The Stone City

Words Made to Last

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Vikings (II)

Yesterday I posted a brief history lesson on the Viking era. Some parallels with the present struggle against radical Islam are obvious, so we can expect parallels in the solutions as well.

The crucial point is the impact of the Scandinavian conversion. From this remove, it cannot be said whether Christian moral teaching significantly pacified the Vikings; more credit seems generally to be given to the cultural entanglements created by the conversion.

This is good, since the conversion of large swaths of the Islamic world is not a realistic possibility [and thinking on just how unrealistic it is illustrates how far we are from having an "American Taliban"]. Christianity has put aside the sword, and the governments of the West have put aside the cross. Our aim is to enmesh our enemies in cross-cultural exchanges; a thousand years ago, conversion was a means to this end, but there are others.

Viewed thus, the effect of oil wealth in creating these sociopaths in the community of nations becomes clearer. Raw materials are the only form of commerce involving no cultural ties; oil especially so. The parallel between OPEC price-fixing and danegeld is compelling.

These ties, to be effective, must be felt by the people of a country; thus they can never be formed through commerce with a totalitarian (or communist) nation. We can create peace in this manner only with capitalist democracies.

It is ironic that many supporters of the European project, who maintain that close commercial and cultural ties are a safeguard against European war, have been among the critics of the Bush administration's attempt to forge the same sort of ties in the Islamic world.