Two high-profile French novels, dissimilar in timing and tone, portray two influential visions of France in the future. Not just good reads (and both translated into English), together they stimulate thought about the country’s crises of immigration and cultural change.
Jean Raspail (1925-) imagines a racial invasion coming by sea, of rafts and boats taking off from the Indian subcontinent and heading slowly, inexorably for the south of France. In Le Camp des Saints (The Camp of the Saints, 1973), he primarily documents the helpless, panicked French reaction as the horde (a word used 34 times) “kept coming to join the swelling numbers.”
It’s a stark dystopian fantasy about the white race and European life that corresponds to fears articulated by no less than Charles de Gaulle, the dominant politician of post-war France, who welcomed non-white French citizens “on condition that they remain a small minority. Otherwise, France would no longer be France. We are, after all, primarily a European people of the white race.”
Camp also anticipates the notion of “The Great Replacement” (Le Grand Remplacement) conceptualized by the French intellectual Renaud Camus, which anticipates the quick replacement “of the historic people of our country by peoples of immigrant origin who are overwhelmingly non-European.” Roughly this same fear – of immigrants pushing the indigenous French people aside and taking over the country – inspires the National Front party, now polling close to 30 percent of the vote and growing.
Michel Houellebecq (1956-) tells the story not of a country (France) but of an individual (François) in Soumission (Submission, 2015). François is a weary, somewhat decadent professor of the decadent movement in French literature. He lacks family, friends, and ambition; although only in his mid-40s, his will to live has eroded through the ennui of take-out food and a procession of interchangeable sex partners.
When an ostensibly moderate Muslim politician unexpectedly becomes president of France in 2022, many radical changes to French life follow quickly. In a surprise twist, what begins ominously (a corpse in the gas station) soon enough turns benign (delicious Middle Eastern food). Lured by a well-paying and satisfying job with the perk of having access to marry multiple pretty, covered students, François readily abandons his old life and converts to Islam, which offers him the rewards of luxury, exoticism, and patriarchy.
If the 1973 novel never mentions the word Islam or Muslim, its 2015 counterpart dwells on them both – starting with the title: Islam in Arabic means “submission.” Conversely, the first book focuses on race while the second hardly notices it (François’ favorite prostitute is North African). One takeover ends hellishly, the other agreeably. The earlier book is an apocalyptic political tract disguised as entertainment, the later one offers a literary and sardonic take on Europe’s loss of will while not expressing animus toward Islam or Muslims. The one documents an aggression, the other a consolation.
The novels capture two major, almost contradictory post-war cross-currents: The lure of a wealthy and free Europe for remote, impoverished peoples, especially Muslims; and the lure of a vigorous Islam for an enfeebled, post-Christian Europe. Both ways, Europe – just 7 percent of the world’s landmass but the dominant region for five centuries, 1450-1950 – stands to lose its customs, culture, and mores, becoming a mere extension, or even a dependency, of North Africa.
The novels imply that the alarming concern expressed decades ago (masses of angry, violent dark people) has become familiar and even benign (Middle Eastern universities pay higher salaries). They suggest that the time for panic has passed, replaced by a time for graceful capitulation.
|One vision of the future that’s already passed.|
Camp made a splash on the Right when it first appeared but both books address more widely-held concerns today; Camp‘s reissue in 2011 rocketed to the top of the bestseller list in France and Submission simultaneously became the #1 bestseller four years later in France, Italy, and Germany.
Forty-two years separate these two books; jumping another 42 years ahead, what story might a futuristic novel published in 2047 tell? Such thinkers as Oriana Fallaci, Bat Ye’or, and Mark Steyn would expect an account that assumes Islam’s victory and narrates the chasing down of France’s few remaining Christian believers. But I predict nearly the opposite: a report that assumes Camus’ great replacement failed and imagines a violent repression of Muslims (in the words of Claire Berlinski) “shambling out of the mists of European history” accompanied by a nativist French reassertion.
A Sa’ar 4.5-class Corvette of the Israeli Navy fires its canons during a naval exercise off the coast of Israel.
Israel’s Defense Ministry on Sunday announced a series of deals for the purchase of combat systems from local defense industries in the amount of $420 million by the end of this year. This is part of a project to acquire warships whose mission would to protect natural gas platforms within Israel’s “economic waters” in the Mediterranean against military threats.
An Israeli soldier training in Krav Maga.
Several dozen members of the Indian military are currently learning how to protect themselves using the Israeli martial art of Krav Maga, India Today reported this weekend.
“I brought Krav Maga to India in year 2002 after intensive training in Israel,” Vikram Kapoor — the head instructor at the International Krav Maga Federation — was quoted as saying. “This is the only self-defense technique that is being evolved every moment and that is why it is the best.”
Culminating a three-year process, delegates at the Mennonite Church USA assembly in Orlando on Thursday adopted a resolution titled “Seeking Peace in Israel and Palestine,” with approximately 98 percent voting in favor. The resolution calls on members to “avoid purchase of products associated with the occupation or produced in settlements in occupied territories.” It also establishes a process for the church to review its investments “for the purpose of withdrawing investments from companies that are profiting from the occupation.”
Rabbi Steven Wernick says Netanyahu recruited progressive Jews to find a compromise for the holy site; now that the PM has reneged, world Jewry won’t be silent
The fight for pluralistic prayer at the Western Wall is a battle already won by Jewry’s Conservative movement. For some 20 years, Conservative Jews have inhabited a spiritual home at Jerusalem’s contentious holy site, which they won through a series of Supreme Court cases — in a section allocated to the Davidson Archaeological
Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. (Photo credit: hebron.com)
In a secret ballot held at the World Heritage Committee’s 41st annual summit in Krakow Poland, on Friday, UNESCO voted twelve to three in favor declaring the Holy City of Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarchs “Palestinian world heritage sites”.
The resolution described a Muslim history of the city while blatantly ignoring the Biblical narrative describing 3,000 years of Jewish connection to the site. Six countries abstained from the controversial vote which, at the request of Poland, Croatia, and Jamaica, was a secret ballot; a first for such a vote.
During last month’s 2017 Chicago Dyke March, the true face of “inclusion” among “progressives” finally surfaced. According to the Chicago based newspaper Windy City Times, the march proceeded calmly with people “of all races, genders and gender identities” attending, until “the Dyke March Collective ejected three people carrying Jewish Pride flags (a rainbow flag with a Star of David in the center).”
Something is terribly broken in the relationship between American and Israeli Jews. I say this as an American Jew who has lived in Israel for almost half a century. But if anyone thinks this started with Women of the Wall or PM Netanyahu’s recent – and I believe unfortunate – backtracking on the agreement over egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel, he is suffering from selective memory, if not total denial.
gentleman from times gone by. He was soft-spoken, courtly, and wore his pants hoisted high and held up by suspenders; clearly, a European who had personally endured horrors in the last century.
Indeed, he had personally survived the Holocaust in Poland. Therefore, I could not immediately understand why he now attends a very left-wing synagogue—but, totally incomprehensible, was his unexpected and rather passionate defense of Poland and of the Poles. He argued on their behalf as if his very life still depended upon it.
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s decision to visit Jerusalem but not Ramallah has prompted much comment.
The expectation of equal treatment goes back to the Oslo Accords’ signing in Sep. 1993, when the prime minister of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin, represented his government in the handshake with Yasir Arafat, the much-despised chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization. No one found it strange or inappropriate at the time but things look differently nearly a quarter century later.
Matthew Healy at the Atlantic, one of the few remaining liberal anti-censorship magazines, offers a disingenuous counterpoint to the debate over political correctness.
The attempts to silence dissenting points of view are counter-speech, according to Healy. And counter-speech is an important form of free expression.