To get something of an overview of what Turner calls "The Western Spirit," I have to go back to the days when strongman Constantine transfers the Roman capital to Byzantium.
The transfer does not go over well in Rome. The Roman Empire may have been an abomination in the eyes of Christ, but Rome is determined to remain the abomination's capital, even if it has to lie.
Prevarication becomes the West's major art. From the day when a Church official names himself the Vicar of Christ and a Goth parades his puppet as Emperor of Rome to the day when the biggest empire of zeks in Leviathan's entire His-story will speak of itself as The Free World, everything in the West is a lie.
Lying becomes necessary and then compulsive because the people who fall heir to the rubble of the westernmost edge of the Roman Empire are so dehumanized by their struggle against their adversary that they forget not only their initial intentions but also their very origins and identity. All that remains of their former selves is the violence of their struggle to preserve themselves, and sheer violence cannot view itself in a glass; it must prevaricate; it must cover itself with masks and then with more masks over the initial masks, because the violence keeps showing through.
Turner's subtitle is far too polite. The Western Spirit is no only against Wilderness; it is against nature as well as humanity, against truth as well as beauty. The Western Spirit is adept at putting exceptions in showcases; in real life it represses the exceptions.
The story of the Western Spirit actually begins long before Constantine transfers the capital to Greece-at least twenty or twenty-five generations before. It begins when the Roman Res Publica, flushed with its victory over Etruscans, defeats and then subjugates Gauls or Celts, enslaves them, turns them into zeks, and then walls them in. In the long peninsula known as Gaul and later as France and Spain, the republican Romans force Celts, Iberians and the Iberian Phoenicians into gold and silver mines, plunder their crops, cheat them, and slaughter all who protest.
People to the north of Gaul, free people who had gone where pleased when they pleased, pause before they enter Roman Gaul, for they enter at the risk of their lives. When they return to Gaul in a different season, then find that a yet larger portion of the world's land has turned lethal to freedom and life. It is as if the known world were sinking into the sea.
The loss is tragic. We well be able to imagine how those northerners felt about the warmth and beauty of the Mediterranean's shores because we will know how later northerners will feel.
Some few people may be inhospitable and warlike, but no people can make a portion of the world off limits to a single bird, animal or person. The very notion is repugnant to free people. Not even gods have the power to keep people from going where they please.
The northerners enrage the Roman border guards in skirmishes, but the northerners invariably lose; they are massacred. Those Roman fight like unreal things; they walk directly into ambushes; they don't flee even when half their own men fall; they just keep on advancing and killing; there fear on the faces of individual men but the column has no fear; it isn't human.
We will know absolutely nothing about this part of the story because the people who live it take their knowledge to their graves. But it does not take much imagination to suppose that before long most northerners know that the world's south is off limits to them, that half the world is occupied by something murderous and inhuman.
We will know from Roman writers that the skirmishes become more frequent, that several federated bands gang up against Roman strongholds. When Franks are first mentioned by name, they arrive with Turkic-speaking Alans who originate near China. The two groups may not know each other's language, but they understand each other perfectly. They understand that the entire lower half of the world is occupied by something violent beyond description; they understand that if that thing continues to spread, it means the end of freedom and the end of life.
We've seen how Rome responds to the attacks: by genocidal massacres, by slaughtering every member of a hostile band.
A twenty year war is terribly long. A war that lasts twenty generations is beyond the imagination's grasp. The weather in Sumer is benevolent compared to such an ordeal.
By the time the northern Franks, Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Burgundians and others at last succeed in breaching Rome's frontiers, they fight like unreal things; they walk directly into ambushes and won't flee when their men fall; they keep on advancing and killing. They still remember themselves as free human beings--Frank means free--but all they remember of their freedom is the freedom to kill Romans and the desire to destroy Rome.
By the time the Emperors scribe writes that Franks have been permitted to settle in one part of Gaul, Burgundians in a second and Visigoths in a third, the scribe is in the Emperor's palace in Byzantium, the Emperor's own army consists of Goths, Huns, Alans and Arabs, and the permission is a lie which the scribe may well believe, because he cannot believe that the westernmost part of the Roman Empire has completely decomposed. Later writers will not believe this either, and they will cover it up by listing the various rulers of the "Western Empire'--but they will list a different ruler for every year, and several rulers for some years.
The Franks, Burgundians and Visigoths no longer need anyone's permission: they now confront only each other. But they can't believe this either. Something they fought so fiercely for so long cannot suddenly be gone. A Frankish strongman calls his puppet emperor of Rome, and the Goths go on warring against Rome until they set up their puppet as Emperor. Every lie is a pretext for renewed violence, and Rome's main activity, human sacrifice, becomes the main activity of those who have ruined Rome.
The lies become bizarre when a Church official in the city that is no longer the Empire's capital steps into the picture. This official undoubtedly seethes with frustration. He spent more than half his life climbing to his post, and now finds himself surrounded by Franks and Goths in the capital of a province which, god forbid! is no longer in the Roman Empire!
This Christian declares himself Potifex Maximus, a title venerable in Pagan Rome and attached to every Pagan emperor since Augustus, but a title hardly appropriate for a Christian. The official then proclaims that he's a descendant of the apostle Peter, and even that he's Peter in person. Arbogast, the Frankish strongman, is still listening, so the official raises himself yet higher. As Pontifex and Peter in Person, he is more than a mere apostle; he is the Vicar of Christ. And as Christ's Vicar he is higher than the Emperor; he's supreme; he's Optimus Maximus.
The official can say anything at all, because Arbogast the Frank knows the simple man is a crude liar and Arbogast doesn't care what the man calls himself. What interests the Frank is the information none will stop Arbogast and his Free Men from raping the remaining Vestal Virgins and plundering what's left in the palaces of Augurs, pagan Pontiffs and Sybinllines. The Franks can continue their war on "Rome" with impunity: Church officials and Byzantine soldiers will consider Franks who commit such deeds holy and pious.
With the sanction of the self-styled Vicar of Christ, Arbogast and his band of Free killers proceed to rape, pillage, murder and expropriate people who consider the Pontifex Maximus a laughingstock. Our name for such an outrage will be "Pogrom." The scribes of the Pontifex name it "The conversion of Rome's inhabitants to Christianity."
Dripping with blood and burdened with loot, Arbogast's Franks go on to claim their prize. They enter Gaul, they march into the Paradise that was off limits to twenty generations of their ancestors. But they don't enter to enjoy the warmth or the beauty of the Mediterranean lands. They enter to rape, pillage and expropriate. This is all they know how to do; it has been all they've known for generations.
In Gaul the victims are already Christians, but the agent of Pontifex who accompanies the Franks doesn't blink an eye. The victims were converted by Arius, and Arius was a heretic, therefore they deserve to be cast down to hell alongside the Pagans. And none can impugn the Christianity of the Franks, for they are the scourge of god against all enemies of Saint Siricius, the Vicar of Christ.
Arbogast and his gang do not have the whole field to themselves. Franks are not the only people walled out of the south. Everyone in the north was walled out. And now others rush through the breach, all as marked as the Franks by the eternity of war.
Visigoths are joined by mounted and ferocious pastoral nomads from every part of the Eurasian steppes, people whose names are preserved as Alans, Sueves, Vandals, Burgundians and many others. The strongman Alaric puts himself at the head of these varied bands, calls himself the King of the Goths, and leads the hardened veterans through most of Italy's cities.
All the generations of frustration, of pent-up hatred, at last find release in an orgy of violence which probably has no precedent. The marauders pillage and murder at will. Their animals turn Italy's latifundia into pastures. Italians who are still in cities die of famine; those who eat die of plague.
Alaric's hordes proceed to the famous Sack of Rome. They are joined by forty thousand slaves. Earlier slaves rose up to recover their lost equality, to reestablish human community. But that was many generations earlier. The slaves who join the Visigoth marauders want only revenge, they want blood, they understand the newcomers perfectly.
When the Visigoths are satiated and turn toward Gaul, Huns arrive, with allies picked up along the entire route between Mongolia and the Danube.
Roman Civilization becomes what it will remain forever after: colossal ruins. This is the holocaust the early Christians looked forward to. This is the last judgment, the day of reckoning, the end of the Fourth Kingdom.
Not since the demise of the Hittites has a large Leviathan decomposed so totally.
As the nomads from the forests and steppes turn more agricultural lands into pastures, the cities are abandoned, they become places of desolation where ornaments that once decorated Greek temples hide rotting corpses.
Roman architectural marvels become rain shelters, and soon their ornaments and inscriptions are incorporated in the walls of village lodges built by former slaves and outsiders. Large parts of Italy are completely depopulated .
The Emperor in Byzantium pays Attila the Hun a large tribute to dissuade the newcomers from devastating the last tiny seats of imperial power left in the west, Ravenna and Venice.
A scribe writes, for the record, that the puppet Roman Emperor of the Suevian strongman Ricimer exempts his subjects of all their debts to the State, rescinds all taxes, puts an end to tribute payments, and grants self-government to the inhabitants of cities. The scribe remembers better days; he cannot write that the Roman Empire has become a free-for-all, a wilderness.
Hobbes, too, will lie. He will say that the Leviathan has reverted to a state of nature. Rousseau will be the first to call Hobbes a liar. Such a "wilderness" exists nowhere in nature, and not a single element in it is natural. This wilderness is as artificial as Leviathan itself. The activities taking place now, pillage and murder, are the same activities that took place when the Leviathan was hale and hardy. The only difference is that they are done in a disorderly manner now; they were done in an orderly manner before.
People dehumanized by the Leviathan are playing with the artificial beast's decomposing segments, they are playing with the artifices we call technologies. This is some form of play; it is some kind of dance. But it is not a dance found anywhere in nature, either among animals or among human beings. It is the death rattle of a decomposing Leviathan.
* * *
If the nominal, hastily converted Christians of the West knew anything of the hopes of their Levantine precursors, they would know that hose hopes are all coming true.
The Fourth Kingdom has fallen and no fifth kingdom takes its place.
Away from the ruins, away from the main routes taken by roving bands of marauders, former slaves and zeks are joining with the peace-minded among the marauders and founding new villages, free villages of seed planters and pastoralists.
The only person dreaming of the next kingdom is the Pontifex Maximus, and he's dreaming of rehabilitating the fourth. This man and his staff of priests, by a lie that is surely unequaled in grossness, has metamorphosed the resistance against the abomination that was Rome into the last repository of all that was Rome. The lie alone is incredible in its magnitude. What is even more incredible is the extent to which these manipulative prevaricators succeed. They do not succeed right away. They bide their time. Their patience is inhuman, it is demonic, it lasts from generation to generation, it persists the way only a Leviathan can persist. For this patience, all the early Vicars of Christ will be proclaimed saints by their later heirs.
The Vicars, also called popes, do not work on the independent villagers--not yet. They work on the strongmen who head bands of marauders.
Pope Siricius showed the way when he worked on Arbogast. This came to nothing. But never mind, there are hundreds, even thousands of Arbogasts. The Suevian Ricimer is an even tougher grand boss than Arbogast. Ricimer installs the puppet Majorian, then the puppet Severus, then the puppet Anthemius, calls each Emperor of Rome while Pontifex Leo invests each Emperor with authority. Ricimer is the power behind the throne, Pontifex is the god behind it. But Anthemius takes his role too seriously, Ricimer himself kills the puppet, and before the burial Ricimer himself is killed by Goths, Huns and Burgundians who sack Rome yet again.
Burgundian strongman Gundoblad installs his candidate, but to no avail. So Gaiseric, the Vandal, tries a different approach; he installs Odovacar, but not as Emperor of Rome; Odovacar is called Patrician of the Pope's diocese of Italy, nominally under the protection of Byzantium's armies. This seems to work--until the entire tribe of Ostrogoths invade Italy and dispose Odovacar.
So nothing comes of it all, and the Pope has to start all over again, this time with Ostrogoth strongman Theodoric. The puppetry is dropped, and Theodoric proclaims himself King of Italy. This works, and the Pope is the anointer of Ostrogoth kings for a generation, until Byzantine Emperor Justinian's army depopulates Italy trying to reinclude in in the Roman Empire.
The eastern Emperor spoils it all. The Popes, anointers of kings, don't want to go back to being officials of a Church with headquarters in Byzantium. They are loyal to the Roman Empire, the real one, Octavian's, not Justinian's.
* * *
The Popes are precursors of Hobbes. They know that an operating Leviathan needs a single head. Heaven is ruled by a single king. As in heaven, so on earth.
The problem is that the operating Leviathan has its head in Byzantium, and the Popes' own world is overrun by numerous violent war chieftains and their mounted Knights. The Byzantine Leviathan is unacceptable because it has no office for a supreme Potifex Maximus, at least none for the saints in Rome.
So the project is to rehabilitate the defunct Leviathan out of the bands of marauding Knights. Such a project requires constant, careful and calculated prevarication.
Hampered by the Byzantine Empire's depopulation of Italy, the Popes cannot get anything rolling in the immediate vicinity of their seat. They do better when they turn to Siricius's favorites in Gaul, strongman Arbogast's descendants, the lethal Franks.
One of the Frankish Knights, a killer named Clodovech, grandson of Merovech, seems almost to know what it takes to rise from marauder to King.
Many of the Franks have married their Gallic and Latin neighbors and have settled down to hunting and even some planting. They still cherish the memory of the ages of violence, but their lives are not as full of great moments as the lives of their ancestors. Those who not only cherish the memory of the violence but also continue to live like their ancestors are the mounted Knights with their loyal gangs of retainers.
The grandson of Merovech is one of the greats among the Knights. This Clodovech operates from an island fortress on the river Seine, a site once inhabited by people called Parisii, a Celtic clan. In order to prevent disputes about who shall not have access to the fortress, Clodovech engages assassins to liquidate his brothers, cousins and all other disputants. Clodovech has undisputed access.
Nothing in Frankish tradition absolves such fratricide, and the spirits of the murdered kinsmen visit Clodovech's dreams. Such ghostly visitors will be portrayed in Shakespeare's account of the experiences of Clodovech's later Scottish counterpart Macbeth.
Unlike Macbeth, Clodovech knows of a Latin called the Pope who has medicine to absolve virtually any deed. Although Clodovech is not a Christian, the Pope absolves him, since the king of heaven would not withhold his grace from a man who is already, by his very deeds, almost a king.
From the Latin medicine man, Clodovech learns that land is not what his Frankish kin think it is. The Franks think Earth is the mother of all living beings and cannot be the preserve of any man or group of men. They fought for twenty generations against Romans who tried to turn a portion Earth into a private preserve. Clodovech learns that Earth can be one man's preserve, and can be treated like any other war booty.
The absolved chieftain and his marauding Knights set out with higher aims: their object is the land itself. If Latins could turn a portion of Earth into a Roman preserve, so can Franks. They invert their ancestors' long struggle, but this bothers no one: Knights are not known for their familiarity with ethical considerations, the Honor of a Knight is in his sword and his spear.
The inspired adventurers swear loyalty to Clodovech and set out to kill all the remaining Imperial soldiers still in Gaul, all good Christians. Then they go after Thuringians and Alemanni. Blocked by stubborn Alemanni, Clodovech again has to resort to the Latin holy men who accompany his band. He makes a deal. If the god of the holy men helps the Franks defeat the enemy, Clodovech will allow himself and his sons to be doused with holy water.
Optimus Maximus does for Clodovech what He had earlier done for Constantine, and the Frankish marauder becomes Clovis, a Roman Catholic soldier of faith.
Clovis obligingly appoints bishops from among the holy men, and also from among his most loyal marauders; this is a formality that merely amuses the knowing Knights.
Armored with lies, the Frankish adventurers now turn their spears against enemies who appear to be Visigoths, Burgundians and Ostrogoths, but whom the Catholic Franks now know as Heretics, followers of Arius, demons in disguise. Every pillaging expedition is now a holy war.
The grandson of Merovech is eventually stopped, and the great grandsons inherit the war booty, which consists mainly of lands. The appointment of bishops will turn out to have been as important as the conquest of the lands.
The bishops appoint priests, and the priests go among the people and preach.
* * *
The priests speak Latin to a population that speaks Germanic dialects.
The people do not understand either what the priests say or what they want. The inhabitants of the former Roman Empire, Celts and Latins as well as Franks, intermarried and no longer distinguishable, now live under Frankish law: Earth is common to all, to former slaves and zeks and also to their flocks of animals.
The priests claim to be keepers of the law, but their law is Roman, it is Latifundia law.
The inhabitants, whether former slaves or former serfs, are all Franks now. They take their flocks where they please for the first time since Romans subjugated Celts; if they don't venture far, it is not because they recognize boundaries, but because they fear marauders.
Yet the priests speak of boundaries, of domains, of god's kingdom and of an earthly kingdom.
The Roman dreams of Christian priests are frustrated and postponed by the complete collapse of the institutions and habits of subordination. The former Roman serf or slave is not quite free, the former Frankish tribesman is no longer free, but neither the one nor the other is a subject. In principle each is as free as a Knight.
Knights are bound to each other only by freely taken oaths. One who swears to be another man's man is a vassal, and vassalage, among Franks, is equivalent to comradeship. In a band of free men, it is an honor to swear fealty.
Free pastoralists and planters are bound by no other ties. They swear fealty to the local marauder, so long as he agrees to do his marauding elsewhere. They join him on some of his expeditions; in good seasons they make gives to him. And they expect the same from him. The relation is mutual. It is a relation of mutual aid among people who have lost most of their traditions, but retain fealty and cultivate violence.
Fealty does no eliminate violence. It makes violence a littles less unpredictable: sworn companions do not attack each other.
Taxes, tribute, debts and all forms of compulsory labor and service have come close to vanishing. There is no functioning Leviathan in the West. This is what makes the Roman clergy despair; there is order in heaven but no on earth.
Later apologists for a reconstituted Leviathan will say that relations of fealty, which they will name Feudalism, are more degrading than Leviathanic relations of serfdom, slavery and wage labor. Such apologists will speak of "dark ages," of times when people ate grass; they will have nasty names for all pre-Leviathanic relations.
Actually, fealty is not on its way in, but on its way out. It is part of the culture the Goths and Franks have been losing. Soon they will lose even their tongues. Soon nothing will remain of their ancient culture except the violence and war to preserve that culture. The invaders who occupy the decomposed Roman Empire let all their traditions lapse. Their culture is reduced to a single theme. All their songs and stories, most of their festivals, are celebrations of deeds of violence.
Ancient Greeks also nursed traditions of violence, but the Greeks merged with conquered communities who were still celebrating the annual rebirth of the daughter of the the Earth Mother.
The Gothic invaders merge with a population of slaves, zeks and armored men who have even fewer human qualities to contribute than the invaders themselves.
In a context of such unsublimated violence, all relations are unstable, not just fealty relations. It is the violence that accounts for the instability. In a world where greatness is measured by the head count of dead victims, strongmen do not long remain equals of the weak. Oaths freely sworn by a weaker to a stronger become duties; gifts freely given by villagers to a local Knight become obligations.
Eventually the duties and obligations become compulsory, but not right away. The free villagers do not except such a reduction. They gang up with each other and kill the strongman. They retreat into the forests and hills to defend themselves.
Knights do not become hereditary aristocrats in one generation. This transformation takes long, and the main reason it happens at all is that something is constantly on the backs of the villagers, something that saps their energy, something that reduces proud, free and violent human beings into submissive, unfree and violent zeks.
This something is the blackfrocked priest who follows every villager like a shadow, even up the hills and into the forests.
The priest has hierarchy embedded in his brain. God is on the top rung, angels on the next, demons on the lowest, and each kneels to the rung above. This is order. The villagers' resistance is chaos, and Satan is the author of chaos.
This does not go over well among free people. They want to know why they must be so.
The priest's first trick is to cite miracles or ghosts and even to perform tricks such as moving the lips of a statue of Holy Mary, but only the feeble-minded enjoy these tricks. So the priest must resort to Plato's "necessary lie"; he tries to explain that some are made of gold, others are meant to mine it; some are made to be carried, others to carry.
But the villagers see through this lie too: they still remember that the local Knight is the grandson of a villager no more golden or delicate than themselves.
Now the priest resorts to the really big lie, the contribution of the pseudo-Apostle Paul to the Western Spirit. The priest blames the victim for his misfortune. He says the villagers are sinful, and their sin is the cause of their misery. People were happy until Satan enticed them into sinning, into eating forbidden fruit. By sinning, people fell from happiness into misery. Remaining sinful, they've remained miserable ever since. The cause of the misery is not the Knight but the villagers themselves; they are their own greatest enemy.
Relatively free villagers are not easily taken in, even by robed, death-like medicine men who mumble chants in an incomprehensible language. But these villagers' heritage is poor, and each of them remembers the times he committed, or at least intended to commit, murder, pillage or rape. They recognize themselves as sinful, as fallen human beings. This still doesn't explain why they should fall while the Knight rises. Now the priest's other explanation comes into focus. God made some men to murder, pillage and rape with impunity; He made others to bear the misery.
Villagers who swallow these lies become servile villeins on a a Lord's manor; and the earthly order begins to take on the attributes of the Roman Catholic Heaven.
The commitment of those who came to bring fire to the Roman Leviathan has been turned into its opposite. The priests are the greatest allies of the strongmen who repress resistance. The Church gains power because it is Roman, not because it is Christian.
* * *
The great marauders soon realize that the priests do them a much greater service than merely lending their god's help in war. The priests pacify the villeins; they turn rebellious pastoralists and planters into obedient servants. The priests do this for the Visigothic Tulgas and Ervigs, for the Anglo-Saxon Oswys and Pendas, for the Lombard Ariberts and Grimoalds, for the Frankish Theuderiches and Childeberts. I am focusing on the realm of Clodovech's heirs but because that is where the priests are most successful. The priests succeed not because they are loyal to Clodovech's heirs but because they are loyal to Rome, the old one, Octavian's.
The great-grandsons of Clodovech, marauders all, lose interest in the affairs of their villeins and become preoccupied with the hunt and with the formalities of entertaining guests. By the seventh generation after their lethal progenitor, the Frankish Knights, now called kings, leave the administrative chores to a mayor in their palace.
After the assassination of a mayor called Eborin, a man called Pepin of Heristal acquires this post. Peopin is a contemporary of the Zarathustrian priests and rulers seeking refuge in the capital of China because Umayyad Caliphs and Muslim armies are wielding power in Persian lands.
Pepin of Heristal knows nothing of China or Persia, but he knows that Muslim armies are also at the southern borders of Pepin's own realm. They have been invited there by all but one of the sons of the Visigothic strongman Witiza. One of Witiza's sons, Roderic by name, seized his father's palace and tried to follow the precedent of Clodovech, but he wasn't quick enough. Witiza's other sons invited the renowned Muslims to cross over from North Africa and help unseat their usurping brother Roderic.
The armies of Islam are welcomed to Spain by most pastoralists and planters and by all schismatics, heretics and Jews. The Muslims receive such a warm reception that they proceed over the Pyrenees to the realm of the Franks.
The heirs of Clodovech are preoccupied with hunting and entertainment. Neither Childebert nor Dagobert nor Chilperich pay any attention to the newcomers from Africa and distant Arabia.
But the natural son of Mayor Pepin, a Knight called Charles, enlists the Pope's agents to help him recruit an army for a holy war.
The Pope's clerics nickname Charles "the Hammer," and they consider his cause holy because it serves the Catholic Pope's Roman purposes. The Roman Empire's actual capital, Constantinople, is besieged by the same Muslim enemies of Christendom, but its defense is not holy to the Pope, who defies the Byzantine Emperor's request for help.
The Mayor is the Pope's man. Charles the Hammer pushes the Muslims under Abd-ar-Rahman to the other side of the Pyrenees.
Head of the biggest army north of the Pyrenees, the Mayor lets the king confine himself to hunting and entertaining. When the Hammer dies, his son Pepin the Short deposes the last of Clodovech's heirs, with the Pope's consent. In exchange for the consent, he leads his army to Italy, defeats a Lombard army, and donates a portion of the peninsula to the Pope.
Pepin's donation displeases not only those who question Pepin's right to donate a portion of Italy, but also those who ask: Who is Pepin? T answer both questions, the Pope's scribes forge a document which proves that Emperor Constantine had already granted that portion of Italy to the Pope. Armed with these two phoney donations, the Pope is on surer ground than ever before.
Pepin's son Charles, called The Great already in his lifetime, lays the foundation of a new empire, and the Roman Pope is its patriarch.
The great Charles, son of the short Pepin, ends all disputes over the Pope's lands by conquering the Lombards and getting himself crowned "King of Franks and Lombards." Charles makes an alliance with Muslim Ibn-al Arabi of Barcelona to attack Umayyad emir Abd-ar Rahman of Cordoba, but Basque warriors destroy the rearguard of the Frankish army.
Charles the Great then turns his armies northward to realize the Pope's dream and perpetrate one of the ugliest ironies in Leviathanic His-Story. Only recently allied with one Muslim against another, the Catholic armies of Charlemagne turn northward to wage a holy war against infidels.
The infidels north of Frankish Gaul are Saxons, Frisians, Danes, Avars. They are descendants of people who were blocked from the south for twenty generations by Rome. Those who fought against the Roman occupation are now Franks and Lombards. Those who retreated and defended themselves from the Roman monster and from dehumanization are still in the forests and on the riverbanks to which they retreated.
Those who stayed behind and cherish the memory of their ancestors' long war, but unlike those who invaded the Empire, they have not been reduced to compulsive looters and killers. Their free communities still retain many of their ancient traditions. Marauding Knights are not altogether absent in the north, but none of them have succeeded in imposing tribute or forced labor on the free villagers.
Now, for the first time, Roman armies are pouring beyond Rome's former frontiers and invading lands of the north, something they could never do before. The Roman Catholics can advance because the northerners are split as they never were before; the Knights, who tend to monopolize the weapons, defect to Charlemagne's armies, attracted by prospects of booty and power.
The free communities of Saxons fiercely resist the Catholic armies for more than a generation. They disarm Knights who go over to the Christians. They defeat Charlemagne's armies.
Charlemagne's trained killers massacre several thousand Saxons at Verden; they capture and enslave several thousand more. Yet the Saxons go on resisting. One of the resisters' own guerrilla fighters comes to terms with Charlemagne, but the Saxons still fight on.
The Catholic militarists resort to the Assyrian stratagem of mass deportations and to the Roman stratagem of granting the conquered lands to military heroes.
The Popes have at last realized their dream. The Roman Leviathan seems to be rehabilitated, and Arbogast's heirs are running it.
The invaders carry desolation to Avars, Scandinavians, Slavs and Huns. The Avars are completely destroyed.
Scandinavians form seafaring brigades, and they continue the resistance by raiding and pillaging Catholic strongholds. Slavs resist by forming a Moravian Leviathan of their own. Huns mount fleet horses and attack Catholic settlements as well as armies.
Massacres and deportations convert the majority of Northern Europeans to Christianity. The freedoms so long defended from the Roman Leviathan now become increasingly restricted. The northern forests become the booty of the invading army. The chief marauder gives away portions of the forests to the biggest and most loyal killers in his band, who are now called earls, bishops and kings.
Fealty is no longer an oath between equals. It has become hierarchic. Every chief is now the vassal of a higher vassal and all are vassals of the emperor. Land is the vassal's chief reward.
The inhabitants of free communities sink to being peasants on a lord's manor, and gradually they become what Rome could not make them: serfs. All services and gifts they once gave freely are now enforced by violent guardians of Leviathanic order. Peasants, many of them descendants of pastoral nomads, still let their animals forage in the forests, the commons, but they do so at the sufferance of the forest's lord. Mother Earth is becoming the preserve of the most lethal strongmen.
* * *
The Christianized human beings who are shackled with bonds of servitude --bonds which some of them had shaken off and others had never before experienced--do not passively reconcile themselves to the serfdom imposed on them. Their resistance becomes massive.
The Church tries to preclude this resistance by working on the violence so central to what Turner will Call the Western Spirit. We've already seen how the Pope's agents used the doctrine of sin to lodge the blame for oppression within the immiserated victim.
After Charlemagne's conquests, priests go everywhere, they turn every village, manor and hamlet into a parish, and the notorious training camps and prisons known as monasteries begin to do the landscape.
Disinherited Knights as well as frustrated resisters are recruited to the monasteries and transformed into adepts of the faith. In these establishments, which are nothing but early schools, human beings are systematically broken, the way horses or oxen are broken, to bear weights and pull loads. They are separated from their own humanity, from all natural activities and sequences, and taught to perform artificial activities and identify with Leviathanic sequences. They become disciplined springs and wheels engaged in a routine that has no relation to human desires or natural cycles.
The clock will be invented by monastic beings because the clock is nothing but a miniature monastery whose springs and wheels are made of metal instead of flesh and blood.
Such total repression rarely succeeds among beings not made of metal. The forms in which the repressed humanity returns are not recorded by the monastic scribes, although inmates and graduates of monasteries will invariably attribute a practice they will call "sodomy" to infidels unfamiliar to them; this may or may not be a clue to the contents of a monk's unrepressed night life.
Priests and monks carry to every hamlet the repression of the natural and the devotion to the artificial. They try to make every peasant a repressed monk.
This violent repression of everything natural is the main link between the Catholicism of the West and the Judaism of the Levant. "Have dominion over the fish...and over the fowl...and over every living thing" is interpreted, by the pacifiers of the West's free peasants, as a declaration of war against all natural urges to resist enserfment. The fish and the fowl are the freedom and the independence of the peasant.
Fused with the doctrine of sin, one big lie superimposed on another, the call fro dominion is an invitation to what we will call "self-management." The peasants are to do to themselves what god does to the world and what the nobles do to the peasants. They are to remain violent, and to turn their violence against their own natural urges and desires, above all the desire to recover their freedom. The peasant is to declare war against his own self, against his body and all its needs and drives.
Those who don't have the sense to resist the priests start appearing on the roads of Europe with whips, applying lashes to themselves. The West's free northerners and liberated southerners are totally dispossessed. Western Europe, where Muslims who bow to their god five times a day are considered Satanic infidels, becomes a circus of penitents epiating their sins by inflicting imaginative tortures on their own bodies.
The greatest of the penitents, the ones raised to sainthood by the Church, "have been guilty of the greatest sins against creation," in Turner's words, "racking themselves on wheels, hacking religious emblems in their breasts, causing themselves to be partially buried in graves or hanged on gallows, burning themselves on ovens, lick up up vomit or drinking the blood of diseased patients."
No previous Leviathan had so completely degraded its human contents. Never before have people turned the Leviathans's violence on themselves. The Popes and their establishment have achieved an unprecedented victory. Their Lugalzaggizi-Optimus Maximus, a synonym of Death, has mastered the feat of imposing its dominion over the living by means of their own minds and hands, the feat of making human individuals commit slow and torturous murder against themselves.
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