Posts Tagged ‘Late Antiquity’

I should say from the beginning that this is not the sort of defence of Arron Banks that’s likely to carry much weight with any hypothetical future popular tribunal considering charges of willful destruction of the prosperity and well-being of the British people. Further, my immediate reaction to his original “True the Roman Empire was effectively destroyed by immigration” tweet was a typical kneejerk academic one – something along the lines of “yes, why don’t we revive Tenney Frank’s ‘Race Mixture in the Roman Empire’ while we’re at it?” – followed by an attempt at getting #BanksHistory trending on Twitter, and I don’t think that was entirely wrong. At the same time, there is something about the way that the battlelines in Banks versus Beard ended up being neatly drawn between ‘ignorant right-wing billionaire combining memories of schoolboy history and Gladiator with current ideological prejudices’ and ‘heroic authoritative Professor just fighting for Truth’ that makes me feel a little uncomfortable.* (more…)

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Yes, long time since I had time to post anything here, for which I can only apologise to anyone who’s actually interested. It hasn’t all been the usual mid-term weight of teaching and admin, nor can I entirely blame the kittens, their various ailments and the way they’ve been behaving since they got better, that have made uninterrupted sleep a rare and precious commodity. No, there was also a trip to the First International Conference on Anticipation in Trento last week, plus writing the paper for that beforehand, a fascinating and stimulating event that I shall be blogging on in due course – but you’re going to have to wait a bit until I’ve caught up on the emails.

In the meantime, if you’re feeling bereft of history-related reading, I’d like to point you in the direction of Ned Richardson-Little’s latest blog post (he’s also well worth following on Twitter, @HistoryNed, for pictures and stories from the DDR), on The Long Fall of the Berlin Wall (more…)

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Horkheimer on the Fall of Rome

Interesting snippet from the newly-published notes of conversations between Adorno and Horkheimer in 1956, when they were attempting to write an updated version of the Communist Manifesto. (I should stress that I’ve so far seen only the extract published online at http://www.the-utopian.org/post/12034084404/towards-a-new-manifesto, not the whole thing, published last month by Verso).

Horkheimer:  I believe that Europe and America  are  probably  the  best  civilizations that history has produced up to now as far as prosperity and justice are concerned. The key point  now  is  to  ensure  the  preservation  of these gains. That can be achieved only if we remain ruthlessly critical of this civilization.

Adorno:    We cannot call for the defence  of the Western world.

Horkheimer:     We cannot do so because that would destroy it. If we were to defend the Russians, that’s like regarding the invading Teutonic hordes as morally superior to the [Roman] slave economy.

The analogy seems to have two facets: firstly, a historical one, emphasising the problem that a genuine and vital civilisation may rest on an immoral and inhuman base (the West depends on capitalism as Rome depended on slavery); secondly, a historiographical one, emphasising the dubious antecedents of any celebration of barbarians smashing civilisation (given that this was a prominent theme in early-mid C20 German accounts of the end of Rome). Of course, the fact that the old image of invading hordes has now been abandoned by historians allows us to sidestep the wider political issues…

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