Henri Pirenne was one of the first to tackle an interesting problem in the history of the Dark Ages and Late Antiquity, one that bears relevance to the proliferation of Anti-Christian hate today, to the rise of militant Islam and the creation of the Social Justice Movement.
His book Mohammed & Charlemagne posits something that those who aren’t familiar with my writings will find shocking: Islam is responsible for the Dark Ages. Emmet Scott follows up on this theory in a modern archaeological context, and goes one step further: Islam is responsible for the intolerance of Medieval Christianity. And I go a step beyond even that: Islam is responsible for the rise of intolerance in Western Civilization as a whole.
To understand this, we must go way back to the turn of the seventh century, on the eve of the Persian and Arab wars. We find ourselves a healthy, if somewhat reduced Roman Empire and a few relatively powerful Germanic successor states, all partially Romanized themselves to varying degrees. The economy was beginning to recover from the nadir of the 6th century, populations were beginning to expand again, and urbanization was increasing for the first time since the crisis of the third century. Archaeological evidence confirms this.
Then the Arabs come. They devastate Byzantium, conquer two-thirds of it, and wreck the Visigothic kingdom. The Frankish kingdom is cutoff from the sea, now a nest of Arab pirates, and the Byzantines are left to fend for themselves. Literacy drops precipitously as supplies of papyrus dry up. Economies languish as trade stops. Building stops, and the surviving states of Francia and Byzantium are forced onto a permanent war footing.
For three hundred years, the archaeological record is empty.
Very few writings date from this period. Even less exists in terms of building activity. Coinage is predominantly silver, and not much of that remains, either.
It is important to note that, prior to this activity, Christianity knew nothing of Holy War, or Inquisitions, or Heresy as we understand the term. Oh, sectarian violence was common enough that it was seen as something of a sport in Justinian’s Empire, especially in Egypt. But even the worst of heretics were generally suffered to live. Even when they were not, the Church condemned such killings, it certainly didn’t order them. Arian Christians ruled over Catholics in the West, and there was surprisingly little acrimony. Even the Jews, whom Europe would later try to exterminate, were tolerated without pogroms and inquisitorial activity.
Rome had always been a syncretic state, tolerant of many religions and Gods. It persecuted Christianity at first, it is true, but even as it did so, Christianity spread rapidly. Indeed, the primary reason for this was that Christians were seen as a danger to the state, not, as it so happens, because they were seen as a danger to Roman religion, which most Romans were lukewarm about anyway. High Paganism was a remarkably blase affair. In any event, something of this syncretic spirit was passed on to Christianity which was, due to Christ’s pacifistic nature, rather tolerant to begin with.
Conflicts within Christianity, and with paganism in the Roman Empire were, after Constantine’s day, exceptionally minor when compared to the Medieval times to follow.
Then Islam came, and history just stops for three hundred years. When the historical record resurfaces, you see heretics burned at the stake, Holy Crusades launched across the sea, and the Inquisition formed. It is worth noting that the Inquisition was strongest where Muslim influence was strongest (i.e. in Spain), and the prototype for the Crusades was also found in the Spanish Reconquista and in the border wars of Byzantium.
Christians learned of Holy War from the Islamic notions of Jihad. They learned of what would become the Inquisition from the ruthless ferreting out of Jews and Christians in Muslim lands, either for extermination, forced conversion, enslavement or the payment of the Jizya. In essence, the Christian world had to embrace these things to compete with Islam, and to retake the lands that had been lost to them, else the Muslim fifth column would give the enemy too great an advantage. Jews, who had before been tolerated to great degree, were now seen with the same suspicion and hatred that Muslims saw in them.
From the terrors of the Inquisition, we were to see the same activity in the secular world, from the French Revolution on up to the Gestapo and the KGB. Nothing, and I mean nothing like this existed in the Classical world. It wasn’t even a vague concept. Then Islam came and introduced the Christian world to the practice, and from the Christians, the Atheist Communists learned of it, and improved upon it.
Communism, like Islam, is a totalitarian ideology with which there can never be peace. You can never rest. Its eyes are everywhere. It will use every weapon at its disposal, no matter how evil or sinister, because the end justifies the means. And the end is the conquest of all of humanity. It will tolerate no less. Any peace with it is temporary, and only accepted if it is greatly to their advantage, so peace is generally a poor idea in the first place. Capitalism is like Islam’s House of War, with which war is always justified.
It is no wonder that the Progressives and the Muslims make common cause with one another. They come from the same place. Their goal is the same: complete domination of the world. Hitler once lamented that he found Christianity to be weak, and would have preferred if Nazi Germany had practiced a religion like Islam. He was unintentionally referencing a key point in Western history: Islam exterminated Classical civilization and greatly damaged the Christian civilization to follow.
What grew out of the remains of Classical civilization was contaminated with a great evil, one with which Western civilization has contended with ever since. It is as if the West has multiple personalities. Buried underneath is Greek philosophy, Roman notions of civilization and engineering spirit, and Christian religion. But interlaced with all of that is an intolerance, a hatred for man, a worship of death and a ruthless certainty of rightness. These are the gifts of Islam to the West. Leftists often bemoan the Imperialism and ruthless conquest of the Spanish conquistadors, yet where did they learn of this? They had just completed the Reconquista, 700 years of brutal warfare with Islam.
The kingdoms of the New World didn’t stand a chance.
Francis has commented on how the surety of rightness is a great evil. But where did it come from? Christianity expressly tells us that we are flawed, that we are sinners, and that the end does not justify the means. These things are anathema to Christianity. And, indeed, Christianity’s response to Jihad, the Crusades, simply could not be sustained, because it was so hard to justify death in the name of the Prince of Peace. Islam contains no such quibbles.
Three centuries of a thin historical record were spent fighting a life-or-death battle to the end with Islam. The West grew hard, abandoned much of its history, culture, tolerance and advanced civilization in order to survive. It had no choice.
What would things look like today if the burgeoning renaissance of the early seventh century were allowed to continue? Even the Germans were settling down, integrating into the old Latin world. Ireland was converted, thence to become a beacon of the Latin world. The Anglo-Saxons were coming around, places that Roman legions had never conquered were coming into the civilized fold. And Byzantium was the light of the Eastern world, the center of Christianity. It knew not of Holy Wars, or Inquisitions, or the burnings of witches.
But Islam did. And now so does the Progressive Left. Underneath it all, Christianity still tries to find the light of Christ’s words, his tolerance, his love. And even our enemies must couch their intolerant language in the same terms, lest they expose their totalitarian evil. But a virus still lurks in Western culture, one that has reared its ugly head time and time again.
And it must be expunged. Or else the terrors of the seventh century, as Islam wiped out the Classical world, will happen again. Whether it is the Muslims who do it, or the Socialists, it doesn’t matter. Because, in the end, both are the same.