Thursday, February 21, 2008
I attended a lecture last night on Vikings employing a synthesis of raid and trade tactics given by a most prominent professor of all things Norse from the University of Iceland - Helgi Thorlakkson (I wish I had that last name to fit my personality). The Icelandic accent was hard to understand and he had to deliver his lecture in English very slowly, but the concept along with the historical use of the sagas and archaelogical record was very compelling. The Christian propaganda resulting from the raiding of the monasteries gave the Vikings a somewhat unfair reputation because of them being vilified as the heathen other by the corrupt and wealth hoarding Christian clergy they robbed. This type of robbery was common all over Europe and was not limited to the Vikings, they just struck more rapidly and disappeared on their ships with their newly acquired booty. It was politically and religiously acceptable to demonize them more than the nominally Christian warrior bands of marauders that were ravaging Europe as well. What was interesting was that the Vikings would often steal people and items in raids, call a truce for a week or so, and trade goods like walrus tusks they broguht with them and/or ransom back the hostages for other goods they could parley elsewhere. They would then sail with the newly acquired goods from the raid/trade to more remote markets to get highly specialized luxury items like Frankish glassware, pottery, beads, etc... . The economies they were raiding were actually in decline (verified by the archaeological record) before the rise of the Viking age. The Viking raiding and trading actually stimulated the economy in the areas they terrorized preventing these settlements from being starved out and abandoned due to the collapsing economies. Hence, although it is counterintuitive: pillage and plunder is beneficial for the larger trade economy as long as the settlements are not completely decimated, which the Vikings rarely did. The truces for trade were very common and one could function as a maruader and merchant during the same engagement within the same week. I should have lived in these conditions where one could use an axe as a negotiating tool, rather than being forced to use predatory and exploiting interest rates to get ahead in business. It is more honest. I attest Viking tactics more honorable than the past US forced trade policy employing gunboats in foreign ports or modern corporate greed in a globalized economy. American culture is boring and lame in it's self-righteous hypocrisy. Vikings are cool because they didn't veil the baseness of human nature, yet they weren't quite as simplistically brutal as Christian propaganda has perpetuated. I did use coercive threats to get compensation from Alaska Airlines this week due to the past weekend's flight debacle. They trembled in fear, but we'll see how much compensation I get by next week. That is all!