Archive for the ‘History of Civilization’ Category
Gislebertus, at Open Lefttackles a big subject I have been wrestling with for decades. One property which distinguishes civilization as we know it from earlier or less advanced forms of social organization is the tendency of civilization to be hierarchical. This results in inequalities of all kinds and diminishes the quality of life for millions (not to mention the needless loss of millions of lives).
So what is the alternative? Marx, I believe, had some thoughts on the matter, and Gislebertus provides us with a similar but more high level view.
In early human civilizations, a small ruling class of people controlled society. The ruling class was composed of military leaders and priests, and wealth and power were concentrated in their hands. This ruling class directed the vast majority of people, who made a living as farmers and tradesmen.
Babylonian, Assyrian, and Egyptian societies were all structured this way. This sort of aristocracy appeared wherever civilization sprang up, not only in the Fertile Crescent, but in Asia (the Shang dynasty) and the Americas (the Olmec empire).
Gislebertus’ analysis continues to the present.
I don’t necessarily agree with every historical point made here, but I recommend the article as brain food and encourage everyone to read the whole thing.