The Great Replacement?

The Great Replacement – fact, fiction or between the 2 in Europe?

A lot has been discussed recently about changing demographics in many European (and other Western) countries, the result of immigration and declining birth rates among the native population. Although some see this as a fascist conspiracy theory created by extreme right racists, it is absurd to pretend that the same population exists in West European countries today as 50 years ago. All the available statistics prove that this population has changed radically since that time and for those unconvinced, it is sufficient to look at street scenes in films or videos from the 1970s compared to today. As examples to prove the point, being white and English is now a minority of the London population and there are more functioning mosques than churches in the department around Paris of Seine St. Denis. If the expression ‘great replacement’ is unacceptable, then major demographic modification might be more acceptable, but the facts remain the same. Whether this is good or bad will be dealt with later, but those denying this evidence might as well stop reading here. For the rest of us there are several issues:

  1. Is this all a deliberate plan by the new population to replace the original population?
  2. Is this change something desired by the political leaders and if so why?
  3. Is this change beneficial for the countries concerned?
  4. What happens next?

1-Is this all a deliberate plan by the new population to replace the original population?

There are different opinions about this idea and the answer depends on the origin of the new population. Speeches have been made by some political and religious leaders from Islamic countries about how their objective is that the infidel West should decline compared to Islam and that this objective can be achieved with the arrival of Muslims and their higher birth-rates than non-Muslims. This does this not mean that all Muslims arriving in Western countries think this way or indeed that all Muslim leaders in the West or elsewhere want this to happen. However, the concept of the spreading of Islam in the whole world is a fundamental idea in Islamic faith. It is sufficient to understand Dar-al-Islam and Dar-al Harb and for those unsure a little research proves the point. Further details of this aspect of Islamic faith can be found in other blogs and in any case any proselytizing religion requires its followers to spread the word, just like Christianity.

If the above objective is to replace the local population, it is untrue in other contexts. For example, Asian immigration from China or Vietnam is often a matter of escaping the regime at home; recent Ukrainian immigration is the result of the war. Genuine economic immigration of those offering specific skills in new technology or when recruiting foreign medical staff cannot be seen as being in this category and is a small proportion anyway.

2-Is this change something desired by the political leaders and if so why?

The role of political leaders in this debate has been ambiguous, but this is not unknown in politics. Some politicians prefer immigration for economic reasons with the immigrants doing jobs that the native population avoids. This was certainly the situation in the 1960s and 70s, but became much less the case over the years. Today this is rarely the reason and the proportion of recent immigrants working is considerably less than the average of the whole population. As just mentioned, there is a small minority of immigration for specialised skills reasons as seen where the shortage of Doctors in France leads to African or Rumanian replacements although whether this is morally justified is questionable in view of the medical conditions in these countries. Replacement staff in high technology industries from the UK or the USA etc also exists, but is a tiny part of the total.

Another reason for immigration has been the idea of helping those in less fortunate situations and helping those less fortunate is indeed an idea in all monotheistic religions. In principle this should be encouraged, but some of those helped are not in particularly bad situations, but pretend to be since life in the West is more agreeable. Since Western countries are richer than the others, simply opening the borders for everyone less fortunate turns countries into geographical spaces like international airports. The consequences are dealt with in the article about civilisation.

Apart from very recent arrival of Ukrainians fleeing the war, real refugees genuinely fearing for their lives represent a relatively small minority and almost everyone agrees that it is desirable to help. Even so, the obligation is for them to make attempts at integration, some say assimilation and genuine refugees do precisely make this attempt. The others do not, sometimes pretending to be minors or under imminent danger at home. Also families join immigrants, legally or not. Bringing families together is again a nice idea, but has led to uncontrolled numbers far in excess of what was anticipated when this measure was introduced in France in the 1970s.

Another rather pathetic justification is the self-hatred of some politicians, a type of behaviour bordering on mental illness. If certain politicians consider that Western society is responsible for all the world’s problems and should be destroyed, then they believe precisely in changing or destroying Western society. This is to be achieved by cultural Marxist ideas seen in the news every day and also explained more in detail in other blogs.

Another reason concerns the reducing birth-rate for various reasons outside the scope of this article, translated by fewer people working when the population is aging. Life expectancy has increased dramatically, obviously good news, but who pays for the system is unclear. Some politicians prefer tax increases, others fewer social benefits, others privatisation and others some mix of the above. What is certain is that working longer and pushing back the retirement age is inevitable, even if politically delicate. Encouraging more births is a policy adopted by many governments, but with moderate success. In any case, demographics are altered since immigrants produce approximately twice as many children as the native population. This is a fact not an opinion as shown by endless official statistics; why it is somehow denied or considered racist to say so is incomprehensible.

3-Is this change beneficial for the countries concerned?

Immigration being a positive chance for the countries concerned depends on the profile of the immigrants, their integration and their reasons for arriving. It is absurd to put all immigrants in the same category in the same way as in marketing segmentation, all customers or clients cannot be placed together. Curiously, some politicians do not feel the need to segment in this debate so all immigrants are automatically good and beneficial for society or bad and cause problems. However, whether good, bad or in between, it seems to be incumbent on the arriving population to make some attempt to fit in with the native population to avoid social tensions.

When immigrants arrive, there are several scenarios.

  1. They can become ‘more royalist than the king’ and copy local culture to the point of denying their own. This happened especially, but not exclusively with Jewish immigration in an attempt to gain acceptance and avoid antisemitism. The results are highly questionable as those knowing anything about European history are aware. In any case, there is no reason in the opinion of this writer that immigrants deny their own culture whatever it might be, unless it be absolutely incompatible with local customs such as forced marriages or killing those who change religion.
  2. A second choice is to assimilate and become (more or less) copies of the native population. The immigrant’s customs and cultures are to be kept private in as far as they exist, something seen in the French assimilation model that seems to have broken down. The public space is to be kept neutral for everyone’s benefit, but private lives are precisely that. Whether this is realistic today is questionable, but the objectives are that of the general interest of recognising equality by public uniformity. A certain amount of common sense is required. The fact that Chinese immigrants prefer Chinese food or that Jews choose not to work on Saturdays is not a problem for the functioning of Western societies and reasonable assimilation is still perfectly possible.
  3. They can integrate, keep their own customs, but make attempts to live like the native population, a rather vague concept. Many in the Anglo world would say that this is the desirable compromise, but one consequence is that the public space is not neutral and there is the danger of different communities running their own lives inside geographical districts. It is unrealistic for this to change in countries where it already exists and even in France with the assimilation model, some public display of cultural ideas is tolerated. An obvious example is Chinatown festivals in Paris and politicians sending good wishes to religious groups about their holy days. (When they do not do this for the majority Christian population, then questions must be asked…)
  4. They can pay lip service to the native population, accept that this population has its own culture, but make little attempt to be part of it, proclaim that they are proud not to do and spend almost all of their time with those thinking the same. This view exists among some religious Jews, a relatively high percentages of Muslims as well as Romany gypsies. If the group concerned is a very small minority, such as religious Jews, (a small minority inside Judaism, itself being a tiny minority of the general population) then this might or might not be desirable, but has little consequence on public life of the vast majority. To some extent, Christian groups passing their lives isolated from the general population in monasteries and so on do the same. This approach becomes problematic where the group is far bigger as seen with Muslim communities in many European cities.
  5. Finally they can reject the majority culture, hate it or proclaim that they do so, consider their own culture superior and proselytise to convince others to do the same. (Christians in parts of the world did precisely this although it was not always a question of hating local culture, but believing that Christianity was superior.) Today, Islamist ideas in the West have become widespread with a categorical rejection of Western culture. Not every Muslim living in Europe shares this approach, but some do and make no attempt to hide their opinions. Another debate is whether Islam by definition does this with its non-separation of the spiritual and profane; very few majority Muslim country are constitutionally secular, none are Western style democracies, some are bloody dictatorships and others are more agreeable with benevolent leaders. Some accept non-believers and other religions with conditions inside their countries and others do not or only with major restrictions. A detailed analysis of Islam is considered in another blog.

4-What happens next?

This where the debate becomes more difficult. For reasons of international travel and a policy of more or less open borders depending on the situation, immigration is not going to stop. However populist movements are on the rise in many countries and a return to controlled and chosen immigration is likely as was the historical situation everywhere until recently. National governments made their own policies for their own countries and this was considered absolutely democratic and logical. If necessary, immigration agreements existed between countries where their interests converged. The European Union is contrary to this way of thinking since by agreement, national policies over immigration is handed to the 27 Member States. It is not certain that the public appreciates this idea which became a fundamental reason for Brexit. The United Nations passes resolutions about immigration being a Human Right, but their opinions are not legally binding under international law. Excited climate campaigners considering that the world is coming to an end soon suggest that millions of climate refugees will arrive in the West anyway because of rising sea levels. There is not the slightest scientific evidence of this happening, but a few climate models claim this is possible. In view of the track record of climate models, there is no real need to take this point seriously and another blog deals with climate questions. One of the ironies among the tragedy of the Ukraine war is that being patriotic and defending national boundaries is no longer taboo among the chattering classes who consider themselves intellectually superior to the general population. Anti-Brexit opinion was precisely this and open borders movements claiming to be pacifist are now having a hard time defending their ideas.

Indeed, social tensions are high in many countries sometimes spilling over into communal unrest. If this becomes civil disobedience then society is in difficulty and if civil war, society is destroyed. The opinion of this writer is not one of optimism. Living together and celebrating diversity is a nice slogan in an ideal world, but is not reality in many cases. It is perhaps regrettable, but there it is and there are relatively few examples where people of radically different cultures live happily together. Politicians need to consider the consequences. Pretending that there is nothing to discuss and the problem will disappear is appropriate for ostriches. Pretending that population replacement or major demographic modification is not happening is the same.