Pretty much pisses on that Noble Savage idea, eh?

A chilling prehistoric ‘war grave’ containing the smashed remains of hunter-gatherers is the first evidence of a human massacre and demonstrates the terrifying aggression of early man.
The fossilised bones of a group of 27 hunter-gatherers, who were murdered 10,000 years ago, was discovered at Nataruk near Lake Turkana in Kenya.
Four victims, including one heavily pregnant woman were bound by the hands and feet before they was slaughtered. The others showed signs of extreme violence and some had blades and arrows still buried in their skulls.


The origins of human aggression are controversial, with many archaeologists believing that hunter-gatherers were largely peaceful, and did not resort to warfare until after the agricultural revolution, when groups grew jealous of the land and possessions of their rivals.

Possession of a hunting ground, a foraging area, is a possession. Think how aggressive nomads are today at preserving ownership of grazing rights….

This idea that all was peace and love in some early beginning simply cannot be true. We only need to observe humans today to see what we must have been like. Partly we can observe those societies that are still, roughly, hunter gatherers, various Amazon and Papua New Guinea etc. The murder and violent death rates there are stratospheric. Secondly, we can just observe in and out group behaviour among modern humans. That the Lower Bash Street Boys try to beat up the Upper Bash Street Boys after the footie has nothing at all to do with the footie, booze, the collapse of civilisation or which model of Doc Martens people should be wearing. It’s the remnant of that early past, that young men are like that. And a society in which young men are like that ain’t all that fun for everyone else.

Our forebears were ghastly, vicious, thugs. That’s why they survived and bred.


Cecil Rhodes was a man responsible for untold, unending devastation and violence. An architect of South African apartheid

They might want to have a little look at that history curriculum in Oxford really.

Unlikely really

Archaeologists say they have proven for the first time that Julius Caesar set foot on what is now Dutch soil, destroying two Germanic tribes in a battle which left around 150,000 people dead.

The two tribes were massacred in the fighting with the Roman emperor in 55 BC, on a battle site now at Kessel, in the southern province of Brabant.

That Jules might have killed Germans on Dutch soil, well, fine. But 150k of them?


That’s larger than the Vandals or the Goths were four centuries later.

15k possible, 1.5k why not? But 150k?

So, a thing about Bevin Boys

As regular readers will know I’ve long been of the opinion that conscription is slavery. And if a society can’t find enough volunteers to fight for it then that society doesn’t have much of a right to exist.

Which brings me to Bevin Boys. For some years (I think, maybe 4) those who were conscripted could be sent off to the coal mines. Bevin himself, I’m told, would pluck a number from a hat. And thus, weekly, those whose number ended in 08, 02, 03, dependent upon the number plucked, would, as part of that week’s conscription intake be sent off to the mines, not to the Army (the only armed service where conscription was a major feature of intake, at least in peacetime years).

And so there’s a bit I want to try and get my head around. Given that it’s conscription, and those plucked from the hat have to go off to some mine somewhere, how were they allocated? And how housed? And were they paid normal miners’ wages?

If it really was that lottery, so how was some 18 year old from Dorset set up with a mine job in Durham? And fed, lodged, trained and so on?

And the really important bit I’d like to know is what happened when someone said “Fuck You!”?

Sure, the Army’s got sergeants, jankers, jail cells. Coal mines don’t. So, no one could not turn up, because the police would arrest them, but how did they make sure that conscripts actually do anything? No, not going down the shaft. Or, if forced, not shovelling coal? What was the enforcement mechanism?

Anyone know?

How in buggery does this work?

As the historian Andrea Stuart demonstrated in her recent book, Sugar in the Blood, the original Tate galleries funded their collections from the slave labour that generated the wealth of the Tate & Lyle sugar empire.

Given that the original Tate and Lyle companies that were the constituents of the joint company were both founded some 35 years after slavery ended?

Err, no:

Another example is All Souls College in Oxford, “paid for by the profits generated by the slaves who toiled and died at the Codrington estate in Barbados”.

Codrginton’s will paid for the library. All Souls was there rather earlier.

Dr Gavin Lewis

Tsk eh, northern academics these days……

It’s important to be accurate

Or perhaps this is just pendantry:

That some of those 800,000 asylum-seekers Angela Merkel wants to welcome to Germany are being “housed in the former Dachau concentration camp” was irresistible, although they are not living in the death camp itself but only in an adjacent barracks.

Dachau wasn’t a death camp. It was a concentration camp, many died there, were executed there, were murdered, but it was not a “death camp”. Chelmno, Sobibor, Treblinka, these were death camps. The distinction being that at a death camp the entire aim and purpose was to kill: prisoners were executed within hours of arrival. They were sent there to be executed and that’s that.

They don’t quite get the history, do they?

“His lineage has been traced and his forefathers were slave-owners and benefited from slavery,” he said. “We were left behind because of racism.”

This appears to be a reference to the fact that General Sir James Duff, Cameron’s cousin six times removed, received more than £4,000 compensation for loss of 202 Jamaican slaves when the trade ended 1833.

No, that’s when slavery ended in the Empire, not when the trade ended in the Empire.

Now this is amusing

The Labour leader told an audience of young supporters that he would like to see the national curriculum re-written to take into account the damaging impacts of British imperialism such as the slave trade.

Imperialism is usually thought of as the exercise of state power, yes? And the impact of British or even English state power upon slavery and the slave trade was to abolish it.

The slave trade most certainly existed before that, done by Brits and English and others as well. But it wasn’t exactly the state exercising its powers to do so really.

The attempt to do that was the South Sea Company which didn’t work out all that well.

Note what I’m saying here: not that slavery was good nor even the truth that everyone at the time was doing it as just about everyone had been doing it since whenever. Rather, just taking Corbyn at his word. We want to discuss the influence of the state upon slavery. Which was pretty good.

It’s amazing how the story changes, isn’t it?

Zoe Williams:

The ancient Anatolian settlement of Catalhöyük was utterly egalitarian, drawing apparently no distinction between genders


The most recent investigations also reveal little social distinction based on gender, with men and women receiving equivalent nutrition and seeming to have equal social status, as typically found in Paleolithic cultures

A human culture that makes no distinction between genders isn’t going to last very long. Certainly no Paleolithic nor Neolithic society is going to.

A society that makes no particular gender distinctions in nutrition will do just fine.

For example, the modern UK doesn’t make any particular gender distinctions on nutrition. But I think we’d be able to get Zoe to agree that it still makes rather too many distinctions based upon gender, no?

This is worth killing half the population for

Prof Tombs, speaking at the Chalke Valley History Festival in Wiltshire, said: “Terrible though it is to say, the Black Death actually had some rather good effects. This was a good time to be alive.
“This was when the English pub was invented and people started drinking lots of beer and playing football and so on. That was in a way due to, or at least a consequence of, and wouldn’t have been possible without, the Black Death.”
Explaining why the century afterwards could be seen as a good time to live, Prof Tombs said: “The population was getting too great, becoming a strain on resources in agricultural society.
“And after the Black Death, things started to look up. People got better off. There was more land to go around. Resources were not so stretched. What was later called the feudal system largely disappeared.
“Serfs became free because they could simply say to their lords, ‘Ok, if you won’t give me my freedom I’ll go somewhere else’.
“And they did. So if lords wanted their fields to be tilled, they had to give their peasants or vassals what they wanted, which was essentially freedom and a better life.
“The standard of living people reached in the 15th century was not exceeded until the 1880s after the Industrial Revolution. And the amount of leisure they took was not equalled until the 1960s.”

I don’t say that I actually agree with his numbers. But the invention of the pub is indeed worth the slaughter of half the population through pestilence, of course it is.

I’ve long disagreed with this standard view that working hours increased at the time of the industrial revolution though. Entirely agreed that the plague made the survivors richer. But when I look in detail at the working hours claimed it’s the hours spent working for the Lord which are measured. Essentially, what people were doing in the monetary economy. And that just ain’t the total workload. There’s their own work upon their own lands, then there’s all the household work as well. For example, the standard story (Juliet Schorr) says that the peasants got 70 days holiday a year. Sure, there were 70 holy days, but animal owning peasants don’t get 70 days holiday, not from the care of their animals.

So, willing to believe that 1360s etc saw a substantial rise in living standards, some of which would be taken as increased leisure time, but not that leisure equalled that of the 1960s. Not once household production hours were added in.

Fun fact

Reading a history of the late Roman empire by Peter Heather. Enjoying it, talks a lot about the economy etc.

As an aside he tells us that the marble mines all pretty much closed down in the 390s. Constantine has gone Christian 60 years before, but paganism still thrived. And it was really only in the 390s that all the pagan temples got pulled down leading to a glut of second hand marble on he market, thus to the closure of the mines.

Sorta like what’s happened to the US steel industry really. So much scrap is now recycled that many of the blast furnaces have closed….

Bad, bad idea

Landowners’ rights to use their property as they wish are to be watered down for the public good, a senior SNP minister has warned as she unveiled a Left-wing agenda to create a socialist society over the next century.

Aileen McLeod, the Scottish Land Reform Minister, told a conference in Edinburgh that the “core of my approach” is to shift the balance of the law so that the “public interest” is given greater precedence at the expense of “individual’s rights.”

Property rights are the foundation of a functioning economy. No, this isn’t the beginning of a classically liberal diatribe: rather, an observation from some history I’ve been reading. We have had societies where ownership was vested, sa a perk of the job, only for a generation and not then inherited. This isn’t exactly what is being said here but it’s closer to it than the current situation.

And those societies failed. Badly.

You can tell how this article is going to go, can’t you?

Vietnam 40 years on: how a communist victory gave way to capitalist corruption

After the military victory, Vietnam’s socialist model began to collapse. Cut off by US-led trade embargos and denied reconstruction aid, it plunged into poverty. Now its economy is booming – but so is inequality and corruption


Always that excuse, that it’s external factors that lead to the socialist poverty.

Getting pissed off about the East India Company

A long piece telling us how awful the East India Company was. In which we get this:

India was finally coming back into its own, they said, “after 800 years of slavery”. The Mughals, the EIC and the Raj had all receded into memory and Allahabad was now going to be part of India’s resurrection.

Hmm, what’s that? You mean the EIC stole it all from the Mughals who were also conquering looters?

My word, don’t we think we should make a little more of this? Or is only whitey to blame?

Sunday is the 25th anniversary of the defining moment of my lifetime

11.30 pm, 9 November 1989, Bornholmer Strasse, Berlin:

At 11.30pm on November 9, 1989, Lieutenant-Colonel Harald Jäger was faced with a stand-off. For hours, some 20,000 East German protestors had amassed at Berlin’s border crossing demanding to be let through.

Lt-Col Jäger gave the order to 46 armed guards at his command to open the barrier and stand aside.

It was the moment the Berlin Wall fell.

Or as PJ O’Rouke put it:

“We won… We the people, the free and equal citizens of democracies, we living exemplars of the Rights of Man tore a new asshole in International Communism… The privileges of liberty and the sanctity of the individual went out and whipped butt.”

Someone out there will have access to the Bernard Levin piece he did on this. Would be good to see that again too.

How glorious it was to be alive that day.

An historical question

So, they’re building a 13 th cent. French chateau using 13 th cent. French techniques. And then there’s this:

“Every element has to be referenced back to the 13th century. We ask ourselves, Guilbert de Guédelon is a low-ranking nobleman with limited resources so what are his options? Will he be able to afford a drawbridge that will take 57 felled trees and 66 iron nails? No,” Preston says.

I wonder which would have cost the more in those days, the 57 trees or the 66 iron nails?

I think I’d go for the nails but anyone actually know?

Mary Seacole’s interesting treatment for cholera

As for her ‘nursing’ prowess, the young Seacole learnt herbal healing from her mother, who worked as a ‘doctress’ (healer), and gleaned informal tips from doctors staying with her family.

Her expertise in this area, however, can only be taken on faith. There is no hard evidence.

As for the herbal ‘remedies’ she used for cholera, for instance, she described in her memoirs how she added lead acetate and mercury chloride. Both are highly toxic, cause dehydration and produce the opposite effect to the treatments used by doctors today.

I am too old to have learned about Seacole at school, it’s a recent phenomenon this lauding of her. And it’s worth reading that piece in full because the generally told stories about her seem to be entirely bollocks.