Éric Zemmour on the Great Replacement and Civic Nationalism – The Occidental Observer - by Guillaume Durocher
The conservative French-Jewish pundit Éric Zemmour may well become France’s next president. The centerpiece of his campaign is opposition to the Great Replacement. The latter means the ongoing trend of substitution of the indigenous populations of France and Europe by non-European immigrants, in particular by Africans and Muslims.
In his most recent book, Zemmour writes the following on the Great Replacement:
I have the impression that no politician rightly apprehends what is at stake: the death of France as we knew her. . . . One simply needs to look at the films of [the 1960s and 70s] to realize this. The “great replacement” is not a myth, nor a conspiracy, but an implacable process. This vital identitarian question renders all other questions subsidiary, even the most essential such as education, industry, social protection, or the place of France in the world. I am sure that no candidate – not even Marine Le Pen – will dare to impose this identitarian and civilizational quarrel in the campaign. . . . Only [the far-left] Jean-Luc Mélenchon dares to mention the subject, but only to glorify the future of a mixed-race, “creolized” France …
Zemmour’s central campaign promise is “zero immigration” to France (presumably not including immigration from the European Union). In addition, he would deport foreign criminals and would deprive criminal dual nationals of French citizenship (a suitable prelude to deportation). Significantly, French citizens of Turkish or Arab origin typically are dual nationals by default.
The key measures on immigration would be submitted to a national referendum. If successful, this clear expression of the people’s will would enable the government to punch through the predictable opposition of globalist elites in the media and judiciary. Great Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, despite the kicking and screaming of globalist elites, shows that referenda can lead to concrete results going against Establishment preferences.
In addition to his opposition to the Great Replacement, Zemmour is a forthright civic nationalist. He wants migrants to “assimilate,” by which he means to become culturally indistinguishable from Frenchmen. He is opposed to Islam as a “totalitarian” religion and wants Muslims to have a purely interiorized private spirituality, like Christianity, with no role in French public life. Zemmour’s assimilationist zeal goes so far as to propose restoring an old law mandating that children born in France be given only traditional French names.
Clearly there are serious contradictions here. The French “assimilationist” model has already failed, producing about the same results that we see in the United States or Great Britain: a society marked by ethnic stratification, clustering, and conflict. Today, around a third of newborns in France are African or Muslim, simply making assimilation obsolete. No doubt Zemmour can see this. His clinging to assimilation may be due to a combination of personal reasons (his own position as a proudly assimilated French Jew) and political ones (electoral palatability). Significantly, Zemmour has previously said that he understands why young French whites no longer believe in assimilation and that his attachment to it is due to his belonging to an older generation.
The Great Replacement in Practice: Kosovo and Seine-Saint-Denis
A typical street scene in Seine-Saint-Denis
In his book, Zemmour goes into vivid detail on the existential threat that the Great Replacement poses for France. He often compares the emerging new France to Kosovo or Lebanon, where besieged Christian minorities live at the mercy of the new Muslim majorities. He notes that in Kosovo, a highly important province in the history of Serbia, Muslim Albanians became the majority by the early twentieth century. With the 1999 NATO bombings the Muslim Albanians became the rulers over the Serb minority:
[I]n the 1970s, Orthodox Serbs represented only 13% of the population. Today they are only 5%, expulsed from the capital, Pristina, confined to enclaves, as ostracized second-class citizens, when they are not persecuted, martyrized, chased out of the land of their ancestors. The ethnic cleansing is accompanied of course by a religious and cultural great replacement. Medieval churches are burned down by ecstatic Muslim crowds, mosques dripping with gold-leaf are built in their place, financed by the nabobs of Saudi Arabia and Qatar: the inexorable and cruel reality of a great replacement that does not exist!
Zemmour often sarcastically remarks on the alleged “non existence” of these demographic and civilizational changes. He denounces the academic “sophists” who claim no significant change has occurred, falsely arguing that populations have always been in complete flux. The mainstream media-political establishment in France claims the Great Replacement is a mere “conspiracy theory.”
On the contrary, the demographic Great Replacement is prepared by a symbolic replacement in the cultural sphere. France, we are told, has “always” been a diverse land of immigration and thus there is nothing novel at all about the Afro-Islamization of the country. A museum of immigration celebrating these changes was installed precisely in … the building of the 1931 colonial expo celebrating France’s intercontinental empire in Africa and Indochina! Zemmour observes: “In the museums of France, too, it is the hour of the great replacement.”
In France, the shape of things to come is announced by the département (county) of Seine-Saint-Denis, which makes up the northeast suburb of greater Paris, a significant place in French history as the resting place of our kings. For Zemmour, “Seine-Saint-Denis is the symbol of this great replacement which does not exist.” Over two thirds of newborns have at least one foreign parent. Over 60% of youths are of foreign origin. But these figures are merely indicative: the administration simply doesn’t know how big the population is or how many illegal immigrants there are (estimated between 8 and 20% of the population).
While President Emmanuel Macron may hold up Seine-Saint-Denis as “California without the sea” [sic!], the territory is an economic basket case. National civil servants flee postings there after 2.7 years on average, despite a €10,000 bonus, whereas they last 7 years in the more comfortable département of Essonne. Huge urban renewal projects lead to no lasting change and even the corporate offices set up there (taking advantage of special tax breaks) fail to attract local workers: they are unqualified. Zemmour argues the issue is one of human capital, not infrastructure: “the problem is the content, not the container.”
Zemmour sees the State’s efforts in Seine-Saint-Denis as useless, akin to the myth of Sisyphus. Furthermore, the territory’s mosques have been infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood, as documented by the sociologist Gilles Keppel. No wonder François Hollande told journalists that France’s multicultural situation will “end with a partition.” For Zemmour, “Kosovo is the future of Seine-Saint-Denis; Seine-Saint-Denis is the future of France.”
Zemmour on the Limits of Civic Nationalism
While an ardent advocate of assimilation, Zemmour can also be quite frank on the failures and weaknesses of civic nationalism. He is critical of the many French Jews who, at the time of the 1967 Six Day War between Israel and the Arabs, suddenly rediscovered their Jewish identity and began publicly agitating in favor of Israel.
For Zemmour, this acting on behalf of one’s sectarian community, as opposed to the national community, is a dangerous faux pas for anyone who claims to be a citizen. However, he is cognizant that it is difficult, even a constant effort, to override ethnic reflexes for the sake of the political community:
Assimilation is a mode of integration which demands cerebral control of one’s most archaic reflexes; a rational detachment which the supreme intelligence of [the Jewish anthropologist Claude] Lévi-Strauss pushed very far when he declared that if Hitler had completed his project of exterminating the Jews, the Earth would not have stopped going round, nor humanity have stopped living, just as it has digested the disappearance of other peoples, in particular the Indians of America.
During the Six Day War, Lévi-Strauss was able to remain a detached French citizen, but not so his fellow citizen and fellow Jew, the normally unflappably dispassionate Raymond Aron. Once scratched, the normally supremely rational and composed Aron discovered wellsprings of ethnic feeling for his fellow Jews. On Aron’s unconscious Jewish identity, Zemmour’s assessment is very similar to my own.
Zemmour draws an interesting parallel between Lévi-Strauss and Jean Raspail: two men who had an intimate knowledge and real appreciation for indigenous peoples across the world, something which contributed to their realization that the peoples of Europe were also worth preserving.
Zemmour’s Jewish identity
Zemmour defines himself as “a Jew of Algeria raised in the Parisian suburbs whose family heritage and readings have transformed into a Frenchman of the land and of the dead.” He contrasts himself with politicians like François Bayrou, a native Frenchmen from rural southeast France, who have enthusiastically embraced globalism.
Zemmour has one interesting argument in favor of his membership of the French nation: he is not an immigrant but his people were granted citizenship after his native Algeria was conquered by the French! Thus he considers himself as French as an Alsatian or a Corsican.
Jewish community leaders have unequivocally condemned Zemmour. The chief rabbi of France has called Zemmour an “anti-Semite,” while the official Jewish lobby of France (the CRIF) has called for “not one single Jewish vote” to be cast for him. Zemmour considers the CRIF to be a baleful “State within the State,” influencing policy towards sectarian ends.
The journalist Léa Salamé once criticized Zemmour on television for being an “ashamed Jew” who wanted to be “more goyish than the goy.” Zemmour could only laugh at Salamé’s inconsequence: as a Christian Lebanese, her parents had fled her home country precisely because of the Islamization and resulting civil war that he is precisely trying to prevent in France.
France: death or renewal?
Zemmour says he has seen civil war coming in France since October 1989, when three Moroccan girls in the city of Creil, north of Paris, refused to remove their Islamic headscarves at school. The girls only backed down not when this became a French national scandal, but when the king of Morocco, Hassan II, told them to. With or without Zemmour, I cannot say if and when France will experience violent ethno-religious civil war à la Lebanon or a more gradual decline into third-world violence and social dysfunction à la Brazil.
If elected, Zemmour will not be able to restore the old France. Remigration on that scale is simply not on the cards today, nor can the tremendous social and technological changes of the past decades be wound back. However, Zemmour may well be able to significantly stem the flow of Afro-Islamic immigration. That alone would be a worthy goal: the French would be infinitely more secure as a two-thirds majority in their own country, rather than a minority like the Christians of Kosovo and Lebanon.
Zemmour often remarks on the fundamental asymmetry between atomized post-68 liberal Whites and Muslims who still have a strong sense of religion and clan:
For forty years, the [French] community of citizens has been disintegrating under the blows of a society of individuals who only want to know their rights, and not their duties, and see in the State only a distributor of services and laws to satisfy their smallest caprices. Individuals without roots and without history, who dream of themselves as “citizens of the world” detached from any national mooring. … They call a “republic” this society of individuals which no longer has anything to do with the Republic of citizens. It is in this abyssal void that Islamic diasporas have taken root, increasingly numerous, bound together by the archaic notions of family, clan, and religion, and who import these archaisms into a blind postmodernity which sees in them only isolated individuals. The most skilful representatives of these diasporas have well understood how to use this liberalism to explode what remains of the Nation-State and of the Republic, to emancipate themselves from its now-feeble tutelage, and impose in its place, in foreign enclaves, the archaic law of Allah.
The mass sexual abuse of White girls by Pakistani gangs in Rotherham and other English cities or the 2015–16 New Year’s Eve sexual assaults on White women by Muslims in Cologne are early examples of this clash between clannish Third-World cultures and isolated Western individuals.
Significantly, Zemmour also promises to dismantle at least parts of the legislative and media apparatus persecuting French patriots. In particular, “hate speech” laws are to be abolished and litigious “anti-racists” starved of their generous subsidies at taxpayer expense.
No one can say how stable or effective a nationalist regime in France—under Zemmour or anyone else—would be. However, we can say that such a government might be able to prevent France’s final submersion and eliminate many of the boundaries of discourse imposed on French patriots and defenders of indigenous Europeans. And, if successful, no doubt this example from a founding nation of the European Union would reverberate across the continent.
Ériz Zemmour, La France n’a pas dit son dernier mot (Rubempré, 2021), p. 24.