posted on Feb, 3 2006 @ 02:23 PM
This is a pet theory once formed by me (white) and a co-worker (black) who were ardent history buffs.
The theory is this:
Arab civilization almost overwhelmed Europe in the period from 1200-1600. It swept over Europe from Southern Spain, to Siciliy and Southern
Italy, taking Consantople, Greece, and all the Balkans, reaching to the gates of Vienna and Moscow in the East.
This was because Arab material culture was much more "advanced" (specialized) than contemporary European culture:
-Arab culture supported a higher population in Arab lands, meaning that Ottoman and Arab armies were often larger than the entire populations of the
European lands they were invading.
-Arab military culture stressed discipline and local commanders improvising strategy in the field. Europeans rarely thought above the tactical
-Arab command of mathematics and writing meant that Muslim commanders could provide logistics for a large army in the field, and have rapid technical
communications. The European commanders were incapable of either.
-The Ottomon empire, as Machiavelli points out, was highly centralized; the lands they were invading were a welter of city-states that often
distrusted their neighbors as much as they did the Islamist conquerors.
So, the question is, "How did Europe remain independent?"
The answer "Paul" and I came up with is this:
The Europeans were outnumbered and out-generalled. The only European leaders who could stem the tides had the following attributes:
-heavy fortresses that could withstand any onslought
-technical innovation that made up for a lack of numbers (heavy cavalry, crossbows).
- "Bloodlust," an sort of dogged refusal to surrender, or even parley with the enemy, and a vicioius revelry in bloodshed.
Think about it. Who are the Arab heroes from the end of the crusades? Men like Saladdin. Humane, learned, Chivalric, and ready to reach a peace
accord with the enemy.
Who were the European legends? Men like "Richard the Lion-heart," "Roland," "El Cid Campeador," and "Vlad the impaler."
-Men who were famous for charging full force into vastly superior enemy forces
-Men who refused to parley
-Men who fought on, even when wounded beyond all hope of survival.
-Men who were famous for their technology: We know the names of their castles, their swords, even their horses.
-Men who were famous for their ferocity and bloodthirstiness.
For instance, one of the reasons the Ottomans never captured Vienna long-term was Vlad the Impaler. Though his forces were miniscule, he was in an
impregnible fortress. And he would impale every muslim he could catch, regardless of how many of his own were slain. In the end, the ottomans just
bypassed his fiefdom. But they couldn't hold vienna with Vlad on the loose, and eventually withdrew.
El Cid and Roland have similar stories.
"Paul" always said that these historical experiences had a deep impact on the European psyche. That the whites who were less violent, who were
cerebral and pacifist, were all killed or assimilated by Muslim culture. In other words, the only free Europeans were the ferocious monsters.
According to him, other cultures don't have the same value system, because they lack those experiences. He used Rugby and American football as
examples of this militaristic mentality; or Boxing, which is totally different from wrestling as practiced in Arab culture.
"Paul" and I both agree that Western Europeans have an ingrained love of technology for its own sake, to the point where European governments think
espionage means "James Bond Gear" and satelites, instead of getting foreigners to help you.
There is another important "European" trait: a certain respect for Losers who fought a hopeless cause.
Whether it's the Alamo, or Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, Pearl Harbor, or the Song of Roland, or the Battle of Falkirk, or Bunker Hill, European culture
lionizes soldiers who fought against overwhelming enemies in hopeless causes. Even (or especially) when they lost.
Other cultures don't savor their defeats quite the way Western Europeans do.
Doesn't that sound a lot like the crusades ?!?!?!
So, is this bunk? Or do you think there is something to this? Non-European responses might be especially interesting. . . .