The removal from the land of its eternal properties, the peasants, to make way for the progress of sheep and cash crops meant that for the first time in Human history men were free-- to be exiles.
The discovery of the New World and the shipping of gold, silver and goods from there to Spain and Portugal didn't in the long run enrich those nations. The real riches went to the nations of the northwest, to the Netherlands, to France, to England. Because it wasn't just the money, the gold and silver, that made nations great and wealthy. Spain had lots of gold, but it didn't have the social relations and the concept of privacy that arose in the northwest. The nations that became impoverished in spite of the vast incomes they got from the New World were those that would not progress socially and economically, and that looked backward for their validation as socio-political entities. All the gold in the New World couldn't buy a better attitude, and with a better attitude the Northwesterners managed to take the pot and keep it.
In this sixth look at the origins of Modernity and the bifurcation of Humanity we'll return to Ivan T. Berend, History Derailed to find the roots of the failure of Central and Eastern Europe to become modern democracies; and in so doing we'll perhaps see the roots of Islamic failure in modern times. But more than anything else, our purpose is to explore here the reasons why our own Western intelligentsia is opposed to Modernity, why our own are Left dhimmi fascists in the world of affluence and individual liberty, of personal freedom and privacy of the mind. Why do we hate us?
For most of Human history, men have found themselves in the position of being someone else's animal. It's been the common condition of Man to find his own life is someone else's property. Modernity changed that relationship to one of personal freedom. And that is one thing many people cannot tolerate, not for themselves and not for others. Without a structure of rigid hierarchies and order based on authority there are those who live in terror of a life lived alone, without rules, without security and total assurance that they are protected even in death from forces they fear, the forces of chaos and the unknowable.
Modernity is the end of security for the herd-man, and the rise of privacy is the exile of belonger. There are those who just don't feel right unless they're huddled together, covered in filth, and moving along in a group under some wise guidance to nowhere but the grave. Modernity's atomization of Humanity, its tearing of man from the soil, its relentless energy and change of all that was same and sedentary and secure, its disruption of the continuity of herd-man and the cyclical life of the weather and crops is a maddening assault upon the mind and spirit that drives him to suicidal frenzies. Often, television doesn't soothe the soul of the alienated man. He needs something more. He rebels against the sterility of Modernity and reaches back for the authenticity of the land, for the strength of the irrational, for the mysteries of the universe ruled by the passions of the gods whom he must placate as mysteriously as they rule. Modernity has too many explanations, and they don't explain anything at all. They only speak to the mind, one man's words to another. There is no authenticity, no authority, no certainty. Man stands alone in the face of the unknowable without protection. He crowds around other exiles. Together they long for the return of the gods and to the old home, to the natural way of passive and tended herd animals.
With the rise of capitalism there was a choice to make: to accept it or to fight it. The rich as well as the poor resisted the encroachments of Modernity, and in the Northwest of Europe they lost the struggle, though they haven't ceased to fight to this day. But most people did resist successfully the age of Modernity.
The rich, with their entitlements and privileges and set-view of reality as deeply entrenched as in the minds of the most ignorant peasants, fought Modernity. In the face of growing economies the Southerners resisted capitalism while taking its fruits.
Berend writes: The rigid medieval social-institutional system and the associated noble-hidalgo attitude led to conspicuous consumption and a parasitic life-style. Spain did not attempt to increase productivity and output.... (p. 16.)
To this day we witness the same failings in numerous stagnant and dysfunctional states around the globe, states mired in tradition, custom, and cultural fetishes, immobilized by reactionary ideologies, propped up by jizyah and corrupt business practices of all sorts while the native populations starve and are massacred by paramilitary forces within. We see parasitic states survive on rent and foreign aid, on narcotics trading and slavery. And we see the systems of reaction held together by religious fanaticism, tribal hatreds, and utopian triumphalism. Rather than collapse from within, the West allows such states to continue their criminal existences because we pay to feed them rather than let a billion people starve to death within a matter of weeks. And that is to the good, for how would we ever bury the bodies before they burst forth a plague we could not contain? And so it goes on, and will go on, till the end comes and we are faced with quarantine regardless. Then, perhaps, the survivors of the implosion of primitivism will join the Modern world, or else they will shuffle around aimlessly in a sand diorama, curiosities in a world that has left them to die out for good. And good riddance. The world's population bifurcates no matter our Human good will toward all.
The Western world split between the progressive northwest and the reactionary south and central Europe, the south squandering their promise and talents, the center not even trying to join the modern world, caught as they were in the grip of Islam and entrenched feudalism, a slavery of the mind they could not escape from.
"With its rigid social structure, dominant guilds, and outdated institutions, Italy could not compete with the emerging Northwestern countries." (p. 16)
And it was worse for the area of Central and Eastern Europe: "it lost its previous role in the so-called Levantine trade of the medieval period, whose main routes crossed the area. Mostly landlocked, these countries were excluded from the advantages of the emerging modern age." (p. 17.)
The advantages of the emerging modern age aren't always seen as advantages. In fact, the enemies of progress, legal and social equality, and individual freedom, specifically the Left dhimmi fascists of our time, see the advantages of Modernity as disadvantages to the entire spirit of the entire Human race, and particularly to the spirit of Earth itself. Some resisted progress successfully, particularly in the East.
[B]etween the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, the Continent became divided into two halves.... The split between Greek Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism strengthened that divergence... the eastern zone, Russian and the Balkans, remained isolated from the West, lacked private property, and preserved the communal system until early modern times or even longer.
The history of Central and Eastern Europe from the sixteenth century to the eighteenth consequently followed an opposite trend from that of Western Europe. Instead of eliminating feudal institutions and adopting a market system and merchant capitalism, The Baltic, Polish, Bohemian, Hungarian, and Croatian area regressed to an earlier stage of feudalism, a manorial-serf economy-- a "second serfdom." Self-managing latifundia based on socage reappeared. Serfs were again bound to the land, and feudal dues were paid then in labour.
While the West experienced an emerging modern capitalism, the East thus reinstated earlier feudal structures.... Historical catastrophes and national tragedies followed one after the other, and independent statehood collapsed. (pp.18-19.)
The reactionary social agenda weakened the Central and Eastern parts of Europe and contributed to the Turkish devastation and enslavement of the Balkan people into the Ottoman empire.
I think I have the quotation right here: "No one can be free who loves the memory of his chains." Mark Pedelty, War Stories: the Culture of Foreign Correspondents. New York: Routledge. 1995.
There is in slavery something to love.
One attribute of the fascist is his hatred of mediocrity, the pettiness of business, of cash counting and profit making. The fascist, the Walter Mitty nobody in his own right, longs to feel the greatness of his spirit, especially if it's reflected in something more tangible like the state or the race or the gods and history and the combination of all in a state of war. Better still if he can wear a uniform and chant with the crowd. The people united. The volk. The state, The party. The leader. All in touch with the glorious past when the nation was strong, when they were heroes, bloody and triumphant, and they moved as one across the land. The machines of Modernity, the cash, the orders given by a mere man who merely makes money without authority from the gods, that is an affront to the natural order of the hero he would be in his own ideal world, the world that should re-arise. No more talk about logic and cold reason. They fight for the warmth of the imagined past, these petty little fascists, awed and disgraced by machines, longing for the protection and punishment of power from beyond.
On [t]he antibusiness mentality of the Hungarian nobility: "A type of 'absentee' landlord came into being, living far from his domain, spending money excessively, keeping up a luxurious residence in Vienna. The Hungarian country gentleman who lived mainly on the serf's services...." (Berend: p. 20.)
We see it in the rentier oil monarchies of Islam: there is not a place still that is an exporter of commercial food crops. Only Israel, in the Middle East, exports what it produces by its labour. And then there is Afghanistan.
The hidalgo attitude in Spain and the "anti-capitalist national character" in Hungary and in other "noble societies" of Central and Eastern Europe, consequences of a special class and property structure in these areas, became strong and eventually insuperable obstacles on the road to modern transformation.
[....] The area east of the Elbe River was distinguished by the preservation of its agrarian character and retarded urban development. Urban centres of a Western type did not emerge in Central and Eastern Europe in the early modern period.... The Balkan capital cities remained dusty, sleepy little settlements.... Central and Eastern European urbanization was one-tenth of that of the West around the beginning of the nineteenth century. (pp. 21-22.)
There are different kinds of cities, and there are two reasons neither arose in Central and Eastern Europe in this time: One, that the land wasn't made into a business for profit-seekers who rid it of excess labourers, thereby pushing them into the waiting arms of manufactures in factories, the land-owners feeling quite content to receive rent rather than profit from their holdings; and two, that the idiocy of rural living, as Marx calls it, deems city life unnatural, corrupt, and Satanic. Of cities, one grows organically as the land is rid of its excess animals to make way for sheep, men who are driven into the slaughterhouses of the city's industries; the other grows when men leave the land for the greener pastures of pavement and tenements in the hope of forage, cities that vary between gaping wounds on the national bodies to outright Third World shit-holes.
The Balkan subregion's deviation from the West was even more dramatic. From the nineteenth century on, national historiography has traditionally blamed the Ottoman conquest for Balkan backwardness. The conquerors destroyed grain-growing villages in the lowlands and decimated the population, the argument goes; the survivors escaped to wooded, mountainous areas, where they supported themselves by raising animals. The consequence of Ottoman occupation was thus the depopulation of the Balkans and a reversion to semi-nomadic pastoral life....
The arrival of the Ottomans was a calamity of unparalleled consequences because it disrupted the natural development... isolated the peninsula from European development and left it untouched by the great ideas and transformations... [bringing] a deep cultural regression and even barbarization. (Todorova 1997, 182; Berend, p. 22.)
For the Left dhimmi fascist, now lap-dog to the Islamic fascist, the destruction of the progress of capitalism is not a calamity at all but a cause of celebration. It is the return to the land, to a state of Nature and primitivism that appeals to the Romantic Left dhimmi fascist of today's Modernity. It's endless Robin Hood and dress-up phantasy. No synthetic material, no preservatives. All natural, all "authentic."
In our next look at the contrast between Central and Eastern Europe and the modern world today we'll look at Berend's comments on the Ottoman causes of Balkan backwardness, and by extrapolation at the conditions of the Islamic world today. We'll see the world as our enemies see the world, as our Left dhimmi fascist brothers and sisters see it. As bitter exiles from the Garden.