ExtremismThe Great Replacement, White Genocide Theories: Prevalence, Scale, Proliferation

Published 10 July 2019

A new in-depth study of the Great Replacement and White Genocide, two racist conspiracy theories with hundreds of thousand followers – some of them violent — in Europe and the United States, has found that the proliferation of theses conspiracy theories was helped by their mainstreaming by elected officials, and the active promotion by alternative far-right media outlets.

A new report from ISD Global presents the findings of a project that investigated the prevalence, scale and nature of the ideologies and narratives that motivated the attack which left 51 dead and injured a further 50 more during Friday prayers at the Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand. The report explores the origins of the ‘Great Replacement’ and ‘white genocide’ theories and the dynamics and platforms which have allowed the ideas to spread. Using a combination of quantitative and qualitative analysis across mainstream and alternative social media channels, the report reveals significant mainstreaming of extreme-right narratives across social media platforms and in language and policies promoted by mainstream politicians in Europe and North America. This report provides recommendations for steps to be taken by technology companies, government and civil society to counter the spread of extremist ideologies.

Here are the three sections from the report:

Executive Summary
On 15 March 2019 a shooter killed 51 individuals and injured 50 more in an alleged terrorist attack during Friday prayers at the Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand. It is alleged that the attacker left behind documentation outlining his motivation for the attack. This so-called manifesto referenced two interlinked conspiracy theories which have come to dominate the ideology of the international extreme-right – the Great Replacement theory and the White Genocide theory.

These theories focus on the premise that white people are at risk of being wiped out through migration, miscegenation or violence. This sort of thinking is not new, and concepts which amplify ethnic and cultural differences between whites and non-whites have long been leveraged to justify conflict in supremacist circles. However, recently these concepts have come to dominate the ideology of extreme-right groups, providing the ideological glue which ties together an increasingly cohesive, networked and transnational extreme-right.

This paper explores the dynamics which enable the growth of this toxic ideology. It outlines the origins, internationalization and mainstreaming of these concepts. In particular, it focuses on the role of the Identitarian Movement, whose supporters are important proponents of the Great Replacement theory, and have increasingly advocated for remigration – the forced deportations of migrant communities to create an ethnically and culturally homogenous society.