A staple of the French Right since its genesis in 1899 Action française is (AF) a largely student led nationalist group known for its boisterous youth activism and philosophical moorings. Often described as a gadfly to Le Pen’s Rassemblement National (RN), it has earned a respected place within French society unusual for rightist groups elsewhere. On the anniversary of the martyrdom of King Louis XVI, we sat down with Francis Venciton, Assistant Secretary-General of the group, to discuss activism, lessons learnt, as well as the prospects for French nationalism heading into a new decade.

To some reading this interview, AF may seem to be a somewhat archaic name from the history books, and which had its zenith in the era of Maurras and the Vichy Regime, how would you respond to those critics?

In politics, armchair aspects should not be vilified. Until last year, many people explained that borders are some useless archaism, with the pandemic, they realised that borders are like skins. A very important protection against foreign dangers. And if you follow this kind of logic, we only are authorised to speak about the Congo at its peak during the 15th century, which is a little short view. 

No, there are plenty of good reasons to speak about AF and not only to talk about the past. Basically Action française is still up and running, we are still the most important royalist movement in France, and a respected intellectual school for the conservative field. 

A radical left-wing Trotskyist, Edwyn Plenel, director of Mediapart, said that AF is the “talented laboratory of reaction”. The present Minister of Security {Gérald Darmanin} is a former journalist with an AF magazine. 

So, speaking of AF is not some kind of foolishness, and I am skipping the intellectual heritage of the movement with many presidents being aware of Maurras’s thoughts or being former Maurrists themselves. Same thing for many in the Académie Française or writers, philosophers and historians.

Central to AF is the figure and philosophy of Charles Maurras, a thinker sadly almost unheard of in the English-speaking world due to lack of translation, briefly what are the core tenets of Maurrasism, and how it would differ from example the more familiar schools of Catholic thought like distributism?

Contrary to what ignorant English journalists say, Maurras was not the founder of AF. But, he was the man who created a consistent nationalist doctrine and converted the original founder of AF to royalism. 

Both founders of the movement, Henri Vaugeois and Maurice Pujo, were both originally patriot republicans. Maurras gave them the key to the political alternative: the nationalisme intégral (national integralism)

As expected from a movement called Action française, Maurras showed no interest in translating his own work into English. A fun fact is that during his life, his poetry was more often translated than his political or journalistic works (which represented most of his writings). And it was quite a shame, because TS Eliot in a review for Criterion was close to being a Maurrist like Hilaire de Belloc, T.E. Hulme and Chesterton were also both readers of the Action française publication.

When Chesterton launched his Distributist League, he tried to imitate Action française. In Ireland, Denys Gwyn, was involved in Maurras work. So, we have some brilliant Maurrist roots in the English speaking world and are rather close to English Catholics, Canadians and the Irish rather than John Bull types.

However, we are currently working on a English version of the most famous Maurras text called My political ideas (“mes idées politiques”). We modestly think that the question of nationalism in the English intellectuals world, for example with the controversy around Hazony’s book “The virtues of nationalism”, could be broadened by Maurras’s works. One can conceive of nationalism without following the alt-right or the old liberal conservative playbook.

To answer about the core of Maurras thought is a very tough question, because you have many ways to enter into Maurras. But I think that the best way to understand Maurras research is to start with decentralization. Maurras loved the political system of a nation full of unbridled freedom, which in France is royalism but could be a Republic for Switzerland or Ireland. 

It’s important to find a political system which is adequate to the story of the country and to its social institutions. We can see the result of pushing the liberal democratic system in the Middle East. We lose thousands of million of euros and many lives for fake regimes, which don’t serve the common welfare and only granted some credit and illusion to liberals. The nations of the Occident spread war for economic interest and for political dazzlement. We should more often be flabbergasted by that. 

But this kind of nation full of unbridled freedom could work in France with “authority on the top and freedom of the down”. The French nation needs  “Anarchy+1” instead of “anarchy in the UK”. French royalism in France is a political regime of freedom and unity. 

It is obvious to many analysts that Maurras shares a lot with distributism. In the twenties, Maurras met Hilaire Belloc through their common friend Yvon Eccles. And basically, they have a lot in common : they recognised the majesty of the Catholic Church, they objected to the opposition between state and individuals and to follow the path of a third way, they are very interested in Corporatism, they are critics of holy democracy and they are anti-modernist. 

But, they have some points of divergence: Belloc, a Catholic was a true believer and Maurras stayed his whole life under the porch of faith waiting to hear the Being. (Maurras was deaf and his last words were “I believe I heard someone coming”

Belloc has more sympathy for the French Revolution than Maurras due to the different context. And to be honest, Belloc has some doubt about the Monarchy. But these are small differences. They both agree on the importance of criticizing modernity, to show how the man of the 20th century is some sort of barbarian. 

Like a lot of the French Student Right AF has made a name for itself through its agitprop as well as activism such as the occupation of the Groupe Latécoère buildings following their American takeover. What types of activism would chapters of your organisation conduct?

I disagree with you. Most of the French Student Right are a lot more involved in electioneering, unions, French politics etc than agitprop. For most of the French student Right, agitprop is for leftists.

Agitprop is an essential part of AF. From its genesis AF students conducted some agitprop regarding the Thalamas affair. In 1904, Amédée Thalamas was a history teacher who declared Holy Joan of Arc a fraud with unnecessary bluntness. 

After the scandal, he was protected and appointed as a university professor. Action française disturbed all his classes over three months.. Amédée Thalamas ended up being slapped by Maurice Pujo and later on even spanked. The author Georges Bernanos and other future luminaries were also involved in this agitation.

Basically, we consider that there is no action without instruction and no instruction without action. Maurras said we should be both intellectual and active. We want to form some high minded action man. Henri Lagrande, one of the first young militants of AF, said that we have “A stick in one hand and a book of Maurras in the pocket”. 

Now, we still use to do some agitprop such as the action against the Latécoère American takeover or the 20 November, during the lockdown, we raise a banner against Islamic terrorists and Republican laxity. 

In 2019 we hijacked a pro-EU march with a Frexit banner and pyrotechnics. The Toulousan section of AF was featured in the media for hanging a Marianne puppet (an icon of the French Republic) over a bridge. 

On the political front, we are an important part of the Yellow Vests, a popular movement for economic justice and real democracy (local and direct democracy) for a part of the population that has been left aside for too long and feel like they are not heard by their government as an example, in 2005 the French referendum on the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe took place, despite a majority of French citizens voting against it, the constitution was adopted.

On the societal front, in 2013 we were on the first line during La Manif Pour Tous protests against societal laws that would change deeply the classical anthropology (same-sex marriage, child adoption for same-sex couples, MAP, surrogacy, etc). 

We are obviously very active in universities and wish to fight against the progressive ideology subverting universities for nearly fifty years.

These actions are completed using flyers, articles, press releases and conferences. Activism is for us an extension of reflexion.

Beyond stunts what are the activities AF organises both on campusers and socially between members?

Action française is designated as an open-sky plot against the government. The key action is to explain to the French people why the Republic is so bad and politics behind it so dumb. 

So you have two levels: big theoretical explanation or speaking with people directly or street hawking of our propaganda (we have a magazine named “Le Bien Commun” (The common good) because Action française is forbidden as a press title and a newspaper “L’insurgé” (The Rebel) for students with a more cheeky tone). 

Around this core, we have agitprop as explained before and 4 major events in a year: 21st January to commemorate the death of Louis XVI.  The second Sunday of May, we have a rally for Holy Joan of Arc. Basically, Joan of Arc became holy due to the work of Action française. AF militants have spent more than 1000 days in prison to force the Republic to recognize her as a major French figure. 

She is still the symbol that France is a particular country and we should refuse to be sold out to foreign countries. And also that the damn English should stay on their bloody island and forget their dreams of imperialism. The day before we have conferences and a big banquet with all generations of AF. 

As Joan of Arc said about the English: “Of the love or hatred God has for the English, I know nothing, but I do know that they will all be thrown out of France, except those who die there”. Hopefully he could do the same about the English in Ireland.

The third important event is the summer camp. For one week, people attend conferences, seminars (how to be a graphist, a journalist or a good leader…) and have a big dinner with a lot of wine and traditional folk songs. 

The concept is to build a team spirit, organize the next year and teach the maurrist basics for the new guys. The last big event is the commemoration for the end of World War I. This is a very important moment because when France capitulated to Germany in World War II, Action française organised big events to celebrate the defeat of the Prussian regime even if the Nazis disapproved. 

But between these moments, we can react to the day to day for  example, opposition to the destruction of an old church in Lille or Bordeux or celebrate others events like the 6th January 1934  or just grab a beer for a rugby match. Especially when France crushes the Irish Shamrocks. 

Regarding the structure of AF, could you go into details about the organisation, its various propaganda outlets and how it operates, in particular the student circles it is famous for? 

A section is basically built around two pillars : Action and education. Our weekly regular action includes street hawking, distribution of leaflets, organisation of events and agitprop. Our formation is build with reading of maurrist writers (Maurras, Bainville, Léon Daudet, Marcel Proust, Georges Bernanos, Pierre Boutang…) and others writers of all political tendencies (Invisible Collective, The Unabomber, Hanna Arendt, Chesterton, Edmund Burke…). 

We push people to equally read essays, history, political books or literature. We still want to perpetuate the old humanist approach. On the other hand, we encourage people to read our press and internal journalism. 

Lastly, we organise a lot of theoretical formations called “cercle”. A Cercle has been built on three levels : 

1 For the beginner to instruct about the core of the maurrist thoughts. 2 On Contemporary events or very specific themes such as Morocco Monarchy, map making, anarcho-royalism or counterculture. 3 Political debate built on mastering themes and maurrist basics.

Most of the people go 1 to 2 in one year and pass at the level 3 five years after their introduction to the movement. 

This strong formation is very unique in French politics, because most of the political structures are post-modern and refuse to have a doctrine. And in the few structures we still have a doctrine none of them teach to people their doctrine or very few. A section like Paris could organise 2 or 3 circles in a week with the same amount of hawking street and a graphist formation. The Italian theoretician of cultural War, Antonio Gramsci, discovered this concept in the reading of AF and says that we are an army only composed of officiers.

The training of a new generation of nationalist activists, artists and intellectuals is a key goal for AF. How does it go about doing this? 

This is going very well. First of all, we ask our activists to be the best within their professional and personal lives, they need to be role models for their compatriots. They are the display of their ideas, therefore being respected is the first step towards convincing others that your ideas are respectable. 

The movement is very diverse which provides us with a great complementarity aspect, each bringing their skills to the table and we encourage everyone to develop their own charisma.

Since 2013 and La Manif Pour Tous, we got a lot stronger. With our 3000 members, we are the political movement with the most activists. Our summer university brought together more than 270 people last year and was organised by Science-Po (Paris Institute of Political Studies) teachers. During the last years, numerous journalists or intellectuals coming from AF got into famous newspapers or social media.

As explained earlier the current Minister of Security is a former AF member and a lot of journalists, writers or political figures take their basis in the AF. The government speaks about a legal country and real country (an important maurrist theme). But, at the same time we cannot recognize that our nation is in decay. 

We suffer the same social justice warriors as in the USA. Our French language is full of unnatural English words, which are the consequences of global subculture. So we struggle with our little arms and manage to still create some kind of elite, but God only knows if it is enough for the present time. Maurras are a thinker of intellectual reformation, but a few decades later, we are forced to recognize that we still have a lot to do. 

You’ve described yourself to me in previous conversations as an out and loud Maurrist, how easy (or hard) is it to be a public figure of the nationalist right on campuses and in wider French society especially in regards employment and social status?

Due to general ignorance, most don’t know who Maurras is. So with a little subtlety you can convert people. Many of my co-workers currently quote Maurras without knowing that it is from him. 

This is the kind of game that my irony glands enjoyed a lot. But, most of the people who know of Maurras know a fake Maurras : Maurras as a racist or an obsessional antisemite or a Third Reich admirer. 

This is not hard to disprove, but human nature makes it easier to refuse to understand arguments rather than accept your own ignorance. And the last few people know that AF is the second big political formation in the 20th century in France, so they have a lot of respect even if they don’t believe in the same things. 

I have worked with a lot of intellectuals and I never hide my opinions, most of the time the enemies respect you to be who you are without excess. And to be honest, It is some fun for someone to have their royalist friend.  

Basically when you are an open-minded person, a good worker, a reasonable speaker, most people accept your political views. I am a notoriously royalist in my work and I never have any problems. 

It is true that on a campus you could be annoying to people, but I have always enjoyed these things and use my knowledge of my opponent’s philosophy for struggle. When you are in front of a third rate Marxist, this is a lot of fun to expose the contradictions and the disconnection with reality within Marx’s doctrine.

I have a comrade who works for the French communist newspaper and for everybody, he is the most leftlist guys because he quotes Marx a lot, including quoting Marx against subjects like immigration, racial studies or feminism. Taking political institutions with unions or associations is the best way to open maurrist dialog on the public space. 

A lot has been said with regards to ‘antifa’ and agents of the far left the past few years. What is the general strength of the far left against patriotic groups in France and how does AF deal with the threat?

Antifa uses 2 threats against nationalists : violence or intimidation. About the violence, sporting combat is a part of AF formations and we show many times that we can break their mouths if required. 

Our security personnel are led by Henry Quoy who is very talented. Few years ago, one hundred antifa tried to invade a seminar and they were defeated. After their departure , they left shoes, an umbrella and a few of their guys on the floor.

Sure, this is a lot of fun, but this is not our goal. We are seeking the common good for all French people, including antifa.So most of the threats we ignore and stay ready in case of a clash. About intimidation the best way to handle it is to be well included in the society, to have good argumentation and to be honest about what you think. When you are appreciated and you show your face, most of the time antifa looks like a bastard to annoy you. A knowledgeable royalist is always more sympathetic than a communist sycophant.

A dichotomy that always presents itself within French nationalism or conservatism is the acceptance or rejection of republican ideals and the shadow of the Bastille. AF is an avowed monarchist organisation seeking the general restoration of the pre-revolutionary order, how would you respond to other nationalists say for example in the RN that have accepted the Republic unlike yourselves?

First of all, we do not seek the restoration of the pre-revolutionary order, the monarchy that we defend is modern within its institutions and traditional within its principles.

The problem of the republic and the democratic system is that you’ve built a castle on sand. There is no constancy with a republic in France, no sustainability towards the future. 

If Marine Le Pen was elected in 2022, every reform established during the 5 years of her mandate could be undone in no time by the next elected person. We can easily imagine what Biden will do after Trump in the near future.

Democracy allows people to destroy what others have built and say that they want things to change more because this is done by the other side rather than to make things better. We can get no satisfaction with  democracy, we only can have the impression of a victory. But I prefer Athens with the Parthenon than Sparta and its lack of monuments. We want to build a stronger France, we search to work on the long term, not for political alternatives. 

While not a political party per se AF plays an active role in French politics, what is AF’s relationship with RN and any other French parties of the right? Can one be an active member in both AF and RN?

One could be a member, but we are not huge fans of them because RN and other right wing groups change people. You come into a party for your ideas and finish by abandoning them to keep your party alive. We believe more in local small formations which are close to people’s needs. 

On the other hand, we try to take the power by any means and need to work with the RN as it is part of the political landscape. We trust our friends and members when it comes to making the right decision.

What is your assessment of RN and its leadership following their alleged liberalisation and prospects for power as the Macron regime runs into difficulty?

The RN have a lot of ambition but the inability to achieve their goals. Conquering the state to the RN is the same thing as for English to crush the whole IRA in 1920: that is impossible, not realistic and not even good. 

While Maurras was noted for his intense Germanaphobia is the AF of today more internationalist and would it maintain positive relations with other European groups? 

Maurras was for positive relations with other European nations, but his germanophobia or his anglophobia was based on the imperialist tendencies of these two nations. We are not against Germany because it is fun. We are opposed to Germany because an united Germany always tries to take control of all his neighbors. 

With the EU we still see the imperialist side of Germany. But this an echo of all other German empires. With regards to other countries, we will have positive relationships. We deeply think that nationalism is peace and friendship in the world. Even, if we have opposite interests. 

Middle but strong entities can have discussions and neutralize others by coalition. Maurras said that “I am martégal ( that means he is a guy from Martigue his birth town), i am provencal ( from a southern region of France), I am French, I am Roman (in the civilization and religious meaning)  and I am human”. Our nationalism did not refuse other nations to be human beings. If Spain suffered from Plague, I wouldn’t enjoy it. But, we cannot hide at the same time that our French interest means that we must struggle against others. 

But we can struggle without hate and in the struggle you can bond into friendship. Ireland and France don’t always have the same interests (for  example, corporate tax…), but we have an old friendship that should help us to find compromise. In many ways, French royalists since the religious war think that true politics is about proposing acceptable compromise for everybody even if nobody asks for them. 

The failure of French multiculturalism has been shown the past decade in a series of high profile attacks and constant rioting. What is the current status of the nation’s fight against jihad and long term prospects against Islamisation and demographic change?

Basically French multiculturalism failed because at the same time we pretend to be multiculturalist and to be united under the banner of the Republic. Because the French Republic pretends to not see differences between people. Marianne (An allegory for France) is blind for his own people. 

So as many times in history, the Republic preferred to deal well with the new French instead of the old French family and to be strong with the weak and weak with the strong. This is the reason why the French Republic doesn’t accept the need to handle problems with the recent cultures arrived in France and with Islam. 

France has a strange relationship with religion. Catholicism has been pushed out of politics as explained by Marcel Gauchet and while the French speak a lot about “laïcité” (laicity) it is not clear if laicity means the protection of all religion or the neutralization of the religious dimension. 

So politicians simultaneously struggle against the hijab in schools and help to finance mosques. That’s a total nonsensical state of affairs and a political mistake. On one hand, we accept multiculturalism and islamism, but on the other hand we face off with it. Carl Schmitt explains that the regular basis of politics is to have a definition of the enemy and the friend. It’s basic logic to understand the principle of the excluded middle and accept that you treat your enemy as an enemy. You never failed to remember that you are sometimes defined unwillingly as an enemy. 

About the demographic change, the problem is not the demographic change in himself that the normalisation and its speed. The latest events don’t make us optimistic. But history is full of violent and brief reverses. So, let us not write in marble things that can change.

As illustrated with the storming of the US Capitol the era of US hegemony is ending rather rapidly, what chances does this present France and French nationalism in your mind and how does AF view American influence on France?

I don’t think that the storming of the US Capitol shows the end of the era of US Hegemony. In many ways, the USA has been the sick man of the West since the  2000s. But the fall will become faster and faster.

The hysteria around Trump’s mandate from the left and Trumpism itself has been an accelerator. By the way, it’s very funny to see following the left’s victory against Trump fraud claims when they said that Trump was not their president after his 2016 election.

But the end of US hegemony will not signify that the US lost all power. Action française denounce the American soft power in France and the manners that American organizations force  form french people to apply american and racist views in french debate. 

We are having a strong debate around an intellectual group call “indigiéniste” (indegienous) which are US pawns used to apply leftist views in French politics. 

In their view, France is a systemically racist country obsessed with the humiliation of colored people. I guess that these people have difficulty separating their hallucinations and real life. Alas, even if France had some power on the international relationship, we are tied up by the EU and basically, we don’t have the energy to raise as an alternative for America, Russia or China. The Charles de Gaulle way faded a long time ago. 

The Yellow Vest uprising of 2018/2019 went largely underreported in Ireland by our regime media, what was the significance of the protests to France, their origins and the manner in which they benefited the Right in France?

To quote an Irish song with regards the yellow vests “The boys are back in town”. There is an old divide between the French people and politicians since the French Revolution. After World War II, it seems to have settled with de Gaulle. 

But de Gaulle and Mitterand both failed to beguile the French (one by  using the right, the other by the left. So, the Yellow Jackets are a voice from the people and that’s great news. The problem is that the Right is not populist enough not to be afraid of the yellow jacket.

So, one of the best things with the Yellow Kackets is the political classes upheaval. One step more and we could hope for Macron’s political decapitation. 

While Ireland has historically been known for militant nationalism a formalised radical Right is just now taking root, what advice would you give from the experience of AF and French nationalism as a whole?

Basically, I don’t think that I am the most qualified person to give you advice. As a French nationalist, I seek the interest of France which is not always the Irish interests. As a matter of fact, I don’t want to judge others’ politics. However, I think that radical right should refuse to be liberal which is an open gate for the dissolution of society and that we should have an aristocratic ethic. 

By aristocratic I don’t mean to have elitist origins or be some kind of stuttering snob, but to seek excellences and joy in living. Because without joy, we cannot build anything human. Bobby Sands said that the laughter of the childrens will be his revenge and the requirement of a nationalist doctrine is to think of a steady and bright future. 

AF recently hosted a seminar on General Michael Collins, generally speaking what would be the attitude of AF or French nationalists to Ireland and the Irish struggle?-assuming there is one 

There is no real attitude of AF to the Irish struggle. Many people in AF defend Irish Rights and liberty. Sylvain Roussillon the headfigure of the AF at the end of the 19th century has his political awakening on the Irish case. A

As an interesting fact, Maurras speaks two times about the Irish in his books. The first is in “Federal Monarchy” and he opposes good federation and colonialism. The Irish relationship with Britain called “martyrology”. For Maurras, England is nasty and refused to grant liberty for the Irish People. This is not so far from republican politics. 

The second in Kiel and Tanger (one of his masterpieces and the creation of French geopolitical) where Maurras explains that the end of Irish oppression (and Polish or Alsace Lorraine) will be a path to the European peace and prosperity. While the Irish cause is not at the core of maurrism, you are not forgotten.

For the time being Ireland is one of the few European nations without hate speech legislation unlike France, where the laws are to my knowledge rather onerous. Does the presence of these speech codes affect how AF operates and are there ways for dealing with hate speech laws in your experience?

Since long ago, French Republics have turned into totalitarian regimes. With the Avia Laws, on censorship this breaks new records but these are increasingly less effective

The French equivalent of Stormfront called ‘Democratie participative’ is still accessible after it was forbidden by a court. The French laws against illegal downloads were a big waste of money. 

So, the problem of hate speech laws is not really a big issue if you don’t have centralized communication around somes social network. But, if communication is a means and not an end, it doesn’t matter if your account is blocked and basically, we never have to forget that the best ways to change your mind is to speak in the real world. 

Of course, we are not allowed to speak of everything and debate some silly questions, but there is no such thing as true free speech. Society always struggles against some discourses and mass media has strengthened these tendencies. 

While not defined by economics in its worldview, what would be the general economic policy of AF and how it answers the challenges of modern globalised capitalism and mass immigration? 

Since last year, AF has officially adopted degrowth theory. We think that our economic system is insane. But, we think that we could handle the problem of global ressources only with Nations. Because Nations are tougher than our global economic system. 

One billion bayonets are more effective than all the power of Black Rock or Goldman Sachs. Basically, that means that we went to organize economics around human needs and reject financial gambling and all its irresponsibility. 

This kind of approach forced us to be less welcome towards mass immigration because of sustainability. We cannot at the same time degrow and still have open borders. To protect the planet we choose to protect the Nation. Furthermore, we still think that guilds as an economic organisation are the best ways to keep friendship in the world of labour and to protect the economy and customers. Especially if these guilds are under the King’s custody.

As the Trump era ends nationalist groups are facing a winter of censorship, how does AF generally deal with the issue of online deplatforming?

As a natural phenomenon, this is always a possibility. But online deplatforming is just a handicap but they cannot shut our mouths entirely. It only moves our communication, which is not a big loss at all. Communication without action will vanish. Facts are more stubborn than social media. The true battle is not on the web but in the street. Trump wasn’t elected by some holy meme, but by the work of thousands of little soldiers. 

While a stridently Catholic organisation the relationship between AF and the Catholic Church has historically been rather acrimonious with a Papal denunciation and accusations that AF prioritises the nation over Christ. In your own words what is the group’s stance on the Church and vice versa plus the response to accusations levelled?

The relationship between AF and the Catholic Church wasn’t alway acrimonious. In 1914 His Holiness Pope Pius X described Maurras as a “beautiful defender of the Faith”. The Lisieux Carmel was a Maurras protector when he was led by Holy Theresa’s sister. 

We need to remember that the AF excommunication was a ploy based more on political questions rather than religious questions. The accusation of priorities over Christ is a misinterpretation of the maurrist principle of “politics first”. Which doesn’t mean first as the best, but first as the start. 

In fact, the big problem is the “rallying” of the church. During the 19th century, Popes thought that French Republic could coexist with the church. So, the Vatican chooses  to emasculate French clergymen to protect material interests. Consequently, years later France is less Catholic and our Church is oppressed. Catholicism is the most attacked religion in France, more than islam. A priest had his throat cut in his church by an islamist. What a victory !

A lot of Nationalist movements are defined by the manner in which they deal with the legacy of the Second World War, France no less among them. Considering the particular history of AF with regards to collaboration how does the group deal with this and more generally how does post-war French nationalism?

The story of AF during World War II was complex. AF was the first organisation that claimed that nazism was both a disgrace and a danger. The first French edition of Mein Kampf was used by AF for show the Nazi plans for Europe. 

But republicans were so involved in pacifism that they refused to hear the warnings and militarized too late. In those times, they sacrificed both the Czech and Polish. After the Battle for France and the split of our Nation, AF refused collaboration. Maurras was against the “Ja” group or the “yes group” to defend “France only”. 

This position was quite difficult and nobody understood this really. A lot of AF guys joined the Resistance long before the communists. Charles de Gaulles in London was surrounded by AF members. He was himself a maurrist. Few maurrists actually joined in the collaboration. So, we don’t have shame about our past. It was a complicated time. 

France has a rather large family of right wing traditions among them identitarianism and the Nouvelle Droite under the tutelage of Alain De Benoist, what would the relationship be between AF and these aforementioned groups?

We don’t consider ourselves as right wings, we want to be a  group above it all. Of course, we know Alain de Benoist and identitarianism, but we have some strong disagreements : We don’t believe in an united Europa but rather in a Europe of Nations. We think that paganism is some kind of joke and an artificial construction. 

No need to fantasize about old Gods to have a spirituality. We are obsessed by the question of monarchy, which is not at the core of these aforementioned groups. We have a doctrine, which is not their works (even if the Nouvelle Droite corpus is coherent and interesting). We don”t try to form the same type of militant : we seek intellectual cadre rather than a metapolitical fighter as does Nouvelle Droite). 

Another difference is our strategy to take power. And, we are still nationalists . By the way, it’s funny to see how Alain de Benoist and the Nouvelle Droite have lessened their own divergences with us. Alain de Benoist is no longer imperialist but a populist, which forces him to be anationalist. His opposition to the Catholics Churches is no more at the core of his thoughts. Of course, there is still the racial question raised between us. We still think that France is not a race, but a compound. The ethno-differentialism is not always an operating  framework, which is quite problematic.

As a matter of curiosity how does the AF generally view Napoleon Bonaparte both as an ultranationalist as well as monarchist group?

As good Frenchmen, we cannot be joyful when we think of the Napoleonic victories (especially when he crushed English troops). But this bright side doesn’t prevent us from seeing that Napoleon was a slaughterer who ignited the whole Europe and resulted in France becoming  smaller at the end. Could we agree that this is not the best choice for everybody ? 

In recent polling RN appears to be the most popular party among the under 35s with some listing their support as circa 40%, how has France, a nation historically regarded on the political left, reached a point that populists have attained such a large audience?

The luck of the RN is the incapacity of other political parties to speak about mass immigration. It was some taboo built up by the French president Mitterand with antiracist organisations like ‘SOS anti-racisme’

It was a clever trap to divide the right between the acceptable right and the dark racist, right. But facts are stubborn and many people see the problem with massive immigration or islamic terrorism. So, people search for an answer or accept to try something new. 

The RN have a lack of political officers and don’t really try to take the power. This is only a manifestation of an opposition and not really an opposition. The leader of the RN, Marine Le Pen, shows at multiple times her unpreparedness and many RN members have legal issues, fraud violence etc. The problem is not the RN people, which includes a lot of lovely people, but the gap between their claims and reality. 

In conclusion, the RN is an republicain party and all that entails. Populism in France is still more like a wide beast waiting to find its champion. 

Due to what appears to be chronic unrest the viability of the French state is now questioned due to recent carnage. What are the chances of general civil war like conditions appearing in the country in years ahead?

I really hope that France will not collapse into a civil war, because a civil war is a war of brother against brother or father against son. This is the worst situation for a country. The main point to be a nationalist yet is to avoid a civil war, to unify people against the trouble of globalization. 

For the moment, most of the trouble shows the incapacity of French government to handle the situation, but we are not in some kind of civil war. Or rather, we are still in the same stange civil war since the French Revolution. 

The French writer Houellebecq, who is considered by many people as a prophet, in his book “Soumission” (Submission) depicted how French Muslims could take the power and impose a soft sharia regime based on the results of sexual misery (and social charity inspired by the distributism…) Hopefully, this is just a book as was 1984 or Brave New World… For the moment.

Finally to end on a positive note, what makes you hopeful for the new decade with regards to the future of France?

Maurras said that “Every despair in politics is an absolute siliness”. We are not optimistic, or pessimistic for the future because this is like being a half happy moron or half sad moron. We continue our open sky plot against the government. But, this is very clear for more and more French see that democracy is a God that failed and that we need to change our fundamentals. With red hats, yellow jackets or the campaign against gay marraige, we see old political questions raised in the public debate. Leftist can no longer pretend to be on the side of the people.

Posted by Ciaran Brennan

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