Posts Tagged ‘Ancient Near East’

Sargon of Akkad Spreads Alt-Right Lies about Death of Heather Hayer in Charlottesville

December 17, 2017

This is a piece by Kevin Logan, containing material which looks like it come from Reichwing Watch, an anti-Fascist blog. Logan’s a funny, incisive critic of the manosphere and its appalling denizens, and the Alt Right generally. And Reichwing Watch has posted some excellent videos laying into Far Right American politics, including the roots of the Libertarians in the real Fascism of the Austrian dictatorship of Dollfuss and their support for Pinochet and the other thugs in Latin America.

Sargon of Akkad’s real name is Carl Benjamin, and he comes from Swindon. This ain’t doxing. He’s put it out there himself. I think he came out of the militant online atheist movement that arose in the early part of this century. Richard ‘the Dick’ Coughlan, another atheist and anti-Fascist blogger, has commented on how, after the atheists drove the Christian apologists off the net, they realised that the religious people they’d been arguing with were actually better people than some of the atheists they’d made common cause with. Because those atheists then turned out to be raging Fascists.

The Sage of Swindon no doubt took the name ‘Sargon of Akkad’, not just because the historical Sargon was a great warrior, whose name was deliberately taken to hark back to his heroic exploits by later Assyrian kings, but because his infancy story is similar to that of Moses in the bulrushes. He was conceived through an affair with his mother, a priestess in one of the temples, and an unknown father. As a baby he was set adrift down one of the Iraqi rivers in his cradle, where he was found by a poor fisherman, who raised him as his own. You can find similar stories amongst other, neighbouring peoples, such as the Hittites. It’s a folk motif, and in the case of the historic Sargon, it also serves to show his connection as a man of the people. Ishtar, the goddess of love, favoured him, and so he rose from being the son of a poor fisherman, Ulippi, to the lord of a great empire. This does not, however, mean that the tale of Moses in the bulrushes is also folklore, only that it has parallels elsewhere in the literature of the Ancient Near East.

In this clip, Logan reproduces a bit of the conversation Sargon had with the Scots Alt-Right blogger, Millennial Woes. Woes is so extreme, that it he wants the return of slavery. He’s gone to America, where he mixed with the leaders of the Alt-Right movement. As for Sargon, Benjamin still seems to think of himself as a man of the left, even though he hates everything the left stands for – feminism, welfare benefits, nationalised industry, anti-racism. For some reason, the right hail him as a great intellectual, despite – or because of – his massive ignorance. I think he’s one of the crowd trying to tell everyone that the Nazis were socialists, because it’s in their name. Despite the very plentiful historical evidence to the absolute contrary.

Heather Hayer was the young woman killed during the Charlottesville protests, when one of the Nazis deliberately drove his car into her. Sargon and Woes here lie about her murder, claiming that the brakes on the car had failed, and that the driver was really shocked by the accident.

Er, no! He deliberately drove into her and the others. You can see that on the photos, in the autopsy reports, and the statements from the cops, who were there and arrested him.

It’s a vile, mendacious lie. But what can you expect from the kind of people, who defend nutters marching around screaming Nazi slogans and wearing its regalia.

As for Sargon’s real surname, there’s an irony there. It’s an Old Time name derived from the Hebrew, meaning ‘Son of My Right Hand’, or ‘Son of Wealth’. Hebrew is a Semitic language related to the Arabic and other, more ancient languages, like Akkadian, spoke in the Ancient Near East. It is related to ‘Yemen’, which also means ‘wealth’. So Sargon has a name very similar to the language of the very Arabs he’s afraid are going to overrun us all.

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The Ancient Near East’s Influence on Roman and Ancient Greek Law

June 3, 2017

I’ve written several pieces about the possible origins of western democracy, not in ancient Greece and Rome, but in the ancient Near East. Early civilisations like Sumeria and Mari had popular assemblies and councils of elders, which voted on issues, while the karem, or chamber of commerce, also influenced royal decisions. Apart from being of interest in itself, the existence of these institutions in the political systems of the ancient Middle East, is something of a challenge to people like Boris Johnson. Johnson’s a public schoolboy, and so is steeped in the Classics. As shown in his TV series a few years ago about the splendour of the Roman Empire, he seems to believe that everything great and noble in the world came about through ancient Rome and its predecessor, Greece.

Looking through the Oxbow Book Catalogue for Autumn 2015, I found this entry for Raymond Westbrook’s Ex Oriente Lex: Near Eastern Influences on Ancient Greek and Roman Law (Johns Hopkins University Press, HB £38.50). This says

Throughout the twelve essays that appear in Ex Oriente Lex, Raymond Westbrook convincingly argues that the influence of Mesopotamian legal traditions and thought did not stop at the shores of the Mediterranean, but rather had a profound impact and the early laws and legal developments of Greece and Rome as well. A preface by editors Deborah Lyons and Kurt Raaflaub details the importance of Westbrook’s work for the field of classics, while Sophie Demare-Lafont’s incisive introduction places Westbrook’s ideas within the wider context of ancient law.

As I said before, perhaps if there was great appreciation of the achievements of the ancient Near Eastern world, and the debt that the modern West owes to its civilisations, there would be greater reluctance amongst the political and military class to invading and destroying these countries.

The Iraq invasion created the chaos that spawned ISIS, which, along with al-Qaeda and the other Islamist groups in the Middle East and Africa, have destroyed millennia of culture and history, as well as butchering those regions’ people.

But the Americans and British have also done their share of cultural vandalism. Nicholas Wood and Annabelle Pellens in their book The Case Against Blair, describe how the Americans levelled the ancient city of Babylon in order to use it as military base.

Now imagine the sheer outrage from Classicists like BoJo if the same thing was done to the ruins of Athens. Not that Greece isn’t seeing it’s ancient heritage destroyed by Neoliberalism, as museums are closed, archaeological sites looted and antiquities sold off due to the EU’s austerity programme. And for all his avowed enthusiasm for the Classical world, I haven’t heard BoJo speak out against that, either.

It’s long past time that a halt was called to imperialism, neoliberalism, and the destruction of the world’s cultures, and the massacre and exploitation of its peoples.

Richard Spencer’s Nazi Solar Cult

November 23, 2016

Yesterday I put up clips of an Alt-Right meeting at the weekend at which the movement’s founder and self-declared ‘father’, Richard Spencer, delivered a speech. It’s very chilling footage, as Spencer talks in openly Nazi terms, beginning with the cry of ‘Hail Trump! Hail our race! Hail victory!’ He’s now issued a statement today that all this was supposedly ‘ironic’.

Yeah. Right.

The Young Turks have pointed out that it would be ironic if the Green Party did it, or some other left-wing group. As it is, it isn’t ironic at all. It’s just Nazi.

Spencer also went on to eulogise the White race, stating that we were a race of ‘strivers, explorers and conquerors, who went up and up’. Well, so did any number of other civilisations, from whom we learned, and adopted and adapted their achievements. Like the great civilisations of the Ancient Near East, Babylon, Phoenicia, India, Ancient China, the Arabs and so on.

But Spencer also described Whites in another manner, which has distinct Nazi connotations, which no-one else so far appears to have picked up. He described Whites as ‘the children of the sun’. It’s a bizarre comment, as for most people, Whites are the children of the temperate or cold climates. ‘Children of the sun’ seems a description more appropriate to the indigenous peoples of the tropics, like Black Africa, south and south-east Asia, South and Central America and Australia.

The phrase looks to me like it comes from Nazi pagan sun worship. The swastika is believed to be a representation of the sun’s movement across the sky during the day. The Germanic neo-pagan cults, which partly influenced the Nazi party, were themselves strongly influenced by late 19th century Monistic philosophy, which viewed the planets, and the life that subsequently developed on them, as created from the primordial sun. This produced in its turn a volkisch cult of the sun. In the late 19th century, for example, one of the Austrian neo-pagan groups buried a series of bottles laid out in the shape of the swastika as part of a ceremony designed to adore the sun as the visible body of the ancient Norse God, Baldur.

Donald Trump has today issued a statement renouncing the support of the Alt-Right, assuring people that he believes in racial equality and wishes to be a president for all Americans. Unfortunately, he still has Steven Bannon, a Breitbart executive known for his anti-Semitic and White supremacist ‘Alt-Right’ beliefs. If Trump wishes to reassure Americans that he is not a White supremacist or Nazi, he should sack him and anyone connected with the racist Right.

But this is also an issue that confronts the Christian religious right. Much of the polemics made by right-wing religious and political pundits, like Glen Beck, has involved denunciations of Nazism for its explicitly pagan, anti-Christian nature. I know that this view of Nazism is challenged and rejected by many atheists, who point to Hitler’s statement in Mein Kampf that he was doing God’s will, and the disgraceful and odious support given to Hitler’s regime by the churches. The support Hitler received from the churches is indeed an outrageous scandal. Hitler himself wasn’t a Christian, however. Academic historians instead believe that he was a pantheist, who believed in an impersonal God as the forces of nature. He wasn’t a Christian, but he wasn’t quite an atheist either. Rather, he had views similar to the Monists mentioned above. There were pagan cultists within Nazism, mostly in the SS, whose leader, Heinrich Himmler, invented pagan ceremonies for them, and in certain sections of the Reich, such as the borders with occupied Poland, the gauleiters embarked on a deliberate policy of anti-Christian persecution.

Glen Beck and the other leaders of the Republican religious right see Nazism as synonymous with ‘socialism’ and state interference. But Spencer and his stormtroopers claim to defend private industry – which, incidentally, Hitler also did. But they’ve also made their Nazi beliefs very evident, including a revealing reference to their paganism. If the Christian religious right does not denounce them for their Nazism and paganism, but continues to support them because they supposedly defend and protect laissez-faire capitalism and anti-welfare policies, then it shows that they are nothing but hypocrites, who have no compunction against supporting a murderous political ideology and the pagan cultists, who wish to implement it, purely because they like their economic views.

I realise that not all pagans by far are Nazis. The impression I’ve got from meeting them and reading about their beliefs is that many have absolutely normal political views, and a large number are left-wing, peaceful hippy types. I’m not try to demonise them, or pantheists. My point here is to expose the hypocrisy of the Christian religious right, who make much noise about standing up for Christianity and Jews against pagan and Nazi persecution, but look like doing absolutely nothing about it in practice at this very moment.

Abdesalam and Terrorist Ringleaders – Butchers, Manipulators and Cowards

March 22, 2016

The major news story today has been the horrific suicide bombings in Brussels. Apart from the deaths and injuries this has caused, it’s also closed down plane, train, tram and bus communications, leaving thousands of people stranded in the Belgian capital. This has come after the capture at the week of Abdesalam, the ringleader of the Paris bombings last year.

The Young Turks’ anchor, Cenk Uygur, made a particularly acute observation about Abdesalam’s character. When the Paris police raided the terrorist’s headquarters, they found an unused suicide belt. It seems that Abdesalam was also due to blow himself to kingdom come along with the rest of the maniacs. But when it came to the crunch, he decided that he wasn’t quite ready to meet Allah in paradise just yet. No doubt he felt he still had too much good work to do still on Earth killing infidels down here before going to meet his maker.

Abdesalam was the ringleader. He planned the attack. His own brother was one of the fools he brainwashed into spattering his entrails, and, tragically, those of the bombers’ innocent victims all over the street. But not Abdesalam himself. He wasn’t going to kill himself, even if it meant killing the infidel. No way! And that, Uygur concluded, was what the leaders of these suicide bombers and terrorists are like. They’re cowards. They glory in the deaths of innocents, and the bloodthirsty maniacs they dupe into carrying out these mass murders, but they do not, under any circumstances, want to do it themselves. And when you get to the higher levels of the organisation, where it’s funded by rich Saudis, the motivation becomes even more cynical. The Saudi intelligence service was funding al-Qaeda and ISIS partly as a way of killing the Shi’a in Iraq and elsewhere, and as a method for grabbing control of Iraq’s oil. And just in case we forget, let’s pause for a minute to remember the monstrous hotel ISIS built in Mosul, or took over, to hold a bun fight for the organisation’s big wigs to contemplate their glorious conquests. I don’t believe for a single minute that these guys have any intention of joining the ordinary grunts on the front line and blowing themselves up. Not while they can, no doubt, enjoy all manner of delights haram to the rest of the faithful on Earth.

Uygur himself is Turkish, and he also pointed out that ISIS was also responsible for terrorist bombings in Istanbul. The people there deserved every bit as much sympathy and concern as those in Paris. And, as he might have said, Brussels.
Absolutely. Turkey has a lot of problems, but Uygur pointed out that it’s both an Asiatic and European country. It’s a country with a long, and fascinating history going all the way back almost to the very beginnings of Western civilisation in the Ancient Near East. And until recently, it also had very little terrorism.

ISIS are an affront to human civilisation, whether you’re Christian, secular, Jewish, Muslim or whatever. They’re cowards and butchers who delight in getting others to kill and maim, but have absolutely no intention of getting themselves caught doing so. Our prayers and best wishes to the peoples of France, Belgium and Turkey. May it not be too long before the vile creatures behind these atrocities are caught and brought to justice.

Words of Wisdom from Ancient Persia

March 19, 2015

One of the great kings of the ancient Persia Empire stressed his commitment to maintaining social harmony and justice in an inscription carved into one of his monuments. I can’t remember whether it was Cyrus or Darius, but that particular shah-in-shah boldly stated: ‘It is not my will that the strong do harm to the weak. It is not my will that the weak do harm to the strong.’ The Persian Empire, like most of the empires of the Ancient Near East, was a feudal states, which included slavery. Nevertheless, Darius was careful to restore and respect the rights and religions of the various nations he had conquered through his defeat of the Babylonians. And it also shows that the Persian emperors recognised that the poor also had rights, which needed to be respected and protected against depredation and exploitation by those higher up the social hierarchy.

Similarly, Deuteronomy in the Bible demands charity and contains a number of laws to provide support for the widow and the orphan. These include not harvesting the margins of fields, so that families without a male provider could use them to get some food. Other ancient nations in the region also included laws to protect the fatherless in their law codes, while their rulers also boasted of their concern to protect the widow and orphan.

This was millennia ago, and seems now to have been entirely forgotten. Dr Barnardo’s, a British charity set up in the 19th century to care for orphans, said two days ago that there was now no safety net welfare provision in Britain. Despite Cameron’s and IDS’ pious sputterings, the widow, the orphan and the poor are not being protected and supported. Cameron, Clegg and the rest of the Tories and their Lib Dem enablers really do want to take us back to the early 19th century, when the poor could be allowed to starve, or forced into the ‘New Bastilles’ of the workhouses.

Perhaps it’s time we ignored their specious pretexts for their persecution of the bereaved, the sick, disabled, unemployed and marginalised, and went back to the great maxims of the ancient world. And judged the Tories, UKIP and Lib Dems accordingly.

From Ancient Assyria: The Poor Man’s Revenge on a Rich Mayor

March 17, 2015

The other day I put up a post about a book arguing that the roots of Western democracy go back beyond ancient Greece to Mari in ancient Mesopotamia, now Iraq. I also mentioned Sasan I. Samiei’s book criticising the belief that there has always been a conflict between a freedom-loving, democratic West, and a despotic East. It’s been extremely well received, and I thank everyone who’s read, reblogged or commented on the post. It seems to me that there are an immense number of people out there, who are heartily sick of war-mongering and the demonization of the Middle East and its peoples. It shows that there are many out there, who have had enough of the big multinationals and their wars to exploit these nations on the one hand, and religious bigots and extremists like ISIS on the other. Many wish to stand with them in establishing a far more just, fair and peaceful international order, which promotes the respect and dignity of all nations and their citizens.

I mentioned in my original post that there was a story from ancient Assyria that suggested that there was something like a democratic mentality there thousands of years ago. The story was about a poor man, who gave a gift to the local mayor expecting him to do something for him in return. The mayor didn’t, and so the poor man arranged to have the living daylights beaten out of his nominal ruler.

I managed to trace the story down in Wolfram von Soden’s The Ancient Orient. I got some of the details wrong. It’s actually from ancient Babylonia, c. 1100, and the gift is a goat, rather than a gold cup. But here it is:

A Babylonian story which is completely unique for its time, about 1100, deals with the case of the impoverished Gimil-Ninurta, who out of desperation gives his only possession, a goat, to the mayor of Nippur in the hope of a receiving a commensurate gift in return. The mayor, however, contemptuously dismisses the man after giving him a mug of beer. As Gimil-Ninurta is leaving, he tells the gatekeeper that he will avenge himself three times, and requests as the first item an elegant chariot from the king. With this, he drives forth as the commissioner of the king, demands a private audience with the mayor, and then beats him thoroughly “from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet”. Afterward he takes from the mayor the amount in gold for the rental of the chariot. Gimil-Ninurta next disguises himself as a doctor seeking to treat the ill-handled mayor, then beats the offender as before. The mayor and his retainers then take up the pursuit of his tormentor, but he is trapped by Gimil-Ninurta under a bridge and beaten a third time. The text concludes with the words: “The mayor could only crawl back into the city [again].”

Von Soden concludes with the statement that ‘Many would certainly have had similar fancies regarding the powerful in that age, and just as today they have smirked over this story.’

So the moral of this story is: Politicians, don’t short-change the voters. And especially not poor ones, with nothing to lose. You don’t know who they’re friends with.