The History of Social Justice

historyFor those of you who have read my precious essays on social justice, you will without a doubt have noticed the privilege hierarchy that serves as the social justice equivalent to the class struggle in Marxist doctrine. The privilege hierarchy exists in variants but it tends to cover race, sex, gender, sexual orientation, and wealth. So, a man who is white, Cisgender, hetereosexual, and wealthy has a privilege of over 9000, whereas a woman who is of color, trans/owlkin, non-majority sexual orientation, and broke is minimum privilege.

The ideology is largely based on an interprevist framework fueled by the tool of critical analysis courtesy of post-modernism, however as with all analysis techniques it depends on the chosen data set one interprets. Within research there is a concept called “convenience sampling” which is a nice way of saying that the researcher found a sample for their study that was conveniently available. A typical example of this type of sampling is when a phd student elects to use professors and other students as the sample for their study, to keep travel costs down, find a sample that is cooperative and incentivized to assist in the research. After all, if anyone sees the value in contributing to research it would be professors and other phd candidates that are likely to require the cooperation of the other candidate at a later date.

The downside of convenience sampling is that a researcher cannot make generalizations about the total population from the sample because it is not representative enough of the total population. This was somewhat highlighted by pollsters during the 2016 election, who made several sampling errors, out of which their tendency to over-sample in urban areas based on the location of their own firms was the major error. Perhaps the most clear example of this is that social justice ideology is largely based on historical analysis of the social framework from early modern history up to and including contemporary history. This gives them a sample range from roughly the early 16th century, including the European Renaissance and the Age of Discovery. In addition their focus is largely on American history, with quite a bit of Western European history added to the mixture. This means that out of 5000 years of recorded human history, they largely draw from a base consisting of at most 400 – 500 years. What this means is that their analysis is focused on the most convenient sample for someone who is educated in the West, as every country tends to be focused on their own history, and how their country relates to other countries.

A Short Modern History

If we begin in the year 1500, which is the start of the period called Early Modern History, one of the major milestones is the discovery of the Americas by Europeans. This was a part of the Age of Discovery, where European sailors mapped out the World. The globalizing character is perhaps one of the most distinguishing features of this age, as trade began between previously unknown peoples, cultures, colonies were established by the dominant European powers, and our world became much smaller as it was charted. From an economic perspective it was a time where numerous new goods entered the market, from the potato that would become a staple crop of the Old World and the mercantilism that became the dominant economic ideology. The economic ideology of mercantilism is a form of economic nationalism, where the goal is to enrich the state and for economic activity to remain within the borders of the state to the largest possible degree. This included high tarifs on the import of finished goods and low or no taxes on raw materials or exotic products. Low taxes on exported finished goods, and high taxes on export of raw materials. In addition to seeking new markets for domestic manufactured products to increase the demand for domestic production.

A major element of this time was the European colonization of the Americas, Asia and Africa, which contributed to the spread of Christianity throughout the period. For religion, perhaps the most decisive movement was the protestant reformation that started with Martin Luther, and split the Christian faith into two major groupings, which was then followed by major religious wars in Europe. The religious tensions following the reformation was a major factor in the first migrations to what would become America, as minority religious groups fled persecution in their native nations. One of the most known religious events from this period was the inquisitions the first being the Spanish, that included trials for sorcery, blasphemy and witchcraft. A lesser known point is that book burning and other forms of censorship were common.

The Age of Discovery was largely driven based on the fact that perhaps one of the most lucrative trading routes at the time, the Silk Road and other eastern trade routes were controlled by the Ottoman empire, and this in effect cut European powers off from trading with Asia. This search lead to the discovery of the Americas and increased, sustained contact with parts of the world. One must remember that Columbus was actually looking for a convenient trading route to Asia.

In terms of social developments the Renaissance brought polymaths such as da Vinci, and major artistic, philosophical and scientific progress to the European states. The re-discovery of classical Greek works of art and philosophy were major contributions to the intellectual milieu of the time, including Plato, Aristotle and Cicero. The Thirty Years war took place in Central Europe and drastically reduced the population by as much as 20%, and treaties signed in 1648 ended multiple wars and began the nation states that formed the foundation of the European states known today.

Towards the end of the period, the fall of absolute monarchical power and the unfortunate links between church and state began their inevitable decline, the first major blow being the French revolution that saw royalty, aristocracy and clerical power decimated by means of the guillotine. The French revolution served to inspire the American revolution, where the French and English thought and philosophy greatly influenced both the American constitution and the bill of rights.

The African slave trade, the colonization of much of the world by European power, the decimation of native peoples in the Americas, and subjugation of large parts of Asia are major features that Social Justice warriors cite as proof for their critical analysis. However, this is merely a convenient sample that ignores what took place prior to the modern period, and hundreds if not thousands of years before. As one studies history one lands on a few truths that are rather inconvenient.

The Inconvenient Truth of a Convenient Sample

As previously mentioned the age of discovery was largely driven by the Ottoman Empire taking control of eastern trade routes on which Europe had come to depend. Post-Classical history is in many ways the cause of many of the effects that manifested in early classical history. One of the early major events was the fall of the Roman Empire, and with it, much of Classical Greek history and thought was lost, and the Dark Ages began. Religion took a dominant social position, first with the Catholic church that then split into the Roman Catholic Church (Western Europe) and the Eastern Orthodox Church (Byzantine). Islam had major growth in the time period and was in many ways the most successful religion of the period.

The major event cited by SJWs from this era were the Crusades waged in the middle east by European powers to take control of Jerusalem, the seat of all 3 major Abrahamic religions. What is rarely mentioned in SJW circles though, is that the first crusade was a reaction to the pressures placed on the Byzantine empire by the westward migrating Turks. This was a late event in the Islamic expansionist policy that saw Islam spread at a cost to the Byzantine and Persian empires over a span of 130 years from 622 to 750. Arabic Military conquest during this period include Syria, Egypt, Mesopotamia and Persia. From 711 – 714, Arab generals also took Sindh in India, Maghreb, Hispania and Septimania and Transoxiana. These major military conquests by the Arab Caliphate were the causal factor of why Pope Urban called for the first crusade to reestablish control of the Holy Land for the Byzantine Empire that for centuries had been the dominant force in the Mediterranean. This follows a pattern very common to history, where success of one group in conquest leads to counter-attacks in a predictable cycle. The Byzantine empire was based on the Eastern Roman Empire, that was based on the Alexandrian and Greek Empires. It just so happens that the Social Justice view of history, tends to exclude the preceding when convenient for their narrative. Much in the same manner that someone would deny punching the other person first when alleging assault that they were assaulted.

After the fall of the Roman empire independent civilizations soon arose to fill the vacuum of power, and thus begins the early middle ages, a period characterized by stagnation in culture, science and economics. It was also characterized by a reduction of population size. This was part of what Malthus used to build the foundation for his view of cyclical boom and bust throughout history.  The British isles were invaded by the Anglo-Saxons (German tribes), who were themselves usurped by the Normans some 600 years later, the Normans themselves being the descendants of Vikings that took Normandy from King Charles the third of West Francia.

In Italy a kingdom was established under Odoacer, a Germanic soldier, who was soon murdered and replaced by Theodoric the Great who established the Ostrogothic Kingdom, that was then conquered by the Byzantine empire under Justinian, who then lost it to the Germanic Kingdom of the Lombards in 568. In terms of economics the period was characterized by use of the manorial system, wherein serfs were bound to the land they farmed and paid rent to the land owners. Serfs were one step removed from slaves as they could not be bought and sold, held inheritance rights to houses and lands. They could continue to farm the Lord’s land and be protected so long as they gave a portion of the proceeds to the lord. In the vacuum left by Rome, the Catholic Church rose as a major institution of power, and political influence in the Dark Ages, as Christianity spread across Europe it helped bind the various peoples closer together than previously.

In the 8th century the Viking Age began and they rapidly raided and traded their way through large parts of Europe, this caused short term destruction but also the founding of many ports and villages that then grew to form the catalyst for medieval urban life. Charlemagne rapidly followed and gained large amounts of territory in in Germany and Italy, unifying much of Western Europe under his Carolingian Empire. He was crowed Emperor in 800 by Pope Leo the third. Upon his death his empire was divided among his sons, to form West Francia (Kingdom of France), East Francia (Kingdom of Germany) and Middle Francia that would divide into many smaller countries including Switzerland. Charlemagne also laid the foundation for feudalism in Western Europe that lead to the foundation of absolute monarchism.

Prosperity grew from 1000 to 1300, seeing William the Conqueror of Normandy take England in 1066, and establishing a feudal kingdom there. The period was in many ways one of great growth for the humanity as it slowly transitioned into the late middle ages. This was a period of great upheaval that saw the schism of the Catholic Church, the Hundred Years War and The Black Death. Due to the Mongol Empire trade between Europe and Asia grew, and this was a direct precursor as to why the Black Death spread as quickly as it did.

However, the aftermath of the boom and bust would inevitably result in the European Renaissance.

The Inconvenient Aspects of Middle Eastern History

During the time described in the preceding paragraph, there were also stirrings in the middle east. In the 5th century, the middle east consisted of small and weak states, out of which the two most prominent were the Sassanian Empire of the Persians (Now Iraq and Iran), and the Byzantine Empire in Anatolia (Now Turkey). The two empires were embroiled in constant conflict, the battle largely fueled by the history of conflict between the Persian Empire and the Roman Empire. The Byzantines considered themselves the defenders of Hellenism and Christianity, the Persians defenders of ancient Iranian and Semitic tradition and Zoroastrianism, that was the traditional religion of Persia.

The Arabian peninsula played a role in these struggles, with the Kingdom of Aksum (Eritrea and Northern Ethiopia) being an ally of Byzantine and the Himyarite Kingdom in present day Yemen were an ally of Persia. These kingdoms engaged in a proxy war, for control over Red Sea trade. These wars became more common as Byzantine and Sassanian Empire engaged in conflicts over Upper Mesopotamia and Armenia, and key cities that were central to trade from Arabia, India and China. The Byzantine empire as the continuation of the Roman Empire held control of the previously Roman territories in the Middle East, including Anatolia, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt. In 603, the Sassanian conquored Damascus and Egypt, however they were retaken by Heraclitus, who also replaced the Sassanian Great King with a friendlier one. However, this continuing fighting had the effect of weakening both empires, thus leaving them open for attacks.

Bedouin tribes united around kinship in small clans dominated the Arabian desert, and agriculture was limited in the area apart from a few cities near the cost among them Mecca and Medina. These two cities were central trade hubs in the commerce between Africa and Eurasia. Around 610, an Arabian Caravan merchant from Mecca of the Hashemite clan, started having religious revelations from the Abrahamic God. From 613 to 630, he spread his faith among the groups in the Arabian desert, starting with friends and family and gaining many converts from Christianity, Judaism and other monotheists.

After being harassed by the Idol worshipers who maintained the traditional Arabian religion, Muhammad and his followers traveled to Medina, a city in which he had gained support. Once in Medina, he spent years unifying feuding tribes and becoming the political and religious leader in the area. A major step here was an alliance with the Quraysh that permitted him to eliminate one of their allies, the jewish population. After this, they attacked and seized Mecca in 630, by the time of his death in 632, he had conquered much of the Arabian Peninsula. After his death, some disagreements regarding who would continue his work, which initiated the Ridda wars, during which the Caliph Abu Bakr defeated the other tribes. As history progressed after 630, the new Caliphate and its successors would conquer modern day Syria, Egypt, Israel and Libya, in addition to crippling the Byzantine Empire through naval warfare for centuries to come.

After this the Middle East and North Africa went through a series of wars with rulers taking power through force, only to lose it to challengers. This is many ways mirrored what took place in Europe, where internal struggles took precedence over external expansion. Islam had its own schism between Sunnis and Shiites, much like the once dominant Catholic church first was split int Catholic and Orthodox, then into Catholic and Protestant. A series of rulers including the Umayyad, Abbasid, the latter lost power to the Mongol conquest in 1258, that saw Mongols take over Baghdad. The M0ngols ruled for about 100 years until they withdrew, which ended with the rise of the Ottomans, who would unify the area under the Ottoman Empire by 1566.

Summary and Conclusions

This lands us back roughly where we started, early modern history, after having traveled through centuries of history. My purpose in leading on this journey was to demonstrate that in the last 2000 years, lands have changed hands, population groups have gained power and lost it, furthermore, every group has been victim and every group has been oppressor. In history everything follows a cause and effect, thus sampling a specific time period without consideration of what took place before it, leads to a convenient but unfortunate sample. It is very easy to start the history of slavery with the Atlantic Slave Trade, that started and existed from the 15th to the 19th century, and disregard the fact that Chattel slavery was legal and widespread already in Roman times from 47 BC to ca. 500 AD in North Africa. Furthermore, that the medieval slave trade was focused on the transport of slaves from Central and Eastern Europe to the Byzantine Empire and Muslim world. This was one of hte major reasons why the Catholic Church sought to prohibit at the very least the export of Christian slaves to non-christian countries. Slavery in Africa did not begin nor did it end with the Atlantic slave trade, that is merely the most convenient sample one can pick.

In an essay such as this, it is impossible to cover the range of history to a sufficient depth or level of detail, the goal is to outline how certain cycles inevitably repeat themselves through the last 1000 – 2000 years of our history, furthermore, that European dominance over the past 500 – 600 years is merely the last leg on a long journey. World history is full of empires that rise and fall, dominant families that go from Kings of the world to extinct in what is a blink of an eye in a historical sense. By picking in some cases as little as a hundred years as the sample for critical analysis, this inevitably dooms the analysis to not be applicable.

The pretense that violence, domination, conquest and the various other examples cited by SJWs in support of their theories, started with Europeans entering a region or continent is a flawed one. It is based on a literary stock character referred to as the “Noble Savage“, that much like the hooker with the heart of gold does not really exist. In their view, South America was the site of much peace and prosperity, until the nasty Spanish Conquistadors arrived on the shores. However, the Spanish were merely the last in a line of Conquerors that include the Inca, Maya and Aztec civilizations. Present day China was dominated by a range of dynasties for over 4000 years of recorded history, beginning with Xia up until the Qing dynasty, and includes centuries of warring states.

North Africa has to some extent already been covered by previous parts of this essay, Egypt and surrounding areas having been part of various empires throughout the ages, from the Pharaohs to the Romans, to the Ottomans. The Kingdom of Nubia was invaded and taken over by Egypt in 3100 BCE. Sub-Saharan Africa saw the rise of the Bantu movement, that spread from Cameroon to the Great lakes and then further south and east. From the sixth century the Sao civilization grew, the Kanem Empire rose, the Bornu empire rose and rapidly re-conquered parts of Kanem that had been captured by the Bulala.

Almost every population group has had a rise and fall throughout our history as a species, some better documented than others. Perhaps the present SJW approach is merely the next step in overtaking the group that has been dominant for the past 500 years. From the looks of it, China is returning to prominence, Europe and North America appear to be losing influence as internal strife and external pressures are increasing. This in some ways mimic the fall of the Roman Empire, as a major factor in the fall of an empire appears to be the combination of external threat with internal heterogeneity.

To end what has become an essay much longer than intended, the goal of this essay was not to focus again on the mistakes of theoretical frameworks of philosophy SJWs utilize to build their world view, but the samples to which they apply them. In order to do so, I provided brief cliff notes to 2000 years of recorded history over 3 continents. This was done in order to show that history is cyclical, furthermore that Victim and Oppressor is relative to which period of history one elects to cherry pick to support the conclusion one desires.

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3 comments on “The History of Social Justice

  1. […] decided to end my series on Social Justice Warriors with the last installment on the view of history used by social justice warriors. In a sense, I thought that I’d come full circle as I had […]

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