“Paris… A city that must have been magnificent in the Twentieth century, Dimitri thought. He had few memories of it. He was only ten in 2016, when his family had fled the city plagued by anarchy and hunger to return to Russia. Most of the monuments had been burnt and destroyed, and its museums and treasures had been pillaged during the civil war that had broken out before the Great Catastrophe. Today, the autonomous state of Ile de France was carrying out restorations and reconstructions, but Paris was unlikely to ever return to its former glory. The only way to learn what the Mona Lisa, Sainte-Chapelle, the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre looked like was to visit virtual Websites with 3D images. Dimitri Leonidovich sighed in sadness at these unpleasant thoughts…”
French writer Guillaume Faye’s 1998 book, recently translated as Archeofuturism: European Visions of the Post-Catastrophic Age, is part novel, part polemic. Politically on the European New Right, Faye casts conceptual fireworks capable of illuminating anyone’s perspective. You don’t have to agree with every word to reel at the deepest insights. He is no optimist but rather the most rigorous realist:
“Deprived of its quasi-religious basis – belief in progress as a historical necessity – the present civilisation has started its decline… The ascending line of progress, which was meant to lead to the redemptive eschatology of a heavenly end of history, is now being replaced by the winding, unpredictable and mysterious flow of this very same history. An intellectual revolution is taking place: people are starting to perceive – without daring openly to state it – that the old paradigm according to which ‘the life of humanity, on both an individual and collective level, is getting better and better every day thanks to science, the spread of democracy and egalitarian emancipation’ is quite simply false…
It will take twenty or thirty years for the pernicious effects of growth to manifest themselves, but after a deceptive phase in which living standards appear to be improving (and which is now coming to an end) they will certainly hit hard. The increase in production and trade leads to new forms of cooperation, but also multiplies the causes of conflict and expressions of nationalistic chauvinism – and everywhere feeds the counter-fire of religious fanaticism. Communication is branching out across the world, while solitude plagues individuals and a sense of despair takes hold in communities.”
Europe’s place in this world is a highly vulnerable one, open to ‘cultural cleansing’ by once-colonised peoples now demanding their turn at dealing out domination, death and destruction. An effective response cannot just be about defence but must embrace collective security in every sense. Doing nothing is not a viable option: less than 40 years ago, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria were all relatively stable societies, to which the saying ‘stranger things have happened’ would simply not be applied. Faye’s solution is the European Union, but not as we know it:
“The solution to help us defend ourselves must be a radical one: a ‘good’ federation (one I believe should be based on autonomous regions) capable of imposing itself as a genuine state and exercising a weighty influence on the international scene as a real world power. A federation of this kind could only emerge after a shock, once the pseudo-federation we have now has shown all its impotence and noxiousness.
I believe the right strategy would be to lead a revolution within the European Union, in such a way as to radically transform it – and not make a backward-looking return to the nation-states system, which in any case would be incapable of defending us. In history, only structural changes can reverse what exists and bring revolutions about – not circumstantial changes…
The only hope for salvation in this dark age of ours lies in the attempt to build a federation – the great federation Nineteenth century visionaries had foreseen: the United States of Europe. A federation of this kind would be capable of standing up to the American one, of creating a protected and self-centred continental economic space, and of curbing the rise of Islam and demographic colonisation from Africa and Asia…
Despite all its defects, I believe the present European Union will be the prelude to a genuine federation, according to a dialectic process: for when catastrophe hits, the present Union, in its impotence, will have to undergo revolutionary change (this, and not any dangerous restoration of the nation-state model is the path we will have to pursue)… a powerful Europe, in my view, cannot but derive from the federation of autonomous European regions, as the great differences in size between European nations prevents the building of any viable federal and political union (as shown by the current, stupid attempt to do so).
For this reason, we must approach the European Union of today with Machiavellian cynicism in order to subvert it from within… Quite simply, this appalling Union has the simple yet great merit of making the whole world reason in terms of Europe. It also has the advantage of assigning a greater significance to regions, the future bricks of a federal empire, which are connected to the kind of ethnic identity the cold and crisis-ridden states of today have lost… The future regions must be granted large powers with respect to internal matters (cultural, linguistic, educational, etc.), as a return to regional identity on a European level would only contribute to our common strength. Different but united: for united we stand, divided we fall.”