Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Civilisation Judas - The Other Aristocracy

**A finished version of this book is now available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback format - www.amazon.co.uk / www.amazon.com **

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Civilisation Judas - Chapter 1 - The Other Aristocracy

In this book I'll be covering a broad range of topics, all of which in some way relate to the development of western civilisation and its underlying core tenets. I should probably start by explaining the title though. It pertains to something I call archetypal Christianity, and alludes to my conjecture that the Jesus and Judas archetypes both have their roots, or at least some of their roots, in economic and political developments. As opposed to specifically religious ones. This may sound a little dry at first, but it actually offers a much more interesting and cohesive explanation for things. Economic forces are obviously a huge driving force in today's world, so it would be foolish to discount this influence when looking backwards.

The Jesus and Judas archetypes can in many ways be viewed as symbolic representations of Christians and Jews in general - and it's with these stereotypes that I'll begin. I'll start with the "Jewish" stereotype. We tend to have a relatively fixed definition of the word Jew (though even now the label is very vague and often subjectively defined). However, I believe historically the term was much more loosely used, and I think its general sense originally just implied a member of a particular economic group in society. This will no doubt sound a little controversial to many people reading, however I'll explain my reasons for this thinking below. It's a concept I refer to as the other aristocracy. It's this that links Jewishness with city life, and by extension civilisation (the word civilisation having its roots in the Latin civitas, meaning city). Hence the title of the book; Civilisation Judas.

I can explain it as follows;

Imagine it's some distant point in the past (let's say the medieval period for argument's sake) and you have a bunch of lower class or common people living in a particular area. Now over time those people will largely remain lower class. However, some of these people, through their natural intelligence or craft, may rise up the social ladder. These people will likely be drawn more towards towns and cities, as city life offers more opportunity for employment and business. Whereas in the countryside roles are more traditional and fixed - the aristocracy own the land and the peasants work it.

So, over time, in cities and towns intelligence accrues towards the top end of civil society, as intelligent people take advantage of the social mobility it offers. This then results in two different types of aristocracy in wider society. One, the more commonly known landed aristocracy - a group or class we're all quite familiar with, the other a city-based aristocracy - a not so familiar concept. Like the landed aristocracy, this city-based aristocracy tend to marry amongst themselves (i.e. within their own social class). Which then helps to forge and cement trade and family networks within towns and cities, and also between towns and cities.

The core difference between the landed and city aristocracies can be summed up as such;

The landed aristocracy are tied to their land and derive their wealth and status from it. With their power resting largely on tradition and force (the force needed to defend their territory, raise militias, maintain law and order, etc).

However, the city aristocracy don't have vast areas of land, what they have is transferable wealth - money, gold, trade links, etc. Their power largely rests on innovation and intelligence. Unlike the landed aristocracy they are not tied to the land, but are in a position to move, and to move their wealth as well. However, in contrast to the landed aristocracy they also largely lack the force needed to defend themselves from violence, or to raise physical attacks upon others directly themselves. [1]

Thanks to these factors the landed aristocracy tend to have an interest in maintaining the state and the status quo. Whereas the city aristocracy tend to have a more internationalist outlook. These two forces at times come into conflict with one another. Though at other times their interests overlap. The hoi polloi generally switching their allegiance between the two forces depending on which worldview seems to be offering the better prospect at the time.

It's my general view that historians tend to overlook or even completely miss the importance of this city-based aristocracy. I think this may largely be due to the fact that most western historians tend to look at history as a history of nations. A history that the deep and complex trading and cultural networks between "international" cities and towns doesn't fit neatly into. We tend to be given the following view of history;

Nations interact with each other as nations at the international level. Then within each nation there is an aristocracy at the top (generally synonymous with the aforementioned landed aristocracy), a peasant or labouring class at the bottom, and a middle class of some description wedged in the middle between the two.

Now I believe this model to be a vast oversimplification. One that downplays the function of cities and towns, and that also fails to take into consideration how wealth, particularly transferable wealth, can aggregate within such urban areas. It also fails to consider the consequence of what happens when people or groups acquire such wealth, but because of social norms or the fixity of wider traditional society can't acquire large tracts of land to become part of the landed aristocracy themselves.

It's in this "city aristocracy" sense that I believe the label Jew was often used throughout history, and that such conflicts between "Jews" and the wider populations of their "host" countries stemmed from this interplay between city and country. In fact, on the topic of transferable wealth it's interesting to note that the root of the word jewellery, wealth literally carried around on the body, is jew. There are also other English words associated with city-based professions that would perhaps suggest some kind of Jewish provenance. Jury, of course, associated with legal proceedings. Due or duty, meaning tax. Words like judge, judicial, etc. We also have the Temple area of London. One of the main legal districts and a noted centre for English Law.

Now at this point anyone reading may be feeling a little confused. Is not Jewishness entwined with the history of the Jewish religion? Did not the European Jews arrive in Europe from the Middle East?

Though I don't discount that these statements are somewhat true - in fact, it's something we'll be returning to later in the book - my general view is something quite different. I believe that what we think of as Jewishness is something that emerges from within our culture ..rather than something that arrives from somewhere foreign to it. I believe that the above described "city aristocracy" process is the driving force behind this, and that although we tend to view Jewishness predominantly as a religious or racial phenomena, originally it was actually a social and economic one. I believe that the religious and ethnic traditions grew out of this, rather than the other way round. In my next chapter I'll explain what led me to first explore these thoughts.


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Notes/references.

[1] To further explain this idea. There's a slight paradox when it comes to owning vast tracts of land. A man (or small group of people) can only travel so far in a single day, so there's a limit to how much land he can cover and defend. If he's off defending one part of his territory he can't be there to defend another. You can own two chairs, but you can't sit on two chairs at the same time. So owning a lot of land and maintaining that ownership requires a degree of cooperation with the wider population.

Whereas with transferable wealth, though similar practicalities apply, it's still slightly easier for a single person (or small group) to hold and protect it. It can be carried away and kept with the person, it can be hidden away. Or it can all be kept in a single safe or stronghold.


Further chapters can be found here.

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