May 19, 2022 Abdul Haqq

Great Replacement Theory: Fear of a Black Planet

The recent Buffalo, New York massacre[1] at the hands of another white supremacist has, once again, placed the spotlight on Great (also known as White) Replacement Theory:

“Once largely relegated to white supremacist rhetoric, “The Great Replacement” has made its way into mainstream consciousness in the past several years. From the chants of “Jews Will Not Replace Us” on the University of Virginia campus to then-U.S. Rep. Steve King’s tweeted protest, “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies,” to Fox News’ Tucker Carlson’s complaints that the Democratic party is attempting to “replace the current electorate” with “third-world voters,” the racist conspiracy theory has well and truly arrived.” [2]

It is important to acknowledge that this theory, which encapsulates both white fragility and white rage, is not new. In fact, as this article intends to illustrate, it is predicated upon a foundation of hypocrisy, guilt and fear as a result of historic, imperialist and colonial hegemony across the world in which European nations exerted various forms of ‘replacement’ strategies tantamount to the genocide of innumerable indigenous peoples. Examples will be provided to highlight the extent of this duplicitous theory and the relatively baseless assumption – particularly where North and South America are concerned – that Caucasians are either indigenous to those regions or are under threat of extinction and being replaced. It is an oxymoron to claim to be indigenous to a land after having invaded, colonised and ethnically cleansed or subjugated existing inhabitants.  In actuality, the latter have been replaced:

“Almost from Columbus’s arrival, Spanish colonists began to degrade and enslave indigenous American peoples, naming them negros da terra (Blacks from the land), transferring their racist constructions of African people onto Native Americans…

 Over the years that followed, they used the force of the gun and the Bible in one of the most frightful and sudden massacres in human history…” [3]

Theory Origins

The Great Replacement theory emanated from 20th century French nationalism and the literature of author and nationalist, Maurice Barres. However, more recently, it was another French writer and critic, Renaud Camus, who popularised the phrase in an essay, entitled “Le Grand Remplacement,” in 2011.[4] Similar to Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in Norway in 2011,[5] Camus believes that native white Europeans are being replaced by non-white immigrants from Africa and the Middle East in what would result in the eventual extinction of the white race.[6]

The Construction of Race: Its Origins

Award winning author Ibram X. Kendi makes an important observation seldom acknowledged during discussions regarding race:

“All in all, ethnic and religious and color prejudice existed in the ancient world. Constructions of races – White European, Black Africa, for instance – did not, and therefore racist ideas did not. But crucially, the foundations of race and racist ideas were laid.” [7]

As another renowned author, Achille Mbembe, articulates lucidly in his Critique of Black Reason:

‘The history of slavery and colonialism constituted the term “Black” as the name “of the slave: man-of-metal, man-merchandise, man-of-money.” The word “designated not human beings like all others but rather a distinct humanity – one whose very humanity was (and still is) in question. Blackness came to “represent difference in its raw manifestation – somatic, affective, aesthetic, imaginary.”

“Symbiotically, Whiteness “became the mark of a certain mode of Western presence in the world, a certain figure of brutality and cruelty, a singular form of predation with unequaled capacity for the subjection and exploitation of foreign peoples.” [8]

As highlighted above, ethnic, religious and colour prejudices have existed for millennia, however, as Mbembe outlines, race is a social construct, introduced primarily to commodify Blackness thereby justifying the transatlantic slavery of Africans:

“As practised by Europeans, both genocide and settler colonialism have typically employed the organizing grammar of race. European xenophobic traditions such as anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, or Negrophobia are considerably older than race, which, as many have shown, became discursively consolidated fairly late in the eighteenth century.” [9]

Settler Colonialism & Elimination of the Native[10]

At this juncture, it is necessary to juxtapose Great/White Replacement theory with patterns of behaviour that have followed European migrations (and invasions) globally. A picture will emerge illustrating the delusional premise of the above theory and its subsequent implausibility.

“With the expansion of European-dominated capitalist world system to the Australia continent in the late 18th century, the English settlers started terror and genocide on indigenous Australians to expropriate their economic resources and to takeover their homeland. These crimes against humanity had continued in the 19th century until the indigenous peoples were almost destroyed and the ownership of their land was entirely transferred to the English colonial settlers and their descendants.

These colonial settlers and their descendants have justified their theft and robbery of the resources of the indigenous people in the discourses of race, backwardness, civilization, and modernity.” [11]

Fast-forward to March 2019, the country’s now well established structurally racist and white supremacist apparatus enabled politicians, like Senator Fraser Anning, to implicitly endorse the Christchurch New Zealand attacker, Brenton Tarrant’s murderous campaign, killing 50 Muslim worshippers:

“…whilst this kind of violent vigilantism can never be justified, what it highlights is the growing fear within our community, both in Australia and New Zealand, of the increasing Muslim presence.

As always, the left-wing politicians and media will rush to claim that the causes of today’s shootings lie with gun laws or those who hold nationalist views but this is all clichéd nonsense. The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.” 

He continued:

“Let us be clear, while Muslims have been the victims today, usually they are the perpetrators. Worldwide, Muslims are killing people in the name of their faith on an industrial scale. The entire religion of Islam is simply the violent ideology of a sixth century despot masquerading as a religious leader, which justifies endless war against anyone who opposes it and calls for the murder of unbelievers and apostates.

The truth is that Islam is not like any other faith. It is the religious equivalent of fascism. And just because the followers of this savage belief were not the killers in this instance, does not make them blameless.”

Senator Anning’s offensive and tone-deaf comments were inexcusable and could never be justified; however, his historical amnesia regarding the bloody and genocidal establishment of what is now called Australia is reflective of a wider societal disease affecting many European/Caucasian dominated populations.  Xenophobia towards migrants from particular faiths or regions is unwarranted, unsubstantiated and wholly unacceptable, especially when considering these fears within a retrospective and historical context of how indigenous populations must have felt when their societies were invaded and lands occupied by those whose descendants now consider them home.

Australia is just one example of the socio-ethnic polarisation that exists in predominantly European populated and led societies. Often, indigenous and/or minority cultural groups that form the lower socioeconomic strata of society are marginalised and viewed through a securitised lens of suspicion as suspect or targeted communities, racism being the main undercurrent that inhibits any significant progress. Contrastingly, European/Caucasian members of society are afforded the luxury of white privilege as a result of the structural apparatus assembled to ensure their status quo remain intact vis-à-vis non-white groups:

“Being perceived as white carries more than a mere racial classification; it is a social and institutional status and identity imbued with legal, political, economic, and social rights and privileges denied to others.” [12]

Contextualising Colonial Terrorism: Calling a Spade a Spade

Penultimate considerations must include some key observations by those who, while not subscribing to the Great/White Replacement Theory, find some resonance with aspects of it. Empire building and imperial expansion came at a price; indeed, much of the infrastructure upon which Europe exists today was established as a result of its expropriation of land and wealth from indigenous peoples globally, alongside compelling countless others into servitude of the ‘system’. In fact, this is how today’s Commonwealth was born.[13] Academic, Asafa Jalata makes a poignant and relevant observation that deserves attention at this stage:

“Considering the historical and global context in which terrorism developed and intensified, we need a more comprehensive, historical, and broader definition of terrorism.

So, I define terrorism as a systematic governmental or organizational policy or strategy through which lethal violence is practiced openly or covertly to instill fear on a given population group beyond the direct victims of terror to change their behavior of political resistance to domination or the behavior of dominant group for political and economic gains or other reasons. State and nonstate actors use terrorism; the former has used it to maintain state power or to loot resources and the latter mostly to resist the oppressive and exploitative policies of states.” [14]

Within the historical context of colonisation and transatlantic slavery, he further notes:

“Beginning in 1492, European colonialists engaged in terrorism, genocide, and enforced servitude in the Americas and extended their violence into Africa through racial slavery. Then, in the 17th, 18th, 19 centuries, they incorporated other parts of the world into this system through colonial terrorism and genocidal wars. Most scholars have avoided providing a comprehensive and critical analysis and an objective definition and theorization of this aspect of the modern world system.” [15]

In light of the above challenges to indigenous – and displaced – populations, resistance was and continues to be considered an inevitable response. Malcolm X alluded to this when asked his opinion following the assassination of president John F Kennedy: “…the chickens were coming home to roost…” he replied, which was interpreted to mean that US imperialist behaviour and interference in other societies was now being revisited on the country.[16] This profound observation continues to reverberate across many societies today, particularly with entities that consider religious, international and domestic terrorism to be the ‘natural’ consequence of past (and continuing) western state legislated political and military violence.

A similar, equally evocative declaration that also captures the ensuing mood among some segments of society today is the rap group, Public Enemy’s song entitled, ‘Welcome to the Terrodome,’[17] depicting the environment of uncertainty and fear transposed on many as a result of US government policies.

So far as Europe is concerned, an emphatic response to the prevailing populist climate sweeping parts of Europe is that: “…we are here because you were there.” [18] Both post-war migration to Europe and the latter’s colonial dominance are eloquently captured in this now well known phrase; however, I would extend its meaning further to incorporate the replacement, displacement and effacement of innumerable indigenous peoples whose legacies we, as their descendants, are obliged – and honoured – to uphold.

Conclusion: Black to the Future

Post enlightenment and imperialist designs to introduce and perpetuate the construct of race have proved highly effective as can be witnessed today. Ethno-religious and cultural fissures continue to be exacerbated as a result of institutionalised and structurally racist policies:

“The fierce colonial desire to divide and classify, to create hierarchies and produce difference, leaves behind scars.” [19]

Unfortunately, many of us have inadvertently adopted race as a construct and it is now an intrinsic aspect of a somewhat entrenched narrative. We only challenge the concept when flagrant violations of rights, or acts of terrorism against particular ethnicities/populations are enacted and unless they – for those who consider themselves white – feel uncomfortable. If we begin to understand how this construct is now being redirected to encompass and capitalistically enslave us all via the utilisation of social media and technology, perhaps it would signal the demise in use of this toxic, divisive terminology and contribute towards a sea change in the manner we choose to engage societally:

“The potential fusion of capitalism and animism presents a further implication: the very distinct possibility that human beings will be transformed into animate things made up of coded digital data. Across early capitalism, the term “Black” referred only to the condition imposed on peoples of African origin (different forms of depredation, dispossession of all power of self-determination, and most of all, dispossession of the future and of time, the two matrices of the possible).

Now, for the first time in human history, the term “Black” has been generalized. This new fungibility, this solubility, institutionalized as a new norm of existence and expanded to the entire planet is, what [is called] the Becoming Black of the World.[20]





[1] Hayes, C; Johnon, K & Thornton, C: ‘At least 10 dead, 3 hurt in Buffalo supermarket shooting; Gov. Kathy Hochul blames ‘white supremacist’, USA Today, 14th May 2022:

[2] ADL.Org: ‘The Great Replacement: An Explainer,’: 19th May 2022)

[3] Kendi, I X: ‘Stamped from the beginning: The definitive history of racist ideas in America,’ The Bodley Head, London, 2017, p. 25

[4] Ibid

[5] ABC News: ‘Norway court denies parole to far-right terrorist Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people,’ ABC News, 22nd February 2022:

[6] ADL.Org: ‘The Great Replacement: An Explainer,’ 19th May 2022)

[7] Kendi, I X: ‘Stamped from the beginning: The definitive history of racist ideas in America,’ The Bodley Head, London, 2017, p. 17

[8] Mbembe, A: ‘Critique of Black Reason,’ (A John Hope Franklin Center Book), pp. 45-47:

[9] Wolfe, P: ‘Settler colonialism and the elimination of the native,’ Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, Journal of Genocide Research (2006), 8(4) December, 387-409, p.2

[10] Wolfe, P: ‘Settler colonialism and the elimination of the native,’ Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, Journal of Genocide Research (2006), 8(4) December, 387-409

[11] Jalata, A: ‘The Impact of English Colonial Terrorism and Genocide on Indigenous/Black Australians,’ Sage Open, July-September 2013: 1-12, p.4

[12] DiAngelo, R:’White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism,’ p. 24:

[13] The Commonwealth: (accessed 19th May 2022)

[14] Jalata, A: ‘The Impact of English Colonial Terrorism and Genocide on Indigenous/Black Australians,’ Sage Open, July-September 2013: 1-12, p.4

[15] Ibid

[16] Bender, A: ‘Chickens coming home to roost: Remember what Malcolm said,’ People’s World, 28th January 2021:

[17] Public Enemy: ‘Welcome to the Terrordome,’ (accessed 19th May 2022)

[18] These are the words of Ambalavaner Sivanandan, a Sri Lankan political essayist and anti-racism campaigner, excerpt from interview with Dr Ian Sanjay Patel, London School of Economics University, 16th April 2021:

[19] Mbembe, A: ‘Critique of Black Reason,’ (A John Hope Franklin Center Book)

[20] Ibid,

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