Catholic and Identitarian - Book Review

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Catholic and Identitarian - Book Review

“The absence of anger is a sign of the absence of reason.”
Saint Thomas Aquinas

 

For better or worse, I’m fairly certain there hasn’t been a Catholic in my family tree since the Reformation, and I remain unsure about a strict definition of “Identitarianism.” It was with an ambivalent but open mind, then, that I recently read Julien Langella’s Catholic & Identitarian, a furious lament on the present condition of France and a firm apologetic for ethnic activism among Christians. Such a text is surely needed. In May 2016 I wrote a scathing essay on Christian attitudes to, and activism on behalf of, mass migration, prompted by the foot-kissing antics of Pope Francis, described in the essay as “the personification of a sick glorification of humility and weakness.”

Although I focused for the most part on the Catholic Church, I took aim at all denominations with the demand that “Those who describe themselves as Christian White advocates need to become more vocal in articulating a more ethnocentric or culture-based theology that their co-religionists will find convincing. It is simply not enough to hope that Nationalists can achieve something politically and then come to the rescue of the churches.” Julien Langella, one of the co-founders of Génération Identitaire and whose text first appeared in French in 2017, has provided an admirable response to this problem that will appeal to, and educate, readers of all religious backgrounds and none.

Is this a Catholic book? Yes and no. Religious elements of the text are, thankfully in my opinion, framed as a backdrop to the primary concern: the French are facing the gradual but imminent replacement of their ethnic group in their own homeland. Langella’s central ambition in the book is therefore to explain and condemn this Great Replacement while stressing how Catholicism (and other important facets of the traditional and ancestral life of the French) could and should be used as an underpinning for a resurgent French “Identitarianism.” Langella helpfully avoids some of the clichés of the “TradCath” social media scene by demonstrating an impressive grasp of historical Catholic literature as well as a mature and wide-ranging understanding of many of the contemporary political, ideological, and economic currents that have combined against the European peoples. Most important of all, he is honest in his criticisms of the prevailing attitudes of the Catholic Church on mass migration and ethnicity, devoting one section of the book to a dissection of Pope Francis himself. Unashamedly local in concern, yet avoiding a parochialism that ignores the need for Europeans to unite on some level, Catholic & Identitarian is the most impassioned warning and call to action that I’ve read since Guillaume Faye’s blistering Ethnic Apocalypse (2019).

The book is divided into five chapters, each of which is subdivided into lesser sections. Some of the latter are just a few paragraphs long, which gives the book a sense of fast pacing despite the heavy subject matter often under discussion. The writing style is punchy and straightforward, and mercifully devoid of jargon.

The text opens with an interesting Preface from Abbot Guillaume de Tanoüarn, who has previously made headlines in France for resisting the police-enforced demolition of churches. Abbot Guillaume uses his Preface to make the moral and spiritual case for ethnocentrism among Europeans, commenting that “the crisis we face is a moral crisis, and because of its rootedness, because what is at stake is the identity of each of us, one can even say that, deep down, it is also a spiritual crisis.” Individualism is regarded as a cancer, because the common good, or communicatio, of a nation is “not founded on individuals who are magically stuck together, but on families who, in the Christian model of society which prevailed in the West, represent a union of two sexes in “one flesh,” according to the law of love.” Against the organic community, “it has become fashionable in the media to question identity, to stigmatise attachment to soil and traditions. It is almost as if any prior spiritual wealth, anything greater than the Individual, has become suspicious, or has transformed into some new bizarre metaphysical paradigm.” Abbot Guillaume laments the arrival of a perception that individual “freedom encounters no other limit, no other boundary than the liberty of others in a world where neither good nor evil has the slightest meaning.”

 

Abbot Guillaume dragged from St Rita church, Paris by riot police in 2016
Abbot Guillaume dragged from St Rita church, Paris by riot police in 2016

For Abbot Guillaume, “identity is inherited,” and “among the facts that condition individuals, ethnic origin has its place. … There obviously exist different ethnic origins.” He pours scorn on “the ideology of mandatory miscegenation, which includes an infatuation with quotas and the compulsive glorification of diversity on the “American model,” for which one carefully fails to set limits and ignores in particular the violence it often entails,” and endorses the message of Langella that “miscegenation does not enrich; it impoverishes.” The Abbot closes his Preface with the wish that “the ideology of globalism, as all ideologies, will one day explode like a bubble in response to the urgency of natural politics.”

Julien Langella’s brief introductory chapter sets the scene. Catholicism is on the decline in France, and rather than being incremental, “the collapse is brutal.” More than just a lack of faith and adherence, French society has turned radically to open effronteries to the historical faith: “working on Sundays, homosexual parody of marriage, legalisation of euthanasia, consecration of abortion as a fundamental right, trafficking of women’s bodies through surrogate mothers etc.” The religious decline has occurred alongside massive demographic change, with 20% of the French population now of foreign origin. Langella makes the argument that “De-Christianisation and the Great Replacement go hand in hand,” with Western spirituality, if it exists at all, now being replaced by “an obsession with ‘well-being,’ a kind of Westernized Buddhism” (which I have demonstrated elsewhere is heavily Jewish) and “the cult of the god Consumerism.”

Against this spiritual and moral decline, Langella proposes a militant Catholicism typified by the statements of Dom Gérard Calvet, founder of the Sainte Madeleine du Barroux abbey in Le Barroux, who declared his violent antipathy to “the globalist heresy” that wants to “simultaneously eradicate the faith and dissolve the people into a consumerist blob.” Langella asserts that “multicultural societies, sinking ever more each into violence, are doomed to perish,” and celebrates the fact that Catholic voters in France are increasingly turning to ethnocentrism, voting for the Front National in higher percentages than the national average. Langella argues that these voters and activists should gather under the banner of “Identitarianism.”

Why Identitarianism? Langella explains that “nationalist” is a tainted word in France that has “never won general support.” While there is “no academic definition” of Identitarianism because “it does not correspond to any specific school of thought or specific doctrine,” it amounts to an “awareness”: “multicultural societies are multi-conflictual societies, and the homogeneity of a nation determines its survival.” He adds, “to be Identitarian is to reject the commercial standardisation of way of life at the global level, immigration through non-European settlement, and the increasing Islamisation of our streets.” All of which can be summed up in Langella’s stark statement: “If the French disappear, then France dies. … Globalism is a culture of death, and the Identitarian struggle is a march for life.” The introduction closes by making the claim that Christian charity and the struggle for identity are not contradictory:

To claim to accommodate all the misery of the world is not charity. At best, it is weakness and laxity. At worst, it is a calculation in favour of the interest of those who profit from servile labour and a cheap market. The foreigner also has a homeland and a right to live well there, a right to rootedness. Therefore, to accept an uncontrolled flow of immigrants into our country is not the solution to the miseries of Africa and the Middle East. On the contrary, it gives a moral guarantee to those who would transform these unfortunate people into urban slaves. Between the false generosity of pro-immigration lobbies and the cynical “compassion” of certain shady employers, there lies a world of hypocrisy.

The book’s first, and most Catholic, chapter, “Catholic and Indentitarian, Universal and Rooted,” is a prolonged argument against those who have asserted that “total open borders is the only possible Christian position on the subject.” Langella describes the “twisting” of scriptures to defend such an agenda as an act of “moral terrorism,” “perverse ideological manipulation,” and “an idolatry of humanity, a new golden calf, rather than faith in the incarnate God.” For Langella, and the many Catholic thinkers he cites, unity in the Church is not equivalent to the “absurd relativism which prides itself in loving everyone, while it despises everything by placing them on the same level under the pretext of equality.” For Dom Gérard Calvet, such an idea is an example of “ancient Christian virtues twisted into foolishness,” while Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI, once wrote that “Man absolutely cannot by himself bring about world unity, for division is imposed upon him by the sovereign will of God.” Both were echoing the sentiments of Pope Pius XII, who declared that it was not the position of the Church “to attack or underestimate the particular characteristics that each people, with a jealous piety and an understandable pride, retains and considers as a precious heritage. Her purpose is the supernatural unity in universal love felt and practiced, and not in an exclusively exterior, superficial, and thus debilitating, uniformity.”

Identitarian activist and father-of-three: Julien Langella
Identitarian activist and father-of-three: Julien Langella

While Langella proves himself very capable of selecting some choice Traditionalist quotes, he is equally at pains to admit that “certain clergy — priests, bishops, and even cardinals — are among the first to uphold an unnatural Manicheism that opposes the Gospel to patriotism.” These clerics, spouting “nonsense” and endlessly agitating against the Front National, empty France “of much of her substance, reducing her to a collection of principles, at best “Christian values,” which is to say welcoming migrants, while “remaining more indulgent with the politics supportive of the legalisation of divorce, contraception, and abortion.” Citing Pius XII, Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas, Langella makes the argument that Christian charity must always begin at home, in “an order established by God.” In fact, Langella posits that “National preference is a fundamental Christian virtue.” What follows is a brief but interesting historical tour of Catholic mystics and clergy who undertook war against Islamic incursions, with Langella concluding that “defense of the homeland and defense of the Faith are a single entity in the face of the invading Muslim.”

The chapter closes with a survey of the facts demonstrating the reality of race, and the assertion that Catholicism cannot, and should not, deny it. Incorporating everything from Edmund Burke to Pope Pius XI and the findings of modern genetic studies, it’s a powerful apologetic for prejudice, with Langella asserting that “refusing prejudice is a moral blackmail, a weapon of intimidation against Europeans who are disgusted with invasion-migration. … In forbidding us from exercising the virtue of prejudice, the globalists want to force us to consent to our own disappearance under the wave of the Great Replacement.” He closes with a statement from Benedict XVI: “Nations should never accept to witness the disappearance of what made their own identity.”

The text’s second chapter, “The Religion of Miscegenation,” largely departs from spiritual discussion and context, and provides a very interesting exploration of multiculturalism that will provide food for thought for Whites of all religious persuasions —or none. For Langella, “Gender theory and multiculturalism have the same philosophical origin: liberal narcissism. … To fight gender theory and to ignore multiculturalism is totally contradictory.” The chapter moves on to a lengthy exploration of the nature and extent of miscegenation propaganda in France, which includes a national campaign poster promoting breastfeeding featuring blonde women with Black infants pressed to their chests. Langella describes this phenomenon as a “cult of miscegenation” embraced at all levels of society but promoted especially by hostile elites who have ensured that “what was formerly a purely private choice has become a virtue in and of itself.”

Langella cites as one example the Jew Bernard-Henri Levy who once wrote: “Everything that’s local, berets, butter, bagpipes, in short anything French, is foreign to us, even repugnant. … I like race-mixing and I hate nationalism.” Langella is blunt in his response: “Miscegenation is a war. By its obsessive nature, it’s even a jihad.” He then describes the links between globalism and the military-industrial complex, arguing that “military imperialism is the enforcement arm for the globalist project, that of a world where the United States and its lackeys can behave like ghetto rats on an international level.” These elites comprise a “nomadic oligarchy” that treats Europeans like sub-humans “and the rest of the world like replacement livestock.”

One of the book’s great strengths is its focus on the role of international finance in advancing globalism and multiculturalism. International money power demands that the peoples of the earth become “an inexhaustible reserve of servile workers and compulsive buyers.” Multiculturalism, “a weapon of mass subversion,” is “indispensable to the good order of a consumer society: without identity, without fixed landmarks, men are empty inside, so they try to fill this void with material goods.” Nations composed of interlinked and rooted families are inferior, in marketing logic, to nations of transient homosexual couples with two incomes and no children.

Against the rise of consumerism, Langella calls for a resurgence in activism in areas that are now seen as old-fashioned — like protest against work on Sundays. Pointing to the number of days off work during the Middle Ages (around 190 a year) due to feast days and religious events, Langella argues that reclaiming even one day of the week from consumerism would be a foothold in the struggle that would at least make Catholic activists appear “more credible.” As things stand, Western youth are in chaotic rebellion against all forms of Tradition since “Capitalism encourages young people to rebel against all authority except one: money.” He closes the chapter by remarking:

The arrival of this liquid society, composed of human beings with barely any willpower, is the anthropological sine qua non for the development of the liberal economy. … This is why, everywhere they can, with the complicity of their Left-wing proxies in education and culture, the hyper-nomads propagate the ideology of multiculturalism. And when people like the Serbs try to resist, “humanitarian” bombs rain down upon them. For as a last resort, there always remains armed force to impose through fire and tears what they could not achieve with advertising and moral lessons.

The book’s powerful third chapter, “The Migration Hurricane and the Church,” offers an unflinching look at the Catholic response to the waves of mass migration into Europe that has accelerated since 2015. Langella stresses that we are witnessing an ongoing colonisation of Europe, “for this is indeed an immigration of settlement.” The author posits three main causes of the migration wave: “globalist ideology as a consequence of the Enlightenment and Jacobin Republicanism; the need for a servile labour force, encouraged by the liberal desire to abolish borders; and the dependency promoted by the welfare state.”

Faced with this trifecta, and in a pattern witnessed throughout the West, the French “Right” “has always been the first to betray the French people. Large corporate interest in cheap labour and international Marxism go hand in hand to promote a world without borders where the rule of money can extend without limit.” This combined power has been catastrophic, with one ancient village in the Loire region consisting of 188 inhabitants subjected to a dumping of 100 immigrants (in effect, a total destruction of the life of the village) in the name of “population distribution” to areas “without housing shortages.” In “disgusting displays of cynicism,” Big Capital has been propagandizing such new values while crushing native employment, with Uber running campaigns to collect clothing and toys for illegal immigrants while ruining local cab drivers, and Starbucks announcing their intention to employ 10,000 refugees. For Langella,

This is the typical liberal double-game: on one hand, fracture the workers by exacerbating competition among them, and on the other, acquire a brand image in supporting the current humanitarian cause. It’s a win-win for them in terms of profitability and moral reputation.

Following this discussion is a very disturbing exploration of anti-White activity in France, culminating in an exploration of the rape of French women by migrants. Some of the stories are among the most horrific that I’ve encountered, and there’s no benefit in my repeating them here. The predictable result of this endless ethnic crime has been a form of White flight, and the rise of ethnic segregation in France. As Langella puts it, “You can eliminate land borders all you want; ethnic borders will remain. … We are witnessing genuine ethnic division on French territory.” Langella, to his great credit, always retains a grander vision, and is always at pains to avoid degenerating into a Counter-Jihad caricature, which to be honest is something that I, in my ignorance of Langella and his activism, expected prior to actually reading his text. This broader vision is exemplified when the author finally reaches the subject of Islamic terrorism toward the middle of the chapter, where he concludes: “Islamism is the tree that hides the forest: the true cause of the attack in Paris was immigration.” I couldn’t agree more.

From here Langella moves to a discussion of Church attitudes to mass migration. Setting out his case, Langella argues that the Church “does not have a political program, but she offers a moral framework.” The Church’s record in activism on behalf of refugees and migrants is, however, very mixed. In 1914, Pope Benedict XV instituted the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, but this was primarily in response to the Armenian genocide, and was not “a justification of immigration in itself.” A “migrant” in the ecclesiastical language of the time, was always assumed to be fleeing genuine persecution, rather than being an immigrant in a general sense.

Over time, argues Abbot Guillaume, the Church has passed from a teaching of duty of charity to the oppressed to the “ideological value of immigration as an absolute.” For Abbot Guillaume and Langella, this is a heresy that essentially posits immigration as “a trampoline for the Second Coming,” and is “profoundly anti-Christian.” Both point to the “universal destination of goods” as “the foundation of the Catholic critique of capitalism.” This idea always posits that social actions must always take place within the context of uplifting the common good. This “Common Good,” argues Langella, should be the compass of political action and is infinitely more important than “diversity.” He cites Pope John Paul II as saying the right to emigrate “should be regulated because applying this right in an uncontrolled way can be dangerous and harmful to the common good of the communities welcoming the migrants.” Pope Benedict XVI, meanwhile, asserted that “States have the right to regulate migratory flows and to defend their borders.”

Langella then moves to a discussion of “the elusive Pope Francis.” Langella is probably correct in stressing that due to media distortions, especially the media’s desire to portray Francis as a Leftist Pope with relaxed attitudes on gays and open arms for migrants, a full picture of the current Pope’s ideological positions is more difficult than usual to discern. That being said, Langella critiques Francis for being intentionally ambiguous, and for “offering to journalists on a platter” an ambiguity that has led to him becoming “the darling of the intellectual Left.” Langella further criticizes the Pope for “improperly appealing to emotion, and more often in favour of illegal immigrants rather than those who pay the price of accepting the migrants, though no one ever asked if the latter wanted to do so.” The author also sees validity in claims that Francis has shown “indifference towards the victims of crimes committed by illegal immigrants” and “a certain disdain for Europeans as well as a kind of preference for the migrant.” Langella is clear:

Pope Francis is more than ever a pope of images and gestures. He knows the media impact of a good phrase, a good word. The Pope likes to disarm his interlocutors. Not to detract from his refreshing spontaneity, but we have to recognise that he is a “good customer,” as they say in the trade.

Faced with such a situation, Langella offers common sense to his fellow Catholics: “The Pope is not infallible when he discusses social questions. … We can — with prudence — criticise the political speech of the Pope if it hurts the common good.” Closing the chapter, Langella appeals to the writings of a host of cardinals that support the right to strong borders and oppose the globalist project of mass migration. In the meantime, Langella suggests waiting for a shift in leadership rather than encouraging division in the Church, opining that “the best way to save the position of the Pope is to refrain from commenting on it.” I don’t agree, but then I’m not Catholic and I will concede that Langella may have a better appreciation of the situation.

The fourth, and in my view most interesting, chapter of the book is titled “What To Do?” As you might expect, it’s a program of action. The first step is to attempt to change terminology, or the interpretation of it. Langella stresses that “migrant/refugee” is a piece of terminology designed to inculcate sympathy where it is not deserved. What most of these foreigners want is not safety but “comfort and modernity. What they wanted was superfluous shiny objects.” Europeans must strip themselves of sentimentalism, of a love devoid of truth. For Langella, most Black and Middle Eastern migrants are mere cowards seeking luxury, and this is the vision of these foreigners that he believes must become endemic among Europeans if a genuine sea-change in attitudes is to take place.

The next step is the return to fundamental notions of homeland as “a bridge between God and men, a gateway between Heaven and earth.” This ecological outlook locates Man firmly inside his habitat, in opposition to liberal anthropocentrism which places Man above all, and in opposition also to “Deep Ecology” (see the work of Pentti Linkola) that posits Man as an animal no higher than any other. In Langella’s view of a Christian ecology, Man’s culture and traditions and his age-old links to the soil are as worthy of preservation as the habitat itself, reversing the trend of deranged leftists to campaign on behalf of endangered squirrels while entire villages are handed over to foreign peoples.

The third step is the fostering of genuine European unity based on common ethnic and cultural feeling rather than on strictly economic and military interests. What Langella proposes is a “European policy of rootedness” resembling the Visigrad Group (Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary) which together has been described as “the most secure region on the continent.”

The fourth step is a reversal of the endless quest for increased GDP which has contributed to an “evident form of moral underdevelopment.” Langella is opposed to international finance and posits a return to forms of corporate social financial order resembling the medieval guilds based on local self-sufficiency and accountability. Explaining this turn to Localism, Langella explains:

It is not the extreme Left-wing globalists who are inciting migratory flows, it’s not even the No Border types who help illegal immigrants to cross the borders. It’s global industrial capitalism. The sole alternative to global uprooting is localism. We don’t need to make everyone in the world a farmer, but we do need to allow people to have food sovereignty, which is also economic and political sovereignty. In other words, we must give them back their dignity. This is the best antidote to uprooting.

Finally, Langella moves to the ethnically foreign population residing in France. He asserts that assimilation is an unachievable myth, and that France is not merely an “idea” but a biological reality that is under threat. The only real response, he argues, is forceful repatriation. Here there is no room for sentimentality: “Mass immigration is a cancer. … It is a profound injustice. … It’s a collective kidnapping. It’s murder. They’re killing us.” Repatriation should begin with a return to the law of blood and the end of birthright citizenship, along with a moratorium on labor migration and a ban on family reunification. This would be swiftly followed by the non-renewal of residence permits with automatic deportation at the end of their period of validity. All construction of non-Christian places of worship would cease. All Islamists would then be targeted for systematic expulsion “to the country of their family history.” After this, specialist units of the police and army should be employed in the rapid and massive forceful removal of foreign populations: “Without a show of force on our part, a general explosion will be imposed on us at any rate, because multiculturalism carries within it the seeds for war like clouds carry the storm.”

Prior to this sequence of events, Langella advocates the building of networks of the ethnically aware in rural France, where localism can be seeded and where defense zones can be efficiently constructed. This will be necessary because “France has learned well that from now on, the state is its enemy and that, despite our calls for unity, the police will never side with us.” He therefore advocates the attitude of the partisan, described by Carl Schmitt as someone who “defends a piece of land for which he has a native attachment,” and whose primary strength is “his bond with the land, with the native population, and with the geographic configuration of the country, mountains, forests, jungle, or desert.” Langella expects no sudden collapse of the System, and is prepared to play the long game.

I have to admit that the book’s fifth chapter, “Fall and Reconquest,” struck a bum note with me, and it would have been my preference, had I been editor, to have omitted it entirely. The entire chapter is a re-run of the Book of Maccabees, which Langella offers as a blueprint of reconquest for us to follow. It didn’t resonate with me at all, or indeed with the approach of the rest of the book, and its inclusion continues to baffle me. The book closes with a somewhat poetic two-page conclusion, the central message of which is that we must “kill the bourgeois inside us” and engage in a “crusade of an integral and permanent love. An eternal fire in our heart, a feast of every moment and of every day.”

Julien Langella is to be commended for producing an impassioned, and often furious, message from a dying France. Some bum notes and petty criticisms aside, there is much here to enthuse and enrage the committed Catholic, and to educate and inspire the non-Catholic. Of course, I could critique the lack of engagement with Jewish matters, but I think it’s already a minor miracle, given France’s array of harsh speech laws, that he ever managed to publish this remarkable work. I think Julien Langella is a very intelligent and capable activist who needs no reminding of the influence of certain elements in the tragedy unfolding for his nation. My demand for total honesty, in this instance, therefore wavers somewhat at the prison gates that inevitably loom in France for anyone daring to question that which lies behind so many of the labels (globalists, nomadic oligarchs, etc.) employed in this very mature text.

I’d be dishonest if I didn’t mention that the total collapse of Catholic Church credibility, much of it mired in seemingly endless sex abuse scandals, hasn’t contributed in some part to the massive swing to the Left in nations like Ireland. I don’t think it’s the sole cause, of course, and I believe at least some of these scandals have become a kind of media meme for a reason, but I do believe that the Catholic Church has a credibility issue to address before it can in any way become a focal point for the ethnic revival of its faithful. But, to Langella’s credit, he appears to be planning for a Catholic revival somewhat outside the Church. This strikes me as eminently sensible. For the record, my own experiences in France are limited to a couple of trips to Paris, some seven years apart. The first was disappointing, the second utterly heartbreaking, as I witnessed some of the world’s most beautiful sites and streets sunk in the degradation and filth of mass migration. I sincerely wish Julien Langella the very best of luck in his quest to redeem his homeland for his people and indeed his God.

Republished from The Occidental Observer by permission of the author, Andrew Joyce, who also writes a regular column in the Irish Patriot newspaper of Siol na hEirainn  https://www.irishpatriots.com/newspaper
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