How to Stop the Great Replacement
John Jackson, American Renaissance, October 20, 2023
Credit Image: © Imago via ZUMA Press
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Martin Sellner, Regime Change von rechts: Eine strategische Skizze (Regime Change from the Right: A Strategic Sketch), Verlag Antaios, 2023, €20, 304 pages (available only in German)
Readers may be familiar with Martin Sellner as the co-founder of the Austrian Identitarian Movement and one of the most prominent dissenters against mass immigration and multiculturalism in Europe. He has published three previous books, but the present one differs from all of them in its focus on strategy. As he points out, there is a great deal of commentary in our sphere on how things have gone wrong, but little on what exactly we can do about it. With this book he aims to rectify this.
Mr. Sellner begins with a description of the current situation:
If one looks at European post-war history from a culture-critical perspective, an image of decline presents itself. The deterioration of language, education and religion goes hand in hand with overaging. The collective refusal to procreate says everything about our society and our time. The larger community has no value. The joy of having a child no longer outweighs the sacrifice it demands. Instead, what counts is enjoying your life as long and excessively as possible, squeezing it like an orange to the last drop, to then exit the stage as painlessly as possible. . . . One last breath of the sacred surrounds only the “memorials” of our own guilt, in which ethnomasochism shows itself as the civil religion.
Into this decadent population the authorities have introduced “masses of young foreign men with low education and high tolerance for risk,” as well as different values. What were once majorities are becoming “repressed minorities” in their homelands. Parents take their children out of public schools where whites are attacked for their race. The native population is drained and demoralized while the newcomers are subsidized.
Mr. Sellner argues that this Great Replacement is the main political issue of our time. The main goal he suggests for the Right is therefore to maintain European ethnic cultures and identities, which will include remigration — sending immigrants back. This is to be achieved not merely by winning arguments or elections, but by engaging with what he calls metapolitics: that is, the theoretical and cultural bases for politics. Mr. Sellner covers “guiding strategies” which some on the Right follow, one of which he fully endorses. He also discusses numerous wrong approaches he calls “non-strategies.”
One non-strategy is the “Noah’s Ark tactic:” withdrawing from society and politics and developing practical skills such as agriculture with the hope of avoiding social decline. This can be done by fleeing from the cities, leaving the country, or forming small new communities. Mr. Sellner argues that such communities are unlikely to become self-sufficient, let alone influence society. In contrast to the biblical story from which this tactic takes its name, there is no reason to expect that the current “flood” will end unless it is stopped through political action.
Another non-strategy is to infiltrate the current elite. Would-be activists would obtain positions of power and influence without drawing attention to their views. At some point — although how and when is unclear — they would change the system from within, or use their position to support the movement. Mr. Sellner points out that by contrast, the successful “long march through the institutions” carried out by the Left beginning in the 1960s did not require secrecy, but was openly organized. He dismisses infiltration as a waste of human capital; those pursuing it avoid more practical involvement.
Another dead end is dubbed “X Day thinking:” The day is coming when there will be a sudden social collapse through a disaster such as an atomic war. The only action is preparing for X Day, at which point society will be saved through intervention by a secret militia or even by extraterrestrials. Mr. Sellner attributes this thinking to a feeling of helplessness, and argues that in an actual catastrophe it would cripple the Right.
The term “spiritual shift“ describes the hope that the main goals of the Right can be achieved purely in the world of ideas, such as by the development of a new political theory or a religious revival. Mr. Sellner characterizes this attitude as a product of intellectual vanity, as it assumes that ideas have the power to change society, simply by virtue of being correct. It is unlikely to influence either the masses or the government, because it engages directly with neither.
Furthermore, believers often put their preferred religious or ideological change ahead of the main goal of preserving the ethnoculture. They may claim that the nation cannot be preserved without a mass conversion to Christianity or the adoption of socialism or the abolition of the state. Not only does this encourage infighting, but it does not hold up under scrutiny. There are nations today that are not undergoing a Great Replacement — Mr. Sellner names Hungary, Japan, South Korea, and Israel — despite having many of the features that right-wing intellectuals criticize, such as capitalism and widespread atheism.
Readers may recognize the term “accelerationism” from Brenton Tarrant, the Christchurch mosque shooter who endorsed this in his manifesto. Although Mr. Sellner notes that most accelerationists do not support terrorism, their philosophy does not encourage productive engagement with politics either. As with “X Day thinking,” they assume they are powerless to influence politics. Instead, they encourage paradoxical actions such as voting for far-left parties in the belief that this will lead to intolerable extremes and hasten the collapse of the global system.
Mr. Sellner argues that accelerationists both over- and underestimate the current system. On the one hand, they claim that the system is “antifragile,” meaning that any conventional resistance only serves to strengthen it; the only thing that can make any difference is a breakdown of the supply chain, leading to shortages of basic goods. But this is no more certain than their belief that encouraging it to become more extreme will lead to such a collapse. As Mr. Sellner points out, some nations have clearly been more successful in defending their identity than others, despite being connected to the global system. Japan remains highly homogenous, while Germany does not, and the reason for this is not an invincible system, but the failure of the Germans to assert their own interests as a people.
Another tactic Mr. Sellner criticizes is the so-called “info war.” Some activists believe that change can be effected purely through dissident reporting and commentary. Content creators seek to maximize their audience at the expense of deeper thought. Like politicians, they often provide a simple and sensational narrative to attract more attention. They reject the ruling ideology, but it is often not clear what ideas they intend to replace it with. Furthermore, dissident media are inherently limited, as they are subject to censorship and deplatforming and do not receive the support from government and major corporations that mainstream media do. Without a broader strategy to gain influence over established news outlets, it is unlikely ever to surpass or replace them.
Although identitarians have held many public demonstrations, Mr. Sellner argues that protesting cannot be considered a strategy. For protesting to mean regime change, it would need to lead to “organized strikes and blockades which have the support of the majority,” which would be unlikely at present. Without further planning, actions such as occupying government buildings can lead to disaster, as happened on January 6, 2021, in the United States. Successful protest movements in the West have been connected to a broader strategy of lobbying and gaining power within existing institutions.
Another non-strategy imitates gangs. These groups tend to use fascist symbols and extreme rhetoric, condemning anything more palatable as “betrayal.” They unwittingly support the status quo by giving the public the impression that patriotism is something terrifying. They provide fertile ground for terrorist groups or government infiltrators, who incite them to commit crimes. There is no long-term goal here beyond controlling a particular “autonomous zone” or neighborhood.
One approach that Mr. Sellner says appeals to the “less educated” elements is what he calls the “constitutional turn.” Similar to the sovereign-citizen movement in the United States, German “Reich citizens” believe the current government and constitution of Germany are illegitimate. They believe the only legitimate constitution is that of the pre-Weimar German Empire and propose a new constitutional convention to restore the Reich. Mr. Sellner points out that it is not only the written content of the laws and constitution that matters, but how those in power interpret them. Even if the Reich citizens’ legal arguments were correct, no one in power agrees with them, so they have no force.
German identitarians have never formed a political party, and Mr. Sellner explains why. Similar to the info war, what he calls “parliamentary patriotism” tends to focus on mass appeal. Political parties avoid the most controversial ideas in the hope of attracting more votes. Neither their policies nor their rhetoric attack the ruling ideology directly. Indeed, they couch their policies in mainstream terms, for example opposing mass Muslim immigration “for the protection of sexual and religious minorities” or opposing gender ideology because it is not “real feminism.” This will never stop the culture from drifting further to the left.
Another interesting point made here is that receiving more votes does not necessarily mean more power. The patriotic FPÖ (Freedom Party of Austria) often gets more votes than the Green Party, but the latter has more metapolitical power. FPÖ voters are largely scattered in rural areas, while Green Party supporters are often better organized in urban areas and more likely to occupy positions of influence in the press, universities, and other key institutions. Their ideas thus have more effect on actual policy.
Ultimately more nationalist politicians will have to take power in order to reverse the Great Replacement, but a patriotic candidate can win an election and still be unable to implement his agenda. Even a head of state can be greatly limited in his effectiveness if his policies are still considered illegitimate or even immoral by the dominant ideology. Mr. Sellner refers here to sabotage by the justice system and the “Deep State” in the case of Donald Trump and other populist leaders.
Mr. Sellner rejects violence, not only on moral but also on strategic grounds. Militants have a shallow understanding of power, thinking the status quo consists simply of particular people who must be removed. This is bad metapolitics. The state depends on a certain degree of public sympathy. It is easy for the state to earn sympathy when defending against terrorist attacks or an attempted coup, but more difficult when it is cracking down on peaceful dissent. Violent resistance increases the state’s moral and metapolitical power.
Mr. Sellner refers to the book Why Civil Resistance Works. Investigating protest movements in various countries from 1900 to 2006, the authors concluded that nonviolent movements were more than twice as effective as violent ones. Nonviolent actions earn greater public support, and few people are willing to be involved in a militant movement. Furthermore, the training militant groups engage in is often so expensive that they must accept foreign funding, making them dependent on outside powers.
Mr. Sellner’s favored strategy is what he calls the “reconquista,” which involves retaking “cultural hegemony” from the Left. This means normalizing right-wing ideas that are currently outside the “Overton window.” This “window” has been drifting to the left for many years, so that defending European ethnic identities is now outside of it. The task for identitarians is to shift the window in the opposite direction.
This approach includes not only familiar activities such as passing out flyers, writing articles and books, and spreading ideas on social media, but also more dramatic public actions. These can take many forms, including banner drops over public buildings, street theater, or disrupting press conferences. The purpose of these actions is not to intimidate, but to inject identitarian ideas into the public discourse.
Mr. Sellner also encourages more direct-pressure campaigns, such as pushing to cancel the construction of a mosque or close an asylum center. He argues that such local efforts are now the most likely to meet with success, and that small victories will contribute to the greater goal.
The reconquista will ultimately require gaining power in the press and universities, as well as other institutions of the arts and culture. Mr. Sellner is not proposing a hostile takeover, but a change in the social climate, so that patriotic thinking becomes the norm. At the same time, sympathetic politicians will need to take office and implement policies to reverse The Great Replacement.
One obvious shortcoming of Regime Change von rechts for American readers is that it is in German, and no English translation is available. Otherwise, the one significant weakness of this book is that it can be difficult to read, as much of the writing is conceptual and metaphorical rather than concrete. At times it could stand to be more concise. However, it is still an inspiring text that deals seriously with all possible approaches toward right-wing politics. It has already been reviewed favorably by a politician with the AfD (Alternative for Germany), and we hope that with further exposure it will lead to better strategic thinking on the right.