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Notre Dame des Fascistes,
Part II: Special Friendships

4,241 words

Part 1 [1]

Other than living near types like Faÿ, Toklas, and the guys, Stein had “indirect ties, notably through her close friendship with a French personalist philosopher named Henri Daniel-Rops.”

Daniel-Rops was active during the 1930s in the French movement that sought to merge personalist philosophy with a political “third way” between Soviet-style communism and American-style capitalism [namely] Ordre Nouveau (New Order). [1] [2]

Such a “necessary revolutionary position” was to be grounded in an elite corps of chivalric men who would be trained to embody and propagate this national socialist ideal. Seven years later, the training school at Uriage came into being, a living embodiment of the unholy alliance between French personalist philosophy and German-inspired National Socialism.

Throughout the war, Stein and Toklas seem to have spent much time in the company of the endearingly odd person they called “Rops” and his wife Madeleine, referring to them as “the nicest french [sic] couple we have ever known” [and portraying him as a] picturesque intellectual and sympathetic neighbor, if hardly himself an example of the virile, strenuous masculinity he championed in his Ordre Nouveau writings.

What a surprise. In return, Daniel-Rops appears to have been instrumental in facilitating Stein’s efforts to produce propaganda on behalf of the Vichy regime, the main charge against her for Will and others.

And imagine my delight when, as an added bonus, we find, as Faÿ settles into exile in postwar Switzerland, another “close friendship” developed between Faÿ and “the man known as the ‘rebel archbishop’ in Rome, Marcel Lefebvre.” Indeed, “Faÿ was a key player in helping Lefebvre set up the Écône seminary.” And that brings us back to Part III of “Trad Queen Story Hour at the Vatican [3],” where, according to the book there under review, Pope Benedict’s protégé Georg Gänswein “was a severe conservative, a traditionalist and anti-gay, who liked power [and] was close, in Écône in Switzerland, to the Saint Pius X Fraternity of Msgr. Lefebvre, the far-right dissident who was finally excommunicated.”

One can only imagine what Msgr. Lefebvre — a man who literally thought himself more Catholic than the Pope — would have thought of the blasphemous cult that Faÿ and friends built around the woman that they called Le Stein.

To Faÿ and his gay cohorts, Stein was a combination of mother, saint, star, and diva: an icon of triumphant self- sufficiency, a survivor of ridicule and disdain, and a consummate, electric performer. Her estranged brother Leo recalls. . . her nicknames like “The Presence” or “Le Stein.” Many compared her to Saint Theresa, the protagonist of Stein’s most famous opera, Four Saints in Three Acts.

Indeed, “Stein’s interest in saints coincided with her own emergence as gay salon hostess, enjoying a campy kind of deification of her own.” Saint was another category, like genius, that allowed Stein to stand apart from the ordinary folks, and especially to avoid any identification with Jews.

You can buy James O’Meara’s book Green Nazis in Space! here. [4]

“A saint a real saint never does anything, a martyr does something but a really good saint does nothing,” a statement she would also make about her own genius: “It takes a lot of time to be a genius, you have to sit around so much doing nothing, really doing nothing”

As Melissa R. Jones writes, “Saints personify that deceptive stillness of internal action in which ‘nothing really moves but things are there.’” Since they live in a continuous present and embody the fullness of being, saints, like geniuses, are not exactly performers, but they are often featured in a performative context with its own rituals, practices, and beliefs. [2] [5]

Stein’s preoccupation with saints, and particularly with their prophecies, was also a good way to fit in with the pious old ladies of her village in rural France, becoming a good neighbor no one would think of denouncing to the Nazis.

Right! The Nazis — they come into all this at some point. Now, I don’t have to explain the whole World War II thing, at least not here, but as a typical American whose knowledge of the Occupation (France, not Wall Street) is limited to what I could glean from Casablanca, or the biased fictions of Sartre or Camus [6], Will provides some interesting details.

Given the supposed stereotype of the French as militarily incompetent, if not actual cowards, [3] [7] it’s remarkable to find that “the French had developed a particular way of coming to terms with military defeat since at least the fall of Napoleon I. Gloom and anxiety about a national humiliation was invariably followed by immediate calls for renewal, for a fresh start.” It was called revanche, meaning “revenge or retaliation, and reestablishment of social equilibrium,” and could be applied either to the victor or to “internal social elements who had led to France’s defeat.” As Will quotes the historian Denis Peschanski, “The ideologues of the new regime found their way again by seeking through defeat the possibility of completely remaking French society: utopia from a clean slate.”

It’s no wonder Pétain found a willing collaborator in Stein: this was her archeofuturist idea of overcoming the present by retrieving the past writ large. [4] [8]

After all, for many years before the war Gertrude Stein, with the help and influence of Bernard Faÿ, been sharpening and hardening her critique of the very things Pétain would himself denounce: democratic, liberal, and parliamentary society and the “weak vices” of a decadent modernity. She had agreed with the assessment of Faÿ and others on the Right that a profound political change in both French and American society was needed, that a return to traditional values would be salutary for everybody, and that the reforms promised by fascist and profascist regimes were better than those of communist ones. And she was even convinced that such a change would lead to aesthetic and literary renewal — a renewal already visible in her own experiments in writing.

No sooner had the French surrendered than Stein was publishing in The Atlantic Monthly [5] [9] an essay archeofuturistically entitled “The Winner Loses,” [6] [10] where she “is not simply trying to sell Pétain’s Armistice to her fellow Americans. She is also trying to sell it as a possible model for America itself.”

In her idealized picture of a rejuvenated French populace, we can see a reiteration of Stein’s Jeffersonian vision of the pioneering American eighteenth century. In her admonition that “the business of daily living” is “enough,” we can hear her appreciation of conservative and libertarian values. And in her point about the “weak vices” of the French, we can hear the echoes of her critique of Americans under the Roosevelt administration.

And not just on a national level, but continental: the revived France would be part of a “United States of Europe,” a federation modeled, in turn, on Faÿ’s beloved USA:

“Enter[ing] the way of collaboration” with the Nazis would not only offer France a new opportunity to join its past (“a unity ten centuries old”) with its future (“the new European order”). It would also allow the nation to wreak revenge upon those elements that had shattered French unity: left-leaning, democratic elements that could now be purged from the system.

Whatever one thinks of the idea, and its likelihood of success, there would be one fatal problem: the Germans themselves, who were less liberators and partners and more like the alien invaders of the V series. [7] [11]

But the practical implementation of this revolution was continually thwarted by internal corruption and dissension as well as by the stark demands of the German occupiers for money, food, and material. When the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, a groundswell of communist resistance in France followed by brutal Nazi reprisals turned Vichy into a virtual police state. By 1943, the thrust of Pétain’s 1940 agenda had been transformed into passivity and the generalized attitude of attentisme: “waiting.” [8] [12]

As for the “United States of Europe,” it also soon became clear what was intended was, as Drieu la Rochelle argued, a “New Europe that would at the bottom ‘serve a German Europe.’” As usual, when you strip away the pompous verbal diarrhea, it’s square-heads down for the big Boche gangbang [13].

Based on the account here, one has to wonder, not for the first time, if, contra Savitri Devi, World War Two would have gone better without Hitler and his merry band of fanatics. Hopeful projects of national reconstruction, as in France or Italy, were inexorably drawn into the German orbit and ultimately wrecked to “save” Germany while plans for a postwar United States of Europe were revealed to be a stalking horse for an Empire run from Berlin. [9] [14]

In any event, Stein’s collaborationist efforts, though “heartfelt and dogged” (she continued to praise Pétain after 1945, when he could hardly have helped her in any way), amounted to very little; the Atlantic essay, “La langue française,” in the Vichy journal Patrie in late 1941, [10] [15] and an abortive project of translating some speeches of Pétain for the American audience. The latter project never got beyond an introduction, advising Americans to follow Pétain’s example, and a manuscript containing bizarrely literal translations that were either a joke or some kind of ill-advised linguistic experiment. [11] [16]

For Faÿ, on the other hand, Vichy was his chance at the big time, and he really went to town. One task was to preserve the Franco-American “special friendship,” and Pétain — although definitely a family man who thought the defeat arose from “too few allies, too few weapons, too few babies” — seemed to be on the same wavelength.

Pétain, according to his confidantes, had a “real passion” for America, stoked by his close personal ties to General John Pershing, with whom he had fought side by side in World War. . . His instructions to his own representative to Washington, Gaston Henry-Haye, were succinct: “save American friendship” [and] hoping above all for a “compromise alliance against their real mutual danger, communism.”

Yet his stance of attentisme became increasingly tenuous as the war ground on and as Vichy policy, such as it was, buckled under the sheer brutality of German demands.

“What sorrow for such a friend of America” to be treated so badly, exclaims Faÿ.

Faÿ had more success with his other, self-appointed task: uprooting Freemasonry. One might have expected Faÿ to promote American federalism for France, just as Stein promoted Pétain to America. But Faÿ’s views had morphed considerably. In the first days of his Americaphilia, Faÿ had acknowledged the role of Freemasonry in both revolutions, but given the Americans a pass:

In his Harvard thesis on the subject, Faÿ had in fact emphasized the salutary aspects of the American branch of Freemasonry, describing the lodges as “cradles of the spirit of independence” and showing in his analysis of Benjamin Franklin how much “Freemasonry envisaged the reform of society by means of enlightenment and philosophic benevolence.” In America, it seemed, Freemasonry could flourish without having the deleterious effects that it had on French culture, because America balued intrinsically the “didactic and utilitarian” qualities of Masonic thought.

Simply put, Freemasonry “worked” in America because of the nation’s essential character — something about which Faÿ, like Stein, considered himself to be an excellent judge. Unlike the French, with their clericalism and traditionalism, Americans fully and unproblematically embraced any “fever of newness.” America valued intrinsically the “didactic and utilitarian” qualities of Masonic thought. America, being a young country, always looked to the future, and appreciated Freemasonry’s investment in progress.

Within the context of American culture Freemasonry was clearly not a threat, since this culture was itself unanchored to any spiritual force or dogma, such as the Catholic Church, which might resist secular Masonic “enlightenment.” America, Faÿ writes in his Harvard thesis, represented to Europeans like himself “a benign, chimeric and innocuous dream.” [12] [17]

America, in short, was a utopia of sexual and intellectual freedom. As the 1930s went on, and America under the Mason Roosevelt proved more and more disappointing, Faÿ moved further into the ambit of the traditional French Catholic Right, until this metapolitical “letter of transit [18]” was revoked, and Faÿ pledged himself to battle Freemasonry in all its manifestations. [13] [19] Freemasonry was now seen not only as “the principal agent behind the French and American revolutions” but also “these Masonic-driven revolutions are the cause of present-day social degeneration.”

You can buy James O’Meara’s book The Eldritch Evola here. [20]

Committed to effecting an “equal footing” among social classes by dissolving social and political hierarchies, the Masonic-driven French and American revolutions only served to impoverish the lives of the masses while secretly consolidating power among the Masonic ranks.

By “preparing” and “achieving” the French and American revolutions, Freemasons transformed the modern world. Yet ultimately their efforts served only to exchange an older, traditional, hierarchical social system for another, more modern, but much more secret and sinister one.

[Masonic secrecy] allows Faÿ to interrogate the transparency of “Masonic” words such as democracy, progress, and rationality. Behind these eighteenth-century terms and beneath the Enlightenment itself, Faÿ claims, lies a shadow world of power, ambition, and craven desires on the part of an insidious Masonic elite.

For all its stated commitment to enlightened and rational discourse, the Masonic brotherhood was in fact a “shadow elite” and Masonic Enlightenment humanism a “shadow religion.”

Freemasonry was and continues to be essentially a counter-Catholicism, using the mystical rituals of the Catholic Church — including a mock crucifixion and mock resurrection as part of the central Masonic rite — within an organization outwardly opposed to religious belief. Freemasonry simply inverted the order of the Catholic Church, providing a similar sense of place, belonging, and spiritual fulfillment as Catholicism while claiming to be modern, rational, democratic, and secular.

Although the Germans shared Faÿ’s interest in secret societies and supported his work as Witchfinder General, they were less interested in Faÿ’s “clericalism” and obsession with Freemasons. [14] [21] One is reminded of Céline’s frustration, remarked to Ernst Jünger, that the Nazis weren’t going door to door rounding up Jews quickly enough, and offering to help in the effort. [15] [22]

Even so, Faÿ’s tireless burrowing into “secret archives” and publicizing the results in exhibitions at the Biblioteque National (which he now directed), a monthly journal, Les Documents Maconnique, (lead articles had titles like “Freemasonry and the Corruption of Morals,” “Freemasonry Against the State,” and “The Masonic Lie”) and even films [23], [16] [24] earned Faÿ the SS rank of VTFR-1 or “Trusted Frenchman #1” — gotta love those Germans. [17] [25]

In April 1941 — some nine months after he first installed himself at the Grand Orient [the headquarters of French Freemasonry at rue Cadet in Paris] — Faÿ was given funds from Pétain to create a Service des Sociétés Secrètes (SSS): a secret service devoted to the investigation of secret societies. The SSS, which Faÿ directed from May 1941 to April 1942, would mark both the nadir of his paranoid crusade and the pinnacle of his power within the two spheres governing France: the Pétainist Vichy regime and Nazi-occupied Paris.

I’m undecided about Faÿ’s activities. On the one hand, it seems reasonable that a nation-state should be suspicious, at best, about the rationale and activities of a secret society operating in its borders (and indeed, internationally). On the other hand, apart from publishing and curating exhibitions of archival materials, Faÿ was basically engaged in a primitive, but lethally effective, form of what we now call “doxing.”

[The SSS’s] most notorious effort was the compilation of a fichier of the names of Freemasons, a task that had already begun when Faÿ moved to the rue Cadet in 1940. [. . .] In all, more than 170,000 names were included in the fichier [and] some three thousand Freemasons lost their jobs. [. . .] According to information presented at Faÿ’s 1946 trial, six thousand Freemasons were directly questioned or placed under surveillance over the course of the war, 989 were deported to concentration camps, and 549 were killed, either by firing squad or through deportation. [18] [26]

Faÿ himself will escape the death penalty but serve a half dozen or so years in various prisons; and then, after a mysterious break-out (though less dramatic than Mussolini’s daring rescue by German commandos flying gliders, led by the legendary Otto Skorzeny), he will make his way to Switzerland, where he lives for another thirty years, snug in a new circle of native and exiled monarchists and Catholic traditionalists. [19] [27]

And as noted above, here history once more chimes, if not echoes; for “among the close friendships Faÿ developed” was with Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, whose “critique of Vatican II was inseparable from the critique of the French Revolution’s ‘Masonic and anti-Catholic principles.’”

Giving us a final wink, when Faÿ dies in 1978, Le Monde remarks that he remained always “faithful to himself almost to the point of rigidity.” And we know what that means. [20] [28]

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[1] [31] Not to be confused with these guys [32]; I think. According to Wikipedia, “After the liberation of France in 1944, he abandoned teaching to devote himself to his work as a Christian historian and writer, directing the magazine Ecclésia and editing Je sais, je crois (I know, I believe), published in English as The Twentieth Century Encyclopedia of Catholicism [33]. [That seems a rather free translation.] He was undoubtedly the French writer most widely read by post-war Catholics. [Again, what about Maritain?] At the same time, with some former colleagues from Ordre Nouveau, he worked with various European federalist movements. He joined The Federation, and the French Federalist Movement. In 1955, he was elected to the Académie française [34].”

[2] [35] Constant Readers will immediately note that this is our beloved concept of the Chakravartin of Hinduism, the “unmoved mover” of Aristotle, the Tao which does nothing but accomplishes everything, the resolute, upright individual who attracts rather than pursues spiritual influences; See my discussion, and the references to Guénon et al., in “The Corner at the Center of the World,” here [36] and reprinted in The Eldritch Evola . . . & Others: Traditionalist Meditations on Literature, Art, & Culture; ed. Greg Johnson (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2014).

[3] [37] Will notes that the great hero of the Great War, Pétain, was “honored for his defensive stance at Verdun.”

[4] [38] Note Pechanski’s reflexively Leftist language: utopia, clean slate. As always, they accuse you of what they are doing.

[5] [39] An old-school liberal WASP outlet, not to be confused with today’s Phoenician-owned monstrosity.

[6] [40] Not to be confused with Nicholas R. Jeelvy’s “How to Lose by Winning [41].”

[7] [42] See Dan Copp: Nazi Lizards from Outer Space: The Politics, Literature, and Cultural History of Kenneth Johnson’s “V (Master’s thesis, August 2015; Murfreesboro, TN: Middle Tennessee State University. No.1597421, ProQuest 1718550153 [43]). Not to be confused with my own Green Nazis in Space! New Essays on Literature, Art, & Culture; edited by Greg Johnson (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2015).

[8] [44] Hitler should have learned from Ireland: The 1916 Easter Rising at the Dublin GPO was viewed with contempt by most Irishmen, who had grown tired of firebrands, and thought James Connolly was a lunatic. That is, until the British overplayed their hand in reaction, and began committing outrages and atrocities in response, which swayed Irish public opinion in the opposite direction; which produced Michael Collins, which produced the Republic.

[9] [45] Even the science of eugenics, widely and successfully implemented in the Progressive areas of the United States, had its reputation sullied when American pragmatism and common sense (hello, Stein’s mentor, William James!) were replaced by crazy Teutonic “logic” and ruthless efficiency. Stein, at least, feared that FDR was making Americans into “organized” Germans, or perhaps “enslaving” them like Slavs: “In the 1930s, she repeatedly laments the decline of the American agrarian ideal embodied in the worldview of the founding fathers and places the blame firmly on the liberal and mass-oriented ‘reform movements’ of the monstrous Roosevelt administration, which had ‘enslaved’ a pioneering people through ‘organization.'” Will, 131, quoting from Stein’s Everybody’s Autobiography [1937].

[10] [46]

Stein’s argument in the Patrie piece is profoundly reactionary, the essence of reactionary modernism. It recalls the subtext of Stein’s commentary on her own writing during the 1930s. There, Stein often frames her own experimental writing in terms of a similar aesthetic “return” to a language obscured by more than a century of corrupt usage. . . . [Similarly,] in times of war, it appears, formal language prevails over the “purity” of rural speech, because “violent and heroic action creates written language.” In other words, peace encourages an earthbound, vital language to flourish; violent action requires artificial, stilted expression. Finally, the subtext of this essay becomes clear. By restoring “peace” to France with the armistice, Pétain is doing more than simply healing a defeated country. He is also allowing the French language to be led away from abstract formalism — la langue écrite — and back to its spoken, “eighteenth-century” vitality. Pétain’s armistice and his National Revolution are salutary not just for the lives of French people but also for the health of the French language.

[11] [47] “But if Stein’s goal was to familiarize an American audience with Pétain’s words, these translations seem incongruous, even inept. . . a bungling student reaching beyond her linguistic depth. In the Pétain translations, Stein’s attempt to render the French original into English through a one-to-one correspondence between signs seems to be conceding authority, interpretation, and interrogation to the voice of Pétain.”

[12] [48] Compare: “While Masonry in the United Kingdom has often been associated with an upper-middle-class starchiness that draws the resentment of the working class, the Masons in the less class-conscious society of the United States have typically been seen as mainstream, white-bread Americans.” Jay Kinney, The Masonic Myth: Unlocking the Truth About the Symbols, the Secret Rites, and the History of Freemasonry (HarperOne, 2009), p.9.

[13] [49] Unnoticed by Will, as it is outside her wheelhouse, is that these two conceptions of Freemasonry correspond to what Joscelyn Godwin has called “occultism of the Left” and “occultism of the Right.” As explained by Henrik Bogdan and Gordan Djurdjevic, “The first category. . . is found in the English-speaking parts of the world and it is centred on the notion of solar worship and phallicism as the basis of religion which was propagated by Enlightenment libertines, combined with a strong “pagan” and anti-Christian stance. In contrast to this, the ‘occultism of the Right’ was a predominantly French phenomenon, which was characterized by strong Roman Catholic sentiments and an emphasis on reconnecting with a universal tradition, a connection which many French occultists believed had been broken with the French Revolution. This division of a Right and Left occultism is a clear example of how differently occultism has developed in the English- and French-speaking parts of the world, respectively.” Occultism in a Global Perspective; edited by Henrik Bogdan and Gordan Djurdjevic (Durham: Acumen Publishing, 2013), “Introduction,” pp. 5-6.

[14] [50] One view: “Nazi Germany had to make a show of being anti-Masonic since its enemies were controlled by Freemasonry. Bernard Faÿ seized this brief moment to try to save his beloved France. Of course, this window closed quickly since the Nazis were financed and controlled at the top by the Illuminati.” Henry Makow, “French Historian Brought Freemasons to Heel [51].”

[15] [52] “Louis-Ferdinand Céline, an extremist’s extremist, however, went too far in December 1941, complaining, wrote Jünger, ‘that we soldiers were not shooting, hanging, and exterminating the Jews’ in the course of a ‘rant’ doubtless made more infuriating by Céline’s assumption that ‘we soldiers’ would do such filthy work.” Andrew Stuttaford, “The importance of being Ernst [53],” reviewing On A German Officer in Occupied Paris: The War Journals, 1941–1945 by Ernst Jünger.

[16] [54] Director Jean Mamy was executed as a collaborator in 1949.

[17] [55] Not to be confused with the orbiting alien space god, JHVH-1 [56].

[18] [57] Will, 171-73; note that “no document exists that directly links Faÿ to these deportations or killings; whatever involvement he had in the system that facilitated these actions was steps removed from their terrible final outcome.” Will, 173.

[19] [58] In addition to his proto-doxxing, Faÿ and Stein also enjoyed LARPing: “Both also yearned to experience firsthand this bygone epoch — to truly relive the past as part of a living present. Each seems to have enjoyed ancien régime role-playing: Stein, channeling Benjamin Franklin at Faÿ’s social teas; Faÿ, playing the lord of the manor in his country home in the Loire valley and occasionally affecting eighteenth-century dress in his breeches and gaiters.”

Such breeches were also affected by Gonzague de Reynold, a pre-war friend who replaced Stein after the war and facilitated his introduction into the world of Swiss right-wing Catholicism, including Mgr. Lefebvre. Stein observes that “we had installed electric radiators in the studio, we were as our finnish [sic] servant would say getting modern. She finds it difficult to understand why we are not more modern. Gertrude Stein says that if you are way ahead with your head you naturally are old fashioned and regular in your daily life. And Picasso adds, do you suppose Michel Angelo would have been grateful for a gift of a piece of renaissance furniture, no he wanted a greek coin.” — Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas.

[20] [59] Get your mind out of the gutter! “Behind rigidity there is something hidden in a person’s life. Rigidity is not a gift from God. . . . Behind rigidity there is always something hidden, in many cases a double life, but there is also something like an illness. How the rigid suffer: when they are sincere and realize that, they suffer! And how much they suffer!” Pope Francis, morning homily at Santa Marta, October 24, 2016; transcript of Radio Vatican, quoted from In the Closet of the Vatican, p. 67.