Europe’s Migrant Crisis: Jean Raspail Warns ‘We Are Only At the Beginning’
Forty three years ago Jean Raspail (90) a French author, traveller and explorer published “Le Camp des Saints” (The Camp of the Saints) warning of a future where a ‘tidal wave’ of Third World immigration engulfed and destroyed Europe, a work that has turned out to be a cautionary tale.
The book provoked huge anger on the Left and despite his earlier distinguished career as an explorer and traveller; he says that, as a result, he was subject to “intellectual terrorism” and “dragged through the dirt”.
Indeed in 1975 Time Magazine panned the novel as a “bilious tirade” and other critics on the Left both inside and outside of France were equally vitriolic. However in 2004 conservative American writer and commentator William F. Buckley, Jr. (who died in 2008) praised the book as “a great novel” which “raised questions on how to respond to massive illegal immigration”.
Today with Europe deeply divided on how it should deal with what is being widely described as the worst migrant crisis since World War II, Raspail and his controversial predictions appear to be vindicated. The book, in which he describes events as an invasion rather than a migration, seems highly prophetic today.
Furthermore Raspail has just told Le Point magazine’s Saïd Mahrane, (himself the child of Algerian immigrants): “We are only at the beginning … This migrant crisis puts an end to thirty years of insults and slander against me. I have been called a fascist because of this book which has been considered to be a racist work … When it came out in 1972 the book shocked people tremendously, and for a reason. There was a period, notably during the seven-year term of Valéry Giscard d’Estaing when veritable intellectual terrorism was employed against right-wing writers … They insulted me, dragged me in the dirt, then gradually that all subsided. Because, little by little they began to experience what I had described in the book. A certain number of intellectuals, including those on the Left, acknowledged that there was some truth in what I had written. Bertrand Poirot-Delpech, who had crucified me in Le Monde when the book came out, declared in an article in the same newspaper in 1998 (or 26 years after the book was published), that in the end I was right. Now it’s over … I’m not revengeful. I’m now in my proper place.”
Indeed readers who have followed the long hot European summer and its Med Migrant drama may well agree with him, even though his book described an “invasion” from India, rather than the current flux from Africa and the Middle East.
Wikipedia summarises the plot as follows: “The Camp of the Saints is a novel about population migration and its consequences. In Calcutta, India, the Belgian government announces a policy in which Indian babies will be adopted and raised in Belgium. The policy is reversed after the Belgian consulate is inundated with poverty-stricken parents eager to give up their infant children. An Indian ‘wise man’ then rallies the masses to make a mass exodus to live in Europe. Most of the story centers on the French Riviera, where almost no one remains except for the military and a few civilians, including a retired professor who has been watching the huge fleet of run-down migrant bearing freighters approaching the French coast.”
Although not from the same continent, the least that can be said about the migration figures for what has been happening in the Mediterranean these past three years, is that they are startling.
Cited in a September 29 report the International Organisation for Migration said to date some 522,124 people have successfully crossed the Mediterranean in smugglers boats since January 2015, more than double the 219,000 who did so for the whole of 2014. IOM figures showed 388,000 landed in Greece and 130,891 in Italy. Some 2,621 died during the crossing.
Continuing the interview Le Point’s Saïd Mahrane asked: “If this book is not racist, how would you describe it?” Raspail’s response was that it was a “surprising book.”
“It came into being in a strange way. Before, I had written books about my travels and novels, with little success. One day in 1972, I was in the South of France staying with one of my wife’s aunts, near Saint-Raphaël, in Vallauris. I had an office with a view of the sea and I said to myself: ‘And what if they came?’ This ‘they’ was not clearly defined at first. Then I imagined that the Third World would rush into this blessed country that is France. It’s a surprising book. It took a long time to write it, but it came to me on its own. I would stop writing in the evening and start again in the morning without knowing where I was going. There is an inspiration in this book that is alien to me. I am not saying it is divine, but strange … When my publisher Robert Laffont, an apolitical man, read the manuscript, he was very enthusiastic and did not change a comma. I did not change anything either … At first, The Camp of the Saints did not sell. For at least five or six years it stagnated. Then three years later, suddenly, the sales soared. Success came by word-of-mouth and thanks to mentions by right-wing writers, that was until the day, in 2001, when a boatload of Kurdish refugees came ashore in Boulouris, near Saint-Raphaël, a few yards from where I wrote The Camp of the Saints! This event caused a terrible to do in the region. Right away they began talking about my book again and it started to attract a wide audience. This was the beginning of the arrival by sea of people from elsewhere. I am a bit ashamed, because whenever there is a large influx of migrants now, my book gets reprinted. It’s consubstantial with what is happening”.
Le Point’s Saïd Mahrane: “You say you are not of the extreme right, but your book has become a tract for certain xenophobic groups. Are you sorry about that?”
Raspail: “You’re speaking of the extreme of the extreme right! It’s possible that this book is being misused and there can be, at times, language that is excessive. There’s nothing I can do about that. Anyway, I don’t use the Internet, I have not entered the 21st century, so I don’t know what they’re saying. Personally I am on the right, and it doesn’t bother me to say so. I am even “right of right” if you like. Let’s say more to the right than (mayor of Bordeaux Alain) Juppé. I am first of all a free man, never beholden to a party … I’m a royalist. I voted in the last round of the presidential elections but not for the Left, that’s for sure.”
Asked why the book speaks of the “ferocious” nature of the migrants, he responded: “What’s happening today isn’t important, it’s anecdotal, for we are only at the beginning. Right now, the whole world is talking about this, there are thousands of specialists on the issue of migrants, it’s a chaos of commentary. No one looks down the line to say thirty-five years hence. The situation we are living through today is nothing compared to what awaits us in 2050. There will be nine billion people on the earth. Africa has gone from 100 million to one billion inhabitants in a century, and perhaps twice that in 2050. Will the world be livable? The overpopulation and the wars of religion will make the situation fragile. That’s when the invasion will occur, it is ineluctable. The migrants will come in great part from Africa, the Middle East and the borders of Asia…”
Story: Ken Pottinger