The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 TeasersiSteve Blog
"Did Christianity Create Liberalism?"
🔊 Listen RSS
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information



=>

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
AgreeDisagreeThanksLOLTroll
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Thanks, LOL, or Troll with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used three times during any eight hour period.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

With Muslims once again behaving badly, it’s interesting to consider the large question of why Christians are nicer. From the Boston Review:

Did Christianity Create Liberalism?
Samuel Moyn
February 09, 2015

Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism
Larry Siedentop
Harvard Belknap Press, $35 (cloth)

In his new book Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism, Siedentop tries his own hand at telling how modern freedom came about. Channeling the project of the French tradition [i.e., the 19th Century historicalist conservatism of De Tocqueville and friends, not 18th Century French Social Contract theorizing], he leans heavily on the almost-forgotten Guizot, the political theorist and government minister whose History of Civilization in Europe (1828) Siedentop in effect revives and updates. …

There are a few powerful components to Siedentop’s rehabilitation of the French tradition. The most important follows that tradition’s most promising move, which is to treat modern individualism as a historical product rather than a natural fact. There was a time before the individual, and Siedentop spends his first few chapters dwelling on it: the ancient world, in which individuals were wholly subordinated to family structures. No matter that admirers from the Renaissance and Enlightenment appealed to the classical past in order to attack Christian oppression, Siedentop says: they ignored the fact that no ancient society embraced the value of individual freedom. “They failed to notice,” Siedentop comments mordantly, “that the ancient family began as a veritable church.”

This history may be news to Anglo-Americans liberals, who routinely take the individual as a natural given. In the social contract, individuals are a premise, not a product. In economics, the satisfaction of individual preferences is the self-evident goal, but this is never explained or justified, even though it is an astonishingly rare commitment across the sweep of time. Siedentop wants to treat such first principles as the result of a history that made liberalism conceivable in the first place.

There is another persuasive feature to Siedentop’s approach. Like Guizot, he assumes he has to look hard at the period between antiquity and modernity, since it must have been in that interim that the commitment to the value of the individual emerged. The Renaissance gave the Middle Ages a bad rap, and Siedentop seeks to undo its contempt. “What is characteristic about historical writing in recent centuries?” Siedentop asks. “It is an inclination to minimize the moral and intellectual distance between the modern world and the ancient world, while at the same time maximizing the moral and intellectual distance between modern Europe and the middle ages.” Nostalgically reviving the paganism of the Greco-Roman past, the Renaissance, like the Enlightenment later, disguised how alien in cultural norms and political values antiquity really was. Both the Renaissance and Enlightenment encouraged their heirs to skirt the roots of liberalism in the Christianity that flourished in the Middle Ages.

Unfortunately, in spite of these plausible starting points, Siedentop’s venture soon goes awry. Having introduced the puzzle of the relationship between Christianity and liberalism, Siedentop does not know how to solve it. Like many others, he insists that something about the content of Christianity must have been decisive in making modern Western beliefs possible. But this assumption is harder to prove than Siedentop thinks.

I won’t get into this specific discussion but simply talk about how to add perspective. If you start off asking:

– In Culture A (e.g., Christendom), X (e.g., liberal modernity) happened. Why?

Well, you’re not very constrained in your speculations by any pattern recognition skills you might bring to the table because there’s not much of a pattern. So, it’s usually more productive to ask something like:

– In Culture A (e.g., Christendom), X (e.g., liberal modernity) happened, but in Culture B (e.g., Islam), X didn’t happen? Why?

But that still runs into what I call the midget-giant problem of perspective when you only have two examples that I first noticed in 1981 standing on the steps of Royce Hall looking out over UCLA’s large grassy quad. I saw two young men walking in isolation. One was a normal sized guy, and the other was a midget, a perfectly proportioned little person. I was struck by this because, while you see an occasional dwarf at UCLA, but you don’t see too many midgets. But then, a third fellow walked up and joined the group, and he was a midget, too. Two midgets! What are the odds of that? All of a sudden a gestalt kicked in and I realized I was looking not at two midgets and a normal sized guy, but at two normal sized guys and one genuine giant, the UCLA basketball team’s backup center, 7’3″ 290 pound Mark Eaton.

Having three examples is very useful in say, discussing race. Do blacks get arrested so much because the white male power structure evilly hates all other races or do blacks get arrested so much because blacks commit a lot of crimes? Adding a third race, such as Asians, adds perspective.

So, it’s helpful to add a third culture to the big question of the day about Christianity and Islam:

– In Culture A, X happened, but in Cultures B and C, X didn’t happen? Why?

Fortunately for our analytical purposes, there was a third culture C in Western Eurasia during this time period which had many of the presumed prerequisites to invent liberal modernity, such as literacy, wealth, and globalist connections, and yet failed: Judaism.

Only in the second half of the 18th Century did a few German Jews, such as composer Felix Mendelssohn’s grandfather Moses, start to notice that the gentiles were no longer such impoverished ignoramuses, and that Jews could, for once, learn from the gentiles, and thus launched the Jewish Enlightenment in imitation of the host culture’s long ongoing Enlightenment.

In contrast to the Islamic world’s continuing failures, we can be sure that Judaism’s failures were due to nurture rather than nature, in that within a few generations, many Jews had rapidly adjusted to the new culture and were at the forefront of global modernity (e.g., Einstein).

So, the failure of Jews to achieve anything near liberal modernity without imitating enlightened German gentiles reflects flaws (from the perspective of liberal modernity) in Jewish culture that could provide enlightening perspectives on the current Christian v. Muslim cultures discussion.

But, of course, the failures of Jewish culture are not a topic open to discussion in the 21st Century, at least not among gentiles. The only explanation allowed for gentile thinkers to even consider is gentile anti-Semitic discrimination.

 
Hide 175 CommentsLeave a Comment
Commenters to Ignore...to FollowEndorsed Only
Trim Comments?
  1. The “failures” of 17th century Jewish culture are not a topic open to discussion? I think you might be exaggerating a bit here, especially in the context we’re talking about here. It’s “why were those old-timey black hat Jews so patriarchal and sexist”, not “why did those old timey black hat Jews commit usury against Ukrainian peasants”, or whatnot.

  2. Didn’t Nietzsche answer this question already?

  3. Depends on what one thinks “liberalism” is all about. In historical context liberalism was a rejection of monarchism and aristocracy. All liberals agreed on that much. There were some different ideas when it came to what should replace the old order though. While Moyn (or perhaps Siedentop) associates “liberalism” with “modern individualism”, few if any liberals in the 18th, 19th, or early 20th centuries displayed any fondness for such a concept. Liberalism used to be entirely compatible with a rejection of individualism. And arguably the current strain of PC left-liberalism remains hostile to it, which is why it tries so hard to herd people into its pre-approved racial, ethnic, and behavioral categories.

    • Replies: @dfordoom
    "And arguably the current strain of PC left-liberalism remains hostile to it, which is why it tries so hard to herd people into its pre-approved racial, ethnic, and behavioral categories."

    Absolutely. Modern PC left-liberals talk a lot about autonomy but in practice they're just about the most rigidly conformist group I can think of.
    , @HandsomeWhiteDevil
    "While Moyn (or perhaps Siedentop) associates “liberalism” with “modern individualism”, few if any liberals in the 18th, 19th, or early 20th centuries displayed any fondness for such a concept."

    A frequent conservative criticism of liberalism during this time period was that liberalism, if followed to its natural conclusion, as indeed it must, would lead to libertinism and license, a society of rampant, uncontrollable and irresponsible rabble wreaking havoc on society and all its institutions. Thus, in the minds of many conservatives, liberalism was incompatible with civilization, and must be resisted if civilization were to survive.

    Liberals themselves took frequent pains to deny such destructive impulses were an innate part of their political, economic, and cultural philosophies, and appealed to traditional sources such as the Bible to demonstrate that their ideas had a firm grounding in the Western tradition.

    Also, liberals at this time stressed the communal aspects of their philosophies, most famously in the labor movement (workingman's solidarity), but as conservatives always believed, modern individualism was never very far from the surface, and would come to the forefront of modern liberalism early in the 20th Century.

    The question is, what happened to allow modern views of individualism to take precedence between, say 1900 to 1980, when liberal communalism re-emerged in the form of PC and multiculturalism?

  4. Protestantism created liberalism.

  5. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    “The popularity of the NFL is starting to fall in the US”

    http://www.businessinsider.com/popularity-nfl-mlb-nba-2015-2

    In the annual survey conducted The Harris Poll, the NFL is still the most popular sport among American adults, but the gap between pro football and Major League Baseball is narrowing.

    Of those surveyed, 32% of American adults picked pro football as their favorite sport, down from 35% a year ago. Meanwhile, the number of people who picked baseball grew from 14% in 2013 to 16% this past year. At its peak popularity in 2011 (36%), the NFL had a 23% lead over MLB. That gap is now just 16%.

    Meanwhile, the popularity of pro basketball (NBA) remains steady at 6%, behind college football and auto racing, a place the sport has held consistently since Michael Jordan era when the NBA nearly caught MLB in popularity.

    • Replies: @shk12344
    Popularity of sport is measured by TV ratings, that's where the money is. When you look at TV ratings, there is no competition. NFL/College football rules
  6. This is in my wheelhouse. I have not read the source material of this iSteve post, but my first thought is that I see no mention of how Christianity’s concept of the eternal soul was a departure from the classical period’s understanding of the individual.

    More important, of course, is the conflict between the occasionalism of the ancients and the rational God of the Christians. A rational God is a discoverable God. More important, his works are rational and understandable.

    The fact that these concepts originated in Judaism seems to be missing from this post as well.

  7. Wouldn’t a cross-cultural comparison with, say, China be more illuminating? Christianity, Islam, and Rabbinic Judaism, after all, are pretty closely related. They all spring from Second Temple Judaism (directly in the case of Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism, from a mediated distance in the case of Islam); they were all affected by the impact of Greek philosophy, etc

    China, in contrast, stands apart from the Western Eurasian zone.Sometimes a truly different mirror can be quite useful.

    • Replies: @rustbeltreader
    Ricky Bobby: Dear Lord baby Jesus, lyin' there in your ghost manger, just lookin' at your Baby Einstein developmental videos, learnin' 'bout shapes and colors.

    Your Baby can attend college and now they have pre-school for adults. I want to thank the Col. for the wings, the Gen. for the motors, the Seals for Easter and The Vice for the earrings along with Jesus for the Coke.
    , @Haploid
    Bingo. Exactly right --- I was reading with great interest to that point, wondering what the third analog would be .... and sadly, Judaism falls flat. That's like saying one of the midgets is actually a dwarf.
    , @el supremo
    Looking at China is a valuable contrast, as formal individualist schools of philosophy had clearly emerged by the 16th century. The Wang Yangming school tried to reorient Confucianism towards a focus on the individual and his innate moral knowledge, which each individual was born possessing and could cultivate within themselves. Interestingly, the Jesuits were quite well received in the same intellectual circles.

    This individualist approach had a lot of influence in Tokugawa Japan as well, where it merged with some of the philosophers trying to adopt the samurai ethos to a peacetime society.
  8. FOR BETTER OR WORST

    President Barack Obama speaks at the Democratic National Committee winter meeting in Washington, Friday, Feb. 20, 2015. Taunting Republicans, the president said it’s “not an accident” that the economy is improving on his watch and that Republicans’ …

    Joe Biden’s ‘Worst Week’ (and a few runners up)! http://wapo.st/1CWT1L4

    Early Joe could be competive with MSNBC Morning Joe! Seals sent me a basket and a case and it’s not even Easter yet. Lets put down the selfie sticks and pick up the carrots. Even a snowman can smell a rat.

    The faults of the burglar are the qualities of the financier: the manners and habits of a duke would cost a city clerk his situation.
    Preface
    Washington has better burglars and splendid financiering. You didn’t create that!
    WASHINGTON/DETROIT (Reuters) – U.S. regulators on Friday slapped Takata Corp with a $14,000 per-day fine for failing to fully cooperate with a probe of its faulty air bags and revealed that a fraction of the 17 million cars recalled because of the problems …Slap a gate on it and it’s baggate or icegate.

    New York Times
    Faster Baseball Games Are the Goal of New Rules
    Let’s rush pastimes and slow down rush hour.

    With coke-snorting Oscar, ‘Plastic Jesus’ lays into Hollywood and … The statue was whisked off by the team behind a Los Angeles street artist known as “Plastic Jesus,” the coke-snorting statue’s creator, those …
    MarketWatch

    Givem hell Jesus and another line.

  9. The whole premise that individualism was an invention of Christianity seems absurd to me. The classical world is full of complete, three-dimensional personalities who seem freed from bonds to family, tribe, or even ordinary society. Plutarch is full of examples. So is Greek philosophy. Reading The Symposium one gets a sense of a group of fully-formed individuals engaging one another in ways free from constraints of family, tribe, etc. In the Old Testament David is certainly an individualist to such a degree as to border on sociopathy. Many of the prophets too, e.g., Amos. And we get glimpses of true individuality in the modern sense not just from portraits of viri or “big men” but more ordinary folks, e.g., Cicero, the soldiers mentioned in Caesar’s histories, folks in the Bible like Abigail, Uriel the Hittite, Naboth, etc. I’m just writing off the top of my head with a pretty limited knowledge but I think a little research and thought would allow me to pretty much demolish Siedentop’s thesis with etailed analyses of many other examples. Am I missing some intellectual/historical subtlety here?

    • Replies: @syonredux
    I think that you are conflating being an individual with individualism.Nations existed before nationalism, and individuals existed before individualism.
    , @dearieme
    The Greeks are history, the Old Testament isn't.
    , @HandsomeWhiteDevil
    "The whole premise that individualism was an invention of Christianity seems absurd to me. The classical world is full of complete, three-dimensional personalities who seem freed from bonds to family, tribe, or even ordinary society"

    All over the world, folk tales are replete with examples of young lovers running away to marry in defiance of the wishes of tradition, parent, and tribe. Individual men (and women, sometimes) fight injustice, in the form of individual rebellions against the powers-that-be, and are presented as admirable and worthy, not as oddball outcasts.

    "I’m just writing off the top of my head with a pretty limited knowledge but I think a little research and thought would allow me to pretty much demolish Siedentop’s thesis with etailed analyses of many other examples. Am I missing some intellectual/historical subtlety here?"

    Same here, I'd say that Siedentop suffers from a common malady experienced by those eager to make their "individual" (heh heh) mark in some philosophical endeavor: They have developed what I call a "Theory of Everything" that seeks to explain the existence of some quality, activity, or occurence of something that exists in the world.

    Thus economic disparities of wealth and poverty are stated by Marxists to be caused by the oppression of labor by capital, differences between the sexes are caused by the oppression of women by men, according to the Feminists, and racial disparities between Blacks and Whites are said to be entirely the fault of White racism, so saith the flat earth SJWs.

    A lot of square pegs have to be hammered into round holes, and a lot of round holes have to be filled in with mental concrete, in order for these "Theories of Everything" to be taken seriously...
  10. Priss Factor [AKA "K. Arujo"] says:

    The rise of liberalism had much to do with revival of ancient pagan cultures. The problem with paganism is moral decadence from too much sensualism and hedonism. But if Christian spiritualism and pagan sensualism balance one another out, maybe it works better.

    Sometimes, paganism and spiritualism fused together. Catholic Church combined idolatry with worship. I guess a recent variation of this is neo-Christianity that combines morality with holy-homo-worship. Ewww.

    Maybe it had to do with race as well. Since Europeans looked more like Greeks and Romans, they more readily identified with the ancient Greco-Roman pagans.
    In contrast, while Muslims admired certain classical culture, they didn’t see it as their heritage since Greeks and Romans were Europeans.

    Another question worth pondering. Islam was a late comer. It spread in the 7th century. Prior to then, the entire Middle East was either Christian, Zoroastrian, pagan, or some such.

    Why did Islam as the new religion spread in the Near East but not in Europe? Why were European Christians successful in rejecting/resisting it while Middle Eastern Christians fell under its power?

    Why were Middle Eastern Christians less able to resist it? Why were they more drawn to it?

    Was it because Muhammad was racially/culturally the same as them? Was it because Islam didn’t deviate much from Middle Eastern customs?
    If Christianity rejected the particular customs of the Jews and looked down on Greco-Roman ways, Muhammad institutionalized the particular customs of the Arabs as a universal truth. Thus, it must have been very flattering to Arabs but threatening to non-Arabs. Arabs were bound to welcome it as culturally familiar, non-Arabs were likely to reject it as culturally alien.

    Christian universalism transcended the particularism of culture. Islamic universalism universalized the customs of a particular culture. To be sure, Muhammad reformed and streamlined Arab culture in his universalization of it–just like Mao simplified Chinese characters to make it more ‘universal’ to all Chinese. Still, Islam was bound to appeal to people of certain race and culture since it was so heavy with cultural/tribal baggage. Likewise, streamlined Chinese was still appealing to Chinese.

    Even though Christianity was much at odds with Greco-Roman culture, Christian Europeans might have looked at ancient sculptures and paintings and felt ‘my people, my descendants’. And this was true enough of Greeks and Italians.

    What might have happened if some northern european pagan tribal leader started a universal religion that did for viking customs what Muhammad did for Arab customs? A Vikislam that universalized the customs of northern pagans as universal truths. 13th Warrior has a Muslim and Vikings trying to understand one another. What if Vikings had taken cues from Muslims.

    Or are northern europeans, being more ‘bland’, more temperamentally suited for liberalism?

    Or were Northern Europeans ideally positioned to receive ideas from all over the world while being physically safe from foreign invasion?

    Total cultural isolation leads to stasis. But being on the front line of conflict makes one overly conservative and fearful. Southern Europe and Near East were at the crossroads of imperial clash of civilizations. Moors could invade Spain and southern Italy but not Netherlands.
    If you have contacts with the world but are also safe from the world, you can think in terms of abstract principles.

    It’s like blue state whites in safe areas but with access to news from all around the world tend to be more liberal. But southern whites in the frontline of conflict with negroes and mexers tend to be more conservative. Those in the frontline think most of survival.

    • Replies: @Andrew Jackson

    It’s like blue state whites in safe areas but with access to news from all around the world tend to be more liberal. But southern whites in the frontline of conflict with negroes and mexers tend to be more conservative. Those in the frontline think most of survival.
     
    And yet this is completely wrong. White urbanites who live among the infidels are far more liberal than the whites who live in comfortable enclaves in the suburbs and rural areas.

    So many people here fill up the comments with pages and pages of nonsense that sounds plausible until you step back and realize they are the musings of a crank.

    And yet so many of my comments seem to never get out of moderation. So suspicious.
    , @Southfarthing

    Maybe it had to do with race as well. Since Europeans looked more like Greeks and Romans, they more readily identified with the ancient Greco-Roman pagans.
    In contrast, while Muslims admired certain classical culture, they didn’t see it as their heritage since Greeks and Romans were Europeans.
     
    If you go to Italy and Greece, most people you'll see can't reliably be distinguished from pale Middle-Easterners like this Persian-American actress.

    When considering how much Middle Easterners 2000 years ago looked like Italians and Greeks, note Gregory Cochran's summary: "the Middle East isn’t what it used to be – more South Arabian and African ancestry."
  11. @syonredux
    Wouldn't a cross-cultural comparison with, say, China be more illuminating? Christianity, Islam, and Rabbinic Judaism, after all, are pretty closely related. They all spring from Second Temple Judaism (directly in the case of Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism, from a mediated distance in the case of Islam); they were all affected by the impact of Greek philosophy, etc

    China, in contrast, stands apart from the Western Eurasian zone.Sometimes a truly different mirror can be quite useful.

    Ricky Bobby: Dear Lord baby Jesus, lyin’ there in your ghost manger, just lookin’ at your Baby Einstein developmental videos, learnin’ ’bout shapes and colors.

    Your Baby can attend college and now they have pre-school for adults. I want to thank the Col. for the wings, the Gen. for the motors, the Seals for Easter and The Vice for the earrings along with Jesus for the Coke.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    @K Arujo

    The Arabs of 700 AD lived almost exclusively in the Arabian Peninsula. The people of modern Syria, Iraq, Egypt etc. did not speak Arabic nor did the share Arabian culture or values. They would not have any ethnic solidarity with the bringers of Islam. It was conquest. Mohumadens conquered them but they didn't conquer much of Western Europe

  12. @Jus' Sayin'...
    The whole premise that individualism was an invention of Christianity seems absurd to me. The classical world is full of complete, three-dimensional personalities who seem freed from bonds to family, tribe, or even ordinary society. Plutarch is full of examples. So is Greek philosophy. Reading The Symposium one gets a sense of a group of fully-formed individuals engaging one another in ways free from constraints of family, tribe, etc. In the Old Testament David is certainly an individualist to such a degree as to border on sociopathy. Many of the prophets too, e.g., Amos. And we get glimpses of true individuality in the modern sense not just from portraits of viri or "big men" but more ordinary folks, e.g., Cicero, the soldiers mentioned in Caesar's histories, folks in the Bible like Abigail, Uriel the Hittite, Naboth, etc. I'm just writing off the top of my head with a pretty limited knowledge but I think a little research and thought would allow me to pretty much demolish Siedentop's thesis with etailed analyses of many other examples. Am I missing some intellectual/historical subtlety here?

    I think that you are conflating being an individual with individualism.Nations existed before nationalism, and individuals existed before individualism.

  13. “As for Jewish-Christian relations in the Middle Ages, Siedentop doesn’t mention them”

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and speculate that Moyn has swallowed the largely fictitious body of knowledge known as “Jewish history” hook, line, and sinker. If the tales of persecution and oppression which Jews entertain themselves with were even partially correct then it would be astounding that a small handful of Jews could arrive in Europe a little over a thousand years ago, and that today they would vastly exceed the “native” Jews of the Middle East both in numbers and in power.

  14. More productive is looking at the Eastern Orthodox. A bigger, more long lasting set of people who rejected individualism.

    A small, marginal people will reject individualism to survive. Jews won’t tell you much, you’re just seeing the effects of being small and marginal.

    More interesting would be to study the Celts who are both more important and a bigger group … its King Arthur not King Sidney after all … who often suicidally embraced individualism in the face of Roman, Germanic, Viking, Norman, and English threats.

    • Replies: @Simon in London
    I agree about the Orthodox world. The contrast between the late Western and Eastern Roman Empires and their cultural descendants is striking, especially considering that for a thousand years the ERE was the success story long after the WRE had fallen.
    , @iSteveFan

    More productive is looking at the Eastern Orthodox. A bigger, more long lasting set of people who rejected individualism.

    A small, marginal people will reject individualism to survive. Jews won’t tell you much, you’re just seeing the effects of being small and marginal.
     

    Whiskey, Greeks, Serbs and other Orthodox were ruled over by the Ottomans for close to 5 centuries. Ukrainians and Russians also had a couple million of their citizens captured and sold into slavery, and had to endure the 'Beasts from the East'. Would you give them the benefit of the doubt that they rejected individualism to survive like you did for the Jews?

    How do you think the English would have developed under those conditions?

    Who knows, given the current trends in Western Europe, maybe we might get to witness in our lifetime what effects a large, alien population has on Western individuality. We are already witnessing the attack on free speech by the vanguard of this alien population. And it appears to be working. How much longer will the rest of Western culture last?

  15. Help me Jesus! Help me Jewish God! Help me Allah! AAAAAHHH! Help me, Tom Cruise! Tom Cruise, use your witchcraft on me to get the fire off me!

    DUBAI (Reuters) – Hundreds of people were evacuated from one of the world’s tallest residential buildings on Saturday when fire swept through the more than 330-metre (1,082-foot) tall skyscraper “The Torch” in Dubai, residents said.
    That’s Irony!
    Teen UK girls could be joining IS
    The Australian
    BRITISH detectives are racing to find three runaway London schoolgirls amid growing concern that they have fled to Syria to join the brutal Islamic State (IS).
    House Fire Report
    House removes beheading ban from anti-abortion legislation
    Daily Republic

  16. When you said you wanted to look at a third culture, I thought you were going to look at India or China. It has the advantage that you don’t wind up getting tangled up trying to separate out how much of Jewish culture was their own creation versus imitating Gentiles.

  17. So, the failure of Jews to achieve anything near liberal modernity without imitating enlightened German gentiles reflects flaws

    So you’re singling out Jews for not inventing the Enlightenment, while ignoring Spinoza, one of its early fathers? Why not blame “flaws” in German culture for not coming up with it themselves, or indeed all people outside of a small circle of intellectuals in France and Britain?

    You’re also wrong that German Jews adopted the Enlightenment by “imitating enlightened German gentiles.” Rather, both groups of Germans were influenced directly by the dominant intellectual culture of France.

    • Replies: @Greenstalk

    So you’re singling out Jews for not inventing the Enlightenment
     
    It's almost comical the way you managed to completely miss the point.
    , @The Z Blog
    I think you can make a good case for blaming the Franks for everything that has gone wrong in the West. They gave us the Dark Ages, Luther, Rousseau, Hitler, Fascism, Communism, scat porn, etc.
    , @Anon 3
    Indeed, France was the dominant power in Europe from at least 1600 to 1871, and culturally until the end of the Belle Epoque in 1914. Let me quote from Bertrand Russell's "A History of Western Philosoph
    "In Italy and France, while there has been a romantic admiration of the Germans on the part of a few men such as
    Tacitus and Machiavelli, they have been viewed, in general,
    as the authors of the "barbarian" invasion, and as enemies
    of the Church, first under the great Emperors, and later as
    the leaders of the Reformation. Until the nineteenth century
    the Latin nations /esp. France and Italy/ looked upon the
    Germans as their inferiors in civilization."
    p. 738

    Civilization came from the Mediterranean, and then
    gradually moved north and east. As a result, for most of the European history the Germans were regarded as backward barbarians. Moreover, the religious wars which were fought
    largely on the territory of the German states from about
    1525 to 1648, resulting in the loss of one third of the
    population, and even widespread cannibalism, did little
    to improve the reputation of the Germans in the rest of Europe.

    In England, to this day, the Germans are sometimes referred to as the Huns.

    , @Thursday
    Yes, Jews who left Spain were known for being pioneers of secularism. Including Spinoza.
  18. Well, if we are going to confine ourselves to the Western half of Eurasia, here’s my undergrad late night philosophical brainwave: orthopraxy vs orthodoxy. Rabbinic Judaism and Islam are built around all-encompassing legal systems.Christianity, in contrast, lacks an overarching law code.Sure, there are moral guidelines and precepts but nothing in Christianity can be truly compared to, say, Sharia.

    This legal, outer emphasis, in Rabbinic Judaism and Islam leads to a collective view of the self.We all must act the same, etc.

    Christianity, with its stress on orthodoxy, engenders a greater degree of reverence for the inner life, the uniqueness of the individual soul as he/she stands before God.

    • Replies: @Benjamin I. Espen

    Rabbinic Judaism and Islam are built around all-encompassing legal systems.Christianity, in contrast, lacks an overarching law code.Sure, there are moral guidelines and precepts but nothing in Christianity can be truly compared to, say, Sharia.
     
    Leo Strauss made this argument in the Introduction to his book Persecution and the Art of Writing, and I haven't seen much reason to doubt it.
    , @Veracitor
    Beg leave to remind you: Corpus Juris Civilis, Justinian's Code.
  19. Is there any sentiment expressed in antiquity in any civilization that so directly relativizes familial/tribal relations at this one?

    “For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” —Matthew 10:35-39 (See also Mt 8:18-22; Mt 10:20-21; Luke 14:25-27)

    Demoting familial/tribal relations seems crucial to developing and valuing individualism.

  20. Famously, that all Christians are equal in the eyes of God is the source of individualism in Europe. But I encountered recently in a history of Romans under the empire the idea that once a single individual assumed the role of Caesar Augustus, sole ruler, all the citizens of Rome suddenly took on an equality as his subjects. The author’s (Marivale’s) idea is that this was a proto-Christian idea, a philosophical Jean-Baptiste pointing the way to equality before God and the law.

    Marcus Aurelius acknowledges some individual rights, like the freedom of speech and thought, so individualism was in the air in the 2nd century even where Christianity was disdained.

  21. @syonredux
    Wouldn't a cross-cultural comparison with, say, China be more illuminating? Christianity, Islam, and Rabbinic Judaism, after all, are pretty closely related. They all spring from Second Temple Judaism (directly in the case of Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism, from a mediated distance in the case of Islam); they were all affected by the impact of Greek philosophy, etc

    China, in contrast, stands apart from the Western Eurasian zone.Sometimes a truly different mirror can be quite useful.

    Bingo. Exactly right — I was reading with great interest to that point, wondering what the third analog would be …. and sadly, Judaism falls flat. That’s like saying one of the midgets is actually a dwarf.

  22. @Lot

    So, the failure of Jews to achieve anything near liberal modernity without imitating enlightened German gentiles reflects flaws
     
    So you're singling out Jews for not inventing the Enlightenment, while ignoring Spinoza, one of its early fathers? Why not blame "flaws" in German culture for not coming up with it themselves, or indeed all people outside of a small circle of intellectuals in France and Britain?

    You're also wrong that German Jews adopted the Enlightenment by "imitating enlightened German gentiles." Rather, both groups of Germans were influenced directly by the dominant intellectual culture of France.

    So you’re singling out Jews for not inventing the Enlightenment

    It’s almost comical the way you managed to completely miss the point.

  23. Modern American Liberalism, which is more about Progressivism, is not unique in the history of civilizations.

    Umberto Eco’s book The Name of the Rose describes the Waldensians, a progressive Christian sect that arose before the Protestant reformation that is surprisingly similar to modern leftwing thinking.

    In India, Jainism, and some forms of folk Hinduism, also played up the direct relationship of the individual to God, and downplayed family and community structures. Parallels to progressivism, like women’s liberation and castigation of social hierarchy, are seen repeatedly there as well.

    I have heard that Manichaeism was an Iranian variant of the progressive bug. And Taoism the Chinese variant.

    The fact is that these historical “liberal-lite” movements existed all across the world, but their conservative opponents won out in the end. Catholicism, Brahminical Hinduism, Tibetan Lamaism, Islam, Confucianism.. This is why Western liberalism sees only reactionary traditional patriarchies wherever it looks, and it is why it is hell bent on exporting the human rights agenda abroad.

    But history seems to suggest that Western liberalism’s project is doomed to fail in the long run, just like all the other liberalisms before it.

    • Replies: @Simon in London
    "But history seems to suggest that Western liberalism’s project is doomed to fail in the long run, just like all the other liberalisms before it."

    Of course, but it sure is going to wreak a lot of havoc first.
  24. I do think liberal modernity came specifically out of Christianity; neither Islam, nor India, nor Chinese managed to develop it. Douthat has claimed liberalism is a Christian heresy that rejects Jesus, and there’s some truth to it; liberals exalt suffering, are concerned with the poor, and endlessly look over themselves for ideological purity, all things with their origins in Christianity. Some liberal ‘ethical’ behaviors, like vegetarianism and poverty, even have Christian roots.

    • Replies: @The Last Real Calvinist

    Douthat has claimed liberalism is a Christian heresy that rejects Jesus, and there’s some truth to it; liberals exalt suffering, are concerned with the poor, and endlessly look over themselves for ideological purity, all things with their origins in Christianity. Some liberal ‘ethical’ behaviors, like vegetarianism and poverty, even have Christian roots.

     

    Douthat is right. Much of the moral content and energy driving modern western liberalism (in the colloquial political sense of the word, not the economic) derive rather straightforwardly from Christian, mostly protestant, heresies.

    You're right in identifying the concern for the poor and certain 'ethical' stances, but the range is wider: environmentalism (with its deep sense of original sin and its apocalyptic narrative arc); open borders (welcoming the stranger; 'in Christ there is no Jew or Greek'); economic redistribution (shades of Acts 2:44-45); and so on.

    Much of the rigor with which these aims are pursued in the USA is the result, I believe, of its residual Calvinistic/Puritan ethos. A heretical Calvinist is better organized and more determined than many an other heretic . . . .

    The common theme uniting these heresies is pride. Christians believe none of these good works and transformations are humanly possible; they must be divinely inspired and empowered. Liberals put themselves in the place of the Savior and take on both the responsibility for saving the world, and the credit for being so noble and self-emptying. See how powerful, and how good, we now are: we can ruin the world and its peoples with our sin (pollution, colonialism, capitalism), but then save it with our wisdom, our insights, our generosity, our willingness to 'educate' others so they can be just like us . . . .

    You can find no better example of this mindset than the reaction of the Danes to the recent terror attacks. Their politicians seem honestly to believe that they can redeem the terrorists via liberal therapeutic moralizing. They simply cannot grasp the reality of spiritual motivation and deep religious belief.

  25. Christianity is in many ways a syncretic religion that formed from the borrowing and fusion of some of the most potent religious beliefs of multiple traditions. There is really no part of Christianity that is unique to it – every part is borrowed. It’s an impressive feat of cultural engineering, but attributing any development to the religion is rather missing the point.

    • Replies: @HandsomeWhiteDevil
    "There is really no part of Christianity that is unique to it – every part is borrowed. It’s an impressive feat of cultural engineering, but attributing any development to the religion is rather missing the point"

    It may be true that Christianity borrowed heavily in the beginning from other religions, cultures, and philosophies, but in doing so, Christianity became something much greater than the sum of those borrowed parts.

    Olive oil, garlic, onions, tomatoes, cognac, and large undersea bugs with snappy claws are nothing special in and of themselves, but put them all together and you get "Homard a l'Americaine".

    (What religion or philosophy sprang full-grown fron nothing, anyway?)
  26. There is a lot written about this, but most of it probably lies in the realms of history and literary analysis and philosophy. Carl Schmitt, for example, the political divisions that cover the face of the Earth are just pale reflections of eschatological choice.

    There is something to be said for this. The history of the unification of Germany is the story of how liberal Protestantism in Germany and Prussian political dominance became intertwined. Liberalism in the 18th and 19th centuries was very much concerned with the People, or the Volk, in whom power and legitimacy ultimately rested. This was usually contrasted with the kind of throne-and-altar conservatism supposed associated with the Catholic Church.

    In practice, things were quite a bit more complicated than this. Steve, maybe the solution to your small sample size problem is that you are aggregating at too high a level for this. Sure, you can say there are three cultures in contact with one another, but cultures and religions are really like your concept of race, they don’t necessarily have distinct levels or borders, but you can make yourself understood by looking at lineages.

    For example, one of the primary differences between Eastern and Western Christianity in Europe is that Catholic regions tended to have a separation, in principle, between the powers of Church and State, or Pope and Emperor. The Orthodox regions, following the tradition of Constantinople, placed the Emperor at the summit of both parts of society, so you tend to see greater deference of the Church to the State.

    You get a much bigger sample size by breaking it down to smaller units: say Poles versus Russians, or Prussians versus Bavarians. You can also look across time, to see whether patterns persist, especially after some kind of disturbance, does the pattern reassert itself?

    • Replies: @jtgw
    The idea of Emperor being head of the Orthodox Church only dates to the Westernizing and Protestantizing reform of Russia's Peter I at the turn of the 18th century. The traditional Byzantine Orthodox ideal was "symphony of powers", with the Patriarch and Emperor, as heads of Church and State, respectively, cooperating in government. There were certainly periods when either Patriarch or Emperor tried to usurp the role of the other, but honestly the same could be said, even more so, for the West, where Popes and Emperors really did arrogate the powers of the others to themselves. It was Protestantism's exaltation of the State above the Church which particularly inspired Peter I for example, who made himself and his successors the official head of the Church along the lines of Protestant monarchs.
  27. As a famous liberal once put it, “Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites.” This was a belief echoed by most other liberals of the time. The notion that “liberalism” equals “a commitment to individualism above all else” is simply not historically accurate. It’s also not accurate in the modern setting but that’s a different topic. I’ll just point out that any discussion of the impact of Christianity on liberalism needs to start with an accurate account of what that word “liberalism” means and has meant. Neither Moyn not Siedentop has bothered to do that.

  28. @syonredux
    Well, if we are going to confine ourselves to the Western half of Eurasia, here's my undergrad late night philosophical brainwave: orthopraxy vs orthodoxy. Rabbinic Judaism and Islam are built around all-encompassing legal systems.Christianity, in contrast, lacks an overarching law code.Sure, there are moral guidelines and precepts but nothing in Christianity can be truly compared to, say, Sharia.

    This legal, outer emphasis, in Rabbinic Judaism and Islam leads to a collective view of the self.We all must act the same, etc.

    Christianity, with its stress on orthodoxy, engenders a greater degree of reverence for the inner life, the uniqueness of the individual soul as he/she stands before God.

    Rabbinic Judaism and Islam are built around all-encompassing legal systems.Christianity, in contrast, lacks an overarching law code.Sure, there are moral guidelines and precepts but nothing in Christianity can be truly compared to, say, Sharia.

    Leo Strauss made this argument in the Introduction to his book Persecution and the Art of Writing, and I haven’t seen much reason to doubt it.

    • Replies: @David
    JS Mill agrees: "The Gospel always refers to a pre-existing morality, and confines its precepts to the particulars in which that morality was to be corrected, or superseded by a wider and higher; expressing itself, moreover, in terms most general, often impossible to be interpreted literally, and possessing rather the impressiveness of poetry or eloquence than the precision of legislation."
  29. @SFG
    I do think liberal modernity came specifically out of Christianity; neither Islam, nor India, nor Chinese managed to develop it. Douthat has claimed liberalism is a Christian heresy that rejects Jesus, and there's some truth to it; liberals exalt suffering, are concerned with the poor, and endlessly look over themselves for ideological purity, all things with their origins in Christianity. Some liberal 'ethical' behaviors, like vegetarianism and poverty, even have Christian roots.

    Douthat has claimed liberalism is a Christian heresy that rejects Jesus, and there’s some truth to it; liberals exalt suffering, are concerned with the poor, and endlessly look over themselves for ideological purity, all things with their origins in Christianity. Some liberal ‘ethical’ behaviors, like vegetarianism and poverty, even have Christian roots.

    Douthat is right. Much of the moral content and energy driving modern western liberalism (in the colloquial political sense of the word, not the economic) derive rather straightforwardly from Christian, mostly protestant, heresies.

    You’re right in identifying the concern for the poor and certain ‘ethical’ stances, but the range is wider: environmentalism (with its deep sense of original sin and its apocalyptic narrative arc); open borders (welcoming the stranger; ‘in Christ there is no Jew or Greek’); economic redistribution (shades of Acts 2:44-45); and so on.

    Much of the rigor with which these aims are pursued in the USA is the result, I believe, of its residual Calvinistic/Puritan ethos. A heretical Calvinist is better organized and more determined than many an other heretic . . . .

    The common theme uniting these heresies is pride. Christians believe none of these good works and transformations are humanly possible; they must be divinely inspired and empowered. Liberals put themselves in the place of the Savior and take on both the responsibility for saving the world, and the credit for being so noble and self-emptying. See how powerful, and how good, we now are: we can ruin the world and its peoples with our sin (pollution, colonialism, capitalism), but then save it with our wisdom, our insights, our generosity, our willingness to ‘educate’ others so they can be just like us . . . .

    You can find no better example of this mindset than the reaction of the Danes to the recent terror attacks. Their politicians seem honestly to believe that they can redeem the terrorists via liberal therapeutic moralizing. They simply cannot grasp the reality of spiritual motivation and deep religious belief.

    • Replies: @Cagey Beast
    Very true. You said it better than I could myself.
  30. Fortunately for our analytical purposes, there was a third culture C in Western Eurasia during this time period which had many of the presumed prerequisites to invent liberal modernity, such as literacy, wealth, and globalist connections, and yet failed: Judaism.

    Well there is the matter of legal disabilities imposed upon them. If you look at the biographies of intellectual figures of the era, you see they were typically non-first-borns from minor noble and gentry families, and provided with an extensive education with the intention they become either clergy, lawyers, or civil servants. Both this education and these professions were barred to Jews in the initial era of the Enlightenment.

    The first two important areas that provided for full Jewish emancipation were France and then Rhenish Germany, Bavaria, and Prussia. And the first generations of Jews born after this period and the upheaval of the the Napoleonic Wars produced an impressive number of intellectual figures:

    France:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olinde_Rodrigues
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camille_Pissarro
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabriel_Lippmann
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henri_Bergson

    Rhineland, Bavaria and Prussia:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinrich_Heine
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinrich_Caro
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolph_Frank
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Goldschmidt
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fritz_Haber
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Ladenburg
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viktor_Meyer
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_A._Michelson
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludwig_Mond
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Philippson
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Schuster
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Schwarzschild
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otto_Wallach

    the host culture’s long ongoing Enlightenment.

    “Host culture”? Really?

    • Replies: @syonredux

    Well there is the matter of legal disabilities imposed upon them. If you look at the biographies of intellectual figures of the era, you see they were typically non-first-borns from minor noble and gentry families, and provided with an extensive education with the intention they become either clergy, lawyers, or civil servants. Both this education and these professions were barred to Jews in the initial era of the Enlightenment.
     
    Yeah, but there were plenty of "non-first born sons" of rabbis and wealthy Jewish merchants.And the Jews during the Middle Ages and Early Modern period were exposed to the same ferment of ideas as their Christian and Islamic neighbors (cf Maimonides).Yet liberal individualism did not arise among them.When Spinoza (himself a "non-first born son" of a merchant) sought to engage with the emerging modern world-view, he had to leave the Jewish community:

    On 27 July 1656, the Talmud Torah congregation of Amsterdam issued a writ of cherem (Hebrew: חרם, a kind of ban, shunning, ostracism, expulsion, or excommunication) against the 23-year-old Spinoza.[42] The following document translates the official record of the censure:[43]

    The Lords of the ma'amad, having long known of the evil opinions and acts of Baruch de Espinoza, have endeavored by various means and promises, to turn him from his evil ways. But having failed to make him mend his wicked ways, and, on the contrary, daily receiving more and more serious information about the abominable heresies which he practiced and taught and about his monstrous deeds, and having for this numerous trustworthy witnesses who have deposed and born witness to this effect in the presence of the said Espinoza, they became convinced of the truth of the matter; and after all of this has been investigated in the presence of the honorable chachamin, they have decided, with their consent, that the said Espinoza should be excommunicated and expelled from the people of Israel. By the decree of the angels, and by the command of the holy men, we excommunicate, expel, curse and damn Baruch de Espinoza, with the consent of God, Blessed be He, and with the consent of all the Holy Congregation, in front of these holy Scrolls with the six-hundred-and-thirteen precepts which are written therein, with the excommunication with which Joshua banned Jericho, with the curse with which Elisha cursed the boys, and with all the curses which are written in the Book of the Law. Cursed be he by day and cursed be he by night; cursed be he when he lies down, and cursed be he when he rises up; cursed be he when he goes out, and cursed be he when he comes in. The Lord will not spare him; the anger and wrath of the Lord will rage against this man, and bring upon him all the curses which are written in this book, and the Lord will blot out his name from under heaven, and the Lord will separate him to his injury from all the tribes of Israel with all the curses of the covenant, which are written in the Book of the Law. But you who cleave unto the Lord God are all alive this day. We order that no one should communicate with him orally or in writing, or show him any favor, or stay with him under the same roof, or within four ells of him, or read anything composed or written by him.

    The Talmud Torah congregation issued censure routinely, on matters great and small, so such an edict was not unusual.[...]

    it appears likely that Spinoza himself had already taken the initiative to separate himself from the Talmud Torah congregation and was vocally expressing his hostility to Judaism itself. He had probably stopped attending services at the synagogue either after the lawsuit with his sister or after the knife attack on its steps. He might already have been voicing the view expressed later, in his Theological-Political Treatise, that the civil authorities should suppress Judaism as harmful to the Jews themselves. Either for financial or other reasons,[52] he had in any case effectively stopped contributing to the synagogue by March 1656. He had also committed the "monstrous deed," contrary to the regulations of the synagogue and the views of certain rabbinical authorities (including Maimonides), of filing suit in a civil court rather than with the synagogue authorities[53]—to renounce his father's heritage, no less. Upon being notified of the issuance of the censure, he is reported to have said: "Very well; this does not force me to do anything that I would not have done of my own accord, had I not been afraid of a scandal."[54] Thus, unlike most of the censure issued routinely by the Amsterdam congregation to discipline its members, the censure issued against Spinoza did not lead to repentance and so was never withdrawn.[....]


    The most remarkable aspect of the censure may be not so much its issuance, or even Spinoza's refusal to submit, but the fact that Spinoza's expulsion from the Jewish community did not lead to his conversion to Christianity.[57] Spinoza kept the Latin (and so implicitly Christian) name Benedict de Spinoza, maintained a close association with the Collegiants, a Christian sect, even moved to a town near the Collegiants' headquarters, and was buried in a Christian graveyard—but there is no evidence or suggestion that he ever accepted baptism or participated in a Christian mass. Thus, by default, Baruch de Espinoza became the first secular Jew of modern Europe.[57]

    In September 2012, the Portugees-Israëlietische Gemeente te Amsterdam asked the chief rabbi of their community Haham Pinchas Toledano to reconsider the cherem after consulting several Spinoza experts. However he declined to remove it, citing Spinoza's "preposterous ideas, where he was tearing apart the very fundaments of our religion", and stating that Judaism did not share the modern concept of free speech.[58]

     

  31. The Christian idea that an individual is burdened/blessed with free will must be a key ingredient in the modern western concept of the individual. From that comes the sense that we have a life task or a duty to fulfil and that the people around us have one too.

    I just recently learned the Russian word воля or volja means both “freedom” and “will”. The other possible English translations given are: “will, willpower, power, freedom, force of character/mind, determination, resolution, resolve, guts, desire”. This one Russian word seems to express both parts of the burden and gift of Christian free will: both free will as freedom and free will as the obligation to carry out one’s task with determination.

    http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%D0%B2%D0%BE%D0%BB%D1%8F

  32. @Lot

    So, the failure of Jews to achieve anything near liberal modernity without imitating enlightened German gentiles reflects flaws
     
    So you're singling out Jews for not inventing the Enlightenment, while ignoring Spinoza, one of its early fathers? Why not blame "flaws" in German culture for not coming up with it themselves, or indeed all people outside of a small circle of intellectuals in France and Britain?

    You're also wrong that German Jews adopted the Enlightenment by "imitating enlightened German gentiles." Rather, both groups of Germans were influenced directly by the dominant intellectual culture of France.

    I think you can make a good case for blaming the Franks for everything that has gone wrong in the West. They gave us the Dark Ages, Luther, Rousseau, Hitler, Fascism, Communism, scat porn, etc.

    • Replies: @Lot

    I think you can make a good case for blaming the Franks for everything that has gone wrong in the West. They gave us the Dark Ages, Luther, Rousseau, Hitler, Fascism, Communism, scat porn, etc.
     
    The Franks were the most civilized of the tribes that occupied the decaying Roman Empire, served as allies and conscripts of the Romans in their last century, and saved Western Europe from Muslim conquest after they easily defeated the Gothic Spanish kingdom. We'd have a much nicer world if the Goths, Huns, and Vandals had been more like them.
  33. Christianity, in its original form, was never intended to structure a society or an empire. It was a radical rejection of the sorts of things required to order a society.

    The religion took a radical new direction after Constantine , a direction that involved ignoring the most important previous teachings while keeping the trappings and name of the system the same. How many Christians do you know that are pacifists, for example? Probably not very many.

  34. anon • Disclaimer says:

    Let’s not get our strains of liberalism confused.

    Classical liberalism came out of the enlightenment which was rooted in the Christian theology of valuing individuals. Look how Jesus treats everyone with dignity and respect (except the hypocritical religious establishment.) Protestantism called the church back to God’s exalted view of man, among other things. America was founded largely on these principles. Read the Declaration of Independence.

    Modern liberalism came from the enlightenment philosophers, a lot of Germans. Cutting to the chase we have Rousseau who informed the French Revolution, a bloody experiment in socialism. And he influenced Engels who was the co-creator of communism along with Marx. It is Marxism and its mutant socialist ideologies that fill liberal minds today.

    IMHO you can’t pin modern statist liberalism on Christianity even thought some of its adherents are confused and led astray. It’s on the backs of the atheists starting with the philosophers and Marx in particular.

    • Replies: @abj_slant
    I agree modern liberalism isn't a result of Christianity, but strongly disagree it is caused by those nasty, evil atheists (of which I am one).

    Rather, IMHO, when a culture experiences affluence of any kind and is able to indulge in any thinking/activities beyond trying to stay alive, it rubs its collective eyes and looks around and wonders how it can improve things.
  35. @Benjamin I. Espen

    Rabbinic Judaism and Islam are built around all-encompassing legal systems.Christianity, in contrast, lacks an overarching law code.Sure, there are moral guidelines and precepts but nothing in Christianity can be truly compared to, say, Sharia.
     
    Leo Strauss made this argument in the Introduction to his book Persecution and the Art of Writing, and I haven't seen much reason to doubt it.

    JS Mill agrees: “The Gospel always refers to a pre-existing morality, and confines its precepts to the particulars in which that morality was to be corrected, or superseded by a wider and higher; expressing itself, moreover, in terms most general, often impossible to be interpreted literally, and possessing rather the impressiveness of poetry or eloquence than the precision of legislation.”

  36. Instead of looking to Christianity, why not look to the Scandanavians and West Germans? All the early examples of what became modern liberalism come from among them and date prior to Protestantism:

    Magna Charta
    Salic Law
    Old Swiss Confederacy
    Icelandic Althing
    Hanseatic League
    Industrial Revolution in Flanders and England
    etc.

    And of course this corner of NW Europe is still the locus of individualism and liberalism.

    Its not as if Christianity had some magic power to create liberalism in Spain, the Papal States, southern France, or the Kingdom of Naples, the East Roman Empire, or Imperial Russia.

    • Replies: @iSteveFan

    And of course this corner of NW Europe is still the locus of individualism and liberalism.

    Its not as if Christianity had some magic power to create liberalism in Spain, the Papal States, southern France, or the Kingdom of Naples, the East Roman Empire, or Imperial Russia.
     
    NW Europe also seems to have avoided being conquered and occupied for several centuries by muslim invaders. Might this help explain some of the differences between them and the poor bastards who didn't?
    , @Lot
    While I don't think it could be called individualism, early Germanic people had a relatively egalitarian culture that limited the power of the soverign. Pre-Roman Germans, as well as the Gauls, had a loose caste system of noble, freeman, freedman, and slave, but generally the leader was elected by vote or acclamation with no expectation of permanent rule. And if you felt mistreated or undervalued by your tribe, you were able to join another.
  37. We are 24 comments in (at the time I’m writing this) and no one has mentioned mad, mad, mad Mencius yet? For shame:

    http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com/2007/07/universalism-postwar-progressivism-as.html

    • Replies: @I, Libertine
    I'd almost forgotten about Moldbug. Whatever happened to him? anybody know?
  38. I always get a chuckle out of Steve’s very earnest psychoanalyses of the Jewish mind via long distance periscope. But if you want to contrast the fundamental political points of divergence between (early) Mohammedan nations and “the West” there is a short book by Bernard Lewis, What Went Wrong, which spends a bit of time on the differences between economic/social life of the core group in Islamic suzerains & the future Ottoman empire and of the non-Muslim minorities within same territories. Arguably there was not so much ideological disagreement at stake — the sultan’s style had a lot of resemblance to French dirigisme — as a pleasant malaise and lack of internal ferment which the Thirty Years’ War brings you, for example

  39. No. First off, why is inventing the “individual” considered progress to begin with? Less than 50% of American children live in two parent homes. A high percentage of the American elderly live in nursing homes. Life here is empty, without either family or culture. Birthrates – here, in the western world in general, and among those mimic men Asiatics who sacrificed their future for two or three generations of “prosperity” – are assuring that the Future will be one dilapidated nursing home.

    On the whole, Islam is more logical than tripartite and muddled Christianity. Europe secularized because Christianity is stupid – a mishmash of Greek thought, various Near Eastern “heresies”, Manicheanism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, and ultimately built upon a figure who is a conflation of pagan gods and Jewish fantasy, and who likely never existed – a destroyer of pigs and figs!

    • Replies: @anon
    And where do you live?
    , @HandsomeWhiteDevil
    "No. First off, why is inventing the “individual” considered progress to begin with? Less than 50% of American children live in two parent homes. A high percentage of the American elderly live in nursing homes. Life here is empty, without either family or culture. Birthrates – here, in the western world in general, and among those mimic men Asiatics who sacrificed their future for two or three generations of “prosperity” – are assuring that the Future will be one dilapidated nursing home. "

    Like the conservatives of past centuries said: Liberalism would lead to an unstable assortment of atomised individuals with no concept of the common good, no idea of anything beyond themselves.

    "Europe secularized because Christianity is stupid..."

    Considering that the secularization of European society didn't begin until the end of the Wars of Religion in the late 17th Century, more than a millenium and a half after Europe began to Christianize, this alleged stupidity sure took an awful long time to manifest itself...

    Rather like those who say the decline of Spain after the middle of the 17th Century was due to the expulsion of Spanish Jews in 1492...
  40. I don’t get it, what does the goy’s teeth scene have to do with “the failures of Jewish culture”?

    • Replies: @The Anti-Gnostic
    I don’t get it, what does the goy’s teeth scene have to do with “the failures of Jewish culture”?

    LOL. Perfect.
  41. Did Christianity Create Liberalism?

    Probably not.

    Why? Because similar systems of thought have arisen in times/places where Christianity couldn’t possibly be responsible:

    1. The Mohists in China.
    2. The Atomists in Ancient Greece and Rome.

    Those never became official ideologies anywhere, so maybe Christianity prepared the way for liberal modernity’s adoption in the West.

    But since both the liberals, Mohists and the Atomists are utilitarians with a science and technology bent, it would seem more plausible that liberalism just fits a rich, highly technological society like ours.

  42. “Most politicians appreciate the relative powers of fear and reason. Scaring people into doing what you want is much easier than winning their cooperation with logic. The media have figured out that a lurid, fear-inducing news report will elicit and retain much more public attention (and generate better advertising revenues) than a dispassionate, scientific report. The mantra of local TV news programming is “If it bleeds, it leads.” My point here is that your brain is wired to make you more responsive to fear than to reason. Pessimism is natural, while optimism must be learned. ”
    http://www.udel.edu/johnmack/apec324/324lec02.html

    Public pants and pines for what it can’t have. The politician promises it to them. Four out of five times the promise is worthless and the one time it’s good for anything it’s because they rob Peter to pay Paul. Coming soon, predigested food and free food cards via Washington DC. If it burns it turns.
    Blisters are Nature’s Band-Aid for Burns. Multitasking makes them scatterbrained. The new unnaturals.

  43. Yeah, Christianity seems inherently liberal – the idea of the perfectibility, malleability, and salvation of man through deeds and other extrinsic virtues, versus salvation through intrinsic factors such as IQ, and this dates as early as Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Among Men. This perfectibility is what motivates liberals to support useless social programs that run headstrong into the limitations imposed by biology.

    • Replies: @anon

    grey enlightenment
    says:
    "Yeah, Christianity seems inherently liberal – the idea of the perfectibility, malleability, and salvation of man through deeds and other extrinsic virtues, versus salvation through intrinsic factors such as IQ, and this dates as early as Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Among Men. This perfectibility is what motivates liberals to support useless social programs that run headstrong into the limitations imposed by biology."
     
    Assuming you're not a troll:
    Jesus did not preach salvation by works. That's because man is not perfectible this side of heaven.
    That's the difference between classic liberalism, the grace of God gives dignity to the individual,
    and modern liberalism where the state tries to perfect man by force. Thus reducing the individual to be something controlled and manipulated by the state.
  44. Hbd* chick’s thesis, that individualism is a product of outbreeding, is much more parsimonious. Yet I must admit that Biblical Christianity, with its emphasis on the salvation of the individual soul and, as the quote above illustrates, its unconcern with issues of race, family, etc., also must be an important part of the story.

    • Replies: @Simon in London
    Yes, I think modern NW-European Liberal culture as a product of medieval Manorialism makes a lot of sense. The maps match! :)
  45. @syonredux
    Wouldn't a cross-cultural comparison with, say, China be more illuminating? Christianity, Islam, and Rabbinic Judaism, after all, are pretty closely related. They all spring from Second Temple Judaism (directly in the case of Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism, from a mediated distance in the case of Islam); they were all affected by the impact of Greek philosophy, etc

    China, in contrast, stands apart from the Western Eurasian zone.Sometimes a truly different mirror can be quite useful.

    Looking at China is a valuable contrast, as formal individualist schools of philosophy had clearly emerged by the 16th century. The Wang Yangming school tried to reorient Confucianism towards a focus on the individual and his innate moral knowledge, which each individual was born possessing and could cultivate within themselves. Interestingly, the Jesuits were quite well received in the same intellectual circles.

    This individualist approach had a lot of influence in Tokugawa Japan as well, where it merged with some of the philosophers trying to adopt the samurai ethos to a peacetime society.

  46. the assertion monkey claims:

    > There is really no part of Christianity that is unique to it – every part is borrowed. It’s an impressive feat of cultural engineering, but attributing any development to the religion is rather missing the point.<

    prove your point. use like evidence.

    • Replies: @Melendwyr
    Well, a lot of Christianity is borrowed from Greek philosophy - not only directly, but through Judaism, which itself borrowed a lot from the Greeks. And of course the "protagonist is rejected by society, refuses to escape sentence of death through recantation, achieves immortality through accepting unjust punishment" meme is Socratic. Then there's all the bits taken from Mithraism: deity born from a virgin, most especially. Many aspects of Christian belief and ceremony were taken from various Mystery Cults, quite a few of which had people being 'spiritually reborn', sometimes after being symbolically buried or immersed in water. And of course Zoroastrianism is thought to have had a major influence on Judaism and later on Christianity. The 'Sermon on the Mount' is much older than Christ, and its teachings can be found all over the place.

    I suggest you start looking at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_and_other_religions and study from there.

    Oh, and please do not call me 'assertion monkey'.
  47. Comment 4 by jon41 got it.
    So this is my take of what was different in Europe, and why the rest of world across all history did not develop individual freedom.
    Across history societies embedded the power to dictate cultural norms in the chiefs, Priests, Pharisees, mullahs, sultans, emperors, kings or popes. The Few instructed the masses as to what was right and wrong, good or sin. If you objected you were cast out, stoned, or otherwise punished.
    Then Luther nailed his 95 thesis to the door. The rejection of the absolute authority of the Pope ended up in freeing the individual to choose their own path to Righteousness. As a result of the reformation, each individual person be came responsible for their loss or winning of salvation of their soul.
    Europe also was not a unified empire. Big empires are rigid, and crush change and dissent. Europe was a mishmash of small kingdoms. Once freed of Papal rigidity, The individual empowerment of the splintered protestant faiths helped kindle the growth of trade and technology. Doing good by helping others rather than sending money to Rome changed Europe, and then the world.

  48. >For example, one of the primary differences between Eastern and Western Christianity in Europe is that Catholic regions tended to have a separation, in principle, between the powers of Church and State, or Pope and Emperor. The Orthodox regions, following the tradition of Constantinople, placed the Emperor at the summit of both parts of society, so you tend to see greater deference of the Church to the State.<

    isteve stupid

    see

    Holy Roman Empire

    • Replies: @Hibernian
    The Holy Roman Empire didn't continue to be Holy, Roman, or an Empire, very long. It became a loose federation of principalities in which some princes styled themselves Kings. It dissolved as a result of the Napoleonic Wars. The Hapsburgs who were habitually elected as Holy Roman Emperors derived their power and prestige mainly from rulership of Hungary, Slovakia, what is now the Czech Republic, Croatia and some other areas which became parts of the former Yugoslavia, Lombardy-Venetia in Northern Italy, and a part of southern Poland. Almost all of these areas were outside the Holy Roman Empire. Hapsburg rule over the Austro-Hungarian Empire continued until the defeat of the Central Powers in WW1.
    , @random observer
    The entire history of the Holy Roman Empire is the political working out of the relations between Pope and Emperor, in which separation of Church and State was acted out in its original form: everybody assumed that the church should have the support of the state in a Christian civilization, and that the state was legitimate because it had the support of the church, but they were two powers.

    Every so often the leader of one or the other would get it in his head to change that, as men will. The Pope to make himself something like the emperor, the emperor to subjugate the church to his will. In essence, each aiming to make himself like the Emperor at Constantinople or like a Caliph of Islam. The union of the two swords. Never worked out.

    The Holy Roman Emperor's titles never included anything like the eastern Emperor's honorific "Equal of the Apostles", a theoretical imperial superiority over the Ecumenical Patriarch that emperors regularly implemented in practice in matters of church governance.
  49. @Anonymous
    "The popularity of the NFL is starting to fall in the US"

    http://www.businessinsider.com/popularity-nfl-mlb-nba-2015-2

    In the annual survey conducted The Harris Poll, the NFL is still the most popular sport among American adults, but the gap between pro football and Major League Baseball is narrowing.

    Of those surveyed, 32% of American adults picked pro football as their favorite sport, down from 35% a year ago. Meanwhile, the number of people who picked baseball grew from 14% in 2013 to 16% this past year. At its peak popularity in 2011 (36%), the NFL had a 23% lead over MLB. That gap is now just 16%.

    Meanwhile, the popularity of pro basketball (NBA) remains steady at 6%, behind college football and auto racing, a place the sport has held consistently since Michael Jordan era when the NBA nearly caught MLB in popularity.
     

    Popularity of sport is measured by TV ratings, that’s where the money is. When you look at TV ratings, there is no competition. NFL/College football rules

    • Replies: @Andrew Jackson
    Saying that the NBA is the favorite sport of 6% of the population behind NASCAR seems to be a good example of misleading with statistics. Basketball is probably the second or third favorite sport of more people than NASCAR is. I could be wrong. I don't watch basketball at all. But guys I know who are into sports follow it. I don't know anyone who knows anything about NASCAR.
  50. @syonredux
    Well, if we are going to confine ourselves to the Western half of Eurasia, here's my undergrad late night philosophical brainwave: orthopraxy vs orthodoxy. Rabbinic Judaism and Islam are built around all-encompassing legal systems.Christianity, in contrast, lacks an overarching law code.Sure, there are moral guidelines and precepts but nothing in Christianity can be truly compared to, say, Sharia.

    This legal, outer emphasis, in Rabbinic Judaism and Islam leads to a collective view of the self.We all must act the same, etc.

    Christianity, with its stress on orthodoxy, engenders a greater degree of reverence for the inner life, the uniqueness of the individual soul as he/she stands before God.

    Beg leave to remind you: Corpus Juris Civilis, Justinian’s Code.

    • Replies: @syonredux

    Beg leave to remind you: Corpus Juris Civilis, Justinian’s Code.
     
    In terms of regulating the minutia of life (what you eat, how you dress, etc), they are not remotely comparable to the legal systems that developed in Rabbinic Judaism and Islam.Plus, they are secular legal codes.In Rabbinic Judaism and Islam, the Law is sacred.
  51. Clearly modernity is a phenomenon that first arose among Western Christians. But certain cultures (Jews, Japanese) were able to rapidly adapt to Westernization and become full participants in it. Others (Arabs, Africans) haven’t.

    What is the cause of this difference? I think it has a lot to do with intelligence. Intelligence fundamentally means being able to adapt to your surroundings. This is why humans can live everywhere on the planet but pandas can only live in bamboo forests. This adaptability is what causes people to accuse the Japanese of copying others and of Jews of being Zelig-like chameleons.

    • Replies: @iSteveFan

    But certain cultures (Jews, Japanese) were able to rapidly adapt to Westernization and become full participants in it.
     
    It's not surprising Jews were able to adapt to Westernization given they were living throughout Europe. But I find it more impressive that the Japanese were able to rapidly adapt given the great distances, geographic and cultural, between them and Western Europe.
  52. Do blacks get arrested so much because the white male power structure evilly hates all other races or do blacks get arrested so much because blacks commit a lot of crimes? Adding a third race, such as Asians, adds perspective.

    To expand on this, the addition of sub-continent Indians to the US undercuts the old line that whites hate blacks for the color of their skin. Many Indians have skin as dark as that of blacks. I still hear liberals use that line, though.

  53. iSteveFan says:
    @Andrew
    Instead of looking to Christianity, why not look to the Scandanavians and West Germans? All the early examples of what became modern liberalism come from among them and date prior to Protestantism:

    Magna Charta
    Salic Law
    Old Swiss Confederacy
    Icelandic Althing
    Hanseatic League
    Industrial Revolution in Flanders and England
    etc.

    And of course this corner of NW Europe is still the locus of individualism and liberalism.

    Its not as if Christianity had some magic power to create liberalism in Spain, the Papal States, southern France, or the Kingdom of Naples, the East Roman Empire, or Imperial Russia.

    And of course this corner of NW Europe is still the locus of individualism and liberalism.

    Its not as if Christianity had some magic power to create liberalism in Spain, the Papal States, southern France, or the Kingdom of Naples, the East Roman Empire, or Imperial Russia.

    NW Europe also seems to have avoided being conquered and occupied for several centuries by muslim invaders. Might this help explain some of the differences between them and the poor bastards who didn’t?

  54. The pre-Christian concept of Roman Citizenship emphasizes the rights of the individual, and stands very much in contrast to the Greeks, for whom the community of the polis was all. The Romans also gave the paterfamilias primacy in the family, but families and clans seem to have become less important as the early Republic became a metropolitan empire (long before it officially ceased to be a Republic). Reading Roman writers like Cicero and Ovid, especially in the original Latin, their modern individualist mindset is very striking, and quite different from the pre-modern minds of the early English (eg the venerable Bede, or the creators of Beowulf). So I don’t totally buy into the idea that individualism is entirely a product of the Christian middle ages; I think Judeo-Roman Christianity took on Roman individualism, spread it, and superempowered it.

  55. iSteveFan says:
    @Jack D
    Clearly modernity is a phenomenon that first arose among Western Christians. But certain cultures (Jews, Japanese) were able to rapidly adapt to Westernization and become full participants in it. Others (Arabs, Africans) haven't.

    What is the cause of this difference? I think it has a lot to do with intelligence. Intelligence fundamentally means being able to adapt to your surroundings. This is why humans can live everywhere on the planet but pandas can only live in bamboo forests. This adaptability is what causes people to accuse the Japanese of copying others and of Jews of being Zelig-like chameleons.

    But certain cultures (Jews, Japanese) were able to rapidly adapt to Westernization and become full participants in it.

    It’s not surprising Jews were able to adapt to Westernization given they were living throughout Europe. But I find it more impressive that the Japanese were able to rapidly adapt given the great distances, geographic and cultural, between them and Western Europe.

  56. Judaism and Islam, even the Confucianism that had for so long ordered Chinese society into strictly stratified ranks or hierarchy (which Japan also largely cemented into its socio-cultural ethos, an outlook that persisted through Shinto and through Japan’s adoption of Buddhism), seem to lack the Catholic doctrine of Free Will, the idea that the individual is at liberty to choose to do good or to do evil (to dwell in sin or in grace), and then, upon death, to have his choices judged by the Almighty.

    Islam itself means “Submission,” it forbids acting outside of whatever is found in the unalterable Koran – in Submission there is no Free Will. Judaism, once exposed to Enlightenment ideas, developed its Reform branch, yet did not lose the sense of Jews as a distinct race. Islam lacks this racial dimension (although, obviously, there is racism among Moslems, and it often operates under the fig leaf of sectarianism), hence the broadness of its appeal across the globe and, when combined with Islam’s utterly intolerant supremacism, its universality doubles its appeal to billions, purely on the notion that when one becomes a Moslem one is empowered to exclusivity, to look down with contempt upon and to exploit all “unbelievers.” Islam is also supremely venal, worldly, in that it enjoins Moslems to enrich themselves – to enrich and empower the umma – at the expense of “unbelievers”: indeed, the Koran is the only “holy” book that exhorts its adherents to material acquisitiveness, and by any means that enriches and empowers the umma.

    In India’s strict caste system, Hinduism’s appeal seems to lie in its notion of reincarnation, through which the soul improves itself – and also, through rebirth of the deserving, improves (or, indeed, demotes) the believer’s body-vessel’s worldly station in life. Buddhism is collectivist in its ethereal refinement of animism and in its idea that perfection, bliss, holiness – the rough equivalent of Christian salvation – lies in the individual becoming one with the Godhead; so Buddhism, despite Westerner’s mistaken notion that Buddhism is very laid back, is intensely aspirational but in a collectivist (recall the joke the Westerner tried to pull on the Dalai Lama: “Can I get one with everything?“) rather than in an individualist manner.

    Though I haven’t read him in some forty years, it seems that Adam Smith opened the door to modern liberalism – the liberalism that gave birth to Progressivism – in his appreciation (if I recall correctly) that the individual is, or ought to be, free to do as he likes – to act in his own individual interest, so long as what he does harms no other individual (have I confused Smith with John Stuart Mill?). Modern liberalism-Progressivism also adopted a great deal of its baggage from the materialism of socialism and Communism, at least as much as it had earlier taken on from, say, the more spiritually altruistic Calvinist-Presbyterian Abolitionism.

    Modern liberalism-Progressivism (as distinct from Classical Liberalism, which championed free inquiry), is in fact illiberal, in that once modern lib-Progs took hold of the Megaphone, they turned Stalinist, imposing and enforcing their dogmatic notion of good and evil – including the notion that, to perpetuate their grip on power, lib-Progs alone may shut down avenues of inquiry which challenge their dogma and also may move the goalposts for everyone. Modern liberalism-Progressivism’s control freak/Thought Police domination is the antithesis of Adam Smith’s live-and-let-live liberalism – its gone directly to Lord Acton’s dictum that power corrupts. This has only further worsened with Western corporatist (government and commercial bodies) adoption of modern lib-Progressivism as the means of control of the citizenry, to the point of subjecting the citizenry to demographic minority, second-class status via Open Borders mass migration of non-assimilating foreign masses.

    Except in the political dimension Classical Liberalism made no pretension toward cultural, economic, or social egalitarianism, nor did it aspire to globalist hegemony; but today’s modern (or, if you like, “postmodern”) liberal-Progressivism is so obsessed with economic, social and cultural egalitarianism – with leveling, with “equality of outcomes” – that its dogma now includes the frightfully illiberal notion of “disparate impact” which is illiberal on its obverse but is also illiberal on its reverse in that it creates its own “disparate impact” on those whom its dogma demonizes and consigns (via lib-Prog control mechanisms as the SPLC) to out group status.

    It’s not today’s – which is the same as yesterday’s – Islam that has been “misunderstood: or “perverted” by renegade or “extremist” Moslems; it’s Classical Liberalism that has been deliberately betrayed and perverted by Western lib-Progressives who are quite content to rule in the West as the mercenary commissars – the Praetorian Guard – of the globalist elite.

  57. See Moldbug, Mencius. He’ll give you a 13,000 word explanation of this.

  58. Priss Factor [AKA "K. Arujo"] says:

    Liberalism is about rising above one’s cultures and traditions.

    Greek culture was originally more culture-specific than later peoples thought. But time washed away the colors and left white marbles and simple geometric patterns. To be sure, Greek excellence in math, logic, and speculative thought laid down the basis for liberalism. Liberalism is a form of individualism + universalism. Culture, customs, and tradition stand in its way.

    Hellenic culture tended to be less culture specific because it emphasized nudity, simple dress, and more geometric architecture.
    And Christianity tended to be less culture specific because it tried to appeal to people of every culture. This is something that couldn’t be done with Judaism.

    The two modes came together in the West.
    Protestantism cleared away some of the culture-bound traditions of Catholicism. Less ritual-bound and more a matter of the heart. Likewise, free thinking needs to be freed from cultural baggage and taboos.

    In Northern Europe, Christianity, esp Protestantism, had the effect of clearing away the customs and superstitions of indigenous pagan cultures.
    In the Middle East, Islam had the effect of reinforcing the pagan customs and superstitions of the Arab tribes. Though Islam is anti-pagan, what Muhammad really did was sanctify existing pagan Arab customs and habits by fusing them with Mosaic laws and the concept of universal laws. So, paradoxically, Islam didn’t so much replace Arab paganism as sanctify them and make them stronger.
    Thus, culturalism survived to a greater extent in the Middle East and stood in the way of genuine universalism and individualism.

    Btw, though much has been made of individualism, maybe we should really highlight the appreciation of genius-ism in the west. Individualism can be anti-genius. Blacks are plenty individualistic, but they are often hostile to black genius. How many rappin’ jivers care about Coltrane or James Baldwin? Black individualism is just dudes letting the good times roll.

    Same among many white bubbas in the south and Alaska. Ted Nugent and Sarah Palin are individualistic, but Nugent just wants to shoot everything and Palin just wants to stuff herself with moose burgers. A nation of Duck Dynasty folks might be individualistic but they aint gonna produce the Renaissance. Chechens and Cossacks were both tribal and individualistic. But their initiative was mostly about stealing wives and dancing like lunatics.

    Most forms of individualism are stupid and trashy. It’s about getting ass tattoos. Such individualism is degrading. Look at the documentary COUNTRY BOYS. Plenty of individualism there but it’s mostly kids wasting their lives on dumb shit.
    It’s about individuals without discipline going for the lowest common denominator.

    But there is elite individualism that patronizes and admires genius. Without the cult of genius, Europe would not have created a hospitable environment for outstanding individuals who could see beyond what others could see. Mass individualism tends to be conformist and anti-elitist. It lacks taste and sneers at men of genius. Without the cult of genius, people couldn’t tell apart Warhol from Van Gogh and Botticelli.

    The West did much to promote and protect the cult of genius.
    Greeks did this with contests in everything. Artists were applauded for writing plays, performances, and making music. It incentivized genius.

    Also, we have to admit that Greeks and Romans gave protection to homo genius which cannot be denied. Because homos cannot have kids and stand apart, their view of things tend to less culturalist. Other cultures–including Judaism–were more hostile toward homo stuff, so they suppressed homo genius more. Though homo genius was suppressed by Christianity, its spirit came back in the Renaissance.

    PS. Did the celibacy of Jesus and Disciples boost universalism and liberalism?
    Having family makes one more cultural, customary, and conservative.
    Without kids and family responsibility, one can be more devoted to abstract thinking and individual pursuit.
    It’s why Jesus has to reject the family life in THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST. For him to belong to all the world and to all time, he must forsake the specific cultural duties of father/husband.

  59. @Whiskey
    More productive is looking at the Eastern Orthodox. A bigger, more long lasting set of people who rejected individualism.

    A small, marginal people will reject individualism to survive. Jews won't tell you much, you're just seeing the effects of being small and marginal.

    More interesting would be to study the Celts who are both more important and a bigger group ... its King Arthur not King Sidney after all ... who often suicidally embraced individualism in the face of Roman, Germanic, Viking, Norman, and English threats.

    I agree about the Orthodox world. The contrast between the late Western and Eastern Roman Empires and their cultural descendants is striking, especially considering that for a thousand years the ERE was the success story long after the WRE had fallen.

    • Replies: @The Anti-Gnostic
    ERE is long gone, and its vestigial remnant is going extinct in its ancestral lands.

    So far as I can see, the future in the West looks more Amish, Hasidic and Mormon.
    , @Priss Factor
    "I agree about the Orthodox world. The contrast between the late Western and Eastern Roman Empires and their cultural descendants is striking, especially considering that for a thousand years the ERE was the success story long after the WRE had fallen."

    But even the fallen Roman Empire in the West had one big advantage over the surviving-and-sometimes-thriving Byzantine Empire in the East.

    Though Latins and Germanics were quite different in many ways, they were both European folks. So, in time, they could merge as one. Also, as Germanics didn't have much of a high culture, in time they just absorbed the civilization of Hellenism and Christianity.

    In contrast, the Byzantine Empire was ethnically and racially and culturally far more diverse. So, even though it was dominated by Romano-Greeks, it could never become culturally unified as Western Europe in the aftermath of the fall of Rome. Also, the non-Greeks of the Byzantine empire had proud high cultures of their own with ancient roots, so they were more resistant to Greco-Byzantine norms. So, there was greater discrepancy between the core rulers and peripheral ruled of the Byzantine empire.

    Western Romans sought to conquer most of Western Europe and even parts of Eastern Europe. And they came close to unifying much of it, but they failed. But even as they failed militarily, they sort of succeeded racially and spiritually since the barbarians that invaded Rome mixed with the natives and also because Roman Christianity spread all over Europe in the aftermath of the fall of Rome. Since Latins were Euros and Germanics were Euros, this was more possible. In the aftermath of the fall, Germanics had the military power over fallen Romans, but Romans had cultural power over the relatively cultureless Germanics. But since they were more or less united by race, their cultures were bound to merge.

    In contrast, the various subjects of the Byzantine had long proud traditions and identities of their own, and they weren't about to surrender them to simply become Byzantines.

    Furthermore, Byzantines were faced with more of a sustained challenge from other civilizations.
    Though Huns and Germanics ravaged Rome, their aggression couldn't be sustained for long since Germanics were too crude and Huns were barbarians too. They took advantage of Roman weakness, but they couldn't sustain any kind of long-lasting order of their own.

    In contrast, Byzantines faced off against the mighty Persians who ruled over a vast empire of their own. Persians had been around for a long time. At one time, they invaded Greece, they were invaded by Greeks, but they always came back. And Byzantines and Persians faced off against one another.
    In a way, the Muslims got a lucky break for the same reason the Chinese commies did during WWII. Though Mao was on the ropes, he was saved by Japan's invasion of China. Thus, Japan and KMT bashed one another to a bloody draw. Both were weakened, and when US defeated Japan, the revived commies pressed against the demoralized and exhausted KMT. They took over everything.
    Similarly, the wars between Byzantines and Persians bled each other so much that fanatically energized Muslims eventually took over both empires.

    Anyway, because Byzantines were faced off against sustained threats from both East(Persians and then Ottomans) and from the West(Venetian pirates), they became more conservative and defensive.
    In contrast, even though Huns and Germanics were frightening for a time, their threats were bound to fade away since barbarians cannot sustain power for long. It's like Mongols bashed China real good at one time, but once their glory passed, it was gone forever. It was a freak storm than a long cold winter.

    The relative homogeneity of Western Europe should be considered. Homogeneity leads to unity.
    It's like Prussia was smaller in size and population than the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but it won. Why? Because 3/4 of Austro-Hungarian Empire was non-Germanic. Empires are unstable, as the Soviet Empire proved.
    Most non-Germanic peoples of Austro-Hungarian Empire saw themselves as subjects. In contrast, all Prussians saw themselves as one people. And Prussian empire mostly expanded by swallowing fellow Germanic folks. So, Prussia-led Germany was bound to be more energetic than Austro-Hungarian empire despite the latter's bigger size. Though much has been made of the great vibrancy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, it was really mostly Austro-Germans and Jews being interesting. Rest were village idiot folks munching on potaters. I mean without Jewish input, Hungarians were like nothing(though a handsome people). Prussia-dominated Germany was more like Western Europe, and Austro-Hungarian Empire was more like the Byzantines.

    Byzantine Empire was racially and culturally too diverse. The rulers spent too much time trying to maintain order over vast spaces. This took away energy from other stuff. China suffered the same problem due to its great size. No wonder it was easier for smaller and more homogeneous Japan to be more innovative(even before it opened to the West).

    Also, empire itself tends to be problematic. We've often been told(by Niall Ferguson recently too in his stuff about 'killer apps') that one advantage that the West had over the East was the existence of many independent kingdoms that competed with one another. In contrast, China was united under centralized rule. Ottomans ruled over vast areas.

    In contrast, except for the Russian empire, most European land empires in Europe was relatively small. Biggest was Austro-Hungarian Empire, but it was small relative to most other empires. As for France and UK, they were medium sized states. Germany and Italy were later to unify into full-fledged nations.

    Now, separation and isolation could serve as hindrance to new ideas and innovation. But unification under oppressive centralized rule can also suppress innovation.
    But if you have a balance of two, then you have progress and innovation. And most kingdoms in Western Europe maintained their independence and separateness while, at the same time, opening themselves to ideas, news, and talents from abroad. Also, as Westerns European empires came to be overseas-in-nature, the mother countries didn't have to worry about being inundated with foreigners(as is happening today with massive global travel and migration), as happened with the Romans and Byzantines. So, Europeans could travel to other places and bring back new products and ideas... while, at the same time, maintaining the integrity and unity of race, heritage, and culture.

    In a way, it was a blessing for the West than the Roman empire fell. In its aftermath, no other empire gained permanent dominance. Some tried of course. Charlemagne, Napoleon, and Hitler. And maybe Stalin too at least over Eastern Europe, but they fall failed to reconstitute anything like the Roman Empire. So, the West was defined by many competitive independent states. And competition is good for progress. Without threats of others, one's own side becomes complacent like the hare in the 'hare and tortoise' story. After all, it was threat from the West that finally kicked Japan and China's butt and forced them to adopt modernity and compete.

    Though we like to believe liberalism is all about openness, understanding, tolerance, and mutuality, and etc, it's also about cutthroat competition, conflict, contest, and etc. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were not nice guys. Every capitalist company tries to win and win big by thrashing the competition. 'Nice guys finish last'. While science is about free exchange of ideas to know the truth, it's also true that scientists have big egos and compete like crazy with another to hog the glory(and profits too). To foster competition, walls are as necessary as bridges. After all, Apple works in secrecy. KFC and Coca Cola have their secret ingredients and will sue anyone who steals them. There are anti-piracy laws for 'intellectual property'. Without such, there would be no incentive to compete since anyone could just steal anything in a totally open system.

    During European history, every kingdom did as much as possible to guard its trade secrets while trying to 'steal' as much from their competitors. Thus, liberalism is as much about competition-via-concealment as cooperation-via-sharing. And this is why borders, figurative and real, are necessary for liberalism.
    Why would any community work together to make for a better social order if anyone on the outside can come crashing in to take over everything? The incentive is removed for bettering your own community.
    It's like Woodstock turned into a mess because of gatecrashers. Initially, those who bought tickets arrived for a good time. But when anyone could come without paying, it was a disaster area.

    Why do Amish work hard? To maintain their quiet Amish community. But suppose anyone could just barge in on the Amish and eat stuff and take stuff. Why would the Amish work hard to make stuff for themselves if their work can easily be taken by others. It's like how the Mexican gang keeps coming to take stuff from hard working white folks in They Call Me Trinity.
    It removes incentive for work. It's like letting any lazy student copy the answers from the student who stayed up the night before to prepare for the exam.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kt6chxTGfIY

    Why are Ivy League schools still good places for learning(despite PC) but city colleges of NY became crap? Because the latter practiced total openness and allow all kinds of dummies to come and 'learn'. For liberalism to work, it had to value quality over quantity. Thus, elite liberalism was always at odds with mass/populist/egalitarian liberalism. It's the difference between Harvard and the stuff on the History Channel that reduces everything down to babytalk.

    Elite universities are open to all kinds of ideas but they are closed off to most kinds of people.
    Western Europe used to be like this. It was open to all kinds of ideas from all over, but they were shut off to foreigners and were filled with indigenous white folks with higher IQs.
    True liberalism is as exclusive as it is inclusive. It is as independent-minded as integrative with other systems. It is as secretive as it is open. Kubrick was a very secretive artist who made movies for the world. He had to guard his secrets so that he would have an advantage over others. While making 2001, he didn't say, "hey lookie here, I got some new special effects that I want to share with rest of yous." It would have undermined his cutting edge advantage.

    And this is the secret of the Jewish way. True, Jews are curious and have learned from every people and everyone. True, we have learned much from Jews. But there are lots of things Jews keep for themselves. It's like a chess player doesn't tell his opponent what's on his mind.
    Information is power. Knowing beforehand what stocks or properties will go up give you the leg up to buy in before anyone else. It's as much about guarding secrets as sharing news.

    If liberalism is all about sharing, why are so many Libs angry with Edward Snowden?
    And what would Apple do if one of its employees gave away its secrets to the whole world?
    And how happy were Liberals with the Sony hacking that shed light on how Hollywood moguls really think and talk?
    , @inertial
    Every single Eastern Orthodox nation had been overrun, at one point or another, by a barbarian horde and remained in subjugation for centuries. Russia was the one who got off the lightest; they had be under Mongolian yoke for "only" 250 years.

    It's all good and well to self-congratulate yourself on how tolerant and free-thinking you are if you live at a far end of a huge, isolated peninsula - or even better, on an island off the furthest end of that peninsula.
  60. @thinkingabout it
    Modern American Liberalism, which is more about Progressivism, is not unique in the history of civilizations.

    Umberto Eco's book The Name of the Rose describes the Waldensians, a progressive Christian sect that arose before the Protestant reformation that is surprisingly similar to modern leftwing thinking.

    In India, Jainism, and some forms of folk Hinduism, also played up the direct relationship of the individual to God, and downplayed family and community structures. Parallels to progressivism, like women's liberation and castigation of social hierarchy, are seen repeatedly there as well.

    I have heard that Manichaeism was an Iranian variant of the progressive bug. And Taoism the Chinese variant.

    The fact is that these historical "liberal-lite" movements existed all across the world, but their conservative opponents won out in the end. Catholicism, Brahminical Hinduism, Tibetan Lamaism, Islam, Confucianism.. This is why Western liberalism sees only reactionary traditional patriarchies wherever it looks, and it is why it is hell bent on exporting the human rights agenda abroad.

    But history seems to suggest that Western liberalism's project is doomed to fail in the long run, just like all the other liberalisms before it.

    “But history seems to suggest that Western liberalism’s project is doomed to fail in the long run, just like all the other liberalisms before it.”

    Of course, but it sure is going to wreak a lot of havoc first.

  61. iSteveFan says:
    @Whiskey
    More productive is looking at the Eastern Orthodox. A bigger, more long lasting set of people who rejected individualism.

    A small, marginal people will reject individualism to survive. Jews won't tell you much, you're just seeing the effects of being small and marginal.

    More interesting would be to study the Celts who are both more important and a bigger group ... its King Arthur not King Sidney after all ... who often suicidally embraced individualism in the face of Roman, Germanic, Viking, Norman, and English threats.

    More productive is looking at the Eastern Orthodox. A bigger, more long lasting set of people who rejected individualism.

    A small, marginal people will reject individualism to survive. Jews won’t tell you much, you’re just seeing the effects of being small and marginal.

    Whiskey, Greeks, Serbs and other Orthodox were ruled over by the Ottomans for close to 5 centuries. Ukrainians and Russians also had a couple million of their citizens captured and sold into slavery, and had to endure the ‘Beasts from the East’. Would you give them the benefit of the doubt that they rejected individualism to survive like you did for the Jews?

    How do you think the English would have developed under those conditions?

    Who knows, given the current trends in Western Europe, maybe we might get to witness in our lifetime what effects a large, alien population has on Western individuality. We are already witnessing the attack on free speech by the vanguard of this alien population. And it appears to be working. How much longer will the rest of Western culture last?

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
    "And it appears to be working. How much longer will the rest of Western culture last?"

    How much longer will any culture last when the world is being awash with globo-pop-crap-culture?

    The whole world is being Sex-and-City-ized and hippity-hoppity-ized.
    , @Whiskey
    A few hundred years after Viking raids every bit as bad as the Mussulmen, Northrern Europeans built astonushing Gothic Cathedrals that stll take the breath away: Chartres, York, etc. And besides the Romans had the Gauls and Carthaginians invading, the Greeks the Persians. The wars of dynastic sucession were very destructive and over 40% of German speakers perished duri g the Thirty Years War. People didn't find Germans dumb afer that, indeed Germany remained the place for the best craftsmanship.

    On the Celtic side, there seems a lack of anything intellectual until the Scots Enlightenment when there is an explosion of achievement.
  62. @Luke Lea
    Hbd* chick's thesis, that individualism is a product of outbreeding, is much more parsimonious. Yet I must admit that Biblical Christianity, with its emphasis on the salvation of the individual soul and, as the quote above illustrates, its unconcern with issues of race, family, etc., also must be an important part of the story.

    Yes, I think modern NW-European Liberal culture as a product of medieval Manorialism makes a lot of sense. The maps match! 🙂

  63. @Anonymous
    I don't get it, what does the goy's teeth scene have to do with "the failures of Jewish culture"?

    I don’t get it, what does the goy’s teeth scene have to do with “the failures of Jewish culture”?

    LOL. Perfect.

  64. @Simon in London
    I agree about the Orthodox world. The contrast between the late Western and Eastern Roman Empires and their cultural descendants is striking, especially considering that for a thousand years the ERE was the success story long after the WRE had fallen.

    ERE is long gone, and its vestigial remnant is going extinct in its ancestral lands.

    So far as I can see, the future in the West looks more Amish, Hasidic and Mormon.

  65. @The Z Blog
    I think you can make a good case for blaming the Franks for everything that has gone wrong in the West. They gave us the Dark Ages, Luther, Rousseau, Hitler, Fascism, Communism, scat porn, etc.

    I think you can make a good case for blaming the Franks for everything that has gone wrong in the West. They gave us the Dark Ages, Luther, Rousseau, Hitler, Fascism, Communism, scat porn, etc.

    The Franks were the most civilized of the tribes that occupied the decaying Roman Empire, served as allies and conscripts of the Romans in their last century, and saved Western Europe from Muslim conquest after they easily defeated the Gothic Spanish kingdom. We’d have a much nicer world if the Goths, Huns, and Vandals had been more like them.

  66. @Andrew
    Instead of looking to Christianity, why not look to the Scandanavians and West Germans? All the early examples of what became modern liberalism come from among them and date prior to Protestantism:

    Magna Charta
    Salic Law
    Old Swiss Confederacy
    Icelandic Althing
    Hanseatic League
    Industrial Revolution in Flanders and England
    etc.

    And of course this corner of NW Europe is still the locus of individualism and liberalism.

    Its not as if Christianity had some magic power to create liberalism in Spain, the Papal States, southern France, or the Kingdom of Naples, the East Roman Empire, or Imperial Russia.

    While I don’t think it could be called individualism, early Germanic people had a relatively egalitarian culture that limited the power of the soverign. Pre-Roman Germans, as well as the Gauls, had a loose caste system of noble, freeman, freedman, and slave, but generally the leader was elected by vote or acclamation with no expectation of permanent rule. And if you felt mistreated or undervalued by your tribe, you were able to join another.

  67. @Lot

    So, the failure of Jews to achieve anything near liberal modernity without imitating enlightened German gentiles reflects flaws
     
    So you're singling out Jews for not inventing the Enlightenment, while ignoring Spinoza, one of its early fathers? Why not blame "flaws" in German culture for not coming up with it themselves, or indeed all people outside of a small circle of intellectuals in France and Britain?

    You're also wrong that German Jews adopted the Enlightenment by "imitating enlightened German gentiles." Rather, both groups of Germans were influenced directly by the dominant intellectual culture of France.

    Indeed, France was the dominant power in Europe from at least 1600 to 1871, and culturally until the end of the Belle Epoque in 1914. Let me quote from Bertrand Russell’s “A History of Western Philosoph
    “In Italy and France, while there has been a romantic admiration of the Germans on the part of a few men such as
    Tacitus and Machiavelli, they have been viewed, in general,
    as the authors of the “barbarian” invasion, and as enemies
    of the Church, first under the great Emperors, and later as
    the leaders of the Reformation. Until the nineteenth century
    the Latin nations /esp. France and Italy/ looked upon the
    Germans as their inferiors in civilization.”
    p. 738

    Civilization came from the Mediterranean, and then
    gradually moved north and east. As a result, for most of the European history the Germans were regarded as backward barbarians. Moreover, the religious wars which were fought
    largely on the territory of the German states from about
    1525 to 1648, resulting in the loss of one third of the
    population, and even widespread cannibalism, did little
    to improve the reputation of the Germans in the rest of Europe.

    In England, to this day, the Germans are sometimes referred to as the Huns.

    • Replies: @dearieme
    "In England, to this day, the Germans are sometimes referred to as the Huns." It's an allusion to the Kaiser telling his troops to misbehave in China so that they'd be as feared as the Huns.
    http://erickoch.ca/2012/12/14/the-kaiser-and-the-huns-did-he-really-say-that/

    People were appalled when Kaiser Bill's troops behave hunnishly in Belgium in 1914. For most of my life the bien pensants dismissed tales of such behaviour as Allied propaganda, but it now seems to be widely believed that the Boche did commit atrocities against the Belgians.

    I assume that the bien pensants took that view as part of the general leftist mindset that the democracies were bad: how much of that was conscious Soviet propaganda, adopted by fellow travellers and useful idiots, I can't say.
  68. @Greenstalk
    Depends on what one thinks "liberalism" is all about. In historical context liberalism was a rejection of monarchism and aristocracy. All liberals agreed on that much. There were some different ideas when it came to what should replace the old order though. While Moyn (or perhaps Siedentop) associates "liberalism" with "modern individualism", few if any liberals in the 18th, 19th, or early 20th centuries displayed any fondness for such a concept. Liberalism used to be entirely compatible with a rejection of individualism. And arguably the current strain of PC left-liberalism remains hostile to it, which is why it tries so hard to herd people into its pre-approved racial, ethnic, and behavioral categories.

    “And arguably the current strain of PC left-liberalism remains hostile to it, which is why it tries so hard to herd people into its pre-approved racial, ethnic, and behavioral categories.”

    Absolutely. Modern PC left-liberals talk a lot about autonomy but in practice they’re just about the most rigidly conformist group I can think of.

  69. @The Last Real Calvinist

    Douthat has claimed liberalism is a Christian heresy that rejects Jesus, and there’s some truth to it; liberals exalt suffering, are concerned with the poor, and endlessly look over themselves for ideological purity, all things with their origins in Christianity. Some liberal ‘ethical’ behaviors, like vegetarianism and poverty, even have Christian roots.

     

    Douthat is right. Much of the moral content and energy driving modern western liberalism (in the colloquial political sense of the word, not the economic) derive rather straightforwardly from Christian, mostly protestant, heresies.

    You're right in identifying the concern for the poor and certain 'ethical' stances, but the range is wider: environmentalism (with its deep sense of original sin and its apocalyptic narrative arc); open borders (welcoming the stranger; 'in Christ there is no Jew or Greek'); economic redistribution (shades of Acts 2:44-45); and so on.

    Much of the rigor with which these aims are pursued in the USA is the result, I believe, of its residual Calvinistic/Puritan ethos. A heretical Calvinist is better organized and more determined than many an other heretic . . . .

    The common theme uniting these heresies is pride. Christians believe none of these good works and transformations are humanly possible; they must be divinely inspired and empowered. Liberals put themselves in the place of the Savior and take on both the responsibility for saving the world, and the credit for being so noble and self-emptying. See how powerful, and how good, we now are: we can ruin the world and its peoples with our sin (pollution, colonialism, capitalism), but then save it with our wisdom, our insights, our generosity, our willingness to 'educate' others so they can be just like us . . . .

    You can find no better example of this mindset than the reaction of the Danes to the recent terror attacks. Their politicians seem honestly to believe that they can redeem the terrorists via liberal therapeutic moralizing. They simply cannot grasp the reality of spiritual motivation and deep religious belief.

    Very true. You said it better than I could myself.

  70. Interesting. What if we were to add a fourth culture to the equation? Say, Latin America. Predominantly Christian, but not quite as free-thinking as our liberals. How would that factor in?

  71. Christianity definitely created what we understand as liberalism today, which is really radical egalitarianism (not always very liberal in practice).

    However, it was a Jewish convert named Saul who laid the foundation:

    There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

    Our contemporary liberalism started with a repudiation of Classical Judaism, which as a highly stratified, racially exclusive religion could not be liberal by Western standards. Nor can modern Judaism or Islam, both of which reject Paul’s proclamation that we are all equal under God. But it took over a thousand years of institutional Christianity before the idea mutated into its current form.

    My guess is that as long as the church had a great deal of authority over people’s lives, it was a useful concept for promoting social harmony and a sense of mutual obligation among the different classes (e.g. aristocrats were supposed to acknowledge that God did not favor them over social inferiors), as well as a check on secular power vis a vis the church. However, when the church’s power began to recede and break up as it lost its monopoly over knowledge, this central tenet of Christianity took on a life of its own – it came unmoored from the rock of faith so to speak – and became a tool in the hands of secular factions challenging the prevailing authority.

    Jews could not develop a Western-style liberal society as long as they lived under rabbinic authority, so it was only when egalitarian Westerners freed them from that authority (a sort of ecclesiastic law for Jews) and granted them citizenship that they were able to do so.

    And no, the liberalism wasn’t the Protestants’ fault. Napoleon was more influential than anyone else in spreading the new faith. I think the peculiar Yankee and English form of radical egalitarianism was a competition with the French; an attempt to show that they were just as righteous as the French – more so even – and could prove it. As an example of the ferocity of this competition, in the beginning of the American Republic the Francophile and Anglophile factions waged what amounted to a low-intensity war. So many killed each other in duels that the officer corps was depleted.

    Today all egalitarian political systems, including our own as well as Communist China’s, are based on this originally Christian idea of human equality. We have been in a crusade that has been on the march for over 200 years. It is very much a religious movement, and so all-encompassing that it rarely even occurs to people to question their faith in the beliefs it is built upon. Only in the last few decades, and ever so carefully, have a few begun to do so openly.

    • Replies: @inertial

    Our contemporary liberalism started with a repudiation of Classical Judaism, which as a highly stratified, racially exclusive religion could not be liberal by Western standards. Nor can modern Judaism or Islam, both of which reject Paul’s proclamation that we are all equal under God.
     
    Not only Jew believe in equality of everyone before God, you don't even have to be Jewish to achieve salvation. That's why Jews don't proselytize - you don't have to convert to be saved.

    As for "highly stratified," let's see. On the one hand, here is a religion that has an institution of intermediaries between God and common people. These intermediaries are organized into huge multilevel bureaucracy with complicated rules of admission and promotion, where the highest levels of bureaucracy historically wielded enormous secular power. On the other hand, we have a religion that has no intermediaries between the Man and the Divine but only interpreters of the Law. Any educated person can become such and interpreter, and his authority entirely depends on how convincing he is to others. So which religion would you say is highly stratified?
  72. “Do blacks get arrested so much because the white male power structure evilly hates all other races or do blacks get arrested so much because blacks commit a lot of crimes? Adding a third race, such as Asians, adds perspective.”

    I don’t think adding a third race is required, one can observe high crime rates in mostly black countries like Jamaica, Haiti, and lots of sub Saharan Africa to see this.

  73. Steve is forgetting that by the 18th century there were very few Jews left in Western Europe. They were expelled, often many times, from England, France, Italy, Germany, and, of course, Spain. Let me recommend several Wikipedia articles:

    1. Edict of Expulsion (1290). The article refers to the expulsion of the Jews from England, but what’s interesting about it is that it contains a useful map of Europe showing the dates of Jewish expulsion from various countries. Mainly only two
    countries took Jews in: Netherlands and Poland, mostly Poland. Basically, Western Europe said to Poland: you deal with the Jews now, we don’t want to.

    2. History of the Jews in Poland. Let me quote from the article, “For centuries, Poland was home to the largest and most significant Jewish community in the world.” This was facilitated by The Statute of Kalisz (1264) (cf. Wikipedia) in which Polish rulers granted extraordinary privileges to the Jews, and by the Warsaw Confederation (1573) (cf. Wikipedia) which was the first document in the world to grant freedom to practice any religion without any discrimination or penalty. As someone had said, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (or Republic) at that time was focused on trying to build utopia on earth. While the Western Europeans were butchering each other with great efficiency in the religious wars that lasted over 120 years, Poland, which was then the largest country in Europe (at one point, due to dynastic politics, reaching as far as northern Italy in the 1500s), was peaceful, libertarian, tolerant, and accepting refugees and religious dissidents, incl. Jews, fleeing from the horrors of Western Europe. Let’s remember that Western Europe was a very violent intolerant place until a measure of stability was brought by the decline of the Ottoman Empire and later by the Congress of Vienna (1815).

    To finish this story, in 1772 with the first partition of Poland (showing that multiculturalism, libertanianism, and decentralization do not work, esp. if you are in Central Europe surrounded by aggressive expansionist powers), Russia got many of Poland’s Jews. Until then, Jews technically were prohibited from settling in Russia. Solzhenitsyn talks about it in his book, Two Hundred Years Together (the book Americans are not allowed to read). Jews have lived in Poland for 1000 years, in Russia – only 200.

    It’s strange. It’s almost like we are not allowed to mention Poland in connection with the Jews, while the Western Europeans are congratulating themselves on how tolerant they are and what great things they’ve done for the Jews in the last 1000 years.

    • Replies: @Lot
    Very well put.

    The Poles first saved the Jews, then saved central Europe's Christians from the Ottoman hordes in the battle of Vienna.
  74. @anon
    Let's not get our strains of liberalism confused.

    Classical liberalism came out of the enlightenment which was rooted in the Christian theology of valuing individuals. Look how Jesus treats everyone with dignity and respect (except the hypocritical religious establishment.) Protestantism called the church back to God's exalted view of man, among other things. America was founded largely on these principles. Read the Declaration of Independence.

    Modern liberalism came from the enlightenment philosophers, a lot of Germans. Cutting to the chase we have Rousseau who informed the French Revolution, a bloody experiment in socialism. And he influenced Engels who was the co-creator of communism along with Marx. It is Marxism and its mutant socialist ideologies that fill liberal minds today.

    IMHO you can't pin modern statist liberalism on Christianity even thought some of its adherents are confused and led astray. It's on the backs of the atheists starting with the philosophers and Marx in particular.

    I agree modern liberalism isn’t a result of Christianity, but strongly disagree it is caused by those nasty, evil atheists (of which I am one).

    Rather, IMHO, when a culture experiences affluence of any kind and is able to indulge in any thinking/activities beyond trying to stay alive, it rubs its collective eyes and looks around and wonders how it can improve things.

  75. @Veracitor
    Beg leave to remind you: Corpus Juris Civilis, Justinian's Code.

    Beg leave to remind you: Corpus Juris Civilis, Justinian’s Code.

    In terms of regulating the minutia of life (what you eat, how you dress, etc), they are not remotely comparable to the legal systems that developed in Rabbinic Judaism and Islam.Plus, they are secular legal codes.In Rabbinic Judaism and Islam, the Law is sacred.

    • Replies: @Simon in London
    And moreover they are secular codes derived from pre-Christian Roman Law, which exemplifies that church/state tension the West is marked by. They are not Mosaic at all. Roman Law was the product of juristic writings and case opinions for centuries over the life of the Republic and the pre-Christian Empire.

    Hence it was easy for the secular Bonapartists of the French Republic to use it as the basis for the Napoleonic Code, which is the basis of law in the Civilian systems (ie most of the world!) today.

    , @Veracitor
    Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the term "sumptuary laws" but the Code has plenty of them; regulating dress or diet is not exclusively the province of Jewish or Mohammedan law. As for the "all encompassing" and "sacred" nature of one law code or another, you seem to have an inverted view of things. The laws of Jews or Mohammedans are not more sacred because a greater proportion of their slender contents are devoted to petty considerations of ritual. The Jewish and Mohammedan laws are simply lacking in breadth and sophistication, being laws respectively for governing a small insular group, or a large but very primitive group. Christian law, founded on Roman, Greek, and Jewish law and scaled to the needs of a complex society, is much more rightly called "all encompassing" than either of the sectarian codes you refer to.

    (You have heard of the "Byzantine lawyer?" He can out-hairsplit any three Medieval rabbis or six mullahs.)
    , @Veracitor
    I may have misunderstood what you meant by "sacred." Perhaps you referred to the notion, more or less shared by Jewish and Mohammedan law, that the laws are immutable, having been delivered complete by God through his prophet(s), so it remains to men only to resolve small matters of application (obviously practice diverges somewhat from theory here ;-). Of course Christian law is looser, admitting frequent revision by earthly authorities, though always with the claims of divine sanction and concordance with basic divine law (e.g., Mosaic). And of course, Jesus famously* freed his followers from the petty strictures of Jewish law, though he tightened up the rules in sexual matters.

    I had at first thought you used the word "sacred" to mean simply sanctioned by the Divine (to which magistrates constantly refer, asserting that disobedience is impious) which covers all the codes we've discussed.

    *I take popular beliefs at face value here; this is not the occasion for a critical inquiry into the roots of major religions.
  76. The jews may not have been the creators of liberalism, but they certainly became masters in taking it to whole new levels, so much so that it basically is the only real ideology practiced today, a few scattered Islamic holdouts will not last long against it either.

    Its a bit like when the Portuguese brought their firearms to Japan and the Japanese improved them, or how Picasso was inspired by African art and moved it to new levels. Liberalism may have started with Christianity, but the modern day liberalism that now dominates is heavily based on jewish influences.

  77. I’ve seen no mention of how much Christianity borrowed from Greco-Roman and Asian culture. The sacrifice and resurrection of Christ come to mind. As does Eucharist. Those are two very prominent examples.

    Individualism is, in many ways, an outcome of wealth. So is liberalism.

    Also, I think it makes as much sense to ask how Europeans shaped Christianity, as to ask how Christianity shaped Europeans. There’s an awful lot of Scripture in Christianity, and much of it is ignored, often in favor of doctrine.

    Douthat is right. Much of the moral content and energy driving modern western liberalism (in the colloquial political sense of the word, not the economic) derive rather straightforwardly from Christian, mostly protestant, heresies.

    You’re right in identifying the concern for the poor and certain ‘ethical’ stances, but the range is wider: environmentalism (with its deep sense of original sin and its apocalyptic narrative arc); open borders (welcoming the stranger; ‘in Christ there is no Jew or Greek’); economic redistribution (shades of Acts 2:44-45); and so on.

    Much of the rigor with which these aims are pursued in the USA is the result, I believe, of its residual Calvinistic/Puritan ethos. A heretical Calvinist is better organized and more determined than many an other heretic

    I find the fact that liberalism is tailored to exploit Christian/post-Christian weaknesses less interesting than the why. E.g., which Scripture gets used, and what gets ignored. The Bible says to smash the idols of foreigners in your lands and drive foreign cults out of it. It says that the people shall only elect their rulers from the people/tribe, no foreign/alien kings allowed. That’s Christian, those are just as post-Christian as anything else. The Bible’s full of illiberal stuff that gets ignored.

    How many Christians do you know that are pacifists, for example? Probably not very many.

    Christ wasn’t a pacifist. He took a bullwhip to a crowded public square. The subtext is that his followers were cracking skulls alongside him.

    Look how Jesus treats everyone with dignity and respect (except the hypocritical religious establishment.)

    Like the woman who wanted him to cure her daughter. First he ignored her. Then he told her off, saying his mojo was only for the sons of Israel. When she finally called her tribe “dogs” begging for scraps from his “master” tribe, he relented. Yep, that just oozes respect for her dignity.

    Christianity is […] – a mishmash of Greek thought, various Near Eastern “heresies”, Manicheanism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism,

    Took long enough for that to be mentioned.

    Then Luther nailed his 95 thesis to the door. The rejection of the absolute authority of the Pope ended up in freeing the individual to choose their own path to Righteousness. As a result of the reformation, each individual person be came responsible for their loss or winning of salvation of their soul.
    Europe also was not a unified empire. Big empires are rigid, and crush change and dissent. Europe was a mishmash of small kingdoms. Once freed of Papal rigidity, The individual empowerment of the splintered protestant faiths helped kindle the growth of trade and technology. Doing good by helping others rather than sending money to Rome changed Europe, and then the world.

    Almost like Europeans were predisposed toward individualism. Which would mean “too much of a good thing” for Europeans would be too much liberalism…

    indeed, the Koran is the only “holy” book that exhorts its adherents to material acquisitiveness, and by any means that enriches and empowers the umma.

    Explicitly, maybe, but Judaism does an awful lot of “thy tribe shalt rule over the Earth.” And it orders Jews to be fruitful and multiply, which pretty strongly implies material gain.

    In India’s strict caste system, Hinduism’s appeal seems to lie in its notion of reincarnation, through which the soul improves itself – and also, through rebirth of the deserving, improves (or, indeed, demotes) the believer’s body-vessel’s worldly station in life.

    Talk about your Original Sin (I’m just poor and low caste because I did something wrong in a previous life).

    Modern liberalism-Progressivism’s control freak/Thought Police domination is the antithesis of Adam Smith’s live-and-let-live liberalism – its gone directly to Lord Acton’s dictum that power corrupts.

    Hmmm. I dunno about that. Modern liberalism seems designed to free up its adherents to be authoritarian and intolerant in the name of Goodness. But maybe you’re right and that all came after liberalism won.

    I agree about the Orthodox world. The contrast between the late Western and Eastern Roman Empires and their cultural descendants is striking, especially considering that for a thousand years the ERE was the success story long after the WRE had fallen.

    Apropos of I dunno, but the most plausible theory I read of why the Eastern Empire survived and the Western Empire fell was that the Eastern was much wealthier, more built-up, and more fortified than the Western (the Greeks having a much longer history of wealth and power up to that point).

    • Replies: @syonredux

    I’ve seen no mention of how much Christianity borrowed from Greco-Roman and Asian culture.
     
    Probably because it's too obvious a point.Christianity is a synthesis of Greek philosophy (was it Nietzsche who said that Christianity is Platonism for the masses?) and Second Temple Judaism.

    The Bible’s full of illiberal stuff that gets ignored.
     
    Christianity has always been about picking what you like and ignoring the rest.

    Christ wasn’t a pacifist. He took a bullwhip to a crowded public square. The subtext is that his followers were cracking skulls alongside him.
     
    Other than the fact that he was crucified, we don't really know anything about Jesus.Besides, as noted above, people pick which Jesus quotes they want to use.

    Like the woman who wanted him to cure her daughter. First he ignored her. Then he told her off, saying his mojo was only for the sons of Israel. When she finally called her tribe “dogs” begging for scraps from his “master” tribe, he relented. Yep, that just oozes respect for her dignity.
     
    The universal elements in Christianity come from Paul:

    There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)
     
    , @Lot

    Apropos of I dunno, but the most plausible theory I read of why the Eastern Empire survived and the Western Empire fell was that the Eastern was much wealthier, more built-up, and more fortified than the Western (the Greeks having a much longer history of wealth and power up to that point).
     
    That's basically correct. The capital was moved to Constantinople when the Western Empire was still fully intact to reflect the real center of economic gravity. The Romans never figured out how to develop the economies of cold climates. While they conquered a large part of modern Germany, Britain, Austria, and all of Switzerland, this was more about providing a large buffer zone to protect Italy, Spain, and Southern France, and later a source of soldiers to fight the Persians.

    When German tribes demanded to settle in the West as they fled the invading Huns and other tribes from the Caucuses and Western Asia, Transalpine Gaul was the obvious place to give up.
  78. @syonredux

    Beg leave to remind you: Corpus Juris Civilis, Justinian’s Code.
     
    In terms of regulating the minutia of life (what you eat, how you dress, etc), they are not remotely comparable to the legal systems that developed in Rabbinic Judaism and Islam.Plus, they are secular legal codes.In Rabbinic Judaism and Islam, the Law is sacred.

    And moreover they are secular codes derived from pre-Christian Roman Law, which exemplifies that church/state tension the West is marked by. They are not Mosaic at all. Roman Law was the product of juristic writings and case opinions for centuries over the life of the Republic and the pre-Christian Empire.

    Hence it was easy for the secular Bonapartists of the French Republic to use it as the basis for the Napoleonic Code, which is the basis of law in the Civilian systems (ie most of the world!) today.

  79. @Lot

    Fortunately for our analytical purposes, there was a third culture C in Western Eurasia during this time period which had many of the presumed prerequisites to invent liberal modernity, such as literacy, wealth, and globalist connections, and yet failed: Judaism.
     
    Well there is the matter of legal disabilities imposed upon them. If you look at the biographies of intellectual figures of the era, you see they were typically non-first-borns from minor noble and gentry families, and provided with an extensive education with the intention they become either clergy, lawyers, or civil servants. Both this education and these professions were barred to Jews in the initial era of the Enlightenment.

    The first two important areas that provided for full Jewish emancipation were France and then Rhenish Germany, Bavaria, and Prussia. And the first generations of Jews born after this period and the upheaval of the the Napoleonic Wars produced an impressive number of intellectual figures:

    France:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olinde_Rodrigues
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camille_Pissarro
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabriel_Lippmann
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henri_Bergson

    Rhineland, Bavaria and Prussia:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinrich_Heine
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinrich_Caro
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolph_Frank
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Goldschmidt
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fritz_Haber
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Ladenburg
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viktor_Meyer
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_A._Michelson
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludwig_Mond
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Philippson
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Schuster
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Schwarzschild
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otto_Wallach

    the host culture’s long ongoing Enlightenment.
     
    "Host culture"? Really?

    Well there is the matter of legal disabilities imposed upon them. If you look at the biographies of intellectual figures of the era, you see they were typically non-first-borns from minor noble and gentry families, and provided with an extensive education with the intention they become either clergy, lawyers, or civil servants. Both this education and these professions were barred to Jews in the initial era of the Enlightenment.

    Yeah, but there were plenty of “non-first born sons” of rabbis and wealthy Jewish merchants.And the Jews during the Middle Ages and Early Modern period were exposed to the same ferment of ideas as their Christian and Islamic neighbors (cf Maimonides).Yet liberal individualism did not arise among them.When Spinoza (himself a “non-first born son” of a merchant) sought to engage with the emerging modern world-view, he had to leave the Jewish community:

    On 27 July 1656, the Talmud Torah congregation of Amsterdam issued a writ of cherem (Hebrew: חרם, a kind of ban, shunning, ostracism, expulsion, or excommunication) against the 23-year-old Spinoza.[42] The following document translates the official record of the censure:[43]

    The Lords of the ma’amad, having long known of the evil opinions and acts of Baruch de Espinoza, have endeavored by various means and promises, to turn him from his evil ways. But having failed to make him mend his wicked ways, and, on the contrary, daily receiving more and more serious information about the abominable heresies which he practiced and taught and about his monstrous deeds, and having for this numerous trustworthy witnesses who have deposed and born witness to this effect in the presence of the said Espinoza, they became convinced of the truth of the matter; and after all of this has been investigated in the presence of the honorable chachamin, they have decided, with their consent, that the said Espinoza should be excommunicated and expelled from the people of Israel. By the decree of the angels, and by the command of the holy men, we excommunicate, expel, curse and damn Baruch de Espinoza, with the consent of God, Blessed be He, and with the consent of all the Holy Congregation, in front of these holy Scrolls with the six-hundred-and-thirteen precepts which are written therein, with the excommunication with which Joshua banned Jericho, with the curse with which Elisha cursed the boys, and with all the curses which are written in the Book of the Law. Cursed be he by day and cursed be he by night; cursed be he when he lies down, and cursed be he when he rises up; cursed be he when he goes out, and cursed be he when he comes in. The Lord will not spare him; the anger and wrath of the Lord will rage against this man, and bring upon him all the curses which are written in this book, and the Lord will blot out his name from under heaven, and the Lord will separate him to his injury from all the tribes of Israel with all the curses of the covenant, which are written in the Book of the Law. But you who cleave unto the Lord God are all alive this day. We order that no one should communicate with him orally or in writing, or show him any favor, or stay with him under the same roof, or within four ells of him, or read anything composed or written by him.

    The Talmud Torah congregation issued censure routinely, on matters great and small, so such an edict was not unusual.[…]

    it appears likely that Spinoza himself had already taken the initiative to separate himself from the Talmud Torah congregation and was vocally expressing his hostility to Judaism itself. He had probably stopped attending services at the synagogue either after the lawsuit with his sister or after the knife attack on its steps. He might already have been voicing the view expressed later, in his Theological-Political Treatise, that the civil authorities should suppress Judaism as harmful to the Jews themselves. Either for financial or other reasons,[52] he had in any case effectively stopped contributing to the synagogue by March 1656. He had also committed the “monstrous deed,” contrary to the regulations of the synagogue and the views of certain rabbinical authorities (including Maimonides), of filing suit in a civil court rather than with the synagogue authorities[53]—to renounce his father’s heritage, no less. Upon being notified of the issuance of the censure, he is reported to have said: “Very well; this does not force me to do anything that I would not have done of my own accord, had I not been afraid of a scandal.”[54] Thus, unlike most of the censure issued routinely by the Amsterdam congregation to discipline its members, the censure issued against Spinoza did not lead to repentance and so was never withdrawn.[….]

    The most remarkable aspect of the censure may be not so much its issuance, or even Spinoza’s refusal to submit, but the fact that Spinoza’s expulsion from the Jewish community did not lead to his conversion to Christianity.[57] Spinoza kept the Latin (and so implicitly Christian) name Benedict de Spinoza, maintained a close association with the Collegiants, a Christian sect, even moved to a town near the Collegiants’ headquarters, and was buried in a Christian graveyard—but there is no evidence or suggestion that he ever accepted baptism or participated in a Christian mass. Thus, by default, Baruch de Espinoza became the first secular Jew of modern Europe.[57]

    In September 2012, the Portugees-Israëlietische Gemeente te Amsterdam asked the chief rabbi of their community Haham Pinchas Toledano to reconsider the cherem after consulting several Spinoza experts. However he declined to remove it, citing Spinoza’s “preposterous ideas, where he was tearing apart the very fundaments of our religion”, and stating that Judaism did not share the modern concept of free speech.[58]

    • Replies: @Lot

    Yeah, but there were plenty of “non-first born sons” of rabbis and wealthy Jewish merchants.
     
    Plenty? Maybe in Krakow and Bialystok, far from any leading thought centers. They were very thin on the ground in England and France.

    And you miss the rest of the point: they were not permitted to either get the education or join the liberal professions.

    Spinoza, all by himself, allows western Jews a more than per-capita share of the early Enlightenment.
  80. @newrouter
    >For example, one of the primary differences between Eastern and Western Christianity in Europe is that Catholic regions tended to have a separation, in principle, between the powers of Church and State, or Pope and Emperor. The Orthodox regions, following the tradition of Constantinople, placed the Emperor at the summit of both parts of society, so you tend to see greater deference of the Church to the State.<

    isteve stupid

    see

    Holy Roman Empire

    The Holy Roman Empire didn’t continue to be Holy, Roman, or an Empire, very long. It became a loose federation of principalities in which some princes styled themselves Kings. It dissolved as a result of the Napoleonic Wars. The Hapsburgs who were habitually elected as Holy Roman Emperors derived their power and prestige mainly from rulership of Hungary, Slovakia, what is now the Czech Republic, Croatia and some other areas which became parts of the former Yugoslavia, Lombardy-Venetia in Northern Italy, and a part of southern Poland. Almost all of these areas were outside the Holy Roman Empire. Hapsburg rule over the Austro-Hungarian Empire continued until the defeat of the Central Powers in WW1.

  81. Here, Steve, is a topic on which Strauss’ work would be particularly illuminating, if you could get past your anti-Strauss prejudice.

    The short answer is yes–in part. The bigger contributor to modern liberalism was modern philosophy, 1,500 years later. But Christianity led to that in at least two ways. First, modern philosophy originates as a reaction against Christianity. But second, it finds that it cannot overcome and so must utilize much Christian doctrine, to say nothing of its strategy and tactics.

    Above all, the assertion of equality before God and the separation of civil and religious authority become hallmarks of modernity and foundations of liberalism.

  82. @newrouter
    the assertion monkey claims:

    > There is really no part of Christianity that is unique to it – every part is borrowed. It’s an impressive feat of cultural engineering, but attributing any development to the religion is rather missing the point.<

    prove your point. use like evidence.

    Well, a lot of Christianity is borrowed from Greek philosophy – not only directly, but through Judaism, which itself borrowed a lot from the Greeks. And of course the “protagonist is rejected by society, refuses to escape sentence of death through recantation, achieves immortality through accepting unjust punishment” meme is Socratic. Then there’s all the bits taken from Mithraism: deity born from a virgin, most especially. Many aspects of Christian belief and ceremony were taken from various Mystery Cults, quite a few of which had people being ‘spiritually reborn’, sometimes after being symbolically buried or immersed in water. And of course Zoroastrianism is thought to have had a major influence on Judaism and later on Christianity. The ‘Sermon on the Mount’ is much older than Christ, and its teachings can be found all over the place.

    I suggest you start looking at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_and_other_religions and study from there.

    Oh, and please do not call me ‘assertion monkey’.

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
    "Many aspects of Christian belief and ceremony were taken from various Mystery Cults."

    What's the difference between religion and mystery cult? Aren't all religions mystery cults?

    Or are religions more 'certain' about what God or gods are like and what He or they want, whereas mystery cults emphasize the strange unknowability of God or gods?

    The God of the Jews remains mysterious but He did lay down some laws that made it clear what He wants. Maybe mystery cults lack such clarity, and their mystique lies in shadows of God or gods than His or their illumination.
  83. The Orthodox never had much of a presence in the West, and they’re not going to any time soon. It was amusing reading the newsletters in which it was emphasized that the Church was growing… but if you looked at the actual numbers, they were growing more slowly than the population at large. Considering that they had more children than the average American, it meant that they couldn’t persuade their own children to remain in the religion.

    I suppose that with enough time they might become like the Amish, with a “boiling-off” of the personality types that don’t perpetuate itself within the culture, but I don’t think they exclude new blood enough for that to happen.

  84. @Jus' Sayin'...
    The whole premise that individualism was an invention of Christianity seems absurd to me. The classical world is full of complete, three-dimensional personalities who seem freed from bonds to family, tribe, or even ordinary society. Plutarch is full of examples. So is Greek philosophy. Reading The Symposium one gets a sense of a group of fully-formed individuals engaging one another in ways free from constraints of family, tribe, etc. In the Old Testament David is certainly an individualist to such a degree as to border on sociopathy. Many of the prophets too, e.g., Amos. And we get glimpses of true individuality in the modern sense not just from portraits of viri or "big men" but more ordinary folks, e.g., Cicero, the soldiers mentioned in Caesar's histories, folks in the Bible like Abigail, Uriel the Hittite, Naboth, etc. I'm just writing off the top of my head with a pretty limited knowledge but I think a little research and thought would allow me to pretty much demolish Siedentop's thesis with etailed analyses of many other examples. Am I missing some intellectual/historical subtlety here?

    The Greeks are history, the Old Testament isn’t.

  85. I’ve always found it funny that liberals who hate Christianity insist on measuring Christianity’s defects based on principles that are themselves rooted in Christianity.

    Why do they assume these particular principles constitute the proper yardstick? Have they ever considered that someone with no knowledge of the Christian tradition might draw up a very different, extremely anti-liberal bill of indictment against the church?

    I had a theology professor who put it this way: there are REAL atheists, and then there are “atheists” who ride Christianity’s coat tails. The former are exceedingly rare and terrifyingly formidable; the latter are distressingly common and are mostly just sadly amusing.

  86. @iSteveFan

    More productive is looking at the Eastern Orthodox. A bigger, more long lasting set of people who rejected individualism.

    A small, marginal people will reject individualism to survive. Jews won’t tell you much, you’re just seeing the effects of being small and marginal.
     

    Whiskey, Greeks, Serbs and other Orthodox were ruled over by the Ottomans for close to 5 centuries. Ukrainians and Russians also had a couple million of their citizens captured and sold into slavery, and had to endure the 'Beasts from the East'. Would you give them the benefit of the doubt that they rejected individualism to survive like you did for the Jews?

    How do you think the English would have developed under those conditions?

    Who knows, given the current trends in Western Europe, maybe we might get to witness in our lifetime what effects a large, alien population has on Western individuality. We are already witnessing the attack on free speech by the vanguard of this alien population. And it appears to be working. How much longer will the rest of Western culture last?

    “And it appears to be working. How much longer will the rest of Western culture last?”

    How much longer will any culture last when the world is being awash with globo-pop-crap-culture?

    The whole world is being Sex-and-City-ized and hippity-hoppity-ized.

  87. @Anon 3
    Indeed, France was the dominant power in Europe from at least 1600 to 1871, and culturally until the end of the Belle Epoque in 1914. Let me quote from Bertrand Russell's "A History of Western Philosoph
    "In Italy and France, while there has been a romantic admiration of the Germans on the part of a few men such as
    Tacitus and Machiavelli, they have been viewed, in general,
    as the authors of the "barbarian" invasion, and as enemies
    of the Church, first under the great Emperors, and later as
    the leaders of the Reformation. Until the nineteenth century
    the Latin nations /esp. France and Italy/ looked upon the
    Germans as their inferiors in civilization."
    p. 738

    Civilization came from the Mediterranean, and then
    gradually moved north and east. As a result, for most of the European history the Germans were regarded as backward barbarians. Moreover, the religious wars which were fought
    largely on the territory of the German states from about
    1525 to 1648, resulting in the loss of one third of the
    population, and even widespread cannibalism, did little
    to improve the reputation of the Germans in the rest of Europe.

    In England, to this day, the Germans are sometimes referred to as the Huns.

    “In England, to this day, the Germans are sometimes referred to as the Huns.” It’s an allusion to the Kaiser telling his troops to misbehave in China so that they’d be as feared as the Huns.
    http://erickoch.ca/2012/12/14/the-kaiser-and-the-huns-did-he-really-say-that/

    People were appalled when Kaiser Bill’s troops behave hunnishly in Belgium in 1914. For most of my life the bien pensants dismissed tales of such behaviour as Allied propaganda, but it now seems to be widely believed that the Boche did commit atrocities against the Belgians.

    I assume that the bien pensants took that view as part of the general leftist mindset that the democracies were bad: how much of that was conscious Soviet propaganda, adopted by fellow travellers and useful idiots, I can’t say.

  88. I have long read Liberalism as a toxic degradation of Christianity, with all its moralism and universalist scope, but lacking the thick theology and “mythology” which restrained this for so long: original sin’s brake on human hubris, the requirement of orthodox faith and church membership for salvation, hierarchical religious authority, etc. And God, who was finally in charge of history and individual life.

    This discussion reminds me that, unless my memory is off, the Enlightenment (France excepted) was initially driven very much by thinkers in Protestant countries. What distinguishes Protestantism from Catholicism is that it is a religion clearly and consciously constructed upon the rejection of ancient and settled authority and tradition by means of individual assertions of higher morality and higher access to “pure” truth. In the Reformation case, through sola Scriptura. The endless splits in Protestantism are the natural result of its origin in revolt against tradition and authority of the most sacred kind.

    With this background, the Enlightenment (and the consequent degeneration into the cosmic foolishness of Liberalism) is a very –though not completely–Protestant movement. If you know that ancient authority A was rejected, then why not ancient or contemporary authority B?

    The enantiodromia of modern Liberalism is that, far from dealing with fact and reason, it is utterly grounded in emotion and wishful thinking.

    Further irony is that contemporary Christianity (Orthodoxy somewhat excepted) has been infected by the movements which derived from it by way of opposition and hostility. The Western churches’ enthusiastic embrace of the Third World hordes who will destroy the peoples that created Western Christianity is one of the great betrayals of history.

  89. @syonredux

    Beg leave to remind you: Corpus Juris Civilis, Justinian’s Code.
     
    In terms of regulating the minutia of life (what you eat, how you dress, etc), they are not remotely comparable to the legal systems that developed in Rabbinic Judaism and Islam.Plus, they are secular legal codes.In Rabbinic Judaism and Islam, the Law is sacred.

    Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the term “sumptuary laws” but the Code has plenty of them; regulating dress or diet is not exclusively the province of Jewish or Mohammedan law. As for the “all encompassing” and “sacred” nature of one law code or another, you seem to have an inverted view of things. The laws of Jews or Mohammedans are not more sacred because a greater proportion of their slender contents are devoted to petty considerations of ritual. The Jewish and Mohammedan laws are simply lacking in breadth and sophistication, being laws respectively for governing a small insular group, or a large but very primitive group. Christian law, founded on Roman, Greek, and Jewish law and scaled to the needs of a complex society, is much more rightly called “all encompassing” than either of the sectarian codes you refer to.

    (You have heard of the “Byzantine lawyer?” He can out-hairsplit any three Medieval rabbis or six mullahs.)

    • Replies: @Anonymous

    Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the term “sumptuary laws” but the Code has plenty of them; regulating dress or diet is not exclusively the province of Jewish or Mohammedan law.
     
    Quite familiar; I once wrote a paper on the sumptuary laws in New England. Of course, the difference between the West and Judaism and Islam lies in the realm of emphasis and elaboration.Differences in degree can become differences in kind, and Judaism and Islam simply place much importance on ritual law (the kind of stuff that Paul denigrated as the "Works of the Law").Plus, there's also the whole business about sacred vs secular law.

    As for the “all encompassing” and “sacred” nature of one law code or another, you seem to have an inverted view of things. The laws of Jews or Mohammedans are not more sacred because a greater proportion of their slender contents are devoted to petty considerations of ritual.
     
    No, they are sacred because they are held to derive from God.Hence, Man cannot author law in those systems; he can only interpret what has been passed down from on high.

    The Jewish and Mohammedan laws are simply lacking in breadth and sophistication, being laws respectively for governing a small insular group, or a large but very primitive group. Christian law, founded on Roman, Greek, and Jewish law and scaled to the needs of a complex society, is much more rightly called “all encompassing” than either of the sectarian codes you refer to.
     
    Put Rabbinic law/Islamic law on one side and Christian law on the other; Christian law allows so much freedom of action, it's almost anarchistic

    I may have misunderstood what you meant by “sacred.” Perhaps you referred to the notion, more or less shared by Jewish and Mohammedan law, that the laws are immutable, having been delivered complete by God through his prophet(s), so it remains to men only to resolve small matters of application (obviously practice diverges somewhat from theory here ;-).
     
    Well, yes, that is precisely what I mean.Cf the current re-imposition of slavery in the ISIS Caliphate.Since slavery is sanctioned by Islamic law, it cannot be abolished.

    Of course Christian law is looser, admitting frequent revision by earthly authorities, though always with the claims of divine sanction and concordance with basic divine law (e.g., Mosaic).
     
    Which what I meant when I referred to Western Christendom essentially reducing divine law to general precepts and guidelines

    And of course, Jesus famously* freed his followers from the petty strictures of Jewish law, though he tightened up the rules in sexual matters.
     
    Yes, a key debate in the early Christian community (cf Acts) involved the question of Gentile converts and the ritual law.Paul held that the ritual law was no longer binding, and his position won the day.

    I had at first thought you used the word “sacred” to mean simply sanctioned by the Divine (to which magistrates constantly refer, asserting that disobedience is impious) which covers all the codes we’ve discussed.
     
    No, I mean something much more forceful than that.For example, in traditional Judaism it was held that the Oral Law is equal in status with the Pentateuch.Indeed, it was even professed that they were delivered to the Israelites at the same time.
    , @Clyde

    You have heard of the “Byzantine lawyer?” He can out-hairsplit any three Medieval rabbis or six mullahs.
     
    What you are reaching for is the phrase "Byzantine laws"
  90. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @rustbeltreader
    Ricky Bobby: Dear Lord baby Jesus, lyin' there in your ghost manger, just lookin' at your Baby Einstein developmental videos, learnin' 'bout shapes and colors.

    Your Baby can attend college and now they have pre-school for adults. I want to thank the Col. for the wings, the Gen. for the motors, the Seals for Easter and The Vice for the earrings along with Jesus for the Coke.

    @K Arujo

    The Arabs of 700 AD lived almost exclusively in the Arabian Peninsula. The people of modern Syria, Iraq, Egypt etc. did not speak Arabic nor did the share Arabian culture or values. They would not have any ethnic solidarity with the bringers of Islam. It was conquest. Mohumadens conquered them but they didn’t conquer much of Western Europe

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
    "The people of modern Syria, Iraq, Egypt etc. did not speak Arabic nor did the share Arabian culture or values."

    But many spoke Semitic tongues even if not exactly Arabic.
    And they had big noses and looked Swarthy.
  91. >In contrast to the Islamic world’s continuing failures, we can be sure that Judaism’s failures were due to nurture rather than nature, in that within a few generations, many Jews had rapidly adjusted to the new culture and were at the forefront of global modernity (e.g., Einstein).

    Yes, yes, you gave us the bathhouses, you gave us the aqueducts, thank you, thank you. I wonder why those successful Jews you hold up as exemplars like Einstein and Mendelsohn had no Jewish descendants and very few non-Jewish ones. Perhaps your modernity isn’t quite as exemplary as you think? Perhaps iPhones and antibiotics aren’t very good compensation for extinction?

  92. Priss Factor [AKA "K. Arujo"] says:
    @Simon in London
    I agree about the Orthodox world. The contrast between the late Western and Eastern Roman Empires and their cultural descendants is striking, especially considering that for a thousand years the ERE was the success story long after the WRE had fallen.

    “I agree about the Orthodox world. The contrast between the late Western and Eastern Roman Empires and their cultural descendants is striking, especially considering that for a thousand years the ERE was the success story long after the WRE had fallen.”

    But even the fallen Roman Empire in the West had one big advantage over the surviving-and-sometimes-thriving Byzantine Empire in the East.

    Though Latins and Germanics were quite different in many ways, they were both European folks. So, in time, they could merge as one. Also, as Germanics didn’t have much of a high culture, in time they just absorbed the civilization of Hellenism and Christianity.

    In contrast, the Byzantine Empire was ethnically and racially and culturally far more diverse. So, even though it was dominated by Romano-Greeks, it could never become culturally unified as Western Europe in the aftermath of the fall of Rome. Also, the non-Greeks of the Byzantine empire had proud high cultures of their own with ancient roots, so they were more resistant to Greco-Byzantine norms. So, there was greater discrepancy between the core rulers and peripheral ruled of the Byzantine empire.

    Western Romans sought to conquer most of Western Europe and even parts of Eastern Europe. And they came close to unifying much of it, but they failed. But even as they failed militarily, they sort of succeeded racially and spiritually since the barbarians that invaded Rome mixed with the natives and also because Roman Christianity spread all over Europe in the aftermath of the fall of Rome. Since Latins were Euros and Germanics were Euros, this was more possible. In the aftermath of the fall, Germanics had the military power over fallen Romans, but Romans had cultural power over the relatively cultureless Germanics. But since they were more or less united by race, their cultures were bound to merge.

    In contrast, the various subjects of the Byzantine had long proud traditions and identities of their own, and they weren’t about to surrender them to simply become Byzantines.

    Furthermore, Byzantines were faced with more of a sustained challenge from other civilizations.
    Though Huns and Germanics ravaged Rome, their aggression couldn’t be sustained for long since Germanics were too crude and Huns were barbarians too. They took advantage of Roman weakness, but they couldn’t sustain any kind of long-lasting order of their own.

    In contrast, Byzantines faced off against the mighty Persians who ruled over a vast empire of their own. Persians had been around for a long time. At one time, they invaded Greece, they were invaded by Greeks, but they always came back. And Byzantines and Persians faced off against one another.
    In a way, the Muslims got a lucky break for the same reason the Chinese commies did during WWII. Though Mao was on the ropes, he was saved by Japan’s invasion of China. Thus, Japan and KMT bashed one another to a bloody draw. Both were weakened, and when US defeated Japan, the revived commies pressed against the demoralized and exhausted KMT. They took over everything.
    Similarly, the wars between Byzantines and Persians bled each other so much that fanatically energized Muslims eventually took over both empires.

    Anyway, because Byzantines were faced off against sustained threats from both East(Persians and then Ottomans) and from the West(Venetian pirates), they became more conservative and defensive.
    In contrast, even though Huns and Germanics were frightening for a time, their threats were bound to fade away since barbarians cannot sustain power for long. It’s like Mongols bashed China real good at one time, but once their glory passed, it was gone forever. It was a freak storm than a long cold winter.

    The relative homogeneity of Western Europe should be considered. Homogeneity leads to unity.
    It’s like Prussia was smaller in size and population than the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but it won. Why? Because 3/4 of Austro-Hungarian Empire was non-Germanic. Empires are unstable, as the Soviet Empire proved.
    Most non-Germanic peoples of Austro-Hungarian Empire saw themselves as subjects. In contrast, all Prussians saw themselves as one people. And Prussian empire mostly expanded by swallowing fellow Germanic folks. So, Prussia-led Germany was bound to be more energetic than Austro-Hungarian empire despite the latter’s bigger size. Though much has been made of the great vibrancy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, it was really mostly Austro-Germans and Jews being interesting. Rest were village idiot folks munching on potaters. I mean without Jewish input, Hungarians were like nothing(though a handsome people). Prussia-dominated Germany was more like Western Europe, and Austro-Hungarian Empire was more like the Byzantines.

    Byzantine Empire was racially and culturally too diverse. The rulers spent too much time trying to maintain order over vast spaces. This took away energy from other stuff. China suffered the same problem due to its great size. No wonder it was easier for smaller and more homogeneous Japan to be more innovative(even before it opened to the West).

    Also, empire itself tends to be problematic. We’ve often been told(by Niall Ferguson recently too in his stuff about ‘killer apps’) that one advantage that the West had over the East was the existence of many independent kingdoms that competed with one another. In contrast, China was united under centralized rule. Ottomans ruled over vast areas.

    In contrast, except for the Russian empire, most European land empires in Europe was relatively small. Biggest was Austro-Hungarian Empire, but it was small relative to most other empires. As for France and UK, they were medium sized states. Germany and Italy were later to unify into full-fledged nations.

    Now, separation and isolation could serve as hindrance to new ideas and innovation. But unification under oppressive centralized rule can also suppress innovation.
    But if you have a balance of two, then you have progress and innovation. And most kingdoms in Western Europe maintained their independence and separateness while, at the same time, opening themselves to ideas, news, and talents from abroad. Also, as Westerns European empires came to be overseas-in-nature, the mother countries didn’t have to worry about being inundated with foreigners(as is happening today with massive global travel and migration), as happened with the Romans and Byzantines. So, Europeans could travel to other places and bring back new products and ideas… while, at the same time, maintaining the integrity and unity of race, heritage, and culture.

    In a way, it was a blessing for the West than the Roman empire fell. In its aftermath, no other empire gained permanent dominance. Some tried of course. Charlemagne, Napoleon, and Hitler. And maybe Stalin too at least over Eastern Europe, but they fall failed to reconstitute anything like the Roman Empire. So, the West was defined by many competitive independent states. And competition is good for progress. Without threats of others, one’s own side becomes complacent like the hare in the ‘hare and tortoise’ story. After all, it was threat from the West that finally kicked Japan and China’s butt and forced them to adopt modernity and compete.

    Though we like to believe liberalism is all about openness, understanding, tolerance, and mutuality, and etc, it’s also about cutthroat competition, conflict, contest, and etc. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were not nice guys. Every capitalist company tries to win and win big by thrashing the competition. ‘Nice guys finish last’. While science is about free exchange of ideas to know the truth, it’s also true that scientists have big egos and compete like crazy with another to hog the glory(and profits too). To foster competition, walls are as necessary as bridges. After all, Apple works in secrecy. KFC and Coca Cola have their secret ingredients and will sue anyone who steals them. There are anti-piracy laws for ‘intellectual property’. Without such, there would be no incentive to compete since anyone could just steal anything in a totally open system.

    During European history, every kingdom did as much as possible to guard its trade secrets while trying to ‘steal’ as much from their competitors. Thus, liberalism is as much about competition-via-concealment as cooperation-via-sharing. And this is why borders, figurative and real, are necessary for liberalism.
    Why would any community work together to make for a better social order if anyone on the outside can come crashing in to take over everything? The incentive is removed for bettering your own community.
    It’s like Woodstock turned into a mess because of gatecrashers. Initially, those who bought tickets arrived for a good time. But when anyone could come without paying, it was a disaster area.

    Why do Amish work hard? To maintain their quiet Amish community. But suppose anyone could just barge in on the Amish and eat stuff and take stuff. Why would the Amish work hard to make stuff for themselves if their work can easily be taken by others. It’s like how the Mexican gang keeps coming to take stuff from hard working white folks in They Call Me Trinity.
    It removes incentive for work. It’s like letting any lazy student copy the answers from the student who stayed up the night before to prepare for the exam.

    Why are Ivy League schools still good places for learning(despite PC) but city colleges of NY became crap? Because the latter practiced total openness and allow all kinds of dummies to come and ‘learn’. For liberalism to work, it had to value quality over quantity. Thus, elite liberalism was always at odds with mass/populist/egalitarian liberalism. It’s the difference between Harvard and the stuff on the History Channel that reduces everything down to babytalk.

    Elite universities are open to all kinds of ideas but they are closed off to most kinds of people.
    Western Europe used to be like this. It was open to all kinds of ideas from all over, but they were shut off to foreigners and were filled with indigenous white folks with higher IQs.
    True liberalism is as exclusive as it is inclusive. It is as independent-minded as integrative with other systems. It is as secretive as it is open. Kubrick was a very secretive artist who made movies for the world. He had to guard his secrets so that he would have an advantage over others. While making 2001, he didn’t say, “hey lookie here, I got some new special effects that I want to share with rest of yous.” It would have undermined his cutting edge advantage.

    And this is the secret of the Jewish way. True, Jews are curious and have learned from every people and everyone. True, we have learned much from Jews. But there are lots of things Jews keep for themselves. It’s like a chess player doesn’t tell his opponent what’s on his mind.
    Information is power. Knowing beforehand what stocks or properties will go up give you the leg up to buy in before anyone else. It’s as much about guarding secrets as sharing news.

    If liberalism is all about sharing, why are so many Libs angry with Edward Snowden?
    And what would Apple do if one of its employees gave away its secrets to the whole world?
    And how happy were Liberals with the Sony hacking that shed light on how Hollywood moguls really think and talk?

  93. @Priss Factor
    The rise of liberalism had much to do with revival of ancient pagan cultures. The problem with paganism is moral decadence from too much sensualism and hedonism. But if Christian spiritualism and pagan sensualism balance one another out, maybe it works better.

    Sometimes, paganism and spiritualism fused together. Catholic Church combined idolatry with worship. I guess a recent variation of this is neo-Christianity that combines morality with holy-homo-worship. Ewww.

    Maybe it had to do with race as well. Since Europeans looked more like Greeks and Romans, they more readily identified with the ancient Greco-Roman pagans.
    In contrast, while Muslims admired certain classical culture, they didn't see it as their heritage since Greeks and Romans were Europeans.

    Another question worth pondering. Islam was a late comer. It spread in the 7th century. Prior to then, the entire Middle East was either Christian, Zoroastrian, pagan, or some such.

    Why did Islam as the new religion spread in the Near East but not in Europe? Why were European Christians successful in rejecting/resisting it while Middle Eastern Christians fell under its power?

    Why were Middle Eastern Christians less able to resist it? Why were they more drawn to it?

    Was it because Muhammad was racially/culturally the same as them? Was it because Islam didn't deviate much from Middle Eastern customs?
    If Christianity rejected the particular customs of the Jews and looked down on Greco-Roman ways, Muhammad institutionalized the particular customs of the Arabs as a universal truth. Thus, it must have been very flattering to Arabs but threatening to non-Arabs. Arabs were bound to welcome it as culturally familiar, non-Arabs were likely to reject it as culturally alien.

    Christian universalism transcended the particularism of culture. Islamic universalism universalized the customs of a particular culture. To be sure, Muhammad reformed and streamlined Arab culture in his universalization of it--just like Mao simplified Chinese characters to make it more 'universal' to all Chinese. Still, Islam was bound to appeal to people of certain race and culture since it was so heavy with cultural/tribal baggage. Likewise, streamlined Chinese was still appealing to Chinese.

    Even though Christianity was much at odds with Greco-Roman culture, Christian Europeans might have looked at ancient sculptures and paintings and felt 'my people, my descendants'. And this was true enough of Greeks and Italians.

    What might have happened if some northern european pagan tribal leader started a universal religion that did for viking customs what Muhammad did for Arab customs? A Vikislam that universalized the customs of northern pagans as universal truths. 13th Warrior has a Muslim and Vikings trying to understand one another. What if Vikings had taken cues from Muslims.

    Or are northern europeans, being more 'bland', more temperamentally suited for liberalism?

    Or were Northern Europeans ideally positioned to receive ideas from all over the world while being physically safe from foreign invasion?

    Total cultural isolation leads to stasis. But being on the front line of conflict makes one overly conservative and fearful. Southern Europe and Near East were at the crossroads of imperial clash of civilizations. Moors could invade Spain and southern Italy but not Netherlands.
    If you have contacts with the world but are also safe from the world, you can think in terms of abstract principles.

    It's like blue state whites in safe areas but with access to news from all around the world tend to be more liberal. But southern whites in the frontline of conflict with negroes and mexers tend to be more conservative. Those in the frontline think most of survival.

    It’s like blue state whites in safe areas but with access to news from all around the world tend to be more liberal. But southern whites in the frontline of conflict with negroes and mexers tend to be more conservative. Those in the frontline think most of survival.

    And yet this is completely wrong. White urbanites who live among the infidels are far more liberal than the whites who live in comfortable enclaves in the suburbs and rural areas.

    So many people here fill up the comments with pages and pages of nonsense that sounds plausible until you step back and realize they are the musings of a crank.

    And yet so many of my comments seem to never get out of moderation. So suspicious.

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
    "And yet this is completely wrong. White urbanites who live among the infidels are far more liberal than the whites who live in comfortable enclaves in the suburbs and rural areas."

    Who would these infidels be? Negroes of Detroit or St. Louis?
    Brilliant Mexicans who contribute great things to arts and culture?

    Also, it's fallacious to think, because white urbanites who live with some non-whites are 'liberal', they are more liberal because of proximity to non-whites. After all, there are plenty of mixed-race places in the Deep South, SW, and Latin America that are hardly liberal. There are lots of mixed race small towns in the SW territories that are hardly creative in the 'liberal' sense.

    Also, the reason why the suburbs became more liberal is because lots of urban liberals left the city to get away from black crime. And the reason why cities are filling up with white liberals is due to gentrification that had entire areas more white.

    Something funny is happening. We see more interracial couples(mostly black male and white female) in big cities and yet some of these cities are getting more white.
    Last time I visited Chicago, I walked for 5 hrs down Halsted((beginning with homo town to places around downtown.) 30 yrs ago, had I walked down that area, I would have seen negroes from housing projects quite often. But I saw only two negroes for the entire walk. And there were yuppie gentrification condos all over and going up some more.
    , @melo

    And yet this is completely wrong. White urbanites who live among the infidels are far more liberal than the whites who live in comfortable enclaves in the suburbs and rural areas.
     
    One possible explanation for this phenomenon may be that that young liberal white people move to the city for jobs, eventually come to realize that their idealism has been misplaced, develop more conservative attitudes, and finally move to the suburbs to spare their children from inner city schools.
  94. @Anonymous
    @K Arujo

    The Arabs of 700 AD lived almost exclusively in the Arabian Peninsula. The people of modern Syria, Iraq, Egypt etc. did not speak Arabic nor did the share Arabian culture or values. They would not have any ethnic solidarity with the bringers of Islam. It was conquest. Mohumadens conquered them but they didn't conquer much of Western Europe

    “The people of modern Syria, Iraq, Egypt etc. did not speak Arabic nor did the share Arabian culture or values.”

    But many spoke Semitic tongues even if not exactly Arabic.
    And they had big noses and looked Swarthy.

  95. @shk12344
    Popularity of sport is measured by TV ratings, that's where the money is. When you look at TV ratings, there is no competition. NFL/College football rules

    Saying that the NBA is the favorite sport of 6% of the population behind NASCAR seems to be a good example of misleading with statistics. Basketball is probably the second or third favorite sport of more people than NASCAR is. I could be wrong. I don’t watch basketball at all. But guys I know who are into sports follow it. I don’t know anyone who knows anything about NASCAR.

  96. How much Jewish tradition can we find in Spinoza?

    Intellectually, he was a follower of Descartes – not the inventor of a completely new philosophy. There were a lot of Cartesians, even in Germany. “Enlightenment” is not a very clear concept, so Cartesianism can or cannot be regarded as early enlightenment.

    Spinoza’s public fame as a liberal relies mostly on two reasons:
    1. he wrote a treaty on freedom of expression – a dignified and readable treaty, but the subject had been popular in goyish circles for a while, above all in the Netherlands.
    2. he was the first modern philosoph who pleaded for pantheism resp. a “polite” atheism. This was indeed unusual and a novelty. But should we really say that Judaism is a “polite” atheism and that Spinoza represents insofar a Jewish influence on European enlightened thinking?

    • Replies: @Anonymous

    How much Jewish tradition can we find in Spinoza?
     
    Virtually none.His philosophical career was a repudiation of Jewish thought:

    Treatment of Judaism[edit]
    The treatise also rejected the Jewish notion of "chosenness"; to Spinoza, all peoples are on par with each other, as God has not elevated one over the other. Spinoza also offered a sociological explanation as to how the Jewish people had managed to survive for so long, despite facing relentless persecution. In his view, the Jews had been preserved due to a combination of Gentile hatred and Jewish separatism.

    He also gave one final, crucial reason for the continued Jewish presence, which in his view, was by itself sufficient to maintain the survival of the nation forever: circumcision. It was the ultimate anthropological expression of bodily marking, a tangible symbol of separateness which was the ultimate identifier.

    Spinoza also posited a novel view of the Torah; he claimed that it was essentially a political constitution of the ancient state of Israel. In his view, because the state no longer existed, its constitution could no longer be valid. He argued that the Torah was thus suited to a particular time and place; because times and circumstances had changed, the Torah could no longer be regarded as a valid document.
     

    Spinoza’s public fame as a liberal relies mostly on two reasons:
     
    I would add a third: Spinoza seems to be an oddly likable figure.Cf Bertrand Russell's line about Spinoza being the most "lovable" of philosphers
  97. @syonredux

    Beg leave to remind you: Corpus Juris Civilis, Justinian’s Code.
     
    In terms of regulating the minutia of life (what you eat, how you dress, etc), they are not remotely comparable to the legal systems that developed in Rabbinic Judaism and Islam.Plus, they are secular legal codes.In Rabbinic Judaism and Islam, the Law is sacred.

    I may have misunderstood what you meant by “sacred.” Perhaps you referred to the notion, more or less shared by Jewish and Mohammedan law, that the laws are immutable, having been delivered complete by God through his prophet(s), so it remains to men only to resolve small matters of application (obviously practice diverges somewhat from theory here ;-). Of course Christian law is looser, admitting frequent revision by earthly authorities, though always with the claims of divine sanction and concordance with basic divine law (e.g., Mosaic). And of course, Jesus famously* freed his followers from the petty strictures of Jewish law, though he tightened up the rules in sexual matters.

    I had at first thought you used the word “sacred” to mean simply sanctioned by the Divine (to which magistrates constantly refer, asserting that disobedience is impious) which covers all the codes we’ve discussed.

    *I take popular beliefs at face value here; this is not the occasion for a critical inquiry into the roots of major religions.

  98. Priss Factor [AKA "K. Arujo"] says:
    @Andrew Jackson

    It’s like blue state whites in safe areas but with access to news from all around the world tend to be more liberal. But southern whites in the frontline of conflict with negroes and mexers tend to be more conservative. Those in the frontline think most of survival.
     
    And yet this is completely wrong. White urbanites who live among the infidels are far more liberal than the whites who live in comfortable enclaves in the suburbs and rural areas.

    So many people here fill up the comments with pages and pages of nonsense that sounds plausible until you step back and realize they are the musings of a crank.

    And yet so many of my comments seem to never get out of moderation. So suspicious.

    “And yet this is completely wrong. White urbanites who live among the infidels are far more liberal than the whites who live in comfortable enclaves in the suburbs and rural areas.”

    Who would these infidels be? Negroes of Detroit or St. Louis?
    Brilliant Mexicans who contribute great things to arts and culture?

    Also, it’s fallacious to think, because white urbanites who live with some non-whites are ‘liberal’, they are more liberal because of proximity to non-whites. After all, there are plenty of mixed-race places in the Deep South, SW, and Latin America that are hardly liberal. There are lots of mixed race small towns in the SW territories that are hardly creative in the ‘liberal’ sense.

    Also, the reason why the suburbs became more liberal is because lots of urban liberals left the city to get away from black crime. And the reason why cities are filling up with white liberals is due to gentrification that had entire areas more white.

    Something funny is happening. We see more interracial couples(mostly black male and white female) in big cities and yet some of these cities are getting more white.
    Last time I visited Chicago, I walked for 5 hrs down Halsted((beginning with homo town to places around downtown.) 30 yrs ago, had I walked down that area, I would have seen negroes from housing projects quite often. But I saw only two negroes for the entire walk. And there were yuppie gentrification condos all over and going up some more.

    • Replies: @HandsomeWhiteDevil
    "I would have seen negroes from housing projects quite often. But I saw only two negroes for the entire walk. And there were yuppie gentrification condos all over and going up some more."

    Gotta love the reaction-o-sphere's revival of "Negro", (it was almost always capitalized back in the day), a perfectly good word, both descriptive and historical, since its rapid fall from use by respectable society in the mid '70s...
  99. Anonymous • Disclaimer says: • Website
    @Veracitor
    Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the term "sumptuary laws" but the Code has plenty of them; regulating dress or diet is not exclusively the province of Jewish or Mohammedan law. As for the "all encompassing" and "sacred" nature of one law code or another, you seem to have an inverted view of things. The laws of Jews or Mohammedans are not more sacred because a greater proportion of their slender contents are devoted to petty considerations of ritual. The Jewish and Mohammedan laws are simply lacking in breadth and sophistication, being laws respectively for governing a small insular group, or a large but very primitive group. Christian law, founded on Roman, Greek, and Jewish law and scaled to the needs of a complex society, is much more rightly called "all encompassing" than either of the sectarian codes you refer to.

    (You have heard of the "Byzantine lawyer?" He can out-hairsplit any three Medieval rabbis or six mullahs.)

    Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the term “sumptuary laws” but the Code has plenty of them; regulating dress or diet is not exclusively the province of Jewish or Mohammedan law.

    Quite familiar; I once wrote a paper on the sumptuary laws in New England. Of course, the difference between the West and Judaism and Islam lies in the realm of emphasis and elaboration.Differences in degree can become differences in kind, and Judaism and Islam simply place much importance on ritual law (the kind of stuff that Paul denigrated as the “Works of the Law”).Plus, there’s also the whole business about sacred vs secular law.

    As for the “all encompassing” and “sacred” nature of one law code or another, you seem to have an inverted view of things. The laws of Jews or Mohammedans are not more sacred because a greater proportion of their slender contents are devoted to petty considerations of ritual.

    No, they are sacred because they are held to derive from God.Hence, Man cannot author law in those systems; he can only interpret what has been passed down from on high.

    The Jewish and Mohammedan laws are simply lacking in breadth and sophistication, being laws respectively for governing a small insular group, or a large but very primitive group. Christian law, founded on Roman, Greek, and Jewish law and scaled to the needs of a complex society, is much more rightly called “all encompassing” than either of the sectarian codes you refer to.

    Put Rabbinic law/Islamic law on one side and Christian law on the other; Christian law allows so much freedom of action, it’s almost anarchistic

    I may have misunderstood what you meant by “sacred.” Perhaps you referred to the notion, more or less shared by Jewish and Mohammedan law, that the laws are immutable, having been delivered complete by God through his prophet(s), so it remains to men only to resolve small matters of application (obviously practice diverges somewhat from theory here ;-).

    Well, yes, that is precisely what I mean.Cf the current re-imposition of slavery in the ISIS Caliphate.Since slavery is sanctioned by Islamic law, it cannot be abolished.

    Of course Christian law is looser, admitting frequent revision by earthly authorities, though always with the claims of divine sanction and concordance with basic divine law (e.g., Mosaic).

    Which what I meant when I referred to Western Christendom essentially reducing divine law to general precepts and guidelines

    And of course, Jesus famously* freed his followers from the petty strictures of Jewish law, though he tightened up the rules in sexual matters.

    Yes, a key debate in the early Christian community (cf Acts) involved the question of Gentile converts and the ritual law.Paul held that the ritual law was no longer binding, and his position won the day.

    I had at first thought you used the word “sacred” to mean simply sanctioned by the Divine (to which magistrates constantly refer, asserting that disobedience is impious) which covers all the codes we’ve discussed.

    No, I mean something much more forceful than that.For example, in traditional Judaism it was held that the Oral Law is equal in status with the Pentateuch.Indeed, it was even professed that they were delivered to the Israelites at the same time.

  100. @Veracitor
    Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the term "sumptuary laws" but the Code has plenty of them; regulating dress or diet is not exclusively the province of Jewish or Mohammedan law. As for the "all encompassing" and "sacred" nature of one law code or another, you seem to have an inverted view of things. The laws of Jews or Mohammedans are not more sacred because a greater proportion of their slender contents are devoted to petty considerations of ritual. The Jewish and Mohammedan laws are simply lacking in breadth and sophistication, being laws respectively for governing a small insular group, or a large but very primitive group. Christian law, founded on Roman, Greek, and Jewish law and scaled to the needs of a complex society, is much more rightly called "all encompassing" than either of the sectarian codes you refer to.

    (You have heard of the "Byzantine lawyer?" He can out-hairsplit any three Medieval rabbis or six mullahs.)

    You have heard of the “Byzantine lawyer?” He can out-hairsplit any three Medieval rabbis or six mullahs.

    What you are reaching for is the phrase “Byzantine laws”

  101. @Priss Factor
    The rise of liberalism had much to do with revival of ancient pagan cultures. The problem with paganism is moral decadence from too much sensualism and hedonism. But if Christian spiritualism and pagan sensualism balance one another out, maybe it works better.

    Sometimes, paganism and spiritualism fused together. Catholic Church combined idolatry with worship. I guess a recent variation of this is neo-Christianity that combines morality with holy-homo-worship. Ewww.

    Maybe it had to do with race as well. Since Europeans looked more like Greeks and Romans, they more readily identified with the ancient Greco-Roman pagans.
    In contrast, while Muslims admired certain classical culture, they didn't see it as their heritage since Greeks and Romans were Europeans.

    Another question worth pondering. Islam was a late comer. It spread in the 7th century. Prior to then, the entire Middle East was either Christian, Zoroastrian, pagan, or some such.

    Why did Islam as the new religion spread in the Near East but not in Europe? Why were European Christians successful in rejecting/resisting it while Middle Eastern Christians fell under its power?

    Why were Middle Eastern Christians less able to resist it? Why were they more drawn to it?

    Was it because Muhammad was racially/culturally the same as them? Was it because Islam didn't deviate much from Middle Eastern customs?
    If Christianity rejected the particular customs of the Jews and looked down on Greco-Roman ways, Muhammad institutionalized the particular customs of the Arabs as a universal truth. Thus, it must have been very flattering to Arabs but threatening to non-Arabs. Arabs were bound to welcome it as culturally familiar, non-Arabs were likely to reject it as culturally alien.

    Christian universalism transcended the particularism of culture. Islamic universalism universalized the customs of a particular culture. To be sure, Muhammad reformed and streamlined Arab culture in his universalization of it--just like Mao simplified Chinese characters to make it more 'universal' to all Chinese. Still, Islam was bound to appeal to people of certain race and culture since it was so heavy with cultural/tribal baggage. Likewise, streamlined Chinese was still appealing to Chinese.

    Even though Christianity was much at odds with Greco-Roman culture, Christian Europeans might have looked at ancient sculptures and paintings and felt 'my people, my descendants'. And this was true enough of Greeks and Italians.

    What might have happened if some northern european pagan tribal leader started a universal religion that did for viking customs what Muhammad did for Arab customs? A Vikislam that universalized the customs of northern pagans as universal truths. 13th Warrior has a Muslim and Vikings trying to understand one another. What if Vikings had taken cues from Muslims.

    Or are northern europeans, being more 'bland', more temperamentally suited for liberalism?

    Or were Northern Europeans ideally positioned to receive ideas from all over the world while being physically safe from foreign invasion?

    Total cultural isolation leads to stasis. But being on the front line of conflict makes one overly conservative and fearful. Southern Europe and Near East were at the crossroads of imperial clash of civilizations. Moors could invade Spain and southern Italy but not Netherlands.
    If you have contacts with the world but are also safe from the world, you can think in terms of abstract principles.

    It's like blue state whites in safe areas but with access to news from all around the world tend to be more liberal. But southern whites in the frontline of conflict with negroes and mexers tend to be more conservative. Those in the frontline think most of survival.

    Maybe it had to do with race as well. Since Europeans looked more like Greeks and Romans, they more readily identified with the ancient Greco-Roman pagans.
    In contrast, while Muslims admired certain classical culture, they didn’t see it as their heritage since Greeks and Romans were Europeans.

    If you go to Italy and Greece, most people you’ll see can’t reliably be distinguished from pale Middle-Easterners like this Persian-American actress.

    When considering how much Middle Easterners 2000 years ago looked like Italians and Greeks, note Gregory Cochran’s summary: “the Middle East isn’t what it used to be – more South Arabian and African ancestry.”

  102. My post was accidentally marked as anonymous; here it is again:

    Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the term “sumptuary laws” but the Code has plenty of them; regulating dress or diet is not exclusively the province of Jewish or Mohammedan law.

    Quite familiar; I once wrote a paper on the sumptuary laws in New England. Of course, the difference between the West and Judaism and Islam lies in the realm of emphasis and elaboration.Differences in degree can become differences in kind, and Judaism and Islam simply place much importance on ritual law (the kind of stuff that Paul denigrated as the “Works of the Law”).Plus, there’s also the whole business about sacred vs secular law.

    As for the “all encompassing” and “sacred” nature of one law code or another, you seem to have an inverted view of things. The laws of Jews or Mohammedans are not more sacred because a greater proportion of their slender contents are devoted to petty considerations of ritual.

    No, they are sacred because they are held to derive from God.Hence, Man cannot author law in those systems; he can only interpret what has been passed down from on high.

    The Jewish and Mohammedan laws are simply lacking in breadth and sophistication, being laws respectively for governing a small insular group, or a large but very primitive group. Christian law, founded on Roman, Greek, and Jewish law and scaled to the needs of a complex society, is much more rightly called “all encompassing” than either of the sectarian codes you refer to.

    Put Rabbinic law/Islamic law on one side and Christian law on the other; Christian law allows so much freedom of action, it’s almost anarchistic

    I may have misunderstood what you meant by “sacred.” Perhaps you referred to the notion, more or less shared by Jewish and Mohammedan law, that the laws are immutable, having been delivered complete by God through his prophet(s), so it remains to men only to resolve small matters of application (obviously practice diverges somewhat from theory here ;-).

    Well, yes, that is precisely what I mean.Cf the current re-imposition of slavery in the ISIS Caliphate.Since slavery is sanctioned by Islamic law, it cannot be abolished.

    Of course Christian law is looser, admitting frequent revision by earthly authorities, though always with the claims of divine sanction and concordance with basic divine law (e.g., Mosaic).

    Which what I meant when I referred to Western Christendom essentially reducing divine law to general precepts and guidelines

    And of course, Jesus famously* freed his followers from the petty strictures of Jewish law, though he tightened up the rules in sexual matters.

    Yes, a key debate in the early Christian community (cf Acts) involved the question of Gentile converts and the ritual law.Paul held that the ritual law was no longer binding, and his position won the day.

    I had at first thought you used the word “sacred” to mean simply sanctioned by the Divine (to which magistrates constantly refer, asserting that disobedience is impious) which covers all the codes we’ve discussed.

    No, I mean something much more forceful than that.For example, in traditional Judaism it was held that the Oral Law is equal in status with the Pentateuch.Indeed, it was even professed that they were delivered to the Israelites at the same time.

  103. Anonymous • Disclaimer says: • Website
    @Stogumber
    How much Jewish tradition can we find in Spinoza?

    Intellectually, he was a follower of Descartes - not the inventor of a completely new philosophy. There were a lot of Cartesians, even in Germany. "Enlightenment" is not a very clear concept, so Cartesianism can or cannot be regarded as early enlightenment.

    Spinoza's public fame as a liberal relies mostly on two reasons:
    1. he wrote a treaty on freedom of expression - a dignified and readable treaty, but the subject had been popular in goyish circles for a while, above all in the Netherlands.
    2. he was the first modern philosoph who pleaded for pantheism resp. a "polite" atheism. This was indeed unusual and a novelty. But should we really say that Judaism is a "polite" atheism and that Spinoza represents insofar a Jewish influence on European enlightened thinking?

    How much Jewish tradition can we find in Spinoza?

    Virtually none.His philosophical career was a repudiation of Jewish thought:

    Treatment of Judaism[edit]
    The treatise also rejected the Jewish notion of “chosenness”; to Spinoza, all peoples are on par with each other, as God has not elevated one over the other. Spinoza also offered a sociological explanation as to how the Jewish people had managed to survive for so long, despite facing relentless persecution. In his view, the Jews had been preserved due to a combination of Gentile hatred and Jewish separatism.

    He also gave one final, crucial reason for the continued Jewish presence, which in his view, was by itself sufficient to maintain the survival of the nation forever: circumcision. It was the ultimate anthropological expression of bodily marking, a tangible symbol of separateness which was the ultimate identifier.

    Spinoza also posited a novel view of the Torah; he claimed that it was essentially a political constitution of the ancient state of Israel. In his view, because the state no longer existed, its constitution could no longer be valid. He argued that the Torah was thus suited to a particular time and place; because times and circumstances had changed, the Torah could no longer be regarded as a valid document.

    Spinoza’s public fame as a liberal relies mostly on two reasons:

    I would add a third: Spinoza seems to be an oddly likable figure.Cf Bertrand Russell’s line about Spinoza being the most “lovable” of philosphers

  104. Got labeled anonymous again:

    How much Jewish tradition can we find in Spinoza?

    Virtually none.His philosophical career was a repudiation of Jewish thought:

    Treatment of Judaism[edit]
    The treatise also rejected the Jewish notion of “chosenness”; to Spinoza, all peoples are on par with each other, as God has not elevated one over the other. Spinoza also offered a sociological explanation as to how the Jewish people had managed to survive for so long, despite facing relentless persecution. In his view, the Jews had been preserved due to a combination of Gentile hatred and Jewish separatism.

    He also gave one final, crucial reason for the continued Jewish presence, which in his view, was by itself sufficient to maintain the survival of the nation forever: circumcision. It was the ultimate anthropological expression of bodily marking, a tangible symbol of separateness which was the ultimate identifier.

    Spinoza also posited a novel view of the Torah; he claimed that it was essentially a political constitution of the ancient state of Israel. In his view, because the state no longer existed, its constitution could no longer be valid. He argued that the Torah was thus suited to a particular time and place; because times and circumstances had changed, the Torah could no longer be regarded as a valid document.

    Spinoza’s public fame as a liberal relies mostly on two reasons:

    I would add a third: Spinoza seems to be an oddly likable figure.Cf Bertrand Russell’s line about Spinoza being the most “lovable” of philosphers

    • Replies: @inertial


    How much Jewish tradition can we find in Spinoza?
     
    Virtually none.His philosophical career was a repudiation of Jewish thought.
     
    But Christianity gets credit for liberalism, even though the latter is a repudiation of the former.
    , @Lot

    His philosophical career was a repudiation of Jewish thought
     
    I would not put it that way, anymore than I'd say the first wave of empiricist philosophers "repudiated" Christian thought. They were often stridently anti-scholastic, which was the dominant Christian philosophy at the time, but still viewed themselves as good Christians. Indeed, Malebranche was a Catholic priest and Berkeley a Anglo-Irish bishop.
  105. @Anon 2
    Steve is forgetting that by the 18th century there were very few Jews left in Western Europe. They were expelled, often many times, from England, France, Italy, Germany, and, of course, Spain. Let me recommend several Wikipedia articles:

    1. Edict of Expulsion (1290). The article refers to the expulsion of the Jews from England, but what's interesting about it is that it contains a useful map of Europe showing the dates of Jewish expulsion from various countries. Mainly only two
    countries took Jews in: Netherlands and Poland, mostly Poland. Basically, Western Europe said to Poland: you deal with the Jews now, we don't want to.

    2. History of the Jews in Poland. Let me quote from the article, "For centuries, Poland was home to the largest and most significant Jewish community in the world." This was facilitated by The Statute of Kalisz (1264) (cf. Wikipedia) in which Polish rulers granted extraordinary privileges to the Jews, and by the Warsaw Confederation (1573) (cf. Wikipedia) which was the first document in the world to grant freedom to practice any religion without any discrimination or penalty. As someone had said, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (or Republic) at that time was focused on trying to build utopia on earth. While the Western Europeans were butchering each other with great efficiency in the religious wars that lasted over 120 years, Poland, which was then the largest country in Europe (at one point, due to dynastic politics, reaching as far as northern Italy in the 1500s), was peaceful, libertarian, tolerant, and accepting refugees and religious dissidents, incl. Jews, fleeing from the horrors of Western Europe. Let's remember that Western Europe was a very violent intolerant place until a measure of stability was brought by the decline of the Ottoman Empire and later by the Congress of Vienna (1815).

    To finish this story, in 1772 with the first partition of Poland (showing that multiculturalism, libertanianism, and decentralization do not work, esp. if you are in Central Europe surrounded by aggressive expansionist powers), Russia got many of Poland's Jews. Until then, Jews technically were prohibited from settling in Russia. Solzhenitsyn talks about it in his book, Two Hundred Years Together (the book Americans are not allowed to read). Jews have lived in Poland for 1000 years, in Russia - only 200.

    It's strange. It's almost like we are not allowed to mention Poland in connection with the Jews, while the Western Europeans are congratulating themselves on how tolerant they are and what great things they've done for the Jews in the last 1000 years.

    Very well put.

    The Poles first saved the Jews, then saved central Europe’s Christians from the Ottoman hordes in the battle of Vienna.

    • Replies: @syonredux

    Very well put.

    The Poles first saved the Jews,
     
    Well, the Polish nobility did find them very useful as estate managers and tax farmers in Ukraine.Of course, that ended rather badly for all concerned....
  106. @Svigor
    I've seen no mention of how much Christianity borrowed from Greco-Roman and Asian culture. The sacrifice and resurrection of Christ come to mind. As does Eucharist. Those are two very prominent examples.

    Individualism is, in many ways, an outcome of wealth. So is liberalism.

    Also, I think it makes as much sense to ask how Europeans shaped Christianity, as to ask how Christianity shaped Europeans. There's an awful lot of Scripture in Christianity, and much of it is ignored, often in favor of doctrine.

    Douthat is right. Much of the moral content and energy driving modern western liberalism (in the colloquial political sense of the word, not the economic) derive rather straightforwardly from Christian, mostly protestant, heresies.

    You’re right in identifying the concern for the poor and certain ‘ethical’ stances, but the range is wider: environmentalism (with its deep sense of original sin and its apocalyptic narrative arc); open borders (welcoming the stranger; ‘in Christ there is no Jew or Greek’); economic redistribution (shades of Acts 2:44-45); and so on.

    Much of the rigor with which these aims are pursued in the USA is the result, I believe, of its residual Calvinistic/Puritan ethos. A heretical Calvinist is better organized and more determined than many an other heretic
     
    I find the fact that liberalism is tailored to exploit Christian/post-Christian weaknesses less interesting than the why. E.g., which Scripture gets used, and what gets ignored. The Bible says to smash the idols of foreigners in your lands and drive foreign cults out of it. It says that the people shall only elect their rulers from the people/tribe, no foreign/alien kings allowed. That's Christian, those are just as post-Christian as anything else. The Bible's full of illiberal stuff that gets ignored.

    How many Christians do you know that are pacifists, for example? Probably not very many.
     
    Christ wasn't a pacifist. He took a bullwhip to a crowded public square. The subtext is that his followers were cracking skulls alongside him.

    Look how Jesus treats everyone with dignity and respect (except the hypocritical religious establishment.)
     
    Like the woman who wanted him to cure her daughter. First he ignored her. Then he told her off, saying his mojo was only for the sons of Israel. When she finally called her tribe "dogs" begging for scraps from his "master" tribe, he relented. Yep, that just oozes respect for her dignity.

    Christianity is [...] – a mishmash of Greek thought, various Near Eastern “heresies”, Manicheanism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism,
     
    Took long enough for that to be mentioned.

    Then Luther nailed his 95 thesis to the door. The rejection of the absolute authority of the Pope ended up in freeing the individual to choose their own path to Righteousness. As a result of the reformation, each individual person be came responsible for their loss or winning of salvation of their soul.
    Europe also was not a unified empire. Big empires are rigid, and crush change and dissent. Europe was a mishmash of small kingdoms. Once freed of Papal rigidity, The individual empowerment of the splintered protestant faiths helped kindle the growth of trade and technology. Doing good by helping others rather than sending money to Rome changed Europe, and then the world.
     
    Almost like Europeans were predisposed toward individualism. Which would mean "too much of a good thing" for Europeans would be too much liberalism...

    indeed, the Koran is the only “holy” book that exhorts its adherents to material acquisitiveness, and by any means that enriches and empowers the umma.
     
    Explicitly, maybe, but Judaism does an awful lot of "thy tribe shalt rule over the Earth." And it orders Jews to be fruitful and multiply, which pretty strongly implies material gain.

    In India’s strict caste system, Hinduism’s appeal seems to lie in its notion of reincarnation, through which the soul improves itself – and also, through rebirth of the deserving, improves (or, indeed, demotes) the believer’s body-vessel’s worldly station in life.
     
    Talk about your Original Sin (I'm just poor and low caste because I did something wrong in a previous life).

    Modern liberalism-Progressivism’s control freak/Thought Police domination is the antithesis of Adam Smith’s live-and-let-live liberalism – its gone directly to Lord Acton’s dictum that power corrupts.
     
    Hmmm. I dunno about that. Modern liberalism seems designed to free up its adherents to be authoritarian and intolerant in the name of Goodness. But maybe you're right and that all came after liberalism won.

    I agree about the Orthodox world. The contrast between the late Western and Eastern Roman Empires and their cultural descendants is striking, especially considering that for a thousand years the ERE was the success story long after the WRE had fallen.
     
    Apropos of I dunno, but the most plausible theory I read of why the Eastern Empire survived and the Western Empire fell was that the Eastern was much wealthier, more built-up, and more fortified than the Western (the Greeks having a much longer history of wealth and power up to that point).

    I’ve seen no mention of how much Christianity borrowed from Greco-Roman and Asian culture.

    Probably because it’s too obvious a point.Christianity is a synthesis of Greek philosophy (was it Nietzsche who said that Christianity is Platonism for the masses?) and Second Temple Judaism.

    The Bible’s full of illiberal stuff that gets ignored.

    Christianity has always been about picking what you like and ignoring the rest.

    Christ wasn’t a pacifist. He took a bullwhip to a crowded public square. The subtext is that his followers were cracking skulls alongside him.

    Other than the fact that he was crucified, we don’t really know anything about Jesus.Besides, as noted above, people pick which Jesus quotes they want to use.

    Like the woman who wanted him to cure her daughter. First he ignored her. Then he told her off, saying his mojo was only for the sons of Israel. When she finally called her tribe “dogs” begging for scraps from his “master” tribe, he relented. Yep, that just oozes respect for her dignity.

    The universal elements in Christianity come from Paul:

    There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)

  107. @syonredux
    Got labeled anonymous again:

    How much Jewish tradition can we find in Spinoza?
     
    Virtually none.His philosophical career was a repudiation of Jewish thought:

    Treatment of Judaism[edit]
    The treatise also rejected the Jewish notion of “chosenness”; to Spinoza, all peoples are on par with each other, as God has not elevated one over the other. Spinoza also offered a sociological explanation as to how the Jewish people had managed to survive for so long, despite facing relentless persecution. In his view, the Jews had been preserved due to a combination of Gentile hatred and Jewish separatism.

    He also gave one final, crucial reason for the continued Jewish presence, which in his view, was by itself sufficient to maintain the survival of the nation forever: circumcision. It was the ultimate anthropological expression of bodily marking, a tangible symbol of separateness which was the ultimate identifier.

    Spinoza also posited a novel view of the Torah; he claimed that it was essentially a political constitution of the ancient state of Israel. In his view, because the state no longer existed, its constitution could no longer be valid. He argued that the Torah was thus suited to a particular time and place; because times and circumstances had changed, the Torah could no longer be regarded as a valid document.
     

    Spinoza’s public fame as a liberal relies mostly on two reasons:
     
    I would add a third: Spinoza seems to be an oddly likable figure.Cf Bertrand Russell’s line about Spinoza being the most “lovable” of philosphers

    How much Jewish tradition can we find in Spinoza?

    Virtually none.His philosophical career was a repudiation of Jewish thought.

    But Christianity gets credit for liberalism, even though the latter is a repudiation of the former.

    • Replies: @syonredux

    But Christianity gets credit for liberalism, even though the latter is a repudiation of the former.
     
    Some would argue that Liberalism is the culmination of Western Christianity ......
  108. @Greenstalk
    Depends on what one thinks "liberalism" is all about. In historical context liberalism was a rejection of monarchism and aristocracy. All liberals agreed on that much. There were some different ideas when it came to what should replace the old order though. While Moyn (or perhaps Siedentop) associates "liberalism" with "modern individualism", few if any liberals in the 18th, 19th, or early 20th centuries displayed any fondness for such a concept. Liberalism used to be entirely compatible with a rejection of individualism. And arguably the current strain of PC left-liberalism remains hostile to it, which is why it tries so hard to herd people into its pre-approved racial, ethnic, and behavioral categories.

    “While Moyn (or perhaps Siedentop) associates “liberalism” with “modern individualism”, few if any liberals in the 18th, 19th, or early 20th centuries displayed any fondness for such a concept.”

    A frequent conservative criticism of liberalism during this time period was that liberalism, if followed to its natural conclusion, as indeed it must, would lead to libertinism and license, a society of rampant, uncontrollable and irresponsible rabble wreaking havoc on society and all its institutions. Thus, in the minds of many conservatives, liberalism was incompatible with civilization, and must be resisted if civilization were to survive.

    Liberals themselves took frequent pains to deny such destructive impulses were an innate part of their political, economic, and cultural philosophies, and appealed to traditional sources such as the Bible to demonstrate that their ideas had a firm grounding in the Western tradition.

    Also, liberals at this time stressed the communal aspects of their philosophies, most famously in the labor movement (workingman’s solidarity), but as conservatives always believed, modern individualism was never very far from the surface, and would come to the forefront of modern liberalism early in the 20th Century.

    The question is, what happened to allow modern views of individualism to take precedence between, say 1900 to 1980, when liberal communalism re-emerged in the form of PC and multiculturalism?

    • Replies: @Southfarthing

    The question is, what happened to allow modern views of individualism to take precedence between, say 1900 to 1980, when liberal communalism re-emerged in the form of PC and multiculturalism?
     
    This is surely bound up with "why did colonialism end?" The British Empire was never defeated, but rather the British lost the will to maintain what their forefathers had built.

    The answer must be some combination of the rise of industrialism, capitalism, and democracy, the decline of monarchies, and the many effects of the two World Wars.

    If we were to reduce it to one sentence, perhaps it's that rising technology and sophistication nudged Europeans to enjoy their standard of living and be less interested in dominating others.
  109. @Svigor
    I've seen no mention of how much Christianity borrowed from Greco-Roman and Asian culture. The sacrifice and resurrection of Christ come to mind. As does Eucharist. Those are two very prominent examples.

    Individualism is, in many ways, an outcome of wealth. So is liberalism.

    Also, I think it makes as much sense to ask how Europeans shaped Christianity, as to ask how Christianity shaped Europeans. There's an awful lot of Scripture in Christianity, and much of it is ignored, often in favor of doctrine.

    Douthat is right. Much of the moral content and energy driving modern western liberalism (in the colloquial political sense of the word, not the economic) derive rather straightforwardly from Christian, mostly protestant, heresies.

    You’re right in identifying the concern for the poor and certain ‘ethical’ stances, but the range is wider: environmentalism (with its deep sense of original sin and its apocalyptic narrative arc); open borders (welcoming the stranger; ‘in Christ there is no Jew or Greek’); economic redistribution (shades of Acts 2:44-45); and so on.

    Much of the rigor with which these aims are pursued in the USA is the result, I believe, of its residual Calvinistic/Puritan ethos. A heretical Calvinist is better organized and more determined than many an other heretic
     
    I find the fact that liberalism is tailored to exploit Christian/post-Christian weaknesses less interesting than the why. E.g., which Scripture gets used, and what gets ignored. The Bible says to smash the idols of foreigners in your lands and drive foreign cults out of it. It says that the people shall only elect their rulers from the people/tribe, no foreign/alien kings allowed. That's Christian, those are just as post-Christian as anything else. The Bible's full of illiberal stuff that gets ignored.

    How many Christians do you know that are pacifists, for example? Probably not very many.
     
    Christ wasn't a pacifist. He took a bullwhip to a crowded public square. The subtext is that his followers were cracking skulls alongside him.

    Look how Jesus treats everyone with dignity and respect (except the hypocritical religious establishment.)
     
    Like the woman who wanted him to cure her daughter. First he ignored her. Then he told her off, saying his mojo was only for the sons of Israel. When she finally called her tribe "dogs" begging for scraps from his "master" tribe, he relented. Yep, that just oozes respect for her dignity.

    Christianity is [...] – a mishmash of Greek thought, various Near Eastern “heresies”, Manicheanism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism,
     
    Took long enough for that to be mentioned.

    Then Luther nailed his 95 thesis to the door. The rejection of the absolute authority of the Pope ended up in freeing the individual to choose their own path to Righteousness. As a result of the reformation, each individual person be came responsible for their loss or winning of salvation of their soul.
    Europe also was not a unified empire. Big empires are rigid, and crush change and dissent. Europe was a mishmash of small kingdoms. Once freed of Papal rigidity, The individual empowerment of the splintered protestant faiths helped kindle the growth of trade and technology. Doing good by helping others rather than sending money to Rome changed Europe, and then the world.
     
    Almost like Europeans were predisposed toward individualism. Which would mean "too much of a good thing" for Europeans would be too much liberalism...

    indeed, the Koran is the only “holy” book that exhorts its adherents to material acquisitiveness, and by any means that enriches and empowers the umma.
     
    Explicitly, maybe, but Judaism does an awful lot of "thy tribe shalt rule over the Earth." And it orders Jews to be fruitful and multiply, which pretty strongly implies material gain.

    In India’s strict caste system, Hinduism’s appeal seems to lie in its notion of reincarnation, through which the soul improves itself – and also, through rebirth of the deserving, improves (or, indeed, demotes) the believer’s body-vessel’s worldly station in life.
     
    Talk about your Original Sin (I'm just poor and low caste because I did something wrong in a previous life).

    Modern liberalism-Progressivism’s control freak/Thought Police domination is the antithesis of Adam Smith’s live-and-let-live liberalism – its gone directly to Lord Acton’s dictum that power corrupts.
     
    Hmmm. I dunno about that. Modern liberalism seems designed to free up its adherents to be authoritarian and intolerant in the name of Goodness. But maybe you're right and that all came after liberalism won.

    I agree about the Orthodox world. The contrast between the late Western and Eastern Roman Empires and their cultural descendants is striking, especially considering that for a thousand years the ERE was the success story long after the WRE had fallen.
     
    Apropos of I dunno, but the most plausible theory I read of why the Eastern Empire survived and the Western Empire fell was that the Eastern was much wealthier, more built-up, and more fortified than the Western (the Greeks having a much longer history of wealth and power up to that point).

    Apropos of I dunno, but the most plausible theory I read of why the Eastern Empire survived and the Western Empire fell was that the Eastern was much wealthier, more built-up, and more fortified than the Western (the Greeks having a much longer history of wealth and power up to that point).

    That’s basically correct. The capital was moved to Constantinople when the Western Empire was still fully intact to reflect the real center of economic gravity. The Romans never figured out how to develop the economies of cold climates. While they conquered a large part of modern Germany, Britain, Austria, and all of Switzerland, this was more about providing a large buffer zone to protect Italy, Spain, and Southern France, and later a source of soldiers to fight the Persians.

    When German tribes demanded to settle in the West as they fled the invading Huns and other tribes from the Caucuses and Western Asia, Transalpine Gaul was the obvious place to give up.

  110. Since we’ve been doing a fair amount of talking about the role of orthopraxy in Islam, this article from the Atlantic seems noteworthy:

    There is a temptation to rehearse this observation—that jihadists are modern secular people, with modern political concerns, wearing medieval religious disguise—and make it fit the Islamic State. In fact, much of what the group does looks nonsensical except in light of a sincere, carefully considered commitment to returning civilization to a seventh-century legal environment, and ultimately to bringing about the apocalypse.

    To take one example: In September, Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the Islamic State’s chief spokesman, called on Muslims in Western countries such as France and Canada to find an infidel and “smash his head with a rock,” poison him, run him over with a car, or “destroy his crops.” To Western ears, the biblical-sounding punishments—the stoning and crop destruction—juxtaposed strangely with his more modern-sounding call to vehicular homicide. (As if to show that he could terrorize by imagery alone, Adnani also referred to Secretary of State John Kerry as an “uncircumcised geezer.”)

    But Adnani was not merely talking trash. His speech was laced with theological and legal discussion, and his exhortation to attack crops directly echoed orders from Muhammad to leave well water and crops alone—unless the armies of Islam were in a defensive position, in which case Muslims in the lands of kuffar, or infidels, should be unmerciful, and poison away.

    The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.

    Denying the holiness of the Koran or the prophecies of Muhammad is straightforward apostasy. But Zarqawi and the state he spawned take the position that many other acts can remove a Muslim from Islam. These include, in certain cases, selling alcohol or drugs, wearing Western clothes or shaving one’s beard, voting in an election—even for a Muslim candidate—and being lax about calling other people apostates. Being a Shiite, as most Iraqi Arabs are, meets the standard as well, because the Islamic State regards Shiism as innovation, and to innovate on the Koran is to deny its initial perfection. (The Islamic State claims that common Shiite practices, such as worship at the graves of imams and public self-flagellation, have no basis in the Koran or in the example of the Prophet.) That means roughly 200 million Shia are marked for death. So too are the heads of state of every Muslim country, who have elevated man-made law above Sharia by running for office or enforcing laws not made by God.

    Following takfiri doctrine, the Islamic State is committed to purifying the world by killing vast numbers of people. The lack of objective reporting from its territory makes the true extent of the slaughter unknowable, but social-media posts from the region suggest that individual executions happen more or less continually, and mass executions every few weeks. Muslim “apostates” are the most common victims. Exempted from automatic execution, it appears, are Christians who do not resist their new government. Baghdadi permits them to live, as long as they pay a special tax, known as the jizya, and acknowledge their subjugation. The Koranic authority for this practice is not in dispute.

    All Muslims acknowledge that Muhammad’s earliest conquests were not tidy affairs, and that the laws of war passed down in the Koran and in the narrations of the Prophet’s rule were calibrated to fit a turbulent and violent time. In Haykel’s estimation, the fighters of the Islamic State are authentic throwbacks to early Islam and are faithfully reproducing its norms of war. This behavior includes a number of practices that modern Muslims tend to prefer not to acknowledge as integral to their sacred texts. “Slavery, crucifixion, and beheadings are not something that freakish [jihadists] are cherry-picking from the medieval tradition,” Haykel said. Islamic State fighters “are smack in the middle of the medieval tradition and are bringing it wholesale into the present day.”

    The Koran specifies crucifixion as one of the only punishments permitted for enemies of Islam. The tax on Christians finds clear endorsement in the Surah Al-Tawba, the Koran’s ninth chapter, which instructs Muslims to fight Christians and Jews “until they pay the jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” The Prophet, whom all Muslims consider exemplary, imposed these rules and owned slaves.

    Leaders of the Islamic State have taken emulation of Muhammad as strict duty, and have revived traditions that have been dormant for hundreds of years.

    If al-Qaeda wanted to revive slavery, it never said so. And why would it? Silence on slavery probably reflected strategic thinking, with public sympathies in mind: when the Islamic State began enslaving people, even some of its supporters balked. Nonetheless, the caliphate has continued to embrace slavery and crucifixion without apology. “We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women,” Adnani, the spokesman, promised in one of his periodic valentines to the West. “If we do not reach that time, then our children and grandchildren will reach it, and they will sell your sons as slaves at the slave market.”

    In October, Dabiq, the magazine of the Islamic State, published “The Revival of Slavery Before the Hour,” an article that took up the question of whether Yazidis (the members of an ancient Kurdish sect that borrows elements of Islam, and had come under attack from Islamic State forces in northern Iraq) are lapsed Muslims, and therefore marked for death, or merely pagans and therefore fair game for enslavement. A study group of Islamic State scholars had convened, on government orders, to resolve this issue. If they are pagans, the article’s anonymous author wrote,

    Yazidi women and children [are to be] divided according to the Shariah amongst the fighters of the Islamic State who participated in the Sinjar operations [in northern Iraq] … Enslaving the families of the kuffar [infidels] and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the Shariah that if one were to deny or mock, he would be denying or mocking the verses of the Koran and the narrations of the Prophet … and thereby apostatizing from Islam.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2015/02/what-isis-really-wants/384980/

  111. @Fake Herzog
    We are 24 comments in (at the time I'm writing this) and no one has mentioned mad, mad, mad Mencius yet? For shame:

    http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com/2007/07/universalism-postwar-progressivism-as.html

    I’d almost forgotten about Moldbug. Whatever happened to him? anybody know?

  112. @syonredux
    Got labeled anonymous again:

    How much Jewish tradition can we find in Spinoza?
     
    Virtually none.His philosophical career was a repudiation of Jewish thought:

    Treatment of Judaism[edit]
    The treatise also rejected the Jewish notion of “chosenness”; to Spinoza, all peoples are on par with each other, as God has not elevated one over the other. Spinoza also offered a sociological explanation as to how the Jewish people had managed to survive for so long, despite facing relentless persecution. In his view, the Jews had been preserved due to a combination of Gentile hatred and Jewish separatism.

    He also gave one final, crucial reason for the continued Jewish presence, which in his view, was by itself sufficient to maintain the survival of the nation forever: circumcision. It was the ultimate anthropological expression of bodily marking, a tangible symbol of separateness which was the ultimate identifier.

    Spinoza also posited a novel view of the Torah; he claimed that it was essentially a political constitution of the ancient state of Israel. In his view, because the state no longer existed, its constitution could no longer be valid. He argued that the Torah was thus suited to a particular time and place; because times and circumstances had changed, the Torah could no longer be regarded as a valid document.
     

    Spinoza’s public fame as a liberal relies mostly on two reasons:
     
    I would add a third: Spinoza seems to be an oddly likable figure.Cf Bertrand Russell’s line about Spinoza being the most “lovable” of philosphers

    His philosophical career was a repudiation of Jewish thought

    I would not put it that way, anymore than I’d say the first wave of empiricist philosophers “repudiated” Christian thought. They were often stridently anti-scholastic, which was the dominant Christian philosophy at the time, but still viewed themselves as good Christians. Indeed, Malebranche was a Catholic priest and Berkeley a Anglo-Irish bishop.

  113. @Jus' Sayin'...
    The whole premise that individualism was an invention of Christianity seems absurd to me. The classical world is full of complete, three-dimensional personalities who seem freed from bonds to family, tribe, or even ordinary society. Plutarch is full of examples. So is Greek philosophy. Reading The Symposium one gets a sense of a group of fully-formed individuals engaging one another in ways free from constraints of family, tribe, etc. In the Old Testament David is certainly an individualist to such a degree as to border on sociopathy. Many of the prophets too, e.g., Amos. And we get glimpses of true individuality in the modern sense not just from portraits of viri or "big men" but more ordinary folks, e.g., Cicero, the soldiers mentioned in Caesar's histories, folks in the Bible like Abigail, Uriel the Hittite, Naboth, etc. I'm just writing off the top of my head with a pretty limited knowledge but I think a little research and thought would allow me to pretty much demolish Siedentop's thesis with etailed analyses of many other examples. Am I missing some intellectual/historical subtlety here?

    “The whole premise that individualism was an invention of Christianity seems absurd to me. The classical world is full of complete, three-dimensional personalities who seem freed from bonds to family, tribe, or even ordinary society”

    All over the world, folk tales are replete with examples of young lovers running away to marry in defiance of the wishes of tradition, parent, and tribe. Individual men (and women, sometimes) fight injustice, in the form of individual rebellions against the powers-that-be, and are presented as admirable and worthy, not as oddball outcasts.

    “I’m just writing off the top of my head with a pretty limited knowledge but I think a little research and thought would allow me to pretty much demolish Siedentop’s thesis with etailed analyses of many other examples. Am I missing some intellectual/historical subtlety here?”

    Same here, I’d say that Siedentop suffers from a common malady experienced by those eager to make their “individual” (heh heh) mark in some philosophical endeavor: They have developed what I call a “Theory of Everything” that seeks to explain the existence of some quality, activity, or occurence of something that exists in the world.

    Thus economic disparities of wealth and poverty are stated by Marxists to be caused by the oppression of labor by capital, differences between the sexes are caused by the oppression of women by men, according to the Feminists, and racial disparities between Blacks and Whites are said to be entirely the fault of White racism, so saith the flat earth SJWs.

    A lot of square pegs have to be hammered into round holes, and a lot of round holes have to be filled in with mental concrete, in order for these “Theories of Everything” to be taken seriously…

  114. @syonredux

    Well there is the matter of legal disabilities imposed upon them. If you look at the biographies of intellectual figures of the era, you see they were typically non-first-borns from minor noble and gentry families, and provided with an extensive education with the intention they become either clergy, lawyers, or civil servants. Both this education and these professions were barred to Jews in the initial era of the Enlightenment.
     
    Yeah, but there were plenty of "non-first born sons" of rabbis and wealthy Jewish merchants.And the Jews during the Middle Ages and Early Modern period were exposed to the same ferment of ideas as their Christian and Islamic neighbors (cf Maimonides).Yet liberal individualism did not arise among them.When Spinoza (himself a "non-first born son" of a merchant) sought to engage with the emerging modern world-view, he had to leave the Jewish community:

    On 27 July 1656, the Talmud Torah congregation of Amsterdam issued a writ of cherem (Hebrew: חרם, a kind of ban, shunning, ostracism, expulsion, or excommunication) against the 23-year-old Spinoza.[42] The following document translates the official record of the censure:[43]

    The Lords of the ma'amad, having long known of the evil opinions and acts of Baruch de Espinoza, have endeavored by various means and promises, to turn him from his evil ways. But having failed to make him mend his wicked ways, and, on the contrary, daily receiving more and more serious information about the abominable heresies which he practiced and taught and about his monstrous deeds, and having for this numerous trustworthy witnesses who have deposed and born witness to this effect in the presence of the said Espinoza, they became convinced of the truth of the matter; and after all of this has been investigated in the presence of the honorable chachamin, they have decided, with their consent, that the said Espinoza should be excommunicated and expelled from the people of Israel. By the decree of the angels, and by the command of the holy men, we excommunicate, expel, curse and damn Baruch de Espinoza, with the consent of God, Blessed be He, and with the consent of all the Holy Congregation, in front of these holy Scrolls with the six-hundred-and-thirteen precepts which are written therein, with the excommunication with which Joshua banned Jericho, with the curse with which Elisha cursed the boys, and with all the curses which are written in the Book of the Law. Cursed be he by day and cursed be he by night; cursed be he when he lies down, and cursed be he when he rises up; cursed be he when he goes out, and cursed be he when he comes in. The Lord will not spare him; the anger and wrath of the Lord will rage against this man, and bring upon him all the curses which are written in this book, and the Lord will blot out his name from under heaven, and the Lord will separate him to his injury from all the tribes of Israel with all the curses of the covenant, which are written in the Book of the Law. But you who cleave unto the Lord God are all alive this day. We order that no one should communicate with him orally or in writing, or show him any favor, or stay with him under the same roof, or within four ells of him, or read anything composed or written by him.

    The Talmud Torah congregation issued censure routinely, on matters great and small, so such an edict was not unusual.[...]

    it appears likely that Spinoza himself had already taken the initiative to separate himself from the Talmud Torah congregation and was vocally expressing his hostility to Judaism itself. He had probably stopped attending services at the synagogue either after the lawsuit with his sister or after the knife attack on its steps. He might already have been voicing the view expressed later, in his Theological-Political Treatise, that the civil authorities should suppress Judaism as harmful to the Jews themselves. Either for financial or other reasons,[52] he had in any case effectively stopped contributing to the synagogue by March 1656. He had also committed the "monstrous deed," contrary to the regulations of the synagogue and the views of certain rabbinical authorities (including Maimonides), of filing suit in a civil court rather than with the synagogue authorities[53]—to renounce his father's heritage, no less. Upon being notified of the issuance of the censure, he is reported to have said: "Very well; this does not force me to do anything that I would not have done of my own accord, had I not been afraid of a scandal."[54] Thus, unlike most of the censure issued routinely by the Amsterdam congregation to discipline its members, the censure issued against Spinoza did not lead to repentance and so was never withdrawn.[....]


    The most remarkable aspect of the censure may be not so much its issuance, or even Spinoza's refusal to submit, but the fact that Spinoza's expulsion from the Jewish community did not lead to his conversion to Christianity.[57] Spinoza kept the Latin (and so implicitly Christian) name Benedict de Spinoza, maintained a close association with the Collegiants, a Christian sect, even moved to a town near the Collegiants' headquarters, and was buried in a Christian graveyard—but there is no evidence or suggestion that he ever accepted baptism or participated in a Christian mass. Thus, by default, Baruch de Espinoza became the first secular Jew of modern Europe.[57]

    In September 2012, the Portugees-Israëlietische Gemeente te Amsterdam asked the chief rabbi of their community Haham Pinchas Toledano to reconsider the cherem after consulting several Spinoza experts. However he declined to remove it, citing Spinoza's "preposterous ideas, where he was tearing apart the very fundaments of our religion", and stating that Judaism did not share the modern concept of free speech.[58]

     

    Yeah, but there were plenty of “non-first born sons” of rabbis and wealthy Jewish merchants.

    Plenty? Maybe in Krakow and Bialystok, far from any leading thought centers. They were very thin on the ground in England and France.

    And you miss the rest of the point: they were not permitted to either get the education or join the liberal professions.

    Spinoza, all by himself, allows western Jews a more than per-capita share of the early Enlightenment.

    • Replies: @syonredux

    Plenty? Maybe in Krakow and Bialystok, far from any leading thought centers. They were very thin on the ground in England and France.
     
    Afraid that you are missing the point.Jews had the cultural resources to develop liberalism (well educated rabbis, wealthy merchants, etc)

    And you miss the rest of the point: they were not permitted to either get the education or join the liberal professions.
     
    They could join the "liberal professions" of the Jewish community.They could study the Jewish writings (Maimonides, etc).However, that doesn't seem to lead to liberalism.

    Spinoza, all by himself, allows western Jews a more than per-capita share of the early Enlightenment.
     
    But he had to leave the Jewish community to do it....

    I would not put it that way, anymore than I’d say the first wave of empiricist philosophers “repudiated” Christian thought. They were often stridently anti-scholastic, which was the dominant Christian philosophy at the time, but still viewed themselves as good Christians. Indeed, Malebranche was a Catholic priest and Berkeley a Anglo-Irish bishop.
     
    And, last time I checked, Spinoza wasn't a rabbi.....
    , @greenstalk

    Spinoza, all by himself, allows western Jews a more than per-capita share of the early Enlightenment.
     
    Spinoza was a promoter of Enlightenment ideas, not a creator of them. Here is Spinoza himself:

    Now since we have the rare good fortune to live in a commonwealth where freedom of judgment is fully granted to the individual citizen and he may worship God as he pleases, and where nothing is esteemed dearer and more precious than freedom, I think I am undertaking no ungrateful or unprofitable task in demonstrating that not only can this freedom be granted without endangering piety and the peace of the commonwealth, but also the peace of the commonwealth and piety depend on this freedom.

    He liked the particular Christian/European culture he lived in and recommended it to others.
  115. The short answer is yes–in part. The bigger contributor to modern liberalism was modern philosophy, 1,500 years later. But Christianity led to that in at least two ways. First, modern philosophy originates as a reaction against Christianity. But second, it finds that it cannot overcome and so must utilize much Christian doctrine, to say nothing of its strategy and tactics.

    I find this kind of explanation much more plausible than “Christianity created/evolved into liberalism.”

    And of course the “protagonist is rejected by society, refuses to escape sentence of death through recantation, achieves immortality through accepting unjust punishment” meme is Socratic. Then there’s all the bits taken from Mithraism: deity born from a virgin, most especially. Many aspects of Christian belief and ceremony were taken from various Mystery Cults, quite a few of which had people being ‘spiritually reborn’, sometimes after being symbolically buried or immersed in water. And of course Zoroastrianism is thought to have had a major influence on Judaism and later on Christianity. The ‘Sermon on the Mount’ is much older than Christ, and its teachings can be found all over the place.

    So, not just death & resurrection and Eucharist, but also Baptism and the Virgin Birth. That’s a lot.

    I’ve always found it funny that liberals who hate Christianity insist on measuring Christianity’s defects based on principles that are themselves rooted in Christianity.

    Same here; almost as funny as the whole “we non-whites are going to measure western civilization’s/white man’s defects based on principles that are themselves owed to western civilization/the white man.”

    Other than the fact that he was crucified, we don’t really know anything about Jesus.Besides, as noted above, people pick which Jesus quotes they want to use.

    I’m just going by Scripture there. Jesus of Scripture wasn’t a pacifist.

    The universal elements in Christianity come from Paul

    And obviously stop this side of the ether, at least insofar as that quote is concerned. Nobody this side of crazy believes there is literally neither Jew nor Greek, bond or free, male or female. If common sense isn’t enough, he even says “one in Christ.”

    • Replies: @syonredux

    Other than the fact that he was crucified, we don’t really know anything about Jesus.Besides, as noted above, people pick which Jesus quotes they want to use.

    I’m just going by Scripture there. Jesus of Scripture wasn’t a pacifist.
     
    In some passages he is; in some passages he isn't.People pick the passages that serve their purposes.

    The universal elements in Christianity come from Paul

    And obviously stop this side of the ether, at least insofar as that quote is concerned. Nobody this side of crazy believes there is literally neither Jew nor Greek, bond or free, male or female. If common sense isn’t enough, he even says “one in Christ.”
     
    That's the whole point; we are one in the sight of God.Therefore Paul must spread the Christian message throughout the world, for all are fit to hear it.Indeed, that's one of the reasons why Paul was so keen on stripping away the ritual law.It was a stumbling block to converts.

    As for "[n]body this side of crazy" believing it, you've obviously never met any Quakers

    So, not just death & resurrection and Eucharist, but also Baptism and the Virgin Birth. That’s a lot.
     
    Baptism grows out of Jewish purification rituals ( cf the Mikveh).Now, you are free to argue that those rituals grow out of Canaanite practices, etc, but the Mikveh is the immediate antecedent.

    Death and Resurrection: Common motif in Jewish eschatology.For that matter, note the story of Elisha and the Shunammite woman ( 2 Kings 4:8-37), where a prophet of the Lord resurrects a dead boy. Again, you're free to point to Canaanite antecedents, etc, but the motif was already present in Judaism at the time that Paul was writing of the risen Christ (Paul's accounts of the resurrection precede the Gospels by a good many years)


    Eucharist: A repurposing of the Passover Feast.Of course, that was a repurposing of a Canaanite ritual.Again, though, the immediate antecedent was Israelite.
  116. @Melendwyr
    Christianity is in many ways a syncretic religion that formed from the borrowing and fusion of some of the most potent religious beliefs of multiple traditions. There is really no part of Christianity that is unique to it - every part is borrowed. It's an impressive feat of cultural engineering, but attributing any development to the religion is rather missing the point.

    “There is really no part of Christianity that is unique to it – every part is borrowed. It’s an impressive feat of cultural engineering, but attributing any development to the religion is rather missing the point”

    It may be true that Christianity borrowed heavily in the beginning from other religions, cultures, and philosophies, but in doing so, Christianity became something much greater than the sum of those borrowed parts.

    Olive oil, garlic, onions, tomatoes, cognac, and large undersea bugs with snappy claws are nothing special in and of themselves, but put them all together and you get “Homard a l’Americaine”.

    (What religion or philosophy sprang full-grown fron nothing, anyway?)

    • Replies: @Melendwyr
    I wasn't offering the observation as a criticism. Like the "Now That's What I Call Music!" compilations, the strength of the religion arguably lies in that there's nothing unique or original about it - it's a collection of the most potent ideas, beliefs, and practices of the ancient Western world, all brought together in a single religion. Like an album composed of nothing but popular hits, there will be something appealing to just about everyone.

    Razib Khan once made an excellent point about how, as a child, he and his friends were mesmerized by the death of Optimus Prime in the '80s Transformers movie - and how he later recognized that OP was meant to be a very Christlike figure. It's not that the extended toy commercial was luring children to Christianity, but that the mythic power of the idealized story was cross-cultural. I noticed on my own that the death of Socrates, as Plato presents it, is rather similar: willingly accepting an unjust sentence of death for the sake of a principle. There's something about the combination of the manifest unjustness and the inability to make things right due to the death of the sacrifice that strikes people to the heart.

    Some Christian apologists (particularly medieval ones) believed that the recurrence of certain ideas in Jewish and Christian mythology (and that appear in many traditions around the world) were signs that humanity was somehow aware of an inherent mystical Truth. More modern, rationalist thinkers have suggested that certain ideas 'resonate' emotionally with deep aspects of human nature, and that the 'mythic Truths' lie not in the world but in the human mind. For myself, I am a strident atheist, and I consider Christianity to be mostly wrong, absurd, and pernicious - but I would never deny that its mythos is potent and stirring.

    Advertisement and propaganda are attempts to intentionally dabble in the power of myth, and are consequently fairly limited. Myths themselves have immense power, but are beyond our control, like the tides - we do not direct, we can only try to ride along in the wake of their passage.

    It also occurs to me that Christianity often 'overstated its case' in an attempt to get people to behave a certain way: if people resist being told to go to A, tell them to go twice as far to B, and hope that the averaging of the competing impulses gets them to A. But once Christianity could no longer be taken seriously as a system, people began taking seriously the ideas that they had merely paid lip service to and ignored while it was the dominant worldview. It's as though the most potent ideas were buffered in the total mass of doctrine, and when that doctrine disintegrated the controls on the ideas were lost. Curious.

  117. @Hyderabad Secularist
    No. First off, why is inventing the "individual" considered progress to begin with? Less than 50% of American children live in two parent homes. A high percentage of the American elderly live in nursing homes. Life here is empty, without either family or culture. Birthrates - here, in the western world in general, and among those mimic men Asiatics who sacrificed their future for two or three generations of "prosperity" - are assuring that the Future will be one dilapidated nursing home.

    On the whole, Islam is more logical than tripartite and muddled Christianity. Europe secularized because Christianity is stupid - a mishmash of Greek thought, various Near Eastern "heresies", Manicheanism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, and ultimately built upon a figure who is a conflation of pagan gods and Jewish fantasy, and who likely never existed - a destroyer of pigs and figs!

    And where do you live?

  118. anon • Disclaimer says:
    @grey enlightenment
    Yeah, Christianity seems inherently liberal - the idea of the perfectibility, malleability, and salvation of man through deeds and other extrinsic virtues, versus salvation through intrinsic factors such as IQ, and this dates as early as Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Among Men. This perfectibility is what motivates liberals to support useless social programs that run headstrong into the limitations imposed by biology.

    grey enlightenment
    says:
    “Yeah, Christianity seems inherently liberal – the idea of the perfectibility, malleability, and salvation of man through deeds and other extrinsic virtues, versus salvation through intrinsic factors such as IQ, and this dates as early as Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Among Men. This perfectibility is what motivates liberals to support useless social programs that run headstrong into the limitations imposed by biology.”

    Assuming you’re not a troll:
    Jesus did not preach salvation by works. That’s because man is not perfectible this side of heaven.
    That’s the difference between classic liberalism, the grace of God gives dignity to the individual,
    and modern liberalism where the state tries to perfect man by force. Thus reducing the individual to be something controlled and manipulated by the state.

  119. @Hyderabad Secularist
    No. First off, why is inventing the "individual" considered progress to begin with? Less than 50% of American children live in two parent homes. A high percentage of the American elderly live in nursing homes. Life here is empty, without either family or culture. Birthrates - here, in the western world in general, and among those mimic men Asiatics who sacrificed their future for two or three generations of "prosperity" - are assuring that the Future will be one dilapidated nursing home.

    On the whole, Islam is more logical than tripartite and muddled Christianity. Europe secularized because Christianity is stupid - a mishmash of Greek thought, various Near Eastern "heresies", Manicheanism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, and ultimately built upon a figure who is a conflation of pagan gods and Jewish fantasy, and who likely never existed - a destroyer of pigs and figs!

    “No. First off, why is inventing the “individual” considered progress to begin with? Less than 50% of American children live in two parent homes. A high percentage of the American elderly live in nursing homes. Life here is empty, without either family or culture. Birthrates – here, in the western world in general, and among those mimic men Asiatics who sacrificed their future for two or three generations of “prosperity” – are assuring that the Future will be one dilapidated nursing home. ”

    Like the conservatives of past centuries said: Liberalism would lead to an unstable assortment of atomised individuals with no concept of the common good, no idea of anything beyond themselves.

    “Europe secularized because Christianity is stupid…”

    Considering that the secularization of European society didn’t begin until the end of the Wars of Religion in the late 17th Century, more than a millenium and a half after Europe began to Christianize, this alleged stupidity sure took an awful long time to manifest itself…

    Rather like those who say the decline of Spain after the middle of the 17th Century was due to the expulsion of Spanish Jews in 1492…

    • Replies: @syonredux

    Rather like those who say the decline of Spain after the middle of the 17th Century was due to the expulsion of Spanish Jews in 1492…
     
    More a matter of the windfall from the New World starting to run out. Several economists have argued that getting all that cheap gold and silver from the Americas was the ruin of Spain.

    Of course, even during the flush period of the Golden Age, Spain was just barely keeping up with the rest of Western Europe.

  120. @Priss Factor
    "And yet this is completely wrong. White urbanites who live among the infidels are far more liberal than the whites who live in comfortable enclaves in the suburbs and rural areas."

    Who would these infidels be? Negroes of Detroit or St. Louis?
    Brilliant Mexicans who contribute great things to arts and culture?

    Also, it's fallacious to think, because white urbanites who live with some non-whites are 'liberal', they are more liberal because of proximity to non-whites. After all, there are plenty of mixed-race places in the Deep South, SW, and Latin America that are hardly liberal. There are lots of mixed race small towns in the SW territories that are hardly creative in the 'liberal' sense.

    Also, the reason why the suburbs became more liberal is because lots of urban liberals left the city to get away from black crime. And the reason why cities are filling up with white liberals is due to gentrification that had entire areas more white.

    Something funny is happening. We see more interracial couples(mostly black male and white female) in big cities and yet some of these cities are getting more white.
    Last time I visited Chicago, I walked for 5 hrs down Halsted((beginning with homo town to places around downtown.) 30 yrs ago, had I walked down that area, I would have seen negroes from housing projects quite often. But I saw only two negroes for the entire walk. And there were yuppie gentrification condos all over and going up some more.

    “I would have seen negroes from housing projects quite often. But I saw only two negroes for the entire walk. And there were yuppie gentrification condos all over and going up some more.”

    Gotta love the reaction-o-sphere’s revival of “Negro”, (it was almost always capitalized back in the day), a perfectly good word, both descriptive and historical, since its rapid fall from use by respectable society in the mid ’70s…

  121. @Simon in London
    I agree about the Orthodox world. The contrast between the late Western and Eastern Roman Empires and their cultural descendants is striking, especially considering that for a thousand years the ERE was the success story long after the WRE had fallen.

    Every single Eastern Orthodox nation had been overrun, at one point or another, by a barbarian horde and remained in subjugation for centuries. Russia was the one who got off the lightest; they had be under Mongolian yoke for “only” 250 years.

    It’s all good and well to self-congratulate yourself on how tolerant and free-thinking you are if you live at a far end of a huge, isolated peninsula – or even better, on an island off the furthest end of that peninsula.

  122. @Bill P
    Christianity definitely created what we understand as liberalism today, which is really radical egalitarianism (not always very liberal in practice).

    However, it was a Jewish convert named Saul who laid the foundation:


    There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

     

    Our contemporary liberalism started with a repudiation of Classical Judaism, which as a highly stratified, racially exclusive religion could not be liberal by Western standards. Nor can modern Judaism or Islam, both of which reject Paul's proclamation that we are all equal under God. But it took over a thousand years of institutional Christianity before the idea mutated into its current form.

    My guess is that as long as the church had a great deal of authority over people's lives, it was a useful concept for promoting social harmony and a sense of mutual obligation among the different classes (e.g. aristocrats were supposed to acknowledge that God did not favor them over social inferiors), as well as a check on secular power vis a vis the church. However, when the church's power began to recede and break up as it lost its monopoly over knowledge, this central tenet of Christianity took on a life of its own - it came unmoored from the rock of faith so to speak - and became a tool in the hands of secular factions challenging the prevailing authority.

    Jews could not develop a Western-style liberal society as long as they lived under rabbinic authority, so it was only when egalitarian Westerners freed them from that authority (a sort of ecclesiastic law for Jews) and granted them citizenship that they were able to do so.

    And no, the liberalism wasn't the Protestants' fault. Napoleon was more influential than anyone else in spreading the new faith. I think the peculiar Yankee and English form of radical egalitarianism was a competition with the French; an attempt to show that they were just as righteous as the French - more so even - and could prove it. As an example of the ferocity of this competition, in the beginning of the American Republic the Francophile and Anglophile factions waged what amounted to a low-intensity war. So many killed each other in duels that the officer corps was depleted.

    Today all egalitarian political systems, including our own as well as Communist China's, are based on this originally Christian idea of human equality. We have been in a crusade that has been on the march for over 200 years. It is very much a religious movement, and so all-encompassing that it rarely even occurs to people to question their faith in the beliefs it is built upon. Only in the last few decades, and ever so carefully, have a few begun to do so openly.

    Our contemporary liberalism started with a repudiation of Classical Judaism, which as a highly stratified, racially exclusive religion could not be liberal by Western standards. Nor can modern Judaism or Islam, both of which reject Paul’s proclamation that we are all equal under God.

    Not only Jew believe in equality of everyone before God, you don’t even have to be Jewish to achieve salvation. That’s why Jews don’t proselytize – you don’t have to convert to be saved.

    As for “highly stratified,” let’s see. On the one hand, here is a religion that has an institution of intermediaries between God and common people. These intermediaries are organized into huge multilevel bureaucracy with complicated rules of admission and promotion, where the highest levels of bureaucracy historically wielded enormous secular power. On the other hand, we have a religion that has no intermediaries between the Man and the Divine but only interpreters of the Law. Any educated person can become such and interpreter, and his authority entirely depends on how convincing he is to others. So which religion would you say is highly stratified?

    • Replies: @Bill P

    Not only Jew believe in equality of everyone before God, you don’t even have to be Jewish to achieve salvation. That’s why Jews don’t proselytize – you don’t have to convert to be saved.
     
    Eh, that's pretty much the opposite of Paul's idea. It's more of a "separate but equal" form of Jewish apologetics. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

    As for “highly stratified,” let’s see. On the one hand, here is a religion that has an institution of intermediaries between God and common people. These intermediaries are organized into huge multilevel bureaucracy with complicated rules of admission and promotion, where the highest levels of bureaucracy historically wielded enormous secular power. On the other hand, we have a religion that has no intermediaries between the Man and the Divine but only interpreters of the Law. Any educated person can become such and interpreter, and his authority entirely depends on how convincing he is to others. So which religion would you say is highly stratified?
     
    I was referring to Classical Judaism, compared to which early Christianity was remarkably egalitarian.

    BTW, Judaism has a hereditary priesthood to this day. Sort of a spiritual aristocracy.

    In case you feel I'm implying that this is a flaw, I don't think Jews should be defensive about this. Christian radical egalitarianism has turned out to be a problem in a global context, especially in its contemporary christless form. It worked well when "Christendom" was Europe, but things have long since changed.
  123. Like people here said before a lot of things in judaism come from Greek Philosophy, especially Stoicism, the difference Is that the Stoic ‘World Spirit’ (Anima Mundi) became indentified with their jeaslous tribal God Yahu/Yahweh.

    The Good vs Evil in Christianity hasn’t nothing like it in judaism and is closer to Persian Zoroastrianism.

    Professor Revilo P. oliver said that Christianity is basically judaized Zoroastrianism mixed with Greek Stoic Philosophy.

    Early Christianity made Greek Philosophy for easy comsuption to the uneducated masses.

  124. It came from America, where being an individual didn’t mean getting removed from the gene pool. We are headed back to the old ways however.

  125. from the perspective of liberal modernity

    There, that is your problem, or rather our problem, i.e. liberal modernity is the problem.
    Pius X pointed it out more than a century ago. The world did not listen and we are in ruins now.

  126. @inertial


    How much Jewish tradition can we find in Spinoza?
     
    Virtually none.His philosophical career was a repudiation of Jewish thought.
     
    But Christianity gets credit for liberalism, even though the latter is a repudiation of the former.

    But Christianity gets credit for liberalism, even though the latter is a repudiation of the former.

    Some would argue that Liberalism is the culmination of Western Christianity ……

  127. @Benjamin I. Espen
    There is a lot written about this, but most of it probably lies in the realms of history and literary analysis and philosophy. Carl Schmitt, for example, the political divisions that cover the face of the Earth are just pale reflections of eschatological choice.

    There is something to be said for this. The history of the unification of Germany is the story of how liberal Protestantism in Germany and Prussian political dominance became intertwined. Liberalism in the 18th and 19th centuries was very much concerned with the People, or the Volk, in whom power and legitimacy ultimately rested. This was usually contrasted with the kind of throne-and-altar conservatism supposed associated with the Catholic Church.

    In practice, things were quite a bit more complicated than this. Steve, maybe the solution to your small sample size problem is that you are aggregating at too high a level for this. Sure, you can say there are three cultures in contact with one another, but cultures and religions are really like your concept of race, they don't necessarily have distinct levels or borders, but you can make yourself understood by looking at lineages.

    For example, one of the primary differences between Eastern and Western Christianity in Europe is that Catholic regions tended to have a separation, in principle, between the powers of Church and State, or Pope and Emperor. The Orthodox regions, following the tradition of Constantinople, placed the Emperor at the summit of both parts of society, so you tend to see greater deference of the Church to the State.

    You get a much bigger sample size by breaking it down to smaller units: say Poles versus Russians, or Prussians versus Bavarians. You can also look across time, to see whether patterns persist, especially after some kind of disturbance, does the pattern reassert itself?

    The idea of Emperor being head of the Orthodox Church only dates to the Westernizing and Protestantizing reform of Russia’s Peter I at the turn of the 18th century. The traditional Byzantine Orthodox ideal was “symphony of powers”, with the Patriarch and Emperor, as heads of Church and State, respectively, cooperating in government. There were certainly periods when either Patriarch or Emperor tried to usurp the role of the other, but honestly the same could be said, even more so, for the West, where Popes and Emperors really did arrogate the powers of the others to themselves. It was Protestantism’s exaltation of the State above the Church which particularly inspired Peter I for example, who made himself and his successors the official head of the Church along the lines of Protestant monarchs.

    • Replies: @Benjamin I. Espen
    I didn't say head, I said summit, and I meant it. The Emperor tended to exert disproportionate influence over Church matters in the East, and this started in the Eastern Roman Empire.
  128. @inertial

    Our contemporary liberalism started with a repudiation of Classical Judaism, which as a highly stratified, racially exclusive religion could not be liberal by Western standards. Nor can modern Judaism or Islam, both of which reject Paul’s proclamation that we are all equal under God.
     
    Not only Jew believe in equality of everyone before God, you don't even have to be Jewish to achieve salvation. That's why Jews don't proselytize - you don't have to convert to be saved.

    As for "highly stratified," let's see. On the one hand, here is a religion that has an institution of intermediaries between God and common people. These intermediaries are organized into huge multilevel bureaucracy with complicated rules of admission and promotion, where the highest levels of bureaucracy historically wielded enormous secular power. On the other hand, we have a religion that has no intermediaries between the Man and the Divine but only interpreters of the Law. Any educated person can become such and interpreter, and his authority entirely depends on how convincing he is to others. So which religion would you say is highly stratified?

    Not only Jew believe in equality of everyone before God, you don’t even have to be Jewish to achieve salvation. That’s why Jews don’t proselytize – you don’t have to convert to be saved.

    Eh, that’s pretty much the opposite of Paul’s idea. It’s more of a “separate but equal” form of Jewish apologetics. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    As for “highly stratified,” let’s see. On the one hand, here is a religion that has an institution of intermediaries between God and common people. These intermediaries are organized into huge multilevel bureaucracy with complicated rules of admission and promotion, where the highest levels of bureaucracy historically wielded enormous secular power. On the other hand, we have a religion that has no intermediaries between the Man and the Divine but only interpreters of the Law. Any educated person can become such and interpreter, and his authority entirely depends on how convincing he is to others. So which religion would you say is highly stratified?

    I was referring to Classical Judaism, compared to which early Christianity was remarkably egalitarian.

    BTW, Judaism has a hereditary priesthood to this day. Sort of a spiritual aristocracy.

    In case you feel I’m implying that this is a flaw, I don’t think Jews should be defensive about this. Christian radical egalitarianism has turned out to be a problem in a global context, especially in its contemporary christless form. It worked well when “Christendom” was Europe, but things have long since changed.

  129. People on the liberal right are always saying that left liberals aren’t individualistic, yet the rhetoric of the left is mainly about “personal autonomy” and not being bound by things that aren’t “self-chosen” such as race, sex and sexual orientation. Going back to Marx, the left has clearly stated that its goals are about liberating the individual so the individual has more freedom to do what they want. In 1850, this was about liberating the working man from having to make a profit for others, today it’s about liberating the individual from majority social norms.

    The fact that the liberal left is organised into tight political factions is due to political expediency – organised interest groups are a more efficient way of getting results than by operating as atomised individuals. Genuine misfits who don’t fit into these tight political factions are excluded. Modern representative democracy, also functions the same way – highly organised political parties provide a pre-determined package of policies and then offer these policies to voters, without the individual politicians and voters having much say in the matter.

    • Replies: @jtgw
    To me the liberal left is best understood as teenage politics. They want the privileges of adulthood without the responsibilities; they want to have sex whenever they want but they want other people to pay for their contraception. The only political doctrine that really treats everyone as a grown-up is libertarianism. The main reason I'm skeptical of libertarianism is that I don't believe most adults are really that grown-up: they need rules restricting their behavior so they don't inflict more harm than good on society.
    , @The Last Real Calvinist
    This is a perceptive comment.

    One of the seeming mysteries of contemporary liberalism is that it's both All About ME!, and yet its highest esteem is reserved for chosen groups, and ultimately for the State itself.

    This is also at least partially explicable by analyzing liberalism as a Christian heresy.

    The good heretical liberal feels pride in who and what he is -- he's educated, credentialed, enlightened and sensitive. He feels he's been chosen for great things. He knows what is best for himself, and for his less-blessed brothers and sisters. He certainly is released from the rules that bound his forebears. He has good, sensible plans to make the world a better place, and to improve -- and yes, let's just say it, redeem -- those poor lost sheep he sees on the news.

    But when it's time actually to get something done, he lacks the grasp needed to fulfill his reach. No one seems willing to cooperate: those lost sheep he's now met so often reject that which he's giving so willingly. There's no help forthcoming from his peers who have turned conservative. Something must be done!

    So who can help? Those who are like him, of course. But even when they join up and organize and work together, utopia is elusive. There are wars and rumors of wars, and the poor are always with them. Only holding the reins of the State itself promises sufficient power to overcome the barriers that stand in the way of the liberal vision.

    In other words, the intensely individualistic liberal finds he must turn to the most collective solution available. In his pride, he can't admit that the world is not his to save, nor that such salvation will never be delivered by human hands.

  130. @Andrew Jackson

    It’s like blue state whites in safe areas but with access to news from all around the world tend to be more liberal. But southern whites in the frontline of conflict with negroes and mexers tend to be more conservative. Those in the frontline think most of survival.
     
    And yet this is completely wrong. White urbanites who live among the infidels are far more liberal than the whites who live in comfortable enclaves in the suburbs and rural areas.

    So many people here fill up the comments with pages and pages of nonsense that sounds plausible until you step back and realize they are the musings of a crank.

    And yet so many of my comments seem to never get out of moderation. So suspicious.

    And yet this is completely wrong. White urbanites who live among the infidels are far more liberal than the whites who live in comfortable enclaves in the suburbs and rural areas.

    One possible explanation for this phenomenon may be that that young liberal white people move to the city for jobs, eventually come to realize that their idealism has been misplaced, develop more conservative attitudes, and finally move to the suburbs to spare their children from inner city schools.

  131. @Lot

    Yeah, but there were plenty of “non-first born sons” of rabbis and wealthy Jewish merchants.
     
    Plenty? Maybe in Krakow and Bialystok, far from any leading thought centers. They were very thin on the ground in England and France.

    And you miss the rest of the point: they were not permitted to either get the education or join the liberal professions.

    Spinoza, all by himself, allows western Jews a more than per-capita share of the early Enlightenment.

    Plenty? Maybe in Krakow and Bialystok, far from any leading thought centers. They were very thin on the ground in England and France.

    Afraid that you are missing the point.Jews had the cultural resources to develop liberalism (well educated rabbis, wealthy merchants, etc)

    And you miss the rest of the point: they were not permitted to either get the education or join the liberal professions.

    They could join the “liberal professions” of the Jewish community.They could study the Jewish writings (Maimonides, etc).However, that doesn’t seem to lead to liberalism.

    Spinoza, all by himself, allows western Jews a more than per-capita share of the early Enlightenment.

    But he had to leave the Jewish community to do it….

    I would not put it that way, anymore than I’d say the first wave of empiricist philosophers “repudiated” Christian thought. They were often stridently anti-scholastic, which was the dominant Christian philosophy at the time, but still viewed themselves as good Christians. Indeed, Malebranche was a Catholic priest and Berkeley a Anglo-Irish bishop.

    And, last time I checked, Spinoza wasn’t a rabbi…..

  132. @jtgw
    The idea of Emperor being head of the Orthodox Church only dates to the Westernizing and Protestantizing reform of Russia's Peter I at the turn of the 18th century. The traditional Byzantine Orthodox ideal was "symphony of powers", with the Patriarch and Emperor, as heads of Church and State, respectively, cooperating in government. There were certainly periods when either Patriarch or Emperor tried to usurp the role of the other, but honestly the same could be said, even more so, for the West, where Popes and Emperors really did arrogate the powers of the others to themselves. It was Protestantism's exaltation of the State above the Church which particularly inspired Peter I for example, who made himself and his successors the official head of the Church along the lines of Protestant monarchs.

    I didn’t say head, I said summit, and I meant it. The Emperor tended to exert disproportionate influence over Church matters in the East, and this started in the Eastern Roman Empire.

    • Replies: @jtgw
    The article you link to makes clear that "symphony" was "hardly a submission of church to the state". Anyway, at no point in pre-modern history did any Christian state, either Western or Eastern, conform to the modern ideal of separate Church and State. States were explicitly Christian, and the only debate was whether Pope or Emperor should exert full control in temporal matters. It's really ridiculous to claim that somehow the pre-modern West had separation of Church and State but the East did not. Such separation is a product of post-Christian Enlightenment thought, not traditional Christianity.
    , @jtgw
    Also, what dictionary are you using to set up this distinction between "head" and "summit"? They mean practically the same thing to me, so you're going to have to provide definitions.
  133. Not sure about how you define “enlightenment” but you do realize that from the 1500s to 1900, the bulk (~90%) of Jews lived in Poland and Russia? And those were not exactly hotbeds of The Enlightenment.

    That said, in Poland the Jews were largely self-governing and unlike the French and British did not burn witches, draw and quarter, break on the wheel, hang people in gibbets, or indeed practice capital punishment at all. And if you haven’t heard of any Jews on the order of Voltaire and Rousseau, well, think about who was holding the megaphone back then.

    • Replies: @syonredux

    Not sure about how you define “enlightenment” but you do realize that from the 1500s to 1900, the bulk (~90%) of Jews lived in Poland and Russia? And those were not exactly hotbeds of The Enlightenment.
     
    Which is not the point.The question was why the Jews did not develop liberal modernity within their own communities.

    That said, in Poland the Jews were largely self-governing
     
    Then the Jews can't blame the Christians for not letting them develop liberal modernity.....

    and unlike the French and British did not burn witches,
     
    In the British Isles, the burning of witches was confined to Scotland.English witches were hanged, not burned.

    draw and quarter, break on the wheel, hang people in gibbets, or indeed practice capital punishment at all.
     
    MMM, Jewish punishments in the Middle Ages:

    A 1320 case involving a Jewish woman who had sex with Gentiles:

    To the honorable Rabbi Judah ben Wakkar; you have judged well. Cut off her nose to make her disgusting to her lovers. Do it suddenly, so that she not go off to immoral living[in order to avoid the punishment]. Peace be upon you and yours, Asher ben RabbiYehiel.
     

    In Spain the bet din achieved its fullest growth and widest powers. The prerogatives of every alijama ("community council") were often defined by a royal charter. The bet din thus derived its authority from the king through the kahal. The king often appointed a chief rabbi for the realm who was a grandee not necessarily expert in Jewish law, the judiciary being included within his competence. He usually sought the advice and guidance of trained Jewish jurists. The authority of the bet din extended to all spheres of Jewish life, social as well as individual, its judgments resting on rabbinic law. It developed a rigorous system of punishments, some of which were far removed from the legacy of ancient Jewish jurisdiction. It assumed, for instance, the right to mete out flagellation, fines (which generally went to the royal treasury), excommunication, chains, imprisonment, exile, and even bodily mutilation, such as cutting off hands or the nose, or cutting out the tongue, as well as the death penalty for informers (malshinim).

     

    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Politics/beitdinmod.html#4

    And if you haven’t heard of any Jews on the order of Voltaire and Rousseau, well, think about who was holding the megaphone back then.
     
    Are you arguing that there were Jews in 17th century Ukraine who were arguing for free speech, freedom of religion, etc
  134. @Svigor

    The short answer is yes–in part. The bigger contributor to modern liberalism was modern philosophy, 1,500 years later. But Christianity led to that in at least two ways. First, modern philosophy originates as a reaction against Christianity. But second, it finds that it cannot overcome and so must utilize much Christian doctrine, to say nothing of its strategy and tactics.
     
    I find this kind of explanation much more plausible than "Christianity created/evolved into liberalism."

    And of course the “protagonist is rejected by society, refuses to escape sentence of death through recantation, achieves immortality through accepting unjust punishment” meme is Socratic. Then there’s all the bits taken from Mithraism: deity born from a virgin, most especially. Many aspects of Christian belief and ceremony were taken from various Mystery Cults, quite a few of which had people being ‘spiritually reborn’, sometimes after being symbolically buried or immersed in water. And of course Zoroastrianism is thought to have had a major influence on Judaism and later on Christianity. The ‘Sermon on the Mount’ is much older than Christ, and its teachings can be found all over the place.
     
    So, not just death & resurrection and Eucharist, but also Baptism and the Virgin Birth. That's a lot.

    I’ve always found it funny that liberals who hate Christianity insist on measuring Christianity’s defects based on principles that are themselves rooted in Christianity.
     
    Same here; almost as funny as the whole "we non-whites are going to measure western civilization's/white man's defects based on principles that are themselves owed to western civilization/the white man."

    Other than the fact that he was crucified, we don’t really know anything about Jesus.Besides, as noted above, people pick which Jesus quotes they want to use.
     
    I'm just going by Scripture there. Jesus of Scripture wasn't a pacifist.

    The universal elements in Christianity come from Paul
     
    And obviously stop this side of the ether, at least insofar as that quote is concerned. Nobody this side of crazy believes there is literally neither Jew nor Greek, bond or free, male or female. If common sense isn't enough, he even says "one in Christ."

    Other than the fact that he was crucified, we don’t really know anything about Jesus.Besides, as noted above, people pick which Jesus quotes they want to use.

    I’m just going by Scripture there. Jesus of Scripture wasn’t a pacifist.

    In some passages he is; in some passages he isn’t.People pick the passages that serve their purposes.

    The universal elements in Christianity come from Paul

    And obviously stop this side of the ether, at least insofar as that quote is concerned. Nobody this side of crazy believes there is literally neither Jew nor Greek, bond or free, male or female. If common sense isn’t enough, he even says “one in Christ.”

    That’s the whole point; we are one in the sight of God.Therefore Paul must spread the Christian message throughout the world, for all are fit to hear it.Indeed, that’s one of the reasons why Paul was so keen on stripping away the ritual law.It was a stumbling block to converts.

    As for “[n]body this side of crazy” believing it, you’ve obviously never met any Quakers

    So, not just death & resurrection and Eucharist, but also Baptism and the Virgin Birth. That’s a lot.

    Baptism grows out of Jewish purification rituals ( cf the Mikveh).Now, you are free to argue that those rituals grow out of Canaanite practices, etc, but the Mikveh is the immediate antecedent.

    Death and Resurrection: Common motif in Jewish eschatology.For that matter, note the story of Elisha and the Shunammite woman ( 2 Kings 4:8-37), where a prophet of the Lord resurrects a dead boy. Again, you’re free to point to Canaanite antecedents, etc, but the motif was already present in Judaism at the time that Paul was writing of the risen Christ (Paul’s accounts of the resurrection precede the Gospels by a good many years)

    Eucharist: A repurposing of the Passover Feast.Of course, that was a repurposing of a Canaanite ritual.Again, though, the immediate antecedent was Israelite.

  135. @HandsomeWhiteDevil
    "No. First off, why is inventing the “individual” considered progress to begin with? Less than 50% of American children live in two parent homes. A high percentage of the American elderly live in nursing homes. Life here is empty, without either family or culture. Birthrates – here, in the western world in general, and among those mimic men Asiatics who sacrificed their future for two or three generations of “prosperity” – are assuring that the Future will be one dilapidated nursing home. "

    Like the conservatives of past centuries said: Liberalism would lead to an unstable assortment of atomised individuals with no concept of the common good, no idea of anything beyond themselves.

    "Europe secularized because Christianity is stupid..."

    Considering that the secularization of European society didn't begin until the end of the Wars of Religion in the late 17th Century, more than a millenium and a half after Europe began to Christianize, this alleged stupidity sure took an awful long time to manifest itself...

    Rather like those who say the decline of Spain after the middle of the 17th Century was due to the expulsion of Spanish Jews in 1492...

    Rather like those who say the decline of Spain after the middle of the 17th Century was due to the expulsion of Spanish Jews in 1492…

    More a matter of the windfall from the New World starting to run out. Several economists have argued that getting all that cheap gold and silver from the Americas was the ruin of Spain.

    Of course, even during the flush period of the Golden Age, Spain was just barely keeping up with the rest of Western Europe.

    • Replies: @HandsomeWhiteDevil
    "More a matter of the windfall from the New World starting to run out. Several economists have argued that getting all that cheap gold and silver from the Americas was the ruin of Spain.
    Of course, even during the flush period of the Golden Age, Spain was just barely keeping up with the rest of Western Europe."

    Easy money always corrupts.

    I'm no expert in Golden Age Spain, but perhaps it may not be that Spain was just barely keeping up with the rest of Western Europe, but that Spain chose to take a slightly different direction than much of the rest of Western Europe, maintaining religion as the major societal influence long after nations such as France, Holland, & England began to secularize. After all, the nation had just successfully completed a centuries-long reconquista against the Moors, a literal Catholic crusade that had ramifications for all aspects of Spanish society. Why should the Spanish suddenly abandon that which had achieved such remarkable success so recently?

    To spread Spanish culture, religion, and language to three continents in the 16th Century was a major accomplishment.
  136. @Benjamin I. Espen
    I didn't say head, I said summit, and I meant it. The Emperor tended to exert disproportionate influence over Church matters in the East, and this started in the Eastern Roman Empire.

    The article you link to makes clear that “symphony” was “hardly a submission of church to the state”. Anyway, at no point in pre-modern history did any Christian state, either Western or Eastern, conform to the modern ideal of separate Church and State. States were explicitly Christian, and the only debate was whether Pope or Emperor should exert full control in temporal matters. It’s really ridiculous to claim that somehow the pre-modern West had separation of Church and State but the East did not. Such separation is a product of post-Christian Enlightenment thought, not traditional Christianity.

  137. @Benjamin I. Espen
    I didn't say head, I said summit, and I meant it. The Emperor tended to exert disproportionate influence over Church matters in the East, and this started in the Eastern Roman Empire.

    Also, what dictionary are you using to set up this distinction between “head” and “summit”? They mean practically the same thing to me, so you’re going to have to provide definitions.

  138. @unpc downunder
    People on the liberal right are always saying that left liberals aren't individualistic, yet the rhetoric of the left is mainly about "personal autonomy" and not being bound by things that aren't "self-chosen" such as race, sex and sexual orientation. Going back to Marx, the left has clearly stated that its goals are about liberating the individual so the individual has more freedom to do what they want. In 1850, this was about liberating the working man from having to make a profit for others, today it's about liberating the individual from majority social norms.

    The fact that the liberal left is organised into tight political factions is due to political expediency - organised interest groups are a more efficient way of getting results than by operating as atomised individuals. Genuine misfits who don't fit into these tight political factions are excluded. Modern representative democracy, also functions the same way - highly organised political parties provide a pre-determined package of policies and then offer these policies to voters, without the individual politicians and voters having much say in the matter.

    To me the liberal left is best understood as teenage politics. They want the privileges of adulthood without the responsibilities; they want to have sex whenever they want but they want other people to pay for their contraception. The only political doctrine that really treats everyone as a grown-up is libertarianism. The main reason I’m skeptical of libertarianism is that I don’t believe most adults are really that grown-up: they need rules restricting their behavior so they don’t inflict more harm than good on society.

  139. “such as composer Felix Mendelssohn’s grandfather Moses, start to notice that the gentiles were no longer such impoverished ignoramuses, and that Jews could, for once, learn from the gentiles”

    What total Jewish BS – the Greeks and Romans where creating real intellectual cultures while Jews were for a thousand years still celebrating THEIR god’s killing of the first born of the Egyptians. Talk about ignoramuses!

  140. @International Jew
    Not sure about how you define "enlightenment" but you do realize that from the 1500s to 1900, the bulk (~90%) of Jews lived in Poland and Russia? And those were not exactly hotbeds of The Enlightenment.

    That said, in Poland the Jews were largely self-governing and unlike the French and British did not burn witches, draw and quarter, break on the wheel, hang people in gibbets, or indeed practice capital punishment at all. And if you haven't heard of any Jews on the order of Voltaire and Rousseau, well, think about who was holding the megaphone back then.

    Not sure about how you define “enlightenment” but you do realize that from the 1500s to 1900, the bulk (~90%) of Jews lived in Poland and Russia? And those were not exactly hotbeds of The Enlightenment.

    Which is not the point.The question was why the Jews did not develop liberal modernity within their own communities.

    That said, in Poland the Jews were largely self-governing

    Then the Jews can’t blame the Christians for not letting them develop liberal modernity…..

    and unlike the French and British did not burn witches,

    In the British Isles, the burning of witches was confined to Scotland.English witches were hanged, not burned.

    draw and quarter, break on the wheel, hang people in gibbets, or indeed practice capital punishment at all.

    MMM, Jewish punishments in the Middle Ages:

    A 1320 case involving a Jewish woman who had sex with Gentiles:

    To the honorable Rabbi Judah ben Wakkar; you have judged well. Cut off her nose to make her disgusting to her lovers. Do it suddenly, so that she not go off to immoral living[in order to avoid the punishment]. Peace be upon you and yours, Asher ben RabbiYehiel.

    In Spain the bet din achieved its fullest growth and widest powers. The prerogatives of every alijama (“community council”) were often defined by a royal charter. The bet din thus derived its authority from the king through the kahal. The king often appointed a chief rabbi for the realm who was a grandee not necessarily expert in Jewish law, the judiciary being included within his competence. He usually sought the advice and guidance of trained Jewish jurists. The authority of the bet din extended to all spheres of Jewish life, social as well as individual, its judgments resting on rabbinic law. It developed a rigorous system of punishments, some of which were far removed from the legacy of ancient Jewish jurisdiction. It assumed, for instance, the right to mete out flagellation, fines (which generally went to the royal treasury), excommunication, chains, imprisonment, exile, and even bodily mutilation, such as cutting off hands or the nose, or cutting out the tongue, as well as the death penalty for informers (malshinim).

    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Politics/beitdinmod.html#4

    And if you haven’t heard of any Jews on the order of Voltaire and Rousseau, well, think about who was holding the megaphone back then.

    Are you arguing that there were Jews in 17th century Ukraine who were arguing for free speech, freedom of religion, etc

  141. @Lot
    Very well put.

    The Poles first saved the Jews, then saved central Europe's Christians from the Ottoman hordes in the battle of Vienna.

    Very well put.

    The Poles first saved the Jews,

    Well, the Polish nobility did find them very useful as estate managers and tax farmers in Ukraine.Of course, that ended rather badly for all concerned….

  142. @HandsomeWhiteDevil
    "There is really no part of Christianity that is unique to it – every part is borrowed. It’s an impressive feat of cultural engineering, but attributing any development to the religion is rather missing the point"

    It may be true that Christianity borrowed heavily in the beginning from other religions, cultures, and philosophies, but in doing so, Christianity became something much greater than the sum of those borrowed parts.

    Olive oil, garlic, onions, tomatoes, cognac, and large undersea bugs with snappy claws are nothing special in and of themselves, but put them all together and you get "Homard a l'Americaine".

    (What religion or philosophy sprang full-grown fron nothing, anyway?)

    I wasn’t offering the observation as a criticism. Like the “Now That’s What I Call Music!” compilations, the strength of the religion arguably lies in that there’s nothing unique or original about it – it’s a collection of the most potent ideas, beliefs, and practices of the ancient Western world, all brought together in a single religion. Like an album composed of nothing but popular hits, there will be something appealing to just about everyone.

    Razib Khan once made an excellent point about how, as a child, he and his friends were mesmerized by the death of Optimus Prime in the ’80s Transformers movie – and how he later recognized that OP was meant to be a very Christlike figure. It’s not that the extended toy commercial was luring children to Christianity, but that the mythic power of the idealized story was cross-cultural. I noticed on my own that the death of Socrates, as Plato presents it, is rather similar: willingly accepting an unjust sentence of death for the sake of a principle. There’s something about the combination of the manifest unjustness and the inability to make things right due to the death of the sacrifice that strikes people to the heart.

    Some Christian apologists (particularly medieval ones) believed that the recurrence of certain ideas in Jewish and Christian mythology (and that appear in many traditions around the world) were signs that humanity was somehow aware of an inherent mystical Truth. More modern, rationalist thinkers have suggested that certain ideas ‘resonate’ emotionally with deep aspects of human nature, and that the ‘mythic Truths’ lie not in the world but in the human mind. For myself, I am a strident atheist, and I consider Christianity to be mostly wrong, absurd, and pernicious – but I would never deny that its mythos is potent and stirring.

    Advertisement and propaganda are attempts to intentionally dabble in the power of myth, and are consequently fairly limited. Myths themselves have immense power, but are beyond our control, like the tides – we do not direct, we can only try to ride along in the wake of their passage.

    It also occurs to me that Christianity often ‘overstated its case’ in an attempt to get people to behave a certain way: if people resist being told to go to A, tell them to go twice as far to B, and hope that the averaging of the competing impulses gets them to A. But once Christianity could no longer be taken seriously as a system, people began taking seriously the ideas that they had merely paid lip service to and ignored while it was the dominant worldview. It’s as though the most potent ideas were buffered in the total mass of doctrine, and when that doctrine disintegrated the controls on the ideas were lost. Curious.

  143. @HandsomeWhiteDevil
    "While Moyn (or perhaps Siedentop) associates “liberalism” with “modern individualism”, few if any liberals in the 18th, 19th, or early 20th centuries displayed any fondness for such a concept."

    A frequent conservative criticism of liberalism during this time period was that liberalism, if followed to its natural conclusion, as indeed it must, would lead to libertinism and license, a society of rampant, uncontrollable and irresponsible rabble wreaking havoc on society and all its institutions. Thus, in the minds of many conservatives, liberalism was incompatible with civilization, and must be resisted if civilization were to survive.

    Liberals themselves took frequent pains to deny such destructive impulses were an innate part of their political, economic, and cultural philosophies, and appealed to traditional sources such as the Bible to demonstrate that their ideas had a firm grounding in the Western tradition.

    Also, liberals at this time stressed the communal aspects of their philosophies, most famously in the labor movement (workingman's solidarity), but as conservatives always believed, modern individualism was never very far from the surface, and would come to the forefront of modern liberalism early in the 20th Century.

    The question is, what happened to allow modern views of individualism to take precedence between, say 1900 to 1980, when liberal communalism re-emerged in the form of PC and multiculturalism?

    The question is, what happened to allow modern views of individualism to take precedence between, say 1900 to 1980, when liberal communalism re-emerged in the form of PC and multiculturalism?

    This is surely bound up with “why did colonialism end?” The British Empire was never defeated, but rather the British lost the will to maintain what their forefathers had built.

    The answer must be some combination of the rise of industrialism, capitalism, and democracy, the decline of monarchies, and the many effects of the two World Wars.

    If we were to reduce it to one sentence, perhaps it’s that rising technology and sophistication nudged Europeans to enjoy their standard of living and be less interested in dominating others.

    • Replies: @dfordoom
    "If we were to reduce it to one sentence, perhaps it’s that rising technology and sophistication nudged Europeans to enjoy their standard of living and be less interested in dominating others."

    The two world wars destroyed Europeans' faith in their own civilisation. Since then they've been wallowing in guilt and it also explains the feminisation of Europe. It's as if they've been trying to emasculate themselves because they think testosterone leads to wars.

    In the case of the US it was probably the shock of the Korean War, which ended in a bloody draw, and Vietnam which was interpreted as a humiliating defeat (although in fact it was a military victory but the victory was thrown away by a treacherous and cowardly Congress).
    , @HandsomeWhiteDevil
    "This is surely bound up with “why did colonialism end?” The British Empire was never defeated, but rather the British lost the will to maintain what their forefathers had built."

    It is amazing how rapidly the British walked away from their Empire after WWII. In barely one generation, to go from the largest empire in world history to the 'sick man of Europe", and then to cut most economic and political ties with the Commonwealth to become a mere appendage of the Continent through the EU, perhaps loss of will has much to do with it.

    But then, the French and the Portuguese fought long and hard to keep their empires. In the case of the French, considering the tight network of ties that still bind them to their former colonies, it could be said that these former colonies are independent in name only. French culture predominates in these countries, especially among the elite, and the French have no qualms about their culture remaining paramount.

    Yet, the French also are being eroded by the contemporary currents of "liberation". They put up more of a resistance to the culture-leveling aspects of post-WWII modernity, and still do, but they seem to be no more successful at this than anyone else. And Iberia, sheltered somewhat from these currents for a while, since the restoration of "democracy" in the '70s seem to be doubling down on all the destructive qualities of the times, as if they are trying to make up for lost time.

    A mystery, indeed...
  144. Newsflash: Liberalism is a reaction against Christianity (most especially against the Catholic Church).

  145. In some passages he is; in some passages he isn’t.People pick the passages that serve their purposes.

    If we go by that, we’ve all been pacifists since our last fight.

    Eucharist: A repurposing of the Passover Feast.Of course, that was a repurposing of a Canaanite ritual.Again, though, the immediate antecedent was Israelite.

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

    While the Athenians celebrated Dionysus in various one-day festivals (including those during the Eleusinian Mysteries), a far older tradition was the two-year cycle where the death and absence of Dionysus (in his aspect of Dionysus Chthonios, Lord of the Underworld) was mourned for a year. During the second year, his resurrection (as Dionysus Bacchus) was celebrated at the Tristeria and other festivals (including one marked by the rising of Sirius). Why this period was adopted is unknown, although it may have reflected a long fermentation period. All the oldest Dionysian rites reflected stages in the wine-production process; only later did the Athenians (and others) synchronise the Bacchic festivities with agricultural seasons.

    That seems much closer to Christ’s death and resurrection than a prophet resurrecting someone.

    While the Last Supper would seem to be of Jewish origin, the whole eating the flesh of a god and being sanctified by it seems more like a Mystery Cult thing:

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

    The spread of Christianity outside the Jewish communities has led some scholars to investigate whether Hellenistic practices influenced the development of Eucharistic rites, especially in view of the Jewish prohibition of drinking blood (see above).

    Mystery cults

    Parallel to the religious duties to god and state, “the Hellenic world also fostered a number of ‘underground’ religions, which countless thousands of people found intellectually and emotionally satisfying.”[82] They were known as the “mysteries,” because their adherents took oaths never to reveal their rites to the uninitiated. Several honored young male gods born of a divine father and human mother, resurrected after a heroic death. In some of these secret religions “celebrants shared a communal meal in which they symbolically ate the flesh and drank the blood of their god.”[82]

    • Replies: @Melendwyr
    It's worth noting that the basic idea occurred in societies that had no contact whatsoever with Eurasia.

    The Aztecs held that five gods had previously attempted to act as the sun for five worlds. Each god failed, and each world was destroyed. Finally they determined that to ensure the survival of the sixth world, the god who would be the sun had to die - no lesser commitment was acceptable. The god who actually had the guts to go through with it, Nanauatl, the humble god, 'he who is full of sores', sacrificed himself to become the sixth sun.

    The focal point of their entire culture - the sacrifice of warriors and captives - was intended to maintain that which Nanauatl's sacrifice had created and so preserve the world.

    Among everything else the Aztecs are famous for, they had cakes - made of amaranth, sweetening, and some say human blood - in the image of the sun god, which they ritually consumed. When the Spanish conquered them, and destroyed their civilization, it was thought that this practice was a demonically-inspired parody of Christian Communion. To stop it, the grain was banned, and possession of even a single seed was to be cause for removal of a hand.

    People have been consuming their gods since before the written word.

    , @syonredux

    In some passages he is; in some passages he isn’t.People pick the passages that serve their purposes.

    If we go by that, we’ve all been pacifists since our last fight.
     
    Hardly.It's more a matter of the Gospels being a conglomeration of different anecdotes from different sources (the hypothetical "Q" text, Mark, etc).Some stories say one thing, while others say something else.

    Take for example Jesus and Gentiles.As you point out, there is the story from Matthew 15 about the Canaanite woman:

    22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.

    23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.

    24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

    25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.

    26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.

    27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.
     
    Luke, however, offers the parable of the Centurion:

    6 Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof:

    7 Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed.

    8 For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.

    9 When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
     
    Here a Gentile (a Roman Centurion!) is depicted as being superior in faith to the Israelites.

    That seems much closer to Christ’s death and resurrection than a prophet resurrecting someone.
     
    The Dionysian rites are cyclical in character.In other words, they are non-temporal.The Eucharist, in contrast, is built on the Hebraic concept of a unique event.With Passover, it is the liberation from Egypt (symbolically seen in much Jewish commentary as a symbol for death).With the Eucharist, it is the unique event on Golgotha, where Jesus triumphed over death.

    While the Last Supper would seem to be of Jewish origin, the whole eating the flesh of a god and being sanctified by it seems more like a Mystery Cult thing:
     
    And, as previously noted, the Passover ritual derives from the same sources as the Mystery Cults (harvest rituals, etc).All of the cultures in the Eastern Mediterranean Zone developed out of the same cultural matrix.
  146. @Lot

    Yeah, but there were plenty of “non-first born sons” of rabbis and wealthy Jewish merchants.
     
    Plenty? Maybe in Krakow and Bialystok, far from any leading thought centers. They were very thin on the ground in England and France.

    And you miss the rest of the point: they were not permitted to either get the education or join the liberal professions.

    Spinoza, all by himself, allows western Jews a more than per-capita share of the early Enlightenment.

    Spinoza, all by himself, allows western Jews a more than per-capita share of the early Enlightenment.

    Spinoza was a promoter of Enlightenment ideas, not a creator of them. Here is Spinoza himself:

    Now since we have the rare good fortune to live in a commonwealth where freedom of judgment is fully granted to the individual citizen and he may worship God as he pleases, and where nothing is esteemed dearer and more precious than freedom, I think I am undertaking no ungrateful or unprofitable task in demonstrating that not only can this freedom be granted without endangering piety and the peace of the commonwealth, but also the peace of the commonwealth and piety depend on this freedom.

    He liked the particular Christian/European culture he lived in and recommended it to others.

  147. OT:

    Gov. Scott Walker: ‘I don’t know’ whether Obama is a Christian

    I think this is a clever tactic from Walker, because Obama’s such an arrogant ass that in the event that he deigns to answer (he won’t), he’ll issue a non-denial denial.

  148. @Svigor

    In some passages he is; in some passages he isn’t.People pick the passages that serve their purposes.
     
    If we go by that, we've all been pacifists since our last fight.

    Eucharist: A repurposing of the Passover Feast.Of course, that was a repurposing of a Canaanite ritual.Again, though, the immediate antecedent was Israelite.
     
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dionysian_Mysteries

    While the Athenians celebrated Dionysus in various one-day festivals (including those during the Eleusinian Mysteries), a far older tradition was the two-year cycle where the death and absence of Dionysus (in his aspect of Dionysus Chthonios, Lord of the Underworld) was mourned for a year. During the second year, his resurrection (as Dionysus Bacchus) was celebrated at the Tristeria and other festivals (including one marked by the rising of Sirius). Why this period was adopted is unknown, although it may have reflected a long fermentation period. All the oldest Dionysian rites reflected stages in the wine-production process; only later did the Athenians (and others) synchronise the Bacchic festivities with agricultural seasons.
     
    That seems much closer to Christ's death and resurrection than a prophet resurrecting someone.

    While the Last Supper would seem to be of Jewish origin, the whole eating the flesh of a god and being sanctified by it seems more like a Mystery Cult thing:

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

    The spread of Christianity outside the Jewish communities has led some scholars to investigate whether Hellenistic practices influenced the development of Eucharistic rites, especially in view of the Jewish prohibition of drinking blood (see above).
     

    Mystery cults

    Parallel to the religious duties to god and state, "the Hellenic world also fostered a number of 'underground' religions, which countless thousands of people found intellectually and emotionally satisfying."[82] They were known as the "mysteries," because their adherents took oaths never to reveal their rites to the uninitiated. Several honored young male gods born of a divine father and human mother, resurrected after a heroic death. In some of these secret religions "celebrants shared a communal meal in which they symbolically ate the flesh and drank the blood of their god."[82]
     

    It’s worth noting that the basic idea occurred in societies that had no contact whatsoever with Eurasia.

    The Aztecs held that five gods had previously attempted to act as the sun for five worlds. Each god failed, and each world was destroyed. Finally they determined that to ensure the survival of the sixth world, the god who would be the sun had to die – no lesser commitment was acceptable. The god who actually had the guts to go through with it, Nanauatl, the humble god, ‘he who is full of sores’, sacrificed himself to become the sixth sun.

    The focal point of their entire culture – the sacrifice of warriors and captives – was intended to maintain that which Nanauatl’s sacrifice had created and so preserve the world.

    Among everything else the Aztecs are famous for, they had cakes – made of amaranth, sweetening, and some say human blood – in the image of the sun god, which they ritually consumed. When the Spanish conquered them, and destroyed their civilization, it was thought that this practice was a demonically-inspired parody of Christian Communion. To stop it, the grain was banned, and possession of even a single seed was to be cause for removal of a hand.

    People have been consuming their gods since before the written word.

  149. The fun of choosing the word “summit” is that it implies being the end of the line, and also what brings two lines together in a terminus, without being the word “head”, which has the definition, rather than the implication, of being the actual appointed, de jure, leader. It the interplay between connotation and denotation that guided that word choice. The point I was trying to make was not that the Emperor was the head of the Church in law, rather that he often acted that way in practice.

    The very term, caesaropapism, makes my argument for me. It means Caesar acting as the Pope. In this case, it is mostly in the role of First among Equals. That is, as the final arbiter of disputes and the court of last appeal, as well as a powerful patron, without simply decreeing the bishops must do this or that. A soft power kind of thing, but no less real.

    in the linked article, it is the highlighted part of the sentence that is more important:

    “Emperor Justinian I, in the preface to his Novella 6 (535), described the ideal relation between the sacerdotium and the imperium as a “symphony,” an essentially dynamic and moral interpretation of church-state relations that did allow numerous abuses but was hardly a submission of the church to the state.”

    Theologically, there were no real differences between East and West regarding the power of the State and the power of the Church. Culturally and politically, there were [and are].

    I agree, it would be ridiculous to claim that the American- or French-style separation of Church and State you see in the last two or three hundred years was present a thousand years before that. That is quite different from saying what I said:

    For example, one of the primary differences between Eastern and Western Christianity in Europe is that Catholic regions tended to have a separation, in principle, between the powers of Church and State, or Pope and Emperor. The Orthodox regions, following the tradition of Constantinople, placed the Emperor at the summit of both parts of society, so you tend to see greater deference of the Church to the State.

    There is a separation, in principle, between the powers of Church and State that receives greater emphasis in the West than it does in the East. This is quite different from saying either that Western states had no institutional relationships with the Church, or that the Roman Emperor didn’t cooperate with the Patriarch of Constantinople and his brother bishops.

    The most famous example of this is the Investiture Controversy. There isn’t any comparable event in Eastern Christianity where any bishop managed to alter the way Church and State interacted. Partly, this was an accident. The balance of power in the East was too biased in favor of the Emperor. The Patriarch of Constantinople was only a patriarch because of the political favor of the Emperor. The other Eastern Patriarchs often fought with Constantinople and each other, preventing any sort of organized resistance, even before their territories fell to the Arabs. It was never really in question who was really in charge in the East, no matter what the theory said.

    On the other hand, the Bishop of Rome was always acknowledged as first in primacy amongst bishops, and then only had to deal with kings of far lesser weight in the West. You could have an actual power struggle here, and it played out very differently in history. The principles weren’t what really mattered.

    • Replies: @jtgw
    Thanks for the clarification on the difference between "head" and "summit": if I understand you right, "head" means de jure head of an organization, and "summit" means de facto head. I still have to say the distinction in meaning you described is peculiar to your usage, so really you should provide definitions if you're going to continue to use them like that.

    You end your comment by arguing that principles don't matter and that, in effect, the Emperor had authority over the Church in the East. I think that's highly disputable, but that's not what you originally claimed, which was that in principle Church and State were separate in the West but not the East. That is flat out wrong as even shown in the caesaropapism article you pointed me too.

    In the East, the Emperor did not have formal authority in matters of defining doctrine or internal church administration, with few exceptions, e.g the Emperor appeared to have some formal authority in calling councils, though not in deciding their outcomes; the Emperor had a formal role in ratifying (but not electing) the Patriarch, and also a role in ratifying conciliar decisions on the boundaries of ecclesiastical jurisdictions. These formal roles for Emperor in the East are not different the roles claimed by Western monarchs, like the German Emperors during the Investiture Controversy that you city.

    Finally, in the medieval West you never had any parties arguing for completion separation of the roles of Church and State. What you had were Emperors arguing for imperial roles in appointing bishops and determining the boundaries of their jurisdiction, as in the East, and Popes arguing not only for complete independence of Church administration, with all decisions left to the Pope, but also for giving Popes authority in appointing and, if necessary, deposing princes. Nobody was saying the two institutions should be completely separate and have no say in the other.

  150. @iSteveFan

    More productive is looking at the Eastern Orthodox. A bigger, more long lasting set of people who rejected individualism.

    A small, marginal people will reject individualism to survive. Jews won’t tell you much, you’re just seeing the effects of being small and marginal.
     

    Whiskey, Greeks, Serbs and other Orthodox were ruled over by the Ottomans for close to 5 centuries. Ukrainians and Russians also had a couple million of their citizens captured and sold into slavery, and had to endure the 'Beasts from the East'. Would you give them the benefit of the doubt that they rejected individualism to survive like you did for the Jews?

    How do you think the English would have developed under those conditions?

    Who knows, given the current trends in Western Europe, maybe we might get to witness in our lifetime what effects a large, alien population has on Western individuality. We are already witnessing the attack on free speech by the vanguard of this alien population. And it appears to be working. How much longer will the rest of Western culture last?

    A few hundred years after Viking raids every bit as bad as the Mussulmen, Northrern Europeans built astonushing Gothic Cathedrals that stll take the breath away: Chartres, York, etc. And besides the Romans had the Gauls and Carthaginians invading, the Greeks the Persians. The wars of dynastic sucession were very destructive and over 40% of German speakers perished duri g the Thirty Years War. People didn’t find Germans dumb afer that, indeed Germany remained the place for the best craftsmanship.

    On the Celtic side, there seems a lack of anything intellectual until the Scots Enlightenment when there is an explosion of achievement.

    • Replies: @iSteveFan

    A few hundred years after Viking raids every bit as bad as the Mussulmen, Northrern Europeans built astonushing Gothic Cathedrals that stll take the breath away: Chartres, York, etc. And besides the Romans had the Gauls and Carthaginians invading, the Greeks the Persians. The wars of dynastic sucession were very destructive and over 40% of German speakers perished duri g the Thirty Years War. People didn’t find Germans dumb afer that, indeed Germany remained the place for the best craftsmanship.
     
    You have some points. But Greeks and other SE Europeans were occupied in some cases well into the 20th century. There are parts of Greece that were under Ottoman rule until the end of WW1. Not much chance of creating a thriving system under those conditions.

    The Russians had to deal with more than mussulmen raids. They had to deal with the Mongols too. And the Vikings stopped raiding around 1100. The Russians were being attacked well after that.

    PS. I do love the Cathedrals. But look at Hagia Sophia to see what the Byzantines were doing well before the Western Cathedrals were built. Russia had some nice Cathedrals until some Bolsheviks imploded them.

    , @Bill P

    On the Celtic side, there seems a lack of anything intellectual until the Scots Enlightenment when there is an explosion of achievement.
     
    That isn't entirely true or fair. The Celts contributed a great deal to literature, but their language was eclipsed too early for them to make much of an impact on modernity. Still, we have the Arthurian legends, Tristan and Isolde, the Mabinogian, and the peerless illuminated manuscripts from Ireland.

    Add to this the fact that a number of early Christian sages were of Celtic origin. Many missionaries, too -- Celts played an important role in evangelizing to the Germans, who respected them for their valor and culture. Read Njal's Saga and the glowing account of Brian Boru, considered by Norsemen to be a righteous and brave ruler of men who compared favorably to viking chieftains.

    But it is true that the main Celtic contribution to the modern world has been bravery. Most of our American Medal of Honor winners have Celtic blood, and if it weren't for the Scots Irish the United States wouldn't extend farther than the Mississippi, and maybe even the Appalachian crest. My mom's pretty much full-blooded Scots Irish, so I know them well. They are really tough people, and no fools, although their behavior may leave a bit to be desired by "civilized" standards (even compared to the Catholic Irish, who are actually culturally more like the English than the Ulster Scots).
  151. @Southfarthing

    The question is, what happened to allow modern views of individualism to take precedence between, say 1900 to 1980, when liberal communalism re-emerged in the form of PC and multiculturalism?
     
    This is surely bound up with "why did colonialism end?" The British Empire was never defeated, but rather the British lost the will to maintain what their forefathers had built.

    The answer must be some combination of the rise of industrialism, capitalism, and democracy, the decline of monarchies, and the many effects of the two World Wars.

    If we were to reduce it to one sentence, perhaps it's that rising technology and sophistication nudged Europeans to enjoy their standard of living and be less interested in dominating others.

    “If we were to reduce it to one sentence, perhaps it’s that rising technology and sophistication nudged Europeans to enjoy their standard of living and be less interested in dominating others.”

    The two world wars destroyed Europeans’ faith in their own civilisation. Since then they’ve been wallowing in guilt and it also explains the feminisation of Europe. It’s as if they’ve been trying to emasculate themselves because they think testosterone leads to wars.

    In the case of the US it was probably the shock of the Korean War, which ended in a bloody draw, and Vietnam which was interpreted as a humiliating defeat (although in fact it was a military victory but the victory was thrown away by a treacherous and cowardly Congress).

  152. @Lot

    So, the failure of Jews to achieve anything near liberal modernity without imitating enlightened German gentiles reflects flaws
     
    So you're singling out Jews for not inventing the Enlightenment, while ignoring Spinoza, one of its early fathers? Why not blame "flaws" in German culture for not coming up with it themselves, or indeed all people outside of a small circle of intellectuals in France and Britain?

    You're also wrong that German Jews adopted the Enlightenment by "imitating enlightened German gentiles." Rather, both groups of Germans were influenced directly by the dominant intellectual culture of France.

    Yes, Jews who left Spain were known for being pioneers of secularism. Including Spinoza.

  153. iSteveFan says:
    @Whiskey
    A few hundred years after Viking raids every bit as bad as the Mussulmen, Northrern Europeans built astonushing Gothic Cathedrals that stll take the breath away: Chartres, York, etc. And besides the Romans had the Gauls and Carthaginians invading, the Greeks the Persians. The wars of dynastic sucession were very destructive and over 40% of German speakers perished duri g the Thirty Years War. People didn't find Germans dumb afer that, indeed Germany remained the place for the best craftsmanship.

    On the Celtic side, there seems a lack of anything intellectual until the Scots Enlightenment when there is an explosion of achievement.

    A few hundred years after Viking raids every bit as bad as the Mussulmen, Northrern Europeans built astonushing Gothic Cathedrals that stll take the breath away: Chartres, York, etc. And besides the Romans had the Gauls and Carthaginians invading, the Greeks the Persians. The wars of dynastic sucession were very destructive and over 40% of German speakers perished duri g the Thirty Years War. People didn’t find Germans dumb afer that, indeed Germany remained the place for the best craftsmanship.

    You have some points. But Greeks and other SE Europeans were occupied in some cases well into the 20th century. There are parts of Greece that were under Ottoman rule until the end of WW1. Not much chance of creating a thriving system under those conditions.

    The Russians had to deal with more than mussulmen raids. They had to deal with the Mongols too. And the Vikings stopped raiding around 1100. The Russians were being attacked well after that.

    PS. I do love the Cathedrals. But look at Hagia Sophia to see what the Byzantines were doing well before the Western Cathedrals were built. Russia had some nice Cathedrals until some Bolsheviks imploded them.

  154. @Whiskey
    A few hundred years after Viking raids every bit as bad as the Mussulmen, Northrern Europeans built astonushing Gothic Cathedrals that stll take the breath away: Chartres, York, etc. And besides the Romans had the Gauls and Carthaginians invading, the Greeks the Persians. The wars of dynastic sucession were very destructive and over 40% of German speakers perished duri g the Thirty Years War. People didn't find Germans dumb afer that, indeed Germany remained the place for the best craftsmanship.

    On the Celtic side, there seems a lack of anything intellectual until the Scots Enlightenment when there is an explosion of achievement.

    On the Celtic side, there seems a lack of anything intellectual until the Scots Enlightenment when there is an explosion of achievement.

    That isn’t entirely true or fair. The Celts contributed a great deal to literature, but their language was eclipsed too early for them to make much of an impact on modernity. Still, we have the Arthurian legends, Tristan and Isolde, the Mabinogian, and the peerless illuminated manuscripts from Ireland.

    Add to this the fact that a number of early Christian sages were of Celtic origin. Many missionaries, too — Celts played an important role in evangelizing to the Germans, who respected them for their valor and culture. Read Njal’s Saga and the glowing account of Brian Boru, considered by Norsemen to be a righteous and brave ruler of men who compared favorably to viking chieftains.

    But it is true that the main Celtic contribution to the modern world has been bravery. Most of our American Medal of Honor winners have Celtic blood, and if it weren’t for the Scots Irish the United States wouldn’t extend farther than the Mississippi, and maybe even the Appalachian crest. My mom’s pretty much full-blooded Scots Irish, so I know them well. They are really tough people, and no fools, although their behavior may leave a bit to be desired by “civilized” standards (even compared to the Catholic Irish, who are actually culturally more like the English than the Ulster Scots).

    • Replies: @syonredux

    On the Celtic side, there seems a lack of anything intellectual until the Scots Enlightenment when there is an explosion of achievement.

    That isn’t entirely true or fair. The Celts contributed a great deal to literature, but their language was eclipsed too early for them to make much of an impact on modernity. Still, we have the Arthurian legends, Tristan and Isolde, the Mabinogian, and the peerless illuminated manuscripts from Ireland.
     
    The Celtic component in Scotland resides in the Highlands, and the Highlands have not produced a lot of significant figures.The Lowlands are the part of Scotland from which the significant thinkers have come (Hume, Smith, etc), and the Lowlands are Anglo-Saxon in culture and language, not Celtic.For that matter, the Lowlanders have always had a low opinion of their Celtic brethren.Here's Macauley (himself of Highland blood, though born in England) dilating on the topic of the mania for the culture of the Highlands:

    Soon the vulgar imagination was so completely occupied by plaids, targets, and claymores, that, by most Englishmen, Scotchman and Highlander were regarded as synonymous words. Few people seemed to be aware that, at no remote period, a Macdonald or a Macgregor in his tartan was to a citizen of Edinburgh or Glasgow what an Indian hunter in his war paint is to an inhabitant of Philadelphia or Boston. Artists and actors represented Bruce and Douglas in striped petticoats. They might as well have represented Washington brandishing a tomahawk, and girt with a string of scalps. At length this fashion reached a point beyond which it was not easy to proceed. The last British King who held a court in Holyrood thought that he could not give a more striking proof of his respect for the usages which had prevailed in Scotland before the Union, than by disguising himself in what, before the Union, was considered by nine Scotchmen out of ten as the dress of a thief.
     
    , @Hibernian
    @ Bill P (even compared to the Catholic Irish, who are actually culturally more like the English than the Ulster Scots).
    Does that mean we Green Irish are more like the English than the Orangemen are like the English, or that we are more like the English than we are like the Orangemen? It's not clear. Either way I disagree. We're the most Celtic of the Celts.
  155. @Southfarthing

    The question is, what happened to allow modern views of individualism to take precedence between, say 1900 to 1980, when liberal communalism re-emerged in the form of PC and multiculturalism?
     
    This is surely bound up with "why did colonialism end?" The British Empire was never defeated, but rather the British lost the will to maintain what their forefathers had built.

    The answer must be some combination of the rise of industrialism, capitalism, and democracy, the decline of monarchies, and the many effects of the two World Wars.

    If we were to reduce it to one sentence, perhaps it's that rising technology and sophistication nudged Europeans to enjoy their standard of living and be less interested in dominating others.

    “This is surely bound up with “why did colonialism end?” The British Empire was never defeated, but rather the British lost the will to maintain what their forefathers had built.”

    It is amazing how rapidly the British walked away from their Empire after WWII. In barely one generation, to go from the largest empire in world history to the ‘sick man of Europe”, and then to cut most economic and political ties with the Commonwealth to become a mere appendage of the Continent through the EU, perhaps loss of will has much to do with it.

    But then, the French and the Portuguese fought long and hard to keep their empires. In the case of the French, considering the tight network of ties that still bind them to their former colonies, it could be said that these former colonies are independent in name only. French culture predominates in these countries, especially among the elite, and the French have no qualms about their culture remaining paramount.

    Yet, the French also are being eroded by the contemporary currents of “liberation”. They put up more of a resistance to the culture-leveling aspects of post-WWII modernity, and still do, but they seem to be no more successful at this than anyone else. And Iberia, sheltered somewhat from these currents for a while, since the restoration of “democracy” in the ’70s seem to be doubling down on all the destructive qualities of the times, as if they are trying to make up for lost time.

    A mystery, indeed…

  156. @syonredux

    Rather like those who say the decline of Spain after the middle of the 17th Century was due to the expulsion of Spanish Jews in 1492…
     
    More a matter of the windfall from the New World starting to run out. Several economists have argued that getting all that cheap gold and silver from the Americas was the ruin of Spain.

    Of course, even during the flush period of the Golden Age, Spain was just barely keeping up with the rest of Western Europe.

    “More a matter of the windfall from the New World starting to run out. Several economists have argued that getting all that cheap gold and silver from the Americas was the ruin of Spain.
    Of course, even during the flush period of the Golden Age, Spain was just barely keeping up with the rest of Western Europe.”

    Easy money always corrupts.

    I’m no expert in Golden Age Spain, but perhaps it may not be that Spain was just barely keeping up with the rest of Western Europe, but that Spain chose to take a slightly different direction than much of the rest of Western Europe, maintaining religion as the major societal influence long after nations such as France, Holland, & England began to secularize. After all, the nation had just successfully completed a centuries-long reconquista against the Moors, a literal Catholic crusade that had ramifications for all aspects of Spanish society. Why should the Spanish suddenly abandon that which had achieved such remarkable success so recently?

    To spread Spanish culture, religion, and language to three continents in the 16th Century was a major accomplishment.

    • Replies: @syonredux

    To spread Spanish culture, religion, and language to three continents in the 16th Century was a major accomplishment.
     
    More a matter of luck, being in the right place at the right time, etc.

    I’m no expert in Golden Age Spain, but perhaps it may not be that Spain was just barely keeping up with the rest of Western Europe, but that Spain chose to take a slightly different direction than much of the rest of Western Europe, maintaining religion as the major societal influence long after nations such as France, Holland, & England began to secularize.
     
    Causal factors for Spain's underperformance can be argued for days.However, the empirical fact remains that Spain was never a major producer of art and science.It lags far behind England, France, Germany, and Italy.And that cultural and scientific underperformance extends to Spain's New World offshoots as well (Mexico, Peru, Chile, etc).Just take a look at Murray's charts of significant figures in the arts and sciences in Human Accomplishment.Spain is a dead zone compared to places like Italy and England.And New Spain (Mexico) is a Black Hole compared to the USA
  157. @unpc downunder
    People on the liberal right are always saying that left liberals aren't individualistic, yet the rhetoric of the left is mainly about "personal autonomy" and not being bound by things that aren't "self-chosen" such as race, sex and sexual orientation. Going back to Marx, the left has clearly stated that its goals are about liberating the individual so the individual has more freedom to do what they want. In 1850, this was about liberating the working man from having to make a profit for others, today it's about liberating the individual from majority social norms.

    The fact that the liberal left is organised into tight political factions is due to political expediency - organised interest groups are a more efficient way of getting results than by operating as atomised individuals. Genuine misfits who don't fit into these tight political factions are excluded. Modern representative democracy, also functions the same way - highly organised political parties provide a pre-determined package of policies and then offer these policies to voters, without the individual politicians and voters having much say in the matter.

    This is a perceptive comment.

    One of the seeming mysteries of contemporary liberalism is that it’s both All About ME!, and yet its highest esteem is reserved for chosen groups, and ultimately for the State itself.

    This is also at least partially explicable by analyzing liberalism as a Christian heresy.

    The good heretical liberal feels pride in who and what he is — he’s educated, credentialed, enlightened and sensitive. He feels he’s been chosen for great things. He knows what is best for himself, and for his less-blessed brothers and sisters. He certainly is released from the rules that bound his forebears. He has good, sensible plans to make the world a better place, and to improve — and yes, let’s just say it, redeem — those poor lost sheep he sees on the news.

    But when it’s time actually to get something done, he lacks the grasp needed to fulfill his reach. No one seems willing to cooperate: those lost sheep he’s now met so often reject that which he’s giving so willingly. There’s no help forthcoming from his peers who have turned conservative. Something must be done!

    So who can help? Those who are like him, of course. But even when they join up and organize and work together, utopia is elusive. There are wars and rumors of wars, and the poor are always with them. Only holding the reins of the State itself promises sufficient power to overcome the barriers that stand in the way of the liberal vision.

    In other words, the intensely individualistic liberal finds he must turn to the most collective solution available. In his pride, he can’t admit that the world is not his to save, nor that such salvation will never be delivered by human hands.

  158. @Benjamin I. Espen
    The fun of choosing the word "summit" is that it implies being the end of the line, and also what brings two lines together in a terminus, without being the word "head", which has the definition, rather than the implication, of being the actual appointed, de jure, leader. It the interplay between connotation and denotation that guided that word choice. The point I was trying to make was not that the Emperor was the head of the Church in law, rather that he often acted that way in practice.

    The very term, caesaropapism, makes my argument for me. It means Caesar acting as the Pope. In this case, it is mostly in the role of First among Equals. That is, as the final arbiter of disputes and the court of last appeal, as well as a powerful patron, without simply decreeing the bishops must do this or that. A soft power kind of thing, but no less real.

    in the linked article, it is the highlighted part of the sentence that is more important:

    "Emperor Justinian I, in the preface to his Novella 6 (535), described the ideal relation between the sacerdotium and the imperium as a “symphony,” an essentially dynamic and moral interpretation of church-state relations that did allow numerous abuses but was hardly a submission of the church to the state."

    Theologically, there were no real differences between East and West regarding the power of the State and the power of the Church. Culturally and politically, there were [and are].

    I agree, it would be ridiculous to claim that the American- or French-style separation of Church and State you see in the last two or three hundred years was present a thousand years before that. That is quite different from saying what I said:

    For example, one of the primary differences between Eastern and Western Christianity in Europe is that Catholic regions tended to have a separation, in principle, between the powers of Church and State, or Pope and Emperor. The Orthodox regions, following the tradition of Constantinople, placed the Emperor at the summit of both parts of society, so you tend to see greater deference of the Church to the State.
     
    There is a separation, in principle, between the powers of Church and State that receives greater emphasis in the West than it does in the East. This is quite different from saying either that Western states had no institutional relationships with the Church, or that the Roman Emperor didn't cooperate with the Patriarch of Constantinople and his brother bishops.

    The most famous example of this is the Investiture Controversy. There isn't any comparable event in Eastern Christianity where any bishop managed to alter the way Church and State interacted. Partly, this was an accident. The balance of power in the East was too biased in favor of the Emperor. The Patriarch of Constantinople was only a patriarch because of the political favor of the Emperor. The other Eastern Patriarchs often fought with Constantinople and each other, preventing any sort of organized resistance, even before their territories fell to the Arabs. It was never really in question who was really in charge in the East, no matter what the theory said.

    On the other hand, the Bishop of Rome was always acknowledged as first in primacy amongst bishops, and then only had to deal with kings of far lesser weight in the West. You could have an actual power struggle here, and it played out very differently in history. The principles weren't what really mattered.

    Thanks for the clarification on the difference between “head” and “summit”: if I understand you right, “head” means de jure head of an organization, and “summit” means de facto head. I still have to say the distinction in meaning you described is peculiar to your usage, so really you should provide definitions if you’re going to continue to use them like that.

    You end your comment by arguing that principles don’t matter and that, in effect, the Emperor had authority over the Church in the East. I think that’s highly disputable, but that’s not what you originally claimed, which was that in principle Church and State were separate in the West but not the East. That is flat out wrong as even shown in the caesaropapism article you pointed me too.

    In the East, the Emperor did not have formal authority in matters of defining doctrine or internal church administration, with few exceptions, e.g the Emperor appeared to have some formal authority in calling councils, though not in deciding their outcomes; the Emperor had a formal role in ratifying (but not electing) the Patriarch, and also a role in ratifying conciliar decisions on the boundaries of ecclesiastical jurisdictions. These formal roles for Emperor in the East are not different the roles claimed by Western monarchs, like the German Emperors during the Investiture Controversy that you city.

    Finally, in the medieval West you never had any parties arguing for completion separation of the roles of Church and State. What you had were Emperors arguing for imperial roles in appointing bishops and determining the boundaries of their jurisdiction, as in the East, and Popes arguing not only for complete independence of Church administration, with all decisions left to the Pope, but also for giving Popes authority in appointing and, if necessary, deposing princes. Nobody was saying the two institutions should be completely separate and have no say in the other.

  159. @HandsomeWhiteDevil
    "More a matter of the windfall from the New World starting to run out. Several economists have argued that getting all that cheap gold and silver from the Americas was the ruin of Spain.
    Of course, even during the flush period of the Golden Age, Spain was just barely keeping up with the rest of Western Europe."

    Easy money always corrupts.

    I'm no expert in Golden Age Spain, but perhaps it may not be that Spain was just barely keeping up with the rest of Western Europe, but that Spain chose to take a slightly different direction than much of the rest of Western Europe, maintaining religion as the major societal influence long after nations such as France, Holland, & England began to secularize. After all, the nation had just successfully completed a centuries-long reconquista against the Moors, a literal Catholic crusade that had ramifications for all aspects of Spanish society. Why should the Spanish suddenly abandon that which had achieved such remarkable success so recently?

    To spread Spanish culture, religion, and language to three continents in the 16th Century was a major accomplishment.

    To spread Spanish culture, religion, and language to three continents in the 16th Century was a major accomplishment.

    More a matter of luck, being in the right place at the right time, etc.

    I’m no expert in Golden Age Spain, but perhaps it may not be that Spain was just barely keeping up with the rest of Western Europe, but that Spain chose to take a slightly different direction than much of the rest of Western Europe, maintaining religion as the major societal influence long after nations such as France, Holland, & England began to secularize.

    Causal factors for Spain’s underperformance can be argued for days.However, the empirical fact remains that Spain was never a major producer of art and science.It lags far behind England, France, Germany, and Italy.And that cultural and scientific underperformance extends to Spain’s New World offshoots as well (Mexico, Peru, Chile, etc).Just take a look at Murray’s charts of significant figures in the arts and sciences in Human Accomplishment.Spain is a dead zone compared to places like Italy and England.And New Spain (Mexico) is a Black Hole compared to the USA

    • Replies: @The most deplorable one
    Perhaps it has something to do with a high proportion of genes from further south.
  160. “But you can’t say that.”

    But he just did, and so did you.

    Man has a point. Lib Rapture can’t arrive until the last holdouts are expunged.

    I researched this once and I think he is something like 1/8th Jewish, if that.

    He calls himself a Jew. That’s good enough for me.

    Not everyone who spouts anti racist crap is a Jew.

    Not everyone with a high IQ is white or yellow. Not everyone who plays wide receiver is black. Etc. Thank you, Obi-Wan.

    My posts are half tongue-in-cheek.

    ANTI-SEMITE!!!

    BTW, Tim Wise is an extremely sensitive individual who throws a tantrum if you challenge him in person.

    That’s aggression, not sensitivity. His correspondence with the late Birdman Bryant was revealing (and hilarious). His personality is stereotypically Jewish (aggressive, histrionic, and scatalogical, when provoked).

  161. Wrong thread, but since it took 3 minutes for the page to load so I could the click to edit button…

  162. @Svigor

    In some passages he is; in some passages he isn’t.People pick the passages that serve their purposes.
     
    If we go by that, we've all been pacifists since our last fight.

    Eucharist: A repurposing of the Passover Feast.Of course, that was a repurposing of a Canaanite ritual.Again, though, the immediate antecedent was Israelite.
     
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dionysian_Mysteries

    While the Athenians celebrated Dionysus in various one-day festivals (including those during the Eleusinian Mysteries), a far older tradition was the two-year cycle where the death and absence of Dionysus (in his aspect of Dionysus Chthonios, Lord of the Underworld) was mourned for a year. During the second year, his resurrection (as Dionysus Bacchus) was celebrated at the Tristeria and other festivals (including one marked by the rising of Sirius). Why this period was adopted is unknown, although it may have reflected a long fermentation period. All the oldest Dionysian rites reflected stages in the wine-production process; only later did the Athenians (and others) synchronise the Bacchic festivities with agricultural seasons.
     
    That seems much closer to Christ's death and resurrection than a prophet resurrecting someone.

    While the Last Supper would seem to be of Jewish origin, the whole eating the flesh of a god and being sanctified by it seems more like a Mystery Cult thing:

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

    The spread of Christianity outside the Jewish communities has led some scholars to investigate whether Hellenistic practices influenced the development of Eucharistic rites, especially in view of the Jewish prohibition of drinking blood (see above).
     

    Mystery cults

    Parallel to the religious duties to god and state, "the Hellenic world also fostered a number of 'underground' religions, which countless thousands of people found intellectually and emotionally satisfying."[82] They were known as the "mysteries," because their adherents took oaths never to reveal their rites to the uninitiated. Several honored young male gods born of a divine father and human mother, resurrected after a heroic death. In some of these secret religions "celebrants shared a communal meal in which they symbolically ate the flesh and drank the blood of their god."[82]
     

    In some passages he is; in some passages he isn’t.People pick the passages that serve their purposes.

    If we go by that, we’ve all been pacifists since our last fight.

    Hardly.It’s more a matter of the Gospels being a conglomeration of different anecdotes from different sources (the hypothetical “Q” text, Mark, etc).Some stories say one thing, while others say something else.

    Take for example Jesus and Gentiles.As you point out, there is the story from Matthew 15 about the Canaanite woman:

    22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.

    23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.

    24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

    25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.

    26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.

    27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.

    Luke, however, offers the parable of the Centurion:

    6 Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof:

    7 Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed.

    8 For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.

    9 When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.

    Here a Gentile (a Roman Centurion!) is depicted as being superior in faith to the Israelites.

    That seems much closer to Christ’s death and resurrection than a prophet resurrecting someone.

    The Dionysian rites are cyclical in character.In other words, they are non-temporal.The Eucharist, in contrast, is built on the Hebraic concept of a unique event.With Passover, it is the liberation from Egypt (symbolically seen in much Jewish commentary as a symbol for death).With the Eucharist, it is the unique event on Golgotha, where Jesus triumphed over death.

    While the Last Supper would seem to be of Jewish origin, the whole eating the flesh of a god and being sanctified by it seems more like a Mystery Cult thing:

    And, as previously noted, the Passover ritual derives from the same sources as the Mystery Cults (harvest rituals, etc).All of the cultures in the Eastern Mediterranean Zone developed out of the same cultural matrix.

  163. The most deplorable one [AKA "Fourth doorman of the apocalypse"] says:
    @syonredux

    To spread Spanish culture, religion, and language to three continents in the 16th Century was a major accomplishment.
     
    More a matter of luck, being in the right place at the right time, etc.

    I’m no expert in Golden Age Spain, but perhaps it may not be that Spain was just barely keeping up with the rest of Western Europe, but that Spain chose to take a slightly different direction than much of the rest of Western Europe, maintaining religion as the major societal influence long after nations such as France, Holland, & England began to secularize.
     
    Causal factors for Spain's underperformance can be argued for days.However, the empirical fact remains that Spain was never a major producer of art and science.It lags far behind England, France, Germany, and Italy.And that cultural and scientific underperformance extends to Spain's New World offshoots as well (Mexico, Peru, Chile, etc).Just take a look at Murray's charts of significant figures in the arts and sciences in Human Accomplishment.Spain is a dead zone compared to places like Italy and England.And New Spain (Mexico) is a Black Hole compared to the USA

    Perhaps it has something to do with a high proportion of genes from further south.

  164. @Bill P

    On the Celtic side, there seems a lack of anything intellectual until the Scots Enlightenment when there is an explosion of achievement.
     
    That isn't entirely true or fair. The Celts contributed a great deal to literature, but their language was eclipsed too early for them to make much of an impact on modernity. Still, we have the Arthurian legends, Tristan and Isolde, the Mabinogian, and the peerless illuminated manuscripts from Ireland.

    Add to this the fact that a number of early Christian sages were of Celtic origin. Many missionaries, too -- Celts played an important role in evangelizing to the Germans, who respected them for their valor and culture. Read Njal's Saga and the glowing account of Brian Boru, considered by Norsemen to be a righteous and brave ruler of men who compared favorably to viking chieftains.

    But it is true that the main Celtic contribution to the modern world has been bravery. Most of our American Medal of Honor winners have Celtic blood, and if it weren't for the Scots Irish the United States wouldn't extend farther than the Mississippi, and maybe even the Appalachian crest. My mom's pretty much full-blooded Scots Irish, so I know them well. They are really tough people, and no fools, although their behavior may leave a bit to be desired by "civilized" standards (even compared to the Catholic Irish, who are actually culturally more like the English than the Ulster Scots).

    On the Celtic side, there seems a lack of anything intellectual until the Scots Enlightenment when there is an explosion of achievement.

    That isn’t entirely true or fair. The Celts contributed a great deal to literature, but their language was eclipsed too early for them to make much of an impact on modernity. Still, we have the Arthurian legends, Tristan and Isolde, the Mabinogian, and the peerless illuminated manuscripts from Ireland.

    The Celtic component in Scotland resides in the Highlands, and the Highlands have not produced a lot of significant figures.The Lowlands are the part of Scotland from which the significant thinkers have come (Hume, Smith, etc), and the Lowlands are Anglo-Saxon in culture and language, not Celtic.For that matter, the Lowlanders have always had a low opinion of their Celtic brethren.Here’s Macauley (himself of Highland blood, though born in England) dilating on the topic of the mania for the culture of the Highlands:

    Soon the vulgar imagination was so completely occupied by plaids, targets, and claymores, that, by most Englishmen, Scotchman and Highlander were regarded as synonymous words. Few people seemed to be aware that, at no remote period, a Macdonald or a Macgregor in his tartan was to a citizen of Edinburgh or Glasgow what an Indian hunter in his war paint is to an inhabitant of Philadelphia or Boston. Artists and actors represented Bruce and Douglas in striped petticoats. They might as well have represented Washington brandishing a tomahawk, and girt with a string of scalps. At length this fashion reached a point beyond which it was not easy to proceed. The last British King who held a court in Holyrood thought that he could not give a more striking proof of his respect for the usages which had prevailed in Scotland before the Union, than by disguising himself in what, before the Union, was considered by nine Scotchmen out of ten as the dress of a thief.

    • Replies: @Bill P

    The Celtic component in Scotland resides in the Highlands, and the Highlands have not produced a lot of significant figures.The Lowlands are the part of Scotland from which the significant thinkers have come (Hume, Smith, etc), and the Lowlands are Anglo-Saxon in culture and language, not Celtic.For that matter, the Lowlanders have always had a low opinion of their Celtic brethren.
     
    It's similar in Ireland. Despite the Gaelic revival "civilized" Irish have long looked down on Irish speakers, preferring to mimic British and continental culture. It's rare to hear Irish spoken in public even by those who speak it fluently. Mainly they only use it indoors among close friends and family. I think the language is doomed.

    Racially, the Lowlands are a mix of Danish, English, Briton, Norman and Gael. In my family on my mother's side, surname Forrest which is Lowland/Ulster Scots, we have names that are clearly English (Lay), Norman (Melville), Gaelic (Sheeran) and even a Dutch name (Van Sickle) thrown in (probably from colonial New England). Lowland Scotland is essentially a frontier where people have fought, traded, invaded each other and intermarried over the centuries, so it's difficult to assign one culture to the place, although Anglo-Saxon is dominant. Still, there's a distinct culture in the region that you can find today in Ulster. It's different from both English and Irish, being more akin to the American character than most others on the Isles.
    , @Greenstalk

    For that matter, the Lowlanders have always had a low opinion of their Celtic brethren.Here’s Macauley (himself of Highland blood, though born in England) dilating on the topic of the mania for the culture of the Highlands:
     
    You know, I'm not sure that citing Macauley complaining about the mania for the Highland culture really supports your position that Lowlanders have "always had a low opinion of their Celtic brethren". If your central postulate was correct then there would have been no "mania for the culture of the Highlands" (as exemplified by that immensely popular Lowland writer, Walter Scott) for him to complain about.
  165. Priss Factor [AKA "K. Arujo"] says:
    @Melendwyr
    Well, a lot of Christianity is borrowed from Greek philosophy - not only directly, but through Judaism, which itself borrowed a lot from the Greeks. And of course the "protagonist is rejected by society, refuses to escape sentence of death through recantation, achieves immortality through accepting unjust punishment" meme is Socratic. Then there's all the bits taken from Mithraism: deity born from a virgin, most especially. Many aspects of Christian belief and ceremony were taken from various Mystery Cults, quite a few of which had people being 'spiritually reborn', sometimes after being symbolically buried or immersed in water. And of course Zoroastrianism is thought to have had a major influence on Judaism and later on Christianity. The 'Sermon on the Mount' is much older than Christ, and its teachings can be found all over the place.

    I suggest you start looking at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_and_other_religions and study from there.

    Oh, and please do not call me 'assertion monkey'.

    “Many aspects of Christian belief and ceremony were taken from various Mystery Cults.”

    What’s the difference between religion and mystery cult? Aren’t all religions mystery cults?

    Or are religions more ‘certain’ about what God or gods are like and what He or they want, whereas mystery cults emphasize the strange unknowability of God or gods?

    The God of the Jews remains mysterious but He did lay down some laws that made it clear what He wants. Maybe mystery cults lack such clarity, and their mystique lies in shadows of God or gods than His or their illumination.

  166. @syonredux

    On the Celtic side, there seems a lack of anything intellectual until the Scots Enlightenment when there is an explosion of achievement.

    That isn’t entirely true or fair. The Celts contributed a great deal to literature, but their language was eclipsed too early for them to make much of an impact on modernity. Still, we have the Arthurian legends, Tristan and Isolde, the Mabinogian, and the peerless illuminated manuscripts from Ireland.
     
    The Celtic component in Scotland resides in the Highlands, and the Highlands have not produced a lot of significant figures.The Lowlands are the part of Scotland from which the significant thinkers have come (Hume, Smith, etc), and the Lowlands are Anglo-Saxon in culture and language, not Celtic.For that matter, the Lowlanders have always had a low opinion of their Celtic brethren.Here's Macauley (himself of Highland blood, though born in England) dilating on the topic of the mania for the culture of the Highlands:

    Soon the vulgar imagination was so completely occupied by plaids, targets, and claymores, that, by most Englishmen, Scotchman and Highlander were regarded as synonymous words. Few people seemed to be aware that, at no remote period, a Macdonald or a Macgregor in his tartan was to a citizen of Edinburgh or Glasgow what an Indian hunter in his war paint is to an inhabitant of Philadelphia or Boston. Artists and actors represented Bruce and Douglas in striped petticoats. They might as well have represented Washington brandishing a tomahawk, and girt with a string of scalps. At length this fashion reached a point beyond which it was not easy to proceed. The last British King who held a court in Holyrood thought that he could not give a more striking proof of his respect for the usages which had prevailed in Scotland before the Union, than by disguising himself in what, before the Union, was considered by nine Scotchmen out of ten as the dress of a thief.
     

    The Celtic component in Scotland resides in the Highlands, and the Highlands have not produced a lot of significant figures.The Lowlands are the part of Scotland from which the significant thinkers have come (Hume, Smith, etc), and the Lowlands are Anglo-Saxon in culture and language, not Celtic.For that matter, the Lowlanders have always had a low opinion of their Celtic brethren.

    It’s similar in Ireland. Despite the Gaelic revival “civilized” Irish have long looked down on Irish speakers, preferring to mimic British and continental culture. It’s rare to hear Irish spoken in public even by those who speak it fluently. Mainly they only use it indoors among close friends and family. I think the language is doomed.

    Racially, the Lowlands are a mix of Danish, English, Briton, Norman and Gael. In my family on my mother’s side, surname Forrest which is Lowland/Ulster Scots, we have names that are clearly English (Lay), Norman (Melville), Gaelic (Sheeran) and even a Dutch name (Van Sickle) thrown in (probably from colonial New England). Lowland Scotland is essentially a frontier where people have fought, traded, invaded each other and intermarried over the centuries, so it’s difficult to assign one culture to the place, although Anglo-Saxon is dominant. Still, there’s a distinct culture in the region that you can find today in Ulster. It’s different from both English and Irish, being more akin to the American character than most others on the Isles.

  167. There’s always Wikipedia: The Greco-Roman mysteries

    Granted, WP isn’t always to be relied upon, but they’re often a good springboard to start from… and their article is reasonably complete and accurate to the limits of my (very limited) knowledge.

  168. @syonredux

    On the Celtic side, there seems a lack of anything intellectual until the Scots Enlightenment when there is an explosion of achievement.

    That isn’t entirely true or fair. The Celts contributed a great deal to literature, but their language was eclipsed too early for them to make much of an impact on modernity. Still, we have the Arthurian legends, Tristan and Isolde, the Mabinogian, and the peerless illuminated manuscripts from Ireland.
     
    The Celtic component in Scotland resides in the Highlands, and the Highlands have not produced a lot of significant figures.The Lowlands are the part of Scotland from which the significant thinkers have come (Hume, Smith, etc), and the Lowlands are Anglo-Saxon in culture and language, not Celtic.For that matter, the Lowlanders have always had a low opinion of their Celtic brethren.Here's Macauley (himself of Highland blood, though born in England) dilating on the topic of the mania for the culture of the Highlands:

    Soon the vulgar imagination was so completely occupied by plaids, targets, and claymores, that, by most Englishmen, Scotchman and Highlander were regarded as synonymous words. Few people seemed to be aware that, at no remote period, a Macdonald or a Macgregor in his tartan was to a citizen of Edinburgh or Glasgow what an Indian hunter in his war paint is to an inhabitant of Philadelphia or Boston. Artists and actors represented Bruce and Douglas in striped petticoats. They might as well have represented Washington brandishing a tomahawk, and girt with a string of scalps. At length this fashion reached a point beyond which it was not easy to proceed. The last British King who held a court in Holyrood thought that he could not give a more striking proof of his respect for the usages which had prevailed in Scotland before the Union, than by disguising himself in what, before the Union, was considered by nine Scotchmen out of ten as the dress of a thief.
     

    For that matter, the Lowlanders have always had a low opinion of their Celtic brethren.Here’s Macauley (himself of Highland blood, though born in England) dilating on the topic of the mania for the culture of the Highlands:

    You know, I’m not sure that citing Macauley complaining about the mania for the Highland culture really supports your position that Lowlanders have “always had a low opinion of their Celtic brethren”. If your central postulate was correct then there would have been no “mania for the culture of the Highlands” (as exemplified by that immensely popular Lowland writer, Walter Scott) for him to complain about.

  169. @Bill P

    On the Celtic side, there seems a lack of anything intellectual until the Scots Enlightenment when there is an explosion of achievement.
     
    That isn't entirely true or fair. The Celts contributed a great deal to literature, but their language was eclipsed too early for them to make much of an impact on modernity. Still, we have the Arthurian legends, Tristan and Isolde, the Mabinogian, and the peerless illuminated manuscripts from Ireland.

    Add to this the fact that a number of early Christian sages were of Celtic origin. Many missionaries, too -- Celts played an important role in evangelizing to the Germans, who respected them for their valor and culture. Read Njal's Saga and the glowing account of Brian Boru, considered by Norsemen to be a righteous and brave ruler of men who compared favorably to viking chieftains.

    But it is true that the main Celtic contribution to the modern world has been bravery. Most of our American Medal of Honor winners have Celtic blood, and if it weren't for the Scots Irish the United States wouldn't extend farther than the Mississippi, and maybe even the Appalachian crest. My mom's pretty much full-blooded Scots Irish, so I know them well. They are really tough people, and no fools, although their behavior may leave a bit to be desired by "civilized" standards (even compared to the Catholic Irish, who are actually culturally more like the English than the Ulster Scots).

    @ Bill P (even compared to the Catholic Irish, who are actually culturally more like the English than the Ulster Scots).
    Does that mean we Green Irish are more like the English than the Orangemen are like the English, or that we are more like the English than we are like the Orangemen? It’s not clear. Either way I disagree. We’re the most Celtic of the Celts.

    • Replies: @Bill P
    I mean both, which is why I left it vague that way.

    I don't think being culturally more like English than Scottish Presbyterians makes the Catholic Irish any less Celtic. The Catholic and Anglican churches are so similar that there's bound to be more in common between Irish and English than English or Irish and hard-Protestant Scots.

    I mentioned that my mother's family is Scots Irish, but my paternal grandfather was raised by a Catholic Irish mother, and he in turn made sure my sister and I were baptized in the Catholic church (the St. Patrick's church in our archdiocese no less) and raised as good Irish-identifying Catholics. This had a huge influence on me.

    However, despite all my grandpa's railing against English imperialists he took tea, had lamb with mint sauce and kept an immaculate garden in his little urban plot. Most of what I know of traditional English culture came from his mother through him, and she was a born and bred Kennedy from Dingle of all places! To think, I was better anglicized by a Celtic great-grandmother from the gaeltacht than any other relative.
  170. @Hibernian
    @ Bill P (even compared to the Catholic Irish, who are actually culturally more like the English than the Ulster Scots).
    Does that mean we Green Irish are more like the English than the Orangemen are like the English, or that we are more like the English than we are like the Orangemen? It's not clear. Either way I disagree. We're the most Celtic of the Celts.

    I mean both, which is why I left it vague that way.

    I don’t think being culturally more like English than Scottish Presbyterians makes the Catholic Irish any less Celtic. The Catholic and Anglican churches are so similar that there’s bound to be more in common between Irish and English than English or Irish and hard-Protestant Scots.

    I mentioned that my mother’s family is Scots Irish, but my paternal grandfather was raised by a Catholic Irish mother, and he in turn made sure my sister and I were baptized in the Catholic church (the St. Patrick’s church in our archdiocese no less) and raised as good Irish-identifying Catholics. This had a huge influence on me.

    However, despite all my grandpa’s railing against English imperialists he took tea, had lamb with mint sauce and kept an immaculate garden in his little urban plot. Most of what I know of traditional English culture came from his mother through him, and she was a born and bred Kennedy from Dingle of all places! To think, I was better anglicized by a Celtic great-grandmother from the gaeltacht than any other relative.

  171. Religions are fundamentally about setting doctrine to regulate human behavior which allows humans to become something better than their animal instincts.

    We are all animals. We don’t behave like animals because of morals, and moral are communicated through religion.

    Christianity has a lot to answer for, because corrupted versions of Chritianity turn into feminist police state hellholes.

    7th century Persia, 4 th century Rome, 21 st century Scandinavia, all post Christian, feminist police states.

    This happens because when people pick and choose what parts of Christianity they want to follow, they keep the parts that relate to power and lose the parts that relate to the other guy’s freedom.

    But, Christianity also has a tradition of religious revival: basically one generation correcting the mistakes of the previous generation.

    So, if 21st century America is a feminist police state hellhole (or on its way) then the people trying to stop religious revival are even more to blame than the corrupted nature of Christianity.

    • Replies: @random observer
    By what standard could 7th century Persia or 4th century Rome be described as either "police states" [a term that is barely possible or meaningful prior to very modern times] or as feminized societies? Empires run by rich male landowners operating patriarchal dynasties and governments in the form of military oligarchies in a state of regular internal and external war could be called a lot of things but feminized is not one of them. Also, pretty much zero welfare or other social provision by contemporary standards, even American ones.
  172. @newrouter
    >For example, one of the primary differences between Eastern and Western Christianity in Europe is that Catholic regions tended to have a separation, in principle, between the powers of Church and State, or Pope and Emperor. The Orthodox regions, following the tradition of Constantinople, placed the Emperor at the summit of both parts of society, so you tend to see greater deference of the Church to the State.<

    isteve stupid

    see

    Holy Roman Empire

    The entire history of the Holy Roman Empire is the political working out of the relations between Pope and Emperor, in which separation of Church and State was acted out in its original form: everybody assumed that the church should have the support of the state in a Christian civilization, and that the state was legitimate because it had the support of the church, but they were two powers.

    Every so often the leader of one or the other would get it in his head to change that, as men will. The Pope to make himself something like the emperor, the emperor to subjugate the church to his will. In essence, each aiming to make himself like the Emperor at Constantinople or like a Caliph of Islam. The union of the two swords. Never worked out.

    The Holy Roman Emperor’s titles never included anything like the eastern Emperor’s honorific “Equal of the Apostles”, a theoretical imperial superiority over the Ecumenical Patriarch that emperors regularly implemented in practice in matters of church governance.

  173. @Rotten
    Religions are fundamentally about setting doctrine to regulate human behavior which allows humans to become something better than their animal instincts.

    We are all animals. We don't behave like animals because of morals, and moral are communicated through religion.

    Christianity has a lot to answer for, because corrupted versions of Chritianity turn into feminist police state hellholes.

    7th century Persia, 4 th century Rome, 21 st century Scandinavia, all post Christian, feminist police states.

    This happens because when people pick and choose what parts of Christianity they want to follow, they keep the parts that relate to power and lose the parts that relate to the other guy's freedom.

    But, Christianity also has a tradition of religious revival: basically one generation correcting the mistakes of the previous generation.

    So, if 21st century America is a feminist police state hellhole (or on its way) then the people trying to stop religious revival are even more to blame than the corrupted nature of Christianity.

    By what standard could 7th century Persia or 4th century Rome be described as either “police states” [a term that is barely possible or meaningful prior to very modern times] or as feminized societies? Empires run by rich male landowners operating patriarchal dynasties and governments in the form of military oligarchies in a state of regular internal and external war could be called a lot of things but feminized is not one of them. Also, pretty much zero welfare or other social provision by contemporary standards, even American ones.

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to All Steve Sailer Comments via RSS
PastClassics
The unspoken statistical reality of urban crime over the last quarter century.
Which superpower is more threatened by its “extractive elites”?
How a Young Syndicate Lawyer from Chicago Earned a Fortune Looting the Property of the Japanese-Americans, then Lived...
Becker update V1.3.2