Archive | April 2014

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There’s no such Thing as a Dumb Question Part III: Why did armies fight in straight lines, with flags, music, and brightly coloured uniforms?

Most people’s introduction to 18th century warfare is derived from films depicting the American Revolution. Scrappy Minutemen sitting in woods picking off the advancing red coats; who had immediately alerted the American militia, who heard their music from miles away. Often, this is tied to experiences fighting Indians on the frontier, adding to the all-American […]

Why some Music is Better than Others Part 1.5: The New Minstrelsy, “Chain Hang Low” and “Old Zip Coon” are Pretty Much the Same Song

Much of heavily promoted hip hop music is intended to be consumed by white audiences. When one listens to many modern hip hop albums in their entirety one is astonished by the large amount of “comedy”, relative to the number of actual songs. Furthermore, much of the audience frequently does not take the musical accompaniment […]

Why some Music is Better than Others, Part 1: Pharrel’s “Happy” and Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Freude, schöner Götterfunken”

The French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu had an idea. Among his other theories, he contended that distinction of aesthetic judgements on a scale of quality were based fundamentally on extant power structures most importantly, Bourdieu  being a Marxist, class. Bourdieu was a contributor to a notion known as “cultural relativism”. The development of cultural relativism had […]

The Ku Klux Klan(s) in American History: Reconstruction, the Jazz age, to the Modern Day

Journalists and political commentators frequently speak of the Ku Klux Klan as a monolithic organization. This is a deeply inaccurate conception of the historical organizations and the rather small and schismatic string of factions claiming their inheritance which exist today. Recent surveys by the Southern Poverty Law Center estimate there are between ~5,000-8,000 self-identifying members […]

So-Called Counterfactual History is not history, or, Don’t listen to Niall Ferguson

I once read a fun, if somewhat un-literary and pulpy, science fiction novel entitled The Guns of the South. In it, the AWB, a modern and real, South African white supremacist organization, travels back in time to sell AK-47s and other modern weaponry to the Confederacy during the American Civil War. They intended to create […]

The History of the Noblesse Oblige, or, Does the National Post know what Left and Right actually mean?

A recent National Post article by George F. Will critical of the television programme Downton Abbey (a show I admit I have never seen) for its perceived bias in favour of a welfare state was chock full of several glaring historical errors and astonishingly simple minded judgements based upon them. The article was littered with […]

There’s no such Thing as a Dumb Question pt. II: Why did WWI start because some duke was killed?

The First World War was a defining moment of the Twentieth Century, and of our times. While assassinations are by no means trivial in world diplomacy, what was precisely important about Archduke Franz Ferdinand, why did Serbia support the Black Hand organization, and furthermore, why were Germany and Russia so angry about it? The usual […]