Monday, February 09, 2015

Crusades vs. Jihads



It's been interesting reading the reactions to Obama's speech about religious violence. Especially funny (darkly funny) are the scattered attempts to defend the Crusades and the Inquisition. Good luck with that, bro.

I wrote my own historical Islam-Christianity parallel, which was about how the current violence in Iraq and Syria reminds me of the Thirty Years' War in Germany. But I also think that there definitely is a parallel between the Crusades and the modern-day Jihads of al Qaeda, Islamic State, and the rest. Here are what I see as the parallels.

(Warning: this posts contains sloppy history and a bad imitation of the War Nerd writing style.)

In the case of the Crusades, you saw a once-great but now-fallen civilization - West and South Europe - under pressure from a civilization at the height of its power, sophistication, and wealth (the Middle East). You had high birth rates in Europe, lots of poor young guys ready for a fight. You had a religious hierarchy deeply involved in government, looking to preserve and expand its power.

In the case of the modern-day Jihads, you see a once-great but now-fallen civilziation - the Middle East - under pressure from a civilization at the at the height of its power, sophistication, and wealth (the U.S. and West Europe). You had (until *very* recently) high birth rates in the Middle East, lots of poor young guys ready for a fight. You have lots of religious scholars who act as local legal authorities and assume some of the roles of government, looking to preserve and extend their power.

In the Crusades, you had a religious leader - Pope Urban II - calling for violence by Catholic people in order to protect an Orthodox ally (the Byzantines) and reclaim the Holy Land. The call was answered by lots of random people and many kings as well.

In the modern-day Jihads, you had a quasi-religious leader - Osama bin Laden - calling for violence by Muslim people in order to expel foreign troops and influence from the homeland and reclaim the Holy Land. The call was answered by a smattering of random people and a few warlords.

In the Crusades, you saw the element of surprise win a spectacular and brutal early victory - the capture of Jerusalem - which was followed by an unending stream of underwhelming performances. Along the way, Crusaders killed a bunch of Jews and sacked the Orthodox Christian city of Constantinople (which they were initially called in to help). Eventually a crusading culture emerged, accompanied by the emergence of autonomous quasi-religious military orders like the Knights Templar and the Knights Hospitaller.

In the modern-day Jihads, you saw the element of surprise win a spectacular and brutal early victory - the 9/11 attacks - which has been followed by an unending stream of underwhelming performances. Along the way, Jihadis tried but failed to kill Jews, and blew up quite a lot of Muslims. Eventually a jihadi culture emerged, accompanied by the emergence of autonomous quasi-religious military orders like ISIS and the many al Qaeda branches, in addition to a few that already existed, like Hezbollah and Hamas.

(I think Hezbollah really are the modern Knights of St. John. This is my favorite of the parallels, for some reason.)

So anyway, I do think there are some parallels here.

So how did it all end? Eventually, after centuries of pathetic defeat (culminating at Nicopolis), you saw the Crusades run out of steam, and the word "crusade" adopt a more peaceful meaning - much like the peaceful meaning many Muslims attribute to the word "jihad". The Crusades had some very positive effects, like opening up Europe to trade. Even more importantly, the unending string of defeats - contrasted with the ease with which the Mongols swept into the Middle East, burned it to the ground, and left - seemed to convince European leaders that a different strategy was needed. Europeans began to use advanced weapons, which allowed them to kick holy hell out of their Muslim opponents in later Europe-Middle East clashes like the Battle of Lepanto or the Great Turkish War.

(That's the Western Way of War for you - first send the jocks out to charge the enemy head-on and then when that fails to work, go dig the nerds up out of the basement to invent some fancy super-weapons and blow the enemy to kingdom come. Then send the nerds back to the basement so the jocks can claim all the credit and get the girls...but I digress.)

Meanwhile, the failure of the Crusades may have been instrumental in teaching Europeans that the civilizational strategy they were pursuing in the Middle Ages - theocracy, insularity, and high birth rates - was a dead end. Out of failure comes adaptation, and the debacle that was the Crusades may have been what started Europe on the long road away from Catholic Church dominance and toward science, democracy, liberalism, and technology - the road that eventually made them (temporary) masters of the world.

Now, the modern Middle East is starting from a much better initial point than Medieval Europe. The world is much richer place now than it was then, and information technology is much better. I doubt it'll take anywhere close to 400 years for Muslims to realize that the al Qaeda/ISIS strategy is a dead end - in fact, by now they already have realized it. Support for terrorism among Muslims has gone from a minority to a tiny minority. There were a couple years after 9/11 where some people probably thought that al Qaeda-style attacks were the "strong horse" that would reclaim Middle Eastern pride and expel the foreign barbarians. No longer.

Sure, there are a handful of angry young men going to fight for ISIS. Most will get what they want (the chance to rape some young girls, followed by a swift glorious death). But the great mass of Middle Easterners, and of Muslims elsewhere in the world, now realize that the Jihads are bullshit. Perhaps - hopefully - the failure and brutality of the Jihads will lead the people of the Middle East to realize that Islamism is not the future, and prompt them to start looking for other routes to civilizational greatness.

And the Enlightenment will be there, waiting. Still the best civilizational strategy humanity has ever invented.

54 comments:

  1. The Islamic World wasn't really at its peak when the Crusades happened. They'd fragmented into feuding kingdoms, and the Mongols then devastated the most prosperous part of it - Iraq - in the late 13th century. There's no real good counterpart in modern times to what the Mongols did to the Middle East back then.

    Other than that, it's pretty good as a description. I'm glad you mentioned that the Crusades didn't happen in a vacuum - Christians didn't suddenly just get up and decide to go to war with muslims in the Middle East in the 11th century. Rather, they'd been at war for centuries following the massive expansions of the caliphate in the 7th and 8th centuries, the constant raids and warfare (particularly the devastating 9th century raids in Italy, in which they sacked Rome outside of the Aurelian Wall), and of course the wars with the eastern Roman Empire that led to the Crusades in the first place.

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  2. According to The Crusades Through Arab Eyes which cites a number of Muslim chronicles, there were a lot of cultural advantages that the Crusaders had over the local Seljuk forces:

    * the Franks (as they were called by the Arabs) had clear succession rules (Salic law); in comparison every death of a Seljuk ruler was followed by a civil war.

    * Their mail armour, lances and huge horses were feared.

    * In first years the Crusaders were comparatively more united than the various Seljuk forces.

    Other impressions from the book:

    * Saladin is portrayed as a rather lucky ruler. Also a total pushover, overspender and bad negotiator.

    * A lot of famous and talented Muslim commanders were also huge drunks.

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  3. I like the parallels, however I think that local political motives supersede the religious ones. I for instance think that modern Jihad is used just to get political capital to fight on domestic front which can get pretty messy - similar to how catholic France intervened in 30 years war on behalf of protestant league because they felt threatened by growing power of Habsburgs in Holy Roman Empire and Spain.

    Which ties to another point - crusades (or catholic religious conquest) did not always fall short. When analyzing history many people equalize Crusades with Crusades to Holy Land. But there were other crusades or religious conquests which were quite successful. Spanish Reconquista, conqest of Sicily or Northern crusades by Teutons - which were fueled by failure in Holy lands.

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    1. Indeed. For example, Prussia is the result of a crusade.

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  4. The current Islamist wave isn't the first choice of ideology in the Middle East - it came in the foreground after the perceived and real failures of the monarchies, Pan-Arabism, Arab Socialism and liberal democracy.

    This is a great essay on the subject: http://www.newsweek.com/politics-rage-why-do-they-hate-us-154345

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    1. And please note also the quite deliberate crushing of various movements by the West.

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  5. Guy with Eastern European ancestors here. One might look at the actions of the Teutonic knights in Poland and Lithuania during the crusades to get an appreciation for their motives and tactics. Of course these evils were long ago; subjugation, enslavement, and murder of people in Poland would be unthinkable by a modern state.

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  6. Number of innocent people killed by Christina terror in the past decade: negligible

    Number killed by Islamic fanatics: thousands

    Instead of crusades vs. islam it's more like islam vs. the world

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    1. *Now* it is. Before, it wasn't. Things change, and will continue to change.

      Also remember that "thousands" is a damn small number in the historical scheme of things, most big world-spanning ideological conflicts of the past killed many millions.

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    2. Anonymous5:53 PM

      No it isnt Noah, dont let your ignorance of the subject keep you from a quick google. Lord's Resistance Army is as Christian as ISIS is Muslim, they both love genocide, child slavery and sex abuse. Antibakala Christians in CAR also have no problem in taking out machetes and chopping. Serbs had no problem waging Orthodox holy war against Croats and Bosniaks.

      The difference is that the 'Christian' terrorist narrative doesnt exist on television because in North America 'Christian' or 'White' is the normal, safe, 'good.' Thats why any deviation from the inherent 'good' of white people has to be examined and cut apart to ensure that everyone understands white/christian culture isnt to blame but some deviancy is. On the other hand, as all white people know 'Brown' or 'Muslim' is not normal, therefore brown/Muslim violence gets automatically explained as 'part and parcel' of the 'other' culture.
      Thats why you have angry keyboard warriors defending the crusades, the KKK, Christian war crimes and so on. White is right. Duh.

      That is also why if the 'race realist' posting under grey enlightenment tag ever grew enough testicular fortitude to actually carry out his fantasies and go on a shooting rampage no one would say: 'Of course, a single, kind of sad white guy. Whiteys gotta white!'

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    3. Oh no, I just meant that the appearance of "Islam vs. the world" is a recent and temporary thing. Sure, I'm sure there are Christian-inspired people doing violence out there somewhere.

      And there was the Taiping Rebellion...

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    4. A book I would recommend on the subject (crusades):
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Crusades_Through_Arab_Eyes

      Amin maalouf. Very interesting read.

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    5. Shadow_Nirvana6:39 AM

      "Number of innocent people killed by Christina terror in the past decade: negligible"

      The invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan are terror attacks done by Christian states against Islamic countries. It is so funny that one can white wash history on their end so much that the barbaric invaders are the "righteous" and the defenders of their country are named "terrorists".

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    6. Anonymous8:44 AM

      Invasion of Iraq was purely war for oil. And Afghanistan leadership at that time did attack US first.

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  7. Anonymous12:41 PM

    If you equate protecting Christian pilgrim going to their holy jerusalem to conquering the world, not much one can do for you

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    1. Anonymous5:45 PM

      Yep. Christian pilgrims had to be protected from those nasty JEWS (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhineland_massacres) and those nasty Eastern Orthodox Christians who everyone knows are basically MUSLIMS (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Constantinople_(1204))
      After all, Western pilgrims cant interact with any none-White so killing all non-whites in the way is the way to go.
      WHITE POWER, WHITE POWER, WHITE POWER.

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  8. Obama is a fool and provocateur. So called crusades were reaction to atrocities of Arabs under Islamic encroachments. In Arabs' eye, this has never ended.

    Noah is a bigger fool to approach a subject that should be left alone as he has no depth and does not even deal with any chronology.It is basically Jewish blahs forgetting that the very existence of Israel is the rationale enough for these Islamic nuts to go to jihad anywhere and on anybody if they are deemed to support or sympathize Israel.

    Islam has perpetually conflicted with all religions including its own factions. There exists a venomous doctrine within and it has to be purged. Somehow, world continues to pander to this lunacy.

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    1. Read Steve Pinker. Words like "venomous doctrine" and "lunacy" are just words for normal, natural things that go away with economic development and sensible policy - and, hopefully, simply with time.

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    2. Economic development and sensible policy - and, hopefully, simply with time has not and will never work when one can blow up a school, kidnap young girls for wives (don't forget the doctrine allows up to four wives), use young boys for sex (check Frontline program on Afghanistan and Pakistan). Even the so called reformed and civilized countries sentence people to 1000 lashes or to death for driving or not wearing sanctioned clothes etc. etc.

      I feel liberals need to be realists accept that venomous doctrine is venomous and lunacy is lunacy and stop hiding behind the word games of normalcy and natural normalcy.

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  9. I'm not a historian but I don't find the crusades parallel so convincing. There might be better precursors:
    - the anarchist movement of the 1920's
    - the communist rise to power in russia including the civil war
    - serbian (semi-state supported) radical nationalism of 1914

    This seems to fit the demographics (romantic single young men, willing to give their life for some cause) better. If I'm right (probably not) then 2-out-of-3 fizzled out and 1-out-of-3 became a world power.

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    1. I see the anarchist and communist movements as class conflicts, which is only a very small part of the Jihads today. As for nationalism, I think Islamism has a bit of that, but is way too pan-national to be like what you're talking about!

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    2. I find that your post lacks a little bit of a timeline regarding the crusades/jihadists movements which do not appear in vaccuum. (eg: conflating constantinople and "the crusades", when a limited amount of historical culture tells you that you have two centuries between the start of the crusade phenomenon and the fall of the latter... and three more centuries before the final fall of eastern roman empire to the arabs). All of it conflated in a sort of timelapse so that you seem to assume that there is no change at all in western societies between 980 and 1200...

      I feel a bit let down to say the truth. But well. nice post.

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    3. This is true. We tend to compress a lot of centuries when we look back. But it's also probably true that society *did* change much more slowly back then, given the lack of economic growth and the glacial rate of technological progress.

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    4. Anonymous6:03 PM

      Nitpick: the Eastern Roman Empire did not fall to the Arabs.

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  10. Noah,

    I agree that the Thirty Years War, which did in about a third of the German population, was the really big Christian slaughter, all the more ironic for being strictly intra-Christian, although that makes it more parallel to the current Sunni-Shi'i fighting.

    I think you are wrong that the history of the word "jihad" is similar to that of "crusade." In fact with jihad it is the other way around. Most Muslim scholars willl tell you that the main meaning of "jihad" in the Qur'an is applied to an internal moral struggle, not an external violent one. To the extent it is applied to external violence, it is supposed to be for self-defense. As it is, it has moved from externally peaceful to its current usage of extrenally violently aggressive, although there are still plenty of Muslims using it among themselves in the older context. Anyway, essentially the opposite of how the usage of "crusader" changed over time.

    Barkley Rosser

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    1. But what I mean is, I think "jihad" will take on a peaceful meaning again.

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    2. One cannot say for sure, but my serious Muslim friends tell me that among themselves, the peaceful meaning about internal moral/spritual struggle continues to be the main meaning. It is outsiders and media who have made the more violent meaning associated with violent and aggressive Islamist groups be what people think it means, although these groups do use it in the violent way, in some cases evein in their names, as with "Islamic Jihad," one such group. So, it may be more a matter of this more unpleasant meaning going away and stop being what most non-Muslims think it is.

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  11. And the Enlightenment will be there, waiting. Still the best civilizational strategy humanity has ever invented.

    It would be nice if we could get more people in the West to adopt it....

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    1. OK the question is then, WHY do so many people in the West reject it. After all one of the major parties in the US is basically an anti-enlightenment party (and it got that way by adopting a regional culture that was that way all along). If the Entlightenment is so good, why does it have such a hard time convincing people still.

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    2. reason -

      Are you suggesting it's the enlightenment's fault that ignorant, anti-intellectual people refuse to become enlightened?

      There's some sort of tautology tangled in there.

      JzB

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    3. No, it's that the enlightenment seems to have problems repelling the barbarians amongst us.

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  12. A macro guy attempting to parallel medieval European/Near Eastern history with current worldwide Islamist extremism? Don't we already have enough macro guys pontificating (intended) about current events that are well outside of their area of expertise? Please, stick to what you Noah!

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    1. That pun didn't work, there was an extra syllable.

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    3. Clearly you don't Noahnough about word play to blog or comment on that either. This isn't Japanese poetry. There are no syllable requirements. Once again, please stick to macro!

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    4. My comment section
      Piled with yellow snowdrifts
      Winter of the trolls

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    5. Ok fine. Stick to macro and Haiku. You've earned it.

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    6. Noah the pun has to do with the pope and the crusades.

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  13. Anonymous10:35 PM

    Love this kind of historical analysis. Sure it a lot of theorizing without too much hard evidence to back it up other than anegdotes. Nonetheless I just enjoy reading it. Other than warnerd which other bloggers do you read for this type of writing? Thanks.

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  14. "Meanwhile, the failure of the Crusades may have been instrumental in teaching Europeans that the civilizational strategy they were pursuing in the Middle Ages - theocracy, insularity, and high birth rates - was a dead end."

    So when did this "civilizational strategy" actually change? The Enlightenment may have improved technology, but the European rebound from, say, the fall of Constantinople (1453) to the final division of colonial spoils at the Berlin Conference (1884) seems perfectly in line with this "medieval" game plan.

    (1) Theocracy: In the late-medieval period there was indeed a big decline in papal authority. However this was not due to a general decline of religion but rather the usurpation of religious authority by the civil power, at first to the person of the national sovereign and then to the state church more abstractly. (See Pope v. the Holy Roman Emperor, the "most Christian kings" of France, Henry VIII, etc.) All the major European states were "national-religious" in a very literally militant way. Certainly there were variations in tone and degrees tolerance, but I don't think this really changed until after 1945, and I don't think anyone has ever made the argument that the British were able to build the world's biggest empire because they were relatively more tolerant, religiously, than, say, the Spanish (or despite being significantly less tolerant than the Dutch).

    (2) Insularity: I'm assuming you don't mean this in the simple sense of self-isolation, because obviously by invading the Middle East the crusaders were breaking out of the physical confines of Europe. I presume you mean it in the sense of open and free exchange with other societies and cultures, instead of imposing one's own system, as the crusaders sought to do by violently establishing the principalities of Outremer. But, again, when did this change? What was the great European imperial expansion, from Cortez to the final scramble for Africa, except the imposition of a European political and economic model on the rest of the world? Everybody swipes the other guy's tech. But there was actually plenty of technical innovation within Europe throughout the medieval period (see Chiara Frugoni's "Inventions of the Middle Ages"). So what non-technical ideas did Europe accept from the rest of the world, post-crusades? And at what point (before the post-1945 collapse of colonialism) did any European power refrain from imposing its "insular" values on others?

    (3) High birth rates: Not sure how relevant this is. But FWIW, any decline in European birth rates seems driven by individual reactions to an improving agricultural and industrial economy, rather than any formal policy changes. Indeed, European leaders in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were endlessly kvetching about the need to raise the birthrate, lest they be "swamped" by their European rivals and/or various Asiatic hordes. States actually implemented awards and benefits to encourage a higher birth rate.

    I think the great lesson of Europe's post-crusade "success" is that as long as you do the math right at the engineering level and balance the books (and I while I know few devout scientists, I have met plenty of deeply religious chemists, engineers, and accountants) you can march right around the world being as big an arrogant God-bothering, heavy-handed son-of-a-bitch as you want to be, and you'll be fine, at least until you meet that OTHER God-bothering, arrogant son-of-a-bitch with the bigger bomb. Which is not to say that your Crusade/Jihad analogy is bad, just that the conclusions to be drawn from it are not necessarily the happy ones you're hoping for.

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    1. So when did this "civilizational strategy" actually change? The Enlightenment may have improved technology, but the European rebound from, say, the fall of Constantinople (1453) to the final division of colonial spoils at the Berlin Conference (1884) seems perfectly in line with this "medieval" game plan.

      In the 1600s, after the 30 Years' War. And note that at the height of their power, European countries did *not* do what they then had the power to do and had tried unsuccessfully to do in the Crusades - displace local populations and colonize the Middle East.

      I don't think anyone has ever made the argument that the British were able to build the world's biggest empire because they were relatively more tolerant, religiously, than, say, the Spanish (or despite being significantly less tolerant than the Dutch).

      Amy Chua did make this argument. And the Dutch had an enormous empire given their tiny size.

      But, again, when did this change? What was the great European imperial expansion, from Cortez to the final scramble for Africa, except the imposition of a European political and economic model on the rest of the world?

      It began as a scramble for trade routes, not as what you describe.

      Everybody swipes the other guy's tech.

      That is monumentally, demonstrably, utterly false!!

      But there was actually plenty of technical innovation within Europe throughout the medieval period

      Um...yeah. I'm just gonna leave that one there. ;-)

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    2. “In the 1600s…” -- I’m sorry, I didn’t realize we were only considering Europe v. the M.E. Can we agree Europeans did indeed displace local populations and colonize N. America, S. America, Australia, and S. Africa, and impose an alien European elite on the local population pretty much everywhere else? (This last was itself pretty much the model of the crusader states: a few mostly Franco-Norman knights and retainers ruling local peasants and small traders. A major reason the whole thing flamed out is that they did not displace enough locals and replace them with Europeans: i.e., actually colonize the place.)

      “Amy Chua did make this argument.” -- Thanks for the pointer, I’ll think about the tolerance thesis some more. I presume the key text is “Day of Empire.” Just from a brief peek, I’d say there are some problems with her case study time frames: neither the Nazis nor the Japanese got beyond the conquest phase, while at point-of-conquest the Mongols and Romans were easily just as savage. It’s all about what happens after the conquest. Here Spain is judged an “intolerant” failure, but it left behind the mestizo cultures of S. America, while “tolerant” British N. America scraped the locals off the map. A real definition-of-terms problem here, as far as what both “success” and “tolerance” mean in practice.

      “It began as a scramble for trade routes” – (1) The word “began” is doing an awful lot of work there. (2) “Trade routes” are not neutral natural phenomena: they are human-made systems of exchange, and the “scramble” was a violent conflict to exclude rivals and (often literally) rope the locals into your system, while shutting down their pre-existing system. Portuguese (for example) trading ships in the 1500’s did not stop off Indian beaches and dangle their wares over the side in wistful hope of enticing buyers. They arrived in a fleet, guns out, and demanded (politely but firmly) access to the local textile or spice market and the right to build an autonomous trading fort. Also, too, exclusive access (no Dutch allowed). Or else. Because it would be a terrible thing if someone gave that rival rajah of yours some guns. So you restructure the whole local textile or spice economy around your trade, the fort becomes a city, dealing with rajahs becomes a pain in the ass, and you decide it’s simpler just to govern directly yourself. A few grapeshot-laden massacres later, and you’ve got yourself a colony. Lather, rinse, repeat. Voila, an empire. Is all of this better or worse than the sack of Jerusalem? I don’t know, I guess it depends what massacre you were on the wrong end of. Whatever it is, it’s certainly not “Enlightened,” except in the extremely limited sense of “I won’t kill you as long as you can make yourself useful to me.” (3) Trade interests were already in play during the crusades, particularly Venetian and Genoese interest in control of Egyptian trade and the Red Sea and Black Sea routes to Asia. Which is why the (non-crusader) Venetians and Genoese supplied the cash and boats.

      “Monumentally, demonstrably, utterly false” – I’m talking about hard tech, and particularly weapons tech. I think the overwhelming historical evidence is that this diffuses rapidly. Mad skilz may not be there right away, and may not come fast enough to stop getting occupied and colonized, but I really don’t see significant examples of societies not trying. Any specific counter-examples?

      “Um...yeah…” – You really owe yourself more than a dismissive snort on the question of medieval technology. It’s a fascinating area of research in terms of explaining what made Europe Europe. Only a wiki link, but it gives a good basic background: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medieval_technology Note particularly that the “Little Renaissance” of the 12th century followed immediately after the First Crusade.

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  15. I liked that article, the comparisons are very interesting. Though you might have gone step too far by explaining a change of cultural trajectory with the crusades, especially a certain estrangement from the Church. I think the Black Death is a more important factor, The Crusades were not a "mass movement", more a movement of "spare people", i.e. second sons, adventurers, vigilantes, basically, marginalized people. The Black Death however affected everyone.

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    1. I agree. I think it took lots of shocks to dislodge the old European model. In fact, as National Review showed, there are still some people out there who want to go back to the old model!

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  16. Anonymous10:30 PM

    Not sure about you joining in with Delong in the smack-down on the Madden article. Insofar as I read it, it's by no means an attempt to "defend' the crusades, but a discussion of the motivating principles behind the crusaders, and the subsequent historiographical development of the concept of the crusades. None of this seems remotely deserving of the epithet execrable unless of course you're looking to hit up something because the wrong team has been linking to it.

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    1. I second these thoughts. There is an important distinction between "defending the crusades" and trying to change wildly popular misconceptions about their origins and purposes. Not that I wholeheartedly agree with Madden's conclusions, but I certainly wouldn't characterize what he wrote as defending the crusades, nor would I degrade the insight he has brought to the discussion with cool millennial derision, but then again, I'm not commenting from a position of authority on the issue. I'll leave scholarly criticism to experts on the issue, you know, like Noah.

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  17. Novice writers will use death or despair as an emotional hook for a story, which is a fairly cheap tactic, easy to implement.

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  18. What was hardly mentioned in the debate, I guess because it's too politically sensitive, is that Arabs see Israel as a kind of modern Crusader state. I know it's not really fair to compare Zionism to Crusading, but in Arabs do make the comparison, and also they tend to believe that the Jews are merely proxies who are holding the Holy Land on behalf of and supported by Christian world powers. And moreover all the Arabs I spoke to in the region are determined that eventually somehow the "new Crusaders" will be defeated and forced to flee. Take an Arab friend with you for a walk round a Crusader castle and see what he says.

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    1. "....and also they tend to believe that the Jews are merely proxies who are holding the Holy Land on behalf of and supported by Christian world powers. "

      The Right in the USA thinks that (on a good day; most days they are more like proxies of Israel).

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  19. 'So how did it all end? Eventually, after centuries of pathetic defeat (culminating at Nicopolis), you saw the Crusades run out of steam, and the word "crusade" adopt a more peaceful meaning - much like the peaceful meaning many Muslims attribute to the word "jihad".'

    Final fun bonus language fact:

    Actually, you did not see this, for the simple fact that the word "crusade" did not exist at the time of "the Crusades."

    " 'Crusade is a modern term,' from the French croisade and Spanish cruzada. The French form of the word first appears in the L'Histoire des Croisades written by A. de Clermont and published in 1638. By 1750, the various forms of the word "crusade" had established themselves in English, French, and German. The Oxford English Dictionary records its first use in English as occurring in 1757 by William Shenstone.

    The Crusades were never referred to as such by their participants. The original crusaders were known by various terms, including fideles Sancti Petri (the faithful of Saint Peter) or milites Christi (knights of Christ)."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crusades

    So apparently Europeans stopped associating the word "crusade" with certain forms of violent activity before certain forms of violent activity had begun to be referred to as "crusades," and the word "crusade" ceased meaning what it had originally meant before it had actually been invented. Nice trick.

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  20. Shadow_Nirvana3:50 AM

    I like this. The intelligent Europeans stopped their "crusades" a long time ago, they are pursuing peaceful strategies now! Except the colonization of Africa and America, the more recent massacres in the Middle East and Afghanistan, drone strikes, invasions etc. Those don't count. Teheee. But those backwards Muslims are doing their jihads and shit.

    Charlie Hebdo shooting? "OMG Islam is terrorism. Those savages." Neonazis murdering Turkish people and other immigrants in Germany? *crickets* Chapel Hill shooting? *crickets*

    If a Muslim made a video about jihadists and glorified them, the West would be up in arms about it. But apparently you guys can invade a country(to "liberate" them, of course! liberate them of their natural resources and oil, probably), kill a million of their people, brand the people fighting against this invasion as "terrorists" and murder them and their families. Then you guys can glorify your war heroes, who liked killing Muslims, calling them savages, looted their houses in Falluja, would drive cars at high speeds at them because he enjoyed their screams. Then you can make a movie about them and make it break boxoffice records and nominate it for Oscar.

    The Crusaders are over, though. so Muslims should just stop being so violent and stop jihadding. Feh. And you people are surprised when Muslims don't integrate and would kill you if they had the chance. Well, you guys can always bomb them back to the Stone Age if they do things that displease you.

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