- 1/4 Continuing, for amusement, our reading of chapter 11 of David Graeber's "Debt: The First 5000 Years" #graebererrors #debtch11inch11 @davidgraeber
- 2/4 Once again, @davidgraeber appears to misdate the Bubonic Plague by a century #graebererrors #debtch11inch11
- 3/4 And @davidgraeber appears to have no clue what territories were ruled by the Ottoman Empire when #graebererrors #debtch11inch11
- 4/4 Also, @davidgraeber appears to have no clue that what he calls "Christendom" was expanding on other frontiers #graebererrors #debtch11inch11
In the absence of worthwhile DeLong smackdowns, continuing my reading of chapter 11 of David Graeber's Debt to see if it is in as bad shape from the viewpoint of simple accuracy of fact and coherence of argument as his chapter 12 was. The answer is "yes": chapter 11 is definitely in Chapter 11, if not Chapter 7:
I just have time to make two points today about this kindle screen:
Note, once again, the century-off misdating of the Bubonic Plague. When Graeber talks about the rise in real wages and the collapse of serfdom in western Europe, he is talking about a process that takes place in the century before his beginning of his 1450-1971 "age of the great capitalist empires". Perhaps he meant 1350-1971?
Or perhaps he meant 1550-1971: "Christendom was staggering, with the Ottoman Empire... pushing steadily into central Europe, its forces expanding on land and sea". Here Graeber has completely lost his mind: the 1400s do not see the Ottoman Empire anywhere in central Europe.
Here we have the Ottoman Empire in 1400, and in 1500.
See the expansion into Central Europe in the 1400s?
I didn't think so.
I don't see it either. I don't think that acquiring a very loose acknowledgement of vassalage from the Khan of the Crimea and the establishment of naval bases and outposts at the site of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games counts as "pushing steadily into western Europe". I don't think acquiring a somewhat stronger acknowledgement of vassalage from the Princes of Wallachia and Moldavia counts either. I don't think that the conquests of (a) Bosnia, (b) Albania, (c) Attica, and (d) the Peloponnese count either.
The first of the two unsuccessful Ottoman attempt to conquer Vienna came in 1529. The conquest of Buda and Pest did not, IIRC, occur until 1541. The attack on Malta in 1565 might count as an incursion into southern Europe--if Malta were in southern Europe, that is, and if the attempt to conquer Malta had not been a failure.
The Ottomans did conquer Cyprus in 1570-1. Perhaps Graeber simply doesn't look either at maps or dates?
The Ottoman high-water marks took place at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 on sea, and in the first half of the 1600s on land. Ottoman expansion into central Europe came a lot later than David Graeber thinks--and we have not even gotten to his claim that "Christendom was staggering" in the 1400s: that claim vastly overstates the importance of the Ottoman Empire's military expansion on European history. The borders of Christendom do shrink with the Ottoman conquests of Bosnia, Albania, Attica, and the Peloponnese, but everywhere else on its frontiers things are very different: the 1400s also see the ethnic cleansing of Muslims and Jews from the Spanish peninsula by Castile, the advance of the Portuguese forces of Dom Henrique Aziz and his successors from Cueta south along the coast of Africa and into the Indian Ocean, Cristobal Colon and his Spanish company across the Atlantic in the last eight years of the century, Casimir IV Jagiellon's offensives on the Ukrainian steppe, Ivan III Rurik and his conquest of the Khanate of Kazan.
My considered and sober judgment is that a California high-school student cribbing from Wikipedia could have done considerably better than this...