Violence and History

The more I discourse with Cathedral clerics and catachumens, the more I realize that the moral weight of the Left Narrative rests upon a single historical assumption: In 1492, the white peoples of Europe began to unleash all matter of human horrors into the rest of the world. Genocide, slavery, subjugation, destruction of traditions, imperialism, warfare over resources, so on and so forth. The descendants of those white Europeans are today living a privileged life made possible entirely by the brutality and racism of their ancestors. So, in the name of social justice, a weighing of the scales must take place. The white peoples of the world need to seek forgiveness from those who have been subjugated; whites need to live with constant guilt for the world-altering sins of their fathers; most importantly, whites need to pay damages or, at least, invite all the subjugated peoples into their cities and towns with open arms and laws designed to benefit the people they have oppressed for centuries.

To witness this assumption in full force, we can look at the discourse of academic post-colonial theory. I quote liberally from the Wikipedia entry on post-colonialism:

In The Wretched of the Earth (1961), the psychiatrist Frantz Fanon analysed and medically described the nature of colonialism as essentially destructive; that its societal effects — the imposition of a subjugating colonial identity — are harmful to the mental health of the coloured peoples who were subjugated into colonies. That the ideologic essence of colonialism is the systematic denial of “all attributes of humanity” of the colonised people; that such dehumanization is achieved with physical and mental violence, by which the colonist means to inculcate a servile mentality upon the native men and women, and that the native peoples must violently resist colonial subjugation.

Hence, violent resistance to colonialism is a mentally cathartic practice, which purges colonial servility from the native psyche, and restores self-respect to the men and women whom the colonialist subjugated with the epistemic violence that is inherent to the colonial institutions of the Mother Country . . .

. . . Notably, “The West” created the cultural concept of “The East”, which allowed the European suppression of the ability of the peoples of the Middle East, of the Indian Subcontinent, and of Asia, to express and represent themselves as discrete peoples and cultures. Orientalism thus conflated and reduced the non–Western world into the homogeneous cultural entity known as “The East”. Therefore, in service to the colonial type of imperialism, the Us-and-Them Orientalist paradigm allowed Europeans scholars to misrepresent the Oriental World as inferior and backward, irrational and wild, whilst misrepresenting Western Europe as superior and progressive, as rational and civil, as the opposite of the Oriental Other.

The Left Narrative of social justice assumes this one-eye-blind historical vision. It casts history in terms of good “natives” and bad white colonizers, and the Narrative carries its moral weight on this binary frame. However, it retains its moral weight only on the following related conditions:

1. The historical vision is, in fact, completely true.

2. The “natives” weren’t unleashing similar evils on one another before the Europeans arrived; oppression was invented in 1492.

To cause the masses to question the Narrative, we simply need to challenge either 1 or 2. Luckily, both are easily challenged. The history of the world did not begin in 1492, and history itself does not come equipped with good guys and bad guys. History is complex. Any Narrative imposed upon it will necessarily select certain elements and deflect dozens of others. So, to reclaim history from the Left Narrative, particularly postcolonialism, we should not try to resurrect any Victorian Narratives about the white man’s burden or anything like that. Rather, we simply need to show that the assumptions of the Left Narrative of History are factually wrong, wrong wrong. We show it with a simple recourse to confirmed historical facts.

A certain body of work—epitomized by Niall Fergusson—attempts to challenge the first condition above, documenting the many positive things accomplished by colonizers, such as curtailing the practice of sati in India, providing writing systems for many indigenous languages, increasing age-expectancies with Western medicine, and the like.

This work is effective for challenging the Narrative, but when all is said and done, it doesn’t necessarily change the effects of the Narrative.

“Well, sure,” the Leftist will reply, “colonialism may have left behind a few good things, typically because the oppressed natives were brilliant enough to use their masters’ tools for their own benefit. But this silver lining doesn’t excuse the overwhelming violence that the cancer of white Europe has inflicted upon the world.”

Given the inevitability of this response, I’ve realized that the second condition buttressing the moral weight of the Left Narrative—that the natives were not unleashing evils upon one another, that oppression began in 1492—is a much more central assumption of the Narrative. If this assumption is challenged, what can the progs say in return? “Well, sure, the Indians, Africans, and Mayans were all killing and conquering one another, and fighting over resources before the Europeans arrived, but that doesn’t excuse the Europeans for doing the same thing.”

Mm. Not quite as effective as the first rebuttal. Even if we admit that, no, pre-1492 violence doesn’t excuse the Europeans, it does excuse us from collective guilt and social re-engineering for the sake of the supposed “wretched of the earth.” If two children are fighting over a toy in a sandbox, grabbing the toy back and forth, throwing sand in each others’ faces, and a third child comes along, grabs the toy and throws sand in the other children’s faces . . . why should only the third child be punished or made guilty?

Discussing the creative destruction of techno-commercialism in the comments here, Spandrell writes the following:

Conquistadors won because they had higher IQs. End of story. Ceteris paribus the nastiest and better organized wins.

That usually involves violence and coercion. How many local traditions were destroyed by Rome? By Chingis Khan? How many by European imperialism?

I think this is precisely the tone we need to take. The Ferguson case for imperialism can be made, of course, but it’s much more powerful to admit, for argument’s sake, that, yes, colonial expansion was violent, destructive, fueled by a desire for resources, so on and so forth, before adding, “Just like it has been since homo-sapiens began killing other hominids as they expanded out of Africa. Do you think our species succeeded by always being nice?”

The Cathedral knows that this line of reasoning has serious implications for the moral weight of its Historical Narrative and, by extension, the moral weight of many of its white-guilt policies. This is why anthropology has abandoned its descriptive roots, and why Napoleon Chagnon was attacked so viciously for merely suggesting that the Yanamamo are no angels. His naieve defenders respond by pointing out the huge difference between describing the less savory elements of native culture and calling for their genocide or subjugation. However, this naieve defense ignores the fact that describing tribal life as anything less than Pure and Noble strikes a blow to the moral center of Leftism. If what happened during the colonial project was not the obliteration of peace-loving, Enya-listening Disney Indians, but more of the same old same that had gone on for millennia—just on a larger stage—then the Cathedral’s ability to use white guilt as a blunt object for getting things done is no longer guaranteed.

If you take a peak at the Library of the Dark Enlightenment at the top-right of this blog page, you’ll discover an in-progress list of legitimate scholarly work “On Violence.” Again, we needn’t revert to the old Victorian Narrative in order to refute the current Narrative (which has essentially been a recasting of the Backward Savages as the Noble Savages). We merely need to demonstrate the historical fact of violence, warfare, slavery, and conquest, because these facts, in and of themselves, do damage to the moral weight of the Left Narrative.

For example, we Americans are taught to believe that we completely destroyed and conquered peaceful native civilization. Instead of trying to complicate that fact, we should (also) point out that many native tribes were, in their day, just as conquering: the Iroquois pushed out the Osage, who then migrated west and pushed out some of the prairie tribes. During the Beaver Wars, the Iroquois attacked French-allied tribes and expanded their territory well beyond their original bounds. Aztec imperialism was so complete, it left genetic changes that can be detected today in the genes of their conquered descendants.

Again, we should not take these facts as evidence that they were all “backward, raging savages” or anything like that. The Victorians were just as wrong as the contemporary Neo-purtains of the Cathedral. Nor should we deny that European expansionism was at times violent and destructive to local traditions. Instead, we should remind the Cathedral, wherever we can, that the facts of indigenous violence and conquest seriously mitigate the guilt any of us—European or Mayan—should feel about blood shed and peoples conquered throughout the many ages since humans walked out of Africa.

21 responses

  1. John

    Also a lot of good stuff here under HBD and Crime:

    May 2, 2013 at 2:12 pm

  2. John

    Lawrence Keeley’s book War Before Civilization is a classic on this topic:

    May 2, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    • Yes, I’ve got that in my “Library.” The problem with the HBD Bibliography is that too many articles on there were published by Sailer or a right-wing news magazine, which, in my mind, is nothing against the facts they present, but in the mind of most, it’s a reason to ignore the facts. So, I’m going to keep my Bibliography largely limited to authors and works that have been published by academia or government. That way, people can’t ignore the facts, because the Cathedral published them.

      May 2, 2013 at 2:32 pm

  3. Jim

    The European settlers in the New World undoubtedly averaged higher IQ’s than Native Americans but more was involved than just this factor. Disease, particularly smallpox, played a huge role.

    It is certainly true that North American Indian tribes moved around a lot and frequently fought over territory and drove each other out of various areas. The speakers of Iroquoian
    languages in the northeastern US had immigrated there from the southeastern US after the time of Columbus and were in frequent conflict with the Algonquin tribes already there. The Dorset Eskimo drove Athabascan tribes to the south resulting in the Southern Athabascans having migrated to the Texas Panhandle where they were reported to be by Coronado. About 1700 a Shoshoni band who became the Comanche arrived in West Texas and drove the Southern Athabascans to the south and west. In turn the Southern Athabascans wrecked havoc on Pueblo Indians in Arizona and New Mexico and on the Coahuiltecan of southern Texas and Northern Mexico.

    The Sioux were probably located in what is now Iowa at the time of Columbus. The French found them in Northern Minnesota where they were closely associated with the Assinboine. They moved to the west and did not arrive in the Black Hills until the end of the eighteen centurry.

    The Aztecs themselves were very recent arrivals in the Valley of Mexico. Their own legends describe their long migration from the Great Basin of the Western US to the Valley of Mexico. They were recent invaders into Mexico just as the Spainish were a little later.

    May 2, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    • A thorough gloss, and surely a gloss nonetheless. We need to keep this history alive before it gets completely bowdlerized or re-written altogether.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:49 pm

  4. JJ

    It seems that twitter has definitely become the preferred medium of neoreactionary discussion.

    Are you on twitter, Scharlach?

    May 2, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    • Not yet. Soon to be remedied.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:50 pm

  5. Nick B. Steves

    I don’t claim that the Conquistadors were angelic paragons of virtue, mildly shepherding lost peoples under the Cross of Christ, but only that they were more virtuous than the tribes they conquered. In a sense, the Mesoamericans deserved to be conquered, and the Spanish deserved to be the ones to do it. We can always trot out a list of “bad stuff” the conquerers did, and I’m not particularly interested in that. And of course, this lays aside entirely whether at any point it makes long term “business” sense to colonize another people. (More often than not, it doesn’t. Ergo strong federalism.)

    What I’m trying to get at is that (for some measures of what we could all agree a priori is) virtue is correlated with (and almost certainly causal of) biological and cultural fitness (which to a large degree controls who dominates whom, in addition to being highly correlated with IQ).

    And Spandrell, to the extent that I disagree with him at all (i.e., not much), is really closely paraphrasing Pontius Pilate asking: “What is virtue?” Well, that’s a very good question… but don’t we all at least wish is wasn’t nothing?

    May 2, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    • spandrell

      “virtue is correlated with (and almost certainly causal of) biological and cultural fitness”

      It seems we do disagree quite a lot. My view of history is way more cynical than this.

      Not only I wish virtue was something, I actually think it is something, and what it consists of is mostly agreed around most civilized cultures. But I don’t think any culture had much of it during most time, and to the extent it is correlated with civilization, it is a byproduct of wealth, certainly not its cause.

      May 3, 2013 at 1:58 am

  6. Kiwiguy

    I remember at High School in a history class debate pointing out that while Europeans colonised the Maori, the Maori themselves had largely wiped out the Moriori people beforehand. So they were hardly in a position to take the moral high ground. It’s a hard thing for leftists to rebut as it’s actually discussed in Marxist Jared Diamond’s anti-HBD bestseller ‘Guns, Germs & Steel’.

    Speaking of Twitter, do search under #whiteprivilege – you’ll find some true believers of the narrative you’ve outlined above. I ended up debating one the other night. In the course of the discussion it was explained to me that:

    1. People of color (PoC) can discriminate against, but cannot be r8cist towards whites.

    2. I asked about say the Ainu in Japan, or the Han & Tibetans. They replied that PoC could be r8cist towards other PoC.

    3. This is because it depends on power & whites have this.

    4. I asked for evidence of this – the person was incredulous and responded that whites had colonised every ethnic group.

    5. I asked whether this was the case with East Asia & they didn’t respond.

    May 3, 2013 at 5:30 am

  7. John

    Popular Dark Enlightenment Twitter Feeds that someone sent on email list:


    May 3, 2013 at 3:59 pm

  8. Aaron

    Scharlach, you may also like Razib Khan’s take on post-colonialism in his essay Relative angels and absolute demons. This has the added bonus of being at Discover Mag so most people that read it will do so without an unthinking political reflex.

    May 3, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    • Thanks. I’d forgotten about that short but excellent post.

      May 3, 2013 at 6:36 pm

  9. John

    Check this out…the Dark Enlightenment on Twitter:

    Was just retweeted by Roissy….

    May 3, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    • Thanks. I’ve just gotten on the Twitter bandwagon.

      May 3, 2013 at 9:00 pm

  10. jamesd127

    The white man’s burden doctrine (Hey, we ended slavery, cannibalism, human sacrifice, and so on and so forth) was fundamentally anti colonialist, since the colonialists were a bunch of pirates, slavers, and bandits.

    Imperialism was the original anti colonialism.

    However the colonialists did end cannibalism and human sacrifice. Where they settled down to become stationary bandits they were a huge improvement on the native rulers they shook down.

    May 4, 2013 at 7:26 am

    • Personally, I think it’s easy enough to defend colonialism, but I don’t think it’s a good tactic simply because the other side can always point to some random, unrepresentative atrocity to counter the defense. This devolves into endless tallies of Atrocities vs. Benefits of colonialism. Much easier to posit that everyone has blood on their hands.

      May 4, 2013 at 3:33 pm

  11. Anonymous

    There is certainly no historical basis for the assertion that Europeans are any more violent or aggressive than most of the rest of humanity. The Mongol invasion of China in the 13th century is estimated to have resulted in the death of one-third to one-half of the Chinese population.

    May 5, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    • No, but to suggest otherwise in certain circles will get you branded a heretic.

      May 5, 2013 at 8:18 pm

  12. Pingback: Randoms | Foseti

  13. me

    Reparations would be nice….for all of the social services we’ve spent, are spending, and continue to spend on the ‘minority’ races. With all of the money people have thrown at
    ‘disadvantaged’ ethnic groups, Africa, and other bullshit causes, we could have colonized the rest of the damned solar system! When the other ‘minorities’ are in charge, the result is what we now have in Detroit, Savannah, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Tampa, etc. And they sure know how to be ‘racist’ towards the bad ol’ ‘racist’ Whitey when they ARE ‘running the show’. How long will people keep falling for the ‘White guilt’ bamboozlement?

    May 22, 2013 at 3:33 pm

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