The European Conservative (TEC) is a far-right journal that has its roots in a newsletter published by the Center for European Renewal (CER), an organization founded in 2007 in the Netherlands by key players from the extreme Right from across Europe and the United States. From 2008 onwards, TEC appeared as a PDF newsletter, later also in print form, and since 2021 in a revamped edition published in Hungary.
CER was modeled on the US Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI),1 an organization sponsoring right-wing curricula at college campuses. Founded in 1953 by Frank Chodorov (1887-1966), ISI's first president was William Buckley jr. (1925-2008) - a notorious former CIA man who had spearheaded a multitude of far-right initiatives in the US. The former Chief Academic Officer and former Senior Vice-President of ISI, Mark C. Henrie, has been a member of CER's board ever since 2008. He was also on TEC's editorial board from 2012 to 2015, and currently sits on TEC's advisory council.2
At least three current and former TEC staffers have been involved in Buckley's far-right journal National Review (NR), notably the British John O’Sullivan, current editor-at-large of NR,3 who sits on TEC's advisory council; and also the Canadian-American Jonathon Van Maren, who has contributed to NR in the past, and currently works for TEC as contributing editor.4 The Dutch Diederik Boomsma, on CER’s board since 2011 in the role of treasurer5 and on TEC's editorial board between 2012 and 2014, also wrote for NR.6
Around 2021, TEC split off from CER institutionally, and started to appear as a glossy and bibliophile edition four times a year, with headquarters in Budapest, Hungary. Although the current issues do not cite CER as responsible for the journal any longer, some of CER's longtime board members are still on TEC's masthead. And until late 2022, CER still claimed to be responsible for the publication of TEC,7 but then scraped all references from the website.8
Currently, TEC is registered as a Hungarian LLC, with two registered agents: TEC's editor-in-chief, Alvino-Mario Fantini; and TEC's managing director, Kristóf Máté Nagy. However, none of the two are using their real address. Fantini provided the address of his mother, Beatriz de Céspedes, in Vienna (Neubaugasse 76/24). And also Máté Nagy provided an alternative address (c/o Jaczina Beatrix Katalin, 1122 Budapest, Maros utca 34. 3. em. Door 15).9
According to its impressum page, as of 2023, TEC is published in collaboration with the Berlin-based Library of Conservatism (Bibliothek des Konservatismus, BdK), a far-right think tank and library; the Italian think tank and journal Nazione Futura; as well as an unidentified organization called CEDI/EDIC (Vienna).10 However, TEC collaborates closely with other like-minded organizations, such as the Danube Institute of John O'Sullivan and Rod Dreher, established 2014 in Budapest; or the far-right Institut Iliade in Paris.
Behind the nifty surface, TEC appears to have a neo-Nazi underbelly. For example, it runs a video/podcast series that is often hosted by Karl-Gustel Wärnberg, editor-in-chief of Fighter Magazine and director of communications for the Svenska MMA Förbundet, the Swedish Mixed Martial Arts Federation (SMMAF).11 12
TEC has also run political smear campaigns together with Project Veritas, a US far-right group which is using illegal means, such as entrapment and wiretapping, to discredit political enemies. Project Veritas’s former board member Matthew Tyrmand sits on TEC’s editorial board since late 2015.
TEC leaves little room to speculate about its attitude towards democracy, let alone communism or socialism. In 2016, TEC posted a meme on Facebook, saying "Democracy - The System that Picks Barrabas over Jesus." With the picture went the comment: "Although we might quibble with this, and argue that it really should read 'mobocracy' or even 'ochlocracy'..."13
On many occasions liberalism is attacked, both on the Left and the Right. In February 2019, TEC posted a chart on Facebook, headlined "For the 'ultratrads' among us," in which the gulf between liberalism and traditionalism (monarchy) is portrayed as a sort of ancient map that shows the battle between the forces of good and evil. Under the liberalism umbrella, also anti-Semitic dog whistles, such as "usury," are subsumed.14
Ideological chart posted by The European Conservative on Facebook.
On TEC's social media accounts, one can find various positive references to monarchy and royals, first and foremost Otto von Habsburg (1912-2011), the last crown prince of Austria-Hungary.15 TEC's editor-in-chief, Alvino-Mario Fantini has reportedly been close to the Budapest-based Otto von Habsburg Foundation.16
On social media, TEC frequently commemorates events in the "reactionary history of Europe," mostly relating to decisive battles won by Christians in the Ottoman Wars: the Sack of Rome by the Vandals (455)17 ; the Battle of Tours (732)18 ; the Siege of Belgrade (1456)19 ; the Great Siege of Malta (1565)20 ; the Siege of Szigetvár (1566)21 ; the Battle of Lepanto (1571)22 ; and The Battle of Vienna (1683).23
TEC has been promoting right-wing to far-right European parties on its social media accounts. Among them the Freedom Party of Austria24 ; Hungary's Fidesz party25 ; the Italian Fratelli d'Italia26 ; and the French Rassemblement National.27
Although the print journal tries to stick to palatable "mainstream" figures on the Right, on its social media accounts TEC also endorses far-right ideologues, such as Alain de Benoist28 and Dominique Venner (1935–2013).29 TEC also heavily promotes Christian, particularly Catholic, fundamentalist organizations, such as Tradition, Family and Property of Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira (1908-1995)30 ; the US-based anti-choice supergroup World Congress of Families25 ; the French far-right, Catholic and monarchist Action Française (f. 1899)31 ; or the French Catholic and Identitarian youth organization, Academia Christiana.32
TEC's current editor-in-chief Alvino-Mario Fantini and his wife Ellen (Kryger) Fantini, managing editor, are particularly close to Christian fundamentalist and anti-choice organizations and networks, such as Agenda Europe, European Dignity Watch, and the Dignitatis Humanae Institute.
Furthermore, TEC staffers can often be found as speakers or panelists at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the National Conservatism Conference, or events organized by the New Direction think tank.
1st Vanenburg Meeting / Edmund Burke Stichting
The Center for European Renewal has its origins in a first exploratory meeting in 2006 held at Kasteel De Vanenburg, a castle in Putten, Netherlands, which brought together key right-wing players from across Europe and the United States.1 Host of that initial meeting was the Dutch Edmund Burke Stichting (Edmund Burke Foundation, EBS), a fiscally liberal and ideologically right-wing think tank founded in 2000.
According to the weekly magazine Vrij Nederland, the EBS was funded directly and indirectly by right-wing American foundations and wealthy donors. De Groene Amsterdammer of October 14, 2005, spoke to a former board member who claimed that the foundation was set up with start-up funds from the Baan brothers, and referred to software producer Microsoft and pharmaceutical giant Pfizer as the main financiers, among others. The support of the multinational financiers, however, plummeted after in 2004, one of the EBS's co-founders, Bart Jan Spruyt, openly expressed sympathy for Geert Wilders of the far-right Party for Freedom (PVV).33
Intercollegiate Studies Institute
At that first Vanenburg meeting, it was decided that a European-wide organization should be set up on the model of the US Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI), with which the EBS had already been collaborating. [As of 2023, EBS still counts CER and the ISI among its partners on their website.34 ]
The report on the first Vanenburg meeting reads:1
The concluding session of the conference was used to discuss and devise an initial strategy to take the first steps towards achieving the European ISI.
A key CER and TEC operative, Mark C. Henrie, had been the former Chief Academic Officer and former Senior Vice-President of ISI. He has been member of CER's board ever since 2008, and currently sits on TEC's Advisory Council.2 He was quoted as follows in the report of the 1st Vanenburg Meeting:1
Mark C. Henrie
The conference began with a lecture by Mark Henrie, Director of Academic Affairs and Senior Editor at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) in the United States, on the history of ISI and the conservative movement in America. ISI has been enormously successful in “conveying to successive generations of college youth an appreciation for the values and institutions that sustain a free and virtuous society”, and to work towards emulating this success in Europe was one of the main purposes of the conference. Henrie told the participants how ISI was founded by Frank Chodorov in 1953, who outlined a “a fifty-year project” to reform the university and society in favor of freedom, and to create a public square for conservatism on campuses at a time when its ideas were mostly excluded — as they are currently in most European universities. To achieve this, ISI developed its core programs: on campus lectures and debates, the honors program and summer school for promising students, the publication of journals like the Intercollegiate Review and Modern Age, books and its student guides to the major disciplines. “America is part of the West, and it would help if Europe were not so decadent,” said Henrie. All participants agreed on this: the West must stand united or fall. A pan-European Institute would provide a vital platform to facilitate and strengthen this transatlantic cooperation.
Participants of the 1st Vanenburg Meeting in 2006. From left to right: Caspar v. Schrenck-Notzing, Bertil Haggman, Alexandre Pesey, Diederik Boomsma, Chantal Delsol, Fr. Marcel Guarnizo, Andrew O’Connell, Harald Bergbauer, Stephen Bartulica, Roger Scruton, Bart Jan Spruyt, Marco Respinti, Andreas Kinneging, Michael Mosbacher, Frank Lothar Kroll, Mark Henrie, Milowit Kuninski, Michiel Visser, Kate Pesey, Benjamin Bilski, Matthias Storme, Douglas Murray, Pablo Nuevo, Andras Lánczi, Jonathan Price, Jorge Soley, Tamas Lánczi, Roman Joch, Mario Fantini and Voijtech Belling.
Ever since that 1st Vanenburg Meeting, CER organizes an annual meeting, named after the location of that first 2006 get-together. These annual summer meetings have been taking place in Vienna (2007), Madrid (2008), Budapest (2009), Krakow (2010), Leuven (2011), Cirencester (2012), Prague (2013), Warsaw (2014), Dubrovnik (2015), Cirencester (2016), Berlin (2017) and Riga (2018). Speakers at these meetings have included Roger Scruton (1944-2020), Ryszard Legutko, Chantal Delsol, David Gress, Rémi Brague, Anthony Daniels, Agnieszka Kołakowska, Gabriele Kuby, Douglas Murray, and many others.
Center for European Renewal
A year after the 1st Vanenburg Meeting, in 2007, the Center for European Renewal (CER) was established with headquarters in the Netherlands. Among the founders were the Dutch Andreas Kinneging (Edmund Burke Stichting); the German right-wing publicist Caspar von Schrenck-Notzing (Förderstiftung Konservative Bildung und Forschung); Czech think-tank director Roman Joch (Civic Institute); Spanish publishing executive Jorge Soley Climent; Flemish law professor Matthias Storme; and Alexandre Pesey of the French Institut de formation politique (IFP).
Below a listing of CER's board of trustees throughout the years, assembled from archived copies of the CER website:
The European Conservative
In 2008, the year that William Buckley jr. (1925-2008) died, CER established a website where it specified as address: Center for European Renewal, P.O. Box 85633, 2508 CH The Hague, The Netherlands.35 In the "network" section of an archived copy of the website from 2008, the following organizations were specified:36
- Civic Institute (Czech Republic)
- Institut de Formation Politique (France)
- Edmund Burke Stichting (Netherlands)
- Fundacion Burke (Spain)
- Intercollegiate Studies Institute (United States)
In 2008, CER also started to publish a newsletter called The European Conservative. Initially, it was only a few pages long, and did not appear in print form. Below a listing of the names and positions on TEC’s masthead throughout the years:
Editor-in-chief of issues 1 and 2 (June 2008, May 2009) was CER's Jonathan Price (USA, UK). Managing Editor was Jakob Eson Söderbaum (Konservativt Forum, Sweden), and the layout was done by Bernhard Adamec (Europa Institute, Austria). Price remained on TEC's editorial board until 2014 and is still a member of CER's board.37
That changed in issues 3 through 5 (December 2009, June 2010, November 2010), with the Spaniard Jorge Soley (CER board member 2008-2017) becoming the new editor-in-chief. A trained economist, Soley was a co-founder of the CER, and also a co-founder and president of European Dignity Watch (f. 2012). A rabid anti-choice activist, as of late, Soley has collaborated "with the Leadership and Governance Program of ISSEP," the far-right political cadre school founded by Marion Maréchal-Le Pen.38
Alvino-Mario Fantini at CPAC Hungary 2022.
From issue 6 (Spring 2012) onwards, Alvino-Mario Fantini (USA) became, and remained, the editor, with Diederik Boomsma (Netherlands), Mark C. Henrie (USA), Jonathan D. Price (USA) on the editorial board. Fantini had taken part in the 1st Vanenburg Meeting and was also present on CER's board from 2011-2017. Although not mentioned on CER's website any longer, as of 2023, his CV states that he still sits on CER's board.39 With his accession to the role of editor-in-chief, TEC slowly but surely expanded beyond its scope of being a mere newsletter of the CER.
Fantini is the son of a Bolivian mother born in Italy (Beatriz de Céspedes),40 and an American father (Alvino E. Fantini) .41 Both of his parents were involved in the School for International Training / World Learning, headquartered in Brattleboro, Vermont, where Fantini grew up. As of 2009, Fantini lived in Vienna, Austria. In a short biography from that time, it says:42
He previously worked for the World Bank. He has written for The American Spectator, The Far Eastern Economic Review, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Times. A graduate of Dartmouth College, Fantini holds Master’s degrees in international development, public policy and financial journalism. He is a member of the Philadelphia Society, serves on the board of The Dartmouth Review, and is a fellow of the 21st Century Trust and the Salzburg Seminar. He is a founding member of the Vanenburg Society.
A website, europeanconservative.com, was launched sometimes in 2013 and has been online ever since.43 In earlier versions of the website, online issues of The European Conservative (issues 1-14) were available for download (see appendix).
Ellen (Kryger) Fantini
From issue 9 (Winter 2014) onwards, prices are indicated in some of the PDFs, which presumably means that print versions of those editions exist (they cost $10, then $5, then $10 again). And the editorial board changed for pretty much every issue ever after.
A notable addition to the editorial board was Ellen (Kryger) Fantini, the wife of TEC's editor Alvino-Mario Fantini. Trained as a lawyer, she also serves as a consultant to various religious fundamentalist organizations. Fantini is “a Brattleboro native now living in Vienna.”44 “Fantini and her husband both graduated from Brattleboro Union High school in the ‘80s…”44 Currently, she is the Executive Director of the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians in Europe, based in Vienna, Austria.45 She has been a key player in Agenda Europe, a powerful anti-choice network trying to influence EU legislation. She is a demanded speaker at Christian fundamentalist events, such as the Ukrainian National Prayer Breakfast.46
In late 2014, TEC created a Facebook page, and started off with a series of posts dedicated to some of its ideological figureheads: Thomas Molnar (1921-2010), Eugenio Corti (1921-2014), Caspar von Schrenck-Notzing (1927-2009), Kenneth R. Minogue (1930-2013), Otto von Habsburg (1912-2011), Augusto del Noce (1910-1989), Maurice Cowling (1926-2005), and others.
Screenshot from the picture section of the The European Conservative's Facebook page, showing the first posts in November 2014, honoring some of the ideological figureheads of the publication.
In 2015, the editorial team grew quite considerably. The following names appear on the masthead of Issue 12 (Summer/Fall 2015):
- Editor-in-Chief: Alvino-Mario Fantini
- Editor-at-Large: Brian T. Gill
- U.S. Correspondent: Gerald J. Russello
- Editorial Board: Stjepo Bartulica, Roman Joch, Ellen Kryger, Filip Mazurczak, Lorenzo Montanari, G. K. Montrose, Alexandre Pesey, Matthew Tyrmand, Pr. Edmund Waldstein, Karl-Gustel Wärnberg
- Advisory Council: Rémi Brague, Robin Harris, Mark Henrie, Annette Kirk, Roger Scruton
At least one new addition, Karl-Gustel Wärnberg, has tangible ties to the neo-Nazi scene, who sat on TEC's editorial board from 2015 and 2017, and later stayed on as a freelancer and podcaster. As of 2023, Wärnberg is editor-in-chief of Fighter Magazine and director of communications for the Svenska MMA Förbundet, the Swedish Mixed Martial Arts Federation (SMMAF).12
In the following years (2016-2017), there were little changes in the editorial team.
European Dignity Watch
In 2017, synergies between anti-choice organizations, such as European Dignity Watch (EDW), became apparent. Both, TEC’s editor-in-chief, Alvino-Mario Fantini, and TEC’s former editor-in-chief, Jorge Soley, were on EDW's board, alongside Sophia Kuby and others.47
Alain de Benoist
While we might never consider ourselves 'members' of the 'Nouvelle Droite' or 'acolytes' of Alain De Benoist, we are steadfast in our recognition of his contributions to serious academic study of the European Right -- and admire his excellent bi-annual publication, Revue éléments.
Below is the back cover of the latest edition (Février-Mars), which advertises Benoist's latest book, "Le moment populiste: Droite-gauche c’est fini!".
In May 2017, TEC promoted Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán of the Fidesz party on social media:25
Although many readers may dislike him, Prime Minister Viktor Orban, at the opening of the World Congress of Families XI / Budapest Family Summit today, said something that is difficult to disagree with: "Europe is rich, old, and weak."
Edmund Burke Foundation (US) / National Conservatism Conference
In January 2019, the Edmund Burke Foundation (EBF) was founded in the US, a think-tank led by Yoram Hazony, which hosts the far-right National Conservatism Conference (NCC) series. TEC staffers appear frequently as speakers on the conference rosters, and EBF's Vice President for External Affairs, Anna Wellisz (US), sits also on the advisory council of TEC.49
On May 13, 2019, four people associated with TEC, CER and the Vanenburg Meetings were among the speakers of the NCC in London: John O'Sullivan, Balázs Orbán, Melvin L. Schut, and Roger Scruton.50
From July 14-16, 2019, two TEC and CER affiliates appeared as speakers at the NCC in Washington DC, alongside John Bolton, Peter Thiel and others: Ryszard Legutko (Poland), on CER's board from 2008 to 2022 and on TEC's advisory council since at least 2021; and John O'Sullivan (UK), who had taken part in the 2014 Vanenburg Meeting and since at least 2021 appears on TEC's advisory council.51
Around 2020, the CER website was overhauled, still mentioning that it hosts the Vanenburg Meetings and that it is responsible for The European Conservative.52
Screenshot of the homepage of the Center for European Renewal from May 2020.
Tradition, Framily, Property
Today, October 3, is the 25th anniversary of the passing of the Catholic counter-revolutionary leader, Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira.
Admired by some around the world, and intensely reviled by others, his analysis of history and modernity yielded many unexpected insights -- and revealed a coherent, unified vision of the world. His decades-long struggles -- in Brazil, Latin America, the Western hemisphere, and around the world -- against land reform, Marxism-Leninism, and other pathologies of the modern world were inspirational to generations of conservative reactionaries.
In November 2020, TEC once more advertised a title of the far-right French ideologue Alain de Benoist: "One recent important addition to their inventory is the fascinating collection, 'La Bibliothèque du jeune européen: 200 essais pour apprendre à penser' (The Young European's Library: 200 Essays to Learn How to Think), edited by Alain De Benoist and Guillaume Travers, published by Editions du Rocher (2020)."53
Logo of The European Conservative.
In 2021, TEC was overhauled once more, this time appearing in a glossy and bibliophile edition, and a considerable increase in staff. As of 2021, the "Impressum" section of the TEC website stated that "The European Conservative is published online and as a print edition four times a year by the European Conservative Nonprofit Ltd. in Budapest, in collaboration with CEDI/EDIC in Vienna and Nazione Futura in Rome."54 Also the website was overhauled, from then on showing a shop section, selling issues from issues 19 onwards with the ISSN number 2590-2008.55
In June 2021, to mark the re-design and re-launch of the publication (with its Summer 2021 edition) it held a panel discussion with several scholars at one of the Scruton Cafes in Budapest, Hungary, named after the late Roger Scruton (1944-2020), who had attended the 1st Vanenburg Meeting and was subsequently heavily involved in CER an TEC.56
Where the sudden influx of money came from to launch a proper journal, including a long list of junior and senior editors, translators, graphic designers etc. remains a secret. Although the journal contains some ads, Fantini states in a speech at the National Conservatism Conference in 2021 that ad space is often given away for free to friendly parties.57
Logo of Nazione Futura
Nazione Futura, an Italian think tank and journal close to the far-right party Fratelli d'Italia, was founded in 2017 by Francesco Giubilei, who, since at least 2021, is on TEC’s editorial board. Since January 2018, Giubilei is also the president of the Tatarella Foundation, founded in memory of Italian politician Giuseppe Tatarella. Since 2022, he is a special advisor for the Italian Minister of Culture Gennaro Sangiuliano in the Meloni government. Furthermore, "He is a member of the Scientific Committee on the Future of Europe of the Italian government."58
TEC had been promoting Giubilei's work on Facebook ever since 2018. In early October 2018, TEC shared an event invitation to the "1st 'General Assembly of the Culture of the Right', co-organized by Nazione Futura."59 This was followed by an event invitation to Giubilei's book presentation on the "Cultural References of Salvini's Lega," hosted by the Machiavelli Study Center.60 In November 2018, TEC shared an event invitation of Giubilei's Tatarella Foundation.61 In 2019, TEC advertised Giubilei's US tour, with stops at The Heritage Foundation and Americans for Tax Reform.62
What lurks behind the CEDI/EDIC organization in Vienna remains a mystery. The statement by the Italian journalist Andrea Palladino that it was Otto von Habsburg's European Documentation and Information Centre,63 was promptly denied by TEC on Twitter.64 In an online CV of TEC's editor-in-chief, Alvino-Mario Fantini, it is specified that he is the "managing director of the European Center for Documentation and Information, a Vienna think-tank."65 And it is undeniable that TEC has positively referenced Otto von Habsburg on various occasions, and that Fantini has been in close contact with the Otto von Habsburg Foundation in Budapest.
Tweet by The European Conservative, refuting the allegation that is connected to Otto von Habsburg's CEDI.
Batthyány Lajos Foundation
The first archived copy from the Hungarian Batthyány Lajos Foundation (BLF) website stating that it supports the publication of TEC is from October 2021.66 The BLF was founded in 1991, shortly after the country became independent of the Soviet Bloc. Prelimiary talks to create the BLF were held in 1990 in France, which included Pál Tar, former ambassador to Washington and the Holy See, first Hungarian Prime Minister József Antall, and then-Prime Minister of France, Michel Rocard.67 In 2010, the BLF created a publishing arm, BL Nonprofit Kft, which, besides supporting the publication of TEC, issues The Hungarian Review (est. 2010), The Hungarian Conservative (est. 2021), Magyar Krónika, Budapost and Metazin.66 Associate editor of two of the journals, The Hungarian Review and The European Conservative, is the Brit John O'Sullivan.
John O'Sullivan at an event organized by the Mathias Corvinus Collegium in Budapest, Hungary, in May 2014.
As of 2021, there were several notable additions to TEC's masthead. These include the British John O'Sullivan, who had taken part in the 2014 Vanenburg Meeting and appears on the journal's advisory council.51 O'Sullivan had been a special adviser to Margaret Thatcher, and since 1987 worked as her speechwriter. At the same time, he served as senior editor for the far-right US journal National Review (1988-1997), since 2016 serving as the journal's editor-at-large.3
In 1996, he founded and co-chaired the now defunct New Atlantic Initiative within the American Enterprise Institute (f. 1938). O’Sullivan has also been involved in the Heritage Foundation, the Hudson Institute and the 21st Century Initiatives.
From 2008 to 2012, O'Sullivan served as vice-president and executive editor of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (f. 1949). In 2014, he moved to Budapest, to set up the Danube Institute, whose president he is since 2017. The latter has been working closely with TEC, and they often appear at the same events. In Budapest, O'Sullivan also serves as associate editor of The Hungarian Review and The Hungarian Conservative (see below).
Another notable addition to the masthead was Matthew Tyrmand, on the board of Project Veritas until July 2023, and, as of 2023, still sitting on TEC’s editorial board.68 69 Project Veritas is a US far-right group which has used illegal means, such as entrapment and wiretapping, to discredit its political enemies. Founded by James O'Keefe in 2010, the group’s undercover operations, which often include secret recordings, are mostly directed against mainstream media organizations and progressive groups, but also against dissenters in the own ranks. In its videos and operations, Project Veritas has reportedly propagated disinformation and conspiracy theories.
TEC has run smear campaigns together with Project Veritas. For example, TEC went against the AfD politician Maximilian Krah in an article from April 2023.70 At the time, Krah’s immunity as MEP was at stake because of employing a Chinese parliamentary assistant, with the article inferring that the latter might be spying for China. It was Matthew Tyrmand himself who started the campaign against Krah in late 2022.71 As of August 2023, Project Veritas seems to be in financial trouble, reportedly having laid off a majority of its staff.72
TEC was also joined by Benjamin Harnwell, an ultra-Catholic anti-abortion lobbyist and political operative formerly involved in the British Conservative Party. In the 15 years that Harnwell was an active Conservative Party member, he worked as a close assistant to the British-Sri Lankan Conservative politician and business magnate Nirj Deva at the European Parliament. In that period, Harnwell connected with ultra-Catholic and anti-abortionist circles in Brussels, which in 2008 led to the creation of an anti-choice lobby group, the European Parliament’s Working Group on Human Dignity. In parallel to the Working Group, Harnwell co-founded the Catholic fundamentalist think tank Dignitatis Humanae Institute (DHI) with the support of Deva,73 which connects militant anti-abortionists with like-minded figures from the Vatican's right wing. In 2010, he moved to Rome to lead the organization, which became more widely known when in early 2018 Steve Bannon announced his by now failed plans to open a far-right cadre school under the umbrella of the DHI in the Abbey of Trisulti, a remote Italian monastery, with Harnwell as director and Deva as primary backer.74 TEC's editor-in-chief Alvino-Mario Fantini, had been reportedly a student there.75
Since TEC's 2021 relaunch, also the Belgian David Engels (b. 1979) joined as contributing editor, a far-right historian and publicist who does not shy away from mingling with neo-Nazi organizations, such as the Institut Iliade.76 In 2017, Engels founded the Oswald Spengler Society (OSS) together with the AfD politician Max Otte, registered at Engel’s address in Belgium.77 In 2018, the Oswald Spengler Prize, endowed by Otte and worth 10,000 euros, was awarded for the first time to Michel Houellebecq, followed by Jordan Peterson in 2022.78 Since 2018, Engels is a research professor at the Instytut Zachodni (“Western Institute”) in Poznań, Poland.79
In November 2021, TEC’s editor-in-chief, Alvino-Mario Fantini, appeared as a speaker at the National Conservatism Conference in Orlando, Florida. There, Fantini recounted the history of TEC from its early days as a newsletter to the glossy journal of today. He also elaborated on the future plans of the journal, such as instating an investigative team that would "do to the Left what they have done to us," as Fantini put it.57
As of spring 2022, on TEC's masthead there were three people that have been contributing to the Katehon website of the Orthodox fundamentalist Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev, who has been supporting and distributing the work of the Russian fascist ideologue Alexander Dugin:
- Sven R. Larson (Sweden, USA; All Larson articles on Katehon: https://katehon.com/en/search/node/larson)
- Hélène de Lauzun (France, https://katehon.com/ru/node/81221)
- Carlos Perona Calvete (Luxembourg, All articles on Katehon: https://katehon.com/en/search/node/calvete)
Masthead of the spring 2022 edition of The European Conservative.
Sometime in early 2022, TEC's masthead changed again, now including the Library of Conservatism (Bibliothek des Konservatismus, BdK) as partner in the publication of TEC, alongside CEDI/EDIC (Vienna) and Nazione Futura.10
Library of Conservatism
Logo of the Bibliothek des Konservatismus
The BdK, located in Berlin is a far-right library and think tank, which hosts a collection of more than 30,000 books.80 The library is financed by the Foundation for Conservative Education and Research (Förderstiftung Konservative Bildung und Forschung, FKBF).
Both, the FKBF and the BdK can be traced back to the right-wing writer and publicist Caspar von Schrenck-Notzing (1927–2009), the scion of an old Bavarian family, who founded the bimonthly journal Criticón in 1970 that became a focal point for right-wing intellectuals in Germany. His dad, Gustav von Schrenck-Notzing (d. 1943), was head of the cavalry during the Nazi era. Schrenck-Notzing had established the FKBF in Munich to preserve his private library of around 20,000 books as well as the archive of Criticón (1970-2007). In 2007 he handed over the presidency of the foundation to Dieter Stein, the editor of the weekly right-wing newspaper Junge Freiheit.
Schrenck-Notzing had initially bequeathed one million euros to the FKBF as start-up capital to build up the BdK.81 At his death in 2009, there were not enough donors for the project. In 2013, the Hamburg shipowner Folkard Edler bought the office building used by the BdK in Berlin's Fasanenstrasse through his company Vebefa for 3.6 million euros and then transferred the building and his company shares to the library foundation.82 Edler and his wife are also major donors and lenders to the far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD) and supporters of Junge Freiheit. The BdK also receives income from the rents of the other residents of the house, such as the German branch of Cato. The FKBF does not provide details of BdK's circle of supporters.83 In addition to Schrenck-Notzing's collection it received as a bequest the library of the conservative social philosopher Günther Rohrmoser of Stuttgart University (around 10,000 books) and further donations.
The connections between TEC and the BdK is not surprising, given that Schrenck-Notzing had taken part in the first Vanenburg meeting in 2006 as representative of the FKBF.1 And he was subsequently involved in the foundation of the Center for European Renewal. The BdK's current director, Wolfgang Fenske, sits on TEC's editorial board since at least 2021.
In February 2022, Fantini was visiting the Otto von Habsburg Foundation headquarters in Budapest.16
From left to right: Gergely Prőhle, director of the Otto von Habsburg Foundation in Budapest; Gergely Fejérdy, deputy scientific director, and Alvino-Mario Fantini in February 2022.
From March 2 to 4, 2022, several TEC and CER operatives spoke at an international congress organized by Centro de Estudios, Formación y Análisis at the private Catholic University, Universidad CEU San Pablo (CEU-CEFAS), in Madrid, Spain.84 They included Alvino-Mario Fantini, David Engels (Instituto Zachodni, Poland), Chantal Delsol (Hannah Arendt Institute, France), and Francesco Giubilei (Fondazione Tatarella, Nazione Futura, Italy). Also TEC sympathizers from Budapest, Balázs Orban (Mathias Corvinus Collegium) and Rod Dreher (Danube Institute) were on the roster.85
TEC was one of several official partners of the National Conservatism Conference held from March 23 to 24, 2022, in Brussels.86 Numerous speakers at the conference were involved in CER and TEC: Stephen Bartulica, Hélène de Lauzun, David Engels, Alvino-Mario Fantini, Francesco Giubilei, Ellen Kryger Fantini, Anne-Elisabeth Moutet, John O'Sullivan and Anna Wellisz, among others.87
Co-sponsoring organizations of the National Conservatism Conference in Brussels, March 23-24, 2022.
As of March 28, 2022, a month after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, TEC did not condemn Russia. Instead, it plead for "peace," quoting the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, known for his closeness to Russia: "The Whole of Europe Should be Working Towards Peace."88
In early May 2022, TEC was present at CPAC Hungary with a stall, giving away free copies of their journal.89 Several TEC and CER staffers were also participating, among them Alvino-Mario Fantini, Francesco Giubilei, Matthew Tyrmand, and Anne-Elisabeth Moutet.90
Stall of The European Conservative at CPAC Hungary
In August 2022, just ahead of the Italian general election, TEC advertised presidential candidate Giorgia Meloni and her party, the far-right Fratelli d'Italia. In a Facebook post from August 2, 2022, it says: "Meloni and the Fratelli d’Italia offer a real alternative, which is why the bought and paid for press want nothing more than for her to fail."91
Sometime in late autumn 2022, the "Partner" section on the website of the French far-right Institut Iliade (Iliade Institute) changed, now including The European Conservative.92 “The Iliade institute was "symbolically founded at the summer solstice 2014 at the top of Mount Olympus," in response "to the ultimate wishes of Dominique Venner,” according to an article on the Institute's website.93
Logo of the Institut Iliade
From September 30 to October 2, 2022, TEC co-hosted an "Italian Conservatism" conference at the Hotel Quirinale in Rome, alongside the Tatarella Foundation and Nazione Futura. Various TEC figures were featured on the roster, including Alvino-Mario Fantini, John O'Sullivan, Francesco Giubilei, David Engels, Anne-Elisabeth Moutet, and Hélène de Lauzun. Also present was Lorenzo Fontana of the Italian Lega party; Jorge Buxadé of the Spanish far-right Vox party; Fratelli d'Italia MEP Vincenzo Sofo; André Ventura of the Portuguese far-right Chega party; Italian Minister of Culture Gennaro Sangiuliano; and Balázs Orbán, Political Director of Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán since 2021.94
Program of the 2022 Italian Conservatism conference in Rome, Italy, co-hosted by The European Conservative.
In October 2022, Alvino-Mario Fantini and David Engels took part in the 10-year anniversary of the BdK.95 The event was headed off by Dieter Stein who recalled the history of the library, particularly the eminent role of Caspar von Schrenck-Notzing. BdK director and member of TEC's editorial board, Wolfgang Fenske, then presented the current activities of the BdK. An éminence grise of the Vanenburg meetings and the CER, Andreas Kinneging, held the keynote speech, “Conservative and national? A necessary differentiation." After that, two panel discussions took place, that included notably also Gergely Pröhle, director of the Otto von Habsburg Foundation in Budapest.
Event commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the Library of Conservatism on October 8, 2022. From left to right: Marco Gallina, Werner Patzelt, Dieter Stein, Gergely Prőhle, Alvino-Mario Fantini.
Event commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the Library of Conservatism on October 8, 2022. From left to right: Andreas Kinneging, Egon Flaig, Wolfgang Fenske, Karlheinz Weißmann and David Engels.
In November 2022, TEC co-hosted an event together with the Catholic Identitarian youth organization Academia Christiana, alongside the Iliade Institute, La Nouvelle Librairie, Breizh.info, TVLibertés, and Le Nouveau Présent Hebdo. The event was advertised on Facebook as follows:32
The 2nd Academia Christiana conference will be held in Paris on Saturday, November 5th. An exciting event not to be missed! Secession or Reconquest? A central question that every conservative must keep in mind today. Should we run for elections or start a family? How to be in the world without being of the world?
In November 2022, The European Conservative co-hosted an event, Academia Christiana, together with the Iliade Institute, La nouvelle Librairie, Breizh.info, TVLibertés, and Le Nouveau Présent Hebdo, titled "Secession or Reconquest?"
Sometime in late 2022 / early 2023, the CER website removed all references to The European Conservative, but still mentions that the organization hosts the Vanenburg meetings.8 As of May 2023, CER's Board of Trustees had the following members:37
- Diederik Boomsma (treasurer)
- Jonathan Price (secretary)
- Mark C. Henrie
- Roman Joch
Although organizationally dissociated now, Mark Henrie still sits on the advisory council of TEC, and Roman Joch is a member of TEC’s editorial board. CER’s current address is Lange Leidsedwarsstraat 152-I, 1017 NN Amsterdam, NL.96
In February 2023, TEC's new Brussels headquarters opened. According to the Hungarian Mandiner:97
... the new headquarters aims to do exactly what you'd expect from a Christian conservative, sovereignist newspaper: to shake up Brussels, take on corrupt politicians and upset the left-dominated press paradigm of the European capital.
The registration file for the Brussels office from January 2023 mentions that it is located at: Square De Meeûs, 27, forth floor, 1000 Bruxelles Belgium. Divergent from TEC's impressum section, the registration file states that TEC's company address in Hungary is: Somlói út, 49-53, 1016, Hungary, Budapest.98
Working Group on Conservatism in Europe
In March 2023, TEC's Alvino-Mario Fantini and David Engels took part in the second workshop of the Working Group on Conservatism in Europe (WoCE). The event was hosted by New Direction, the think tank of Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group and party in the European Parliament, in cooperation with Ofir Haivry (Herzl Institute, Edmund Burke Foundation) and the Hungary-based Danube Institute. Haivry had been a visiting fellow of the Danube Institute the previous year.99
Second workshop of the Working Group on Conservatism in Europe in March 2023.
WoCE brings together a select group of far-right political operatives who are largely affiliated with the ECR group and party in the European Parliament, while their think tank, New Direction, plays a coordinating role. Founded by Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013) in 2009, ND is a fiscally liberal, right-wing and Eurosceptic think tank established to lobby for its goals at the European level. Ties to New Direction had already been established by Fantini, who had appeared as a speaker at New Direction events in 2021 and 2022.100 101
WoCE participants hail predominantly from think tanks of national parties associated with ECR, such as Fundación Disenso (Spain) of the far-right Vox party; the Fratelli d'Italia-affiliated Nazione Futura and Fondazione Tatarella; or Oikos of the far-right Sweden Democrats. But they also include members of sympathizing non-European organizations, such as the US-based Edmund Burke Foundation or the Israeli Herzl Institute.
Judging from the spotty data situation, WoCE gathers the inner core of a much larger network of organizations, think tanks, and journals, to cement the ideological reorientation of ECR, which has drifted further and further to the Right - particularly ever since the UK's Conservative Party ceased to be a dominating force due to the Brexit. The "Conservative" tag is highly (and intentionally) misleading, since ECR consists mostly of far-right member parties by now, with the Spanish Vox party and the Italian Fratelli d'Italia taking a leading role due to their late electoral successes. Currently, the ECR party is presided over by the Prime Minister of Italy, Giorgia Meloni, while its Vice President is Jorge Buxadé of Vox.102
TEC reported on the March WoCE meeting on its Facebook page:103
The [currently six-partner] ‘Working Group on Conservatism in Europe’ held its second workshop in Brussels recently.
Local host this time was New Direction, which sponsored an exchange of ideas about the rule of law, security, and the future of the EU.
Who these six partners were is not specified, which at that point may have included: New Direction, Danube Institute, Fundación Disenso, The European Conservative, Nazione Futura and/or Tatarella Foundation, the Herzl Institute and/or the Edmund Burke Foundation.
Among the approximately 17 attendees were:
- Alvino-Mario Fantini, Editor-in-chief, The European Conservative, USA & Austria
- David Engels, Oswald Spengler Society and TEC editor, Belgium
- Ofir Haivry, President, Herzl Institute; distinguished senior fellow, Edmund Burke Foundation, Israel
- Robert Tyler, New Direction, Senior Policy Adviser, United Kingdom
- Gabriela Garibay Márin, Fundación Disenso, Spain104
- Gát Ákos Bence, Danube Institute, Hungary
- David Martin Jones, Danube Institute, UK & Australia105
Although some of the faces on the pictures available are not clearly discernible, there is a strong likelihood that the Vienna meeting also included:
- Francesco Giubilei, President, Tatarella Foundation, Nazione Futura, Italy
- Juan Ángel Soto Gómez, Director of Operations, Fundación Disenso, Spain106
In mid-April 2023, TEC was mentioned as media partner in the printed program of the annual Iliade conference, organized by the far-right Iliade Institute.107 The collaboration with the Institute seems already to have led to some cross-fertilization. For example, in May 2023, on Twitter TEC advertised Iliade events commemorating the death of neo-Nazi ideologue Dominique Venner, who had committed suicide in the Cathedral of Notre Dame, Paris, in 2013.29
The European Conservative advertising Iliade events and Dominique Venner on Twitter in May 2023.
On April, 25, 2023, TEC organized a colloquium in Brussels, "The Defense of Civilization: A Symposium on Sir Roger Scruton." Among the speakers were Ferenc Hörcher, Sebastian Morello, Patrick Overeem, and Alvino-Mario Fantini.108
The following day, on April 26, 2023, another event took place organized by TEC in Brussels, "Europe: A 'Green' New World?" The event description read: "Rob Roos will be speaking about the recent agricultural reforms and their impact on farmers; Samuel Furfari will talk about the energy side of agriculture, in particular about the effects of 'energy disarmament'; and Sebastian Morello will share his views on the countryside, rural heritage, regulations related to rural areas, and hunting."109
In early May 2023, TEC was present at CPAC Hungary with a stall, giving away free copies and merch.
On May 24, 2023, TEC organized another event in Brussels, "A Path Forward: Coding a New Europe?" The program stated: "Our panelists will be Dutch MEP Michiel Hoogeveen, Vice-Chair of the ECON Committee, Laetitia Pouliquen, founder of NBIC Ethics, a European think tank on the ethics of NBIC technologies, and Carlos Perona Calvete, writer for The European Conservative."110
On May 25, 2023, TEC organized an event at the Embassy of Hungary in France: a roundtable discussion on the "Hungarian and French Outlook on the Future of Europe," featuring Balázs Orbán, Political Director to Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Rémi Brague (TEC advisory council) and Hélène de Lauzun (TEC editor).111
As of May 2023, TEC's masthead looked as follows:
Masthead of the far-right journal The European Conservative as of May 2023.
2023 September WoCE meeting
From September 5 to 6, 2023, TEC hosted a meeting of the Working Group on Conservatism in Europe (WoCE) in Vienna, Austria. The group met for the fifth time, according to WoCE regular Ofir Haivry, president of the Isreali Herzl Institute and distinguished senior fellow US Edmund Burke Foundation.112 The topic was "Religion and Politics, Church and State," according to Paolo Radosta of Nazione Futura.113 The latter mentioned in his report on the Nazione Futura website that "the main conservative think tanks of the Old Continent were invited"; and that, besides him as Italian, were "Austrian, Hungarian, English, Belgian, Polish, Serbian, Swedish, Spanish and French representatives."113 Apparently, he forgot to mention the provenance of, for example, the Brit Robert Tyler, or the Israeli Ofir Haivry. Radosta also stated that one of WoCE's main goals in the drafting a "conservative" manifesto, presumably ahead of the upcoming 2024 European elections.113
Among the participants of the September WoCE meeting that could be identified were:
- Robert Tyler, New Direction, Senior Policy Adviser, United Kingdom; gave a "presentation focused on the historic Anglo-American view of religious freedom and secularism"114
- Alvino-Mario Fantini, The European Conservative, editor-in-chief, USA & Austria
- Paolo Radosta, Nazione Futura, Italy; his presentation "focused on the Italian situation and the history of relations ... between the State and the Christian Catholic religion"113
- Ofir Haivry, Herzl Institute, Edmund Burke Foundation, Israel
- Liliana Śmiech, President, Warsaw Institute, Poland115
- Arvid Hallén, Oikos, Sweden116
- Zewditu Gebreyohanes, Senior Researcher, Legatum Institute, United Kingdom117
Ofir Haivry mentioned that besides above organizations, there were also participants from the Danube Institute, Fundación Disenso.112 Although some of the faces on the pictures available are not clearly discernible, there is a strong likelihood that the Vienna meeting also included:
- David Martin Jones, Danube Institute, UK & Australia and
- Gabriela Garibay Márin, Fundación Disenso, Spain.
Meeting of the Working Group on Conservatism in Europe in Vienna, Austria, in September 2023.
Meeting of the Working Group on Conservatism in Europe in Vienna, Austria, in September 2023.
Pictures show that a cleric was also attending the meeting, who seems to have been the center of the more intimate evening discussion.
Evening get-together of the Working Group on Conservatism in Europe in Vienna, Austria, on September 6, 2023.
In earlier versions of TEC's website, online issues of The European Conservative (issues 1-14) were available for download:
- The European Conservative, no. 1 (June 2008)
- The European Conservative, no. 2 (May 2009)
- The European Conservative, no. 3 (December 2009)
- The European Conservative, no. 4 (June 2010)
- The European Conservative, no. 5 (November 2010)
- The European Conservative, no. 6 (Spring 2012)
- The European Conservative, no. 7 (Winter 2013)
- The European Conservative, no. 8 (Summer 2013)
- The European Conservative, no. 9 (Winter 2014)
- The European Conservative, no. 10 (Summer 2014)
- The European Conservative, no. 11 (Winter 2015)
- The European Conservative, no. 12 (Summer/Fall 2015)
- The European Conservative, no. 13 (Winter/Spring 2016)
- The European Conservative, no. 14 (Summer 2017)
Issues 15-18 (Summer/Fall 2018 - Winter 2020/2021) were available online, but there are no archived copies of them.118 However, overviews of the issues are available, and some of the individual articles can be found on archived copies of the website:
- The European Conservative, no. 15 (2018 Summer/Fall) [Available here]
- The European Conservative, no. 16 (2019 Summer/Fall) [Available here]
- The European Conservative, no. 17 (2020 Summer/Fall)
- The European Conservative, no. 18 (2020/21 Winter)
- The European Conservative website
- The European Conservative Facebook page
- The European Conservative Twitter profile
- The European Conservative on LinkedIn
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