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Hi Jason, and thanks for your comments. One reason I’ve laid out the course the way I have is that once you try to go back much beyond the Greeks in the direction you are suggesting, everything gets very speculative. You’ll notice that there is virtually no “pre-history” in the course for that reason. In my opinion, doing history requires documents.
You’re also correct that the continuity of civilization is one I’ve tried to stress. There’s no really good way to demonstrate this going back before the Greeks’ cultural memories of the Minoans and Myceneans. You’d have to adopt some sort genetic or linguistic determinism to justify tracing things back beyond that and then get into really speculative archeology and anthropology to try say anything substantive. I’m not convinced of the value of that approach, and in any case it wouldn’t be an area of expertise for me.
I hope this reply makes sense and is helpful to you. Thanks again for posting.February 16, 2015 at 2:26 pm in reply to: Using the Encyclopedia as a method to control what knowledge is accessible? #16878
Malcolm, I have never heard of such a plan. Diderot did aspire to collect all human knowledge in the Encyclopedie, but there was no corresponding “burn the books” component to the project. If you heard about such a plan, it wouldn’t have been from my lecture.
Sorry for the slow reply on this. There is probably something to what you are saying. However, in the case of the Holocaust we need to recognize the institutional framework that helps to keep “Holocaust awareness” (or whatever you want to call it) alive.
The state of Israel rests much of its claim to legitimacy on what happened during the Holocaust. Several well-endowed organizations like the Wiesenthal Center spend large sums of money keeping the Holocaust in the public eye. Tens of millions of evangelical Christians in the U.S. and elsewhere believe the Holocaust fulfilled Biblical prophecy and use it as a way to interpret today’s international landscape.
I can’t think of another event that aligns these sorts of interests that collectively control so much money. I don’t know if this is really an answer to your original question, but it seems to me like the attention given to the Holocaust is as much due to these factors as to the psychological ones you mention.
Rob, I apologize for not following up on this thread. It would be helpful if you could specify in what way you’re looking for a “revisionist” account. Are you looking for information on the economy, religion, philosophy? Stark paints with a broad brush, but his bibliography is probably a good source for mining.
There might be a problem with the way this question is framed. I don’t think we can reasonably call Germany democratic after 1934, when all political parties except the Nazis were outlawed.
Are you thinking specifically of events in the 20th or 21st centuries? The phrase “first world” doesn’t come into use until after World War II. If we go farther back, we might be able to pinpoint something in the imperial adventures of Western powers.
Dating going back through the Roman Republic is pretty solid. When you get back before 500 or 600 B.C. you have to start making more assumptions and connecting dots. This is where the accuracy of the Egyptian chronology becomes really important.
The answer to your question is both/and: I was pressed for space in putting the lectures together, and I do think the importance of the Paris Commune has been overstated. Its primary significance has been as a rallying cry for Marxists, but in terms of its long-term impact I don’t think it’s much more important than the June Days of 1848. It highlights the growing cultural divide in France, which I discuss to some extent when I talk about the Dreyfus Affair.
Your reaction to the Iliad sounds like my wife’s on her first reading of it. In her case, she was reading the poem like she would a modern novel and mainly just concerned with the plot. In my opinion, that’s not the way to go about it.
I think your use of “pre-history” is throwing me off a bit. That term usually refers to the period before written records were kept, but it sounds like you might be using it to refer to recorded events in the Egyptian and contemporary civilizations. Is this right?
Sorry for the slow reply here. I’ve been on the road for the last two weeks and won’t be back in my office until after the New Year to look up any citations for you.
I have Velikovsky’s Ages in Chaos on the shelf in my office, which argues that there might be an extra 600 years in Egyptian chronology that shouldn’t be there. This is time that would overlap with the period discussed by the Centuries of Darkness authors, although Velikovsky’s gap is bigger. Is that what you are asking?
This might simply be a reference to the assigning of regular oversight of a particular area to a particular official or group of officials rather than trying to deal with things by the Senate and emperor ad hoc as they show up. In a way, that is approaching the problem of governance more efficiently. Without at least a rudimentary bureaucracy in support, Senate appointees like the quaestors might have been overwhelmed as the empire grew. I don’t know if you can attribute the Pax Romana to the advent of bureaucracy, though.
This is my second attempt at answering this question; I lost the first answer because of a server glitch.
The short answer is I don’t know of a book comparable to Jasper Becker’s Hungry Ghosts for the USSR. Paul Craig Roberts wrote a book about the Soviet economy in 1990 before the collapse; the title is Meltdown. There is a mainstream title by Phillip Hanson that takes a non=Austrian view of things–the USSR could grow but had trouble with technological change, etc.
Benson, to put the Stark recommendation in context, let me share a personal anecdote. In 15 years of teaching at the university level, the most common reaction I get from people when I suggest that Western Civilization has on the whole been a good thing is this: “But what about the Crusades?” The popular (mis)understanding of this episode is so lopsided that I’ve come to think reading almost anything taking the opposing viewpoint is a healthy thing.
My recommending Stark’s book is not a blanket endorsement of his scholarship or his conclusions, but rather an attempt to bring some balance to the discussion, and this book is most easily accessible work that does that. The hostile reviewer you link does concede that Stark provides useful correctives to distortions promulgated by Runciman and others. His criticism of “he’s not saying anything new here” doesn’t seem to wash since Stark is obviously writing on a popular level for readers who probably will never encounter the scholars the reviewer cites. Moreover, his criticism is mostly confined to the first third of the book; he thinks the later chapters are much better.
FWIW, my understanding is that Stark is some sort of theist but not actually a Christian.
Just a few thoughts off the top of my head. I hope this helps.
I have some ideas on this, but I’m away from my office and files for the next couple of weeks. I’ll try to reply with a couple of suggestions after Oct. 6.September 7, 2014 at 2:54 pm in reply to: US Nukes Japan for 170,000 tons of gold Golden Lily Gold #16868
Rand, this is all new to me. Could you point me to some of the evidence supporting this account of a huge gold stash?