"Does Classics want to continue to be tied to narratives of white male Euro-American supremacy?" tweets the founder of Facebook's sister and an editor of a "modern" journal of classics (((Donna Zuckerberg))). The title of the linked article is "We Condone It by Our Silence: Confronting Classics’ Complicity in White Supremacy," which is published at Eidolon.
One can only assume bad faith when leftists decide to study Classical European civilizations. These are the antithesis of everything they believe in. And naturally it is in bad faith; their purpose is to deconstruct the idea that Ancient Greece and Rome were the admirable founders of a great civilization that their successors have looked back to as a golden age. As an author at Social Matter puts it, Eidolon and their ilk "would have the Classics studied only by those committed to razing the edifice of Western civilization and salting its fields, so that no other poisoned fruit can arise therefrom."
Now for sure there are reasons why from the vantage-point of the present we might be critical of Greco-Roman civilization as a golden age or a justification for implementing various policies in our own context. It also covers a rather long span of time wherein society and its composition changed significantly. But to go so far as to try to decouple it from its literal dead white male foundation to deny history to contemporary identitarian movements is pure insanity. We live in a country whose founders took inspiration from Greece and Rome in almost everything they did, from having a Senate to allowing slavery. Even the architecture of this country (prior to the cultural revolutions of the 1960s) made a point of showing classical influences, if not outright replicating them whole.
What it comes down to is that these cultural marxist academics—or "social justice scholars" as the authoress puts it—simply hate anything that is too White, even if the subject is completely dead. Nothing is safe from these schismatics. Such historical revisionism aims to deny White people a source of primordial identity as other peoples have. Consider this passage:
If we want to reduce the numbers of casual racists and white supremacists who use classics to justify their racist views, we need to stop providing them with “facile narratives of static timeless white purity.” Before we can engage in critical reception, the first step is a critical engagement with the classical past.
Because apparently the problem with the classics, in addition to them being too exoterically White, is that the subject material itself is an argument for ethnocratic government:
We must not only engage issues of race/ethnicity, class, and gender in antiquity in our teaching and scholarship, but also we need to stop pretending that the worst thing the Athenians ever did was to execute Socrates and openly engage the true dark side of Classical Athens’ anti-immigration policies and the obsession with ethnic purity that lies at the heart of its literature, history, and philosophy.
In a time when hordes of Africans and Arabs and other swarthy foreigners are invading the shores of contemporary Greece and Rome, we need to have a conversation about how anti-immigration policies are never ever justified, not even if in the golden age of Western civilization they formed the bedrock of our most famous polity, Athens. That's the real relevance of the classics to today, countering anti-immigration narratives. If diversity is truly our greatest strength, how could the Athenians have possibly prospered without becoming a nation of Arabs, Africans, Asians, and Hispanics?
The authoress goes on to describe how a number of ancient figures and authors, including Pericles, Herodotus, Thucydides, and Hippocrates believed that the greatness of Athens came from what could only be described as blood-and-soil nationalism:
This superiority [over both non-Greeks and non-Athenian Greeks], as Pericles tells us, was premised on Athens’ singular character, a character unique because it was derived from the Athenians’ unique relationship to their land. Of the ancestors of the fallen soldiers, Pericles says, “They lived in the land without interruption in succession from one generation to the next, and handed it down to the present free by their excellence (aretē)” (2.36.1)... This passage ties the indigenous nature of the Athenians (many other Greeks, including the Spartans, considered themselves originally immigrants) to their inherent ability to perform excellent deeds.
So the Athenians believed that owing to their unbroken heritage as Athenian-born Greeks they were thus able to triumph over other peoples and achieve excellence. They were a people with a history and with a territory, both of which "classicists" who write for Eidolon wish to deny to White people, whether alive or dead.
We also learn that the Athenians had highly restrictive policies on who qualified as a citizen, that is to say a full member of the society. In what could only be hell on earth for progressive Jewish bloggers from California:
The real debates in Athens, however, often centered on who qualified for the label of “Athenian citizen.” The Athenians, obsessed with the idea of their ethnically pure indigenous status, promoted it in public speeches, in sculptures and paintings, in the architecture of the Erechtheum on the Acropolis and in pretty, painted pots. The attitudes that this myth represented, however, found less celebratory manifestation in their strict anti-immigration and citizenship laws... the law passed around 451 BCE restricted access to political power and other legal rights to only those born of both a citizen mother and father. Prior to this law, one needed only a citizen father.
So in ancient Athens, one had to be born to Athenians to be an Athenian, and ethnic purity was tied to the idea of the polity. This jus sanguinis was also transferable in the opposite sense, descendants of non-citizens were always non-citizens. Presumably there were exceptions made, but that sounds like a pretty sensible rule for a society interested in having continuity with its past. Most parts of the world outside of the Americas to this day still practice a form of jus sanguinis, though most allow for naturalization in ways Athens did not.
The authoress bemoans that immigrants had to register with the authorities and pay higher taxes at risk of being sold into slavery if they failed to do so. Even the "best and brightest," the H1B1s of their day, needed to be careful to obey the rules of their host country or they faced these same consequences. While I am not for enslaving anybody, that's one hell of a threat to keep people in line, and in the context of the ancient world where slaves existed as a class in almost every society, seems reasonable. Today's analogy would be deportation from the first world, to send foreign persons who transgress against our laws back to the world they belong to.
If you believe that Western Europe and the United States ought to become mimeses of Brazil, having a concept of citizenship based on the Athenian tradition is a problem, especially since people who think Western Europe and the United States should stay White majority might cite Athens as an example of what to do (because ancient Athens is promoted as something worthy of study and respect). And that would be absolutely horrible, for nationalists to be able to cite ancient sources as justification for policy. You should only cite something published in the last ten years by left-wing historical revisionists. No one should use the classics for anything except to denounce White people.
As such the authoress has to denounce Athenian supremacy because in addition to being argumentative fodder for "White supremacists," we also learn that it's (((bad for the economy))):
If there is a lesson to be learned from the study of Athenian anti-immigrant policy, however, it is not that their ethnocentrism was good and worked out for them. Rather, it is that there were negative consequences not only for the immigrant population, but also for the city itself. Xenophon, the philosopher-general, wrote... that the best way to prop up the Athenian economy... was to invite immigrants back into the city and to relax restrictions on “the right kind,” i.e., those who paid taxes and filled important economic roles in trade and business.
We should note though that this policy would have probably just included high-skilled non-Athenian Greeks, and maybe the occasional Egyptian or whoever. It would not have destroyed Athens, and is worlds apart from the policies that progressive White women like the authoress want for the United States and Western Europe, which is open borders with third world countries.
The conclusion of the article is really all one needs to read to get what the authoress wants (which is part of the reason why I have abstained from directly linking, because who really wants to read that many words on ancient White people = bad):
Dangerous visions of purity run throughout Athenian literature as in its laws. We should stop feeding ourselves a “noble lie” that Athens was and is “a model for enlightened progress”... we should seriously consider our own complicity in perpetuating this belief when we ignore, downplay, or fail to call out that Athens was an imperialist, anti-immigrant society convinced of its own superiority because of its ethnic purity, especially when looking to the classics to find lessons to help us in our tumultuous present. Otherwise, we give sanction by our silence to the classical past’s uglier tendencies and embolden those who would use it as justification for present racism and misogyny.
I think I'm starting to like this Athenian democracy stuff. Hail Pericles! Hail our people! Hail the autochthonous state!