How Do You Know?

Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s in his kiss.  That is the easy one.

In the last two weeks I’ve got two people saying something like “but she says you shouldn’t believe established historical facts that everybody knows, and she doesn’t present any proof, and I think this means she is–”  One said “an ideologue” and the other implied mad or perhaps Stalin.  It was in the comments here, but I don’t feel like looking at it.

I’m not telling you everything you ever heard is a lie — for one I have no idea what you’ve heard — I’m telling you “How do you know?”

The things that offended people in both posts are things I have reason were not quite as advertised by modern Marxist historians and the romantic socialist novelists they believe piously.  I wasn’t saying it was an outright lie, but I was saying “I have reason to believe this isn’t so.”

In this case it was the whole thing of people getting condemned to death or transportation for stealing a loaf of bread.  It might (maybe) have happened in ancien regime France.  In Victorian England?  Oh, my sore toes.  Yeah, some people — resident Aussie on FB immediately chimed in to tell me people WERE transported for stealing a loaf of bread because they were starving — might have that on their conviction record, but one of my amusements (look, pal, I don’t judge YOU) is reading and watching stuff about the underbelly of Victorian London.  Yeah, people stole bread.  They stole a lot of things.  And those people transported for stealing bread probably had A LOT more serious things in their past, but they couldn’t be nailed for those.  (Kind of like Al Capone was nailed for tax evasion.)  Because — stands to reason — in a society where policing is so tight that stealing bread gets you transported, there wouldn’t be the thriving underworld of whores, pickpockets, con artists and yes outright murderers that existed then.

Of course, the person who answered here thought I was saying Victorian England was some sort of paradise (rolls eyes.)

I remember the first time I realized that the things everyone knew and the things we were taught COULD NOT LOGICALLY BE SO.

Look, I, like you, heard about how terrible the aftermath of WWI was, and how broke people were right after, and how they were moving to cities and living in tenements.  It wasn’t until I was reading a book about the between the war period in England that I realized they were telling me TWO stories which couldn’t both have happened.  In the part about the common folk, they were telling me how much poorer they were than before the war.  In the part about the great families, they were telling me how the huge rise of the middle class and the building of suburbs had hurt them, and how the newly rich common folk no longer wanted to be servants.

That was one of those “wait a minute.”  Sure I was taught both things in school, but you know you write down the bullet point for the test, and that’s it.  Now I was going “Who the heck wrote these narratives and why doesn’t anyone question them?”

The truth, btw, from going to primary sources is closer to the second.  And the people who wrote the narrative were the unseated noblemen, who did not like all these noveau rich but who wanted to justify their disgust by showing how it hurt the poor.  (It did increase the underclass somewhat, not because of economic conditions, but because a lot of men don’t integrate well after war, and well, WWI was something special by way of trauma.)

There are tons of these when you start poking.  For instance the idea that the industrial revolution was unremittingly bad for the poor/people.  Looking at China and India and such places right now, all I can do is roll my eyes.

Yeah, sure, the conditions of the early industrial revolution were appalling.  And yet people crowded to the cities to take these jobs.  What the historians never ask themselves is “How much worse was what they were escaping from?” We know that in India and China and other recently industrialized countries.

Sure the countryside has relatively clean air and more open space, but there are still real famines, and the work was unremitting and brutal and yes, little children worked too (says the daughter of middle class in a rural community whose first “job” was weeding the onion patch at five.  And I was a pampered moppet.  Kids my age from farming families had what we’d call full time jobs.  Factory jobs at least had a stopping time.)

The idea that the industrial revolution was awful comes from upper class historians who could see the little kids twisted by working in the mills but who never consorted closely enough with the rural poor to see the misery behind raising baah lambs and the pretty pretty flowers.

Yeah.  So the past isn’t written in stone.  And it’s not a conspiracy.  Not precisely a conspiracy.  Yeah, sure, the Marxists influenced a lot of modern history with their ideas, but that is not necessarily conspiring.  They view the world a certain way and it influences how they view the past too.

I know it makes people uncomfortable to question the past, particularly when that past is enshrined not just in their history classes but in great emotive fiction (the whole thing with the loaf of bread.)

HOWEVER the past is always changing.  In my own time I’ve heard the invasion of Rome be changed to “well, the immigrants just kept getting in and eventually overwhelmed Rome.”  And I have seen the dark ages change into the vaguely chiaro escuro ages and the latest exploration of the period show that what caused the dark ages was the Muslim expansion cutting off trade routes. And a lot of other revisions, as things are looked at a different way.

One of them, which I know to be true from modern revolutions and studying them (modern meaning from around the eighteenth century) is that the uprisings happen not when things are at their darkest, but when they’re starting to get better; not under the horrible tyrant, but under his more liberal successor.

People REALLY have trouble with this, particularly writers.  Which is why most revolutions in writing and theater are portrayed absolutely wrong.

The same wrongness goes for wars.  I’m fairly convinced nowadays kids are taught wars go on until America decides to stop fighting, and then the other side also stops because they’re nice people, or something.  I don’t even want to imagine what distortions that will cause in future fiction and action.

So — is my questioning of the past proof that I’m an ideologue or maaaaaad, maaaaaaad I tell you?

Are you joking?

I know I am a little… enthusiastic on libertarian ideals and that I can lose sense of proportion.

But I question history because between history and the media all of us have been sold several packs of lies.

Western civilization is dying, partly, of self-loathing.  Understanding the other side of the “atrocious things our ancestors did” and that other people’s ancestors did the same or worse is the only way back to health.

And questioning what you were told — and all you know about the past you were TOLD unless you happen to have a time machine — is healthy and sane.  Why would you think people studying the past have no agenda?  Think of how the Sad Puppy movement is characterized on Wikipedia.  Now imagine it was in the past and you didn’t know anything about it.

Trust but verify.  And always try to find primary sources.  The results might surprise you.

This is important because, to quote RAH “A generation that doesn’t know history has no past.  And no future.”  And a generation that knows wrong, distorted and tendentious history is no better off.

About the past as about the present, think for yourselves and dig.

It’s the only path to truth.

 

 

 

 

422 responses to “How Do You Know?

  1. “How do you know?”

    In my experience, if you learned it from your schoolteacher it is probably false, or half truth at best. This is especially so if you attended public school.

  2. …the person who answered here thought I was saying…

    I am constantly amazed by the positions that have been attributed to you by persons purporting to have read your blog and/or your books.

  3. the uprisings happen not when things are at their darkest, but when they’re starting to get better; not under the horrible tyrant, but under his more liberal successor.<

    Makes sense, I guess. The masses need to have some spark of hope that things can get better. The roots of the uprising might be traced back to the tyrant, but their numbers would probably be too small to succeed.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      Another aspect of “revolutions” that I’ve heard was the very poor were too busy “making ends meet” to plan revolutions.

      The “revolutions” were planned by more middle-class folks who had more leisure time to “think about what’s wrong”, to “plan the revolution” and “the money to back their plans”.

      I seem to remember hearing that the Leadership of the French Revolution were lower-level nobles as well as well-to-do middle class folks.

      • Yep. Pretty much all of them.

        • The problem that so often occurs is that the revolution gets out of hand, and the various groups that was thought of as instruments go wild. And then you get a strong man…

          • Well, once you get rid of the bad guys, you have to build something, but everyone has different opinions on that. Also there are the people who did not support violence for the sake of the revolution but the revolution for the sake of the violence, and you’ve got to do something about them.

      • Thus the politicians abject fear of the Tea Party, while OWS and BLM are ignored. When your ‘protesters’ clean up the park after their assembly be very afraid.

        • When the protesters clean up after the people they are protesting (as happened at least once in San Francisco with the Tea Party) be very, very afraid.

          But not as afraid as you should be once you marginalize them.

          They have succeeded in marginalizing Trump without doing a single thing to respond to what he is tapping into thinking it will be as easily dismissed as the Tea Party.

          As Glenn Reynolds responded to David Brooks wishing the Trump movement wasn’t so crude after decried the Tea Party: “When politeness and orderliness are met with contempt and betrayal, do not be surprised if the response is something less polite, and less orderly. ”

          This year was Trump, next time it’ll be someone cut more like that blogger we don’t talk about, and after they marginalize that one they’ll probably get the Hitler to fight they always wanted.

          Too bad once a real Hitler shows up most of the BusHitler, Romney wants you back in chains, Trump is literally Hitler crowd will piss themselves and get in line behind the strong man.

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            Trump is a liberal squish, that unspeakable one was an early Trump supporter, hence objectively pro liberal squish, and Hitler is none too impressive either. We can do better.

            • Trump’s policy positions or what he would have done as President are irrelevant to what I am discussing.

              Anyone who thinks Trump, or Sanders for that matter, were about policy is kidding themselves. There is a reason that blogger is both a Trump supporter and a leader of diseased canines.

              We can do better but when better is not allowed because “bad thought” is written off we risk a critical mass of “bad thought” being expressed in bad ways.

              • BobtheRegisterredFool

                Trump could have advocated the wholesale depopulation of the Mexican side of the border, in combination with destruction of infrastructure. Instead he presented the most transparent shell of a hardline policy, and made it a joke with his flip flopping serial fabulism. At least he didn’t touch drug policy much, so maybe a final solution to the druggie problem might be viable demagoguery in 2020.

              • This.

                I may despise Trump, but he would have never gotten the support he has eight years ago. Or even four, which is why he didn’t run then.

                If you accuse someone of bullying you long enough, don’t be surprised when they backhand you to shut you up.

                • BobtheRegisterredFool

                  A part of me sees that as opportunity. Thankfully, as I far as I can tell, I should be unelectable.

          • Christopher M. Chupik

            “BusHitler”.

            One Folk! One Reich! One public transit system!”

        • BLM is not ignored; it is cow towed to. Remember when Bernie Sanders was pilloried for making the mistake for suggesting that ‘All live matter’? Hillary Clinton immediately fell in line.

          • Just exactly WHO is towing those cows?

            • I think what CACS was referring to was the cow currently the Democrat nominee for US president, who was towed to the BLM altar by the Bernie Bros.

          • Patrick Chester

            Do you mean “kowtow”?

          • The looting and destruction that BLM causes, and the Cops they kill are swept under the table. The Tea Party had Democrats lying about them screaming racial slurs, and showed a gun-toting Tea Partier with the picture cropped to not reveal he was Black.
            Also, how many Tax-exempt applications for BLM have the IRS targeted?
            That is the way I meant ‘ignored’ to be understood.

      • There is an exception, and it may have shaded our view of other’s revolution: George III and North tightened the screws after the French and Indian War, and the colonists suddenly didn’t have as much leeway as before. It got to the point where they asked what happened to their rights as Englishmen before they came to blows.

        Yes, I know the leaders were well-to-do. I also know it had significant support from colonists. Not 100% support, but still significant.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          True and this points out one major difference between our revolution and others.

          We had thirteen existing governments when we decided to “kick out the British”.

          Those governments were basically “who decided to rebel” and stayed in power after we won.

          We didn’t have to create new governments in the former colonies.

          With other revolutions, the rebels destroyed the government and had to create a new government.

          Now we did have the “fun” of getting thirteen independent countries to work together as one country. 😀

          • Well, we didn’t keep the royal governors. We did keep the colonial legislatures.

          • In many revolutions, the support of the armed forces is crucial for the new government.

            In our revolution, as soon as we started to have armed forces in the field, they rushed to establish they were law-abiding by their loyalty to the existing government. It helped.

      • Patrick Chester

        I wonder if that’s why progressives seem to be against the middle class.

  4. people WERE transported for stealing a loaf of bread because they were starving

    To be quite accurate, NOBODY was transported for stealing a loaf of bread; at most they’d have been transported for getting caught stealing a loaf of bread.

    “Because they were starving” is an assumption, not verifiable as fact. To the surprise of many, people who will steal will often lie about their reasons for doing so.

    Further, it is an illogical claim, assuming the cost of transportation is non-trivial, to suggest transporting thieves rather than simply letting the coppers give ’em a right good thrashing — something providing good exercise and entertainment for the troops!

    • If cost is an issue, do it the Islamic way. Cut off an hand for the first offense, an arm for the second, a head for the third. Dull knives and rags to stop bleeding are cheaper than sailing them to the prison colony.

      • Or take the Jean Valjean route and sentence the perpetrator to a workhouse to effectively provide slave labor to repay the state the cost of prosecution.

      • Ah, but sailing them to a prison colony accomplished something the State wanted; the population of claimed territory.

    • Also, do we really think people were sent to Austrahhhlia were first offenders? Seems awfully resource intensive for shoplifting.

    • Andrew Cowling

      When I was younger, I had a chance to look at some of the transportation records (for convicts brought to Van Diemen’s Land). At the time, I was startled that the most common reason was “stealing a scarf valued at 10s”. It wasn’t until much later that I discovered (in an online essay about transportation) that 10 shillings was the limit above which conviction could not see execution commuted to transportation (and had to be prosecuted by the crown rather than privately). Who knows how many of these cases had the value of the stolen goods downplayed to allow transportation to be an option instead of the death penalty?

      • A large percentage, surely. I’ve not read it myself, but somebody at a con I was at described what they’d recently read in a book on Victorian crime and punishment in England. Sometime after the death sentence for stealing small sums/property went on the books, the charging practices of the prosecutors changed such that many (most?) thefts were reported at below the death penalty threshold, regardless of actual value, in order to prevent execution.

        • Also remember they had trial by jury. The people were probably not so keen on executing people for non violent crimes, they probably nullified in many cases if death was to be the punishment.

      • Heh, early plea-deals….sounds right to me.

        I’ve probably bored folks to death, but in case anybody missed it, one of Lars Larson’s regular guests pissed off a lot of people because he did an in-depth study of those “thousands in jail for just having a joint” stories, and found out that generally they were actually originally charged with this, that and the kitchen sink– and it was plead down to the stuff that’s cheap to prove, ie “he had pot on him, he had a gun on him, and he was violating parole.” As opposed to assault, death-threats (DANG that one’s hard to prove when it’s verbal and there’s a revolving door at the jail!), massive theft, selling stolen goods, human trafficking…..

        This only came to my attention after I was a victim of a radio-stealing ring which turned out to also steal IDs, and took my dang wheel from my car.
        One of their guys felt cheated on his cut of the drug profits, and called the cops to complain. They were caught quite red-handed, including with false identity papers and my tire, and after over a year they were found guilty…of drug possession and one other rather minor crime that I THINK was having stolen property, and given 9 months suspended community service as punishment.

      • You’ve also got to look at what that was worth back then. For a country where 25 pounds a year was the low end of middle class, a scarf was 2 weeks labor. So for anyone who was poorer than that, that might have paid their rent for a couple months. My numbers may be off a bit, but 10 shillings was nothing to sneeze at.

  5. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    While not as “big” as some of the “lies”, it annoys me when I hear people (otherwise smart people) talk about the elaborate women’s fashions of the past as “being so women can’t fight” or some such nonsense.

    The problem is that those “elaborate women’s fashions” were for the very wealthy women and the “elaborate” part was more a statement of “I can afford this dress” and “I can afford the servants needed to get the dress on/off” and “I’m rich enough that I don’t have to do manual work”. 😀

    • The earliest sumptuary laws laid restrictions on the dress of the nobility that made it physically im possible for them to do “common” work and thus prevented them from “demeaning” their station.

    • Sort of like the coffee colonics and yoga classes of today. “I’m rich enough that I can pay money to shoot caffeine up my bum and then spend 2hrs stretching.”

    • Nobody is forcing us to wear ten inch stripper heels now. Except maybe other women – or rather girls, with people who are of the age when peer pressure, especially peer pressure about fashion, works best – when they parade in those and snicker at you if you wear sneakers.

      But I have never seen any man forcing his wife or daughters to buy and wear them. Well, I suppose some cases probably exist, and in some workplaces some sort of heels seem to be mandatory, but the first counts as some sort of criminal offense and you can always leave the second situation if it really bothers you.

      While some men are more attracted to women who wear them that is not exactly something deliberately designed to restrict women (a coy “I can’t run from you” presumably does play some role in the attraction part, but it’s not the sole reason).

      And whatever, it’s still a custom kept up by women’s preferences. If no women bought them they’d disappear fast. As it is plenty enough women will fight to get a pair they want, or work however many extra hours needed. And don’t try to tell them they should drop the custom and restrict themselves to sneakers…

    • I seem to recall reading that, at least at the time of Winston
      Churchill’s parents and the English high society of the time, those elaborate women’s costumes may have required assistance to get into, but getting out of them was much quicker, especially in the throes of passion.

      • “Why Banning Miller, what a vision you are in your fine dress. It must have taken a dozen slaves a dozen days to get you into that getup. ‘Course your daddy tells me it takes the space of a schoolboy’s wink to get you out of it again.”

        –Murphy, “Shindig”

    • Ahem. Rant incoming. You have been warned.

      I live in a thirty by fifty foot hole one deck below the waterline with fifty other girls. If any of the misbegotten sons and daughters of ***** (curses redacted because even though I’m a Sailor I am also a lady) who want to whine about the women dressing and making themselves up to please men, or any of the other ridiculousness spouted by those who want to reduce women to victims who have lacked agency in their own lives until rescued by modern feminism, can come here and witness the multiple times I can’t get a mirror to put my contacts in because the other girls here are curling their hair and doing their makeup and whatever else they are doing. Miles out to sea, with no prospect of pulling in for weeks. Even though it is literally hot enough to make their makeup melt on their faces.

      Hmmph. “put into elaborate clothing so we can’t fight.” Have they seen the complicated messes of archaic men’s clothing? Of course not. It’s all about how men have done women wrong all through the ages, not about people making choices as individuals. Reminds me of the “controversy” about air conditioning last year. There’s no controversy. If women wore pantsuits or skirtsuits similar to men’s professional suits, instead of sleeveless dresses that ended above the knee (and yet were somehow still considered “professional attire”), they’d be comfortable in the air conditioning, too.

      • While it wasn’t the reason behind elaborate women’s clothing, this suddenly popped into mind. Have seen it from exactly one source, so keep that in mind:

        Back in the day there were two women who became so angry they decided to duel with swords. Except clothing was an issue to movement. It didn’t however, prevent the fight. Instead, they stripped to their skivvies and had at it. Supposedly they weren’t the only ones who came up with this solution.

    • I was always under the impression that most of women’s fashion was based on showing that you were weathy enough to not need to do any work.

      Tans were out for centuries when poorer women worked in the fields. Once most of the female work force was doing indoor stuff (industrial revolution) tans became fashionable since they suggested you had enough free time (and money) to spend lolling around in the sun or tanning salon.

      High heels are impracticle for any sort of real physical work; Chinese bound feet served the same purpose.

      Likewise long nails.

      For many centuries fat (at least to a point) was attractive because it meant your family had enough food (and you were therefore more likely to be fertile). Once cheap grain based food meant that pretty much everyone became fat, being skinny meant you could afford the better food or had the free time to spend at the gym working it off.
      Etc., etc.,

      • I think most fashion, period, is based on effort.
        It happens that poor folks generally can’t afford to put the effort required to have the current fashion, but that’s not really the point– it’s like how some geeks are suddenly getting hassled by the hipsters because they’re not wearing the current fashion “correctly,” because they’re just wearing their own clothes which happen to currently be sort of in fashion.

        Sort of like how combing your hair is expressing effort, and the “bed head” thing is even MORE effort. Wearing a tie is effort, a clip-on is vaguely tacky, and an elaborately tied thingie is effort of study and doing.

        • Not sure if you’ve read the cellar automata theory of fashion at Slate Star Codex but it parallels some of your thoughts:

          http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/04/22/right-is-the-new-left/

          It is the first part of a political post just to give fair warning.

          • The theory appears to boil down to a rather elaborate metaphor for “people disagree and fight it out.”

          • And the description of “poser” is inaccurate in a way that borders on bad faith; it means one who tries to portray themselves as a thing they are not.

            Not infrequently the think they’re believed to be attempting to portray themselves as is foolish, or folks’ response seems quite silly to those who don’t care about what they’re fussing over, but the characterization isn’t even amusing…..

        • Patrick Chester

          Wearing a tie is putting a noose around one’s neck. 😀

  6. And those people transported for stealing bread probably had A LOT more serious things in their past, but they couldn’t be nailed for those. (Kind of like Al Capone was nailed for tax evasion.)

    Actually, I think a closer example would be the three-strikes law. To make a case up, as I can’t think of a real case off hand: “Poor Jimmy had two strikes against him and because of this awful 3 strikes law he’s going to prison for many years because he stole A CARTON OF CIGARETTES!!!!!” And little Jimmy had two convictions of strong-arm robbery that show him to be a dangerous bully, and there were many cases they could not pursue because the victims were too afraid, and he took the carton of cigarettes off the shelf at the owner’s store so he could have the fun of pushing the little Indian owner around when the brave little guy tried to stop him. Strong arm robbery, it isn’t shoplifting, as many people pointed out after the Ferguson riots.

    • Little Jimmy committed the crime that was available to commit. Strike three, baby.

      • A lot of proseecutors HATED 3 strike laws when they first appeared. The initial 3 strike convictions were for trival offenses; two in particular I remember were for writing a baad check (Texas) and stealing slices of pizza from some teenagers who were sitting at a table eating it (California?). The prosecutions were designed to outrage the public that people were being sent to jail for life for trivial offenses. Appeals courts upheld the laws, with the judges probably expecting an outraged public. And much to the surprise of liberals everywhere, the public said “Good. Let them rot in jail.”

        If you can’t learn to live within the rules of society, you should be removed from society. I truly suspect a lot of people, besides me, would support the death penalty for 3 felony strikes.

        • Good Lord, you’re not BobtheRegistered… and maybe. I have issues with giving state more life and death power.

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            ?

            I’d be potentially willing to support three strikes for common law capital felonies.

            There are a fair amount of people I want dead, and a fair amount I want killed. Whenever I look at practical steps towards making that happen, I am reminded of the dangers of permitting any to kill so freely. I am deeply conflicted, but love for the Republic wins, and I must ultimately support a consensus that doesn’t make the streets run bloody. No matter how deranged and dysfunctional the consensus, no matter how reluctant the support. (Note that this only applies inside the Republic, but I don’t care about the outside enough to bother much. I’ve found myself committed to a policy of hope for the future of the Republic.)

          • Last criminal jury I sat on turned out to be a 3rd strike case, though we only found out after we were all done. That expained much head scratching on why certain things were done the way they were done by both prosecution and defense during the trial.

            And that modderpocker was way guilty just based on what we saw. Afterwards I found out a lot more that they were not allowed to tell us in trial, which made him way, way guilty. He would have been a classic revolving door career criminal pre 3-strikes, but now he would be in effect going away for good.

            So re the above, “away for good” works for me just fine – it avoids the expense of the whole death penalty rigamarole, and keeps them out of society so they can be criminals in prison. Plus in the event something comes up after the current DA retires, or maybe the regime changes and “oh, look!” certain misdeeds are uncovered, they can be released.

            • The guy who slaughtered four cops that were having coffee before their shift was supposed to be put away forever– Huckabee gave him clemency based on the standard “how horrible, he was over-punished” twisting of his criminal record.
              (I remember the first guy that was hit with three-strikes in our area went away long term for “just” burning a few pallets…. which he stole and used in an apparent attempt to burn down the entire company complex he was in, and set a massive fire, during an extreme fire season. My mom swore she wasn’t sure how the @#$# they managed to get the fire out at all.)

              • There is a big push on by Soros and a bunch of other billionaires to empty out the prisons because …. “OH look at how horrible it is that we mistreat people like this … ” Grrrrrr

                • Feather Blade

                  You know, we could cut the prison population by at least a fourth in several states by deporting all of the illegal foreign nationals we have locked up.

                  • And if we went ahead and executed those that have been sentenced to death, rather than feeding and housing them for most of their life first, well it is a small minority of the prison population, but every little bit helps.

              • BobtheRegisterredFool

                I think the prison alternative to execution was proven fairly bankrupt with Obama’s election. The pardon power means that prisons are only as trustworthy as the picks of the electorate are.

                At a minimum we need to have enough executions to deter the types who would seek to influence elections through violence. Otherwise, start killing folks in the way of your victory, then wait for the win if you get caught.

                Having said that, error checking seems to indicate something wrong with my thinking, which wouldn’t be surprising given this last week. (Difficultly writing should’ve been a major clue.)

                Things are a mess. I have no real solutions. Maybe there aren’t any. Talking is the first step for any real prospect.

                • An otherwise pretty unremarkable book I read a few years ago by a name-recognizable SF author purported to map our respected undead Gauis Iulius’ original rise to power into the modern era*.

                  The most believable and chilling part was where this US Emperor-wannabe, once partially in power, caused his political opponents to be removed by complaining about them in public along the lines of “Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?!”, and then when they were “unexpectedly” assassinated, immediately pardoning the perps. After getting away with this several times, his opposition suddenly dried up.

                  Unfortunately I can totally see that part happening.

                  * If I’m recalling it correctly, this book also included one really odd transplanted unbelievable tech aspect where in otherwise present day technology levels, suddenly fully capable combat mechs, outmatching modern armor, get perfected to the deployable stage – all in secret. As I understand it, this was commissioned to be added as the hook for a video game tie in, but it totally threw me out of the story.

          • I’d much prefer a less powerful state and a more powerful individual. Say a certain litigious felon sues the woman who shot him, because felony assault or whatever. If it comes to pass that litigious felon was A) a clear and immediate threat, and 2) the woman had the means to stop him, I’d be fine with giving her a citizenship award and paying her court costs plus bonus for getting a menace off the street, and taking it out of whatever remains of his hide or what fortunes the litigious felon still possesses.

            For more serious offenses, I will note that deterrence works. It has in the past and can again in the future.

        • scott2harrison

          Remember “3 felonies a day” that showed that most if not all of us commit at least 3 federal felonies each and every day. So should we just nuke our entire country until it glows, or did you want to depopulate us retail instead?

          • Violence is always more fun retail…that’s where the maxim “don’t shoot if you can use a sword or a knife and don’t use a sword or knife if you can use your fist” comes from.

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            Getting rid of the prison population and the druggies would take an absolute minimum of two million deaths. You think an organization which could do that would stop there? If some of the wilder claims about the druggies are correct, that’d be maybe 75 to a 150 million. That’d fundamentally transform America, and might easily involve a civil war with very few survivors.

          • Actually, nuking our entire government starting with the Deep State bureaucracy is what I have in mind.

    • “Poor Jimmy had two strikes against him and because of this awful 3 strikes law he’s going to prison for many years because he stole A CARTON OF CIGARETTES!!!!!”

      This whole statement is based on the assumption that the consumer of it is going to take it on its face value and not think it through.

      Little Jimmy is not going to prison for many years because he stole a carton of cigarettes. Nor are the many years a reflection of the nature of what Jimmy had done before. Jimmy is going to prison for those many years because, after having been engaged in the justice system and found guilty of crimes on two previous occasions, he failed to learn from the less stringent sentences he had received.

      In other words Jimmy is going to jail for those many years because he has proven to be an incompetent crook. In that light the fact that Jimmy risked the many years for nothing more than a cartoon cigarettes just goes to prove it.

    • I’m not a big fan of the idea that we put criminals away for a fixed period of time based on what they did. It just turns our prisons into universities of criminality. I think it would be better to keep people in prison until they demonstrated an ability to follow the rules, then put them in progressively less restrictive environments, only advancing them when they showed they could handle it and rolling them back when they failed, until they were completely free, no restrictions on things like voting or gun ownership or sex offender registries. If people pose such a threat to society that they cannot have the full suite of rights they shouldn’t be out of jail.

      • That would be horribly unjust. The purpose of sending people to jail is to punish them, and therefore the punishment must be commensurate with the crime. It is good and wise to try to reform them in the process, but the thing that makes it just to try to reform them (to our liking, not theirs) is that they have merited it as part of their punishment.

        • Punishing criminals is a means, not an end. The purpose of sending people to jail is to protect society from criminal elements. The current system does a poor job of doing it. It keeps criminals out of society for a time, but then it – in most cases – puts them right back on the streets with nothing but the clothes on their back, a new set of criminal contacts, and a bus ticket right back to the environment which contributed to their criminal behavior.

          • Well, there’s also the whole age danger zone for young males – if you put a 3rd-strike 20-something away for 25 or 30 years, when they get out, even with all that post-grad study in crime, they will still be 50ish dudes, and thus less likely to be out there doing violent crime. Big difference there compared to 5 year sentences, with time off and early parole.

            Obviously 30 years of lifting weights, sharpening shanks and learning crime tips is not to be sneezed at for risk, but the majority of crime is committed by the youngish male population, so segregating particularly recidivist individuals out of society until their cohort ages into a safer range seems a potentially valid strategy.

            If they stopped with all the crazy drug sentencing and deported the non-citizen/non-resident-alien convicts, that would drop the prison population that they are all complaining about. With less overcrowding the actually dangerous convicts would not be candidates for block early release based on dimwit judges responding to overcrowding suits, and society would be safer.

            So let it be written, so let it be done. Next case for the Governor-General of Earth?

            • deported the non-citizen/non-resident-alien convicts

              Actually I’d stop after non-citizen. Felony crimes should be enough to end any resident status, even permenant, even for those fleeing persecution.

              • Some time back we had a drunk resident alien take out two kids when he ran onto a sidewalk. He was sent to jail, did maybe 10 years, and shortly after being released was arrested on DUI. Again. Why the hell he wasn’t deported immediately upon his release I don’t know, but it was just a miracle that his second arrest didn’t involve deaths too.

          • It is profoundly evil to punish someone for your own benefit unless he merits it, and the extent of the punishment does not exceed his merits. Therefore the punishment must be the end, not the means to something else.

            After all, the purpose of sending people to the gulag was to protect society from criminal elements.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              C. S. Lewis talked about this idea going around that “crime” should be treated as a “medical condition” with the “patient” held in the “hospital” until the “doctors” thought he was cured.

              Needless to say, Lewis was strongly against that idea.

            • Except it isn’t just for my own benefit. It’s for the benefit of the future guaranteed victims.

              God has the luxury of mercy; those of us without 12 legions of angels on call can”t afford to give some thug the possibility of a repeat performance. The thing that moves Batman rather firmly into the “evil” column IMHO is that he didn’t put bullets in the heads of Joker, Penguin, et al the first time he encountered them.

              The certain application of the death penalty is as essential to the health of the body politic as the immune system is to the health of your body, and the persistent refusal to see that is a GUARANTEED indicator of SJW levels of magical thinking.

              • So. You are arguing that jaywalkers and shoplifters should be executed?

                Since you are arguing against the idea that punishments need to be just and therefore proportionate to the crime and then invoking the death penalty as necessary.

                • That seems a gratuitously tendentious approach, and one which assumes that which is to be defended, that “punishments need to be just and therefore proportionate to the crime”.

                  While it is a standard I personally lean toward, I see no reason to demand that punishments should be “just” nor that proportionality is essential to that justness.

                  If one starts from the premise that the purpose of Law is maintaining civic order and that any flouting of the Law represents an assault on civic order, then a “just” punishment might arguably be that which is necessary to enforce adherence to the Law.

                  As for proportionality, it depends on whether you are looking at proportional to the transgression or to the standard being upheld. More than proportionality — which is a subjective judgement — I would think notice of penalties and due process more necessary to a law’s being just. A person who knows that jaywalkers and shoplifters are to be executed and commits those transgressions all the same can complain about proportinality but seems ill positioned to denounce the penalty as inherently unjust.

                  Does “You knew the risk when you ignored the law” seems an unjust basis?

                  • jailing violent criminals keeps them away from society so that people won’t be attacked.

                  • That seems a gratuitously tendentious approach.

                    If one starts from the premise that the purpose of Law is maintaining civic order and that any flouting of the Law represents an assault on civic order, then a “just” punishment might arguably be that which is necessary to enforce adherence to the Law.

                    If one starts from the premise that the “civil order” is more important than any and all of the human beings involved. Which is absurd. The purpose of the civil order is the protection of human beings and their well-being.

                    Does “You knew the risk when you ignored the law” seems an unjust basis?

                    Monstrously. People in the USSR knew that if they were late to work, or spoke against the government, or many other things, they could get 25 years in the gulag. It was nevertheless obviously unjust.

                  • Of course, getting carried away leads to the situation of:

                    “What’s the penalty for being late to movement?”
                    “Death”

                    “Ok, what’s the penalty for desertion?”
                    “Also death”

                    “Right, I’m off to Minsk.”

                • reductio ad absurdiam at it’s finest, ma’am. Try again with a real argument.

      • I worked in a jail. Not as a guard. The real sociopaths follow the rules religiously in order to obtain better positions, and to earn an early release. And that’s how it’s done now. Follow the rules, an inmate can move from a max to a medium to a minimum facility. Break the rules, a few weeks in the box, then into a max.

        It’s much easier to detect rule breaking inside a prison then out. Even so, home made shanks appear, and people get killed. Drugs get smuggled in. And used.

        The only ones I saw that I thought actually learned someting about behavior expectation on the outside were the middle class alcoholics caught up in a serious drunk driving situation that threw them from their comfortable middle class existence into a jail cell. That’s a wake up call. For the rest, jail seemed to be an expected part and cost of their lifestyle.

        For the most part, rehabilitation is nothing more then a joke. And an expensive taxpayer funded joke at that. And the real funny thing? You can’t become a drug counselor unless you’re a reformed druggie! Because then you’ll understand them…. That’s part of the idiocy I’ve seen pushed that a person who’s screwwed up and then come back is a better and more qualified person then someone who always takes the time to get it right.

        • What do you think of the idea of copying Japan a bit?
          Removing the social aspect of jail, essentially– maybe keep the opportunity to earn some money while inside if you’re on good behavior, via manual labor of some sort.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          Wait, they people who they use to convince people not to do a thing are primarily selected for having had, in the past, a deep and fundamental flaw in their judgement regarding doing the thing? I need to drop the subject and take a break with something else, or I’ll be looking up some aspect of, say, Tokugawa criminal punishment and recommending it for use.

  7. Reblogged this on The Arts Mechanical and commented:
    I think that the big problem we have right now is that the Romantics are writing the narrative and trying to hide the past. They’ve been doing this for a long time. But now the past is being scanned and made available to everyone to see for themselves and it somehow it doesn’t fit the narrative. always try to get a close to the contemporary and primary sources as you can. I’ve always wondered if child labor was so bad, how come there aren’t any books or articles by the kids when they became adults in how bad it was. After all some of them worked for newspapers. I’ve seen plenty of stuff of struggle and over coming, outright suffering, not so much.

    • There are reminiscences of how bad child labor in factories was. But there are also reminiscences of how they were able to put their younger siblings through school, and how Mom gave them the same slice of meat that Dad got because they were now breadwinners too.

      The early factories also had things like half-days, where the rest of the day was free for playing sports and games, and a lot of factories made provision for further educating kids in factory schools. Bathrooms with running water and baths/showers were another thing. So there are some fond reminiscences too.

      • Like American Indian schools – bad stuff happened, but a surprising-to-later-activists number of former students said that for all the crap, they learned a lot and they were able to make a better life for their family when they graduated. And they got clothes, three squares a day, and sometimes the opportunity to travel.

        • When my brother attended high school in DC, his best friend was the grandson of an Indian off the res who became a wealthy DC attorney. His grandfather chose himself a new name- one that he considered as WASPy as possible.

        • The folks I know who weren’t Reservation folk suggest that a lot of the blow-back against educating Indian kids was because Indians who are able to read, write and speak English just as well as you are much harder to cheat.
          Wasn’t just pick-your-flavor-of-westerner that was pissed about that change, either.

      • Let it be noted that there are a whole bunch of studies from India that show that banning child labour has led to a) significantly more poverty and b) more child labour, albeit illegal labour, and a corresponding decline in children in education

        • scott2harrison

          Iirc the original child labor bans were of child assistants to chimney sweeps. The child in question would be sent through the chimney to clean it. Very few of these children survived the job between the physical and chemical dangers.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      There’s a South Korean novel series, The Legendary Moonlight Sculptor, whose hero comes from a very poor background. He was ticked about child labor laws, because they meant he had to find work under the table, and hence didn’t have leverage to negotiate for better wages and conditions.

      • That could be a biography of any number of Americans, today.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          Well, the second part of his backstory is selling the gaming account he used to blow off stress for a ton of money.

  8. In our domestic history, we are obliged to ignore the millennia of mutual slaughter, enslavement and dislocation that the Native Americans (aka Guys Who Walked Here Before Ships Were Invented) inflicted on each other before the white man showed up, in order to justify the unique evil of Whitey.

    • It has long been my position that there really are no such thing as “native” Americans. Everyone’s lineage began elsewhere. It all comes down to who got here when.
      Not that the migration across the northern land bridge was not a huge accomplishment, but then again their ultimate achievements were bands of hunter gatherers, and civilizations that seemed heavily into constant warfare and human sacrifice.

      • … their ultimate achievements were bands of hunter gatherers, and civilizations that seemed heavily into constant warfare and human sacrifice.

        So: socialists?

      • That’s why I use the term Amerind. I’m just as Native an American as any tribal member.

        • Oh, oh, *waves paw* I read yesterday that to use ‘American” in anything referring to the “indiginous residents” of the Western Hemisphere is still Eurocentric because it uses Amerigo Vespucci’s name instead of tribal terms. And then the author went on (with a bit of a sigh) to state that since most of the people prefer to be called American Indians or Native Americans, those were the terms he’d use.

    • Heh. I’ve seen some claims that there is, maybe, some slight evidence that the forebears of the Indians were the second wave, and the lands were already populated by people who were a lot closer to the Australian aborigines. Which the second wave then wiped completely out. Or almost, one bit of that potential evidence was, if I remember correctly, some genetic studies of Tierra del Fuego people. And some South American finds where the bones didn’t quite match those of the current Native Americans. And a few other bits and pieces.

      I did stumble across that several years ago, I think there had just then been some recent finds of that type somewhere, but the idea seems to have since disappeared. No idea how valid the idea is, and whether the problem with it is that the evidence is not good enough.

      Or more than it just doesn’t fit the narrative.

      • The eskimos wiped out the pre-indians living along the north coast. One reason the vikings in Greenland disappeared (besides the maunder minimum and associated very cold weather) was the eskimos replacing the previous indian inhabitants.

        Would the Greenlanders of then be “Native Americans” today (obviously if Greenland were considered part of the Americas?

        • Yes, human prehistory and history are full of those. Right now the white westerners just happen to be the last group to have done it successfully in a large scale. That will probably change, possibly in the near future. And I doubt the future conquerors will act that much nicer than any of the previous ones. With luck they will, fast or slowly, merely just marginalize, deport and maybe enslave instead of wiping out the previous groups (or the males of the previous groups) right away. :/

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        There are also Native Creationists who believe that the First Peoples were created in North America and did not migrate from anywhere. Where the rest of us came from, who knows.

      • A friend recently posted an article about bones found in Chile that are around 14,000 years old. He mentioned that with the 11,000 year old bones in one place in the Southern Hemisphere, the 15,000 year old bones (or 13,000) in Florida, that the land bridge idea is looking worse and worse. Why would all those people come from the North, bypass miles of good land, head to the southern continent and THEN start moving back north again. He likes the idea of boat travel bringing the first.

        My guess is that it was probably a huge mix of migration waves from several directions.

        • Ah, but can we tell yet that they are from the same population and cultural descent? Otherwise pulses of people coming over the land bridge, some steered by where glaciers happened to be or not be, still works and is simpler than some of the other theories. (And keeps you from getting flamed by activists who insist that any hint that Asian or African peoples might have influenced things is racist/white supremacist [it’s complicated]/insulting to the locals.) And you can add the Basket site in Texas to your pre-Clovis list.

    • Given the technology of skin and bone boats, why do we assume they walked?

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        Indeed, there’s more evidence that many of their ancestors came by sea.

      • Because we were told so in school?

        Seriously though, the Natives on both sides of the Bering Strait crossed it in said skin and bone boats, up until the Cold War caused it to be patrolled and tensions to be so high.

  9. Being a particular stickler I must argue that the past does not change. We will not wake up one day to find that WWI and WWII never happened. Our perception of the past most certainly does change. We can only see the past through the mists of time and through a lens of the present. (Yes, yes, yes, I see it, two too many cliches.) Even with primary source information our knowledge will never be able to assemble to a complete comprehensive understanding, it remains fragmentary, limited, just as our own understanding of our present.

    Some of us have clearer minds and better focus, and we quickly pick up on anomalies in the stories we are told. We ask ourselves, for example, ‘How can A and Not A both occur simultaneously in the same time and place?’ In this way we challenge the narrative, and possibly are able to help form a new, hopefully better one, but it will always remain a narrative.

    • freddiemacblog

      Our perception of the past most certainly does change. We can only see the past through … a lens of the present.

      My favorite example is the barbarity committed by Alexander the Great when 1/10 of the men were killed in areas that he conquered. At the time, people thought he was nuts for leaving so many able-bodied men alive in those regions … benevolent or barbarism depends on your perception (and lens).

  10. “A generation that doesn’t know history has no past. And no future.”


    Alternate quote:
    “He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”
    ― George Orwell, 1984

    This is doctrine for totalitarian states. I have long believed the ultimate basis for antisemitism is the Jews insistence on keeping their own set of books, so that when the Soviets used the massive population displacements of WWII to relocate Russians into the Baltic states they did not appreciate having somebody able to challenge the claims about things there being better than ever before.

    In related news:
    Obamacare website drops ‘you can keep your doctor’

    If you cannot believe The Powers That Be about the present, why would you believe them about the past?

    • On that related news front, the exchange insurance cooperative in Idaho and Montana has figured out how to avoid going bankrupt. Starting in January, they’re simply not going to cover any medical expenses incurred outside of those two states.
      The other insurance companies are giving every indication of following suit.

      (So, yeah. The health of some members of my family demands we relocate on short notice. We’re working on it.)

      • Yeah, that’s problematic if you live in a state that doesn’t have good medical facilities on hand. (Like me, I live in Wyoming. I’m going to Denver for surgeries.)

        • Which of course is how they can avoid bankruptcy. If most of the most expensive procedures are done out of state, paying for only in-state procedures is cost effective.

          • Sara the Red

            This is true. And I don’t blame ’em–it’s stupid to try and force for-profit companies into a system that will inevitably drive them bankrupt, and it’s not a bad idea they’ve got to circumvent that.

            On my end, it’s mostly that few people with sense go to the hospitals here in Wyoming if they can possibly avoid it. That’s not to say we don’t have some very competent doctors here…but the hospitals by and large suck.

            • Except these are mostly the same companies that spent millions lobbying for Obamacare, where mandatory insurance was going to net them profits beyond their wildest dreams.

              Since the cost of our policy has gone up 4x with an attendant reduction in benefits, I’m wondering where all that money is going.

              • That is a good question indeed. (And I should add that while one should not force for proft companies to, etc, etc, the practices of insurance companies in general have always struck me as suspect. I’m not enamored of the whole thing anyway, since so far as I can tell the most it’s done is drive costs up ridiculously even *before* Obamacare…)

        • Dang. My sister has to travel from WY to Billings for a rheumatologist.

    • The current distortions of the ‘truth’ make you question a lot of ‘historical’ wisdom. Personally, I have never attended a KKK meeting, lynched a Black, had sex with a cousin, attended a NASCAR race. I bathe more than once a month and do not shoot people coming to my house on sight.
      But, being a Southern White Male, I am apparently not allowed to say anything, because of my ‘privilege’.

      One of the interesting facts I encountered is that the ‘Dark Ages’ really weren’t so ‘dark’ after all. It is just that the Protestants did not want to give credit to the Catholic Church for getting any thing right at the time.

      Any time a comment starts with “I think this means she is…” it is a projection and already at least one step removed from the truth. A (possibly) unintentional bias exists for distorting what she means, and from what I’ve seen recently, it is usually a willing bias intentionally performed to distort the truth or value of the individual you are claiming knowledge of.

      On a far more important note: Should it be *A* (possibly) unintentional or *An* (possibly) unintentional? How are the rules of grammar impacted by parenthetical comments?

      • And curiously, the American “peculiar institution” (as was the polite term for chattel slavery) in the 19th century was much, much more nuanced and complicated than would have been taught in public schools at all levels. Skilled slaves worked at trades and kept their wages – it was considered very mean of an owner to keep the waves themselves. A lot of slaves working such bought their own freedom and their families that way. In the last US census of Texas before the Civil War, the man who owned the most slaves owned 300 or so — the number two and three on the census owned considerably less. Most Texas slaveowners owned maybe half a dozen (there was a fascinating exhibit in the Fort Bend County museum in Richmond that broke this down) and they lived and worked side by side with their owners, usually. Frederick Law Ohlmstead noted this when he did a horseback trip through Texas in 1855.There even was, on the far frontier of Texas, some intermarriage between white and mulatto settlers.
        Back in the 1970s, a pair of researchers crunched a lot of numbers and came up with a book that blew a lot of people’s minds: Time on the Cross: The Economics of Negro Slavery. Which demonstrated in strictly economic terms, (leaving aside the social and psychological) slaves were relatively well-off, in comparison to other groups. The book seems to have gone through a great many editions and is – to say the least – still controversial..

        • Sara the Red

          So essentially…it wasn’t terribly different to how, for example, the Romans tended to practice slavery. Slaves could and did make money, and while yes horrible stuff happened to them, most sensible owners treated them as the valuable property they were. (And in Rome, if I recall right, a canny slave/ex-slave could amass a LOT of wealth and/or power…)

          Alas, trying to discuss this with some folks has them jumping right to the fact of “Oh, so you SUPPORT slavery and are saying it was a good thing!”

          • a canny slave/ex-slave could amass a LOT of wealth and/or power…


            Someone with tremendous cunning and guile?

            • Don’t you hate it when you search and search to find an adequate version and post it …


              And only after that find the superior performance?

          • Yup. I had to look up the cost of a skilled house slave in about 1840. $1,300 was the figure that I found and used in 1840s money. Yeah, like you would mistreat and abuse such an expensive-to-the-point-of luxury item.
            The whole issue was – a great deal more complicated and nuanced, as I said.
            Another interesting factoid – how many slaveholders quietly saw to their slaves being able to read and right, in defiance of the law against that. Complicated, indeed.

            • The president of the confederacies house slave went on to become a big time business man after the civil war. Seems whats his name had trained him and supported him and all that but yeah all evil with no nuance.

            • Somewhere in the house I have a copy of, I think, Southern Slavery and the Law, 1619-1860 (Studies in Legal History)* — I can’t find it to confirm. Picked it up at the memento shop at Tryon Palace (NC’s first permanent state capitol.)

              Fascinating stuff in there. There were laws covering a slave who stole goods or chattel and the owner’s culpability that forced me to give far more consideration of the complexities of slavery than any two years of History in school.

              *This volume is the first comprehensive history of the evolving relationship between American slavery and the law from colonial times to the Civil War. As Thomas Morris clearly shows, racial slavery came to the English colonies as an institution without strict legal definitions or guidelines. Specifically, he demonstrates that there was no coherent body of law that dealt solely with slaves. Instead, more general legal rules concerning inheritance, mortgages, and transfers of property coexisted with laws pertaining only to slaves. According to Morris, southern lawmakers and judges struggled to reconcile a social order based on slavery with existing English common law (or, in Louisiana, with continental civil law.) Because much was left to local interpretation, laws varied between and even within states. In addition, legal doctrine often differed from local practice. And, as Morris reveals, in the decades leading up to the Civil War, tensions mounted between the legal culture of racial slavery and the competing demands of capitalism and evangelical Christianity.

              • Well, and it seems no one ever wants to address the “other” slavery practiced for a long time in the US, that of indentured servitude…

                • Or our indenture to the IRS right now, or, for that matter, the draft when it was in effect. Plenty of involuntary servitude to go around.

                • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                  Well, my understanding of “indentured servitude” was that it was often voluntary and for a limited time.

                  Of course, IIRC it rarely was “inherited”. IE if a person was indentured, their children weren’t “born” indentured.

                • At least from the perspective of my ancestors who arrived as indentured servants, that was nothing like slavery – that was pledging future labor to get out of someplace where he otherwise might have starved.

                  • It is possibly worth mentioning that slavery in the American Colonies is believed to have begun when a citizen (Negro) brought suit for conversion of a contract for indenture int one of enslavement on the grounds that the indentured person (Caucasian) had failed to provide adequate service to repay the investment.

                    The words “lazy” and “shiftless” may have been used.

            • I have often considered this very issue. A healthy young male or female cost such a considerable amount that most did treat their slaves as a long term investments. I still have two problems. I know that there are those who will mistreat even what is of great value, and, even under the best of conditions, a slave remains property of another and not of themselves.

              • The question of abused slaves devolves back into two parts. Where there people who abused their slaves? Certainly. There are people who shouldn’t own animals let alone other people.

                Where the vast majority of slaves actively abused? No. As others have noted it isn’t worth the time or effort for people to misuse and abuse their slaves.

                So yes some people did actively engage in bad behavior with their slaves but the majority didn’t. ::shrug:: Still doesn’t make slavery a good thing but it goes towards why it wasn’t stamped out much sooner.

              • Well, that was the absolute sticking point at mid-19th century; that to own another human being as one would own a horse or a cow was abhorrent and to many, immoral. Never mind the value, the good treatment or bad, the value of the slave, the long antecedents for the practice. Wrong, immoral, full stop.
                As I said – complicated.
                My one American-born ancestor – Maternal Ggg-grandfather (IIRC) was a ferocious Quaker Abolitionist, and from the family stories, he maintained a safe house on the Underground Railway.

                • I always thought the thing with the quilt designs and the Underground Railroad was *fascinating.*

                  And yeah, I’d bet that there were plenty of slaves–even well treated ones–who, if given the option between continuing as a slave and being allowed to take their skills and trades and do whatever they like with it would also have agreed they’d prefer to be free, thanks. Hence the Underground Railroad and things like it!

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                Nod.

                My problem with Slavery hasn’t been “Slaves were mistreated”.

                My problem with Slavery is that it made “People property”.

                • Slavery still exists today in some parts of the world.

                  • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                    Sadly true.

                  • It was successfully banished from the US continent but not from the world yet the abolitionist declared victory.

                    • I doubt that you can ever get rid of world-wide problems. Abolitionists declared victory because the aim was to rid the US of slavery.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Well, there were the British Abolitionists who managed to convince the British Government to encourage other countries to end slavery.

                      Yes, slavery still exist in the world but IIRC it’s more a “back-woods” thing.

                      I don’t believe any nations “officially” allow slavery but it happens where the national governments either don’t have strong control of areas that it occurs in or the national governments “turn a blind eye” when it happens.

                    • Saudi Arabia and some of the African countries. Possibly Iran as well.

                    • Not being a Progressive, I suffer cognitive dissonance between slavery and the founding document “All men are created equal”.
                      That said, I believe the ‘Religion of Peace’ encourages taking infidels as slaves.

                    • Different frame of reference; don’t forget that when the Bible was written, folks had to deal with Jesus’ order that we’re all brothers while slavery was a basic thing.

                      I kind of suspect the dehumanization seen in modern, western slavery is because of the “I must treat all men as my moral brother, my real brother could never be a slave, so those guys aren’t real men” line of thinking. (Vs the ancient middle east, where anybody could become a slave, at least in theory.)

                      To avoid sugar coating, I’ll also point out that I came to this realization from passing education on how it’s acceptable to treat non-kinsmen in less Christianized, more tribal societies…..

                    • I have sad before it is way too early to declare those who support slavery on the wrong side of history. Weighing the current brief and only 97% complete abolition of it against the rest of human history I’d say we need another century without a broad economic fallback before we declare history won’t revert to the mean.

                      The odd thing is if the econuts get their way it would strongly encourage such a reversion to the mean by rolling back the industrial revolution.

                    • Well, there were the British Abolitionists who managed to convince the British Government to encourage other countries to end slavery.

                      More effectively, they convinced the British Government to tell the Royal Navy, then without any challenge as masters of all of the seas and some of the lakes, to interdict and halt the oceangoing trade in slaves.

                      That dried things up right there.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Well, there was Slavery (in Asia for example) wasn’t connected with the Slave Trade from Africa.

                      Britain did influence other countries to end their internal slave systems.

                • For just that reason I have been inclined to agree with Lincoln’s view that slavery was seriously harmful to the owner.

                  • I thought that was Robert E. Lee’s take on slavery?

                    • I do not doubt that there were things on which President Lincoln and Robert E Lee agreed.

                      In the words of Ulysses S Grant: “!@#!$%&@” Although that may have been Sherman.

                    • I’ve heard that Lee was asked to lead the Union armies but declined saying that he would fight for his state(?) which was in the Confederacy.

                      If Lee had accepted he would have been a different person. However I’d love to see an alt history where Lee was the head of the Union armies.

              • You could compare a house slave to a high end luxury car. Are there people who go out and by a new Jaguar and immediately take it out and beat the snot out of it? Sure, but they are the exception not the rule.

                Of course you could compare the old broken down field hand, to your old International truck that you give to your son when he turns sixteen. It is much likely to be abused and neglected.

            • a historical currency converter i found says $1300 in 1840 is roughly $36k today.

            • I know of families in the census that had that loyal house servant/former slave, staying with them and cared for by them into that former slave’s 90s. Loyalty went far.

        • Umm . . . a thing to keep in mind is that slaves in the US were considered property, and, as property, their owner had considerable leeway. The result is you have some owners who took good care of their slaves and you have some that were downright sadistic. And in all of this, I remember the words of a former slave to my mother’s father: He said he was treated better as a slave, “But it’s (freedom) worth it.”

          Yes, I know of arguments based on the value of slaves. But I also know of a man in the early 20th Century who had his wife hold a mule’s bridle while he beat it to death with a steel single tree – and mules weren’t cheap.

          Community values played a part as well. The case of Delphine LaLaurie of New Orleans comes to mind.

          If someone wants to look at this in depth, a good starting point are the state legal codes of different eras. Thanks to the internet, these are readily available in PDF. I found some surprises there while looking for slave codes.

          • Heh. I have this image of a broken-down trailer with a slave put up on cinder-blocks in the driveway.

            Some people take good care of property, and some don’t.

          • Which is, of course, why the ultimate view of “treating other humans as property is BAD” won out. 😀

            But yeah, Madame LaLaurie…::shudders:: Pure evil, that woman (and her family).

      • Depends on where you were as far as how dark the Dark Ages (now officially “Late Antiquity”) were. 1) If you are a 19th century historian looking for written records, it’s dark. 2) If you were in the way of the Avars, Magyars, or Franks and Baiuvari, it was dark. 3) Briton who has just found the first Angles and Saxons arriving? Not so hot. 4) Someone affected by the climate splat of the 535-570 period? Man, the 400s were the good old days. Otherwise, eh, Rome had its moments but life goes on and the water is still flowing through the aqueduct.

      • Any time a comment starts with “I think this means she is…” it is a projection …

        Any time a comment starts with “I think” I conclude the speaker has not, in fact, thought nor engaged in any process that can be rationally considered “thinking.” Such people interpret “feel” as “think” because they’ve never successfully attempted the latter.

        • Progressives do not think. What they call thought is nothing more than an fetid pile of logical fallacies, unwarranted assumptions, and inchoate emoting.

      • and do not shoot people coming to my house on sight.

        So you confirm they’re revenuers first?

        • For many years my aspiration was to be able to buy sufficient land that I could post it: “If I can hear you I can shoot you.”

          After we moved to the suburbs and no longer lived in a college neighborhood that desire subsided.

          Well, that and the rise in the price of 6mm (and up) ammunition …

      • One of the interesting facts I encountered is that the ‘Dark Ages’ really weren’t so ‘dark’ after all. It is just that the Protestants did not want to give credit to the Catholic Church for getting any thing right at the time.

        Actually, I think it had to do with the Renaissance: the years between the fall of the Western Roman Empire and their own were seen as “dark” because they weren’t fawning over Greek and Roman culture like they were.

        • I had heard it was a little later, the Enlightenment, who were enamored with the Greek and Romans and wished to other (oh, that word) everything which came between. But basically wherever you place the onus, it was a human culture thing, the we’re so much better than them that came before — so get with the times.

    • I like the pic of Big Brother at the beginning with “Oldthinkers Unbellyfeel Ingsoc”.

      Kind of illustrates the whole SJW attitude towards people they disagree with.

    • One of my favorite “fake” quotes from the Andromeda opening sequences:

      “Those who fail to learn history
      are doomed to repeat it;
      those who fail to learn history correctly–
      why they are simply doomed.”

      Achem Dro’hm
      “The Illusion of Historical Fact”
      — CY 4971

  11. My ancestor was transported for the honorable crime of sedition against the monarchy.

    That’s SO much cooler than some self-serving sob story.

    • One issue often overlooked is the effects of “presentism” — viewing the past as if the context was essentially the same as present times.

      For example, few people today imagine horse theft to be a serious crime but, as Louis L’Amour often took pains to point out, in the time and place where that was the permitted punishment theft of a horse typically meant condemnation of the horse’s prior owner to a protracted and miserable death.

      Thus, before dismissing the crime of stealing a loaf of bread as trivial it might behoove a person to investigate whether, for example, supplies of flour and other ingredients were limited, so that (perhaps) bread loaves had to be rationed, thus the theft of a loaf meant somebody else (likely equally poor) went without.

      Of curse, one tack to take in such discussions is to ask what punishment the critic of transportation would have thought appropriate, and then to analyse the repercussions of that.

    • Did you also have an ancestress burned in Salem? (The moon is a harsh mistress joke.)

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        While acknowledging the joke, it is also a good example of “how do you know”.

        The Salem “witches” weren’t burned at the stake, they were hung. 👿

        Oh, I dislike “stories” that think that real witches were killed in Salem and the surrounding areas.

        The only “pagan” involved was a black servant who told “horror” stories about witches to a bunch of teenaged girls and nothing happened to her. 😉

        • Hey now, one was was pressed to death (although not for witchcraft but to encourage testimony).

          • Must avoid Monty Python oppression joke.
            Must avoid Monty Python oppression joke.
            Must avoid Monty Python oppression joke.
            ….
            😛

            • Oh, there are a ton of Monty Python jokes including “who threw that stone” (as the pressing was with boulders) and the classic “he got better”.

          • Actually, he was pressed to death in order to force him to plead innocent or guilty. They couldn’t try him without a plea, and in order to stop people from cheating justice by refusing to plead, the law mandates that they be tortured by pressing until they plead.

            it’s presumed that he refused to plead because if convicted the government would take his estate as well as killing him, but it couldn’t confiscate his land without a trial. (Looks it up — Giles Corey, his wife Martha was one of the ones hanged. He was 81 years old, and his property went to his sons-in-law according to his will.)

            • sabrinachase

              My recollection is that the authorities were very “interested” in confiscating Mr. Corey’s property. And every time they asked him if he would enter a plea, he just said “More weight.” I tried to get a weightlifting organization to do t-shirts with that quote…

              • I have this image of the oppressors standing around arguing: “Did he say ‘weight’ or ‘wait’?”

              • That was the motivation in a majority of the “witch trials”. Which is one reason that Europe had many more (order of magnitude) than England, simply because English law at the time made confiscation of property harder.

                • IIRC that was one of the reasons for establishing the Office of the Inquisition: forcing European nobles to back off on accusing everyone who had something they wanted of being a witch.

                  • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                    Minor nit-pick.

                    The Office of the Inquisition was established because nobles/kings were accusing people of heresy not witch-craft. 😉

                    • I think they tended to classify witchcraft as a sub-group of heresy– it is promoting Satan into God’s place, after all.
                      I’d guess it had to do with how the civil authorities were charging it.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      No argument on witch-craft being a sub-set of heresy.

                      Of course, once the Inquisition took over cases of heresy, fewer people were found guilty of heresy.

                      And if I remember correctly, people found guilty of heresy by the Inquisition were often given “lesser punishments” instead of being turned over to the secular powers to be executed.

                    • The whole point was to save their souls– not punish them. You recant the falsehood you were spreading– or if you were falsely accused, just say the truth–and you’re totally clear.

                      When functioning as intended, of course.

                      Yeah, the conviction rate even before you include recanting was insanely low.

                  • If I remember the founding documents correctly, it was specifically to make sure the rights of the accused were protected– but basically, yes.

          • I had an ancestor who was pressed to death in an unfortunate incident involving a near-sighted laundress.

            She tried to wrinkle free and pleated for mercy but was wrung out in the end.

        • In punctilious accuracy, nothing in the statement claims the burned a witch nor the burning deliberate. Given fabrics, modes of womanly dress and wood-burning stoves, combustion was a frequent household event.

    • Mine was swept out of an English prison by Oglethorpe and put on a ship to Georgia in the early 1700’s. He was a minor nobleman in prison for murdering another man. According to my Mormon cousin, that minor patent of nobility was the only thing that kept him from the hangman.

      • Joe, you might be interested in this:

        In college, I came across a published set of documents from the Georgia colony. The one thing I clearly remember about them was that a woman was sent back to Britain for cutting an young child – the document mentioned the length of the gash. Regardless of what sent someone to the colony, they weren’t going to put up with that sort of thing.

        Here’s a weird bit of fluff: They thought the water had to be “corrected,” either by plunging in hot iron, or by adding alcohol. That was one of the complaints against initially forbidding alcohol in the colony.

        Well, one more bit of fluff: One colonial governor was convinced Georgia was the hottest place on earth, and he kept a thermometer with him at all times to see just how hot would get.

        How did your ancestor fare? I’m told the death rate was high among the initial male colonists, and the presentation attributed it to period English clothing meeting Georgia heat, disease, and lack of success with cooler temperature crops common in Britain. Whether or not that’s true . . . shrug. I wasn’t impressed by the park attendant at Frederica who pooh-poohed efforts to train colonists to put X rounds in a minute downrange with a Brown Bess. Don’t think he realized you drilled so that it would be automatic when under fire.

        • I wasn’t impressed by the park attendant at Frederica who pooh-poohed efforts to train colonists to put X rounds in a minute downrange with a Brown Bess.

          Indeed? Had she tried it? And then perhaps tried it again while people shoot at her (OK, with paintball or airsoft or such)?

          • She was probably an ignorant hoplophobe……

          • It was a he, in period British soldier uniform. I don’t know if he’d ever fired one, but someone else, who didn’t spoke but who also wore a period uniform, did the load and fire. Although I’ve never loaded and fired a muzzle loader, I got the impression he was slower than the British regulars were.

            I confess that afterward I toyed with the notion of building a Brown Bess from a kit. Never did.

            • I am SURE everybody here is familiar with the definition of a good soldier:


              A good soldier is one with the ability to fire three rounds a minute in any weather.

              • For those who question the possibility of doing that with a Brown bess …


                Forty-six seconds, and that’s using the ramrod, not p*ssy tap-loading the ball.

            • I know a couple of civil war re-enactors who can load and fire their muzzle loaders in less than one minute. I have read that a well trained soldier of that time could get off 2-3 shots per minute.

        • He survived to the ripe old age of 72, went through 3 wives and had over 10 kids, 6 of which survived. He died in North Carolina about the time the revolution was just starting.

          The death rate is not surprising for colonists unprepared for a totally different climate than Merry Olde England, which at that time was under a Dalton Minimum climate, and most of the colonists were unskilled urban dwellers. Look at the death rate for Jamestown, and I bet the death rate for the colonists in early Australia was very high too…….

          • My Southern ancestors are fascinating to look at. Even into the 1800s, Just about every family, unless they were barely legal newlyweds, was made up of steps and halfs and full blooded siblings and the spouses could each be on their 2nd or 3rd marriage. Makes things confusing when somebody married his step daughter with the same surname as step daughter’s mother’s name (his second wife). And wills were very, very important trying to keep the right parts of which property in the correct bloodline. Men died of injuries and infections and disease, and women died of the same things plus childbirth.

  12. I just finished reading Roger Kimball’s essay in The New Criterion ( https://www.newcriterion.com/articles.cfm/The-killing-of-History–why-relativism-is-wrong-3484 ). Then I saw you had a new post that ties in quite well with what he wrote.

  13. My first experience with history that was wrong happened in AP American History class. We were doing a “newspaper” of the 1830’s and 1840’s. We each had a different topic to write on (I think mine was the Cumberland Gap). One of my friends got the topic of Joseph Smith and Mormons. He found a book in the school library that gave some history of him. Except, when he read out about Joseph Smith being hung by the neck until dead by a lynch mob, I had to laugh. Sure, he was lynched, but it was by a mob posing as militia (and a fair number of the actual militia were probably part of the mob) and he was shot to death when the mob stormed the jail he and his friends were being held in. Somehow, mob and lynching turned a shooting into a hanging because that’s what lynch mobs do. After that, it made it a bit easier to question things.

    • A prime example of “do your own research”. All through the 19th century, Mormonism was the subject of lurid and sensational fiction. For that matter, it still is, except that instead of appearing in penny dreadfuls, it’s all over the internet.

    • My great-grandfather, born in 1859, knew people who had participated in the killing of Joseph Smith. I never heard any details of the stories he was told, though.

      • Sara the Red

        Heh. I’m pretty certain I’ve a number of ancestors who were, if not directly involved in THAT murder, were involved in the other anti-Mormon mobs in Missouri at that time. I confess that, although I am a devout Mormon myself, I find it hugely funny to, when presented with another church member who is very, *very* proud of their Mormon pioneer heritage to inform them that I’m pretty sure my ancestors pillaged and murdered their ancestors…

        I’m a horrible person. I know this.

        • “my ancestors pillaged and murdered their ancestors…” The way humans interbreed isn’t everyone guilty of this? I’m probably oppressing myself on some level and I owe myself reparations.

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            Go back far enough and maybe everyone has more or less the same ancestors. I expect not all of those had relations that were entirely consensual. I figure that all this group offense stuff that doesn’t cancel out to treating people as individuals is merely cherrypicking and revisionist history. Go picket your house with a sign saying ‘free Arwen from the unjust oppression of Arwen’.

          • LOL. This explains why I get so mad at myself. I’m going to give myself some dinner to make up for it.

          • The first murder was Cain and Abel.

          • Yeah, pretty much. Probably why I find it funny, though others don’t. (Granted, most of those who are inordinately proud of the whole “Pioneer heritage!!!” thing don’t have much of a sense of humor anyhow.)

            My favorite line from one of the Man From Snowy River films (I think it was the sequel): “My lot used to hang your lot.”

            • Yes, it was. The army officer was shooting down the pretensions of another Brit about being so much better than the native-born Aussies.

          • I have slave owners and abolitionists in my father’s line. Do those cancel out?

    • I broke my critical thinking class. I stood up and presented a cognizant defense of nuclear power discussing how the anti nuclear movement had been a backlash against the first broad public use of nuclear power being a bomb.

      They couldn’t refute what I brought to them and it left them all just kind of in tilt mode. The rest of my presentation group was all just as bad. 😉

  14. The thing about the Industrial Revolution is that the people painting it as a disaster for the poor were the people it discomfited. The “Intellectual Class” whom were losing their status as the Lower Orders became literate and the wealthy landowners who were being displaced in the social order by upstarts whose wealth came from what was sniffingly called “trade”.

    I read somewhere that studies had been done showing that the people ‘starving’ in tenements in the cities during the early ‘dar satanic mills’ stage of the Industrial Revolution were eating an average of a thousand calories a day more than their immediate, pastoral, predecessors. They have also been shown to be less ignorant; more in touch with current events and likelier to be marginally literate.

    So, while the Revolution was going on the accounts of it were colored by many things;

    It concentrated the poor in the cities, where they were hard to overlook. It disrupted the status quo of the classes likeliest to be literate enough to write about it. It encouraged literacy in a class that as not comfortable, and thus likely to complain in writing for the first time.

    It is always important to ask if the peasants are rushing to take jobs in an unsafe factory at $1 a day because the alternative is working longer hours, in less safe conditions, up to their knees in a rice paddy fertilized with human shit, for a handful of rice and a space to sleep on a dirt floor.

    • the alternative is working longer hours, in less safe conditions, up to their knees in a rice paddy fertilized with human shit, for a handful of rice and a space to sleep on a dirt floor.

      As any good Marxist or college graduate will tell you the later is a more authentic life we should embrace.

      Not them, of course, but the rest of us.

      • Jean-Jacques Rousseau has much to answer for. If there is justice in the afterlife, he is on a never-ending camping trip with substandard equipment. In the rain, somewhere with leeches.

        I also point out that the putative Marxist or college grad who has bought into the “authentic lifestyle” crap desperately wants a society of semi-literate peasants he (or she) can lord it over. I strongly believe that a lot of the Progressive Intellectual bush we are awash in stems from the frustration of college graduates who long for a time when that was a mark of distinction.

      • Not them, of course, but the rest of us.

        Funny how that works isn’t it? To be honest it is attitudes like that that make me sympathetic with Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge.

        • That attitude was the attitude of Pol Pot and some of the Khmer Rouge.

          The rest of the Khmer Rouge didn’t realize they were destined to be peasants too (although I guess they did share the attitude of the rest).

    • Charles Dickens, in his American Notes, devotes a lot of time describing the conditions of the young single women who worked in the Lowell textile mills. There were a lot of self-improvement circles- book clubs, debating or discussion clubs- which impressed the author..Apparently they worked there a couple of years to get some money, and then quit and got married.

      • One of the things that irritated me about the Peggy Carter series (other than the common-to-every-modern-show that shows career women in the past being harassed and/or belittled by every man she works with or for), was the demeaning of the other women on the show that weren’t Peggy, the ones who often WERE working a for a few years in order to make a little money before getting married. It used to be fairly common, and somewhat like making your trousseau: a solid economic choice. Nowadays people have not just starter homes but starter marriages.

  15. You know, last week the Bible study group I attend on Tuesday evenings was studying Acts 17, which includes a part where Paul was preaching at a synagogue in Berea. In every previous town people had rioted about what he had to say, and gotten him “disinvited” from their college campu…. wait, sorry, crossed the streams for a minute. And gotten him thrown out of town by the authorities, or (in one case) locked up in jail without cause. But the Jews in Berea, the chapter says, “were more noble than those in Thessalonica [the previous town, where people started a riot]; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Emphasis mine)

    In other words, they didn’t just blindly believe what Paul told them about how the Jewish Scriptures pointed to Jesus as the Messiah. They checked the sources that he was quoting, to see if he was quoting them accurately! (And when they found out that he was, indeed, quoting them accurately, and was making a good case, many of them believed what he had to say.)

    I do love that part of the Bible. “Don’t just blindly believe what the preacher says: check the Bible to make sure he’s getting it right!” Yes, indeed. Good principle for lots of situations, that. Not just for spotting snake-oil-salesmen “preachers” like Joel Osteen, but also for spotting snake-oil-salesmen politicians, snake-oil-salesmen “historians”… you name it.

  16. “How do you know?”

    I generally don’t know, and so I make it my business to find out.

    Having found out, I generally find there are two classes of people: those like me who stirred themselves to find out, and those who believe all manner of utterly fantastic things who will resist TO THE DEATH the notion that I might know something about Subject X that they do not.

    Guns are the usual subject, but on prosaic things like carburetors you will find the same phenomenon. Some swear by the Four Barrel Holly, all other systems are Garbage!!!1! And yet, there exist all sorts of other setups in all kinds of situations that, if you look into it a little, open entire new vistas of knowledge about why engines are the way they are. Was Carrol Shelby an -idiot- for putting four Webers in the early Cobras? There’s a f- of a lot of guys out there who will tell you he was. That the notion doesn’t pass the giggle test is irrelevant, they’ll have a fist fight right there at the car show to defend their Holly carb. Or perhaps that should be holy carb.

    SF/F is one of the places I run off to when I want to “talk to” somebody who thought about something and came up with an interesting idea. They’ll tell me all about it. That’s why I really hate the Grey Goo being sold as entertainment by the SJW Coalition of Idiots. The idea that if a story doesn’t forward the cause of Social Justice that it shouldn’t be published, this is the basest tyranny.

  17. One of them, which I know to be true from modern revolutions and studying them (modern meaning from around the eighteenth century) is that the uprisings happen not when things are at their darkest, but when they’re starting to get better; not under the horrible tyrant, but under his more liberal successor.

    The Kaiser and Czar deposed in the German and Russian Revolutions, respectively, were hardly liberals. But those two revolutions were almost legislative coups rather than outright revolutions. The subsequent Bolshevik Revolution and the Nazi takeover were both against the more liberal regimes that resulted from the earlier revolutions. I’m not sure if that supports, undermines, or is tangential to your argument, but it did come to mind.

    • Supports, I think. Kaiser Wilhelm II and Tsar Nicholas II were both liberal than their ancestors, although by the standards of early-20th century Europe they were reactionary autocrats.
      And, yes, as you mentioned, Kerensky and Weimar were both more liberal than their predecessors.

    • While true that Nicholas II was not exactly a liberal for the Czars he was closer to the liberal end of the spectrum especially compared to his father Alexander III (who had overturned liberalization by his own father Alexander II).

    • They were “liberals” compared to their predecessors. It’s a relative thing.

    • To add to what others have said, not only was Nicholas II not nearly as oppressive as his ancestors, but he was seen as weak. Just over a decade before the revolution, he’d been forced to give up some of his power to the Duma. He was widely seen as being controlled by his wife and her lover (yeah, I know Rasputin wasn’t, but he was certainly seen that way). The Romanovs as a whole were seen as a bunch of upper class twits rather than the descendants of Peter the Great and the other early Tsars who tortured people to death for even the slightest hint of disobedience.

      Nicholas quite possibly had the worst of all possible worlds in encouraging a revolution: seen as a would-be oppressive tyrant but one who didn’t really have the power to pull it off.

    • Hm. So a successor in a regimen like North Korea should never ease the yoke even one bit or he risks ending up hanging from a lamp post, and his people possibly even worse off in a short order if the revolution is then taken over by some of the more ruthless people of the land.

      Depressing thought, but does make for an interesting dilemma for a story about some crown prince who wants to be better than his tyrannical father.

      • I think Christopher Stasheff did a pretty good job on that, with the….dang it, can’t remember the book name, the one about the rational king…. It might be the Secular Wizard?

        • That seems more like the ongoing challenge of devolving power (raising up the parliament?) on Gramayre in the Warlock In Spite of Himself series — the Rod Gallowglass books.

  18. I think a big part of the problem is people aren’t encouraged to integrate their own knowledge. Everybody knows America is BAD because we had slavery at some point in the past. Everybody also knows Moses led the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt. Put those two together and it’s obvious that American Blacks are nothing special, slavery has been around for all of recorded human history. But people don’t think that way. They remember Fact A and Fact B without making any connection between them. Remember this next time somebody tells you the purpose of education is to teach you to think instead of merely memorizing facts. It’s not working.

    • I am troubled by those who put Fact A and Fact b together and conclude that the Israelites were African-American.

      • Feather Blade

        Is that where that particular ahistorical assertion comes from…

        Good to know it actually has a logical(?) basis.

        • Sadly, my quip is not the origin of that posneric idea. The basis is even worse.

          Stripped down as best I can recall the argument:

          Moses was able to pass as a member of the Egyptian Royal Caste.

          The Egyptian Royal Caste was Black as Black could be. They were beyond swarthy, beyond dusky, they were well in to ebon. Don’t ask me the source of this idea, it is too alien to logic or evidence for my mind to have held onto without permanent damage, on a par with the Egyptians building the pyramids with telekinetic abilities.

          A brief pause to allow everybody to ponder the implications of anything capable of damaging my mind.

          Therefore Moses was black, Black, BLACK and so were his people, including on down to David’s descendant Jesse.

          That is as logical a basis as can be found.

          • Egypt’s in Africa, and some of the Egyptian artwork has charcoal black figures.

            • Pharaohs ran from looking like your typical Semites able to pass as whites today (think Kiss’ Gene Simmons), to Blacks from Nubia and to pasty white ala Cleo who was actually of Greek ancestry but also quite inbred. I have seen where they claim it was Thutmose III who was Pharaoh at the time, and his statues make him look almost oriental in facial features.

              • Ssssssh, no facts! They’re usually also busy claiming anybody else in Africa was coal black–including a Father of the Church who was the child of immigrants…. (I can’t remember which one, I want to say Thomas A, but can’t swear to it.)

                High frequency of being co-morbid with “Jesus was really black” that I’ve seen, and I’d bet on a correlation with the “Jesus was actually ugly as sin” one. (It’s based on an old testament verse about how FREAKING GOD looked like, well, a dude.)

                • Whomever it is on The Shroud, looks to have had a Jamie Farr style nose, for what it’s worth.

                  • I’ve got a very soft spot for the shroud– it’s pulled more people chosen specifically for being agnostics/honest atheists to Christ than any other object I can think of. 😀

                    The guy does seem to have one heck of a honker, but that’s hardly shocking for a Jew!

                    • one of the many points in its favor, that. It definately was someone crucified in the correct methog (most hoaxes have the woulds in the incorrect places).
                      still an atheist myself though.

            • But as locals? At least one pharaoh had a charcoal black figure on his slippers, showing that he trod the Ethiopians underfoot.

          • Not particularly related, but this brought it to mind: I recently found out that, supposedly, Ramses II had red hair. I did not know this. (Yay, gingers!)

    • The vast majority of my students – I’m talking nine out of ten, in every single class, for seven consecutive years – they have no idea that slavery existed anywhere in the world before the United States.

      Via Instapundit, via David Thompson, to the video source

    • They don’t actually teach critical thinking anymore. After all it teaches you to question what you know.

      • I don’t know what timeframe you’re talking about, but during my incarceration in various public school systems in the 1960s and 1970s, critical thinking was not only not taught, but any signs of it was emphatically discouraged.

  19. *Grin* One of my delights is giving the students up-to-date material, like what really happened during the formerly-Dark-Ages, or slavery as a global response to labor and war, or pointing out that China didn’t develop modern firearms and technology because the West stole their ideas, it was because the government didn’t need them. Their system worked, their materials worked, and yes, it was “rather” retrospective BUT it also had safety valves and functioned pretty well unless a massive disaster (like the 17th century) happened. You can’t blame the Brits for the Manchu invasion, or for the maunder and Dalton Minima.

    • You can’t blame the Brits for the Manchu invasion, or for the maunder and Dalton Minima.

      Really? I’m sure there’s an ethnic studies PhD thesis somewhere doing precisely that. Yanno, deforestation of England (and other parts of N Europe in the 30 years war) causing climate change which leads to famine in Manchuria causing the Manchu invasion. Obvious really

  20. There was some show had or inspired the line, “I want to believe.” I’ve gotten the odd look, and an occasional dawning of realization, upon mentioning that real progress would begin with, “I want to verify.”

    • It was X-Files.

      • No wonder I didn’t recall it. Never watched it.

        • It was a big thing back in the day and now no one talks about it.

          • Has to do with the “good TV comes from abroad” principle. When they moved production from Vancouver to L.A., quality went way down.

            • uh, y’all do know its on again, right?

              The quality problem was because Fox needed the show to keep going so they couldn’t wrap anything up… ever.

              • That, and the showrunner had started this whole overarching conspiracy thing…without ever actually sitting down and figuring out the plot first. (Normally, pantsing things is fine…but not in a show where you’ve decided you’re gonna do this whole “mythology” arc thing, but have no idea where you’re going. At all.)

                I love the X-Files, but.

                • If they’d stuck with it as a Vague And Amorphous Thing, with less trying to make it all tie in, it’d have worked.

                  Heck, you could probably make it work by having four or five overlapping conspiracies, maybe with a defector from one that lets you know last season’s Big Bad Controller was actually being played himself…..

      • Well, it was from a poster than Mulder had in his office. I don’t think X-Files created the poster, they just popularized it (again?).

  21. I am put in mind of a CS Lewis quote: “The history taught under Miraz was more boring than the truest history you would ever read, and less true than the most exciting adventure story.” I sometimes feel we live in those days.

    • I read some of Lewis’s fearful predictions then look around me and think one of two things:

      1. “I’m glad you didn’t live to see the truth of it.”
      2. “You hadn’t seen anything yet.”

  22. This was seriously one of the best “short theory of history” writings I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. Kudos.

    …gawd I wish everyone, including historians, understood that “real history” isn’t evocative fantasy to the people living in it. And exercised real sensibility about times & events. And taught it that way. This way, really.

    Damn, but this was good.

  23. “I’m fairly convinced nowadays kids are taught wars go on until America decides to stop fighting,”

    To an extent this has been true. But the second part of that sentence, ” and then the other side also stops because they’re nice people, or something” is not.
    In WWI the other side stopped fighting to regroup, in WWII the other side stopped fighting to go crawl in their holes, because we had kicked their butts and they had neither the desire nor the resources to fight anymore. Korea was pretty much like WWI, we kicked them back to where they came from, but didn’t go ahead and finish them when they were down, so they went back to their corner and regrouped to try again. Everything since? Well, we’ve quit fighting, but the other side hasn’t.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Wars stop when the other sides is no longer able to resist enough to be worth fighting, and stay stopped if we make sure the survivors have no interest in continuing.

      • No, wars stop when either a) one side is no longer capable of fighting, or b) both sides determine they have no interest in continuing, or c) they don’t really stop, the politicians just claim they do.

  24. I’m betting most people here had that wake-up moment, when something they always heard was true was seen as so preposterously wrong they could no longer believe the standard model, as it were.

    However, offsetting this is the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect, whereby spotting the obvious lie in one place somehow does not cause us to reject the mechanisms or institutions that brought that lie to us in the first place. Gell-Mann refers to the newspapers, but it is obviously more generally true. I have very well educated friend who didn’t get his PhD in history for reasons never explained to him – the fellowships just dried up, the department he was studying in lost interest in him, and nobody would tell him what was going on. So, first hand, he experienced the winnowing out of ‘the wrong sort’ – yet he is totally down with the Marxist reinterpretation of history that was spoon-fed him. Um, dude? They just showed you first hand that who gets to be an historian is determined in secret according to rules the little people are not privy to – and? Do you not suspect ?

    For me, the evil, stupid Dark Ages that ended only when Enlightened men broke the bonds of the Church and brought forth Humanism in all its glory narrative is what got me: I’m supposed to think the people who built the utterly original and amazing Gothic cathedrals were primitive rubes, but the neo-classical copy-cats are the height of originality? That the people who replaced lots of little wars with really big and nasty wars were a step in the right direction? That the austerely logical reasoning of the Thomists (upon which modern science is clearly based – what, you think it’s based on Descartes’s navel-gazing or Hegel’s smug insanity?) was inferior, somehow to the philosophical chaos that brought us Marx and Freud, among others?

    Nope, didn’t work for me. This is, of course, not to say that everything was rosy in the Middle Ages, or that the Age of Reason was a total disaster (I’m sure there’s something positive to be said for the Age of Reason, let me see… Need more coffee for that one.) but merely that the unidirectional narrative from evil and bad to good and wonderful doesn’t match many of the facts on the ground.

  25. Lies My Teacher Told Me has a number (five?) of examples with details. Well. There are several of them, now.

    I found this out in a High School history class that was normally incredibly boring. Someone made some comment about the textbook that set him off a rant about how awful it was. He gave a number of examples of bowdlerized (capital “B”?) chapters and stuff that was left out completely. That’s when I realized he was actually a history teacher, not just the golf coach.

    • Yeah, tell me about it. The one I was issued has supplemental maps from the National Geographic Society that are wrong – cities and rivers in wrong places or mis-labebed, empires set too far back in time . . .

      You had one job, NGS, ONE simple job . . .

  26. Re: Revolutions being under the more liberal successor of the tyrant: I read a bunch of stuff in my Hungarian class that suggested that was true. Immediately after the revolution, everyone kept silent; any Hungarian suspected of being a troublemaker was either executed or dragged off in the middle of the night, so if you were smart, you kept your head down and just prayed they wouldn’t notice you. It wasn’t until the 60s when the Kadar regime lightened up on the oppression that things started to change. As one writer put it, “You couldn’t talk about IT, but you could talk about the fact that there was something you weren’t allowed to talk about.” It wasn’t until those later years that rebellious thoughts started to be voiced…

  27. I don’t question the past. It is what is was. I question what people tell me happened in the past. Even the Bible shows that folks can’t get the story straight. What did Jesus say on the cross? I bet neither version is right.

    • Why not all of them? Different things grab different eyewitness’ attention.

      • And each of the gospels emphasized different things. They weren’t writing down “A complete and unabridged biography of Jesus Christ” They were, by and large, writing a letter to someone describing what they saw for a specific audience. Matthew was written to Jews with proofs the Jews would accept, Mark was ‘This is Christ, 101’ (Peter was likely his source), Luke was writing to a fellow Greek physician as almost a scholarly set of proofs (My sister in law said the seminary students dreaded trying to do ANYTHING with Luke in the original because of how sophisticated the language was), and John was a ‘fill in the gaps of the nature and character of Jesus’. Though John is the only one to state the limitation explicitly. “Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.” John 21: 25 (NLT)

        • Actually, the Greek says it’s the whole cosmos.

        • Something I like in the Gospel of John is that he seems to have specifically refuted a rumor. John was the only apostle to die of old age, and apparently there was rumor that he would live until Jesus returned. John set the record straight that Jesus said “If I will him to remain until I return, what is that to you? Follow me.” John pointed out that Jesus didn’t say that he would still be around.

          It’s also worth noting that the one Jesus chose to look after His mother was the one to live the longest.

          • I figure part of it was that they were all more paranoid about letting anybody know who he was– all that “the disciple who Jesus loved” type talking in circles wasn’t to score poetry points. (I can’t remember where in the bible it was, but one apologist pointed out that we’re pretty sure that Lazarus was working in the early Church, but they also took pains to avoid giving out names and locations that could put Saul or his buddies on your trail!)

  28. An issue with going to the original sources:
    You’ve got a bias, too. Even if it’s just perspective.
    We’ve all run into the epically bad do-it-yourself Bible interpretation that boils down to someone not knowing what they don’t know, right? Or the it’s-funny-now story that’s Who’s On First redone?
    Heck, I was reading a between-wars English novel the other day and got utterly hung up trying to figure out what kind of facial hair they were describing, because the way it was phrased was almost identical to how facial hair is described now– the author had actually switched to describing how a then-common-knowledge style portrayed the character.

    It’s not enough to just have an original source, you’ve got to understand it.

    • That said, when you have a college history text that claims WWI Allied pilots refused to wear parachutes out of bravado, and you have where Eddie Rickenbacker himself wrote that their command denied them parachutes from fear they would bail out of repairable planes, which one are you going to figure knows what he’s talking about?

      • I’d believe Rickenbacker.

      • Yep.

        It’s entirely possible they’re both PARTLY true, too– like the “mobs killed innocent Indians” thing that didn’t work so very well in my grade school history class when most of the kids there had seen the photographs of those gangs who happened to be Indians and the…trophies…they had taken from the dead.

      • The British denied pilots parachutes in WW1 because the commanders believed is was moral cowardice to not go down with your ship. Most of the commanders were not pilots themselves and when the pilots who survived the war got into command, this policy changed immediately

        • The British Royal Flying Corps (RFC) issued parachutes to flight crew of lighter than air craft, and especially observation balloons, from early 1915 – actually earlier than the Germans did the same. Parachutes were common for balloon observers on all sides. The record for balloon bail-outs by an individual observer is apparently nine.

          In RFC heavier than air craft, the result of the parachute prohibition was the widespread carry of a pistol tucked in one’s flying boot, often with just one round, for use if one’s plane was set afire at altitude.

          Until they were consolidated as the RAF on April 1st, 1918, the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS – part of the Royal Navy) and the Royal Flying Corps (RFC, part of the Army) were distinct and separate entities. I’m not finding anything that says the RNAS rules on parachutes were different than those in the RFC – yet RN warships carried life rafts (see http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1915/jun/10/lifeboats-royal-navy for a contemporaneous cite).

          The Germans and Austro-Hungarians issued parachutes to flyers in mid-1918, and there are records of successful combat bail-outs from August onward.

          The French and the American never approved parachutes for flyers.

          The RAF finally issued an order adding parachutes for heavier-than-air craft on September 1st, 1918, but the war ended before anything was implemented.

  29. Trust but verify. And always try to find primary sources. The results might surprise you.

    This. Very much so.

  30. Captain Comic

    Don’t worry, Sarah, they call all true geniuses mad.

    They call rabid dogs mad,too, but that’s different.

  31. sort of the same topic out of modern Boston.

  32. Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s in his kiss. That is the easy one.

    My profile on a certain specialized social media site includes this quote:

    A man’s kiss is his signature. – Mae West.

  33. >Because — stands to reason — in a society where policing is so tight that stealing bread gets you transported, there wouldn’t be the thriving underworld of whores, pickpockets, con artists and yes outright murderers that existed then.
    Hahahahaha. No, wait… you’re serious. HAAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
    A loaf? How about a single spikelet? Okay, that’s in extreme cases, but still, somehow THAT coincided with a steady stream of common felony convictions when no one bothered to pass anything as a felony, more likely the other way around.

    > Yeah, sure, the conditions of the early industrial revolution were appalling. And yet people crowded to the cities to take these jobs.
    > Sure the countryside has relatively clean air and more open space, but there are still real famines
    Which didn’t happen in towns, because?.. Towns just couldn’t get all the food they produced to the peasants, or what?
    >And the people who wrote the narrative were the unseated noblemen, who did not like all these noveau rich but who wanted to justify their disgust by showing how it hurt the poor.
    Very true. It’s obvious from what circles all those socialists, anarchists and other militant loons came.
    Questions: Were their more adaptable brothers and sisters any better? And how did they adopt?
    > but who never consorted closely enough with the rural poor to see the misery behind raising baah lambs and the pretty pretty flowers.
    By the way.
    How come there was so much “baah lambs and the pretty pretty flowers” that other agriculture is not even visible behind them?
    Also, what happened when, say, demand for more wool and thus more sheep pastures was rising?
    Was it satisfied via previously unused lands, thus creating demand for more jobs?
    Or were those lands already used by the pre-existing agriculture? Then what the now-superfluous peasants did – just… bowed and peacefully disappeared in thin air?
    Which case is likely to be connected to having people willing to work in a primitive factory even if they are likely to end up without a few fingers or coughing blood?
    And who had means to build those factories – peasants who luckily struck it rich, or land-owners?
    So… where those famines came from, again?..
    This puzzle doesn’t fit together in any obvious way?

    >What the historians never ask themselves is “How much worse was what they were escaping from?” We know that in India and China and other recently industrialized countries.
    Oh, yes. But if you have mentioned China, can we remember an… only-sightly-less-recent example? Or does China get a pass to the world of “completely different”, too?
    So, speaking of famines – it cannot be that Collectivisation/Industrialisation was mostly Donut Steel’d (and updated) from the schemes that already have worked once… like the one in England? It had to be something new and completely out-of-the-whole-cloth unlike, say, oh, just about everything else that crowd did?
    I mean, it’s not like they were

    But back to our sheep: everyone arrested for loitering was probably another Jack Ripper, too, just not caught! That’s why the Worthy people usually weren’t arrested for loitering – they didn’t anything wrong everyone would know they did by writings on their foreheads.
    Please. You are just inventing excuses for the desirable outcome at this point.
    And again – if anything raises the uncomfortable questions, it must have been suggested by the sneaky enemy spies.
    Which is exactly the way of thinking demonstrated by NKVD (according to the people to whom they addressed stupid questions seriously, rather than for statistics, such as A.Zinoviev) and likewise the newer school of clowning from Peter Wadhams & Co. (in which case the devil sowing doubt in the faithful is “Big Oil”).
    But if you’re not with that particular circus, the same old slapstick is, of course, completely different? Somehow?
    I pointed at exactly this sort of thing, and now you just provide more examples.

    • Do you have any kind of an actual substantive response in that pile? Because the juvenile scorn and sarcasm pretending to be points has it buried.

    • Are you now, or have you ever been, coherent?

      Based on the available evidence I would be inclined toward doubt.

    • You misunderstood me at several points. Also, I don’t feel like reading wall of text.
      What I said is that in VICTORIAN England people who were convicted for stealing a loaf of bread had usually committed a lot of other crimes.
      Mostly I find you have issues with reading and are confrontational for no reason.

    • Ah, I do so love walls of text without any substantive comments. Here’s something you might want to consider before hitting that nice little post comment button next time: read your proposed comment and see if it makes any sense. If you find yourself posting quotes out of context — or without context — and then doing nothing more than asking questions, you aren’t making sense. If you want folks to take something you say as authoritative, provide cites and quotes. Otherwise, we will shake our heads and laugh a little at how hard you’re trying to look like you know what you’re talking about even as you are failing. Then we will move on to more interesting comments, ones that let us have actual discussions and even debates.

    • You know Turbo, Sarah is quite generous in letting just about anyone come in to her blog and borrow the soapbox, but for Ghu’s sake dude or dudette educate yourself with some basic reading comprehension and communications skills before you further embarrass yourself.
      Your little screed borders on the incoherent, you obviously missed the point in a reasoned treatment of a period of time when morals and public opinion were much different. Here’s a clue, attitudes and mores are shaped to a great extent by conditions. People for all of time did not necessarily thing the way you do. And please, for your sake and ours, learn to communicate or no one will ever be able to decipher your message and any valid points you might have will remain lost in the noise.

    • I think after deep thought that you’re trying — incompetently — to drive at how the enclosures drove the industrial revolution because eeeeeevil landowners sent people to the city.

      Um.

      Okay, first of all, while English wool was a thing, that “thing” started in Shakespeare’s time. (One of Shakespeare’s first appearances in court was to defend the enclosure of Stratford’s commons. BTW, was he wrong? We don’t know. We know what the history books say about how it caused misery, but we also have read The Tragedy of the Commons. As a village girl, I saw the use of the commons, but I also saw a lot of them turned into toxic dumping grounds.)

      At that time there was a great wave of fleeing to the city, MAYBE because of enclosures, maybe because it was an exceptionally cold time and while there were famines in the cities (did I ever say there weren’t) people might think they could earn their living in other ways.

      By Victorian times there was much less being enclosed (most had been.)

      People went to the city mostly because they were tired of rooting, hogging or dying. You see that in India and China and other countries industrializing today.

      Three hundred years of enclosures is a long time. Are you still running from things that happened to your ancestors? I know they’re linked in the history books, on a page, but that’s a good example of bullshit. That’s not how history works.

      Also after the 1774 change in laws, cotton was the main driving force of the English textile industry, so much so that by Victorian times they passed laws saying that people had to be buried in wool shrouds to help the ailing wool industry.

      When trying to figure out what you were told that’s bullsh*t it helps to read widely and about many time periods. You pick up things. Just a word to the wise.

      • He might be thinking of the Scottish “sheep make more than people” thing, but the only example of that which I know of is at most 110 years ago– my own ancestors only recently celebrated a centennial in the US, and that started with being one of the early folks evicted because sheep were worth more.
        That’s a generous estimate, too– but even then, it’s five years too late to even technically be Victorian England.

    • Patrick Richardson

      BWHAHAHAHHAH, HAHAHAHAHH HEEE EHEHEHEHEHE AHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHH MUAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAH!!!

      Oh wait, you were serious!?!

      Oh you’re just a special little snowflake aren’t you? I mean did your momma have any children who lived?

      The point here, oh obtuse one, is that historians often have a political bent and tend to interpret things based on their own personal biases. You know, like those noble savage morons who think American Indians lived in harmony with nature and never went to war with each other and were just nicey-nice all the time?

      This same shite, oh s/he whose head is made of collapsium, bleeds over into everything else these leftist fucks teach and do and demand in publishing.

      Do you get it now, or is your cranial-rectal inversion too acute?

  34. Turbo Beholder (@TBeholder)

    And here we see the root of Internet Guru Syndrome. What do you want, try and make her the next Fast Eddie?

    > Yes, Giraffe was wrong enough,
    > Yet we shouldn’t blame Giraffe,
    > But that one, shouting from his nest:
    > “Giraffe is big! He knows the best!”
    :]

  35. A lot of this “transported/hanged for stealing a loaf of bread” is distorted memories of the era of the “Bloody Code,” where that could, at least in theory, happen. In practice, petty thieves were almost never convicted on charges serious enough to hang them; juries would often convict for lesser charges, but would spare their lives.

    Cases like Jean Valjean in Les Miserables…Jean Valjean not only stole bread, but he broke a window (and this was when glass was very valuable) and broke in to do so. And his long, long sentence was because he kept trying to escape and they kept piling more years on him for his escape attempts.

    • There is also evidence that many convicted of petty theft were given the opportunity of enlisting in the Army (the navy having its own methods of filling out crews) as alternative sentencing.