New right seduces the left to sign anti-war declaration

"The Europeans want peace", heads the petition written by the French anti-war committee "Non à la guerre". Although originating from the extreme right, the committee managed to get a lot of signatures from left-wing intellectuals. The New Right hopes to gain credibility by being involved in projects together with progressive intellectuals. The Dutch new-right Voorpost leader Marcel Rüter was also interested.

On 20 April 1999 he sent 2 articles on the petition against the Kosovo war to the e-mail subscribers of the Dutch radical-left discussion magazine Konfrontatie. Through a small technical failure by the editors, Rüter was able to get a hold of the list of subscribers to the digital magazine.

New ecology

The first piece was a press report sent out by the French committee, in which they boast to already have received the signatures of 400 prominent figures and 40,000 others. Also, supposedly more than 50 local branches were initiated and the committee announced the first street manifestations. According to the committee, only the Americans really wanted the war, making the peaceful Europeans very angry. We are the only force against the war now, the committee writes, now that all right-wing and left-wing parties turn out to be pro-war.

The petition and the press report are written by Laurent Ozon. Ozon is director of Nouvelle Écologie, the ecology branch of the French new-right think tank GRECE, which is closely connected to the Front National. By way of the ecology movement, GRECE tries to make Blut-und-Boden (blood-and-soil) theories popular once again. Ozon works closely together with the English millionaire Goldsmith, whose ultra-conservative ecological ideas have an enormous influence in new-right circles. In some cases Ozon has acted as a spokesperson for Goldsmith in France.

Biggest enemy America

Along with Ozons press report, Rüter sent an article by Luc Pauwels. Pauwels is a co-founder of the extreme-right Vlaams Blok and nowadays director of the Delta foundation, the Belgian daughter of GRECE. Just like his French colleagues, Pauwels sees the "American military colonialism that comes hand in hand with their cultural and economic imperialism" as the biggest enemy. NATO is no more than an "American instrument" to "keep Europe under control", Pauwels says. But he is not signing the French petition. On the contrary, he supports the NATO-war against the "communist Milosovic".

Not a word in the petition is spent on European imperialism. Nationalism, so abundant in the post-Yugoslavian wars, is not seen as a problem by the committee. On the contrary, they themselves argue solely using nationalist concepts. The petition does not incorporate anti-racism, feminism and workers' struggle, as would be the case in a genuinely left-wing analysis. The whole of the European New Right signed Ozons petition, but also many prominent left-wing intellectuals like the British playwrite Harold Pinter and film director Ken Loach ("Land and Freedom"). On the list are also communists, anarchists and greens. Some didn't know about the origins of the petition and immediately withdrew their signature once they heard. But others didn't mind. Worse, they seemed to agree with the extreme-right analysis offered in the petition.

Refusing to co-operate

Already back in 1993, a group of 40 prominent European intellectuals, among them Umberto Eco, spoke up against getting involved in new-right projects. "For some time now ideologists of the Far Right have undertaken steps to make us believe they have changed. In order to do so, they have led a big seduction campaign targeting democratic personalities and intellectuals, some of whom are known as Leftists. Badly informed about this activity or completely unaware of it, the latter have agreed to sign articles in some journals run by these ideologists. Once snared, these signatures apparently lend credence to the idea that the supposed change is a reality." To avoid being used in this way, the authors of the letter announced that, in the future, they would "refuse all collaboration in journals, collective works, radio and television programmes, as well as colloquia directed or organised by people whose connections with the Far Right have been demonstrated."

Recently, the anti-war committee has published a nation-wide newspaper, with a circulation of some 80,000 copies. It contains articles written by Ozon and his extreme-right comrades, but surprisingly also some by left-wing intellectuals. The most famous of them being Noam Chomsky. According to the editors, Chomsky himself agreed to the publication. Fortunately, now the new-right petition is followed by a left-wing counter-petition, issued by intellectuals who want to halt the New Right.

Eric Krebbers
De Fabel van de illegaal
July 1999

Some editing of the English translation by Alain Kessi

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Last updated 1999-07-30