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Western Civilisation

Until the advent of materialism and 19th c. dogma, Western Civilisation was  superior to anything Islam had developed.  Islam has not aided in the development of the modern world; in fact civilisation has only been created in spite of Islam.  Proof of this resides in the 'modern' world and the unending political-economic and spiritual poverty of Muslim states and regions.  Squatting on richer civilisations is not 'progress'.  Islam is pagan, totalitarian, and irrational.   

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

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Book Review, Nigel Cliff's 'Holy War' – good but flawed.

How Vasco Da Gama's Epic Voyages turned the tide...Clash of Civilisations.

by Ferdinand III

Reprinted with permission.

Entire Muslim societies had been built on slavery; the numbers were so vast that in the ninth century half a million slaves had rebelled in Iraq...” p. 89

In an age that glorified conspicuous consumption, basking in a cloud of Eastern ambrosia was an essential ingredient of high living.....The profits at stake were immense...” p. 107

With the downfall of the Mongols the overland routes became unsafe and eventually impassable, and virtually all traffic between the two Continents ceased.” p. 113

...the Portuguese had broken the Muslim monopoly of the world's richest trading routes with astonishing speed. Yet Manuel's megalomaniacal ambition to sweep from east and west into the Holy Land had never been matched by a realistic strategy of the means adequate to achieve it.” p. 369

This is a very interesting book about how Christian Europe came to dominate the world political-economy. Such an ideal – that Christian Europe was superior to Islam and other Oriental mysticism's – surely sends the modern multi-tolerance cult, and the lovers of cultural Marxism into spitting rages of self-flagellating fits of hair pulling epilepsy. But truth and reality always do that to Lenin's useful idiot class. Cliff's book is extremely well-written and researched. It is an enjoyable 423 page romp through the history of what Cliff rightly terms the clash of civilization's and the extension of Islam's Holy War, appropriated by Christianity only after 400 years of Moslem Jihad against Christian territory to the key economic trade routes of the Indian Ocean.  

The book becomes interesting about 1/3 of the way through, when Cliff actually begins describing the antecedent's to Da Gama's voyages and then gets on to the actual history-changing first and second voyages of the great Portuguese explorer. His history before this point – about 1/3 of the book – is full of inaccuracies about Europe and especially about Islam. The reader should probably ignore the first 100 pages. After that it gets better. The story-telling of Da Gama's voyages and the follow up establishment of trading colonies by Albuquerque is fast-paced, and well researched. Da Gama is revealed to be one of the most intrepid and intelligent of explorers in all of history. It is doubtful if the effeminate and self-loathing culture of Europe today, could have any hope of producing a Da Gama. The ear of European self-respect, and swaggering confidence ended after the 30 years war in 1648 resuscitated but never resurrected until the Great War of 1914.

There are however some issues with Cliff's book and his tendency to revisionism. Revisionist history is bunk and anytime an author engages in rewriting facts, it distorts both the prose and the message. An obvious first problem is that the Moslem Jihad against Buddhists and Hindus is not even mentioned for example. Somewhere between 50-100 million Indians were butchered by the various Moslem invasions, caliphs, emirs and tribes over a 1000 year period. The Moslem Jihad against non-Moslems was very much alive and well when the Portuguese arrived – a fact non unnoticed by the Europeans. One reason why the Christians were accepted by many non-Moslems in India and along the African coast was precisely this bloody fact.

A second issue is the portrayal of Christians as aggressor ignoramuses. The myth of Andalusia is also related ad nauseum, and anytime an author or reviewer invokes this post-modern fantasy, we have trouble on our hands. Dhimmitude, second class knave status, squatting on richer non-Moslem territories and lands; Moslem slave trading, generational pogroms, and incessant warfare against northern Spanish and French Christians, is not inter-cultural harmony - it is imperialism. Cliff also relates incidents in India, in which the Portuguese mistook the Sikhs, the Jains [a Moslem sect], and Hindus as Christians. While the NY Times and other reviewers of this book were locked in uncontrollable laughter and mock condescension over this experience, there was no possibility that a European in the 15th or 16th century would have been familiar with these mysticism's or cognisant of their existence. I doubt that a modern day welfare statist, or a NY Times reviewer, cast back 400 years, would have known the difference between sects and cults in the Indian subcontinent. The signal fact was that the Portuguese were clever enough to enlist non-Moslems as allies. If they mistook their oriental mysticism for something akin to a Christian sect, so what. This sounds to me like 'tolerance' and 'inter faith' dialogue so important to the modern multi-cult and NY Times.

This brings up a 3rd weakness. Though Cliff does enumerate the un-civilizational attributes of the Moslem and Arab traders around the Indian Ocean, and their violent antipathy to Europeans, he does not emphasize it enough. Da Gama's first voyage in 1498 was a fleet of small poorly armed ships. They were constantly attacked, harassed and thwarted by the Moslems. When Arabs and Moslems began butchering unarmed Portuguese civilians and merchants, left under treaty in trading enclaves a more militant response had to be expected. Bigger ships, more cannon, and more soldiers were dispatched from Portugal under Alberquerque and then again under Da Gama. The Moslem's had a monopoly on the trade between the Orient and Europe. They were quite unwilling to give this up. Islam the supremacist militant theology uber-alles was hardly going to cede the control of Indian Ocean trade to the Portuguese without recourse to violence and Jihad. This simply fact almost eludes Cliff. It is as if he blames the Europeans for the irruption of violence between the Christians and Moslems. This is fatuous.

The last issue with the book is a total neglect of the superiority in technology, sailing, navigation, military methods and in commerce, which allowed the Europeans to sail an impossibly long distance and conquer the Indian Ocean littoral and its key trade routes. Sailing 10 or 20 ships around the world is ruinously expensive and dangerous, yet the Europeans accomplished it - and did it so often that a chain of commands stretching from the Cape to China ensured European domination of world trade. How could a 'poor Continent', or state, possibly be 'so impoverished' that it could send men out to conquer the world by sailing vast distances to uncharted waters ? More so for a smallish country such as Portugal, which was the first 'Crusader state' to take the fight to the Moslems in the Indian Ocean. Such a claim or claims, makes little sense. The culture and wealth of Europe by the time of the counter-Jihad circa 1000 AD was already markedly superior to that of Islam. When the Europeans began to end their internal feuding through the development of strong nation states; economic exchange [especially after the 11th century]; and the formation of capital; they began to look for ways to counter the Moslem blockade of the Mediterranean, Islam's demise was assured.

This fact certainly offends the NY Times reviewer of this book who commented that the 'stupid Christians' found India 'by accident'. Such a statement is one of ignorance and a callous disregard for facts. The Portuguese as Cliff relates, had spent almost a century charting the African coast line all the way down to the Cape. They knew exactly what they were doing when Da Gama pushed around the Cape and headed towards the Orient. Not enough emphasis in my opinion, is given to the social-cultural and technological gap already apparent, between surging Europe and declining Islam and somnolent India. Instead Cliff, like all revisionists, somehow imagines a civilized and 'noble' Moslem Orient juxtaposed against the 'barbarians running around Europe'. He and the NY Times have never been to a Gothic Cathedral or witnessed 14th and 15th century European art I suppose.

Still, in spite of the above criticisms and cautions this is an enjoyable and educative read.



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