Tuesday, September 27, 2016

My thoughts on the 1st Trump vs. Clinton debate

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A few thoughts on last night’s US Presidential debate.

Trump is unavoidable in the media, and I think last night was probably the first time for the overwhelming majority of the people to see how Trump acts and speaks through an unfiltered lens. We’ve all seen the sound-bites, highlights, and even the incoherent blunders that both him and the many pronged media outlets have produced; but seldom do people have the time to fully take him in and become familiar with his platform, uninterrupted. That’s why a full 1.5 hour exposure of him was just what the people needed. Think about it like quote mining: on its own a quote has a tendency to make a person think about its message at face value- but in full context, a specific quote can have a much different meaning and impact relative to the full message.

Well what can I say about Trump? The guy is neither a politician nor an orator- and that was quickly learned by many who haven’t been fully exposed to him before. His words didn’t flow in stanzas, his rhetoric skill was mild, and his inability to stay concise on a few topics was quite apparent. But where he suffered in public speaking, he made up for in conviction. A big part of Trump’s appeal for many people is his ability to speak his mind unadulterated. No matter what he’s saying, he’s always unhinged with respect to his own political ideologies. However, there were a lot of times where I wish he would have set some things aside such as questions and accusations that grilled the nature of his character. For him, his integrity is important and when it’s attacked, for example, through wilfully ignorant remarks about his chapter 11 bankruptcies - he has to attempt to set the record straight. Often times that’s done in a manner that is devoid of any respect for his political demeanour (like the time when he defends his knowledge and use of legalese that are of less than savoury nature). 90% of the time it’s a fool’s errand for him to do this because it delves into the realm of damage control which indirectly puts him in a negative and petty light. For the most part however, he did what he does best, and that’s being confident, thinking out loud what he believes in, and giving a raw yet genuine performance.

Friday, September 9, 2016

History Hijacked

This is just going to be a quick post/rant that delves into the pitfalls that make up the core of the history education system which I imagine, is apparent in most universities and institutions across North America and Western Europe.

Let's start off by acknowledging that history is sadly one of those subjects that is heavily burdened by dis-accord in the way in which it's taught and interpreted. I would love to be a student of hard science and mathematics where in which the subject matter is precise and universal and seldom is there conflicting perspectives, or agendas for that matter. But at the same time, I have no issue with the fact that history is an art that is susceptible to critique. For instance, historians to this day still debate about what was the X factor that led to the fall of the Western Roman Empire; or why the French Revolution occurred. 

Let's also take the time to acknowledge that in the past few years - if not decades, the progression in which arts and humanities have been taught by the academic community has largely took a leftist leaning in its approach; drawing its ethos from social structures and phenomenon such as Critical Theory, Marxism (both political and economic), and Cultural Relativism. What do I mean by all this? Quite simply, leftist theory has over taken the academic institutions over the years to foment control of the faculties in order to reflect a leftist perspective on the world and the past. To anyone with an open mind, it's very clear that this is the case. 

It's instances where current political events take over discussion that's not only unrelated to the subject at hand, but is politically solicit and suggestive in nature. It's instances where European history is taught through a profoundly negative lens, where it replaces thousands of years of superior endeavour and pioneering with shame resulting from a heavily biased and cherry picked guilt trip on slavery, colonialism, and conquest. It's instances where perspective and context is deliberately pushed out from lectures and teachings in order to propagate an agenda concurrent with the times in which we live. It's instances where professors do the thinking for you- and leave out any room for debate, or at the very least, differing points of view.

Just now I had a lecture in my European history class about the Age of Exploration around the time of Columbus, and how it changed the mindset of Europeans and how they came to understand the world. Naively hoping to hear a crash course on Spanish and Portuguese navigators and the profundity of their ambitions relevant to the epoch they were in; I was given a heavy set lecture on the ills of human ignorance that came to be (all thanks to the tenants of Critical Theory) associated with that era. Events such as the slave trade and ideas of ownership and conquest quickly overshadowed the brilliance of anything else the subject had been about. 

Don't get me wrong, I completely understand that history is never pretty, and that certain practices and beliefs of our ancestors should be taught and looked at with resentment. But when such topics stretch on through the entire lecture (with an indisputable element of guilt and shame) overtaking topics like commerce, settlement, exploration, innovation, achievements, figureheads and so on: then there is a problem. I sometimes think to myself, was history always taught this way? The obvious answer is no, but understanding why the answer is a no takes some research.

When the virtue of perspective is left out from a lecture on let’s say the history of Europe from the 1500s, then that is either dishonest education- or the pursuit of an agenda. Harking back to the topic of the Age of Exploration: the reason the Iberians (Spanish and Portuguese) took on such a cloak of manifest destiny where they set out to explore and conquer new lands, was due partially in part by the Reconquista of their homeland from the Muslim Moors. New found vigour was tapped. Their ports, restored. Their momentum was realized, and thus they set out to regain their prestige through commerce and conquest of the New World. The resulting wars, quarrels, and what we look at today as unsavoury practices such as slavery; despite what the tenants of Critical Theory will teach or hint at, all of those things weren't in their primary scope of interest. They didn't set sail to conquer new lands because they were fascist imperialist scum- they did so because they were constantly in contest with their neighbouring European counterparts. They didn't exploit the natural land of the natives because they were brutal occupants- they colonized and cultivated the land because that is how their way of life was oriented. They didn't set out to evangelize the native population of the Americas because they hated their religion- it was because Christian Europeans loved theirs. I know that these perspectives weren't always the case for when Europeans set out for the New World. Indeed there existed many malevolent people who had more sinister ambitions and were well aware of the scope of their brutality. But it's these examples of perspective that are almost always left out of any of the lectures. 

This obvious attempt to consolidate a narrative that the Europeans of yesteryear were unrefined or unenlightened, unlike the modern progressively liberal world of today, is a center point of what Critical Theory and Cultural Marxism is all about. It's like a bad Monty Python sketch when I think about it: how the foundational values that this modern progressive liberal Western world is based upon - is a direct derivative of Western European thought itself. In other words, critiquing Europe's history with an idealistic European invention: it's not only logically fallible, it's also tragic. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Henry IV of Navarre: King of France and Catholic Convert


              The period known as the French Wars of Religion saw much of France under chaos and disarray. It was a period between mid and late sixteenth century that saw not only civil wars and massacres among the French people, but also infighting amongst the French nobility for the throne. These conflicts were also sown by foreign interests such as Spain and England, which in turn added even more emphasis on the dire situation caused by these wars. All these events had one theme in common, and that is the overbearing influence of religion, particularly French Catholicism and French Protestantism (who are referred to as the Huguenots). While it was a time of great turmoil, it was also a time of critical actions and drastic political maneuvers. 
              At the center of French Wars of Religion is Henry of Navarre (Henry IV). At the time of the death of Henry III (who was the king of France), Navarre was recognized as heir presumptive of the French throne by France’s strict adherence to the tradition of Salic law, which secured Navarre’s right to the throne through agnatic male descendance. Despite Navarre being born a Catholic, he was strictly brought up by his mother Jeanne d’Albert to be a Protestant. D’Albert, while at the same time being the queen regent of the Kingdom of Navarre, had proclaimed the state religion of Navarre to also be Calvinist (Protestant).[1] This of course was not a favorable trait to possess from the perspective of French Estates General while examining Henry IV’s claim to the throne, seeing as how France had always been ruled by a Catholic. Ever since Clovis I (the first king of the Franks) France adhered to Catholicism. France was even unofficially dubbed “the eldest daughter of the Catholic Church”, just as an illustration of how much French identity and the stability of French society hinged on being ruled by a Catholic monarch, and having a Catholic state religion. One such group that sought to preserve this tradition during the period of the French Religious Wars was the Catholic League which had been the bane of Henry of Navarre’s existence.  In the end, religion was both a lasting testament for Navarre to embrace, and an obstacle for him to overcome, if he wanted to fulfill his destiny to become king of France.
            After a long series of battles, assassination attempts (and successes), massacres and conspiracies, the conflict of interests over the succession of the French throne had reached a period that was seen as an uneasy balance. Between Henry IV and the Catholic League, there was no end to the conflict in sight except for more wars. Despite there being a few decisive victories for both camps, what little victories were won by either side were mostly pyrrhic in the sense that they did not yet change the outcome of the conflict. The Battle of Ivry in 1590 for example, was seen on the surface to be a great blow to the Catholic League from Navarre’s camp. Yet despite this victory, the Catholic League doubled down on their efforts and requested Spain’s aid (who had been a big supporter of the Catholic League) to both relieve and bolster their cause.[2] This was a frustrating development for Henry IV. It was just one of the many outcomes which proved to him that no matter how great his efforts and victories were, they would prove to be ineffective in nature.
            Yet despite everything, in July 1593, Navarre renounced Protestantism and was admitted into the Church, and at long last the French Wars of Religion were coming to an end.[3]  This was seen as the major turning point in the conflict, which quickly gave way to Navarre’s both legitimate and orthodox reign as the king of France.
            Within the framework of all the events that took place from beginning to end of Navarre’s campaign for the throne, one has to wonder what exactly were the motives for his conversion. The act of conversion was seen as a very important matter not just from a public perspective, but from a personal one as well. The process of a genuine conversion in medieval France, generally speaking, involved deep soul searching on a personal, theological, and metaphysical level. Then again, others might view religion as being just a social instrument that can be used to fulfill personal or political ambitions. All of these aspects beg the question of whether or not the sincerity of such an act done by Henry IV was justified through spiritual and altruistic causes, or ulterior political motives. In the end after all, it was the ancient image of France that was at stake, and her reputation of whether she was truly a kingdom ruled by a monarch, that is, through the grace of God and divine Catholic right. What Navarre’s experience surrounding his conversion meant to his Catholic and Huguenot subjects and how they could come to accept it as sincere, merits very close attention.[4]
            Niccolo Machiavelli once said,
“Therefore, a prudent ruler ought not to keep faith when by so doing; it would be against his interest when the reasons for which made him bind himself to it in the first place no longer exist.”[5]
It is interesting that this quote should mirror

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Rus’: An analysis of the Impact of the Varangians on Eastern Europe

           Church legend has it that St. Andrew the Apostle of John the Baptist and of Jesus Christ, during his evangelical missions traveled all the way up the Dnieper river in the then Scythian region of Sarmatia north of the Black sea, erected a cross, and prophesied that the site upon which he planted his cross was to become a great and powerful Christian city of many churches.[1] Through the ages, St. Andrew’s prophecy gradually came to life with the rise of a great and powerful city of Kiev under the rule of the Varangians: a city that eventually was inaugurated as the Christian capital of Kievan Rus’. However, the development of Kievan Rus’ was the later-stage product of a process of nation-building that was taken over from the Khazars (a political entity of Southeastern Europe and Eurasia) and put into motion by the Vikings, whom before that time, settled in the Northern steppes of modern day Russia in two proximal locations known as Staraya Ladoga and the city of Novgorod.
The Varangians traversed through the Baltic Sea on their various expeditions, and made temporary settlements at Staraya Ladoga for trading and crafting purposes.[2] They were initially not welcomed by the indigenous population of that region (such as the Balts and the Slavs) due to in-fighting amongst all the ethnic peoples there. But eventually the climate was right for their welcomed (and desired) re-arrival in the 9th century under the leadership of Rurik. It was at this pivotal moment, with the introduction of Rurik and the Rurikid (his followers/descendants) at Staraya Ladoga and Novgorod that Eastern Europe would permanently change. With all the annals of history that describe the acts, innovations, and feats of the political entities stemming from Novgorod and Kievan Rus’; the Varangians, Rurik and his dynasty (which ruled Russia up until the 16th century) influenced Eastern Europe throughout the span of their existence. They not only established an elite legacy of rulers, but also brought forth a rich Scandinavian culture; founded an economy; expanded their boarders as to rival even their Byzantine neighbors, and much more. In due time, the Rus' would grow to become a political entity of purpose, prosperity and power.
With the arrival of the Varangians in Northeastern Europe: one has to ask what was the significance of such an expedition? What were the unyielding implications of their arrival and upbringing, from Scandinavia to Northeastern Europe, and what were the inescapable consequences of their forth-bearing impact? Simply put, it was through the Rurikid dynasty and their successive assumption of authority in Eastern and Northeastern Europe, the Varangians changed the way Eastern Europe was shaped in all avenues of life through culture, economics, and most importantly politics.
The Varangians loved to trade, and because of this everlasting thirst for goods and wares, their expansion into modern day Russia was of economic perpetuity. What drove all merchants and tradesmen mad with desire were exotic goods from far-off lands. In this respect, the Varangians were no exception. They likewise were spellbound by trade. The most intriguing of all markets during the Viking Age were the ones located in the Orient. As is a well-known fact about the Orient, it was a fabulously wealthy land, and for the Scandinavians, there was need for, and a good profit to be earned from the discovery of new routes to the source of Oriental goods.”[3] They eventually did find these necessary routes to reach the Orient that stretched from the Donets and the Don leading them to the Sea of Azov.

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Impact of the Fervor and Radicalism of the Jacobins Club of Revolutionary France

The Guillotine was referred to as the "Nation's Razor" and was heavily used throughout the reign of terror

France during the years 1789 through to 1794 was a drastically different France from the previous years of its existence, as well as its future years. This period, known as the French Revolution, is categorized as a pivotal period in which the social fabric and political landscape of France is forever changed. From the humble beginnings of Clovis I through to Charlemagne, all the way down to Louis XIV; France has only known monarchy as a means of governance. But all of that drastically changed when France preformed a full 180 degree turn in the way government is exercised. The vast majority of Frenchmen and women elected to have a king no more, but rather a republic which sought to make a new society. The drafting of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in 1789, along with the coup d’etat which rendered France a constitutional monarchy, and the eventual regicide of King Louis XVI in 1793, ultimately made France a republic: a republic where every citizen was equal in both liberty and opportunity (famously expressed through the motto of Equality, Liberty, Fraternity). One such group that prompted all this civic change were the Jacobins, who later on in this research paper, shall be revealed as the driving force behind the French revolution in all manners, for better and for worse.
The Jacobins started off innocently enough as spectators of local and national events in France. Having their origins stemming from the province of Brittany, the Jacobins were a café society (cafés at the time were places of philosophical and political discussions).[1] The club itself was born in fire, at the time of heightened tension amongst the peoples of France. The epicenter of revolutionary action was taking place in Paris at the time; so naturally, the Jacobins branched out and established their main chapter in Paris where they could remain a relevant influence in the National Constituent Assembly (the zeitgeist behind the French Revolution). In due time, their influence spread and reigned supreme among the other clubs and factions of the National Assembly. But as time progressed and the patience of the people was wearing out. The Jacobins began to be more militant and notwithstanding towards opponents of the revolution who exercised the same principles (such as freedom of expression) that they were so valiantly supporting. There were rumors that were circulating around France, mostly pertaining to the termination of the revolution which added fuel to the paranoid fervor of the National Assembly. As quoted by Frederick William of Prussia, he promised to use military action to affirm “the basis of a monarchial government equally suitable to the rights of the Sovereigns and the well-being of the French nation”.[2] Prussia was viewed as an enemy of France, but enemies of the state existed from within France’s boarders as well. The Jacobins made/labelled enemies during their ascension into the public sphere quite often. 
A sansculottes member sporting the tricolours as well as wearing the Phrygian Cap (Liberty Cap) 

The Jacobins exercised retribution towards royalists and Girondins (a political faction that opposed the Jacobins later during the revolution) alike, anyone who upheld their ideas: often times, the punishment was met with the fall of the blade of the Guillotine. With such a quick conversion from liberalism to radicalism, one has to wonder how this happened. Indeed, why did the Jacobins (at one point, a progressive political party) who utilized enlightenment period ideologies, go from being truly liberal and democratic, to a radical and tyrannical group that instigated violent acts and dictatorial policies? To fully understand the answer to this question, one need only look at the dire circumstances that eighteenth century France brought to its citizens, as well as the nature of its people who lead France under the guise of liberty.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Feudalism: Life During the Middle-Ages

Diagram of a typical Feudal village

What is it that defines the middle-ages as the epoch that left its legacy on the Western world? When one thinks of the middle-ages, one tends to think of knights on horseback in combat, glorious battles of hallowed significant and decisiveness, clashes of civilizations through various crusades and diplomatic disputes, or even great kings with wisdom and sovereignty. As relevant as these aspects were in providing a description of this era, they simply don't do justice in explaining to the common man exactly how a medieval society orated itself geopolitically and interdependently. The middle-ages, like any age, is a historical period that exhibits more than meets the eye.  It is an age riddled with inflated loyalties, clerical powers of the church combating the invading warriors, and constant threats from neighbouring political entities. Initiated through the Germanic invasion, leading down to humble beginnings of principalities and local political entities, a complex system of relationships between the aristocrats and laymen began to emerge. This would become the standard form of political systems throughout western Europe until the high middle-ages, starting with William the Norman in England in 1066 A.D after the battle of Hastings, in conjunction with the fall of the Carolingian empire; feudalism slowly began to catch on throughout continental Europe and would encompass the early kingdoms of Germany, France, Italy, and Spain. As a homogenous mixture of Latin and Germanic traditions, feudalism was the practical and sensible blend of systems that formed the cornerstone of medieval society because of its robust social, economic, and relationship purposes. With this important characteristic of western-medieval Europe, feudalism, a medieval society functioned well enough to govern itself territorially and locally, and assuming that the people accept their natural order, it would continue to be a dominant system of politics throughout the middle-ages which would restore much of the nostalgic post-western Roman world to order through its prevalence.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Tragedy Behind the Fall of Constantinople


The year 1453 was one that altered the landscape of late medieval history, one that changed the world forever. This year entailed a siege that was accomplished by the Ottoman Turks upon the empire of Eastern Rome, and in particular, the great city of Constantinople. Whether or not this clash of civilizations had positive impact is still ambiguous. However, at the pinnacle of Byzantine decline and Ottoman invasion, the sheer cataclysm that the fall of Constantinople assumed in Asia Minor held a strong negative impact. Much like a poetic Homeric epic, the story of the fall of Constantinople was a tragedy worthy of a myriad of infamy. It was the beginning of the end of antique and Christian wisdom through Turkish desolation, the finite demise of the lineage of the great Palaiologos dynasty, along with the sudden end to the tangent glorious legacy of the Roman empire. As prolonged as the conquest of Byzantine by the Turks was, it was swift enough to become a major blow to Christendom, European, and Roman influence.

            The spoils of war are an excellent model by which historians measure the direct impact of conquest. In the case of the Turks; Sultan Mehmed II, after having captured the besieged city, allowed his troops to plunder it of her riches for three days, saving only a few forbidden points of interests such as the Hagia Sophia. This was accomplished through both desecrating and thieving. This vice has highly negative connotations, both in antiquity and in the historical community. If a city is looted, there is no way of preserving, extracting, or excavating artifacts and literature of interest, thereby contracting both contemporary wisdom and modern knowledge.

            One must weigh in the humane factor when examining just how wounding the sack of Constantinople was. The slaughter of approximately seven thousand innocent Christian civilians in the city lasted for three days. Those who could flee the inescapable fate of the city took with them ancient scrolls of knowledge, which is said to have sparked the renaissance in certain parts of Europe. It was also cited by Venetian eye witness Barbaro, that the great Constantine XI, in a heroic last stand, took off any garments that made him look like that of nobility, and lead one last charge against the Turks in an effort to defend the city. Thus it was by the sword that ended the rule of the Palaiologos, and burying along with the ashes, the legacy of the Eastern Roman emperors. The symbolism behind this, is that in the end, the captain went down with the ship. The Roman Empire and the Augustuses were no more. The sheer calamity of putting an end to centuries of Roman triumph, innovation, and monumental influence was tragic and immensely impacting on the world at large. It was as if the fall of Byzantium was the undoing of a precious and important museum artifact.

            The year 1453 was one that altered the landscape of late medieval history. Constantinople had fallen, and because of this, the Greeks and the west wept. The Sultan erected his Ottoman capitol in the same city, and the end of a seemingly timeless empire had reached its end. Much of what modern society now possesses is derived from the Roman Empire. To this day, the west is still in lament due to the loss of what had been somewhat of a father figure to the development of culture and society in itself. Despite this devastating loss, one must remember that even though great figures are remembered, legends never die; such is the legacy of the Roman empire and the city of Constantinople.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Common Logical Fallacies part II

My apologies for not making a blog post in such a long time. Truth be told I've gotten somewhat lazy with it, plus I am always busy with work these days. But so long as I can keep this blog at least somewhat active, maybe it will be of benefit. In short, I've decided to post an addendum to my previous blog post on common logical fallacies. I won't describe various obvious ones such as Fallacy of Composition or Ad Hominem because I trust that even laymen can discern the obvious faultiness of those arguments. Sadly I only wish to outline one fallacy today, I will do more in the future. But let's not waste anymore time and continue to observe some of the fallacies that have peaked my attention over a few months.

6) Post hoc ergo propter hoc: Don't let the Latin fool you into thinking that this something very technical and formal. It translates to "after this, therefore, because of this" or simply put "correlation =/= causation." In an expression, it would be "A happened, then B occurred. Therefore A caused B." It simply means that because there is a correlation between A and B, does not mean that therefore A caused B. To prove this conclusion there needs to be solid evidence to support the sequence. But too often there is no such evidence present because it often looks like the correlation between two events are synonymous, therefore one HAD to have caused the other- meanwhile disregarding other factors that can potentially rule out the connection the two variables possess. An example that I come across way too often that shows the radical nature of this fallacy is as follows:
-Christianity legalized throughout the Roman empire around 313 A.D
-The fall of the Roman empire happened shortly after, thereby commencing the   Dark Ages
-Therefore Christianity caused the Dark Ages
Many historians and amateurs feel a great sense of frustration when they read something like this. This is because the people that are proclaiming this as clear reasoning, don't ever take into consideration the numerous factors that insinuated the cause of the Dark Ages. For example the Barbarian Invasion of Rome,