Political Jesus

PEPE ESCOBAR • DECEMBER 23, 2020

Hieronymus Bosch, The Adoration of the Magi: detail featuring the splendid African Balthasar and, partially naked, at the entrance of the hut, the Anti-Christ.

Let’s hit the road in the search for the real Jesus.

Galilee, Year 27: baptized by an itinerant preacher, John the Baptist. That’s when the story really begins. We know virtually nothing of his life till then.

Galilee is ruled by shabby client kings of the Roman empire – first Herod, then his son Herod Antipas. Jesus only enters imperial jurisdiction later, when he moves to Judaea, a Roman province since Year 6.

Galilee is all about agricultural and fishing land, surrounded by way more sophisticated Greeks and Phoenicians. Jesus grows up in a context of simple peasant life; increasing taxes; population explosion; and then non-stop fragmentation of peasant land, causing the proverbial pressures on traditional family life.

Social oppression inevitably had to engender resistance – in the form of budding peasant unrest. Talk about quite fertile ground for the proliferation of charismatic spiritual leaders.

Yet who was Jesus The Man, really? A Jewish holy man? A prophet? A magician? A miracle man? A peasant leader? A revolutionary? Prefiguring Walt Withman, he did “contain multitudes”. He was indeed all things to all men.

What we seem to know for sure is that he had charisma in spades – and exuded natural authority.

The Synoptic Gospels point to problems with Mom and his brothers. Yet he never abandoned his followers – those twelve specials, all from very humble backgrounds, except Matthew (a tax collector).

He lived on the (dusty) road – full time, and that was not exactly comfortable. He was at ease with everyone – prostitutes included.

As a preacher, he was a master of P.R. He talked in parables – easily grasped by small agricultural communities. That’s where he felt really at home.

So Jesus was a rural, not urban, phenomenon. He specially appealed to those who were ill – mentally and physically. He built up a solid reputation as a healer: all those miracle cures – especially exorcisms. And the whole lot interpreted as a sign of holiness.

Jesus was a Palestinian Jew. His followers were overwhelmingly Jews – those peasants destabilized by heavy taxation of their lands and ingloriously clashing with the corruption of Herod’s political machine.

Jesus focused on the imminence of God’s kingdom. But what did he really mean? The Gospels don’t make it easier. Much of his preaching is inclusive. Yet sometimes he would refer to a “Last Judgment” in which the wicked will be punished and the good will be rewarded.

Essentially, he was a millenarian prophet. But as much as he was striving for moral renewal, he was delivering a social message – where the “kingdom” to come represented the Triumph of the Outcast. What that really mean, in practice, was possibly a renewal of family and village community life.

Whatever he was really up to, the Powers That Be feared Jesus. After all he was way too popular. And even if he did not advise armed resistance, Power could not but be very worried by a charismatic leader with miraculous attributes dazzling the crowds.

Jesus may have sensed he was a target. And that’s what may have provoked the move to Judaea – possibly in Year 30. And then to Jerusalem.

Jerusalem may have been the Holy Grail. The apex of his mission – as he finally sensed he was ready to confront the powers behind the Temple.

He made a Jerusalem entrance that was nothing short of epic, riding a donkey – as if fulfilling a prophecy (Zechariah) that “a king” would enter Jerusalem on a donkey. In Matthew, the crowds actually call him “Son of David”.

Jerusalem was buzzing with people getting together for Passover. And last but not least, Roman governor Pontius Pilate and his troops were also in town, freshly arrived from Caesarea – the Roman HQ in the province – and obsessed with maintaining order.

Enter Caiaphas, the high priest: a canny, vastly experienced political operator, who managed for years to get the support of the Jews while placating his Roman overlords.

Now imagine the scene – worthy of a Scorsese epic: an outsider, itinerant preacher from Galilee, arriving in the mean streets with his posse, all speaking in weird accents, with the crowds shouting he may be the Messiah.

And then, the ultimate set piece: he enters the Temple, by himself, and overthrows the tables of the moneylenders. What did he really want?

That’s Political Jesus 1 and 2.

1. To graphically stress the end of the old order – Temple included – and the coming of the “new kingdom”.

2. To express – politically – the growing popular revolt against the ruling elite.

And by a simple twist of fate, that’s when he sealed his destiny.

Blowback was instantaneous. The Jewish priests had to be placated. They feared Roman retaliation. And then Caiaphas saw his opening, telling them – according to the Gospel by John – “it is better for one man to die for the people”.

And that’s how Jesus the Outsider was used as only a pawn in their game to maintain order in Jerusalem.

He was now free to enter History as a larger than life Martyr, Savior, and Myth.

Constantinople & the world – the real story

Constantinople & the world – the real story

October 16, 2020

by Giorgi Nektarios Selimos for the Saker Blog

Please read my words & think about what has happened.
Normal people are not to blame here it is the sin of Greed & Lust for money & power that is responsible. If you truly believe in Christ nothing is lost. But after you read this you must decide what to do as you will know the Truth & God will not hold you blameless.

The Throne of the Pope is an interesting case as there is no evidence in the Bible or any Historical religious texts there was ever 1 single Bishop that should or did preside over all other churches in Christianity.
The Word Pope in the context as the Universal leader is never mentioned by any of the Apostles in the Bible or any Bishops from the 5 churches of the Apostles during the Time of Christ on the Earth.

The 1st Bishop of the church in Rome was Pius 1 (142-155) & he never mentioned the Word Pope or ever referred to being the Universal leader of Christians during his service to the Lord & the people of Rome.

For the 1st 1000 years after Christ the Church was essentially one body that had 5 Historical Patriarchal Centres in Strategic locations as advised to by Christ himself & the Mutual agreement of all of the 12 apostles.
As seen in the Bible the Apostles worked as a team with their churches & consulted each other on troubling issues from time to time & were always in full communion with each other.

This is not to say that there was no differences as is clearly exhibited in the Bible when Apostle Paul argues with Peter for not wanting to except ALL people into the Church as Christians. Paul argued with Peter that Jewish laws & customs should NOT be applied to non Jews in order for them to be accepted in the Church. Peter thought that EVERYONE HAD to follow Jewish Laws & customs to be accepted by Christ.

In the end the Apostles agreed with Paul & Peter accepted the decision & so Christianity was able to be spread to the whole world. This documented event in the Bible clearly shows that NO ONE Apostle was the Supreme leader, and that all Apostles worked together in their faith to spread the Words of Christ.

From the Original Christian churches in Jerusalem, Antioch(Syria), Rome(Italy), Alexandria(Egypt), & Constantinople(Greece) the Apostles Spread the word of God. But were persecuted & tortured & murdered by Romans & non Believers .

In 306 Constantine the Roman Emperor had fought his way to power in Rome & had managed to become Emperor for all the Roman Empire. Early on his reign Constantine was a beneficiary of a miracle of Christ
( Battle of the Milvian Bridge) & became a firm believer in Christ & Christ’s teachings & ended the persecution of all Christians.

In Honour of his new found faith in Christ, Constantine decided to built a new Capital for the Roman Empire in the Eastern predominately Christian Greek area of the Roman Empire. He would name this new spectacular city Constantinople & build the Worlds Grandest Church there ” The Church of the Apostles” or “Ayia Sophia’ it was laden with Gold, Marble, jewels, & the finest materials in all mankind it was spectacular in appearance & magnificent in stature. The Russian Royal Delegation would later describe it to Prince Vladimir of Russia as: “When we entered this place of worship we did not know if we were in Heaven or on Earth”

Emperor Constantine would seek to Unite his empire in Christian faith under this Orthodox Church.
In fact Constantine was incredibly successful & Christianity flourished under his rule.
In 325 Constantine established the Council of Nicea , where all Religious matters of the 5 original Apostolic Churches were to be worked out together . Emperor Constantine set up a system where all the Bishops of each church would work together under the Orthodox Church & have full communion with each other.

It was a good democratic system where no one Bishop or Politician could rule alone & where the Emperor would still retain authority of the whole Roman Empire.

Constantine wisely understood that in order for the Roman Empire to remain Strong he needed to keep the Church strong unlike politics this was the one way he could unite the citizens of the Empire in a good manner. To be certain, differences did occur in some religious matters from time to time but ultimately were resolved or not allowed to interfere with the continuation of the Church. Such was a dispute with the Nicene creed, the Roman church Bishop had disagreed with the Orthodox church Bishops of the East on this. The Roman Bishop refused to agree with any of the other Bishops on this issue. So they just defered the matter & nothing was officially changed until the Great Schism of the Roman church.

During his reign, Emperor Constantine built St Peters Basilica in Rome directly over the Apostle Peter’s Tomb. This was done so as to greatly honour the Apostle Peter who had spent much of his time Preaching in Rome .
It took 30 years to build starting in 326. It was a grand Church but not close in stature to the Headquarters Church Constantine had built in the Eastern part of the empire in his new capital of Constantinople.

After Emperor Constantine’s death his successor’s would succumb to political pressure from the Rich & Old Guard Romans who wanted to shift government power back to Rome.
The Political Elite had seen how Constantine had managed to gain peace, great power & riches through the Unification of the empire under one church & most certainly were thinking of a way that they too could emulate his success. But they did not want to operate from this new Roman Empire Capital of Constantinople.

They were desperate to find a way to make Rome the power centre once again. The Great Orthodox Church that Constantine had built & united his empire in Christianity with, was caught in the middle of this political struggle with Western Roman elites & a lot of power & money was at stake. Not to mention many Roman politicians still found it difficult not worshipping the Old Roman Idols from previous Emperors & retaining the mentality of worshiping any Idol they believed would make them rich & powerful.
They were not too concerned about true salvation, much like many of today’s politicians who clearly pretend to be whatever they need to be in order to get elected. They were more interested in Power & money & sex. At the same time the Church in Rome also got caught up in this political power struggle.

Between religious disagreement with the four original eastern orthodox churches & the political pressure to undo Constantinople as the Roman capital, The Roman Church & Bishops were greatly effected & started to break away from the other 4 remaining Patriarchs of the Original church.

During this time the Roman Church bishops suddenly & mysteriously produced
“The Donation of Constantine Decree” a brilliantly forged Imperial Decree in which the now dead Emperor Constantine transfers authority over Rome & all the Western part of the Empire to the Pope .

In this fake decree Constantine purportedly agreed his throne would only retain Imperial Authority in the Eastern part of the Roman empire & rule only from his new imperial capital of Constantinople & was also agreed the Pope of the Roman Church could have control of the rest of the Empire.
The Forged Imperial Decree claimed it was a gift to Pope Sylvester 1 for teaching Emperor Constantine about Christianity , baptizing him, & curing him of Leprosy.
This Forged Decree continued to be of great use to the Roman Church & was used by successive Popes to solidify power acquire more territory & gain more converts.
This document was also used in the Roman Empire as a Propaganda tool for the Roman Church to claim Universal Supremacy over the remaining 4 unified apostolic orthodox churches.

The 1st Pope who had the audacity to use this Forged document in an official act against all the other churches was Pope Leo IX who in an officially recorded letter to the Patriarch of Constantinople in 1054 declared to the remaining 4 Churches of the Apostles that Indeed it was the Roman Church who clearly had Universal Supremacy over all Christians as was the proof under the seal of the Emperor Constantine as well as under a loosely translated reference (Matthew:16:18 ) made in the Bible. The Roman Church then demanded that everyone bow down to them & except this for fact.

When the Orthodox Patriarchs refused, the Roman Pope split away & officially created the Roman Catholic Church independent of the Orthodox churches, thus creating new religious decrees such as celibacy for clergy, no divorce, & the new revelation that the Pope was the infallible Vicar of Christ as well as numerous other new rules that were never part of the original church.

This was the year 1054 & the Roman Church had now officially split with the remaining 4 Original Apostolic Orthodox churches.
It was to be known as the great Schism.
The Roman Church was now officially alone & the 1st church in History of Christianity to split from the remaining Apostolic Orthodox churches.

It was now the 4 Original Orthodox Patriarchal Churches remaining as one, just as they still remain almost 1,000 years later today. The 4 remaining church’s managed to come to an agreement together & agreed not to bow down to the self proclaimed Universal Supremacy of the Roman Pope & all his new rules. It was only due to Christ’s miraculous enlightenment that the Orthodox Bishops did not believe the lies of the Pope & his forged decree.
The Original Apostolic Churches were not lost.

Eventually Pope Pius in 1453 admitted that the decree was a forgery & just as it had suddenly appeared, it was suddenly never seen again & nor ever mentioned or used again by the Roman Church & Pope.
By this time though the Muslim Armies of the East had gained horrific strength & were ravaging the Eastern Parts of the Roman Empire. This area was precisely where the majority of Christians still lived & was the heart of the remaining Apostolic Orthodox Churches.

In 1421 the Officials in Constantinople sent word to the Rome that they needed more help from the Roman Soldiers stationed in the West as the Muslims were barbarically slaughtering people & forcing them to refute Christianity & convert to Islam under the sharp blades of Muslim swords.
Constantinople was clearly still part of the Roman Empire but over the years had developed strained relations with the Roman Government & the Roman Church. The Orthodox Church in Constantinople had become a sore spot for many Roman political & Church leaders. The request for military assistance reached Rome but It was decided by the Roman Government & Pope not to send help to the East & let the current army reserves there try & fend for themselves.

The Emperor & the Pope sensing political opportunity to be finally rid of Constantinople & have Rome return to its rightful position of glory decided to fortify the Western empire & protect it at all costs , the Muslims were never able to get through to Rome & the Popes Roman Church was unscathed.

In Constantinople & the Eastern part of the Empire this resulted in the Unholy Slaughter & Barbaric killings of Bishops, Priests & Christian men of all ages, Women were raped & brutally murdered, children taken into slavery & Christian Churches destroyed or turned into Muslim Mosques including the Grand Church Constantine had built “the Ayia Sophia” which now has once again has been converted from museum to a mosque in 2020 .

The previous Pope John Paul was the 1st & only Pope to acknowledge this great sin against humanity & ask forgiveness from the Orthodox believers in Christ for what the Roman Church did to their ancestors.

This Mass slaughter of the Eastern Roman Empire had now resulted in the Roman Church being the only functioning church left in the Empire. With the Muslims effectively killing all Orthodox Bishops & priests & not allowing any remaining survivors freedom of religion the Roman Catholic church was poised to become the #1 Church in the world.

From this point on the Roman Catholic church did not look back & eventually embarked on the infamous Catholic Crusades & Witch Burnings. The Pope was finally free to spread the Roman brand of religion to the world unopposed.
Catholicism became the #1 Church & religion in the World & The Pope’s Dream of undisputed power in all matters was now realized, all thanks to the mass slaughter of the Orthodox Christians by the Muslims.

It was the Russians & Ukrainians during this bleak time for the Orthodox church that were able to keep the 4 Original Apostolic Churches memory & Traditions alive & in fact rebuild many exact replicas of these great churches in their countries including the Ayia Sophia which was rebuilt in Kiev, Ukraine & still stands to this day as an Orthodox church.

The Muslims were never successful in Conquering Russia & the Orthodox Church flourished in Russia. Attaining still to this day the highest number of churches per capita in the world. Even during the times of communism this fact did not change.
That is how strong the Orthodox faith was & is today. The Orthodox Church of Constantinople where Constantine had ended Christian persecutions & started the flourishing of the Christianity movement was gone…..

But the faith remained.

The Roman Church had now decided it was time to make St Peters Basilica the New centre of Christianity. Pope Julius II embarked on a grand reconstruction plan. Pope Julius II began by destroying Constantine’s original Church of St Peter & rebuilding one on top of the original Vatican grave yard .
Pope Julius also had All the original Orthodox Crosses from St Peter’s Church removed & replaced with new Latin crosses. The Pope then gloriously installed the famous Heliopolis Obelisk courtesy of the evil & debaucherous Roman Emperor Caligula.

This became a Grand church and was thereafter widely publicized as the Greatest Church on earth & the new centre of Christianity.
Later on in the mid 1930’s the Dictator & Ally of Adolf Hitler, Mussolini would add a Grand Monumental Avenue leading to the Piazza. Only the Pope is allowed to celebrate Catholic Mass on this Alter & no one else.

I want to make it absolutely clear that the Roman Catholic believers are not at fault for this lust for power & money in the history of the Roman Catholic Church. Most Catholic believers don’t know any of this.

The Roman Catholic worshipers clearly believe in Christ, but unfortunately have been deceived by there church leaders & Roman politicians over the centuries. All in a lustful quest for power & money.
I believe that it is possible some Popes wanted to stop, but the deceit had gone too far & rather than expose it & risk dangerous consequences they probably asked Christ for forgiveness & just carried on the lies.

Other Popes mysteriously died or were removed .
I truly do admire the previous Pope John Paul for his courage to acknowledge the great Schism & ask for forgiveness. I think he was a good man & the only Pope who came close to reconciling with the Original Church. But Tragically by the time he had gotten to this point he died.

I am worried that many Catholics are starting to lose their faith in Christ because of all the repeated sexual scandals & of their clergy & the court ordered payouts forcing many churches into bankruptcy as well as many of the negative movies being made about their church.
The Catholic believers must understand that this has nothing to do with Christ & it is all the doings of their Leaders.
I want them to know that they were once part of the Orthodox Church & they should consider coming back rather than giving up.

A letter to Italian-Americans

Source

June 21, 2020

A letter to Italian-Americans

By POSTFATARESURGO for The Saker Blog

The World Thought Police (WTP) has included Cristoforo Colombo, a.k.a. Christopher Columbus, in his black list. He was a “bad” person, period. Details are not needed. WTP’s decision are not questionable, nor they can be subject to anyone’s appeal, scrutiny or disagreement. Once the WTP issues a red flag on anyone, past, present or future, scores of enforcers are ready, as they were waiting for a signal, to go into action. Even the most neutral observer of current events will have to admit that this ongoing heritage hate frenzy plays along well consolidated tactics, anything but “spontaneous”. Proof of that could easily come from asking participants in the hysteric toppling of statues around the US if they could correctly place dates and events related to the subject to be grounded: somebody has done that and all the answers he could receive were growls from a crowd of rabid Pavlov’s dogs who admit no questioning to their rage. After all a basic tenet of victimhood philosophy is that virtually everyone with problems, perceived problems, or a bad life situation, is a victim. Racial, sexual, age, ethnic, political, or whatever discrimination factor, outside one’s self, is to blame for one’s problems.

As for Americans of Italian heritage, the ultimate date to celebrate is the discovery of the new world by an Italian, Cristoforo Colombo on October 12th, 1492. But Colombo had no idea of being “Italian”, nor other prominent “Italian” navigators and explorers of the time, incidentally all of them working for national states such as Spain, France or England, simply because there was not a state called “Italy” that could have financed their costly voyages.

Therefore, Colombo always considered himself a Genoese, Vespucci and Verrazzano considered themselves Florentines, and Giovanni Caboto – although probably born in Gaeta – was sure to be Venetian. Giovanni da Verrazzano (whose correct spelling was only recently recognized by the state of New York) was in fact the first European to set foot in North America and Amerigo Vespucci unwillingly gave the name to the entire continent, courtesy of the German cartographer Waldseemüller.

As for Columbus, targeted by many as one of symbols representing a past that must be eradicated, there are indeed records and historical accounts that prove that he was not – by today’s standards – benevolent towards natives he came in contact with. Rather, he probably did not consider them any different than animals or objects, just like the Romans who considered – without any qualms of conscience – other human beings they had reduced to the status of slaves, just that: objects to be used for any labor necessities, whether by a private owner who had purchased them, or by the state for public works such as roads or public buildings such as arenas or aqueducts.

So, where do we go from here? It doesn’t take long to figure out that if we continue to examine history by todays’ “moral standards”, the path becomes endless. Soon there will be an endless list of human beings –under any denomination possible – demanding some sort of compensation for torts, damages, injustices, presumed violence, discrimination, unfair treatment, you name it.

Let’s get back to the Romans. They got their huge empire by conquering, that is by subjugating with violence other human beings, all over western Europe, northern Africa, and parts of Asia. Never mind that eventually those “barbarians” conquered themselves a crumbling Roman empire certainly not waging an olive branch. What about ancient peoples of the Italian peninsula? They were mostly peaceful populations who would have lived happily along the Romans, but the Romans waged war to their neighbors Etruscans, Sabines, Picenes, Ligures, Samnites, Lucani, Celts, Gauls just to name a few.

A possible lawsuit against the city of Rome by anyone claiming “suffering damages” enhanced by racial hatred in a past life is looming in the not so distant future, not to mention that statues of Roman emperors, the Colosseum and Roman arches of triumph are inevitably at risk.

What about the making of Italy as a nation? In 1861, the various states comprised in the Italian peninsula, including duchies and grand-duchies, decided to become all Italians and put aside almost two thousand years of differences and live happily together. At least that’s what history manuals have told us all along, right? Not quite.

Neapolitan philosopher Giovanbattista Vico stated that history invariably repeats itself. And one of the basic lessons of history is that it is written by the winners. The making of Italy was no exception to the rule as it was the annexation of a number of sovereign and independent states to another that simply had the military force to do so, because aided by foreign powers, namely France and Great Britain.

Giovanni Giolitti, the Italian statesman who ruled Italy for decades before Mussolini seized power in 1922, used to repeat that after all the Risorgimento was a fairytale, but a useful one, and as such it should be left untouched. In essence, the making of Italy caused for most Italians, especially from the south, suffering and despair, due to an unbearable worsening of their livelihoods, so bad in fact that millions were forced to emigrate to both North and South America. It was, once again since the beginning of recorded history, one organized elite who prevailed upon innocent populations who lived peaceful lives under their respective Kings and Dukes, which –incidentally – had not declared nor sought any conflict whatsoever with Piedmont or any other Italian state.

Ironically, the Kingdom of Piedmont (also called Kingdom of Sardinia as the island was part of it) was by all accounts the least “Italian” of all other Italian states. In fact the common language used in Piedmont was French, and the opening declaration of the Kingdom of Italy, pronounced on March 17th, 1861 by Camillo Benso di Cavour were in fact pronounced in French: “Le Royaume d’Italie est aujourd’hui un fait. Le Roi, notre auguste souverain prend pour lui-même et pour ses successeurs le titre de Roi d’Italie”. (The Kingdom of Italy is today accomplished. The King, our august sovereign, assumes for himself and his successors the title of King of Italy)

That the opening statement of the new nation was pronounced in French is one of the many details historians failed to describe or deleted altogether because inconvenient to the official narrative of the making of Italy. Neither Cavour nor the new king himself, Victor Emmanuel II, really knew how to express themselves in Italian, as the common language was the local dialect or, in more official occasions, French. Even after 1861 French was kept in use for most official acts of the new government as most employees and representatives came from Piedmont and had therefore no knowledge of Italian, which was used by no more than 2-3% of the populations of the Italian peninsula. The rest was simply other dialects, or other languages like Neapolitan.

Every basic manual of Italian history will tell you that Italy has its “founding fathers” and incidentally they all came from the Kingdom of Piedmont: Mazzini, the political father, ideologue and mastermind. Cavour, the discreet strategist and diplomat. The first King of Italy, Victor Emmanuel II, who preferred to be named in continuity with the dynastic line of Savoy, instead of becoming what should have been Victor Emmanuel I of Italy. And the quintessential Italian hero, Garibaldi.

Garibaldi enjoys a statue in every Italian city, village or hamlet. Universally recognized as the man who single handedly defeated all the enemies of Italian populations longing for liberty under one state, he also spent quite some time in South America, where he had to make a living, somehow. In 1852, in Lima, he decided to assume Peruvian citizenship in order to be named captain of a vessel that was to offer regular service from Lima to China with a cargo of guamo fertilizer, and sail back from Canton with a cargo of coolies, chinese peasants of the lowest class, who were practically brought to Peru by force to extract Guamo as slave labor force for a job not even the poorest Peruvians wanted to do.

So we have a problem here. Even a champion of liberty as Garibaldi could come under scrutiny as a slave trader and his statues soon could come down as symbols of a past that must be eradicated. Soon a worldwide ban on Garibaldi’s symbols could be enacted by the WTP and his statues – worldwide, but especially in Italy – singled out for immediate demolition.

But Colombo and Garibaldi were simply men of their times who were not burdened by the moral dilemmas of the 21st century. We should know better than judging with today’s standards men of the past, despite all their flaws. After all we should know that men of the future will judge many of today’s standards with inevitable different ones.

Italian Americans – regardless of their political affiliation – should see Colombo as one “Italian” who embodied one of quintessential American qualities: don’t take the word “impossible” for granted. Most seamen of his time believed that the discovery of another part of the world sailing westward was “impossible” as – in their beliefs – the ocean was simply an endless body of water no human being should dare to challenge.

The making of Italy inevitably caused emigration and suffering to millions of people, just as Garibaldi or Colombo did cause suffering to other fellow human beings, thinking they were doing “the right thing”. That has happened in every country or civilization of the past, and it will happen inevitably again. But statues, or symbols, are essential: they help us remember, no matter what.

Destroying statues is a complete useless damnatio memoriae which serves no one. Neither the perpetrators, who should be remembered and judged for their deeds, good or bad, nor the victims, which will be completely forgotten. But it does serve the same old movers and shakers who are acting – and funding – behind the scenes this wave of hysteria in order to eradicate our symbols, and therefore our memory.

Why Xi won’t repeat Ming Dynasty mistakes

Why Xi won’t repeat Ming Dynasty mistakes

May 11, 2020

By Pepe Escobar – posted with permission

China has learned from its own rich history and is applying those lessons to re-emerge as a major 21st century power

Chinese President Xi Jinping visits the Jiayu Pass, a famed MIng Dynasty era part of the Great Wall in Jiayuguan City, during an inspection tour of northwest China’s Gansu Province, August 20, 2019. Photo: FacebookWith hybrid warfare 2.0 against China reaching fever pitch, the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative, will continue to be demonized 24/7 as the proverbial evil communist plot for economic and geopolitical domination of the “free” world, boosted by a sinister disinformation campaign.

Chinese President Xi Jinping visits the Jiayu Pass,
a famed MIng Dynasty era part of the Great Wall in Jiayuguan City,
during an inspection tour of northwest China’s Gansu Province,
August 20, 2019. Photo: Facebook

It’s idle to discuss with simpletons. In the interest of an informed debate, what matters is to find the deeper roots of Beijing’s strategy – what the Chinese learned from their own rich history and how they are applying these lessons as a re-emerging major power in the young 21st century.

Let’s start with how East and West used to position themselves at the center of the world.

The first Chinese historic-geographic encyclopedia, the 2nd century B.C. Classic of the Mountains and the Seas, tells us the world was what was under the sun (tienhia). Composed of “mountains and seas” (shanhai), the world was laid out between “four seas” (shihai). There’s only one thing that does not change: the center. And its name is “Middle Kingdom” (Zhongguo), that is, China.

Of course, the Europeans, in the 16th century, discovering that the earth was round, turned Chinese centrality upside down. But actually not that much (see, for instance, this 21st century Sinocentric map published in 2013).

The principle of a huge continent surrounded by seas, the “exterior ocean,” seems to have derived from Buddhist cosmology, in which the world is described as a “four-petal lotus.” But the Sinocentric spirit was powerful enough to discard and prevail over every cosmogony that might have contradicted it, such as the Buddhist, which placed India at the center.

Now compare Ancient Greece. Its center, based on reconstituted maps by Hippocrates and Herodotus, is a composite in the Aegean Sea, featuring the Delphi-Delos-Ionia triad. The major split between East and West goes back to the Roman empire in the 3rd century. And it starts with Diocletian, who made it all about geopolitics.

Here’s the sequence: In 293, he installs a tetrarchy, with two Augustuses and two Caesars, and four prefectures. Maximian Augustus is charged to defend the West (Occidens), with the “prefecture of Italy” having Milan as capital. Diocletian charges himself to defend the East (Oriens), with the “prefecture of Orient” having Nicomedia as capital.

Political religion is added to this new politico-military complex. Diocletian starts the Christian dioceses (dioikesis, in Greek, after his name), twelve in total. There is already a diocese of the Orient – basically the Levant and northern Egypt.

There’s no diocese of the Occident. But there is a diocese of Asia: basically the Western part of Mediterranean Turkey nowadays, heir to the ancient Roman provinces in Asia. That’s quite interesting: the Orient is placed east of Asia.

The historical center, Rome, is just a symbol. There’s no more center; in fact, the center is slouching towards the Orient. Nicomedia, Diocletian’s capital, is quickly replaced by neighbor Byzantium under Constantine and rechristened as Constantinople: he wants to turn it into “the new Rome.”

When the Western Roman empire falls in 476, the empire of the Orient remains.

Officially, it will become the Byzantine empire only in the year 732, while the Holy Roman Empire – which, as we know, was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire – resurrects with Charlemagne in 800. From Charlemagne onwards, the Occident regards itself as “Europe,” and vice-versa: the historical center and the engine of this vast geographical space, which will eventually reach and incorporate the Americas.

Superstar admiral

We’re still immersed in a – literally – oceanic debate among historians about the myriad reasons and the context that led everyone and his neighbor to frenetically take to the seas starting in the late 15th century – from Columbus and Vasco da Gama to Magellan.

But the West usually forgets about the true pioneer: iconic Admiral Zheng He, original name Ma He, a eunuch and Muslim Hui from Yunnan province.

His father and grandfather had been pilgrims to Mecca. Zheng He grew up speaking Mandarin and Arabic and learning a lot about geography. When he was 13, he was placed in the house of a Ming prince, Zhu Di, member of the new dynasty that came to power in 1387.

Educated as a diplomat and warrior, Zheng He converted to Buddhism under his new name, although he always remained faithful to Islam. After all, as I saw for myself when I visited Hui communities in 1997 when branching out from the Silk Road, on my way to Labrang monastery in Xiahe, Hui Islam is a fascinating syncretism incorporating Buddhism, the Tao and Confucianism.

Zhu Di brought down the Emperor in 1402 and took the name Yong Le. A year later he had already commissioned Zheng He as admiral, and ordered him to supervise the construction of a large fleet to explore the seas around China. Or, to be more precise, the “Occidental ocean” (Xiyang): that is, the Indian Ocean.

Thus from 1405 to 1433, roughly three decades, Zheng He led seven expeditions across the seas all the way to Arabia and Eastern Africa, leaving from Nanjing in the Yangtze and benefiting from monsoon winds. They hit Champa, Borneo, Java, Malacca, Sumatra, Ceylon, Calicut, Hormuz, Aden, Jeddah/Mecca, Mogadiscio and the Eastern African coast south of the Equator.

Those were real armadas, sometimes with over 200 ships, including the 72 main ones, carrying as many as 30,000 men and vast amounts of precious merchandise for trade: silk, porcelain, silver, cotton, leather products, iron utensils. The leading vessel of the first expedition, with Zheng He as captain, was 140 meters long, 50 meters wide and carrying over 500 men.

This was the original Maritime Silk Road, now revived in the 21st century. And it was coupled with another extension of the overland Silk Road: after all the dreaded Mongols were in retreat, there were new allies all the way to Transoxiana, the Chinese managed to strike a peace deal with the successor of Tamerlane. So the Silk Roads were booming again. The Ming court sent diplomats all over Asia – Tibet, Nepal, Bengal, even Japan.

The main objective of pioneering Chinese seafaring has always puzzled Western historians. Essentially, it was a diplomatic, commercial and military mix. It was important to have Chinese suzerainty recognized – and materialized via the payment of a tribute. But most of all this was about trade; no wonder the ships had special cabins for merchants.

The armada was designated as the Treasury Fleet – but denoting more a prestige operation than a vehicle for capturing riches. Yong Le was strong on soft power and economics – as he took control of overseas trade by imposing an imperial monopoly over all transactions. So in the end this was a clever, comprehensive application of the Chinese tributary system – in the commercial, diplomatic and cultural spheres.

Yong Le was in fact following the instructions of his predecessor Hongwu, the founder of the Ming (“Lights”) dynasty. Legend rules that Hongwu ordered that one billion trees should be planted in the Nanjing region to supply the building of a navy.

Then there was the transfer of the capital from Nanjing to Beijing in 1421, and the construction of the Forbidden City. That cost a lot of money. As much as the naval expeditions were expensive, their profits, of course, were useful.

Yong Le wanted to establish Chinese – and pan-Asian – stability via a true Pax Sinica. That was not imposed by force but rather by diplomacy, coupled with a subtle demonstration of power. The Armada was the aircraft carrier of the time, with cannons on sight – but rarely used – and practicing “freedom of navigation”.

What the emperor wanted was allied local rulers, and for that he used intrigue and commerce rather than shock and awe via battles and massacres. For instance, Zheng He proclaimed Chinese suzerainty over Sumatra, Cochin and Ceylon. He privileged equitable commerce. So this was never a colonization process.

On the contrary: before each expedition, as its planning proceeded, emissaries from countries to be visited were invited to the Ming court and treated, well, royally.

Plundering Europeans

Now compare that with the European colonization led a decade later by the Portuguese across these same lands and these same seas. Between (a little) carrot and (a lot of) stick, the Europeans drove commerce mostly via massacres and forced conversions. Trading posts were soon turned into forts and military installations, something that Zheng He’s expeditions never attempted.

In fact Zheng He left so many good memories that he was divinized under his Chinese name, San Bao, which means “Three Treasures,” in such places in Southeast Asia as Malacca and Siam’s Ayutthaya.

What can only be described as Judeo-Christian sadomasochism focused on imposing suffering as virtue, the only path to reach Paradise. Zheng He would never have considered that his sailors – and the populations he made contact with – had to pay this price.

So why did it all end, and so suddenly? Essentially Yong Le run out of money because of his grandiose imperial adventures. The Grand Canal – linking the Yellow River and the Yangtze basins – cost a fortune. Same for building the Forbidden City. The revenue from the expeditions was not enough.

And just as the Forbidden City was inaugurated, it caught fire in May 1421. Bad omen. According to tradition, this means disharmony between Heaven and the sovereign, a development outside of the astral norm. Confucians used it to blame the eunuch councilors, very close to the merchants and the cosmopolitan elites around the emperor. On top of it, the southern borders were restless and the Mongol threat never really went away.

The new Ming emperor, Zhu Gaozhi, laid down the law: “China’s territory produces all goods in abundance; so why should we buy abroad trinkets without any interest?”

His successor Zhu Zanji was even more radical. Up to 1452, a series of imperial edicts prohibited foreign trade and overseas travel. Every infraction was considered piracy punished by death. Worse, studying foreign languages was banished, as was the teaching of Chinese to foreigners.

Zheng He died (in early 1433? 1435?) in true character, in the middle of the sea, north of Java, as he was returning from the seventh, and last, expedition. The documents and the charts used for the expeditions were destroyed, as well as the ships.

So the Ming ditched naval power and re-embraced old agrarian Confucianism, which privileges agriculture over trade, the earth over the seas, and the center over foreign lands.

No more naval retreat

The takeaway is that the formidable naval tributary system put in place by Yong Le and Zheng He was a victim of excess – too much state spending, peasant turbulence – as well as its own success.

In less than a century, from the Zheng He expeditions to the Ming retreat, this turned out to be a massive game changer in history and geopolitics, prefiguring what would happen immediately afterwards in the long 16th century: the era when Europe started and eventually managed to rule the world.

One image is stark. While Zheng He’s lieutenants were sailing the eastern coast of Africa all the way to the south, in 1433, the Portuguese expeditions were just starting their adventures in the Atlantic, also sailing south, little by little, along the Western coast of Africa. The mythical Cape Bojador was conquered in 1434.

After the seven Ming expeditions crisscrossed Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean from 1403 for nearly three decades, only half a century later Bartolomeu Dias would conquer the Cape of Good Hope, in 1488, and Vasco da Gama would arrive in Goa in 1498.

Imagine a historical “what if?”: the Chinese and the Portuguese bumping into each other in Swahili land. After all, in 1417 it was the turn of Hong Bao, the Muslim eunuch who was Zheng He’s lieutenant; and in 1498 it was Vasco da Gama’s turn, guided by the “Lion of the Sea” Ibn Majid, his legendary Arab master navigator.

The Ming were not obsessed with gold and spices. For them, trade should be based on equitable exchange, under the framework of the tribute. As Joseph Needham conclusively proved in works such as Science and Civilization in China, the Europeans wanted Asian products way more than Orientals wanted European products, “and the only way to pay for them was gold.”

For the Portuguese, the “discovered” lands were all potential colonization territory. And for that the few colonizers needed slaves. For the Chinese, slavery amounted to domestic chores at best. For the Europeans, it was all about the massive exploitation of a workforce in the fields and in mines, especially concerning black populations in Africa.

In Asia, in contrast to Chinese diplomacy, the Europeans went for massacre. Via torture and mutilations, Vasco da Gama and other Portuguese colonizers deployed a real war of terror against civilian populations.

This absolutely major structural difference is at the root of the world- system and the geo-historical organization of our world, as analyzed by crack geographers such as Christian Grataloup and Paul Pelletier.  Asian nations did not have to manage – or to suffer – the painful repercussions of slavery.

So in the space of only a few decades the Chinese abdicated from closer relations with Southeast Asia, India and Eastern Africa. The Ming fleet was destroyed. China abandoned overseas trade and retreated unto itself to focus on agriculture.

Once again: the direct connection between the Chinese naval retreat and the European colonial expansion is capable of explaining the development process of the two “worlds” – the West and the Chinese center – since the 15th century.

At the end of the 15th century, there were no Chinese architects left capable of building large ships. Development of weaponry also had been abandoned. In just a few decades, crucially, the Sinified world lost its vast technological advance over the West. It got weaker. And later it would pay a huge price, symbolized in the Chinese unconsciousness by the “century of humiliation.”

All of the above explains quite a few things. How Xi Jinping and the current leadership did their homework. Why China won’t pull a Ming remix and retreat again. Why and how the overland Silk Road and the Maritime Silk Road are being revived. How there won’t be any more humiliations. And most of all, why the West – especially the American empire – absolutely refuses to admit the new course of history.

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