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Good Lessons from a Bad Book

I spent all morning writing this post. Four hours later, I pressed “publish” … and it disappeared. I am too discouraged to recreate it from scratch. It will probably be better because not so long and digressive. Anyway, here goes my second try.

Overwhelmed by the migrant tide, Germany imposed border controls with Austria on Sunday. From the Washington Post [1]:

Thousands joined a protest in central London, some with signs that said “Reject the Politics of Fear,” the Guardian reported. And hundreds also came for a solidarity concert in Budapest, at a train station where many migrants pass through on the way to Germany. “Refugees Welcome,” a sign read as attendees held hands and sang along to Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.”

In the meantime, Orban, Hungary’s prime minister, has suggested a solution: Have the E.U. give $3.4 billion to Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan to help improve services for refugees who are placed in camps in those areas. In an interview released Saturday in Germany’s Bild newspaper, Orban said, “These people do not come to Europe because they are looking for security, but they want a better life than in the camps.

“If Europe allows a competition of cultures, then the Christians will lose,” Orban continued. “These are the facts. The only way out for those who want to preserve Europe as a Christian culture is not always more Muslims let in!”

The Financial Times writes that many Germans today see accepting refugees as a way to redeem themselves historically and morally: [2]

For some, the scenes at German railway stations carry overtones of historical redemption.

“We want to prove that we are good people. Even if no one wants to be reminded of this, the good that we do has to be seen in relation to the crimes that we initiated,” Arnulf Baring, a conservative German historian, wrote in the Bild tabloid this week.

change_me

… The image of a caring, benevolent Germany is a contrast from the Greek debt crisis, another European drama in which the country was often portrayed as a narrow-minded and uncaring villain.

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. It was a relief to reach the end of it. There is only one other book I can recall having finished, and having hated, but still being glad I read it, because I learned something from it: Sayyid Qutb’s condensed Islamist manifesto, Milestones.

The Camp of the Saints is a bad book, both aesthetically and morally. I was ambivalent about its moral status in the early parts of the book. I thought Raspail expressed himself more crudely than I would have done, but his cultural diagnosis struck me as having more merit than I anticipated, given the book’s notorious reputation. In the novel, a million-man armada of the wretched of the earth decide to sail to Europe from India, more or less daring the West to stop their migration. Most of the narrative focuses on how France prepares itself for the invasion.

Raspail, a traditionalist Catholic and far-rightist, draws in broad strokes a portrait of a France that has given up. All the country’s institutions and leaders across the board decide that it is the moral duty of all Frenchmen to welcome the armada with open arms. Raspail is at his satirical best mocking the sentimental liberal humanitarianism of the political, media, and clerical classes, all of whom look to the armada as a form of salvation, of redemption for the West’s sins. As I wrote here the other day, the scenario reminds me of the exhausted civilization in Cavafy’s poem “Waiting For the Barbarians.” A couple of years ago, Cavafy translator Daniel Mendelsohn wrote in The New Yorker about the poem and the poet’s political vision [3] (Mendelsohn’s translation of the poem is in the article). Excerpt:

Cultural exhaustion, political inertia, the perverse yearning for some violent crisis that might break the deadlock and reinvigorate the state: these themes, so familiar to us right now, were favorites of Cavafy. He was, after all, a citizen of Alexandria, a city that had been an emblem of cultural supremacy—founded by Alexander the Great, seat of the Ptolemies, the literary and intellectual center of the Mediterranean for centuries—and which had devolved to irrelevancy by the time he was born, in 1863. When you’ve seen that much history spool by, that much glory and that much decline, you have very few expectations of history—which is to say, of human nature and political will.

More:

The cardinal sins in Cavafy’s vision of history and politics are complacency, smugness, and a solipsistic inability to see the big picture. What he did admire, extravagantly, were political figures who do the right thing even though they know they have little chance of prevailing: the great “losers” of history, admirable in their fruitless commitment to ethical behavior—or merely sensible enough to know when the game is up.

Raspail blames France’s elites for this too, with reference to the problem of multiculturalism and migration. He even waylays the fictional pope, “Benedict XVI” (remember, the book was written in 1973), a Latin American (Brazilian) who sells all the treasures of the Vatican to give to the Third World poor, and who exhorts Europe to thrown open its doors to the migrant horde.

But Raspail’s tragic “losers” are a ragtag collection of soldiers, a pimp, and an elderly aristocrat who go down shooting as many black people (that is, Indians) and white fellow travelers as they can before being blown to smithereens by the government.

It is on balance a repulsive book, one that is forthright in endorsing white supremacy. By the end of the book, Raspail doesn’t even try to cloak his belief in white supremacy, and in the morality of using lethal violence to maintain it. It is all but impossible to read this, knowing what evils the KKK and its fellow travelers worked in the US to maintain white supremacy, and not despise this book. Raspail does not separate skin color from culture and civilization. Sure, he has an Indian, M. Hamadura, joining the tiny resistance at the end, and saying that believing in the superiority of the West is not a matter of skin color, but a state of mind. OK, fair enough, but everything else in the novel ties civilization precisely to skin color. The Hamadura character seems like an add-on, as if to say, “Some of my best friends are black.” It’s not convincing.

(Nota bene: A French reader of this blog writes to dispute my claim that Raspail is a racist or a member of the far right. “He wrote incredibly kind pages about the natives of Patagonia, and he is more a Royalist than far right,” said the reader.)

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.”

Here’s what is so unnerving about reading the damn novel: so much of it could be lifted from today’s headlines. Reading it brought to mind more than once what people used to say back in the Nineties about gangsta rap: that as vulgar and as repulsive as it may have been, it told us something important about conditions in the inner cities. You don’t have to endorse Raspail’s radical racialist vision to recognize that there is diagnostic value in his novel.

But here is something Raspail did not have to contend with when he wrote the book 40 years ago: Europe’s demographic collapse. [4] Says The Observer:

When Spanish business consultant Alejandro Macarrón started crunching the numbers behind Spain’s changing demographics, he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. “I was astonished,” said Macarrón. “We have provinces in Spain where for every baby born, more than two people die. And the ratio is moving closer to one to three.”

Spain has one of the lowest fertility rates in the EU, with an average of 1.27 children born for every woman of childbearing age, compared to the EU average of 1.55. Its crippling economic crisis has seen a net exodus of people from the country, as hundreds of thousands of Spaniards and migrants leave in the hope of finding jobs abroad. The result is that, since 2012, Spain’s population has been shrinking.

Record numbers of economic migrants and asylum-seekers are seeking to enter the European Union this summer and are risking their lives in the attempt. The paradox is that as police and security forces battle to keep them at bay, a demographic crisis is unfolding across the continent. Europe desperately needs more young people to run its health services, populate its rural areas and look after its elderly because, increasingly, its societies are no longer self-sustaining.

More:

By 2060 the [German] government expects [Germany’s] population to plunge from 81 million to 67 million, a decrease that is being accelerated by depressed areas in both eastern and western parts of the country that are haemorrhaging large numbers. The UN predicts that, by 2030, the percentage of Germans in the workplace will drop 7% to just 54%. No other industrial land is as starkly affected – and this is despite a strong influx of young migrant labourers.

In order to offset this shortage, Germany needs to welcome an average of 533,000 immigrants every year, which perhaps gives context to the estimate that 800,000 refugees are due to come to Germany this year.

Emphasis mine. That fact is staggering to me. I had no idea that Germany had that kind of need for labor. How is it, then, that with unemployment at 23 percent in Spain — and a jaw-dropping 49 percent among Spanish youth [5] — jobless Spaniards aren’t migrating within the EU to Germany to fill those jobs? Why are jobless Greeks not migrating en masse to Germany, which is within the EU, to do those jobs? Serious question.

France is actually experiencing a slight demographic turnaround [6], though the raw numbers don’t tell the whole story:

Most countries in southern Europe are based on something akin to the Japanese package, with fairly rigid family norms in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, Malta and Greece. There is social pressure on women not to work while their children are still young, just as it is ill-thought of to live with someone or have a baby outside wedlock. In all these countries the proportion of births outside marriage is below 30%, whereas in France, Sweden and Norway it exceeds 50%. In Japan the traditional family package clearly has a dramatic impact on fertility, with fewer than 1.4 births per woman.

The picture is very different in Scandinavia and France. “In these countries the family norm is much more flexible, with late marriages, reconstituted families, single parents, much more frequent births outside marriage and divorces than further south,” Toulemon adds. “People are far less concerned about the outlook for the family [as an institution].” The positive impact of this open-ended approach to families on fertility is borne out by the statistics, at more than 1.8 children per woman in Sweden, Norway, Finland and France.

Consider, then, that the countries in which the traditional family is strongest are also the countries that are experiencing the worst population collapse. The countries where there is little or no stigma to bearing children outside of wedlock, not marrying, et cetera, are those that are doing the best job of maintaining their population. Think about that, my fellow religious and social conservatives.

To conclude, what are the good lessons from this bad book, The Camp of the Saints? I’m not sure there are “lessons” to be learned as much as the extremely dark novel gives one a more skeptical eye towards humanitarian pronouncements about migrants from European leaders, including church leaders. In the book, the militant pro-migrant humanitarianism of the elites and the masses that follow them do not reflect moral strength, but actually exemplify moral exhaustion. Camp is a dystopian fantasy, certainly, but the core questions it poses regarding what European civilization is, what Christian civilization is, and the lengths to which Europeans ought to be prepared to go to defend what they have, are important ones, even if Raspail answers them in a way that provokes disgust, and that Christians, at least, will find unacceptable.

Alas for Raspail, all those questions may have been rendered pointless by the decisions Europeans made around the time his novel was first published: to stop having babies. Now the Europeans may have to fling open the gates to the “barbarians” simply to have people who can wipe their elderly bums.

135 Comments (Open | Close)

135 Comments To "Good Lessons from a Bad Book"

#1 Comment By panda On September 15, 2015 @ 4:48 pm

“If several hundred people showed up at your house and moved in, displacing your own children, would you say they have that right? T”

And what if that house had 10,000 rooms, and those new arrivals demanded only 10 or 20 of them? What if the rest of the town was on fire? What if you helped to start that same fire? What if they were chased by wolves?

#2 Comment By panda On September 15, 2015 @ 4:54 pm

“If they hadn’t been considered white, they wouldn’t have been permitted to become naturalized, or to vote, or to serve in white units in the army, or to marry other whites, or sign the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. This is not to say that they were not regarded by some as inferior to “Nordics” or Anglo-Saxons, but the notion that they weren’t considered white in 19th century America is just tiresome, fashionable nonsense.

Besides what Eamus said, your point about naturalization, voting etc, is nonsense. The vast majority of South/East European immigrants came to the US after the ratification of the 14th amendment and settled in the North, where non-whites did indeed face social discrimination, but nothing like the legal structures of segregation in the South (or Chinese exlusion in the West)- even African Americans didn’t face those kinds of legal structures outside the South. Additionally, you are inadvertently making exactly the point of the scholars you deride: you presume that racism simply applies to Black people and whomever was considered non-White was treated like like black people. In fact, late 19th century views on race were more complex than that, and, yes, had a room for Slavic races, considered distinct from good old Teutons and Anglo-Saxons. (and let’s not start talking about those semites with their low IQ and high propensity for criminality..)

#3 Comment By Giuseppe Scalas On September 15, 2015 @ 5:04 pm

James Kabala

One place where I wondered about this was at the end where the heroes reminisce about intercourse with black prostitutes – were these white supremacists really having sex with Africans, or did “black” just mean “dark-haired” as it sometimes does in Europe?

It means black Africans. The word in the original is négresse.

#4 Comment By Giuseppe Scalas On September 15, 2015 @ 5:37 pm

cecelia

I wonder sometimes if even with all the studies done on causes of lower fertility we might be overlooking the real culprit – the trauma of WWI and WWII. Consider the UK – at the start of WWI the population was 46 million. If you subtract first and second generation immigrants from the UK’s population today – you get about 40 million. The same is true in other EU countries. The indigenous population of the UK stopped growing since WWI.

The situation in the UK is execrable.
And mind, I’m saying this as someone who loves P.G. Wodehouse, J.K. Jerome, Conan Doyle, Chesterton, Agatha Christie, Dickens, Thackeray, the Brontë sisters, Shakespeare, Milton, Thomas Hardy, the Valley of Thames, Oxfordshire, narrowboats, locks, the Tube, plum pudding, a good Scottish beef cooked raw with fried marrow as a side and pale ale served at room temperature (on the other hand, I can’t stand the Beatles, but nobody’s perfect).

#5 Comment By pjsmoov On September 15, 2015 @ 5:45 pm

Can we please let go of the nonsense that the Irish had to become white. Ignatiev and other Marxist labor historians invented that idea, one that other historians have found unconvincing. Even Ignatiev admitted that he relied on too few sources in his study. Historian David Gleeson, one of the best scholars on the Irish in America in the 19th century, examined the sources and said that Ignatiev didn’t really know what he was talking about. Other historians have found the entire “whiteness studies” project to be more about ideology than legitimate history. The Irish didn’t need to invent their ethnicity. They were always white.

#6 Comment By Cyrus On September 15, 2015 @ 5:55 pm

There is serious historical work on this, and for the time being I think I’ll rely on that rather than on your blog comment. I refer you (for starters) to the books of David R. Roediger and Nell Irvin Painter if you’re interested in learning more.

Whites of other than Anglo-Saxon descent were regarded as culturally or even biologically inferior to WASPS by many Americans. Nonetheless, they were considered white under the law. Indians, blacks, Chinese, etc., were not. No doubt there were exceptions, somewhere, and if I were to read deeply in whiteness studies I’d find them, but my point would still stand for the vast majority. The idea that “the Irish weren’t considered white” is very memorable, but it’s deeply, deliberately misleading.

It’s not unacceptable — indeed, I think some “Slavs” themselves would call themselves this — but I’m aware of its being a made-up and somewhat vague category (even if it was made up a long time ago).

Fair enough. The same can be said of most categories. Perhaps I read too much into your use of quotes.

#7 Comment By KD On September 15, 2015 @ 6:40 pm

I am not trying to wish ill will on Europeans.

I really wish European leaders could have an adult conversation about the long-term implications of the refugee crisis (and I don’t think this is the last wave). But that is verboten.

I do think Europe seems to lack the will to transmit its unique ways of life into the future, or to protect or preserve those ways of life.

But I don not think the future is necessarily Christian or Muslim, it may be a new articulation of a Secular ideal, or even the return of a Pagan one, that inspires a way forward. It just seems that radical Islam, for good or bad, is the only vision that actually inspires faith these days (like Communism in days of old). Everything else is exhausted.

#8 Comment By German_reader On September 15, 2015 @ 8:12 pm

@KD

“I am not trying to wish ill will on Europeans.”

Ok, then I misread your comment…I thought you actually relished the idea of some massive conflict in Europe, in a “Let’s see whose faith is stronger” way (which seems like a fairly un-Christian sentiment to me, more like social Darwinism).
I’m not sure if everything apart from radical Islam is “exhausted”, I think those claims of some deep spiritual malaise in Western countries are overdrawn. And I don’t think radical Islam actually has that much appeal outside of the Islamic world and segments of Islamic migrant communities in Western countries. Communism had a mass following in Germany before 1933, and in France and Italy after the 2nd world war, and there were many fellow travellers…but apart from some nutcase converts, hardly any Westerners today put any hopes in radical Islam; it simply doesn’t offer a vision attractive to most people without some sort of Islamic background. Islamism is only a problem in Western countries because of misguided immigration policies that should, to the degree this is still possible, be corrected.

#9 Comment By Lancelot Lamar On September 15, 2015 @ 8:14 pm

This whole “migrant crises” means the death of Europe if it continues at this pace. Isis must be laughing their heads off at the naiveté and/or death wish of most European states.

If only 1 percent of the migrants are terrorists or terrorist sympathizers (and there is no way for the governments to know at all with this many coming, mostly young men) that’s 8000 coming to Germany alone, two brigades of invaders.

Probably 5% is far more realistic, or 40,000 men, 3 divisions of terrorists and/or their supporters, just this year.

But of course terrorism is really not going to be needed over the long run, and by long run I would guess 50 years. The immigrants are religious and thus fertile. Their children will rule Europe soon enough, while the remnant children of those smug, self-righteous imbeciles who are cheering the arrival of their invaders will be living under sharia, their women in domestic bondage, their Christians/Secularlists in dimmitude, and their gays in prison or executed.

Raspail and Houllbecq are being proven prophets every day.

#10 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On September 15, 2015 @ 9:19 pm

“If they hadn’t been considered white, they wouldn’t have been permitted to become naturalized, or to vote, or to serve in white units in the army, or to marry other whites, or sign the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

The implied premises here are false. Many of the militia units that formed the core of the continental army were people of known and visible African descent. George Washington initially thought to exclude them, then thought better of it, since they might well take service with the British, as many other people of African descent in fact did. Nobody knows the exact numbers, because records did not routinely record race, and except of a unit from Rhode Island, there were no segregated “colored troops.”

Things took a nasty racist turn in the late 1780s, which among other things generated the African Methodist denominations, but there was still a good deal of fluidity for a time.

Both the “race realists” and the “white guilt trippers” err when they assume that racism was a 400 year epistemologically consistent whole. Things changed every 20-50 years. There were landowners of African descent in the 17th century, when it was relatively easy to buy your freedom and get some land. There was also inter-racial marriage, because the taboo against it developed somewhat later. There were inter-racial churches up to the 1830s, and Jim Crow wasn’t fully in place until the early 1900s. (This is why it was absurd for southern “white” people to cry “This is our Way Of Life, its always been like this.”)

I do not admire that category of “white studies,” because the last thing we need is another reason to contemplate the color of our respective navels. People who want to push the concept of “whiteness” may well have twisted the data, and I’ve never gotten around to reading “How the Irish became white.”

But, I do know, because it was in my standard 8th grade American history text book, that a senate committee touring canal sites in Ohio asked a foreman “You don’t consider an Italian a white man, do you?” The foreman replied “No sir, and Italian is a d***.” (The Word Press politically correct speech software monitors would probably let me write the word out in full, but, since it won’t let me write n***** out in full, I am trying to be consistent, fair, balanced, and even-handed.)

I do know that the Second Incarnation of the Invisible Empire (circa 1920s Ku Klux Klan) carried the American flag (not the stars and bars), and hated Catholics, Jews, Irish, Chinese, quite as much as they did native born Americans of African descent. I don’t think they thought much of Slavs either.

And there was such a thing as signs reading “No Irish Need Apply,” although Ted Kennedy probably lied when he claimed to remember such from his own youth.

#11 Comment By Dan Poole On September 15, 2015 @ 9:19 pm

This is so wrong.

1. You know what else has been redefined over and over again? Science. Once upon a time, scientists said the earth was at the center of the universe, and that the earth was flat. Now they correctly say that the earth rotates around the sun, and that the earth is spherical and not flat. Is science a “social construct” just because scientific facts are constantly changing? Of course not!

“But Poole, the earth was always rotating around sun, and it was never flat!”

Like wise, the Irish, Poles, Germans, Greeks, Russians, etc were always White. You can tell just by looking at them (and yes, the “I know it when I see it” test is perfectly valid. Scientists knew that other planets existed when they saw it with their telescopes). Therefore, insofar as certain European groups were not considered White, that does NOT mean “race doesn’t exist.”

2. You claim that there are all these sources “proving” that the Irish and Southeast Europeans were not considered White. But I’ve never seen a full-length, in-context quote from ANYONE in the 1800s or early 1900s who argued that the Irish or Southern and Eastern Europeans weren’t White. Instead, all I’ve seen is a few short, out-of-context snippets from unnamed sources about so and so being “not quite white.” Guess what: An out-of-context snippet proves nothing. And considering that all these “whiteness studies” authors set out to prove that “white people don’t exist,” I have ZERO to reason to believe that they quoted those snippets in good faith. In other words, I have no reason to believe that short quotes like “not quite white,” (supposedly said of the Greeks) wasn’t really said of the Chinese or Japanese, or a light-skinned African-American. Simply put: I’m calling BS on the notion that the Irish and Southeast Europeans “were not considered White.”

#12 Comment By Dan Poole On September 15, 2015 @ 9:21 pm

“Dixon is just all at sea (as it were) when it comes to defining “white.” Supposedly white is the superior “race,” but of course in fact it’s a construction, a term whose meaning has changed dramatically over the generations as different groups that were once thought to be “nonwhite” “races” (like the Irish and the “Slavs”) have been absorbed into it.”

This is so wrong.

1. You know what else has been redefined over and over again? Science. Once upon a time, scientists said the earth was at the center of the universe, and that the earth was flat. Now they correctly say that the earth rotates around the sun, and that the earth is spherical and not flat. Is science a “social construct” just because scientific facts are constantly changing? Of course not!

“But Poole, the earth was always rotating around sun, and it was never flat!”

Like wise, the Irish, Poles, Germans, Greeks, Russians, etc were always White. You can tell just by looking at them (and yes, the “I know it when I see it” test is perfectly valid. Scientists knew that other planets existed when they saw it with their telescopes). Therefore, insofar as certain European groups were not considered White, that does NOT mean “race doesn’t exist.”

2. You claim that there are all these sources “proving” that the Irish and Southeast Europeans were not considered White. But I’ve never seen a full-length, in-context quote from ANYONE in the 1800s or early 1900s who argued that the Irish or Southern and Eastern Europeans weren’t White. Instead, all I’ve seen is a few short, out-of-context snippets from unnamed sources about so and so being “not quite white.” Guess what: An out-of-context snippet proves nothing. And considering that all these “whiteness studies” authors set out to prove that “white people don’t exist,” I have ZERO to reason to believe that they quoted those snippets in good faith. In other words, I have no reason to believe that short quotes like “not quite white,” (supposedly said of the Greeks) wasn’t really said of the Chinese or Japanese, or a light-skinned African-American. Simply put: I’m calling BS on the notion that the Irish and Southeast Europeans “were not considered White.”

#13 Comment By Anand On September 15, 2015 @ 10:12 pm

Avarachan

What can India offer the world? India is an example of an economy that doesn’t rely on murder and plunder to survive.

Umm no. It’s just that the Indian elites murder and plunder their fellow citizens. Casteism, communalism and crony capitalism are deeply entrenched and enforced with violence.

Now if you’d said *conquest* there I’d agree. Mercifully India has largely abjured trying to colonize it’s neighbors by force.

-Anand

#14 Comment By Eamus Catuli On September 15, 2015 @ 10:49 pm

Whites of other than Anglo-Saxon descent were regarded as culturally or even biologically inferior to WASPS by many Americans. Nonetheless, they were considered white under the law. Indians, blacks, Chinese, etc., were not.

What impresses me, though, and what I believe is relevant to what we’re talking about here, is how fluid the category “white” has been, at least at the margins (with “the margins” including many millions of people). Are Syrians white? Maybe, maybe not, according to different US court rulings at different times. Arabs generally? “Aryans,” if by that we include people from northern India? The courts went back and forth on that one many times — which is ironic, given that “Aryan” was also the term for a supposed white master race.

What about people from the Caucasus? Again, there were significant doubts, even though these people were “Caucausians” in the most literal possible sense. (But we’re talking about the likes of the Tsarnaev brothers.) The courts also disagreed over what criteria one used to decide who was of a given race or whether a given group counted as white.

As I mentioned, Thomas Dixon’s call circa 1903 to mobilize “whites” for a great world-historical struggle includes French Huegenots, but apparently not the French generally, nor other groups that were historically Catholic but are plainly “white” by our standards. Again, this would arguably make Jean Raspail himself not “white,” or at least not one of the whites invited to the party.

There are some amusing remarks from Charles Darwin, ridiculing the race theorists for their inability to come anywhere close to agreeing on how many races there are; various estimates by his time had put the number anywhere between 2 and 63. As Darwin pointed out, this makes nonsense of the whole concept. Some theories tried to distinguish between several different types of “white”; one theory held that there was a “race” called “Xanthocroic” and another called “Melanochroic,” or fair white versus dark white.

It’s important for some purposes to classify people into groups. Exactly what groups depends on why we’re doing it — which is to say, what our social or political purpose is. Which means these are social and political questions.

#15 Comment By Avarachan On September 15, 2015 @ 10:52 pm

@Anand:

Fair enough. I will simply note that in this behavior with their fellow citizens, Indian elites are like the elites in most countries.

However, I will stand by my main point. The idea of Western elites lecturing Indians regarding human rights is simply laughable. Just look at what the West is doing to Syria.

#16 Comment By Eamus Catuli On September 15, 2015 @ 10:54 pm

I should have further mentioned: The US census has been all over the map, changing its breakdown of demographic groups / national identities / races / ethnicities time and time again. This is not what we would expect if these categories were nice, neat, naturally occurring and easily agreed upon.

#17 Comment By KD On September 15, 2015 @ 11:51 pm

German_Reader:

I just don’t want my apocalyptic vision to be cast as Christian. I am writing about matters of State, not about the life of the Church. The problems of State are not the problems of the Church, and vice versa.

Part of me is horrified by developments. Part of me is fascinated by developments, this really is historical transformation in action. Part of me is gratified by watching the blind person insist on walking the plank in response to on-lookers telling them to stop. Part of me is horrified by my own gratification.

But the problem is that the consequences will not be meted out solely on the elite making these decisions, and propagating messages through the media, but on the backs of the peoples of Europe, who trusted their leaders to look out for them. This is why you are right to call me out: the peoples of Europe deserve better.

Nor do I anticipate Eurabia or anything comparable in the near future. Parts of Europe will be 15-25% Muslim, and many of those Muslims will increasingly turn to fundamentalist Islam. There will be pressure to institute Shariah in poor immigrant neighborhoods, and I suspect the Left will be shilling for this outcome.

Moreover, although many of the Salifist Mosques work very hard to root out and de-radicalize support for terrorists in their midst, there are Islamist terrorist networks, they are interested in recruiting, and it doesn’t take many terrorists to wreak havoc on “quality of life”.

It is not the same as being invaded by the Ottomans, but it will change European societies in dramatic ways. The question I have is why people think that it is particularly desirable to destabilize cohesive nation-states on the basis of sentiment. Europe is not adopting bunny rabbits, these are men and women with their own ideas and agendas, who individually may or may not harmonize with the existing social order.

#18 Comment By Giuseppe Scalas On September 16, 2015 @ 6:27 am

This obsession with the classification of races is peculiarly American, although of British origin. In most of Europe and in the UK, it was dead with positivism – with the exception of its Nazi streak – which, by the way – was more of a mystical rather than a (pseudo-) scientific sort.
That’s why, if one wants to understand Raspail correctly, one must understand that the meaning of “white” for a Frenchman is very different than for an American, and also why the concept of White Supremacy.
An aspect of this is that America, a nation based upon the concept that “all men are created equal” – an ideological fiction, if considered out of the context of its theological premises – needed to find a rational basis for social segregation, and found this in the concept of “race”.
In Catholic France, after the Church had clarified, in the late 1500’s that all men are endowed with a soul and are equal in God’s love, the “whiteness” couldn’t but be a civilizational concept. Basically, “whiteness”=”western civilization”.
This is also why some commenters misunderstood the role of the Indian character who joins the last resistants and is awarded, in tragic jest, the Ministry of Colonies.
We have discussed the influence of the Algerian tragedy in 1973’s France, and how it was still a fresh wound, and how it influenced Raspail.
I suggest you check the biography of Saïd Boualam, a berber who was also one of the leaders of the French pieds-noirs‘s clandestine organizations OAS. One of his daughters actually married one of the European French leaders of the organization. And he wasn’t the only berber muslim volunteering in the rank and file of OAS.

#19 Comment By KD On September 16, 2015 @ 11:38 am

Giuseppe Scalas:

I think you are leaving out the influence of Darwin/genetic determinism in the Anglo-American construction of race. If you start with the framework of Richard Dawkins, and you look at the stable statistical differences between ethnic groups, I don’t know how you avoid scientific racism (if you are being honest and not afraid of political correctness.)

The European Right stuff morphs into the functional equivalent of biological racism when you tie identity not only to culture, but to ancestry. Of course, if you look at a Nation like France, it was constantly being invaded since the collapse of Rome until the modern period, so who are the pure ones?

If you look at successful hegemonic powers (like Rome), as they expand they are capable of incorporating others into a broader civilization. Excessive particularism impedes the capacity for expansion. Sparta never became a great power probably because they simply enslaved all those they conquered, whereas Macedonia incorporated the conquered people into Macedonia (until we ended up with a Hellenistic world).

#20 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On September 16, 2015 @ 1:00 pm

There’s no probably about that – the state of fisheries over the world is dire. Notice the fish that you used to buy just twenty years ago either aren’t in the stores, or are very, very dear if they are? Where are the tuna, “Chilean Sea Bass”, orange roughy, red snapper, and Atlantic cod I saw in supermarkets as a child in the 1980s? We ate them all. And who had heard of tilapia until a few years ago? Yesterday’s inedible trash fish is all that’s left in commercial quantities today. We just keep fishing down the food web.

Yes. Well, I use ‘probably’ a lot and like to hedge my words when talking about scientific questions, because I’m quite aware how fragmentary our knowledge often is, but you’re pretty much correct. (I’d note that tilapia has a long history of domestication in Africa and the Middle East, and is quite tasty, no ‘trash’ about it.) You’re right that stocks of most of the more desirable fish and shellfish species have collapsed in the last half century or so- except for the ones which eat low on the food chain and easily domesticated, or the ones that are expensive niche iterms that aren’t caught in bulk. And in some cases, like cod, even severe restrictions on the fishery haven’t been sufficient to bring them back.

And, even if we achieve replacement rate, the contribution of Europe to the world population will be more and more irrelevant.

Not if (in the medium term) African and Middle East fertility collapses too.

#21 Comment By JonF On September 16, 2015 @ 2:04 pm

Re: Therefore, insofar as certain European groups were not considered White, that does NOT mean “race doesn’t exist.”

Genetic studies of our species are pretty conclusive though: nothing like the old racialist-postulated divisions have any basis in human genetics. There are no human subspecies. The amount of genetic variation across populations in tiny: about 1/10 of 1% max. (By contrast, the sexes differ from between 1% and 2 % of their genome).

#22 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On September 16, 2015 @ 2:22 pm

Like wise, the Irish, Poles, Germans, Greeks, Russians, etc were always White.

No, they weren’t, because there is no such thing, objectively. Ain’t nobody white except lepers and albinos. Or really, not even them. If you saw anyone with a truly “white” face walking down the street, you would scream in terror and run the other way.

Unlike the revolution of the earth about the sun, which was going on long before there were any humans to observe it, the notion of “white people” is only about 500 years old. It IS nothing BUT a social construct. It means whatever meaning the powers that be assign it.

That said, I must say something quasi-nationalist about the latest Hungarian efforts to fortify their border with barbed wire and military units. As an immediate short-term measure, I can’t think what else they should do. When a literal horde of people, outside of all law or normal commerce and procedure, is rampaging across the land, trampling on whatever stands in its path, an effort to say ‘No, we will not accept this, take no step further,’ is quite understandable.

For someone in a comfortable Amnesty International office in some western European capital to issue a press release about how unacceptable this is, doesn’t cut it.

Now, it shouldn’t go on for long. It should be a wake-up call to the UN and NATO and the European Union and all the squabbling talking heads of the European government. This volume of refugees is moving. These individuals, and they are individuals who badly need our help, are finding it untenable to remain where they are. The whole world must respond (or resort to Cosimanian Orthodoxy and give them a whiff of grape shot — although the sheer volume may be too great for that to be effective).

Hungary’s leaders may be quasi-fascist or whatever, but the immediate action is a wake-up call to the rest of the world. A COHERENT POLICY IS NEEDED, BACKED UP BY SUFFICIENT MONEY TO MAKE IT REAL. NOW. Sitting back and frittering away time with little piece meal measures will not cut it.

The sheer volume of response will need to be commensurate with the original UNICEF and refugee resettlement programs after WW II. Because the crisis is of that magnitude. Failure to meet the crisis squarely will result in something akin to Adrianople, because something has got to give.

#23 Comment By KD On September 16, 2015 @ 2:28 pm

Je suis Charlie!

#24 Comment By German_reader On September 16, 2015 @ 3:47 pm

@KD

I agree with your comment…I think what’s going on right now in Europe, especially in Germany, is utter insanity which can’t really be justified on any rational or humanitarian grounds. The “refugees welcome” crowd, consisting mostly of well-off members of the bourgeoisie who have lived sheltered and comfortable lives, are full of illusions about the asylum seekers and refuse to make any distinctions between people who are really persecuted and genuinely need protection and those many others whose motivation is less deserving of sympathy and who might even turn out to be a threat. And many of the asylum seekers have absurd exspectations about their future life in Europe which are bound to be disappointed (especially for those without much education; an estimated 15-20% of Arab asylum seekers are even supposed to be illiterate)…which will lead to resentment and alienation. Add Islam and you’ve got an explosive mix. It will end badly, and it mystifies me that supposedly intelligent people with decison-making power can think otherwise.
You’re right though…it’s an interesting and in some ways fascinating development. I’d just prefer to read about it in some history book instead of seeing it happen in my own time.

#25 Comment By panda On September 16, 2015 @ 5:15 pm

“I suggest you check the biography of Saïd Boualam, a berber who was also one of the leaders of the French pieds-noirs‘s clandestine organizations OAS. One of his daughters actually married one of the European French leaders of the organization. And he wasn’t the only berber muslim volunteering in the rank and file of OAS.”

True- but you also have to keep in mind that while Algeria was considered French soil, the pied noir and Algerian Jews had the right to vote, and Algerian Muslims didn’t, and faced restrictions on travel and employment and so on. Racial and ethnic divisions in France were different than they were in the US, both for Catholic reasons and because the official ideology of French imperialism was that French culture is universal, and open to anyone civilized enough to mature into it, but that difference was not all that drastic in practice.

#26 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On September 17, 2015 @ 12:55 am

Avarachan,

Hey, now we don’t just have Lived Experience Bingo, we have Decolonize Your Mind Bingo too! I can’t tell you how much pleasure it gives me when I see I’ve touched a nerve with identity-politics / SJW trolls. Instead of raving about ‘decolonize ur mind’, how about answering my question?

Anand,

point taken.

Allison,

Indian educational performance is actually abysmal, below every European and Latin American country, and ahead of only Kyrgyzstan among countries that took the PISA test. The actual results are probably even worse, as India only had students from two of the best performing states take the test. They were so embarrassed they didn’t even take the PISA in 2012.

#27 Comment By Reinhold On September 17, 2015 @ 3:51 am

“I had no idea that Germany had that kind of need for labor. How is it, then, that with unemployment at 23 percent in Spain — and a jaw-dropping 49 percent among Spanish youth — jobless Spaniards aren’t migrating within the EU to Germany to fill those jobs? Why are jobless Greeks not migrating en masse to Germany, which is within the EU, to do those jobs? Serious question.”
It’s really funny that nobody who gave an answer to your question bothered to give a serious answer. The fact is, the jobless Greeks ARE migrating in significant numbers to Germany, especially the young: [7]

#28 Comment By Giuseppe Scalas On September 17, 2015 @ 4:55 am

panda

Racial and ethnic divisions in France were different than they were in the US, both for Catholic reasons and because the official ideology of French imperialism was that French culture is universal, and open to anyone civilized enough to mature into it, but that difference was not all that drastic in practice.

Of course. I was just trying to warn people not to apply American race conflict lenses to Raspail’s book. As an example, the concept of “white supremacism” is close to meaningless in the French context.

[NFR: That’s a useful reminder. It is impossible for an American to hear “white supremacy” without thinking of the KKK, because that’s exactly what it means in our context. — RD]

#29 Comment By Kris On September 17, 2015 @ 5:02 am

@Hector,

If you were a lower-than-middle class person in India (which make up a big majority of the population), you would likely do as badly as these kids who took the PISA in 2009. Public educational facilities in India are utterly abysmal. Teachers often just fail to show up and don’t bother to make much effort at teaching when they do. It’s a cushy government job for them; doesn’t pay much but it’s pretty much impossible to get fired, so the teachers can go off trying to make money elsewhere. I have personal experience in this matter, having been involved in programs to educate slum children. Anyone who gets a decent education in India graduated from a private school that charges more in tuition that most parents in India can afford to pay. If you test just those kids, I’m sure you would get Shanghai-like scores.

There may well be a genetic component to the poor average academic performance of Indian children, but it is utterly impossible to say how much (and I don’t use the word “impossible” lightly) unless we control for all other factors that have been solved in the richer countries (like good schools, teachers who show up, reading and writing material; and good nutrition, a separate topic in itself.)

@Avarachan,

I would warn you against having too rosy a picture of your ancestral country. Whatever faults the US may have, living there on a day-to-day basis is a bed of roses compared to India. (Unless your family is loaded and you have political connections that give you the privilege of not following rules that the rest of us are thwarted by.) I don’t know if you are serious about moving to India, but I would urge you to reconsider. I was born and raised in this country, and only spent a decade in grad school and work in the US, and it’s been incredibly hard for me to adjust after moving back to India. So I would imagine things will be much harder for you, and you will see the many ugly sides of the country that you would not otherwise see during your short visits to relatives.

#30 Comment By Giuseppe Scalas On September 17, 2015 @ 5:12 am

KD says:

I think you are leaving out the influence of Darwin/genetic determinism in the Anglo-American construction of race.

Actually, when I mentioned positivism I was thinking about Galton.

If you start with the framework of Richard Dawkins, and you look at the stable statistical differences between ethnic groups, I don’t know how you avoid scientific racism (if you are being honest and not afraid of political correctness.)

Well, the only framework I think is appropriate to Dawkins is the one of an asylum window. The guy is bonkers :).

The European Right stuff morphs into the functional equivalent of biological racism when you tie identity not only to culture, but to ancestry. Of course, if you look at a Nation like France, it was constantly being invaded since the collapse of Rome until the modern period, so who are the pure ones?

That’s true up to a point. In the US, black officers or volunteers serving the confederate army would have been unthinkable. But this is basically what happened with the Arabs in the OAS (with the caveats applying to any comparison, of course)

#31 Comment By Giuseppe Scalas On September 17, 2015 @ 5:26 am

panda

Sorry, just a small additional point.
Actually, the situation of Algerian Muslims was slightly more nuanced. In French Algeria there was a dual legal system: penal laws applied to both French citizens and Algerian Muslims, while in civil law matters Algerian Muslim had the right to address sharia tribunals.

Algerian Muslim could accede to full French citizenship, including voting rights, but to do so they had to accept assimilation, i.e., they had to submit themselves to the French legal system, which for many of them was unacceptable.

(by the way, this is food for thought for those who think that the Western system and Islam are compatible)

#32 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On September 17, 2015 @ 1:31 pm

Richard Dawkins writes speculative B-grade science fiction. There is, e.g., no evidence whatsoever that DNA formed first, then invented the cell and the multi-cellular organism as a vehicle for its own protection. There is actually good evidence that very primitive respiration developed first, with a proto-cellular structure to make it possible to keep the respiration going, and then got more complex.

People of African descent serving in the confederate armed forces is not, and was not, unthinkable at all. First, there were well established free colored militia units in New Orleans and Memphis that were offered for confederate service, and declined. The New Orleans units transferred their allegiance to the United States after Farragut restored federal authority in the Crescent City. General Patrick Cleburne proposed enrollment of black soldiers in 1864. Robert E. Lee was enthusiastic. Jefferson Davis and most of Cleburn’s fellow officers were not, one remarking “I do not want independence if it is won with the help of the Negro,” another that the rebellion was premised “on the inferiority of the Negro. If we make soldiers of them, we concede the question.” (This lends a good deal of credibility to Giuseppe’s observation, but it was NOT “unthinkable.”) The confederate congress authorized enlistment of colored troops in April 1865 — which was a bit too late.

That’s without even considering Shelby Foote’s writing on the war. I don’t find it in the least incredible that slaves working on the fortifications of Mobile, who were praised by a confederate officer for the quality of their work, responded “We’ll fight to if you give us weapons. We’d rather fight for our own white folks than strangers.” There simply is no monolithic way that people of a given “race” respond, which is the ultimate reason racism is so despicable. Differences in aggregate curves don’t count — it doesn’t tell you what THIS individual is capable of.

As for compatibility of western democracy and Sharia, it depends on your conception of Sharia. If you want adherents of each religious faith to go to their own saints, not to the secular authorities (as Paul insisted), no, that is not compatible with our constitutional republic. But since it is often true that people pick their politics first, then their religion, well, if you pick a secular republic as your politics, you can live a personal Sharia within that republic perfectly well, especially since your interpretation will fit just as well as kosher does.

#33 Comment By KD On September 17, 2015 @ 6:44 pm

Siarlys Jenkins:

Shariah is not like Kosher law. It determines marriage laws, divorce laws, dowries, inheritance laws, domestic violence laws on top of food laws. Not to mention restrictions on alcohol, pornography, etc. Not to mention if you do it right, prayer 5x a day, and police men with sticks to drive the slackers into the Mosques. I believe female genital mutilation is justified by reference to Hadith. The age of consent is typically nine years old, and marriages are often arranged when people are children. A woman’s testimony is worth half the value of a man’s.

If you have strict Shariah, then you have polygamy, and husbands are permitted to beat their wives under certain circumstances (per the Qu’ran). Further, although honor killing is not Shariah, it is an ethnic custom under the Pashtun tribes. Is society going to look the other way at the disappearance of girls?

Most immigrants to Europe don’t care about Shariah, they want work and stability. Many Muslims don’t want Shariah or support versions of Shariah-lite. But most fundamentalist Muslims do want Shariah, and they do pretty well with alienated immigrant youth, and they have very high fertility. I posted something from England, where the Church of England wants England to adopt Shariah as civil law for Muslims.

This will be increasingly be a very big deal in European societies. Its not like America, where people are worried they will speak Spanish and be Catholics in 60 years. If Europe allows local Shariah, and the Muslims (especially fundamentalist Muslims) can maintain their fertility advantage, then eventually Europe will be absorbed into the Dar Al-Islam.

In Israel, the Haredim went from less than 2 percent in 1950 to about 14% now, and currently have a tfr of 6.0.

#34 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On September 18, 2015 @ 2:41 pm

KD, you offer no citation for EXACTLY where and how Sharia law is enumerated and codified. There is a very good reason for that: no comprehensive, authoritative, codification exists. For those who want to proclaim their gang leader as the restored Caliph, or those who want to make Islam into a bogeyman to frighten American civilians with, there are scraps and citations and enumerations that will make your hair stand on end.

There are any number of other understandings, recitations, authorities, common practices, which don’t even come close. As to genital mutililation, there may well be a haddith or two, for the simple reason that all kinds of people have written all kinds of haddith, none of which are authoritative, except to those who say they are, and, genital mutilation was a traditional practice in some areas that eventually were conquered by Islam, and in the course of ensuing centuries became centers of power themselves.

E.g., although the Berbers were not practitioners of circumcision, male or female, they vigorously resisted the advance of Islam across North African for decades, in alliance with Jews and Christians, but eventually accepted a deal where they formally converted. Centuries later, with the Abassid caliphate in severe decline, and the Umayyad caliphate of Cordoba dissolved, the Almoravid and Almohade versions of Islam came to be politically dominant in western North Africa and Iberia, with doctrines that were entirely absent from the faith elsewhere and previously.

The Sultan of Zanzibar ruled an area where female mutilation was commonplace. Perhaps some haddith emerged to justify it. There are Christians in Uganda who justify the practice as good moral Christianity. That’s what happens when a faith spreads to new communities and cultures.

Most fundamentalist Muslims not only want Sharia, they want THEIR Sharia. So when someone says it is consistent with western democracy, what they think when they say Sharia may well be consistent. When some fundamentalist says the opposite, well, no doubt what they believe constitutes Sharia is markedly inconsistent with western democracy.

Its like comparing Jim Jones, or even Savonarola, to a Quaker meeting.

What do you mean by Europe “allowing local Sharia”? If you mean, that Muslim residents and citizens will be consigned to religious courts, whether they will or no, that would be disastrous. If you mean, recourse to the courts exist, but informal reconciliation acceptable to both parties may well be effected through the mosque, so what?

#35 Comment By Publius On July 29, 2016 @ 9:20 am

Rod, declining birthrate is only a problem if:

a) you want very vigorous economic growth
b) you want to maintain or expand a welfare state
c) you’re the basis of a large regional economy.

If Germany wanted modest growth, a scaled-back welfare state, and relinquish the role of floating neighboring economies, it could contract and expand with its native demography just fine.

That’s not what Merkel and her globalist mandarins want, though. Hence the entire problem.