Skip to comments.“Man must sacrifice his life” – interview with Dominique Venner
Posted on 06/02/2013 1:04:38 PM PDT by annalex
On May 21, 2013 Dominique Venner , a French historian, shot himself in the Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris to protest against the introduction of gay marriage in France. Only a week before that, Secession magazine interviewed Venner scheduled for the August issue. The occasion was Venner's new book: Le Choc de l'Histoire - The shock of the History. During the conversation Venner suggested that our time was ripe for symbolic actions and personal sacrifice. Questions by Benedict Kaiser.
SECESSION: Le Choc de l'Histoire treats questions that you have investigated for a long time. So what is the purpose of your new book?
VENNER: This book presents a synthesis in the dynamic form of interviews. The perception of historical upheaval has long been the focus of my work and ideas as a historian. It covers the relationship between religion and identity, continuity and renaissance of cultures, which are interpreted as an expression of the identity of the people over a long period of time. So Europe in its very long history found many answers that have their source in the Homeric poems, which are an expression of its several thousand year old Indo-European heritage.
SECESSION: Why did you choose the title Shock of the History - and what should it mean?
VENNER: We are experiencing a shock of the history without realizing it. It has always been so. Only with the passage of time one can apprehend the range of the changes. Many eras before us have experienced historical shocks and struggled with immense challenges: the Persian Wars to the ancient Greeks, the decline of the Roman Republic before Augustus. In the course of the "modern times" and contemporary centuries historical shocks have caused ideological changes. Machiavelli, for example, is the result of the turmoil of Florence and Italy in the late 15th Century, Montaigne is the result of the religious wars in France, Hobbes, the first English Revolution, Martin Heidegger, the perception of the influence of technology, Carl Schmitt, the German catastrophe in the wake of the Versailles Treaty, Samuel Huntington, the new world after the Cold War - where Huntington, did not see things as the Europeans would, but rather as the Americans see them.
SECESSION Where is here the precise difference between American and European point of view?
VENNER: The 20th Century was for the United States in an era of continuous advancement towards dominance and control of the world - including the cultural space. The same period - especially after 1945 - was that of collapse, the submission and the unprecedented demoralization in Europe.
SECESSION: And how manifest is this new shock of the history?
VENNER: With the beginning of the 21st Century, we have entered a new historical era that will liberate the Europeans from the consequences of the year 1945. From the two major forces that divided Europe in 1945 in Yalta, one already vanished, which is something that no one could have imagined. Communism (the future of the world!) Imploded, and a new Russia has risen from the rubble. And this national Russia will become a continental partner of Europe vis-a-vis the United States. As for the United States, they must reckon with China, Islam, South America and a fluid world even now. The heroes of yesterday will become the accursed of tomorrow ...
SECESSION: If you are talking about Europe as the partner of a new Russia, you are unlikely to think within the structures of the European Union in its current form.
VENNER: I think not of any current political structure, but of our millennial culture, our identity, of our certain "European" way to think, to feel, to live, which has stood the test of time.
SECESSION: You write that the great cultures do not represent different regions on a planet, but are themselves different "planets". What do you mean?
VENNER: The people only exist thanks to what distinguishes them: clan, tribe, city, nation, culture, civilization, and not by what they have in common and is purely animalistic: sexuality or the need for food. Their human quality is rooted in traditions and spiritual values that endure over time. For example, while the simple sexuality is an universal action, such as the action to consume food, but love is different in each culture, as different as the perception of femininity, the perception of the body, the culinary art or the music. These traits are the reflections of a certain morphology of the soul, which was transmitted through atavism, as well as through experience. You know that the influence of new religions can change the ideas and behavior. But the traditions of a people also converts the imported, forced from outside religions. In Japan, Buddhism has received a certain martial character, which is not known in China. You could say that every nation has its own gods, who come by themselves, and continue to exist even when they seem to have been forgotten.
SECESSION: You write and speak of a "morphology of the soul, which was transmitted by atavism, as well as by experience." This applies, in our context, also for European-born Americans, does it not? How do you explain that Americans of a genuinely European origin have broken with the European tradition in order to establish a new tradition that is opposite to their old European one?
VENNER: I would refer to an observation by Austrian geopolitician Baron Jordis von Lohausen. He noted that the Germans who resettled to stay somewhere else in Europe, for example in Russia, always remained German, even several centuries after they had emigrated. On the other hand, a single generation is already enough for Germans who emigrated to the United States to stop being German and instead feel Americans, the same as any the other. This raises a serious question. It also includes the observation that not everything is based on the "race", as was once supposed. The Americans had come from Europe and have retained the "animal" qualities of their origins: energy, combative and enterprising vigor, ingenuity ... But their "ideas" (their worldview) have been transformed by their relocation to the New World. It is the result of the biblical utopia of the "Promised Land," the dream of a new world away from Europe. The founder's beliefs contributed to embody the new "chosen people", which was chosen to bring the world the "spirit of capitalism" if we were to pick a formulation of Max Weber. Let us not forget that the daily portion of the Bible is prescribed as mandatory in the American schools as the oath to the Stars and Stripes. The messianic "message" of the founders has become he mission also of the majority of the immigrants. And this political religion implied a break with the whole tragic and aristocratic European tradition.
SECESSION: This applies to Europe and the United States. But the world is home to undoubtedly more cultures.
VENNER: Yes, and elsewhere, things are perceived in ways that can be thought of neither by the Americans nor by the Europeans. To capture this fact, I bring in my book conclusions drawn from the French experience. For example, I speak of that example of Dalil Boubakeur, the head of the Paris Mosque. Islam, he says, is "both a religion, a community, a law and a culture. [...] Muslims are not only those who practice the five pillars of Islam, but those who belong to this community as identity. " The operative word here is "identity". Islam is therefore not just a religion. It goes beyond religion and is "a community, a law, a culture."
If someone is influenced by the Christian culture, universalistic and individualistic, that is surprising to him. But many other religions, including not only Islam or Judaism, but also Hinduism, Shintoism or Confucianism, are not only religions in the Christian or secular sense of the word , that is a kind of personal relationship with God, but they form identities, laws, communities.
SECESSION: Could a new perception of identity help the Europeans to rediscover themselves, to create new?
VENNER: I certainly think that it can help Europeans find their own authenticity - beyond a personal religion or its absence.
SECESSION: How do you define then their own "authenticity"?
VENNER: First, as an awakening to the memory of identity. A memory that is capable of rearming the Europeans morally, so that they could resist their disappearance into the abyss of great world-wide miscegenation and globalization. As well as others recognize themselves as sons of Shiva, Mohammed, Abraham or Buddha, it is not wrong to know ourselves as sons and daughters of Homer, Odysseus and Penelope.
SECESSION: In an editorial of the Nouvelle Revue d'Histoire you converted the famous formula "politics first" and stressed that one would say today: "Mysticism first, politics later." What you wanted to say to the reader with this unconventional slogan?
VENNER: Our age no longer demands a "taking power," as was often said earlier. It grants no more room to the dream of the "Day of Change". Politics is no longer the ligature that gives meaning to life. Notwithstanding the strengths of political action, it is not the politics that will give back to the Europeans the consciousness of what they are, and likewise politics cannot provide guidance to their lives. This belief can only come through a strong perception of identity. In other words, any political action of a high level is unthinkable without the precondition of an identitarian memory, which is alone capable of directing it. But mere words are not enough. You must be able to affirm words by deeds, you must use the life, and this must go as far as to the willingness to sacrifice life, if it seems necessary.
My combined monarchy/liberty ping
Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Quite a bit...why do you ask?
All said, in this interview more clearly than before, we see a paradox in this heroic man: while identity of Europe is Christian, his search for it, and his sinful sacrifice, are manifestation of a pagan mind. Splendid mind, but pagan nonetheless.
Because it would not occur to me to post a blatantly anti-Christian slogan in bold letters and without attribution, on a conservative message board.
So who is the white-on-black idiot, if I may ask?
I don’t view it as anti christian at all, but then I’m a fallen away Catholic, now card carrying agnostic with whom you will probably not agree. It was written by your favorite author, no doubt (just kidding) Ayn Rand...it was an oath that John Galt lived by in Atlas Shrugged.
A few notes:
Apparently, the interview was posted in a rush as soon as the news of the suicide reached Sezession. To state “shot himself ... to protest against the introduction of gay marriage in France” is a bit inaccurate; in his suicide note (link in the trailer) Venner cites the reasons and they are not focused solely, not even primarily on the gay “marriage”.
Also, to the “the daily portion of the Bible is prescribed as mandatory in the American schools as the oath to the Stars and Stripes” we can only sigh and fondly remember America.
Very interesting article. Thanks for posting.
I think Venner was extremely wrong in killing himself in the cathedral. This allowed people to dismiss him as a nutcase. Also, suicide to advance Christianity was forbidden by the Church in the very earliest centuries AD.
He should have waited until he could really be martyred, which isn’t going to br long nue.who
It wasn’t me but I’m sure the poster accepts your sentiments.
Ayn Rand and her fictional characters would certainly qualify as “idiot”, even though libertarianism as a whole has healthy ideas here and there.
So how come you are an agnostic? That is a shame. No rational man should be.
That’s really powerful.
I am not sure he was even “advancing Christianity” so much as awakening France, which he viewed as heir of Homer more than of St. Dennis. And that is his cardinal mistake.
However, who is not against us is with us, and this keen student of history served Christian conservatism by giving his life for the Christian and the French civilization, the favorite child of our Mother Church. May Christ look kindly on his despair.
Sigh and remember sumss it up. But at the same time, while I grew up mostly in New York City, I had attended school briefly in a Bible Belt state. They had state-sponsored courses where they told us how awful Catholics were because they “Didn’t believe the Bible.” Jews in NYC treated us better than Protestants did.
So I don’t think we have to go back to that!
Or I could repeat my old joke: I learned the Latin necessary to be an altar boy and then, three years later...after more than two thousand years, they changed the Mass to English.
Back to the oath...I read it as “I will enslave no man and will allow no man to enslave me” and don’t view that as anti christian.
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