We've detected that you're using an ad content blocking browser plug-in or feature. Ads provide a critical source of revenue to the continued operation of Silicon Investor.  We ask that you disable ad blocking while on Silicon Investor in the best interests of our community.  If you are not using an ad blocker but are still receiving this message, make sure your browser's tracking protection is set to the 'standard' level.


Previous 10 Next 10 
To: Tom Clarke who wrote (6294)3/29/2020 8:59:56 AM
From: alanrs
   of 6538
I meant in the sense of the dead body lying there with the plight of the living left behind being explored.

Maybe that dead guy, if he sat up, might say it's really shitty over here, get over yourself.

Just being flippant, making noise.

Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read

To: Tom Clarke who wrote (6291)3/29/2020 10:18:59 AM
From: Valuepro
   of 6538
Thanks, Tom, an interesting back story. And with today's dateline too. Good find.

I guess this helps to affirm that all "fact-checkers" have problems of some sort, though perhaps not as solacious as this.

Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last ReadRead Replies (1)

From: isopatch3/29/2020 8:42:54 PM
   of 6538

How Bad was Life in Medieval Europe Really?

21 March, 2020 - 13:03

Aleksa Vuckovic

When we think about the life in medieval Europe, we tend to conjure up grim and dismal images of war, poverty, sickness, and the Dark Ages . But was it truly so dark? Is there more to it, or are we mistaken?

In our latest article we are going in depth to uncover all the little details that made up the lives of all classes of medieval society: from lords to peasants, soldiers to courtiers. It is time to finally approach this subject from a realistic point of view - no embellishment, no escaping the true facts. So now we go back in time to those illustrious Middle Ages and dig deep into the lives of those that came before us.

Understanding Life in Medieval Europe It is widely agreed that the Middle Ages in Europe lasted roughly from the 5th century to the 15th century AD. In some places it declined sooner, others later, but in general it began giving way to the Renaissance period and the famed Age of Discovery around the 15th century, as lifestyle began to drastically advance all around Europe. But how was life for the denizens of medieval societies during this long period?

Some people say that it was not as bad as we think, but the full answer is not so simple. Europe is big - and different regions and societies lived in different ways. It can be agreed, however, that life in medieval European capitals and major towns was far from good - at least by some modern notion of comfort. But the lives of those who remained at their ancestral hearths, in far mountainous regions and remote villages were certainly very different.

Archaic pastoral societies of the mountains, such as the ones found in the Alps, the Pyrenees, or the Carpathians, would rely on their age-old traditions and the way of life that they maintained for many generations. Such lives were undisturbed by the discomforts of life in the urban regions or castle villages. Sure, in time the hand of their sovereign did reach these villages, but it was still a better way of life than in the town.

To begin our story, we shall focus on the life in major urban centers of the medieval world. Constantinople, Paris, Venice, London, Dublin - for the time these were considered densely populated and major metropolitan centers of the Middle Ages. For example in the year 500 AD, Constantinople numbered between 400,000 and 500,000 inhabitants - unheard of for the time. In the years 1300 AD, Paris numbered around 150,000 citizens, while Venice had around 120,000. But urban life was never great for the common folk.

One excellent example of this is London through the Middle Ages. The number of its citizens steadily rose through the centuries, and around the year 1300, it numbered well over 100,000 people. London was notorious for its lack of hygiene and its dismal conditions. A combination of rapid urban growth and lack of suitable space led to overcrowding and the spread of sickness.

The imprisonment of Charles, Duke of Orléans, in the Tower of London from a 15th-century manuscript. ( Public Domain ) Life in medieval Europe was especially unpleasant for people living in urban areas.

Archaic building methods made the districts prone to fires, and the lack of sewers meant that sewage ran through the streets. Many contemporary sources go into detail about the conditions of life in such a city - rats run in plain sight, and stray dogs are aplenty. Animal carcasses often remain in open sight - untouched. This lack of hygiene reflected on the citizens and was also one of the main reasons for the rapid spread of the Bubonic Plague in the mid-1300s.

A Castle and All it Entailed But cities were few and far between. The main centers of habitation in the Middle Ages were castles. A castle required a lot of work and care. Castles varied in size and were almost always the seats of regional Lords . Lords held titles and lands and gathered taxes from the villages that were on those lands. In return, a Lord had to swear his obedience to a king, and provide military aid at any given time.

A castle was often built on a rocky promontory or a hill. This was clearly done for strategic reasons. Outside of a castle a village usually arose - most often filled with artisans whose skills where needed for the proper functioning of the castle. These were millers, bakers, blacksmiths and butchers, farmers, and cooks.

These sound like normal and acceptable jobs, and they most often were. But not all castle-related jobs were so pleasing. One of these notoriously unpleasant medieval jobs was that of a gong farmer.

Medieval castles often relied on gravity for waste disposal. A castle would have a chamber slightly jutting out from the wall which was known as the closet, privy, or toilet. This was a standard “seat” for doing your business, with only a slight catch - the excrement would fall all the way down the castle walls and into a hole in the ground.

The privy at Peveril Castle, Castleton, Derbyshire, England. ( Public Domain )

These holes were usually cesspits, where excrement would pile up from the privy way up high. Sometimes - in larger castles - the poop would fall into the water of a moat, a ditch that ringed the castle for defensive purposes. Over time the water became fetid and foul, which acted as another defensive method against invaders.

Either way, the cesspits had to be emptied in due time. And this was the job of a gong farmer. These men had to shovel all the feces out of the hole and dispose of it. Gong farmers had perhaps the worst jobs in history , as they often had to complete their job waist deep in feces. Many died from the overpowering fumes of human excrement that they dealt with.

But such was the reality of life in a medieval European castle. Class differences were huge - enormous even - and injustice was rampant . The Lords of the noble class enjoyed power and riches, and all those below them had few - if any - rights.

The lowest of the classes was that of a serf - a person who was allowed to live on the Lord’s land. For that privilege they had to supply goods, taxes, and military service. And besides all that, they had no rights whatsoever.

Medieval illustration from 1310 of men harvesting wheat with reaping-hooks. ( Public Domain ) Life was especially hard for medieval serfs.

Poverty was rampant for these people and perhaps even the only thing they knew. With poverty came poor living conditions and with that a short life span. For centuries the people of medieval Europe would not live past 40 or 50, and old age was a rarity.

Children also experienced dreadful fates and high mortality rates. Without contraception, women would give birth to as many as 10, 12, 15 or even 20 children! But perhaps only two or three of these offspring would survive into adulthood. From this we can deduce that parents were most likely less moved by these happenings, as it was an expected condition of life.

But as we said, injustice ran rampant in the medieval world, mostly because of enormous class differences. While the peasants had meager diets, the nobility often indulged in all they wanted. Furthermore, the nobles, lords, and kings all vied for more power and more wealth – and to achieve their greedy goals they relied on the poor peasants that served them.

People at a medieval banquet. ( Archivist /Adobe Stock)

Military service was mandatory for all men - without question. So, when the lord called his banners, you had to answer. A peasant man would have little to gain from his military service - unless plundering was allowed. It was the noble who would increase his wealth. Of course, peasant soldiers were often used as a last measure or the rear line of support, while the actual skilled warfare was conducted by trained men - knights, cavalrymen, and foot soldiers .

When Religion Takes Hold

The medieval period was also a time of significant racial and religious discontent. Religion was by far the biggest driving force behind all major happenings in the era, and the source of all wars and suffering. From the earliest middle ages, Christianity spread like wildfire . It consumed the courts of Europe exclusively through political means - Kings accepted Christianity only to increase power and political influence. As the centuries progressed, pagan peoples were oppressed and forcefully converted. The last pagans of Europe were the tribes of Lithuania and the neighboring Finnic Seto tribe.

‘The Taking of Arkona in 1169, King Valdemar and Bishop Absalon’ (19th century) by Laurits Tuxen. ( Public Domain ) Bishop Absalon is depicted toppling the statue of god Svantevit.

Religious warfare was also rampant. Muslim invasions led to immense conflicts and created a rift between Christendom and Islam that lasts to this day. Catholicism wound its way into every court of Western Europe and violently purged anyone who dared to think and act differently. Needless to say - free speech was non-existent in medieval Europe.

And behind all of it was wealth. Wars, murders, massacres, and pogroms - all had the glint of gold behind them. Everyone vied for more and more wealth, and they did it by using the poor classes for their own gain. Gold was highly valued, and poisoned many a mind. The traditional way of life of the classical period was subdued by greed, wars, and riches.

The Jews of Europe established merchant banks in major urban centers and introduced the system of usury - charging interest - and they would loan large sums of money to major rulers in Europe. When they began exploiting the common folk they were often chased away. This system of loans lasts to this day - albeit on a bigger and more modern scale.

Miniature showing the expulsion of Jews following the Edict of Expulsion by Edward I of England (18 July 1290). ( Public Domain )

But life in medieval Europe wasn’t the same for everyone. Orthodox Christians, the Byzantines, influenced Eastern Europe in entirely different ways. Yes, the class differences were still there, and yes, greed and warfare was rampant, but lives were different.

The Eastern European regions largely retained their old pastoral ways of life and urban centers were next to none. Orthodoxy played an important role for the rulers, who raised many monasteries - which became a sort of currency. Clergy was given much more power and played an important role in political developments, but only by the grace of kings.

Still, the poor classes - the villagers and the simple folk - all suffered the same hardships that the rest of Europe did - poverty, mortality, constant war, and no rights.

Villagers were detached from the happenings in the court - a conscripted soldier often had no idea of the latest events of the kingdom. It could have a new name, a new territory, or a new overlord, but news traveled slow. Nonetheless, when a lord appeared the call had to be answered.

Journey to Knighthood: The Hidden Steps of Becoming a Medieval Knight Medieval Hygiene Might Have Been Better Than You Think Clueless and weary of life, these young and old men would travel far into some unimportant war, to stand in line and suffer a terrible death in a faraway land - all on the whim of a richly-clad Lord who only sought to gain more wealth. But blood money was never able to buy salvation.

Today we cannot fathom just how many European fields are littered with the bones of such poor souls that fell in the field of battle, buried by time and dust alongside their dreams and hopes. Where were their homes and who mourned their expected return that never happened? The answers to such questions are lost forever - inscribed on the ever-blowing Northern winds.

Just how many European fields are littered with the bones of such poor souls that fell in the field of battle? ( Lunstream /Adobe Stock)

So, How was Life in Medieval Europe?

And as we reach the end of our article, we at last have our answer: life in medieval Europe was nowhere near pleasant. Death lurked around every corner and it had many foul forms – all unexpected and cruel. Injustices had to be swallowed, yokes carried for entire lives. That age old saying certainly applies well to life in the Middle Ages - “ I have no mouth, and I have to scream.”

So the only thing that remains for all of us living in the comforts of the 21st century is to be thankful for all we have. For no matter how little it is that we possess - it is a thousand times more than what our ancestors had. A thousand times more.>

Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read

To: Valuepro who wrote (6296)3/30/2020 7:37:39 AM
From: Tom Clarke
   of 6538
That's actually from December of 2016. Don't know why some websites do that...

Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read

From: TimF3/30/2020 12:24:14 PM
1 Recommendation   of 6538
Scientists get a glimpse of the cathedral’s origins After the Notre Dame fire

Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read

From: Tom Clarke4/3/2020 10:07:41 AM
   of 6538
The Bronze Age Collapse: The Shekelesh People

Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last ReadRead Replies (1)

From: FUBHO4/4/2020 12:37:59 PM
1 Recommendation   of 6538
The highest paid athlete of all time was a Roman Charioteer; if he had lived today he would have been worth $15 billion
Goran Blazeski

Last year, Forbes released a list of the highest-paid athletes for the past 12 months and according to the list, Real Madrid star and soccer icon Cristiano Ronaldo is the world’s highest-paid athlete, with earnings of $88 million over the past 12 months from salary, bonuses, and endorsements. According to Forbes, the top 100 athletes earned an amazing $3.15 billion in a period of 12 months.

Forbes also ranked the 20 highest paid athletes of all time naming the former Chicago Bulls superstar, Michael Jordan, the highest-paid athlete ever. Jordan has earned an estimated $1.7 billion throughout his life. No. 2 on the list is golfing legend Tiger Woods with $1.67 billion, and Arnold Palmer is third on the list with $1.35 billion.

However, historian Peter Struck from the University of Pennsylvania claims that the highest-paid athlete of all time didn’t even compete in this millennium. According to Dr. Struck, chariot racer from Ancient Rome named Gaius Appuleius Diocles, amassed a fortune of 35,863,120 sesterces – the equivalent of $15 billion.

A chariot race in the Roman era

Chariot racing dates back to at least the 6th century BCE and it was the most popular sport in Rome. The main center of chariot racing was the Circus Maximus, a huge, oval-shaped stadium that could seat more than 200,000 spectators. Charioteers were usually slaves or from poor backgrounds, but if they were successful they could soon earn enough money to buy their freedom and in some cases they could become very rich.

There were four Roman racing companies or stables (factions). These factions were known by the colors that their drivers wore – the Blue Team, the Red Team, the White team and the Green Team, colors inspired by the four seasons. Each team had up to 3 chariots in a race and they would often collaborate with each other against the other teams. Just like in modern day sports, chariot racers were allowed to make a transfer to a different team.

The usual number of horses hitched to a chariot was four, but there were also two-horse, three-horse, six-horse and seven-horse chariots. However, chariot racers who participated in six and seven-horse chariot races earned much more money than the rest of them.

Ruins overlooking the Circus Maximus, seen from the Aventine (1983)

Apparently, Gaius Appuleius Diocles, who was the most prolific charioteer in Ancient Rome, often participated in six and seven-horse chariot races. As Peter Struck wrote for Lapham’s Quarterly, a monumental inscription was erected in Rome by his fellow charioteers and admirers in 146, which hails him fulsomely on his retirement, at the age of “42 years, 7 months, and 23 days”, as “champion of all charioteers”.

A white charioteer; part of a mosaic of the third century AD, showing four leading charioteers from the different colors, all in their distinctive gear

The ancient superstar athlete was born in Lusitania (present-day Spain/Portugal) in 2nd century AD. He started racing at the early age of 18 and soon he arrived in Rome where his 24-year career, that brought him wealth, fame, and recognition throughout the Empire, was about to start.

He began driving for the White Team and when he was 24-years-old he transferred to the Green Team. Only three years later he transferred again, this time to the less popular Red Team and remained there for the rest of his career. Most likely he transferred to the Red Team for glory and money, just like athletes do today.

Chariot races in the Roman era

Professor Robert B. Kebric wrote in The Career of Diocles, Roman Charioteer, that Diocles was selective in his choice of races and literally “went for the gold”. He broke the records of many of several famous predecessors by winning 1,462 of his 4,257 races, but he was not even close to the 3,559 victories of Pompeius Musclosus, or the 2,048 of Flavius Scorpus, both drivers for the Green Team.

A winner of a Roman chariot race, from the Red team

As Professor Struck wrote, “His total take home amounted to five times the earnings of the highest paid provincial governors over a similar period – enough to provide grain for the entire city of Rome for one year, or to pay all the ordinary soldiers of the Roman Army at the height of its imperial reach for a fifth of a year”.

Read another story from us: Nadia Elena Comaneci: the first Olympic gymnast to score a perfect 10

Chariot racing was a dangerous sport and many charioteers died quite young, but this wasn’t the case with Gaius Appuleius Diocles who was apparently lucky enough, or maybe good enough to die peacefully in the small Italian town of Praeneste.

Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read

To: Tom Clarke who wrote (6300)4/11/2020 10:47:17 AM
From: TimF
2 Recommendations   of 6538
1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed
Message 32036352

Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last ReadRead Replies (1)

From: Glenn Petersen4/16/2020 8:17:20 PM
4 Recommendations   of 6538
Melting Ice Reveals Ancient Viking Route in Norway

April 16, 2020
New York Times
5 min read

OSLO — Ice patches that melted from the slopes of a remote mountain pass in Norway have revealed artifacts that provide new insight into the livelihood of hunters, traders and travelers along a route thousands of years old, archaeologists said this month.

The relics of this distant past include tunics and mittens woven with wool, leather shoes, arrows are still adorned with feathers, and snowshoes made for horses. Giant stone cairns mark old pathways once used by traders to find their way through fog and heavy snow. Antlers, bone and animal dung have also been found, the archaeologists behind the project said.

The discoveries, outlined in the scientific journal Antiquity, were made on the central mountain range in Norway’s Innlandet County by the Glacier Archaeology Program, one of many programs worldwide studying what glaciers and ice patches are laying bare as they shift and melt because of climate change.

Archaeologists said that the discoveries have contributed to evidence that a mountain pass at Lendbreen, on the Lomseggen ridge in north-central Norway, was part of a larger network connecting it to the wider Viking world, making it the “first such ice site discovered in Northern Europe.”

Previously, they said, the archaeology of glaciated mountain passes had been derived from research in the Alps.

“The findings are rich,” said Lars Holger Pilo, a Norwegian archaeologist working on the project. “It is obvious that the mountains have been more actively in use than previously believed. Although covered in ice, they have used them to pass, from farms in the area, or from one side of the mountains to the other.”

The program started work on the ice patch at Lendbreen in 2006, but attention increased after a wool tunic, which later was dated to the Bronze Age, was found in 2011. That led to subsequent surveys and discoveries of artifacts such as pieces of sleds, remains of horses and kitchen utensils, suggesting the route was used for trade, hunting and farming.

The findings show the pass was used from about A.D. 300 to 1500, with a peak of activity during the Viking Age in the year 1000 that reflected its importance during a period of long-range trade and commerce in Scandinavia.

The items tell a story of how the route was used and reflect local priorities, such as how farming migrated from the bottom of the valley to higher elevations in summer to take advantage of long daylight hours. It was well traveled, and it connected to other parts of the country and ultimately to ports for export.

“The thing that was really revealing is when you look at the chronology of the artifacts,” said Dr. James Barrett, a medieval and environmental archaeologist at the University of Cambridge, who has been working with Norwegian archaeologists on the project since 2012.

“You can literally walk in the footsteps of the past,” he said. “It really is showing that in what would seem to be the most remote possible place, the highest elevation is caught up in broader world trends.”

The research in Norway has contributed to the body of archaeological study centered on items found under ice, either in glaciers that rumble roughshod across terrain, or in ice patches that are more stationary and commonly yield pieces that are intact.

These discoveries have illuminated scientists’ understanding of transhumance, which describes how, where and why people moved from one place to another for trade, food, marriage or customs — sometimes over icy mountain passes rather than through the easier terrain, but longer distances, of valleys.

In 1991, hikers accidentally discovered the remains of a man, later nicknamed Ötzi the Tyrolean Iceman, preserved in 5,300 years’ worth of ice and snow in the Italian Alps. This marked the start of a promising period of archaeology that has gained pace as climate warming has revealed more artifacts, said Dr. Stephanie Rogers, a research assistant professor at Auburn University’s department of geosciences.

Examination of bacteria from the Iceman has contributed to the understanding of human migration and the movement of pathogens, including the one that causes stomach ulcers, to other parts of the world.

Dr. Rogers, who has done research on glacier archaeology in the Alps, said the discovery of the Iceman “really flipped a switch.”

“What was that person doing up there?” she asked, adding that researchers realized that “if we found something in this place, we are going to find something in other places.”

The field of transhumance has gained momentum in the past 10 to 20 years as artifacts have been laid bare because of the warming climate melting ice patches and moving glaciers, Dr. Rogers said.

“Perhaps this site in Norway had the perfect characteristics for transhumance across the border,” she said. “But maybe it was just the perfect setting, passed down for hundreds or thousands of years. It seems like this one in particular is a treasure trove in terms of artifacts.”

Dr. Pilo said the Norwegian team did not find human remains, possibly because relatives of anyone missing likely would have come to rescue their family members. The tunic might have been flung off by a person in the irrational throes of hypothermia, he said.

Although ice patches move less than glaciers do, some of the finds on the Lendbreen patch were displaced vertically, and others were shifted by meltwater and strong winds.

The ruins of an undated stone-built shelter were situated near the top of the ice patch, making Lendbreen the only one of five mountain passes on the Lomseggen ridge to have such a shelter and a large number of cairns. Transportation-related artifacts, such as remains of sleds, walking sticks and pieces of a Bronze Age ski, were also laid bare.

The movement, or lack of movement, of some objects can also be telling. Iron horseshoes and nails are less likely to have been displaced than the lighter organic objects, and “should therefore provide a reliable indication of the route,” the researchers wrote.

Although some of the artifacts were found in pieces, “they do not obliterate what remains a clear trail of features and finds that delineate a short crossing place over the mountain ridge,” according to the findings.

“It was clearly a route of special significance,” the researchers said.

Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last ReadRead Replies (1)

To: TimF who wrote (6302)4/17/2020 8:03:03 AM
From: Tom Clarke
2 Recommendations   of 6538
Surprise Collapse


One of the biggest mysteries in history is the late Bronze Age Collapse. There's no good explanation for why an early globalized civilization should suddenly disappear at around 1177 BC. "Within a period of forty to fifty years at the end of the thirteenth and the beginning of the twelfth century almost every significant city in the eastern Mediterranean world was destroyed, many of them never to be occupied again."

Modern archaeologists have advanced a number of theories to explain this catastrophe, several of which will sound familiar to modern ears. Climate change -- not the anthropogenic kind, since "fossil fuels" had not yet been developed -- might have caused drought and starvation. A technological revolution caused by the replacement of bronze with iron could have destabilized the international system. Perhaps the most modern-sounding of all explanations is "complexity." The interdependence fostered by trade left the linked empires open to a general systems collapse as the failure in one place unleashed a cascade of effects in others:

The growing complexity and specialization of the Late Bronze Age political, economic, and social organization in Carol Thomas and Craig Conant's phrase together made the organization of civilization too intricate to reestablish piecewise when disrupted. That could explain why the collapse was so widespread and able to render the Bronze Age civilizations incapable of recovery.

The critical flaws of the Late Bronze Age are its centralization, specialization, complexity, and top-heavy political structure. These flaws then were exposed by sociopolitical events (revolt of peasantry and defection of mercenaries), fragility of all kingdoms (Mycenaean, Hittite, Ugaritic, and Egyptian), demographic crises (overpopulation), and wars between states. Other factors that could have placed increasing pressure on the fragile kingdoms include piracy by the Sea Peoples interrupting maritime trade, as well as drought, crop failure, famine, or the Dorian migration or invasion.

Eric Cline, professor of ancient history at The George Washington University, believes the collapse was caused not by a single factor but by all of the above. Cline called it "the perfect storm" in his YouTube lecture. In the published summary of his book 1177 BC on Amazon, the precis puts it this way:

The end was brought about by multiple interconnected failures, ranging from invasion and revolt to earthquakes, drought, and the cutting of international trade routes. Bringing to life the vibrant multicultural world of these great civilizations, he draws a sweeping panorama of the empires and globalized peoples of the Late Bronze Age and shows that it was their very interdependence that hastened their dramatic collapse and ushered in a dark age that lasted centuries.

Interest in the Bronze Age collapse is fueled no doubt by fears that our own civilization may meet the same fate. A 2017 BBC article exploring ways our current civilization could fail warns against dangers roughly analogous to those which brought down the world of Troy. Those factors cited are:

Ecological strain or resource depletion: The critical resource is not always apparent to the statesmen of the age. Is it energy? Water? Human capital? Or is it the actual surplus of some quantity, like human population or greenhouse gases? Policy can optimize the wrong set of resources.

Economic stratification: The BBC article describes how "elites push society toward instability and eventual collapse by hoarding huge quantities of wealth and resources, and leaving little or none for commoners who vastly outnumber them yet support them with labor." Yet in an age when knowledge is widely accepted as wealth, information and machine learning data sets are now being centralized in giant hoards.

Complexity: "It takes energy to maintain any system in a complex, ordered state -- and human society is no exception. By the 3rd Century, Rome was increasingly adding new things -- an army double the size, a cavalry, subdivided provinces that each needed their own bureaucracies, courts and defenses -- just to maintain its status quo and keep from sliding backwards. Eventually, it could no longer afford to prop up those heightened complexities." Unfortunately bureaucracies tend toward complexity, where they are known as "progress." It is contrary to bureaucratic self-interest to regard complexity as undesirable.

"Sea peoples": "Homer-Dixon predicts that Western societies’ collapse will be preceded by a retraction of people and resources back to their core homelands. As poorer nations continue to disintegrate amid conflicts and natural disasters, enormous waves of migrants will stream out of failing regions, seeking refuge in more stable states."

One mystery is why the empires never saw danger coming. What hit them seemed to come so unexpectedly they never even had a chance to take evasive action. The reason for the surprise, according to the BBC article, is "what experts call nonlinearities, or sudden, unexpected changes in the world’s order, such as the 2008 economic crisis, the rise of ISIS, Brexit, or Donald Trump’s election." The components of a crisis may already be in existence unnoticed until some precipitating event connects the pieces together for the first time and makes them manifest.

The surprise outbreak of demonstrations against Emmanuel Macron are a recent example of a failure to connect the dots. Pearl Harbor, Hitler's invasion of Russia, the fall of the USSR, 9/11, 2008, Brexit, and Hillary's loss were alike nearly complete surprises because no one could interpret the significance of the precursor events until afterwards. The New Yorker notes that the protests now currently shaking France blindsided the press because they did not come from the usual suspects but mere motorists unable to make ends meet:

The gilets jaunes confound traditional political divisions and have appeared seemingly out of nowhere. Its adherents are old and young, male and female (even if women were conspicuously underrepresented among the rampaging crowds in Paris), apolitical and activist, nonviolent and nihilistic. Facebook is its incubator. Supporters congregate on pages organized by region, whose tone and content vary according to their administrator.

With the aid of hindsight it is abundantly clear that French working-class hardship had risen to levels unable to absorb any more Green taxes. Until the riots it didn't occur to environmental policymakers that they would "need better timing and a far defter political touch before they introduce similar measures to reduce carbon emissions." Already "dozens of countries and cities have introduced or drawn up plans for carbon taxes to speed the transition from fossil fuels that are warming the planet to increasingly dangerous levels. They are rarely easy to implement. There have also been protests and political backwards steps in Belgium, Tunisia, Algeria and Canada."

They knew what they wanted; they just didn't know it couldn't be paid for.

One suspects that even as the late Bronze Age was crumbling its politicians continued to behave like it was business as usual out of long habit. Just recently, "Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Tuesday that her ambitious plan to transition the U.S. to 100 percent renewable energy will 'inevitably' spur economic growth, help prevent global warming, and deliver 'social and racial justice' to historically marginalized communities." But that's to be expected. As Bertolt Brecht noted, "... and even in Atlantis of the legend the night the seas rushed in, the drowning men still bellowed for their slaves."

Neither the revolution nor the Big Collapse will be televised, since if it ever comes it will probably be a complete surprise.

Follow Wretchard on Twitter

For a list of books most frequently purchased by readers, visit my homepage.

Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last ReadRead Replies (1)
Previous 10 Next 10