Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Plantation of the Atlantic, XIII: New Towns

Not to belabour the point, but we have enough details to  make it clear that there was a long-distance trade route running along the coast of the Eastern Seaboard in the century between Columbus and the Mayflower. It's at least plausible that it is older than that, and that it was plugged into the Norse settlements in Greenland, at least as far south as the limits of distribution of Ramah Island chert. (The gulf of the Saint Lawrence, so far as is currently established.) If the linguistic hypothesis be credited, the route extended as far south as the Carolinas, and was paralleled by another one just inland running above the Fall Line. Of course, if the linguistic evidence be credited, I need something a little stronger than "trade route." The affective ties were sufficient to produce relatively linguistically homogenous Algonquin and Iroquian-speaking areas on the two proposed routes.

So what happened? The obvious analogy here, for this Northwest Coaster, is the trade area defined by the Chinook Jargon.  We'll leave it to the historical linguists to hash out whether or not the Algonquin and Iroquian language families could have emerged as "natural" languages from similar trade jargons, or whether we should look to single groups dominating these exchange networks. What matters here is the analogy. The early contact period history of the Pacific Northwest coast is well known, where that of the East Coast is not. The proposed mechanism for the first European settlements on the East Coast is one of self-sufficient agriculturalists driven by exogenous "push" factors. People come either fleeing religious persecution, seeking to establish Indian missions, or in a quixotic search for bullion mines. Yet in the case of the Pacific Northwest, we know that the issue was endogenous "pull" factors. Hawaiians, Europeans, and Asians are drawn in by the availability of fur, fish, mineral resources, and the wheat boom. Moreover, the plantation was orchestrated from the land side, by Canadian, Russian and American fur trading enterprises. That is, there was agency on the part of the pre-existing community receiving the plantations.

That "pull" factors subsequently came to play a major role in the plantation of the East Coast is well known. The north  has access to substantial fish and whale resources that, in New England in particular, can best be exploited by over-wintering fishers due to the early cod-spawning season, which would otherwise call for European fleets to depart  for the fishing grounds at the peak of the Atlantic storm season. There is also fur, tobacco in the south, and eventually wheat and other provisions, mainly for the Caribbean sugar islands.

We are given to understand that these pull factors are irrelevant to the initial colonisation, in spite of at least one of them (the fur resources available on the lower Saint Lawrence and at the mouth of the Kennebec) being already in exploitation.

This is not as strange as it may seem, because the breakdown in the analogy makes the point self-evident. There is no East Coast counterpart to the Hudson's Bay Company in 1600.

But wait! There is precisely an equivalent to the Hudson's Bay Company. There's a fur trade going on! It clearly isn't a corporate entity, but it equally clearly doesn't require a corporate entity to exist. And if we look to the people who would have been organising trade, we find, well, people like Squanto and his liege, Massasoit. When we find that Squanto has crossed the Atlantic three times under the aegis of, amongst other European patrons, Sir Ferdinando Gorges, who had a well-established interest in the Patuxet area well before the establishment of the New Plymouth Colony, our eyebrows have to rise. Apart from a desire to maintain a clear distinction between European agency and Native American passivity. (Check it out: this link comes up higher on Google than any academic discussion I could find of the historically well-established interaction between pre-Contact Iroquians and Basque fishers.)  it's hard not to draw a picture of...

Okay, let me back this up a bit. And how about some Muppets blogging?.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

It Begins

Here it is: first draft, first page. Hopefully, I won't just find myself trapped in a cycle of endless revision.

The Plantation of the Atlantic: Introduction

This is not a history of the Atlantic Ocean.  People have written such things. Generally, they’re about boats and geography, important subjects here. But I thought that it was best to start with savage denial. Because what this is, is a history against the grain, and there’s very much a reason to put an ocean in a starring role in such a history.
It goes like this. In a German prisoner of war camp, long ago, a French scholar named Fernand Braudel found internal liberation in a work of defiance and denial. He defied his captors by making use of his time,  notwithstanding his nation’s defeat, which ought to have allowed the German Reich the use of his time. And he took his research and his evidences and used them to create a history that denied and repudiated his teachers. (More or less; I won’t argue the details if you know them.) It is known in English as The Mediterranean in the Age of Philip II,[i]and, again, it would be off point to explain why it was such an act of defiance. Take my word for it, and appreciate that there are arguments that could walk the claim back. I’m being too neat, tying up loose ends meant to be undone.
In the second act, Peregrine Horden and Nicholas Purcell revisited Braudel’s concept, writing The Corrupting Sea: A Study of Mediterranean History.[ii] The title brilliantly expressed the diffidence that Horden and Purcell felt as they came to the end of their study. It’s a reference to what Horden and Purcell call the common Roman observation that the ease with which people communicated by sea was profoundly disruptive of good social order.[iii] Their frontispiece, a Medieval map showing Africa and Europe as lovers, puts it more neatly. The two continents that God has set apart are being brought together by the Mediterranean Sea. The Strait of Gibraltar will be the site of their fatal kiss, and their fall into worldly sin will end on the Levant shore.
Except that the whole notion is confused.  Another way to look at it is that the Mediterranean will be the marriage bed of a new social order. Hence this book: Atlantic history, I modestly propose, has up until now been told by disapproving parents looking on from the shore. I write as a friend of the couple, drunkenly celebrating the chivaree. If I have a moral, it is that the grandparents-to-be need to stop worrying about miscegenation, and start worrying about their grandchildren’s college tuition. If I have a subject, well, it’s a little raunchy.

[i] (Braudel, 1966)
[ii] (Horden & Purcell, 2000)
[iii] (Horden & Purcell, 2000), 5.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Plantation of the Atlantic, XIII, 1:Preparing The Ground

So, the thesis, which I owe to a better historian than I, is that the story told by the many failed European colonies established on the Eastern Seaboard before 1607, when they suddenly began succeeding (St. Augustine apart), is that by 1607, the time was right. A quasi-historical period had passed between 1492 and 1607 in which the world prepared itself to receive European-style settlements.

I wish I could remember the person who suggested this, but I should also note that according to vagrant memory, he or she placed the crucial changes on the left bank of the Atlantic. It is the rise of the early modern state there, most plausibly in terms of its role in promoting larger ships, that prepares the way. Whatever: this is surely to the point. But what about the left bank? The presumption seems to be that the Eastern Seaboard rests unchanging, a fertile shore awaiting the planting of European seed.

Yet we know that that is not the case. Change does occur in pre-, and peri-Columbian America. On Saturday I had a chance to pop into the local Chapters books (I'm beginning to feel some hope for a good Christmas retail season), where I discovered Daniel K. Richter, Before the Revolution: America's Ancient Pasts (2011).Professor Richter teaches at the (unfortunately not this member of Clan McNeil) Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

 Professor Richter begins his converging story of the two sides of the Atlantic and "early" America at Chaco Canyon, just a little further afield than I would, and on the large common fields of the "new" European three-field system before moving on to the more familiar terrain of Cahokia. He then closes out Cahokia's story with its abrupt fall, gives us a brief, timeless account of Eastern Woodland political and social practice, brings some Vikings onto the stage for a brief interlude, and then moves east looking for "the Crusades of the Christ-bearers" (67).

How, though, do you synchronise the two coasts and the depths of the Southwestern interior? Here I'm left scratching my head. Of all the mechanisms of exogenous historical determism, how can someone committed to writing this project, and in this way, possibly turn to the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age?

Per the IPCC:  "Thus current evidence does not support globally synchronous periods of anomalous cold or warmth over this timeframe, and the conventional terms of "Little Ice Age" and "Medieval Warm Period" appear to have limited utility in describing trends in hemispheric or global mean temperature changes in past centuries."

The reason that this has to be said by the IPCC? Because the LIA and the MWP have become the last, desperate lifebuoys to which climate denial clings. It's getting so that I can't even find Deep Climate's little blurbs on the LIA and MWP with Google, because there are so many denialists specificallly bringing up the two alleged episodes in specific reference to Deep Climate. That's a lot of clutter. 

But wait! There's more! My long, slow burn against the Little Ice Age in general started with this book, where Geoffrey Parker and his co-authors proposed to find a pattern of "general crisis" in the European Seventeenth Century, and traced it back to the weather. And, sure, the Seventeenth Century was chock full of crisis. There was the Russian "Time of Troubles" (1598-1613); the Thirty Years War (1618--1648); the English Civil War (1639--49); and the Fronde (1648--1660). Just to widen the net a bit, we can throw in the fall of the Ming Dynasty (1625--1644), and, I'm sure, other events as well. See the problem here? If we're going to find a historical explanation for a series of political crises, we need the crises to happen at the same time. "The Seventeenth Century" is not good enough. One hundred years is a long time in politics. 

Without rehearsing the arguments and counterarguments any further, it suffices to note that for Richter's purposes, the Little Ice Age has to account for events as early as the 1300s. The Little Ice Age; it comes, and it goes, as required by the historian, called upon the stage and dismissed as readily. And the same may be said of the Medieval Warm Period.

Having said all of this in a spirit of crabby hostility to a book that looks like a must-read of the season, I'll end with one more complaint. Richter ends the story of Cahokia on another false note, albeit one well-supported by his reading, so that I should rather call out the anthropologists: Cahokia, he tells us, seems to have been "forgotten" by the Indians, as though there were some taboo on the crucial facts. Something terrible happened there.

Which is actually pretty awesome history. Terrible things happened in old time cities. Say it to the class, in the dreams where your education gets you a chance to teach a class, slowly and dramatically. Let it hang. You can come back later to Jesuits and Anglicans being torn apart or burned; to the London hanged being dissected at banquets, to gladiators killing each other for the crowds; to the nobility of Ur III being slowly killed by nails driven through their heads; to twenty thousand buried around Anyang at the behest of the oracle bones by King Wu Ding of Shang.

But come on! The examples are enough to show that terrible things are always happening. That's not the reason that history gets forgotten and misremembered. That happens when we don't need it any more. Or need it for another, telling purpose. James Belich, in the first chapter of his history of New Zealand, where he mischievously pairs the early history of Britain and New Zealand, quotes a series of lineage singers: Aperahama Taonui was careful to note where "the real men" began in his accounts. Everything before that was told as "taboo removal." A half century later Apirana Ngata approved. Before the real men begin, it was perfectly appropriate to sing a random list of distinguished ancestors. 

This is history of families rather than of people, but the point remains that we should not expect an account of centuries past to be a straight, dry account of things that happened. It must serve its role as "taboo remover." And if we want to get at  what happened, we have to work through the stories that we're given whether as told or as interred. 

And, as it happens, the stories that Father Pinet of the Societe de Missions Etrangere du Quebec heard when he began preaching from the pulpit of the Church of the Holy Family at Cahokia, Illinois, in (apparently approximately) 1690 are actually full of mounds of earth being erected for great and solemn purposes. They're not history, to be sure ...but, wait. Strike that. Of course they're history. They're the history we've got. 

So the story I'm pointing to, of course, is the story of Fallen Woman. When Fallen Woman falls from the arch of heaven onto the primordial flood, she is pregnant with twins. Perhaps they are the Hero Twins, or perhaps one of them is disposable and the other is a great culture hero. Whatever; the point is that the animals of the primordial flood gather to help Fallen Woman. Turtle carries her on her back, while three amphibious animals in turn attempt to dive to the bottom of the flood. The last of the three, succeeding, brings up earth with which to build a lodge for Fallen Woman on the back of Turtle's shell. Hence, the world: Turtle Island.

I know, I know, I've told this story before on this blog. I've pointed out that it's at the core of James Fenimore Cooper's last Leatherstocking novel, argued that Cooper can't be bothered to hit us quite so many times with the clue-by-four of Incredibly Obvious Symbolism without a reason. (Honestly! Deerslayer's got a boat named "the Ark" captained by a man nicknamed "the Muskrat"  who lives in a "Muskrat Lodge," built on a reef in the middle of  "Glimmerglass." How the hell can you not read this allegorically?)

But that's not the point right now. The point, rather, is what "taboos are being removed" with this story. Floods and drownings, Arks and divers aren't local themes, but the importance of this story, and its details, might have specifically North American, post-Mississippian relevance. If it does turn out to be universal, or we recover evidence of the "Earth Diver" story in the Southern Cult cosmogenic complex, forget I said anything. In the mean time, this about floods and floating origins. (Because I've already linked to this, which I personally like better.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Plantation of the Atlantic, XII: Evidence, Experts and the Source of the Susquehanna of th

Historically, by 1650, and probably by about 1600, the Eastern seaboard of North America was linguistically organised in a way that no-one found remarkable at the time, but one that I want to single out as an important historical fact. Coastwise from Nova Scotia and perhaps Newfoundland all the way to the Carolinas, native populations spoke a very closely related group of languages designated today, and since the early Nineteenth Century at least, as Algonquin. Inland, along a continuous water transport corridor extending from the lower Saint Lawrence down the Richelieu River-Hudson-Mohawk-North Branch of the Susquehanna-Potomac-Shenandoah, could be found Iroquian languages, including Huron, Erie, the languages of the Five Nations, Susquehannock and perhaps others, Tuscarora and Cherokee.

I've said before that I don't think that it is at all an accident that Cooperstown is located at one of the most important waystations along this inland route. And, I would add now, Washington, D.C. (and Gettysburg) at others. That being said, there remains the question of how languages come to be aligned with geography.

This is a question that, in the first instance, inclines me to talk about a much smaller, walkable, professional geography. It is the case that some humanities departments at the University of British Columbia have their offices in one of the wings of the great spaghetti maze that is the Buchanan complex. So when the rain is pounding down on Vancouver, as has been known to happen, you might find yourself cutting through a long corridor of offices to get to your next class, rather than braving the courtyard outside. If you have a moment to linger, you can get some idea of what a department is about by reading the cartoons, funny clippings, and newspaper stories that people like to post on doors and notice boards. As an introduction to a field of study, it sure beats trying to read yourself into a textbook!

Now, one might ask why an expert in another field would want to do something like that? We have experts for a reason. No-one goes to an historian for an opinion about string theory, and the default presumption is that a physicist who wants to talk about history has gone a little dotty. Yet some of these departments bring together specialists from many fields. Take a trip down the hall through Classical Studies, though, and you'll  see the point. The bulletin boards joke about archaeology, literature, and history, because Classical Studies contains (Classical) archaeologists, (classical) literature specialists, and (classical) historians. First come archaeological sites, then Greek literature, beginning perhaps 472BC by the absolutely most savagely skeptical, reductive approach I can imagine taking, then, sometime in the 430s, Herodotus of Halicarnassus writes his Histories under the patronage of the Alcmaeonidae. History is handed down from door to open door down the Classics Studies hall from archaeologist to literary scholar to historian, and the Classicists get to do all of us a favour by figuring out how history is going to relate to archaeology. Clearly there will be important lessons here for historians working on other areas at a similar transition point, such as the Eastenr Seaboad in the peri-Contact phase.

To follow the baton a little further, I'm going to take a walk through a campus that only exists anymore as a nostalgic memory, exiting out the north doors of the Buchanan complex to walk down back alleys and through a grove and across a field in the dripping rain under lowering skies* to the Vancouver School of Theology. Though even if we did that, we'd have to take the time machine of nostalgia back a long time further yet to the point where bible scholars intruded on the archaeologists's fields of toil to tell tales of pharaohs, Phoenicians, and Hittites.Not to mention Pythagoras studying hermetic secrets with the Jewish  monks of Mount Carmel. Crazy? Perhaps. But mixed with uncomfortable facts.

So the Classicists sought allies amongst the ranks of the philologists, as I have discussed before. Allies with nigh unbeatable scientific talk swept away uncomfortable facts, bringing Greeks into Greece from the north at whatever time science currently leaves us (1200BC? 1500BC? 1900BC? 2500BC? 7000BC?) before hooking over the Aegean and colonising the Anatolian shore about 900BC or whatnot, just straight up exterminating the Orientals.

Which last? It seems invented --implausible, even. As though a story about Nineteenth (and Seventeenth) century colonialism is being resituated in the past so that its heuristic can have a longer lever arm with which to move the present. Stupid analogy? Let's be clear. It's not what the sources say. How do you get there with vehement certainty? In part, it's the jargon, but I prefer to visualise a sputtering academic, of a particularly embarrassing and embarrassed kind, babbling about Achaeans Indo-Europeans and Mediterranean Semitics and miscegenation.

On the one hand, I'm conjuring with a particularly repellent straw man here, and my only defence is that they existed in their myriads. On the other, I'm invoking a beguiling heuristic. If races are things given in themselves, separate and equal, then languages and cultures come in boxes that we can shuffle around the maps of our ancient mind's eye. Forget archaeology! There is no science for understanding the history that comes before history like historical linguistics! We've already applied this "science" to the Greeks, and there's no reason not to apply it to the Indians. I'll bet that you can't wait to find out where the Algonquins come from. (Hint.)

Way back in the world of credible scholarship, the classicists are getting better and better at founding history in archaeology. Why shouldn't we take the same approach to historical linguistics?

Actually, we should. But one more analogy here, this time with boxing. I've already linked to a brief discussion of Representative Seaborne Roddenberry's anti-miscegenation amendment to the United States Constitution, introduced  into the House in January, 1913 in direct response to Jack Johnson's July 4th, 1910 victory over James Jeffries. At least for a historian of boxing, the mood in the United States in the wake of a black boxer's achievement of the heavyweight title seems a little ...frenzied. Could there be anything more petulant than trying to shut down professional boxing over this? (In favour of college football, just in case you thought that there was a public health case to be made) So Jess Willard's highly irregular victory over Johnson in April 1915 was taken hard by some. When this white, alleged "working cowboy" stepped into the ring for another 4th of July fight in Toledo, Ohio in 1919, he might have suspected that the man glaring at him from "Kid Blackie's" corner intended to set the boxing world to rights.

As with boxing, so with historical linguistics.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Plantation of the Atlantic, XI: The New Culdees

So I'm taking it for granted that the Plantation of New Plymouth was a production unit inserted into an existing economy by a ramified East-Central European magnate family to create a "German Home Town" within their territories by granting a nascent town a privilege, mainly in the form of a town legal charter suchj as the famous "Magdeburg rights." The result, described here is just another German town in the pale of settlement, full of strange odours of cabbage and diligent guildsmasters working long hours to produce perfect things before going off to the Lutheran Church to pray in a way that is conspicuously different from the way in which the peasants outside prayed. Note that this doesn't require mass migrations. People who move into town from outside will become German (or Polish, or whatever is needed), even if that will later require family genealogists with natural acrobatic skills.)

From there, I can go on to understand the economy into which Patuxet/New Plymouth was inserted, and, before that, wave a hand at another line of evidence that supports the argument and gives a shout-out back to the Late Bronze Age.

But hold on there for a moment. Don't we already have an explanation for the Plymouth settlement? Weren't there a bunch of Calvinist Puritan Pilgrim Separatist Congregationalists being religiously oppressed in England? Didn't they settle in New England precisely because they could practice their religion in freedom? Wasn't that religion stuff important back then? Don't we therefore need to give serious due to their explanation for their own fate?

No. We don't.

I mean, I know that we suspect and in some cases know that William Bradford's account omits important details ("the friends we had in Plymouth"), probably with the intent of concealing Ferdinando Gorges' role in events, and thus, entirely incidentally, that of Squanto. Yet he wouldn't be the first religious leader to have occasionally dabbled in hypocrisy while being in the main sincere and motivated by faith, would he? Religious persecution is the key issue here. Sid Meier's Colonization says so! Why am I being so mean to the nice Puritan Pilgrims?

I'll answer that question with another question. Have you ever taken a physics class? If you have done so in the last few years, and if your professor is reasonably conscientious about issues of notational formalism and a little careless about their history, chances are that the prof has said something like "When that apple fell on young Isaac Newton's head that wonderful autumn, he suddenly realised that the Moon was exactly like the apple. Nothing was keeping it from falling. It was falling."

Then the prof wrote something like this:

From Professor Mona Berciu, who has helpfully put her notes on the Internet without making any historical errors whatsoever.
 But, of course, Newton didn't say, or write, anything like that. At best, he wrote something like this (not actually the same expression):

Lifted from Niccolo Guicciardini's Development of Newtonian Calculus in Britain
The problem with doing this is obvious enough once the many people who have spelled it out before me, spelled it out. We've turned Newton into some kind of modern. He was trying to write his equation the way that we do it today, but couldn't on account of how there was so much more progress to be made along the ineluctable path of improvement that leads from Newton's time to ours.

But, once upon a time, it was routine to teach the history of physics this way. Back in the day when Galileo was a hero of anti-Catholicism (thank Heavens we've moved beyond that!) and the Progress of Science was the biggest thing in the Nineteenth Century. (Hint: you can't be pro-science and pro-Catholic. Hence, let's never let Home Rule happen or elect Blaine President!)

It's no big deal. I mean, it used to be a big deal. There's lots of old history books that take all of this seriously, and once in a while, the kids get into them and peddle the old insights as though they were new. That being said, the kids are learning their physics and their calculus right, and can learn their history right. They don't even have to read something old and frightening (and perhaps a little homophobic in that old-fashioned way.) Neil Stephenson's got them covered.

The problem arises where there's no Neil Stephenson. What if a field that used to be enormously important and all-pervasive, and is now boring and off-putting and even offensive. What if this kind of thing is still hijacking serious discussion?


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Privatising History: A Million Gnadenhuttens

Now, I don't exactly value my insights into American politics highly, because I'm wrong virtually every time I  open my mouth. All that matters here for me is still the fact that people are talking about how crazy it is that a Mormon could get so far in American politics. I've known exactly one Mormon well. He was a math major with a Mohawk haircut and a taste for punk music, and we played Dungeons & Dragons together. I'm recalling, off the top of my head, exactly one monograph by a scholar who made his Mormonism an issue. It's an awesome book.

The Mormon faith believes crazy stuff? Join the club. (Which, arguably, is what they were trying to do.)

Of course, I'm not trying to marginalise this stuff, like we do with, say, the story of Jericho. I'm saying that the pseudohistory of the Book of Mormons is a fictionalised history of America, in the same way that Cooper's Pioneers is a fictionalised history of his family.  The names have been changed to protect the innocent, recalling that there are a great deal of innocents to be protected here. It's a history so awful and awesome that one side can't bear to express it except esoterically, while the other wants to privatise it.

 Here's a Google Map screenshot of the unincorporated town of Gnadenhutten, Ohio, centred on the National Historical Service-registered Memorial Park.

In the words of the anonymous Wikipedia contributer: the Pennsylvania militia who occupied this Moravian mission town on the Tuscarawas River in east-central Ohio on March 7th, 1782, took some 100 prisoners:

"The next morning on 8 March, the militia tied the Indians, stunned them with mallet blows to the head, and killed them with fatal scalpingcuts. In all, the militia murdered and scalped 28 men, 29 women, and 39 children. They piled the bodies in the mission buildings and burned the village down. They also burned the other abandoned Moravian villages. Two Indian boys, one of whom had been scalped, survived to tell of the massacre.
The militia collected the remains of the Lenape and buried them in a mound on the southern side of the village. Before burning the villages, they had looted, gathering plunder which they needed 80 horses to carry: furs for trade, pewter, tea sets, clothing, everything the people held."

The Gnadenhutten Massacre, the burial mound at Aztalan, and the "Battle of Nauvoo." (Somewhat) similar episodes: that's what I'm saying. The whys and wherefores are a little difficult to discern at this distance. Keat Murray takes his insight in a different direction than I would, but his basic suggestion is that the massacre at Gnadenhutten worked two ways. It enforced the authority of the Moravian leadership by punishing the people who returned to Gnadenhutten, and it implicated the lower social orders who supposedly carried out the massacre at their own initiative.

Today, Gnadenhutten is formally memorialised by a stone obelisk inscribed to the martyrs who "triumphed through death." At the time, though, it was through a practice familiar through many an archaeological report on Southern Cult sites. First, people were stunned with mallets. Then, they were killed by scalping. Then, their bodies were burnt. Then, the bones were collected and buried in a mound. Then, a village was laid around the mound, such that today the memorial park faces the back campus of Indian Valley High School, the back side of Gnadenhutten Cemetery, and the backyards of Walnut Street and Spring Street West.*

This isn't a private site by any means. County Highway 10 will take you directly to the interpretative centre. I'm hanging the perfection of my little thesis about the memorial park being informally private on the fact that to get to the actual mound you have to take a right or left turn off the highway (or Cherry Street, as it has become in the town grid.) The site isn't profaned by traffic driving directly by, but there's no sense in which you can't drive right by it. You just have to make an effort.

 This idea of "private history" started with the suggestion that the fact that the Hill of Cumorrah was on private property was a telling fact about the early history of Mormonism. I wish that I could remember the scholar who made that suggestion, but it was interesting enough that I've made some effort to count the number of such places, because there's nothing like large numbers to stun people into acquiescence, like a mallet brought down upon their heads.

In theory, this is something that could be done scientifically. The NHS Register of Historic Places is now in the process of being made into a searchable online database. It's just not very searchable, because the site reports are being done up as PDFs, and most of them haven't been uploaded yet. So in the end I gave up on the scientific and went with the  impressionistic. It's self-indulgent, something that I don't normally go in for here, but what the heck.

For a final word on privatising public spaces before the jump, I turn things over to Steve Earle.