The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Saturday, February 25, 2017

You are slaves

Deep wisdom from Leslie Jones, she who must never be criticised:

If I see another 45-year-old white woman from Williamsburg saying 'black lives matter,' I'm going to punch you in the mouth.

This is also the message of the movie Get Out. A family of Obama-voting white liberals meet the baby girl's boyfriend, Coming To Dinner as it were. I may or may not get around to watching this eventually. I hear that its ending involves a lot of white liberals getting their tickets punched.

I regret to inform you that when you deal with blacks, at least in America, liberalism isn't an option - especially if you are in a higher social position. Blacks will despise you for it. The white liberal's proper place, with respect to blacks, is as their slave. Don't take it from me; take it from Martin Luther King.

And why shouldn't blacks hate rich white liberals? It is human nature to hate the weak who aren't in their proper place.

posted by Zimri on 10:33 | link | 0 comments

How the Khuzistan got its name

Khuzistan / Khuzestan, being a Stan, couldn't have been called that by an Aniranik. To its own natives, who were Elamites as far as we know, it was some flavour of "Elymais" well into the Parthian era. But like the Sumerians before them, the Elamite natives were squeezed between Semites and Aryans. By the middle of the seventh century, the Armenian historian sometimes identified with Bishop Sebeos was calling it Khuzistan, and the Syriac chronicler whom Guidi edited was calling this land Beth (k)Huzaye.

So Elam's name changed, between the Aramaeans and the Persians (and Parthians?), to take on the root "khuz". This doesn't sound much like "Elam". But still, khuz meant something to the world at large, like "Germany" meant something to the Romans despite that that nation's natives call themselves Teutons.

This blog has followed (through intermediaries) the Encyclopaedia Iranica, who (I assume) would know better than I. They say ḵuz meant sugar cane (the word "sugar" itself comes from across the Indus, in Farsi as in English). I pinpointed the arrival of the cane to the Sasanian era, adapting Watson. However yesterday I found Saeid Jalalipour's Master's thesis. In it I read this:

The name of Khūzistān means ‘the land of Khūz’ and the name Khūz or Hūz comes from the ancient Elamites that lived in this region from the third millennium BCE until the coming of Achaemenids in 539 BCE.
Potts, The Archaeology of Elam, 309; I. M. Diakonoff, “Elam,” In The Median and Achaemenian Periods, of The Cambridge History of Iran, ed. Ehsan Yarshater (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 2: 23; Gyselen, La Géographie Administrative de L’Empire Sassanide, 74; Edmund C. Bosworth, et al. eds., The Encyclopedia of Islam (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1986), 5: 80; Ahmad Kasravi Tabrizi, 500 Years History of Khuzestan (Tehran: Kaju Publication, 1983), 71.

As it happens I'd bought Potts' 1999 book soon after it came out and have read it. Page 309 corresponds to the start of its ninth chapter, on the Achaemenids. Although I've since offloaded this book, I remember nothing of "Khuzestan" this early in the text. As of 2015 a second edition exists. Just now I pulled the relevant chapter from Google Books and I see, to this day, khuz has not entered into it. Jalalipour's footnote serves to summarise scholarship on the Elamite identity of this province up to the Achaemenid period. It does not, unfortunately, support his etymology of the Sasanian-period Khuzestan.

Jalalipour's thesis is good, but as you read it you must keep in mind that it is but a draught of a text, not a peer-reviewed article.

posted by Zimri on 08:37 | link | 0 comments

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Slavery under the Sasanian shahs

I hadn't heard that Zoroastrianism was a particularly pro-slavemaster religion (given that "Zoroastrianism" itself was a fluid concept until recently), and I realised I've been musing that some of the Zoroastrian Empire's provinces might have been "slave states" as of 600 AD. So I did some research. This lookup was cursory by necessity.

Wikipedia and Infogalactic are pointing me to Touraj Daryaee's great opus (2008) and to Farhang Mehr, "Social Justice in Ancient Iran" ed. Social Justice in the Ancient World (Greenwood, 1995), 71f.; 87. These sources mention indentured servitude (usually to a fire-temple), and domestic servitude which would include sex-slavery. Wide-scale slavery - Mehr claims - in the Iranshahr wasn't a thing.

Mehr's system looks to me a lot like the slaveri(es) in the city of Rome in the television series of that name. Or like - more recently - the slaveries most prevalent in the American Tidewater states like Virginia, such as Nehemiah Adams documents in A South-Side View. At least Mehr is citing a Zoroastrian compilation: SJ Bulsara, The Laws of the Ancient Persians as found in the "Matikan E Hazar Datastan" or "The Digest of a Thousand Points of Law (1937, since reissued 1999).

But I must call humbug- not on Bulsara, at least, but on the Iranians who cooked up that guide... and, I'm afraid, on Dr Mehr, who hasn't been looking anywhere outside Bulsara's text, himself. Slaves could come from foreign wars - what if the winner captured a lot of them? There is a basic conflict-of-interest here: war makes slaves, work is found for them to do, now there is a demand for more slaves, and a call for more war. In just this way any historian of the South would laugh at you if you came to him with Nehemiah Adams. Sure there were places in the South where slavery was Not That Bad; even Harriet Beecher Stowe knew that much. There were worse places Down River, as the expression goes. But here's the problem - Georgia and 'Bammy were where the money was, so that's where the slaves went. It was similar in Rome: the Roman house slave had best stay good and loyal, or else he (or she) was going to be sold to a latifundium in Spain or (north) Africa. If it happens now... it happened then.

I've been saying that in the last years of the Iranshahr, the Khuzistan formerly Elymais was - increasingly - where the money was. Do the math.

ASIDE: I also note that once again a writer for Social Justice has used Social Justice as cover for apologetic, and has failed at it. That's what Social Justice does; it serves the Lie. Ahriman leans back in his chair of shadow, and a smile flits across his crimson face.

So what should Mehr have done instead? I personally would have asked how these laws were enacted in practice. Was there any record of a Persian or Pahlavi master punished for abusing his own slaves? or for using Greek and African plantation slaves in the first place, where he could have let his Nestorian and Persian peasants continue to farm his land? If I could not find such an example, I would have admitted that although Zoroastrianism (in its Sasanian form) had social-justice teachings: such were not the point of the religion, and they were not strong enough to do any more with the shahs' and Seven Houses' tyranny than the National Review can do about Washington DC's.

posted by Zimri on 18:08 | link | 0 comments

Prohibitions which ain't

Dr Jonathan Rape Rape Brown isn't done with that chicken. He has posted a rebuttal: part apology, part humblebrag (gosh, maybe he just too scholarly!) mostly whining about li'l ol' me and about all his other detractors on the "alt right". To save his adopted religion's good name, Rape Rape Brown floats, for his example, an eighteenth-century Muslim who "abolished" slavery. Ian Morris calls shenanigans. To that, Dr Brown repeats: Abd al-Qadir Kan prohibited the slave trade and freed any slave who could recite any part of the Quran. (h/t zeca.)

If Kan's slaves were reciting the Qur'an in his presence, they'd have to explain to him how they learnt it. In Islam when the Muslim teaches the Qur'an to the mushriks, the latter are expected to weep and to confess "we believe in it; it is the truth from our Lord". The Noble Book is, after all, a text mainly of rhetoric and argument. It also proclaims that none must touch it but the purified. If the slaves did not do shahada before or immediately after their exercise in tajwid, they'd almost certainly lose their heads. Otherwise it was back to the plantation with them, sporting some fresh new scars.

Oh, and you know who else "prohibited the slave trade"? The slave states in the American South, that's who. They had an internal slave-trade going on, and those slavers didn't want the competition from the Portuguese et al. Abd al-Qadir Kan is the drunk who swears off gin just to keep hanging around his friends' place to guzzle their whisky.

When you're in the alt-right you get privy to super special secrets like this.

posted by Zimri on 17:20 | link | 0 comments

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Sasanian demand for slaves

Sugar cane grows in the tropics; and cutting the cane is hard, menial labour. As of the 'Abbasid regime, southern Iraq and Iran along the Gulf Coast supported vast plantations of the stuff. The people cutting it weren't exactly volunteers. They weren't exactly native to the area either. I bring you Michael Morony, "Economic Boundaries?" (2004), 166-89, conclusions:

At least six trends have been identified here that have their roots in Late Antiquity and had long trajectories into the Islamic period, such that they help to define it:
  1. the development and spread of large estates with tenant labor
  2. the monetization of the economy
  3. the development and spread of irrigated agriculture
  4. the revival of mining
  5. the formation and spread of merchant diasporas
  6. the domination of Indian Ocean commerce by Persian shipping and the eclipse of Byzantine shipping in the Red Sea by the end of the sixth century.
Both irrigated agriculture and mining were labor intensive, and in order to expand production they were labor hungry. Sasanian territories were visited by the same kinds of disasters that caused mass mortality in the Mediterranean world during the sixth and early seventh centuries. In the crunch between the expansion of a labor-intensive economy and a reduction in the labor force, labor had to be imported. ... Sasanian economic behavior toward the late Roman Empire is best described as predatory, taking the form of massive looting and the forced deportation of farmers and artisans, particularly during the sixth and early seventh centuries, when the Sasanian economy was expanding.

It only got worse under Islam. In south Persia the so-called "zanj" staged a revolt or two I believe. Some revolts were quite serious.

So - why did irrigation get so profitable so fast, that it spurred so many knock-on effects like a demand for silver and "cheap labor" (= slaves)? I've already posted here about the implication of Watson's Agricultural innovation in the early Islamic World. Sugar cane was brought there, sometime in the 400s or 500s AD. The Iranshahr's part of the lowlands got renamed Khuzistan "sugar land". I didn't mention who, exactly, was doing the work. But I believe we can venture a guess - beyond Morony pointing to Rome.

If the Persians (and Aramaeans) weren't doing the work in the 800s CE, they sure as hell weren't about to do it when their own shahs ruled the place in the 500s. [UPDATE 2/23/2017: by law of the Matikan, Zoroastrian lords also weren't to enslave Zoroastrian commoners nor other peasants under their care.] I mooted it reasonable that the landowners were buying the labour from further south. "Khuz" might not be Iranian but "istan" sure is. And "Zanj" to me looks like an Irani word too: many words in Arabic that end -j (pronounced -g in the old days), or in -q or -h or -kh, are Iranian in origin usually Farsi.

Thing about sugar: it is not "farmed" like a normal crop. The growing demand for the sugar crop meant a demand for new slaves, as well. This would have made a fine motive for the Persians to make war on the west - and on the south. Africans are a more tropical people than are, say, Armenians. So the Zangistan, as they called it then, is probably Africa.

posted by Zimri on 17:07 | link | 0 comments

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Before you enlist in the social-justice war

The term "social justice warrior" was, I think, coined in sarcasm. However I have seen some supporters of "social justice" wonder how bad a thing it is to struggle in this holy cause. I'll take a, er, shot at this here.

The first question you as potential recruit to the "social justice" fight should ask is what the term even means. Wars should also, ideally, end - at least, for you. There's a lot of literature praising people who die fighting. Most of those causes, to outsiders, look misguided at best. And at any rate you'll not be there to enjoy it because you'll be dead. So you'll want to know what a victory might look like.

You will observe that "social justice" has an adjective attached to a noun. There is a root, "justice". Justice is easy enough to define at the most basic primate level: you do not lie or commit violence to your own tribe for personal gain. This scales up perhaps as far as the Roman and German systems of justice: impartial judges, protection of personal property (at least the most personal effects), stuff like that. Most cultures agree on the basic tenets. Arguably the best summary is CS Lewis's "Tao" or "Natural Law" as he set it in Abolition of Man.

When the adjective comes in, you are telling me you have a sort of Justice-Plus, like Atheism-Plus, not (yet!) available to those who do not share your social views. The problem here is that even other social-justice proponents cannot agree on what the -Plus is. Catholics have Social Teaching; Jews have the Noachide laws. Sayyid Qutb wrote a whole book translated Social Justice in Islam. The Jew and the Catholic do not agree with Qutb. I doubt you will agree with Qutb either.

Since you hold your views to be desiderata amongst all nations, you cannot coexist with the nativist Right (for a start). You disagree that, say, the King of England has the sovereign right to force universities in his part of the island to promote a royalist English worldview - at least, not if this conflicts with global social justice. If your Justice-Plus is secularist, you also cannot coexist with any religion beyond atheist philosophy-systems like Buddhism. Since you're an ideologue and not a nativist, you're not a natalist outside your sect; for you, homosexuality and sex-dysphoria are not problems.

I am not saying that your social views are wrong - at least, not right here in this post. I'm not even sure what your social views are. You might be a Qutbist or a Catholic for all I know.

I am saying that they are not to be confused with natural-law / Tao. They are not justice. At the very least you need to be making the case, narrowly, for whatever tenet you want to promote as justice.

The social-justice war, as such, implies you've already accepted your definition and think it so obvious that you aren't just arguing for it, you're in a war for it. You don't want to give the rest of us a Platform. You want us shut down: converts, enslaved, or dead, as is the end of all wars.

Here's the thing: the rest of us are increasingly figuring this out, not just reactionaries like me but also the Catholics and the Jews and the Muslims with their own, rival Justice-Plus'es. This should give you pause; it should spur you to consider if this is a war you want to fight. Or if it's even the right(eous) side.

Because I just see in "social justice" another pack self-righteous jockeying thugs, a secular ISIS, more interested in a fight than in an argument. I don't want to live in your world. And when the pack decides on a new definition of "social justice" - and history tells us it always does - you won't, either.

posted by Zimri on 14:23 | link | 0 comments

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