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Herder
Part 3 of 7: The Fate of Western Civilization: 4/19/2023
© 2023 James LaFond
NOV/29/23
“James LaFond, what about human nature? It seems to me from reading Aristotle that human nature has not changed a lot over the ages.”
-Big T.
My very favorite historian, Edward Gibbon, concedes when tasked with inferring events in poorly documented periods, that “knowledge of human nature,” is a key tool of the inquirer, which is what a historian is supposed to be. This is repeated throughout his masterful narrative and has jarred my damaged brain into the obvious conclusion as to why our current academic historians write uninteresting books occupied by no interesting personalities and that what conclusions that are tendered are most often wrong. The modern academic must accept—and this includes the few conservatives like Victor Davis Hansen—that all humans behave in the same way, according to the same motivations, and that there are no ethnically distinct behaviors. [0]
In considering the remaining five human contexts of declining civilization, I shall lean heavily on my two current influences: listening to Gibbon [1] while lifting weights, shadow boxing, coughing up lung puss and packing my ruck in my host’s garage as I return to nomadism, and my social life and errand going in the one American City to have the most percipitous decline in recent years: Portland, Oregon.
In discussing the origins of the Nordic peoples, Gibbon cites Tacitus’ observations that there were no German cities, mines, farms [2] and these ancestors of today’s most civilized nations were not civilized like the Dacians and Celts. The idea that the Germans were “indigenous” to the “Hersinian Forest,” literally generated out of the land, Gibbon assures us can be set aside by men of faith and reason, that peoples are either created or relocated, or both. In discussing the thousand year old antiquity of the Cult of Odin, noting that the three primal Nordic gods were War, Thunder and Fertility, he considers an historical supposition made by one of his “learned” peers.
The case, which Gibbon rejects, despite its appeal, was of two Odins: the god and the prophet. [3] The case made by Gibbon’s unnamed peer, was that the tyrant Mithradates of the time of Caesar, roughly from 60 to 10 B.C., oppressed a certain Germanic folk in or near Crimea and Ukraine, and that a prophet rose among these people and took them on a pilgrimage from the Black Sea to the Baltic Sea, forming a Nordic Culture founded on the precept of a rejection of Civilization. Gibbon calls this suppositional figure a “Mohamed of the North.” Eventually, having delivered his people in the way of Moses from the clutches of a civilization, driving herds of beef through the forest, to a remote land, this prophet, despairing of old age, inflicts mortal wounds upon himself before his followers and announces that he is departing from life of his own will and will be preparing heaven for their reception. [4]
It is interesting that the Germans did not mine their copious iron sources, despite its value in war, nor did they mine gold, despite its value in everything. These Germans were nomadic. Only three such tribes were settled in towns and enjoying civilized comforts under Roman influence. Tacitus declares that two of these tribes were debased and weak, one slaves and the other worse, for they were slaves to a woman, a queen. The third tribe was forced by other tribes to forsake their living in towns like Romans and return to the warrior path. There most valued activity was war, yet they would not set their hand to iron working or gold mining, which are the prime muscles and food of war.
This sounds, not like a primitive people reluctant to embrace technology and comfort, but like a people who have rejected it as decadent and slothful. Tacitus points out that German woman were infinitely more virtuous than Roman women, that they killed themselves and their children rather than be enslaved. These women were severely faithful to their husbands and their husbands repaid this by relying on their women to run the economy and provide advice even in matters of war [along with old men]. The high regard of the German for his wife was the point of origin for the Cult of Chivalry that replaced Rome in Europe. Like tiny Sparta [who used chattel], the Nordic Nations seem to have used cattle, as the mobile portion of agriculture, to turn their backs on civilization and go back to a hunting life way. Gibbon is aghast that an entire people would, instead of clearing a forest [a “wasteland” as he describes it] that could support millions by grain cultivation, would drive herds of beef through it and maintain the terrible woods as a hunting preserve.
Gibbon is further aghast that over population was dealt with, not by intensive labor, but export of the population into enemy lands as invaders. Then comes the indignity, that the Germans, with their poverty and “half armed” warriors managed to defeat the “Roman arms.”
Were all herding people evolving upward from hunting?
Or did some devolve backward from broad-based agriculture, perhaps even civilization, to herding?
I suspect that the Hittites did the like, abandoning their cities for pastures.
Has this happened in the historical record?
America was built into the greatest power on earth due to the abandonment of farming by frontiersmen, who lived like savages, which led to their pushing west as cattle herders and shepherds. This was in part due to drier western climate. Might a change in climate have caused some portion of civilized Aryаn society to revert to a hunter warrior lifeway using mobile herds?
Beef in the forest?
Yes, beef were native to the European forest and are grazed in forests all over the American West. I have seen them, stepped around their manure under willows and soaring evergreens.
A possible origin of the Aryаns might be a rejection of an earlier settled life that might have fallen of its own corrupt weight, but was in part of whole impelled by climate change. Gibbon mentions that the frozen rivers of Europe were crossed in winter by the German invaders. Might this crossing have been done under duress from the cold?
The later Viking Age would quickly close at the dawning of the Medieval Warm Period, roughly A.D. 1000 to 1300, with the temple of Odin being closed around 1070.
Herding, will impact civilization at the farmer and managerial level, more than it impacted the hunter. Where hunting tribes have often coexisted in war and peace with farming societies [5], herding societies tend to prey upon farming societies at a much more intense and acquisitive level.
Currently in Portland, where the men tend to be a head taller, broader, more pale, and much more polite than back east, numerous big working men have confided in how upset they and their women are over the homeless invasion. These people are moving, some even to Appalachia. These homeless are not the analogues of the barbarian tribes, but of the Roman mob. These are creature of The State, addicted to factory made drugs, invited by the government and NGOs to live on the street, supplied with tents, and used to drive working people from their hometown. We will return to this Portland analogue at the end of each chapter.
Notes
-0. Gibbon, writing during The Enlightenment, is already started down this path when he gasps at how rude any people must be to decline to live in a luxury/toil setting, that the Germans must have been mistaken or lazy rather than pious in their lifeway.
-1. Chapters 9 and 10 concerning the character of the German peoples and initial hostilities with Rome, which relies heavily on Tacitus and Dio.
-2. Merely enough grain grown for beer.
-3. In Iroquois myth Hiawatha seems to be a like case of multiple beings, some or all mortal, accreted over time into a deity. This was also in a northern woodland.
-4. This does seem in part inspired by the parallel’s between Jesus Christ and Odin of the hanged self sacrifice.
-5. 1500 years of Cro Magnon and Anatolean co-existance in Europe prior to the Aryаn invasion, and for many centuries in North and South America, Apaches and Navaho, for example.
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logic of force
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