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[Park Sang-seek] From civilization to barbarism

On March 16 this year, Harrison Tarrant, a white Australian, killed 49 Muslims at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. He issued a manifesto titled “The Great Replacement.” He claimed that “Even if we were to deport all Non-Europeans from our lands tomorrow, the European people would still be spiraling into decay and eventually death.”

He emphasized that “our lands will never be the invaders’ (foreign immigrants’) lands.” However, he did not say that white people from the UK had invaded New Zealand, massacred the native people of color and colonized it. The fear of white people in the world now is that they may be exterminated or replaced by people of color.

This is called the “great replacement” by Renaud Camus. The fear of white Europeans these days is that sooner or later white Europeans will be replaced by non-Europeans, especially Arab and African non-whites, due to the increasing mass migration of Arabs and Africans and the drop in birthrate among white people in Europe. Camus has popularized the view that the presence of Muslims in France endangers French culture and Western civilization. Tarrant named his manifesto after Camus’ great replacement.

The fear of the invasion of non-Western civilizations in Western countries has been intensifying. Recently, confrontations between whites and blacks in America have increased. White supremacists in the riots in Charlottesville in 2017 shouted “You will not replace us,” which is also the slogan of the neo-Nazi group, Europa. In the US there has been only one calendar week without a mass shooting since 2013. Most incidents were related to racial relations.

There is a striking similarity between the anti-colonial movements in former Western colonies in the third world and anti-racial movements in the West -- as if the former had transformed into the latter. People of former Western colonies are migrating to their former colonial masters’ home countries. If Western powers had not colonized African countries, Africans would have been much less likely to migrate to Europe.

The massive migration of nonwhite and non-Christian people from third-world countries has touched off all kinds of extremist movements in Europe, Oceania and America. Relatively developed countries in Asia, such as Singapore, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, are safe from massive migration from third-world countries mainly because of either a long distance from African and Latin American countries, strict immigration laws or both.

Since the governments of developing countries are likely to continue remaining unstable, corrupt and incapable of expediting their economic development, their countries’ economies will most likely remain stagnant for a long time. To make the situation worse, the birthrates in third-world countries are increasing higher than ever. According to the UN, during the period from 2015 to 2050, half of the world’s population growth is expected to be concentrated in nine countries (three Asian, five African and the US). Under these circumstances, the number of migrants from the nonwhite world to the white-dominant world may increase faster and much more in the future unless Western countries completely block the entry of people of color from non-Western countries.

When the Cold War ended, people anticipated a more peaceful world. But the Cold War was succeeded by racial and religious wars. Racial conflicts are closely related to cultural and religious conflicts. Western civilization is founded on the Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian traditions, while non-Western civilizations are rooted in Confucian, Buddhist, Muslim or nativist beliefs. Neither Westerners nor non-Westerners can claim superiority over their respective civilizations. The most important criterion for the evaluation of civilizations should be whether a civilization can bring about peace, prosperity and fraternity for humankind as a whole, not just for a particular group.

In concrete terms, when a state works toward peace and prosperity simultaneously for its own country and other states, it is a civilized state, while a state that fights only for its own interests and prosperity is domestically civilized but internationally barbaric. On the other hand, any state in which any group of people regardless of race, ethnicity, region, sex and religion is discriminated or persecuted is also a barbaric state internally. I define barbarism as the opposite concept of civilization.

In my view, among the three slogans of the French Revolution -- liberty, equality and fraternity -- fraternity is more important than the other two, mainly because without liberty and equality, a state can survive, but without fraternity it can hardly survive. The reason is that if a state suffers from constant conflicts among its people, it cannot function properly and will disintegrate eventually.

All the racial conflicts, racial terrorist attacks, and all kinds of fear-mongering racist ideologies and theories are signs of the reversion of humanity to the primitive ages. The history of the state system has been a history of fraternity building as well as the realization of freedom and equality. If humanity fails to build the most ideal fraternity for humanity, war and conflict will never disappear from the globe. The state system by nature is not such an ideal system of fraternity. The increasing racial conflicts in states dominated by whites are a bad omen for the future of humanity as well as nation-states.

A realistic solution for the permanent eradication of conflicts among states has not yet been found. Humanity will have to live with the existing nation-state system unless it abandons its diverse racial, ethnic, religious, regional and ideological identities. Rapid globalization, the ever-deepening gap between the rich and the poor within and among states, and the ever-increasing contacts between different racial, ethnic, religious, regional and cultural and civilizational groups will continue to produce all kinds of terrorist attacks and mass murders. 

Park Sang-seek
Park Sang-seek is a former chancellor of the Diplomatic Academy of the Korean Foreign Ministry and the author of “Globalized Korea and Localized Globe” -- Ed.