A Poem of Torment:

From A Celtic Miscellany, entry 52. The poet is an Irish man called Uilliam Ruadh (which is to say, "Red William").

I am ensnared by the maid of the curling locks.

Alas for him who has seen her, and alas for him who does not see her every day; alas for those trapped in her love, and alas for those who are set free!

Alas for him who goes to meet her, and alas for him who does not meet her always, alas for him who was with her, and alas for him who is not with her!
A true picture, and one of many like it. Many of the poems of love, from Ireland and Wales and Scotland, reflect the values of the courtly love tradition quite highly.

Not that all these poems are sad. You may enjoy entry 40, a Welsh version of Tristan and Isolde, which ends differently from the tragedy you may have heard before.

A Sign:

A Sign:

Two million people came to protest creeping socialism; one of them brought a sign.

Enid & Geraint:

Once strong, from solid
Camelot he came
Glory with him, Geraint,
Whose sword tamed the wild.
Fabled the fortune he won,
Fame, and a wife.
The beasts he battled
With horn and lance;
Stood farms where fens lay.
When bandits returned
To old beast-holds
Geraint gave them the same.

And then long peace,
Purchased by the manful blade.
Light delights filled it,
Tournaments softened, tempered
By ladies; in peace lingers
the dream of safety.

They dreamed together. Darkness
Gathered on the old wood,
Wild things troubled the edges,
Then crept closer.
The whispers of weakness
Are echoed with evil.

At last even Enid
Whose eyes are as dusk
Looked on her Lord
And weighed him wanting.
Her gaze gored him:
He dressed in red-rust mail.

And put her on palfrey
To ride before or beside
And they went to the wilds,
Which were no longer
So far. Ill-used,
His sword hung beside.

By the long wood, where
Once he laid pastures,
The knight halted, horsed,
Gazing on the grim trees.
He opened his helm
Beholding a bandit realm.

End cried at the charge
Of a criminal clad in mail!
The Lord turned his horse,
Set his untended shield:
There lacked time, there
Lacked thought for more.

Villanous lance licked the
Ancient shield. It split,
Broke, that badge of the knight!
The spearhead searched
Old, rust-red mail.
Geraint awoke.

Master and black mount
Rediscovered their rich love,
And armor, though old
Though red with thick rust,
Broke the felon blade.
The spear to-brast, shattered.

And now Enid sees
In Geraint's cold eyes
What shivers her to the spine.
And now his hand
Draws the ill-used sword:
Ill-used, but well-forged.

And the shock from the spear-break
Rang from bandit-towers
Rattled the wood, and the world!
Men dwelt there in wonder.
Who had heard that tone?
They did not remember that sound.

His best spear broken
On old, rusted mail,
The felon sought his forest.
Enid's dusk eyes sense
The strength of old steel:
Geraint grips his reins.

And he winds his old horn,
And he spurs his proud horse,
And the wood to his wrath trembles.
And every bird
From the wild forest flies,
But the Ravens.

Up The Trail

Up The Trail:

Just a pretty afternoon ride in the late summer of Georgia. Nothing special about it; but the wife is aboard her new Tennesse Walker, which several of you admired recently. She has a fondness for "between the ears" shots, so here is one.

Some appropriate music, if you like your horse pictures with music:



Via Southern Appeal, I learned quite a bit about the kind of services ACORN can offer.

I'd like to believe this video was faked... because the alternative is believing that it wasn't.

Oh, and they're under investigation for vote fraud in Florida now, too.

Giving the Lie

I skipped the umpteenth rendition of the Obama-Health-Care speech -- either the twenty-eighth such speech, or the 121st, depending on how you count -- so apparently I missed something interesting.
In an angry and very audible outburst, Representative Joe Wilson, Republican of South Carolina, interrupted President Obama’s speech Wednesday night with a shout of “You lie!”

His eruption — in response to Mr. Obama’s statement that Democratic health proposals would not cover illegal immigrants — stunned members of both parties in the House chamber.
This phrasing is not a "breach of protocol," as the NYT would have it, but part of another protocol. Kenneth S. Greenberg, scholar of dueling (and baseball, oddly enough; he had some interesting things to say on the intersection of those two things in the post-war American South), noted:
Only certain kinds of insulting language and behavior led to duels. The central insult that could turn a disagreement into a duel involved a direct or indirect attack on someone's word -- the accusation that a man was a liar. To "give someone the lie," as it was called, had always been of great consequence among men of honor. As one early-seventeenth-century English writer noted, "It is reputed so great a shame to be accounted a lyer, that any other injury is canceled by giving the lie, and he that receiveth it standeth so charged in his honor and reputation, that he cannot disburden himself of that imputation, but by the striking of him that hath given it, or by chalenging him to the combat."
TigerHawk is thus right to wonder if restoring the duel would reinforce civility, because it is the duel that is involved here. It's also of note that a congressman from South Carolina was the actor, since the only other time that dueling forms were brought into Congress I know of was also by the South Carolina faction. I mean, of course, the caning of Charles Sumner, which was not a duel precisely because the South Carolina faction wanted to send the message that he was no gentleman (and therefore unfit for a duel, but only for a beating).

In any event, there is actually one other way to resolve the issue short of combat, and it has occurred. The apology from the gentleman from South Carolina resolves the matters of honor at issue in the dispute, as long as the President is willing to let the matter pass. As Alexander Dumas put it, if a gentleman has apologized, he has done all he can do. He cannot grovel, after all, and remain a free and equal man. The apology is the ultimate offer to resolve things peacefully.

So the matter is resolved; but it was an interesting display. The last time we saw such a thing in Congress was 1856. The Civil War was still years away, but the tensions were building to the point that a split was coming.

UPDATE: Here's the video.

Actually, the gentleman from South Carolina was responding to provocation. The President had just finished accusing "prominent politicians" who spoke about the panels President Obama has actually endorsed of spreading "a lie."

Now, most of us reading this probably assume that he meant Mrs. Palin -- although, as she is retired, she is no longer a "prominent politician." It's highly likely that the Congressman from South Carolina, and many others in the room, took that remark as being pointed at them. Thus, the President was accusing them to their face of being liars.

Under those circumstances, Rep. Wilson's remark was no more than to give the President back what he had so freely offered others. It was entirely proper; and his apology, then, highly generous.

The Great Leap Forward


China is better than us in some ways, says Mr. Thomas Friedman:

One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century. It is not an accident that China is committed to overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power. China’s leaders understand....
There are three things that have to be said about this.

1) This precise aspect of Chinese society, far from being praiseworthy, is what gave us arguably the greatest human tragedy of the 20th century. Given that this century also included the First and Second World Wars, the Holocaust, etc., even to be in the running is a dishonor of remarkable proportion.
The Great Leap Forward (sometimes pejoratively called the Great Leap Backward) (simplified Chinese: 大跃进; traditional Chinese: 大躍進; pinyin: Dàyuèjìn) of the People's Republic of China (PRC) was an economic and social plan used from 1958 to 1961 which aimed to use China's vast population to rapidly transform China from a primarily agrarian economy by peasant farmers into a modern communist society through the process of agriculturalization and industrialization. Mao Zedong based this program on the Theory of Productive Forces. It ended in catastrophe as it triggered a widespread famine that resulted in millions of deaths.
"Exactly how many millions of deaths?" you might wonder. The figure is unclear, because the Chinese government -- to preserve social harmony, and public confidence in the government -- refused to admit it was happening at the time. Estimates run from about sixteen and a half million deaths, to upwards of thirty million.

The second world war caused at least twice as many deaths, but that was the result of global fighting over a large number of causes. The Holocaust was an act of explicit malice, but killed far fewer people. These 16.5-30 million lives were lost simply because a country's "leadership" made a decision on "critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 20th century."

The current Chinese government is a direct descendant of that previous one. While it is unlikely in this incarnation to force changes that cost millions of lives, neither can we so lightly pass over the graves of these people. To describe this quality as "a great advantage" of the Chinese system is obscene. I trust that Mr. Friedman will have the grace to be humiliated when he realizes what he has written.

2) Furthermore, as someone who has lived in China and traveled outside of the cities as well as to some of its cities, to industrial and to agricultural regions, it is absurd to suggest that China will be overtaking us in "clean energy" in any but the most symbolic ways. China absolutely depends on coal. There are days when you can see the smog stepping down in grades if you climb high enough. When I would wash my bedding, the water turned black.

Yet millions flock to those polluted cities because the alternatives in the countryside are even worse.

China's government isn't doing anything substantive about the pollution, and nor should they. These steps are mere propaganda designed to distract from China's absolute refusal to take the steps that would be necessary to actually clean up China.

Thank goodness those steps have fooled people so well, I suppose. The cost of switching away from coal and to a clean energy base would destroy the Chinese economy and cast hundreds of millions into chaos. The resources do not exist to make China clean while also avoiding another famine on the scale of The Great Leap Forward. God defend the Chinese people from such a decision as Mr. Friedman seems to want to advocate!

3) Finally, as to the propaganda of out producing us on electric cars: yes, it's true that China can decide to focus its resources on a given area, and that can allow them to outperform the United States in that area. If, that is -- if and only if -- it is an area we don't care about.

The United States' economic system is unimaginably more powerful than China's. If the Chinese autocracy decides to make a showpiece of electric cars, they could indeed outproduce us in electric cars, because Americans don't much like them or want them. If the American people were to decide that they did want such cars, however, that casual decision -- a simple switch in our preferences -- would result in a boom in the construction of such cars that China could never hope to match.

Doc Russia rightly explained why the Chevy Volt will fail. It's a simple essay in pictures: what GM promised versus what it delivered.



You can see that he's right. That makes the point: the only reason China has even a hope of making a showpiece of this is that there aren't any electric cars Americans actually want. Change that, and you'll see some electric cars.

I know that Mr. Friedman has often written insightful things, so I don't wish to scold him too harshly or at too great a length. Still, this was an example of blindness both to the facts and to the moral history of China. We ought to wish for the decent, honorable people of China to enjoy a future of freedom more greatly resembling our own, than to wish even for a moment for a system that could give us our own Great Leap Forward.


This Should Work:

So you want to "regain traction" on health care/insurance reform. What does that mean? Well, it means you "lost traction" after a bruising month of town hall meetings, which proved that there was limited support for the idea of "reform," and a great deal of concern that it would ultimately hurt Americans. People are worried about it harming the elderly, those requiring chronic care, and that it will lead to rationing, and that it will imperil medical advancements by defunding innovation. A new suggestion to "regain traction," then, should address those issues.

Or, you could just add huge fines on every American family for noncompliance. No reason to think anyone would object to that.

Kill a Man - Marry the Widow?

Kill a Man - Marry His Widow?

In childhood, I remember having one of those books of random facts and trivia (I believe it was Felton & Fowler's Best, Worst, and Most Unusual) - which claimed to be telling me the ways of an African tribe, in which the penalty for murder was replacing the dead man; you had to do his job, assume his obligations, and marry his widow if he left one.

I've never seen it confirmed, but I've seen it used twice in comedies. One is in an early Abbot and Costello movie - The Winsome Widow of Wagon Gap (Costello's character travels to a western town that has this custom -he accidentally kills a bad man with a mean, mannish, and homely widow, whom he has to marry - on the strength of this deed, he becomes the sheriff, for one one dares to touch him - and he carries her picture instead of a pistol...). The other is in Gilbert and Sullivan - in one of the last two plays they did. (They'd always quarreled, and they broke up after The Gondoliers over an argument about carpets - but they got back together twice, and wrote two of their best but least-known plays.) This was The Grand Duke - subtitled The Statutory Duel - and here is a link to the song that explains it all. However, this recording is lacking the first couple of lines:
About a century since
The code of the duello
To sudden death, for want of breath,
Sent many a strapping fellow.

The then-presiding prince,
Who useless bloodshed hated,
He passed an act, short and compact,
Which may be briefly stated...
...listen to it all; but the upshot is that the prince replaced duelling with the simple draw of a card, and whoever draws the low card is legally dead, and the other man must "discharge his debts, pay all his bets, and take his obligations." (How this would square with Grim's view of duelling among our ancestors as expressed a few posts ago - the point being a man's ability to die for his position, whatever the facts of it - this I won't think about for now.)

Time for searching around is very short for me - my new assignment carries a heavy guilt load. Does anyone here know whether such a custom ever existed?

Sober Men and True

"Sober Men and True"

Since we were just speaking of Western songs, what about the ones they actually sang in the West? This is an occasion to mention another great character of old Tombstone.

Only a few of Tombstone's 4,000 residents were interested in attending church, which was usually held in a tent where the sound of honky-tonk pianos coming from the nearby saloons often drowned out the minister's voice.

All of this changed on January 28, 1882 (just three months after the gunfight at the O.K. Corral), when the Reverend Endicott Peabody arrived in town.... He weighed around 200 pounds, enjoyed boxing and baseball, and worked out every day. As one contemporary said, "He had muscles of iron."

The Episcopal women had been trying to raise money for the church building fund by holding raffles, but progress was slow. The Reverend Peabody, who was not one to be easily intimidated, decided to solicit donations on both sides of Tombstone's "dead line."

He walked into a hotel casino, ambled up to a high-stakes poker game, introduced himself, and asked for a donation for the church. One player handed over $150 in chips— and promptly told everyone else to do the same. The local musical society put on the opera H.M.S. Pinafore and gave the proceeds to the church fund.
He went on, back east, to educate a boy named Franklin Roosevelt. In 1882, however -- a scant few months after the Gunfight at the OK Corral, and while the Earps were still waging war against the forces of the outlaws, the Democratic party and the county government -- he convinced saloons and gamesmen to fund a church, and partially with opera.

Here (at 4:18), in that particular opera, we find the sailors in that opera about to be inspected by the First Lord of the Admiralty and hoping that they will be found "sober men and true."

Which, of course, brings us to Afghanistan.
After a Nato airstrike killed as many as 125 people last week, General Stanley McChrystal was keen to get the situation under control — fast.

When he tried to contact his underlings to find out what had happened, however, he found, to his fury, that many of them were either drunk or too hungover to respond.
The article asserts two things I know from personal experience: the Americans are banned from drinking under any circumstances, and the joke is that ISAF stands for "I Saw Americans Fight."

I have never been a fan of General Order #1, having lived under it twice. If anything can justify it, though, it's German troops who give delayed and hung-over reports "that it was too dangerous to visit the blast site, four miles outside their camp, because they might get shot at." Were he here, I'll bet the Reverend Mr. Peabody would have some good words to say on the subject.

Stray Western Winds

Stray Western Winds:

It's been a while since we had such music as in the last post; as it'd been a while since we had horse pictures. Other things have occupied my mind, but that doesn't mean the old beauty has faded.

Here are a few, that perhaps you have not heard in a while; or, perhaps, have not heard at all.

"Remember you the butterfly..."? And so do I.

Yeah, that's a different one, in spite of the similar graphic. Johnny Western is largely forgotten these days; but he did the Ballad of Paladin.

And a later piece:

Road to Kaintuck

Road to Kaintuck:

Some lovely ladies sing the old Johnny Cash classic:

But perhaps you've forgotten the original:

From the old days, when Kentucky was the Western Frontier, and the 'dark and bloody ground.' Not like today, when the whole world is ready to be.

Mainstreaming Nonsense

Mainstreaming Nonsense:

I've been trying to decide what to say about this essay on intelligence and education among conservatives. I value both qualities, certainly. I ought to want to endorse a call to them. And yet... what value is there in denouncing "Joe the Plumber," simply because he wasn't a genius? He never said he was a genius. He said he wanted to work hard and build his fortune, and he didn't care for the idea that then-candidate Obama wanted to "spread the wealth around."

Well? Shouldn't he be able to say that? If he was right about nothing else in his life, wasn't he right about that?

John McCain knew he was:

The essay with which we began bothers me still more as I see Ed Morrissey's piece today:

With the resignation of Van Jones for his 9/11 Truther flirtations (his version) or outright advocacy (which the evidence indicates) and the humiliation of the traditional media deliberately leaving themselves and their consumers behind the New Media on the story, the reaction will come, but not soon. Instead, we can expect the media to hold Republicans to the standards the conservative punditry imposed on Van Jones, and to be a lot more aggressive about it than they were with Jones himself.

What exactly does that mean? In the next Republican administration, we can expect a great deal of scrutiny for Presidential advisers. For one thing, it means that no one who ever expressed public support for Birthers to get the benefit of the doubt. The two conspiracy theories are different, but they both are entirely speculative and imagine dark conspiracies at the highest orbits of power, and neither have any actual direct evidence for support.
I have no beef for the Birthers, who have managed to interest me twice: once, when a friend sent me what he misunderstood and represented to me as a Federal court order stating that Obama had lost his citizenship; and again when the argument was laid out in its full form. It was on this second occasion that I realized how unjust the argument was: for it to hold, you have to agree to endorse the idea that an American citizen who is a woman cannot pass her citizenship to her son, if her husband is not also a citizen. Any child of mine should be an American, even if I had married a woman who was no citizen. If the law said otherwise, the law was wrong.

Nevertheless, I don't think I like the idea that membership in a minority position disqualifies you from service. What if you were part of the small cult who believed Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction? You would, in 2002, have been as directly in violation of the conventional wisdom as Birthers or Truthers; in violation of the opinion of intelligence services across the several free nations, and multiple US administrations.

You'd also have been right -- against the odds and all reasonable interpretations of the evidence, to be sure. Right, nonetheless. If by some circumstance we had not gone into Iraq in 2003, we would not now know that you were right. It would be hard to imagine that you could be.

"Fringe" movements do sometimes get things right that the majority cannot imagine to be true. This is an exercise in humility: to admit not only that we are not as wise as we think, that we might be wrong, but that most of us could be wrong, that almost all of us could be wrong, that all of us could be.

We could be. Even most of us. Even all of us. In fact, to me, it seems more likely than not that we are usually all wrong.

"The Veal Pens"

"The Veal Pens":

Do you know what the term means in the modern political context? Why, it means that Obama values liberals for their value as shields. Shields for him, of course; for what else of importance is at stake in this administration?

Rasmussen has been wondering if Obama faces a 2010 primary challenge. Goodness knows he deserves one. I voted for Sen. Clinton in the last primary; I'd be glad to vote for Secretary Clinton in the primary of 2012.

Medieval Economics & Post-scarcity economics

Post-Scarcity Economics & the Middle Ages:

Via Arts & Letters Daily, an interesting but flawed approach to revising economic history. The author is interested in where we are going -- what economics will look like as scarcity becomes less important as a principle, and wealth increases. He is unsatisfied with previous attempts to map that, and looks backward for guidance. That is usually a sound policy.

However, while I found his thoughts interesting, there are several problems he will need to address before we can know to what degree he has said anything truthful and reliable. There are some serious problems, as well as insights:

The economy in which we operate is not a natural system, but a set of rules developed in the Late Middle Ages in order to prevent the unchecked rise of a merchant class that was creating and exchanging value with impunity. This was what we might today call a peer-to-peer economy, and did not depend on central employers or even central currency.

People brought grain in from the fields, had it weighed at a grain store, and left with a receipt — usually stamped into a thin piece of foil. The foil could be torn into smaller pieces and used as currency in town. Each piece represented a specific amount of grain. The money was quite literally earned into existence — and the total amount in circulation reflected the abundance of the crop.

Now the interesting thing about this money is that it lost value over time. The grain store had to be paid, some of the grain was lost to rats and spoilage. So each year, the grain store would reissue the money for any grain that hadn't actually been claimed. This meant that the money was biased towards transactions — towards circulation, rather than hording. People wanted to spend it. And the more money circulates (to a point) the better and more bountiful the economy. Preventative maintenance on machinery, research and development on new windmills and water wheels, was at a high.

Many towns became so prosperous that they invested in long-term projects, like cathedrals. The "Age of Cathedrals" of this pre-Renaissance period was not funded by the Vatican, but by the bottom-up activity of vibrant local economies. The work week got shorter, people got taller, and life expectancy increased. (Were the Late Middle Ages perfect? No — not by any means. I am not in any way calling for a return to the Middle Ages. But an honest appraisal of the economic mechanisms in place before our own is required if we are ever going to contend with the biases of the system we are currently mistaking for the way it has always and must always be.)
I'd like to see some references for all of these claims. Still, assuming for the sake of argument that they are true, they still don't yield his conclusions, which follow:
Feudal lords, early kings, and the aristocracy were not participating in this wealth creation. Their families hadn't created value in centuries, and they needed a mechanism through which to maintain their own stature in the face of a rising middle class. The two ideas they came up with are still with us today in essentially the same form, and have become so embedded in commerce that we mistake them for pre-existing laws of economic activity.

The first innovation was to centralize currency. What better way for the already rich to maintain their wealth than to make money scarce? Monarchs forcibly made abundant local currencies illegal, and required people to exchange value through artificially scarce central currencies, instead. Not only was centrally issued money easier to tax, but it gave central banks an easy way to extract value through debasement (removing gold content). The bias of scarce currency, however, was towards hording. Those with access to the treasury could accrue wealth by lending or investing passively in value creation by others. Prosperity on the periphery quickly diminished as value was drawn toward the center. Within a few decades of the establishment of central currency in France came local poverty, an end to subsistence farming, and the plague. (The economy we now celebrate as the happy result of these Renaissance innovations only took effect after Europe had lost half of its population.)
There are three sizable problems with what he has just said.

1) 'Feudal lords, early kings, etc., did not create wealth.' It's remarkable to me that you would view the trade of locally-issued currency as 'wealth creation,' but not the acivity that allowed that trade to occur without the markets being burned. This claim is somewhat akin to saying that the modern US military is simply a hole into which we pour money. Rather, it guards the physical borders, the trade routes, and particularly the US navy guards the sea routes. The Medievals did the same, and in a fashion at least as critical for the survival of economic activity. Their efforts were quite sophisticated, even early, in the face of threats more immediate to the towns and merchants of the day. (Footnote 1)

Indeed, as we look toward a 'post-scarcity society,' I submit that one of the goods that people will continue to have to pay for is physical security. It is as much a part of the wealth-creation process as anything else: without that security, wealth cannot long exist, let alone can new wealth be created and built.

2) "...and the plague." Woah! The Plague was the central economic event of the period. You don't get to write an article on the subject of economics in the late Middle Ages and simply elide past it as if it were a minor matter. It completely altered the face of society. When it broke out, governments that did not understand its cause attempted all manner of new controls on trade in the hope of limiting its spread. Such commerce across great distances had boomed during in the High Middle Ages, after a sharp decline following the collapse of Rome's ability to provide security in the West. That's something an essay of this sort ought to consider, since it intends to consider the very issue of how trade restrictions in the Middle Ages affected economic growth.

3) "The first innovation was to centralize currency. What better way for the already rich to maintain their wealth than to make money scarce?"

In the Plague's aftermath, too, there was a fairly impressive increase in social mobility across Europe. The sharp decrease in the supply of labor meant that the agricultural laborer -- formerly a minor player as an individual -- had a new power to negotiate his status. But while his status increased along with his wages, the wage increase was undercut by other forces:
Grave mortality ensured that the European supply of currency in gold and silver increased on a per—capita basis, which in turned unleashed substantial inflation in prices that did not subside in England until the mid—1370s and even later in many places on the continent. The inflation reduced the purchasing power (real wage) of the wage laborer so significantly that, even with higher cash wages, his earnings either bought him no more or often substantially less than before the magna pestilencia (Munro, 2003; Aberth, 2001).
Before you simply paint the currency policy of the Middle Ages as an attempt to control the merchants, it's worth considering how powerful these forces were. Most likely, in the face of the chaos being caused by the Black Death, the issue of keeping merchants in their place was hardly at the forefront of anyone's thought process. "Making money scarce" was of benefit to the workers in the fields, as much as it was to any king or nobleman.

Besides which, I'm deeply suspicious of the claim that 'centralizing currency' was an innovation of the period. The first coins in Britain date to the first century BC, before the Romans took control of the island. Centralized currency was the law of the land during the Anglo-Saxon period:
Aethelstan (925-39) continued the fight against the Danes and the title AETIIELSTAN REX TOTIVS BRITANNIE is to be found on some of his later coins. It was Aethelstan who decreed at a Witanagemot at Grately in 928, that every burgh or town should have a mint with from one to eight moneyers depending on its importance, thus providing that a single coinage should be current throughout the country, and that the dies were to be engraved in London. Thus eight moneyers were appointed to London, seven to Canterbury, six to Winchester, etc. At Grately, too, it was decreed that the penalty for forgery should be the loss of a hand which was then to be nailed up in the smithy or, if the accused desired to clear himself of the charge, the hand that struck the coin should be submitted to `the ordeal of the hot iron'.
So, why should I believe that this was an anti-merchant policy of the Late Middle Ages? I'd like to see some additional evidence and argument before I accept any part of that claim.

There's a great deal more to the essay, and some of it is really quite valuable. I don't mean to dismiss or demean the argument. However, I think that a number of the claims require greater investigation by the author, and some of them ought to be reconsidered entirely. That, though, is what debate is for: to challenge ideas, and thereby improve them.

Footnote 1. For a very good example of a response to Viking piracy and sea-based invasion, see Nicholas Hooper, "Some Observations on the Navy in Late Anglo-Saxon England," Anglo-Norman Warfare, ed. Matthew Strickland (Suffolk: The Boydell Press, 1992).