The infamous work of social fiction was no doubt eerily prophetic. However, does the undeniably racist potboiler have any redeeming qualities outside of its prescience?
"I had wanted to write a lengthy preface to explain my position and show that this is no wild-eyed dream; that even if the specific action, symbolic as it is, may seem far-fetched, the fact remains that we are inevitably heading for something of the sort. We need only glance at the awesome population figures predicted for the year 2000, i.e., twenty-eight years from now: seven billion people, only nine hundred million of whom will be white."
- Jean Raspail, award winning French author and racist motherfucker in the introduction to The Camp of the Saints (1973)
Generally speaking, I think the term "racist" gets thrown around way too much these days. Once a colloquialism used to describe continental Europeans who subscribed to a pseudo-scientific belief that Caucasians were genetically superior to non-Caucasians, the nomenclature is now used to pigeonhole anyone even suspected of holding even the teeniest, tiniest prejudice or mistrust of anyone with more melanin than they have - be it actual or merely perceived - even if they don't believe they are genetically superior specimens. And of course, non-whites can't technically be racist, because to be that, you have to have some semblance of "institutional power" - a self-defeating caveat, really, because that means all of the poor, marginalized and economically obsolete rubes and hayseeds in the Klan and neo-Nazi skinhead metal bands and militias that think the New World Order is out to get them - by Jesse Jackson's own definition - can't be racist because, they too, lack any "institutional power."
That said, Frenchman Jean Raspail is racist as fuck no matter which definition you subscribe to, and his magnum opus The Camp of the Saints stands out as perhaps the only other work of fiction in human history to rival white power screed The Turner Diaries in terms of unrepentant, balls-out, brazen bigotry. But what makes this otherwise unremarkable little agitprop from the early 1970s so significant today is that it - for lack of a better term - prophesied the ongoing European refugee crisis nearly a half decade in advance.
OK, so there are some clear discrepancies between what's happening today in the Euro zone and the events in Raspail's hate-fueled novel. But all things considered, his tome - about scores of poor, Third World refugees flooding into the continent - cannot be considered anything other than eerily prescient.
Interested in seeing what all the hubbub is about, but don't really feel like having to flip through the entire thing to find out? Thankfully, I've read Raspail's anti-immigrant tirade for you, and in proud Internet is in America tradition, condensed the novel into a more easily digestible, Cliff Notes form for the masses.
All right, so the book begins with this guy named Calgues, an old professor, watching hundreds of ships - each containing 80,000-plus Indians - roll into the bay through his binoculars. He observes how their "little Gandhi arms" move when they toss their dead into the ocean waters. The air smells like a latrine, he says, and he lets us know that everybody else in the village left town before they arrived. Mozart plays on the radio, and Calgues talks some more about his 300-year-old house and the smell of dead refugees burning on gargantuan funeral pyres. The Thames and Rhein are no Ganges, he says, and that people are naturally conditioned to only love those alike themselves.
It's Easter. The old literature prof encounters a long haired looter, who said the refugees are new Christs and he can't wait to shoot up dope. They trade philosophical barbs for a bit, with Calgues going off on a rant about Charles Martel, the KKK and Algerian terrorists. Then he shoots and kills the looter. He returns to his dinner table and eats goat cheese, ham and wine, reflecting on how Brazilians and Indians don't use forks or cups. The disembodied narrator then explains how the refugee crisis emerged via direct mail and guilt tripping:
"Soon you saw them on television, hordes of them, churning up, dying by the thousands, and nameless butchery became a feature, a continuous show, with its masters of ceremonies and its full-time hucksters. The poor had overrun the earth. Self-reproach was the order of the day; happiness, a sign of decadence. Any pleasure? Beneath discussion. Even in Monsieur Calgues’s own village, if you did try to give some good linen away, they would just think you were being condescending. No, charity couldn’t allay your guilt."
In New York, Dr. Norman Hailer talks about how quiet the ghettos are, and how much society purportedly loses with the annihilation of white culture. In Calcutta, a Belgian consul speaks with an irked Sikh who is mad because her fattened up baby isn't going to be adopted. Admonished by supervisors, the consul accuses them of hating their own whiteness:
"Have you any idea how many children from the Ganges here have been shipped off to Belgium? Not to mention the rest of Europe, and those other sane countries that closed their borders off before we did! Forty thousand, that’s how many! Forty thousand in five years! And all of you, so sure you could count on our people. Playing on their sentiments, their sympathy. Perverting their minds with vague feelings of self-reproach, to twist their Christian charity to your own bizarre ends. Weighing our good, solid burghers down with a sense of shame and guilt."
We are introduced to one of the consul's superiors, a globalist atheist philosopher named Ballan. Meanwhile, the disembodied narrator keeps referring to Indians as, and I quote, "turd eaters." He also lets us know that in Paris, large swaths of the city's ghettos have fallen under the control of Arabs.
Ballan walks along the Ganges and sees a whole bunch of Hindu corpses. He waxes philosophically about how stupid religion is and helps a few thousand or so Indians board a massive steamer called the India Star. Apparently, he cut a deal with some Chinese fellows to send them a-sailin' to Europe. And for his humanitarian efforts, he is subsequently trampled to death by an Indian mob and drowns in the dead body-clogged waters.
The anti-immigration consul has a weird exchange with a fellow statue about what kind of cologne he uses. Then, two Russian general survey a field with millions of Chinese trying to cross the border. They mull killing them all and then they talk about hermaphrodites for a bit.
The French President authorizes a guy named Jean Orelle to be the government's official spokesman to the media. We meet Clement Dio, half-African publisher of a liberal newspaper, who lobs bubblegum soft questions at him The narrator recounts Dio causing a stir, turning a story about Arabs getting gonorrhea in public pools and being prohibited from entering the facilities into a scandal about racist public policies (and my goodness, how THAT little anecdote became quite the self-fulfilling prophecy!)
We find out the mass immigration movement has expanded to England, Germany and Italy, with Africans, Arabs and Chinese and joining the Indian throng. Apparently, all of these people are hopping aboard steamers (paid off by continental globalists, it is strongly alluded to but never directly stated) and sailing around Africa into Europe.
A guy named Durfort goes on the radio and says the immigrants represent "a peaceful prison revolt." A newspaper editor named Machefer gets a huge payoff from the pro-immigrant European movers and shakers to write stories supporting their agenda. Among the biggest fans of his work? None other than the Pope himself.
Australia is deemed racist and fascist for refusing immigrants (once again, the incredible foresight!) while a Greek captain named Notaras runs over a boat full of Indians with his boat, which causes a global uproar. The International Ganges Refugee Commission takes advantage of the furor and opens up a new HQ in Rome. The narrator recounts how Egyptians almost blew up the India Star and how its passengers rejected South African food because they didn't like their apartheid way of doing things (which the media spins into a false narrative of the immigrants rejecting the food because they thought it had been poisoned.
Millionaires and world leaders from all over travel to São Tomé to greet the passengers of the India Star. Back in France, the newspaper press operators union goes on strike. The immigrants make their way through the Strait of Gibraltar and arrive in Spain. Immediately, the narrator lets us know, dozens of strangled white corpses begin washing ashore. Elsewhere, Indonesians begin floating en masse to Australia, the Chinese run into Russia territory and boats are getting stolen left and right all over Pakistan and Africa.
In France, towns are evacuated. Paris turns into an anarchic street party. Dio's Chinese girlfriend gets drugged in a bar and is apparently gang-raped. (Mass sexual assaults on locals perpetrated by refugee mobs? Absolutely absurd!)
The President, now realizing the urgency of the situation, asks the military and police to fight back against the million-Indian strong horde - with like, tanks and shit. Thousands of French defenders begin dying by the hour. Guerrilla warriors start giving blow jobs to learn how to make Molotov cocktails. Industry shuts down and the entire nation falls into bedlam. Cue this rather delightful little sliver of (not at all) blunt commentary:
With millions of us and billions of them, we couldn’t have held out much longer. Now we’re swept up in the Third World tide, and it’s clear that their instinctual drives have won out hands down. Everything has changed. The way people talk, the way they behave, the rhythm and rhythms of life, the play of emotions, the level of production. A whole new outlook. Even their way of not giving a damn. (Then too, with sexual appetites given free rein, it seems that the white has become Third World, though the Third World hasn’t turned white in the bargain.)
Amidst all this social upheaval, the narrator tells us Paris becomes something of a black utopia. Following a high-larious anecdote about a Jewish barkeep forced to sell his business off at half price, we get another quotable gem:
Now, it’s a known fact that racism comes in two forms: that practiced by whites— heinous and inexcusable, whatever its motives—and that practiced by blacks—quite justified, whatever its excesses, since it’s merely the expression of a righteous revenge, and it’s up to the whites to be patient and understanding.
When everything in society suddenly stops functioning rationally, that’s when the misfits crawl out of the woodwork. And with them their resentments, their utopian visions, their neuroses and psychoses. Mad dogs on the loose. A merry-go-round of feeble minds, free at last of all social fetters...Sex crimes, small and large, were rampant on that night of nights. From indecent exposure to all the rest. Never had so many organs dangled from so many unzipped flies.
The clergy gathers to discuss the Book of Revelation - you know, all that stuff about Gog and Magog and the Battle of Meggido and all that jazz. And if you're wondering about the allegorical nature of the book's title, here's the part where they sum it all up for you. And - naturally - this leads to priests forming a paramilitary group and opening fire on the dissident mobs with machine guns. Well, how else did you think they were going to resolve the conflict -good old fashioned Christian piety?
A huge wave of Indians enter the French village and start looting like crazy. They marvel at lighters and razors as if such mundane consumer goods were the most awe-inspiring utensils ever. Oh, and there are rapes all the time, always. Just wait until you get to the part about the - and I quote - "White Female Practice and Experimentation Center."
And here's where shit really goes off the deep end.
Dio is killed by the mob. Another huge steamer - this one called the Calcutta Star - rolls into the harbor. The Pope dies in a plane crash. France collapses in like, two days, the black folks take over New York and the Chinese more or less annex Russia. A new government - called the People's Assembly of the Paris Multiracial Commune - rises. They immediately ban the free press and mandate women only mate with men of color.
This leads us to the book's thrilling denouement, in which all of the racist protagonists introduced earlier in the book - the machine-gun-toting priests and the hippie-slaying professor and the bigoted consul from Belgium and the Greek captain who squashed a whole bunch of brown people under his boat - set up a blockade ... or, a proverbial "camp of the saints," if you will. They talk about turning city hall into a fortress, blowing up houses and taking a final tally of all the black folks they kill. No, seriously.
Of course, the whole affair ends with the "heroes" suicide bombing the village as soon as the hordes of tan people try to invade it. We get a postscript from the disembodied narrator - who tells us Switzerland has just become the last European nation to open its borders to immigrants, thus signifying the end of "white culture" as we know it - and this one is all over, folks.
Well, I probably don't need to tell you this, but holy damn shit, was that one prejudiced-ass book. Believe it or not, Raspail - now age 91 - is still kicking, and despite writing a dystopian white power opus praised by neo-Nazis to this day, his career never really took a hit from penning The Camp of the Saints. In fact, he has written about two dozen books since, even winning the prestigious Grande Medaille d'Or des Explorations in 2007. Yes, just three years after his incendiary anti-immigrant tirade "The Fatherland Betrayed by the Republic" garnered an (ultimately fruitless) lawsuit from the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism.
Of course, considering Europe's ongoing migrant crisis, it is pretty hard to not look back on The Camp of the Saints ... as racist and depraved and probably dangerous as it is ... and not see it as a peculiarly prophetic tome. Alas, although the book's undeniably curious premise may goad one into investigating its contents, I am afraid the work - as both apocalyptic fiction and racist propaganda - is a rather humdrum literary endeavor. Never mind Norman Shapiro's clumsy translation (by the way, the dude is STILL employed at Wesleyan College, despite having a treatise about genocide fantasies on his resume), Raspail's pell-mell writing style makes The Camp of the Saints an often headache-inducing labyrinth of logorrheic run-on paragraphs and curt, incomplete sentences that are sometimes so devoid of context as to be indecipherable. All in all, it is just a laborious screed that drags on forever, with a surfeit of subplots and meandering non-sequiturs that lead to absolutely nothing. Oh, and did I tell you this stuff is unrepentantly racist horse shit? Because it is.
As one of the most prolific pieces of hate literature of the 20th century, is The Camp of the Saints worth going out of your way to read - if only to walk away with a better grasp of the bitter ideology fueling xenophobic, ultra-conservative racists in Europe? Well, you can give it a try, but frankly, I didn't learn shit from the book. Even with something like Unintended Consequences or The Turner Diaries, you at least get SOME clarification on what the "belief systems" of anti-federalist gun nuts and violent white nationalists are. With The Camp of the Saints, however, everything remains murky and unclear, with no real motivations or origin points for the protagonists' zealous prejudice ever becoming intelligible. The Camp of the Saints paints a childishly simplistic world where the vilified other are virtually non-dimensional stick figures with the murderous herd instinct of the monsters from the Alien movies, whereas the merry, anti-liberal white supremacists are merely depicted as self-justified "victims" simply defending their home turf from the barbarian hordes. Granted, nobody ever walks into such vitriolic propaganda expecting a well-argued reason for their vicious ideologies, but you can at least try to make some kind of appeal that exists beyond the infantile "us vs. them" false dichotomy.
So yes, The Camp of the Saints is undelibly noteworthy - after all, it did indirectly predict a mass third world refugee deluge 42 years in advance. Unfortunately, while that soothsaying may be impressive, The Camp of the Saints is hardly anything more than a turgid, self-fellating piece of fantastical white power nonsense that's too shortsighted (or too dim) to even attempt to justify its dreadful rhetoric with some kind of meaningful philosophy - or even a quasi-decent rationalization for its blatant prejudice.
As racist propaganda, Raspail's novel is certainly a disheartening affair. But even with its hateful politics completely factored out of the equation, The Camp of the Saints is still a long-winded, boring and clumsily worded chore that's so poorly cobbled together, it will literally give you headaches trying to figure out what the hell the author's point actually is.