Paleo Retiree writes:
Have you run into the Frenchman Jean Raspail? Back in 1973 he published a notorious book called “Camp of the Saints,” a dystopian/apocalyptic novel about Western Civ getting overrun by 3rd worlders. He was much-mocked and derided, naturally; all right-thinking people — the ones who paid attention to it at all — knew, just knew, that he was a racist/fascist/whatever. Time magazine’s Paul Gray put the word “Gestapo” into the very first line of his review of the book — awesome work, dude. The book’s power to enrage mainstream opinion hasn’t waned; when “Camp of the Saints” returned to French bestseller lists in 2011, the word “raciste” was prominent in the headline of the article L’Express published about the event. An evil nature can be the only possible explanation for Raspail’s views, after all.
But, well, maybe we’re discovering that Raspail was right all along. I read the novel myself some years back — when a book starts getting talked about as something so hideous as to be outrageous, I tend to be one those people who’ll go out and pick up a copy. I remember being amazed at the number of people who had strong opinions about “The Bell Curve” without having read it, for instance. I promptly bought a copy and gave it a read; danged if it didn’t turn out to be far more interesting than the public caricature of it made it out to be. Besides, I’d been fascinated by the immigration issue ever since I was struck by it during a school year I spent in France in the early ’70s.
Verdict: I didn’t love “Camp of the Saints” as a reading experience — I found it gloomy, slow-going, grueling and abstract. “I get it, I get it,” I kept muttering. But “Camp of the Saints” is also clearly one of those strikingly prescient books — like “1984,” “Brave New World” and much of Philip K. Dick — that may deserve a category (something like “not great in a strictly literary sense, but, hey, they accurately predicted the future and that’s really something”) of their own. I may have found the novel hard going … but who could dispute that it has proved to be major in its own way? Funny how it isn’t better-known in the U.S. I wonder why that could be.
For all my reservations about Western Civ — and especially my horrors at what our imperial elites get up to — I do regularly marvel at how willing we seem to be to throw our civilization away and/or hand it over to strangers. If I’m going to bother with civilization at all, I’d like it to deliver what ours sometimes does: clean drinking water, a certain amount of freedom, movies, air conditioning … And maybe that takes a little vigilance. It’s a practical question so far as I’m concerned. Put aside ideals and altruistic feelings: How many strangers can you really make room for in your family home before it ceases being “your family home”?
Raspail is an old man of 88 now. Here’s the latest interview with him, and here’s a nice passage from it:
At the point where we are now, the measures we would have to take would necessarily be very coercive. I don’t believe it will happen and I don’t see anyone who has the courage to do it. They would need to put their soul in the balance, but who is ready for that? That said, I don’t believe for an instant that the supporters of immigration are more charitable than me: there probably isn’t a single one of them who intends to welcome one of these unfortunates into his home… all of that’s just an emotional pretence, an irresponsible maelstrom that will engulf us.
Weird, the way that for mainstream opinion you’re either pro-immigration — and thus a decent person — or you’re anti-immigration, and thus deserve censure as a Nazi. Why is “I wish the world at large well, but I also think it’s important to respect and look after our own good fortune” not considered something a decent person is allowed to assert? Forgive me for suspecting that the people who run the public debate want that particular option to be ignored.