The deluded maniac behind the terrorist massacre in Christchurch called his manifesto "The Great Replacement". This was a nod to the book of the same name by Renaud Camus, published in 2012. In his book, Camus claimed that falling birthrates, along with immigration, have created a situation in which white people will be "replaced" within a generation.
The Christchurch killer was taken in by this paranoid vision. He began his manifesto with the words: "It’s the birthrates. It’s the birthrates. It’s the birthrates". Later on he qualified this: "Mass immigration will disenfranchise us, subvert our nations, destroy our communities... Long before low fertility levels ever could." This is the alt right dictum in a nutshell. Veering ever closer to the absurd, the killer called it "white genocide".
At a gut level it feels wrong to even respond. The Great Replacement theory is malignant twaddle on every level. However, it is duping a lot of people around the world, especially young people, and it has been used to justify a wide range of brutalities. Much as we would like to, we can't just ignore it.
Let's start by looking at how the theory applies to Aotearoa/NZ. You'll also find a good video below that looks at things in relation to Europe, with some interesting fact checking on material by Lauren Southern. I will start this discussion from exactly the same source the killer used, the Wikipedia page here.
The data quoted in the wiki suggests that 74% of kiwis are of "European" descent (more on that later). It also shows that most of our new immigrants come from Britain and Ireland. Looking into the future, the Ministry of Social Development estimates that this group will be 70% of the population in 2026 (more). I'm not saying that's a good thing or a bad thing -- it's just a true thing. The idea that there is some kind of great replacement going on, and that this needs to be urgently resisted, is simply false.
The killer was very concerned about "us and them", in terms of fertility. However, his research seems to have been pretty shallow. As the page he referred to shows, this country's fertility rate was 2.01% in 2018. That's the highest it has been for the past 3 years. It is higher than fertility rates in China, Russia, the E.U., Japan, Korea (both North and South), Turkey, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, Brunei and Qatar.
Granted, this country's fertility rate is lower than that of some African countries. However, that has got nothing to do with the nebulous concept of 'race'. To understand it properly, we need to look at the data in an international context. High fertility rates are a standard feature of under-developed countries. It just so happens that most of these are in sub-Saharan Africa. After all, grinding poverty and IMF loan conditions don't help when a government wants to roll out contraception and birth control programmes. The far right has arrived at a false conclusion. What's worse, they have hung onto this conclusion willfully, despite a wealth of research and evidence from across the world. For example, look at what happens when people from under-developed countries migrate to wealthy nations. From the second generation onwards, fertility rates fall. As one European paper claimed, looking at the example of France: "The fertility behaviour of most groups of descendants of immigrants is converging towards that of French natives." (more).
The Christchurch killer would have been better off promoting development funding for Africa.
As for "white genocide", this claim is beyond ridiculous. As we all know, the majority of genocides have been committed in Europe, by Europeans against Europeans (more). The most appalling example, of course, was that carried out by the nazis. It is astonishing to think that white supremacists could dare use the word genocide in their propaganda.
In a similar way, the far right complains about the racist killing of whites in South Africa. As has been shown again and again, this whole narrative was made up (more). More to the point -- what could be more ironic than racists complaining about the race-based murders in South Africa? South Africa?!
It's political incorrectness gone mad!
Unfortunately, facts and figures won't help us in this debate. As George Lakov has shown, people construct their world views around their sense of values. If the facts don't fit, well, they must be hacked about until they do.
The implicit a set of values that underlies Great Replacement theory will not be budged through rational debate. White supremacists believe there is a deep rift in society between "us and them". It is a viewpoint that is deeply rooted in fear and anger. We see this in the ridiculous and clearly false arguments that are bandied about. White supremacists do not just want to occupy the moral high ground, they want to claim it as their own.
The far right's notion of "Us and Them" is racist by definition, irrespective of how nicely it is dressed up. It is the same way of thinking that set the scene for the crimes against humanity in the 20th century. Depending upon which side of the racist fence you sit, "Us" carried out 20th century genocides in Germany, Poland, Greece, the Ukraine, Croatia and Turkey. "Them" carried out genocides in Cambodia, Indonesia, Rwanda, Pakistan and East Timor. In far right history books the Us group always acts in self defence, whereas Them are terrorists and invaders. Colonisation? I'm just going to leave that word there. Oh, and slavery.
This is not an abstract debate. Us and Them mentality is what makes the far right tick (an apt metaphor, if I say so myself), and it led to the killing of about 40 million people in the last century. Unless we can discredit the idea, there will be plenty of victims still to come.
If you think about it for a moment, the notion of Us falls apart pretty quickly. The far right's concert of Us includes characters as diverse as Rachel Hunter, Jacob Rothschild, Billy Connolly, Maria Sharapova, Johnny Rotten, Bernie Sanders and Divine. It includes socialists, jews, antifa, liberals and internationalists. In this country's case, it also includes most immigrants. By far the majority of Us want nothing to do with the far right.
If Us is built around skin colour then it's just silly. A number of Africans settled in Europe about 40,000 years ago. Some farmers came along from the Near East, carrying with them TWO genes that led to a mutation: light-coloured skin. No offence to any readers here, but the white race (more accurately, the pink race) is just a mutation.
The notion of Us cannot find much of a justification in ethnicity either. "European" is not an ethnicity. The people of Europe do not share "a common national or cultural tradition" (the Stats NZ definition). Quite the opposite: they fought very long and very hard to prevent that from happening. For the same reason, the words "Asian" and "African" do not represent ethnicities.
It is interesting to look at NZ Census figures in this regard. Contrary to their own definition, Statistics NZ offers us a series of little boxes to tick that are based on the names of continents and countries. In what way is "Asian" a meaningful measure of cultural affiliation? Anyway, whether you agree with their methodology or not, one very interesting figure emerges. The number of people who identify simply and solely as "European" is only 26,472. That represents 0.7% of the population. It's a number that has been rapidly declining, as well. In 2001 it was 80,000 (2.4%).
The largest group by far chooses to identify themselves as "New Zealand Europeans". They have no way of getting rid of the word "European" because "New Zealander" and "Pākehā" are no longer options on the census form. Setting that aside, we can only conclude that most pākehā think of themselves as "New Zealanders" rather than "Europeans". And just to confound the far right further, a rapidly growing number of Us are choosing to identify as two or more ethnicities.
If it's not skin colour or ethnicity, then the far right's notion of Us must refer to some kind of "race"? And that shouldn't surprise us too much.... after all, it was the dominant view all throughout the period of colonisation. Unfortunately for them, that way of thinking ran out of excuses and justifications a very long time ago. The whole concept of race is in terminal decline. Theory after theory has been discredited by research. To cut a long story short, a recent survey of 3,286 American anthropologists' asked them about their views on race and genetics. The group included both cultural and biological andthropologists. The result was a consensus that biological races do not exist (more).
It is a strange paradox: race does not exist but racism does.
So, if we set aside race (because it's bogus), then who on earth are the white supremacists talking about when they invoke "Us"? Again, a huge majority of kiwis reject this way of thinking, so its clearly not them. When it comes down to it, I think we can only conclude that the Us the far right are referring to is the far right itself.
In their world everybody else -- the vast majority of the world's population -- is either "Them" or a race traitor.
So hey, roll on the Great Replacement, I say. The sooner "WE" can get rid of these sociopaths the better.
Written by Ivan Dobsky, May 2019
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