Thursday, 17 November 2016

Neo-Marxists Misuse of the Crusades

Just So Stories

Neo-Marxism has sought to make a big deal about the Crusades.  They (the Crusades) have been colourfully adjusted in the telling to "frame" the West as exploiters and oppressors and the Arabs and associated people as the exploited.  As Voltaire once put it, history is a trick the living play upon the dead.  The Neo-Marxist propagandists and pseudo-scholars of the late twentieth century told a tricky tale more fanciful and exotic than Scheherazade.

It was well done, insofar as it made an entire Western generation--at least those in the ruling Commentariat--deeply guilty in there own eyes, which, of course, was the entire point.  Rulers who feel guilt are likely to want to make atonement and restitution for the evil of forbears, which, according to the frame of Marxism is a jolly good thing.

Over this narrative, the present generation of Neo-Marxists have added another development.  The Crusades exploited the Arabs.  But the Arabs and Islamic nations roughly correspond.  Therefore, the present struggles between Israel and its Arab nations represents a modern manifestation of an evil westernised Crusader nation versus the exploited Arab nations.  Western Neo-Marxists rush to stand in solidarity with the exploited freedom fighters of the PLO and Hamas.

Both the narrative and the frame are so far removed from historical reality that they can be justly characterised as cheap propaganda.  A slick trick upon the dead.

 Historian Efraim Karsh sets the record straight about the Crusades.
The limited scale of the crusades, which affected only a fraction of the Middle East . . . . were virtually confined to Palestine and parts of Syria, and even at their height meant little or nothing to Iraq and the caliphate, let alone to Iran, Central Asia, or even Upper Egypt.  The political evolution of these lands was hardly influenced by the crusaders, with whom their inhabitants had no contact whatsoever.  As a result, the crusades were seen not as a cataclysmic event but as yet another round in the intermittent fighting that had been raging between the Byzantine and the Islamic empires for centuries.  [Efraim Karsh, Islamic Imperialism: A History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007), p. 76.]
An apt parallel in our modern days would be the fight taking place in Syria as we speak.  Basically, this is a fight between the house of Shia (via the Alawite sect adhered to by President Assad) and the Sunnis and Wahhabis and ISIS and Kurds on the other.  It is a mess of factions and proxy-nations, into which the West comes as a belligerent and participant.  The alliances change by the day.  The only constant is the suffering of the people.  The West in this conflict is a useful tool to the various sects and loyalties.

The fundamental conflict in Syria (or Iraq, or Iran, or Turkey) is the House of Islam against the House of Islam.  A house divided against itself cannot stand.  But Western powers get dragged in, become involved, take sides, and swap sides.  It is a rerun of the Western involvement in the Middle East during the Crusades.

A historical narrative of the Crusades which framed the various Islamic houses and powers as manipulating the invading Franks to their own respective ends would be far closer than the colonisation narrative of our latter-day Neo-Marxists.  It is also an accurate picture of present day involvement.

As Karsh puts it:
. . . the Muslim dynasts and potentates viewed the crusades in purely localized terms.  As far as they were concerned, the Franks were not representatives of a hostile civilization that had to be fought to the death but a new factor in the existing network of local feuds and rivalries that had to be utilized to one's own advantage.  The outcome was an intricate web of shifting alliances, based on the vicissitudes in the regional balance of forces and opportunities rather than on religious affiliation, which as often as not pitted Muslim and Christian against Muslim and Christian.  [Ibid., p.77.]
The Neo-Marxist frame of the Crusades is monocular, to say the least.  Only fools and horses would be impressed.  Why are Western nations involved at all in these internecine conflicts--apart from humanitarian work?

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