Roman Bernard is a French journalist and activist fundraiser working on behalf of multiple right wing organizations. I met Bernard at the 2012 H.L. Mencken Conference and was immediately impressed by his intellect and dedication to the cause we both shared. His story is an interesting one and I asked him to do this interview so that we might learn from his unique experiences. In particular, Bernard exemplifies how we can “Do Something” more consequential than just sharing ideas in the blogosphere. Bernard currently resides in Canada, though he hopes to eventually relocate to the United States.

Forrest: Thank you for agreeing to do this interview today. Perhaps a good place to start would be to discuss how you got involved with what the mainstream calls the Far Right?

Bernard: To be clear, I have always been appalled by the civic religion of white guilt, by the spread of Islam throughout Europe, and by the effeminacy of modern Western Man. And I have always been scornful of pointless consumerism and the utter ugliness of the ubiquitous concrete architecture of modernity. However, in my youth I actually believed myself to be a Leftist because of the profound scorn I had — and still have — for the mainstream Right. Politics were an illusion for me in the sense that I believed the official Right when they presented themselves as the guarantors of the established order. I also believed the Left which described itself as “fighting the power” when of course they are the power in the West.

Forrest: You are certainly not alone in that regards. Many of the youths I encounter on campus today are attracted to the Left because of an outdated romantic notion that it is somehow rebellious. So what was it that opened your eyes about the Left?

Bernard: When I started my journalism degree, I witnessed firsthand the totalitarian nature of the Left. It was made perfectly clear to me by the academic priesthood that I would have to adopt a multicultural political view if I wanted to become a successful journalist, and that I would have to prove my loyalty on a number of issues, including gay marriage, immigration, and feminism.

Forrest: I too have felt this pressure in my own academic pursuits.What enabled you to resist the intimidation and indoctrination?

Bernard: Many of the multiculturalist positions I was being taught in the classroom were contradicted by what I was learning outside the classroom. When I moved to Strasbourg (in Alsace, France’s German-speaking region) to begin my graduate studies, I decided to reduce my expenses by living in the cheapest residence possible. This meant living in a Muslim majority area which opened my eyes to the problems of diversity and the utter displacement of the White population. The day to day experiences I lived through impacted me in ways that my classmates avoided since they were living a much different reality.

Forrest: Liberals do seem to love diversity from afar…but do you think ignorance alone can account for their distorted worldview? Many liberals also seem to suffer from a false consciousness generated by relentless leftist propaganda.

Bernard: In general, the worldview of liberals is inhibited by both. But for my classmates, their indoctrination was so complete that they were unable to see clearly even when the truth was right in front of them. One story illuminates this point well. My peers and I were given a writing assignment that required us to cover a series of minor court trials. Almost all the defendants were Arabs, Turks or Blacks…but when I amusingly commented on this detail, the other graduate students responded as if I had said something not only morally wrong, but also factually incorrect. We had just spent the entire morning observing mostly Muslim and African thugs, but insinuating that certain identity groups are more likely than others to commit crimes was immediately dismissed as preposterous.

Forrest: Again…this too is something I have frequently observed in academia. Empirical evidence is ignored when it does not correspond with the expectations of ideology. Or, as is often the case when it comes to multiculturalists, evidence of inequality is expediently rationalized as proof of intolerance or unfairness—both of which mandate the expansion of government intervening powers.I’m curious though…did you ever attempt to change the minds of your fellow graduate students or at least offer them bread crumbs?

Bernard: I did my best to write as a heretic under censorship by subtly pointing out the contradictions inherent in contemporary liberalism. For instance, one day I interviewed a self-employed Moroccan construction worker whose company was subsidized by every level of government, from the city council to the European Union. My classmates were of the mindset that this was a fair reparation owed to a non-white living in a racist society who had, no doubt, suffered discrimination since childhood. However, my classmates did not know how to respond when I pointed out that this racial debt owed to the Moroccan was being paid by poor taxpayers.

Forrest: You forced them to see there is a hierarchy of victims…and that the liberal priesthood has ordained racial minorities to be of higher status than the underclass.

Bernard: Precisely. And it is revealing that my cohorts did not offer up the solution that we should simply tax the rich. As we contrarians know all too well, the idea of “white privilege” gives liberals a pretext for abandoning poor white folks.

Forrest: So did pointing out contradictions like this ever work? Did it provoke your contemporaries to question the PC orthodoxy?

Roman Bernard
Bernard: Sometimes. But it didn’t really matter to me. The more contradictions I encountered, and the more my life experience conflicted with the idealism of the ivory towers—the greater my need became to speak my own mind freely without PC inhibitions. To do otherwise would have reduced me to an omega gelding. My peers ultimately began to view me as a kind of crypto-fascist, but at least they knew I was not going to lie to them. Indeed, some of my classmates even began to value my opinion when they wanted to hear something sincere. Becoming a pariah was thus liberating for me and enabled me to command the respect of those willing to listen.

Forrest: And today you are even less subtle in your writing and activism. Does this reflect a change in strategy or something else?

Bernard: It was a change in strategy…stemming from a change in perspective. When I was a graduate student, I was still a reactionary in the sense that I defined myself primarily against the leftist dystopic project and was not really standing for a project of my own. It took me three years, from my graduation in 2008 to the end of my involvement in the Parisian conservative movement to stop reacting—to stop trying to conserve—and to instead start asserting my European identity.

Forrest: This seems to be a very important distinction. Please elaborate.

Bernard: What I went through was really a form of ideological awakening. I became aware that everything in my life that I appreciated and took for granted was in danger—reading stimulating books, tasting delightful wines, meeting interesting people, walking or riding in the middle of empty landscapes, watching emotionally powerful movies, rowing finely crafted boats. I also became aware that all these things, more aristocratic than I had ever believed, were standing in the way of the egalitarian agenda. And perhaps most disturbing of all was the discovery, in my racially unconscious days, that all these things I valued were a product of European, White civilization…and they would disappear if Whites become a minority or if they continue to put individualism in front of racial loyalty.

Forrest: Some might refute the claim that everything you value is a product of Western civilization. Cultures and peoples do learn many things from each other…which is not to say that the West isn’t…or wasn’t…better at creation than other cultures. Nevertheless, much of what you and I value today is the creation of other cultures.

Bernard: I do not dispute your point. There have without question been other great civilizations in history. The Japanese, Indians, Chinese and Islamic people have all made important contributions to the world. We can recognize the various strengths of these civilizations and take inspiration from the noble and inventive things they engendered. That is exactly what the West used to do best. To use a very basic example…the Arabs produced coffee long before the West adopted it and transplanted it to the Americas. Today, the most refined coffee is brewed in Italy. It is the essence of our civilization to take what is best in other civilizations and improve upon it.

Forrest: So you are not advocating for isolation?

Bernard: Certainly not. Asserting our identity does not mean shutting ourselves off from the world, but it does mean recognizing that civilizations achieve their maximum level of fulfillment when they are culturally and racially homogeneous. Nevertheless, separation does not mean isolation.

Forrest: Are you suggesting then…that in order to conserve, we first need to recognize that what we want to conserve is very much dependent upon race—that we need racial consciousness? Or do you have something else in mind similar to Alex Kurtagic when he says that: “To succeed, we have to project an image of success…That means getting rid of the negativity…Speaking not in terms of what we’ve lost; but in terms of what we’re going to gain; in terms of what kind of society we want to build, in terms of what happens next, not what happened before.”

Bernard: I think both of those perspectives are valid…but what I’m really driving at is that everything we love about our culture and take for granted we ourselves did not have to actually create. On the contrary, we’ve just enjoyed what was created for us by a once great civilization…a civilization that seems unable to perform this same function now. Our mission must therefore be to revitalize the West with the powers of creation. This means restoring much of what was lost…but it also means building something altogether new because what was lost did not have the capacity to prevent the physical, moral, and psychological collapse of our civilization. We must therefore separate what made us strong from what made us weak and build on the former with new contributions that will be passed on to our posterity. It’s a little like the metaphor of the bicyclist: the one who doesn’t go forward falls. There’s no way a culture can content itself with freewheeling. We must preserve, we must restore…but also must we adapt and create.

Forrest: In our previous discussions of immigration, multiculturalism, and government repression—you stated that America was better off than Europe. Could you please discuss this point?

Bernard: The more the situation in the West deteriorates, the more people seem to look for models in other Western countries. European right-wingers observed with envy the rise of the Tea Party, however tepid this movement was, whereas American right-wingers look with fascination to the other side of the Atlantic. Consider the statements of accomplished thinkers like Dr. Kevin MacDonald and Jared Taylor. The former has said that, “the Revolution will start in Europe” and the latter extols the French nationalist movement as “an inspiration for us all”. I certainly appreciate these two scholars’ optimism about Europe, but many European conservatives and libertarians disagree with this assessment…and so do I, albeit for different reasons.

Forrest: What are their reasons? And how do they differ from yours?

Bernard: When the Parisian libertarians and conservatives explain why they think America will handle its present difficulties and Europe shall fail, they usually mention three factors—the first and second amendments of the American Constitution, and the freedom to homeschool your children. I do believe these are important considerations, but they are really secondary causes. We need to probe deeper and ask why America kept these liberties when Europe lost them. Not so long ago — let’s say up to the end of the 19th century — Europeans could bear arms and defend themselves, they were free to publish their thoughts, and they could educate their children as they pleased. Today, these freedoms have all been severely restricted and there currently does not exist an equivalent of the “AltRight-sphere” in France.

Forrest: But certainly the same trend of these freedoms being restricted is occurring in the United States?

Bernard: Unfortunately, this seems to be true. American Renaissance conferences can be shut down when anonymous antifas threaten to kill the hotel staff, and even a Hispanic is not permitted to defend himself with a gun when a Black thug named Trayvon attempts to kill him. Nevertheless, the principles of free speech and self-defense do seem to keep inspiring a fair number of people in your country. My analysis is that as endangered as they are, the American people —or at least an appreciable number of them — are still forward-looking. The Europeans, on the other hand, are often backward-looking. They have essentially become a civilization of museum attendants. That is unfortunate for Dr. MacDonald’s thesis, because I doubt that revolutions start in museums.

Forrest: What do you mean by forward-looking and backward-looking? And is this your “first cause” explanation as to why Europe lost the three liberties mentioned above that America has not?

Bernard: Although they are often called the “New Right,” most “Far Right” Europeans are conservatives who want to maintain the status quo as if it were possible to halt the course of history. But a defensive posture enables Europeans to do little more than slow down encroachments by the Left which results in a new status quo to be defended. I believe there to be more vitality in the “Far Right” of America…they want to do more than simply preserve. This is important because we cannot win this struggle against liberalism if we are unwilling to take the offensive, relentlessly attack liberals, and constantly strive for a future of our own creation that will never leave us satisfied with a defensible status quo.

Forrest: You have mentioned to me before that hate speech fines are impoverishing some of the best writers of the European traditionalist right. Perhaps this is something you could also share for our readers?

Bernard: Many readers of Alternative Right are probably familiar with the name Guillaume Faye. He has published a number of rightwing books that are now available through Arktos. In 2000, he was fined 50,000 francs (a little less than $10,000) for his book La Colonisation de l'Europe (The Colonization of Europe). The fine was levied simply for daring to discuss the demographic overrun of the continent. In America, he would have been protected by the First Amendment. A fine of $10,000 is quite something when your only income comes from book sales…particularly when convictions like these deter publishers from printing future controversial books.

Forrest: Is there any hope that things will change for the better in Europe…and that an “AltRight-sphere” will emerge?

Bernard: I have been pleasantly surprised by the positive reception of Génération Identitaire’s storming of the Poitiers mosque — but the problem this movement faces now is a repressive state and an otherwise subdued public. If those who participate in organized, nonviolent dissent are continually punished with high fines or jail…and if the public passively condones this repression…then Europeans will never be capable of presenting a serious challenge to the liberal establishment. What Génération Identitaire requires is a mass movement that not only approves, but is also willing todefend the young heroes that take action. Unfortunately, I don’t yet see that kind of support emerging. Let’s hope things will change.

Génération Identitaire at the Poitiers mosque.
Forrest: Perhaps the type of public support you are talking about will require dedicated individuals to go it alone, endure these costs now, in order to inspire and inform the people.

Bernard: Perhaps. And what I’ve been especially heartened to see is that the storming of Poitiers’s mosque inspired people throughout the broader Western world. For example, right after I published my report on Bloc Identitaire’s Convention here at AltRight, I received an e-mail from a young man in Calgary, Alberta who asked me how to set up a local franchise of Génération Identitaire! Responses like this give me hope because it’s exactly what we should be endeavoring to accomplish: the rise of a pan-European/pan-Western sentiment that transcends our petty “national” differences. It’s the road to Francis Parker Yockey’s Imperium, which must be our ultimate goal…though unlike Yockey, I believe White Americans will be indispensable to this imperial establishment.

Forrest: Let’s switch gears now and talk about your fundraising efforts. I think this is a topic that all of our readers would be interested in hearing about. Many of them are probably deterred from this form of activism by the belief that their efforts will prove unsuccessful. Is this a real concern? How successful have your fundraising efforts been?

Bernard: I’ve actually had a great deal of success collecting the postal addresses of prospective donors for a variety of libertarian and conservative organizations, chiefly Contribuables Associés (Associated Tax Payers), a fiscal conservative organization, and Avenir de la Culture (Future of Culture), a traditional Catholic lobby. Perhaps the greatest success I’ve had was a petition I wrote that went viral in 2011, which was against free retirement pensions for immigrants, legal or illegal, who have never worked in France. The petition acquired 107,917 signatures (the French population is one fifth that of the United States, so this is equivalent to half a million signatures in America).

Forrest: That is very impressive. What impact did this have?

Bernard: It received good media coverage, to the point that I got invited to the presidential palace. Not by Sarkozy, of course, but by one of his advisors. Ultimately, it forced parliament to pass a 2011 bill that restricted retirement pensions to Europeans and immigrants who have lived at least ten years in France. This was an important step in the right direction, but unfortunately was still not enough. The current welfare system enables immigrants to spend ten years in the country without working and then cash in on retirement pensions.

Forrest: It is a shame your petition could not close this welfare loophole.

Bernard: Yes, it is. But one of the major benefits of my petition efforts was that signatories gave us their postal addresses, which allowed Contribuables Associés (mentioned above) to significantly increase its donor base.

Forrest: Is fundraising something anyone can just start doing? Or are there preparation steps that should be followed?

Bernard: My own training included the Leadership Institute’s International School of Fundraising. The actual courses were somewhat disappointing, but what was useful was meeting proficient fundraisers who could provide practical advice. The best counsel I can offer readers interested in fundraising is that you learn how to raise funds by doing it. I know that sounds trite…but you have to get out there and discover what works for you and your particular skill set…and more importantly, you have to learn what will work for the specific cause you are promoting, the specific donors you are targeting, and what can generate media support in the current political climate.

Forrest: Let’s say readers want to raise money for an Alternative Right website or event. What advice could you offer them? Do they start with friends and family? Do they approach strangers on message boards or in the local pub? Should they link up with fundraising organizations that already exist or do it on their own?

Bernard: Starting with friends and family may seem like an unprofessional idea, but it is actually the best way to begin. Of course, “friends” is not limited to the pals you grew up with or the guys in your fraternity. “Friends” means all the friendly persons or organizations that you can approach. You can ask them for money, or if they are an established donor collector, you can request to rent their donor base. And once you have grown your own donor base, you can help them in return.

Forrest: But don’t activist organizations cling to their donor base and refrain from helping other organizations because of competition?

Bernard: I think most professional donor organizations recognize this concern to be unwarranted for several reasons. First, the audiences of each organization are not exactly the same, so when two organizations exchange their donor bases, each organization gets new prospects that may be more partial, and thus more generous, to the new organization they are exposed to. Next, people are less likely to make donations if they think the organization they are giving money to is alone and the money will be spent in vain. On the other hand, when the donor knows there are several interrelated organizations acting on behalf of a cause, this gives the impression of a broader network with greater capabilities. Finally, every donor base is perishable. If organizations want to keep a living donor base, the best way to accomplish this is to ally with other organizations to keep their donor bases fresh.

Forrest: Is it possible to support yourself and a family as a right wing, professional fundraiser? Or must you maintain another career and do your fundraising on the side?

Bernard: It is quite possible to make a living of it. Indeed, there are some individuals who do very well for themselves as fundraisers, even for right-wing organizations. For me personally, I'm at an intermediate level, which allows me to live comfortably, but thriftily. It is also possible to raise funds in your spare time, but if you want to maximize productivity, then you have to be willing to go full-time. The same philosophy applies to all fields of political activism. Once you reach a certain level, either you invest all your time and energy in it, or you burn out because you stretch yourself too thin.

Forrest: How important is fundraising to an organization’s success?

Bernard: Money is certainly important, but it should never be given precedence over general strategy. Beltway conservatives are keen on saying that “you can’t save the world if you can’t pay the rent,” which is a pure sophism, because it implies that you will save the world provided you pay the rent. If your only concern is paying the rent…or as Rothbard wrote, “paying the salaries and financing luxurious housing for these institutions,” then you will not advance your cause an inch, let alone “save the world.”

Forrest: Is there an instinctive tendency for rightwing fundraising organizations to soften their image and liberalize their cause in order to pull in more donations?

Bernard: Indeed…and thus the many “movement conservatives” who raise funds for useless organizations. In 2009, I collected postal addresses for an organization named SOS Education, which regularly changed their political line whenever they thought doing so would make them more appealing to donors. At the beginning, their stated goal was to “liberate schools,” then it became obtaining “autonomous” schools, and now the goal is simply “efficient schools” with no significant change in structure. Sadly, this transformation worked…the less radical the organization became, the more money it received, because a toned down message broadened their appeal to the public. Now they can afford to run their operation out of a sumptuous 2500 square feet apartment near the Jardin du Luxembourg, one of the swankiest places in Paris. But raising funds has become an end in itself…and their organization is far too modulated to effect real change.

Forrest: One final question, Roman. For our readers interested in fund raising, are there any online resources I can direct them to?

Bernard: Readers interested in fundraising should definitely check out the Leadership Institute’s International School of Fundraising. I hope one day this kind of event will also exist in our movement. It is time for us to have our own networks instead of feeling ourselves compelled to blend in the conservative movement every time we want to be fully efficient. Let’s do it ourselves!

Forrest: I couldn’t agree more. Thank you for your time today. This has been a fascinating discussion.

Bernard: Thank you for inviting me.

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