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The Great Replacement (French: grand remplacement), also known as replacement theory,[1] is a nationalist, right-wing conspiracy theory which states that the white Catholic French population, as well as white Christian European population at large, is being progressively replaced with non-European people, specifically Arab, Berber Middle Eastern, North African and Sub-Saharan African populations, through mass migration and demographic growth. The theory was the basis of Renaud Camus's book The Great Replacement (French: Le Grand Remplacement)(2012). It specifically associated the presence of Muslims in France with potential danger and destruction of French culture and civilisation.

Conspiracy theorists attribute this to intentional policies advanced by global and liberal elites from within the Government of France and the European Union. The perpetrator of the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings is said to have been heavily influenced by this theory and named his manifesto The Great Replacement.



The theory of the great replacement can be traced back to the novel Le Camp des Saints (1973) by Jean Raspail which depicts the collapse of Western culture from an overwhelming "tidal wave" of immigration from the Third World. The novel, along with the theory of Eurabia developed by the Swiss-Israeli writer Bat Ye'or in 2005, set the ground then for Renaud Camus to develop and present his book entitled The Great Replacement in 2012.[2] The idea of replacement, or of white genocide, has used as part of the rhetoric of many far-right movements in the West.[3]

Journalist Marc Weitzmann credits René Binet, a Trotskyite militant who abandoned communism in the 1940s to join the Waffen SS, and who later became active in French far-right politics, as an important influence on the theory. According to Weitzmann, "it was Binet, not Camus, who first came up with 'the great replacement' formula in the early 1960s."[4] Historian Nicolas Lebourg argues that Camus's theory parallels older antisemitic conspiracy theories which posited the existence of a Jewish plot to destroy Europe through miscegenation. Lebourg suggest that Camus's contribution was to replace the antisemitic elements with themes of a clash of civilizations between Muslims and Europeans. [5][6]

Work of Renaud CamusEdit

Renaud Camus has stated that "the great replacement is very simple. You have one people, and in the space of a generation you have a different people".[7] Camus has argued that European culture, civilization and identity are in danger of being overrun by mass migration, especially from Muslim migrants, who are aided by a trans-national group of globalist elites.[8] The theory has since become influential in far-right and white nationalist circles outside of France.[9] The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) described Camus as the "progenitor of the Great Replacement doctrine".[10]

Scholars have generally dismissed the claims of a "great replacement" as being rooted in a misreading of immigration statistics and unscientific and racially prejudiced views.[11][12] Demographer Landis MacKellar has said that, as of 2016, around 5-10% of French residents were Muslims, making a "replacement" unlikely, and criticized Camus's thesis for assuming "that third- and fourth- generation 'immigrants' are somehow not French".[13]

Influence on conservative, right wing and far right groupsEdit

Among the theory's main promoters are not only right-wing populist parties but also a wide-ranging network of protest movements (e.g., Germany's PEGIDA),[14] ideological groupuscules (e.g., bloc identitaire),[15] bloggers (e.g., Fjordman[16] and Lauren Southern),[17] and pundits.

According to conspiracy theorists, this replacement of European peoples by Arab/Berber Middle Eastern, North African, and Sub-Saharan African immigrants is a deliberate goal being advanced by the policies of the French state, the European Union, and other political elites.[18][19][20][21] Prominent right-wing websites such as Gates of Vienna, Politically Incorrect, and Fdesouche have provided a platform for bloggers to diffuse and popularize the conspiracy theory.[22]



The Identitarian Movement Austria group promote the theory, citing a "great exchange" or replacement of the population that supposedly needs to be reversed.[23] In April 2019, Heinz-Christian Strache campaigning for his FPÖ party ahead of the 2019 European Parliament election endorsed the conspiracy theory.[24] Claiming that "population replacement" in Austria was a real threat, he stated that "We don’t want to become a minority in our own country".[25] Compatriot Martin Sellner, who also supports the theory, celebrated Strache's political use of the Great Replacement.[26][27]


Nationalist right-wing groups in France have asserted that there is an ongoing "Islamo-substitution" of the indigenous French population, associating the presence of Muslims in France with potential danger and destruction of French culture and civilization.[28][29][30] In 2013, Dominique Venner's suicide in Notre-Dame de Paris, in which he left a note outlining the "crime of the replacement of our people" is reported to have inspired the far-right Iliade Institute's main ideological tenet of the Great Replacement.[31]

Former National Assembly delegate Marion Maréchal is proponent of the theory.[32] In March 2019, in a trip to the U.S., Maréchal evoked the theory, stating "I don’t want France to become a land of Islam".[33] Insisting that the Great Replacement was "not absurd", she declared the "indigenous French" people, apparently in danger of being a minority by 2040, now wanted their "country back".[17] In May 2019, National Rally spokesman Jordan Bardella was reported to use the conspiracy theory during a televised debate with Nathalie Loiseau, after he argued that France must "turn off the tap" from the demographic bomb of African immigration into the country.[34] Éric Zemmour, author of The French Suicide has described "the progressive replacement, over a few decades, of the historic population of our country by immigrants, the vast majority of them non-European".[35]


Dutch politician Geert Wilders strongly supports the notion of a Great Replacement occuring in Europe.[36][37] In October 2018, Wilders invoked the conspiracy theory, claiming the Netherlands was "being replaced with mass immigration from non-western Islamic countries". He claimed 77 million, mainly Islamic immigrants would attempt to enter Europe over the course of half a century, and that white Europeans would cease to exist unless they were stopped.[17] In 2019, The New York Times reported how Camus' demographic-based alarmist theories help fuel Wilders and his Party for Freedom's nativist campaigning.[1]

North AmericaEdit


YouTuber Lauren Southern is an advocate of the conspiracy theory.[17][38] In 2017, Southern dedicated a video to the Great Replacement, gaining over half a million views on her channel.[39][40][41] 2018 mayoral candidate for Toronto Faith Goldy has publicly embraced the replacement theory.[42][43] In 2019, in the aftermath of the Christchurch shooting, Vice accused Goldy of routinely pushing the idea of birthrate declines and the population replacement of whites, found in the gunman's Great Replacement Manifesto.[44]

United StatesEdit

In 2017, white supremacist protesters at the Unite The Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia were heard chanting “You will not replace us,” and, “Jews will not replace us.”, slogans which commentators believed were inspired by the conspiracy theory.[4][9]

In October 2018, Republican congressman Steve King endorsed the conspiracy theory,[45][46] stating; "Great replacement, yes," referring to the European migrant crisis that "these people walking into Europe by ethnic migration, 80 percent are young men."[47] King presents the Great Replacement as a shared concern of Europe and the United States, claiming that "if we continue to abort our babies and import a replacement for them in the form of young violent men, we are supplanting our culture, our civilization."[48] He has blamed George Soros as an alleged perpertrator behind the conspiracy.[49]

In December 2018, Media Matters reported how Tucker Carlson had began promoting the conspiracy theory.[50] Within this context, he's discussed his perception of a collaspe of family birthrates in the U.S.[1] By 2019, Paste magazine claimed Tucker Carlson Tonight regularly featured content based on the Great Replacement,[51] and ThinkProgress accused Carlson of using his prominence to promote the idea of demographic change through immigration and feminism causing the replacement and genocide of American white men.[52]

Influence on violent attacksEdit

Brenton Harrison Tarrant, the Australian accused of the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand, was influenced by the Great Replacement conspiracy theory and named his manifesto after it. In response, Camus condemned violence while reaffirming his desire for a "counterrevolt" against an increase in nonwhite populations.[53]


Nick Cohen argues that the Great Replacement is a form of racism and propaganda, alongside a fear the European men are not virile enough.[54]

Anne Applebaum has written that the conspiracy theory is a gateway from discussing the effects of immigration and Islam's compatibility with the Western world to forms of extremism, such as advocating for the remigration or murder of migrants.[55]

In German discourse, Austrian political scientist Rainer Bauböck questions the conspiracists meaning of population replacement or exchange ("Bevölkerungsaustausch"). Using Ruth Wodak's analysis that the slogan needs to be viewed in its historical context, Bauböck has concluded that the conspiracy theory is a reemergence of the Nazi idealogy of Umvolkung.[56]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "'Replacement Theory,' a Racist, Sexist Doctrine, Spreads in Far-Right Circles". New York Times. 30 April 2019. Behind the idea is a racist conspiracy theory known as “the replacement theory,” which was popularized by a right-wing French philosopher.
  2. ^ Ait Abdeslam, Abderrahim (28 August 2018). "The vilification of Muslim diaspora in French fictional novels: 'Soumission' (2015) and 'Petit Frère' (2008) as case studies". Journal of Multicultural Discourses. 13 (3): 232–242. doi:10.1080/17447143.2018.1511717.
  3. ^ Bergmann, Eirikur (2018). "6. The Eurabia Doctrin". Conspiracy & Populism : The Politics of Misinformation. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 127. ISBN 978-3-319-90359-0. LCCN 2018939717 – via Google Books. This notion of replacement, or of white genocide, has echoed throughout the rhetoric of many far right movements in the west
  4. ^ a b Weitzmann, Marc (1 April 2019). "The Global Language of Hatred Is French". Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  5. ^ Courbet, Claire (24 March 2015). "Immigration Museum: "The far right has reached a plateau"". Le Figaro. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  6. ^ Jean-Yves Camus; Nicolas Lebourg (20 March 2017). Far-Right Politics in Europe. Harvard University Press. pp. 206–207. ISBN 978-0-674-97153-0. The success of that umpteenth incarnation of a theme launched immediately after World War II (Camus has personally declared his indebtedness to Enoch Powell) can be explained by the fact that he subtracted anti-Semitism from the argument
  7. ^ Williams, Thomas Chatterton (4 December 2017). "The French Origins of 'You Will Not Replace Us'". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on 27 September 2018. Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  8. ^ Wilson, Andrew (27 March 2019). "Fear-Filled Apocalypses: The Far-Right's Use of Conspiracy Theories". Oxford Research Group. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  9. ^ a b Wildman, Sarah (15 August 2017). ""You will not replace us": a French philosopher explains the Charlottesville chant". Vox. Archived from the original on 9 August 2018. Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  10. ^ "Hate in Europe: June 2018". Hatewatch. Southern Poverty Law Center. 5 July 2018. Archived from the original on 20 September 2018. Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  11. ^ Vinocur, Nicholas (15 March 2019). "How European ideas motivated Christchurch killer". Politico. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  12. ^ Cecil Jenkins (13 July 2017). A Brief History of France. Little, Brown Book Group. p. 342. ISBN 978-1-4721-4027-2. As for the grand replacement, this has been widely seen as a paranoid fantasy, which plays fast and loose with the statistics, is racist in that it classes as immigrants people actually born in France, glosses over the fact that around half of immigrants are from other European countries, and suggests that declining indigenous France will be outbred by Muslim newcomers when in fact it has the highest fertility rate in Western Europe, and not because of immigration.
  13. ^ MacKellar, Landis (June 2016). "Review: La République islamique de France? A Review Essay". Population and Development Review. 42 (2): 368–375. doi:10.1111/j.1728-4457.2016.00130.x. JSTOR 44015644.
  14. ^ Meaker, Morgan (28 August 2018). "How dangerous are Austria's far-right hipsters?". Vienna: Deutsche Welle. Archived from the original on 24 September 2018. Retrieved 24 September 2018. ...and spread the 'great replacement' conspiracy theory – the idea that white Europeans will be replaced by people from the Middle East and Africa through immigration. The theory is based on inflated statistics and un-substantiated demographic projections. Right now, only 4 percent of the European Union is made up of non-EU nationals.
  15. ^ Dearden, Lizzie (9 November 2017). "Generation Identity: Far-right group sending UK recruits to military-style training camps in Europe". The Independent. Archived from the original on 25 September 2018. Retrieved 25 September 2018. it represents "indigenous Europeans" and propagates the far-right conspiracy theory that white people are becoming a minority in what it calls the "Great Replacement"
  16. ^ Ahmed, Nafeez (25 March 2019). "'White genocide' theorists worm their way into the West's mainstream". Le Monde Diplomatique. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  17. ^ a b c d Miller, Nick (19 March 2019). "'The Great Replacement': an idea now at the heart of Europe's politics". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  18. ^ Plenel, Edwy (28 June 2016). "1". For the Muslims: Islamophobia in France. Translated by Fernbach, David. Verso. ISBN 978-1-78478-488-1. LCCN 2016005821 – via Google Books.
  19. ^ Serhan, Yasmeen (15 May 2017). "Pivotal Elections Loom Over Europe". The Atlantic. Retrieved 24 September 2018. ...the 'great replacement' conspiracy theory that contends immigrants are replacing the traditional French population.
  20. ^ Baldauf, Johannes (2017). Toxische Narrative : Monitoring rechts-alternativer Akteure (PDF) (in Dutch). Berlin: Amadeu Antonio Stiftung. p. 11. ISBN 978-3-940878-29-8. OCLC 1042949000. Archived (PDF) from the original on 24 September 2018. Retrieved 24 September 2018. ...this narrative is highly compatible with concrete conspiracy narratives about how this replacement is desired and planned, either by 'the politicians' or 'the elite,' which-ever connotes Jewishness more effectively.
  21. ^ Castro, Ernesto Córdoba (12 October 2017). "The philosophical sources of Marine Le Pen". Eurozine. Archived from the original on 25 September 2018. Retrieved 25 September 2018. ...a conspiracy theory which claims that the global elite has staged a plot to replace the indigenous European population with immigrants from other continents
  22. ^ Betz, Hans-Georg (5 February 2018). "5. The Radical Right and Populism". In Rydgren, Jens (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of the Radical Right. 1. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190274559.013.5. ISBN 9780190644185. LCCN 2017025436.
  23. ^ "Austria's Strache backs far-right 'population replacement' claim". Al Jazeera. 1 May 2019.
  24. ^ "Austria far-right leader panned for use of 'population replacement' term". Times of Israel. 1 May 2019.
  25. ^ "Austrian far-right sticks by 'population exchange' rhetoric". Reuters. 1 May 2019.
  26. ^ "Austrian deputy leader endorses far-right term 'population replacement'". The Guardian. 29 April 2019.
  27. ^ "Conservatism's Wunderkind Is Getting Swallowed by the Far-Right". Foreign Policy. 13 May 2019.
  28. ^ Osborne, Samuel (25 April 2017). "Marine Le Pen adviser found guilty of inciting hatred against Muslims". The Independent. Archived from the original on 24 September 2018. Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  29. ^ Froio, Caterina (21 August 2018). "Race, Religion, or Culture? Framing Islam between Racism and Neo-Racism in the Online Network of the French Far Right". Perspectives on Politics. 16 (3): 696–709. doi:10.1017/S1537592718001573. ...the conspiracy theory of the Grand remplacement (Great replacement) positing the 'Islamo-substitution' of biologically autochthonous populations in the French metropolitan territory, by Muslim minorities mostly coming from sub-Saharan Africa and the Maghreb
  30. ^ Schneider, Frédérique (26 January 2018). "VIDEO - Une campagne pour déconstruire les discours complotistes sur Internet". La Croix (in French). Archived from the original on 23 September 2018. Retrieved 23 September 2018. ...le " grand remplacement ", une théorie de type conspirationniste selon laquelle il existerait un processus de remplacement des Français sur leur sol par des non-Européens.
  31. ^ "At the Iliade Institute, French far-right intellectuals rewrite European history". The Southern Poverty Law Center. 17 April 2019.
  32. ^ "The Notre Dame wildfire that can't be put out". Politico. 22 April 2019. Marion Maréchal — pegged as the heir apparent to the Le Pen dynasty and a possible presidential contender in 2022 — is a proponent of the "Great Replacement" theory embraced by the man accused of the Christchurch killings in New Zealand.
  33. ^ "Meet Marion Maréchal, the next voice of French nationalism". The Economist. 14 March 2019.
  34. ^ "Jordan Bardella évoque le "Grand remplacement" sans le nommer" [Jordan Bardella evokes the "Great replacement" without naming it] (in French). France-Soir. 16 May 2019.
  35. ^ Sowerwine, Charles (2018). France since 1870 : Culture, Politics and Society. London: Palgrave. p. 460. ISBN 978-1-137-40611-8. OCLC 1051356006. Zemmour flirted with a far-right conspiracy theory; the Grand remplacement (Great Replacement)
  36. ^ "Austria's deputy leader pushes extremist argument to warn against immigration". The Washington Post. 28 April 2019.
  37. ^ "The Inspiration for Terrorism in New Zealand Came From France". Foreign Policy. 16 March 2019.
  38. ^ "Trump has been retweeting conspiracy theorists and far-right figures. Here's who they are". Business Insider. 7 May 2019.
  39. ^ "The French Origins of "You Will Not Replace Us"". The New Yorker. 4 December 2017.
  40. ^ "New Zealand Terrorist Manifesto Influenced by Far-Right Online Ecosystem, Hatewatch Finds". Southern Poverty Law Center. 15 March 2019.
  41. ^ "Trump promotes far-right conspiracy advocate to defend 'censored' conservatives". ThinkProgress. 5 May 2019.
  42. ^ Rubenstein, Adam (8 November 2018). "King of the Low Road". The Weekly Standard.
  43. ^ "Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: November 9, 2018". Haaretz. 9 November 2018.
  44. ^ "Accused New Zealand Shooter Had Canadian Mass Murderer's Name On Weapon". Vice Media. 15 March 2019.
  45. ^ "'I Am Simply a Nationalist.' Rep. Steve King Responds to Backlash Over 'White Supremacy' Remarks". Fortune. 10 January 2019.
  46. ^ "Steve King Asked If White Society Is Superior to Nonwhite: 'I Don't Have an Answer for That'". Newsweek. 20 March 2019.
  47. ^ "Before Trump, Steve King Set the Agenda for the Wall and Anti-Immigrant Politics". New York Times. 10 January 2019.
  48. ^ "'He's so openly racist': why does Iowa keep electing Steve King to Congress?". The Guardian. 27 October 2018.
  49. ^ "Steve King Was Saying Insanely Racist Things Long Before Republicans Decided Enough Was Enough". Mother Jones. 15 January 2019.
  50. ^ "Tucker Carlson's worst white nationalist dog whistles". Media Matters. 20 December 2018. Fearmongering about demographic change in America and across Europe feeds into the delusional fantasy of the “great replacement,” a term attributed to Renaud Camus, a French writer who believes that migrants are coming to displace white people in Europe and radically reshape Western civilization. Carlson has taken up the mantle of this conspiracy theory on his show, linking it to poor migrant families seeking asylum on America’s southern border with Mexico.
  51. ^ "The Audio Doesn't Lie: Tucker Carlson Is Who We Thought He Was". Paste (magazine). 15 March 2019.
  52. ^ "The dark history of the New Zealand killer's 'great replacement'". ThinkProgress. 15 March 2019.
  53. ^ McAuley, James (15 March 2019). "Renaud Camus's ideas may have inspired the Christchurch mosque slayings in New Zealand". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 16 March 2019. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  54. ^ Cohen, Nick (18 May 2019). "When the far right crack rape jokes, it's part of a systemic bid to demean". The Guardian.
  55. ^ Applebaum, Anne (17 May 2019). "How Europe's 'Identitarians' are mainstreaming racism". The Washington Post.
  56. ^ Bauböck, Rainer (7 May 2019). "Bevölkerungsaustausch oder Umvolkung? Erklären Sie den Unterschied, Herr Strache!" [Population exchange or change? Explain the difference, Mr. Strache!] (in German). Der Standard.

Further readingEdit