The “great replacement” theory invented by the French author Renaud Camus

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Renaud Camus is deciding which of the men he met that night he would like to go home with. The bar closes, and he chats with a former lover of a terrible Grace Jones concert he saw at Studio 54. He sees a stranger with thick black hair, who, when Camus approaches, says he’s coming. returning from a work trip to Nigeria. They walk in Paris streets to the man’s apartment in a nice neighborhood, where they listen to music, smoke, make love and fall asleep.

The next morning, they chat a bit before he leaves. The man is 29 years old and is a corporate lawyer for an engineering company. Camus, then 31, tells him that he studied law but is now a writer earning “a pittance” and is “a little tired of this bohemian life”.

“But couldn’t you write things that would make money for you?” asks the man.

This is how Camus opened his 1979 book “Thingsa chronicle of 25 one-night stands he had as he roamed the world’s thriving gay communities in the late 1970s. It was explicit and edgy and hailed by the avant-garde, and, yes, it saved him some money.

But that was all before he settled into a real fortress.

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Camus is best known these days as the author of the 2011 French book “The Great Replacement,” in which he pushed a theory embraced by white supremacists and cited by racist terrorists from New Zealand to Texas, and by the suspect in Saturday’s grocery store attack. in a black Buffalo neighborhood that left 10 people dead. The theory has also been picked up by mainstream conservatives such as Fox News host Tucker Carlson and Rep. Elise Stefanik (NY), the No. 3 Republican in the House.

In “The Great Replacement”, which unlike “Tricks” was never published in English, Camus argued that Europe’s white majority was being replaced by Muslims of color in collusion with a left-wing globalist elite – an elite of which he was once a part.

Camus was raised in an upper-middle-class family in central France. His parents, he later said, disowned him when he told them he was gay.

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In Paris in his early twenties, he was a member of the Socialist Party and a gay liberation activist. During riots, strikes and demonstrations in Paris in May 1968, which nearly overthrew the government, he marched with the “homosexual component”, he said Point in 2013.

He spent many years earning college degrees, earning three advanced degrees in philosophy, political science, and legal history, without establishing a career. But he wrote novels and a gay magazine column and dated Andy Warhol and performance artists Gilbert & George. Next, Camus was widely praised for “Tricks.” The famous French critic Roland Barthes wrote the preface to the book. Camus also received the Friendly Price of the French Academy, one of the highest distinctions in literary France, for all of his work.

In the early 1990s, Camus sold his Paris apartment and bought a 14th century fortress in Gascony, southern France, where he still lives and rarely leaves.

It was here, in his medieval castle decorated with tall bookshelves and African masks, far from the bustle and community of the city, that he went from shaggy-haired left-wing artist to a far-right ideologue in a three-piece suit.

In the mid-1990s, he saw something that terrified him so much that he credited it with spurring his replacement theory: a few women wearing veils as they strolled around a fountain in a historic French village nearby. (In another version of the story, he says he passed several houses in the village and saw veiled women through the windows.)

Then, in 2000, he published a diary entry from 1994 in which he thought there were too many Jews on French radio. The ensuing outcry over his anti-Semitism, which he denies, was his first experience of reputational damage.

He responded by throwing himself more fully in his right-wing theories. He eventually founded his own political party and ran for president on a platform of sending immigrants and their families back to their homelands – although he didn’t gain much ground and generally supported far-right Marine Le Pen candidates and Eric Zemmour. And in 2011, Camus published “The Great Replacement”, in which he speculated that a left-wing elite is conspiring to replace white Europeans with immigrants, a “genocide by substitution”.

In 2014, the French government fined him 4,000 euros for inciting racial hatred against Muslims and North African immigrants, whom he called “thugs” and “colonizers”.

Although “The Great Replacement” was never published in English, it was translated on far-right websites and endorsed by white supremacist Richard Spencer and disgraced former Iowa congressman Steve King. In 2018, in response to white supremacists in Charlottesville chanting “You won’t replace us!” the previous year, Camus self-published a book in English with their song as the title.

After the 2019 mosque attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, he told the Washington Post that while he was against neo-Nazis and violence, he was happy his message was being spread because of them. and that the “demographic colonization” that was occurring in France was “20 times greater than the colonization that Europe did to Africa, for example.”

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As the New York Times pointed out in a 2019 profile of Camus, immigrants of all ethnicities and nationalities make up 10% of France’s population, up from 5% when Camus was born in 1946.

He calls native, white The French the “indigenous” people of France, while living in a castle built by the Gascons, a people who had their own language and an independent state before it was taken over by the Franks.

Camus lost many friends and admirers, as well as its publisher. Longtime friend Emmanuel Carrère, considered by many to be one of the greatest living French writers and filmmakers, publicly condemned Camus’ views in a open letter in 2012. Immigrants shouldn’t have to act like “well-behaved guests” who are “grateful for our indulgence,” Carrère wrote. In a perhaps typically French penchant for the existential, Carrère concedes that if the world’s population grows, it “makes, I agree with you a thousand times, life necessarily less pleasant, the neighbors more numerous, more noisy, more harmful”.

But, he concluded, “what can we do but push ourselves to make room?

Camus presumably read the open letter of the seclusion of his 700-year-old fortress. Although, since he used government funds to renovate it, he is required to open it to the public for part of the year.


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