Politics, news, libertarianism, Science Fiction, religion, sewing. You got a problem, bud? I like sewing.
E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)
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Jane's Blogosphere: blogtrack for Natalie Solent.
( 'Nother Solent is this blog's good twin. Same words, searchable archives, RSS feed. Provided by a benefactor, to whom thanks.
I also sometimes write for Samizdata and Biased BBC.)
The Old Comrades:
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Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Other seeds fell elsewhere, but they fell on stony ground.
Major post from Jim Bennett on Columbus and what he can and cannot be blamed for.
The New World had been epidemiologically isolated from the Old for geologic eras, and thus was, epidemiologically speaking, a huge tinderbox waiting to be set alight. The first major contact from the Old World would set it alight. As it happened, this was Columbus -- but it could have been Chinese voyagers had the Ming treasure fleets not been cut back, or it could have been Japanese mariners cast adrift on the Japan Current and landing in the Pacific Northwest, or it could have been, as it nearly was, the Portuguese landing in Brazil as they did in 1500, not because they were trying to imitate Columbus, but because they had gone a bit wide turning around the bulge of Africa. Columbus was the agent of this contact, but he can hardly be charged with genocide for it, any more than the nameless Muslim trader from Central Asia who passed on, unwittingly, the bubonic plague to Italy and started the great Black Death epidemic in medieval Europe can be charged with Muslim genocide against Europe.That sense of the adventitiousness of history ties in with my disbelief in racism or national destiny.
In one sense I believe that what the Albion's Seedling bloggers are calling the Exit (the take-off point in history when productivity started to pay more than predation) could only have started in England, with its particular history and geography. Other seeds fell elsewhere, but they fell on stony ground.
In another sense... well, to look deep into the pool of "could have" is perilous and wonderful. Some see themselves reflected there, others quantum physics, others God. Events either happen or they do not. If they do happen they must happen in circumstances in which they could happen.
If another seed had flourished, men of Africa might tell each other that it could all only have begun in Timbuktu.