Skip to comments.The Tragedy of a Non-Muslim West
Posted on 01/23/2008 9:44:35 AM PST by forkinsocket
How far are western intellectuals prepared to take civilizational self-loathing?
In The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire, Gibbon called the Battle of Poitiers in 732 "the high-water point of the Muslim tide in western Europe". Had they won, they'd have pressed on to Paris and London and beyond. But they didn't win - which causes David Levering Lewis, the American historian and author of God's Crucible: Islam And The Making Of Europe, 570-1215, much regret:
Lewis sets out to show that the failure of what he calls "the jihad east of the Pyrenees" is "one of the most significant losses in world history." He argues that the Frankish defeat of the Islamic invaders at Poitiers in 732 and the subsequent poetic glorification of Roland's sacrifice to cover Charlemagne's retreat from his own incursion into Spain were "pivotal moments in the creation of an economically retarded, balkanized and fratricidal Europe that, by defining itself in opposition to Islam, made virtues out of hereditary aristocracy, persecutory religious intolerance, cultural particularism and perpetual war . . . 'winning' at Poitiers actually meant that the economic, scientific and cultural levels that Europeans attained in the 13th century could almost certainly have been achieved more than three centuries earlier had they been included in the Muslim world empire."
As Tim Rutten, the Los Angeles Times reviewer, remarks:
In other words, the West would be better off if it had been incorporated into an all-conquering Islamic empire in the early Middle Ages.
Still, it's fair to wonder why, if that's true, the West ended up with the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution and the Scientific Revolution and the Islamic world got chronic underdevelopment, a pervasive religious obscurantism, Al Qaeda and the trust fund states of the Arabian peninsula?
Mr Lewis better e careful what he wishes for. He just might get it now after all..
How the hell could any individual look at the contrasting development of the Islamic world and the Western world and say things would have been better but for victory? How does an individual so dumb manage to breathe while he sleeps?
Kiss Chaucer, Aquinas, Chartres cathedral,Shakespeare, Bach and Beethoven goodbye though. Proust, Victor Hugo, and Henri Bergson would have had to write in Arabic. It gets complicated...
Bad news for Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Fellini, Jean-Luc Godard, and Bergman.
I hear an answer rattling around the liberal blogosphere: If Islam were universal, then the Arab part of it would not be in grinding poverty and ignorance. It's because of the "Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution and the Scientific Revolution" in the West that allowed the West to keep the poor Islamists stupid, see? Had Islam been allowed to overrun the world in the 7th century, then we'd be much more advanced today, probably flying around with cool jetpacks and beheading infidels with rayguns.
Let’s run down the list:
1. Economically retarded - perhaps this is the only somewhat true one - Islamic countries traded very freely and had flatter systems of taxation that allowed individuals to accumulate more wealth than the resulting feudal Europe (after you pay your tithe for being non-Muslim of course).
2. balkanized and fratricidal - Um, Sunni vs. Shia? Anyone?
3. hereditary aristocracy - last I checked, Saudi Arabia was one of the few countries with a true ruling aristocracy
4. persecutory religious intolerance - You have got to be absolutely bullcrapping me
5. cultural particularism - You have got to be phenomenally bulcrapping me
6. perpetual war - You were bullcrapping me. I knew it.
I say bring back Vlad “the Impaler” Tepesh. He knew how you handle Muslims spoiling for a fight.
mark for later
Recently hired by NYU. He has won an extraordinary number of prizes and honors, as you might expect for a radical leftist. His field appears to be African-American history.
His CV is here; it’s a .pdf file.
I'm not sure how adopting all those things represents opposition to Islam, since they are all hallmarks of it.
What do you know? At the bottom of his CV, it says, “Born in Little Rock, Arkansas.”
Must be something in the water down there. (Apologies to Freepers from Arkansas.)
Ah. That explains his hatred of western civilization.
This was the lament of certain high-ranking Nazis (who were obviously quite ignorant as to the nature of Islam... they fantasized about a world in which the Nazis bent Islam to serve them).
I suppose it is somewhat simplified if over half your population is illiterate...
There is the usual neglect of the civilizing influence of Christianity. Immigrants are not flocking to places like France, England, Germany, and Italy because they are less advanced or more technologically backward.
I’d rather read about the “trajedy” of a non-muslim world.
Science in the pre-Islamic Middle East (Persia, Baghdad, etc.) was very advanced, and trading with India and the Far East brought Asian discoveries into that part of the world, too.
Islam wiped it all out within about 3 generations.
When Islam takes over a society, the society may still retain traces of its previous culture for a couple of generations. Then the imposition of sharia and the theocratic system, not to mention the backward, violent Arabic caravan-raiding culture that goes with Islam, crushes the life out of it. And then, presto, you have the glories of Islamic culture: Violence, degradation, slavery, ignorance, repression and poverty.
I know of many folk who majored in African-American history in college as it was the easiest, no work necc. major to skate through to a degree.
“. . ‘winning’ at Poitiers actually meant that the economic, scientific and cultural levels that Europeans attained in the 13th century could almost certainly have been achieved more than three centuries earlier had they been included in the Muslim world empire.”
OR...the victory of Islam may have delay these things six centuries given the eventual beheading of: Leonardo da Vinci, Fibonacci, Petrus Peregrinus, Roger Bacon, ...etc.