Guillaume Faye, the Golden one and the metapolitical legion

13 minutes to read
Ico Maly

On March 7, it will have been two years since the death of Guillaume Faye, former number two of La Nouvelle Droite. His death wasn’t big news in mass media. In academic research, Faye exists mostly in the shadow of the French New Right's so-called number one, Alain de Benoist. This lack of academic attention contrasts with the uptake of his work in contemporary far right groups around the world (see Maly, 2022, for an elaborate discussion).

Faye’s critique of La Nouvelle Droite's metapolitics has proven especially influential. In this essay I will zoom in on Guillaume Faye’s conceptualization of metapolitics and the birth of what I call metapolitics 2.0. After that I will show how ‘The Golden One’, a Swedish bodybuilder, YouTuber, and new right metapolitical influencer, is emblematic of this new metapolitical battle. In the final section, I will further reflect on the role of algorithmic knowledge in contemporary metapolitics. 

Guillaume Faye and Metapolitics 2.0

In his book Archeofuturism, Faye (2010) argues that La Nouvelle Droite ‘had simply overlooked the fact that the cultural battle Gramsci promoted was associated with the political and economic battle’. Metapolitics, according to Faye's metapolitical dictionary, is not only about ‘the social diffusion of ideas and cultural values for the sake of provoking a long-term, political transformation’  but also, he stresses, an ‘indispensable complement to every direct form of political action, though in no case can it or should it replace such action’. Furthermore, Faye emphasizes that in contemporary societies, politics is a crucial scene for the metapolitical battle, as politicians have privileged access to the media. For instance, Faye regrets that La Nouvelle Droite never connected with Le Pen's Front National. Importantly, he explicitly stresses the importance of media and media attention in the context of metapolitics.

Faye’s conception of metapolitics as necessarily connected to politics, activism, and media was taken up by many key figures in the contemporary far right. White nationalist intellectual, publisher, and Counter-Currents editor-in-chief Greg Johnson reproduces Faye’s critique extensively in his 2012 reader on the establishment of the ‘North American New Right’, his 2013 book ‘New Right vs Old right’ and in several blogs and essays on Counter-Currents. Johnson re-entextualizes Faye’s work for American readers, making an abstraction of Faye’s anti-Americanism. He argues that the North American new right should take Faye’s lessons on board, even making them an explicit part of his definition of The North American New Right: ‘The North American New Right is an intellectual movement with a political agenda’ because its ‘aims to change the political landscape’ do not ‘enjoy the luxury of ignoring party and electoral politics’. Johnson thus fully subscribes and reproduces Faye’s assessment of La Nouvelle Droite and sees it as a foundation for establishing a North American New Right. 

Contemporary new right metapolitics is not limited to a purely intellectual strategy, but encompasses every ideological intervention towards the construction of that future reborn society.

Faye’s understanding of metapolitics as more than just production of theory (and Johnson’s re-entextualization of it) has been taken up by different sites and activists within the alt-right and the global new right. From the beginning metapolitics played an important role within the alt-right. In the context of the liberal society, several key figures argue that metapolitics is at the heart of the new right's cultural construction of that future society. Any political struggle must be 'preceded, legitimised, and supported by a metapolitical struggle’, says Arktos publisher Friberg. This metapolitical strategy is visible in the classical metapolitical structures influenced by La Nouvelle Droite: think tanks like Richard Spencer’s National Policy Institute, congresses, books, papers and essays. However, especially in the US, it has also been embedded in vlogs, memes, offline practices influenced by digital culture, and political activism for Trump. 

In the American uptake of metapolitics, not only was the goal changed (a vitalistic re-constructing of an American society instead of the Euro-siberia power block Faye proposes) but also the conceptualization of metapolitics. In addition to the intellectual or politician, the 'prosumer' became a metapolitical actor: ‘one individual on an American college campus who tapes a sign reading ‘It’s OK to be White’ to a lamppost’, says Arktos editor-in-Chief Leonard, acts metapolitically because his action seeks ‘to shift or shatter’ political conventions. The intellectual, the politician, the activist, and the prosumer are now all imagined as part of the new right metapolitical battle, all helping ‘to prepare the way for the regime which will supplant democracy. The deepest work of the metapolitician of the Right is therefore necessarily anti-democratic: he seeks to produce a society in which metapolitics, save in its conservative aspect’.

Contemporary new right metapolitics is not limited to a purely intellectual strategy, but encompasses every ideological intervention towards the construction of that future reborn society. This broad conception of metapolitics, embodied in meme warfare, offline activism, influencer culture, and politics, is dominant in the alt-right and global new right. Moreover, because the new right denounces parliamentary democracy, politicians are only understood within the logic of metapolitics. ‘Parliamentary efforts’, says Friberg, ‘can never be more than complements to broader cultural and political work. The results of elections are but products of how public opinion has been formed and how, what, and in what manner information has been spread between these elections.’ In the 21st century, Faye’s broad conceptualization of metapolitics has been taken up and stretched to include digital activism.

Guillaume Faye, the Golden One, and the metapolitical warrior

Within the global new right, Guillaume Faye is considered a genius and intellectual prophet (Maly, 2021). After his death, the former figurehead of La Nouvelle Droite was praised as a visionary on social media by former Front National president Jean-Marie Le Pen, as well as co-founder of the Pro-Afrikaanse Aksiegroep Dan Roodt, Arktos publisher Daniel Friberg, Counter-Currents publisher Greg Johnson, editor-in-chief of American Renaissance Jared Taylor, Martin Lichtmesz from Sezession, alt-right star Richard Spencer, the Dutch new right movement Erkenbrand, several diverse Generation Identity accounts, and the de-facto leader of the pan-European identitarian movement Martin Sellner. They all commemorated his death, hailing him as a key intellectual of the ‘true right’.

‘The Golden One’ was among the key global new right figures who praised Faye. The Golden One, also known as Marcus Follin, is a bodybuilder, online fitness guru, entrepreneur, and far right YouTuber. He started his YouTube channel in 2012 and has now amassed over 110K subscribers and over 12 million views, operating on a global scale. He has given lectures for the far right group Erkenbrand in the Netherlands, Reconquista in Ukraine, The Scandza Forum in Sweden. He has collaborated with many key figures and online shows in the far right alternative influence network (Lewis, 2018) like Millennial Woes and Red Ice TV. 

His condolence tweet was not the first time the Swedish YouTuber had praised Faye. In 2015 he made a (now blocked) YouTube video praising Faye’s book Why we fight: Manifesto for a European Renaissance as ‘one of the best books I have read’. Follin was certainly not the first or the only far right figure to be inspired by this book. In 2017, Martin Sellner, the de facto head of the European Identitarian movement, published five YouTube videos solely dedicated to the book (Maly, 2021) (All videos were set to private after Sellner was temporarily banned from the site in 2018). In these videos he stresses Faye's ideological and metapolitical importance. Metapolitics, Sellner argues, is a key concept for identitarians, since they define themselves as a metapolitical movement. It's no wonder that Faye's publishing house, Arktos, pitches Why We Fight as ‘destined to become the key work for Twenty-first century identitarians.’

The Golden One recommends Why we fight especially for those who are 'beginner[s] in the political or philosophical world or need ammunition to fight off or debate the leftists' (The Golden One, 2015). Note here how Follin adopts metaphors of war in relation to the idea of political debate or philosophy. This is no coincidence - ‘the debate’, ‘philosophy’ or ‘metapolitics’ are not merely synonyms for him - his entire message argues that metapolitics is crucial in the fight for the future of Europe and the European people.

These fighting metaphors also reflect a central motif in Faye’s book. Faye starts Why we fight with the idea that ‘Europe today faces the greatest danger in her history, a danger threatening the very existence of her civilization. For she is at war and doesn’t know it' (Faye, 2011, p. 29). Faye sees Europe, and especially European culture and identity, as in danger of becoming extinct. This danger is, for Faye, brought on by elites who have allowed colonization by migrants, in particular Muslims. The idea of the ‘great replacement’ is central to Faye's book - we should fight ‘for the cause of our own people’s destiny’ (Faye, 2011, p.39). Faye describes the world in Schmittian terms - as a struggle between ethnic peoples and civilizations for survival and domination. Faye states that ‘The base of everything is biocultural identity and demographic renewal’ (2011, p. 37). The Golden One completely agrees: ‘Culture stems out of blood’. 

This fight for Europe's biocultural identity, or in less metapolitical terms the European race, is not only metapolitical for Faye. The fight is also very much about the will to power: the will to become culturally, morally, economically, and politically superior as a people. Faye’s emphasis on the struggle for dominance and superiority between Europeans and Islamic colonizers, is one and the same with The Golden One's message. This idea, he says, ‘resonates very well with the kind of aesthetics that I’m trying to portray with this channel, about strength and such virtues’ (The Golden One, 2015).

Just like Faye, The Golden One stresses the importance of the Warrior virtues and the halt of ‘deviralization.' Follin sees himself as helping to construct of a new legion of metapolitical warriors. In a lecture for the Ukrainian based ZOV Movement and the ND-National Militia, he stressed the importance of combining real fighting and violence with the philosophical or metapolitical. In essence he fuses metapolitics and the willingness to use violence into the idea of the ‘metapolitical soldier’ or ‘metapolitical crusader’. In this lecture he stressed that soldiers need to have a solid ideological world view and activists or politicians also need to be able to physically fight. This notion of the metapolitical crusader is central to Follin's social media communication. All of his online activity has been dedicated to the creation and education of this 'legion'. 

The Golden One, the metapolitical legion, and algorithmic knowledge 

Metapolitics in The Golden One's discourse differs from that put forward by de Benoist. De Benoist’s metapolitics was grounded ‘in an ideological critique of the left and an methodological critique of the right.’ It was a way to rethink the ideas and strategies of the true right – the conservative revolutionary right – and to bring them into the twentieth century. All ‘metapolitical action attempts, beyond political divisions and through a new synthesis, to renew a transversal mode of thought and, ultimately, to study all areas of knowledge in order to propose a coherent worldview.’ First and foremost, metapolitics was about the production of theory and distancing oneself from violent activist groups. Second, it was about normalizing those ideas in order to fuel political changes. 

The Golden One’s version of metapolitics is not about highbrow intellectual theory or a new theoretical synthesis. His message is emblematic of metapolitics 2.0, a metapolitics clearly entwined with digital infrastructures and digital culture. The Golden One is, in essence, a metapolitical influencer. It is important to understand that he does not simply reproduce others' ideas. He is not a neutral intermediary: by using digital media for metapolitical goals he is producing new ideas, assembling existing ones, and repackaging them for a new niche. 

Key to understanding his impact is analyzing his communication in the tradition of social media influencers. Like most influencers, The Golden One not only produces a clear cut persona but also mobilizes strategic authenticity and intimacy to bond with his audience. The difference is that his personal life is used in service of metapolitical goals: he created an entire series about what becoming a father meant to him, including a  discussion about the war on fatherhood and how to raise daughters. Through these seemingly personal videos he promotes traditional values and a pan-European worldview that is also prevalent in Faye's work. 

Metapolitics in the digital age is not only about the circulation of ideas but also digital literacy and culture. In order to remain integrated in the viral economy and thus generate uptake, metapolitical influencers need to be media literate.

Like all influencers, the Golden One has crafted his own brand. He has created a very specific public persona – a modern-day pastiche of Nordic Viking and Bodybuilder – that he uses for metapolitical and economic goals. He combines fitness and food advice with videos dedicated to far right politics, books, and activists. Moreover his persona is successful: He gives lectures, gets monthly funding through patreon (586 people donate each month). He has his own clothing line, Legio Gloria, that he wears regularly in his videos. He even has his own nutrition line. The Golden One's success is not only metapolitical but also financial. 

The Golden One’s brand thus finances his metapolitics and vice versa. Through his online presence and his influencer techniques he manages to inspire far-right activists and youth around the world. It is in this uptake that we can assess the meaning of his work. One of those viewers and fans is the YouTuber ‘Son of Europe’. Son of Europe is a member of the far right Flemish identitarian movement ‘Schild & Vrienden’. In a YouTube video titled ‘How I got red pilled’ (the video was published in 2018 but Son of Europe has since deactivated his account), he explains that finding The Golden One's channel was a ‘pivotal moment’ in his red pilling process. He not only ‘started watching, binge watching actually, the Golden One’s videos’ but also started to exercise, ‘go the gym more’, and began ‘doing research and also started reading more’. It thus through the self-help, fitness, and eventually purely political videos that Son of Europe crafted his identity, set up an Instagram account under the same name, and became active in the Flemish identitarian movement. 

The Golden One's (2016) ‘Wild Hunt Challenge’ proved to be especially influential in shaping Son of Europe. It was this challenge, ‘aimed at reinforcing positive behaviors in young men’ that inspired Son of Europe to create his Instagram account. The Golden One challenged young men to (1) train at least five days a week, (2) stop watching porn or at least masturbating to porn as “I want you aggressive and disciplined’. This is non-negotiable if you want to be part of his ‘legionnairies’. (3) read an article every day and (4) post ‘a glorious picture of yourself’ (…) in the most epic place you know’ and ‘upload it to Instagram with the tag #legiogloria’. It was through these posts, said Son of Europe, that a community was born. This community not only created transnational ties among far right activists but also functioned as a learning environment. Son of Europe claims that it was in this 'Legio Gloria' that he learned everything about ‘the domination of cultural Marxism’ and ‘the domination of certain groups in the banking world’. He even concludes by saying that this community ‘formed my ideology as it is up to today’ and prompted him to take up the role of ‘metapolitical warrior’: he began posting videos and pictures on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube in the genre of the Golden One. 

The Golden One, as an influencer or micro-celebrity within the far-right niche, re-entextualizes Faye’s discourse for a whole new audience. Metapolitics in the digital age is not only about the circulation of ideas but also digital literacy and culture. In order to remain integrated in the viral economy and thus generate uptake, metapolitical influencers need to be media literate. They need to develop specific strategies and make full use of the affordances and algorithms of different media, as well as their specific media logics, to build an audience and/or community. Furthermore understanding and adjusting to the culture of specific platforms is equally important in generating metapolitical impact.

Metapolitics 2.0 is deeply woven into the new media system. The impact and the influence of The Golden One, and thus his role in the distribution of far right ideology, cannot be reduced to his content alone. We have to understand it in relation to online persona and thus also the digital and algorithmic environment in which he produces his voice. The management of visibility, as well as avoiding non-visibility, is a constant worry for all actors in this media system. Making yourself visible is thus critical for all ideological projects. Over The Golden One's long social media career he has proven himself a master of this game. Further he has remained fully integrated on all major digital platforms (YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook) for almost a decade. He used the affordances of each platform and adopted classic influencer techniques to grow an audience, keep that audience, and build a community around him. 

Key to any contemporary metapolitical project is thus being and staying integrated in each platform's culture and adjusting to community rules. It is their integration in the new media ecology that allows them to become so influential. Since the end of 2020, the Golden One has struggled to remain integrated. His personal Instagram and Facebook accounts have been deleted. He is now using his existing mainstream accounts to move his audience to new platforms like GAB and Telegram. In a desperate attempt to remain on YouTube, he has announced that he will stop posting political videos there. His attempts to reinstate his Instagram and maintain his YouTube account show us just how important mainstream digital media are for the metapolitical project.


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