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[P]
Historical Forces

By dscottj in Op-Ed
Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 08:23:47 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

The lessons you get in history classes don't really emphasize that before about 1500, "the west" (i.e. Europe & England) really wasn't much to write home about. For ten centuries they had done little more than build thick-walled castles on every hilltop they could get their hands on and set each other's peasants on fire. Even when they managed to unite they were at best a force among equals.

For more than a thousand years, a thousand years, the true centers of learning, culture, and refinement in the west weren't in London or Bonn or Paris or Milan, they were in Cairo, Damascus, Baghdad, and Cordoba. For fifty generations if you were a scholar or a scientist or an artisan you headed straight toward the caliphates and kingdoms of the Islamic empires. It certainly beat the hell out of a monastery.


You see western Europe wasn't the direct inheritor of the cultural climax of Rome. Barbarian invasions and a general lack of urbanization caused a collapse of this area so thorough that many local peasants believed the marbled columned ruins were built by gods.

The heavily urbanized, and therefore highly literate and well educated, section of the empire was in the East. When the Bedouin exploded out of their wasteland home they conquered an area holding libraries of knowledge ten centuries old. They carried with them a religion and law that emphasized all learning as valuable, and so these libraries were saved, expanded, and eventually bettered in every way. Islam began to be seen by its adherents as a force of history, which was self-evidently better than any other lifeway it encountered. For a thousand years it met, matched, and overcame every obstacle thrown at it, and was better for each challenge.

However, for reasons not entirely clear, something went very, very wrong. The armies of the last great Islamic empire, the Ottomans, stood at the gates of Vienna for seventeen days in 1529. If they had broken through those walls Europe would've been open before them, and we all might be chanting, "God is Great" today. But they didn't, and this watershed event represented a zenith that would not, and in fact could not, be equaled again. In a little more than two hundred fifty years all the rules of warfare would be changed, and for whatever reason the Muslims never got the new playbook.

So it's important to note that unlike Western Europe, the cultures of Islam have fifty generations of being the paragon of western cultural achievement. This supremacy lasted so long it invaded every part of their culture, became part of the fabric of their existence. Islam ended up being all about looking to the past, because the past was where everything important was.

In the space of just a little more than a two and a half centuries, just four human lifetimes, this entire world order got stood on its head. Europe didn't just field bigger armies, or figure out better tactics. Europeans figured out how to build fighting machines which were literally undefeatable by anything the cultures of Islam could create. Napoleon humiliated the Mamluks in Egypt at Shubra Khit and Imbabah in 1798, and the world would never be the same.

Because Europe didn't just create new ways of fighting wars, they created new ways of living life, of thinking, of believing. Liberal democracy, capitalism, and material science didn't just make Europe supreme... it made Islam irrelevant. In a little more than a century fully one thousand years of history and achievement simply ceased to matter.

The shock of this is something Arabs are still dealing with. At first Islamic cultures attempted to co-opt western ways, but fully embracing the things that made the west powerful would've required them to repudiate everything they felt made Islamic culture valuable. Europe had nearly four hundred years to come to terms with this brilliant, horrible engine, but they only gave the rest of the world a single generation. And with one single exception (Japan) no pre-existing culture managed it.

Truly, the center did not hold for the Muslim world, and it in fact ended with a whimper. The cold truth is that were it not for the geographic coincidence of petroleum and the logistical convenience of using natives to pull it out of the ground, Islamic culture would have been largely destroyed a hundred and fifty years ago. The Czars of Russia wanted an Orthodox mass spoken in the Hagia Sophia, the church of the Holy Wisdom in the center of Istanbul, and if it weren't for the British there would've been little the Ottomans could've done to stop them.

Islam, especially the Arabic heart of Islam, has simply never come to terms with these events. The people who "own the Arab street", the native religious and political leaders, are still waiting for Islam to retake its rightful place as the epicenter of the world. Their children are to this day taught in midrasas from an early age that one day the West will see the light of Islam and all will fall down at their feet. The fact that it keeps not happening is something utterly incomprehensible. And when the human animal is confronted with the failure of an idea loved to the core of its soul, violence is a natural result.

But Islam must come to terms with this. By insisting on re-fighting a war lost eleven generations ago, by refusing to embrace change, by denying the need for a fundamental restructuring of beliefs, Islam cannot and will not succeed. By using violence as a method of political advancement, by embracing outrageous expressions of destruction as leitmotifs of a belief system, Islam makes itself worse than irrelevant. It makes itself a clear and present danger to people who are rapidly gaining the technological capability of dismantling and destroying it by remote control at no risk to the conquerors.

The only thing keeping Islam relevant on the world's stage now is oil. But there's a problem with power derived from oil. We're already importing nearly as many barrels of the stuff from the former Soviet republics as we are from Saudi Arabia, and combined with the North Sea and South American fields, Arab oil is rapidly becoming a convenience instead of a necessity.

All terrorism and fundamentalism does is teach the west to fear Islam. And without the brickbat of embargo to threaten us with, what, exactly, will we have to fear?

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Historical Forces | 253 comments (227 topical, 26 editorial, 0 hidden)
One huge problem (3.50 / 2) (#6)
by inadeepsleep on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 02:48:53 PM EST

By "Istanbul" do you mean for, what? 8 years before 1500? Something like that. Hardly one of the centers of the Islamic world for 1000 years.


Purely from memory... (3.00 / 1) (#36)
by CodeWright on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 04:49:50 PM EST

I think that Constantinople fell to the Turk in 1473 (where the Turks were the first in Europe to use cannon, but the one they had was big!).

--
"Humanity's combination of reckless stupidity and disrespect for the mistakes of others is, I think, what makes us great." --Parent ]
The funny part (4.66 / 3) (#38)
by inadeepsleep on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 05:00:39 PM EST

The funny part is that the cannon maker first offered it to the Christians, who were too short-sighted to buy into it. I guess they were doomed in the long run anyway.


[ Parent ]
Around May 8th, 1453 (4.75 / 4) (#49)
by Captain_Tenille on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 06:51:25 PM EST

I've got the month and year correct, but I'm a little hazy on the exact day Constantiople fell.
----
/* You are not expected to understand this. */

Man Vs. Nature: The Road to Victory!
[ Parent ]

Awesome. (3.50 / 2) (#9)
by klanza on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 02:56:26 PM EST

An extremely well-written essay. With no grammatical or syntactic errors that I could see. I really want to see the comments proposing reasons why Islam lost its commanding stance.

Naval supremacy? (3.00 / 1) (#92)
by DodgyGeezer on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 12:41:16 AM EST

I suspect that control of the seas had a lot to play in it, both from a trade and military perspective.  What do you think?

[ Parent ]
Astute and challenging, but missing a piece (2.50 / 10) (#11)
by imrdkl on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 03:00:35 PM EST

The heart of islam lies not in reason and pragmatism, but in the love of Allah. Napoleon did not humiliate them, he sent them home to the one they love above all else.

Yours is a beautiful and persuasive piece, but it won't break the power of their spirit(s). The greatest war is fought over the souls of men, friend, and you can't take guns into that battle.

The other piece (5.00 / 1) (#17)
by chemista on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 03:15:41 PM EST

The heat of Christianity lies not in reason or pragmatism, but in the love of Jesus. Mohammed did not humiliate them [in North Africa], he sent them home to the one they love above all else.

Et cetera.
Stop reminding people about the overvalued stock market! I'm depending on that overvalued stock market to retire some day! - porkchop_d_clown
[ Parent ]

The heat of christianity (1.00 / 1) (#48)
by imrdkl on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 06:49:36 PM EST

isn't as hot as that other place.

[ Parent ]
Heh... (none / 0) (#194)
by BadmanX on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 05:59:37 AM EST

The greatest war is fought over the souls of men, friend, and you can't take guns into that battle.

No, but apparently flying planes into buildings is completely acceptable.

[ Parent ]

Again (none / 0) (#199)
by imrdkl on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 10:00:56 AM EST

that action was in the physical realm. The battle for your soul is not being fought there. That's the point of my comment. Islam isn't about world domination, or enlightenment, or anything else. It's about the soul of the believer. Trying to discuss it from a "reasonable" standpoint is admirable, perhaps, but only takes you so far.

[ Parent ]
*golf clap* (3.66 / 6) (#12)
by krek on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 03:03:29 PM EST

Very nice, very interesting.

Fits well with the theory about all "world leaders", like Italy, England and soon to be America. That their egos just cannot get over losing the top-dog spot in global affairs, and as a result they never sucessfully wrap their heads around the fact that the world does not care what they think.

The siege of vienna (5.00 / 12) (#13)
by aphrael on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 03:06:07 PM EST

There was never any serious danger that the Ottomans would break through Vienna in 1688. The Ottoman economy was in decline, and it had failed to adopt the new military technology that had spread throughout Europe in the last half century. Nor had they adpoted the tools of modern statecraft, including an efficient bureaucracy and an advanced tax system; the Ottoman sultans of the time were far less able to marshal the resources of the state than their western brethren. While the siege went on for five years, and the outer fortifications were breached, the entirety of central Europe had united in response, and the Ottoman army was decisively crushed and pushed back south of the Sava river.

Things were much more dire during the first Ottoman invasion. In 1529, when the Turks appeared at the gates of Vienna, Hungary had collapsed, and Poland was on its last legs; France was allied with the Ottomans because of concerns about the power of the Hapsburgs (Charles V controlled both Austria and Spain, and dominated the Holy Roman Empire as no emperor had done in centuries), and Austria and Germany were riven by violent conflict over the newfound heresy of Lutheranism. The Ottoman defeat there was a narrow thing, just barely realized; the Ottoman defeat in 1688 was not.

Two Islams (4.78 / 14) (#15)
by gibichung on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 03:12:48 PM EST

Islam was only a culture of learning as long as the Arabs controlled it. Unfortunately, that wasn't for very long. After the 13th century, successive waves of Mongols and Turks overran the Islamic world. The Turks were not interested in learning; Turkish language and literature remained inferior to Arabic to the 20th cenutry.

While the Turks might have ruined Islamic intellectualism, they saved Islam politically. By the time the Caliphate was destroyed (1258), he ruled in name only. The Crusades didn't hold the Holy Land for 100 years in spite of Muslim strength; they held because of Muslim weakness. But the reconquest of the Holy Land was orchestrated by Saladin, a Kurd. The Mamluk slaves who ruled Egypt were by definition "anything but Arabs." The "Grand Library" of Cordoba was destroyed by infighting among the Berbers who had overthrown the Arab Umayyads. This infighting allowed the Christian Reconquista to achieve its success.

Early (Arab) Islam and later (Turkish) Islam share little in common. The Ottomans made the Arabs a subject race, destroyed what was left of their political structure, and are directly responsible for the turmoil that continues there to this day. Surely you've wondered why the Muslim Arabs were so willing to join the Christian Allies during the first World War? Turkish cruelty to their subjects is infamous to this day.

The war was won. But what the Arabs will do with this victory remains to be seen.

-----
"No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we require him to obey it." -- Theodore Roosevelt

Note, too (5.00 / 7) (#16)
by aphrael on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 03:15:32 PM EST

that the Turkish ascendancy in the middle east allowed the Persians to get free of Arab domination --- which is why, to this day, Iran has a significant different political culture and, well, cultural culture, then the middle east does.

[ Parent ]
Question (4.00 / 2) (#67)
by nomoreh1b on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 09:34:41 PM EST

What in your opinion were the roots of the inability of Arabs to maintain independence from the Turks?

[ Parent ]
Without getting too specific... (5.00 / 3) (#78)
by gibichung on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 10:46:00 PM EST

It was a transition from Islam as the "religion of the Arabs" to Islam as the "religion of the people." Political unity was lost as the conquered peoples converted to Islam and regained control of their lands. Although they fully embraced the religion, political cooperation became impossible. It's important to note that the political collapse (late 9th century onwards) began well before the intellectual collapse, which happened in its final stages.

Intra-Arab fighting and factionalization only accelerated the degeneration, while the Abbasids allowed many regions self-government to protect the core Caliphate in Baghdad. Eventually, they even lost control of Baghdad itself.

Although the early Turkish invaders ruled through Arab puppets, when the Mongols (Lead by Hulegu, a grandson of Genghis Khan.) conquered Baghdad, they massacred the population, exterminated the Caliph's line, and reduced the city and all of its treasures to rubble. Many other Islamic metropolises suffered the same fate before Mongol advances ended at the hands of the Mamluks and other (Muslim) Mongols who were appalled at Hulegu's disregard for the damage he was doing to the Islamic world. Islam survived, but Arab culture never recovered.

-----
"No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we require him to obey it." -- Theodore Roosevelt
[ Parent ]

I'd say... (5.00 / 3) (#89)
by cr8dle2grave on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 12:24:20 AM EST

...the Abassids themselves were the first step toward the decline of Arab dominance. Their rise to the seat of power was supported initially by Iranian regions of Central Asia and their dynasty was to be frequently dominated, behind the scenes or overtly, by powerful Persian shi'ia families (eg., the Barmecides and the Buyids). The reign of the Abbasids, and arguably one of the more important reason for the remarkable cultural ascendancy achieved under their rule, bears the distinct mark of the rediscovery and influence of earlier Sasinid Persian culture.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
As an idea... (3.00 / 6) (#25)
by farl on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 03:56:17 PM EST

Just for the novelty of it, when you quote concepts and ideas that people 1000 years ago believed in, please actually give the SOURCE of your quote, whether is a book, a credible historian, or some such.

Bland claims that "so and so beleived this" is purile, infantile and doesn't really help your argument.

PS> Istanbul - Constantinople. PPS> Of course Europe did not develop a single thing in the Middle Ages. Quoting you "Because Europe didn't just create new ways of fighting wars, they created new ways of living life, of thinking, of believing." Contradicting yourself just makes you look even stupider. PPPS> Try not to be ethno-centric - the Middle Ages produced as much as in Europe as elsewhere. You are totally ignoring the advances from people in the South Pacific.


Farl
k5@sketchwork.com
www.sketchwork.com
The gist of his thesis (4.50 / 2) (#26)
by aphrael on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 03:59:18 PM EST

is generally accepted by historians of midieval europe: that during the european 'middle ages', scientific knowledge and 'culture' were more valued, and more widely distributed, in the Islamic world than in the Christian world. The situation in Spain, in particular, is illustrative; a technologically advanced, and highly cultured, Islamic kingdom centered on Cordoba, sparring with technologically backwards, uncultured, 'barbarian' kingdoms that eventually became Spain.

[ Parent ]
agreed (2.00 / 1) (#27)
by farl on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 04:01:30 PM EST

I understand that. But its nice when people actually make their arguments clear and not contradictory.

Of course i can work out what the writer MEANT, I am just pointing out the difference in what they SAID.


Farl
k5@sketchwork.com
www.sketchwork.com
[ Parent ]
Catalunya excepted (4.00 / 1) (#70)
by cr8dle2grave on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 09:52:00 PM EST

The situation in Spain, in particular, is illustrative; a technologically advanced, and highly cultured, Islamic kingdom centered on Cordoba, sparring with technologically backwards, uncultured, 'barbarian' kingdoms that eventually became Spain.

The Aragon-Catalan kingdom was much more sophisticated and "mediterranean" in it's culture than it's Frankish bretheren.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Bah-ah-ah-ah! (1.00 / 1) (#29)
by krek on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 04:08:03 PM EST

'Purile' is spelled 'puerile', and puerile and infantile mean the exact same thing. Do you have so little to say that you need to say it twice?

[ Parent ]
No they don't. (none / 0) (#115)
by Ranieri on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 06:40:03 AM EST

In fact they are contradictory, inasfar as puerile refers to the behaviour of adolescent men and infantile to that of infants.
--
Taste cold steel, feeble cannon restraint rope!
[ Parent ]
opposite??? (none / 0) (#161)
by krek on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 11:32:52 AM EST

Main Entry: in·fan·tile
Pronunciation: 'in-f&n-"tIl, -t&l, -"tEl, -(")til
Function: adjective
Date: 1696
1 : of or relating to infants or infancy
2 : suitable to or characteristic of an infant; especially : very immature

Main Entry: pu·er·ile
Pronunciation: 'pyu(-&)r-&l, -"Il
Function: adjective
Etymology: French or Latin; French puéril, from Latin puerilis, from puer boy, child; akin to Sanskrit putra son, child and perhaps to Greek pais boy, child -- more at FEW
Date: 1661
1 : JUVENILE
2 : CHILDISH, SILLY <puerile remarks>

Main Entry: op·po·site
Pronunciation: 'ä-p&-z&t, 'äp-s&t
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin oppositus, past participle of opponere Date: 14th century
1 a : set over against something that is at the other end or side of an intervening line or space <opposite interior angles> <opposite ends of a diameter> b : situated in pairs on an axis with each member being separated from the other by half the circumference of the axis <opposite leaves> -- compare ALTERNATE
2 a : occupying an opposing and often antagonistic position <opposite sides of the question> b : diametrically different (as in nature or character) <opposite meanings>
3 : contrary to one another or to a thing specified : REVERSE <gave them opposite directions>
4 : being the other of a pair that are corresponding or complementary in position, function, or nature <members of the opposite sex>
5 : of, relating to, or being the side of a baseball field that is near the first base line for a right-handed batter and near the third base line for a left-handed batter


Perhaps I should have not used the word 'exactly', but it is only a matter of degree, and that degree is a very small one.

[ Parent ]
Troll (4.50 / 2) (#30)
by dscottj on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 04:09:20 PM EST

Of course, ad-hominem attacks make people really take your critiques to heart.

It's an essay, not an academic treatise, nor a book. If I wanted an academic review I'd submit it to an academic journal and include the citations. Dratted things are enough work to write as it is.

So the developments of the Middle Ages should be equated with those of the enlightenment? Perhaps, but that's not what I'm covering here.

More ad-hominem

The whole point of the essay is that Europe wasn't the only place things were happening in the WEST, and by THE WEST I mean everything west of Persia.

AMCGLTD.COM -- Where cats, science fiction, and anger come together!
[ Parent ]

Phew! Good thing I re-read your article. (4.00 / 2) (#95)
by Captain Appalled on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 02:08:24 AM EST

I missed your point initially. The second reading helped--I can be dense at times.

Still have a coupla' nits, if you don't mind. As mentioned elsewhere, Istanbul was Constantinople until the 15th century. That's a pretty big oversight, since they were the original librarians in that "area holding libraries of knowledge ten centuries old."

I don't know if I would agree with you on your "The heavily urbanized, and therefore highly literate and well educated. . ." statement. I suppose that if you mean that a civilization able to create and sustain an urban population tends to be literate and well educated in comparison to a purely agrarian society, I agree with you. There needs to be a level of literacy and education to handle the logistics and infrastructure needed within an urban area. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that this knowledge is well-dispersed.

Incidently, Urban populations were not as lopsided to the Caliphate as you might think, particularly when you get to the High Middle Ages. Italian peasants may have been thinking that gods created the statues, but there seems to have been a whole lot of them thinking that way. :)

Because Europe didn't just create new ways of fighting wars, they created new ways of living life, of thinking, of believing. Liberal democracy, capitalism, and material science didn't just make Europe supreme... it made Islam irrelevant. In a little more than a century fully one thousand years of history and achievement simply ceased to matter.

Do you really think that? More importantly, does the average Moslem think that? How does an entire philosphy become irrelevant, or achievement cease to matter?

I'll be the first to admit I know diddly about the Koran, but I doubt that it needs to be a barrier to a modern civilization--albeit not necessarily a European-/American-style civilization. And since the muslim world has had its share of scientists in its past, there is no reason to think it can't happen again, or isn't happening now. I guess I really don't understand this train of thought, or the fundamentalist desire to go back to some golden age. (Yes, you may perceive this as a cry for help, and send me links to free me from my ignorance--I am curious about other ways of thinking.)

Anyway, thanks for the read, and here's one of my favorite links to all things medieval, if you're interested.

[ Parent ]

correction (none / 0) (#213)
by Mahonrimoriancumer on Sun Oct 06, 2002 at 11:13:30 PM EST

As mentioned elsewhere, Istanbul was Constantinople until the 15th century

Actually, the name was changed in the 1920's.

[ Parent ]
Demented Spin (1.59 / 22) (#28)
by StephenThompson on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 04:05:43 PM EST

I don't see anything historical in this article at all. Just uninformed spin doctoring. I would like to know exactly what your qualifactions are for commenting on ancient history? Have you ever studied it at all? What are your sources for your claims? I for one dissent. I think your characterizations are misguided an trite. Your history is wrong and conclusions are disgusting.

'uninformed spin doctoring' (4.50 / 2) (#31)
by aphrael on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 04:18:12 PM EST

The article presents what is, in fact, the standard view of people who study midieval history --- that during the 'middle ages' the Islamic world was significantly more advanced scientifically, and significantly more cultured, than the western European world (In particular, the writings of the ancient scientists were preserved in Arabic and transmitted back to the west, which had largely lost them; this is why, for example, the word 'algebra' is of an arabic derivation in English). The standard history also states that Islamic culture ossified and decayed after the Turks conquered Byzantium.

A good resource for midieval Islamic history is here.

[ Parent ]

Sickening trend (4.75 / 8) (#32)
by krek on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 04:18:47 PM EST

Since when have we needed to post our resumés along with our comments and articles? I mean, I don't see anything constructive in your comment at all, just uninformed denunciations. I think your dissent is misguided and trite. Your comment is wrong-headed and your vehemence, disturbing.

If you have something to say, say it! Don't tell someone they are wrong because they are wrong, trust me, all it does is make you look like a complete and utter moron.

[ Parent ]
rebut, don't denigrate [n/t] (none / 0) (#62)
by martingale on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 08:37:07 PM EST



[ Parent ]
european medicine (4.86 / 23) (#33)
by aphrael on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 04:22:03 PM EST

From the autobiography of Usmah Ibn Munqidh:
They brought before me a knight in whose leg an abscess had grown; and a woman afflicted with imbecility. To the knight I applied a small poultice until the abscess opened and became well; and the woman I put on diet and made her humor wet. Then a Frankish physician came to them and said, "This man knows nothing about treating them." He then said to the knight, "Which wouldst thou prefer, living with one leg or dying with two?" The latter replied, "Living with one leg." The physician said, "Bring me a strong knight and a sharp ax." A knight came with the ax. And I was standing by. Then the physician laid the leg of the patient on a block of wood and bade the knight strike his leg with the ax and chop it off at one blow. Accordingly he struck it-while I was looking on-one blow, but the leg was not severed. He dealt another blow, upon which the marrow of the leg flowed out and the patient died on the spot. He then examined the woman and said, "This is a woman in whose head there is a devil which has possessed her. Shave off her hair." Accordingly they shaved it off and the woman began once more to cat their ordinary diet-garlic and mustard. Her imbecility took a turn for the worse. The physician then said, "The devil has penetrated through her head." He therefore took a razor, made a deep cruciform incision on it, peeled off the skin at the middle of the incision until the bone of the skull was exposed and rubbed it with salt. The woman also expired instantly. Thereupon I asked them whether my services were needed any longer, and when they replied in the negative I returned home, having learned of their medicine what I knew not before.


How about quoting the next part? (5.00 / 1) (#240)
by ridrid on Wed Oct 09, 2002 at 02:02:03 AM EST

But in the next paragraph it says:

I have, however, witnessed a case of their medicine which was quite different from that.

The king of the Franks bad for treasurer a knight named Bernard, who (may Allah's curse be upon him!) was one of the most accursed and wicked among the Franks. A horse kicked him in the leg, which was subsequently infected and which opened in fourteen different places. Every time one of these cuts would close in one place, another would open in ancther place. All this happened while I was praying for his perdition. Then came to him a Frankish physician and removed from the leg all the ointments which were on it and began to wasb it with very strong vinegar. By this treatment all the cuts were healed and the man became well again. He was up again like a devil. Another case illustrating their curious medicine is the following: In Shayzar we had an artisan named abu-al-Fath, who had a boy whose neck was afflicted with scrofula. Every time a part of it would close, another part would open. This man happened to go to Antioch on business of his, accompanied by his son. A Frank noticed the boy and asked his father about him. Abu-al-Fath replied, "This is my son." The Frank said to him, 'Wilt thou swear by thy religion that if I prescribe to you a medicine which will cure thy boy, thou wilt charge nobody fees for prescribing it thyself? In that case, I shall prescribe to you a medicine which will cure the boy." The man took the oath and the Frank said:

Take uncrushed leaves of glasswort, burn them, then soak the ashes in olive oil and sharp vinegar. Treat the scrofula with them until the spot on which it is growing is eaten up. Then take burnt lead, soak it in ghee butter and treat him with it. That will cure him.

The father treated the boy accordingly, and the boy was cured. The sores closed and the boy returned to his normal condition of health.

I have myself treated with this medicine many who were afflicted with such disease, and the treatment was successful in removing the cause of the complaint.


Rich Dougherty
[ Parent ]
Cordoba in the east? (3.00 / 2) (#34)
by zaphos on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 04:40:35 PM EST

The lessons you get in history classes don't really emphasize that before about 1500, "the west" (i.e. Europe & England) really wasn't much to write home about.
[...]
For more than a thousand years, ... the true centers of learning, culture, and refinement ... were in Cairo, Damascus, Baghdad, and Cordoba.
Well, I'm just a USian, so don't take my geography skills too seriously, but isn't Cordoba in Spain, which is, in turn, in Western Europe?

--
So few people seem to realize that what seems fascinating and meaningful to them is utterly meaningless and dull for the listener. -rusty

"Africa begins at the Pyrenees" (5.00 / 4) (#35)
by gibichung on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 04:48:26 PM EST

Well, that's what they used to say.

But in the context above, the author is referring to Islamic cities. Cordoba was the center of Islamic culture and government in Spain after the Muslim conquest. However, I haven't a clue where he got "a thousand years" from.

-----
"No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we require him to obey it." -- Theodore Roosevelt
[ Parent ]

The 1000 years is nonsense (none / 0) (#112)
by Curieus on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 06:12:38 AM EST

At least as far as Islam is concerned.
One should keep in mind that Mohammed acted (IIRC) around 640. Ergo 1000 years is nonsense.

Some of the cities he mentions have been centers for knowledge for more than 1000 years, however most of that time they were not islamic.

However southern the mediteranean bassin was conquered during the 8th century so one could claim 700 years.

By 1492 Portugal and spain had in certain fields gone beyond (mediterenean) Islamic knowlegde. The practical use of oceanic navigation is a good example for this.

In the Netherlands, experience with land reclamation from marshes was beyond most Islamic knowledge, why? Simply because it was a necessity in the low countries and not really a problem in most of the islamic world.

If you look at history of the ME, one will also notice an almost constant evolution of gouvernment policies. From local lords around 800 to local feudal lords around 1000 to important fuedal barons in 1300, to absolute monarchies in the 1600's.
Initially the gouvernmental system was clearly less develloped than the islamic one, but islamic society stratified.(correct word?) and european society kept moving on.

By 1500 the "islamic" culture was no longer superior along the line.
IMHO a major reason for this lies much earlier in history. At the moment where in the choice between science and dogma dogma won out.

[ Parent ]

Cordoba (5.00 / 5) (#39)
by aphrael on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 05:29:58 PM EST

is in Spain, which is part of Western Europe.

Geographically, that is.

In the middle ages, it wasn't culturally part of western Europe; Iberia was invaded by the moslems in the 8th century, and the Visigothic Kingdom of Hispania collapsed literally overnight. The Christians were pushed back to the pyrenees, and the lands north of the cordillera cantabrica (along the coast of the bay of biscay); they did not reclaim the center of visigothic spain, Toledo, for centuries, and the moslems were not completely evicted until the end of the 15th century.

During much of that time, Cordoba was the center of the local caliphate, a city renowned throughout the world as a pinnacle of Moslem culture.

[ Parent ]

Islam is an evil religion that practices GM (1.83 / 30) (#41)
by tiger on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 05:47:41 PM EST

Most of the sexually mutilated men in the world were mutilated because of Islam. The sexually mutilated women in the world are also products of Islam. As to why Islam is a sexually mutilating religion, my analysis is in an article I wrote, Monotheism, Imperialism, and Genital Mutilation.

Islam is a religion for slaves.

--
Americans :— Say no to male genital mutilation. In Memory of the Sexually Mutilated Child



Sigh. (4.50 / 10) (#43)
by Captain_Tenille on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 06:15:47 PM EST

Look, there's nothing in the Quran about female genital mutilation. That practice is due to pre-Islamic traditions in certain parts of the world. By no means to all Muslims engage in this practice!

As for circumcision, plenty of other cultures and religions circumcise. I have made my views on circumcision clear elsewhere on K5.

As for your view that Islam is a religion for slaves, couldn't you say that is the case for any religion? Or are you a Christian, and think that it's for free thinking people only?
----
/* You are not expected to understand this. */

Man Vs. Nature: The Road to Victory!
[ Parent ]

So? (4.60 / 5) (#44)
by aphrael on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 06:23:07 PM EST

Even if what you say is true, how is it relevant? This is an article talking about how in midieval times Islamic cultures were more advanced than western Christian ones, and how many of these same cultures are having difficulty adjusting to a world dominated by western European culture. The 'goodness' of Islam, its religious practices, and the like are utterly irrelevant to the discussion unless you can demonstrate a tie between those qualities and economic/political/scientific/cultural supremacy.

[ Parent ]
What about Judeism. (3.33 / 3) (#88)
by Wulfius on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 12:11:56 AM EST

Is that why the Israelis cut the dicks off their men too? Because they are Islamic?
Or because Israelites are arabs (semites)?

---

---
"We must believe in free will, we have no choice."
http://wulfspawprints.blogspot.com/ - Not a journal dammit!
[ Parent ]

Your article's sources contradict each other: (3.50 / 2) (#180)
by Jman1 on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 03:26:06 PM EST

"Circumcised men take longer to ejaculate." "Before he had fabulous staying power, but after the operation he would have an orgasm in five minutes and leave me high and dry." Also, it seems that there would be a bigger uproar about this sort of thing if it were true.

[ Parent ]
yes, there is an apparent contradiction (none / 0) (#183)
by tiger on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 03:54:10 PM EST

Your article's sources contradict each other

The apparent contradiction you cite is explained in the article’s footnote 7.

Also, it seems that there would be a bigger uproar about this sort of thing if it were true.

Mutilated men do not have any experience being natural, so they typically don’t know what they are missing. By the same token, natural men do not have any experience being mutilated, so they typically do not know how much they would lose if they were mutilated.

--
Americans :— Say no to male genital mutilation. In Memory of the Sexually Mutilated Child



[ Parent ]
That's too bad. (3.50 / 4) (#45)
by Hired Goons on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 06:30:12 PM EST

The Muslims could have ruled the world, if only they had developed investment banking. Sadly, they actually followed the part of their religion that forbade charging interest on loans, while the Italians didn't, despite usury being the worst sin (yes, even worse than prostitution). Eventually, that went away, though...
You calling that feature a bug? THWAK
Actually its the Jews. (none / 0) (#87)
by Wulfius on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 12:09:51 AM EST

Usury (charging of interest) was actually a sin
through out the entire christian culture.

Only the unclean heathens could do something
as dirty and unspeakable and fraudulent.

Therefore the Jews exploited this opportunity
having risen to untold power through their
financial holdings.

So why was usury so dirty?
Well, the PROPER way to invest was to enter into
partnerships. Ie: If you wanted to buy a cargo
ship and you had no money you would go to a rich
trader who would finance your ship in return for
a (substantial) stake in the ownership.
Then if fortune smiled on you, you could buy out
the initial investor.

Much more sensible way of doing business than
the mad idea that you can get 30 gold coins
back if you were loaned 10 gold coins.
Somewhere, somehow 20 gold coins were 'magicked'
where no gold coins existed before.
Hence INFLATION.
---

---
"We must believe in free will, we have no choice."
http://wulfspawprints.blogspot.com/ - Not a journal dammit!
[ Parent ]

Even with my poor knowledge of economics (none / 0) (#119)
by Peaker on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 07:24:46 AM EST

I think you lack some basic knowledge of economics.

Capitalist Economics is about trading. Trading things, trading labor for money, and trading risk for money. If you risked 10 dollars, then you can trade that risk for 20. The 20 dollars did not just come out of nowhere, because no new money entered the system - thus there is no inflation. The 20 dollars came from all the people who risked their money and lost it. Hence you can trade risk for money.

[ Parent ]

Islam matters because of more than oil (4.00 / 8) (#46)
by nomoreh1b on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 06:36:01 PM EST

Islam is the fastest growing--and according to some sources, the largest religion in the world today. The Organization of Islamic states includes almost one third of all UN members nations. Islam is growing rapidly in western countries including the United States and Austrailia. In the late 1800's, there were reasons to think of Islam as a movement in decline. Today, there are more reasons to think of Liberal Christianity(i.e. Protestant sects like Luthernism, Anglicanism, Unitarianism, Methodism, Calvinism) as in decline. One big factor: Muslims and more conservative Christians are the ones that actually have children. Secular and liberal folks generally just haven't procreated well in recent years.

The cold truth is that were it not for the geographic coincidence of petroleum and the logistical convenience of using natives to pull it out of the ground, Islamic culture would have been largely destroyed a hundred and fifty years ago. The Czars of Russia wanted an Orthodox mass spoken in the Hagia Sophia, the church of the Holy Wisdom in the center of Istanbul, and if it weren't for the British there would've been little the Ottomans could've done to stop them.

This statement also needs to be redone. Oil wasn't really a factor in the Middle East until shortly before WW I.

Islam is growing where? (3.66 / 9) (#51)
by mingofmongo on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 07:03:58 PM EST

In places that suck. Islam is a great religion for rallying the masses. Where you have people whose lives suck, you'll find converts to invasive, dynamic religions. But in the end, they will still have sucky lives, but now thay have to pray five times a day, and have a bunch of new dietary restricions on top of that.

Islam has no present and no future, just one big past. People will join up to get a piece of that big past, but what will they do with it. Islam may be growing un numbers, but not in numbers of people who are doing anything constructive. A catchbasin of malcontents is not a real threat.

Islam in itself is not a bad religion at all. If I had to pick one (and I am so glad I don't) I might pick Islam. At the hight of its power, Arabia must have been a grand thing. Beautiful architecture, gas lighting, libraries... Islam had a lot to do with that.

But now, its just a big group of dopes looking back on how great they used to be. Check out Greece sometime to see a similar condition. They will proudly show you all the remnants of thier past, but don't ask them what they've done lately, they will kick your ass.

"What they don't seem to get is that the key to living the good life is to avoid that brass ring like the fucking plague."
--The Onion
[ Parent ]

fastest growing in the US (nt) (4.00 / 3) (#54)
by emad on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 07:38:07 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Western Europe too [NT] (3.75 / 4) (#55)
by Arker on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 07:41:26 PM EST



[ Parent ]
I don't know that I agree with this (3.00 / 1) (#74)
by amarodeeps on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 10:20:25 PM EST

I think that there are a lot of cultural elements of Western Europe that are very strong and thriving. I am specifically thinking of the arts and specifically music, there is a lot of great music coming out of Europe these days.

Then again, there might be a lot of wonderful music from the Islamic world too, I don't know. So maybe this isn't such a great metric, but I'd like to see some more detailed reasoning about why Western Europe is in a decline like the way the Islamic world is.

It also seems that, in my limited understanding, women and minorities are treated better in Western Europe, the populace has more of a voice in the Government, people are progressive about drug laws, there is plenty of strong business, etc. (of course, one must consider these evidence of advancement and positive growth). This is compared to, say, Iran, or Saudi Arabia, or Yemen, or Pakistan...



[ Parent ]
Re: Islamic art and music (5.00 / 2) (#107)
by fraise on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 05:02:53 AM EST

Then again, there might be a lot of wonderful music from the Islamic world too, I don't know.

Rest assured, there is plenty of wonderful music from the Islamic world (for ex, Rai, from Algeria), as there is art. Unfortunately the US destroyed a huge collection of Islamic art during the Gulf War, when it bombed the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad. You won't find much of anything about this on the net - the only reason I know about it is thanks to my Arabic (notably Iraqi, one who's from Baghdad) friends who had visited the museum and were pissed as hell that it had been destroyed. From the museum art books I was shown, that museum was breathtaking.

[ Parent ]
Ecological niche of Islam (4.50 / 4) (#66)
by nomoreh1b on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 09:16:12 PM EST

I suspect that Islam has a distinct ecological niche-a set of conditions in which Islam tends to become the dominant religion(the book "Ecological Imperialism" from Cambridge University deals with some of these issues related to where Western Societies thrive).

Conditions that seem to lend themselves to growth of islam include:
Relatively established societies
Societies that are cosmopolitan/ethnically diverse
Societies that send to support a degree of de-facto polygyny(their economy is at a point that quite a few families can exist with relatively little support from adult males).
Societies with a high division between the very rich and the very poor

In light of this, I'd suggest Islam isn't a boogyman--more it is a logical development in ethnically diverse societies that cease to be pioneering. Environments in which hunter gatherers thrive aren't really environments that support religious hierarchies like those in Christianity or Islam--in those environments, luxuries are few, but if you disagree with folks around you, you can easily go somewhere else. Christianity seems tied up in situations in which monogamy is stable/workable/necessary. In places where most males are redundant, Islam-or something much like it-seems to be the norm(there has been a some comparisons between Islam and confucianism BTW).

[ Parent ]

Hmmm (4.00 / 1) (#82)
by cr8dle2grave on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 11:21:59 PM EST

I think you've placed the cart before horse. A religion develops within an ecological niche and conforms itself to the existent constraints while simultaneously strengthening the particular mode of life adapted to those conditions. In the case of Islam, it developed within a culture marked by a particularly rigid tribal lineage system, and later expanded into the long established cosmopolitan regions of the fertile crescent (the Byzantine and Persian worlds). It seems to me, Islam has been most successful in establishing cultural and religious hegemony in those regions with strong tribal kinship systems (the Semitic regions, Turkic Central Asia, and Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia).

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Tribes (4.00 / 1) (#90)
by nomoreh1b on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 12:26:14 AM EST

I tend to agree that Islam/tribalism seem to have been rather compatible with each other. Now, tribalism was also quite strong in parts of Europe before the coming of Christianity. Protestantism in particular seems to have had the strongest tendency to replace tribal/clan identity with religious identity(when Calvinism came to scotland via Cromwell, Cromwell went to great effort to have genealogical records destroyed). It seems like a big chunk of the function of Christianity has been to erase or lessen tribal/clan identity in various areas.

[ Parent ]
Agreed (4.00 / 1) (#94)
by cr8dle2grave on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 01:35:33 AM EST

The genealogy of Christianity is interesting. It's origin is as a marginalized cosmopolitan mystery cult opposed to the theo-politcal hegemony of the Roman Empire, but it was eventually domesticated and, in both the East and the West, the Church adopted a Roman styled edifice of monolithic power. To the extent that historical Christianity has encouraged, imposed, or partaken in a centralized and hierarchical modality of power, it is surely incompatible with systems of tribal social organization, which are decentralized and disperse power though loose segmentable affiliations based upon kinship relations. Protestantism even more so.

An interesting idea I have come across suggests it was the social structure and culture of fuedalism which did the most to diminish predominance of kinship systems in Europe, which segues well with your mention of Cromwell (think enclosure and land-tenancy).

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
"Fastest growing" (4.00 / 5) (#69)
by Sacrifice on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 09:41:44 PM EST

It's easy to sustain impressive growth rates when your market share is small. A growth rate 10 times that of the market leader doesn't imply you'll ever catch it or even come close. Think equilibrium in chemical reactions.

Mormonism is also one of the "fastest growing" religions for many of the same reasons and in many of the same places, but it isn't really of earth-shaking importance.

[ Parent ]

Islam has over a billion followers.. (3.33 / 3) (#103)
by henrik on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 04:00:23 AM EST

.. I wouldnt exactly call that insignificant.

Akademiska Intresseklubben antecknar!
[ Parent ]
which is of course his point (none / 0) (#181)
by eudas on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 03:38:10 PM EST

This is the previous poster's point.

10000% of 13 is still smaller than 2% of 1000000000.

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

Growth Expectations? (4.00 / 1) (#214)
by Mahonrimoriancumer on Mon Oct 07, 2002 at 01:55:25 AM EST

In the August 4th, 1997 issue of TIME magazine, University of Washington sociologist Rodney Stark was quoted as projecting that in about 83 years, worldwide Mormon membership should reach 260 million. That would make it the second largest sect of Christianity, behind the Catholic church.

Right now, the Mormon church has a net growth almost 1,000,000 annually. (In the 1950's, the Mormon church reached 1,000,000 total members.)

[ Parent ]
Even worthless bums (5.00 / 2) (#121)
by Peaker on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 07:29:57 AM EST

can vote out your leaders.

Or revolutionize it out, depending on the type of regime.

They are a threat.

[ Parent ]

Yes, but (4.00 / 4) (#68)
by dscottj on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 09:38:32 PM EST

Probably should've made the relationship clearer. Oil is the only thing keeping Islam relevant today. What kept the Russians out of Istanbul was the British wanting the Bosphorus open to their battleships.

AMCGLTD.COM -- Where cats, science fiction, and anger come together!
[ Parent ]

Islam grows from more than oil (4.00 / 2) (#80)
by nomoreh1b on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 11:04:11 PM EST

In the US, Islam was growing long before Saudi money showed its face. The major role of Saudi money was to make Islam in the US more closely conform to the religion as found in the Middle East(i.e. Wallace Muhammed, the heir of the founder of the NOI became an Orthodox Muslim Imam--and his organization got some very nice new buildings).

Another major force that is spurring growth of Islam is AIDS. There is a perception in much of Africa that Christians and Muslims are less prone to develop that disease than are members of traditional African religions with more free-wheeling sexual practices.

One thing that has made Islam very different from Christianity is that on the whole Islam has taken a much stronger stand against feminism. If the backlash towards feminism in the west becomes greater, a major consequence could be further growth of Islam.

Islam's anti-usury stand may well tranlate into a "anti-corporate" stand in the west-which could serve it well in the aftermath of Enron, Boesky, Milken etc.

The main consequence of oil seems to have been put elevate the importance of Arabs in global Islam. It has only been a bit more than 80 years since the Arabs have had a semblence of independence. Even now, they are dealing with boundaries created during the colonial era that have concentrated wealth in the hands of elites with little connection to the Arab masses. France and Britain didn't do a whole lot the first 80 years after they got the Roman Imperialists off their backs-so I'd cut the Arabs some slack in that respect. Their day may yet come again.

[ Parent ]

Bosphorus (5.00 / 3) (#81)
by Merk00 on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 11:06:00 PM EST

The British never really wanted the Bosphorus open. They just wanted it closed to the Russian navy. Russian history is full of a quest to get a warm water port.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

Breeding like ... (none / 0) (#235)
by wnight on Tue Oct 08, 2002 at 04:52:44 PM EST

I thought Mormons were the fastest growing religion.

But anyways, it's the uneducated people in the poorest segment of society who have the most children. I think the very fact that religious sects breed like flies proves the that's they're dying out in the long run.

People breed like crazy only in ignorance. A billion starving peasants aren't a threat to anyone. It's an educated and free populace that will rule. By keeping their themselves ignorant to keep the growth rate high these religions are ensuring that they'll never matter.

The world won't ever be completely athiest, but anyone who matters will be. They pretty much already are. Even the leaders who pay lip service to religion obviously don't believe it.

I'm glad christianity is in decline, these are the people I'm stuck living with. Islam is irrelevant and always will be, the fact that they're increasing in number just means more idiots starting holy wars over imagined differences in a book written about some con.

[ Parent ]

Poor Assessment of Religion (none / 0) (#236)
by aitrus on Tue Oct 08, 2002 at 05:59:27 PM EST

Religion isn't dying out.  Sorry to dash your hopes.

I'm agnostic and don't care about being religious.  But the "religion is dying out" tripe is unsupported garbage.  There's nothing wrong with christianity or many other religions, and it will grow to take up rolls in society where the greatest uncertainty lingers.

There will continue to be a majority of the world that's religious, long after the death of your great grand children.

[ Parent ]

Heh, either way (none / 0) (#238)
by wnight on Tue Oct 08, 2002 at 10:40:22 PM EST

If it dies out, I'm glad for everyone saved from a life of delusion.

If it doesn't. Well, there's a group of people who won't be any competition in a scientific job of any sort.

But, at least in North America and Europe, statistics suggest that less people are religious and that the ones who are tend not to be very strongly so.

[ Parent ]

+1 FP : Interested in other comments (3.00 / 1) (#50)
by blackpaw on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 06:56:03 PM EST

I find the ideas expressed interesting and tempting, but am uninformed as to their validity, so I'd be interested in seeing constructive critisism from those better informed.

Massive religion irrelevant? (3.37 / 8) (#52)
by daviddisco on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 07:25:34 PM EST

This article implies that the relevance of a religion should be judged by the military/economic capabilities of its believers. I strongly disagree. The relevance of a religion should be judged by its effectiveness in providing spiritual guidance. The West could very well convert to Islam and still remain militarily and economically dominant.
##I run a geography related site at globalcoordinate.com##
True, but (4.66 / 3) (#59)
by dscottj on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 08:03:43 PM EST

You're imposing a western separation of powers on a belief system that doesn't support it. The Sharia makes Islam not just a religion, but also a political movement. The two are almost impossibly intertwined to this day.

AMCGLTD.COM -- Where cats, science fiction, and anger come together!
[ Parent ]

wth is spiritual guidance? (nt) (5.00 / 2) (#64)
by gmol on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 08:56:50 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Roman Peasants v. Egyptian Peasants (4.42 / 7) (#53)
by Anatta on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 07:33:04 PM EST

You see western Europe wasn't the direct inheritor of the cultural climax of Rome. Barbarian invasions and a general lack of urbanization caused a collapse of this area so thorough many local peasants believed the marbled columned ruins were built by gods.

Peasants believed in essentially the same ideas in Egypt, the center of Arabic (and one of the centers of Islamic) civilization. In Egypt, peasants used to live in the ancient temples, which were likely largely buried in sand, and which the peasants certainly could not build themselves. They used to attempt to scratch the faces off of the Pharohs and Egyptian Gods on the walls of the temples, as they apparently believed that by scratching the faces off of the images, the peasants would prevent the spirits in the walls from manifesting themselves. In many of the now-exhumed temples in Egypt, the images on the walls have no faces or are covered in bumps from people trying to madly scratch their images off of the walls.

Peasants were peasants.


My Music

Islam wasn't the only other culture (3.33 / 3) (#60)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 08:08:58 PM EST

to come with a hair of concurring Europe. The Mongols got to see a good bit of the west themselves.


--
Once one sock is sucked, the other sock will remain forever unsucked.


they became the Muslims themselves (none / 0) (#76)
by amarodeeps on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 10:29:57 PM EST

Interesting, huh? Those that conquered were conquered by Islam?

However, I don't think they did any invading of Europe during that time, the Ottomans were over on that side of the Empire...



[ Parent ]
Mongols did NOT become Muslims (none / 0) (#187)
by das bill on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 12:16:43 AM EST

Actually, according to the CIA World Factbook, about 96% of Mongolians are Tibetan Buddhist.

http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/mg.html

While there are many Mongolian-descended communities across the vast area that the Khanates controlled, most of these became Muslim after the Mongol hold on the area decreased and the people reverted to whatever local religion predominated.  Even today there are Mongol-descended communities in places such as Afghanistan.  However, the main group of Mongols - in Mongolia - have remained mostly Buddhist.

-das Bill

[ Parent ]

fair enough but (1.00 / 2) (#63)
by aurelito on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 08:46:14 PM EST

they stole everything from the persians anyway.

Persians == Iraquis (NT) (none / 0) (#86)
by Wulfius on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 12:03:33 AM EST



---
"We must believe in free will, we have no choice."
http://wulfspawprints.blogspot.com/ - Not a journal dammit!
[ Parent ]
Persians ~ Iraqis (none / 0) (#91)
by BloodmoonACK on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 12:34:56 AM EST

Persian descendants are more in Iran than anywhere else. Besides, by "Persia" I think he means pre-Islam Persia. Saying Persia = Iraq (or Iran) is like saying Rome = Europe.

"It's like declaring a 'war on crime' and then claiming every (accused) thief is an 'enemy combatant'." - Hizonner
[ Parent ]

Yes and no. (none / 0) (#96)
by aphrael on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 02:22:44 AM EST

It's pretty common for scholars of the area to talk about zones of influence between persian culture and turkish culture. The modern Iranians think of themselves as being the inheritors of Persian culture, and the Persian-Arabic mix was *quite* different than that found in Baghdad, or in Istanbul.

[ Parent ]
Geographically speaking (5.00 / 1) (#97)
by aphrael on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 02:23:09 AM EST

Persia = Iran.

Mesopotamia = Iraq.

[ Parent ]

Not a thousand years. (3.33 / 6) (#65)
by Apuleius on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 09:13:00 PM EST

And not consistently. Spain had a golden age but then lost it to a bout of Muslim fanaticism. The Ottoman Cliphate had a habit of crowning a lunatic every once in a while, causing all sorts of anti-intellectual wierdness.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
you forgot something (2.16 / 6) (#71)
by turmeric on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 09:53:35 PM EST

america does all the same crap and we dont seem to give a shit that china is beating our knickers off cleanly and efficiently. i just hope they arent still sore about that whole opium war thing. my that was mean of us.

liberal democracy, capitalism, and materials science... hmmmmm.... lesee.. who invented steel? india. who invented bronze? i dont know but it wasnt alone in europe. who had democracy when europe was still feudal lords? lots of people, the icelandic althingi, many native americans, certain african tribes, etc etc etc. capitalism, well, thats a different story that i dont know much about really. is that why europe had so many starving poor people breeding like rabbits that they had to spill out over 4 other continents?

Who ran the Opium Trade (none / 0) (#72)
by nomoreh1b on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 10:18:16 PM EST

america does all the same crap and we dont seem to give a shit that china is beating our knickers off cleanly and efficiently. i just hope they arent still sore about that whole opium war thing. my that was mean of us.

I think Chinese Scholars have a good handle on who ran the opium trade. I personally, think that the history of the opium trade may serve as a basis of an alliance between China and the Islami world.

[ Parent ]

What about Lepanto? (5.00 / 6) (#73)
by El Volio on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 10:18:22 PM EST

In 1571, Don Juan commanded the ships of the Christian League and won a decisive victory over the Ottoman Turks (commanded by Ali Pasha) just south of Greece. The key here was that the Turkish fleet was completely broken, and according to many, was the turning of the momentum by the Europeans against Islam as the first major defeat of the Ottomans. Until this time, they seemed an unstoppable force to Christendom; after this, the myth of invincibility was dispelled.

BTW, there was a young sailor in the Christian League fleet who lost the use of his left hand that day and went on to become the renowned writer Miguel de Cervantes.

Siege of Malta (5.00 / 2) (#105)
by creo on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 04:19:19 AM EST

Actually the first blood nose was probably the great siege of Malta in 1565, which showed that despite overwhelming numbers, the Turks could be beaten.

Lepanto in the overall scheme of things probably was the greater impact of the two.

Oops, work calls.

Creo

[ Parent ]

Overgeneralisation (4.00 / 2) (#75)
by gidds on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 10:22:58 PM EST

Interesting and thought-provoking article.  But I fear you do many people an injustice.  You refer to `Islam' throughout -- but meaning what, exactly? The culture? The religion? The nations practising it? The religious or state authorities?  The answer is: all of these (at various points), and none of them.  It's a massive overgeneralisation.  You can't bundle every single person who follows/ed Islam into the same pigeonhole, as I doubt they all share exactly the same political, religious, and social views.  (Of course, `Europe' and `the West' are similar simplifications.)

Andy/
Limitations (5.00 / 1) (#122)
by dscottj on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 07:51:46 AM EST

The problem is the limitation of the format. The essay is meant to be thought provoking, and not nessesarily an academically defenseable treatise. A lot of folks are commenting that I overgeneralized, or left something out, or ignored one huge group or another. Were I to spend a few years on it I could surely include such items, but the result would be something I'd have to take to, say, the University of Chicago press to get published.

If it made you think, it did its job. You may think it's wrong, but that's OK too. :)

AMCGLTD.COM -- Where cats, science fiction, and anger come together!
[ Parent ]

Strength of Islam/MidTerm Importance of Oil (3.33 / 3) (#77)
by nomoreh1b on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 10:35:14 PM EST

By using violence as a method of political advancement, by embracing outrageous expressions of destruction as leitmotifs of a belief system, Islam makes itself worse than irrelevant. It makes itself a clear and present danger to people who are rapidly gaining the technological capability of dismantling and destroying it by remote control at no risk to the conquerors.

One of the great historic strengths of Islamic cultures is in the technology of political intrigue. These are also the folks that invented the word assassin(rooted in legends similar to the movie "The Manchurian Candidate" or MK-Ultra--but occuring much, much earlier). If Western powers can build these weapons, Islamic forces can in time figure out how to get to the folks that build them and get those weapons for themselves.

The folks that really need to worry about modern day weaponry are folks in urban centers. Nukes and Neutron bombs are most effective in attacks of urban populations and centralized military installations.

The only thing keeping Islam relevant on the world's stage now is oil. But there's a problem with power derived from oil. We're already importing nearly as many barrels of the stuff from the former Soviet republics as we are from Saudi Arabia, and combined with the North Sea and South American fields, Arab oil is rapidly becoming a convenience instead of a necessity.

Even if fusion power were made practical tomorrow, oil would still be important in industrial processes _and_ would be especially important for developing countries. Oil is a mature energy source that lends itself well to decentralized and portable use-that is going to be important for years to come in areas that have older or minimal infrastructure.

All terrorism and fundamentalism does is teach the west to fear Islam. And without the brickbat of embargo to threaten us with, what, exactly, will we have to fear? Well, there are quite a few major Islamic figures adamantly opposed to political violence(i.e. Min. Farrakhan is one). IMHO the importance of Islam in the immediate future may as a focus for groups that oppose feminism and political correctness--which will mean it may have a growing voice in the west as the real consequences of those policies become better understood.



America's Nation of Islam is about as islamic (5.00 / 1) (#185)
by mingofmongo on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 04:14:31 PM EST

as pickled pigs feet. Malcom X was killed (on Farrakan's urging) after making his pilgrimage, and seeing that there was no relationship between what he was taught, and Islam. Read his book, and listen to his family talk about his death.

Calling Farrakan a Muslem leader, is like calling Pat Boone the King of Rock'n'Roll.

"What they don't seem to get is that the key to living the good life is to avoid that brass ring like the fucking plague."
--The Onion
[ Parent ]

The NOI has largely defined American Islam (5.00 / 1) (#192)
by nomoreh1b on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 01:01:51 AM EST

America's Nation of Islam is about as islamic as pickled pigs feet. Malcom X was killed (on Farrakan's urging) after making his pilgrimage, and seeing that there was no relationship between what he was taught, and Islam. Read his book, and listen to his family talk about his death.

I understand that there are folks that think the theology of Farrakhan and Elijah Muhammed is falls outside the scope of Islam. Still, the Nation of Islam was the organization responsible for the expansion of even orthodox Islam among African Americans. Wallace Muhammed(Elijah Muhammed's son and heir) was the first Muslim minister to address the US congress--and took significant measures to move much of the African American Muslim community more towards Orthodox Islam(and got significant aid from Arab interests to help with this process). The NOI(in its original incarnation) was the organization that got Muslim prison ministries started in earnest in the US--and Farrakhan has had a lot more impact on the growth of Orthodox Islam in the US than almost any othodox clergy. (i.e. the NOI has always been so evangelical that for quite a while, more folks that wound up in Orthodox Islam were getting their first Koran instruction through the NOI than anywhere else).

Now, Farrakhan does take theological stands that are really at odds with mainstream Islam. At the same time, members of his organizations practice the dietary laws and "pillars of Islam" common to other Muslims. What that means in practice is that much of the mainstream Muslim clergy doesn't really accept Farrakhan as a Muslim--but some of the peripheral communities do accept Farrakhan as a Muslim-as do leaders of Muslim countries like Khadaffi of Libya that aren't all that picky about theology. There are lots of places where Farrakhan can go in the Organization of Islamic states and get treated as cordially as would other Islamic leaders.

At the same time, in some parts of the world, Farrakhan's positions as a rather vocal minister might get him killed IMHO(i.e. there are leaders in the Islamic world that love this guy and others that hate him more than S. Rushdie). Still, Farrakhan's recreated Nation of Islam(Farrakhan's organization was more or less created from scratch after Wallace Muhammed took most of the original organization into orthodox Islam) and the African American orthodox Islamic community aren't about to fight too seriously because there was quite a bit of intermarriage between Farrakhan's children and those of Elijah Muhammed.

Islam isn't something like Catholicism, where you have a very well-defined mechanism of governance. Folks like the families that control major pilgramage sites have a big stick-as do the folks that claim descent from Muhammed-but there is quite a bit of variation out there because of the decentralized aspect of the whole religion.

Saying that Min. Farrakhan isn't a "Muslim Leader" IMHO is kind of like saying that Joan of Arc wasn't a Christian leader. When she was alive, the Church burned her for heresy-but after she was dead, they had to reconsider that stand because of the impact of her legacy.

Numerically, the NOI has always been rather small-in part because they place substantial demands on their members other mosques might not. At the same time, when you ask folk on the street to name Muslim leaders in America, the names Elijah Muhammed, Malcolm X(who regardless of what he did shortly before his death spent most of his career as an NOI minister) and Louis Farrakhan are the ones that folks are going to name(which really makes you wonder when you consider all the big Arab money has never been run through the NOI). What this means is that in the US, the NOI has in large part defined what the world Muslim means in the US-and forced the agenda for both Orthodox Islam and the NOI itself-and it is going to be a while before anyone more in line with the folks in Mecca assumes a similar role on the US scene. If in 200 years, Islam-in an orthodox form just like practiced in Mecca- becomes the dominant religion in what is now the United States or other parts of the Americas, you simply won't be able to accurately talk about the history of Islam in Americas without talking about the NOI.

[ Parent ]

You're just as guilty of myopia. (4.33 / 9) (#79)
by jabber on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 10:51:26 PM EST

You rant about how near-sighted today's Westerners are, yet you're just as guilty of not seeing the bigger picture. Yes, before Europe there was Constantinople as the cultural Mecca. Before that, Rome, before that, Athens, before that, Memphis, before that, Babylonia, before that... At some point, someone lit a fire.

What is the point? That New York is not the global maximum of cultural advancement? Today it is. Tomorrow it might be Beijing, or New Delhi, or Baghdad, for all we know. This is quite apparent to anyone who ever took the time to learn a little bit of history.

In the absolute sense of human advancement as a species, so long as each subsequent peak exceeds the previous one, we're doing ok. Yes, today's world owes a great deal to the dawn of Muslim culture, just as to the Golden Age of each and every era that came before. Tomorrow's world will owe a great deal to 20th Century America too, so long as we don't nuke the planet before we wane.

Yes, we should pause to recognize and acknowledge what we owe to previous cultures. We should make a point of seeing ourselves as a point along a continuum rather than the apex of civilization. We're no more the high point of civilization than we are the ultimate goal of evolution.

Rather than try to keep score of who owes whom for what, I think it makes much more sense to try to become the best legacy we can leave for the next great step in human advancement. I'd rather we be be remembered for our spectacular contributions than our remarkable failures. Let's leave our kids a habitable Mars, cures for most diseases, and efficient use of naturally available sources of energy; instead of Enron, the war on drugs, and a tree-less planet covered in smog and ignorant hate.

Christianity and Islam are just blips on the radar of cultural development, same as the Greek pantheon and the faith of the ancient Egyptians.

The reason Muslim culture faltered is not the beginnings of Western industrialization. That's a cop-out. The reason it failed is the same as why Rome imploded (bringing the (European) Dark Ages, and the same why America is beginning to falter now. It over-extended, pure and simple.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

falter? (2.25 / 4) (#83)
by schubert on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 11:22:08 PM EST

Academics and critics of American culture have been claiming its "fall from grace" for the last 50 years, and if anything should be learned from that, is that critics talk too much and think too little. 9/11 showed that same "sleeping giant" mentality as was seen during WW2, yes we're a nation of lazy, materialistic, uncultured pigs... but we will unite against any common enemy, differences be damned. And since we hold all the cards, it doesn't matter how corrupt, how utterly immoral or ignorant the american people are; at the end of the day we will still exist . America has become so large and so powerful, yet at the same time, able to adapt to even the most massive castrophes.

To make the claim that the US will one day fail just like every other previous world power (USSR, England, Rome....) is ignoring the fact that the US is _very_ different in its power... it a _comeplete_ world power, not partial domination like all previous. The advancements in technology make it global domination. And while we're ontop we're likely to crush anyone who would attempt to share the mountain top with us... we're too distrustful to allow anyone else to do the job.

In 50 years the US did more than any other country could manage in the history of society, and while an american's desire for freedom and liberty is essential, the human desire for survival will always be stronger and it will kick in if our way of life is at stake.

Or at least thats what I'd like to think is what would happen.
-- schubert
[ Parent ]

Re: falter (3.00 / 1) (#125)
by Ngwenya on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 08:02:53 AM EST

America has become so large and so powerful, yet at the same time, able to adapt to even the most massive castrophes.

The most massive catastrophes? Like what? A meteor strike? Nuclear holocaust? I suspect that you might be referring to something like the attack on 9/11. It is nowhere near a most massive catastrophe - it was a heinous act of mass murder by evil psychopaths. But on the scale of what nature or man could do to the United States, I hope you never have to find out.

No-one is immortal. Not you, not me, not your country and not mine. A bit of humility can be a valuable tool - jingoistic swaggering can be a terrible failing.

To make the claim that the US will one day fail just like every other previous world power (USSR, England, Rome....) is ignoring the fact that the US is very different in its power... it a comeplete world power

Of course the United States will "fail" - the very nature of nation states is changing in the world today. Military power is one aspect of it, but economic power is another. To take an example - compare the overall economic power of the European Union versus the United States. The eurozone is much bigger - and with a similar technology base. Moreover, the EU is still forming and growing as a polity. The USA is a mature state. In time, perhaps a federation of the Americas may become the dominant world power - I don't know the future any more than you do - but I try to stay away from absolute predictions!

You mention that other paramount empires had "only" partial domination (although given that the UK owned 25% of the world's surface, with states on every continent, it sounds pretty global to me!). In the worlds that each of them inhabited, they considered themselves rulers of the world - nothing else mattered.

In 50 years the US did more than any other country could manage in the history of society.

What do you mean, here? To take another example, the various European powers took over almost the entire land mass of Africa within 20 years - but the post colonial world does not permit such evils now. I need to understand the context in which you speak.

--Ng

[ Parent ]

Nitpick (4.00 / 1) (#139)
by upsilon on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 09:39:57 AM EST

I would not say the eurozone is much bigger than the US. Looking at it from an economic point of view, the US has a GDP of just under 10 trillion dollars. If you add up the GDPs of every nation in Europe (both in the EU and not in the EU), you get about 11.5 trillion dollars.

Yes, the EU is larger, but not much larger.
--
Once, I was the King of Spain.
[ Parent ]

A lot of potential (none / 0) (#146)
by DodgyGeezer on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 10:24:32 AM EST

What they do have is 100 million more people.

[ Parent ]
Differing statistics (none / 0) (#216)
by Ngwenya on Mon Oct 07, 2002 at 06:12:43 AM EST

I would not say the eurozone is much bigger than the US. Looking at it from an economic point of view, the US has a GDP of just under 10 trillion dollars. If you add up the GDPs of every nation in Europe (both in the EU and not in the EU), you get about 11.5 trillion dollars.

Firstly, I apologise for my lack of clarity. I said "eurozone" which is NOT the whole of the EU (as a citizen of the UK, which does not use the Euro, this was a silly mistake to make).

Secondly, from where did you get your statistics? I took mine from the US Economic Research Service (http://www.ers.usda.gov/briefing/EuropeanUnion/data.htm) which give the figures for 2000 as EU = 10.4 trillion US$ versus the USA at 7.5 trillion US$). Which looks like a much bigger market in Europe than the USA. Now, it could be that through 2001 - 2002 the EU has shrunk its economy whilst the USA has grown - but it seems unlikely, doesn't it?

Now, that said the GDP per capita is much closer in value, because of the USA's more efficient economy. The EU single market still hasn't fully taken yet. We'll get there (though I may be much older when that happens!).

--Ng


[ Parent ]

Interesting (none / 0) (#220)
by cr8dle2grave on Mon Oct 07, 2002 at 02:08:43 PM EST

The statistics given at the link you provide are seriously out of whack with all other sources I could find. It almost appears that they are comparing the US in 92 with the EU in 2001, but even then the numbers don't match up.

Here is what I have found for relative GDP:

In adjusted 2001 US dollars, the US GDP is 10.1 trillion, the EU-15 GDP is 7.9 trillion, and the EuroZone GDP is 6 trillion.

I got these numbers from the EU and confirmed them with the OECD reported numbers (PDF warning). These numbers also roughly correspond with a report published by the Globalist.

Notice when looking at the OECD report that the economy of the EU-15 is larger than the US if figured in adjusted 1995 US dollars. Comparing GDP is a tricky business.

As for GDP per capita:

According to a 2002 OECD report (PDF warning), in 2002 US dollars the GDP per capita in the US is 35,600, in the EU-15 it is 20,800, and in the EuroZone it is 19,800. When measured in terms of current PPP (purchasing power parities) the US remains 35,600 (it is the baseline) and the EU-15 is 24,400, and Eurozone is 24,300.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Very Interesting (none / 0) (#225)
by Ngwenya on Tue Oct 08, 2002 at 05:32:02 AM EST

OK - I'm confused. I can't see that the US government would want to diminish its own GDP, so maybe the ERS should withdraw that spreadsheet. On the other hand, I'm quite prepared to admit that my previous belief that the EU-15 make up the largest single economy is wrong (although it is still very large indeed - and growing, perhaps faster than the economy of the US). One would imagine that with the admission of new member states, that economy grows larger still. God knows, with the lower wages typical in Eastern and Central Europe, the productivity per worker dollar paid should go up!

However, as you say - comparing GDP is a tricky thing. It seems to vary wildly depending on how people want to count it. I'm guessing that the massive fluctuation of the Euro versus the dollar in 2001 had a dramatic effect on the GDP calculations, and that the 2002 near-parity of the Euro/US$ exchange rate should give a better idea of how things are - but we won't know for a year or so.

Thanks for the pointers. I'm always prepared to acknowledge that my belief is wrong - but I figured that the US government was a pretty reliable source. Ah well, live and learn.

--Ng

[ Parent ]

USA! USA! (3.00 / 1) (#144)
by scorchio on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 10:04:35 AM EST

America has become so large and so powerful, yet at the same time, able to adapt to even the most massive castrophes.

You haven't had a massive catastrophe yet, stuck there between two shining seas. When you do, you will no longer utter asinine comments like:

To make the claim that the US will one day fail just like every other previous world power (USSR, England, Rome....) is ignoring the fact that the US is _very_ different in its power...

The only think we learn from history is that men learn nothing from history. Every world empire assumes its sun will never set. All are wrong. Sic transit gloria mundi.

In 50 years the US did more than any other country could manage in the history of society.

Like what?

and while an american's desire for freedom and liberty is essential, the human desire for survival will always be stronger and it will kick in if our way of life is at stake.

Ah, you accept that trade-off? Good little citizen. I'm sure that Ashcroft, Rumsfelt et al will give you all your freedoms back when they're finished fighting "terrorism".

Happy landings!

[ Parent ]

Consumption (none / 0) (#169)
by DodgyGeezer on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 12:46:56 PM EST

In 50 years the US did more than any other country could manage in the history of society.

Like what?

I saw a programme on PBS once that claimed Americans in the last 50 years have consumed more of the world's resources than all people in all time before them.  <tongue-in-cheek>Something to be proud of!</tongue-in-cheek>

[ Parent ]

That's absurd (none / 0) (#186)
by Big Sexxy Joe on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 04:20:35 PM EST

I agree that the US is the first true world power. However, nothing lasts forever.

You say we'll crush anyone who tries to share the mountain? Yes, that has always been our policy. However, we are entering an age in which there will be no military superpowers. More and more countries have nuclear weapons. Not to mention biological and chemical weapons. Whether you like it or not, terrorism does subvert our traditional military might.

I'm like Jesus, only better.
Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour
[ Parent ]

Wow (4.25 / 4) (#84)
by cr8dle2grave on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 11:50:11 PM EST

You manage to make an extraordinarily complex question (or perhaps a complex of extraordinary questions) disappear with just a little hand waving. Overextension plain and simple, huh? No mention required of novel over sea trade routes, the fragmentation of martial administration, a diminishing tax base, or the economics and politics of a frontier slave trade in the Caucasuses and Balkans.

Not to mention that the broader Islamic culture under examination here bears little to no resemblance to the Roman Empire, which, incidentally, didn't just dry up and blow away.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
eep! (2.00 / 1) (#93)
by martingale on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 12:55:09 AM EST

Memphis? Ok, I know the King is still alive, but now you're telling me he's *two thousand years old* ?

[ Parent ]
Memphis and Thebes (4.66 / 3) (#98)
by aphrael on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 02:24:17 AM EST

were the two primary cities of pre-Alexandrian Egypt.

[ Parent ]
He's Immortal. (2.00 / 1) (#118)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 07:14:06 AM EST

Everybody knows that!


--
Once one sock is sucked, the other sock will remain forever unsucked.


[ Parent ]

The King wasn't from Memphis, (none / 0) (#184)
by mingofmongo on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 04:05:41 PM EST

He's from Tupelo, which isn't in Egypt at all.

"What they don't seem to get is that the key to living the good life is to avoid that brass ring like the fucking plague."
--The Onion
[ Parent ]

almost faltering, but not yet (3.00 / 2) (#100)
by ryochiji on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 02:35:14 AM EST

>America is beginning to falter now.

Nah. I'd give it another decade or two, at most a century.

---
IlohaMail: Webmail that works.
[ Parent ]

Why the Ottomans failed. (4.16 / 6) (#85)
by Wulfius on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 12:02:26 AM EST

Its almost forgotten why the Ottomans failed.

The Polish king, Jan Sobiewski has smashed
the turks, coming to the help Vienna.
(Google reference keywords:1529 sobiewski vienna)

Had it not been for him, europe would have fallen
to the ottomans.

He had a secret weapon, Polish hussars heavy cavalery was the days equivalent of armor.
The Polish hussars were particulary intimidating.
http://www.angelfire.com/mn3/pnaf/images/Hussar1.jpg

The wings mounted on their armour made a low pitched spooky sound as they charged intimidating
the enemy before they were smashed to a pulp.
---

---
"We must believe in free will, we have no choice."
http://wulfspawprints.blogspot.com/ - Not a journal dammit!

Sobiewski (3.00 / 1) (#120)
by kalamon on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 07:27:48 AM EST

Wrong. Sobiewski smashed Turks in 1689. That's a totally different war.

[ Parent ]
I'm afraid you are both mistaken... (none / 0) (#233)
by Praxis on Tue Oct 08, 2002 at 02:03:29 PM EST

Actually, Sobiewski's battle was in 1683. See http://www.iyp.org/polish/history/vienna.html Also, there was nothing particularly unique about the Polish hussar. They were simply relatively lightly armored cavalry and the Ottomans had plenty of that. Later on the word hussar came to be a generic term of light cavalry. Hussar is not even a Polish word. Hungarian huszár, from Serbian husar, highwayman, from Old Italian corsaro. See corsair.

[ Parent ]
I'm afraid you are both mistaken... (none / 0) (#234)
by Praxis on Tue Oct 08, 2002 at 02:30:27 PM EST

If anyone is interested in the development of the Polish husar, there is a good page here on a site devoted to Polish Renaissance Warfare: http://www.jasinski.co.uk/wojna/comp/comp06.htm

[ Parent ]
Japan (4.37 / 8) (#99)
by ryochiji on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 02:31:05 AM EST

>And with one single exception (Japan) no pre-existing culture managed it.

It's quite fascinating when you study the history of Japan during, say, the 19th century. Within a period of about 20 years, an extremely stable (270 years of no war, try beating that) feudal system was torn down and a semi-democratic government was setup. Social classes were legally abolished (bye bye samurai), and for most intents and purposes, became very much like an industrialized Western nation. They were also one of the very few Asian nations to successfully thwart Western colonization (in fact, that was one of the motivations behind this "expedited modernization"). (Of course, they then went on colonizing other Asian countries during the first half of the 20th century --arguably doing exactly what most Western nations did, only a century or so after the fad was over). Today, Japan is one of the most successful democracies (cough, cough, I'll refrain from commenting on that here) and economies. They have one of the highest literacy rates, relatively even distribution of wealth, and relatively high standards of living. Throw in the fact that use of offensive military force is banned constitutionally, you'd think they might actually be the good kid on the block.

Wow, that's the most positive comment I've ever made about Japan. I usually talk about how much I hated living there. Oh well...

---
IlohaMail: Webmail that works.

The Samurai (none / 0) (#230)
by aitrus on Tue Oct 08, 2002 at 11:24:41 AM EST

The Samurai ideal was never really abolished until the US defeated Japan, and began a social and economic transformation.

[ Parent ]
Also: Thailand (none / 0) (#248)
by skintigh on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 07:40:30 PM EST

The only Asian nation to never be conquered (in recent history, anyway) or colonized, all through diplomacy.

[ Parent ]
About the Middle Ages. (4.16 / 12) (#101)
by tkatchev on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 02:46:11 AM EST

There is an incredible amount of misinformation being spread about the Middle Ages; worse, most of it is nothing but underhanded politicised lies.

Here, let me quote one of my writeups on another site, just to counterbalance all of the psedo-scientific idiocy being spread around.

In actuality, the "Dark Ages" are far from a barbarian time of decay. European civilization has been formed during the "Dark Ages", and almost everything that we usually think of as Western Culture has been invented during the "Dark Ages".

Here are just a few examples:

* The nation-state.
* The parliament.
* Constitutions.
* The jury.
* Banks.
* Stock markets.
* Guilds.
* Christianity as we know it.
* Architecture as a science. (Gothic churches, castles.)
* The concept of romantic love.
* The windmill.
* Cursive writing.
* Punctuation. (Including the space between words.)
* Municipal governments.
* The mechanical clock.
* Firearms.
* Scissors.
* Transoceanic ships.
* The printing press.
* Glass (and glasses.)
* Pants and skirts.
* Buttons. (The kind that hold clothes together.)
* The compass.
* The stirrup.
* Fertilizer.
* Crop rotation.
* The first encylcopeadias.
* The formation of practically all modern European nationalities and languages.

This is of course far from a complete list, but should be enough to show the importance of the "Dark Ages" in a global context. We are all, in fact, children of the "Dark Ages" culturally and socially. (At least those of us who have European ancestors.)


   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.

Well, not really. (4.88 / 9) (#109)
by ghjm on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 05:58:25 AM EST

I was going to post something very similar to the above. It is certainly unfair to characterize the medieval period as "dark ages." However, your list goes a little overboard. Important steps may have been made in each of these areas, but many of them clearly were not invented during medieval times. Nearly everything on your list existed in one form or another in ancient Rome.

The nation-state: I have seen people use this term to describe very different concepts. The American Heritage Dictionary defines it as "A political unit consisting of an autonomous state inhabited predominantly by a people sharing a common culture, history, and language." What else was Rome? Ancient Egypt, Greece, Israel, etc. also meet this definition.

Parliament: The Roman Senate was a deliberative assembly, representing the populace and limiting the power of the monarch. The Runnymede Charter was undoubtedly a crucial milestone in the development of modern representative democracy, but nothing in the medieval period exceeded the golden age of Rome in this regard.

Constitutions: Again, Rome had a constitution, in the sense of fundamental law that could not be overridden by any act of the Senate, praetors/consuls/triumvirs, etc. Many other ancient cultures were built on fundamental codes of law, and I'm sure you could find several that wrote them down in detail.

Jury trials: Cicero argued several cases in front of citizen juries.

Banks: Yep, Florence and the Medici family in particular did invent modern banking. As far as I know, nothing similar existed anywhere eise.

Stock markets: Were not invented in any recognizably modern form until well after the medieval period.

Guilds: Existed in Rome.

Christianity as we know it: If you mean Nicene Christianity, the Nicene Council convened prior to what is generally considered the medieval period. If you mean modern Christianity, most modern Christians are Protestants, and the Reformation was post-medieval. If you mean modern Catholicism, you might have a point if you can deal appropriately with the English Bible (and consequent rise of literalism, and decline in priestly authority - you can't sell plenary indulgences to people who understand the Bible in its own right), the loss of Papal authority over the kings of "nation-states," and the various other ways in which Catholicism faild to survive the Reformation intact. Oh, and some more modern inconveniences like Vatican II.

Architecture: The Aqueducts. The Pantheon. The Colosseum. Hagia Sophia. Or if you mean, the concept of architecture as an academic discipline, consider the writings of Vitruvius.

Romantic Love: If you had said chivalric love you might have had a point. Romantic love, in the broader sense of making goo-goo eyes and losing rationality about the object of your affections, appears to be a factor of all human cultures.

Windmills: First appeared in Persia (modern Iran & Afghanistan). Medieval Europe did apparently invent the more efficient horizontal-axis configuration, though.

Cursive writing: Do you mean, writing with the letters all joined up together so you don't have to lift the pen? If so, one pre-medieval example is Egyptian demotic script.

Punctuation & space between words: You must be joking. Have you never seen classical Latin or Greek writing?

Municipal governments: Do you mean, governments of cities? Cities like Rome? Or do you mean, city governments able to make autonomous decisions within the framework of a larger government - like, say, Pompeii?

The mechanical clock: Water clocks existed long before the medieval period, but you're right about clockwork clocks.

Firearms: In common use as a weapon of war, yes, I think you're correct.

Scissors: I won't contest this one, though I have vague memories of Celtic devices (La Tene culture) that looked a lot like scissors. I can't find any references right now, though.

Transoceanic ships: There is ample evidence of ancient ocean crossings. The fact of early settlement on Pacific islands should be evidence enough.

The printing press: This was indeed invented during the medieval period, but was also arguably one of the key forces driving the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution - hence ending the medieval period. Certainly the printing press did not exist or have any role to play in mainstream medieval culture.

Glass: Examples of Egyptian manufactured glass have been found.

Pants and skirts: Pants, maybe. Skirts have probably existed since the invention of cloth, which was certainly paleolithic and probably predated homo sapiens sapiens. Homo erectus probably wore cloth. Make a sheet of cloth, tie it around your waist, and you have a skirt.

Buttons: From time to time you can find Roman buttons on ebay. However, they were mostly used with leather, you might be right that the medieval period saw the first use of bottons as a fastener for light cloth. However, I still very much doubt it - I would be very surprised if China didn't do it first.

The compass: Was invented in China. Referneces to Chinese compasses exist in the first century A.D.

The stirrup: Almost certainly a medieval invention, so armored knights could stay on their horses more reliably.

Fertilizer / Crop Rotation: The Egyptians probably knew quite a lot about this, but the three-field system was certainly a major medieval advance.

Encyclopaedias: You will have to do some serious definitional fiddling to exclude writings of general knowledge from other cultures, but the word "encyclopaedia" itself is indeed of medieval origin.

Modern European nationalities and languages: All the Romance languages (French, Spanish, Portugese, Romanian, etc) come from Latin. And many of the current nations of Europe were originally regions of the Roman Empire: France (Gaul), Spain, Italy, Germany. Also, keep in mind that the modern face of Europe was drastically altered during the twentieth century, primarily as a result of the world wars.

So yes, the medieval period should not be discounted as a time of nothing but building castles and burning peasants - but at the same time, it was not a particularly rich time of invention or cultural achievement; its correct interpretation is a time of shock and then recovery after the fall of Rome.

-Graham

[ Parent ]

Parts of the Roman Empire (3.66 / 3) (#114)
by Torako on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 06:22:34 AM EST

Great comment all in all, but Germany was never part of the Roman Empire (or to be precise: the area that we call Germany nowadays was never). If I'm not mistaken the Romans got as far as the river Rhine. Most trips across the Rhine ended disastrously (e.g. Varus' battle), that's why they built their Limes there.

[ Parent ]
Germany was part of the Empire, sorta (5.00 / 3) (#127)
by zaphod46 on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 08:46:21 AM EST

Although military invasions across the river did tend to end in disaster, Roman culture made a successful invasion into Germanic regions. A large force behind the repeated "barbarian" invasions of Gaul was the desire for Roman goods; not just because Roman things were better made, but because Roman associations were a source of prestige. Leaders had two ways of earning this prestige: work for the Romans, or steal from the Romans and display their stuff. Those who went to work for the Romans were absorbed into Roman culture, like many of the other conquered peoples, and they took this culture back to their homelands when they left the service of the army. As a result, Roman ideas of centralized leadership enabled the Germanic tribes to organize themselves into larger and larger groups which became more successful at repelling the Roman armies. You can think of the Germanic tribes as satellite nations to the Empire. Even as the conflict escalated, the cultural similarities between "barbarian" and Roman grew.

[ Parent ]
Very well stated. (none / 0) (#191)
by ghjm on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 12:36:47 AM EST

The sense of this double-bind situation is conveyed very well in Morgan Llewelyn's excellent novel, Druids. Recommended reading for anyone interested in the challenges non-Roman cultures faced when Roman influence began to appear in their neighborhood. Also very relevant to a nuanced understanding of America's current foreign policy.

-Graham

[ Parent ]

Other influences upon the Germanic Tribes (none / 0) (#209)
by nomoreh1b on Sun Oct 06, 2002 at 12:25:25 AM EST

I'd keep in mind that there were other influences upon the Germanic tribes than just the Romans. Some of the major organizing principles of the Goths were Judeo-Christian interests that were brought to that region by forces that weren't altogether friendly to the Roman establishment.

Neither Gothic military leaders and Jewish mercantile interests could have defeated the Roman Empire by themselves-but acting together they were able to reshape the Roman Empire.

[ Parent ]

Germania (4.00 / 2) (#143)
by scorchio on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 09:54:25 AM EST

Germany was never part of the Roman Empire (or to be precise: the area that we call Germany nowadays was never)

Cologne, and Bonn were both Roman cities, one of which was the capital of the Bundesrepublik until not so long ago.

The Romans were well established on the Lower Rhine. What is your impression of the area we now call Germany (and the Romans called Germania)?

[ Parent ]

You're absolutely right. (none / 0) (#190)
by ghjm on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 12:31:12 AM EST

What I wrote was incorrect. I had in mind something closer to, "regions known to the Romans." Germania was never conquered, but it was a well-known region and ethnicity in Roman times.

-Graham

[ Parent ]

What was that stone I tripped over.... (none / 0) (#212)
by hughk on Sun Oct 06, 2002 at 08:26:05 PM EST

There are a number of stones in an area called "The Romer" in the middle of Frankfurt am Main. These are the foundations of some old Roman buildings. The hills around (the Taunus) are surrounded by Roman roads with the remains of guard posts.

However, their penetration was far from complete.

[ Parent ]

Strange (3.00 / 2) (#140)
by nat the hat on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 09:45:06 AM EST

that you seem to have a pretty extensive knowledge of the medieval and pre-medieval period, and yet you still come to a rather dismissive conclusion. Of course the medieval period was a rich period of invention.

Your one-by-one analysis is really very black and white...many of your points I would disagree with entirely, and many I believe are very valid. What escapes you is that you don't have to have done something first to make a valuable contribution to it. Its all very well that Cicero once did a case in front of civil jurors. Fine. Wicked. But it wasn't normal practice then was it? No. Its just pedantry to go through the list saying 'true' or 'false'.

The problem with your analysis is that you think its is "the correct interpretation". There's really no such thing. How can you have a one-sentence "correct interpretation" of a millennium of multi-cultural history?

The point being made, and made well even if its not 1000% accurate (which is hardly unforgivable), is that this article utterly dismisses the myriad contributions made to modern culture and civilisation made in the "dark ages". Whether medieval europeans or celts invented scissors is beside the point.
"I am not actually physically possible" - codemonkey_uk c.1998
[ Parent ]

Conspiracy to keep the ancient white man down? (none / 0) (#182)
by mingofmongo on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 03:51:01 PM EST

What is it with you. Yeah, if you dig deep enough you can find something interesting in any time period anywhere. But sometimes you have to dig REALLY deep.

The Dark Ages (I call them that because they were) were a time when the seeds of modern technology were being sown, but ONLY THE SEEDS. And really nothing else.

The people of the dark ages used ideas they vaguely remembered from the roman empire, and VERY SLOWLY developed decent metalurgy. The made the first real clocks, but they were bad clocks that didn't improve much until well into the renaisance. It took them generations to come up with guns that weren't a hinderance in battle.

They had no new political ideas of note that they didn't derive from Rome. All law that wasn't royal fiat, was roman law. Painting was little more than religious iconography. Music and litterature was pathetic outside of the Langue'doc area, and the other regions put a violent stop to that. In a way, they were similar to modern Islam, in that they were achieving little or nothing, and looking back on a grand past.

These are the people you seem to think were as advanced as the Muslems at the time? Please. Maybe if you studied something outside of your favorite area, you wouldn't think we are all conspiring to put the ancient white man down.

"What they don't seem to get is that the key to living the good life is to avoid that brass ring like the fucking plague."
--The Onion
[ Parent ]

no. sorry, but no. (none / 0) (#244)
by nat the hat on Wed Oct 09, 2002 at 08:26:03 AM EST

I just think that the article was dismissive, is all. As was your opinion of medieval literature, but I'm not going down that road.

My opinion is that to describe the period simply in terms of castle-building and peasant-burning is not doing it justice. Anything more you wish to read into what I've said is almost certainly misinterpretation, or rather taking it MUCH TOO SERIOUSLY.
"I am not actually physically possible" - codemonkey_uk c.1998
[ Parent ]

I'm not being dismissive. (none / 0) (#188)
by ghjm on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 12:25:40 AM EST

Nevertheless, the feudal system was notable for its extreme stability and relative lack of innovation or change. Of course there were intereting inventions and developments; these are humans we're talking about, it's in human nature to invent new ways of doing things. But this is not a notable feature of the medieval period. Which is a good thing in many ways. Slow water runs deep.

Of course I'm being black-and-white. I'm responding to a list of "inventions" of the medieval period. Do you want me to write an essay on each topic? Rest assured that I could, but the post was already about two standard deviations beyond the average length.

Prior to the Ceasars, it was normal practice in Rome to argue non-capital cases in front of a citizen jury. Capital cases were decided by the Senate, or by appointed justices, IIRC. And the right to high justice was not surrendered by the crown until the Renaissance anyway, so the real issue - the civil right to trial by a jury of your peers - was a post-medieval development. If you have an argument to make that jury trials were a medieval development, by all means make it.

At no point did I assert or infer that any interpretation was "correct." I made a lot of declarations of fact, none of which I supported with any references. Google probably knows the (secondary-source) answer to most of these; someone who cares enough to spend the time could probably check the facts. I don't plan to, because for me this is entertainment, not research. :-)

The main story unfairly dismisses the middle ages as nothing more than castle-building and "setting peasants on fire." I completely agree with your condemnation of this view - as I believe I stated in my original post.

And if it is not relevant whether medieval Europeans or ancient Celts invented scissors, why did you make the claim in the first place? I certainly was not the one who introduced the topic of scissors.

-Graham

[ Parent ]

Well, you kinda did... (none / 0) (#245)
by nat the hat on Wed Oct 09, 2002 at 08:31:13 AM EST

"its correct interpretation is a time of shock and then recovery after the fall of Rome."

But anyway, I'm forever contradicting myself and I'm comfortable with that, so I won't hold it against you. Like you, this is purely an interest thing for me, and I don't have the time to research stuff and present thorough arguments all the time.

I didn't bring scissors into it, that was someone else. It was just an example. But I never really intended to get drawn into details on this. I know what I know, and you obviously know it to.
"I am not actually physically possible" - codemonkey_uk c.1998
[ Parent ]

re: Well, not really. (4.00 / 1) (#142)
by scorchio on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 09:47:58 AM EST

If you mean modern Christianity, most modern Christians are Protestants, and the Reformation was post-medieval.

There were medieval reformations, such as John Wycliff's in England, and that of John Hus in Eastern Europe. Wycliff translated the Bible into English: vernacular translations of the Bible are often mistakenly thought of as a Renaissance phenomenon.

The Renaissance happened at different places in different times (and indeed, never occured at all in some countries). I don't know if the boorish Luther would count as a Renaissance man, despite his political success.

As to most modern Christians being Catholics, see here I haven't bothered totting up the figures, but I would say it was a close-run thing.

[ Parent ]

Wow (none / 0) (#189)
by ghjm on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 12:27:37 AM EST

If the figures at adherents.com are accurate, Catholics are in the majority - which would be a surprise to me (not that I am an expert in this). However, I don't see any details of the methodology. I would guess that the Catholics do a better job of keeping track of their lapsed membership than the Protestants. What exactly are the criteria for someone to be labeled "Anglican Communion" vs. "Roman Catholic?"

-Graham

[ Parent ]

Not really surprising. (none / 0) (#204)
by afc on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 11:14:28 AM EST

Christianity is the majority religion in Europe, the Americas and Oceania. Protestantsare in the majority in a few Northern European countries (UK, Scandinavia, Netherlands), while Germany is split 50/50 and Catholics are the vast majority south of the Alps and in France. Then in the US, Catholics, at 25% of the population, even though fairly outnumbered by Protestants are still the largest "denomination". South of the Rio Grande, of course, Catholics are the vast majority and you seem to forget that the population of Latin America is much larger than that of the US + Canada.
--

Information wants to be beer, or something.
[ Parent ]

Um (none / 0) (#208)
by ghjm on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 09:12:20 PM EST

I accept that there are more Catholics than Protestants, and that my statement to the contrary was incorrect.

Please support or withdraw your allegation that I have at any time forgotten or been unaware of the population of Latin America.

-Graham

[ Parent ]

Not even printing. (4.00 / 1) (#237)
by enkidu on Tue Oct 08, 2002 at 07:13:25 PM EST

Like gun powder, China and satellite state Korea had printing way way before Europe. However, probably due to societal forces, the dissemination of knowledge did not trigger a cultural revolution as happened in Europe in conjunction with the introduction of moveable type. (The fact that you had to cast ALOT more characters than the 40 or so needed in Europe, probably made a big difference in the economics of typesetting/printing which contributed to its relatively small impact on China and Korea.)

Here's what I got from google. Here's a Western source which mentions Korean moveable type.

[ Parent ]

The darkness... (4.00 / 2) (#168)
by cr8dle2grave on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 12:35:51 PM EST

...such as it was, of the Dark Ages was principally due to the lack civilized Romans recording for posterity their impressions of the uncultivated barbarians.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Some good ones there, but: (none / 0) (#226)
by Quila on Tue Oct 08, 2002 at 10:21:58 AM EST

Constitutions

Like the Magna Carta, which didn't do a thing for the little people, just protected the lords?

The jury

Which until the Penn case had to judge the way the state wanted it to.

Guilds

There was pretty much the same thing all over the world.

Christianity as we know it

Did you say good developments or bad?

Architecture as a science

As mentioned, look at the Cordoba mosque, or maybe even the Taj Mahal.

Cursive writing

Arabic's pretty much cursive in the first place.

Municipal governments

Democratic municipal governments, or the same city governments that everyone else had?

Firearms.

Using Chinese technology.



[ Parent ]

let's see... (none / 0) (#247)
by KiTaSuMbA on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 12:45:29 AM EST

  • The nation-state: TRUE, right now we are getting over this...
  • The parliament:  TRUE
  • Constitutions: It depends on what you intend by "constitution." A table of basic laws and rights? That was way older. A table of democratic rights? That is way newer. The actual beurocratic form of those statements? Ok... but I fail to see the "cultural advance" in that.
  • The jury: FALSE. I suggest you take a look at how the courts operated in Athens.
  • Banks: TRUE
  • Stock markets: TRUE
  • Guilds: FALSE. There have been "guilds" of many forms around the world prior to those of Medieval europe.
  • Christianity as we know it: FALSE I don't see in what sense that would be an improvement... You are discussing a series of subsequent schisms that caused long and bloody wars but no improvement to any philosophical / theological thesis. On the contrary, the activities of the "Inquisition" and the witch-hunting form some of the darkest pages in human history.
  • Architecture as a science. (Gothic churches, castles.): FALSE. There have been many civilizations across the world that created wonders of architectural beauty while still facing architecture as a duality of science and art. Thousands of years before...
  • The concept of romantic love: FALSE You must be kidding... Untill the middle ages, nobody fell in love? So all that poetry was out of their *sses, right?
  • The windmill: TRUE (I'm not sure though)
  • Cursive writing: FALSE.
  • Punctuation. (Including the space between words.): FALSE punctuation was introduced in greek during the alexandrin era to facilitate pronunciation for the foreigners... and I'm sure many will come up with other examples or even argue on the importance of the very feature (why should the chinese people be ashamed of not having punctuation?)
  • Municipal governments: FALSE Moot arguement. If only then we had nation-states, then before there was no need for "municipal" governments (they were the governments - end of story).
  • The mechanical clock: TRUE
  • Firearms: TRUE for the handweapons, the technology though is chinese.
  • Scissors: TRUE
  • Transoceanic ships: I would take this with a bit of salt.
  • The printing press: TRUE
  • Glass (and glasses.): FALSE Duhhh, arabs introduced the glass actually...
  • Pants and skirts: IRRELEVANT. I don't see how a specific dressing code is index of advance compared to another one. In any case, Persians wore a type of adherent pants as Herodotos describes.
  • Buttons. (The kind that hold clothes together.): TRUE
  • The compass: TRUE
  • The stirrup: TRUE
  • Fertilizer: manour has always been available... hahah
  • Crop rotation: TRUE
  • The first encylcopeadias: TRUE
  • The formation of practically all modern European nationalities and languages: FALSE (or I'm not greek)
Now that we have some things straight, I do agree that considered the entire period as a big black hole for civilization is myopic and overgeneralising as is considering the concurrent acheivements of the islamic world "self-spawn." As a matter of fact, all great acheivements of humanity are based in sharing, gathering and re-elaborating information not building from scratch.
There is no Dopaminergic Pepperoni Kabal!
[ Parent ]
I'd like to take issue with a few of your items (none / 0) (#250)
by tmyklebust on Sun Oct 13, 2002 at 02:42:52 PM EST

* The nation-state. Couldn't we look at Alexander the Great, or perhaps Rome for this? * Constitutions. Hammurabi. Unles you want to use "constitution" to mean "a set of laws which exist to protect the people" or something to that effect. * Banks. I consider the Medici house to be a Renaissance feature. * Guilds. Guilds were common in ancient Rome, IIRC. * Christianity as we know it. I don't believe that anybody denied religious "advance" occurred in the dark ages. * Architecture as a science. (Gothic churches, castles.) Architecture is not a science, and it never will be. * Punctuation. (Including the space between words.) This exists in Biblical Greek. * Municipal governments. What of the city-state? * The mechanical clock. Galileo? Or am I mistkaem? * Firearms. Roger Bacon. I can live with this, as it *did* fall in the middle ages, but I do not believe they were actually implemented (except in Bacon's iron cauldron) until a good deal later. * Transoceanic ships. Did they actually exist in what we would call the "dark ages"? * Glass (and glasses.) I believe this predates the "dark ages" but am unsure. * Pants and skirts. Togas are far more convenient :) * Fertilizer. Shit predates the middle ages. * The first encylcopeadias. More Roger Bacon; it was in this encyclopaedia that his formula for gunpowder was introduced. While the Opus Major/Minor/Tertium are a grand achievement, I do not see how they advanced the sciences in any way (except gunpowder).

[ Parent ]
China (3.33 / 3) (#102)
by drquick on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 03:02:09 AM EST

The true center of civilisaton in this era was China, wasn't it?

But, of course, if we compare the islamic world with "Europe" in this time the author has a point. It's just a reminder of how total the destruction of the Roman empire was. Almost nothing was left except Christianity. Many would blame that demise on the church and Papal power.

You are so totally wrong. (4.75 / 4) (#110)
by tkatchev on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 06:07:15 AM EST

The Roman Empire wasn't "destroyed". Rather, it decayed very slowly. This decay wasn't even caused by political or economic forces -- rather, as the ethnic makeup of the Empire started to change, the Roman customs and way of life changed with it.

To the people living in the Empire at the time the decay of the Empire was so gradual as to be almost completely unnoticeable.

Also, do not forget that this applies only to the Western half of the Empire. The Eastern half continued on quite happily for another one thousand years. (And, what is most important, the Eastern half still considered themselves as "the Roman Empire" right up until their demise in 1453.)

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

i thought (5.00 / 1) (#158)
by el_guapo on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 11:19:28 AM EST

turkey was the modern last vestiges of the roman empire? i am adittedly embarrassingly ignorant of this subject matter (ww2 occupies most of my history based cycles) - but i bought a THC series called "byzantine" and i could have swore that's what it said. a great video if you're interested, although everything in it could have been complete bunk for all i know :-)
mas cerveza, por favor mirrors, manifestos, etc.
[ Parent ]
Yes and No (none / 0) (#175)
by cr8dle2grave on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 02:34:10 PM EST

The Ottoman Sultan claimed the title of Caesar after the conquest of Constantinople in 1453, so in that sense the Roman empire continued to nominally exist until 1918 (the Holy Roman Empire also claimed to be the rightful heir of the western half of the Roman Tetrarchy). On the other hand, if viewed in terms of cultural and political continuity, the fall of Constantinople marks the true end of the Roman Empire.

Does the THC series you're talking consist of about 13 episodes? If so, I've seen it and consider it to be excellent and informative.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
thank you for the info :-) (5.00 / 1) (#232)
by el_guapo on Tue Oct 08, 2002 at 01:48:13 PM EST

and yes, i didn't recall it being 13, but that certainly sounds about right. and i borked the name, it was called "byzantium". i loved it as well - i just soak up the history channel, can't get enough of it (and i now recall them mentioning the ottomans now that you mention it) thanks again!
mas cerveza, por favor mirrors, manifestos, etc.
[ Parent ]
Not 1453 (none / 0) (#165)
by upsilon on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 11:50:43 AM EST

After the Turks conquered the Eastern empire with the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the head of the Ottoman Empire assumed the title of "Roman Emperor" (among his many other titles). There actually was a Roman Emperor continuously from Augustus (27 BC) until the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1918.
--
Once, I was the King of Spain.
[ Parent ]
That's contentious. (none / 0) (#166)
by tkatchev on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 12:07:27 PM EST

The last of the Byzantine emperors passed on their hereditary right of rule to the czars in Moscow. (Which is why it has been called "the Third Rome".)

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

Did they? (none / 0) (#171)
by aphrael on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 01:38:23 PM EST

or did the Russians claim that? I very much doubt that it actually happened; the Byzantines went down convinced that the Turks would never take Constantinople, that God would save them. The last Emperor himself vanished in the fighting to defend the city, rather than escaping to some happy exile.

Regardless of who had the 'right', though, the point remains that the Ottomans took the title 'Sultan of Rum' and kept it until the end of their empire.

[ Parent ]

Yes they did. (none / 0) (#210)
by tkatchev on Sun Oct 06, 2002 at 08:22:10 AM EST

Although, there is a point to be made -- the lineage carried over by the female side of the Byzantine dynasty. (Some princess or other married into the Moscovite czars.)

From a Russian perspective, the female side is just as valid as the male -- we here in Russia have a long history of female kingship dating back to prehistoric times -- but from a Western European point of view this claim is probably suspect.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

oh yes you are so wrong (2.50 / 2) (#136)
by nat the hat on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 09:22:36 AM EST

The 'collapse' of the Roman Empire took place over hundreds of years. And left strong social structures and a diverse, civilised Europe as its lasting legacy. And of course their was the Holy Roman Empire which grew out of it as well.
"I am not actually physically possible" - codemonkey_uk c.1998
[ Parent ]
total destruction? (5.00 / 2) (#154)
by aphrael on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 10:48:39 AM EST

In what sense was the Roman Empire 'totally destroyed'? Yeah, sure, there's this myth that's taught in American schools about barbarians coming and sacking the cities and laying waste to the fields, sort of like Sherman's march writ large across Europe .... but while there's a kernel of truth, it's mostly, well, a myth.

Roman culture ossified and decayed over the span of centuries. There are still huge debates among classical and midieval historians about why, precisely, that happened. Certainly the wanderings of the German tribes helped, but not in the sense that you'd think; most of the time, when the tribes marched through an area and sacked a city, the people simply rebuilt after they left --- just as we would rebuild after a hurricane. Over time, though, the Germans came to constitute the bulk of the Roman army, and political power structures deteriorated, until the Roman state in the west had no meaningful authority, and the Roman state in the east had no ability to project authority in most of the west.

This took centuries.

Even after the time that is normally called 'the fall of the Roman empire' in western histories, the western states continued to pay lip service to the idea of the empire, and their relations with the still-existing Roman Empire centered in Constantinople retained a feeling of being theoretically subservient to the emperor; this is why it was such a big deal when the pope coronated Charlemagne.

But even outside of the political continuity (the Holy Roman Empire remained in existence until Napoleon's time, although it had been a joke for centuries --- an absurd anachronism that still attested to the memory of Rome), there are other things that carried over. Latin remained the language of political conversation until the eighteenth century and of scientific conversation until the nineteenth and the republican forms of roman life continued in italian cities through the renaissance.

Rome still had a Senate when Italy absorbed the Papal States.

The Roman Empire was quite strong, and to speak of its total destruction is to completely misunderstand the early middle ages.

[ Parent ]

carried over... (none / 0) (#173)
by miasma on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 01:46:36 PM EST

But even outside of the political continuity [...] there are other things that carried over. Latin remained the language of political conversation until the eighteenth century and of scientific conversation until the nineteenth and the republican forms of roman life continued in italian cities through the renaissance.

One amazing thing to me is that 1000+ years later and an ocean away, people placed their government buildings on a hill which they named capitol.


--
"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God." - G.Bush sen.
[ Parent ]

This is probably why everyone hates America (2.20 / 5) (#104)
by nfnnmidata on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 04:00:56 AM EST

Because we're on top now, and because we look forward, not back. We don't give a shit about history beyond our own existence, which is of course pretty brief. I'd be looking backwards in time to find some kind of meaning for myself too if I lived like an animal in some desert, or in some oft-conquered European state. Perhaps under the guise of nationalism, people everywhere appear to feel like they don't have their rightful whatever, owed to them because of what someone did hundreds of years ago. Look forwards, not back is what I say. And don't trust history, as it will always be colored if not written by the victors of any given conflict.

Complete fallacy (4.00 / 8) (#113)
by lugumbashi on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 06:17:26 AM EST

So often I hear this daft argument or variants on it. They hate us because we are on top. They hate us because we love freedom and democracy.

Nothing could be further than the truth. For a start the rest of the world only hates America in the minds of certain Americans. Most rational non-Americans admire America when it supports democracy and freedom (WW2, hopefully Afghanistan). They criticise the US when it overthows democracy (e.g. Chile(1972), Iran (1953)) and behaves with perceived double standards (mainly pertaining with Israel). Very, very few people actually hate the US.

For example Bush was forever trying to make the public believe that the 9/11 attacks were an attack on democracy and freedom. Bin Laden, assuming he was behind them, attacked America specifically because of the presence of US marines on the "holy soil" of Saudi Arabia.

Saying "they hate us" is a cop out because it means you don't have to look at the real reason. It is cognitive dissonance on a nation-scale - all critics must be US-haters.
-"Guinness thaw tool in jew me dinner ouzel?"
[ Parent ]

Really. (none / 0) (#117)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 07:10:37 AM EST

For a start the rest of the world only hates America in the minds of certain Americans.

Really. You don't read k5 much, do you. I never cared what the rest of the world thought of America till I started reading k5. Now all the whiny little greens and socialists have managed to severely piss me off. Anne Coulter looks more beautiful every day.


--
Once one sock is sucked, the other sock will remain forever unsucked.


[ Parent ]

Yes, really (4.00 / 2) (#129)
by lugumbashi on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 08:59:01 AM EST

In particular those Americans who equate criticism of US foreign policy with hatred of their country or people or values.

To be more pedantic, you don't have to be a green or a socialist to criticize US foreign or trade policies. For example, a person committed to globalisation and the expansion of free-markets (such as myself) has much to critice the US policy e.g.on steel and farm subsidies.

This does not just happen in debates involving the US. Criticism of Israeli policy in the West Bank is denounced as anti-Israel or worse as anti-jewish. On the left, criticism of the Euro in Britain is often slandered as being anti-European, which it is not, it is not even necessarily anti-EU.
-"Guinness thaw tool in jew me dinner ouzel?"
[ Parent ]

So you're saying (none / 0) (#177)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 03:03:20 PM EST

That Tumeric and Greenrd don't actually hate Americans, just the American government.

And all that crap about "USian" is just, you know, good natured joshing.


--
Once one sock is sucked, the other sock will remain forever unsucked.


[ Parent ]

How did your clown audition (none / 0) (#130)
by perdida on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 09:10:11 AM EST

thing go?


The most adequate archive on the Internet.
I can't shit a hydrogen fuel cell car. -eeee
[ Parent ]

Haven't gotten a call back (none / 0) (#176)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 02:59:35 PM EST

But it seemed to go pretty well. We had a lot of fun - especially afterwards when we started wandering the streets doing magic tricks in Harlem.


--
Once one sock is sucked, the other sock will remain forever unsucked.


[ Parent ]

*Not* really... (4.00 / 1) (#133)
by mirleid on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 09:17:00 AM EST

I dont think people hate the US. What people *do* hate is hearing a bunch of politicians trying to teach the rest of the world what they think are civilized ways, and then proceeding to crap by deed all over their nice speeches and rethoric.

In short, what I think people hate in the US is the hipocrisy of its leaders combined with the high-and-mighty attitude that is conveyed by people such as the poster that started this thread.



Chickens don't give milk
[ Parent ]
Damn them (none / 0) (#150)
by hypno on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 10:44:33 AM EST

How dare they care for anyone besides themselves?

[ Parent ]
I think you meant (none / 0) (#178)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 03:08:24 PM EST

"How dare they HATE anyone besides themselves."

The euro crowd on K5 has certainly never left me feeling "cared for".


--
Once one sock is sucked, the other sock will remain forever unsucked.


[ Parent ]

Not eveyone hates America.. (none / 0) (#116)
by ajduk on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 06:40:20 AM EST

Certainly in Europe.  There may be a few disagreements, but that's a long, long way from hatred.  And I think there is a genuine desire to have the US learn from European mistakes, of which there is a pretty good supply.

As for those in the middle east - well, if you were taught in church and at school that the reason you lived in poverty was due entirely to a Jewish-American conspiricy to keep you down, and you had no access to independant news and information sources, what would your opinion of the US and Israel be?

[ Parent ]

Umm, what? (2.50 / 2) (#126)
by PixelPusher on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 08:34:29 AM EST

Yea, Americans don't harp about past glory...

Nobody endlessly quotes Ben Franklin or Thomas Jefferson, or any other luminary of the time...

Considering the slow erosion of freedoms, no one goes on about how free America is...

And you certainly don't go on and on about how you 'won' WW2...

Sorry, but you guys are in a bit of a decline, and quite frankly, past glories seem to figure sharply in most peoples arguments...

I don't hear much talk about the future of your country, I hear plenty of talk about all the past glories, though...

[ Parent ]

Oil. (4.00 / 2) (#106)
by ajduk on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 04:48:46 AM EST

The only thing keeping Islam relevant on the world's stage now is oil. But there's a problem with power derived from oil. We're already importing nearly as many barrels of the stuff from the former Soviet republics as we are from Saudi Arabia, and combined with the North Sea and South American fields, Arab oil is rapidly becoming a convenience instead of a necessity.

Utter rubbish.

Gulf oil share did drop to 18% in the mid-1980s, and has been rising steadily since (now >30%). It will continue to rise in importance. I posted that story with the express intention of disproving this commonly-held idea that there is plenty of oil. Pity people choose to ignore it.

Not entirely (4.00 / 1) (#206)
by RyoCokey on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 01:08:39 PM EST

The Hubbert curve only applies because the price of oil has stayed fairly stable. As many drilling operations are in remote locations and offshore, development time stretches into the years (3 years minimum for a new platform) it takes a long term alteration in price before it affects exploitation.

While we haven't as "all humanity" gained more oil reserves, the West is now getting access to underdeveloped and underproducing fields in Russia, where political reasons previously kept us from importing oil.

I wouldn't write off the middle east of course, but they are suffering a recent drop in influence.



The issue here is not the facts; Right - so how does this apply to Mr. Scott Ritter?
[
Parent ]
Russia.. (5.00 / 1) (#229)
by ajduk on Tue Oct 08, 2002 at 11:06:40 AM EST

Has made some recent production gains - although hard to pin down exactly how much - due to re-investment in production from outside.  Still, most of their oil was fully developed under the Soviet system.

Remember that even at lower prices, exploitation was going on in 6000 feet of water, on the north coast of alaska, in Siberia, Angola, Sudan and more than a few other places where we wouldn't go unless we had very, very good reasons.

OPEC swing share was cf. 35% in 1973, dropping to a low of 18% in 1985 thanks to the North Sea and Alaska; it's now around 30% again.

[ Parent ]

Technology and Infrastructure (none / 0) (#239)
by RyoCokey on Wed Oct 09, 2002 at 01:55:50 AM EST

First a slight disclaimer, I'm a year short of graduating with a BS in Petroleum Engineering, and haven't worked on any fields in Russia, so the following is mainly what I've heard from colleagues and professors who have.

Most Russian fields use very conventional water injection systems, without the advantage of more modern techniques such as huff-and-puff or biological recovery. Furthermore, advanced modelling of reservoirs has only recently become possible on personal computers rather than mainframes, allowing for better modelling and understanding of reservoirs.

Russia is also plagued with chronic infrastructure problems, as well as corruption and outdated machinery. This can be rectified, whereas Saudi Arabia already enjoys service from virtually every major oil company that can strike a deal with them.

They apparently felt confident enough in their production capabilities to bluff with Saudi Arabia as to a price war in the past months. While nothing came of it for now, I think it's a sign of Russia emerging as much more a player in the world market.



The issue here is not the facts; Right - so how does this apply to Mr. Scott Ritter?
[
Parent ]
Here's a challenge then.. (none / 0) (#241)
by ajduk on Wed Oct 09, 2002 at 03:56:07 AM EST

Find some recent (i.e. post-1980) technical developments that have actually lead to greater recovery factors.  Extraction rate, yes - but that actually makes the problem worse in the long run.

Must admit I was one of the first to attempt anything as daft as full 4D modelling of petroleum systems on a PC.. it is amazing what we can do now.  Look at a 1960s (or 1970s for that matter) seismic section and try to work out how they found anything!

The basic problem with all this technology is, of course, the fractal distribution of reservoir volumes - which means that 94% of all the extractable oil is in around 1330 giant, easy to find, oilfields, and 6% is in the other 40,000 or so.  If all the advanced techniques in the world give us 100,000 new - small - oilfields, we haven't added much.

But good luck with your degree - I suspect there will be very good jobs market for it in the future.

[ Parent ]

Wellhead compression (none / 0) (#246)
by RyoCokey on Wed Oct 09, 2002 at 10:21:37 PM EST

We had success with compression actually boosting EUR when I worked on Coal bed methane fields out in the San Juan basin, NM. They appeared to permentantly lower the decline rate, thus boosting the total recovery. I seem to remember one of our faculty mentioning he'd made a similar discovery with oil wells, so we'll see if there's an SPE paper coming out from him in the next year or so.

I also seem to recall water/CO2 injection in a volumetric field upping ultimate recovery as well, as does fracturing a well. Those aren't recent developments, however the economics might have improved as well as the drive in Russia after the collapse of the command economy.



The issue here is not the facts; Right - so how does this apply to Mr. Scott Ritter?
[
Parent ]
You sound like Paul Erlich (none / 0) (#227)
by Quila on Tue Oct 08, 2002 at 10:24:26 AM EST

And he's been pretty much wrong about everything.

[ Parent ]
Nobody needs to bow at anyone's feet. (3.50 / 4) (#108)
by flex_fc on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 05:42:43 AM EST

Their children are to this day taught in midrasas from an early age that one day the West will see the light of Islam and all will fall down at their feet.
If we all co-operated on an equal footing then much more would get done. Nations need strong leaders to control the radical elements within their countries.
-- You are not the contents of your wallet - Tyler Durden
Can't we all just get along? (none / 0) (#179)
by mingofmongo on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 03:15:42 PM EST


"What they don't seem to get is that the key to living the good life is to avoid that brass ring like the fucking plague."
--The Onion
[ Parent ]

The way the east was won. (2.00 / 1) (#111)
by chbm on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 06:09:10 AM EST

> The lessons you get in history classes don't really emphasize that before about 1500, "the west" (i.e. Europe & England) really wasn't much to write home about.

Mine did. And you mean 1400.

> Liberal democracy, capitalism, and material science didn't just make Europe supreme... it made Islam irrelevant.

No, that would be the sanctified mindless plundering runs that went on a little before. We weren't even very good at it, we just relied on brute force.

-- if you don't agree reply don't moderate --

The order of the factors (none / 0) (#203)
by afc on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 10:52:20 AM EST

No, that would be the sanctified mindless plundering runs that went on a little before. We weren't even very good at it, we just relied on brute force.

The major problem I have with this increasingly popular theory, is that it conveniently "forgets" to mention who struck first.
--

Information wants to be beer, or something.
[ Parent ]

Violence as a method of political advancement (3.00 / 9) (#123)
by aldarion on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 07:53:47 AM EST

By using violence as a method of political advancement, by embracing outrageous expressions of destruction as leitmotifs of a belief system...

I am reminded of another power and "belief system", namely the (currently) chief warmonger of all; the USA, and capitalism. It seems to me that "violence as a method of political advancement" has been the US doctrine for over half a century. Weather directly (Vietnam, Korea, Persian Gulf) or indirectly (Columbia, Afghanistan in ´80s, to name but a few).

That people believe that any sort of intervention in sovereign nations internal affairs is just fine without overwhelming justification (not just "`cause daddy said so"), does nothing to boost my hopes for humanity.

-- A Polar bear is a Rectangular bear after a coordinate transform

Islam is very relevant (4.20 / 5) (#124)
by duffbeer703 on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 07:58:41 AM EST

Islam is now the religion of the disenfranchised, the powerless and the angry. It is the fastest growing religion is the world, and is rapidly spreading throughout Asia, Africa and the Black communities of America.

The terrorist networks are fueled and funded by the anger of their supporters. Restless young men see themselves as oppressed by the rich, older societies (older as in older population) of the West. Were it not for the utterly powerful weaponry that we field, the west would be locked in a titanic death struggle.

All that terrorism and fundamentalism teaches us is that religous conflict is a spectre that has never left human society, despite the cries of feel-good uber-liberals and revisionists.

Wrong, Christianity is the fastest growing. (3.00 / 1) (#131)
by Demiurge on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 09:11:59 AM EST

But not in places like North America, or Europe, both of which are 'de-Christianizing'.

Christianity is booming in places like South America, and Africa, where most new converts are fairly zealous Pentecoastals and Catholics.

Most conflict between Islam and Christianity in the next century will take place in the Southern hemisphere, where both are looking for new converts. It's even possible that we might begin to see religious wars like the ones that racked Europe during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. But Christianity is far from irrelevent. It's still the world's largest religion. There are more Catholics than Muslims. And it's still the world's fastest growing religion.

[ Parent ]
Religion is largely hereditary (none / 0) (#152)
by Wildgoose on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 10:46:04 AM EST

The funny thing about "the one true God" is just how often this "one true God" is the same "one true God" as your parents believed in.

Funny that. All that proseletysing, and what really matters is how many kids you have.

[ Parent ]

Exactly (none / 0) (#202)
by afc on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 10:48:08 AM EST

Sort of. And that's why "secular humanism" is doomed.
--

Information wants to be beer, or something.
[ Parent ]

If secular humanism is doomed-what's next? (none / 0) (#207)
by nomoreh1b on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 01:29:09 PM EST

I tend to agree that "secular humanism" as an idealogy is doomed. Feminism and multi-culturalism are enormously resented by important constituencies in the US. In retrospect, I suspect secular humanism will be seen as an artific of a period when US/Western Elites thought world hegenomy was in their grasp--so they could throw away important consituencies in their home territories.

So who winds up picking up the pieces? Frankly, is seems to me that most of the old Christian churches are too discredited by their own involvement in secular humanism to tolerate a reformation. Exceptions might include Catholicism and Mormonism-but as the recent scandals in the Catholic church show they have some serious problems. Until about 100 years ago, Christianity was pretty clearly a "the White man's religion" and the situation since that has changed hasn't proven to be entirely stable.

It is plausible to me that in 200 years, the dominant religion in what is now the United States may in fact be Islam(or some variation). Islam has a lot of experience in multi-cultural societies and is growing quite rapidly in the US--and is less tainted by association by the current establishment(a big advantage in times of chaos).

[ Parent ]

I doubted what you said, (1.00 / 1) (#159)
by wedman on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 11:21:06 AM EST

so, I looked it up.

As an aside, I recall a missionary visiting a church one day explaining that it is much harder to convert a Muslim to Christianity than vice-versa.



~
DELETE FROM comments WHERE uid=9524;
[ Parent ]
Sources on Islam's rapid growth (4.00 / 1) (#167)
by nomoreh1b on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 12:26:44 PM EST

This is a Christian source that claims Islam is growing quite a bit more rapidly than Christianity. Their claim is that in 1900, Christians made up 32.2% of the world's population vs. 31% in the year 2000 and that Islam went from 12.3% of the world's population in 1900 to to 19.6% in 2000.

One major factor to keep in mind about these figures:
In places where Christianity operates as an "official church"-i.e. the United Kingdom or Sweden, membership figures may not represent much. It is real easy to get counted on members figures of the Church of England for example if you have no other church membership-and sometimes even if you do. Also, church affiliation in some parts of the world means something rather different than in other parts of the world.

[ Parent ]

Growth rates (3.00 / 1) (#132)
by brantsj on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 09:13:21 AM EST

Fundamentalist, charismatic Christianity is also growing at a blistering rate in the southern hemisphere (Africa and South America in particular). It now appears that the number of Muslims will NOT exceed the number of Christians globally any time soon.

[ Parent ]
Not quite (3.00 / 1) (#134)
by wiredog on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 09:18:54 AM EST

In the latest issue of The Atlantic there's an article on the growth of Christianity in the world. There's an interview with the author.

Earth first! We can strip mine the rest later.
[ Parent ]
Ah, the outsider's perspective (3.33 / 3) (#128)
by notcarlos on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 08:49:51 AM EST

This would be a beautiful article, were it not for the inherent cultural bias that seems to marginalize Medieval Europe, and the fact that every Medievalist worth his salt already knows about Islam and its contributions, and would be more than happy to go over all said contributions with any comers.

Now, on to the rest of today's news... the sad thing is, all this so-called 'history' (in fact, a cheap Western Civ I bastardization of more generally accepted theory) is just a lead in to some old-fashoned "pity the poor lost X" nihilism. I would have much prefered that the thesis was in the opening paragraph, rather than couched behind a lot of historical wanderings. Thus this should have been:
  • Introduction
  • THESIS
  • K5 mandatory line break
  • Historical pespective
  • Supporting aruments for your thesis
  • conclusion.


Now, as I hear the grumbling masses say, "Why didn't he put this in edit?" Because this story popped up like a postimbrian mushroom between visits, and, since I didn't get to vote on it or see what was in the Editorial comments, I'm putting this up for the world to see.

He will destroy you like an academic ninja.
-- Rating on Rate My Professors.com
Lovely Trolls (5.00 / 1) (#137)
by dscottj on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 09:33:27 AM EST

Once again, with feeling:

This is neither an academic treatise, nor is it a submission to whatever intro classical studies course you happen to be assisting Levine or Coon with this semester. IT IS NOT A "HISTORY". It is an essay. It is an *OP-ED* essay. As such, its primary purpose is not an academic defense, nor a thesis for grading. It is meant primarily to engender thought and debate, which is what it seems to be doing. As an OP-ED piece, and not an historical paper submitted to an historical journal for peer review, I am free to DISREGARD academic forms so cherished by post-grads with commercially useless degrees.

Onto the very few relevant points made:

  • Compared to the rest of the world, Medieval Europe was a marginal player. The few times they got it together long enough to be noticed (carolingian renaissance, the crusades, the high-middle ages), either some hairy goatherd would come off the steppe or out of a fjord and wreck it all, or a disease would scythe right through and make them start all over again.
  • "every Medievalist worth his salt already knows about Islam", yes, and if this were a forum populated only with Medievalists I wouldn't have bothered to post the document. As I look around, I see an awful lot of people who didn't spend their academic careers studying the era.
  • I knew I was going to scratch a particularly sore scab of said medievalists when I made such a sweeping generalization, but I stand behind it. Compared to what the rest of the world was doing, most of medieval history is essentially about one lord or another raiding another one's lands, raping and pillaging as he went, with a bishop ranting from his tower for them to stop. I'm sorry if this brings up all the bullying you got from your ancient classical and premodern brethren, but there it is.

If you do see Lynda Coon, tell her Scott Johnson (class of 91) says hi.

AMCGLTD.COM -- Where cats, science fiction, and anger come together!
[ Parent ]

Actually, I agree (none / 0) (#174)
by upsilon on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 02:24:46 PM EST

If you look through my history of posting, I think that I rarely (if ever) have engaged in troll-ish behaviour, and I don't think the root of this thread is a troll.

I rather agree with his observation, at least so far as the "thesis above the fold" bit goes. I find it more of a hook to have some idea of what (if anything) the author will be arguing or stating.

Don't get me wrong -- this was a very well-done article, and I've enjoyed it and the ensuing discussion immensely. I'm just saying that there are things that could be done to make things better. There are always things that could be done. *shrug*
--
Once, I was the King of Spain.
[ Parent ]

Hmmm... (none / 0) (#197)
by notcarlos on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 08:59:19 AM EST

Scott,

My biggest problem with this was that you seemed to put all your evidence in front of your argument without giving any clues as to what the argument was. Since you have taken classes in which you discuss the best way to write anything -- i.e. the old essay format of intro-explaination-support-support-support-conclude -- it is disconcerting to see that you don't seem to be setting up your arguments in a nice, clean format. That's all I want (and really, that's all anybody here at K5 wants): nice, clean, logical arguments laid out in an easy-to-follow manner.

Don't mock the academic style. It works.


Sincerely yours,
Jacob Lewis,
Discepuli Leuini, Coonisque, Fredrici

PS: Coon says hi.

He will destroy you like an academic ninja.
-- Rating on Rate My Professors.com
[ Parent ]
How you say vs. What you say (none / 0) (#200)
by dscottj on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 10:06:54 AM EST

Ah, and if you'd said it that way to begin with I might have actually listened to you. Instead I got things like: "a cheap Western Civ I bastardization" and '"pity the poor lost X" nihilism' and the fact that your opening lines showed me you had completely missed the target audience of the article. Patronizing tones and thinly veiled snipes may be a great way to treat freshmen, but I'm not in a class, and I don't have to eat that particular plate of sh*t anymore. You want to post constructive criticism, fine. It's called civility. Learn how to use it.

AMCGLTD.COM -- Where cats, science fiction, and anger come together!
[ Parent ]

Ironic... (none / 0) (#205)
by notcarlos on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 12:18:17 PM EST

that in asking me to be civil, you drop your own civility.

He will destroy you like an academic ninja.
-- Rating on Rate My Professors.com
[ Parent ]
postimbrian? (none / 0) (#138)
by martingale on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 09:37:51 AM EST

pleased to be explainink term, thank you!

[ Parent ]
postimbrian (5.00 / 2) (#170)
by zerblat on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 12:56:06 PM EST

Main Entry: post-
Function: prefix
Etymology: Middle English, from Latin, from post; akin to Lithuanian pas at, Greek apo away from -- more at OF 1 a : after : subsequent : later <postdate> b : behind : posterior : following after <postlude> <postconsonantal>
2 a : subsequent to : later than <postoperative> b : posterior to <postorbital>

Imbrian
A period of the Archaean, dated at about 3850-3800 Ma (Harland et al., 1989).

A Dictionary of Earth Sciences, © Oxford University Press 1999

[ Parent ]

Actually (5.00 / 1) (#196)
by notcarlos on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 08:46:01 AM EST

I just needed a concise term for "after it rains". I wasn't going for "postdiluvian" or anything epochal. Thanks, though.

He will destroy you like an academic ninja.
-- Rating on Rate My Professors.com
[ Parent ]
who's the target audience? (none / 0) (#149)
by aphrael on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 10:38:13 AM EST

every Medievalist worth his salt already knows about Islam and its contributions

Granted --- but the average non-historian who lives in a western society doesn't, and they, not midievalists, are the target audience.

[ Parent ]

Your history sucks (2.90 / 11) (#135)
by nat the hat on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 09:19:16 AM EST

Er, your history lessons clearly sucked. I did a BA Hons in medieval studies, and would be delighted to point out how foolish you are to dismiss the contribution of western european civilisation between the fall of Rome and 1500ad. Thats an entire millennium you're talking about! What, nothing happened then?

There are endless social, cultural, technological, theological, economic, artistic, political, governmental and military advances taking place in western europe throughout this period, and your article dismisses these as non-existent simply because you haven't taken the time to learn about them. Unbelievable. What about the court of Charlemagne? What about the Holy Roman Empire? What about the vikings? What about the birth of vernacular prose? Are these all meaningless?

Also, there was a huge amount of continuous cultural interchange between west and east throughout the post-Rome period, with each informing the other. To suggest that Islamic cultures alone inherited all the learning of Rome is myopic at best.

You clearly subscribe to a rather outmoded view of the "dark ages". Actually, the western european world didn't plunge into a limbo of chaos and barbarism for a millennium, only to emerge with a big fighting machine to beat up on the nice islamic people. What nonsense.

If I knew less about western european medieval history and more about using k5, I'd mod you down lots for this. Lucky you.
"I am not actually physically possible" - codemonkey_uk c.1998

C-O-M-P-A-R-A-T-I-V-E-L-Y (4.50 / 6) (#141)
by dscottj on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 09:45:38 AM EST

Don't worry folks, just anthropology and history colliding again.

I'm getting quite tired of bruised-ego medievalists accusing me of somehow "slighting" a culture that gave us trial by ordeal, the inquisition, and the Jewish blood libel. Did the middle ages produce innovations? Of course they did, as you note it is nearly one thousand years of history. Did they produce innovations on a par with, say, the development of Algebra, the creation of the mosque at Cordoba, or the invention of zero?

Only if you're a BA graduate with a chip on their shoulder.

AMCGLTD.COM -- Where cats, science fiction, and anger come together!
[ Parent ]

oooh handbags! (none / 0) (#145)
by nat the hat on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 10:16:23 AM EST

Calm down!! If you're getting tired of being corrected, try being correct. If you prefer one culture's innovations to anothers thats up to you. The fact of the matter is your article is dismissive of the influence of western european civilisation, and perpetuates misconceptions about an important period of history.

If you'd rather do that, and snipe at people contributing their relevant knowledge, than admit that perhaps you were a little dismissive, then you go right ahead. Pardon me for knowing a bit about it.
"I am not actually physically possible" - codemonkey_uk c.1998
[ Parent ]

Guess It's Just Me (5.00 / 2) (#153)
by dscottj on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 10:48:01 AM EST

but when I see things like:

"Er, your history lessons clearly sucked."

and:

"would be delighted to point out how foolish you are"

and:

"If I knew less about western european medieval history and more about using k5, I'd mod you down lots for this. Lucky you."

I really don't expect much in the way of substance, and sure enough I didn't get it. Apologies if the tone is combative, as I tend to reply in kind. If you want me to pay attention to you, stop calling names and start making arguments.

As to the substance of your original reply, I think aphrael has already done a good job on that.

AMCGLTD.COM -- Where cats, science fiction, and anger come together!
[ Parent ]

Fair enough (none / 0) (#155)
by nat the hat on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 11:02:43 AM EST

Yeah, maybe I was a little harsh as well, reading back. I do that sometimes, without really meaning to be quite as rude as I appear to have been.

I would actually quite like to provide you with a thorough argument, backed up properly with examples and evidence etc. I don't often have much to do with anything medieval anymore and the longer ago it was, the more I find it interesting. Ever found that with studies? Probably.

Anyway, problem is I only have internet access at work so I could never possibly do the research I'd want to quickly enough to respond coherently while its still relevant. I'm already taking the piss with the amount of time I've spent not working today.

So really I guess my point is this: You know you glossed over the western medieval period in your article, just as I, and others, know you did. I think its a shame to do that, but I realise its not practical to go into great detail about everything ever. But y'know, sorry for sounding harsh.
"I am not actually physically possible" - codemonkey_uk c.1998
[ Parent ]

hehe, he's just sour (1.20 / 5) (#156)
by Goatmaster on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 11:07:16 AM EST

Because a BA in Medieval History is a useless degree. Bet he's asking "want fries with that?". Let him have his dilusions.


... and so the Goatmaster has spoken
[ Parent ]
Ever done one? No, I thought not. (2.50 / 2) (#157)
by nat the hat on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 11:12:59 AM EST

Have I done something to offend you? Am I insulting your education? No. Do you have even the vaguest idea what my studies involved? No.

So why not shut the fuck up then?
"I am not actually physically possible" - codemonkey_uk c.1998
[ Parent ]

bwahaha (1.20 / 5) (#162)
by Goatmaster on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 11:36:14 AM EST

It's "Medieval Studies", which translates into 'a waste of time and money'. There's nothing wrong with arts, they are integral, but some areas alone are next to useless.

Judging by your reaction, I must conclude that my original hypothesis is true. My recommendation is to go back and get a degree that enables one to do something other than obscure research that no one will ever care about or work at McDonalds.


... and so the Goatmaster has spoken
[ Parent ]
conclude whatever you like (4.00 / 3) (#164)
by nat the hat on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 11:50:10 AM EST

I'm not about to enter into some 'ooh my degree was great' rant, because it wasn't all that great, and objectively speaking yes it probably was a waste of somebodies money to some extent, but not mine.

However, it has proved exactly as useful to me as a degree in English, or a degree in History would have, and was vaguely interesting some of the time to boot. And no I don't work in MacDonalds.  I'm loathe to even piss in a MacDonalds.

Point is, my degree, whatever you may think of it, did leave me in a position to comment knowledgeably about western european civilisation. I don't think you, however, did a BA in "What Other People's Degree Courses Consisted Of", so therefore you are talking crap. HAND.
"I am not actually physically possible" - codemonkey_uk c.1998
[ Parent ]

mooooooo (5.00 / 1) (#172)
by Goatmaster on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 01:42:33 PM EST

Well, for someone whose degree wasn't so great by self-admission, you sure seem to enjoy feeling superior to someone else's take on things. Generally calling people idiots, or plain wrong doesn't get you any supporters. Hope you enjoyed a taste of your own medicine.

The Goatmaster (posessor of no BAs, but Two BSc and one MSc)


... and so the Goatmaster has spoken
[ Parent ]
Quite revealing... (1.00 / 1) (#201)
by afc on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 10:36:12 AM EST

I suppose your support of Angrydot means you spouse leftist point of views about class oppression, and suchlike hogwash.

And then you go humiliating your neighbor about his "useless" degree and his supposedly humble job. Enchanting, really...
--

Information wants to be beer, or something.
[ Parent ]

hey now (none / 0) (#211)
by Goatmaster on Sun Oct 06, 2002 at 04:51:27 PM EST

Just because I support something doesn't necessarily mean I fit into your little misguided view of what they're about. It merely means I support it, not that I agree or even have similar views.


... and so the Goatmaster has spoken
[ Parent ]
Humiliated? By this chump? (none / 0) (#243)
by nat the hat on Wed Oct 09, 2002 at 08:12:16 AM EST

I couldn't give a rats ass what this guy thinks of my degree. Or that he likes to make himself feel better by imagining people he doesn't know have crappy jobs. Or that he doesn't appreciate the irony of accusing me of wanting to feel superior and then listing his qualifications.
"I am not actually physically possible" - codemonkey_uk c.1998
[ Parent ]
myopia (none / 0) (#147)
by aphrael on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 10:36:37 AM EST

There are endless social, cultural, technological, theological, economic, artistic, political, governmental and military advances taking place in western europe throughout this period

True.

article dismisses these as non-existent simply because you haven't taken the time to learn about them

I didn't get that feeling at all.

I got the impression that his article was trying to show people who only know about European history --- which is the normal state for most Americans, at any rate --- about this facet of history that they didn't know about; that a great civilization had flourished in the modern middle east for centuries, during which they, with considerable justification, considered western and central Europe to be an economic and cultural backwater.

In other words, this is a heads up for people who haven't taken the time to learn about near eastern culture ... and is influenced greatly by what the people of that time and place thought about Europeans.

there was a huge amount of continuous cultural interchange between west and east throughout the post-Rome period

There was some, although I wouldn't call it huge, except on the margins (eg., in Spain, and in Sicily); while there was trade between the two, the average European knew nothing about the average Moor, and vice versa. Now, granted, this is largely because the average person in both societies was a peasant, and peasants typically know nothing about anything outside their everyday life ... but if you're measuring cultural interchange, the average peasant in any society today is far more informed than the average peasant then ... and so calling the quantity of interchange 'huge' deprives the word huge of any meaning, IMO.

To suggest that Islamic cultures alone inherited all the learning of Rome is myopic at best

True. It's probably more reasonable to say that they inherited the culture of the near eastern pre-Roman societies, particularly Persia, and that they (and the Byzantines) had access to all sorts of Greek knowledge that was largely lost in the west. However, the view that you get from high school classes in the US, which neglects to mention the existence of a flowering culture in the Islamic world, is equally myopic, and i think the author's intent was to counter that.

This is important because it is difficult to understand the modern Arabic worldview without the contextual information provided by knowing that, for a thousand years, the leaders of the Islamic world considered themselves to be technologically, socially, and culturally superior to the Europeans, and that their culture has never really adjusted to the shock of discovering that, even if they had been during the height of the Abbasid Caliphate, they weren't any more.

[ Parent ]

I see (4.00 / 4) (#160)
by nat the hat on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 11:26:29 AM EST

I don't really have any experience of how medieval history is taught in the US, so I had no idea it was as euro-centric as you're saying. In that light, I see the point a bit more clearly.

I would like to reiterate my point about east-west cultural exchange during the "dark ages" though. Trade routes linking east and west continued to thrive throughout this period and evidence of extensive cultural dialogue can be seen in, for example, very numerous viking burial hoards. The vikings were big on silver and vast quantities of islamic silver (as well as myriad other 'trinkets') from the near and even not-so-near east can be found in burial sites in both scandinavia and the British Isles, demonstrating that there was frequent, mutually beneficial contact between the various cultures which populated Europe and the near east. Indeed there is plenty of archaelogical evidence to suggest an interchange of ideas in terms of craftsmanship, as there are examples of viking artefacts which show islamic influence in terms of workmanship and technique, and vice versa.

I believe the perceived isolation of seperate medieval cultures is not quite accurate - given the active trading over great distances which was continuous throughout the dark ages, plus of course the travels of various monks etc from court to court in Europe meant that medieval societies were considerably more clued up about each other than most people realise.
"I am not actually physically possible" - codemonkey_uk c.1998
[ Parent ]

myopia (5.00 / 4) (#148)
by aphrael on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 10:36:51 AM EST

There are endless social, cultural, technological, theological, economic, artistic, political, governmental and military advances taking place in western europe throughout this period

True.

article dismisses these as non-existent simply because you haven't taken the time to learn about them

I didn't get that feeling at all.

I got the impression that his article was trying to show people who only know about European history --- which is the normal state for most Americans, at any rate --- about this facet of history that they didn't know about; that a great civilization had flourished in the modern middle east for centuries, during which they, with considerable justification, considered western and central Europe to be an economic and cultural backwater.

In other words, this is a heads up for people who haven't taken the time to learn about near eastern culture ... and is influenced greatly by what the people of that time and place thought about Europeans.

there was a huge amount of continuous cultural interchange between west and east throughout the post-Rome period

There was some, although I wouldn't call it huge, except on the margins (eg., in Spain, and in Sicily); while there was trade between the two, the average European knew nothing about the average Moor, and vice versa. Now, granted, this is largely because the average person in both societies was a peasant, and peasants typically know nothing about anything outside their everyday life ... but if you're measuring cultural interchange, the average peasant in any society today is far more informed than the average peasant then ... and so calling the quantity of interchange 'huge' deprives the word huge of any meaning, IMO.

To suggest that Islamic cultures alone inherited all the learning of Rome is myopic at best

True. It's probably more reasonable to say that they inherited the culture of the near eastern pre-Roman societies, particularly Persia, and that they (and the Byzantines) had access to all sorts of Greek knowledge that was largely lost in the west. However, the view that you get from high school classes in the US, which neglects to mention the existence of a flowering culture in the Islamic world, is equally myopic, and i think the author's intent was to counter that.

This is important because it is difficult to understand the modern Arabic worldview without the contextual information provided by knowing that, for a thousand years, the leaders of the Islamic world considered themselves to be technologically, socially, and culturally superior to the Europeans, and that their culture has never really adjusted to the shock of discovering that, even if they had been during the height of the Abbasid Caliphate, they weren't any more.

[ Parent ]

Lots of modern scholars (none / 0) (#224)
by ubrayj02 on Tue Oct 08, 2002 at 04:04:41 AM EST

I just want to add my two bits. I just completed my undergraduate education, and I was under the impression that lots of modern scholars accept that Europe has been something of a backwaters throughout much of human history. It has been a recent development (since the 1500's or the 1700's) that Europeans truly have reversed what were traditional power relationships between themselselves and (for example) Chinese, Mogul, or Islamic people living in Asia. As an example, the technical sophistication of chinese farming, and in general, household based production was not surpassed in output (of goods like rice, silk, and porcelain) until well into the 1700's. The same goes for the production of cotton, clothes, spices, etc. from India - which up until about the civil war (in the states) can be shown to have been the clothier to most of the world. In fact, the only reliable export Europe had (going back to Roman times) was that of precious metals like silver and gold. I mean to suggest that Europe has been a relatively underdeveloped area of the globe (until the last few centuries at least): in terms of military power, in terms of literacy, in terms of mathematics, trade goods, public planning, farming, etc. I believe that enough evidence: both archaeological (like shipwrecks, and digs in ancient cities) and historical (books, trade records, personal correspondance, and some historical accounts) evidence would support the impression I have of the relative power relationships between groups of people living in Europe and in Asia from the "dark ages" up the 16th or 18th century. I know that this is an relatively anonymous online forum, and that my posting is mostly an indirect rationale to support my broadband cable connection fees - but i get the impression from yours, and other "medievalist" posts, that while you are experts in medieval europe, you might not have too clear of a picture as to what is generally accepted as having occured in other parts of the globe simultaneously.

[ Parent ]
nice article, but too much over-generalization (4.83 / 6) (#193)
by mhtawfiq on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 02:16:59 AM EST

a few corrections though:

"Their children are to this day taught in midrasas from an early age that one day the West will see the light of Islam and all will fall down at their feet."

excuse me? i went to high school in Saudi Arabia, i have no idea where u got your "information" from, but that is certainly not true. wether you believe it or not but the Arab world has other things to care about than the "west".

we also see a tiny bit of mass media brain washing here, i am tried oh how whenever US media wants to refer to questionable educational institutes they use the word "midrasa" Lets get straight shall we? "Midrasa" is an Arabic word equal to "School" it does not have any implied, hidden or religious meaning. putting this scientifically "Midrasa" equals and only equals "School". so stop bastardising the word :)

as to what we are taught in schools as the reason for the decline of Arab Civilization, in simple terms, is that somewhere along the way the Arab world lost it self-determination. and that the way to strength is through putting aside out differences (yes there are many cultural differences within the Arab world) and regaining our self-determination.

that's why Jamal Abdul-Naser is one of the most loved Arab leader of all time, because he brought back self-determination to Egypt in a sense.

Good point (4.66 / 3) (#198)
by dscottj on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 09:58:17 AM EST

The impression we get from our media is there are a large number of religious schools in central asia that teach nothing but the Koran. Looks like that impression is incorrect, I appreciate the clarification. "lost its self-determination" smacks of blaming colonialism for all arabia's problems. Colonialism stopped being a major player in that area sixty years ago, yet little, if anything, has changed. I posit at least some of this can be blamed on the culture's focus on their own history instead of their own future. Naser also gave Egypt a totalitarian government, one its people are having trouble with to this day.

AMCGLTD.COM -- Where cats, science fiction, and anger come together!
[ Parent ]

Your (illiterate) protestations... (1.33 / 3) (#222)
by SPYvSPY on Mon Oct 07, 2002 at 03:37:20 PM EST

...only serve to prove the point against which you labor. Even if you replace the word 'midrasa' with 'school' in the cited quote, the sentence reads:

"Their children are to this day taught in [schools] from an early age that one day the West will see the light of Islam and all will fall down at their feet."

So, you haven't addressed the point of that statement at all. It remains an unchallenged assertion, in my view.
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[ Parent ]

please read the comment (4.00 / 1) (#223)
by botono9 on Mon Oct 07, 2002 at 04:12:15 PM EST

So, you haven't addressed the point of that statement at all. It remains an unchallenged assertion, in my view.
Except for this challenge:

i went to high school in Saudi Arabia, i have no idea where u got your "information" from, but that is certainly not true.

"Guns are real. Blue uniforms are real. Cops are social fiction."
--Robert Anton Wilson
[ Parent ]

Are you kidding? (1.00 / 2) (#231)
by SPYvSPY on Tue Oct 08, 2002 at 11:24:49 AM EST

The fact that he went to high school in Saudi Arabia and does not feel he was indoctrinated in the manner described hardly refutes the point. If he wanted to say that there are alternatives to the Koran-chanting brainwashing schools in Saudi Arabia, then fine...say that. But he seems to be claiming that there are not schools that "teach" mindless conformity to extremist Islamism, which we all know is a false claim.
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[ Parent ]

Out of curiosity... (4.00 / 1) (#249)
by tmyklebust on Sun Oct 13, 2002 at 01:19:35 PM EST

Where are you getting your information from? Have you attended a Saudi school? At this point, it looks like you're some american kid blowing a lot of hot air, but yeah.

[ Parent ]
It's called an argument... (1.00 / 2) (#252)
by SPYvSPY on Tue Oct 15, 2002 at 10:47:15 AM EST

...it's based on logical assertions and responses. I know it's hard for you to understand, with your Saudi "education" and all. And don't even get me started on all the Saudi brats that are shipped to American Ivy League schools with fat endowment checks to get what Saudis apparently consider to be a 'real' education. Fucking loser culture...thank Allah it's time has come and gone.
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[ Parent ]

It's = its... (3.00 / 1) (#253)
by SPYvSPY on Tue Oct 15, 2002 at 10:48:43 AM EST

...as long as I'm bragging about my edumacation.
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[ Parent ]

Why does this article feel like propaganda. . ? (2.28 / 7) (#195)
by Fantastic Lad on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 08:37:08 AM EST

So I read it.

I cringed at the pseudo information, (--A big Thank You to the many other posters who spoke up in order to toss in their various views of history), and generally enjoyed the peppiness of the editor's writing style.

And by the time I got to the end, suddenly I didn't feel so bad about my nation "having to", oh so reluctantly, kill all the Arabs. A terrible shame, you know, but behold our humane and considerate understanding of the situation. For don't you see? We simply must kill all the Arabs. Terrible shame. Now lock & load, and go bag a turban for Uncle Sam, asshole.

What a wonderful flavor of bullshit!

I'm of the opinion that oil and opium aren't even the primary goals here; more like fringe benefits to keep the lower circles of evil happy and motivated. I tend to think it's primarily about killing all the Arabs and killing all the Jews, more or less in that order.

Now the 'good guys' have for the past month been doing a fairly decent job in delaying the Beast. I was actually allowing some hopeful optimism to spread through my thoughts, daring even to hope for an impeachment and even some some jail time for Bush and crew. But as somebody once said; ignore the words, watch the troops. The military, from what I understand, has been building steam without pause this whole time. I think there's a pretty damned good chance that the gates of hell really are about to open.

But as some grave robber in a leather jacket told Indiana Jones back when looked a lot like River Phoenix, "You lost today, kid. But that doesn't mean you have to like it."

Lame wisdom from a lame film, but the words do jump to mind right now. I wonder if that's more propaganda doing its job, or just too much crap TV for yours truly. . .

In any case, let's not forget the other Big Stuff going down: total collapse of the economy by the new year, possibly earlier. -Been expecting it now for a couple of years, but shit! These things creep up fast. I haven't even filled my basement yet with canned goods. I must get on that!

While confusion reigns overall, the thing I am most puzzled by at the moment is what exactly is going to happen after economic collapse. What does the Brotherhood and their Bush puppet have penciled onto the human race's dance card? And will it happen before the comets hit and and glaciers slide? --And the aliens land? (Still not entirely decided on that last one.)

Hm. Ah well. We'll just have to see, I suppose.

Carry on, and to the strong of us, remember when things are at their worst, while making sure to keep yourself strong and able, don't forget to behave with dignity, respect and compassion. There are going to be a lot of frightened idiots running around out there, (bless their idiot souls), try to make these times less traumatic for everybody in whatever ways you can.

-Fantastic Lad

thank you very much (none / 0) (#218)
by miasma on Mon Oct 07, 2002 at 12:19:54 PM EST

that was a wonderful comment.


--
"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God." - G.Bush sen.
[ Parent ]
From the PD (5.00 / 3) (#215)
by carbon on Mon Oct 07, 2002 at 05:07:47 AM EST

But Islam must come to terms with this. By insisting on re-fighting a war lost eleven generations ago, by refusing to embrace change, by denying the need for a fundamental restructuring of beliefs, Islam cannot and will not succeed.

At this I think I should include a quote from the Principia Discordia (just cause I can):

One day Mal-2 asked the messenger spirit Saint Gulik to approach the Goddess and request Her presence for some desperate advice. Shortly afterwards the radio came on by itself, and an ethereal female Voice said YES?

"O! Eris! Blessed Mother of Man! Queen of Chaos! Daughter of Discord! Concubine of Confusion! O! Exquisite Lady, I beseech You to lift a heavy burden from my heart!"

WHAT BOTHERS YOU, MAL? YOU DON'T SOUND WELL.

"I am filled with fear and tormented with terrible visions of pain. Everywhere people are hurting one another, the planet is rampant with injustices, whole societies plunder groups of their own people, mothers imprison sons, children perish while brothers war. O, woe."

WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH THAT, IF IT IS WHAT YOU WANT TO DO?

"But nobody Wants it! Everybody hates it."

OH. WELL, THEN STOP.

At which moment She turned herself into an aspirin commercial and left The Polyfather stranded alone with his species.


Wasn't Dr. Claus the bad guy on Inspector Gadget? - dirvish
Lets let history be history... (5.00 / 3) (#217)
by z84976 on Mon Oct 07, 2002 at 09:52:18 AM EST

The author talks a lot about the past glories of Islam... certainly its past is well documented and gave us many benefits over the centuries... some of the first public libraries, beautiful architecture, etc. But let's not forget some of the even earlier religions... the "mythologies" we learn about in high school: the Greek and Roman gods, etc. Didn't we learn a lot during these periods, too? Beautiful architecture, birth of "democracy" and philosophy. Lots of good things came of them. Why do so few people today practice the old Roman Emirial religions? Why are they any less valid than Islam or Christianity?

While I think it's extremely important to reap the social improvements that came about either during or as a result of some religious movement, isn't it about time we, as humans, grow up a little bit? Stop bickering about which religion is "right" --- they are all just mythology invented by humans for humans --- and start teaching Islamic tradition alongside Christian and Jewish tradition alongside Greek and Roman and Aztec and Maya and Chinese and Hindu traditions during HISTORY class in HIGH SCHOOL (and of course in college for those who want to pursue a degree in history). Only when we've relegated all religions to their proper place (history class) and thus eliminated the hate and fanaticism they bring can this world ever expect to find peace.

What went wrong? (none / 0) (#219)
by DingBat1 on Mon Oct 07, 2002 at 02:08:28 PM EST


For a more in-depth analysis along these lines I'd suggest reading Bernard Lewis' book: "What Went Wrong?".

Empirical (haha) Parallels (none / 0) (#221)
by dcheesi on Mon Oct 07, 2002 at 02:15:32 PM EST

This article weird in that it starts out sounding biased one way, and ends up biased the other way. Regardless, the point made is interesting: muslim extremists aren't just upset because things suck now, but also because they used to be so much greater.

I also see an interesting parallel here. After the fall of the (Western) Roman Empire, the europeans mounted the Crusades, attacking the new great (Arab) empire. Now, after the fall of the Ottomans, etc., you have muslims mounting a jihad against the new power, namely USA and the West. Maybe this conflict isn't caused by something specific to Islamic (or western) culture, but rather by the natural reaction of any formerly dominant culture that finds itself brushed aside.

Article on the Middle East (5.00 / 1) (#228)
by aitrus on Tue Oct 08, 2002 at 10:49:53 AM EST

http://denbeste.nu/cd_log_entries/2002/09/Whoisourenemy.shtml

I can't say I fully disagree or agree with the article.  But it's a well articulated argument, and deserves to be read if only to give additional perspective.

Islam as a religion and Science... (none / 0) (#242)
by Sattwic on Wed Oct 09, 2002 at 05:31:02 AM EST

Nice article, but some observations:
Islam has destroyed as much as you claim it has contributed to world science and culture.
Try reading about Islamic atrocities when they sacked university towns in ancient India and Bactria. And yeah, why not credit earlier civilisations like Indian/Hindu, Chinese and Persian cultures from where the Islamic empires got their knowledge from in the first place?

What about Alexandria and Nalanda?
The present day terrorism hub Kandhahar?

The best Philosophers/scientists of Islam, Ibn Sina, al kindi, bn Rushd Site (Averroes), all were students of Greek Philosophy particularly Aristotle? Mathematics and the 'arabic' numberals was derived from Indians/Hindus? Chemistry influenced by Chinese?

The bottom line is that while science grew in Islamic medieval period by leaps and bounds, it should be seen as a the progressive accumulation of techniques and the refinement of sciences of various other civilizations. Not exclusively Islamic..

THe moot point is how Islam as a religion contributed/contributes and influences Science??

My take is that the geographical position of middle east between oriental and western spheres and the relative peace and stability of Islamic rule were the main factors.. Not the religion of Islam per se as many would like to advocate!

Alternate Histories,... (none / 0) (#251)
by Invurt on Tue Oct 15, 2002 at 04:11:16 AM EST

Though it is a work of fiction, Kim Stanley Robinsons "The Years of Rice and Salt" deals with a lot these issues wonderfully by extrapolating what technological advancement would have been like without Europe - well worth a read if you are interested in speculations on that kind of thing...

Historical Forces | 253 comments (227 topical, 26 editorial, 0 hidden)
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