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Homeric Scholarship in the Alt-Right and its Anti-Globalising Agendas

Blaz Zabel

Durham University

The aim of this paper is to determine one specific aspect of the alt-right communities in their dealings with the classical tradition, that of globalisation and anti-globalisation. It is suggested that classics, antiquity, and especially ancient literature present an important platform for addressing questions of globalisation and testing out different position of, primarily, anti-globalising agendas by various members of the alt-right communities. Several questions are considered as part of the investigation: how the alt-right forms global/local identities, how they interpret multiculturalism and “progressivism” as a global trend, how they understand globalisation in academic politics, and how they address localisation and globalisation in interpretations of antiquity and ancient literature. This paper addresses these topics by focusing on one literary tradition that holds a privileged position in white nationalism and is often discussed by the members of the alt-right, that is, Homeric epic.

First, various positions by the alt-right on globalisation, localisation, and anti-globalisation not dealing with ancient literature or Homer are shortly outlined. A general overview of global and anti-global agendas advocated by the alt-right members is presented in order to determine the basic positions of the communities on globalisation. This offers comparanda for the analysis of the interpretations of classical and Homeric literature considered in the paper.

Second, this paper analyses online blogs, forums, and other media where alt-right communities are operating in order to examine different literary interpretations of the Homeric poems. It therefore considers how members of the alt-right, identitarian, white nationalist, man’s rights activists and other online communities interpret and understand the Homeric poems. It focuses primarily on two online “journals” The Occidental Observer and Counter-Currents, discussing articles that deal directly with Homeric epic. To this end, the paper analyses a longer entry in the The Occidental Observer entitled “Homer’s Odyssey” and a book-review of Donna Zuckerberg’s Not all white man and Emily Wilson’s translation of the Odyssey in the journal Counter-Currents. It is argued that these examples, which are representative of other discussions about Homer, act as an important platform for addressing topics such as globalisation, the Western canon, world literature, multiculturalism, or progressivism of academia.

Third, the paper discusses more detailed theories about Homer, which are primarily published in a form of “(pretending to be) academic” articles and monographs. The scholarly and theoretical pretence of these communities is well known, and classical studies are no exception. There has been a large body of works produced and published that we could describe as “alt-right classical scholarship”, or better, what is presented and accepted as scholarship by its members. This paper explores this phenomenon by investigating the work of two authors whose work is highly praised in the alt-right communities, Ricardo Duchesne and Dominique Venner, focusing specifically on the The Uniqueness of Western Civilization by Duchesne and Histoire et tradition des Européens by Venner. It is argued that these works directly use classical past and ancient sources such as Homer in order to engage with questions of globalisation and “traditional” identity in a globalised modernity.

The paper therefore explicates the basic arguments of the alt-right members on globalisation and anti-globalisation and suggests that interpretations of ancient literature, especially the Homeric poems, are primarily used for arguing against multiculturalism and globalisation in academia and the world, as well as testing different agendas for identity-building.

Session/Panel Title

Greco-Roman Antiquity and White Supremacy

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