[-empyre-] Crusades, Collapse, 'n' Stuff
Crusade is irrelevant.
What matters are resources and the control and production of them.
The vagaries of culture are simply accidents of history. If Mohammed
had convinced millions of people of atheism, or if the Xians hadn't
completely mangled the golden rule from a double negative that
encourages passivity to a double positive that recommends
interference, I am sure the events would have played out differently,
but the fundamentals would still have been the same.
What we are facing is something quite different.
The Crusaders aimed to free Europe of the economic hegemony of
Islam, not to destroy Islamic civilization.
And if one insists on using the lens of Crusade, then one can see
that the west seeks hegemony over the oil that the Islamic locals now
enjoy - but is that Crusade? I think not.
As I said, I don't think it's relevant. Also, I am uncertain as to
whether it is actual or reasonable to think of a Western Roman
"collapse", as much as it was a strategic withdrawal by the elite to
more profitable places. Constantine could see, from his heinously
expensive wars in Gaul, that Western Europe was a dud - a money pit,
a black hole where wealth gets poured in and little else comes back.
In energistic terms, it had a negative ER/EI - Energy Return divided
by Energy Invested. He went broke chasing the barbarian army around
France, and converted to christianity to loosen up the funds in a
dominantly christian run Treasury.
Once he got back, he put his plan into action and declared the
Official creation of the Eastern Roman Empire. And every rich family
in rome with any sense at all invested in the east. West of Roman
Power? Celts. Illiterate pagan "savages". To the north? Picts. Nutty
people from Scotland who painted themselves blue, which gets them all
hopped up and crazy. And the Northeast was populated by Huns and
Goths and other unsavoury groups. To the South? The Sea, and beyong
the sea? Excellent farms hard up against the largest desert on the
planet. To the East? All The Money In The World. Big Rivers, and the
ancient civilisations of what is now Palestine, Egypt, Greece,
Turkey, Iran, India, China, and the Silk Road through Afghanistan...
Let's see, Celts vs. Greeks. Picts vs. India. Goths vs. Persians.
Hmmmm. Not a hard choice to make there!
Within 200 years, Rome was done, while still inhabited, and the
Empire lived on: a few hundred years later it was still enough of a
potent social notion that Charlemagne crowned himself the Holy Roman
From a post in a Bay Area Energy group, by Dave Fridley, author of
the SF City Council Depletion protocol study proclamation (for which
he deserves a medal, IMHO):
"In Roman times, 85-90% of the population were the energy producers--
that is, the farmers--whose surplus energy supported the 10-15% of
the population (including the emperor, army, musicians, artists,
vagabonds, merchants and so forth) who were not directly involved in
energy production. In
the US today, 3% of the population (and vast amounts of fossil fuels)
provides the surplus to support the 97% of the population not
directly involved in energy production. In that regard, only the
"elite" of the empire would have even noticed a material change with
Today, North Americans and Europeans are the elites. Again, Fridley
"Although some Roman historians lamented the passing of the Republic
(which lasted for about 400 years--longer than ours--til about 40
BC), I've never read anything of a self-aware group that looked at
the material conditions of the empire and predicted collapse over
some centuries in the future. That, I think, would be pretty much
unlikely at the time, since in Western civilizations, at least, it
the publication of Thomas More's Utopia in 1516 that we ever viewed
the future as a better place than the past, and thus see decline as
something odd. Before then, the "Golden Age" of man--what
civilizations aspired to, were always those of the past, and history
was considered a process of degeneration. With this kind of world
view, what exactly would "collapse" mean to one of the elite Romans
and how exactly would it have mattered to the 90% of the population
who lived in stasis?"
It's also important to remember why the romans would even bother
invading some where as distant as England and Wales... Why? Tin. the
Phoenicians were in Wales 1500bce. At the time, there was so much tin
in Wales, it came up out of the ground in extremely rich ores of
black, shiny, almost metallic, material. It was harvested and sent
back to Phoenicia to make bronze. The Romans were Iron Age people,
but bronze was still a vital metal, and tin had many other purposes.
The production of tin peaked during Roman times and went into
depletion. England became worth less to the Romans, and yet another
reason to abandon Western Europe.
So, to talk of a "collapse" of the Roman empire, as Fridley notes, is
an act of 20/20 hindsight. After Constantine gave up on it, it took
centuries for Rome to be sacked and leveled by the nations it had
violently oppressed. The Romans had no sense of a "utopian future",
so calamity was always the word of the day. Again Fridley:
"Compare this as well to the worldview of the Chinese, who developed
a sophisticated view of rise and fall that came from thousands of
years of dynasties rising then collapsing. To a Chinese, this was a
natural phenomenon, and they created a whole phenomenology around it,
including the concept of "mandate of heaven" (tianming) that gave the
emperor his right to rule, and the withdrawal of the mandate that led
to the collapse of the dynasty, usually indicated by natural
disasters. It survived to the 20th century even...the massive
Tangshan earthquake of July 1976 was commonly seen as the event that
withdrew the mandate of heaven from Chairman Mao, and indeed, he died
2 months later and his regime overthrown."
And a few years later the Gang of Four would sing musical commodities
Out on the street: assassinate all of them
look so desperate declare blood war
on the bourgeois state too!
Watch new blood on the 18 inch screen
The corpse is a new personality
Ionic charge brings immortality
Guerilla war struggle is the new entertainment!!!
"...Kunstler (I believe) had a good insight into this as well. He
remarked on the phenomenon of "temporal amnesia"--the fact that we
forget how things were after a period of change, such as living in
the same place for a long time. This building is replaced. Those
trees are planted. Social security benefits are reduced. Copays go
up. Food prices creep up. After 10 years, things are materially
different, but do you really remember how it used to be? Over several
hundred years of collapse, who in Rome or Mesopotamia or any of the
other major civilizations that collapsed have had the historical
context to talk about "collapse"?"
What we have, and the romans didn't have, are the basic laws of
physics that govern all energetic systems. One big rule is: you can't
get more energy out of a system than what is already there. There is
no energy fairy. When most work is done by hand, your farmers are the
energy producers. When most work is done by hand, most work is in
Another big rule is: In a closed system, energy is never lost, it
simply degrades in quality (thermodynamics - entropy).
These facts speak far beyond any localised temporal curiosities of
"culture" or "religion" or any quibbling about that. It's all really
very simple: look at yeast in a sugar/water solution. Do the math.
The earth's carrying capacity for humans has been exceeded
(youngquist: Geodestinies). The remaining conflicts of civilisation
will be over the remaining energy stores and metal deposits (Klare:
Resource Wars) The total energy content of society will retreat. Per
capita energy and resource consumption peaked in the early 1980s (per
Campbell and Duncan). The west has been innovating to do more with
less. however, this cannot continue indefinitely (see first big
rule). The non-west (the so-called South) has been bearing the brunt
of it all and if resources reduce too quickly, many of those nations
will go into a Malthusian die off. Some (east Africa) already have
(declining rainfall and increased population have produced a
“Malthusian” situation where pressures on a less-productive resource
base have exploded into conflict - per understandingsudan.org), and
some are quickly descending (Nigeria - New Yorker Article by George
Packer - Lagos as the model of the city of the 21st century).
Without natural gas, there will be no miracleGro and the productivity
of the planet's farms will drop dramatically. Richer nations will
have more resources to feed their people. The rest won't and will die
off. Nations with especially abundant food resources (such as N.
America) will be using substantial amounts of food for fuel to power
their heavy transport systems (trucks, trains, aircraft, mining
equipment). Eventually that will be abandoned, due to population
Nations of the middle east, predominantly Islamic, will face an even
tougher time - similar to those presently faced in Africa.
Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum (former Prime minister of UAE):
"My grandfather rode a camel, my father rode a camel, I drive a
Mercedes, my son drives a Land Rover, his son will drive a Land
Rover, but his son will ride a camel."
Crusade models don't really work: they presume the primacy of the
superstructural cultural machine as guides for substructural resource
exploitation. In fact, the superstructural issues (crusade, war
against terrror, jihad, "somebody's got a bad case of the Mondays",
rock and roll, hip hop, TV, whatever...) is actually just the excuses
proffered by the elites to motivate the workers to act against their
own self interests and murder other members of the working/peasant
class, so that resources may be acquired in order to maintain the
facade of civilisation that maintains socio-political heirarchies as
linguistic amplifications of the social dominance patterns common to
It's late - I have to go sleep now.
my best regards to all,
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