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.