December 11

Ep. 0087: Grain and the State

Wheat close-up

Join CJ as he discusses:

  • How people lived in the Paleolithic Era, which actually encompasses the vast majority of human existence
  • The Neolithic Revolution and the coming of agriculture
  • The domestication of grains and their rise to dominate global food production
  • The rise of “civilization,” including its downsides
  • The characteristics of grains which make them the preferred food crops of states
  • Alternatives to sedentary, fixed-field, grain-dominated agriculture, which states tend to discourage
  • A few thoughts and observations about grains and states in the modern world

Please consider supporting the show via Patreon!

Other ways to support the show

External Links

Prof CJ’s Picks (buy anything from Amazon via these affiliate links to help support the show at no additional cost to you)

Wheat photo attribution: By User:Bluemoose (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

August 28

Ep. 0074: The Western Way of War vs the Eastern Way of War

To begin laying some of the groundwork for the upcoming miniseries on the history of modern guerrilla and unconventional war, here’s a discussion of two different paradigms of what war is supposed to be and how it is supposed to be fought.  One is the Western (or European) Way, which originated in Greece and from there filtered through the Romans to become the dominant paradigm among Westerners to this day. The other is the Eastern (or Asian) Way, which originated in China and from there filtered to other parts of the Asian world and beyond, and which forms the intellectual basis of much of modern guerrilla tactics and strategy.

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  • The origins of the Western Way and how it has evolved over the centuries
  • The origins of the Eastern Way and how it has evolved over the centuries
  • Why this matters to understanding the modern world in general, and the history of modern unconventional warfare in particular

Please consider becoming a Patreon patron of the DHP!  Pledge at least $1 per episode and you’ll have access to monthly bonus episodes not available anywhere else.

Other ways to help out the show financially

Internal Links

External Links

Prof CJ’s Picks (buy anything from Amazon via these links to help support the show at no additional cost to you)

July 25

Ep. 0070: DHP Villains: Sargon of Akkad

Often described as the world’s first empire-builder, Sargon of Akkad may not entirely deserve that title.  But he’s the earliest empire-builder to achieve lasting notoriety.

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  • A brief excerpt from “The Legend of Sargon”
  • The historical context of ancient Mesopotamia and the Sumerians who peopled most of the southern part of the region which Sargon later conquered
  • Sargon’s rise from obscurity to the throne of Kish
  • His subsequent conquest of virtually all of Mesopotamia into one empire
  • The efforts of Sargon & his heirs to centralize their rule over this empire, with partial success
  • Sargon’s death, and a little bit about some of his successors, including Naram-Sin
  • Some thoughts about the degree to which Sargon was a prototype for many of the “great” rulers and conquerors who came later, and whether conventional notions of “greatness” might in fact have a tinge of psychopathy that serves the rulers’ interests

Support the show!

Exciting Announcement: You can now support the Dangerous History Podcast on a per-episode basis via Patreon!

Prof CJ’s Picks (buy anything from Amazon via these affiliate links to help support the show at no additional cost to you)

January 14

Ep. 0048: Introduction to Taoism & the Scholar Warrior Ideal

And also Prof CJ’s modern adaptation of the ideal:  The Guerrilla Scholar Warrior — a possible way to make yourself freer in this not-so-free world of ours.

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  • The basics of the origins and meaning of Taoism
  • Some of Taoism’s similarities to other philosophies, ancient and modern
  • What the Scholar Warrior ideal is
  • Some examples of Scholar Warriors from history
  • Prof CJ’s lifehack on the concept — “the Guerrilla Scholar Warrior” — and how it can apply to modern-day life

External Links

Alan Watts lecture “The Taoist Way”

Bruce Lee “Be Like Water”

Bruce Lee “The Art of Fighting Without Fighting”

Murray Rothbard article on Taoism in Ancient China

Prof CJ’s Picks (buy anything from Amazon via these links to help support the show at no additional cost to you)

(Photo “Businessman with Sword” courtesy Vudhikrai/freedigitalphotos.net)

December 29

Ep. 0046: ‘The Strong Do What They Can…”

…and the weak suffer what they must.’  Here’s a look at how Athens was warped by the Peloponnesian War against Sparta in the 400s BC, using two of the most famous sections of Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War.  In Prof CJ’s opinion, war has a corrosive, de-civilizing effect on a people — even a people who ostensibly espouse humane values.  And the longer a war lasts, the more dramatic this effect becomes, until a people unabashedly proclaim that might makes right, that might is right.

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  • A very brief bit of background on this war & on Thucydides
  • Pericles’ Funeral Oration
  • The so-called Melian Dialogue
  • The fate of Melos
  • Some thoughts on what these reveal, and examples from more modern history

Announcement:  The Dangerous History Podcast is now available on Stitcher.

(“Aegean Islands Stock Photo” courtesy Suat Eman/freedigitalphotos.net)

Prof CJ’s Picks (buy from Amazon via these links to help support the show at no additional cost to you)

September 18

Ep. 0030: Lessons from the Bronze Age Collapse

Theses are just some thoughts on lessons for us Modern Day folks to be gleaned from the Bronze Age Collapse (c. 1200 – 1000 BC.)

(Knock on wood, we think Prof CJ might have finally found a method for recording decent-quality podcasts from the car without spending huge amounts of his largely nonexistent fortune.)

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  • Leaders get undeserved credit during good times, but blamed during bad times.
  • Specialization & division of labor are great, until trade is disrupted.
  • There’s NEVER one single thing that causes a TEOTWAWKI collapse; it’s always a multifaceted clusterfuck
  • Declines can happen slowly, but also relatively quickly (most of the Bronze Age Collapse unfolded over less than 50 years.)
  • You have to be plugged in & paying attention, because in the Bronze Age Collapse, things seemed to be fine and normal right up till the point that the shit really hit the fan.
  • You don’t want to be in big cities during a collapse.
  • Bronze Age civilizations collapsed despite having pretty good stores of surplus food from good years; how would we fare, with little or no stores of food and other goods?
  • You don’t want to be alone/isolated during a collapse.
  • The ideal location would be a small town situated in a remote and/or rugged location
  • You can’t count on the people & institutions who steered you into the collapse, so you shouldn’t count on them to steer you out (or even to effectively manage the symptoms)
  • Dark Ages are pretty rough, but as the old dinosaur systems collapse, opportunities are created who are tough, clever, and willing to adapt; they (or perhaps their descendants) might end up freer and better off in the long run, as the society rebuilds.
  • Final food for thought:  Ponder:  Are we already IN a collapse, but a slow-mo one?  Prof CJ points out some parallel symptoms of the Bronze Age Collapse to our current situation.

September 15

Ep. 0029: The Greek Dark Age and Recovery

Greece arguably got hit the hardest and stayed down the longest of any of the major civilizations clobbered by the Bronze Age collapse that was discussed in Episode 27 and Episode 28.  It also had one of the most dramatic ‘recoveries,’ culminating in the Classical Era which produced a culture that many still today see as the real beginning of Western Civilization.

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  • A quick sketch of pre-catastrophe Mycenaean civilization
  • The collapse and its effects on Greece as indicated by the archaeological record, such as physical damage and even destruction of buildings and infrastructure; population decline; isolation; loss of technology and crafts; loss of literacy; and decreased cultivation of the land
  • How this chronic crisis created misery, but also, in the long run, new opportunities
  • A quick look at Greece’s emergence from the Dark Age starting circa the 700s BC, including the development of the polis and the related institutions of the independent family farm and the hoplite militia system

Prof CJ’s Picks (buy via these links to help support the show)

September 11

Ep. 0028: The Collapse of Bronze Age Civilizations, Part 2

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  • Some possible explanations for the collapse, including:  disease; seismic activity; climate change resulting in food shortages; mass migration (often violent), including the so-called “Sea Peoples,” who ravaged much of the Eastern Mediterranean before being stopped by the Egyptians; changes in weapons, armor, and tactics that might have allowed barbarians to defeat the armies of Bronze Age kings;
  • The explanation Prof CJ finds the most plausible, which he terms (in very non-academia-jargon) “The Clusterfuck-Perfect Storm” model of civilizational collapse, which more refined scholars often refer to as “general systems collapse”
  • The cascading/domino/multiplier effects that might have occurred as problems compounded and existing institutions proved unable to cope effectively with them
  • How the people & institutions in charge failed
  • How the high degree of centralization in Bronze Age kingdoms ultimately made them more fragile & less able to adapt to changing circumstances than they might have been if they’d been more decentralized
  • A brief mention of the effects of the collapse, as much as can be figured out, on the lives of regular people who lived through it
  • How the collapse may have set the stage for eventual ‘Renaissance’ in some areas, but that may have been no consolation to people who had to eke out an existence during Dark Ages which in some cases lasted a few centuries

Next time, the Dangerous History Podcast will zoom in particularly on the case of the Greeks, since they were in most ways the hardest hit by the collapse and foundered in the longest Dark Age, yet ultimately emerged to produce the Classical civilization we still marvel at today.

Prof CJ’s Picks (buy from Amazon via these links to help support the show at no additional cost to you)

September 8

Ep. 0027: The Collapse of Bronze Age Civilizations, Part 1

The Fall of the Western Roman Empire and its aftermath (discussed by me in Episodes 0004 and 0005) might be the most notorious civilization collapse, but it was by no means the first or even the worst example of that phenomenon.

Over a thousand years before Christ, an even more dramatic collapse hit multiple Bronze Age civilizations in the Eastern Mediterranean over the course of a relatively short window of time, causing significant decline in some kingdoms, and genuine collapse followed by Dark Ages in others.

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  • A brief discussion of the survivalist/prepper concepts of SHTF and TEOTWAWKI, which obviously have some relevance to this story
  • An overview of the Late Bronze Age world in the Eastern Mediterranean, including some of the important civilizations and kingdoms
  • A sketch of the degree of trade, prosperity, interconnectedness in the late Bronze Age
  • Evidence of the widespread collapse that hit mostly between 1200 and 1150 BC, including destroyed cities, a few written records of attacks, and evidence that residents of some thriving coastal cities retreated to small villages in remote, rugged terrain, presumably for protection from something

Next time we’ll continue looking at the Bronze Age Collapse by examining some of the problems that may have caused or contributed to it.

Prof CJ’s Picks (buy via these links to help support the show)

June 20

Ep. 0005: Fall of Rome Follow-Up

Normally, this show will be Mondays & Thursdays, but here’s a half-size-or-slightly-less follow up to yesterday’s episode on the Fall of Rome & its Aftermath, with a little more elaboration on the lessons of that historical episode for us today.

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  • The Prof’s answer to the question, “Why bother learning history?”
  • Why those who rise to the top of the state inevitably are stupid and/or evil
  • Let go of the idea of trying to change “the System”
  • Focus on what you can do in your life that actually matter
  • Prof CJ advocates being a moderate prepper/survivalist
  • Do your own thinking to figure out the exact path that suits you and your resources to get you through the New Dark Age

(pic of Hadrian’s Wall courtesy Dr. Joseph Valks/freedigitalphotos.net)

Prof CJ’s Picks (buy from Amazon via these links to help support the show at no additional cost to you)