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Thread: Has Civilization Really Changed?

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    Ethereal's Avatar Senior Member
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    Has Civilization Really Changed?

    I think it's fair to say that most people operate under the assumption that civilization, such as it is, has been undergoing a constant state of change and evolution, a process that many would characterize as "progress". But is that really the case? Is there any fundamental difference between how ancient Egypt or Rome operated and how ostensibly "enlightened" western nations operate? I would concede that the rhetoric and the dialectic have changed significantly, but has the actual substance of power dynamics reflected that change? I would contend that it has not. We still live in a world where a tiny elite control society through a combination of psychological conditioning and brute force. The packaging may be different, but the results are largely the same.
    Two things awe me most, the starry sky above me and the moral law within me.
    --Immanuel Kant

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    As you point out, we have not lost the pyramidal system that has characterized society since we moved out of caves. However, we certainly have developed an extensive body of law to protect ourselves from our worst inclinations. That's certainly not 100%. The more impoverished the nation, the less it appears that laws are enforced because enforcement requires the ability to employ enforcers. Have we changed significantly as people - not so much. We are better educated and less tolerant of abuses, but the tiny elite are still dominating the world. Why - because wealth still equals power. We still live in a world of scarcity (even if it's often artificial).
    "The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.”
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ethereal View Post
    I think it's fair to say that most people operate under the assumption that civilization, such as it is, has been undergoing a constant state of change and evolution, a process that many would characterize as "progress". But is that really the case? Is there any fundamental difference between how ancient Egypt or Rome operated and how ostensibly "enlightened" western nations operate? I would concede that the rhetoric and the dialectic have changed significantly, but has the actual substance of power dynamics reflected that change? I would contend that it has not. We still live in a world where a tiny elite control society through a combination of psychological conditioning and brute force. The packaging may be different, but the results are largely the same.
    Interesting, I think you have a great point!
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    Civilization, not much. They rise and fall while people persist.

    Within the last 1-2% of man's existence civilization has brought us the state and then the nation-state, an oxymoron in that nations are defined by race/ethnicity, language, traditions, customs, history, place, etc, and the state by artificial boundaries and laws. I think the days of empire are over, states splintering up into, well, nations, the failure of the EU--but for the defacto hegemony of the US.

    The notion of the individual so prominent today in the modern view, was unthinkable in a part of family, tribe, even unto feudal times and what some describe as organic collectives, but Christianity seeded it till it emerged in the Enlightenment, and then the reaction against individualism in in what might be seen as a return to collectivism in Nazism, Fascism, Communism were it not artificial.

    Certainly man has progressed technologically.

    I don't think man has ever changed morally.
    Edmund Burke: "In vain you tell me that Artificial Government is good, but that I fall out only with the Abuse. The Thing! the Thing itself is the Abuse!"

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