates a powerful word brother .
            Takes alot of energy and will ,not a long term way to carry on in the times we live in .
            Your not alone in the observation or awareness of the futures challenge , its from own painful experience I’d offer that hate becomes failure and wouldn’t wish that mindset and the time needed to repair from the damage on anyone.
            It s the genes and the ability to live in winter that’s going to really matter in the coming generations so find love,,
            keep it healthy and you’ll notice the true strength of our genes and the silent majority.

    • Gladiator
      Posted December 7, 2018 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      I thought Macron said that there is no such thing as French Culture? He spoke too soon, perhaps? It’s his vanity which is going to be his downfall, L’Empereur canard!

  2. Peter Quint
    Posted December 7, 2018 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Are these “yellow vestors,” aware of the jew, and its complicity in their plight?

    • J.R Hood
      Posted December 7, 2018 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

      To explain what is going on. France has a long tradition of holding demonstrations. For example, if farmers do not like a certain political decision they will block a few roads. A month later government, unions, political parties, police, corporation and media are able to split them or bring to the table. The last ten years there have been political movements. If it is a “right-wing” protest government will shut them down fast. For example, in 2016 there was demonstration against gay marriage. The elites did was able to isolate them and 2-3 months later it was all over. The left had their demonstrations in 2016 about a few labour reforms made by the widely disliked socialist government. Macron, a member of that government was a supporter of them. Just like the Occupy Wall Street movement the leftists received some support from the liberal/socialist regime. They were some minor riots. Their leaders were bought off by the elites. Their leaders got good jobs within government, unions and media and it was all over. This is also how the liberal elites took the edge of the Black Lives Matter or the leftist pro-Palestinian BDS-movement. Nicolas Sarkozy had to deal with 2007-2009 university protests after he had decided to cut some funding for the universities. Sarkozy dealt with unions, universities and some left-wing NGO.

      How is this current demonstration different? Well, the France people have been unhappy with Chirac (1995-2007), Sarkozy (2007-2012), Hollande (2012-2017) and now Macron (2017-now). Still, they have continued to vote for centre-right (Chirac and Sarkozy) and centre-left (Hollande and Macron) candidates. In 2017 presidential election Macron stood against right-wing populist leader Marine Le Pen. Not only the French elite but the entire elite (unions, media, academia, bureaucracy, financial institutions and parties on both sides) in the European Union backed up Macron. He received 66 percent and was portrayed as a hero and the future of French politics. Similar happened in the United States but then the elites stood with Clinton. Macron was not “far-out”. He presented a program similar to what previous government had presented and regular people bought into it. It was not like the French voters did not know what a Macron government would do well in office. In 2017 legislative election the REM (Macrons newly established party) received majority in the national assembly on top of the 66 percent he had received in the 2017 presidential election. In April 2018 Macron had still a 50 approval rating.

      From the very beginning Macron campaign has been about more globalization, more European Union, more immigration, lower taxes for the rich, higher taxes for the poor, fewer workers rights, more VAT-taxes, more regulations on minor business (less regulations on major business and banking), less investments in infrastructure, lower pensions, more wars for Israel, anti-white rhetoric, more progressive programs anti-family programs (subsequently more money, laws and programs for LGBT-peoples), more anti-discrimination policies, multiculturalism and so on. He has been a wet dream coming true for publications like New York Times Justas he has been for the urban upper-middle class and the wealthy in major French cities. Macron has had a rock-solid support from everywhere except from the National Front and the so called “far-right”.

      About three week ago (mid November 2018) some people in minor rural cities and suburbs to the major cities held minor protests against rising fuel costs. Apparently, Macron had said (well before the election) that he would raise the taxes on fuel to fight global warming. Initially, the liberal elites began to call them “fascists” (and other names). The first day’s socialists and unions wouldn’t join them. From there things turned sour with violence, crime and riots. It did not take long until socialists, communists, feminists, green activists, establishment journalists, leftist celebrities, students, academics, liberals, unions and far-left organizations was involved. They are there (and have stated it explicitly) to make into a question about only “class” and that there ought to be more welfare schemes.

      Almost all right-wing, libertarian and (ethno) nationalist elements have been ousted from the “movement”. It was done in the very beginning. There is no discussion about anti-globalization, race or for that matter Jewish identity politics. This so called “movement” sounds just like Occupy Wall Street – “Give us free Stuff”. There have been a few lists which are mostly a mix of liberal, feminist and socialist statements. These lists have also pro-globalist and anti-nationalist statements. In the end this “yellow vest” revolts will lead nowhere. It was already infiltrated by the left before it was even formed just like any other movement. Now it is mostly about chanting progressive lines and target Macron as a person. What can happen is that Macron may resign but nothing more.

      Understand: Nothing will change so long whites refuse identify as whites. These protestors do not understand Jewish identity politics or anything else. They are just angry because they elect bankers, leftists and minorities who then fuck them over and do not understand why they are constantly being fucked over. The French are no different from white Americans, Swedes, Italians or the English. I have no hope at all.

      /J.R Hood

      • K
        Posted December 8, 2018 at 7:32 am | Permalink

        I have very little hope regarding this either. French people sound alot like white Californians who vote for idiotic immigration and healthcare policies who then move to white areas after everything has gone to shit and vote for the same without acknowledging the obvious.

      • Wanred
        Posted December 9, 2018 at 3:19 am | Permalink

        Excellent analysis. I see the same thing happening to other yellow vest protests in European countries. They are quickly infiltrated by left-wing elements and the demands turn into the same old egalitarian mess that can’t really be told apart from the election promises made by the parties they are looking oust.

        • Greg Johnson
          Posted December 9, 2018 at 4:04 am | Permalink

          You mean you “imagine” the same thing happening because you “know” we are all doomed to be defeated by the all-powerful system.

          A good definition of paranoia is claiming to KNOW things that you simply FEAR to be true.

          • None
            Posted December 9, 2018 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

            Hi Greg, as a french speaker you should check this out:


            “ROUGE, rouge sang écarlate, est de nos soldats la fureur!
            BLANCS, blancs comme notre peuple, purs et royaux sont nos cœurs!
            NOIRE, noire comme le purin, la terre qui boira vos douleurs
            Et les larmes, et les spasmes, et le jus de vos corps.
            Frère ! Ne reste pas derrière, monte au front prouver ta valeur,
            Que la France éternelle se souvienne de ton heure!”

            Peste Noire does it again. As good “La mesniee mordrissoire” but way more direct. Some people considered it a hate crime!

  3. Walter
    Posted December 7, 2018 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Whether a flash in the pan or a groundswell: The increasing frequency and fast-growing (even if only temporarily) popularity of expressions of dissatisfaction in Western countries indicates an increase of pressure within the kettle. Even if the Yellow Wasps dissolve, there is still thecause for there appearance. The movement has jumped over the border to Germany and seems to gain rapidly.

  4. James O'Meara
    Posted December 7, 2018 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    “the France of Johnny, the one who “smokes cigarettes and drives diesel” ”

  5. Felix Krull
    Posted December 7, 2018 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    What has struck me most, is that after the fuel tax issue has faded into the background, there’s no paroles, no programs, no manifestos. It’s simply “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more,” a slogan with a VERY broad appeal and there’s nothing for the globalist counter-propaganda to hold on to or attack.

  6. Spencer Reesh
    Posted December 7, 2018 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Somewhat unrelated to this article, but perhaps a little related because it touches on right-wing America’s attempt at protesting, James Fields was convicted of premeditated murder today for the car incident at the Unite the Right rally. I’m sure most of you will have heard this.

    Justice is antiwhite, not blind.

  7. inq
    Posted December 9, 2018 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    Populism in its Pure Form
    Yes, and on the related note:

    Far right breakthrough in Andalucía send shockwave through Spanish politics

  8. A. Nailer
    Posted December 9, 2018 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    As always, de Benoist delivers the goods.

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