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Sunday, 19 February 2017

Meet Liu Ziye, the Chinese Caligula



Rome is justly notorious for several of its Emperors, whether Nero with his cruelty and artistic vanity, Commodus with his gladiatorial obsessions, or Heliogabalus with his perverse sexuality. But the most notorious of the Emperors is undoubtedly Caligula, who committed acts of evil, depravity, and insanity with a degree of panache that makes him the epitome of Lord Acton's famous axiom that power corrupts while absolute power corrupts absolutely.

But Rome was not alone in bestowing such corrupting power on men. The Chinese have an even longer history of Emperors, and although they found ways to contain and enervate their emperors behind silken curtains and clouds of incense and opium, ministered by eunuchs and concubines, they too had their mad, bad, and dangerous-to-know emperors. 

The closest comparison to Caligula was perhaps Liu Ziye (劉子業), who reigned as the Emperor Qianfei over a vast area of Southern China as part of the Southern Song Dynasty (420-479).

Saturday, 14 January 2017

A Scottish Disaster In Estonia: The Siege of Wesenberg

The castle of Wesenberg in Livonia

As a particularly adventurous race, the Scots have had more than their fair share of misfortunes and disasters, even though these have been more than balanced out by their successes around the World.

Disasters often occur when people overstretch themselves or try something outside their experience. This raises the stakes, so when things do go wrong it's a long way down. Embarking on an adventurous course always carries with it the seeds of disaster, and the greater the adventure, the greater the potential for disaster.  In 1574 something went terribly wrong for a large number of Scots far from home—a group of several thousand mercenaries in the service of the king of Sweden in what is now the country of Estonia.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

The Fall of Calais: A Blessing in Disguise

An attack on Calais in the 16th century

Today (7th January) in 1558, the town of Calais and the small surrounding are, the last English possession in France, fell to a surprise attack launched a few days earlier by the French. At the time, this was considered a great blow, with England's Queen Mary, in particular, biting hard on the black pill. She is reported to have said:
"When I am dead and cut open, they will find Philip and Calais inscribed on my heart."
The reference to Philip is to her husband, Philip II of Spain.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

America: the Empire built on Fat and Shit


The end, as the philosophers often say, is in the beginning. This may or may not be true, but if it is, it is particularly interesting to consider the beginning of the American Empire.

Some would say that America hardly needs an Empire, as it is a vast continent-sized nation with enough of the resources and none of the inherent costs that come with being an empire. Isolationism has always been the default common-sense position for this impressive amalgamation of natural resources and human capital. However, instead of making the most of what they have, Americans have embroiled themselves—at great cost in terms of blood, finance, and internal corruption—in the affairs of the World. It does not seem to be a project that will have a happy end.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

The Eskimo Invasion of Scotland and the Scottish Invasion of Eskimoland

Ocean-going invasion vessel

On the rare occasions when Scotland has been invaded, the invasion has usually come from the populous South or the Viking East. The country has almost never been invaded from the North. This is because there is not much in the way of human life beyond Scotland. Nevertheless such rare incursions have happened, featuring Eskimos, who are not only ethnically different, but from an entirely different racial group. By the way, in this essay I will be using the term" Eskimo" as it more pleasingly euphonious than the tediously politically correct term "Inuit" that is now routinely enforced throughout academia and the media.

Given the size of these incursions—usually one man in a canoe—"invasion" is probably the wrong word to use. But it is still remarkable that Scotland has been "visited" by such alien people, coming there through their own agency in pre-modern times and effectively covering a distance of over 2,500 miles to do so.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Pearl Harbor: How Japan Saved the World for "Democracy"


The "dastardly attack."

December 7th is the anniversary of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. Once again we have the opportunity to either look back in anger or, now that the embers of history have grown cold, to rake through them and ask what was the real significance of that fateful day.

It is often said that history is written by the winners. Although every nation committed horrendous atrocities in World War II, Japan is still cast as a pure villain. But, considering that many historians now believe the Japanese were unwitting dupes in one of the most complicated games of propaganda, espionage, and diplomacy ever played out across the world stage, isn't it time to revise the Hollywood version of history and admit the existence of gray areas, especially as the Americans would have been unable to play their full part in the defeat of Fascism without the cooperation of Japan?

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

The German Revolution and the Defeat of Franchise Sovietism

Reds on the march.
There is a karma in history that means that bad deeds are often returned, sometimes quite quickly. When America betrayed its British and French allies after WWII by pushing for the decolonization of their empires, it was soon forced to face its own internal "decolonization" of its Afro-American population through the Civil Rights movements.

Another major example of "instant karma" in history was the German Revolution of November 1918, which started today 98 years ago. It followed the defeat of the German army on the Western front and the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and was an important factor in the hastily arranged armistice made on the 11th of November, an armistice that placed Germany at a distinct disadvantage in subsequent peace negotiations.

But the German Revolution was also a kind of poetic justice, as the Germans, had more than a year previously paved the way for the brutal Communist Revolution in Russia by allowing Lenin and other top Communist revolutionaries to return to Russia from Switzerland in the famous "Sealed Train." The contagion in that train, as it turned out, also infected Germany, leading to a serious outbreak of Leftism and Communism that finally played itself out in the counter-rise of Nazism and the destruction of Germany in 1945.