While we in Britain progress inexorably towards a multicultural utopia and worship at the shrines of diversity, inclusion, and mass immigration, France seems poised to move in a radically different direction. For anaesthetised British viewers, it is quite a revelation to switch from British TV, with its non-stop exposé of white privilege, institutional racism, and colonial guilt, to French TV, where the other evening I witnessed a studio discussion of ‘The Great Replacement’, the controversial theory that the white Christian population of Europe is being replaced my non-European migrants (North African Muslims in France) via mass immigration encouraged by a complicit elite.
The guest on this occasion was no less than the novelist Renaud Camus, the originator of the shocking extreme-Right conspiracy theory. Camus’ argument, essentially, is ‘just look out of the window and judge for yourself’. Whole neighbourhoods, towns, villages have quite different populations to those they had a generation or two ago.
This would be of limited interest, if it were not that the French presidential election campaign has been set ablaze by TV pundit and intellectual Éric Zemmour, the far-Right candidate (he terms himself a Gaullist) who currently stands second to Macron in the polls despite still not having even declared his candidature. The thing is that he has done what Marine Le Pen, the long-standing National Front candidate, has never dared, and openly espoused the Great Replacement. What is more, a recent nationwide poll revealed that almost two thirds of the French population believed the theory. Even 40 per cent of socialists believed it.
In fact, de Gaulle said something precisely to this effect when he warned that although he thought it was a good thing that people of all ethnicities could be assimilated into French culture, if tens of millions of North Africans arrived in France, then ‘France would no longer be France’. For Zemmour, then, immigrants to France should assimilate, as his family had done when they came from Algeria in the 1960s or get out. Zemmour glories in France, its history, its culture, its literature, its Christian heritage, and its traditions – and he has no time for those who ‘spit’ on the Motherland. The extraordinary thing is that, according to Zemmour in his incendiary new book, Macron phoned him in Spring last year to chat about the problem of the ‘lost territories’ of the French cities and suburbs, and he virtually agreed that France was in danger of being colonised by an alien culture. What terrified Macron was that Zemmour’s diagnosis and prescription would spell civil war. Zemmour’s response was, ‘if we do nothing, there will be civil war’.
Of course, the idea of a serious televised discussion of The Great Replacement in this country, let alone a poll asking the British people for their thoughts, is unthinkable. What we got instead, last month, was a televised debate hosted by Trevor Phillips in which poor Alp Mehmet of Migration Watch tried vainly to suggest that too much immigration spelled cheap labour (the cultural and demographic implications were not even addressed in the programme), while all the other guests rejoiced in the benefits. The show finished with a carefully selected virtual studio audience raising their hands in unison to show they agreed that immigration was to be welcomed.
But at least in France, things are taking an interesting turn. As Zemmour puts it in the title of his bestselling new book, ‘France has not yet had its last word’.