White Replacement Theory is Fascism's New NameRoundup
tags: far right, racism, fascism, Great Replacement
Jason Stanley is a professor of philosophy at Yale University. His most recent book is How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them. Federico Finchelstein is a professor of history at the New School. He is the author of the forthcoming book Fascist Mythologies.
Since Anders Breivik killed 77 people in Norway in 2011, mass murders in the name of white replacement theory (WRT) have become prevalent. Many of these killers, including Breivik; Brenton Tarrant, the Christchurch shooter; and Payton Gendron, the suspect in the massacre in Buffalo, N.Y., are self-identified as fascists.
And yet, it’s easy to miss or even downplay WRT’s fascist origins and its current manifestations.
It’s not surprising that this resurgence of WRT comes as fascist political tactics — banning books and viewpoints associated with the political left, demonizing and then imprisoning members of the political and minority groups, creating tiers of citizenship between members of the dominant racial group and destroying democratic processes — are on the rise. WRT and its ideological predecessors have been central to fascist movements in Europe, Asia, the United States and elsewhere.
Today we’re seeing an emergent wave of new right-wing populist leaders throughout the world. And as with fascist leaders of the past, much of their political power is derived from questioning reality; endorsing myth, rage, and paranoia; and promoting lies. In this context, WRT is increasingly normalized. From Donald Trump to Viktor Orbán, prime minister of Hungary, these fascist ideas are shared at the highest level of so-called illiberal politics.
WRT, for instance, is central to Orbán’s explicit governing ideologies and also to the messages of powerful public figures such as Fox’s Tucker Carlson. Just days before addressing the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC), which chose to convene in Budapest, Hungary’s capital, Orbán placed WRT at the center of state ideology, declaring: “I see the great European population exchange as a suicidal attempt to replace the lack of European, Christian children with adults from other civilizations — migrants.”
To normalize something is to legitimate it, to make it a topic of legitimate public disagreement. These major figures have normalized WRT. The distortion of truth in the name of promoting an alternate reality is a phenomenon common in fascist history. In this context, the idea of replacement as a form of corruption and contamination is central to understanding the history of fascist thought.
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