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Ideology » On Economics: Excerpts from Alain de Benoist’s Manifesto
Ideology

On Economics: Excerpts from Alain de Benoist’s Manifesto

Alain de Benoist

For those involved with politics on the nationalist right, the spectrum of topics discussed is often anything but broad. The reason for this is obvious: issues of immigration and identity are the most pressing, therefore it would be rather doltish of us to spend all of our time discussing, say, the pros and cons of nationalised railways. But sometimes it’s a positive exercise to broaden our gaze, otherwise we run the risk of becoming a “one-trick pony”, as the saying goes, and our credibility to implement comprehensive policy change is negated by our relative lack of debate in other spheres. These considerations, coupled with an inevitable boredom with monotonous identitarian activism, occasionally drives us to theorise on other issues.

With this in mind, the author wishes to present the reader with an excerpt from a book that every European nationalist should own: Manifesto for a European Renaissance by French academic and author Alain de Benoist. He’s the founder and head of an organisation known by its French acronym “GRECE” (Research and Study Group for European Civilisation) and has been widely influential in European nationalist circles, focusing on Nordic/Germanic culture and neo-Paganism. Another French author extremely popular with the identitarian right, Guillaume Faye, is a former member of GRECE and cites de Benoist as partial inspiration for his works Why We Fight and Archeofuturism. Russian academic and one-time State Duma adviser Aleksandr Dugin has cited the economic principles laid out in de Benoist’s Manifesto for a European Renaissance as being the foundation for the economic outlook of Dugin’s own Fourth Political Theory, which underpins his wider Weltanschauung of neo-Eurasianism. Thus, we can see that the de Benoist’s credentials as a political theorist amongst nationalist- and traditionalist-minded thinkers demonstrates the authority with which his writing should be viewed.

The following excerpt can be found on pages 41, 42 and 43 of Manifesto for a European Renaissance and should be considered recommended reading for those wishing to broaden their political ideology beyond the realms of immigration and identity. These sections in particular, which the author shall reprint below, deal with economic concerns and the question of labour, as well as the role of economics in the political affairs of Europeans in hypothetical future conditions. They offer a new perspective on the role of work in social, economic and political life, as well as conceiving a society in which the economic bows to the will of the political – a situation that exists juxtaposed in Western capitalism today.


8. Against Productivism; For New Forms of Labour

“Work (in French ‘travail’, from the Latin ‘tripalium’, an instrument of torture) has never occupied a central position in ancient or traditional societies, including those which never practised slavery. Because it is born out of the constraints of necessity, work does not exercise our freedom, as does the work accomplished wherein an individual may see an expression of himself. It is modernity which, through its productivist goal of totally mobilising all resources, has made of work a value in itself, the principal mode of socialisation, and an illusory form of emancipation and of the autonomy of the individual (‘freedom through work’). Functional, rational and monetised, this is ‘heteronomous’ work that individuals perform most often by obligation [rather] than out of vocation, and this work holds meaning for them only in terms of buying power, which can be counted out and measured. Production serves to stimulate consumption, which is needed as a compensation for time put in working. Work has thus been gradually monetised, forcing individuals to work for others in order to pay those who work for them. The possibility of receiving certain services freely and then reciprocating in some way has totally disappeared in a world where nothing has any value, but everything has a price (i.e., a world in which anything that cannot be quantified in monetary terms is held as negligible or non-existent). In a salaried society, each one gives up his time, more often than not, in trying to earn a living.

Now, due to new technologies, we produce more and more goods and services with constantly fewer workers. In Europe, these gains in productivity result in unemployment and they destabilise some of society’s very structures. Such productivity favours capital, which uses unemployment and the relocation of workers to weaken the negotiating power of salaried workers. Thus, today the individual worker is not so much exploited, than rendered more and more useless; exclusion replaces alienation in a world ever globally richer, but where the number of poor people constantly increases (so much for the classic theory of trickle-down economics). Even the possibility of returning to full employment would demand a complete break with productivism and the gradual end of an era where payment by salary is the principal means of integration into social life. 

The reduction of the length of the work week is a secular given which makes obsolete the biblical imperative, ‘You will labour by the sweat of your brow’. Negotiated reductions in the length of the work week and the concomitant increase of new workers to share their work ought to be encouraged, as well as the possibility of flexible adjustments (annual leaves, sabbaticals, training courses etc.) for every type of ‘heteronomous’ job: to work less in order to work better and in order to have some time for oneself to live and enjoy life. In today’s society, the attraction and promise of goods grow ever larger, but increasing also is the number of people whose buying power is stagnating or even diminishing. Thus, it is imperative to gradually disassociate work from income. The possibility must be explored of establishing a fixed minimum stipend or income for every citizen from birth until death and without asking anything in return.

9. Against the Ruthless Pursuit of Current Economic Policies; For an Economy at the Service of the People

Aristotle made a distinction between ‘economics’, which has as its goal the satisfaction of man’s needs, and ‘chrematistics’ whose ultimate end is production, the earning and appropriation of money. Industrial capitalism has been gradually overtaken by a financial capitalism whose goal is to realise maximum returns in the short run, all to the detriment of the condition of national economies and the long-term interest of the people. This metamorphosis was brought about by the easy availability of credit, widespread speculation, the issuance of unreliable bonds, widespread indebtedness of individuals, firms, and nations, the dominant role of international investors, mutual funds that seek to make speculative profits, etc. The ubiquity of capital allows the financial markets to control politics. Economies become uncertain and even precarious, while the immense world financial bubble bursts from time to time, sending shockwaves throughout the entire financial network.

Economic thought is, moreover, couched in mathematical formulas which claim to be scientific by excluding any factor that cannot be quantified. Thus, the macroeconomic indices (GDP, GNP, the growth rate, etc.) reveal nothing about the actual condition of a society: disasters, accidents, or epidemics are here counted as positive, since they stimulate economic activity. 

Faced with arrogant wealth, which aims only at growing larger still by capitalising on the inequalities and sufferings that it itself engenders, it is imperative to restore the economy to the service of the individuals and their quality of life. The first steps should include: instituting, at an international level, a tax on all financial transactions, to cancelling the debt of Third World countries, and drastically revising the entire system of economic development. Priority should be given to self-sufficiency and to the needs of internal, national and regional markets. There needs to be an end to the international system of the division of labour. Local economies must be freed from the dictates of the World Bank and the IMF. Environmental laws ought to be enacted on an international scale. A way has to be found out of the double impasse of ineffective governmental economies, on the one hand, and hyper-competitive market-oriented economies, on the other, by strengthening a third sector (partnerships, mutual societies, and cooperatives) as well as autonomous organisations of mutual aid based on shared responsibility, voluntary membership, and non-profit organisations. 

End of Excerpt.


 

The words of de Benoist largely speak for themselves and require little further comment, except to draw the reader’s attention to a few notable points. Firstly, it has become quite evident that Western societies today are “economies with a state”, as opposed to a state with an economy. This current paradigm is, of course, incredibly destructive, for it permits market forces to make a mockery of this illusionary democracy we believe we participate in. Oswald Mosley once famously said, in a polemic against British democracy, that we truly live in a financial democracy, “where money and nothing but money counts”.

Prior to this, in ch. 8 on labour, the French academic proposes a world in which this common exchange, money for labour, is dismantled. He also goes on to advocate an end to capitalist practises of labour relocation and perennial unemployment, which, as we know, drives down wages. Furthermore, he voices support for the renegotiation of the working week and the introduction of more labour in order to share the burden and, thus, reduce the time each individual must spend prostituting his labour.

These labour ideas are distinctly Marxist in nature, but European nationalists shouldn’t baulk at the proposition of entertaining ideological facets from this source. Marx had many good suggestions for the alteration of the relationships between working- and capitalist-class representatives, including those which de Benoist suggested; preventing the relocation (economic migration) of labour, renegotiating the working week etc. This connection helps bridge the gap between de Benoist and Dugin, the latter being prominent in Russia’s National Bolshevik scene around the turn of the century.

Irrespective of ideological inspiration or common denominators between theorists, I would strongly recommend European nationalists read the works of de Benoist, Manifesto for a European Renaissance in particular, as well as the political works of ideologically affiliated thinkers and writers, such as Faye and Dugin. All of these authors have English-language works published by Arktos.

“Whoever criticises capitalism, while approving immigration, whose working class is its first victims, had better shut up. Whoever criticises immigration, while remaining silent about capitalism, should do the same.”

 

-Alain de Benoist

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