Featured post

Gender in the Merovingian World

Monday, 15 November 2010

Oh dear... (or Historian on the Edge: NOT a Nazi)

(with apologies to Father Ted)

I have just been informed that the whole text of Warfare and Society in the Barbarian West is available on a Nazi website (I won't give the address as I don't want to give them publicity).  Not only is this quite illegal (and I will be attempting to get Routledge to carry out some sort of legal action) but I wanted to make it clear to anyone who can't figure this out from other posts and comments on this Blog, that this was most certainly not done with my permission.

This is an odd one, to be sure.  Anyone with a brain who read that book (OK, OK I know that brains and literacy rules out most neo-Nazis) ought to realise that it is written from a fairly left-wing perspective.  Then again, ought I let them read it for some subtle brain-washing?  Too subtle, I fear.  More to the point, it is (pace Bachrach's characteristically brain-dead, near-libellous review in the American Historical Review) hardly the sort of thing they'd want to read, as it is pretty explicitly anti-Germanist (and very anti-heroic).  No triumphant Nordic/Germanic warriors sweeping aside the decadent Mediterranean civilisation here.  Though I'm sure their authors would be as disgusted as me to find themselves in this company, if these people want the Germanist 'warrior culture' view, then Michael Speidel's bizarre Ancient Germanic Warriors would be of more interest, and if it was simply right-wing militarist lunacy they were after, then Bachrach's own Early Carolingian Warfare would serve them amply.  That or the (slightly more historically plausible) Conan the Barbarian novels...

It's a funny old world.  Bachrach calls me a Marxist (I'm not but I don't think his understanding of the issue is very secure); a hard-of-thinking Amazon reviewer says my barbarians book is liberal, PC history, and the Nazis are pushing my work to their followers.  Truly, Roland Barthes was right: the author is dead....


  1. That's just, er, goofy - beyond being illegal, unethical, actionable, etc., etc.

    I mean IF you were going to grab a recent pub in favor of racial purity wouldn't you use Heather? And even that's a huge stretch which I imagine he'd be screaming to the rafters about.

    S'pose I should admit I haven't read Warfare and Society yet (It's on my shelf waiting for me to get done reading about 3rd-6th c. bishops) but Barbarian Migrations sure doesn't imply anything of the kind.

  2. Though I'm sure their authors would be as disgusted as me to find themselves in this company, if these people want the Germanist 'warrior culture' view, then Michael Speidel's bizarre Ancient Germanic Warriors would be of more interest, and if it was simply right-wing militarist lunacy they were after, then Bachrach's own Early Carolingian Warfare would serve them amply. That or the (slightly more historically plausible) Conan the Barbarian novels...

    They would be disappointed to learn that not only are the Conan stories not based on Germanic warrior cultures (rather, Conan's Cimmerians are based on the Irish and Scottish Gaels), but Howard was a great critic of the Nazis in his letters to Lovecraft, in fact considering the source of all the ills of Europe, along with the communists. Considering he died in 1936, he was alarmingly prescient.

    Howard certainly wasn't right wing, either: he even said he'd die before he voted Republican. Militarist? Hardly. Howard admired individual strength, not strength of the state, and considered mindless obedience and deference to authority as repugnant.

    Now, if you're going to talk the film Conan the Barbarian by famed and self-confessed right-wing militarist lunatic John Milius, that's a different matter...

  3. My mistake. "Howard admired individual strength, not strength of the state..." My, that doesn't sound Nazi at all.

    Seriously: barbarism as the natural state of man? The cult of the heroic leader; decadent southern civilisations (compare with C19th Germanist accounts of the late Roman Empire and Theoderic); his description of 'blacks'; the ultimate savages (his 'Picts') as native Americans. There's a lot in Howard's novels that neo-Nazis (like 'self-confessed right-wing militarist lunatic John Milius') would love, whether he would have thought so (he was a deeply troubled individual) or wanted them to, or not.

  4. Anyway, I've just heard that Routledge are onto it, and that this site takes things down very quickly if asked. Doesn't sound very Nazi to me. So much for the Triumph of the Will...

  5. Glad to hear you sorted that out - what a disturbing incident! It's very pleasing to stumble on a piece by a medievalist that openly engages with political ideologies.

    I note this review to 'Ancient Germanic Warriors':

    'I marvel the proud warrior traditions of our ancient Germanic forbears, and it hurts to know that these traditions vanished forever with the forced Christian domination of Europe. Michael Speidels 10 year study is probably only a scratch at the surface of all the ancient and now unknown traditions all the European people had before the Christian age.

    Highly recommended.'

    Mind you I've also just come across Richard Landes' website - ?!?!?! http://www.theaugeanstables.com/

    I'm not sure I'll ever be able to read anything by him again. I had no idea he's such an insane rightist Zionist, battling the 'iniquities' of the Goldstone report, the 'cognitive' and violent warfare of the 'Muslims' or 'Arabs' (who appear to behave en masse), and other existential threats to our superior western civilisation, which singlehandedly invented civil society and progress in France anticipating the first millennium. One 'gem' of faaar too many:

    'At the time this first began to happen most people, including myself, didn’t even know about the process of Islamization of Europe that Bat Ye’or has called “Eurabia.” In a volume published in 2000 on the state of France, one finds not a hint of awareness that the Muslim population posed a serious problem..

    'The essays included here mark my own awakening to the problem which, despite my sense of foreboding in the 1990s, I could not have imagined.'

    Oh dear oh dear.

  6. Oh dear indeed. I don't know whether to thank you or not for alerting me to that...
    Landes, like his equally obnoxious politico-religious fellow-traveller, B.S. Bachrach, is widely acknowledged to be a pretty poor historian, but it doesn't make him any less dangerous.
    For me I think that writing history is a political act, so we might as well be up-front about it. I'm glad you are pleased to find this blog! Thanks.

  7. I'm afraid I became darkly obsessed with 'Prof' Landes' sinister rants. This one I think we can all appreciate:

    'Eurabia anticipates a militarily weaker tribal population taking over and transforming a larger but declining “greater civilization,” a process that has not occurred since the fall of the Roman Empire. [!]

    'If this indeed is taking place it seems to represent a situation where the European political elites, stricken with what Kenneth Minogue calls an “Olympian complex,” fall prey to their own hubris. They seem to think that this bargain, in which they compete with their natural ally (USA, Anglophone culture, other civil polities) by allying with their own natural enemy (Arab, Muslim, prime-divider societies) will work out to their advantage.'

    Or near the beginning of a miserable assault on Edward Said:

    'But what if Arabs do grow up in an honour-shame culture in which face is regained through the shedding of another’s blood. What if this logic of belligerence does characterize Arab culture, perhaps not for all time, but certainly, and with some distinction, right now?' (The conclusion, surprisingly, is that they do.)

    To top it all off, Landes exhibits the most astonishing hubris. This is him on his upset at not being embraced by the French historians:

    'I remained, however, the anomalous detail that needed to be cleaned up. Foreign, hence unresponsive to the kinds of political pressures that can be brought to bear on French academics, fluent in French, hence capable of defending myself orally and in writing, and far more knowledgeable about both millennialism and the history of chronology in the West than my French colleagues, I posed a distinct problem to the ajustationistes

    His 'intellectual project' gives the game away however:

    'In fact, all this fit perfectly into my larger historical agenda, one inherited from my father David Landes, to explain whence the originality and dynamism of the modern West.'

    Lurid examination of such academic detritus now officially over.


    'For me I think that writing history is a political act, so we might as well be up-front about it.'

    Music to my ears!

    Thank you also for writing, I will be sure to check back!

  8. Disturbing stuff. Very interested by his abuse of the history of the end of the western Empire. All grist to the mill about how histories of the migrations that are either thoughtless, and/or dim and/or right-wing xenophobic, especially those that distort the data for the sake of their argument (thinking here of the recent books of P. Heather and B. W-Perking) lend themselves to precisely this sort of right-wing political message. I am speaking about this at the International Medieval Congress this summer, where I have organised a series of sessions, one on the current political abuse of the barbarians.

  9. I very much hope I am not across from any of them -- I look forward to the conversation! Funny that this post, and these names should come up just now, when Bernie and rl have been going at it hammer and tongs over at Mediev-L, regarding any number of things, including the proper job of the historian.

  10. You may be amused to find that your comments about Professor Heather were posted on the King's College History Department Facebook page, in the hope that they might promote discussion, but have rapidly been removed. Is Professor Heather afraid of debate? Would you be prepared to have a public discussion with him? It would be good to know why King's History Department is in such a state of denial (though they do have a lot to say about their involvement in the Royal Wedding.)


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.