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Western Civilisation

Join Gab (@StFerdinandIII) Western Civilisation was and is superior to anything Islam has developed.  Islam has not aided in the development of the modern world; in fact civilisation has only been created in spite of Islam.  Raising the alarm about the fascism called Submission since 2000.  


Books Reviewed - Recent Articles

Christopher Dawswon 'Religion and the rise of Western culture'

A must read.

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And the importance of these centuries of which I have been writing is not to be found in the external order they created or attempted to create, but in the internal change they brought about in the soul of Western man – a change which can never be entirely undone except by the total negation or destruction of Western man himself.”

Dawson' book is a valuable learning vehicles for anyone interested in the development of Western Civilisation. In fact all of his books are worthwhile to read. His main idea – civilisation does not last when it is unmoored from its roots, or in the case of Europe and North America from its Judeo-Christian-Greco-Romano heritage. This book performs two services by providing proof that; 1) the world of the middle ages was complex, innovative in many ways, brutal surely, but not dark and 2) the development of Christianity fused with Roman-Greco ideals and technology was a long process and one that occurred differently in various parts of Europe but which was absolutely essential to the rise of Europe to world domination. Historians have proven for example that the Roman legacy was strong in southern France, but quickly disappeared in 5th century England, leading England or the Angle-Saxon lands on a far different path of theological-Christian-political-economic development. The complexity and richness of the middle ages [500-1500 AD] which directly led to the Renaissance and our modern world should of interest to anyone who wonders how our society was developed, from where, and by whom.

Dawson's works can also be used to juxtapose Christian development with Islam. One needs to keep in mind that the Moslem invasions of the 7th and 8th centuries, which destroyed Mediterranean trade patterns, raw material sourcing [gold, papyrus, fruit, spices] and which resulted in endless slave-taking, military attacks and the wanton destruction of Christian targets and assets around the Mediterranean; was by the 9th century ossified in comparison to the chaotic and but at times dynamic Christian states of west, central and north-west Europe. Islam was very good at squatting and the Moslem empire which was not unified in any real sense throughout the Mediterranean basin, did bring about [as the Mongols were to do in the 13th century] a vast territory under the control of one culture which occasioned for that area an increase in trade, capital formation and thus prosperity.

Trade patterns were thus changed to benefit the Moslems, with Ummayad Cordoba and the Spanish littoral as prime examples. This forcible redirection of Mediterranean flows in the political-economy is however quite a bit different than saying that the Moselms created the wealth by themselves, or were engaged in 'learning' or inventing all emanating from 'their' theology. Moslems were for the first 4 centuries of their existence minorities in the countries they conquered and everything from hospitals to algebra was already in existence in the occupied territories of the Jews, Greeks, Christians, and Romano-Berbers. Mostly everything in that Islamic world from the 8th to 12th centuries emanated from Jews, Greeks, Christians and Moors who were Christian converts to Islam. A fact rarely mentioned by academics.

Some of Dawson's themes include:


The other great world cultures realized their own synthesis between religion and life and then maintained their sacred order unchanged for centuries and millennia. But Western civilization has been the great ferment of change in the world, because the changing of the world became an integral part of its cultural ideal. Centuries before the achievements of modern science and technology Western man had conceived the idea of a magna instauratio of the sciences which would open new ways for human understanding and change the fortunes of the human race.” p. 17

Orientalist Theology:

Apart from this single exceptional case [Carolingian Empire], there has never been any unitary organization of Western culture apart from that of the Christian Church, which provided an effective principle of social unity. And even in the Middle Ages the religious unity imposed by the Church never constituted a true theocracy of the Oriental type, since it involved a dualism between the spiritual and the temporal powers, which produced an internal tension in Western society and was a fertile source of criticism and change.” p. 19


Nor was the medieval city a repetition of anything that had gone before. It was a new creation, unlike the cities of antiquity or those of modern times and differing also, though in a lesser degree, from the types of city which were to be found in the East at the same period.” p. 161


Henri Pirenne wrote: 'The medieval urban economy is worthy of the Gothic architecture with which it is contemporary. It created in every detail, and one might say ex nihilo, a system of social legislation more complete than that of any other period of history, including our own.' It was this integration of corporate organization, economic function and civic freedom which makes the medieval city, as Troeltsch remarks, the most complete embodiment of the social ideas of the Middle Ages, as we see them in their most highly developed form in the writings of St. Thomas and his contemporaries.” p. 171

War, disorder, the Moslems, the Inquisition:

The fourteenth century was an age of division and strife, the age of the Great Schism, which saw instead of the Crusades the invasion of Europe by the Turks and the devastation of France by England. And at the same time the intellectual resources of Western society which had been so much strengthened by the extension of the university movement no longer assisted the integration of Christian thought but were used negatively and critically to undo the work of the previous century and undermine the intellectual foundations of which the synthesis of the great thinkers of the previous age had been built.” [sounds like our modern age] p. 198


It marked the reappearance [Catharism in southern France in the 13th c.] of an ancient oriental religion as far or farther removed from Christianity than the religion of Islam. Consequently the Papacy used the same methods as it had employed against the Moslems – the method of the Crusade, and of an appeal to Christian princes to use their power in defence of the faith...and finally by a code of repressive legislation which gave birth to the inquisition.” p. 209

The history of the Middle Ages as Dawson relates in such intricate and scholarly detail, are as diverse as the characters and Christians living in Europe during this epoch. It is a complex history with the tension between Church and State always present. Yet the importance of this period which spawned the Renaissance and our own modern world cannot be cheapened or discounted.

And the importance of these centuries of which I have been writing is not to be found in the external order they created or attempted to create, but in the internal change they brought about in the soul of Western man – a change which can never be entirely undone except by the total negation or destruction of Western man himself.”

A process which is now in full train.

Power and Persuasion in Late Antiquity. By Peter Brown

Toward a Christian Empire.

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By Peter Brown - Power & Persuasion Late Antiquity: 1st (first) Edition ... 

Peter Brown synthesises the rise of Christianity, especially during the years from 300 A.D. to 450 A.D., a crucial time for the expansion and solidification of a once outlawed, persecuted, and perjured faith.  Brown describes the expectations of upper-class Romans in the 4th and 5th centuries, as the empire imposed not only fiscal rigour and enhanced taxation; but endeavoured to ward off the cruelty of pagan society, attempting to ameliorate the awful conditions of most of its subjects, the corruption of its military and legal system; and the despotic elements which resulted in a society of enslavement and mass poverty.  Brown rightly focuses on the cultural and religious elements which changed the empire from pantheon paganism to Christianity and civilisation. 

The Roman empire had a culture of ‘paideia’, which infused everything from schooling to leadership. ‘Paideia’ was the Romano-Greek concept of social behaviour and societal expectation, including classical learning, what to study, how to speak, how to carry oneself in public, career choices based on social standing, what was deemed artful and in good taste, and what was granted as acceptable or unacceptable behaviour.  As Brown so elegantly writes, Christianity between the artless form of gospel wisdom and the ‘Paideia’, merged the existing Romano-Greek culture into that of the ‘sublime philosophy’ of the Patristic Church.  Christianity originally spread in the civilised urban centres, and did especially well amongst not only the poor, but the elite, the merchants, and the governing classes.  By 300 A.D. the followers of Christ would have been no less than 10-15% of the total empire’s population.  But with elite monies and support, that would greatly expand, so that by the 5th century, Christianity could claim half the population as laity and followers of the Cross. 

Brown relates this tacit and at times covert realignment within Roman society, from paganism to the Church.  The emotional sermons of John Chrysostom on caring for the poor and ridding the wealthy of excess consumption and corruption, were emblematic of a philosophy of support, welfare, care and nurture of all people, regardless of standing, skin colour or sin.  The Bishops throughout the empire, many from wealthy families, redirected secular wealth to abbeys, churches, hospitals, hospices, and poor relief.  When Constantine officially declared Christianity to be the religion of the Roman state in 315 A.D., the benefits of being inside the new merger of Christ-worship and ‘paideia’, attracted the powerful, the ambitious, and the governing elites.  Constantine directed large sums of state largesse into the Churches and their attendant organisations as outreach centres to the dispossessed, the poor, and the marginalised.  Much power was accreted in this process by Bishops and wealthy patrons who began to play important and politically meaningful roles in the new alignment. 

In 395 A.D. a pagan-Western usurper who worshipped a pantheon of gods, was soundly destroyed in battle by Theodosius I near Alexandria, a battle of similar importance to both the empire and to Christianity as Constantine’s victory at the Milvian bridge near Rome in 312 A.D.  This confirmed to many the inexorable rise of the Christian faith and the inevitable demise of the ancient pagan gods and their temples.  New energy poured into Christian education and writing.  Philosophical discourse including naturalism, physics and even mathematics were merged into Christian theological debates and metaphysics.  Miracles, both public and private, enacted by believing Christians and holy men, continued to attract converts and discussion.  A discernible moral and pragmatic energy was offered by Christians and their Church which in the turmoil of the 4th and 5th centuries, provided succour and aid to many.  All men were equal before God, regardless of wealth and status, and all were bowed, humbled and judged.  Such a radical belief had never before been offered.

Post Constantine, Christian authors were very busy suffusing Christian doctrines with pagan-Greek ideals from Plato, Aristotle, and others.  Histories of the Church were written, following the path set by Eusebius.  Monks and monasteries proliferated, not always in harmony with the still strong paganism found throughout the empire.  During the 4th and 5th centuries Christianity and paganism lived sided by side, with many Christians still worshipping pagan idols.  As Brown relates with many examples of high-profile Christians, Bishops and civic leaders, polytheism was still abundant and many Church leaders were once polytheists despite the rather official and triumphal nature of Christianity by the 5th century.

The modern expectation is that Christianity ‘just happened’ as an inevitable ‘dialectical phase’, or even an imposition by force or power.  Nothing is further from the truth.  Christianity before 315 A.D. was growing, but was politically and socially marginalised, at times savagely attacked and persecuted and at other times, viewed with disdain and incomprehension by pagan polytheists.  Its expansion to include 80% of the empire’s population by the end of the 5th century is due to the conversion by the political and wealthy elite of the empire in key urban areas, the conversion of Constantine and restatement of primacy by Theodosius I, the flow of investment and wealth often through Bishops and the Churches to the poor; the creation of colossal buildings and parade grounds to showcase the religion; and in the general appeal to the poor, the sick, the dispossessed and powerless, through social healing, relief and spiritual-psychic revelations and improvements, including simplicity of belief system and the reduction of pagan idols and theogonies.  The expansion of Christianity from a small group of maybe 30 people in 33 A.D. to some 80 million by the end of the 4th century is one of the most remarkable miracles of all.


Henri Pirenne, 'A History of Europe: From the Invasions to the XVI Century'

No Catholic Church, no modern European civilisation.

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A History of Europe: From the Invasions to the XVI Century ...


This opus by Pirenne has largely stood the test of time and is a must read for any who wish to understand the turbulent, violent, complicated civilising mission and history of Christian Europe.  Some elements have been overturned or recalibrated including his assertion that the Musulman invasion completely destroyed all Mediterranean and commerce by the late 7th century (not entirely true, but his point is still valid).  Pirenne is not a Christian apologist, being quite critical of both the religion and its ecclesiastical culture and societal development, whilst maintaining a deep regard for its importance, civilisational mission and its defence of Europe against the Musulman invasions.  In summary it is clear, no Catholic Church, no European civilisation.  All would have descended back into pagan barbarism.  Some important excerpts from Pirenne, on this topic below.


The Musulman invasion(s) and Jihad

Musulmans appeared as the propagandists of a new faith, an exclusive and intolerant faith to which all had to submit. Religion, wherever they ruled, was the basis of political society; or rather, the religious organization and the political organization were for them identical; Church and State forming a single unity. The infidels could continue the practice of their cult only as simple subjects, deprived of all rights whatsoever. Everything was transformed, from top to bottom, in accordance with the principles of the Koran.


Koranic theology was society.  The Christian Church promoted the opposite – the absolute division of Church and State.


[Musulmans] can boast of little that is original. The conquered peoples were all more refined than their nomad conquerors, and the latter borrowed from them in a wholesale fashion. The Arabs translated the works of their scholars and philosophers, drew inspiration from their art, and adopted their agricultural, commercial and industrial methods. The extent and diversity of the countries and the nations upon which they imposed their rule subjected them to a quantity of influences, which blended together, giving the Musulman civilization an aspect of great variety, but little depth, of these influences, that of Hellenism rivalled that of Persia.


The Musulman Jihad, attacked, conquered, and squatted on far richer civilisations.  The driving impetus and galvanising feature of the Musulman Jihad was precisely the allure of richer states. 


Aristotle was the master of the Arab philosophers, who added nothing essential to his philosophy. On the whole, in the intellectual domain, the Musulman civilization did not greatly influence the European peoples. The explanation is simple: there was much in it that was artificial, and the sources upon which it drew most freely were, for the most part, European sources.


Musulmans did not build on ancient wisdom.  Nestorians and other Christians had translated their works for the new masters, but no discernible improvements or additions were made by the Musulmans.  It was static learning.


From the 7th to the 11th century Islam was incontestably the master of the Mediterranean. The ports which the Arabs constructed—Cairo, which succeeded to Alexandria, Tunis, and Kairouan—were the étapes of a commerce which circulated from the Straits of Gibraltar to the Indian Ocean, through the Egyptian ports, which were in communication with the Red Sea, and the Syrian ports, which gave access to the caravan route to Baghdad and the Persian Gulf. The navigation of the Christian peoples was restricted to a timid coastwise trade along the shores of the Adriatic and southern Italy, and among the islands of the Archipelago.


The Musulmans cut off the Mediterranean and the Christian civilisation of North Africa and the Levant was conquered, splitting West Christendom from Byzantine Eastern Christendom.  Trade, culture, wealth, and technology were all negatively impacted.


For centuries Europe had gravitated about the Mediterranean. It was by means of the Mediterranean that civilization had extended itself; by means of the Mediterranean the various parts of the civilized world had communicated one with another. On all its shores social life was the same in its fundamental characteristics; religion was the same; manners and customs and ideas were the same, or very nearly so. The Germanic invasion had not changed the situation in any essential respect. In spite of all that had happened, we may say that in the middle of the 7th century Europe still constituted, as in the time of the Roman Empire, a Mediterranean unity.


The ’Dark Ages’ or the reduction in traffic, commerce, wealth and de-urbanisation, only occurred after the Musulman takeover of the Mediterranean and the dismembering of its Christian unity.  This historical fact is still relevant today and still the reason, why there are conflicts in North Africa and the Middle East. 


The intercourse between the West and the East, which had hitherto been carried on by means of this sea, was interrupted. The East and the West were suddenly separated. The community in which they had lived so long was destroyed for centuries to come, and even to-day Europe is still suffering from the consequences of its destruction.


The destruction of Christian-Mediterranean civilisation was an epochal event, still resounding and reverberating even today. 


The Mediterranean by which it had hitherto kept in touch with civilization was closed to it. This, perhaps, was the most important result, as regards the history of the world, of the expansion of Islam.  For the Christianity of the West, when its traditional lines of communication were cut, became a world apart, able to count only on itself, and in respect of its further development it was thrown upon its own resources. Driven off the Mediterranean, it turned to the still barbarous regions beyond the Rhine…


Post 800 A.D. Europe looked to the North, the East, and to the Atlantic to rebuild itself and repair civilisation.  The littoral around the Mediterranean was either conquered by Musulmans or prey to savage piracy and slave trading.  Christian Europe retreated to the North and East.  Its large urban centres based around the Mediterranean became depopulated.  Taxes and trade were reduced.  Government was impaired.


In the second half of the 7th century all trade ceased on the shores of the Western Mediterranean. Marseilles, deprived of her ships, was dying of asphyxia, and in less than half a century all the cities in the south of France had lapsed into a state of utter decadence. Trade, no longer fed by sea-borne traffic, came to a standstill throughout the country: the middle class disappeared: there were no longer merchants by profession; there was no circulation of goods, and as a natural result the market dues no longer fed the royal treasury, which was henceforth unable to defray the expenses of government. Henceforth the landed aristocracy represented the only social force. The king was ruined, but the aristocracy, with its land, possessed wealth and authority. It only remained for it to seize political power.


The Church as saviour

Nevertheless, decadent though it was, the Church was the great civilizing force of the period; indeed, we may say the only civilizing force. It was through the Church that the Roman tradition was perpetuated; it was the Church that prevented Europe from relapsing into barbarism.


The Church swept up the pagan Roman empire and its infrastructure, learning, engineering, urban planning, literature, and ideals and combined them with Christianity, Christian philosophy and Christian science and culture.  It fought innumerable wars to save Christian Europe from Koranic domination.  Literate Church clerics kept learning alive, even as papyrus disappeared thanks to the Musulman invasion.  Social cohesion including hospitals, schools, hospices, roads, taxes and infrastructure, were dealt with, albeit in a haphazard and often inefficient way.  But society was restored, and after 800 A.D. growth and wealth creation become apparent as the foci of Roman Catholic civilisation shifts north and east looking to the Atlantic and Baltic and eventually the horn of Africa and beyond as it fought, defeated and constrained the Musulman Jihad. 


The main point made by Pirenne 100 years ago is still valid today.  The Musulman Jihad forever transformed the Mediterranean and accelerated the development of a distinctly superior European Christian civilisation.