*Levant* (Smyrna, Alexandria, and Beirut)

That is the new and excellent book by Philip Mansel and the subtitle is Splendour and Catastrophe on the Mediterranean, excerpt:

The Beirut dilemma goes to the heart of the Levant.  At certain times — Smyrna in the nineteenth century, Alexandria and Beirut for periods of the twentieth — Levantine cities could find the elixir of coexistence, putting deals before ideals, the needs of the city before the demands of nationalism.  Like all cities, however, Levantine cities needed an armed force for protection.  This could be provided by the Ottoman, British or French armies, but not by the cities’ own citizens, since they were unwilling to shoot co-religionists.  No Levantine city produced an effective police force or national guard of its own.  The very qualities that gave these cities their energy — freedom and diversity — also threatened their existence.  No army, no city.

Comments

Beirut -- the magic of diversity!

"since they were unwilling to shoot co-religionists"

This would be unique in the history of the world, if it were true.

Not really - at least not in situations where there were evil heretics or vile infidels to shoot first.

Bur "heretics" are simply heterodox co-religionists: game, set and match to jdm.

The thing is, force, then army, then government; then deals. Wanting to maximize the latter, and sort of minimize all three of the former with the caveat that the army has to be big enough to win, if it fights.

Might wins in a fight.

Multiculturalism DOES work. So long as you've got a heavily armed central government to shove it down everybody's throat.

The Roman Empire worked pretty well for awhile, as did the Ottoman and British Empires. Diversity and democracy ... eh ... the jury is still out. But why not bet the country, via lax immigration policies, on diversity and democracy being highly compatible. What's the worse that could happen?

I mean, how much trouble did massive Palestinian immigration into Lebanon in 1970 cause the Lebanese? Sure, a 15-year-long civil war of all against all followed within five years, but most of the rubble has been cleaned up by now.

Even in the Roman Empire, ethnic violence was not exactly alien. It takes a true ignorance of historical sources to imagine the Eastern Med in Roman times was a place of caring and sharing. Alexandria alone has so many examples of ethnic and religious conflict that accounts of rioting are the only reason anything is known about daily life there in the middle and later Empire

That excerpt is the single greatest argument I have read in years for the Steve Sailer world view, but I doubt its universal application. The "Levant" has always been different.

When people refer to something like the "elixir of coexistence," I suspect they are letting some fantasy get in the way of historical understanding. I don't know enough about Beirut, but I an assure everyone that at no time in the past two hundred years have Smyrna or Alexandria been places of muticultural harmony, regardless of how much force was applied.

Sectarian (and ethnic) killings have been endemic in Alexandria since the earliest modern European accounts in the late 18th century, and the fantasy of a peaceful Nineteenth Century Smyrna is completely delusional.

The persistence of these myths of Levantine comity is truly astounding. An Armenian, Greek, Jew, Copt, Egytian Muslim, or even Albanian, who wandered out of their respective quarters was always at risk of a sudden and unsolved demise in Alexandria, it was a just a fact of life. The only "safe" groups were the representatives of occupying minorities such as French and British officials, and only because of the massive reprisals that would result, and even they knew to be somewhat careful.

If you read Diodorous Siculus, Lower Egypt was this way even in Roman times, so I suspect ethnic conflict is not a recent innovation.

They, like make other nations and people, can and do always blame Imperialism, the West (denying or forcing technology and change), which eventually transmorphed from France/UK into the US etc, for their problems, never themselves...You never hear about how the Ottoman Empire stultified Arab civilization for the past 500 years since those are fellow Muslims and Caliphate was based in Turkey, therefore it was not subjugation or imperialism.

Tony Judt made a similar point about the Balkans. Many historians are hesitant to blame the people of the Balkans themselves (although, over the past 10 years, Serbians have seemed to receive more blame).

Reminds me I still need to read Mansel's Paris Between Empires.

It looks like Irvine -- but goofier.

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