The Essence of Archaism
It is probable that only after the catastrophe which will bring down modernity, its world-wide saga and its global ideology, that an alternate vision of the world will necessarily impose itself. No one will have had the foresight and the courage to apply it before chaos erupted. It is thus our responsibility -- we who live, as Giorgio Locchi put it, in the interregnum -- to prepare, from this moment forward, a post-catastrophic conception of the world. It could be centered on archeofuturism. But we must give content to this concept.
It is necessary, first, to return the word "archaic" to its true meaning, which, in its Greek etymon archê, is positive and non-pejorative, signifying both "foundation" and "beginning" -- that is, "founding impetus." Archê also means "that which is creative and immutable" and refers to the central concept of "order." To attend to the "archaic" does not imply a backward-looking nostalgia, for the past produced egalitarian modernity, which has run aground, and thus any historical regression would be absurd. It is modernity itself that now belongs to a bygone past.
Is "archaism" a form of traditionalism? Yes and no. Traditionalism advocates the transmission of values and, correctly, combats the doctrines of the tabula rasa. But it all depends on which traditions are transmitted. Not every tradition is acceptable -- for example, we reject those of universalist and egalitarian ideologies or those which are fixed, ossified, demotivating. It is surely preferable to distinguish from among various traditions (transmitted values) those which are positive and those which are detrimental.
The issues that disturb the contemporary world and threaten egalitarian modernity with catastrophe are already archaic: the religious challenge of Islam; geopolitical contests for scarce resources, agricultural land, oil, fisheries; the North-South conflict and colonizing immigration into the Northern hemisphere; global pollution and the physical clash of empirical reality against the ideology of development. All these issues plunge us back into age-old questions, consigning to oblivion the quasi-theological political debates of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, which were little more than idle talk about the sex of angels.
Moreover, as the philosopher Raymond Ruyer, detested by the left-bank intelligentsia, foretold in his two important works, Les nuisances idéologiques and Les cents prochains siècles, once the historical digression of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries has finally closed, with egalitarianism's hallucinations having descended into catastrophe, humanity will return to archaic values, that is, quite simply, to biological and human (anthropological) values: distinctive sexual roles; the transmission of ethnic and popular traditions; spirituality and sacerdotal organization; visible and supervisory social hierarchies; the worship of ancestors; initiatory rites and tests; the reconstruction of organic communities that extend from the individual family unit to the overarching national community of the people; the deindividualization of marriage to involve the community as much as the couple; the end of the confusion of eroticism and conjugality; the prestige of the warrior caste; social inequality, not implicit, which is unjust and frustrating, as in today's egalitarian utopias, but explicit and ideologically justifiable; a proportioned balance of duties and rights; a rigorous justice whose dictates are applied strictly to acts and not to individual men, which will encourage a sense of responsibility in the latter; a definition of the people and of any constituted social body as a diachronic community of shared destiny, not as a synchronic mass of individual atoms, etc.
In short, future centuries, in
the great pendulum movement of history that Nietzsche called "the eternal
recurrence of the identical," will in some way revisit these archaic values.
The problem for us, for Europeans, is not, through our cowardice, to allow
Islam to impose them on us, a process which is surreptitiously occurring,
but to reimpose them on ourselves, while drawing upon our historical memory.
Recently, an important French press baron -- whom I cannot name, but known for his left-liberal sympathies -- made to me, in essence, the following disillusioned remark: "Free-market economic values are gradually losing out to Islamic values, because they are exclusively based on individual economic profit, which is inhuman and ephemeral." Our task is to ensure that the inevitable return to reality is not imposed upon us by Islam.
Obviously, contemporary ideology, hegemonic today but not for much longer, regards these values as diabolical, much as a mad paranoiac might see the features of a demon in the psychiatrist trying to cure him. In reality, they are the values of justice. True to human nature from time immemorial, these archaic values reject the Enlightenment error of the emancipation of the individual, which has only ended in the isolation of this individual and in social barbarism. These archaic values are just, in the Ancient Greek sense of the term, because they take man for what he is, a zoon politicon ("a social and organic animal integrated into a communatarian city-state"), and not for what he is not, an isolated and asexual atom fitted out with universal but imprescriptible pseudo-rights.
In practical terms, archaism's anti-individualist values permit self-realization, active solidarity and social peace, unlike egalitarianism's pseudo-emancipating individualism, which ends in the law of the jungle.
Excerpted from L'Archéofuturisme (Paris: L'Aencre, 1998). Trans. Irmin. The original French text is online at the Faye archive. Ellipses in the online text have been removed.