Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Industrial Revolution and the Rights of Peoples in the Middle East

We are still in the middle of the industrial revolution, although most people  think it was something that happened long ago.  The world has yet to deal properly with the extreme moral changes brought about by the industrial revolution.  I want to discuss part of that here.

Before the industrial revolution, 95% of all people were involved in the production of food.  This means that it took just about everyone to produce enough food to keep one's group alive.  A year or two of bad climate, poor management of resources or many other things could bring disaster on everyone and utterly destroy a clan, a nation, a religious group.  Under these circustances, it was considered universally justified to engage in many hostile acts to keep one's own people alive.  If you could only survive by taking food or agricultural land from others, that was considered acceptable.  If you needed to see your neighbors die so your own group could live, that was acceptable too.  Even slavery could be justified on the grounds that if it is okay to kill you, it's not as bad to just make you a slave.

I would like to point out that what I am describing here is essentially what the Nazis described as the concept of Lebensraum.  Hitler's real problem with that is that he was just two hundred years too late.  In 1939 there were plenty of ways to provide for your people that did not involve taking the means of livelihood from someone else.  He clung to a long-abandoned notion of what it was legitimate for a people to do, forgetting that modern agriculture had been accompanied by modern tanks and guns and planes, and the people on the receiving end of his abuse were not about to put up with it.

All of that changed with the coming of the industrial revolution.  We have now reached the point where three or four percent of the population can produce the necessary food that it took everybody to provide just a couple of hundred years ago.  There is enough food for everybody, and as a result, the major justification for aggressive war and oppression of other groups, that had existed since the dawn of mankind, has gone out the window.  It is not an accident, for example, that the banning of slavery in major industrial countries occurred within decades of the industrial revolution- not just in Western Europe and the United States, but in the abolition of serfdom in Russia in 1861, contemporary with the Civil War, or the supplanting of the Tokugawa Shogunate, with its medieval rules about the fixed roles of people, by the Meiji restoration in 1868.  In fact, where slavery still exists, it is primarily in non-industrial societies (Northern Africa, parts of the Arab world, Pakistan.)*

Colonialism too was a survival of the pre-industrial revolution notion of right and wrong, consisting as it did in essentially allowing yourself the privilege of taking away someone else's means of production so you could have it.  However, the ruling classes of the industrial democracies were so enriched by colonial profits that it took a great deal more time and bloodshed before this too was seen to be illegitimate- most of it passing away in the period from the end of World War I to about 1950.  But pass away it did- another inevitable consequence of the industrial revolution-  and in today's political morality it is seen as just as illegitimate as slavery.

I mention this because of the recent comparison between the Jews' return to their homeland with the European seizure of the Americas.

Before getting on with my comment, I want, however, to discuss one issue that should be obvious:  A principal argument against the very existence of the State of Israel is the claim that it is nothing but an example of colonialism, on a level with the Spanish conquering of Mexico, or the British appropriation of India.  This is an incredibly flawed comparison, because it is not colonialism when an ethnic group returns to its homeland.  Yes, Muslims, and before them Romans, kept Jews out of Israel for over a thousand years, despite their constant individual attempts to return, but that does not change the fact that Jews are the oldest known inhabitants of the region (the Caananites and Philistines disappeared without a trace, and claims by the current "Palestinians" to be their descendants are simply propaganda) and therefore Jews are returning to Israel, not colonizing it.  The long time that Muslims maintained a hostile control over the area has obscured this fact, but a fact it is.

Well, back to my subject:  At the time of the English and French seizure of North America, the industrial revolution had not yet begun.  The English and the French were doing to the Indian tribes what many of those tribes did without any sense of guilt to each other.  We would no longer ever accept this behavior from those who consider themselves to be civilized, but as they say, that was then, this is now. 

So now to the truth of what is going on in Israel, seen from today's standpoint.  Millions of Jews, with the full approval of the world's governments at the time, have returned to their homeland.  Irredentist populations that left Israel were not allowed to return, following principles that had been declared appropriate at the end of World War II, just a couple of years earlier.  The response of the surrounding Muslim countries has been an endless succession of attempts to take that land away from the Jews. 

Under the above analysis, it should be clear that it is the Arabs, not the Jews who are acting in accord with pre-industrial revolution notions of acceptable behavior- using violence to take land away from the indigenous population.  To justify this behavior, the two great myths of Palestine were created: first that the "Palestinians" were a recognizable ethnic group whose homeland happened to coincide exactly with the current State of Israel, and second that the Jews, in returning to their homeland, were committing a colonialist abomination on a supposedly homogeneous indigenous population.   Stripping away these falsehoods, we see things as they are:  Jews are the real "Palestinians-" the people with a true connection to their homeland, and they have a perfect right to live there in peace.  Until the Arabs in the surrounding countries agree to this there will never be peace; in fact this agreement is both the necessary and only condition to make peace possible.

* I suppose I need hardly note that these societies in which slavery still exists are almost entirely Muslim.  Make what you will of that fact.


Anonymous said...

If you are going to base "homeland" claims because of what was going on a thousand years ago, or more; then you will have to redraw the map of the world.
Israel is home to three of the worlds biggest religions. To say Arabs have no claim to that area of the world they have lived in for thousands of years, is disingenuous.
Certainly by your reasoning we must immediately give America back to the Native Americans and be condemned by world organizations for killing the Native Americans and stealing their land.
Your theory cannot be applied equally to all, so it is biased towards Jews. Your theory claims those living in certain parts of the world 1,000 years ago have claim to that same land today. Your theory makes Americans illegal occupiers of America. In fact your theory makes the whole American continent occupied territory.
The world map of 1,000 years ago doesn't even show the American continent.
To call what Europeans did to the American continent, colonization, is a false description (according to your own theory) and only seeks to give legitimacy to an illegal taking of land, not to mention the force used to kill millions of Native Americans.
To say Arabs were not living in what is the current State of Israel, a thousand years ago, is poppycock. Where are the Arab rights to land they have lived in for thousands of years?

Sam240 said...

And now Green Eagle is coming up with anti-Semitic rhetoric.

Edwin Montagu was a member of the British Cabinet when Balfour issued is declaration. If you had asked Montagu what his homeland was, he would have declared that it was Great Britain. “The members of my family, for instance, who have been in this country for generations, have no sort or kind of community of view or of desire with any Jewish family in any other country beyond the fact that they profess to a greater or less degree the same religion. It is no more true to say that a Jewish Englishman and a Jewish Moor are of the same nation than it is to say that a Christian Englishman and a Christian Frenchman are of the same nation: of the same race, perhaps, traced back through the centuries - through centuries of the history of a peculiarly adaptable race.” (

But Green Eagle would insist that Montagu's homeland was not Britain. He would say that Montagu's homeland was Eretz Israel, despite what Montagu himself would say.

What is the homeland of a Jew in Brooklyn whose family members have been on this side of the Atlantic for the past century? I would say that it is the United States, but Green Eagle insists that her homeland is Israel.

What about the Dönme, who are descendents of Jews who converted to Islam under Ottoman rule? Do they have a right to go to Israel?
Is their homeland Turkey? But the Turks themselves didn't arrive in Turkey until about 1000 years ago. Is Turkey the Turkish homeland, or not?

If we take Green Eagle's reasoning to its logical conclusion, then Israel is the homeland of Connie Chung, Ivanka Trump, and John Kerry's brother Cameron. However, it is not the homeland of someone whose family had maintained a continuous presence in the area for centuries, whether it is a Palestinian who fled in fear of Zionist terrorists in 1948, or an Armenian in Jerusalem's Old City who is barred from using some municipal parking lots because they are Jews-only parking lots. There's something very wrong with that conclusion.

Sam240 said...

"* I suppose I need hardly note that these societies in which slavery still exists are almost entirely Muslim. Make what you will of that fact." - Green Eagle

What I make of it is that either Green Eagle is too lazy to do the most elementary research or that he's lying.

There are about 26 to 30 million slaves in the world, and about 14 million of them are in India. The last time I checked, India was predominantly Hindu. Second place? China. We all know how Islamic China is. The rest of the top ten: Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Russia, Thailand, Congo DR, Myanmar, and Bangladesh. Only two of the top ten are predominantly Muslim.

One might reply that some countries are simply too small to make the list, and that percentage of population would be a better measure. Mauritania is at the top, followed by Haiti, Pakistan, India, and Nepal. That makes two largely Islamic countries, two largely Hindu countries, and one largely Catholic country.

(Information from

The wikipedia entry on slavery states that Mauritania was the last country to outlaw the practice (1981/2007); however, it also states that Nepal did not outlaw the Haliya system until 2008. This last bit is confirmed at . That would make Nepal, a predominantly Hindu country, the last state where slavery was legal.

So which is it? Is Green Eagle being dishonest here, or is he merely incompetent?

Green Eagle said...


1. I did not say Arabs had no claim to that area of the world- I only said Jews have a right to return and live in peace in their ancestral homeland.

Your comment about native Americans indicates that, as usual, you totally ignored the entire point of this post- that things were different before the industrial revolution, and that colonial expansion is not the same as returning to your homeland.

And as for Arab rights to live in Israel, these certainly exist- there are a million and a half Israeli Arabs today, who enjoy (at least legally) full rights as citizens. The Jews' right to have a State there stems in large part from the fact that the reverse is impossible- Jews in Arab States would be quickly exterminated or expelled.

And while I am on the subject, let me remind you that throughout the history of civilization, nomadic people have not been recognized to have ownership of the land over which they pass. And that includes all Arabs.

Anonymous said...

Jews were not nomadic 1,000 years ago? Guess again. The Arabs have been nomadic to one area of the world, not the whole world and being nomadic is a part of their culture and always has been. The Middle East (including parts of Israel) is their historic homeland.
Jews did not simply return to their homeland. The State of Israel was forced on the area by western powers, because western powers won the military conflict (as I stated before) and as the victors declared their own rules and land boundaries.
Churchill drew the lines himself and created new States after WW I.
Half of your post was describing the Industrial revolution and food production, which has nothing to do with why Israel was created in 1948.
You excuse European colonization by saying "that was then, this is now; but reject the same reality when Israel was created. War makes the same (that was then, this is now) reality; and is how the world map has changed over thousands of years.
I back the State of Israel, even to the point of military protection by the US.
Current Palestinians (Arabs) deserve the same, were promised the same, and current US policy is still for a Palestinian State. That being the case, why do we concur with Israel and allow them to treat Palestinians as people who have no rights? If wars do not decide the rules and boundaries, then why is Israel allowed to build settlements in disputed lands supposedly won by Israel in the 1960's?
I don't back Israel building settlements. It is an act of aggression and multiple American presidents have said the same, not to mention the oppressive treatment of Palestinians by Israel. Israel has created what is in effect a large prison with dictatorial procedures ruling the movements of Palestinians.
Again, by your theory all lands should be given back to its native inhabitants. That's unrealistic, but you give a pass to what Europe did to the Americans, yet, won't follow the same thinking when it comes to Arabs.
Arabs refuse to recognize Israel. Part of that sentiment comes from the worlds refusal to create a Palestinian State as promised. The western powers who won the war made sure Israel got its State, yet, have not to this point ensured a Palestinian, Arab State. It's easy to understand Arab negativity towards those who forced a situation (State of Israel) upon them, but refuse to follow through on their promises to them.
Then the US overthrows a democratically elected leadership in Iran and installed the Shaw. Is it really so hard for western powers to understand the Arab attitude? It's the same imperialistic garbage that England practiced for 100's of years and why revolt against England was worldwide, not just in America. Now we are acting like the imperialists and wonder why we are hated by millions around the world.

Sam240 said...

I just read the comments for "Bibi" -- I was working for a few days after I made a comment there, and by the time I returned to the blog, there had been another post on the Middle East, so I didn't scroll down past that one to "Bibi." Therefore, I didn't know that I wasn't supposed to post!

Let me quote Joseph: "In 2009,Vilnai said the Palestinians would suffer a shoah IF they kept shooting rockets at Israel. Was it appropriate? Probably not. Did he mean that Israel was going to murder all the Gazans. No. And as for the gypsies, if they want a homeland, I think they should have one. And if they want vast parts of South Dakota, it's ok with me. And Mr. Eagle, if Sam apologizes and agrees that Jews are not like Nazis, you should let him comment, albeit with some limit on the length of his comments."


Let me repeat: Jews are not like Nazis, the late Meir Kahane notwithstanding. I'd say at least 99.999% of them have moved beyond Deuteronomy 20:10-20. If one Jewish jerk calls for a Shoah against somebody, as Vilnai did, that doesn't mean all Jews are Nazis. Vilnai doesn't speak for all Jews. If two Palestinian jerks kidnap three students and murder them, that doesn't mean all Palestinians are Nazis. If several Israeli jerks kidnap a youth and burn him alive, that doesn't mean all Israelis are Nazis, either.

However, it is worrisome if a jerk who calls for a Shoah gets promoted to a cabinet-level position. It doesn't mean that there's something wrong with the country per se, but it does mean something has gone very wrong with its government. (I see Vilnai's "If" as mere window dressing. Keep 1.5 million people under siege for years in an area smaller than the size of Philadelphia, and you're going to see some of them want to hit back.)

Israel is not engaged in the mass murder of 4 million people; not all war crimes rise to the level of genocide. The Israeli government is nowhere near the level of such leaders as Hitler, Stalin, and Leopold II of Belgium, and anyone who says so is wrong. As I never said anything remotely like "Jews are Nazis," I cannot apologize for doing such a thing.

PFinLA said...

Love what you have to say. You are a good explainer. But I wish these other idiots would stop using your space for their inane rantings.

joseph said...

Mr. Eagle,

As you know, I completely agree with your view of Israel. The only point I would add is that it is odd that those claiming to be liberal believe in the trickle down economics of the Palestinian governments. Also, IF Israel is a great big bully, real friends of the Palestinians would be suggesting that they stop picking fights with the bully who is going to beat them up and become friends with the bully so they can stop using their lunch money on slingshot that don't work.

joseph said...

Mr. Eagle,

Now on to, I think, a more important point. The Industrial Revolution led to massive unemployment in the agriculture economy because, as you say, machines could do the work faster and better than people. Now we are in a Technological Revolution where machines can make the goods we need faster and better than people. The result is that remaining jobs have been service jobs. Of course, we are also in the Information Age and the next revolution may be the Information Revolution. Robert Theobald said that in the future the goal should be 100% unemployment, let the machines do the work. The real issue is how we distribute goods and services in such a future. Perhaps, and hopefully, information will be the new coin of the realm and we will spend our time teaching each other.

Poll P. said...

Amen, Joseph.

Green Eagle said...

I just want to reiterate something here. There is more misinformation on both sides swirling around the issue of Israel than on any other issue in the world today. So a person like Sam comes on here and spews thousands of words repeating things which people who really follow the issue know to be misleading at best.

Well, I'm sorry, Sam, but I actually have a job, and I deal with my blog in my spare time. I don't have the inclination to repeatedly deal with the same false arguments over and over again from now to eternity, particularly as I long ago figured out that the people who make those arguments typically know fully well how misleading they are, and are just trying to confuse the issue.

So, I don't even read your comments. I'm too lazy to delete them, but I won't be drawn into your game.

Anonymous said...

"I suppose I need hardly note that these societies in which slavery still exists are almost entirely Muslim. Make what you will of that fact."
Sorry, not true.

Anonymous said...

Since you have no response I'll believe you agree with my points. Thank you.