Gunnar Heinsohn

Gunnar Heinsohn

Gunnar Heinsohn (born 1943 in the German-occupied city of Gotenhafen (today Gdynia, Poland) is a German sociologist. Since 1984, he has been a tenured professor at the University of Bremen, where he heads the Raphael-Lemkin-Institute for Comparative Genocide Research. His list of publications includes almost 700 scholarly articles, conference presentations, and books [for a detailed bibliography sorted by date, refer to this [ Bibilography 1969-2007] ] His research has been focused on developing new solutions to a number of previously unsolved problems regarding the history and theory of civilization:

: (1) the so-called "Dark Ages" of antiquity, where Heinsohn proposed a revision of ancient chronology based upon stratigraphy. [see in English: G. Heinsohn: [ The Restoration of Ancient History] ; for details refer to G. Heinsohn (1988): Die Sumerer gab es nicht. Frankfurt/M.: Eichborn; G. Heinsohn (1990): Wann lebten die Pharaonen? Frankfurt: Eichborn and G. Heinsohn: Wie alt ist das Menschengeschlecht? Gräfelfing: Mantis 2000, all published in German only as of June 2007] Taking Immanuel Velikovsky´s revised chronology as a starting point, Heinsohn went on to criticize Velikovsky's chronology as Biblical fundamentalism, proposing an even more drastic revision that is being disputed in circles of chronological revisionists [see [] ] , but is generally being rejected by mainstream historians. What seems to be unique with Heinsohn's approach is that his relative chronology is exclusively based on stratigraphy.

: (2) the origin of sacrifice and priest kingship in Mesopotamia, where Heinsohn suggested an explanatory model based upon a catastrophist view of ancient history and a psychoanalytic interpretation of sacrificial rituals [G. Heinsohn (1997): Die Erfindung der Götter. Das Opfer als Ursprung der Religion. Reinbek: Rohwolt; G. Heinsohn: The Rise of Blood Sacrifice and Priest Kingship in Mesopotamia: A Cosmic Decree? Religion Vol. 22, 1992, pp. 309-334 [ online here] ] .

: (3) the origins and structure of antisemitism. Heinsohn holds that the Jewish people were the first in occidental history to abolish sacrifice in the name of a general prohibition of killing, thereby providing an example to other religions still practicing sacrifice that this is unnecessary. As the Jewish prophet Hosea stated: "For kindness I desired, and not sacrifice, And a knowledge of God above burnt-offerings." [Hosea 6:6] . According to this view that is in some respects similar to a psychoanalytic view, antisemitic hatred has its origins in the feelings of guilt towards the sacrificed human or animal; turning those feelings of self-hatred towards those who do not take part in the ritual of sacrifice allows for continuing with the sacrificial practice [G. Heinsohn (1988): Was ist Antisemitismus? Der Ursprung von Monotheismus und Judenhaß. Frankfurt/M.: Eichborn] . Heinsohn contrasts Jewish abstinence from sacrifice with the Christian belief in Jesus as someone who died for the Christians' sins, which he interprets as a regression to sacrificial practices of prehistory and as a core source of Christian-Jewish controversy [G. Heinsohn (1997): Die Erfindung der Götter. Das Opfer als Ursprung der Religion. Reinbek: Rohwolt] . While this view may illuminate some aspects of antisemitism, it leaves unclear why other religious groups who abolished sacrificial practices like Buddhism or enlightenment philosophy are not confronted with similar hatred. However, the last point is not so relevant. Heinsohn's main point was that Hitler, as the exemplary modern anti-Semite, wished to erase -- physically and intellectually and spiritually -- the meaning and heritage of Judaism and Jewish ethics for Germany and his European allies by literally destroying the Jews as a people. This is how Heinsohn explained the Holocaust [G. Heinsohn (2000): What makes the Holocaust a uniquely unique genocide? Journal of Genocide Research, Volume 2, Number 3, 1 November 2000 , pp. 411-430] : as an attempt by Hitler and his Nazi cohorts to wipe out the memory and the idea of Jewish ethics, which Heinsohn describes at length in his book on the subject [See Gunnar Heinsohn (1995): Warum Auschwitz? Hitlers Plan und die Ratlosigkeit der Nachwelt. Reinbek: Rowohlt. Compare also G. Heinsohn (1988): Was ist Antisemitismus? Der Ursprung von Monotheismus und Judenhaß. Frankfurt/M.: Eichborn] , so that the Germans as a people could have the stomach to wipe out and conquer other people and lands they wished to conquer, have the stomach either to make others slaves or to murder them without any pangs of what Hitler called the "Jewish invention": the conscience or ethical norms brought into Western civilization on the part of the Jews -- and carried on by the Christians. According to Heinsohn, Hitler felt that it was the "Jewish conscience" he was fighting against and trying to eliminate for the Germans, so they would be capable of acting either like pagans or cavemen and be able to do what Hitler thought they should do, to act with utter conscienceless brutality to get what he felt was entitled to them. Hitler also saw in the Christian churches signs of this "Jewish conscience," so the Christian ethics he wanted to wipe out was a "Judaized" ethics and the church, insofar as they followed this "Jewish ethics," was equally endangered. That this was totally irrational on the part of Hitler is not the point. For Heinsohn, it is this aspect of Hitler's thinking and his intentions and the power this form of anti-Semitism possesses that are vital -- as an explanation for the Holocaust as well as an explication of anti-Semitism in general.

: (4) the historical origin and theory of property, interest and money and the role of free wage labour for the technical progress and continual process of innovation of modern European civilization that is seen as a central feature of capitalist modernization (whereas socialist modernization has been mainly imitative and not innovative) [G. Heinsohn, Otto Steiger (1981): Geld, Produktivität und Unsicherheit in Kapitalismus und Sozialismus oder von den Lollarden Wat Tylers zur Solidarität Lech Walesas. Leviathan 1981, Bd. 9, Nr. 2, pp. 164-194; English version: G. Heinsohn, Otto Steiger: Money, Productivity and Uncertainty in Capitalism and Socialism, in: Metroeconomica,Vol. 33, Nr. 1-3, 1981, pp. 41-77 [] ] .

: In collaboration with his colleague, economist Otto Steiger, Heinsohn criticized the "exchange paradigm", the idea that money was historically invented as a medium of exchange to facilitate barter. He replaced it with a property based credit theory of money that stresses the indispensable role of secure property titles, contract law and especially contract enforcement, liability and collateral to create secure, transferable debt titles that central banks will accept as collateral for issuing bank notes [G. Heinsohn (1984): Privateigentum, Patriarchat, Geldwirtschaft. Eine sozialtheoretische Rekonstruktion zur Antike. Frankfurt/M.: Suhrkamp; G. Heinsohn, Otto Steiger (1996): Eigentum, Zins und Geld. Ungelöste Rätsel der Wirtschaftswissenschaft. Reinbek: Rohwolt (English: "Property, Interest and Money", London: Routledge, forthcoming); also see G. Heinsohn/Otto Steiger: Private Property, Debts and Interest or: The Origin of Money and the Rise andFall of Monetary Economies, in: studi economici, Napoli, Nr. 21, 1983, pp. 3-56 and G. Heinsohn, O. Steiger: The Property Theory of Interest and Money. In: J. Smithin (Ed.): What is Money? London: Routledge 2000, pp. 67-100] . This paradigm provides institutional microfoundations for monetary theories of production developed in the keynesian tradition. Credit theories of money have existed since mercantilism but have not become the dominating paradigm in monetary theory [for an overview, see the dissertation by Charlotte Bruun: Logical Structures and Algorithmic Behavior in a Credit Economy [] , Chapter 1: "The Nature of Money" and Chapter 3: "The Development of the Theory of Credit" and Randall Wray (Ed.): Credit and State Theories of Money: The Contribution of Mitchell Innes. London: Routledge 2004] . Besides promoting their paradigm it as an alternative foundation for triggering economic development (much in line with the insights of Hernando de Soto [Hernando DeSoto: The Mystery of Capital. Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails everywhere else. New York: Basic Books 2000] , Tom Bethell [Tom Bethell: The Noblest Triumph. Property and Prosperity Through the Ages. New York: St. Martin's Press 1998] and Richard Pipes [Richard Pipes: Property and Freedom. New York: Vintage Books 1999] ), Steiger has applied it to an analysis of the eurosystem [Otto Steiger: The Eurosystem and the Art of Central Banking, Bremen 2002 [] ; Gunnar Heinsohn and Otto Steiger: The European Central Bank and the Eurosystem: An Analysis of the Missing Central Monetary Institution in European Monetary Union. Center for European Integration Studies, Working Paper B 09, 2003 [] ; Otto Steiger: Which Lender of Last Resort for the Eurosystem? Bremen 2004 [] Dieter Spethmann, Otto Steiger: The four Achilles Heels of the Eurosystem: Missing Central Monetary Institution, Different Real Rates of Interest,Non-Marketable Securities, and Missing Lender of Last Resort, Bremen 2005 [] ] . : While this approach has similarities with institutional economics, its major differences are (1) a non-universalist, cross-cultural approach that is in line with results from economic anthropology (Marshall Sahlins, Karl Polanyi, Marcel Mauss and others) and strongly doubts "homo oeconomicus", providing instead a specific explanation for how strategies of economic efficiency become functional only in monetary economies based on property and enforceable contracts [Gunnar Heinsohn, Otto Steiger: Money, Markets and Property. In: Giacomin, Alberto and Marcuzzo, Maria (Eds.): Money and Markets. A doctrinal approach. New York: Routledge 2007, pp. 59-79; G. Heinsohn, O. Steiger: Interest and Money: the Property Explanation. In: Door Philip Arestis, Malcolm C. Sawyer: A Handbook of alternative monetary Economics. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing 2006, p. 490-507 [] ] ; (2) a systematic reconstruction of the connection between property, enforceable contracts, interest, credit/money and the banking system as a basis of a monetary theory of production, and (3) a systematic explanation for technical progress and innovation based on this reconstruction and the phenomenon of free wage labour, which explains the differences in innovativity and progress between the monetary economics of antiquity and modern times [see Otto Steiger: Property Rights and Economic Development: Two Views. Marburg: Metropolis 2007 ( [ forthcoming] ); Otto Steiger: Property Economics. Property Rights, Creditor's Money and the Foundations of the Economy. Marburg: Metropolis 2008 ( [] ). This volume is a collection of papers that were presented at an [ International Symposium on the Economic Role of Property Rights at University of Bremen, Nov.28-30] 2003.] . Heinsohn and Steiger's model has been discussed in some postkeynesian circles [Karl Betz, Tobias Roy: Privateigentum und Geld. Kontroversen um den Ansatz von Heinsohn und Steiger. Marburg: Metropolis 1999 and John Smithin (Ed.): What is Money? London: Routledge 2000] , and it has been criticized by Nikolaus K.A. Läufer [Nikolaus K.A. Läufer: The Heinsohn-Steiger confusion on interest, money and property. online [ here] (accessed June 28, 2007)] .

: (5) the historical origin and theory of large scale modern European demographic patterns (starting with an intense increase in population growth in early modern times, leading to sub-replacement fertility at the dawn of the 21st century), including an interpretation of the European witch-hunts of early modern times as pro-natalist re-population policy of the then dominant catholic church after the population losses the black death had caused [G. Heinsohn, Otto Steiger, Rolf Knieper (1979): Menschenproduktion. Allgemeine Bevölkerungstheorie der Neuzeit. Frankfurt/M.: Suhrkamp; Gunnar Heinsohn, Otto Steiger: Die Vernichtung der weisen Frauen. Hexenverfolgung, Kinderwelten, Bevölkerungswissenschaft, Menschenproduktion. München: Heyne 1989; Gunnar Heinsohn/Otto Steiger: "Witchcraft, Population Catastrophe and Economic Crisis in Renaissance Europe: An Alternative Macroeconomic Explanation.", University of Bremen 2004 [] ] This interpretation has received mixed responses. It has been criticized and rejected by German historians Walter Rummel [Walter Rummel: 'Weise' Frauen und 'weise' Männer im Kampf gegen Hexerei. Die Widerlegung einer modernen Fabel. In: Christof Dipper, Lutz Klinkhammer und Alexander Nützenadel: Europäische Sozialgeschichte. Festschrift für Wolfgang Schieder (= Historische Forschungen 68), Berlin 2000, S. 353-375, [] and Rummel, Walter: Weise Frauen als Opfer?. Aus: Lexikon zur Geschichte der Hexenverfolgung, hrsg. v. Gudrun Gersmann, Katrin Moeller u. Jürgen-Michael Schmidt, in:, URL:] , Günther Jerouschek [Günther Jerouschek, Des Rätsels Lösung? Zur Deutung der Hexenprozesses als staatsterroristische Bevölkerungspolitik, in: Kritische Justiz 19, 1986, S. 443-459.] , Robert Jütte [Robert Jütte, Die Persistenz des Verhütungswissens in der Volkskultur. Sozial- und medizinhistorische Anmerkungen zur These von der 'Vernichtung der weisen Frauen', in: Medizinhistorisches Journal 24, 1989,8.214-231] and Gerd Schwerhoff [Gerd Schwerhoff, Hexerei, Geschlecht und Regionalgeschichte, in: Gisela Wilbertz / Gerd Schwerhoff/Jürgen Scheffler (Hrsg.), Hexenverfolgung und Regionalgeschichte. Die Grafschaft Lippe im Vergleich, Bielefeld 1994, S. 325-353] - replies to those criticisms can be found in [Gunnar Heinsohn, Otto Steiger: Die Vernichtung der weisen Frauen. Hexenverfolgung, Kinderwelten, Bevölkerungswissenschaft, Menschenproduktion. München: Heyne 1989, p. 369-415] . Prominent historian of birth control John M. Riddle has expressed agreement. [see John M. Riddle: "The Great Witch-Hunt and the Suppression of Birth Control: Heinsohn and Steiger's Theory from the Perspective of an Historian", Appendix to: Gunnar Heinsohn/Otto Steiger: "Witchcraft, Population Catastrophe and Economic Crisis in Renaissance Europe: An Alternative Macroeconomic Explanation.", University of Bremen 2004 [ (download)] ; also see John M. Riddle: "Eve's Herbs: A History of Contraception and Abortion in the West", Princeton: Harvard University Press 1999, ISBN-10: 0674270266, esp. Chapters 5-7]

: (6) comparative genocide research - in this field his major contributions include an encyclopaedia of genocides [G. Heinsohn (1999): Lexikon der Völkermorde. Reinbek: Rohwolt] , a generalized version of youth bulge theory [G. Heinsohn (2003): Söhne und Weltmacht. Terror im Aufstieg und Fall der Nationen. Bern: Orell Füssli, available as a free downloadable e-book [ here] ; Gunnar Heinsohn: [ Demography and War] (brief outline of Heinsohn's Youth Bulge Theory of social unrest); Gunnar Heinsohn: [ Population, Conquest and Terror in the 21st Century] (applies Youth Bulge Theory of social unrest to European imperialism as well as today's islamist terror); ] and a new theory of Hitler´s motivation for the Holocaust [G. Heinsohn (1994): Warum Auschwitz? Hitler's Motiv und die Ratlosigkeit der Nachwelt. Reinbek: Rohwolt and G. Heinsohn: What Makes the Holocaust a Uniquely Unique Genocide?, in: Journal of Genocide Research, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 411-430] .

He is known most widely for his theory of the Youth Bulge. He argues that an excess in especially young adult male population predictably leads to social unrest, war and terrorism, as the "third and fourth sons" that find no prestigious positions in their existing societies rationalize their impetus to compete by religion or political ideology. Heinsohn claims that most historical periods of social unrest lacking external triggers (such as rapid climatic changes or other catastrophic changes of the environment) and most genocides can be readily explained as a result of a built up youth bulge, including European colonialism, 20th century Fascism, and ongoing conflicts such as that in Darfur The Palestinian uprisings in 1987-1993 and 2000 to present, and terrorism.

His work on ancient chronology, based on an examination of the stratigraphic record, has reached some dramatic conclusions. He finds, for example, that 19th century archaeologists constructed their picture of the region around the chronology provided in the Old Testament, with the result that they created a "phantom" history which began two thousand years before any real history began. In other words, Heinsohn's interpretation of the stratigraphic evidence suggests that Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations arose around 1,100 BCE, not 3,200 BCE, as the textbooks say. He emphasizes, for example, the fact that the chronology now found in the textbooks does not differ to any great degree from the chronology established by Eusebius in the fourth century, who sought to "tie in" the histories of Egypt and Mesopotamia with that of the Old Testament, for the purpose of validating the latter. It was such Bible synchronisms which originally placed Menes, the first pharaoh, in the fourth millennium BCE (he was equated with Adam, the first man) and placed Ramesses II in the fourteenth century (he was believed to have been the pharaoh of the Exodus, owing to the Book of Exodus giving the name of "Ramesses" to one of the cities built by the Hebrew slaves). That this chronology was well entrenched long before the scientific investigation of the past is illustrated by the fact that Napoleon famously placed the Great Pyramid "forty centuries" before his time. The French commander therefore dated the structure to circa 2200 BCE - not far removed from the date still found in the textbooks. Yet Napoleon made his famous speech over twenty years before Champollion had even begun to crack the hieroglyphic code.

Heinsohn's ideas on ancient chronology were introduced to the English-speaking world in the Velikovskian journal "Kronos" in 1985. [Heinsohn, Gunnar (1985). Catastrophism, Revisionism, and Velikovsky (Letter). "Kronos", XI (1), 110-111; no. 167 on Heinsohn's list of publications which concludes: "As long as Velikovskians run away from the strong points in Velikovsky's works to build their edifices on the weakest points of mainstream scholarship, they will end up as b"astar"ds who, for good reasons, nobody will listen to."] They have found support with a small number of writers and academics, most of whom are favorably disposed towards Velikovsky; amongst whom are Professor of Philosophy Lynn E. Rose, Professor of Classics at Bard College William Mullen, Professor of Art History Lewis M. Greenberg, speech writer and long-time observer of the Velikovsky scene Clark Whelton, German independent scholar Dr Heribert Illig, and British writer Emmet Sweeney. However, his views have been severely criticized by several students of Velikovsky-inspired ancient chronology revision: "Aeon" editor Dwardu Cardona, [Cardona, Dwardu (1988). The Two Sargons and Their Successors, Part 1. "Aeon", 1 (5), 5-37; "Idem." Part 2. "Aeon", 1 (6), 72-97.] New Zealand researcher Lester Mitcham, [Mitcham, Lester J. (1988). Support for Heinsohn's Chronology Is Misplaced. "Chronology & Catastrophism Workshop", 1988 (1), 7-12.] University of New Orleans Professor of History William H. Stiebing, Jr., [Stiebing, William H. Jr. (1991). Heinsohn's Revised Chronology. "Aeon", 2 (5), 45-54.] British researcher Anthony Rees [Rees, A. H. (1992). A Chronology for Mesopotamia (contra Heinsohn). "Chronology and Catastrophism Workshop", 1992 (2), 10-15.] and "Aeon" publisher Ev Cochrane. [Cochrane, Ev (1999). Heinsohn's Ancient "History". "Aeon", 5 (4), 57-74..] Stiebing's critique argued four points: (1) The great antiquity of civilization is based on more evidence than just the Old Testament, (2) epigraphy and philology disprove Heinsohn's revision, (3) scientific dating is more reliable than Heinsohn admits, and (4) archaeological stratigraphy is more complicated than Heinsohn's simplistic perspective would have it. Mitcham concludes ". . . [I] t is quite clear that none of Heinsohn's claimed alter-ego identifications can be regarded as valid. Claimed alter-egos have totally different reign lengths, while within a dynasty it is often necessary for Heinsohn to omit mention of kings who have no corresponding alter-egos. The ancient records themselves prove Akkad as Babylonia, that rulers who Heinsohn claims did not exist are well documented, as are many others who receive no attention at all - probably because they cannot be placed within Heinsohn's revision." Cochrane concluded his critique of Heinsohn's equating Hammurabi with Darius as follows: ". . . Heinsohn's reconstruction cannot be taken seriously for the simple reason that it is entirely at odds with the historical record it seeks to reform. . . . [I] t seems clear that his theory raises more problems than it solves and requires ad hoc suppositions galore. That Heinsohn is forever misrepresenting his sources does not inspire confidence in his methodology. . . . Heinsohn's reconstruction cannot be made to square with the historical record." These critiques have been ignored by Heinsohn. Because of the problems with his methodology almost all professional ancient historians, Egyptologists, Assyriologists, archaeologists, and specialists in scientific dating methods reject Heinsohn's claims.


ee also

* Youth Bulge
* Sub-replacement fertility
* War (see subsection "demographic theories")
* Witch-hunt
* Money
* Interest
* Credit
* Property
* Sacrifice
* Antisemitism

External links

* [ Raphael-Lemkin-Institute for Comparative Genocide Research] at University of Bremen
* [ A Continent of Losers.] Interview with Heinsohn by Lars Hedegaard. Covers youth bulge theory in context with world demographic trends and European demographic decline
* Gunnar Heinsohn: [ Babies Win Wars]
* Gunnar Heinsohn: [,_i_email=y.html Why Gaza is fertile ground for angry young men] - financial times article
* [ Youth and War: A deadly duo] : Christopher Caldwell discusses Heinsohn's generalized youth bulge theory (financial times article)
* [,4070,3998532-5,00.html Weltproblem Radikalismus] : Heinsohn on German TV, commenting on terrorism from the perspective of youth bulge theory (in German)
* [,4070,2396334-5,00.html Heinsohn on german TV] , commenting on 2005 civil unrest in France (in German)
* [ Articles by Heinsohn available online] (mostly in German)
* [ The Security Demographic: Population and Civil Conflict after the Cold War]
* [ The "Youth Bulge"] Anne Hendrixon criticizes Youth Bulge Theory

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