Jean-Marie Benoist

communards1Benoist is an interesting adition to the IEDSS in terms of the use of postmodernism. Benoist was the author of Defense spatiale et dissuasion: securite de l’Europe et de l’Alliance a report based on an international conference in Paris: Centre Europeen de Relations Internationales et de Strategie (CERIS). This included contributions from the National Strategy Information Center (which funded IEDSS) and the Fondation Europeenne pour l’Economie. Benoist died in 1990, and a National Review obituary from 1990 by Martin Sieff states that:

In the twenty years since Mr. Benoist published his first great book, Marx Is Dead, he lived to see his once-heretical ideas on the value of free markets and personal liberty rout the Marxists who for generations had dominated French intellectual life. A deeply devout Catholic, Mr. Benoist easily bridged the gap between old-fashioned European traditionalism and the new American-inspired neoconservatism of the 1970s […] He lived to see the Marxism which was unquestioned by most French intellectuals in 1968 become widely discredited, even in socialist circles.

This also note that Benoist’s ‘How Democracies Survive’, was a response to Jean Francois Revel’s ‘How Democracies Perish’, much in the manner of the IEDSS retort to E.P. Thompson’s Protest and Survive. Benoist was also the author of (1975) “The End of Structuralism,” Twentieth Century Studies 3 (1970), Marx est mort (a response to the events of 1968), the (1975)The Structural Revolution, and (1975)Tyrannie du logos (a study of the relation between Plato, the Sophists and the emergence of metaphysics). In 1978, he stood as a right-wing candidate to the legislative elections against Georges Marchais, the leader of the French Communist party, without success. In the early 1980 he became part of the New York University in France, and was associated with Roland Barthes. Throughout his career he visited the US, as a visiting professor at Harvard and Georgetown.
As a result of a growing interest in anti-Marxist politics and foreign policy he founded, and was President of the European Center for International Relations and Strategy (CERIS) in 1984 and joined the advisory board of the right-wing Rassamlement pour la Republique (RPR) in 1985

Benoist was associated with the ‘New Philosophy’ group (Bernard-Henry Lévy, André Glucksmann, Maurice Clavel, Phillipe Sollers and Philippe Némo) who are often quoted, such as in the (some would say) unbridaled tedium of Florentin Smarandache Neutrosophy, a New Branch of Philosophy, as positing:

Because any attempt to change the political power ends up in embarking another power, “the revolution is impossible.”

Geert Lernout’s (1992) The French Joyce, notes (p. 140) that Benoist was Levi-Strauss’ assistant, and that:

A number of the ideas of the new philosophers are simply borrowed from poststructuralism; literature is the most dangerous enemy of the state (Dolle); the repression of the state is pervasive and functions especially through language; on the level of theory the weapons of the state are rationalism and positivism, both children of the Enlightenment.

One formulation of the groups ideas are contained in Bernard-Henry Levy’s (1979) Barbarism with a Human Face—possibly a response to the phrase in Rosa Luxemburg’s ‘Junius Pamphlet’, which argued that the choice facing humanity is one of ‘socialism or barbarism’: either the triumph of imperialism and the destruction of all culture […] or, the victory of socialism. ‘Socialisme ou Barbarie’ was also the title of the French Revolutionary Group, which included Cornelius Castoriadis. Indeed Benoist was a signatory, with Castoriadis and other, on an appeal against censorship by the Communist authorities in Vietnam in 1982.

The new philosophers group has been described in a reviews of the book by David J. Levy , as “disillusioned veterans of the student revolt” and the ultra-Leftist groups which it produced, who “received a remarkable amount of publicity for themselves and their views” including a somewhat incongruous TIME profile. This adds that:

Politically they are linked by a deep hostility to the mainstream of the Marxist Left which, following Solzhenitsyn, they see as inevitably totalitarian and repressive. So far, one may think, our New Philosophers are merely another generation of apostates from the god that failed. Indeed several commentators have asked, quite pertinently, what can they tell us that is not already familiar from the work of Koestler and his contemporaries.

According to a biographical profile at Minnesota University Benoist was a professor with the French Lycée Charles de Gaulle in London and then cultural attach at the French Embassy in London (1970-74) and later became a political journalist in the camp of Jacques Chirac.

With Patrick Wajsman, Benoist published the (1990) Après Gorbatchev, and he also has connections to the Heritage Foundation, writing on the subject of the INF (which was a main focus of the IEDSS and US public diplomacy in the 80s) with Heritage Lecture #149, February 28, 1988: The Fallacy of the INF Treaty, drawing on Eugene Rostow this argued:

East Germany’s Honecker already speaks more and more overtly of a complete denuclearization of the whole of Germany – both East and West – which is the fulfillment of Gorbachev’s strategy to eliminate Western nuclear weapons in order to put Free World deterrence in complete jeopardy.[…] Then attacks will be launched […] against the strategic central nuclear systems, especially those of Britain and France; they will be attacked through propaganda action and resurrected peace movements.

*Back to the The Institute for European Defence and Strategic Studies

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