Renaud Camus on The Great Replacement, mass murderers, French elections, globalization, and more
Renaud Camus is a French writer, political theorist and intellectual. Born in 1946 in Chamalières, Auvergne, after being politically active as a Socialist in the ’60s and ’70s and establishing himself as an influential novelist especially in the gay community (mostly thanks to his 1979 autobiographical novel Tricks), Camus went on to publish several works of political philosophy. He holds a bachelor’s degree in French literature at the Sorbonne and a Master in philosophy at the Paris Institute of Political Studies, as well as two Masters in political science and history of law. He has also taught French literature in the US.
To most in the West however, Camus is known for coining the term “The Great Replacement” in his 2011 work Le Grand Remplacement. The book was never translated into English, but the term has since been the subject of intense controversy and frequent references in Western media. Most recently, it has resurfaced in public discourse thanks initially to a New York Times‘ special and subsequently a media campaign against mainstream Republicans (and the Right more in general), following the mass shooting at Buffalo, New York, on Saturday, May 14.
In an effort to reach a deeper understanding of Mr. Camus’ work beyond the Western media’s superficial depiction of it, we decided to reach out for an exclusive interview. What follows, is a written exchange between Renaud Camus and Benjamin Braddock.
— The Editors
“There are two social or professional categories one can rest assured their members have never read me: mass murderers and journalists.”
— Renaud Camus
Benjamin Braddock: When ‘The Great Replacement’ is spoken of in English-language media it is invariably described as a “conspiracy theory”, one undertaken by some shadowy cabal in which mass immigration is the result of a deliberate plot to destroy Western civilization. When I read your book Le Grand Remplacement however, I find instead a sober work of political economy that advances a critique of materialist globalism as an impersonal force stripping people of their cultural, spiritual, and ethnic attributes, and turning them into fungible units of homogenous labor. So what is “replacism”, and why do you think there’s such a radical difference between your work and the way it is perceived?
Renaud Camus: The Great Replacement is not a theory at all, but just a sad fact, a ‘chrononym’, i.e. name for an epoch after its most important phenomenon, indeed replacism (or more exactly globalreplacism), mainly developed in my most recent book La Dépossession, Dispossession. It rests on the observation that replacement, the substitution of something else to everything and the replacement of everything by something else, is the central gesture of modern societies, at least since Taylorism and Fordism, and probably since the First Industrial Revolution. Think of how writers are replaced by intellectuals, intellectuals by journalists, journalists by TV-show hosts, marble by chipstone, stone by concrete or plaster, wood by plaster, or plastic, the signature material of global replacism which spoils even the depths of the oceans; Venice by Venice in Las Vegas, Las Vegas by a fake one in the deserts of Spain, Paris by a cheaper mock version next to Peking (which is much safer to visit these days) and so on.
Neither the Great Replacement nor global replacism are conspiracy theories — the phrase is infinitely too limited for what they are — but global replacism is indeed a theory of the machination, the substitution of machines (and computers) to men and women, i.e. the dehumanisation of humanity, or what I call today davocracy, the management of the human park (in the words of Peter Sloterdjik) by Davos, bankers, international finance, multinational companies, pension funds, hedge funds, Big Five, and all kind of more or less private powers. Henry Ford, much admired and much imitated by both Hitler and Stalin, had the brilliant idea of making clients out of his workers: consumers out of his producers. Post-fordism and global replacism go one step further, and, out of the producer-consumer, they make a product: man, woman, humanity and post-humanity — the most precious of all goods, the consumer. The number one requirement of davocratic replacism is the general exchangeability of the product. Hence the urgency of the absurd dogma of the inexistence of the races, which has become the main point and the modern form of antiracism, at least in Europe, and which, of course was made possible, for antiracists, only by taking the word race exclusively in the incredibly narrow, purely biological and pseudo-scientific meaning to which it had been limited before by the worst kind of racists. And now that the races have been successfully taken care of and suppressed, at least conceptually, it is very obvious that the current requirement of global replacism is the inexistence of the sexes.
As to why there is such a colossal difference between my books and their image, between my thought and the thoughts currently attributed to me, the answer is very simple: Practically none of those people has read me, and certainly not the diverse mass murderers whom the general press is only too pleased to associate with my name. It has been established by two Court sentences, for instance, one New-Zelandese and one French, that the Christchurch killer has nowhere mentioned me and probably does not even know my name. He wrote a brochure called The Great Replacement because that phrase is now everywhere in the world, probably for the simple reason that it aptly describes what is happening in many countries. That brochure sustains views that are very different from mine and on many points completely opposite to them. The El Paso killer, when he spoke of The Great Replacement, referred to Brenton Tarrant’s brochure and not to my book, which is not even translated into English. And now the Buffalo killer has published a manifesto which mentions neither the words Great Replacement nor, indeed, my name. There is one absolute proof that mass murderers have not read me and are not influenced by me: it is their mass murder. I am perfectly non-violent, and if I am averse to Great Replacement it is notably because, amongst other things, everywhere it brings violence with it, including daily murders, rapes and slaughtering in France. The central concept of my political reflexion is in-nocence, non-nocence: “nocence”, nuisance, harm, violence, being what in-nocence is the contrary of (and not the other way round). There are two social or professional categories one can rest assured their members have never read me: they’re mass murderers and journalists.
Benjamin Braddock: Emmanuel Macron was just re-elected as President. After five turbulent years which saw continued mass protests against his government and warnings of civil war from the French military, Le Pen only managed to capture 41% of the vote in the run-off, a marginal improvement from her 2017 result. Furthermore, France is one of the only countries I’m aware of where the youth leans considerably more to the Right than the elderly. For both Le Pen and Zemmour, Millenials and Zoomers were their strongest demographic. What does this mean for the future of France and where does the French Right go from here?
Renaud Camus: I do not care much for the future of the Right, which has betrayed the country and the people just as much as the Left and the present ‘centre’. Elections do not mean much today since opinion is manipulated more than ever in history; by school and university teachings, by the so-called ‘new means of communication’, by the collapse of general culture and the progress of mass hebetude, and by the mainstream Press, which is entirely devoted to global replacism and practically belongs to it, and now even official Government “disinformation boards.” In such conditions, it is difficult to take electoral results seriously. When a country is handed over to foreign peoples and foreign forces, occupied, colonised, daily humiliated in every way and its indigenous people daily attacked, robbed, raped, slaughtered, Left vs. Right are not the most urgent of issues. Resistance is.
There are a growing number of youths indeed which are infuriated and dispaired by the present state of their country, but there are also, unfortunately, an alarming mass of young and not-so-young people who are stultified by permanent propaganda and mass deculturation and ardently serving davocratic power while sincerely believing, for instance, they are fighting capitalism, or what they call “fascism.” The best allies and instruments of global replacism and of the Industries of Man, the producers of what I call Undifferentiated Human Matter (the main product of the Industries of Man and the principal demand, as much as the principal result, of Great Replacement) are not the old values of the Right (which have long been abandoned by the Right anyway) but the so-called progressive values of the Left, especially ‘equality’ and ‘antiracism’, which make people so much easier to exchange and so much easier to replace; so much easier to liquefy and so much easier to liquidate. Publicity, which is the natural literature of global replacism, its epic poetry as well as its common law — and which clearly tells and shows what money wants — is very obvious on that point: mix you must (and disappear).
Benjamin Braddock: I was surprised to see Le Pen say late in the campaign that regional languages like Breton should not be taught in schools. Do you also see a danger of replacism within nationalist movements?
Renaud Camus: Oh, replacism is everywhere, even in each of us, and of course is not always a bad thing: if it was, it would not be so successful. If your heart or kidney stops doing what it has to do, you will be very glad to get an artificial one. I am no expert on nationalist movements, not being a nationalist myself. But Mrs. Le Pen is by now almost entirely replacist. She thinks Islam is perfectly compatible with the Republic, which is the worst thing one ever said against the Republic. She is also convinced that in France all French citizens are French, which is of course a complete illusion — if they were French they would not call the French “the French”…
Benjamin Braddock: You have spoken of the evils of factory farming, particularly as it relates to animal cruelty. How does this fit into your larger theory of replacism?
Renaud Camus: Oh, it fits very well and is even an essential part of it. Culture and agriculture are the last two human activities which, mostly during the XXth century, have become industries. And just as cultural industries proceed to the general replacement of traditional culture, poetry, literature, tragedy, drama, history, philosophy, classical music and so on, by entertainment, show-business, talk-shows, pop music, etc., industrial agriculture alike proceeds to the replacement of animals by animal products, themselves more and more replaced by vegetable or chemical products. Man-as-consumer having become a product, it would have been very surprising if animals did not follow suit. And with products the sole concern is to get ever more of them, to sell them to ever more consumers-products, or to sellers of consumers-products, i.e. of consumers as products.
Benjamin Braddock: French intellectuals have taken the topic of national decline and turned it into a great literary genre. There is yourself, Houllebecq, Raspail, Zemmour and others. Great Britain, Canada, and the US have experienced even greater national declines but have produced nowhere near as much work on the topic, at least as it relates to demographics. Why is it that this subject is so thoroughly dominated by Frenchmen?
Renaud Camus: Literature has been for centuries the specific mean of expression of French culture and French spirit. France was par excellence a literary society. It is not anymore, and this post-literary status is very much part of the spectacular decline you allude to. By ‘literature’ we use to mean mostly fiction, the two words were sometimes almost synonymous. But fiction has moved towards science, specially the so-called human sciences, which are certainly what has produced the most fiction, not to say has been lying the most, in the last half-century. Demography, sociology and statistics have been the most efficacious and servile instruments of mass negationism, and that not only as far as genocide by substitution was concerned, but in regard to the scarcely less dramatic collapse of the educational system as well, or on the subject of public safety. There is a hundred times more reality in any novel by Michel Houellebecq than in a thousand run-of-the-mill sociological essays, all the more so if it is full of figures.
Benjamin Braddock: Which do you think is the greater threat to Western European countries: the masses of immigrants themselves, the political and economic interests that encourage them to come in, or the apathy of a society that gives in to a hyperbolic egalitarianism that swallows them whole?
Renaud Camus: This is a most excellent question, to which I find it impossible to answer, except by saying that the three threats you very adequately circumscribed are not only equals, but each the conditions and the result of the other two. When Christians were in the Roman arenas, it was of little use, for the rare disapproving witnesses, to incriminate the lions and their butchery behavior. Great Replacement, as I have said a hundred times, would not be possible without what I have called “Little Replacement”, Le Petit Remplacement (it is the title of a fat collection of six essays): the substitution of cultural industries to culture, of entertainment to the Corpus, of popular and mass culture to high culture, which amounts more or less to the disparition of culture just as Great Replacement amounts to the disappearance of indigenous peoples, cultures, and civilizations. Hebetude is the condition of the successful and peaceful process of genocide by substitution. A specific feature of the present colonization of Europe is its triangular structure, very similar to the triangular structure of the old Transatlantic slavery: the people who accomplish it are not the forces or the mechanisms which most want and promote it. In global replacement there are the replacists, who want and organise the replacement, the replacers, who accomplish it, and the replacees, who are its victims. The masses of immigrants are obviously the most pressing threat (they are more than a threat, since they are already in place, and more often than not citizens). We can resist some of their specific actions, but to castigate them on principles would be just as absurd as to castigate the lions in the circus. And to castigate the machines, the mechanisms of global replacism and the Machination, it would be essential not to be machines ourselves, or computers. But it is indeed global replacism, or davocracy, that is the archenemy.
Benjamin Braddock: How can Western Europeans overcome their innate pathological altruism and lack of in-group preference?
Renaud Camus: This exaggerated altruism and lack of in-group preference are indeed pathological, but I am not sure they are innate. It seems to me they are entirely created, modern, and a result of recent history. This is a thesis I have developed in the short essay The Second Career of Adolf Hitler, and also in the pretended children’s tale allegedly rediscovered from Hans-Christian Andersen, Ørop: how Europe has withdrawn from history after the traumatism of Second World War, and how Hitler dead is even more efficient, as an inverted figure, as a ghost, as the terminus ad quem of every sentence and every thought, than he was living. Europe has not always suffered from a pathological altruism and has for centuries shown signs of the opposite character, often in a somewhat exaggerated manner. It should now settle for a reasonable middle, just as the pendulum of colonization and counter-colonization should now settle in the middle, i.e. the Mediterranean, and put an end to all colonizations, North-South or South-North. But it obviously cannot do so without getting free, first, of totalitarian replacism and davocracy.