Rare are the French among whom the name Jean Thiriart evokes a memory. Yet from 1960 to 1969, through the transnational European organization Jeune Europe and the monthly La Nation Européenne he directed the first attempt, still unequaled, of the creation of a European revolutionary nationalist party, and clearly defined in his writings what now forms the doctrinal corpus of a non-negligible part of nationalist movements in Europe.
Born into a large liberal family in Liege that demonstrated strong sympathies for the left, Jean Thiriart first militated in the Jeune Garde Socialiste and in the Union Socialiste Anti-Fasciste, then during the Second World War in the Fichte Bund (a league coming from the Hamburg National-Bolshevik movement of the 1920s), and in the Amis du Grand Reich Allemand, an association that gathered elements of the extreme left in Wallonie favorable to European collaboration, even annexation in the Reich.
Condemned to three years in prison from the “Liberation,” Thiriart only politically resurfaced in 1960, by participating, during the decolonization of the Congo, in the foundation of the Comité d’Action and de Défense des Belges d’Afrique which became a few weeks later the Mouvement d’Action Civique. In a short time Jean Thiriart transformed this Poujadiste groupuscule into an effective revolutionary structure which – believing that the seizure of power by the OAS in France would likely be a great springboard for European revolution – gave effective support without fail to the secret army.
Simultaneously, a meeting was organized in Venice on March 4th 1962. Participating in it, besides Thiriart who represented the MAC and Belgium, were the Italian Social Movement for Italy, the Socialist Reich Party for Germany, and the Union Movement of Oswald Mosley for Great Britain. In a common declaration, these organizations declared that they wanted to found a “A National European Party, centered on the idea of European unity, which does not accept satellization of Western Europe by the USA and does not reject reunification with the territories of the East, from Poland to Bulgaria, through Hungary.” But the European National Party would only have an extremely brief existence, the archaic and narrow nationalism of the Italians and Germans rapidly broke up their pro-European engagements.
That added to the inglorious end of the OAS caused Thiriart to reflect, who concluded that the only solution was in the creation from scratch of a Revolutionary European Party, and in a common front with parties or countries opposed to the order of Yalta.
Culminating with the work started since the end of 1961, the MAC transformed into Jeune Europe in January 1963, a European organization that embedded itself in Austria, Germany, Spain, France, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Switzerland. The new movement contrasted its style with the habitual nationalist movements. It was very strongly structured, it insisted on ideological formation in true schools of cadres, it tried to put in place an embryonic central syndicate, the Syndicat Communautaire Européen. Furthermore, Jeune Europe wished to found European Revolutionary Brigades to start the armed struggle against the American occupier, and searched for external support. Thus contacts were made with Communist China, Yugoslavia, and Romania, and even with Iraq, Egypt, and the Palestinian Resistance.
If Jean Thiriart was recognized as a revolutionary to be reckoned with – he met Chou En-Lai in 1966 and Nasser in 1968, and was forbidden to visit in five European countries! – and if the military support of his militants in the Anti-Zionist combat was incontestable – the first European who would fall, arms in hand, in struggle against Zionsim, Roger Coudroy, was a member of Jeune Europe – his potential allies remained inhibited by ideological reflexes or diplomatic decorum that prevented them from according the desired financial and material aid to Jeune Europe. Furthermore after the crises of decolonization Europe benefited from a decade of economic prosperity with made the survival of a revolutionary movement very difficult. However, the press of the organization, first Jeune Europe, then La Nation Européenne, had a certain audience and counted high level collaborators among which we can cite the writer Pierre Gripari, the Alpes-Maritimes deputy Francis Palermo, the Syrian ambassador to Brussels Selim El Yafi, that of Iraq to Paris Nather El Omari, as well as Tran Haoi Nam, head of the Viet Cong mission to Algiers, and more personalities such as the American Black leader Stokely Carmichael, the coordinator of the executive secretariat of the FLN Cherif Belkacem, the commandant Si Larbi and Djambil Mendimred, both directors of the Algerian FLN, and the predecessor of Arafat at the head of the PLO, Ahmed Choukeri, granted interviews to it without difficulty. As for General Peron, in exile in Madrid, he would declare “I regularly read La Nation Européenne and I entirely share its ideas. Not only that which concerns Europe but the world.”
In 1969, disappointed by the relative failure of his movement and the timidity of his external support, Thiriart renounced militant combat. Despite the efforts of some in its cadres, Jeune Europe would not survive the departure of its principal leader. However, his lineage was claimed, from the start of the 70s, by the militants of the organization Lutte du Peuple in Germany, Austria, Spain, France, Italy, and Switzerland, in the 80s by the staffs of the Belgian magazine Volonté Européenne and the French magazine Le Partisan Européen, as well as the Les Tercéristes Radicaux tendency within the French NR movement Troisième Voie. Jean Thiriart would leave his political exile, in 1991, to support the creation of the European National Liberation Front, which was the only successor of Jeune Europe. It was with a delegation of the EFL that he went to Moscow in 1992 to meet the directors of the Russian opposition to Boris Yeltsin. Unfortunately Jean Thiriart was struck down by a heart attack shortly after his return to Belgium. He left unfinished many theoretical works in which he analyzed the necessary evolution of the Anti-American combat in the light of the disappearance of the USSR.
Inspired by Machiavelli and Pareto, Thiriart called himself “a doctrinaire rationalist” and rejected the habitual classifications of politics, he liked to cite the phrase of Ortega y Gasset “To be of the Left or to be of the Right is to choose one of the innumerable ways offered to man for being an imbecile; both, actually, are forms of moral hemiplegia.” The nationalism that he developed was an act of will, the common desire of a minority to realize something. Thus it was solely based on geopolitical considerations. For him, only nations with a continental span (USA, China, USSR) have a future, so thus to give Europe its greatness and importance, it should be unified, by creating a Revolutionary Party of the Leninist type that immediately starts the national liberation struggle against the American occupier and its collaborators, the parties of the system and the colonial troops of NATO. Western Europe, liberated and unified could then undertake negotiations with the USSR to construct the Great European Empire from Galway to Vladivostok, solely capable of resisting the new American Carthage, and the Chinese bloc with its billion inhabitants.
Opposed to confederate or federal models, such as the “Europe with a hundred flags,” Thiriart defined himself as a “Jacobin of the very Great Europe” wanting to construct a unitary nation conceived on the basis of a nationalism of integration, of an extensive empire granting to all its citizen omni-citizenship and the spiritual and judicial inheritance of the Roman Empire.
In the economic scheme Thiriart rejected “the economy of profit” (capitalism) and the “economy of utopia” (communism) to advocate “the economy of power” that aims for the maximum development of national potential. Certainly in his spirit, the only viable dimension for this economy is the European dimension. Disciple of Johann Gottlieb Fichte and Friedrich List. Thiriart was the partisan of “the autarky of great spaces.” Thus Europe, leaving the IMF and given its own currency, protected by solid custom barriers, and ensured by its self-sufficiency, could escape the laws of the global economy.
Although dating from the middle of the 1960s, the books of Jean Thiriart remain astonishingly timely. Since 1964, he described the disappearance of the “Russian Party” in Europe, more than ten years before the birth of Eurocommunism and nearly 25 before the upheavals in the Eastern countries. Even his description of the American party, the thousands of “US Quislings,” is still the reality in Europe today, as the positions of most politicians recently illustrated during the Gulf War, the clashes in Yugoslavia, and the last African outbursts. And his analysis of American imperialism has not aged, in 1966 he then recommended reading the Yankee James Burnham, advice that is still timely to follow in order to find in the book of the latter, The Struggle for the World, phrases such as this “It is necessary to renounce what remains of the doctrine of equality of nations. The USA must openly bid for the direction of global policy.”
Contestable from certain sides (overdone Jacobinism, too much rationalism, etc), we will not ignore it, Thiriart remains one of our great mentors for the last century. It is our responsibility to nourish his theories, to evaluate them and know how to surpass them in order to tackle the future in the year 2000.