Despite being an icon among members of the alt-right, French writer Alain de Benoist rejects comparisons between the movement supporting President Donald Trump and the New Right ideology he founded in the 1960’s.
“Maybe people consider me their spiritual father,” de Benoist told BuzzFeed News, “but I don’t consider them my spiritual sons.”
At present, the intellectual who “helped give an aura of respectability to the notion that European ‘identity’ needs to be defended against erasure by immigration” considers himself more left than right. He said he would have voted for Bernie Sanders in America’s presidential election in 2016, and supported leftist candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Sanders’ French counterpart, in his country’s elections.
De Benoist, BuzzFeed’s feature notes, possesses some troubling contradictions.
“He’s denounced racism but opposes integration,” the report reads. “He rejects demands that immigrants assimilate or ‘remigrate’ but laments ‘sometimes-brutal’ changes they bring to European communities.”
And perhaps most tellingly, de Benoist “disavows the alt-right but collaborates with some of the most prominent people associated with the movement” — including Richard Spencer, whose National Policy Institute de Benoist spoke to in 2013. According to the report, the founder of the French New Right continued to work with Spencer after the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August, and even wrote an essay for a book published by the white nationalist’s press alongside an essay by a well-known anti-Semite.
Most of the nearly 100 books de Benoist wrote haven’t been translated into English, and many of the modern translations have been commissioned by white nationalists who praise his work. When asked by BuzzFeed if he’d withdraw his books from presses run by people whose ideologies he claims to reject, de Benoist deadpanned: “Sure I could, but who will publish me?”