The Persistence of Names

Hrolf, whose name means wolf, believed in fairness. So did his boat crew. That’s why they were stroking their axes and glaring at the crews of Sven the long bearded and Ivar blood-hair. The plunder of the smoking monastery sat in a small pile between the three groups of men, and each seemed convinced that the others meant to cheat them. No one wanted to make the first move though, as that meant losing valuable men and no sane man wants to take to the sea in a half-crewed boat.

At length Hrolf spoke, “Sven will divide the spoil and put in in three bags. Ivar and I will choose a bag. Since Sven does not know which bag we will choose, he will divide it equally.”


Ambitious Goths were often named Theodoric, which means ruler of the people, and Theodoric was no exception. He watched the Roman army file slowly past the trees where his men were concealed with undisguised contempt. “The Romans drown in laws and schemes,” he thought, “their generals are politicians. But out here, we judge men on merit. We prove ourselves in battle and the best men rise.” He blew his horn and his steppe-warriors launched themselves at the unsuspecting Romans.


Centuries have passed. The name Hrolf became Rolf and eventually Rawls, who wrote about using a veil of ignorance to distribute goods fairly. Theodoric became Dietrich and then Thiel, who preaches meritocracy and funds enterprising men who disrupt the established order with the latest technology.

The Norse-Germanic peoples were not civilized before the arrival of Christianity, but knowledge of God’s law allowed us to impersonate civilized men with exceptional results. But now that most Norse-Germanic people are either unbelievers or antinomian, we’re seeing the instincts of the breed come back to the fore. Breeding tells in humans, just as it does in animals.

What are those instincts? A crude egalitarianism and sense of fairness that allowed hundreds of boat crews to form a great heathen army to plunder Wessex. A fondness for making laws combined with a discomfort at the use of the civil power to punish lawbreakers. A contempt for established social order and a willingness to upset it for a handful of coin.

Why is Sweden the rape capital of Europe? Why does England bristle with both security cameras and crime? Why are ancient communities being flooded with foreigners? What do you expect from Barbarians who have rejected the only civilizing force they have ever known.

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8 thoughts on “The Persistence of Names”

  1. I wonder if the rise of existentialism and other related philosophies slowly replaced Christianity? Europeans who’ve come here to study abroad have told me people have adopted other modes of beliefs.

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    1. How much of that was due to the world wars? I’ve heard of “The Ghost of Hitler” from Christians who live there. I’ve also heard the churches are filled with old people, or are almost empty.

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