“Madness, no this is the land of public transit!”
January 13, 2010
The Spartans had railways! Travelers to the Peloponnese noticed two deep groves that were used by the Spartans to exploit the produce of the Messene plain. Another strange fact from The Corrupting Sea. The classic account of this, according to Horden and Purcell, is Christien J (1989) “Les liaisons entre Sparte et son territoire malgre l’encadrement montagneux,” in Bergier (1989) Montagnes, fleuves, forets dans l’historie. Very strange. I consider myself decently knowledgeable of Classical Greek history, but never once did this come up. But oh did Marathon, Salamis, and all that other Athenian crap. I also was prattled to multiple times in a rather disjointed manner about various aspects of Spartan society. But never about this. Following Michael Mann’s a History of Power, it seems likely that the Spartans were able to exploit the most surplus through their power, and this power was predicated on their logistical capabilities within the Peloponnese, which explains why they never attempted to expand much further.
In our new eco-friendly age, I envision a reinvigorated new role for classical history, where we understand that the Spartans were much greener than the Athenians. A new template for our society can emerge, bringing with it authoritarianism, infanticide, and ecological self sufficiency. Many of the problems associated with wanton consumerism have their root in Athenian ideas. Our banking system, which infuriates everyone, has its roots in Athens (See Edward Cohen (1997), although this was a fairly minimal wealth multiplier, probably not even x2). The Spartans, by contrast, hated money. Their currency was heavy iron bars, which made it a pain in the ass to buy anything. Imagine if each dollar weighed a pound! It would increase savings, reduce needless consumption, and radically cut carbon emissions. What could go wrong! To fight global warming we must reject our Athenian past and move to our Spartan future. Oil companies, Athens, public transit, Sparta.