Tuesday 11th of December 2018

the dark ages...

strasbourg cathedral

This is a severe case of proportional loading the scope of individual western wellness onto a global scale. And Mr Pinker, we’re all going to die from whatever, diseased or not.

 

"By many measures of human flourishing the state of humanity has been improving," renowned cognitive scientist Steven Pinker says, a view often in contrast to the highlights of the 24-hour news cycle and the recent "counter-enlightenment" movement of Donald Trump.

"Fewer of us are dying of disease, fewer of us are dying of hunger, more of us are living in democracies, we’re more affluent, better educated … these are trends that you CAN’T easily appreciate from the news because they never happen all at once," he says.


http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-23/steven-pinker-says-the-world-is-be...

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Two-third of the world population, despite having mobile phones, lacks clean running water and there are still some people killed by wars which are often waged on our “Western” behalf, on someone else’s patch. The human population has grown faster in recent times, and this is because we can deal with more of us by twiddling the knobs of food production with mechanisation and tampering of genetic material — genetic selection or genetic manipulation — as well by managing a longer life span than humans in the past due to medical care that include vaccination, care for the “aged", less infant mortality and better hygiene, and by constantly starring “enemies" down the barrels of nuclear confrontation. 

As fewer of us die of hunger, it is possibly in proportion with the rest of us — we, westerners, often suffering from being too well fed — not in the intrinsic number of people who suffer hunger, a number which could be higher now than in the past due the large increase in the human world population. 

I appreciate Pinker’s optimistic position in regard of our better lot which, nonetheless, demands vigilance. Many Baby Boomers count their lucky stars while worrying about the future, the uncertain legacy they have left for their kids and descendants. I would argue that with, say, a nuclear war of some sort, Pinker's point would be out of the window in a nanosecond. The threat of such nuclear war is not “esoteric”, but in the unfortunate realm of possibility. Pinker’s views strongly relies on our improved ability to dodge bullets while maintaining peace and improved health… As well, as our lot "improved", nature declined fast and now the planetary carbon equation is getting out of balance in ways which will upset many people. 

Sure the news cycle is about showing disasters and “bad news”. That is the inherent construct of “news” and of “history". The “all’s well” does not sell papers nor advertising space on TV. News is about commerce. The women’s mags have to find scandals, marriages on the rock, “mysterious” dietary indulgences from this royal or that movie star. They will relent on the “bad news” with pictures of “the happy couple”, especially princesses, to make us dream while keeping us at our happy toiling station. “News” is a distraction — a new religion that keeps us away from asking the questions about the real dynamics of our systems. "News” has dulled our relationship with our democracies by massaging the moral hubris and values of our actions — and by often telling lies with biased interpretation of events.

The recent "counter-enlightenment" movement of Donald Trump is not the first manifestation of this modern unease… It is one of the symptoms, not the core problem. Our politics have shockingly been inept for a long time. That we never had it so good, is mostly due to our sciences that have helped in improving our lot. Yet sciences are still under the gun of mad religious mobs, despite these mad religious mobs profiting from the improvements. And we still could be in the wrong place at the wrong time when strife, independently of us, strikes. See happiness as defined by Rousseau as good food, good health and a good cook.

Between 400 and 1400 AD, a dark period of European history took place. This period has often been ignored by modern elitist people, and misunderstood by most of us, even as we enjoy playing humming-and-erring tourists while visiting cathedrals. It’s called the “Middle Ages”, sometimes called the Dark Ages. The Middle Ages had a very distinctive complex dynamic of parallel kingdoms, from which Europe eventually shook the Roman Empire and, in some ways, regressed in philosophical invention and understanding of things until the surge of the Renaissance — and later on, with the advent of the Enlightenment. During this 1000 years, theatre had been decreed illegal, as most theatre before that, had been satirical, enlightened and provocatively anti-establishment. The arts became under the control of the church and kings. But this period of “dark” unenlightement — despite a few brief moments of humanistic lucidity since the Enlightenment — seems like it never quit the human species. “Dark” misunderstanding is still ingrained in our present power struggle and our illogical beliefs. Enlightenment never fully came to most of us despite our sciences. We are happy being flotsam in the jetsam...

It appears that the Western world, led by the US empire is crumbling. Under its own belief in itself and its belief in its godly right to be the most powerful nation on the planet, the US empire seems to be intent in taking the entire world down with its precipitous downfall. There is this bad moribund smell about it. So, we are placed at the crossroad of uncertainty, where idiots can rule over massive destructive powers — unfortunately provided by enlightened sciences. Sciences and arts are the only powers of sanity left to lead us peacefully into the future, though many people, especially believers of godly rights, try hard to ignore sciences of try to corrupt them for dubious purposes. Arts, meanwhile, have become less politically engaged than they were in the first part of the 20th century. There is a lot of personal self-indulgent navel gazing going on. Arts have blown the brief time of freedom that challenged the institutions, by becoming insular and fragmented.

I thus see parallels between the dark aspect of this Middle Ages period laced with plagues, wars, bunfights, limited philosophical scope and pestilence, and our modern era in which we could get into trouble, especially with anthropogenic global warming and the predicted end of antibiotics. One of the contradictory dynamics that lead to this downfall is also our false concept of freedom, which is confused, abused and mixed with a decent bleeding heart generosity that leads to the dilution of our secular values and badly protected by our military expeditions based on deceit —  bombing adventures that encourage resentment amongst other nations whether they are “free” or not.

Meanwhile, Russia and China have emerged— they’d never left —, as well as other kingdoms to deal with, not to be eradicated but to be accepted as they are — though presently, they have to work harder to maintain their own hubris in the face of successive loony Hollywoodian US Presidents...

Yet, during the dark ages, say 1000 years ago, skilled people managed to build churches taller than one and a half football field in length to use the Olympic swimming pool analog system of measurement. Of course some of these taller and taller buildings collapsed under their own weight. Engineering was poor until the Renaissance. Il Duomo di Firenze, begun in 1296 in the Gothic style of the Middle Ages, designed by Arnolfo di Cambio, was only completed structurally in 1436, at the beginning of the Renaissance, with the dome brilliantly engineered without scaffolds by Filippo Brunelleschi. So these days a lot of what we do is based on “engineering”, except our moral behaviour...

What is engineering? Engineering is the ability to calculate and predict the behaviour of materials before constructing anything. Musk's rockets need to be engineered. Here, materials will be tested for their resilience and combustion output, before construction begins. And this does not mean the thingster is not going to explode. A small error in construction can be and will be catastrophic.

Human history does not really repeat itself, as rockets like those of USA and of the Russians did not exist during the Middle Ages. But in recent human evolution, there are historical similarity of cyclic behaviour. Though, as humans, we have advanced our technologies mostly beyond repeat of basket weaving, our philosophical respondency is still lagging behind, as too many of us are still believing morons, due to Hollywood (Star Whores, Horrid Potter, etc) and other witchcrafted artifices like the Churchian theatre — and our democratic right to be the lowest educated denominator possible. 

Here are some key moments of the dark ages in a loosely exposed chronology. I say loose because many events were concurrent, while not strongly related:


The crumbling of the Roman Empire nearly came when a couple of Germanic tribes in the second century defeated the Roman armies, until, on the cusp of destroying Rome, they were defeated by the excellent strategy of Caius Marius. The Visigoths were one of two main branches of the East Germanic tribe known as "Goths" (the other tribe was the Ostrogoths). The Goths were among the Germanic peoples who disturbed the late Roman Empire during the Migration Period, following a Visigothic army led by Alaric-the-First that managed the sacking of Rome in 410. The Roman Empire barely survived a few extra decades, till September 476 AD, when the last Roman emperor of the west, Romulus Augustulus, was deposed by Germanic prince Odovacar, who had won control of the remnants of the Roman army of Italy. He sent the western imperial regalia to Constantinople. 

In parallel with the Visigoths, the Vandals, a large East Germanic tribe or group of tribes, first appear in history inhabiting present-day southern Poland, but some time later moved in large numbers, including most notably the group which successively established small kingdoms in Spain and then North Africa, in the province of Numidia and Mauritania in the 5th century.

The Vandal Kingdom (Regnum Vandalum) had been established by the Germanic Vandalsunder Gaiseric in 435 AD and lasted till 534 AD. Apparently, it was originally created by the Roman government as a vassal state and then extended by conquest further into North Africa and the Mediterranean. The Kingdom was re-conquered by Byzantine Emperor Justinian, in the Vandalic War.

The Vandals persecuted the orthodox Nicene Christians, but contrary to the Europeans in Europe, they also encouraged “secular” learning. Schools flourished and North Africa fostered many of the most innovative writers and natural scientists of the Latin West.

Meanwhile, the Visigoth empire thereafter extended from the south of Spain to the south of the Loire River and to Lombardy. The Visigoths rule in Gaul was ended by the Franks under Clovis-the-First, who defeated them at the Battle of Vouillé, in 507. After that, the Visigoth kingdom was limited to Hispania, and they never held territory north of the Pyrenees other than Septimania, the region of Narbonensis. A small, elite group of Visigoths came to dominate the governance of Spain, particularly in the Byzantine province of Spania and the Kingdom of the Suebi.

By 589, under Reccared-the-First, the Visigoths converted to Catholicism, from Arianism — Arianism being a Christian concept which asserts that Jesus Christ is only the Son of God — distinct from the Father, therefore subordinate to the Father. This Arianism belief was in opposition to the theological views held by the Homoousian Christians (including the Catholics) regarding the Trinity. 

The Visigoth soon adopted the culture of their Hispano-Roman subjects and the Visigothic legal Code, in 654, abolished the practice of applying different laws for Romans and Visigoths. With no legal distinctions being made between Romani and Gothi, they became known collectively as Hispani. In the century that followed, the region was dominated by the Councils of Toledo and the episcopacy — the bishops who were often in dispute with the secular laws and the Arian religious beliefs. 

Little is known about the Visigoths' history during the 7th century. By early 8th century, invading Moors from Africa defeated the Visigoths in the Battle of Guadalete. The Visigoth king and members of the governing elite were killed, and the kingdom collapsed. Gothic identity survived, however, in Marca Hispanica and the Kingdom of Asturias, which had been founded by the Visigothic nobleman Pelagius of Asturias after a victory over the Moors at the Battle of Covadonga.

The main drivers of people’s life during the Middle Ages was submission to power and to beliefs. Nothing much has changed, except due to the exchange concept of capitalism we have more leeway to manipulate debt, work and pleasure, without understanding that our activities could endanger the source of life on this planet, because of our beliefs. 

Power was the king, the lord or emperor — and most other people, called “subjects” or serfs were living in poor conditions, like slaves subdued by beliefs in god. The Catholic church was finding its feet after its synods that had streamlined the narrative of the creed. It had refined the spiel to make sure all “Christians” were telling the same story. The common people, mostly uneducated, were like pawns, the life of which never really mattered as long as there were enough of them to provide resources like food and construct tall buildings, and fight for despots when needed. Few could object to this enslaving system of servitude, unless one was deluded enough to raise an army and challenge. The changing kingdom dynamics showed that this actually occurred often enough. Europe was often at war within and outside against invaders, such as the Muslims (see the Visigoths). People on the east, such as the Russians, did not count much, yet.

With the flux within European power changing from kings to kings, from town to town, beliefs in the Catholic religion, using the story of Christ as a narrative, became the central core of power, an integral part of the anointment of kings and emperors. While Christ had preached humility, peace and humanism, the Church was very much into control, waging wars and creating hell for those who did not ascribe to the belief — like fighting the witchcraft practitioners and eventually the Cathars. 

Ignorance of reality, maintained through the stiff belief in god, was a major setback in regard to the philosophy of human nature that had flourished during the Greek and Roman antiquity. 


Yet some stylistic inventions of the Middle Ages grew from the Roman technology into the Romanesque art and then the Gothic expression, mostly in religious buildings and royal jewellery. Until the Renaissance, most rulers’ castles were designed like fortresses to protect against “usurpers” who had as much right to be a king as the next sitting psychos. At every turn of this muddled history, the Catholic Church, as a major player of intrigue, even fought itself for a few years as to which pope would rule over the kingdom of god. Meanwhile the kings and emperors were carving their domains, despite the vast distances, relying on alliances, gifts of gold, marriages and glorious treachery, plus the ubiquitously recurring wars to maintain power. 

After establishing the unity of Gaul under Frankish rule, Charles Martel dealt with the Islamic advance into Western Europe. Islamic forces had conquered Spain (711), crossed the Pyrenees (720), seized a major dependency of the Visigoths (721–725), and after intermittent challenges, under Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi, the Arab Governor of al-Andalus, advanced toward Tours, "the holy town of Gaul”. In October 732, the army of the Umayyad Caliphate led by Al Ghafiqi met Frankish and Burgundian forces under Charles Martel in an area between the cities of Tours and Poitiers, leading to a decisive, important Frankish victory known as the Battle of Tours (or ma'arakat Balâṭ ash-Shuhadâ, Battle of the Palace of Martyrs), ending the "last of the great Arab invasions of France”. This military victory by Charles Martel defined the course of European history.

Charles then took the offensive, destroying Muslim fortresses at Agde, Béziers and Maguelonne, and engaged Islamic forces at Nimes, though ultimately failing to fully reclaim the Visigoth's Narbonensis. He thereafter made significant gains against fellow Christian realms, establishing Frankish control over Bavaria, Alemannia, and Frisia, and compelling some of the Saxon tribes to submit.

It is of note that Narbonensis eventually became Cathar country. Catharism - meaning purity (as in catharsis) was an early proto-Protestantism that promoted values of equality (sexual, gender, political and commercial), neighbourliness and charity. The Cathars turned their back on the pomp, hierarchy and worldly wealth of the Catholic church. Cathars believed that Earth had been created by a malevolent God, and that Heaven was the world of the good God. This was sufficient cause for the Catholic church of the time to brand Catharism as a heresy. The Catholics and the French king, himself eager to acquire more territory, destroyed the Cathar “democracy” in the 13th century.

Earlier on, Charles Martel was thus an important founding figure of the European Middle Ages. Skilled as an administrator as well as a warrior, he is credited with a major role in creating responsibilities of the knights of courts, and in the development of the Frankish system of feudalism. Pope Gregory III, whose realm was being menaced by the Lombards, and who could no longer rely on help from Constantinople, asked Charles to defend the Holy See and offered him the Roman consulship, though Charles declined (the latter?).

Charles Martel divided Francia between his sons Carloman and Pepin. The latter became the first of the Carolingians. Charles' grandson, Charlemagne, extended the Frankish realms to include much of the West, and became the first Emperor in the West since the fall of Rome. The Arabs retreated to Spain, below the Asturias, Navarre, Aragon and Catalonia region. They stayed there until the 15th century when they were kicked out, along with the Jews by the kingdom of Castille, led by Isabel and Ferdinand. 

By some twist of power struggle, the Roman invasion of the British Isles had been arrested by the people of Scotland and the Roman had to build the Antonine Wall after the Hadrian Wall to contain the “northern hordes” of Caledonians. 

Most of the German tribal lands never were incorporated into the Roman Empire despite later on being called the Holy Roman Empire. The Holy Roman Empire was often at odds with the Catholic Church’s own control. The very different cultures clashed, though the Germans learned and adapted techniques from the Romans. Even in France, the Roman influence did not leave any impact north of Tours, though the Romans left a strong impression in most of England.


One of the most impressive Roman building still standing east of the Rhine though is the Aula Regia, in Trier, built in the fourth century. It is said that this building inspired the Cathedrals in Europe, build in the "middle ages".... 
More to come. Picture at top by Gus Leonisky : Strasbourg Cathedral (note the tall fine stone masonry of the pillars in front of the solid stone facade...)

the first (1095) and the latest crusade (2018)...

Going back to Pinker’s optimistic utterances (see above), one of the character of our modern life, beyond our advanced survivance technologies is that we are “Happy Hypocrites”… We have learned to lie with a greater limit of tolerance for ourselves, while blaming anyone else for our (rare) and their (constant) troubles. Most of us have delegated this superb lying to our “democratic” governments while we enjoy the spoils of peace, within the moat of a cultivated ignorance. But our real peace will not come until we accept a greater scientific humanism and get rid of words like Christian, Jew and Muslim. You are welcome.

When George W Bush “accidentally” used the word “crusade” in a speech in regard to his “War on Terror”, our hypocritical censorship and skewed sensitivity bristled. Hush! You can’t say this! He backtracked and muttered something like he did not mean it… Yet, the war on terror on a certain kind of Muslims was a “crusade” that has been waged in modern times since the 1917 and 1926 Balfour Declaration. This new push by Dubya was also complicated by our allegiances with various despotic ruthless tribal caliphates and balancing the price of petrol, while finding excuses to blame everyone else but ourselves.  

Donald Trump recent Jerusalem (2017-18) announcement is part of this modern “crusade”. It is a continuation of more than 1200 years of conflict between Christians and the Muslims. This strange skewered dynamics of “history” still rule our psyche, now appearing to us in tailored bits of our “daily news” like broken gossamer in a fog of “fabricated news” to make us swallow the pill with "compassion". I know, there are too many propositions here, but this is part of the art of deception. We use the Jewish question as a slow/fast weapon to take over the Holy Grounds, once again.

After the defeat of the Muslims near Tours, Francia, in 732 by Charles Martel, motions were soon made to regain Jerusalem and the Holy Real Estate — where Christ had traipsed the landscape in leather sandals — from the Arabs. The polished narrative of the Christians, the “bible” written in Nicaea, led the popes to wage wars.
The First Crusade (1095–1099) to recapture the Holy Land was launched by Pope Urban II at the Council of Clermont in 1095. Urban II first wanted a military expedition to aid the Byzantine Empire, which had lost most of Anatolia to the Turks. The resulting military expedition of primarily Frankish nobles, became known as the "Princes’ Crusade”. The pope had responded to the demand for military aid by Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos.

Before the Urban II’s military precision Princes’ Crusade, a poor mixed bag of "People's Crusade” — gathered by Pierre l'Ermite in the spring of 1096, moved towards the Turks in Anatolia, massacring Jews in the Rhineland on their merry way. 
The first group of 40,000 men and women, led by Pierre l'Ermite started from Cologne in April, 1096. Despite being less numerous that when the paupers started, the Eastern Roman Emperor Alexios I Comnenus and Patriarch Nicholas III of Constantinople were not impressed, as they were required to provide care and sustenance to the remainder of the “people’s crusade" journey. Most of the paupers had failed to make it anyway, as they could not be provided for by the various lordships and dioceses along the way. The paupers either starved, returned home or were put into servitude, as a substantial number were captured and sold into slavery by the various Slavic robber-barons in the Balkans.
The Princes' Crusade, starting out in late summer of 1096, defended Constantinople by April 1097, captured Nicaea in June 1097 and Antioch in June 1098. The Crusaders took Jerusalem on the 7th July 1099, massacring the defenders. 
An attempt by the Muslims to recapture Jerusalem was repulsed by the Crusaders at the Battle of Ascalon.

Contrary to the wishes of the Christian Byzantines, who wanted the land that the Muslims took from them returned rather than being occupied by the Catholics, the Crusaders established various kingdoms, including the Latin Rite crusader states of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, the County of Tripoli, the Principality of Antioch, and the County of Edessa (Antioch). Hey, you know the rules: finders keepers… or pay up.
After the retaking of Jerusalem, most of the crusaders returned home. This left the “new” crusader kingdoms vulnerable to Muslim reconquests that led to the Second and Third Crusades. Here was a lesson that the US empire forgot in its invasion of Iraq.

More to come:
The second and third crusade...

Gus Leonisky
Your local filosofer...

modern crusades...

As Pinker lets us know, we are much better than before. Alleluyah! And as an optimist thinker, he looks happy with himself in all the photographs supplied for the article (see at top). As long as we don’t live in some countries that are bombed daily by the friends of the USA, such as Yemen being bombed by the Saudis. In this regard, the grandstanding of someone like US Ambassador Nikki Haley to the UN is a massive disgrace. Should we be happy about her ramblings? So, should we in the west sleep happy that someone else is bombed rather than us, the Europeans, during WWII?... And we were bombed! By the Germans, the Yanks and the Russians. What hope did we have? Should we forget all this because we now live in peace, while it’s the turn of other people to be deleted from the planet?… Pinker’s ignorance is bliss...

And the Jews who got their fair share of flack over centuries, now owe their existence in Palestine to supporting a glorious Nazi government. Amen.


Should we be happy that at the beginning of the 20th century many Africans died so we could drive our cars on rubber tyres in the countryside, while going on holidays? The rate was horrendous: about four men had died per tyre. Imagine! Or should we rejoice that the USA (and the Europeans for that matter) grew their start-up happy commerce well-being on the backs of slaves. Our democracy was born like that of the Greeks and Romans: only “free men" had the right to vote and shape the future. Women and slaves excluded.

And what about the unions? Unionism in the West got decimated by governments, except in Germany which is doing a trade surplus (so we should learn a couple of things or two here about unions),  the destruction of which started in Australia in the 1980s with the "accord” and employment of contract labour, themselves employed by private companies. Governments then could erase entire neighbourhoods, by-pass heritage laws with new decrees while the “new” workers, often unskilled low paid immigrants did not care about what was being done, as long as they could make survival cash… Some of historical Sydney got saved in the 1960s and later on by the unions led by Jack Mundey, a saint who got into strife any second day for refusal to demolish. So we can sleep easy. The hard work got done then and… but hello!… So the New South Wales government is now using its public land around railway lines and the WestCONnex road network overpasses to let build private towering apartment blocks with low ceiling — blocks that overshadow entire villages, left, right and centre… slowly choking entire communities. And the Workers could not care less because they are not unionised and it is their only illusionary escape from poverty, as long as they don’t die from falling off a scaffolding.

Also, on a much larger scale, before going into the second and third crusades of the Middle Ages, we need to look at what the USA want the Middle East to look like… The map (see map) shows the intent to divide countries along ethnic lines while obliterating some of them, those which are not bending to the will of the empire. We saw this in Kosovo/Serbia/Yugoslavia under Clinton with glorious lies still carried through to the 21st century… The plan in the Middle East is a long haul with push and shove — and it’s been going on since barely after WWI. For the last one hundred years, the blueprints have been the bible for every government of whatever colour in the UK and in the USA. The Arab Spring was a set up by London/Washington to rearrange the owners of the furniture, so they would comply to the wishes of capitalist exploitation. 

Lately, the Libya adventure backfired. 

In Syria now, there is some parallel with what happened in Bulgaria, 1876...

Bulgaria and the Ottoman empire (Turkish) relationship was complicated. Simplifying the whole saga tends to eliminate nuances but in short, the Russians saved the day for the Bulgarians. There were uprising in that region as the Turks had “colonised” the region for quite a while. At one point, there were massacres of the locals by the Turks, some say 20,000 people some say 200,000 people were killed. Few government in the West wanted to intervene, due to their “friendship” with Istanbul. Opposition leader in the UK demanded action, to no avail. The Russians decide to protect the Bulgarians, mostly orthodox Christians like the Russians, and after a one year campaign managed to dislodge the Turks from Bulgaria and other countries in the Balkans. The West did not like that. 

The Turks ethnicity is muddled up. The modern Turkish state was founded on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire (fell by the Russians which we don’t like) by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk on the promise of rekindled Turkish nationalism. The Turkish language is the only language of educational instruction in Turkey, and the 1934 Surname Law ensured that all citizens had 'Turkish' surnames. Yet, in reality, Turkey is an ethnically mixed and diverse country, a result of its location at the crossroads of the Middle East, Europe and Central Asia, and the legacy of the multi-ethnic and multi-religious Ottoman Empire. Out of a population of almost 80 million, there are estimated to be around 55 million "ethnic" Turks, whose origins may have been anything from Greek to Central Asian, 12.5 million Kurds, 2.5 million people of Circassian origin, 2 million Bosnians, and Albanian, Georgian and Arab origin populations of around 1 million each.

But in this regard, the USA has been supporting the Kurds to become an idependent state against the wishes of the Turks, who started to invade the Kurds, while the Russian-supported Syrian government does not want the Kurds to be independent either but is supporting the Kurds against the Turks, while the Kurds got abandoned by the US because the Turks are crucial allies in NATO, though the Turks are dealing with the Russians as if they were best mates, while NATO hates the Ruskies, who, to give them credit, did not intervene in the skirmish between the Kurds and the Turks, except ask for peace. Smart.

More to come about the crusades...

Really...

the game of god...

Al Jazeera tells us:

The Normans also helped inspire many of our modern images of the Middle Ages, giving us much of the medieval pastiche that show up in places like “Game of Thrones.” That said, names from the Norman era were often even better than the imitations they inspired. Just a few: Harold Harefoot, Harthacnut, Swein Forkbeard, Charles the Simple, Hrolf (known as Rollo), William Longsword, William of the Iron Arm, Flodoard, Dudo of St. Quentin, the Dux Pyratorum (or Duke of Pirates) and Robert the Weasel, Terror of the World.

As some of these names suggest, for all the clichés about chivalry, the Normans’ image among contemporaries often had more to do with their Viking ancestry than their religiosity. In the words of one abbot, they were men “more apt to destroy than to build the temples of the Lord.” The above mentioned Robert, as the most prominent Norman leader in Italy, was excommunicated three times. It is telling that one of his most pious moments occurred when, after crushing the pope’s army in battle, he kissed the pontiff’s feet and begged forgiveness for the victory. Though not a cliché they can claim credit for inspiring, the Norman conquerors were certainly capable of embodying the one about religion, like patriotism, being the refugee of a scoundrel.

On the other side of the Crusades were the Seljuqs, a dynasty that entered the Islamic world as mounted warriors who rode in from the Central Asian steppes. In 1055, a decade before the Norman conquest of England, they seized control of Baghdad, becoming rulers of the Abbassid Caliphate and the greater Middle East about half a century before the Crusaders headed for Jerusalem. Like the Normans, they did not always enjoy the best of reputations among their co-religionists. Consider the words of caliphal envoy Ahmad ibn Fadlan. He included among the Seljuqs’ vices “the shamelessness of their women, who were always unveiled, and their brazenly exposing their pudenda,” their “general aversion to water and washing” and the fact that the men “never took off their garments, which became encrusted with dirt, until they frayed away and disintegrated.”



http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/7/crusades-foreignpolicyiraqa...



Yes, this still is the story of the FIRST crusade, the advent of which has shaped the Middle East policy of the West from the Middle Ages (circa 1096) till today's 2018 US empire's shenanigans.


So, who were the Seljuks? The modern map of their part of the world show they came from Kasakhstan, (possibly tribes from upper Russia) with a loose kingdom that extended from Pakistan to Iran, Iraq and Turkey, comprising Usbekistan, Turkmenistan, Egypt, Palestine, Syria and the south west of Saudi Arabia. It appears that the Moors, the Arabs, though of the same religious creed, did not like them much and defended their patch as much as possible, sometimes using the crusaders on their own side against the Seljuks. 

Meanwhile, despite the common goal, the smell of glory and the grab for loot became factors of disputes and treachery between the chief European crusaders of various origins — some being Normans, some being Frankish…

Urban II's 1095 preaching for war in the Holy Space, led volunteers from all classes in Western Europe to become Crusaders by taking a public vow and receiving indulgences from the Church. Some were hoping for a mass ascension into heaven at Jerusalem or for god's forgiveness for their sins. Others went to satisfy feudal obligations, some were not so noble nor pure, but to obtain glory and honour — and to seek economic and political gain.

Thus some of the warriors who fought in the Crusades were simple hypocrites, looters, thieves, while others were convinced by the religious hubris as the opportunity of fighting in a holy war fitted their self-promotional piety.

by 1099, With Jerusalem under their control, the crusaders installed new rules in the lands they had captured, both from the Arabs and the Seljuks.

The crusaders expelled many inhabitants, including Muslims, Jews, and eastern Christians — and filled Jerusalem with settlers brought from Western Europe. The new settlers were mostly slaves and nobodies from western Europe. Their social status quickly improved when they became landowners in the Holy Region. 

Meanwhile, the commanders of the First Crusade, began to anoint themselves as monarchs. 

Baldwin I, also known as Baldwin of Boulogne (1060s – 2 April 1118), was the first "count of Edessa" from 1098 to 1100, and first King of Jerusalem from 1100 to his death. Destined for a Church career, he abandoned it and had married a Norman noblewoman, Godehilde of Tosny. He received the County of Verdun in 1096, then joined the army of his brother, Godfrey of Bouillon who had been given the Duchy of Lorraine in 1087, to became one of the most successful commanders of the First Crusade.

Baldwin (like his brother, a Frankish) and Tancred (a Norman) had launched separate expeditions against Cilicia (coastal Turkey, near Syria) in the autumn of 1097. Tancred tried to capture Tarsus, but Baldwin forced him to leave it, which gave rise to enduring conflicts between Baldwin and Tancred. Baldwin seized important fortresses in the lands to the west of the Euphrates with the assistance of local Armenians...

For example Thoros (Thathoul) of Edessa — the Armenian ruler of Edessa, a former officer in the (Roman) Byzantine Empire and of Greek Orthodox faith) invited Baldwin to Edessa to fight against the Seljuqs (Seljuks). Taking advantage of a riot against Thoros, Baldwin seized the town and established the first "crusader state" on 10 March 1098. 

To strengthen his rule over the place, the then "widowed” (looking at historical records, it looks that young Godehilde of Tosny outlived Baldwin by 30 years) Baldwin married Thathoul (Thoros)'s daughter, Arda. He supplied the main crusader army with food during the siege of Antioch. He defended Edessa against Kerbogha, the governor of Mosul for three weeks, preventing the Mosul guy from reaching Antioch before the crusaders captured it.

Godfrey of Bouillon, whom the crusaders had elected their first ruler in Jerusalem, died in 1100. He was unmarried and had no descendants. Daimbert, the Latin patriarch, and Tancred offered Jerusalem to Tancred's uncle, Bohemund I of Antioch. Godfrey's army had taken possession of the town and urged Baldwin to claim "Godfrey's inheritance".

As a Muslim ruler had captured Bohemund (possibly betrayed by the Baldwin mob), the patriarch crowned Baldwin king in Bethlehem on 25 December (some sources say July) —Arda becoming the first Queen of Jerusalem.

Baldwin captured Arsuf and Caesarea in 1101, Acre in 1104, Beirut in 1110, and Sidon in 1111, with the assistance of Genoese and Venetian fleets and smaller crusader groups, but all his attempts to capture Ascalon and Tyre failed. After his victory in the third battle of Ramla in 1105, the Egyptians (possibly under Seljuk’s rule) launched no major campaign against the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

Baldwin supported Bertrand, Count of Toulouse to capture Tripoli in 1109. Being the only crowned monarch in the Latin East, Baldwin claimed suzerainty over other crusader rulers. Baldwin II (Baldwin’s and Geoffrey’s cousin) of Edessa and Bertrand swore fealty to him. 

The Muslim population had climbed to about 5 per cent compared to the Christian population of 11 per cent globally, by 1100.

Tancred, who ruled the Principality of Antioch, also reluctantly obeyed Baldwin I who supported Baldwin II and Tancred against Kerbogha's successor, Mawdud, who launched a series of campaigns against Edessa and Antioch in the early 1110s. He erected fortresses in Oultrejordain—the territory over the river Jordan—to control the caravan routes between Syria and Egypt. He died during a campaign against Egypt.


A bit more about Tancred...

In 1096, Tancred had joined his maternal uncle Bohemund for the First Crusade, and the two made their way to Constantinople. There, he was pressured to swear an oath to Byzantine Emperor Alexius I Comnenus, promising to give back any conquered land to the Byzantine Empire. Although the other leaders did not intend to keep their oaths, Tancred refused to swear the oath altogether. 

He participated in the siege of Nicaea in 1097, but the city was taken by Alexius' army after secret negotiations with the Seljuk Turks. Because of this, Tancred was very distrustful of the Byzantines (Roman Empire left over which comprised Grece and Turkey).

In 1097 the Crusaders divided their forces at Heraclea. Tancred entered the Levant by passing south through the Cilician Gates. He displayed the skills of a brilliant tactician by seizing five of the most important sites, which included the ancient cities of Tarsus and Adana, the great emporium at Mopsuestia, and the strategic castles at Sarvandikar and Anazarbus.

The last three settlements were annexed to the Principality of Antioch. During their fourteen-year occupation of Anazarbus the Crusaders built the magnificent donjon atop the centre of the fortified outcrop. 

At Sarvandikar, which controlled the strategic Amanus Pass, Tancred imprisoned Raymond of Saint-Gilles in 1101/02. Raymond was part of the doomed Crusade of 1101, where he was defeated at Mersivan in Anatolia. Raymond (Count of Toulouse) escaped and returned to Constantinople. In 1102 he traveled by sea from Constantinople to Antioch, where he was imprisoned by Tancred (who still resented the captivity of Bohemond), and was only released after promising not to attempt any conquests in the country between Antioch and Acre. Raymond immediately broke his promise, attacking and capturing Tartus. He began to build a castle on the Mons Peregrinus ("Pilgrim's Mountain") which would help in his siege of Tripoli. He was aided by Alexius I, who preferred a friendly state in Tripoli to balance the hostile state of Tancred in Antioch. Raymond died on February 28, 1105, before Tripoli was captured.

Tancred had assisted in the siege of Antioch in 1098. One year later, during the assault on Jerusalem, Tancred, along with Gaston IV of Béarn, claimed to have been the first Crusader to enter the city on July 15. However, the first crusader to enter Jerusalem was Ludolf of Tournai, followed by his brother Englebert. When the city fell, Tancred gave his banner to a group of the citizens who had fled to the roof of the Temple of Solomon. This should have assured their safety, but they were massacred, along with many others, during the sack of the city. The author of the Gesta Francorum (Deeds of the Franks) records that, when Tancred realised this, he was "greatly angered".

The new colonial leaders expanded their realm. Within a decade, most of the Levantine coast was in the crusaders' hands. And the Christian enclaves in the east now numbered four, with the addition of a new county in Tripoli.

The economics of the war soon began to dominate the crusades and the Regent of Antioch, Tancred, marched his army towards Aleppo, then the trade capital of the Levant.


Aleppo's ruler, Radwan, who has been described as spineless and servile, had a friendly relationship with the crusaders. The story goes that he even put a cross on the mosque of Aleppo, which provoked a strong reaction from the locals as they revolted against their duplicitous ruler.


More to come...
Yes, this still is the story of the FIRST crusade, the advent of which has shaped the Middle East policy of the West from the Middle Ages (circa 1096) till today's 2018 US empire's shenanigans.

a lile yapper and the game of empire...

"Countries like (Australia) are like little dogs groomed to lick the balls of the Emperor, until he (ejaculates and) needs to go to war" — Caius Marius

 

 

The Game of Empire…

The US Empire: The new world order OR Order for a New World.
There is in Pittsburg, a tiny tailor shop with the blueprint on how to achieve this feat... (15 years ago, Gus invented this fake story about the Jewish tailor preparing his revenge and retake Jerusalem, by spurring the American spirit. The Europeans had failed miserably over the last few centuries as anti-semitism was strong in all of Europe)

The Game of Empire involves some simple strategies and adaptation to the various reactivities to the actions. The philosophy is simple: believe in god (God bless America), have a strong patriotism (star spangled banner), demonise other people (media, Hollywood, CIA disinformation services), have a massive army (10 times the size of others) to wage “crusades”, have 100 times more military outposts than other countries in the said countries, use US debts to let other countries pay for this excess, let the real god, the god of greed be the driver of Empire, worship heroes (Superman and the likes), give medals and lip service to the war veterans.
Here are some of the actions as planned in no chronological order:

Hate Russia. Formerly: keep the Cossacks in check, Make European cousins fight, hate communism, destroy the communist empire deceitfully by making a fake deal with Gorbachev, rape Russia beyond repair, Fuck Putin (the cad mucked up the US game). Place sanctions galore to prevent Russia from fair trading with Europe and the rest of the world. Get NATO to roam near the Russian border while making false claims about Russia’s invasion intentions and Russia’s meddling in the US Presidential elections. As if. Keep the suspense as long as possible.

Hate China: Make sure they are drugged to the eyeballs. Use the Poms to do the “Opium War”. Let the Japanese destroy China. Encourage the Chinese to fight each other. Let the Communist take over and weaken the place by supporting the peasants instead of the intellectuals. Help China become a slave-hell to manufacture cheap goods. Hate China because slavery made it rich. Make sure that their phone technology is banned in the US because “it could spy on decent US people”. Demonise China. Demonise cryptocurrencies. Demonise China's friends, the North Koreans.

Divide Europe: Wars (1870, WWI, WWII), Economic restraint under the guise of an unpayable loan (Marshall plan). Prevent the European Union by sabotaging friendships (cajole the Germans while dismissing the French — especially when under Charles de Gaulle), using various other techniques including the “Perfid Albion" as a double agent. Let the Muslim immigration become a major economic problem, making the European countries battle over the “acceptable” numbers of refugees. Damage their industry such as Airbus by secret subventions to Boeing. Control the internet and the “computer technology”. Invasion of Google and others in Europe, unable to find its own networks — while diminishing their languages, having to import "Americanism" in their vernacular.

Prevent the resurgence of the Ottoman Empire: When the US decided to become THE world power on July 4, 1776, (helped by the French against the Poms, the French asking some payback in the XYZ affair), the Ottoman Empire was going gangbusters. It got destroyed by the Russians in the Balkan wars (bless the Ruskies though we hated them because they liberated the Balkans), but before this, "we" helped the Ottoman Empire destroy the Ruskies during the Crimean war. (The Crimean War [French: Guerre de Crimée; Russian: Кры́мская война́, translit. Krymskaya voina or Russian: Восто́чная война́, translit. Vostochnaya voina, lit. 'Eastern War'; Turkish: Kırım Savaşı; Italian: Guerra di Crime]) was a military conflict fought from October 1853 to February 1856 in which the Russian Empire lost to an alliance of the Ottoman Empire, France, Britain and Sardinia (italy in disguise). The causes for the war involved the rights of Christian minorities in the Holy Land, which was a part of the Ottoman Empire. The French promoted the rights of Roman Catholics, while Russia promoted those of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The war was due to the decline of the Ottoman Empire and the unwillingness of Britain and France to allow Russia to gain territory and power at Ottoman expense). 
We hate the Russians because they have had more than a 1000 year claim on Crimea and took it back, with a democratic vote. 

Meanwhile the US plan is to divide the Middle East according to pissy ethnic groups (see the map) rather than having a Muslim Ottoman monolith. Israel is used as a beach head to help divide. The plan included and still includes cajoling to one of the Caliphates (the Saudis) while demonising the others (Iran), destroying the peace in countries with fake “Arab springs” where ethnic tensions lead to various “popular” uprising and fall of governments. It also included the promotion of various despotic "regimes", including the Brotherhood, until dismissed by military coup… Repeat the cycle ad infinitum.

Continue the Jerusalem Crusade, this time placed by The Donald in the hands of our current mates, the Jews. 

Destroy countries like Libya and Syria. These countries unfortunately managed to “do well” under semi-socialistic governments with powerful head of state. They did provide free education, free health and freedom of religious thoughts. Ugly when your god is Greed. Libya was thus destroyed by the US and their allies (especially Napoleon-Sarkozy) like Carthage was destroyed by the Romans. The problem with Syria is that all was going so well, as we supported Sunni extremists employed to topple the government, until the Russians came in. Now the remnant of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey, is caught between two lovers, the hypocritical US and the one who destroy them in the first place, the Russians. The US are making sure the Kurds revolt against the Turks (the Kurds make 15 per cent of the Turkish population). You know the rest which is still in flux, but we blame the Russians of course for the mess, while the Russians have brokered a decent peace in Syria which the US hate because the Syrian government smells good again, despite all the fake shit (disinformation, fake organised Western media). But the Ottoman Empire is still in the doldrums, so the US can sleep easy. 

Gus Leonisky with the help of various Leonipedias....

But last, not the least, the Empire has to make sure its own population is busy with various problems, including drugs, idiotic sameness of political parties, racism and religious extremism, poverty, etc so the leaders of the Empire can do what they like outside the country by demonising everyone else to unify their own disparate motley crew. The rich get richer and the poor stay poor with glorious tax cuts which won't do anything else but enrich the rich even more... Jerusalem is now in the hands of the Jews. Halleluyah!

Aggression disguised as civil wars...


Aggression disguised as civil wars


by  Thierry Meyssan

If we (accept to) take a step back, we notice that the different conflicts which have bloodied the Greater Middle East for the last sixteen years, from Afghanistan to Libya, have not been a succession of civil wars, but the application of regional strategies. Thierry Meyssan reminds us of the objectives and the tactics of these wars since the « Arab Springs » and observes the preparation of those to come.


At the end of 2010, a series of wars began, initially presented as popular uprisings. Successively, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Yemen were swept under by the « Arab Spring », a reprise of the « Great Arab Revolt » of 1915, initiated by Lawrence of Arabia – with the difference that this time they would not be relying on the support of the Wahhabites, but the Muslim Brotherhood.

All these events had been carefully planned by the United Kingdom from 2004, as revealed by the internal documents of the Foreign Office leaked by the British whistle-blower Derek Pasquill [1]. With the exception of the bombing of Tripoli (Libya), in August 2011, they were born not only of the non-violent destabilisation techniques of Gene Sharp [2], but also of William S. Lind’s « 4th Generation War » [3].

Implemented by the US armies, the British project of the « Arab Spring » overlapped with that of the United States military – the destruction of societies and states at the regional level, as formulated by Admiral Arthur Cebrowski, popularised by Thomas Barnett [4], and illustrated by Ralph Peters [5].

The events seemed to calm down in the second quarter of 2012, so that on 30 June in Geneva, the United States and Russia agreed to a new distribution of the Middle East.

However, the United States did not honour their signature. A second war began in July 2012, in Syria, then in Iraq. Small groups and commandos were succeeded by vast land armies composed of jihadists. This was no longer a 4th Generation War, but a classic war of position, adapted from the techniques of Abou Bakr Naji [6].

This time, in accordance with the work of Robin Wright [7], the intention to prevent the re-opening of the « Silk Road » was superimposed on the two previous objectives when China revealed its ambition.

The events seemed to calm down during the last quarter of 2017, after the defeat of Daesh, but the investments in the conflicts were such that it seemed impossible for the partisans of war to give up without attaining their goals.

We then watched a second attempt to relaunch hostilities with the Kurdish question. After a first failure in Iraq, there was a second failure in Syria. In both cases, the violence of the aggression forced Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria to unite against their exterior enemy.

Finally, the United Kingdom decided to pursue its initial objective of domination via the Muslim Brotherhood, and for that purpose, created the « Little Group », as revealed by Richard Labeviere [8]. This secret structure includes Saudi Arabia, the United States, France and Jordan.

From their side, the United States, applying Kurt Campbell’s « Pivot to Asia » [9], have just decided to concentrate their forces against China. For that purpose, they are reforming the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue with Australia, India and Japan.

Meanwhile, Western public opinion believes that the single conflict which has already devastated all of the Greater Middle East, from Afghanistan to Libya, is a succession of civil wars for democracy.

Thierry Meyssan

Translation 
Pete Kimberley

 

Read more:

http://www.voltairenet.org/article199846.html

 

 

The :"Crusades" are still the motus operandi of the empire... Read from top...

the need for enlightement...

 

...

A final remarkable feature of Pinker's vision is his teleological view of history - the idea that historical events are destined to unfold inexorably in a single direction. This is perhaps the only instance where he has genuinely succeeded in emulating what a good number of Enlightenment thinkers actually believed. This conviction is manifested not only in the downplaying of the horrors of much twentieth-century history, but in his touching faith that nothing will reverse the trend lines repetitively and graphically illustrated in the second part of the book.

Pinker seems to operate on the principle, for example, that future catastrophic events are impossible. The ultimate import of his graphs is to demonstrate some kind of inexorable and progressive historical law (although he doesn't admit as much). In Pinker's history, it seems as though there are no real contingencies - no prospect that the battle of Britain might had been lost, no prospect that the cold war might have turned into nuclear catastrophe, and for the future, no real sense of a potential calamity produced by climate change or a trigger-happy Kim Jong-Un (or his U.S. counterpart, for that matter). This is an almost providential view of history.

Partly for this reason, the book will no doubt attract a large audience. It is not just Steven Pinker and a goodly proportion of beauty pageant contestants who want world peace, progress and material prosperity. At some level, and with variations, this is what we all want. To be told that these are permanently underwritten by a historical trajectory that springs from the Enlightenment will no doubt be reassuring to some, particularly if the cost of maintaining the trend is a relatively painless subscription to the ideals of reason, science, humanism and progress.

For those sceptical of Pinker's imagined history and unconvinced by his sanguine assessment of human nature, the future is somewhat less certain. Achieving his desiderata, if possible at all, is likely to be hard work. And if history is to serve as any kind of guide in our efforts, we need to try to get it right and resist the temptation to reconstruct it in our own image.

Finally, and for reasons that I hope are now obvious, if Enlightenment Now is a model of what Pinker's advice to humanities scholars looks like when put into practice, I'm happy to keep ignoring it.

Peter Harrison is an Australian Laureate Fellow and Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Queensland.

 

Read more:

http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2018/02/20/4806696.htm

 

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As I said:

I appreciate Pinker’s optimistic position in regard of our better lot which, nonetheless, demands vigilance. Many Baby Boomers count their lucky stars while worrying about the future, the uncertain legacy they have left for their kids and descendants. I would argue that with, say, a nuclear war of some sort, Pinker's point would be out of the window in a nanosecond. The threat of such nuclear war is not “esoteric”, but in the unfortunate realm of possibility. Pinker’s views strongly relies on our improved ability to dodge bullets while maintaining peace and improved health… As well, as our lot "improved", nature declined fast and now the planetary carbon equation is getting out of balance in ways which will upset many people. 

See what is global warming?

sumpthin's comin'...

I met a Hungarian journalist for coffee this morning in Budapest. “Everybody knows that something is coming,” she said. “We can all feel it. I think this is why your book resonates with so many people.”

After we parted, I made my way back to my hotel. In my morning reading was this Andrew Sullivan essay contrasting Patrick Deneen’s book Why Liberalism Failed to Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now. Pinker’s book argues that we’ve never had it so good. Violence is way down, historically speaking, and people are healthier and better fed than ever before. Pinker’s general idea is that humanity is making real progress, and that people should ignore the doomsayers.

Sullivan writes:

At the same time, I was finally reading another new book, Why Liberalism Failed, by Patrick J. Deneen. If you really want a point of view that is disturbingly persuasive about the modern predicament and yet usually absent from any discussion in the mainstream media, I cannot recommend it highly enough. A short polemic against our modern liberal world, it too is relentless. By “liberal,” I don’t mean left-liberal politics; I mean (and Deneen means) the post-Machiavelli project to liberate the individual from religious authority and the focus of politics on individual rights and the betterment of humankind’s material conditions. Deneen doesn’t deny any of the progress Pinker describes, or quibble at the triumph of the liberal order. It is, by and large, indisputable. He does something more interesting: He argues that liberalism has failed precisely because it has succeeded.

More:

Which is to say that both Pinker and Deneen are right, but Deneen is deeper. Deneen sees paradox in human life, tragedy even; he respects the wisdom of the aeons that Pinker is simply relieved we have left behind; and he has a perspective that Pinker — despite his vast erudition and intelligence — doesn’t seem to grasp. Pinker, for example, has no way to understand our current collective rage — why aren’t we all ecstatic about such huge and continuing “progress”? — unless he blames our gloom and grief and discontent on … bad media. It’s all the journalists’ and intellectuals’ fault for persuading people they’re sad when, in fact, they’re super-happy! And he has a faltering grasp of politics, the cycle of regimes, the vicissitudes of history, the decadence of democracies, or the appeal of tyrants. His view of history is so relentlessly Whiggish it’s almost a self-parody. His understanding of the Enlightenment, as David Bell notes, surgically removes its most popular representative, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who saw from the very beginning the paradoxes of liberty and reason, and, for that matter, Edmond Burke, who instantly realized the terrifying emptiness of modernity, and the furies it might unleash upon us.

But, as Deneen understands, we are where we are. There is no going back. For our civilization, God is dead. Meaning is meaningless outside the satisfaction of our material wants and can become, at its very best, merely a form of awe at meaninglessness. We have no common concept of human flourishing apart from materialism, and therefore we stand alone. Maybe we will muddle through this way indefinitely, and I sure hope we do, numbed or placated by continuous material improvement. But it is perfectly possible that this strange diversion in human history — a few centuries at most, compared with 200 millennia — is a massive error that will at some point be mercilessly corrected; that our planet, on present trends, will become close to uninhabitable for most of its creatures thanks to the reason and materialism Pinker celebrates; that our technology will render us unnecessary for the tasks our species has always defined itself by; and that our era of remarkable peace could end with one catastrophic event, as it did in 1914. We have, after all, imperfectly controlled weapons of mass destruction, and humans have never invented a weapon we haven’t used (including nukes, of course). It is also true that humans have never lived before without a faith or cult or set of practices designed to reconcile us to death and suffering.

Why should this continue forever? Pace Pinker, this is a question that remains terrifyingly open. For Pinker, every sharply upward graph continues indefinitely upward. But I have never seen such an astonishingly rapid ascent without an equally sudden decline, a return to the mean. Maybe I’m just a doomsayer. But it takes a remarkably sturdy set of blinkers to think it’s an impossibility.

Read the whole thing. Andrew Sullivan is doing the best writing of his career now, if you ask me. Please, if you missed it the first time, read his recent piece on the opioid epidemic. 

 

Read more

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/budapest-something-is-comi...

pinker versus zizek...

In a clash of the world’s most popular philosophers, avowed communist Slavoj Zizek attacked ‘pseudo-scientific’ Jordan Peterson and Steven Pinker, who he described as his “enemy,” during an appearance at the Cambridge Union.

Zizek, who appeared at the prestigious university’s union earlier this month, rounded on his fellow philosophers in his typical unique style.

Having previously praised Peterson for his contentions with political correctness, Zizek denounced the Canadian for having fallen into ‘this stupid trap of using the term of the contemporary right: cultural marxism.’

The Slovenian leftist then provided a history of the term and the ‘conspiracy theory narrative’ that surrounds it.

 

Read more:

https://www.rt.com/uk/444717-zizek-jordan-peterson-pinker/

 

See also:

http://yourdemocracy.net.au/drupal/node/32971

 

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