Racist site uses Roman military to question narratives of oppression

The Alternative Hypothesis is a “race science” site offering “an alternative to the status quo perspective on issues like race and diversity” such as how “racial diversity does a great deal of societal harm.” One of their recent articles claims that “grievance narratives” about the historical and current oppression of people of color are “fake or exaggerated.” The article recounts many examples from 20th century history intended to support this argument, including that dictators Muammar Gaddafi, Mao Zedong, and Francisco Franco employed “foreign armies to oppress natives.” This is supposed to show that ethnic minorities should be regarded as oppressors, not as the oppressed. The only pre-20th century example cited is the “‘Barbarian’ troops from Gaul and Germania” that “the Romans would bring in…to suppress revolts in Rome.”

Like other race science sites Pharos has documented, The Alternative Hypothesis claims to use empirical evidence to prove the superiority of white people with topics including “Race and IQ,” “Race and Crime,” and “The Impossibility of Equality.” This article in particular is the first in a series promoting what the author calls “First Worldism,” by which he means rejecting claims of harm resulting from “slavery, colonialism, segregation” and opposing “leftist” politicians who “are all about the third world.” Such politicians, he claims, “support both third world government policies and third world genetics,” the latter of which alludes to the frequently articulated fear among white supremacists that the “white race” is in danger of extinction as a result of immigration and increasing rates of marriage between people of different ethnic backgrounds.

The Roman example seems to be intended to add historical depth to the 20th century examples, but in fact exposes the weakness of his argument

In order to argue for skepticism about claims of historical oppression he emphasizes supposed racial differences between army and citizens: he claims that “blacks were more likely than Libyans to be part” of the forces Gaddafi used against “Caucasian Libyans” and that Franco’s forces, which he claims included Moroccans, were “more racially diverse” than the Republicans. These characterizations impose the artificial category of race onto conflicts in which race should more properly be regarded as part of the dictators’ propaganda, as becomes clear when one considers the article’s claim that Romans using Gauls and Germans against their own citizens provides a historical parallel to its 20th century examples. The Roman example seems to be intended to add historical depth to the argument, but in fact exposes its weakness.

It is true that the Roman army included units called auxilia made up of non-citizen soldiers, and it is true that these forces were used inside the boundaries of the Roman Empire. They were not, however, deployed against Roman citizens, as the article claims, but against non-citizen tribes that revolted (sometimes themselves led by auxilia). This amounts to a disturbing practice of pitting soldiers against those of similar origin, not a parallel for the inter-racial conflict between mercenaries and citizens that The Alternative Hypothesis is trying to find in both ancient and modern times to support its claim that oppressed people are often guilty of oppression.

It is unsurprising that a site dedicated to perpetuating "race" as a meaningful category would seek to inject that category into its version of history

The article does not specify what period of the empire’s long history it has in mind, but as early as the reign of Claudius the distinction between “foreign” and “citizen” on which the article’s argument hinges began to disappear as troops in auxilia were granted citizenship at the end of their service, and all of them at any stage of their careers became citizens with the extension of citizenship to all freeborn men within the empire in 212 CE. Roman law prevented the support of any truly “foreign” armies by prohibiting the export of military weapons to Germans, and in all periods in which Rome can justly be described as an “empire,” its population (including that of the military) was so culturally and ethnically diverse that it makes no sense to try to identify racial differences between its army and citizens, as is implied was the case in the article’s more recent historical examples. This lack of understanding of the Roman military casts serious doubt on the accuracy of the article’s characterization of later history. But it is unsurprising that a site dedicated to perpetuating “race” as a meaningful category rather than as a social construct would seek to inject that category into its version of history.

Despite its “scientific” veneer the Alternative Hypothesis‘ affinity for traditional white supremacy is evident from its claim that “first world traits” such as “free speech,” “consensus building,” and “anti-authoritarian views of knowledge and truth” are “most epitomized” by western Europeans. It goes on to align itself with “Nordicist” claims of northern European racial superiority, claiming that “Europeans further north epitomize these traits more than Europeans further south.”

This form of racism often blends into xenophobia, which is also on display when the article’s author writes that “third-worlders moving into Europe” see “mass immigration…as a form of conquest, and to the extent they think about anything at all, are puzzled by how dumb white Europeans are.” This description of immigrants as violent conquerors is reminiscent of other xenophobic articles that Pharos has documented which, like the The Alternative Hypothesis, invoke Roman history to claim that human migration poses a threat to “western” values.

The Alternative Hypothesis features advertisements so we have linked to archived images of the page to avoid generating revenue for them. The article itself can be viewed here.

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