The Life and Death of Civilizations: "What is the future of Western Society?"

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posted on Jul, 15 2004 @ 01:15 AM
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I found this article to be very interesting and thought it would give others something to think about as well. There are many good points to reflect upon in this entire piece, but it's length is a bit too much to slap it all down in this post so I'll just include some highlights from it and those interested can read it in full at their own leisure. There are many other very interesting articles to read from this site (Lewrockwell.com) as well that others might like.

The Life and Death of Civilizations - by Butler Shaffer
www.lewrockwell.com...

Only the most vacuous minds – whose opinions are grounded in conventional delusions rather than empirical evidence and rational analysis – can fail to recognize that modern civilization, as we have known it, has reached a terminal state. No amount of public opinion polling can reinspire its former greatness. The only question is whether its remnants can be transmuted into fundamentally new forms and practices making for a more free and productive society, or whether it shall continue its downward spiral.

The creative richness of a civilization derives from the behavior of individuals, not from some imagined collective genius. The creative process depends upon men and women being free to experiment; to generate and pursue any of a variety of options; to be mistaken; and to offend the habits, tastes, sensibilities, or established interests of others. Individuals may combine their efforts with others but, as one experiences in brainstorming sessions, it is the interplay of individual insights and responses that gives birth to the new.

Individuals have produced the art, music, literature, philosophies, scientific discoveries, inventions, engineering and technological innovation that underlie great civilizations. The statue of David was conceived and sculpted by Michelangelo, not by an artists’ guild. The Mona Lisa derived from the genius of Leonardo da Vinci, not from some corporate "paint-by-the-numbers" kit. The writings of Shakespeare and Milton were the products of individual minds, not a writers’ workshop. It was Thomas Edison, not a local labor union, who worked in his simple workshop for long hours – often at subsistence levels – to invent many of the technological underpinnings of modern civilization.

Because life processes involve continuing transactions with nature – which, contrary to the biases of many, includes human beings – the viability of a civilization depends on its having a healthy working relationship with reality. It is no coincidence that the enlightenment and the scientific revolution were central influences in the emergence of Western civilization. The "age of reason" helped us appreciate that, while "truth" had an ephemeral and amorphous quality to it, its pursuit was critical to the health of a society. From such a perspective, freedom of speech and religion can be seen not as sops conferred upon dissidents in order to confirm the liberal sentiments of the established order, but qualities upon which the vibrancy of a system depends. Freedom of inquiry and expression are not so much to be tolerated as to be actively encouraged.

While the health of individuals and civilizations depends upon the value of truth, all political systems are firmly grounded in lies, illusions, and false promises. Almost all who support the state do so out of a conditioned belief that it will protect our lives and property; and yet it is the essence of the state to coerce with threats of punishment or death, and plunder through taxation, its alleged beneficiaries. Unlike a productive civilization, a healthy state cannot coexist with truthfulness.

A synonym for living in harmony with reality is "integrity." To live with integrity is to live the integrated life, without contradiction or conflict. Have we not seen enough of the pyramiding of lies, fabricated "evidence," meaningless distinctions, and other conscious acts of deception leading to the invasion of Iraq to lead any decent human to question the integrity of both the state and its leaders? How long would you have maintained a business partnership with a person who behaved in this manner? How profitable would your enterprise be if you had to spend half your time countering the influence of falsehoods generated from within your organization?

When we move from a more personal sense of who we are to such collective identities as race, religion, nationality, ideology, gender, or other groupings, we have prepared our minds to be energized on behalf of institutionally-defined causes. The state has long been the primary conductor of such practices. As Carl Jung and others observed, our willingness to identify with groups of any sort, produces a herd-mentality that is easily mobilized on behalf of destructive, collective purposes. Evidence of such dynamics can be seen in the sudden emergence of American flags after 9/11, and the continued willingness of many Americans to support their government’s enraged, high-handed reaction to this event by attacking and killing innocent Iraqis.

The lesson to be taken from all of this is that civilizations are created and sustained by individuals; they are destroyed by collectives.

The history of our language may provide us with insights for unraveling our confused and conflict-ridden minds. While reading an etymological dictionary a number of years ago, I discovered that the words "peace," "freedom," "love," and "friend" had common ancestries. Perhaps our intuitive energies will permit us to rediscover the more harmonious vision of society held by our predecessors. Whether the forces of life can overcome our present lemming-like death march is the question now confronting the mind and soul of mankind.


Comments???


[edit on 15-7-2004 by mOjOm]




posted on Jul, 15 2004 @ 02:24 AM
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Wow, interesting article.

I have often wondered if the amazing progress that we have made as a society isn’t just propelling faster and faster to our ultimate demise. It seems that the more sophisticated our tools become, the baser we turn out to be. I found the paragraph about politicians to be particularly true.

The one area that I disagree with is the author’s opinion of the war in Iraq. I don’t want to turn this into an argument about the war, but I think that while Bush’s reasons for taking us to war were shaky, taking Saddam out of power was the right thing to do.



posted on Jul, 15 2004 @ 10:44 AM
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Great article. I have to say I agree with most of what has been said, I think slowly we are going to become just drones to a single enity/corperation, which eventually will lead to us causing our own end.

Maybe it is time for us to go back and review what we have been doing, become individuals away, for as soon as we lose that we lose our souls.

Btw that think about the politions is so true, our socity has now just become a great lie, fed on other lies, It has to stop.



posted on Jul, 15 2004 @ 11:20 AM
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With regards to the importance of individuality, I agree with the article completely.

The other two assertions though, that civilization has reached some sort of zenith, and that all political systems are based on lies, I do not.

With regards to western civilization, there is much be improved, and while individuality exists, there will be those striving to improve it.

As to politics, there is a lot of ignorance as to how governments and politicians work, but that isn't because people were lied to. It's because they never really tried to find out. No government that I know of, and no politician, has ever said, to the people, "You need us".

Political systems, in democracies at least, evolved over time as "best-attempts" to solve the problem of translating the will of the people, into action. No system is perfect, and most allow for minor tweaks or amendments over time, but so far a better, practical alternative has yet to be found.

The third, implied issue regarding the stifling effect of big business and corporatism, I think is no as much of a threat as people think. Big corporations face the same problems as big empires in times gone by, and more, since they can be beaten or eaten up much faster in todays fast changing world. Whole industries can be born or wiped out with a single idea, and ideas are multiplying and flourishing more vibrantly than ever in this nourishing atmosphere of internet and global communications.

In such an environment, we have the potential to go a long way yet..



posted on Jul, 15 2004 @ 05:20 PM
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Originally posted by muppet
With regards to the importance of individuality, I agree with the article completely.

The other two assertions though, that civilization has reached some sort of zenith, and that all political systems are based on lies, I do not.


Well, I think as far as the civilization reference was concerned it wasn't so much speaking for the entire planet so much as it was talking about the U.S.A. Then even more to the point was comparing the Original U.S. to the Current U.S. and how the ideals and operation of the U.S. has been changed. Now personally I wasn't around till the 1970's so I don't know for sure that it actually was what others & books say it was, but if what they say is anything near what they say, I too can see how it's degraded A LOT.

As for the Political Systems being based on lies. Again I'd say the 'based' or 'original' is not right either. However, the current evaluation of the Political System sure as hell is a system of lies and liars. That is why the author of this article also said, for those who read the whole thing, that he's trying to stay optimistic about the whole change and while he can't see it returning to what it once was, perhaps some of the core policies which once made it great would held onto by people today and used to help change the system from this point on for the better.


With regards to western civilization, there is much be improved, and while individuality exists, there will be those striving to improve it.


I sure hope it improves as individuality is, IMO, all but lost. Everything now is about Parties, Groups, Unions, Memberships, Clubs, etc. Nobody is viewed as a Person (Man or Woman) anymore, as if individuals are worthless on their own. To the Government everyone is just a Social Security Number or Similar Tag given for a quick, impersonal reference lookup. For the rest of society, you're not even listened to unless you have some 'Platform' that you can be identified with. Republican, Democrat, M.A.D.D, D.A.R.E, PTA, IRS, Gay & Lesbian Foundation, GreenPeace, Christian, Catholic, Atheist, Radical, Hippie, East Coast, West Coast, Gangsta, Humanist, Liberal, Anarchist, Satanist, LowRider, White Collar, Blue Collar, Militant 'Psycho', Conspiracy Theorist, Leftist, etc. etc. etc....

It's all just Prejudice Generalizations of everyone into some pre defined category, whether or not they even belong there, simply so others can then ignore them or slander what they say by association with whatever group they are pigeon holed into.


As to politics, there is a lot of ignorance as to how governments and politicians work, but that isn't because people were lied to. It's because they never really tried to find out. No government that I know of, and no politician, has ever said, to the people, "You need us".


I do agree that it is people's ignorance and their tolerance and acceptance of being ignorant that is much of the problem. However, saying that the people aren't lied to and that it's all cause they simply do not investigate what is happening, is in no way true. Just look at ATS for example. There are very serious people here and elsewhere that are very very interested and spend a lot of time and energy trying to get to the bottom of what is going on. If it wasn't for all the lies and cover-ups that are going on all the time, ATS wouldn't even exist.

The lies of Governments and Big Organizations, be it Religion, Big Business, Mobs, or whatever, are simply infested with lies and deception. So much so that they can't even keep them all straight half the time. How many times has our own FBI nabbed our CIA in the middle of crimes? How many scandals within Gov. Positions can you think of?

There are lies ranging from 'I tried it once but never inhaled.' to 'I did not have sexual relations with so and so' to 'Our homeland could be attacked by Nuclear & Biological Weapons with 45 min.' to 'Read my lips, No New Taxes' and so on. The B.S. never stops from these people. So much so that it's really a big joke to most normal people. Politicians are known for saying anything that will get them elected, as well as 'Kissing babies as often as stealing their Lollipops'.


Political systems, in democracies at least, evolved over time as "best-attempts" to solve the problem of translating the will of the people, into action. No system is perfect, and most allow for minor tweaks or amendments over time, but so far a better, practical alternative has yet to be found.


Well, since the U.S. started out as a Constitutional Republic and not a Democracy, but with Democratic Principles, I'd say part of the problem is simply the fact that so many have forgotten the fundamental differences and ideals between such 'Political Systems'. This is once again partly because people simply got lazy and allowed such knowledge to be taken away from them and future generations, as well as the active involvement of those who did the taking away of such knowledge.


The third, implied issue regarding the stifling effect of big business and corporatism, I think is no as much of a threat as people think. Big corporations face the same problems as big empires in times gone by, and more, since they can be beaten or eaten up much faster in todays fast changing world. Whole industries can be born or wiped out with a single idea, and ideas are multiplying and flourishing more vibrantly than ever in this nourishing atmosphere of internet and global communications.

In such an environment, we have the potential to go a long way yet..


While I can agree to that in part, I also realize the effect that such 'Big Business Empires' have on The People in general as these 'Empires' battle it out for Control of the Market and the masses. While Corps. like WalMart will surely (hopefully) one day be as unheard of as 'The Piggly Wiggly', until then I have little doubt about them leaving behind a history of 'Corrupt Political Involvement, Employment Slavery, RFID NWO Policy, Broken Small Town Businesses, etc.' for the world to deal with.



posted on Jul, 19 2004 @ 09:39 AM
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Civilizations, Empires, etc. all crumble eventually. Im still not sure what people think is this "incredible advancement" is that we have made in the last century or two? We still use the same scientific methods, same energy, same politics, etc. and all the "advancements" such as computer technology is really just a minor offspring of old ideas.

Yes, the US of A will eventually fall, as will most others. Its not so much a question of "Will they fall?" as it is a question of "When?"

Just my 2 cents!



posted on Jul, 19 2004 @ 10:11 AM
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m0j0n,

good points. I think maybe then the problem is not so much the core of the systems we have, but the extent to which we have allowed them to be corrupted by big business, moneyed interests, and political pressure groups often with ulterior motives.

The activities of these pressure groups, combined with a more pervasive, yet varied media contributes to the political noise, and distorts the weight or importance of these issues.

A side effect is also the labeling you describe. Rather than offering a cohesive whole, the politicians end up knitting together manifestos aimed at satisfying a strategic selection of single issue voters. This can't really be the best way of doing things.

I do agree with you on the damage overly powerful corporations can have.. and some sort of upper end regulation may be desirable once a corporations is large enough to impact on national issues or large numbers of people.

I'm not sure what form that regulation should take though. Maybe a publicly elected official or two on the boards of companies or multinationals over a certain size? Maybe with a veto or delay right over some types of corporate activity?





 
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