Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Rise and Fall of Civilizations

The question which comes many times in our minds when we read the world history is what makes a civilization great or why is that some civilizations who archive great heights suddenly decline; why is that at one point in time one civilization acts a upholder of free thinking and acts as a fundamentalist group at some other point of time.

I think there is nothing holy about any civilization. Each has its times of glory and times of shame. Rise and fall of civilizations by and large follow a pattern independent of the nation. Only the means and reasons change from one to another. But the over all graph is not much different in any case.

1. People not satisfied with the state of things try to change it. They work real hard to make their group strong. At this point they do not shy away from using violence against groups which it perceives as danger to it. But this is combined with a strong love for an ideal and feeling of brotherhood for those who share that ideal (presently India is in the initial stages of it and China in more advanced stages of this; the early Islamic fundamentalism can also be partly attributed to the same).

2. Sooner or later their efforts yield fruits, resulting in a strong group. This also decreases the amount of insecurity and the group grows bold enough to tolerate other groups without worrying about them as “threat” (you can note that China now is more comfortable than before about new ideas and persons).

3. Freedom of ideas follow and the group advances greatly in various spheres, making the living standards very comfortable. (the Islamic civilization at the zenith of its Iranian glory; like America presently... no matter what its foreign policy, we have to concede that US provides the greatest freedom of ideas today of all nations)

4. The following generations being brought up in that comforts becomes reluctant to work hard and is satisfied with the state of things. It loses ambition to do anything (the way Europe is becoming today; and the way Islamic society was before the fall of ottoman empire; or the way India was just after the Buddhist-Ashoka times).

5. They naturally become weak and fall prey to another rising group. They start worrying about their great heritage and close themselves to protect their “glory”. In the process they cocoon themselves. Stagnation and degeneration follows. (like Islamic world today, slowly declining from its glorious days in Turkey and Iran; the way Hindus closed themselves into don't-touchisms and kitchen rules when Islam and then Europe was at rise).

6. Goes back to point 1.

7 Comments:

Blogger Sandeep said...

Great! I believe the transition from stage 4- stage 5 is the most nontrivial point, an issue which liberals like to pretend not to exist.

However, part of the Islamic world, I would believe, is in the stage of replacing European civilization : hedonism resulting lower ( below replacement level ) birth rate in Western Europe combined with immigration. Probably not too far off from the decay of Roman civilization.

10:10 AM  
Blogger Surya S said...

However, part of the Islamic world, I would believe, is in the stage of replacing European civilization : hedonism resulting lower ( below replacement level ) birth rate in Western Europe combined with immigration.

I feel the misplaced importance of Islamic world on demographics instead of the quality is the real signal of their decline.


I believe the transition from stage 4- stage 5 is the most nontrivial point, an issue which liberals like to pretend not to exist.

'Liberals' are the ones who facilitate that transition. Hence how can that happen if they acknowledge it :D

11:56 AM  
Blogger Sandeep said...

I feel the misplaced importance of Islamic world on demographics instead of the quality is the real signal of their decline.

As a civilization, in terms of materialistic achievements, yes ( so it doesn't contradict your original assertion ). But there is no threat to their religion, which needs only demographics and robustness ( as in people can't be easily weaned away from it ) to survive. I am afraid they might even replace Hindus in India.

7:43 AM  
Blogger Surya S said...

we cannot be sure... it may suddenly crumble from inside who knows? the communism in Russia appeared so powerful before it suddenly collapsed. In the same manner, little catalyst should do to change things totally.

Moreover, unlike others, we too should not be diverted by external show of strength instead of internal. What really matters is internal strength which Islam is losing fast. Mere external strength like numbers etc of no much value in my opinion (behaving macho is very often a result of weak confidence, not strong)

10:26 AM  
Blogger Sandeep said...

One needs internal strength only to construct something, not to destroy anything. Consider the fall of great civilizations. It is not obvious to me if internal/external strength among hindus or any other group of people for that matter is rising sufficiently to guard against that.

Moreover the "external" strength of Islam has also to do with the faith of *all* muslims. The situation was different with communism. Islam is the only religion where science hasn't done any damage to peoples' faith, and hence it seems most robust to me. Because the islamic society has a way of fostering faith in every child, unlike any other society ( well, we had our way, but it has all become screwed up - as ThAkur says, it is said that by living under a master for 12 years or so one imbibes the traits of the master; so did we with the British ).

9:34 AM  
Blogger Surya S said...

One needs internal strength only to construct something, not to destroy anything.

The day you outgrow the physical level to think that internal dosent matter in certain cases and realise the truth in the Swamji words "growth is life; stagnation is death" you will understand what I say :P

11:17 AM  
Blogger Sandeep said...

The day you outgrow the physical level

That sounds quite far away :-(

As for svAmiji, I don't even know the sense in which that statement applies to civilizations.

11:33 AM  

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