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ROMANTICISM AND REALISM IN THE FASCISM OF DRIEU LA ROCHELLE
French fascist ideology has often been described by scholars as being essentially "romantic'"in nature, as a kind of sentimental, emotional fling whose participants tended to be irrational, subjective, and aesthetic in their approach to politics rather than realistic, objective, and tough-minded.' It has been argued that this is one reason literary intellectuals like Robert Brasillach, Louis-Ferdinand Celine, Alphonse de Chateaubriant, Abel Bonnard, Lucien Rebatet, and Pierre Drieu La Rochelle were drawn to fascism in the 1930's: it was a politics of romanticism, "le romantisme fasciste" Paul Serant has called it; a union of "politics and aesthetics" another scholar has written.2 Thus Robert Brasillach of the pro-fascist journal, Je suis partout, described fascism as a kind of "poetry" and was enchanted by "poetic" images of Hitler youth around campfires, mass meetings at Nuremberg, and heroic moments of the\ past. Certainly there is a good deal of truth to this portrait of French fascism and its mystique: a strong current of romanticism3 does run through the writings of many French fascist literati. What such a portrait neglects, however, is the strong current of realism which also runs through the ideology.
'Paul Serant, Le Romantisme fasciste (Paris, 1959), 10, 31; Eugen Weber, Varieties of Fascism (New York, 1964), 138-142; Rene Remond, La Droite en France de 1815 a nos jours (Paris, 1954), 217; Jean Turlais, "Introduction a l'histoire de la litterature 'fasciste,'" Les Cahiers francais, May 1943, quoted in Serant, op cit., 11; William R. Tucker, "Politics and Aesthetics: the Fascism of Robert Brasillach," The WesternPolitical Quarterly, No. 4, Dec. 1962, 605-617. 2Serant, Le Romantisme fasciste, title page, op. cit.; Tucker, "Politics and Aesthetics: the Fascism of Robert Brasillach," title page, op. cit. 3Terms like "romanticism" and "realism," of course, are full of pitfalls for the historian of ideas. I am only too aware that Arthur O. Lovejoy in his now famous essay, "On the Discrimination of Romanticisms," (Arthur O. Lovejoy, Essays in the History of Ideas [New York, 1955]) has detected some two hundred definitions which not only vary widely but which often contradict one another. Lovejoy's own attempt to discriminate sharply between various schools of romanticism, however, despite his attention to continuities, risks dividing history into exclusive, self-contained compartments which seldom exist in reality, artificially separating movements which are often quite related. In practice, both broad and narrow definitions-or better yet, characterizations-of romanticism have their uses. A combination of the two seems to work best. In talking about romanticism, the historian may refer to various recurring romantic themes, which are fairly easily discernible, giving his analysis a necessary historical breadth and continuity, and he may refer also to various specific "Romanticisms," thereby underlining differences between individual historical movements while at the same time tying them to a broader whole. Thus in the following discussion, romanticism 69
Not only did the poets and novelists of the movement constantly praise its vigorous and dynamic "realism," especially when it was a question of dealing with France's enemies, both domestic and foreign, but politicians and organizers of the movement-men like Jacques Doriot, chief of France's largest fascist party in the mid-1930's, the Parti Populaire Francais (PPF), and Paul Marion, author of the PPF's first party program-also underscored, in their appeals to the electorate, the hard-headed, Realpolitik side of their program. Indeed, so "realistic" was Doriot's response to circumstances at times that critics have sometimes written him off as a mere opportunist. But others have been more disturbed by the literati of the movement, by the fact that sensitive and intelligent intellectuals would not only lend themselves to fascism but ardently support it. What led tnem to do it? If, as Sdrant and others have argued, their conversion to fascism was mainly a product of romanticism, why then was "fascist romanticism" much more brutal than, say, the romanticism of a Victor Hugo or a Michelet, or the neo-Romanticism of a Gide or a Camus? These are large questions which only a large and wide-ranging body of evidence, dealing with many French fascist intellectuals, could satisfactorily answer. Perhaps part of the answer, however, may be perceived in the novels and essays of Pierre Drieu La Rochelle. Drieu was a major spokesman for French fascism in the 1930's and 1940's. His novel, Gilles (1939), which went through some twentyone editions, has been described by one scholar as "the most complete portrait in fiction of the moral and intellectual development of a French fascist."4 Drieu announced his conversion to fascism in 1934, and when Jacques Doriot founded the PPF in 1936 Drieu became one of its leading members. Drieu wrote two books and scores of newspaper articles in behalf of Doriot and the PPF, declaring proudly in 1937 that "Jacques Doriot and our comrades are of the opinion that I have captured the spirit of the Party in an exact fashion."5 During the German Occupation, Drieu actively collaborated with the Nazis. With the
(lower case) refers to the movement as a whole, to recurring romantic themes, while Romanticism (capitalized) refers specifically to early nineteenth-century Romanticism, especially in France. Realism (capitalized) refers here to the post-Romantic literary movement which emerged in Europe in the 1850's and 60's, while realism (lower case) refers to both this and a number of Darwinian and anti-Kantian themes which became popular after the 1870's. Finally, inasmuch as we are concerned primarily with Drieu's motives for becoming a fascist, his own view of "realism" and "romanticism" becomes perhaps more relevant here than the two hundred definitions Lovejoy mentions. Thus, in what follows, both external and internal characterizations of realism and romanticism will be applied. Should Drieu's use of these terms differ from the external characterizations set forth above, they will be placed in quotation marks. 4Beatrice Corrigan, "Drieu La Rochelle: Study of a Collaborator," University of Toronto Quarterly, XIV (Jan. 1945), 203. 5Pierre Drieu La Rochelle, Avec Doriot (Paris, 1937), 7.
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departure of Gide, Malraux, and others from France's most prestigious literary journal, La Nouvelle Revue francaise, Drieu became its editor. The articles he published during the war in the NRF and in avowedly fascist journals such as L'Emancipation nationale, Je suis partout, and Revolution nationale caused a good many of his countrymen, both then and later, to accuse him of opportunism and treason. But as Pierre-Henri Simon remarked after the war, there was far more to Drieu's fascism than simply opportunism or perversity, for Drieu "never ceased to reflect and reason according to the fascist ideal, of which he was probably, in France, the most sincere and the most original theoretician."6 At the end of the war, Drieu chose to commit suicide rather than stand trial as a collaborator. His significance as a political thinker may be largely negative. As one writer has said, Drieu is important to us today because he "incarnates so well one of our possible errors."7 To what extent was Drieu's "error" one of romanticism; to what extent was it one of realism-of perhaps too much "realism"? The first part of this essay will deal with romantic elements in Drieu's fascism, the second part with his cult of "realism." First, there is little question that romantic ideas and attitudes played an important role in his conversion to fascism. His thought was permeated with themes from nineteenth-century Romanticism and twentieth-century neoRomanticism. His attacks upon abstract rationalism, his glorification of passion, and his worship of nature-a nature which revitalizes one's passions and energies-were clearly situated within the broad stream of European romanticism, however diverse might be the eddies of that stream. Like many Romantic writers, Drieu was a harsh critic of rationalists and rationalism. In Notes pour comprendre le siecle (1941), in many respects the summa of his fascism, he placed much of the blame for the Fall of France in 1940 on the debilitating effects of rationalism on French life. In this regard, he believed the Germans could be of great service: "France has been destroyed by the rationalism which has reduced its genius. Today, rationalism is beaten. One
can only rejoice at rationalism's discomfort. . . . Frenchmen were too
sick to cure themselves of this illness."8 The Germans, he argued, could provide Frenchmen with the life-giving, strength-giving irrationalism they needed. According to Drieu, there had been a steady decline of irrationalism in French thought since the end of the Middle Ages. This decline he regarded as disastrous, since one of his basic premises was that the
6Pierre-Henri Simon, Proces du heros: Montherlant, Drieu La Rochelle, Jean Prevost (Paris, 1950), 152. 7FrancoisNourrissier, "Un Mort utile," La Parisienne, 32 (Oct. 1955), 1036. 8Drieu La Rochelle, Notes pour comprendre le si'cle (Paris, 1941), 171.
fundamental vitality of a people was rooted in passion and that there was no greater enemy of passion than a constantly cerebral approach to existence. The Middle Ages had been exceptionally vigorous and creative, he said, precisely because they had been so passionate and irrational. Unfortunately, the spread of rationalistic Thomism, frozen into orthodoxy by the Counter Reformation, and followed by the rise of scientific Rationalism in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, had put an end to this greatness. By extolling the Middle Ages in this manner, Drieu echoed a good many Romantic writers of the early nineteenth century, writers who had also turned back to the Middle Ages-or to a fictionalized version of the Middle Ages-as a polemical counterpoint to the eighteenth-century Enlightenment against which they were rebelling. Drieu, however, was critical of early nineteenthcentury Romanticism as well, not because it had revolted against rationalism but because it had not revolted enough. The leading figures of early Romanticism, he felt, had remained essentially rationalists; they were still children of the Enlightenment. In the twentieth century, a few magnificent irrationalists like Georges Sorel and Paul Claudel had challenged the domination of reason in France, but the counter-influence of writers like Gide and Valery had proved too strong. Moreover, the politicians and professors of the Third Republic had made rationalism the official national creed; it had become too institutionalized to be easily overthrown. The major consequence of the triumph of rationalism in French life was a marked decline in national energy and power. Sapped of their vitality by rationalism, Frenchmen fell easy prey to the Germans in 1940.9 One reason Drieu was attracted to French fascism in 1934 and to German Nazism in 1940 was his belief that fascism was more passionate than other ideologies. Most political movements, he complained, were rather lackluster affairs, headed by men incapable of fully arousing the emotions of their followers. In Gilles, Drieu portrays such a leader in the character, Clerences. Drieu regarded Cle'rences' manner of addressing a political rally as typical of many politicians of the day, especially politicians of the Left: Clerencesspoke calmly, properly,coldly. He was not a leader;he did not havea peoplebeforehim buta public,a publiccuriousof his talent ratherthan he eager to have its passionsgratified.He analyzed"problems"; reducedthe complex and palpitatingenormityof the life of a people to "problems,"to and littlegroupsof materialfacts,particular ephemeral.10 Drieu's dislike for dry, analytical dissections of this sort and for rationalism in general led him eventually to condemn conservative theoreticians as well, especially Charles Maurras of the Action FranCaise
9Chroniquepolitique 1934-1942 (Paris, 1943), 182. '?Gilles(Paris, 1939), 391.
FASCISM OF DRIEU
and Maurras' attachment to Positivism. Although the Action FranCaiseexpressed a number of ideas which Drieu found sympathetic and although at one time Drieu had been a member, he found it no match for the emerging fascism of the 1930's. Compared to fascism, conservatism in general was overly rationalistic, stodgy, sterile. Fascism, on the contrary, gave irrationalism its full due. This was why it was more vital and dynamic than traditional conservatism.1 Perhaps it is in Drieu's fiction that his worship of passion is most pronounced and the foundations of his political thought most discernible. It is hardly a coincidence, for example, that the exemplary figures in his novels are always persons with exceptionally passionate natures. Their passion is part of their force and energy, of their political as well as their sexual strength. Thus, because the heroine of Drieu's novel, Beloukia (1936), is a woman of enormous sexual ardor, she is superior in the field of politics as well, "one of life's strongest morsels."12 Conversely, anyone who lacks passion or denies its claims is sunk in decadence, a decadence particularly widespread among the French bourgeoisie. The hero of Drieu's novel, L'Homme a cheval (1943), Jaime Torrijos, is not decadent. Eschewing the petty calculations of middle class respectability, he makes no effort to restrain his feelings, least of all when angered by his enemies. He was not a cold-bloodedtype [un monsieur froid] who challengedhis adversarieswith the slap of a glove; he was not a dandy who maintainedan betweenhypocrisyand cynicism;he was neithera gentlemannor equilibrium a caballero. He was a man as passionateas he was reflectiveand who was not ashamedof his passion. He hated his enemies; he did not hide it from them;he didnot hideit fromhimself.13 Human dignity, in Drieu's eyes, was not a matter of universal rights but of individual character, of individual passion. As Drieu's alter ego in L'Homme a cheval confesses, "I have never seen the dignity of man except in the sincerity of his passions."'4 That Drieu considered most of his countrymen devoid of this dignity, consumed with decadence, is one reason he was willing to help the Germans "reform" them. It also underlay his willingness, during the Occupation, to condone the brutal repression of dissidents who aligned themselves with the forces of "decadence" against the forces of "national regeneration." Drieu wrote in 1953: "I am a fascist because I have measured the progress of decadence in Europe. I saw in fascism the only means of containing and reducing that decadence; ... .I saw no other recourse but that [offered by] the genius of Hitler and Hitlerism."' A passionate ideology had made the Germans strong; according to Drieu, Frenchmen could
'Beloukia (Paris, 1936), 45. "Socialismefasciste (Paris, 1934), 239. '3L'Hommea cheval (Paris, 1943), 198. '4Ibid,210. '5"Bilan,"La nouvelle revue rancaise," 347, (Jan. 1, 1943), 105.
do with a strong injection of such passion into their own national life. Running through Drieu's political thought, therefore, is a series of equations: passion equals force, force equals national regeneration, and national regeneration is best served by an ideology of fascism, the most passionate and forceful of all major European ideologies. Another romantic theme in Drieu's political thought is his glorification of a return to Nature, his vision of fascist man as a kind of modern noble savage. Like many Romantics and neo-Romantics, Drieu felt that Nature revivified the passions and therefore regenerated man. The closer man's relationship to Nature, the further he removed himself from the decadence of urban civilization. Drieu declared a "Revolution of the Body" to be one of fascism's central goals, a twentieth-century revolution aimed at counteracting the most harmful effects of the Industrial Revolution of the nineteenth century. Only when the bodies of Frenchmen were emancipated from the dehumanizing blight of a purely urban existence and Frenchmen were once again in intimate contact with Nature would they be able to overcome the spiritual decadence which engulfed them. Fascism would eventually replace France's largest cities with towns scattered throughout the countryside and would multiply the number of hiking associations, scouting groups, youth hostels, and beach and mountain resorts available to Frenchmen. Drieu felt that men who lived in direct and constant contact with Nature absorbed Nature's powers into their beings and were therefore stronger and more vital than city-dwellers. In Gilles, the hero encounters just such a person in Carentan, an old but vigorous homme naturel who lives apart from the civilized world in an isolated valley in Normandy, alone except for a servant woman who cooks his meals and provides for his sexual needs. Coming upon Carentan's lonely hut amidst the wilds of nature, Gilles realizes that hermits like Carentan perform an important function: The forces of solitudejoin together with the powersof Nature. These forces from which most men removethemselves,one fears that they might die out if there were not a few hermits,a few guardianswho kept them alive, who
Carentan himself is something of an elemental force, part of Nature. Gilles is so impressed by the old man and by the rugged countryside which is the source of his strength that he finally adopts Carentan's view that all the great religions of history, whether pagan or Christian, originally derived their power from the forces of Nature. Christ himself, Gilles suggests, owed his power to perform miracles more directly to Nature than to God, to natural rather than spiritual forces.
FASCISM OF DRIEU
Nature is so powerful that it offers Saints as well as God all kinds of exorbitant possibilities by way of itself. Gilles had often imagined Christ arriving in a Galilean village after a long hike of twenty kilometers through open fields and then, saturated, intoxicated with its forces, its emanations, laying on the hands. Divine power, divine grace seemed to him an upsurge of natural forces transcending themselves.17
Gilles senses his own powers increasing as he walks through forest and countryside and communes with the ocean nearby, powers which flag quickly, however, upon his return to the debilitating environment of Paris. Nature is force; the city is weakness. Fascism, Drieu asserts, is allied with the former not the latter. Another important aspect of Drieu's Nature-worship, which also played a role in his conversion to fascism, is more difficult to label in terms of romanticism or realism, since it reflected both these moods. This was Drieu's constant glorification of man's animality, his espousal of a kind of neo-primitivism which, on balance, was more in harmony with Zola's concept of la bete humaine than with Rousseau's concept of the noble savage. For the ideal man whom Drieu envisaged, "fascist man," was in many respects more savage than noble. Drieu's view of human nature, especially his vision of its ideal-types, of its non-decadents, may have been romantic in its worship of the natural man, but, as we shall see later, it was also quite realistic in its underlying, often brutal, Darwinism. On the other hand, Drieu was certainly adhering to a familiar romantic theme when he argued that man should strive to free his animal self, his natural self, from the crust of civilization which stifled and corrupted it, if he wanted to regain his physical vitality and spiritual health. In primitive times, Drieu said, man had been keenly alive to the natural instincts within him. Later epochs, however, had alienated man from these instincts, especially with the rise of rationalism, industrialism, and scientism. Drieu accused writers of the nineteenth century of having idealized "a monstrous type of man, atrociously cut off from animality, from Nature, divorcing him from the sources and bases of his soul."'1 One reason so many Frenchmen were decadent was that they had been taught to value disembodied rationalism over physical instinct, the cerebral over the primitive, civilization over animality. "They have left the animal world and the human world entirely behind them," says Carentan to Gilles.19 Only a return to nature, inwardly as well as outwardly, could save them. Drieu's fascism was thus rooted in a set of romantic attitudes. In his revolt against decadence and his quest after energy and force, Drieu exhibited a devotion to Nature, to passion, and to irrationalism worthy of the most dedicated Romantics.
'lbid, 379. i8Le Francais d'Europe (Paris, 1944), 27-28. '?Gilles,343.
Yet, what distinguishes Drieu's brand of romanticism from other more humane or more innocuous brands of romanticism is the heavy dose of "realism" which accompanies it. Drieu broke sharply with past humanitarian Romantics like Lamartine and Hugo in not only condoning but praising the use of brutal means in political action and in envisaging life as an amoral struggle for survival in which the strong rightfully dominate the weak. Without this kind of "realism," it might have been considerably more difficult for Drieu to have remained a fascist during the Second World War. As it was, when faced with evidence of fascist cruelties, he could take pride in his tough-mindedness. Drieu loved to picture himself and the heroes of his novels as being realists instead of romantics. Indeed, to a l'argeextent the cult of tough-minded realism which is so pervasive in Drieu's political thought was the outcome of a vehement revolt against romanticism, especially the "romanticism" of his youth. This revolt engendered a long quest for reality, one of the major intellectual preoccupations of Drieu's career. Like so many thinkers from the fin du siecle onward, Drieu felt that his very being, his moi, was doomed to sterility and lethargy, to decadence, as long as it failed to make contact with concrete reality. In Etat-civil (1921), Drieu placed much of the blame for his lack of force and energy as a child upon literature, especially "romantic" literature, flamboyant potboilers which divorced him from reality by falsifying it-by "romanticizing" it. Too often he said, life had passed him by because he had buried himself in books, indulging in their "idle illusionism" instead of engaging in life directly. At a tender age, two large volumes devoted to the life of Napoleon had especially stirred his imagination. Napoleon became almost a god ("the only God that I knew") and Napoleon's soldiers his personal heroes. Typical of the absurd "romanticism" of these volumes was the story of a certain "abracadabra-behaving hussar," whom he had greatly admired: This cavalier, so gaily reckless, smashed enemy battalions, stormed cities, gallopedunderfire, [and]after dominatingmen and seducingwomen, he returned home, bedeckedwith woundsand decorations,veneratedas a householdgod.20 Drieu could only look back upon his youthful enthusiasm for such heroes and such literature with the greatest disgust. He remembered how he used to dream of avenging Napoleon one day by leading an infantry charge against the English. "Such was my vision of the world," he mocked, "a rudimentary and gaudy booby-trap resembling a child's soldier costume.'21 This childhood "romanticism," Drieu felt, had been more than just
20Etat-civil (Paris, 1921), 42-43.
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a delusion; it had been a sickness. Sugar-coating reality, plunging him into a world of fantasy, it had undermined his strength by inciting him to dream rather than to live, to be passive rather than active, soft rather than hard. It became one of Drieu's staunchest convictions that only by acting in the "real world," only by exerting one's strength against real obstacles, could one ever arouse one's vital energies. Letting one's imagination roam from the comfort of one's reading chair, under the spell of some romantic novel, was an exercise in decadence. Purveyors of romantic fiction were quite literally corrupters of the young. There are men that others [besidesmyself] have chargedwith perverting the them into the trap of the imagination. unknown, An constantlyforgottenrace of younghumanbeings,ardent,serious,impatient, perishesin daydreams.22 As Drieu's counterpart in Reveuse bourgeoisie (1937) laments: "I am too weak, I have read too much...."23 Drieu indicates in several of his novels and essays that it was the First World War which dealt the death-blow to his childhood "romanticism." As a young infantryman, he found the realities of trench warfare more than he had bargained for. He had long dreamed of being a soldier and had often imagined what war would be like when he suddenly found himself involved in the real thing. "No longer anything to imagine: one is there," he wrote in his war novel, La Comedie de Charleroi (1934). "The soul faints from fright before reality."24 Expecting a world of adventure and glory, he found instead only terror and death.25 In La Comedie de Charleroi, the hero sees five hundred men cut down by enemy machine guns the first day his regiment goes into battle. Recalling the descriptions of war he had read in books, he asks sardonically: "Where is the flag? But where are the flags of yesteryear? And the bugles? And the colonel? And his horse?"26 War was no romantic dream; war was hell, not heaven. And yet, at the same time, the hero of La Comedie, de Charleroi, like Drieu himself, found the war a source of vitality, strength, and personal regeneration. Whatever its horrors it had immersed him in reality at last. And harsh as it was, by testing his stamina and courage, it had restored him to life. Even the immediacy of death was liferestoring; for confronting this reality, this ultimate reality, deepened his sense of reality in general and thereby his sense of life. The war, then, by putting him on his mettle and transporting him from the
[intellectual] appetite of children .... They are agents provocateurs who draw
Comedie de Charleroi (Paris, 1934), 32. 24La 26LaCome'diede Charleroi, 65.
'2Reveuse bourgeoisie (Paris, 1937), 264. 251nterrogations (Paris, 1917), 41.
dream-world of literature to the real-world of "Life" had revitalized his existence and renewed his soul. Like most of Drieu's novels La Comerdie Charleroi was highly autobiographical. de Drieu came away from the First World War not only critical of civilian war rhetoric but of literature in general, even unromantic literature. This is bitterly expressed in Gilles. After experiencing "Life" first-hand at the front, Gilles finds that even the writings of his favorite authors, even the most "realistic" authors, fill him with disgust: "Disgust at these words so true but so impotent before a truth of a completely different sort. What are words when they are placed beside sensation?"27 Gilles who had formerly adored reading now rejects it as one would reject "a drug which absorbs all the charms of life."28 What counted was direct experience with life, not indirect experience through books. For it was only through participating in reality that one truly understood, that ideas were authenticated. The First World War had been such an experience for Gilles. But, as Drieu commented elsewhere, "beyond war, for many men, there remains a continuing need to know reality, a need to believe only what they have lived."29 Throughout the 1920's and 1930's, Drieu stressed his epistemological "pragmatism,"30 his belief that "knowledge is the product only of experience," of personal experience.30a In his journalism and fiction, he insisted repeatedly that the truth had to be tested to be known. It had to be lived. He was espousing, in effect, a kind of fascist existentialism, although he seems to have been unacquainted with formal Existentialist philosophy. According to Drieu, most intellectuals were "clercs"-a reference to Julien Benda's famous La Trahison des
27Gilles,7. 28Ibid,65. d'un delicat," Chroniquede Paris, 5, (March 1927), 1944, 53. 29"Journal :"'Notethat Drieu's use of the term "pragmatism" here differs from that of American pragmatists like John Dewey, Charles S. Peirce, and C. I. Lewis. Drieu's epistemology might better be labeled subjectivistic than pragmatic except that Drieu associated subjectivism with romanticism. Here again there is a problem of definition and point of view similar to the problem which arose with use of the terms "romanticism" and "realism," that is, the problem of differentiating between Drieu's use of the term and other meanings of the term, between one variety of pragmatism and another, between Drieu's "pragmatism" and the pragmatism of, say, James or Dewey. Obviously neither James nor Dewey were fascists. Although Drieu's pragmatism resembles their pragmatism in certain respects (hence a common term has its value), it differs in other vital respects. The gap between the originators of a philosophy and its later vulgarizers is a familiar one, although Drieu looked more to Nietzsche than to James for inspiration in this case. To equate "pragmatism" with brutal political methods and an opportunistic foreign policy, as Drieu does later, is a disservice to Nietzsche as well. To denote Drieu's special, if not uncommon, use of the word, it is 30a LeJeune Europeen (Paris, 1927), 80. therefore put in quotation marks.
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clercs31- but clercs in a negative rather than a positive sense, because
they habitually divorced themselves from life, retreating into their ivory towers, with the result that they constantly confused empty abstractions with concrete realities. Hence, the hero of La Comedie de Charleroi says proudly: "I am not an intellectual because I recognize the validity of experience and practice only."32 Although Drieu sometimes envisaged the ideal man as being "un homme complet,' a complete man, both a man of action and a man of thought, his attacks upon indirect experience-including the whole world of books, and recorded cumulative experience of the past and present-made his conception of ideal manhood a basically narrow one. By making a fetish of direct experience, which is by necessity limited experience, Drieu sharply restricted the breadth of his knowledge and retreated, theoretically at least, into intellectual isolationism. The strong note of anti-intellectualism prevalent in Drieu's thought, therefore, was not solely a matter of romantic anti-rationalism. It was also a product of Drieu's philosophical "pragmatism," his epistemological realism, his cult of direct experience. The fact that fascist ideology also preached the priority of direct experience, especially direct action, over the philosophical abstractions of liberalism was of great importance to Drieu. The sight of "fascist" mobs, during the Stavisky riots of February 1934, attempting (or so Drieu thought33) to march upon the French Chamber of Deputies and overthrow the Third Republic by force, made a deep impression on him. Shortly thereafter, he declared himself a fascist. Drieu's revolt against the "romanticism" of his childhood and his eagerness to enter into contact with the "real world," also laid the groundwork for his conversion to fascism in another way. One of the leading characteristics of fascism, Drieu believed, was its ability to face up to the harsh realities of existence. Fascists were extremely tough-minded in this respect. Most people, however, wished to ignore these realities, mainly out of weakness and cowardice. This was why the cinema was so popular: it provided audiences with the comfortable, sugar-coated surrogates for reality they wanted. Because it took a great deal of courage to confront the truth, they welcomed films which
3'Benda in La Trahison des clercs (1927) denounced intellectuals who engaged in the politics of authoritarian nationalism (such as anti-Dreyfusards like Maurice Barr'es and Charles Maurras) and urged French intellectuals to return to their age-old calling, that of intellectuals as clercs, which was to defend reason and humanitarianism by remaining above the masses, above mass politics, rather than descending to their prejudices. Drieu regarded this conception of the, intellectual's function as ivory-tower escapism. 32LaComedie de Charleroi, 224. 33Inactuality, none of these mobs were "fascist" in the strict sense of the word nor did they seriously threaten to overthrow the Third Republic.
presented life through "romantic," rose-colored glasses. The same was often true of theatre audiences as well, as Drieu pointed out in Gilles. In the opening episode, Gilles and another soldier, on leave from the front in 1917, attend a performance of a sentimental war play at the Comedie francaise and create a scandal by constantly interrupting the play with loud outbursts of derisive laughter. Having seen actual combat, they are keenly alive to the fraud being perpetrated. The contrast between the tough-minded realism of these front-line soldiers and the tender-minded "romanticism" of the civilian audience is sharp. Drieu emphasized, too, that while members of all classes of French society preferred comfortable delusions to uncomfortable truths, the French bourgeoisie were particularly decadent in this regard. In his novel, Reveuse bourgeoisie (1937), Drieu pictured representatives of this class as living in an ersatz world all their own, too weak and dishonest to face reality, creatures of self-deception, literally a "dreamy bourgeoisie." Drieu never tired of contrasting the hard-bitten realism of fascism to the naive idealism of liberalism. He suggested that fascism was more masculine in this respect, charging in 1938 that the bourgeois democracies of the West were led by men who were little more than "limp rags, men whom twenty years of parliamentary and liberal activity, twenty years of false philosophy, had deprived of all virility, of all male ability to look things in the face and to call a spade a spade."34 In describing Doriot, the head of the PPF, Drieu underscored the forceful, even ruthless, way in which he compelled the bourgeois in his audiences to acknowledge the harsh facts of life. Most political speakers, he said, addressed the bourgeoisie in vague generalities, calculated to please rather than disturb. When Doriot spoke, it was different: With Doriot,thingsdo not happenat all in the normalway.... He beginsby exposinga few facts and then, voilh, everything.He exposesall the facts.... worker. He has retainedsomethingof this Doriot was once a metallurgical in his person,and in the rest of what he does. He senses life as a massivereality, as a chunkof metalwhichhe is calleduponto laminate,to cut, to forge.35 However unrealistic Doriot's fascism might appear to others, to Drieu it was the epitome of realism, especially compared to liberalism. Closely associated with Drieu's belief in realistically facing up to the harsh facts of life and in engaging in direct contact with the "real world" was his "realistic" approach to the age-old question of political means, his frank espousal of the doctrine that the ends justify the means. Two central themes in Drieu's thought combine at this point: his dark view of the nature of reality, especially human behavior, and
34Chroniquepolitique1934-1942, 193. 35AvecDoriot, 188-189.
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his belief in the therapeutic value of action. His notion that he had to make contact with the concrete realities of life if he were to escape decadence and his conviction that these realities were often quite ugly and cruel led him to conclude that if he were to act in the world, especially in the political world, he could not avoid what Sartre later called "dirty hands." Drieu maintained that the only way an individual could remain morally pure in politics, the only way he could avoid consenting to violence and killing, was to withdraw entirely from political action-which meant withdrawing from a vital part of reality. It meant retiring into an existence that was unreal, sterile, abstract, and decadent. It meant retiring to a large degree from life itself. As a character in Drieu's play, Le Chef (1933), expressed it: "Damn! To not live, that is the only way of not getting oneself dirty."36In short, Drieu's original quest for reality, his desire for epistemological security, and his hunger for both physical and moral regeneration (for he equated the two) had important ethical repercussions. Out of epistemological realism issued a doctrine of moral "realism." But this was not all. Because Drieu wanted so badly to make contact with the "real world," he not only accepted the ugly aspects of political life as unavoidable, he seems at times to have deliberately sought them out. Only by walking in the mud of life, he once argued, could one experience all of reality, could one fully exist. In 1944, for example, he commented that he had become a Nazi collaborator not because he had wanted to be less human but because he had wanted to be more human: "I wanted to be human as far as I could go and to take part in the excrement [la merde] of partisan opinions, ephemeral furors, local disputes. Yes, I wanted to have excrement on my feet. ..."37 Drieu castigated intellectuals who fled politics during such trying times for the spotless seclusion of private life. In 1944, a few months before his suicide, Drieu maintained that his original decision to collaborate with the Germans had been heavily influenced by this consideration: "I tried to compromise myself; I feared above all becoming an ivory-tower intellectual."38 This was not merely retrospective apologetics; it was a theme with deep roots in Drieu's political thought. Ten years earlier in Socialisme fasciste (1934), he had commented that nothing disgusted him more than those who indulged in political "puritanism." "The puritan retires from action," he wrote. "The puritan washes his hands."39Drieu was no "puritan" in 1940. Drieu also condemned what he called "amateurs" in politics, those who objected-out of "delicacy"-to the harsh measures political action sometimes demanded. He gave a vivid illustration of what it
36LeChef (Paris, 1944), 233. 37Pierre Drieu La Rochelle, Recit secret suivi du Journal 1944-1945 et d'Exorde (Paris, 1951), 58. 38Ibid,102. 9Socialismefasciste, 160. :
meant not to be an "amateur" in Gilles (1939), in an episode in which the hero, having become a fascist agent in Spain during the Spanish Civil War, stands by silently as fascist troops put to death the prisoners of a captured enemy village. When a young boy being taken to the firing squad looks imploringly to Gilles to save him, Gilles suppresses an upsurge of pity and turns away. "I am not an amateur," he says to himself.40 One had to be realistic, not sentimental, about such matters. Drieu's tough-minded "realism" was fortified, too, by the importance he placed upon success in political action. Indeed, at times, it seemed as if Drieu judged a political movement less by the persuasiveness of its ideology or the justice of its cause than by whether it had the sheer brute power to succeed or not. Not only did the ends justify the means but successful ends seemed to justify themselves. Skirting the edge of ideological nihilism, Drieu at times acted as if he believed in nothing more than that might makes right. There was, of course, a good deal more to his political thought than this. But his belief that ideas had to be practiced to have value, that they could not be divorced from reality, caused him to respect ideologies which acted and succeeded in the real world, especially if they succeeded after a power struggle with a competing ideology. For Drieu, the worst of all ideological sins was not to be wrong but to lose. This was one reason he attacked the means of democratic liberalism almost as violently as he attacked its ends. How, he asked, could one succeed against ruthless opponents if one insisted upon wearing an ethical straightjacket? To accept such limitations was also an excuse for weakness, a technique liberals used to justify their failures in advance. But it was not just liberals who were losers in the struggle of life. The Communists and Socialists did not always succeed either. In 1937 Drieu pointed out that Communism and Socialism had gone under in Italy and Germany, crushed by fascism, and that they had also failed miserably in the United States and South America. He regarded this as proof of the decadence of these ideologies. Strong ideas, he seemed to believe, made for successful movements, and weak ideas for movements which failed-irrespective apparently of class interest, power blocks, or police and military force. The very fact that Socialism and Communism had failed in so many places was enough to discredit them, not simply for the immediate present but forever. Thus, in Avec Doriot (1937), Drieu underlined the following sentence as a matter of overwhelming importance: "The parties representing the two internationals have been beaten everywhere in the world."' Yet later, near the end of the Second World War, when it seemed to Drieu that Rus40Gilles,471. 4A vec Doriot, 45.
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sia had proven herself stronger than Germany, that Communism not fascism was going to be the winner after all, Drieu privately shifted his allegiance to Communism.42 He was not inconsistent. The Germans had committed the ultimate political crime: they had failed; the Russians had arrived at the ultimate political virtue: they had succeeded. In one respect, certainly, Drieu had been an admirer of Russian Communism for a number of years. While he had debunked Communism in the 1930's for its failures outside of Russia and had expressed a strong dislike for many aspects of Communist ideology, he had gone out of his way to praise Communist realism when it came to the question of political means, especially Lenin's realism in such matters. In fact, Drieu regarded Communism's open adherence to the principle, the ends justify the means, as a major contribution to twentieth-century political thought and practice. In Avec Doriot, he wrote approvingly: "The innovation on Lenin's part was to demonstrate again the worth of an old recipe well known to conquerors, revolutionaries and 'victorious captains' of all centuries: to make an omelette it is necessary to break some eggs."43 Earlier in Socialisme fasciste (1934), Drieu had made much the same point in connection with Stalin. Drieu noted that although he had criticized Stalin for many things he had never criticized him for "the violence of his shortcuts nor for the subtlety of his ruses."44 Stalin should be emulated in this regard not condemned. According to Drieu, liberals were often helpless when confronted with the "terrible pragmatism" of men like Stalin and Lenin, rendered impotent by their blindness to "the moral evolution of Europe." Nor were conservatives much better-even conservatives as militant as Charles Maurras and his fellow monarchists of the Action Francaise. For all the violence of their polemics and their street brawls, they fell short of being fascists. "A monarchist is never a true fascist," Drieu wrote in 1934. "It is because a monarchist is never truly a modern man: he has nothing of the brutality, the barbaric simplicity of a modern man."45 Maurras relied ultimately upon ideas and persuasion to achieve his goals, at a time when what was required was not rhetoric but brute force. Only fascism, Drieu argued, was capable of effectively dealing with the Bolshevik menace, for only fascists practiced a political realism equal to that of the Communists themselves. Drieu
42Lucien Combelle," "Entretien avec Lucien Combelle,' La Parisienne, No. 32 (October 1955), p. 1013. Combelle, a friend of Drieu and, in 1944, a fellow fascist, tells of receiving a note from Drieu, shortly before Drieu's suicide, urging Combelle, should he escape execution as a collaborator, to opt for Communism and its "proud, virile 44Socialismefasciste,204. socialism." 43Chronique politique 1934-1942, 199. 45Quotedin Pierre Andreu, Drieu, temoin et visionnaire (Paris, 1952), 189.
called upon Frenchmen to abandon the obsolete methods of modern liberalism and conservatism and to heed instead the primary lesson of the Russian Revolution: The RussianRevolutionwas a war led by men who did not fear violence,who not greeted it as a necessity.The Russianrevolutionaries only destroyedtheir also destroyed all those in their ranks who hesitated to adversaries;they employviolence.The long struggleand the ferociousvictoryof the Bolsheviks against the other so-called revolutionaryparties (Mencheviks,Social-Revolutionaries,etc.) was the struggleand the victoryof the spirit of war in the revolution over and against the pacifist spirit. Massacres, hospitals and prisons,these are the hallmarksof civil war as well as foreignwar.The Italian and German[fascist]revolutions were also accomplished men who frankly by admittedthe necessityof violence as opposedto men who hid from it or reit.46 fusedto acknowledge As this passage suggests, Drieu not only condoned political violence, he glorified it, regarding it as a victory of the "spirit of war" over the "pacifist spirit," as a vital element in the Darwinian struggle for survival at the heart of human existence. This, too, was part of Drieu's realistic approach to existence. Drieu had a decided bent for analyzing political problems in terms of animal struggle, in terms of a rather simplistic Social Darwinism. Anyone who denied that "human nature is fundamentally rooted in biology" Drieu dismissed as a tender-minded idealist.47 In Notes pour comprendre le siecle (1941), Drieu asserted that the "decisive turning point" in the development of modern European thought had been the spread of Darwinian ideas to the Continent. The greatest thinkers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, he said, were all Darwinians, from Germany's Nietzsche, to England's Kipling, to France's Georges Sorel. Moreover, Drieu's experiences as a soldier in the First World War convinced him that combat and struggle were basic features of the human condition, an expression of fundamental drives in human nature. To put an end to all warfare would only weaken man's dlan vital and condemn him to decadence. The spirit of fascism, Drieu once said, was above all a spirit of combat and action. Drieu was particularly taken with the idea-more realistic than romantic-that Nature herself taught that war was an integral part of existence. The earth and the sea, he noted, had always been marked by violence and death and they would continue to be. "There will al"
ways be war in Nature . ... says the hero of La Comedie de Char-
leroi (1934).48 And because human nature was part of Nature, there would always be war between men as well. Drieu sardonically observed that a good many professors and politicians, especially of the Left,
46Socialismefasciste, 145-146. 48LaComedie de Charleroi, 247. 47Chroniquepolitique1934-1942, 151.
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believed it possible to put an end to war and aggression in history. "But life is not at all as it is represented by a schoolteacher who reasons behind four walls," Drieu wrote.49 Nor, he suggested, does life conform to the puristic and sentimental abstractions of Socialist theoreticians: Life is not a well-trainedand sterilizednurse who will care for and pamper man until the end of time, as it is imaginedto be by the good Social-Democratic doctors of the laboratories,schools and librariesof France, England and Germany.Life is always a goddess of war, covered with barbaricornamentsandwavingherbloodylance.50 If all warfare were abolished, one of man's major ties with Nature would be severed and one of his major sources of vitality destroyed. What liberals and socialists failed to understand was that "war is a function of man and that man cannot deny it or uproot himself from it without damaging himself."51 The true humanist instead of condemning violence recognizes its value. War is a necessary outlet for man's aggressive impulses, his animality. Like all other animals, man is made to kill or be killed. Indeed, Drieu suggests at one point that it is only after an individual has killed with his own hands that he truly understands life.52 But above all and this is the dominant theme of a number of Drieu's novels-combat and struggle provide the individual with a chance to prove that, in a Darwinian universe, he is one of Nature's fittest. This is why it is so important to have an enemy of some kind. "To measure oneself against someone else: that is the main thing," wrote Drieu in Socialisme fasciste (1934). "To know oneself by opposing another."53 This is why, too, the heroes of Drieu's novels often look back nostalgically upon their military experiences in the First World War, why they long to engage once more in some kind of violent struggle: it would provide them with another "test of
Drieu also believed that tests of strength took place between nations as well as between individuals, and although he decried the impersonal, mechanized side of modern warfare ("this war of iron and not of muscles"), the successful Nazi blitzkrieg into France in 1940 commanded his respect. In the struggle for survival that had taken place, he concluded, the Germans had proven themselves the fittest. Frenchmen should model themselves upon the new "Hitlerian Man," as Drieu called the German soldier, instead of hating him. Only when Frenchmen also became fascists would they overcome their decadence and become as fit as their conquerors. Thus, in Drieu's scheme
49A Doriot, 103. vec 5'Socialismefasciste, 151. 53Socialismefasciste, 139. 50Chronique politique 1934-1942, 149. 5Le Jeune Europeen, 27. de 54Ecrits jeunesse (Paris, 1941), 109.
of things, it was a short step from Darwinian realism to Nazi collaborationism. Likewise, in 1944, it was a short step to approving the Russians, once they had demonstrated their superiority vis-a-vis the Germans in another Darwinian struggle for survival. It may be said that Drieu's vision of history in general was one of Darwinian "realism" rather than one of, what might be called, Darwinian "idealism." He was completely lacking in any idealistic or optimistic faith in inevitable historical progress, taking instead an essentially pessimistic view of the outcome of centuries of human struggle. History, he believed, was not a steady march, onward and upward, toward greater human happiness, wisdom and goodness, but instead, it was a cyclical process marked by repetitive struggles which left the fundamental nature of things unaltered. The primary purpose of human struggle was not to create a utilitarian utopia of bourgeois creature comforts or to make man more humanitarian but was to give man an opportunity to express the vital forces within him, to exult in struggle for its own sake. As Drieu wrote in Interrogations (1917), "war makes us believe again not in progress but in the nobility of effort that has no aim and is free of hope."55 Thus Drieu both disbelieved and scorned the optimism of liberals and socialists who believed in inevitable historical progress. "The twentieth century will bury the vain doctrine of Progress," wrote Drieu in 1941; "it will do it cheerfully if it is a century of renaissance."56 A renaissance was one thing, progress another. Even a fascist renaissance, Drieu implied, would not last forever. History had its periods of revival and vitality, but they were always followed by periods of decline and decadence. It was the joy of struggle, not the prospect of everlasting victory, that made fascist activism worthwhile. When Andre Malraux remarked in 1937 that a fascist was "a man who was active and pessimistic at the same time,"57he might easily have been describing Drieu. To Drieu, of course, fascism was less a matter of pessimism than realism-a Darwinian realism which acknowledged the animal in man, a philosophical realism which underlined the necessity of making direct contact with concrete reality, and finally, an historical "realism," which not only recognized the many and recurring brutalities of the past but lauded them. There is a good example of the latter in Gilles. After witnessing fellow fascists in Spain execute the prisoners they had taken that day in battle, Gilles turns finally to historical "realism" for comfort; to be sure, to a special brand of historical realism. That's the way it is, my era. And that's the way it is, the life of humanity, always. It is the sordid massacreof this eveningand the pure combatof this morning.How can one imagine it otherwise?Should I regret Paris and its
5'Notes pour comprendre le siecle, 28. 55lnterrogations,87. 57AndreMalraux, L'Espoir (Paris, 1937), 167.
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torpor? But the Paris that I love is the one marked by centuries of bloodshed. Is there not blood on the stones of the Louvre? Here men still passionately want something, in opposition to one another. So, there you have it.58
Drieu's religion of "realism" is seen also in his attacks upon Kantian Idealism and his counter allegiance to what he calls, in Notes pour comprendre le siecle (1941), "the Philosophy of Force." According to Drieu, the Philosophy of Force represented an extremely important stream of thought in modern European history, stemming from the writings of thinkers like Darwin, Marx, Nietzsche, Kipling, d'Annunzio, Sorel, and Barres-and culminating in Nazism. By their common glorification of force, these thinkers had helped undermine the debilitating Rationalism and pale Idealism which had long dominated European thought, introducing a new virility and realism into European life. After 1914, their ideas had achieved the greatest success in Russia, Italy, and Germany and had played a major role in the rise of these nations to great power in Europe. On the other hand, those nations which had responded weakly to the Philosophy of Force, France and England in particular, had grown increasingly decadent and as a direct consequence had suffered a series of diplomatic and military setbacks. Had France paid less attention to writers like Anatole France and Jean Giradoux than to writers like- Georges Sorel and Maurice Barres, she would not have gone under so quickly in May 1940. The Germans had triumphed mainly because they had created legions of "Hitlerian men" imbued with the Philosophy of Force. The only way Frenchmen could overcome the decadence that had led to defeat was to emulate the Germans, to adopt Nazism and its "Philosophy of Force." This defense of collaboration was again more than just a rationalization for opportunism. Drieu's worship of force went back to the First World War and even further, to his childhood and adolescence and to the strong sense of personal weakness which plagued him then.59 Whatever the underlying psychological motives, Drieu had come away from the First World War convinced that force was the measure of all things-even in aesthetic matters. "Beauty to me," he
wrote in 1927, "is a certain stiffening of all the forces in man. .. '60 He added later: "Poetry is force. . . . [And] it is one of the greatest
scandals of our time that our poets themselves are so weak, so ugly, so vulgar, so timid."61 The same criterion applied also to politics and politicians. Drieu observed that whereas Jacques Doriot was a "herculean" figure with
58Gilles,471. 59For a brief account of Drieu's childhood, see my "Le fascisme de Drieu La Rochelle," Revue d'Histoire de la deuxieme guerre mondiale, No. 66 (April 1967), 6Le Jeune Europeen, 31. 69-70. 6'Ibid,88.
the arms and shoulders of a "good athlete" and a physique befitting the son of a blacksmith, his political opponents were often fat, "stomach-potent" intellectuals, physically decadent, and therefore "spiritually" weak. The portrait which Drieu presents in Gilles of a Radical-Socialist leader named Chanteau symbolizes the physical decadence of French politicians in general. Chanteau's corpulent illhealth also symbolizes the decline of dynamic leadership on the Left since the death of Jean Jaures, the robust leader of the French Socialist Party (SFIO) for so many years. Chanteau is no Jaures: Heavy of face and body, bulging, weighed under with fat. His hair alone seemed still to live a healthylife, like a fresh saladjust pulledfrom the garden and placedon a pantryshelf. Gilles comparedthis oozing mass to that, still of well-ordered, Jaures.Sincethat one, the Frenchcheese hadgone bad.62 Doriot and the heroic figures in Drieu's novels, on the other hand, are born leaders, born political leaders, because they have fine bodies and great physical strength. Men are attracted to Jaime Torrijos, the hero of L'Homme a cheval (1943), attracted to him politically, for the same reason women are attracted to him sexually: "because there is in his body an extraordinary force and audacity."63 In short, great leaders embodied the Philosophy of Force in their very persons. They also, of course, practiced it in their actions. In 1936, for example, Drieu noted that while Doriot was normally quiet and reserved, he was quite capable of "sudden outbursts which could be extremely violent and which suddenly sought the rapid and total destruction of
Drieu's "Philosophy of Force" and his fetish for "realism" in general is revealed, too, in his basic approach to foreign policy during the 1920's and 1930's. Indeed, the most striking feature of his thinking on foreign policy is his constant insistence upon Realpolitik, his subordination of ideological to power considerations, his quantitative, even mathematical approach to international relations. On questions of foreign policy, Drieu prided himself on being non-romantic, nonideological, "pragmatic." As he emphasized in his first major work on foreign policy, Mesure de la France (1922), what counted most in relationships among nations, as well as among continents, was their respective physical power. He often measured this power in population terms. Thus in 1922, calling for the political unification of Europe, he based his case mainly on population figures. He reasoned that because China had a population of 430 million, the British Empire 450 million, Russia 150 million, and the United States 110 million, Europe was obliged to unify if it wanted to maintain its independence. That
62Gilles,392. 63L'Homme cheval, 11. 64Doriotou la vie d'un ouvrierfranCais(Saint-Denis, 1936), 31.
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Drieu ignored the respective industrial and economic power of these entities was typical of his thought. His "realism" seldom extended to basic economic or technological realities. Nor, as he made clear later, was he particularly interested in the ethical side of foreign policy. When an opposition journalist in 1936 urged France to ally with Russia against Germany because Hitler was "wicked," Drieu replied sarcastically with an array of population statistics: Wicked.... Let us do a little reasoning. Countingthe Austrians,the Germans have 70 million people. The Russianshave 160 million. It seems to me that havenothingto fear from70 millionfascists.65 160millionCommunists By 1938, however, Drieu was well aware of the threat Nazi Germany presented its neighbors, including France. On the eve of the Munich Settlement he argued, again quite "realistically," that France was too weak to wage a successful war against Germany and therefore should avoid a conflict. This did not mean, however, that Drieu always took a pro-German position, even after his conversion to fascism in 1934. For here, too, his Realpolitik approach to foreign policy cut across ideological lines. Between 1934 and 1939, Drieu repeatedly called for a build-up of France's military strength so that she might be able to repel a foreign attack upon her soil, including a German attack. Indeed, he seemed to believe sincerely that only by adopting French fascism could France ever make herself strong enough to hold her own against German fascism. He emphasized that the PPF was as much opposed to German domination of France as it was to Russian. The rallying cry of the PPF, he said, was "Neither Moscow nor Berlin!"66 (Drieu had abandoned his former Europeanism when he joined the nationalistic PPF in 1936.) In Avec Doriot (1937), Drieu counseled Frenchmen to forget about ideology in matters of foreign policy and to support alliances based strictly on national self-interest, balance of power, Realpolitik. "All the rest," he wrote, "is myth-making and the endless harping of the ignorant and the naive, if not insidious propaganda."67 Hence Drieu, a fascist, called for an alliance with democratic England rather than with Nazi Germany as the best means of preserving French national security, inasmuch as Germany appeared the greater threat. To be sure, with the Fall of France in 1940, Drieu radically altered his position and began to collaborate with the Germans. But the situation in which France found herself had altered radically also. To defend the principle of a European balance of power when that balance seemed all but obliterated was, in Drieu's eyes, no longer realistic.
65Avec Doriot, 65.
Similarly, to preach domestic resistance in the face of superior military strength was not Realpolitik but romanticism. Drieu capped his argument once again by appealing to the tangible reality of population figures. France in 1940, he said, was comparable to Switzerland or Belgium a century earlier in the ratio of her population to Germany's. Because of this, resistance was useless. The reality of numbers, as well as the reality of successful force, dictated that France accept German hegemony in Europe.68 In conclusion, it may be noted that Drieu, of course, was not always as "realistic" as he thought himself to be. His fixation with population figures, for example, seems to have blinded him to other realities-industrial, technological, military-which affect a nation's power. He also vastly overestimated the role which ideas alone play in a nation's power. Consequently, many of his most "realistic" and tough-minded judgments were actually rather simplistic and naive. But, of course, there is nothing new in history about this particular kind of self-delusion: history is full of self-styled realists whose "realistic" policies often lead to disaster and personal destruction. Nevertheless, as an important motivating factor in Drieu's conversion to fascism and in his later collaboration with the Germans, Drieu's selfimage, his sense of being a hard-bitten "realist," should not be underestimated. Without it, the elements of romanticism in his political thought might well have taken a relatively harmless, or even humane, direction. As it was, two of the ugliest aspects of fascist ideology-and of course, not all fascist doctrines, it may be granted, were ipso facto ugly69-its acceptance of brutality and its glorification of violence, were palatable to Drieu less because he was an advocate of romanticism than because he was an advocate of realism. Oberlin College.
68Chroniquepolitique1934-1942, 319. 69For example, Drieu's call for a return to Nature and for a less cerebral, more passionate approach to existence, a call echoed by many French fascist writers, was not in itself necessarily ugly, as readers of Rousseau, Hugo, Gide, and Camus well know. Also, Drieu and the PPF called for a "Revolution of the Body" which would increase both the physical and mental health of Frenchmen by government expansion of sports facilities, mountain and sea resorts, and hiking associations --molded in part after Hitler's "Strength through Joy" movement in Germany. Related to this "Revolution of the Body" was Drieu's vision of a future society in which population and industry would be decentralized so that people would work and live no longer in overcrowded, unpleasant urban complexes divorced from Nature but in communities scattered throughout the countryside connected by rapid means of transportation. Such doctrines might have limited use in a modern industrial society, but they were hardly evil or vicious in themselves.