Friday, July 10, 2009

Ok, More Medievalism Stuff...

....this one from Douglas Rushkoff, "media ecologist" and author of Life, Inc. In this interview via the Reality Sandwich blog, Rushkoff contrasts the "Dark Ages" with what he sees as our corporate dominated future, and finds the Middle Ages were probably better, stating "'m not usually a conspiracy theorist about these things, but I think the reason why we celebrate the Renaissance as a high point of western culture is really a marketing campaign. It was a way for Renaissance monarchs and nation-states, and the industrial age powers that followed, to recast the end of one of the most vibrant human civilizations we've had, as a dark, plague-ridden, horrible time.

Historically, the plague arrived after the invention of the chartered corporation, and after central currency was mandated. Central currency became law, and 40 years later you get the plague. People got that poor that quickly. They were no longer allowed to use the land. It shifted from an abundance model to a scarcity model; from an economy based on annual grain production to one based on gold released by the king."

A thought provoking interview and makes want to read the book....

3 comments:

Matthew Gabriele said...

Larry, isn't Rushkoff advocating a kind of "neoRomanticism" (if you will), which has been talked about elsewhere as well as by me, here? I mean, isn't this another form of longing for a "purer, simpler" time when people frolicked in the fields and everyone got along fine, just by trading loaves of bread? OK, that's a bit of snark but still...

theswain said...

Oh, yes, he certainly is doing just that. Sorry, I'd forgotten about your post on that issue. What is interesting to me though is that by and large he's painting the "dark ages" as that purer, simpler time, a period usually painted in much darker terms in the popular mind.

Also, romantic notion or not, its nice to see the early middle ages being talked about POSITIVELY for a change!

tenthmedieval said...

Completely wrong about centralised currency, but you'd expect me to say that. The thing there is the emergent trading and industrial class in the early modern period make the control of money that much more important; but not only did medieval polities control money very effectively, but there are repeated episodes of unofficial minting in times of change shortage in many European countries' modern history. Seems to me that this is political periodization just as much as that he's accusing history of: his argument that periodization here makes the non-corporate age of the undeveloped state a time of woe and dearth as opposed to a neo-Romantic paradise is simply a stab at the modern corporation and state.