Dominique Venner, prominent French author and much-decorated Algerian war veteran who shot himself before the altar of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on May 21, was a determined foe of homosexual “marriage”—which was legalized in France last weekend—and the threat of Islam to the French society. In Venner’s view, both issues were equally “disastrous” for France’s identity.
In the last entry in his blog, posted on the day of his suicide, he bewailed the failure of peaceful mass protests to prevent the passage of the marriage law and wrote of the need for “new, spectacular and symbolic gestures to wake up the sleep-walkers, to shake the slumbering consciousness and to remind us of our origins.” In his words, “We are entering a time when words must be backed up by actions.” “It is here and now that our destiny is played out to the very last second,” he wrote. “And this final second has as much importance as the rest of a life.” He also warned that “the population of France and Europe is about to be replaced,” brought under Islamist control and sharia law. The content of a sealed letter which he placed at the altar of the cathedral before shooting himself is still unknown.
Venner first gained prominence in 1956, when he took part in an attack on Communist Party headquarters in Paris in protest at the Soviet suppression of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. He later joined the Organisation de l'Armée Secrète (OAS), an illegal organization which opposed Algeria’s independence, and served 18 months in jail after the group’s failed plot to kill President Charles De Gaulle.
Following his release from prison, in January 1963 Venner joined Alain de Benoist to create a movement and magazine called “Europe-Action,” which was composed of nationalists, Europeanists, and former OAS members. He also created, with Thierry Maulnier, the Institut d'études occidentales (IEO). In 1970 founded its revue, Cité-Liberté (City-Liberty), which attracted numerous French and foreign intellectuals, including Thomas Molnar. In 1981 his Histoire de l'Armée rouge won a prestigious award from the Académie française. In 2002 Venner wrote a major work, Histoire et tradition des Européens, which sought to trace the common cultural bases of European civilization, and in which he presented his theory of “traditionalism.” At the time of his death he was editor of the La Nouvelle Revue d'Histoire.
Venner’s editor, Pierre-Guillaume de Roux, said that his suicide went “far beyond” the same-sex marriage issue. He added that Venner had been writing a new book, “A Samurai of the West: The Breviary of the Unsubued.” That title brings to mind the ritual suicide of Yukio Mishima in 1970, after a failed coup attempt. This is Venner’s explanation for his gesture in full:
The Reasons for a Voluntary Death
I am healthy in body and mind, and I am filled with love for my wife and children. I love life and expect nothing beyond, if not the perpetuation of my race and my mind. However, in the evening of my life, facing immense dangers to my French and European homeland, I feel the duty to act as long as I still have strength. I believe it necessary to sacrifice myself to break the lethargy that plagues us. I give up what life remains to me in order to protest and to found. I chose a highly symbolic place, the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris, which I respect and admire: she was built by the genius of my ancestors on the site of cults still more ancient, recalling our immemorial origins.
While many men are slaves of their lives, my gesture embodies an ethic of will. I give myself over to death to awaken slumbering consciences. I rebel against fate. I protest against poisons of the soul and the desires of invasive individuals to destroy the anchors of our identity, including the family, the intimate basis of our multi-millennial civilization. While I defend the identity of all peoples in their homes, I also rebel against the crime of the replacement of our people.
The dominant discourse cannot leave behind its toxic ambiguities, and Europeans must bear the consequences. Lacking an identitarian religion to moor us, we share a common memory going back to Homer, a repository of all the values on which our future rebirth will be founded once we break with the metaphysics of the unlimited, the baleful source of all modern excesses.
I apologize in advance to anyone who will suffer due to my death, first and foremost to my wife, my children, and my grandchildren, as well as my friends and followers. But once the pain and shock fade, I do not doubt that they will understand the meaning of my gesture and transcend their sorrow with pride. I hope that they shall endure together. They will find in my recent writings intimations and explanations of my actions.
For more information, one can go to my publisher, Pierre-Guillaume Roux. He was not informed of my decision, but he has known me a long time.
Dr. Srdja Trifkovic, Foreign Affairs Editor of Chronicles, is the author of The Sword of the Prophet and Defeating Jihad.