11am, 8th March 2023
Waurn Ponds: IC2.108
Zoom link here.
Becoming Unhinged: Political Anxiety and Racist Fantasy
Jean Raspail’s The Camp of the Saints (1975)  is perhaps the most influential racist book in the world today. It is the book that inspired the Great Replacement conspiracy theory, the fantasy narrative guiding today’s neofascism in America and France (and beyond). Reportedly Steven Bannon’s favourite book, it impacted on Trump administration immigration policy, and it is set reading for the English-speaking Alt-Right. In this paper, I propose that the novel tells us something about rightwing authoritarian radicalization that is otherwise difficult to detect. By presenting the racist fever dream in the form of a narrative fiction, The Camp of the Saints provides crucial insight into how the fantasy scenario and political anxiety are related. I analyse the novel, concluding that the paradox according to which racist fantasy increases, not decreases, anxiety, clarifies why such representations are important recruitment tools. It also explains something about the logic of “pre-emptive retribution” involved in racist violence.
Note: This paper includes direct citation of passages of racial vilification from this racist novel.
Dr Geoff Boucher is an Associate Professor in Writing and Literature. He is the author of several books on literature and society, including The Charmed Circle of Ideology (2008), Understanding Marxism (2012) and Adorno Reframed (2012). He is also the author (with Matthew Sharpe) of The Times Will Suit Them (2008) and Zizek and Politics (2010). His most recent book is Habermas and Literature (Bloomsbury Academic, 2021). Geoff’s expertise is in Frankfurt School Critical Theory, Marxism and post-Marxism, and Lacanian psychoanalysis. He is working on projects on authoritarian politics, fantasy literature, Shakespeare after Zizek and retrieving Althusser.