Monday, March 10, 2014

The Decline and Fall of Western Education

Some have called Muslims “barbarians” (I recall even Lawrence Auster doing that once, a reflex I tried to disabuse in him through private correspondence).  This epithet I think is in actuality a compliment: Muslims are far worse, and are a species distinct from the barbarian. Classical barbarians, though of course uncouth and knocking over furniture left and right like bulls in a china shop, eventually had the good sense to recognize that the Roman Empire they were repeatedly invading through incursions and inroads represented a way of life and culture superior to theirs and they effectively converted to Rome, rather than sought its destruction—coinciding, give or take a century,  with the epochal Christianization of the Roman Empire and its translation (translatio Imperii) into the “Holy Roman Empire” (pace Voltaire’s glibly supercilious aphorism)—graduating into that historical advancement on, and sublimation of, Graeco-Roman civilization called  Christendom.

My reflections here imply a near revolutionary revision of our received history of the Roman Empire. Historians since Gibbon have famously speculated about what caused the “Fall” of the Roman Empire—positing various theories, including most prosaically the waves of barbarian invasions from the north (reflecting a vast multi-continental chain reaction of migratory dislocations emanating ultimately from central Asia); or, more creatively, that lead in the pipes of the sophisticated Roman plumbing systems (remember all those orgies in all those saunas and baths) over time poisoned them. Curiously missing from all these industrious efforts at an explanation is a consideration of the astonishingly massive injuries against the supposedly “former” Roman Empire wreaked by Muslims beginning in the 7th century—save for that Belgian historian Henri Pirenne, whose book Mohammed and Charlemagne conjectures exactly this thesis.

I delved into this in more detail a while back, in my article The Decline and Fall of a Theory -- and in that essay I cited an extraordinary analytical review by Baron Bodissey over at the Gates of Vienna blog, a review of a new book by Emmet Scott that revisits the Pirenne thesis.  The startling upshot of this new look at the supposed "Fall" of the Roman Empire is that it never fell:  it was toppled, by Muslims.  I.e., the Roman Empire's supposed "Fall" as theorized by our standard historiography confuses the transmogrification of the classical pagan Empire into its Christianization beginning in the 4th century A.D. with some kind of catastrophic dissolution.  It was no such thing, I maintain: it was a transmutation, a metamorphosis into a new form of Empire.  The real catastrophe occurred later, in the 7th century, with the protracted shocks and devastation (again, see -- and carefully digest -- Baron Bodissey's excellent review) wrought by Muslim incursions, invasions, and occupations, throughout much of the lands formerly colonized and cosmopolitanized by both the pagan Romans and continued without a significant break by the Christian Romans.

We Westerners have a lot of real history to catch up on, which our schools and various media have been remiss in teaching us. Among the historical facts we need to (re)learn is that Islam caused, if not quite the “Fall”, certainly the Assault and Battery of the Roman Empire—in the process of generations, then centuries of relentless terror, sowing the seeds of the civilizational Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that continues to afflict us with the neurotic tics of PC MC (and its concomitant Denial of the Problem of Islam) to this very day.

This would be yet another event of Western history that has a major (if not central) Islamic dimension to it, about which our Western education (in academe, in public schools, in popular culture) has been woefully remiss -- indicating precisely a symptom of that PTSD referred to above.  Several years ago here on my blog I wrote an essay about some of these other events of Western history:

Western History in the Light of Islam

Other essays also exploring this theme from other angles:

Tilting at Windmills (about the great Spanish writer Cervantes and his fight against Islam)

Western Amnesia and Islamnesia

More recently, finding out that one of the conspirators involved in assassinating the Archduke Franz Ferdinand (which infamously became the trigger for World War I) was a Bosnian Muslim, made me wonder if practically every major event in Western history has some Muslim factor.


TL Winslow said...

Duh, the Western Roman Empire fell before Muhammad was born, so how could Gibbon blame it on Islam? Yes, Islam tried to destroy the Eastern Roman Empire, but it took them over 800 years. It's easy to catch upon Islam's hairy history with my free online Islam history course. Too bad, it covers all 1400 years and will take a big chunk of your time.

Hesperado said...

The date of the "fall" of the Roman Empire is not a science; it's historiographical theory.

Westward Ho said...

Maybe a timeline including and correlating all the important steps in each relevant stream would help to illuminate this. I too feel confused by the whens and whats of the decline and the forces potentially relevant.