Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Horse The Wheel and Language

Last night I swung by the library and picked up David Anthony's The Horse, The Wheel and Language: How Bronze Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World.  If there were such a thing as a long-time reader of my blog, my fascination with Indo-European archaeology and linguistics as tools to reconstruct Indo-European pre-history should be readily apparent.  As long ago as twenty years ago, my still teen-aged sisters-in-law thought it was kinda funny that I read (for fun) Indo-European Origins by John Day or In Search of the Indo-Europeans by J. P. Mallory, or that I even liked the latter so much that I bought my own copy as a trade-paperback from the school bookstore (this was as yet in the pre-Amazon age of the internet.)

I was amused to see on the dust jacket the following two claims: "Until now [the identity of the Proto-Indo-Europeans] has remained a tantalizing mystery to linguists, archaeologists, and even Nazis seeking the roots of the Aryan race.  The Horse, The Wheel and Language lifts the veil that has long shrouded these original Indo-European speakers," and, "The Horse, The Wheel and Language solves a puzzle that has vexed scholars for two centuries—the source of the Indo-European languages and English—and recovers this magnificent and influential civilization from the past."

Although I've only read in a couple of hours or so last night about 100 of it's just under 500 pages, it's clear that it's really just a rewrite of Mallory's own book, really, with a summary of what has been learned in the years since (Mallory's book was first published in 1991.)  And for that matter, Mallory's book was really just a summary and update of Marija Gimbutas' kurgan theories which were first published in the 1950s.  The idea that Anthony's book "solves" a mysterious "puzzle" is ludicrous.  What he does is rewrite for a general audience the basic state of Indo-European studies, focusing on the mainstream theory of their origins.  He does make a slight note of the competing theories and explains why they are unsatisfactory (as Anthony says; few archaeologists understand linguistics and vice-versa, making monodisciplinary solutions fail—the biggest single alternative is, of course, Colin Renfrew's Anatolian Neolithic hypothesis, which was already pretty thoroughly discredited by Mallory in his book.  Since then, little has changed that paradigm.)

So... yeah for overly dramatic copy editors trying to shill a book, I guess?

Anyway, now time for me to divert to a bit of a rant.  I haven't finished the book, so I'm not going to review it yet, or even comment on it, other than what I've already said, which is that it clearly offers little that is "new" to the field; it mostly comes across as an update to Mallory's own book.

But Anthony took quite a bit more time, word-count and energy doing something that Mallory only did briefly (and in my opinion, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, almost)—signaling his political correctness with regards to the subject in an attempt to not be called a Nazi by cultural Marxists which have thoroughly invaded academia in the West.

As may be apparent from my own slightly earlier post, linking to and commenting briefly on the physical characteristics of the early Greek aristocracy and the Roman patrician caste, I think this is nonsense.  There clearly was an ethnic element to the spread of Indo-European languages, and denying that requires denying the testimony of almost every classical author, the testimony of a host of newer DNA studies, the testimony of statuary and artistic representations from the past, etc.  Ignoring this vast body of evidence because of a paranoid fear of being tarred a possible neo-Nazi because apparently only a Nazi could possibly think that white people have any value or merit or something is absurd, hateful, cowardly and stupid.

And when you get down to it, being so afraid of the Nazi label is kinda silly anyway.  As current events show an increase in nationalism across the world, the spectre of the Nazis is constantly drummed up by cultural Marxists in the media and academia anymore.  But it's readily apparent that it wasn't the nationalism in national socialism that was problem, it was the socialism.

What?  You may say.  The Nazis weren't really socialists, they were right wing!  Dude; you're not tall enough for this ride if you say that.  Have you read the Nazi party platform?  Have you read the Fascist manifesto?  What about other so-called "right wing" socialist parties?  Franco? Peron?  Have you read reports and journalism from the time when those were current about the obvious similarities between Mussolini, Hitler and Roosevelt and their policies?  It escaped exactly nobody's attention in the 30s and 40s that Roosevelt's administration and Wilson's administration before that, were essentially completely fascist in nature, even though they didn't officially use that label.  In fact, as foreign relations with Hitler and Mussolini soured, Roosevelt had to intervene specifically in the field of journalism to make reporters stop drawing the obvious parallels between Roosevelt and Hitler.

It's leftists who are always the mass murders.  Always.  Hitler was to the left of Roosevelt and Wilson on every policy position that any of the three articulated.  The Nazis and the Communists block voted together in the Reichstag for every Marxist policy that they could think of.  He's responsible for the Holocaust, which murdered "up to" 6 million Jews (nevermind that it's not entirely certain that there were any more than 6 million Jews in all of Europe at the onset of the Holocaust.)  Even a raging over-estimate of the deaths that can, even tangentially with the wispiest and flimsiest of excuses, be laid at Hitler's feet comes to 17 million.  That's, of course, monstrous—but a guy I know of online was trying to make the case to me that we absolutely had to ally with Stalin to stop Hitler because of... Hitler!  Stalin himself, also of course a leftist, is responsible for many more deaths than Hitler.  Solzhenitsyn gives an upper estimate of 60 million, and even the lowest, most pro-Communist report you can find still has to grudgingly put a lowest floor estimate of 23 million deaths at Stalin's feet.  And that's just Stalin himself; if you give the entire Russian communist movement, it grows considerably.

In reality, of course, we should have adopted a version of Kissinger's maxim: "It's a pity that they can't both lose," but you can quite easily make a case that if we really had to back one evil, mass murdering dictator against another, we probably backed the wrong one.  Stalin was considerably worse than Hitler.  And those numbers don't even count the Germans murdered, starved and raped after the surrender and the end of WW2.  Heck, Eisenhower himself can be tagged with the starving death of up to a million Germans in concentration camps in Europe after the war was over.  Soviets embarked on an industrial scale rape and murder of the Germans of East Germany.  The worst Holocaust of WW2 wasn't the Jewish dead, it was the German dead, and it was perpetuated by us and our "allies."

And both of them are chumps compared to Mao, who is responsible for up to 78 million deaths, most of them during the so-called "Great Leap Forward" although his "Agrarian reforms" prior to that still killed millions of nationalist Chinese.

The bottom line?  Leftism leads to mass murder once they get enough power and control to implement it.  It happened in Germany, Russia, China, Argentina, Chile, Cuba, Vietnam, Cambodia, Korea, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Tibet, Afghanistan, Colombia, El Salvador, Spain, and more.  Nationalism has no such stigma.  Signaling your righteousness by rejecting nationalism and tacitly accepting Marxism/leftism is self-defeating.  It has the exact opposite affect on anyone who's actually educated as opposed to being merely shallowly indoctrinated.

1 comment:

Gaiseric said...

This post, in retrospect, isn't entirely fair. A lot of the second half of the book is truly new from Mallory. It's a nice survey of information that Soviet and post-Soviet archaeologists have discovered in the steppes that until this was pretty esoteric and mostly unknown in the West.

That said; the copy editor that wrote the blurb is still ridiculous.