The theme of the “great replacement” has gained a prominent place in our political landscape. Conceived by the writer and essayist Renaud Camus, it was popularized by Eric Zemmour, before being taken up by the entire far right, until ending up in a speech by the LR candidate for the presidential election Valérie Pécresse: “I resign myself neither to the big downgrading, nor to the big replacement”.
A study carried out by Valérie Igounet and Rudy Reichstadt (“Is the “Great Replacement” a conspiracy concept? », Fondation Jean-Jaurès, September 24, 2018) informs us about the content of this conspiracy theory. France would undergo, according to Renaud Camus, a “change of people and civilization” orchestrated by “representatives of the world superclass”. This replacement work would be completed around 2030, at which time a “demographic colonization” would have brought France under Islamic domination.
If this discourse has recently spread in the public debate, its origin is ancient. We find a similar fantasy in the writings of Maurice Barrès, champion of anti-Semitic nationalism in the 19e century. In his 1893 pamphlet, “Against Foreigners,” he asserted that “hordes of emigrants, repulsed from all sides, are on their way to overwhelm our race.” The danger for France is vital: “It is our disappearance: how indeed do we assimilate them? ». But under his pen, the rhetoric of the invasion does not yet yield to conspiracy. The specificity of the “great replacement” is indeed to link the idea of migratory submersion to an alleged conspiratorial project. It is about denouncing a change deliberate of population. According to historian Nicolas Lebourg (“Islamophobic attack in Christchurch: historical return to the “great replacement””, Médiapart, March 15, 2019), this idea flourished in the immediate post-war period. The radical extreme right then debated a supposed project of destruction of Europe by massive African immigration: “After 1945, by saying it was the work of a Jewish conspiracy, after September 11, 2001 by extracting the anti-Semitic arguments from it to make it only a racist and Islamophobic mobilizing myth. »
Return of the repressed
But the genealogy of the “great replacement” recently found additional light in Olivier Mannoni’s short essay: “Translating Hitler” (Editions Héloïse d’Ormesson 2022). The Germanist, translator of “Mein Kampf”, refers to chapter XI of the first part of Hitler’s text:
« il [Hitler] develops, in a precise and explicit way, the theory of the “great replacement” of an “Aryan” population by an immigrant population (Hitler writes “nomadic”) who came to occupy the country on the sly”.
The text is clear :
“However, this has nothing to do with nomadism because the Jew does not think of leaving again a territory he occupies, but on the contrary he remains where he is, and that in such a ‘sedentary’ way that it becomes very difficult to chase it away, even by force. »
The classic anti-Semitic portrayal of “nomadic people” gives way to the scenario of a parasitic population settled in German territory to replace the original people. The genealogy of the “great replacement” is beyond doubt for Olivier Mannoni:
“We are therefore faced with a thesis of Nazi origin. Anyone who has read and studied “Mein Kampf” knows this. »
So, what can we expect from this discovery? Both a little and a lot. To combat the fantasy of the “great replacement”, it will not be enough to recall his Nazi genealogy. But at a time when the French extreme right is becoming commonplace to gain power, it is decisive to deconstruct its strategy.
By renaming it National Rally in 2018, Marine le Pen hoped to break away from the sulphurous image of the National Front, founded in 1972 by her father and a former Waffen-SS. To complete her normalization, she had to silence the history of her party and her links with the most extremist in her camp. In this context, the theme of the “great replacement” intervenes as a return of the repressed. Behind the pretense republicans, Le Pen and Bardella defend an idea rooted in the Hitler verb. Of course, reducing the extreme right to Nazism would be stupid. But it would be catastrophic to believe that she is completely detached from it. The rhetoric of the “great replacement” is there to remind us of this.
Chronicle of the cultural battle, it’s (almost) every week, alternating with Beligh Nabli.
Source : Nouvelobs
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