The Great Replacement
The Great Replacement (French: grand remplacement), also known as replacement theory, is a nationalist, right-wing conspiracy theory which states that the white French Catholic population, as well as white Christian European population in Europe at large, is being progressively replaced with non-European people, specifically Arab, Berber and Sub-Saharan African Muslim populations from North Africa and the Middle East, through mass migration and demographic growth.
The theory was the basis of Renaud Camus's 2012 book The Great Replacement (French: Le Grand Remplacement). It specifically associated the presence of Muslims in France with potential danger and destruction of French culture and civilisation. By 2019, in attempting to distance his works from the theory, Camus himself labelled the Great Replacement, and the white nationalist and supremacist movements globally adopting its doctrine, as a direct ideological descendent of Nazism.
Conspiracy theorists attribute this to intentional policies advanced by global and liberal elites from within the Government of France and the European Union. In 2019, research by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue showed over 24,000 social media mentions of the Great Replacement in the month before the Christchurch mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand at Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre which killed 51 people and injured 50 more on March 15, 2019 in comparison to just 3,431 mentions in April 2012. The use of the term spiked the following month, after the Christchurch mosque shootings perpetrator Australia-born Brenton Harrison Tarrant, was heavily influenced by the theory and named his manifesto The Great Replacement after it.
- 1 Origins
- 2 Work of Renaud Camus
- 3 Influence on conservative, right wing and far right groups
- 4 Influence on violent attacks
- 5 Criticism
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
The theory of the great replacement can be traced back to the novel Le Camp des Saints (1973) by Jean Raspail which depicts the collapse of Western culture from an overwhelming "tidal wave" of immigration from the Third World. The novel, along with the theory of Eurabia developed by the Swiss-Israeli writer Bat Ye'or in 2005, set the ground then for Renaud Camus to develop and present his book entitled The Great Replacement in 2012. The idea of replacement, or of white genocide, has used as part of the rhetoric of many far-right movements in the West.
Journalist Marc Weitzmann credits René Binet, a Trotskyite militant who abandoned communism in the 1940s to join the Waffen SS, and who later became active in French far-right politics, as an important influence on the theory. According to Weitzmann, "it was Binet, not Camus, who first came up with 'the great replacement' formula in the early 1960s." Historian Nicolas Lebourg argues that Camus's theory parallels older antisemitic conspiracy theories which posited the existence of a Jewish plot to destroy Europe through miscegenation. Lebourg suggest that Camus's contribution was to replace the antisemitic elements with themes of a clash of civilizations between Muslims and Europeans.
Work of Renaud Camus
Renaud Camus has stated that "the great replacement is very simple. You have one people, and in the space of a generation you have a different people". Camus has argued that European culture, civilization and identity are in danger of being overrun by mass migration, especially from Muslim migrants, who are aided by a trans-national group of globalist elites. The theory has since become influential in far-right and white nationalist circles outside of France. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) described Camus as the "progenitor of the Great Replacement doctrine".
Scholars have generally dismissed the claims of a "great replacement" as being rooted in a misreading of immigration statistics and unscientific and racially prejudiced views. Demographer Landis MacKellar has said that, as of 2016, around 5-10% of French residents were Muslims, making a "replacement" unlikely, and criticized Camus's thesis for assuming "that third- and fourth- generation 'immigrants' are somehow not French".
Influence on conservative, right wing and far right groups
Among the theory's main promoters are not only right-wing populist parties but also a wide-ranging network of protest movements (e.g., Germany's PEGIDA), (e.g., France's Bloc Identitaire and the Identitarian movement), bloggers (e.g., Norway's Fjordman and Canada's Lauren Southern), and pundits.
According to conspiracy theorists, this replacement of European peoples by Arab/Berber Middle Eastern, North African, and Sub-Saharan African immigrants is a deliberate goal being advanced by the policies of the French state, the European Union, and other political elites. Prominent right-wing websites such as Gates of Vienna, Politically Incorrect, and Fdesouche have provided a platform for bloggers to diffuse and popularize the conspiracy theory.
Identitäre Bewegung Österreich (IBÖ) the Austria branch of Generation Identity (GI) promote this theory, citing a "great exchange" or replacement of the population that supposedly needs to be reversed. In April 2019, Heinz-Christian Strache campaigning for his FPÖ party ahead of the 2019 European Parliament election endorsed the conspiracy theory. Claiming that "population replacement" in Austria was a real threat, he stated that "We don’t want to become a minority in our own country". Compatriot Martin Sellner, who also supports the theory, celebrated Strache's political use of the Great Replacement.
Nationalist right-wing groups in France have asserted that there is an ongoing "Islamo-substitution" of the indigenous French population, associating the presence of Muslims in France with potential danger and destruction of French culture and civilization. In 2013, Dominique Venner's suicide in Notre-Dame de Paris, in which he left a note outlining the "crime of the replacement of our people" is reported to have inspired the far-right Iliade Institute's main ideological tenet of the Great Replacement.
Former National Assembly delegate Marion Maréchal is proponent of the theory. In March 2019, in a trip to the U.S., Maréchal evoked the theory, stating "I don’t want France to become a land of Islam". Insisting that the Great Replacement was "not absurd", she declared the "indigenous French" people, apparently in danger of being a minority by 2040, now wanted their "country back". In May 2019, National Rally spokesman Jordan Bardella was reported to use the conspiracy theory during a televised debate with Nathalie Loiseau, after he argued that France must "turn off the tap" from the demographic bomb of African immigration into the country. Éric Zemmour, author of The French Suicide has described "the progressive replacement, over a few decades, of the historic population of our country by immigrants, the vast majority of them non-European".
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his political party Fidesz in Hungary have been associated with the conspiracy theory over the course of several years. The Sydney Morning Herald have detailed Orbán's belief in and promotion of the Great Replacement as being central to the modern right-wing politics of Europe. In December 2018, he claimed the "Christian identity of Europe" needed saving, and labelled refugees travelling to Europe as "Muslim invaders".
He has stated; "In all of Europe there are fewer and fewer children, and the answer of the West is migration," concluding that "We Hungarians have a different way of thinking. Instead of just numbers, we want Hungarian children." ThinkProgress described the comments as pushing a version of the theory. In April 2019, Radio New Zealand published insight that Orban's plans to cut taxes for large Hungarian families could be linked with fears of the Great Replacement.
Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini of Italy has repeatedly adopted the theme of the Great Replacement. In May 2016, two years before his election to office, he claimed "ethnic replacement is underway" in Italy in an interview with Sky TG24. Accusing nameless, well-funded organizations for importing workers that he named "farm slaves", he stated that there was a "lucrative attempt at genocide" of Italians.
Party for Freedom politician Geert Wilders of the Netherlands strongly supports the notion of a Great Replacement occurring in Europe. In October 2018, Wilders invoked the conspiracy theory, claiming the Netherlands was "being replaced with mass immigration from non-western Islamic countries". He claimed 77 million, mainly Islamic immigrants would attempt to enter Europe over the course of half a century, and that white Europeans would cease to exist unless they were stopped. In 2019, The New York Times reported how Camus' demographic-based alarmist theories help fuel Wilders and his Party for Freedom's nativist campaigning.
YouTuber Lauren Southern of Canada is an advocate of the conspiracy theory. In 2017, Southern dedicated a video to the Great Replacement, gaining over half a million views on her channel. 2018 mayoral candidate for Toronto Faith Goldy has publicly embraced the replacement theory. In 2019, in the aftermath of the Christchurch mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, Vice accused Goldy of routinely pushing the same ideas of birthrate declines and the population replacement of whites, found in the gunman's The Great Replacement manifesto. Long-time white nationalist Paul Fromm has co-opted the pre-1967 Red Ensign flag of Canada as "the flag of the true Canada, the European Canada before the treasonous European replacement schemes brought in by the 1965 immigration policies".
In August 2018, People's Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier was reported to have invoked the Great Replacement after he claimed that the nation's immigration policy "should not aim to forcibly change the cultural character and social fabric of Canada, as radical proponents of multiculturalism want."
In June 2019, columnist Lindsay Shepherd claimed that "whites are becoming a minority" in the West, describing her assertion as "population replacement". She was criticized by Canadian MP Colin Fraser at a House of Commons justice committee for not denouncing the concept, while Nathaniel Erskine-Smith accused Shepherd of openly embracing the conspiracy theory.
In 2017, white supremacist protesters at the Unite The Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia were heard chanting “You will not replace us,” and, “Jews will not replace us.”, slogans which commentators believed were inspired by the conspiracy theory.
In October 2018, Republican congressman Steve King endorsed the conspiracy theory, stating; "Great replacement, yes," referring to the European migrant crisis that "these people walking into Europe by ethnic migration, 80 percent are young men." King presents the Great Replacement as a shared concern of Europe and the United States, claiming that "if we continue to abort our babies and import a replacement for them in the form of young violent men, we are supplanting our culture, our civilization." He has blamed George Soros as an alleged perpetrator behind the conspiracy.
In December 2018, Media Matters reported how Tucker Carlson had begun promoting the conspiracy theory. Within this context, he's discussed his perception of a collapse of family birthrates in the U.S. By 2019, Paste magazine claimed Tucker Carlson Tonight regularly featured content based on the Great Replacement, and ThinkProgress accused Carlson of using his prominence to promote the idea of demographic change through immigration and feminism causing the replacement and genocide of American white men.
In May 2019, Senator Dennis Baxley was reported to use the replacement theory in relation to the abortion debate in the United States. Speaking of Western European birthrates as a warning to Americans, he said; "When you get a birth rate less than 2 percent, that society is disappearing, and it’s being replaced by folks that come behind them and immigrate, don’t wish to assimilate into that society and they do believe in having children." The following month, Nick Isgro, deputy leader of the Maine Republican Party endorsed the conspiracy theory after claiming financial subsidies were promoted for abortions in the U.S. to "kill our own people", and at the same time “global elites” were encouraging immigration “to be used for our own destruction.” Right Wing Watch reported that the current Mayor of Waterville's speech displayed the sentiment of the Great Replacement, while AlterNet reported how Isgro "echoed alt-right “replacement” theory rhetoric".
The media in Australia have covered both Senator Fraser Anning of Queensland and his One Nation Party's endorsement of the Great Replacement. In April 2019, Reuters reported how Anning was amplifying replacement theory by suggesting that Muslims would "outbreed us very quickly". In May 2019, Anning announced that White Australians would "fast become a minority" if they did not defend their "ethno-cultural identity".
Influence on violent attacks
Brenton Harrison Tarrant, the Australia-born terrorist responsible for the Christchurch mosque shootings at Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand that killed 51 people and injured 50 more, was primarily influenced by the Great Replacement conspiracy theory, naming his manifesto after it. In response, Camus condemned violence while reaffirming his desire for a "counterrevolt" against an increase in nonwhite populations.
Anne Applebaum has written that the conspiracy theory is a gateway from discussing the effects of immigration and Islam's compatibility with the Western world to forms of extremism, such as advocating for the remigration or murder of migrants.
In German discourse, Austrian political scientist Rainer Bauböck questions the conspiracy theorists' use of the terms population replacement or exchange ("Bevölkerungsaustausch"). Using Ruth Wodak's analysis that the slogan needs to be viewed in its historical context, Bauböck has concluded that the conspiracy theory is a reemergence of the Nazi ideology of Umvolkung.
French demographer Hervé Le Bras describes the theory as a "sinister farce". Sceptical of Camus' description of second or third generation immigrants as being itself a contradiction in terms ("They do not migrate anymore, they are French."), he is also critical of their designation as a fifth column in France or an "internal enemy".
- White genocide conspiracy theory
- The Kalergi Plan conspiracy theory, another variant of the white genocide conspiracy theory that heavily revolves around a supposed plan to replace and racially mix white Europeans with non-whites through immigration by Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi an Austrian-Japanese politician and founder of the Paneuropean Union.
- Pied-noirs, French Algerian immigrants who fled Algeria during the Algerian War.
- "'Replacement Theory,' a Racist, Sexist Doctrine, Spreads in Far-Right Circles". New York Times. 30 April 2019.
Behind the idea is a racist conspiracy theory known as “the replacement theory,” which was popularized by a right-wing French philosopher.
- "Founder of Racist 'Great Replacement' Theory That Inspires White Supremacists Withdraws From E.U. Elections After Fellow Candidate Prays to Swastika". Newsweek. 23 May 2019.
Camus then claimed the “great replacement” is the “nephew” of Nazism: “They share the same genealogy of horror. We can not be associated with that.”
- "Taboos fall away as far-right EU candidates breach red line". Associated Press. 16 May 2019.
- Ait Abdeslam, Abderrahim (28 August 2018). "The vilification of Muslim diaspora in French fictional novels: 'Soumission' (2015) and 'Petit Frère' (2008) as case studies". Journal of Multicultural Discourses. 13 (3): 232–242. doi:10.1080/17447143.2018.1511717.
- Bergmann, Eirikur (2018). "6. The Eurabia Doctrin". Conspiracy & Populism : The Politics of Misinformation. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 127. ISBN 978-3-319-90359-0. LCCN 2018939717 – via Google Books.
This notion of replacement, or of white genocide, has echoed throughout the rhetoric of many far right movements in the west
- Weitzmann, Marc (1 April 2019). "The Global Language of Hatred Is French". Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
- Courbet, Claire (24 March 2015). "Immigration Museum: "The far right has reached a plateau"". Le Figaro. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
- Jean-Yves Camus; Nicolas Lebourg (20 March 2017). Far-Right Politics in Europe. Harvard University Press. pp. 206–207. ISBN 978-0-674-97153-0.
The success of that umpteenth incarnation of a theme launched immediately after World War II (Camus has personally declared his indebtedness to Enoch Powell) can be explained by the fact that he subtracted anti-Semitism from the argument
- Williams, Thomas Chatterton (4 December 2017). "The French Origins of 'You Will Not Replace Us'". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on 27 September 2018. Retrieved 23 September 2018.
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- Cecil Jenkins (13 July 2017). A Brief History of France. Little, Brown Book Group. p. 342. ISBN 978-1-4721-4027-2.
As for the grand replacement, this has been widely seen as a paranoid fantasy, which plays fast and loose with the statistics, is racist in that it classes as immigrants people actually born in France, glosses over the fact that around half of immigrants are from other European countries, and suggests that declining indigenous France will be outbred by Muslim newcomers when in fact it has the highest fertility rate in Western Europe, and not because of immigration.
- MacKellar, Landis (June 2016). "Review: La République islamique de France? A Review Essay". Population and Development Review. 42 (2): 368–375. doi:10.1111/j.1728-4457.2016.00130.x. JSTOR 44015644.
- Meaker, Morgan (28 August 2018). "How dangerous are Austria's far-right hipsters?". dw.com. Vienna: Deutsche Welle. Archived from the original on 24 September 2018. Retrieved 24 September 2018.
...and spread the 'great replacement' conspiracy theory – the idea that white Europeans will be replaced by people from the Middle East and Africa through immigration. The theory is based on inflated statistics and un-substantiated demographic projections. Right now, only 4 percent of the European Union is made up of non-EU nationals.
- Dearden, Lizzie (9 November 2017). "Generation Identity: Far-right group sending UK recruits to military-style training camps in Europe". The Independent. Archived from the original on 25 September 2018. Retrieved 25 September 2018.
...claims it represents "indigenous Europeans" and propagates the far-right conspiracy theory that white people are becoming a minority in what it calls the "Great Replacement"
- Ahmed, Nafeez (25 March 2019). "'White genocide' theorists worm their way into the West's mainstream". Le Monde Diplomatique. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
- Miller, Nick (19 March 2019). "'The Great Replacement': an idea now at the heart of Europe's politics". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
- Plenel, Edwy (28 June 2016). "1". For the Muslims: Islamophobia in France. Translated by Fernbach, David. Verso. ISBN 978-1-78478-488-1. LCCN 2016005821 – via Google Books.
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...the 'great replacement' conspiracy theory that contends immigrants are replacing the traditional French population.
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...this narrative is highly compatible with concrete conspiracy narratives about how this replacement is desired and planned, either by 'the politicians' or 'the elite,' which-ever connotes Jewishness more effectively.
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...a conspiracy theory which claims that the global elite has staged a plot to replace the indigenous European population with immigrants from other continents
- Betz, Hans-Georg (5 February 2018). "5. The Radical Right and Populism". In Rydgren, Jens (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of the Radical Right. 1. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190274559.013.5. ISBN 9780190644185. LCCN 2017025436.
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...the conspiracy theory of the Grand remplacement (Great replacement) positing the 'Islamo-substitution' of biologically autochthonous populations in the French metropolitan territory, by Muslim minorities mostly coming from sub-Saharan Africa and the Maghreb
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...le " grand remplacement ", une théorie de type conspirationniste selon laquelle il existerait un processus de remplacement des Français sur leur sol par des non-Européens.
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Marion Maréchal — pegged as the heir apparent to the Le Pen dynasty and a possible presidential contender in 2022 — is a proponent of the "Great Replacement" theory embraced by the man accused of the Christchurch killings in New Zealand.
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- Sowerwine, Charles (2018). France since 1870 : Culture, Politics and Society. London: Palgrave. p. 460. ISBN 978-1-137-40611-8. OCLC 1051356006.
Zemmour flirted with a far-right conspiracy theory; the Grand remplacement (Great Replacement)
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A recurrent Salvini theme is what is known as the "Great Replacement" conspiracy theory, which he described this way in an interview with Italy's Sky TG24 news
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Fearmongering about demographic change in America and across Europe feeds into the delusional fantasy of the “great replacement,” a term attributed to Renaud Camus, a French writer who believes that migrants are coming to displace white people in Europe and radically reshape Western civilization. Carlson has taken up the mantle of this conspiracy theory on his show, linking it to poor migrant families seeking asylum on America’s southern border with Mexico.
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- "The dark history of the New Zealand killer's 'great replacement'". ThinkProgress. 15 March 2019.
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Last month, Senator Anning’s party made a Facebook post endorsing The Great Replacement, “We need to preserve our ethno-cultural identity, or we will fast become a minority,” Senator Anning’s post said.
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- Nick, Miller (19 March 2019). "'The Great Replacement': an idea now at the heart of Europe's politics". The Sydney Morning Herald.