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Excerpt from
The Conservative Bookshelf
A Book by Chilton Williamson, Jr.


The Camp of the Saints

By Jean Raspail
(1973)

Jean Raspail (1925--), a self-described "man of the right," has succeeded nevertheless in making not just a career but a name for himself in his native France, whose intellectual and literary establishments have been predominantly left-wing since the eighteenth century. (A regular contributor to Le Figaro, he was also the recipient, in 1970, of the Académie Française's Jean-Walther Prize.) His success as a conservative writer in a liberal culture, which in some sense seems nearly miraculous, is partly owing to strength of character and mind coupled with charm, and enormous talent. The Camp of the Saints--one of the most uncompromising works of literary reaction in the twentieth century--would have sunk most literary reputations, while consigning the author himself to nonpersonhood for his temerity having tackled the taboo subjects of race, the Third World, and the future of the white race. Instead, Raspail has continued in the thirty years since the novel's publication to publish more books and garner further honors and awards, including (in 1998) the prestigious T.S. Eliot Award sponsored by the Ingersoll Foundation of Rockford, Illinois.

Raspail makes no pretensions in his book to elaboration of plot, depth and subtlety of character development, brilliance in dialogue, originality in style. For plot, he substitutes linear narrative, almost journalistic in its single dimensionality; for individual character, social psychology; for crafted dialogue, impassioned monologue that barely strives for realism; for style, a mordant, informal narrative that seems hardly to hear its own voice, let alone rewrite, correct, and polish it. The narrator, who assumes by turns the role of bard (or rather anti-bard, reciting his "anti-epic"), historian, journalist, commentator, satirist, diatribist, and prophet, is alternately distant and impassioned, philosophic and emotional, bitter and sardonic, despairing and amused, loving as he does his decadent and decrepit civilization for what it once was while despising it for what it has become; aware that it deserves its fate, perhaps, but also that its barbarian enemies and despoilers do not deserve to inherit so much as the rotting remains of it. Jean Rapail's Camp of the Saints has no living heroes. Or almost none. Twenty men, to be exact, making up in their numbers the sole remainder of what was once the conquering, dominant, and resplendent Western World: more straight-forwardly the white world, whose end at the hands of what once were called the colored races the book chronicles, and attempts to explain.

Raspail sets his novel at the end of the twentieth century or the beginning of the twenty-first; around the present time, in fact. In Calcutta, a crowd of people has gathered outside the Belgian consulate to press their children forward for inclusion in the adoption program that would rescue them from a life of poverty by relocating them with families in Belgium. When the consul declares the program ended, a giant bearing a deformed monster with lidless eyes, a flap of skin for a mouth, and stumps for arms on his shoulders harangues the swelling crowd by reciting for them a parable about the Hindu gods taking the "little Christian god" down from his cross and exacting his kingdom from him, in return for his life. "Now the thousand years are ended," the little god concedes, quoting almost word for word from the Book of the Apocalypse (a text the giant, whose trade is gathering human feces and patting it into bricquets for cookfires, has surely never read). "The nations are rising from the four corners of the earth, and their number is like the sand of the sea. They will march up over the broad earth and surround the camp of the saints and the beloved city.." Inspired by the charismatic turd eater, the crowd presses on to the docks and commandeers a sixty-year old four-stack liner, the India Star; also (with the blessing of the prefect apostolic to the Ganges region, this time) another big ship, the Calcutta Star. In no time, the popular example has been imitated up and down the Ganges until a fleet of one hundred ships, carrying a million people between them, sails for Europe, the land flowing with milk and honey.

The West learns very soon of the fleet's departure, and its intended destination. The governments of Europe are made nervous by the thought of a million impoverished Third World refugees landing on their shores, but "the beast" or "monster" that has been subverting the West for the past two or three centuries is eager to accept this latest Trojan horse and exploit its possibilities for further subversion and destruction. The media, the churches (including the Catholic Church, headed by a Brazilian Pope), the educational and cultural establishments, the trade unions, most of government itself-all are united in their determination to welcome what the revengeful Ben Saud (an Algerian immigrant himself and grandson of a black slave, now enjoying an immensely lucrative career as a left-wing journalist under the name of Clément Dio) dubs the "Last Chance Armada" in the name of the brotherhood of man, and of Christian charity and love.

The President of the French Republic, though a secret contributor to La Pensée Nationale (a right-wing paper with a paid subscription of 4000), dares not set his government forthrightly against the armada. As the Ganges fleet approaches closer to Europe, the propaganda campaign on its behalf swells--concurrent with a mass migration of the French public from the southern coastal region to the north of France. The welcomers make two attempts to provision the ships (one from South Africa, the other from France), to which the refugees respond by throwing the proferred supplies overboard, along with the fresh-killed body of one of the few white passengers. And then, "At midnight, as Saturday passed into Sunday, the first minute of Easter, the day of the Resurrection, a great noise was heard along the coast, somewhere between Nice and Saint-Tropez. The prows of ninety-nine ships plunged headlong onto the beaches and between the rocks, as the monster child, waking from his cataleptic sleep, let out a triumphant cry."

As the President begins an address to the nation, he is resolved to announce his decision to order the French army to destroy the debarking hordes, now amounting to eight million people. Instead, he ends by departing from his script to exhort the troops to follow their individual consciences. As thousands of hippies, leftwing priests, and other sympathizers race southward to welcome the Ganges to France, the colored ghettos in Paris and other major cities rise up; most of the army defects to marauding gangs of radical students and other youths; prison guards free their prisoners; and the unions revolt, all in the name of creating a new world. The government of Paris collapses and is replaced by a "multiracial" coalition in which whites enjoy token representation. The most celebrated of the friends of the Last Chance Aramada (Clément Dio and two leftwing radio hosts among them) are brutally murdered by the people whose cause they had championed. White women are kidnapped and sent to brothels patronized by colored patrons. The narrator (who, we learn, is writing some time after the cataclysm that has brought down the white world, in an epoch in which history has been rewritten to standards of political correctness) explains that, "With France the Enlightened," inventor of the Rights of Man, "glad to grovel on her knees, no [Western] government [had dared] sign its name to the genocidal deed" of self defense in the face of racial incursions across Europe, and in the United States. Africans swarmed unopposed across the Limpopo River to attack South Africa. The Chinese invaded the Soviet Union beyond the Amur. In England, colored immigrants from the Commonwealth countries converged (with British politeness) on London, to demand that the royal family marry into the Pakistani community; in America, New York was taken over by revolutionary blacks. The Western World collapsed, the narrator explains, when the French Airforce dropped a bomb on a seventeenth-century villa overlooking the beach where the Last Chance Armada had landed, killing the owner of the house-one Monsieur Calguès, retired professor of literature--and nineteen other resisters. These numbered a former undersecretary for foreign affairs, an ex-deputy for Pondicherry, a tank commander, a duke and two of his servants, and the owner of an elegant brothel, who together had succeeded in reclaiming and holding a Free French, whites-only zone by means of a sniper war waged against the marauding Ganges immigrants and their French collaborators. "Just a victory Western style, as complete as it was absurd and useless," like M. Calguès' shooting of the hippy barbarian who had broken into his home at the start of the invasion-but achieved with panache and a sense of humor totally alien to leftists, and to leftism.

Thirty years after its publication in 1973, The Camp of the Saints has shown itself to have been prophetic, as Western Europe, North America, and Australia suffer invasion by scores of millions of immigrants from beyond the borders of the white world. Prophetic powers were not, of course, required to foresee the danger posed by global demographic trends compounded by the pusillanimity of Western governments "morally disarmed" (as James Burnham would say) by Third World suffering. Where Raspail demonstrates truly visionary powers is in his understanding of the process by which key left-wing elements in Western society, through their varying but related motives, combine naturally with aggressive external forces to cooperate in the destruction of the Western world. The death of the West, it seems, is as much or more a Western project than it is a Third World one. Certainly, it could not be accomplished by a hundred Last Chance Armadas alone, so long as the West retained a sense of its own identity, its nerve, and its selfconfidence intact. "In this curious war taking shape, those who loved themselves best were the ones who would triumph:" Those, that is, who feel "[t]hat scorn of a people for other races, the knowledge that one's own is best, the triumphant joy at feeling oneself to be part of humanity's finest.."

The modern West's paramount enemy is Hate in its social, ethnic, metaphysical, and theological forms: hatred of quality, hatred of racial differences, hatred of intelligence, hatred of Truth. Because all conflict is at bottom theological, this hate must be understood as satanic in its nature and origin. Its totem and figurehead is the turd eater's monster child from the Ganges, a deformed counter to the Christ Child in Whose name Western civilization assumed its form and development. And so it is not (Jean Raspail tells us) the West itself, but rather this same Child Who represents, finally, the object of attack from within and without what used to be called Christendom.

Magnificent as Jean Raspail's thunder is, perhaps the most moving scene in The Camp of the Saints is also its quietest and most elegiac. Coming at the beginning of the novel (in Chapter III), it describes M. Calguès' at supper by himself after having spent his day observing the ninety-nine rusted ships beached along the coast benlow his veranda. Having drunk a glass of wine and poured another, sliced a ham into fine slices and arranged them on a pewter plate, set out some olives, laid the cheese on a bed of grape leaves, and filled a basket with bread, he sits down to his meal with a contented smile.

"He was in love. And like any successful suitor, he found himself face to face now with the one he loved, alone. Yet tonight that one was no woman, no living creature at all, but a myriad kindred images formed into a kind of projection of his own inner being. Like that silver fork, for example, with the well-worn prongs, and some maternal ancestor's initials, now rubbed almost smooth. A curious object, really, when you think that the Western World invented it for propriety's sake, though a third of the human race still grubs up its food with its fingers. And the crystal, always set out in a row of four, so utterly useless. Well, why not? Why do without glasses, like boors? Why stop setting them out, simply because the Brazilian backwoods was dying of thirst, or because India was gulping down typhus with every swallow of muck from its dried-up wells? Let the cuckolds come pound on the door with their threates of revenge. There's no sharing in love. The rest of the world can go hang. They don't even exist.".

 

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