the term conquered the Flemish debates via a French writing desk and inspires terrorists worldwide

No political concept is at the same time so loaded and is gaining ground as quickly as ‘population’. What do the numbers say and why are some scientists warning? “We are being lied to.”

Bruno Struys

We don’t talk about Bruno. Don’t think about white polar bears. The same paradox plays with the word depopulation. Every article, however you look at it, contributes to embedding the word in our language, in our heads, in our policies. That worries historians, but more on that later. It wouldn’t be a paradox if the word hadn’t become so established by now that we should talk about it.

What we call ‘population’ is called ‘le grand remplacement’ in French and ‘the great replacement’ in English. It is always a question of the so-called local population and culture having to deliberately give way to foreigners who take over villages and towns with different customs, mores and bad intentions.

The concept has not only succeeded in quickly uniting the far right across borders, it has also conquered mainstream debates internationally in no time. An invasion, so to speak.

Lieven Verstraete used in the seventh day not literally, but stated that neighborhoods are being conquered one by one by newcomers (because that is what the extreme right says, he clarified later). Two weeks earlier, Vlaams Belanger Filip Dewinter gave rise to parliamentary questions in the Netherlands by coming to talk about his book on television population

Dewinter is currently also touring Flanders with the book, along VB departments. His book is largely based on ‘Le Grand Remplacement’, a text by the Frenchman Renaud Camus with whom Dewinter did an extensive interview. Camus’ essay dates back to 2011, but continues to rise in identitarian circles.

“Dangerous claims”, thought Dutch politicians. Dewinter’s television appearance came just after the attack in the American Buffalo, where a white gunman shot and killed 10 colored people. In his manifesto, the gunman Payton Gendron made clear what he was up to: to stop the big replacement.

It is no coincidence that Gendron names Brenton Tarrant as his idol, responsible for an attack on a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, in which 51 people were killed. Tarrant’s manifesto was called “The Great Replacement.” It also inspired Patrick Crusius, who killed 22 people in El Paso in August. Crusius targeted the Hispanics to “defend my country against cultural and ethnic substitution caused by invasion.”

After each of these attacks, Americans started looking for the meaning of ‘The Great Replacement’, according to Google Trends. Fox host Tucker Carlson took the term further into the mainstream through his highly-watched shows.

In Flanders, the Vlaams Belang introduced the word ‘omvolking’. This year it was because of the book by Filip Dewinter, last year it was chairman Van Grieken who linked the word to the Statbel figures on immigration and in 2020 Flemish MP Stefaan Sintobin tweeted about the ‘ompopulation’ with a photo of the basilica of Koekelberg. which he said was a mosque.

Google registers the first searches by Belgian users for the word ‘omvolking’ in 2018, when Dewinter shows his Dutch friend Geert Wilders around Antwerp. In a double interview with Antwerp Gazet Dewinter launches the term: “population, as I call it”.

Nazi origin

Yet the word is not Dewinter’s invention. The concept of ‘Umvolkung’ was created by the German Albert Brackmann, who had to realize the re-germanization of Eastern Europe during National Socialism, a project to populate parts of Eastern Europe with Germans.

From this followed a process of selection, which led to deportation and eventual extermination. The Soviet Union also pursued a repopulation policy and China still does it, in Tibet and in Xinjiang.

Where these regimes actively use repopulation, the New Right wants to stop repopulation. Dewinter therefore finds it ‘ridiculous’ that he is accused of Nazi practices. “Just the opposite is the case,” he claims, like Camus, in his book.

“A lightning rod,” says Christophe Busch, criminologist and historian, and director of the Hannah Arendt Institute. The Nazis’ urge to expand may be absent from the New Right, but the solution of Dewinter and Renaud Camus for the population is ‘remigration’, an organized return. Everyone must go back, unless they are fully assimilated. For Camus, that assimilation even means adopting a new first name in French tradition, such as Raymond or François.

“The planned return migration is a transformation from a demographic that has grown into the ideal image of a white, male, heteronormative stereotype,” said Busch.

Moreover, the Nazi concept Volkstodthe basis for Umvolkung, still central to New Right theory, albeit without using that word. What Camus describes in nostalgic terms is the loss of the French people and French culture. Dewinter does the same with statistics in hand and looks at the falling birth rates and migration.

What do the numbers say?

The new figures from Statbel this week confirm the increase in the Belgian population, mainly due to a positive migration balance: more immigrants than emigrants. One in three inhabitants of Belgium has a foreign background. The actual number is even higher, because Statbel only looks back at the nationality of the parents, not the grandparents.

People have always moved, but there has been an undeniable increase in the influx of migrants since Belgium actively sought out guest workers from Italy, Spain, Greece, Turkey and Morocco after World War II. After the migration stop in 1974, a negative migration balance followed for ten years, but from the end of the eighties the number of immigrants increased again sharply.

“After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the EU expanded and the free movement of people means that half of the migration figures are European migrants,” said Tom Naegels, author of New Belgium, a migration history† “Further explanations are family reunification and an increase in asylum migration due to globalization, a decrease in transport costs and the increase in conflicts like the one in Yugoslavia.”

All these explanations also lead to a sharp increase in the number of departures from Belgium, although this is less significant than the number of arrivals. Our country is increasingly becoming a melting pot, with the diversity within neighborhoods also increasing, it calculated The time last year.

Believers therefore argue that the depopulation is not a theory, let alone a conspiracy theory, but merely a statement. “Open your eyes,” Camus says. “A walk through Molenbeek or Antwerp-North says more than a hundred statistics,” writes Dewinter. That’s not all that different from what Vooruit chairman Conner Rousseau said when he claimed he didn’t feel in Belgium when he drove through Molenbeek, although he drew a different conclusion.

Writer Renaud Camus and Vlaams Belanger Filip Dewinter.Image AFP/Belgium

It is a handy rhetorical trick to present the overpopulation as an observation, but it is a flexible theory, in which one sees more willfulness than the other. That also explains the success of the term, because what now seems to correspond to reality, a little later is a far-fetched conspiracy.

“Some conclude that the Jews did it, others conclude that it is mainly because of the policies of the EU and the World Economic Forum,” said Busch.

‘Paranoid nonsense’

International policy has an influence on migration, just think of labor migration. In an interview this week, the Minister for Social Affairs in the Netherlands proposed to get unemployed young people from the French banlieues for Dutch jobs. Publicist Joost Niemöller called the idea ‘population’ on Twitter: “So imposed from above. No conspiracy.” He is the founder of broadcaster Ongehoord Nederland, where Dewinter was invited to present his book. After the fuss, the minister clarified that it was just an idea, not a concrete plan.

“It is a huge step from establishing high migration rates to the logic that it is a deliberate elite strategy to discolor the European people,” said Tom Naegels. “The latter is paranoid nonsense.”

For Dewinter, the driving force behind the population is “an alliance” between left-wing politicians, who need migrants as voters, and millionaires, who benefit from open borders.

“The ‘useful idiots’ of the left apparently do not realize that they are just the puppets of a much larger economic plan based on internationalization and globalization,” writes Dewinter. According to him, it is the World Economic Forum in Davos that allows mass immigration and repopulation “to feed one’s own wallet”.

“We are honestly being lied to,” Camus said, “out of ideological conviction.” Moreover, the resistance is almost involved, because according to him a “white genocide” is underway. Similarly, the word depopulation allows one to speak again of race, without using that even more loaded word. Camus does not hide the fact that he wants to take the word ‘race’ out of the taboo, freely referring to big names from the past such as Victor Hugo.

The idea is that a white Europe is being overrun and in danger of being lost at any moment. According to Filip Dewinter’s party, this urgency has been around for fifty years. In 1973, Vlaams Blok founder Karel Dillen spoke of “the sealing of the demise of the white world”. The words come from his review of the infamous French novel Le camp des saints, which started from the question ‘Et s’ils arrivaient?’ What if ‘the underprivileged of the South flood like a torrent this rich coast, this open frontier?’

“The urgency to act and the crisis narratives are a dangerous cocktail,” said Busch, “because the intention they put in that population has a behavioral motivation.”

This can cause people to color in the VB dot on election day, but also explains why various attackers find inspiration in the theory, even though they have not even read Camus’ text and the French writer repeatedly expresses himself as an opponent of every form. of violence.

According to scientists, the danger lies precisely in the extent to which it is presented as a matter of survival, as with the term ‘white genocide’. “Then you enter a zero-sum game: your presence is a threat to my presence,” says Busch.

After the attack in Christchurch, Dries Van Langenhove, Member of Parliament for Vlaams Belang, wrote on Twitter: “If desperate people soon commit an attack because they see that peaceful resistance against the population is no longer possible, there will be blood on the hands of the establishment. .”

the term conquered the Flemish debates via a French writing desk and inspires terrorists worldwide
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