" LIKE THE STARKS, WE TOO, THE INDO-EUROPEANS HAVE HAD OUR RED WEDDING - THE 20TH CENTURY. THE CENTURY OF LIES...AND WE REMEMBER... "
THE REAL EXISTENTIAL THREAT FACING THE NORTH: THALASSOCRACY
PUBLISHED: 22nd April, 2019 | By DAX RAYNER
The war between House Stark in the North and House Lannister in the South is a cornerstone element of the storyline for the whole Game of Thrones series. But there is a lot more to this rivalry than meets the eye.
The conflict and tension between these two diametrically opposed families (from the very moment we first see them on screen together) represents a much broader theme in civilization, one that some would argue encompasses most of human history.
That is the clash and relationship between Tellurocracy (land based civilizations) and Thalassocracy (maritime based civilizations).
Karl Haushofer, Halford MacKinder, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Aleksandr Dugin are a few of the prominent geo-strategists who have conceptualized and popularized these differences. Dugin especially is well known for framing every issue in our world today - cultural, political, religious, economic, social, etc - as a great eternal struggle between land power and sea power. He calls this the great war of continents.
In ancient history the naval/sea powers who became the symbols for “maritime civilization” were Phoenicia and Carthage. The land-based power opposing Carthage was Rome. The Punic war is emblematic of the conflict between Thalassocracy (maritime based civilizations) and Tellurocracy (land based civilizations).
In the modern world the “maritime” pole became England, “Mistress of the seas”, and later the giant island-continent of America. The geopolitical strategies of England, the United States and Western Europe as a whole have become widely known as Atlanticism.
The incarnations of the land-based powers in modern times have been the Russian Empire, Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, as well as the combined landmass of EurAsia (the Far East, Middle East and all its subcontinents) as a whole, have come to be known as EurAsianism.
Even though they are both on a continent resembling the British Isles, in Westeros, House Stark is clearly not a seafaring people and represents the rural, land-based, warrior-dominated, pastoral civilization.
House Lannister, which controls King's Landing (the largest port in Westeros), represents the urban, mercantile-trade-driven, maritime civilization.
Like ancient Carthage, England and America have employed sea trade and the colonization of coastal areas as their primary strategy for expansion and economic supremacy. This oceanic Carthaginian-Anglo-Saxon geopolitical model utilizes a definite “merchant-capitalist-market” pattern of civilization that prioritizes material and economic liberalism over political and cultural interests.
Opposing this maritime model is the continental Roman-Germanic-Russo-EurAsian axis, based on martial values, civic responsibility, agrarian economic self-sufficiency and hierarchical structures, placing tribal and cultural interests higher than capital materialism.
These differences between maritime based empires and land based empires are very pronounced and easy to spot when you contrast the way the armed forces of the United States and Russia are organized, with the U.S. putting heavy emphasis on its Navy and Air Force, while Russia, with its vast steppe territories, deploys the largest armoured force of tanks and artillery in the world.
But it's not only the military of a civilization that is deeply influenced by geography but also the culture and every other fabric of society. Depending on which orientation (land or oceanic) the peoples and nations adhere to, their religions, cultural values, psychology, world-views, foreign policy, domestic politics, economic models and everything else will be uniquely shaped by the soil they are located on.
Geography does indeed appear to be destiny, as Napoleon said
“Just as none of us is outside or beyond geography, none of us is completely free from the struggle over geography. That struggle is complex and interesting because it is not only about soldiers and cannons but also about ideas, about forms, about images and imaginings.”
-Culture and Imperialism, Edward Wadie Saïd
These are obviously broad generalizations and there are always variations/nuance/exceptions to these categories, but in general there is a fairly strong correlation and alignment between many of these characteristics:
Thalassocracy (maritime based civilizations)
Water, fluid, unstable
Slave morality (Nietzche)
Tellurocracy (land based civilizations)
Land, solid, stable
Master morality (Nietzsche)
Tradition, nuclear family
The sea lanes and open trade routes of naval based civilizations throughout history helped foster the multicultural environment of their metropolitan commercial centers.
King's Landing, occupied by the Lannisters, bears all the hallmarks of the parasitical mega world-city described by Spengler. Rioting mobs, grotesque art, bread and circuses, modernity, rampant corruption, multiculturalism, gambling, entire neighborhoods of brothels, urban sprawl/poverty, and a ruling class that is deeply contemptuous of the country folk (the Northerners).
In contrast with the duplicitous South, the Starks in the North are the embodiment of classic Germanic values like honor, duty, loyalty. They are so honorable to the point where it often ends up getting them killed (Ned Stark) or in Jon Snow's case, his refusal to ever tell a lie, even to an enemy, puts them in danger on numerous occasions (his negotiations with Cersei for example).
Jon Snow sounds like a full blown propertarian criticizing postmodernism and advocating for fully warranted truthful reciprocal speech when he says:
"I'm not going to swear an oath I can't uphold. When enough people make false promises, words stop meaning anything. Then there are no more answers, only better and better lies."
(It probably wouldn't hurt him to take some Italian realpolitik lessons from Machiavelli though)
This great divide in value systems between these two types of civilizations, tellurocracy and thalassocracy, can also be attested to by the fact that, as everyone is aware of by now, when you view the 2016 U.S. electoral map by county the most stark demographic divide in America is urban(blue) vs rural(red). With most of the biggest urban cities of course being on the coasts or next to wate
In addition to the characteristics of land vs sea powers portrayed by the Starks and Lannisters, there is also the dynamic of North vs South. In Old Europe, the Southern regions were often associated with hedonism and decadence. Whereas the North has been long regarded as the ancient seat of the highest form of spirituality (this was even understood by many in medieval Christian mysticism).
Ex Septentrionibus Lux - "From the North Comes the Light"
The mysticism associated with the far North has been the source of many hyperborean and thulean legends, which have given birth to things like the Vril Society and the Thule Society.
According to esotericists like René Guénon and Julius Evola, who have been influential in Indo-European/Aryan schools of thought, Hyperborea (the land beyond the North Wind) was the golden age of civilization and spirituality. Man does not evolve from the ape, but rather devolves into an apelike condition as he strays from his spiritual homeland in the Far North. The closer he gets to the South Pole, the greatest point of materialization (again here we see the link between the South and degeneracy), the more he succumbs to its dark energies.
This spiritual dichotomy between North and South is present in Game of Thrones as well.
The Southern houses of Westeros are populated by the Andal dynasties, a race of humans who invaded the island continent from Essos in the East. They brought with them the Faith of the Seven, a new religion with new gods.
House Stark and other clans in the North are descended from the First Men, the first race of humans to set foot on the continent of Westeros. They still hold their original traditions and worship the old gods.
This inability of the new state-sanctioned religion to penetrate into the heartland of the North is also reflective of the actual history of the spread of Christianity in Europe.
Christianity first emerged from the unstable urban social environment of the Mediterranean. As James Russell describes in his book 'The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity,' Christianity was not suited to the Germanic rural, warrior-dominated, pastoral society in Northern Europe with high levels of group solidarity.
The homogeneity and strong sense of social unity found in medieval Germanic society (as well as Japan) did not predispose them to the Christian message, which tends to flourish well in heterogeneous multicultural societies. Social destabalization and a breakdown of previous cultural forms was common in the collapsing Roman Empire, which helped Christianity take hold and fill in the gaps. This anomie (social disorganization) was not as prevalent among the Germanic tribes and so their cultural patterns and indigenous pagan practices had to be accommodated by the Christians. Rather than a pure form of conversion, what took place was syncretism, a merging or blending of different religious systems. The vitality of Germanic culture, especially the Franks, was so strong that some historians have said that Christianity was in many ways more Germanicized than the Germanic people were Christianized.
In Game of Thrones, this kind of religious syncretism can be seen throughout the series when Northerners swear "by the Old Gods and the New."
Also like the Starks, we too, the Indo-Europeans have had our Red Wedding - the 20th Century. The Century of lies. . .
And we remember. . .
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