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robertogreco : darkages   4

Two Cheers for the Middle Ages! by Eric Christiansen | The New York Review of Books
"Our gratitude to that Greco-Roman civilization is seldom stinted, but those who came afterward have left castles, cathedrals, Italian and Flemish and Byzantine art, printing, plainsong, and parliaments, not to mention universities. Yet the black propaganda of Voltaire, Hume, Kant, and Mark Twain remains suspended in the air like soot in the old factory towns, while intellectuals crow over the birth of “modernity” like fancied fighting cocks. They will not enjoy the fattest of these books, a translation of Johannes Fried’s The Middle Ages, which has gone through three editions in the last six years and reads like a counterblast to the hot air of the liberal-humanist interpreters of European history.

They should begin at the end, with the epilogue entitled “The Dark Middle Ages?” where Fried shows his cards and rehearses the errors of the Enlightenment view of the period, as well as those of Romantic medievalism, with unsparing acuity. Then comes the eulogy, when he applies to the Middle Ages the terms of approval that modern periods are awarded by their fans. Western medieval people are commended by Fried for dynamism, for know-how in all fields of technology and art, for hungry intellectual curiosity, for capitalism, globalism, education, and all-around Vorsprung durch Technik. It was, he writes, the medieval pioneers who strangled the serpents of blind faith, ignorance, and unexamined hypotheses in the cradle.

Readers responsive to this rhetoric will be intrigued if not swayed by the way Fried deploys it. Even those who doubt that hot air is the best way of defeating hot air will be impressed by the main body of the work, which covers a thousand years of mostly Western and Central European history with magnificent confidence. He does justice both to the centrifugal fragmentation of the European region into monarchies, cities, republics, heresies, trade and craft associations, vernacular literatures, and to the persistence of unifying and homogenizing forces: the papacy, the Western Empire, the schools, the friars, the civil lawyers, the bankers, the Crusades."
medieval  history  middleages  darkages  ericchristiansen  johannesfried  europe  via:ayjay 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Umair HaqueEudaimonicsRedesigning Global Prosperity.: The New Road to Serfdom
"our institutions, far from evolving & improving, at time we need to update them most, are actually moving backwards. We're taking tiny steps—sometimes giant leaps—backwards in time, deconstructing the basic building blocks of civilization…<br />
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[Goldman Sachs & London Metal Exchange] It's a giant leap forward for rent-seeking, extracting profit w/out creating a single tiny morsel of authentic value—but a giant leap backwards for the open markets that are the most basic building block of human prosperity…<br />
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[Ronaldo] Think about it: when people can be used collateral to pay off debts…we've just taken a giant, massive leap backwards in civilization. In fact, we're racing down a slippery slope that ends in indentured servitude & slavery.<br />
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Welcome to the new road to serfdom…<br />
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We've forgotten what the economy's for…either we have the wisdom, courage, hunger, defiance, humility, & determination to make the quantum leap to eudaimonic prosperity—or…headlong slide backwards…new Dark Age."
umairhaque  darkages  us  economics  eudaemonia  civilization  society  capitalism  consumption  materials  sustainability  2011  goldmansachs  ronaldo  politics  policy 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Douglas Rushkoff » In Defense of the Dark Ages
"The notion of a “dark ages” is really Renaissance disinformation. It’s an effort to make Renaissance innovations to banking, manufacturing, and corporate law look like modernity instead of the extraction of wealth by the few. It was only after the invention of monopoly centralized currency that the economy in Europe began to tank, common lands were fenced in, farming and grazing became impossible for peasants, sustainable land became speculative property, food supplies diminished, jobs required going to workshops in the city, health deteriorated and, you guessed it, the plague began."
history  middleages  darkages  douglasrushkoff  renaissance  medieval  economics 
april 2009 by robertogreco

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