Wednesday, October 17, 2012

We're all living in America!


Polybios (Greek Πολυβιος) (about 203- 120 BC) was a Greek historian describing Rome and its rise, but also warning against tendencies leading to the degeneration of the republic into the anarchy of its last century.

The aim of this blog is to warn against tendencies in the present global developments, tendencies within power balance, politics, culture, the media and other areas. These tendencies will undermine political stability and pluralism in the broadest sense, nationally and internationally. There will be use of historical parallels, especially on the large scale from an assumption of parallel development of the high cultures or civilizations. This view is inspired by authors like Spengler and Toynbee. Such views are old and in this blog I do not intend to add much to their theories. Rather I will try to apply the ideas to understand the present.

For Spengler the development of every civilization is bound and predictable, for Toynbee not. I agree with Toynbee, but only under certain circumstances. Only if we learn and deliberately act to influence development can we avoid the destiny of the former civilizations. This destiny is a continuance of national and international conflicts, degenerating politics and a pluralism, which continues but comes under threat. These developments will continue for about 100 years or less, and then end with the uniting of the world under one (or perhaps two) cesarean dictators. This means peace, but also the death of this pluralism and of course of democracy.

It is these developments, we must act to counter.

It should be noted that history does not repeat itself in details. On a large scale the civilizations till now have gone through the same overall developments of the same durations, but of course at a different time for every single civilization. One can cautiously set up a time frame by putting a time displacement for each civilization, a number saying how many years before our own, this civilization went through the same stages as we do. The Greco-roman civilization is about 2100 years before us. The first Chinese civilization about 2300 years before us, old Egypt about 3600 years, the Arab or oriental culture about 1000 years etc. So the Greek and Romans were at our stage around 100 BC, the Chinese around 300 BC and again around 1200 AD, the Arabs around 1000 AD.

But the details in the development of these civilizations differ very much. It is as if the concept civilization as such is like the psychological concept of a prototype (Rosch). It is a sort of mean of the 13 or so single civilizations. These can be as individual as single species of birds are individual examples of the prototype bird. Ostriches and sparrows are both birds, but look very different. The same is the case for civilizations.

As said, I do not think that a repetition of the fate of earlier civilizations is unavoidable. One might think that globalization and information technology could result in an entirely new era after the era of the rising and falling civilizations, which has lasted about 5500 years (as assumed by for example the theory of the technological singularity). But a look at the present developments and the comparison with for example the Romans inspires pessimism. The world seems to be sliding without reflection and consciousness toward the same end as in the 12 cases before us. Just on a crazily higher technological level.

No comments:

Post a Comment