Oh, but I can!
Traditionally, a civilization has grown up almost unnoticed in some rural backwater of the world, and we know of it mostly because of the magnificent monuments which each left to its own excesses. It is this way for the Egyptians, Greeks, Myans, Aztecs, Incas, Babylonians, Indians (from India), Chinese, and so forth. Toynbee is reported to have identified a total of twenty-one distinct civilizations which reached a stage advanced enough to be called by that term.
The most difficult civilization for historians is the Roman Empire, where the armies of Rome basically conquered the Greeks (as well as several other civilizations, such as the Etruscans), and adopted the civilization of Greece virtually intact, only changing the names of the gods to more suit the Roman spirit. Most historians thus classify the Greeks and the Romans as a single civilization, usually named the "Classical" or "Greco-Roman" civilization.
Later civilizations, arising on the same ground as one or more predecessors, also present difficulties for historians, because the question of cultural inheritance raises its head. With the Roman Empire, the wholesale adoption of Greek culture was blatantly obvious. But what debt does the more recent Arab civilization owe to either the Persian, Classical, Babylonian (Sumerian?), or Egyptian civilizations which preceded it on virtually the same ground? Scholars from Western Civilization are ill prepared to even understand the Arab culture, let alone guess at its roots.
And in fact, most Westerners are loathe to even admit that the Arabs had a real civilization that conquered as much, if not more, of the known world as did Alexander or the Roman Legions. We speak of the Moorish influence in Spain while conveniently forgetting that the Moors were to Arabs what the Gauls were to Rome: an unsophisticated rural community located near the outskirts of the empire.
Yet the Arab religion, Islam, springs from the same God of Abraham that both Christians and Jews purport to worship. Could this really be a case of sibling rivalry? Is the failure of Western Civilization to acknowledge the accomplishments of the Arabs a case of envy of one's older sibling? Even now, the true answer eludes us. One thing is certain: we ignore the Arabs at our peril because they are more desperate than are we.
If there have been unusual births of civilizations in the past, who is to deny the possibility of yet another? In fact, what I propose was actually anticipated by the Greek legend of Athena, who was born fully formed, springing from the forehead of Zeus. Thus our new civilization springs, fully formed, from the operation of our own intellect.
Cannot we design a new civilization? Is it truly a requirement that a civilization may only be founded by a primitive tribe of humans who finally raises themselves up to a level of rationality that makes them civilized? I do believe it can be otherwise.
Western Civilization itself has two parents. While its mother was clearly the native peoples (Celts) of Gaul (France), its father was just as clearly the classical Greco-Roman civilization. Our heritage acknowledges this parentage by teaching the great Greek and Roman legends as part of our own history. So very little from any other civilization makes it into our most basic texts. Why? Because from its inception, the scholars of Western Civilization have written extensively about our classical Greco-Roman heritage. Until very recently, sometime within the Twentieth Century, a Western man could not be considered learned without knowing Latin and ancient Greek well enough to read the original texts of the great writers of that culture, including Plato, Aristotle, and any number of great Romans, like Cicero.
This tradition is bound together with the Christian Church, which had its most sacred text written down in those two languages in preference to any others. It is only a very few years since the Catholic Church altered the traditional saying of the mass in Latin to allow the use of a local language.
We have reached the end of one millennial epoch, and the beginning of another. It is now roughly two millennia since the founding of the Christian religion. Anyone who contemplates the issue for very long must conclude that all of the world's great religions, each of which was founded more than a millennia ago, are irrelevant to a forthcoming post-industrial society which MUST arise out of the present state of affairs.
Science is on the brink of controlling the genetic heritage of all life. The cries from the Christian "Right" are loud and clear: that is the province of God, and God alone. This cry is, as Spengler predicts, the end of scientific advancement for Western Civilization. Since Western Civilization now controls the entire world, must it necessarily also be the end of science for all mankind?
I HOPE NOT!
All science has the ability to be used for good or for evil. We know that, once release, the genie cannot be put back into the bottle. We also know what evil lurks in the hearts of men. Thus, the answer from the Christian "Right" is to not allow certain kinds of science to be developed because the technology can be used for evil.
Of course, to deny scientific development is to also prohibit its use for good. Have we really come to that? Do we so mistrust ourselves in the use of knowledge that we will not even allow the knowledge to exist? For many in the Christian "Right," the answer is clearly, "Yes."
Our society needs an alternative answer to the Christian "Right," which is really the Christian "Wrong." It is a Christian "Wrong" because it seeks to impose an outdated solution from the past as an answer to a modern set of problems that are based on entirely different assumptions. Such an imposed answer cannot work except for those who are committed to a return to the past. We need an answer for the present, NOT an answer for the past. In other words, we need a "right answer," NOT a "right wing answer."
Traditionally, a civilization is born when a great leader unifies a large enough group of people to require a formal state-form and political system. There is absolutely no requirement that it be any particular state-form or any particular political system. It seems that all which is really required is to take a formless mass of humanity and create some form of organization within it.
There is nothing in the rules that requires this be done by force of arms, although in many cases it surely has been. In particular, Western Civilization was founded when Charlemagne conquered enough of Gaul to require the institution of a state and politics within its boundaries. But it can just as easily be done peacefully, by force of ideas as opposed to force of arms. That is the dream of this book.
We all see the decayed products of Western Civilization before us. We all decry the stench rising from that decay. The traditional solutions do not have a prayer of working, which is part of the message I hope to convey with this book. What is clearly needed is an entirely new approach; an approach so fundamentally different as to require an entirely new civilization to contain it. So, the other part of that message is the hope of a new future, built around a totally new system, but which system is constructed out of bits and pieces which we should all recognize, if we are educated about our own history.
So, exactly what is this miraculous answer? Well, I guess it is time to move on and get down to it.....
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