Tag Archives: Civilization

The Looking Glass

Let’s take a look at the world, and its ‘recent’ history.  It is a history of European aggression: of armies from a powerful continent raping and pillaging lands and peoples in pursuit of ever more power and wealth. In the modern world, this cadre of ‘western’ countries monopolizes the weath, inflicts its morality and worldview on everyone else and uses force to get what it wants from oppressed and beaten down third world countries. These westerners pollute and waste the world they tyrannize, all while poor people in Bangladeshi die in workplace accidents and Arabs in Egypt starve. It is all from the injustice of the west dominating everyone else, like petty emperors.

That, at least, is the worldview that is implicitly and explicitly taught in schools and texts and believed by many people running the country today.  However, let’s go through the looking glass and try to see this recent history through other, alien eyes. Let’s follow the little white rabbit of demographics first. I saw this the other day. Not sure exactly if it is true, but China (1,349,585,838 people), India (1,220,800,359 people), Indonesia (251,160,124 people) Bangladesh (163,654,860) are all inside the highlighted circle as are Japan, the Philippines and probably Pakistan too. (Numbers are from CIA world factbook)


I think the people who had posted that (wherever I saw it I don’t know… it just shows up in places.) Were making an argument that other places should be less important. Why, for instance, does Canada have more ‘importance’ than Laos? Surely it must be the bigotry and xenophobia of the ruling western cadre. However, the looking glass looks back at us, and everything is flipped around and we must be left to wonder why most of the world’s population lives in a dirt poor country without much influence outside its own borders? North Korea has to threaten nuclear war to get attention, whereas Canada probably would only have to politely clear its throat. The answer of the bigotry of western countries is a hollow answer, since that would imply countries cooperating in their own marginalization.

Aha! You say, aha, the West has dominated them and forced them into cooperating with military power. The looking glass looks at you, and the real question comes up. If they are forced to comply with western bigotry, the question is: How? This population disparity is not new.

Think back to  ancient history. This is the Roman Empire.


What you may not realize is that what is today France, Spain, and England were the frontier of the Empire. The cities and the wealth were all Rome and east, which is why the capitol was moved to Constantinople, and probably part of the reason why the eastern empire lived on longer than the western empire.

So we get to the real point, at roughly the time of the fall of Rome (and the emergence of Byzantium in the east) the people that have dominated the world for the last few centuries were tribal barbarians with a thin (oh so thin) veneer of Roman civilization and organization on them. At the same point in time, China in 609 is supposed to have had 46,019,956 people in:


The Merovingians (Early France) were at about the same time, but I cannot find a population estimate. However their successors (with a double sized empire, 1-200 years later) were supposedly 10-20 million people.


Basically, for all of recorded history of the peoples that dominated the world from the 17th century through today, the vast majority of people have NOT been these people. As opposed to the Mongols who brought armies larger than most Europeans could imagine these people were relatively few in number, and just ever so little past tribalism. Why, then, did not China dominate the world? Why did not India?

This is where we fall into wonderland, and as Alice, we wander around in stupid amazement. What if the summary of these past centuries actually goes more like this:

The globally disadvantaged minority in terms of population, organization, and land area suddenly, somehow, dominate. Though they fight each other and slaughter each other for very little reason, though their cultural roots only run back a few generations to wild war-cult pagans, though their armies are numbered in tens of thousands whereas Chinese armies were in the hundreds of thousands, they somehow conquered effectively the entire world. They also manage to dominate for hundreds of years.  That would be this:


Conquering this:


(Color code and each separate empire cataloged at Wiki)

You may make the argument (and you may have good arguments too) that this conquest of the world was wrong, but you cannot deny that it was spectacularly improbable. By any rubric of population and organization, the maps should be of worldwide empires should have been Chinese and Indian. You also cannot claim with much credibility that only westerners are power hungry enough for world empires. That kind of racism so strange it is funny, as if genetics have anything to do with it.

There is an explanation for this, but you will have to read Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise to Western Power by Victor Davis Hanson.

He explores this looking-glass world for what unique attributes this rag-tag group of countries had that made this even possible. He explores the western culture by analyzing the western way of war, for his contention is that cultures cannot hide their true natures in battles (and he is a war historian). It is an excellent book.

My short answer is that innovation and liberty and property rights breed cultural power. Whereas despotism and tyrants breed insecurity. An example from Carnage and Culture given by VDH is from the battle of Lepanto. Ali Pasha (the commander of the Ottoman fleet) had almost his entire net personal wealth on board his galley, whereas the Christian leaders fought penniless. Ali Pasha was afraid that the Sultan, in a fit of displeasure,  would take his stuff while he was gone, while the wealthy leaders of the Christian fleet knew that their belongings, their money and property were almsot certainly protected.

Another sign is that in the cases where non-western armies slaughter western ones, the non-westerns loot the weapons from the western bodies. This never seems to happen in reverse. It is like today, China does a vast amount of cyber war and intellectual property theft. We don’t steal their intellectual property or military technology, probably because the only things they have worth stealing, they stole from us. No matter how well educated a population is, no matter how large it is, unless its people are free to innovate, and free to keep and use the fruit of their labor,  un-free societies will always be behind the free ones. In fact, I think it is entirely possible that in an oppressive society a large population is a problem while in a free society, a large population is undoubtedly an asset.

god is Dead

I have a theory, maybe I found it in a book somewhere, maybe I just agglomerated it from a series of books I’ve read, I certainly don’t know. So in the style of the old school writers, I will just write out the idea and not bother with citation; and if any of my readers can place the idea in its whole form, I will amend the post to give credit where it is due. Very likely this has been discussed before since there is really no such thing as a new idea. The idea is that all gods of all beliefs, other than the True belief, follow a predictable course. The gods have a birth, a life and a death, and to these events the human worshipers, the believers follow a sad and broken path, the same path every time: whether the god is Oden or whether it is a more abstract idea of social utopia in communism. The reaction of the believers is the same in each stage of the god’s ‘life’.

At birth the god is new: and the human culture that made him is vigorous and strong. They burst upon the world with power and the might of high birth rates and a society that does not question its purpose or leadership. Its sort of like the Assyrians, who as far as anyone can tell started out farmers in a mountainous region of the middle east. Then one day (from a long historical point a view –it was perhaps a generation or two.) They broke upon the world, conquering and slaughtering and ruling. Take another example: before the time of Muhammad, the Arabian peninsula and the Arabs were considered of no real threat or importance, then within a few generations, they ruled the southern half of what had been the Roman world. Or one final example: global communism. With Russia, China, Korea, Vietnam, half of Europe (with the other half nearly going as well) the ideology was young, the god was new: and its people credited their successes to their god.

And here, of course, I bring up the Ballad of the White Horse again. That poem is a fundamentally philosophical document. In the book where Alfred is singing to Gunthram, the earls of the northmen and Gunthram all sing, and they sing in the order of the cycle of life of false gods. First sings Young Harold:

‘For Rome was given to rule the world,
And gat of it little joy—
But we, but we shall enjoy the world,
The whole huge world a toy.

Great wine like blood from Burgundy,
Cloaks like the clouds from Tyre,
And marble like solid moonlight,
And gold like frozen fire.

Smells that a man might swill in a cup,
Stones that a man might eat,
And the great smooth women like ivory
That the Turks sell in the street.’

He sang the song of the thief of the world,
And the gods that love the thief;
And he yelled aloud at the cloister-yards,
Where men go gathering grief.

The next stage is perhaps ‘adulthood’ This is where none of the people in charge really believe anymore, but the system is working in their favor and they use it. They doubt their gods. This is the time I suppose I have least to say, so here is what Elf the minstrel sings about in the Ballad, singing about Baldir:

“There is always a thing forgotten
When all the world goes well;
A thing forgotten, as long ago,
When the gods forgot the mistletoe,
And soundless as an arrow of snow
The arrow of anguish fell.

“The thing on the blind side of the heart,
On the wrong side of the door,
The green plant groweth, menacing
Almighty lovers in the spring;
There is always a forgotten thing,
And love is not secure.”

And finally, the gods die. This, I think is the sign. When people actually believe their god is alive, they work hard, they conquer, they bear children. When the god dies, when the idol smashes, people become obsessed with death: they pour out the blood of human sacrifices upon the idol to try and bring their god back to life. Because anything and everything is more bearable than to be alone, to have no purpose, no god, no belief: to be nothing more than an accident. And so, children are slaughtered on alters, people do their best to kill and slaughter, because as the old earl says in the Ballad:

“There lives one moment for a man
When the door at his shoulder shakes,
When the taut rope parts under the pull,
And the barest branch is beautiful
One moment, while it breaks.
“And you that sit by the fire are young,
And true love waits for you;
But the king and I grow old, grow old,
And hate alone is true.”

God is dead: and hate and death is all that remains. This is the world around us today. Everyone has awoken and realized inside their soul that their god is dead. They currently are trying to bring their respective gods back to life with slaughter and death. Every false belief, every false god, ends in nihilism. The suicide bomber and abortion are both ultimate expressions of nihilism, both are sacrifices upon the alter of a god who has died. Abortion is nothing more than infant sacrifice to the gods of the secular west. The god is nameless and elusive, but it is a mixture of humanism, of hedonism. Perhaps it is really the worship of Ashtoreth, the goddess of sex and war. And on her alter are sacrificed millions of unborn and born children. Witness Gosnell, and read this about the birth control pill (I know I linked it before, but go read it again anyway, it is good to be reminded of these things.) I would write more about Gosnell, but his actions are so horrific I’d rather not, and the worst part is, that every single thing he did is legal (and by many evil people encouraged) as long as it is done inside a woman rather than outside. That distinction is actually meaningless of course, either abortion is evil or Gosnell should go free. This is the result of the culture of suicide and death that comes of the god dying. What happens next? Well, the people who’s God has died and then risen again answer with Arthur.

“When God put man in a garden
He girt him with a sword,
And sent him forth a free knight
That might betray his lord;

“He brake Him and betrayed Him,
And fast and far he fell,
Till you and I may stretch our necks
And burn our beards in hell.

“But though I lie on the floor of the world,
With the seven sins for rods,
I would rather fall with Adam
Than rise with all your gods.

“What have the strong gods given?
Where have the glad gods led?
When Guthrum sits on a hero’s throne
And asks if he is dead?
“That on you is fallen the shadow,
And not upon the Name;
That though we scatter and though we fly,
And you hang over us like the sky,
You are more tired of victory,
Than we are tired of shame.
“Nor shall all iron dooms make dumb
Men wondering ceaselessly,
If it be not better to fast for joy
Than feast for misery.
“For our God hath blessed creation,
Calling it good. I know
What spirit with whom you blindly band
Hath blessed destruction with his hand;
Yet by God’s death the stars shall stand
And the small apples grow.”

Civilization Vs. Chaos

Sorry if this is a little rusty. It has been a while due to the all-consuming graduate school. 🙂

Without further ado, I wanted to write about the world crisis, because I am such a salient and insightful commentator. The world is in crisis, so they say. Many people who are not willfully avoiding the issues are calling this a clash of civilizations. Definitely worth reading in this class is the article by Ayaan Hirsi Ali in Newsweek, Muslim Rage & The Last Gasp of Islamic Hate.

However, I an not convinced that clash of civilizations is the right term for today’s crisis. For instance between 264 BC to 146 BC (Dates from the History channel, not a great source, but I think they can manage that.) there was a true clash of civilizations. This between Carthage and Rome in the three Punic wars. Another real clash of civilizations was during the Peloponnesian War between Sparta and Athens. One might also count the clash between America and Japan in WWII. However, these clashes of civilizations have something in common that today’s world does not. They have two recognizable opponents. Today, we have a clash of chaos and civilization.

Everyone who calls the murderous attacks ‘protests’ are on the side of chaos. Everyone who rationalizes the murder of Theo Van Gogh, the recent attacks on American diplomats, and even the 9/11 mass murders are aiding and abetting chaos. Of course there are the most direct agents of chaos, Al Qaida, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Iran, Syria… All this makes me think of a section of ‘The Ballad of the White Horse’ about the fall of Rome. (Ok, I admit, this whole post was all a cover for me to quote my favorite poetry at length.)

For the end of the world was long ago,
And all we dwell to-day
As children of some second birth,
Like a strange people left on earth
After a judgment day.

For the end of the world was long ago,
When the ends of the world waxed free,
When Rome was sunk in a waste of slaves,
And the sun drowned in the sea.

When Caesar’s sun fell out of the sky
And whoso hearkened right
Could only hear the plunging
Of the nations in the night.

When the ends of the earth came marching in
To torch and cresset gleam.
And the roads of the world that lead to Rome
Were filled with faces that moved like foam,
Like faces in a dream.

And men rode out of the eastern lands,
Broad river and burning plain;
Trees that are Titan flowers to see,
And tiger skies, striped horribly,
With tints of tropic rain.

Where Ind’s enamelled peaks arise
Around that inmost one,
Where ancient eagles on its brink,
Vast as archangels, gather and drink
The sacrament of the sun.

And men brake out of the northern lands,
Enormous lands alone,
Where a spell is laid upon life and lust
And the rain is changed to a silver dust
And the sea to a great green stone.

And a Shape that moveth murkily
In mirrors of ice and night,
Hath blanched with fear all beasts and birds,
As death and a shock of evil words
Blast a man’s hair with white.

And the cry of the palms and the purple moons,
Or the cry of the frost and foam,
Swept ever around an inmost place,
And the din of distant race on race
Cried and replied round Rome.

I think only a few commentators are talking about today’s events in these terms. But there is no civilization for America and her western (and eastern) allies to clash against, only chaos, and one or two billion hungry and angry people. With this mind, Alfred’s question in the ballad resonates with me:

“When our last bow is broken, Queen,
And our last javelin cast,
Under some sad, green evening sky,
Holding a ruined cross on high,
Under warm westland grass to lie,
Shall we come home at last?”

Of course, here I can only think of the 9/11 Cross:


And the answer, from St. Mary (well… Chesterton) in part reads:

“The men of the East may spell the stars,
And times and triumphs mark,
But the men signed of the cross of Christ
Go gaily in the dark.

“The men of the East may search the scrolls
For sure fates and fame,
But the men that drink the blood of God
Go singing to their shame.

“The wise men know what wicked things
Are written on the sky,
They trim sad lamps, they touch sad strings,
Hearing the heavy purple wings,
Where the forgotten seraph kings
Still plot how God shall die.

“The wise men know all evil things
Under the twisted trees,
Where the perverse in pleasure pine
And men are weary of green wine
And sick of crimson seas.

“But you and all the kind of Christ
Are ignorant and brave,
And you have wars you hardly win
And souls you hardly save.

“I tell you naught for your comfort,
Yea, naught for your desire,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.

“Night shall be thrice night over you,
And heaven an iron cope.
Do you have joy without a cause,
Yea, faith without a hope?”

Note: All quotes from The Ballad of the White Horse are copied from Project Gutenberg. Also, there is an analyst, a little nutty in a Libertarian sort of way, who proclaims half the world ‘Chaostan’ and since I read a number of his ‘Uncle Eric’ economy books, and this came up, I am sure it influenced my thinking.  Also, more importantly are Mark Styen America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It and David Goldman’s How Civilizations Die: (And Why Islam Is Dying Too)