It’s commonplace for many conservatives, and others concerned about security, to express alarm about uncontrolled immigration. And while there is an invigorating perennial debate between classical liberals / libertarians and social conservatives about the merits and drawbacks to having open borders, for many, to express too strong a defense of immigration controls—or, worse, ‘repatriation’—is tantamount to racist xenophobia.
We’re here to say that this dismissive attitude—and the general reluctance among policymakers to discuss the socio-economic impacts of mass migration—does a disservice to the many countries that have opened their arms to newcomers. But given recent episodes of crime, riots, and sexual violence, and given the sheer scale of the waves of immigrants now seeking refuge in Europe, we think Europe’s future lies in part with ensuring its cultural survival, which necessarily implies ending immigration.
We think that, over the years, many intellectuals and policymakers have warned us of the challenges and potential threats of mass migration (especially from non-Western countries): Enoch Powell in Britain; Jean Raspail in France; Gianfranco Miglio in Italy. Much of this has been to no avail. But as the realities of sexual grooming, harassment, anti-Christian, and antisemitic incidents spread across Europe, we think it is time to turn to some sober analysis of the situation.
There is no tonic stronger than Renaud Camus, whose works have caused controversy among the European establishment and the progressive Left for years. But with the following essay by our regular contributor Anthony Daniels, we begin a short series of essays and commentary on the work of Camus, the mainstream opposition to his views, and the validity and veracity of his arguments that we hope will reinvigorate what has become a tired and staid non-discussion of immigration and its challenges.
Ideas may become current without their origins being known to most of those who hold them. Only one of every hundred people who believe that the sole end for which mankind can be warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number is self-protection, or some such principle, will know that it derives from John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty.
In like fashion, it is said that a quarter of the French population now believes in the theory of the Great Replacement, most of whom will not have read Renaud Camus or even heard of him. He is persona non grata in the French media; and though his ideas are also widely held in the United States, most of his writings have not been translated into English. As well as being persona non grata, then, he is a deus ex machina. A book of his essays is about to be published in English, however, and this may change his status.
His most pungent idea is simple. It is that the original population of Europe, especially that of France, is being replaced by mass immigration from the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa, and that this replacement is not accidental or spontaneous but deliberate and planned—on both sides of the equation. On the European side is a mixture of moral grandiosity that makes Europe responsible to all the impoverished and suffering people in the world, ex-colonial guilt, exhibitionist self-hatred, supposed atonement for the sins of the past, and political calculation by those who see immigrants as a kind of vote-bank; on the Maghreb and sub-Saharan side, there is a sense of revenge for colonialism and the desire to Islamise the world, the belief being that Islam is a superior civilisation to all others. Taking advantage of social security systems is a form of restitution.
Whatever the origins or causes of the mass immigration, there is no doubt that it is changing the demographics of Europe. According to the book, L’Archipel français (The French Archipelago), by Jérôme Fourquet, of the highly-respected research firm, Institut français d’opinion publique, 18% of children born in France in the previous 2 years were given Moslem names. With whatever caution and caveats this figure is interpreted (for example, that many Moslems are well-integrated and so forth), it represents a startling increase by comparison with past decades. The schools of even remote towns in la France profonde bear witness to the demographic change.
Surveys, moreover, have repeatedly showed that a high proportion of young Moslems in France consider that the Sharia is a higher law than that of the Republic, though what this opinion means in practice is not absolutely clear. But it can hardly be reassuring for those who fear the Great Replacement, even if they are neither well-informed enough nor inclined to call mass immigration by that name.
When faced by what appears to be a serious problem or threat, people can react in a number of ways. They can face it head on; they can deny that it exists; they can claim that the problem is no such thing, but rather a blessing (‘Immigrants are our luck,’ in the official French line); they can become resigned and apathetic, feeling that there is nothing that they can do about it anyway, and that they might as well eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow they die.
Denial is perhaps the most common reaction, especially by the educated, for they have the best capacity for rationalisation. My young nieces and nephews, all educated, cite the fact that they have grown up with the children of immigrants and that they witnessed no problem with their integration into French society. And in a narrow sense they are no doubt right.
But their answer is like that of a person who knows that a pill has worked because he has recovered from his illness. This is not, unfortunately, how one knows whether a medicine is efficacious. They are like Pauline Kael, the famous film critic, who said that she couldn’t believe Nixon had won the election because she didn’t know a single person who had voted for him.
As Fourquet points out in his book, people in our societies increasingly live in, or perhaps on, small social islands which are nevertheless large enough to allow them never to meet anyone other than those who are like themselves, except in the most superficial of circumstances on the most fleeting of occasions. An entirely different social world may exist two or three miles from where they live, and yet they have no contact with it.
And it pains me to say that I observe no particular attachment to distinctive French culture among young French adults, which might lead to alarm over the situation.
Another, perhaps more sophisticated means of denial is by historical analogy. For example, I recently read a book by a teacher of philosophy, Michaël Fœssel, titled 1938, also published in 2019. Well-written and interesting, it was not untypical of a certain kind of apologetics.
The author examined all the newspapers of that year (remarkably, they have been digitised), in order to draw the conclusion that there were many analogies between the France of 1938 and that of 80 years later, in particular rising hostility to immigration.
In the light of what happened soon after 1938, French hostility to the immigration of republicans fleeing Spain, Italians fleeing Mussolini, and Jews fleeing Hitler and antisemitism in Eastern Europe looked ungenerous if not outright heartless. For the author of the book, the analogy between 1938 and 2018 was very strong. He implied that concerns over levels of immigration today are in some kind of apostolic succession to the Occupation, and that therefore those who are worried about the level of immigration are the spiritual descendants of the collaborationists.
The shadow of Hitler, Pétain, and the Occupation still acts to stifle debate on the immigration problem. For authors such as the author of this book, an immigrant is just an immigrant, a generic human unit, who brings no cultural baggage with him which may make it easier or more difficult for him to integrate and assimilate. “We absorbed millions of Spanish, French, Portuguese, Armenian, Jewish immigrants,” say people of such disposition, “so why not millions of Africans or Maghrebins?”
The outcome of immigration, on this view, is determined solely by the conduct of the country that receives the immigrants, and not at all on any qualities, desires, or conduct of the immigrants themselves. This is, in essence, an outlook that is both megalomanic and dehumanising: megalomanic because it assumes infinite power on the one hand, and dehumanising because it assumes infinite powerlessness on the other.
The easiest way to deal with any problem is not to see it, and to demonise those who do, especially if they see it earlier than most.
The above essay was commissioned by us for a short series on Renaud Camus. Not only do we hope to bring attention to the works of a man who has been ignored for too long by the mainstream and maligned by the activist Left; we also hope to raise awareness of his works, nearly all written in French, in the lead-up to the worldwide premier of the publication of the first English-language collection of essays by Camus, Enemy of the Disaster, released on October 15th in the United States and to be released on October 17th in Europe and the rest of the world. Read the second essay in this series by Pierre-Marie Sève here, and Rod Dreher’s birthday tribute to Camus here.