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Intellectuals and their Romance with Political Barbarism

[by Mark Safranski, a.k.a. “zen“]

Martin Heidegger, Eric Hobsbawm and Ezra Pound

A  meandering post inspired by Reason Magazine and Charles Cameron.

Reason.com is best known for giving a scrappy libertarian take on current events, crime, technology and pop culture, but recently, an article by Charles Paul Freund touched a deeper, darker vein of twentieth century history and, in my view, a problematic recurring pattern in intellectual life:

Hunger for Fascism

Al Pacino has withdrawn from a Danish stage version of Knut Hamsun’s novel, Hunger, after learning that the Norwegian Nobel prize-winning author had been an ardent supporter of Nazi Germany. The move dismayed some of Hamsun’s defenders, but it’s also a reminder of the appalling state of intellectual life during the rise of fascism. So many writers and thinkers embraced fascism in those years that they constituted what came to be called a “fascist foreign legion.”

Hunger (1890) is considered a classic of psychological literature, and Hamsun himself is regarded by many critics and writers as one of the fathers of literary Modernism, and an important influence on such writers as Franz Kafka, Herman Hesse, Thomas Mann, and many others. In a 1987 introduction to Hunger, Isaac Bashevis Singer wrote that “The whole modern school of fiction in the twentieth century stems from Hamsun.”

[….] Hamsun’s fascism was hardly a byproduct of hardening of the arteries. He lived for a time in the 1880s in the U.S., and came to dislike the country for its egalitarian principles, and because it had a large black population (even though that population wasn’t benefitting much from the egalitarianism). His 1918 novel, Growth of the Soil, is a pretty good example of “blood and soil” lit. John Carey, a British critic, cites a passage from Hamsun’s Kareno trilogy of dramas, written in the 1890s, as indicative of his outlook:

“I believe in the born leader, the natural despot, the master, not the man who is chosen but the man who elects himself to be ruler over the masses. I believe in and hope for one thing, and that is the return of the great terrorist, the living essence of human power, the Caesar.”

Hamsun, who gave his Nobel to Hitler as a mark of his esteem, remained faithful to the fascist cause to the bitter end. Hamsun’s most-often quoted words come from the brief eulogy for Hitler that he published in a collaborationist newspaper in May 1945, a week after the Fuehrer died.

[….] George Orwell wrote in 1946 that, “The relationship between fascism and the literary intelligentsia badly needs investigating, and [William Butler] Yeats might well be the starting point.” Such investigations have since been written, of course, and they include the expected chapters on Yeats as well as others on D.H. Lawrence (The Plumed Serpent may be the clearest example of Lawrence’s fascism), T.S. Eliot, and Wyndham Lewis (who at this point is probably as well known for his fascism as for anything else he did).

What was the appeal of fascism to such people? It wasn’t just that many of them were racists and/or anti-Semites (though that didn’t hurt); plenty of authors have been racists without embracing totalitarian systems. The underlying issue for many of these figures, according to investigations by John R. Harrison and by John Carey, was an antipathy to democracy.

“Many twentieth-century writers,” wrote John R. Harrison in The Reactionaries: A study of the anti-democratic intelligentsia (1966), “have decided that culture has been sacrificed to democracy; the spread of culture has meant that the level of the masses is raised, but that the level of the elite is lowered.” As for writers like Pound, Yeats, and others, “they realized there was no hope of a return to an earlier form of civilization, so they hoped for a stability provided by totalitarian regimes.”[….]

Read the whole thing here.

The dark romance of intellectuals with Fascism died in 1945. Their bloody affair with Communism has dwindled significantly, but lingers in some quarters still.

Why though was 20th century totalitarianism so attractive to the West’s leading thinkers, artists and writers? After all, once you got past the snazzy uniforms, the trains running on time and land for the peasants, the overt reveling in barbarism and cruelty by Fascists and Communists was hard to miss – and if you missed it, the Nazis gave choreographed tours of concentration camps and the Soviets held show trials right in the face of world media. Very little of the bloodbath was hidden, except to the willingly blind, who tended to most often be well educated and otherwise thoughtful people yet found ways to morally rationalize collaboration and fellow traveling.

There are, in my view, a number of reasons. These tended to differ somewhat depending on whether the intellectual in question gravitated more to fascism or communism, but even here there is a significant, muddling, psychological, overlap between the two. So much so, that Fascism’s creator cut his political teeth as a firey socialist agitator and as thuggish a Nazi leader as Ernst Rohm could boast of his admiration for his Communist enemies’ “idealism” and street fighting courage. Indeed, in training his stormtroopers, Rohm remarked that ex-communists made the best SA men.

The first person to offer a coherent explanation of the individuals drawn to fascism was the German-Jewish journalist Konrad Heiden. In Der Fuehrer,  Heiden’s groundbreaking 1944 political biography of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi movement, referred to two categories of potential adherents : “Armed Bohemians” and the “Armed Intellectuals”.  The former were the freebooting roughnecks and men of habitual violence who were always restless and ill at ease in civilized society. Men like Ernst Rohm, who found in totalitarian movements a political cause to justify themselves. These men do not concern us here.

The latter group are also ill at ease in established society. The armed intellectuals are the born critics, gadflies, dreamers, autodidacts, bar-room philosophers, self-styled poets and no small number of crackpots and cranks; what these quarrelsome eccentrics lacked in muscle or raw courage, they more than made up for in the blizzard of half-baked ideas and skill at words which they employed with maniacal zeal.  Heiden’s taxonomy was mirrored a few years later by Eric Hoffer in the groups Hoffer called “practical men of action” and the “fanatics” in his classic, The True Believer The armed intellectuals were seldom noteworthy as intellectual heavyweights – men like Alfred Rosenberg and Grigory Zinoviev were third-rate minds, or worse – but they excelled at propagating ideas and simplifying them in the fashion required to build and sustain a mass movement; ideas as war banners or flags of political tribalism rather than as part of a coherent system of thought.  Or as Ortega y Gasset wrote at the time of the fascists and radicals “….ideas are in effect, nothing more than appetites in words, something like musical romanzas.”

Yet, as Charles Paul Freund indicates, totalitarianism attracted as supporters and admirers not just intellectual crackpots like Gottfried Feder, Dietrich Eckhart or Trofim Lysenko, but genuinely substantive men of letters, art and science. Many of these did not officially become “party comrades”, though some like philosophers Martin Heidegger and Carl Schmitt did, most were content to wield their pens as admirers, fellow travelers, enthusiastic supporters and public apologists. Being intellectuals, they were of course entranced by ideas – on the Right, the totemic, mythic, reactionary idolatry and the volkisch ur-narratives of messianic nationalism (much of which was the mummery of fools). Neither Hitler nor Mussolini were innovators here; the bombastic poet Gabriele D’Annunzio’s grandiose adventurism in Fiume, for example, presaged much of Fascist Italy’s swaggering Il Duce and his bullying blackshirts. On the left, by the intoxicating prospect of revolutionary “justice” and being on the “right side of history”, which could allegedly be explained with “scientific laws” of dialectical materialism. It was all rubbish but it was politically potent rubbish.

There were also material rewards – the Third Reich and the Soviet Union liked to lavish medals, Stalin Prizes and various emoluments on its foreign sycophants, while intellectuals who were particularly active minions, like Heidegger and Maxim Gorky, were given public honors by their respective regimes. This did not always work out well, however. Unlike Heidegger, who outlived the destruction of his Reich in 1945 to embrace and be embraced by the deconstructionist and postmodernist European left, Gorky was likely murdered by his master, an age-old risk for courtiers of tyrants. While the rewards and awards were highly esteemed, see Paul Robeson’s  pathetic, groveling, gratitude for his Stalin Prize, the primary driver of slavish loyalty was always political. Too many intellectuals in that era were fascinated with totalitarian power, accepted cruelty as strength and despised liberal democracy and individualism, unless if it was individualism as heroic symbolism for some kind of impending vanguard  – square-jawed, blond SS men, muscular Stakhanovite workers brandishing sledgehammers and so on. The barbarism of these regimes the intellectuals either ignored, explained away or embraced.

This longwinded preface brings me to a question that Charles Cameron asked me in regard to the article in Reason:

“I notice that quote about how many early 20C intellectuals “realized there was no hope of a return to an earlier form of civilization, so they hoped for a stability provided by totalitarian regimes” and wonder how you see it corresponding with current thoughts which view the dismantling of the Gaddafi, Hussein, and Mubarak regimes as enabling the rise of AQI > ISIS > IS?”

This is a great question.

The regimes of Saddam Hussein, Hosni Mubarak and Muammar Gaddafi shared some similarities, notably official secularism and modernization, but they also had some important ideological and structural differences. Saddam’s regime and Mubrak’s Egypt were rooted in pan-Arab nationalism, a regional anti-imperialist movement the built in fervor from the 20’s and peaked in the late fifties with the personality cult of Nasserism and a characteristic that was shared initially in the early years of Gaddafi’s rule in Libya, who idolized Nasser and for a time, hoped to inherit his mantle. All of the regimes were secular, modernizing, anti-monarchical, anti-imperialist and “socialist” in a nationalist style more suggestive of Hitler and Mussolini than Marx and Lenin. Saddam’s Iraq, furthermore, was like Syria,  Baathist in its pan-Arabism and its founding generation of activists like Michel Aflaq, were directly influenced in by the European totalitarian parties of the 1930’s Left and Right and the extremist movements of the French Third Republic .

Colonel Gaddafi, who came to power in a coup in 1969, was somewhat different ideologically and probably psychologically. Initially a pan-Arab Nasserite, Gaddafi soon went his own way, drifting toward Third World revolutionary terrorism, a muddled Islamic Libyan utopianism based on a personality cult and finally as a pan-African interventionist given to bizarre and unpredictable behavior. Fearing coups, Gaddafi deliberately weakened and hollowed out the Libyan state, including the military, weakening them institutionally, relying upon competing revolutionary committees, militias, secret police agencies and the like run by members of his extended family until the entire structure was more or less entirely dependent upon Gaddafi’s personal whims. By contrast, Nasser, Mubarak and Saddam Hussein were centralizers who built states centered on the military and security services and a government dominated economy that did not tolerate political rivals. Saddam in particular, took this tendency to an extreme in a conscious imitation of Stalin and Iraq had up until the first Gulf War, a complex bureaucratic state, albeit one dominated by a Baath Party run by the al-Tikriti clan (Saddam’s rule slid more toward Gaddafi’s in practice as postwar decay and sanctions eroded the efficiency of Iraq’s government and arbitrary terror and corruption increasingly were used to prop up the regime)

These dictators, whether hostile to the West (Saddam, Gaddafi) or friendly (Mubarak) lacked the advantage of having a western, fellow-traveling, amen chorus of influential intellectuals as the Fascist and Communist tyrants once enjoyed.  Serious intellectuals and public figures had made pilgrimages to Moscow, Berlin and Rome; no one was going to play John Reed to Muammar Gadaffi’s Lenin or Saddam and say their ramshackle future “worked”. So, when Western leaders, especially the American President, decided it might be good for these regimes to go, the only westerners to defend them in the court of public opinion were those already regarded as minor nuisances, political cranks and buffoons. Furthermore, rather than being viewed as linchpins of stability against radical Islamism, many western politicians and intellectuals of the neoconservative and liberal internationalist variety saw these dictatorships as a cause of radical Islam’s growth at best, or complicit with groups like al Qaida in promoting international terrorism at worst.  Unfortunately, while both Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi had a long and bloody history of funding terrorism, mainly of the radical Palestinian nationalist variety, neither were much interested in helping al Qaida or radical Salafis; Gaddafi  in fact, was fairly busy imprisoning and torturing them on a regular basis, as did the more restrained military backed dictatorship of the Egyptians during most of its existence (the brief period of tolerating Islamism, under Anwar Sadat, resulted in Sadat being assassinated by Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which later merged with al Qaida. The Egyptian military did not tolerate them again until coerced into it by the Arab Spring and pressure from the Obama administration).

These police state regimes of the Arab world also played an indirect role in the rise of AQIISIS in the sense that their savage repression of all other political alternatives, especially democratic and liberal ones, created a vacuum in civil society that radical Islamism in all its manifestations could fill. This was not unlike the dynamic of Indochina where Ho’s  Communists were greatly helped by the French first brutally suppressing the right wing Vietnamese nationalists in the 1930’s and then Diem’s regime wiping out all the other potential rivals to the Viet Cong in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, leaving the Communists as the voice of political opposition.  The security services of most Arab states, not just Saddam’s or Gaddafi’s, were efficient enough that no real political opposition existed anywhere outside of the mosque from Oman to Morocco, except on sufferance.  These states also played a passive theological role as foils in shaping decades of jihadi discourse at home, in prison, in exile and online regarding the ruler’s “apostasy”, their strategic priority as ” the Near Enemy” and the Islamic legitimacy of supporting or rejecting peaceful, democratic politics as a tool of struggle. During the course of the years of debates, as in secular revolutionary movements, there was a “ratcheting effect” in Islamist discourse towards progressively more radical, more militant and ever more takfirikhawairijte mythologizing tendencies that glorified barbaric violence, all of which was seen clearly in early 1990’s Algeria even before the rise of the Taliban [An important caveat: it is dubious that  liberal or democratic regimes would have changed the radicalization curve for Islamists much as these too would have been regarded as apostasy by Salafi militants, though there might have possibly been fewer of them, at least outside of Egypt].

With the Arab police states having cleared a space internally for Islamism to dominate underground political discourse the removal of the regimes themselves by American invasion, popular uprising abetted by foreign air support or foreign pressure did eventually enable the rise of ISIS. As much as the cruelty and corruption of the dictators drove their dissatisfied countrymen toward political Islam, they also had means to intimidate, contain or punish those who stepped too far out of line with great severity. No one doubted the ruthlessness of the Assads, Saddam’s willingness to employ terror or the Mad Colonel’s paranoid vindictiveness and when the surety of coercion and retribution disappeared, so too did the restraints on the freedom of action of Islamist radicals. American power was not a substitute for a fearsome native strongman. In the eyes of our enemies we were erratic and soft; capable of miraculous  military feats of devastation if sufficiently provoked, but usually culturally clueless where or when to use our power or against whom, often leaving allies in the lurch or ignoring them spitting in our faces. Instead of fearing the Americans the way they had feared Saddam, the worst jihadis like Zarqawi were emboldened to unleash the kind of medieval barbarism in Iraq that foreshadowed ISIS.

What alarms me regarding ISIS is that it is theologically a radical-apocalyptic Islamist movement blending insurgency, terrorism and conventional warfare that is also reviving the secular pageantry of Fascism with its grandiose mythmaking, blood rituals, compelling uniforms, Fuhrerprinzip and war-worship. It is an unholy combination that exudes a dark romanticism, a glamour of evil that rootless young Muslim men – a new generation of “armed bohemians” and “armed intellectuals” – find mesmerizing the way young Germans, Italians, Spaniards and Japanese did decades ago. Worse, while we may rightly laugh at the mummery of a dime store “Caliphate” and Islamists cribbing their P.R. style from Triumph of the Will, their success in manipulating deep cultural avatars as the key to power will inspire imitators in barbarism elsewhere that we can ill afford.

Fascism is dead – but it may not stay that way.


21 Responses to “Intellectuals and their Romance with Political Barbarism”

  1. Curtis Gale Weeks Says:

    Excellent piece, Mark.
    On Western lack of intellectual support for the likes of Saddam and Gaddafi — hasn’t this changed the slightest bit since the invasion of Iraq? While few in numbers, there have been grumblings, after-the-fact, that maybe we should have left them in place, propped them up, etc., in light of what has happened since.
    At the same time, there may be nothing preventing a counter-movement to ISIS/ISIL, or the eventual rise of a centralizing dictator, to counter ISIS in the future, in those countries. So far, we haven’t witnessed any indications of such a rise, with the possible exception of seeing Saudi Arabia (for instance) stepping up its war vs extremists.

  2. Charles Cameron Says:

    That’s a substantial response to my truly short paragraph / question, Zen, plus of course the Reason piece.
    As someone who lacks much historical awareness outside my own special interests, for myself it’s quite an education, and it will no doubt take a while for me to digest. Your penultimate paragraph, though, I can assent to whole-heartedly without further ado:

    What alarms me regarding ISIS is that it is theologically a radical-apocalyptic Islamist movement blending insurgency, terrorism and conventional warfare that is also reviving the secular pageantry of Fascism with its grandiose mythmaking, blood rituals, compelling uniforms, Fuhrerprinzip and war-worship. It is an unholy combination that exudes a dark romanticism, a glamour of evil that rootless young Muslim men – a new generation of “armed bohemians” and “armed intellectuals” – find mesmerizing the way young Germans, Italians, Spaniards and Japanese did decades ago. Worse, while we may rightly laugh at the mummery of a dime store “Caliphate” and Islamists cribbing their P.R. style from Triumph of the Will, their success in manipulating deep cultural avatars as the key to power will inspire imitators in barbarism elsewhere that we can ill afford.

    I’ll pass your post along to Paul Berman, who was at the Boston Conference, if I can find the means..
    Gratitude and congratitude.

  3. Lynn C. Rees Says:

    Some evidence suggests ISIL is a direct outgrowth of the Saddamite state rather than nutter butters flourishing in a vacuum. How much the inmates are running the asylum is a more murky issue.

  4. Grurray Says:

    I don’t doubt that we are and have been facing a strategic disaster since Saddam & Quaddafi were deposed. However, the sequence of events gets muddled by the ‘Blame the Neo-Cons, CIA, Western Civilization’ crowd.
    Saddam’s oppressive regime and disastrous war with Iran killed far more people than our intervention, and Al Qaeda attacked us first.
    I think Cultural Relativists who now provide ISIS with de facto apologies because the West once had religious wars have a lot to answer for.

  5. Grurray Says:

    You know what I mean:
    ‘The Muslim World is merely 400 years behind Europe. We must give the poor, jobless, noble savages time and room to evolve to our level.’
    Isn’t that what Pan-Arabism was supposed to be about- how’d that work out for Kurdistan? Or Levantine Christians?

  6. zen Says:

    Hi Curtis – Much thanks. I think ISIS someday might attract some fellow travelers in the future. At least the kind who attack critics of ISIS rather than defending ISIS itself – anti-anti-Islamists mimicking the Cold war lefties who would never quite defend the Soviets per se but America could do no right and the anti-communists were always bastards etc.
    Hi Charles – Glad you liked the piece. Took a while to get it all down. Let me know if Berman has any reaction.
    Hi Lynn – Every strong horse needs a jockey to win the race. On a serious note, fascist movements are always a witches’ brew of malcontentcy, coalitions of the angry.
    Hi Grurray – There is the argument, and it is valid, that the instability of saddam and Gaddafi existed as external threats. While keeping the lid on at home, Gaddafi destabilized and aggravated the civil wars of all West Africa and Chad. Saddam launched two major wars etc. They were chronic makers of mischief

  7. Ornamental Peasant Says:

    Perhaps a close reading of Edmund Burke’s “Reflections on the Revolution in France,” London: 1790, in addition to an awareness of Clausewitzian ‘uncertanties’ and ‘Fog of War, ought to be prescribed first to any who suggest using force to disrupt any settled social order for ‘rational’ reasons.

  8. david ronfeldt Says:

    Well done. The penultimate paragraph is particularly catching. ISIS is indeed headed toward a newly dreadful kind of fascism.
    But let’s take a further look at your final sentence about “Fascism is dead – but it may not stay that way.” Communism is dead, but fascism remains far from dead or dying. If I hark back to your 2012 post on “The Era of the Creepy-State is Here” (which briefly refers to fascist tendencies in our nation), along with several antelibrary book reviews you’ve posted, I’d say you’ve been attentive to the possibilities for fascism’s resurgence for some time. Even more attentive is Greer’s 4-post Archdruid-blog series in 2014, which I’ve been meaning to examine for quite some time.
    Moreover, as I’ve indicated a few times, TIMN has long implied, that fascism is likely to make a resurgence. As the market form spreads, arch-statist leaders will maneuver to suborn it, including by arousing people’s tribal passions — with fascism emerging as a result. IS looks to become a stark confirmation, but lots of other cases are developing around the world too.

  9. Charles Cameron Says:

    Hi David:
    I haven’t been able to keep up with the Archdruid’s voluminous writings — do you have URLs or titles for those you mention?

  10. david ronfeldt Says:

    It was a 3-part series of posts in Feb 2014, starting here:
    My folder also contains an earlier post that turns out to be from Nov 2007, here:
    Lots of grist for TIMN in these posts, if I ever get fully back on track.

  11. Charles Cameron Says:

    I’d forgotten how long the comment trails on his posts were, and how many friends from different strata of my life I’m liable to find there!
    Thanks. Now I have me some reading to do!

  12. zen Says:

    Great convo gents!
    Ornamental Peasant – re: Burke & Clausewitz. Agreed. We have an elite that eschews strategy, reading the classics and empiricism for ideology and domestic politics uber alles.
    Hi David – Thank you! I think you have captured the dynamic. We have had many politicians and movements post WWII that have toyed with elements of Fascism but didn’t really dare embrace Fascism unapologetically. Part of the reason is the groups that did were regarded as marginalized, fringe kooks, like Alessandra Mussolini or neo-Nazi parties or they viewed the costs as being too high. Milosevic’s Bosnian Serb allies were for all intents and purposes, Fascists, but Milosevic needed international legitimacy to diplomatically and came out of the Yugoslav Communist Party where for ideological reasons, fully embracing Fascism wasn’t possible. Putin, under Dugin’s Eurasianist influence has move closer to Fascist style but again, Fascism remains a dirty word in the Russian nationalist political vocabulary because of WWII.
    ISIS is really embracing Fascism. It’s ceremonial public executions actually supercede what the Nazis and Fascists did only symbolically with blood flags and heroic cenotaphs and so on. It is reaching back to something very dark and protean, human sacrifice, as a political symbol. I think Halbertal’s book On Sacrifice, is a useful reference here on how deep this goes culturally, to the bronze age or earlier.
    ISIS success may be the turn needed to “rehabilitate” Fascism as a viable political tool for ruthless ppl with a will to power

  13. zen Says:

    I’ve heard of Archdruid before from commenter Duncan Kinder – will check out the links

  14. david ronfeldt Says:

    Those are excellent points to add, Mark. Your “creepy-state” post, Greer’s series, and my TIMN posts about fascism all focus mainly on structures and processes in the U.S. What are much better illuminated in your post here about ISIS are the terrible cultural and psychological traits that attend a descent into NAZI/SS-like fascism. I often read that Islam needs a Reformation; but ISIS and its ilk spell a great Deformation.
    Perhaps it’d be apropos to recite a rare old quote from Norman Cohn warning:
    “It is a great mistake to suppose that the only writers who matter are those whom the educated in their saner moments can take seriously. There exists a subterranean world where pathological fantasies disguised as ideas are churned out by crooks and half-educated fanatics for the benefit of the ignorant and superstitious. There are times when this underworld emerges from the depths and suddenly fascinates, captures, and dominates multitudes of usually sane and responsible people, who thereupon take leave of sanity and responsibility. And it occasionally happens that this underworld becomes a political power and changes the course of history.”
    (Source: Richard Landes’s blog at http://www.theaugeanstables.com/2015/04/06/fatal-attraction-the-shared-antichrist-of-the-global-progressive-left-and-jihad-2/ )

  15. Charles Cameron Says:

    Ha, David — I quoted the same passage in my post So: how does it feel at World’s End? earlier this year, but attributed it to Landes rather than Norman Cohn. Thanks for the correction.
    It is very powerful, and sadly, has proven only too true.

  16. david ronfeldt Says:

    yes, i remember reading your insightful post then, though not that detail. here’s an oddity i notice: your post was in march, but the landes post where i saved the quote was in april?
    long as i’m quoting norman cohn, here’s part of a favorite quote from his main book about early forms of millennialism that seems apropos this thread:
    “In the Middle Ages, the people for whom it [revolutionary millenarianism] had most appeal were neither peasants firmly integrated in the life of village and manor nor artisans firmly integrated in their guilds… Revolutionary millenarianism drew its strength from a population living on the margin of society — peasants without land or with too little land even for subsistence; journeymen and unskilled workers living under the continuous threat of unemployment; beggars and vagabonds — in fact from the amorphous mass of people who were not simply poor but who could find no assured and recognized place in society at all. These people lacked the material and emotional support afforded by traditional social groups; their kinship-groups had disintegrated and they were not effectively organized in village communities or in guilds; for them there existed no regular, institutionalized methods of voicing their grievances or pressing their claims. Instead, they waited for a propheta to bind them together in a group of their own.” (Cohn, 1970, pp. 281-282)
    and of course he ends the book relating millenarianism to potentials for fascism.

  17. Charles Cameron Says:

    here’s an oddity i notice: your post was in march, but the landes post where i saved the quote was in april?
    What a great eye for detail! Yup. He first posted it on March 1st, and I downloaded it then. I’m having trouble with .pdfs at the moment, so can’t compare the versions, but I imagine he updated or corrected.

  18. zen Says:

    “… Instead, they waited for a propheta to bind them together in a group of their own.”
    The Taiping Rebellion that set out to replace the Q’ing with the Earthly rule of “the Heavenly King” killed more people than any war in history except WWII.

  19. larrydunbar Says:

    Considering that according to the power-law in the distribution of energy the structure of the movement is in the exponent of the equation, are you saying that the Taiping Rebellion and WWII have similar structures, i.e. the number of events in the Taiping Rebellion was similar in relationship to the number of the magnitude of events (events/magnitude of events) as they were in WWII?.
    So somewhere along the line we missed a world war?
    Or does the structure of the Taiping Rebellion resemble a civil war, so you are talking apples and oranges, because IS doesn’t seem to be a World War yet?
    But with China in the equation, who knows?

  20. zen Says:

    Hi Larry,
    In magnitude, the Taiping Rebellion is regarded as second to WWII, causing at least 20 million deaths. By contrast, the figure for the Napoleonic Wars is 3 million dead. It is generally regarded as a civil war, albeit with one side attempting to establish a messianic theocracy.

  21. larrydunbar Says:

    When plotting events over magnitude (the structure defined by the exponent in the power-law in the distribution of energy), magnitude can be considered horizontal as events are vertical. You have given us the (horizontal) base to go on, but no vertical force in the direction (perpendicular) to the base. So there is no way for me to compare structures.
    In other words, as a qualt, how does the events compare in number for each historical movement?
    I mean, granted, 20 million Chinese dead are the same as 20 million European dead, but how do they compare in a world environment?
    At the time, did those 3 million dead, globally, represented far more events, at least potentially, according to its vertical potential, than the 20 million Chinese did at their time?
    If they did, then we are talking different structures, as culture and positions become only footnotes, although very important ones, in time.

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