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“Proponents of the so-called ‘Great Replacement’ theory argue that white European
populations are being deliberately replaced at an ethnic and cultural level through
migration and the growth of minority communities” – ISD, 2019
The ‘Great Replacement’ conspiracy theory was first coined by French writer Renaud Camus. Identitarian movements across Europe (including in Austria, the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Germany) have used the theory to recruit others to their cause, claiming their countries and national “identities” are under threat due to increasing immigrant populations.
The theory has also spread into North American and Australian extreme-right circles. The theory featured heavily in – and was the title of – the “manifesto” of the Australian perpetrator of the attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2019, for example.
Related narratives and terminology
These narratives feed into a dystopian, conspiratorial theory that spurs xenophobia and racism. It has mobilized into violence, evident in the attacks on the Muslim community of Christchurch in 2019.
White Genocide or White Extinction
The idea that there is a conscious effort to replace white populations through immigration, integration, abortion and violence against white people. While similar to the ‘Great Replacement’ theory,
white genocide was coined and popularized in the US by David Lane (see also “14 words”). White genocide theory historically singles out Jewish communities as its “orchestrators”.
A conspiracy theory that argues Western countries are being “Islamized”, or slowly being brought under Islamic rule. “Islamification” and “Shariafication” imply the same.
In extreme-right circles, this refers to “forced deportation of migrant communities, with the intent of creating an ethnically or culturally homogeneous society”. A 2019 ISD report calls remigration, “Essentially a non-violent form of ethnic cleansing.”
Related to the ‘Great Replacement’ theory, ethnonationalism argues for the segregation of people according to ethnicity. Related terms include ‘white ethnostate’ and ‘universal ethnonationalism’.
Believers of the ‘Great Replacement’ and/or ‘white genocide’ theories are likely to be fundamentally opposed to miscegenation or any form of inter-racial/inter-ethnic relations.
Extreme-right arguments against miscegenation are rooted in racism, claiming it causes a “dilution” or “degeneracy” of whiteness that, in turn, contributes to “white extinction,” “cultural suicide”, and the end of Western civilization.
Declining birth rates amongst white people (and, in contrast, high birth rates amongst other populations) are often referred to as proof that white genocide is happening.
A meme referring to a Serbian anti-Muslim propaganda song still nodded to in extreme-right circles. The song featured in the Christchurch attacker’s livestream.
Coined by David Lane, 14 words refers to the white nationalist slogan: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”
The Kalergi Plan
A conspiracy theory that claims immigration is a deliberate tool used to replace white European populations.
Examples of affiliated groups
Generation Identity – Europe
Generation Identity is a youth movement born in France out of “Les Identitaires”. The group argues for the need to preserve (white) European cultural identity, and that this is under threat due to immigration (especially from Muslim-majority countries). The group has since spread across the continent, with prominent chapters active or historically active in Austria, Italy, the UK and Germany.
Alternative fur Deutschland – Germany
AfD is a German political party that is anti-Muslim and anti-immigration. AfD purport Islamophobic conspiracies of “Shariafication” and incompatibility of Islam with the West. In a recent political campaign, AfD visualized this narrative in large posters that read “Europe must not become Eurabia”.
National Justice Party – USA
The NJP is a recently formed political party that claims ideas of freedom, liberty and justice are fundamentally (white) European and American traits and can therefore only survive in a white-majority country. As per their website, their stated aim is “political self-determination for White Americans and the restoration of European values”.
‘The Great Replacement’: The Consequences of Mainstreamed Extremism– by ISD
ISD’s report presents the findings of an investigation into the prevalence, scale and nature of the ideologies and narratives that motivated the attacks on the Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand.
The International Identitarian Movement – by Hope Not Hate
Hope Not Hate investigates the Identitarian movement and how they have helped popularise the ‘Great Replacement’ theory.
The Deadly Myth of the “Great Replacement” – the shootings in El Paso are the latest expression of an unfounded and racist mythology – by Eleanor Penny for the New Statesman
An overview of the ‘Great Replacement’ theory, its history and its role in motivating violence in North America.
A National Blueprint to End White Supremacist Violence – by Katrina Mulligan, Brette Steele, Simon Clark, Asha Padmanabhan and Rachel Hunkler for the Center for American Progress
An overview of contemporary white supremacist narratives and tactics in the US, with recommendations for mitigating and responding against this threat.
The ‘Great Replacement’ Theory: a Historical Perspective – by Paul Stocker for the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right
A historical overview of the ‘Great Replacement’ theory and other demographic-related conspiracies.
Hate Acronyms – by the Anti-Defamation League
A database of symbols, slogans and terminology frequently used by white nationalist and supremacist movements.
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