Opinion: Written by a European for Europeans – Jared Taylor

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Dominique Venner was a French historian, essayist and activist who, on May 21, 2013, committed suicide – in Notre-Dame Cathedral – in protest against the degradation of the West. In the suicide note he left on the altar, Venner wrote:

In the evening of my life, faced with immense dangers for my French and European homeland, I feel the duty to act as long as I still have the strength. I believe it is necessary to sacrifice myself to break the lethargy that gnaws at us. . . . I chose a highly symbolic place, Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral, which I respect and admire: it was built by the genius of my ancestors on the site of even older cults, recalling our immemorial origins.

Several of his books are now available in English. His most recent, A handbook for dissidents, has just been made available in a beautifully illustrated edition available here. I was honored to be asked to write the foreword.

“This Handbook was written by a European for Europeans”, writes the French patriot and essayist Dominique Venner. “Others, coming from other peoples, other cultures, other civilizations, will be able to read it, of course, but only out of intellectual curiosity.” A manual is a guide or set of instructions, and it is a guide to dealing with the greatest threat Europeans have ever faced: “The Great Replacement” – the process of demographic substitution named by another great Frenchman, Renaud Camus.

Venner calls it “unlike anything that has ever been seen in the past.” Indeed, unlike the life-threatening threats Europeans encountered at Marathon in 490 BC, Tours in 732, and outside the gates of Vienna in 1683, The Great Replacement is something we allow. Venner writes, “If this monstrous enterprise . . . can be carried out, it is because of the connivance of twisted or decadent elites, but also and above all because Europeans, unlike other peoples, have lost their memory of identity, their awareness of what they are.

Venner is confident that his people will rise up and save their civilization, but he warns that “there are no political solutions described in this volume, but a different view of the world and of life.” This book is therefore a challenge, a challenge to Europeans today to be worthy of their past and build a future of which their ancestors would be proud. I believe this book was also a challenge for Venner himself, a reminder of the standards by which a true European lives and – in Venner’s case, in particular – the standards by which he dies.

Venner says he writes for Europeans, but he also writes primarily for men, because we’ve left men and women unbalanced:

The masculine alone would give a world of brutality and death. The feminine alone is our world: the fathers have disappeared, and the children have become spoiled, weak and tyrannical little monsters; criminals are not guilty, but victims of society or sick people who need to be cared for. . . . [U]Under the guise of the advancement of women, feminism has spread hostility to manhood and the debasement of womanhood. . . . To speak, as we sometimes do, of a “feminization” of our societies seems to me out of place. The real problem is emasculation.

Venner even writes:[T]he presence of war, if only as a shadow, is what gives a society its meaning and its poetry. This is what allows it to coalesce and sustain itself as something more than a formless crowd – a people, a city, a nation.

Dominique Vener

Europeans today are waging senseless wars designed to turn everyone into interchangeable consumers of useless goods and ideological fetishes. Venner explains why:

The belief in our universal vocation is false and dangerous. It imprisons Westerners in a paradoxical ethnocentrism that prevents them from recognizing that other men do not feel, think or live like them. . . .

Venner adds: “Men only live by what distinguishes them: clans, peoples, nations, cultures and civilizations, and not by what they have superficially in common. Common humanity is only animality.

Anyone who understands this and speaks out against surrender finds themselves at war with their own people. Venner writes that he:

discovered that the courage required of a radical dissident in times of civil war eclipses that of heroes in regular wars. The latter receive legitimacy and attestations of glory from society. On the contrary, the radical dissident must find his justification within himself and face secret repression as well as the blame and hatred of the masses.

Anyone who fights for Europe today knows this.

How do we rediscover who we are? For Venner, the answer is in Homer, because The Iliad and The Odyssey are not only the founding stories of our civilization; they are Scriptures. Homer reveals “the heart of European civilization”:

Who am I? What are we? Where are we going? To these questions, Homer has given us answers that are still valid, and he is the only one to do so with such depth. For Europeans who are questioning themselves and their identity, his two great poems offer a mirror to rediscover our true inner face, stoic courage in the face of the inevitable, fascination for the noble and the beautiful, contempt for baseness and ugliness. . . .

For Homer, life, that ephemeral and so common little thing, has no value in itself. It is only worth something by its intensity, its beauty and the breath of grandeur that everyone can give it, especially in their own eyes.

Although most of Homer’s heroes are male, Penelope is also a model of strong, faithful and admirable femininity.

Ulysses and Penelope by Johann HW Tischbein, 1802

In a few words about Homer, Venner describes everything that today’s European is not:[Homer] awakens in us a thirst for heroism and beauty. . . . To Europeans, the founding poet reminds us that they were not born yesterday. He transmits to them the core of their identity, the first perfect expression of an ethical and aesthetic heritage of tragic courage in the face of an ineluctable fate. Homer also emphasizes “the importance for an individual to feel a vital sense of belonging to a people or a city that precedes and will survive him”.

Venner also admired the Stoics who believed that “everything that does not depend on our freedom of action (eg accidents, illness, sometimes even wealth or poverty) is neither good nor bad in itself; it is indifferent. Then you have to stop worrying about it. Venner paraphrases Epictetus: “People, things can kill me, not affect me in my soul, because I have made it invulnerable, inviolable.”

Venner quotes a passage from one of André Maurois’ novels about the young British officers Maurois met during the First World War:

Their youth has thickened their skin and hardened their hearts. They fear neither fist nor fate. They regard exaggeration as the worst of vices, and coldness as a sign of aristocracy. When they are discouraged, they wear the mask of humor. When they are ecstatic, they don’t say anything or everything. . . .

Venner adds, “Unable to control fate, they learned to control themselves.”

We cannot read certain passages in western samurai without thinking of Venner’s own tragic and heroic end. He writes that it was the Romans “who made suicide the quintessential philosophical act, a human privilege denied to the gods” that can never die. Venner also admired the Japanese warrior ethos.

Altar of Notre Dame Cathedral. (Image credit: Nmillarbc, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

“Seppuku [a warrior’s ritual suicide] was not just a means of escaping dishonor for the bushi [warrior],” he writes. “It was also an extreme way of demonstrating their authenticity by a free and heroic act.” He quotes the 18th century warrior’s guide, the Hagakure: “It is necessary to prepare for death all the day, and day after day”, adding in his own words: “Thus we shall overcome the anguish of living and the fear of dying. . . . It is only if we are submitted to it that death has no If it is wanted, it has the meaning given to it, even when it has no practical utility.

In a milder passage, Venner writes: “Death puts an end to the cruel diseases and the decadence of old age, thus leaving room for new generations. Death can also prove to be a release when the spell becomes too painful or dishonorable.

For Venner, Christianity became an obstacle to European heroism. He quotes Celine:

Widespread among the virile races—the detested Aryan races—the religion of “Peter and Paul” fulfills its duty admirably: it reduced subjugated peoples to poor and submissive subhumans, from the cradle; he sent these hordes, confused and stupefied, drunk with Christic literature, in search of the Holy Shroud and magic hosts; it made them forever abandon their blood gods, their race gods. . . . Here is the sad truth: the Aryans never knew how to love or adore the god of others, never had their own religion, a white religion. . . .

Venner also quotes Jean Raspail, author of Camp of the Saints: “[Immigrants] are protected by Christian charity. In a way, Christian charity leads us to disaster!

But if Venner is an atheist, he is a respectful Christian atheist: “I don’t erase the Christian centuries at all. Chartres Cathedral is as much a part of my world as Stonehenge or the Parthenon. This is the inheritance we must receive. He also writes: “It is not necessary to be a Christian to enter [a church] . . . . Calm, silence and architectural beauty make a church a beneficial retreat. . . . Sit apart and let the silence enter you.

But Christians must change:

I hope that in the future, from the church of my village as from our cathedrals, we will continue to hear the reassuring chime of the bells. But more still I hope that the prayers heard under their vaults will change. I hope people will stop begging for forgiveness and mercy, and instead ask for vigor, dignity and energy.

It was of course in one of the most famous churches in Christendom that Venner committed suicide.

Dominique Venner believed that until European man died out, his degenerated outer forms could be brought back into conformity with his ancient and indomitable spirit. He bought this book at the end with words for us to live:

Whatever you do, your priority must be to cultivate within you, every day, like an omen of good fortune, an indestructible faith in the permanence of the European Tradition. . . .

We know that individually we are mortal, but that the spirit of our spirit is imperishable, as is that of all great peoples and all great civilizations. When will the great awakening take place? I don’t know, but of this revival I have no doubt.

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