zaterdag 7 juli 2018

Propagandakracht van Brussel in Nederland. Stan van Houcke en Willy van Damme

Propagandakracht van Brussel in Nederland; Stan van Houcke en Willy van Damme
Gepubliceerd op 7 jul. 2018

Eigenaar van de Persgroep Christian van Thillo stelt dat de roep om betrouwbaar nieuws en kwaliteit steeds groter wordt in verband met fakenews en haatberichten op de sociale media. ‘Daarmee kunnen we als kwaliteitsmedia het verschil maken voor onze klanten.’ Dat Van Tillo de begrippen 'fakenews' en 'kwalitatief betrouwbaar nieuws' met elkaar verward is inmiddels evident gebleken. Willy van Damme is correspondent in België en onderzoeksjournalist.

vrijdag 6 juli 2018

Paul Craig Roberts 283

They Think We Are Idiots

The Blog Mire
July 5, 2018
Debunking the First Piece of Nonsense in Skripal 2.0
By Rob Slane
Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury is a rather lovely park. Situated next to the river, and overlooking the Water Meadows, it is a wonderful place to take an early morning stroll, and then to walk along the town path, where you get a wonderful view of the towering 13th Century gothic cathedral from the very spot where Constable painted his famous Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows.
Yet, like the centre of the City, it is now apparently a place synonymous with poisoning. According to latest reports, it is apparently the place at which Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley became poisoned on Friday 29th June. This from The Mail:
“Police are hunting for the deadly syringe or vial laced with Novichok that poisoned a couple in Salisbury as they finally evacuated homes five days after they fell catastrophically ill. Dawn Sturgess, 44, and her boyfriend Charles Rowley, 45, became critically ill within hours of visiting Salisbury on Saturday – the site of the murder attempt on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. The authorities are still searching for the container carrying the nerve agent, which could kill anyone who found it, and the homeless shelter where Dawn lived in Salisbury and Charlie’s home in Amesbury have now been screened-off and residents evacuated.
“A security source told the Evening Standard: ‘It could have been picked up by anyone, including a child. There’s no doubt it will be contaminated still’, adding the poison could be deadly ‘for decades’ if kept dry.
“Salisbury Hospital chief executive Cara Charles-Barks has revealed the victims remain in a critical condition in intensive care and are ‘acutely unwell’ but added that nobody else has been poisoned.
“One friend of the couple, who were known to be drug users, believes they may have found a syringe believing it contained heroin rather than the deadly poison used by assassins Britain claims were sent by Russia.
“‘It was definitely an accident. I think they found a package and it looked like drugs’, she said.
“Dawn and Charlie collapsed after a visit to the Queen Elizabeth Gardens on Friday, an area not searched or decontaminated after the Skripals were poisoned in March, raising serious questions about the quality of the clear-up operation four months ago.”
Okay, so this one is pretty easy to debunk, and I think I can save the media the trouble of going on about this for days on end, only to have to shift their explanation away from the vial/syringe in Queen Elizabeth Gardens to another door handle perhaps, or a car, cemetery, restaurant, bench, or even porridge.
The article points your attention to the apparent expert, who is able to assure us that the substance A-234, which prior to March 2018 was reckoned to be highly volatile, is able to survive in a syringe/vial for donkeys years. Here’s my advice: Don’t pay any attention to what he’s saying! Why? Because it’s a complete and utter red-herring, which – either wittingly or unwittingly – turns your attention away from a rather obvious reason why this is complete nonsense. And what is that?
It is this: Queen Elizabeth Gardens is nowhere near Christie Miller Road. Even if you had accepted the Government narrative that the Skripals were poisoned by a military grade nerve agent (of a type 5-8 times more toxic than VX), which was poured (or now presumably squirted from the syringe) onto the door handle of Mr Skripal’s front door, by professional assassins not wearing HazMats – all of which requires much cognitive dissonance – what are you now being asked to believe? That the professional unHazMatted Russian assassins, after leaving Chez Skripal, decided not to leg it to Heathrow or Gatwick pronto, but to drive to Elizabeth Gardens.
As I say, it’s a beautiful park, and one which I would encourage people to visit, although you may find that quite tricky just at the moment. But here’s the thing: How likely do you suppose it to be that the alleged professional Russian hitmen, after undertaking their dangerous and potentially deadly assignment, decided to drive from Christie Miller Road to Elizabeth Gardens, which is out of the way, and certainly not the way you’d drive if you wanted to get to an airport quickly, where they parked their car, got out and then went for a walk to drop their deadly (but non-lethal) Novichok-laced syringe in the gardens, where it lay undetected for four months. I’d put the chances of that at zero, and not a smidgen more.
But that’s apparently what we’re being asked to believe. Until of course they change the narrative tomorrow.

Jewish Humanist Banned From Israel

child detention
Dear stan,
This is outrageous! Israel, the state that claims to be the only democracy in the Middle East, has just banned me from entry. Gilad Erdan, the Israeli Minister of Internal Security and Aryeh Deri, Israeli Minister of the Interior are charging me with the “crimes” of documenting the occupation, telling soldiers they are violating Jewish values and being an “extreme boycott activist.”
We at CODEPINK are proud of our work to use boycott and divestment to pressure Israel to stop violating Palestinian human rights! Join our open letter telling Israel to stop denying entry to human rights advocates. Along with me, over the past year, Israel has denied entry to members of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Jewish Voice for Peace and more. They are currently trying to expel Human Rights Watch’s Omar Shakir. This has got to stop.
Our campaigns have gotten Sodastream and Ahava to move out of the West Bank, RE/MAX to say they will stop receiving profits from settlement properties, G4S to end their Israeli contracts and more.We are continuing to pressure RE/MAX to fully extricate themselves from settlements and Airbnb to stop listing settlement properties. Imminently, we will be launching a campaign to Stop Elbit, an Israeli weapons company that kills Palestinians in Gaza and assists with family separations on the US-Mexico border.
Read about my experience having two high-level Israeli Ministers demand I not be allowed entry at the Tel Aviv airport. Sign CODEPINK’s open letter calling on Israel to stop blacklisting human rights advocates. 
Israel only welcomes those who either support occupation or are willing to be quiet. On June 30th, right before I was denied entry, soldiers at the Gaza fence killed 11-year-old Yaser Abu al-Naja. He was the 16th child to be killed since the Great March of Return protests began on March 30. Gross crimes like this are what must be banned, not those coming to advance freedom, justice and equality. 
Towards freedom for Palestine,
Ariel and everyone at CODEPINK

Climate Change

David Leonhardt

Op-Ed Columnist

I spent July 4 at the ballpark, for a game between the Washington Nationals and the Boston Red Sox. The stadium was supposed to be filled to capacity. But by the game’s middle innings, a huge number of seats — about half, in some sections — were empty, even though the game was tied. In more than 40 years of attending ballgames, I had never seen anything quite like it.What was going on? It was a brutally hot day in Washington, and many people found it too uncomfortable to remain in their seats. So they decided to escape the sun and wander the stadium’s shaded concourses or to leave the ballpark altogether.Washington is often hot in the summer, of course, but the heat wave of the past week has been decidedly abnormal. “For the week through Tuesday, 227 U.S. records were broken for highest temperature for particular days, and another 157 were tied, federal statistics show,” Malcolm Ritter of The Associated Press reported. Burlington, Vt., for example, experienced its highest daily low temperature on record: On Monday, the temperature never fell below 80 degrees.It’s not just the United States, either. “From the normally mild summer climes of Ireland, Scotland and Canada to the scorching Middle East, numerous locations in the Northern Hemisphere have witnessed their hottest weather ever recorded over the past week,” Jason Samenow of The Washington Post wrote.Perhaps the most alarming detail in his piece: “In Northern Siberia, along the coast of the Arctic Ocean — where weather observations are scarce — model analyses showed temperatures soaring 40 degrees above normal on July 5, to over 90 degrees. ‘It is absolutely incredible and really one of the most intense heat events I’ve ever seen for so far north,’ wrote meteorologist Nick Humphrey, who offers more detail on this extraordinary high-latitude hot spell on his blog.”Scott Pruitt resigned as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency yesterday, after one of the most scandal-marred cabinet tenures of any official. Pruitt abused his office for personal gain in ways large, small and even ridiculous. Lydia O’Connor of HuffPost has a good list.Yet the worst thing about Pruitt’s tenure still wasn’t his personal corruption. It was his aggressive campaign to aggravate global warming, by rolling back federal attempts to combat it. Pruitt’s career — from Oklahoma attorney general to E.P.A. administrator — has been defined by his attempt to maximize the profits of energy companies, regardless of the effects on everyone else.That attitude will almost certainly outlast Pruitt, unfortunately. It is effectively the official policy of the Trump administration. You can expect many more heat waves in the years to come.“In the end, Mr. Pruitt was driven from office for having abused his position so outrageously,” the Times editorial board writes. “But if Mr. Trump continues down the same policy paths, as seems likely, Mr. Pruitt’s more lasting legacy, along with the president’s, will be an overheated planet and shortened life spans.” Frank Bruni also has a column on Pruitt.In a related story, the climate scientist Stefan Rahmstorf tweeted yesterday, “A new study based on evidence from past warm periods suggests global warming may be double what is forecast.” The study is available here.

Israeli Fascism

Israeli Man Involved in Lynching of Asylum Seeker Sentenced to 100 Days Community Service 

The incident took place in the aftermath of a terrorist attack in Be’er Sheva in November 2015
David Moyal at the Court in Be'er Sheva, July 2018
אליהו הרשקוביץ
An Israeli civilian who was involved in the lynching of an Eritrean asylum seeker after he was mistaken as a terrorist in the aftermath of an attack in southern Israel over two years ago was sentenced to 100 days of community service as part of a plea bargain.
David Moyal was one of the four people involved in the beating of Haftom Zarhum, an Eritrean asylum seeker, who was also shot and succumbed to injuries shortly after the Be’er Sheva incident in October 2015.
Moyal was also fined 2,000 shekel ($560) as reparations for Moyal's family and received an eight month probation period. Moyal can be seen in a video taken by security cameras as beating Zarhum with a bench though he is already wounded on the ground and bleeding.
The lethal assault took place after a terrorist opened fire at the Be’er Sheva central bus station, killing a soldier and wounding 10 other people. The four accused – David Moyal, Evyatar Damari, soldier Yaakov Shamba and Israel Prisons Service employee Ronen Cohen – attached Zarhum because they thought he was the assailant.
The coroner’s report submitted by the prosecution said that the four had caused Zarhum serious injuries, including a broken nose, but that it was the eight bullets that were fired at the asylum seeker by others that caused his death. A total of nine people can be seen attacking Zarhum in the video, but only these four were charged.
At the time, Moyal was working at a restaurant inside bus station. The crime he was sentenced for is abuse of a defenseless person and not for aggravated assault, which is what he was initially accused of, a charge that can carrying up to 20 years in prison. Moyal's lawyers asked for a lenient sentence.

Dr. Chris Busby on the Skripal Poisoning affair

Dr Chris Busby on the Skripal Russia Poisoning affair

Willy van Damme

New post on Willy Van Damme's Weblog

Gifgas slaat toe bij De Morgen

by Willy Van Damme
Goed gelachen met de berichtgeving in De Morgen van vandaag van Jeroen Van Horenbeek over de nieuwe vergiftigingszaak in het Verenigd Koninkrijk met ‘Londen boos op Moskou over nieuwe vergiftigingen.’ Het toont nogmaals de totale onbekwaamheid aan van wat De Morgen als informatie presenteert aan de lezers. Het is immers prietpraat en desinformatie van topniveau. 
Zo schrijft hij op zeker ogenblik: ‘De gebruikte novitsjok is volgens experts zo zuiver dat die na lange tijd nauwelijks afbreekt’ en dan wat verder waar hij professor Jan Tytgat citeert met: ‘De aanslag op de Skripals vond in maart plaats. Het is onwaarschijnlijk dat novitsjok zo lang aanwezig blijft, want de stof breekt af na verloop van tijd’. 
Nu is wat men in het Verenigd Koninkrijk novichok noemt een serie van zenuwgassen die in de jaren ‘80 van de vorige eeuw op experimentele basis werden gemaakt. Wat men nadien stopte vermoedelijk omdat ze op militair vlak nutteloos waren want sarin en VX zijn al dodelijk genoeg. 
Nu is een van de basiseigenschappen van die serie zenuwgassen, en ook andere zoals sarin, dat ze niet alleen ultrasnel werken en erg dodelijk zijn maar ook uiterst vluchtig. Dit gaat hem hier zoals het woord zegt over gassen en die verdampen met alle gevolgen voor hun chemische samenstelling. Het is essentiële kennis voor wie daarover wil schrijven zonder zich belachelijk te maken. 
Sergey en Julia Skripal
Vader Sergeï en dochter Julia Skripal genietend van een lekker drankje. Zij wil volgens haar enige zelf afgelegde verklaring terug naar Rusland keren maar blijft nog steeds vastzitten in het Verenigd Koninkrijk. Tegen haar wil? Het feit dat ze naar Rusland terug wil – volgens de Britse overheid wilde die regering haar vermoorden – toont trouwens aan dat dit Brits verhaal over novichok volgens haar leugens zijn. 
Toen de VN in augustus 2013 op onderzoek trok in de Syrische regio van Oost-Ghouta trof die nergens nog sarin aan maar alleen haar afbraakproducten. Wat voldoende was om te bewijzen dat er sarin was gebruikt. En die missie was er enkele dagen na de aanval. Zijn bewering over ‘nauwelijks afbreekt’ is dan ook lachwekkend en te zot voor woorden. 
Het is bovendien merkwaardig dat dit zogenaamd erg dodelijk gif novichok – volgens de Britse beweringen tot 10 maal sterker dan het al uiterst dodelijke sarin – hier gebruikt werd. Immers, Sergeï en Julia Skripal zouden volgens de officiële Britse versie met dit novichok in aanraking gekomen zijn toen ze hun huis verlieten en de deurklink aanraakten waar dat zenuwgas was aangebracht. 
Daarna gaan ze nog eens leuk winkelen en op restaurant eten en drinken. Pas uren nadat ze hun huis verlieten vallen ze dan op een bank in de coma. En grotendeels hetzelfde verhaal nu met dit koppel. Kan iemand verklaren hoe een snelwerkend, uitermate dodelijk gif pas uren later gevolgen heeft voor die beide koppels en dat bovendien dan nog overleven? Ik wacht. 
Vlakbij ligt Porton Down, het onderzoekscentrum van het Britse leger voor biologische en chemische wapens. Misschien kan men daar eens een kijkje gaan nemen. Maar dat doet men in het Verenigd Koninkrijk natuurlijk niet. Uw medewerker maakt van die nabijheid er zelfs geen melding van. Uiteraard. En misschien kan hij eens die ‘experts’ bij naam noemen die zijn eerste bewering zouden gedaan hebben. 
Willy Van Damme 
Lezersbrief naar De Morgen van 6 juli 2018. 
PS: Wie het officiële verhaal over deze twee Britse affaires serieus neemt toont een groot gebrek aan kritische zin of liegt bewust. De Britse versie van de feiten is al even geloofwaardig als die met de Boeing 757 die op 11 september 2001 in het Pentagon zou gevlogen hebben waarna de motoren, vleugels en wielen van dit zeer grote vliegtuig als bij toverslag verdwenen. 
Maar ook dit blijven kranten als De Morgen voor waar nemen. En is het een toeval dat die dag toen de Skripals aangevallen werden de beveiligingscamera’s in Salisbury niet functioneerden? Want als je een zenuwgas op een deurklink aanbrengt dan moet men een zwaar beschermend pak aantrekken en dat valt zo op.  
Willy Van Damme | 6 July 2018 at 10:11 | Categories: Brieven van lezersBuitenland - Europa | URL:

Edward Gibbon. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

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Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776-1788)

gibbon.jpg (5941 bytes)The Enlightenment found many of its virtues ready-made in the world of ancient Rome: economic abundance, and international political structure and a common language for many people. Of course, the greatness of Rome also led to its eventual collapse and fall, and this singular fact has exercised the mind of the historian ever since. Gibbon was perhaps the first to make such a sustained investigation of this kind of event. The following selection is from Chapter XXXVIII: General Observations on the Fall of the Roman Empire in the West. A brief list of resources follows the excerpt.
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The Greeks, after their country had been reduced into a province, imputed the triumphs of Rome, not to the merit, but to the fortune, of the republic. The inconstant goddess who so blindly distributes and resumes her favours, had now consented (such was the language of envious flattery) to resign her wings, to descend from her globe, and to fix her firm and immutable throne on the banks of the Tiber. A wiser Greek, who has composed, with a philosophic spirit, the memorable history of his own times, deprived his countrymen of this vain and delusive comfort, by opening to their view the deep foundations of the greatness of Rome.  The fidelity of the citizens to each other and to the state was confirmed by the habits of education and the prejudices of religion. Honour, as well as virtue, was the principle of the republic; the ambitious citizens laboured to deserve the solemn glories of a triumph; and the ardour of the Roman youth was kindled into active emulation as often as they beheld the domestic images of their ancestors.  The temperate struggles of the patricians and plebeians had finally established the firm and equal balance of the constitution, which united the freedom of popular assemblies with the authority and wisdom of a senate and the executive powers of a regal magistrate. When the consul displayed the standard of the republic, each citizen bound himself, by the obligation of an oath, to draw his sword in the cause of his country till he had discharged the sacred duty by a military service of ten years. This wise institution continually poured into the field the rising generations of freemen and soldiers; and their numbers were reinforced by the warlike and populous states of Italy, who, after a brave resistance, had yielded to the valour and embraced the alliance of the Romans. The sage historian, who excited the virtue of the younger Scipio and beheld the ruin of Carthage, has accurately described their military system; their levies, arms, exercises, subordination, marches, encampments; and the invincible legion, superior in active strength to the Macedonian phalanx of Philip and Alexander. From these institutions of peace and war Polybius has deduced the spirit and success of a people incapable of fear and impatient of repose. The ambitious design of conquest, which might have been defeated by the seasonable conspiracy of mankind, was attempted and achieved; and the perpetual violation of justice was maintained by the political virtues of prudence and courage. The arms of the republic, sometimes vanquished in battle, always victorious in war, advanced with rapid steps to the Euphrates, the Danube, the Rhine, and the Ocean; and the images of gold, or silver, or brass, that might serve to represent the nations and their kings, were successively broken by the iron monarchy of Rome.
The rise of a city, which swelled into an empire, may deserve, as a singular prodigy, the reflection of a philosophic mind. But the decline of Rome was the natural and inevitable effect of immoderate greatness. Prosperity ripened the principle of decay; the causes of destruction multiplied with the extent of conquest; and as soon as time or accident had removed the artificial supports, the stupendous fabric yielded to the pressure of its own weight. The story of its ruin is simple and obvious; and instead of inquiring why the Roman empire was destroyed, we should rather be surprised that it had subsisted so long. The victorious legions, who, in distant wars, acquired the vices of strangers and mercenaries, first oppressed the freedom of the republic, and afterwards violated the majesty of the purple. The emperors, anxious for their personal safety and the public peace, were reduced to the base expedient of corrupting the discipline which rendered them alike formidable to their sovereign and to the enemy; the vigour of the military government was relaxed and finally dissolved by the partial institutions of Constantine; and the Roman world was overwhelmed by a deluge of Barbarians.
The decay of Rome has been frequently ascribed to the translation of the seat of empire but this history has already shown that the powers of Government were divided rather than removed. The throne of Constantinople was erected in the East; while the West was still possessed by a series of emperors who held their residence in Italy, and claimed their equal inheritance of the legions and provinces. This dangerous novelty impaired the strength and fomented the vices of a double reign: the instruments of an oppressive and arbitrary system were multiplied; and a vain emulation of luxury, not of merit, was introduced and supported between the degenerate successors of Theodosius. Extreme distress, which unites the virtue of a free people, embitters the factions of a declining monarchy. The hostile favourites of Arcadius and Honorius betrayed the republic to its common enemies; and the Byzantine court beheld with indifference, perhaps with pleasure, the disgrace of Rome, the misfortunes of Italy, and the loss of the West. Under the succeeding reigns the alliance of the two empires was restored; but the aid of the Oriental Romans was tardy, doubtful, and ineffectual; and the national schism of the Greeks and Latins was enlarged by the perpetual difference of language and manners, of interests, and even of religion. Yet the salutary event approved in some measure the judgment of Constantine. During a long period of decay his impregnable city repelled the victorious armies of barbarians, protected the wealth of Asia, and commanded, both in peace and war, the important straits which connect the Euxine and Mediterranean seas. The foundation of Constantinople more essentially contributed to the preservation of the East than to the ruin of the West.
As the happiness of a future life is the great object of religion, we may hear without surprise or scandal that the introduction, or at least the abuse of Christianity, had some influence on the decline and fall of the Roman empire. The clergy successfully preached the doctrines of patience and pusillanimity; the active virtues of society were discouraged; and the last remains of military spirit were buried in the cloister: a large portion of public and private wealth was consecrated to the specious demands of charity and devotion; and the soldiers' pay was lavished on the useless multitudes of both sexes who could only plead the merits of abstinence and chastity. Faith, zeal, curiosity, and more earthly passions of malice and ambition, kindled the flame of theological discord; the church, and even the state, were distracted by religious factions, whose conflicts were sometimes bloody and always implacable; the attention of the emperors was diverted from camps to synods; the Roman world was oppressed by a new species of tyranny; and the persecuted sects became the secret enemies of their country. Yet party-spirit, however pernicious or absurd, is a principle of union as well as of dissension. The bishops, from eighteen hundred pulpits, inculcated the duty of passive obedience to a lawful and orthodox sovereign; their frequent assemblies and perpetual correspondence maintained the communion of distant churches; and the benevolent temper of the Gospel was strengthened, though confirmed, by the spiritual alliance of the Catholics. The sacred indolence of the monks was devoutly embraced by a servile and effeminate age; but if superstition had not afforded a decent retreat, the same vices would have tempted the unworthy Romans to desert, from baser motives, the standard of the republic. Religious precepts are easily obeyed which indulge and sanctify the natural inclinations of their votaries; but the pure and genuine influence of Christianity may be traced in its beneficial, though imperfect, effects on the barbarian proselytes of the North. If the decline of the Roman empire was hastened by the conversion of Constantine, his victorious religion broke the violence of the fall, and mollified the ferocious temper of the conquerors.
This awful revolution may be usefully applied to the instruction of the present age. It is the duty of a patriot to prefer and promote the exclusive interest and glory of his native country: but a philosopher may be permitted to enlarge his views, and to consider Europe as one great republic, whose various inhabitants have attained almost the same level of politeness and cultivation. The balance of power will continue to fluctuate, and the prosperity of our own or the neighbouring kingdoms may be alternately exalted or depressed; but these partial events cannot essentially injure our general state of happiness, the system of arts, and laws, and manners, which so advantageously distinguish, above the rest of mankind, the Europeans and their colonies. The savage nations of the globe are the common enemies of civilized society; and we may inquire, with anxious curiosity, whether Europe is still threatened with a repetition of those calamities which formerly oppressed the arms and institutions of Rome. Perhaps the same reflections will illustrate the fall of that mighty empire, and explain the probable causes of our actual security.
I. The Romans were ignorant of the extent of their dangers and the number of their enemies. Beyond the Rhine and Danube the northern countries of Europe and Asia were filled with innumerable tribes of hunters and shepherds, poor, voracious, and turbulent; bold in arms, and impatient to ravish the fruits of industry. The barbarian world was agitated by the rapid impulse of war; and the peace of Gaul or Italy was shaken by the distant revolutions of China. The Huns, who fled before a victorious enemy, directed their march towards the West; and the torrent was swelled by the gradual accession of captives and allies. The flying tribes who yielded to the Huns assumed in their turn the spirit of conquest; the endless column of barbarians pressed on the Roman empire with accumulated weight; and, if the foremost were destroyed, the vacant space was instantly replenished by new assailants. Such formidable emigrations no longer issue from the North; and the long repose, which has been imputed to the decrease of population, is the happy consequence of the progress of arts and agriculture. Instead of some rude villages thinly scattered among its woods and morasses, Germany now produces a list of two thousand three hundred walled towns: the Christian kingdoms of Denmark, Sweden, and Poland have been successively established; and the Hanse merchants, with the Teutonic knights, have extended their colonies along the coast of the Baltic as far as the Gulf of Finland. From the Gulf of Finland to the Eastern Ocean, Russia now assumes the form of a powerful and civilized empire. The plough, the loom, and the forge are introduced on the banks of the Volga, the Oby, and the Lena; and the fiercest of the Tartar hordes have been taught to tremble and obey. The reign of independent barbarism is now contracted to a narrow span; and the remnant of Calmucks or Uzbecks, whose forces may be almost numbered, cannot seriously excite the apprehensions of the great republic of Europe. Yet this apparent security should not tempt us to forget that new enemies and unknown dangers may possibly arise from some obscure people, scarcely visible in the map of the world. The Arabs or Saracens, who spread their conquests from India to Spain, had languished in poverty and contempt till Mahomet breathed into those savage bodies the soul of enthusiasm.
II.  The empire of Rome was firmly established by the singular and perfect coalition of its members. The subject nations, resigning the hope and even the wish of independence, embraced the character of Roman citizens; and the provinces of the West were reluctantly torn by the barbarians from the bosom of their mother country. But this union was purchased by the loss of national freedom and military spirit; and the servile provinces, destitute of life and motion, expected their safety from the mercenary troops and governors who were directed by the orders of a distant court. The happiness of an hundred millions depended on the persona merit of one or two men, perhaps children, whose minds were corrupted by education, luxury, and despotic power. The deepest wounds were inflicted on the empire during the minorities of the sons and grandsons of Theodosius; and, after those incapable princes seemed to attain the age of manhood, they abandoned the church to the bishops, the state to the eunuchs, and the provinces to the barbarians. Europe is now divided into twelve powerful, though unequal kingdoms, three respectable commonwealths, and a variety of smaller, though independent states: the chances of royal and ministerial talent are multiplied, at least, with the number of its rulers; and a Julian, or Semiramis, may reign in the North, while Arcadius and Honorius again slumber on the thrones of the South. The abuses of tyranny are restrained by the mutual influence of fear and shame; republics have acquired order and stability; monarchies have imbibed the principles of freedom, or, at least, of moderation; and some sense of honour and justice is introduced into the most defective constitutions by the general manner of the times. In peace, the progress of knowledge and industry is accelerated by the emulation of so many active rivals: in war, the European forces are exercised by temperate and indecisive contests. If a savage conqueror should issue from the deserts of Tartary, he must repeatedly vanquish the robust peasants of Russia, the numerous armies of Germany, the gallant nobles of France, and the intrepid freemen of Britain; who, perhaps, might confederate for their common defence. Should the victorious barbarians carry slavery and desolation as far as the Atlantic Ocean, ten thousand vessels would transport beyond their pursuit the remains of civilized society; and Europe would revive and flourish in the American world, which is already filled with her colonies and institutions.
III. Cold, poverty, and a life of danger and fatigue fortify the strength and courage of barbarians. In every age they have oppressed the polite and peaceful nations of China, India, and Persia, who neglected, and still neglect, to counter-balance these natural powers by the resources of military art. The warlike states of antiquity, Greece, Macedonia, and Rome, educated a race of soldiers; exercised their bodies, disciplined their courage, multiplied their forces by regular evolutions, and converted the iron which they possessed into strong and serviceable weapons. But this superiority insensibly declined with their laws and manners: and the feeble policy of Constantine and his successors armed and instructed, for the ruin of the empire, the rude valour of the barbarian mercenaries. The military art has been changed by the invention of gunpowder; which enables man to command the two most powerful agents of nature, air and fire. Mathematics, chemistry, mechanics, architecture, have been applied to the service of war; and the adverse parties oppose to each other the most elaborate modes of attack and of defence. Historians may indignantly observe that the preparations of a siege would found and maintain a flourishing colony; yet we cannot be displeased that the subversion of a city should be a work of cost and difficulty; or that an industrious people should be protected by those arts which survive and supply the decay of military virtue. Cannon and fortifications now form an impregnable barrier against the Tartar horse; and Europe is secure from any future irruption of barbarians; since, before they can conquer, they must cease to be barbarous. Their gradual advances in the science of war would always be accompanied, as we may learn from the example of Russia, with a proportionable improvement in the arts of peace and civil policy; and they themselves must deserve a place among the polished nations whom they subdue.
Should these speculations be found doubtful or fallacious, there still remains a more humble source of comfort and hope. The discoveries of ancient and modern navigators, and the domestic history or tradition of the most enlightened nations, represent the human savage naked both in mind and body, and destitute of laws, of arts, of ideas, and almost of language. From this abject condition, perhaps the primitive and universal state of man, he has gradually arisen to command the animals, to fertilise the earth, to traverse the ocean, and to measure the heavens. His progress in the improvement and exercise of his mental and corporeal faculties has been irregular and various; infinitely slow in the beginning, and increasing by degrees with redoubled velocity: ages of laborious ascent have been followed by a moment of rapid downfall; and the several climates of the globe have felt the vicissitudes of light and darkness. Yet the experience of four thousand years should enlarge our hopes and diminish our apprehensions: we cannot determine to what height the human species may aspire in their advance towards perfection; but it may safely be presumed that no people, unless the face of nature is changed, will relapse into their original barbarism. The improvements of society may be viewed under a threefold aspect. 1. The poet or philosopher illustrates his age and country by the efforts of a single mind; but these superior powers of reason or fancy are rare and spontaneous productions; and the genius of Homer, or Cicero, or Newton, would excite less admiration if they could be created by the will of a prince or the lessons of a preceptor. 2. The benefits of law and policy, of trade and manufactures, of arts and sciences, are more solid and permanent; and many individuals may be qualified, by education and discipline, to promote, in their respective stations, the interest of the community. But this general order is the effect of skill and labour; and the complex machinery may be decayed by time, or injured by violence. 3. Fortunately for mankind, the more useful, or, at least, more necessary arts, can be performed without superior talents or national subordination; without powers of one, or the union of many. Each village, each family, each individual, must always possess both ability and inclination to perpetuate the use of fire and of metals; the propagation and service of domestic animals; the methods of hunting and fishing; the rudiments of navigation; the imperfect cultivation of corn or other nutritive grain; and the simple practice of the mechanic trades. Private genius and public industry may be extirpated, but these hardy plants survive the tempest, and strike an everlasting root into the most unfavourable soil. The splendid days of Augustus and Trajan were eclipsed by a cloud of ignorance; and the barbarians subverted the laws and palaces of Rome. But the scythe, the invention or emblem of Saturn, still continued annually to mow the harvests of Italy; and the human feasts of the Laestrigons have never been renewed on the coast of Campania.

Since the first discovery of the arts, war, commerce, and religious zeal have diffused among the savages of the Old and New World these inestimable gifts: they have been successively propagated; they can never be lost. We may therefore acquiesce in the pleasing conclusion that every age of the world has increased and still increases the real wealth, the happiness, the knowledge, and perhaps the virtue, of the human race.
[Source: Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, edited by J. B. Bury, 7 vols. (1896-1902), vol. IV, pp. 160-169, quoted in Peter Gay, ed., The Enlightenment: A Comprehensive Anthology (New York: Touchstone, 1973), pp. 651-660.]


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