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Dissolving Nations & Peoples

In an interview in Germany’s Bild am Sonntag, the country’s Development Minister, Gerd Müller, says:

The people fleeing hunger, misery, violence, and because they see no future for themselves and their families. But we live in a globalized world. We can not build fences around Germany and Europe. When people suffer, they will come. … The biggest refugee movements are ahead: Africa’s population will double in the coming decades.


Only ten per cent of the refugee flow from Syria and Iraq has reached us. Eight to 10 million are still on their way. Those who come to us now, for several years sat in the tent cities, basements or goat stables without water and electricity. It is shameful that the international community is not able to ensure the survival on the spot.


We need a reduction. One million, like last year, we cannot successfully integrate. At the same time we have to assume our responsibility in the world in another dimension, as we do that so far all in Europe. We have built our prosperity on the back of the developing countries. That will not do any longer. These tensions are discharged.Then do not care what we define here. The people are not going to ask if they can come.

Read the whole thing.  I invite German speakers to offer a better translation from the original; I’ve cleaned up Google Translate’s version somewhat, but as I don’t speak German, it is likely that I made some errors.

So, what do you think? The German government minister says that there is no way to stop the human tidal wave about to sweep over Europe, and besides, Europe has it coming because Europeans have allegedly gotten rich by exploiting the Third World. “The people are not going to ask if they can come,” says the humanitarian. So Germany, and Europe, have no moral right to assert control over their borders, to say who can and who cannot enter into their community? This is a shocking statement from a senior official of any government: that the borders must remain open. That Europe is supposed to commit civilizational suicide in reparation for its capitalist crimes.

It’s straight out of The Camp of the Saints. It really is. It is astonishing. We are watching something of world-historical importance unfold. An entire civilization is being invaded by an army with no weapons but their poverty and their desire, and the civilization’s leaders are surrendering without a fight. Perhaps they believe they have nothing to fight for.

I read The Camp of the Saints last year, and blogged about it. ‘memba this?:

Accepting Third World migrants as an act of redemption. That is one of the main themes of Jean Raspail’s 1973 novel The Camp of the Saints, which I finished reading this weekend. … Even a bad book may have something valuable to say to us. This is true of The Camp of the Saints. One aspect of the novel that I can’t shake off, though, is Raspail’s portrait of the migrants as not giving a damn about European civilization. It’s nothing personal; rather, they don’t believe they are coming to Europe as beggars who ought to be grateful for charity, but move as a mass that believes it is entitled to what the Europeans have. Europeans, by contrast, are, in the book, the ones who agonize over their civilization, whether it is worth defending, and what it means to be truly Western. The leaders in Camp of the Saints are not consciously surrendering, but rather they mask their cultural surrender with humanitarianism. They think that by flinging their doors open to the Third World masses, they are being good Westerners.

This is why the real villains in Raspail’s novel aren’t the migrants, but the European elites. He believes, it appears, that the Europeans ought to do whatever it takes to defend their civilization from the barbarian invasion. Raspail denounces contemporary France, though, as an exhausted civilization that is eager to be relieved of its burdens. To borrow a line from Cavafy, “those people, the barbarians, were a kind of solution.”

Meanwhile, Mein Kampf has just gone on sale in Germany again, for the first time since the war, its copyright having expired. Despite costing about $75 per copy, You-Know-Who’s manifesto quickly sold out.

This is like something from a dystopian novel. But I said that already.

UPDATE: A reader sends this link to a 1994 Atlantic essay by Matthew Connelly and Paul Kennedy. The subhed prophesies, Absent major changes in North-South relations, the wretched should inherit the earth by about 2025.


Why revisit this controversial and nowadays hard-to-obtain novel [Camp of the Saints — RD]? The recovery of this neglected work helps us to call attention to the key global problem of the final years of the twentieth century: unbalanced wealth and resources, unbalanced demographic trends, and the relationship between the two. Many members of the more prosperous economies are beginning to agree with Raspail’s vision: a world of two “camps,” North and South, separate and unequal, in which the rich will have to fight and the poor will have to die if mass migration is not to overwhelm us all. Migration is the third part of the problem. If we do not act now to counteract tendencies toward global apartheid, they will only hurry the day when we may indeed see Raspail’s vision made real.

One of us (Kennedy) first heard The Camp of the Saints referred to at various times during discussions of illegal migration. One such occasion was in the summer of 1991, following media reports about the thousands of desperate Albanians who commandeered ships to take them to the Italian ports of Bari and Brindisi, where they were locked in soccer stadiums by the local police before being forcibly returned to a homeland so poor that it is one of the few parts of Europe sometimes categorized as “developing” countries. Apparently, one reason for this exodus was that the Albanians had been watching Italian television–including commercials for consumer goods, cat food shown being served on a silver platter, and the like. More than a few colleagues mentioned that the incident struck them as a small-scale version of Raspail’s grim scenario.


If anything, Raspail’s contempt for sympathizers and fellow travelers in the West is even more extreme. The collection of churchmen who plead for tolerance of the approaching armada; the intellectuals and media stars who think this is a great event; the hippies, radicals, and counterculture people who swarm south to greet the Indians as the panic-stricken Provencois are rushing north–all these get their comeuppance in Raspail’s bitter, powerful prose. In one of the most dramatic events, close to the book’s end, the leader of the French radicals is portrayed as rushing forward to welcome the “surging mob” of Indians, only to find himself “swept up in turn, carried off by the horde. Struggling to breathe. All around him, the press of sweaty, clammy bodies, elbows nudging madly in a frantic push forward, every man for himself, in a scramble to reach the streams of milk and honey.” The message is clear: race, not class or ideology, determines everything, and the wretched of the earth will see no distinction between unfriendly, fascistic Frenchmen on the one hand and liberal-minded bishops and yuppies on the other. All have enjoyed too large a share of the world’s wealth for too long, and their common fate is now at hand.

It’s true that the groping New Year’s Eve mobs did not confirm the political sympathies of the women they assaulted. Here is the most jolting part of the essay which, remember, was written in 1994:

Let us now get to the heart of the matter. Readers may well find Raspail’s vision uncomfortable and his language vicious and repulsive, but the central message is clear: we are heading into the twenty-first century in a world consisting for the most part of a relatively small number of rich, satiated, demographically stagnant societies and a large number of poverty-stricken, resource-depleted nations whose populations are doubling every twenty-five years or less. The demographic imbalances are exacerbated by grotesque disparities of wealth between rich and poor countries. Despite the easy references that are made to our common humanity, it is difficult to believe that Switzerland, with an annual average per capita income of about $35,000, and Mali, with an average per capita income of less than $300, are on the same planet–but Raspail’s point is that they are, and that a combination of push and pull factors will entice desperate, ambitious Third World peasants to approach the portals of the First World in ever-increasing numbers. The pressures are now much greater than they were when Raspail wrote, not only because we’ve added 1.5 billion people to our planet since the early 1970s, but also, ironically, because of the global communications revolution, which projects images of Western lifestyles, consumer goods, and youth culture across the globe. Ambitious peasants no longer need a messianic untouchable to urge them to leave by boat for Europe; they see the inducements every day on their small black-and-white television sets.

Is all this gloom and doom justified? What about rosier visions of the future? What about the good news? The apocalyptic literature appears to be at odds with an equally large array of writings, chiefly by free-market economists and consultants, that proclaim a brave new world of ever-greater production, trade, wealth, and standards of living for all. In these portrayals of “the coming global boom,” a combination of market forces, diminished government interference, ingenious technologies, and the creation of a truly universal customer base will allow our planet to double or treble its income levels during the next few decades. In the view of those who believe that the global technological and communications revolution is making the world more integrated, rather than more envious, the constant modernization of the world economy is leading to a steady convergence of standards of production and living. As more and more countries open up to a borderless world, the prospects for humankind–or, at least, for those able to adapt–are steadily improving.

Yet a closer look at this cornucopian literature reveals that its focus is overwhelmingly upon the world’s winners–the well-educated lawyers, management consultants, software engineers, and other “symbolic analysts” analyzed by Secretary of Labor Robert Reich–who sell their expertise at handsome prices to clients in other rich societies. [Emphasis mine — RD] To the extent that they consider the situation in the Third World, the cornucopian writers typically point to the model minority of global politics–the East Asians. The techno-liberals pay hardly any attention to the mounting human distress in Calcutta or Nicaragua or Liberia, and no wonder: were they to consider the desperate plight of the poorest two billion beings on our planet, their upbeat messages would sound less plausible.

“Techno-liberals” — that is to say, to the Democratic Party since Bill Clinton, the Republican Party, and their journalistic fellow travelers at the editorial pages of The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. To the North American and European globalist elites.

The authors say that leaders of the rich and the poor countries will have to get their acts together to avoid catastrophe in the 21st century. It concludes:

For the remainder of this century, we suspect, the debate will rage over what and how much should be done to improve the condition of humankind in the face of the mounting pressures described here and in other analyses. One thing seems to us fairly certain. However the debate unfolds, it is, alas, likely that a large part of it–on issues of population, migration, rich versus poor, race against race–will have advanced little beyond the considerations and themes that are at the heart of one of the most disturbing novels of the late twentieth century, Jean Raspail’s The Camp of the Saints. It will take more than talk to prove the prophet wrong.

Read the whole thing. 

You could make millions doing a new translation of The Camp of the Saints today, and selling it. But it’s so racially charged that no mainstream publisher would touch it. You can read a Kindle version for $10.  As I said when I wrote about it last fall, it’s a hard book to read, because some of its passages are frankly racist. But as Paul Kennedy and Matthew Connelly indicate, you don’t have to love this book to take it very seriously as geopolitical prophecy.

UPDATE.2: A German reader e-mails:

Frankly I think you picked the wrong example for your dystopian fears (which I perfectly understand and partly share).

Even in your translation, Müller says: “We need a reduction” (of immigration).

In a part not included in your post, Müller says: “Der Schutz der Außengrenzen funktioniert nicht“ (meaning: the external boarders are not being protected). It is clear he wants them protected.

As to Müller’s statement that “we have built our prosperity on the back of the developing countries” – do you really consider that such an outrageous idea?

(There’s plenty to worry about – I agree with you there. But – contra Douthat and Dougherty – the discussion immediately after the events in Cologne is actually a hopeful sign. Compare with the UK, Sweden, …)

Rod, it is easy to look around and conclude that this world is going to hell (especially for those of us with kids). But conservatives should also strive to have a conservative temperament (I said strive – am pretty bad at this myself). Crying wolf over poor Gerd Müller does seem somewhat exaggerated, and counter-productive.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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