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René Binet, the French Father of White Nationalism

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Le programme “Transnational History of the Far Right” menée par Marlène Laruelle (et auquel participent divers contributeurs de #FTP) publie une nouvelle note sur la plateforme de l’Illiberalism Studies Program. Nicolas Lebourg y dresse le portrait d’un théoricien marginal et inconnu mais dont l’histoire participe de la production des rénovations de la radicalité et s’avère particulièrement pertinent pour saisir le « nationalisme blanc ».

Long limited to the US context, White nationalism has now become an international issue following Anders Breivik’s 2011 terror attack in Norway and the 2019 Christchurch mosque shooting by Brenton Harrison Tarrant. While French author Renaud Camus’ expression le grand remplacement (the great replacement)[1] has travelled the globe, René Binet (1913–1957), also a Frenchman, fathered the concept earlier. Binet remains a totally unrecognized figure, even though he can be presented as the European equivalent of the American Francis-Parker Yockey (1917–1960)—whom he met.[2] Binet’s militant life of a monk-soldier was entirely devoted after 1945 to the production of a transnational racist political project sanctifying the unity of the white world.

Binet’s political engagement over the first 16 years of his career saw him traverse the political spectrum. He joined the Communist Party in 1930, then went to the Soviet Union in 1931. He was expelled in 1934 from the Communist Youth for showing sympathy with the arguments of Jacques Doriot and of Leon Trotsky.[3] Binet was one of the founders of the Trotskyist Internationalist Communist Party (ICP) in 1936 along with Pierre Frank and Raymond Molinier—both future pillars of the Unified Secretariat of the Fourth International.[4]

The Trotskyist newspaper that Binet was running at that time, Le Prolétaire, which he linked to American and European antifascist periodicals, had “Proletarians have no Fatherland” as its motto. With war looming, it boldly declared: “The bourgeois homeland is in danger? May it die!”[5] Binet was arrested in August 1939 for distributing pacifist propaganda. Enlisted in May 1940, he was soon taken prisoner. In 1943, he enrolled in Germany’s Compulsory Work Service.

In February 1944, Binet joined the Legion of French Volunteers Against Bolshevism (LVF), a French unit of the Wehrmacht, and then of the Waffen-SS, formed by collaborationist volunteers from the Vichy regime to participate in the  invasion of the Soviet Union.

On May 3, 1945, disguised as a civilian, he surrendered to the Americans. With the help of his military papers from 1940, Binet claimed to be an escapee. Repatriated to France, he joined the Quaker Relief until 1946.[6]

His wife Marie-Angèle Lamisse, also a former member of the ICP and a Quaker employee, actively assisted Binet. She created a support structure for former prisoners which served as a basis for the first group her husband founded in 1945: the Republican Party for Popular Unity (PRUP—Parti républicain d’unité populaire), which, like all the groups founded by Binet at the time, tried to enlist from on the left on radical nationalist slogans.[7]  The party engaged against “Slavic and American imperialism,” and denounced the cultural influence of the Vatican and of the United States. At the same time, Binet launched an isolated organization in January 1946 that clandestinely resumed the publication of the LVF newspaper, Le Combattant européen. This generated conflict with other networks of former Nazis which sought to infiltrate the anti-communist movements.

To finance the Socialist Movement for French Unity (MSUF—Mouvement socialiste d’unité française), founded in 1948, Binet and Lamisse acquired aid from the Argentinian embassy, sounded out Spain and Yugoslavia (Binet describes Tito as a “Slavic Doriot”),[8] and maintained excellent relations with the spokesmen of the Egyptian embassy and the Arab League.[9] Binet was also connected with the Bruderschaft, an association of former SS members founded in 1949 to influence Germany’s post-war nationalist parties.[10]

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Notes

[1] See the occurrence of Google searches for the notion of “great replacement”: “Grand remplacement,” Google Trends, Google, accessed October 29, 2020, https://trends.google.fr/trends/explore?date=all&q=%2Fg%2F11bbsws11q.

[2] Maurice Bardèche, Suzanne et le taudis (Paris: Plon, 1957) 128–129.

[3] See Jean-Michel Brabant and Rudolph Prager, “BINET René, Valentin,” Le Maitron, updated May 2, 2013, https://maitron.fr/spip.php?article16745.

[4] Le Prolétaire, February 4, 1939; La Vérité, March 15, 1939.

[5] Le Prolétaire, April 1939.

[6] Direction des Renseignements généraux (DRG – Directorate of General Intelligence), “A/S de l’association dite Mouvement socialiste d’unité française,” February 15, 1949, pp. 7–10, AN/20030515.

[7] Notes by the General Secretariat of the Elysée (SGE) from June 1949 and March 1951 (AN/4AG/77).

[8] L’Unité, November 6, 1948.

[9] Notes of the RG, August 1950 September 1951, AN/19980419/15/4007; note of the General Directorate of National Safety (DGSN) from November 26, 1948, AN/4AG/76.

[10] Note from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from August 15, 1950, FOIA CIA-RDP78-01617A000900120001-8.