For ”the West”â€” that Eurocentric euphemism employed to describe nations where Europeans dominate numerically, culturally, and politically â€” The Camp of the Saints (the title is taken from the Bible, Revelation 20 9) presents the ultimate psycho-racial nightmare, ”…the world reborn. The eve of a Revolution. This time to wipe out not class, but race.”
Holed up in Switzerland â€” the last bastion to finally yield to Third World inundation â€” a French historian seeks to balance the post-apocalypse ”New History.” He explores the origins of the long-coming and recently-committed suicide of European Civilization.
The precipitating event was the arrival on the CÃ´te d’Azur of a dilapidated armada from Calcutta, which carried about a million boat people. Their precarious but successful voyage inspired imitation by other poor and over-populated countries â€” a migration to all the ”wealthy” and European nations. France was in the front line. All European governments, though riddled with the same angst and theoretically capable of thwarting the invasions, looked to France to set an example by repulsing the first arrivals. France failed. The rest of Europe capitulated in turn. Paying Danegeld or foreign aid was no longer an option as the stakes had so dramatically increased.
Demographics alone did not foreordain the outcome. For too long, institutionalized political irresolution had allowed the socio-cultural agenda to be formed and promulgated by the left-leaning, bleeding heart liberal internationalists. For them, international redistributive justice, immigration, multiracialism, and all the socially divisive splinter issues these movements engender, were the ideological weaponry in their politically correct struggle to exchange freedom for equality, all in an increasingly crowded, homogenized world.
By triangulation of various details in the story, such as the ages and reminiscences of some of its characters, the timing of the main events can be placed at around about now â€” that is, the 1990s! Given that this novel was first published in 1973, Raspail’s original preface, along with recent headlines, should give us food for thought remains that we are inevitably heading for something of the sort. We need only glance at the awesome population figures predicted for the year 2000, i.e, 28 years from now 7 billion people, only 900 million of whom will be European.
I should at least point out, though, that many of the texts I have put into my characters’ mouths or pens â€” editorials, speeches, pastoral letters, laws, news stories, statements of every description â€” are, in fact, authentic. Perhaps the reader will spot them as they go by. In terms of the fictional situation I have presented, they become all the more revealing.
Through masterful use of time-lapse narration, Raspail’s historian takes us backward and forward to help us understand the broader historical backdrop to the modern Europe’s failure in the face of its greatest challenge. Using the same devices, we are briefed on the past, updated on the present, and informed about the future of many a character whose actions and motivations are independent of one another, but which are all integral to the story as it unfolds. Suffice it to say that a lesser writer could not hope to explain across time and distance such an intricacy and synchronicity of events, both large and small, without unduly belaboring or confusing the reader.
The style is important because Raspail has managed to do what no academic or scholar anywhere in the field of immigration reform can hope to achieve with statistics, bar graphs, and policy analyses. Based on the worst-case scenario, he has written a skillful and gripping novel for European people, showing their own likely demographic and cultural demise â€” within their own lifetime. Its theme accords with the everyday experience of Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Citizen as they live Act One on the streets and at work; as they read the papers, listen to the radio, shop at the mall, watch TV, attend the PTA meeting, travel on the subway; as they see it on billboards, in the park, at the movies â€” both domestically or internationally. For ordinary folk this book strikes home with the idea that extinction is for keeps, that it can reach the suburbs, and that the formulation of government policy is everyone’s business. It puts the rights and wrongs of the past where they belong in focus, in perspective, but at the margin when compared to the urgency of survival.
Raspail’s fictional historian is close to events. From the outset his narration is one of resignation â€” not only to the loss of the struggle, but to the deracination of his tribe. Hence the vitriolic satire and the gloves-off handling of several highly taboo topics. While admitting that there were clearly conspiring forces that considered it in their common interest to anesthetize public opinion before it could organize resistance to the impending doom, he does not descend into the labyrinth to chase the ”illuminati” or ”international financiers.” Rather, the posturings of the churches, the media, big business, the anti-Racism industry, unions, the United Nations, and various do-gooders and promoters of international brotherhood â€” in combination with the apathy of Mr. and Mrs. Sloth Consumer â€” all converge to produce the result.
The Camp of the Saints is not a book for weak stomachs. The earthy descriptions of mass squalor, bodily functions, and sexual behavior â€” all magnified by crowded conditions â€” approach the nauseating. Those who have lived in the poorest, most over-populated parts of the Third World will be reminded of some aspects of life there. As the back cover blurb on an earlier edition suggests, ”… so powerful is its impact that once you have read it you will need brain surgery to forget it.” On the other hand, anyone who has seen the pictures of Vietnamese, Haitians, Albanians or Chinese piled onto boats for trips to Europe will wonder at Raspail’s prescience.
The Camp of the Saints could be viewed as unmitigated white Racism, or the case for cultural and racial diversity-with-separateness in the interests of all, or as a less than calm disquisition on population displacement theory. That said, there is no other book which so instinctively bonds the respectable commentators, academics, and activists in common cause with the others who work in different ways with differing emphases toward essentially the same goals of limiting immigration.
Raspail is not a racial supremacist, though like most, he probably would acknowledge the importance of race in the conduct of human affairs. I imagine his frank rejection of a universalist multicultural and multiracial future as a pleasing or necessary prospect would find sympathy with the overwhelming majority of his tribe, should those who treasure such a vision ever be so bold as to seek endorsement of that vision. One can sympathize with those of any group who feel they have been wronged by the loss of their cultural, ethnic, or racial roots, due to whatever historical circumstance. Such sentiments are a far cry, however, from being conned into giving up one’s own
Man never has really loved humanity all of a piece â€” all its races, its peoples, its religions â€” but only those creatures he feels are his kin, a part of his clan, no matter how vast. As far as the rest are concerned, he forces himself, and lets the world force him. And then when he does, when the damage is done, he himself falls apart.
In 1990, the British made a TV film called The March. They used Raspail’s story line, changing the boat people from the Ganges into marchers from southern Sudan. Instead of the south of France, the peaceful invasion landed in smaller craft on the beach in the south of Spain after leaving Morocco. Completely reversing Raspail’s intent, words very close to his text were mouthed by hand-wringing European Community bureaucrats searching for negotiated solutions. ”Forgive us! Europe is not yet ready for you. Please give us more time!” It ended in an ambiguous, unconvincing, and guilt-ridden standoff in southern Spain. But after all, it was made for TV by the BBC in conjunction with (according to the credits given at the end) the ”One World Group of Public Broadcasters”!
Many of Raspail’s other works have been influential cultural critiques and have pointed toward The Camp of the Saints. He has been awarded the Prix Academie Francais. More of his works should be translated. But do read this one, and good luck with the brain surgery.
[The Social Contract (Winter 1994)]