The Age of Empires

stages of empire

The Fate of Empires written in 1978 by Sir John Glubb (1897-1986) is an illuminating essay on the life cycle of empires, which turn out to be very much the same for different empires around the world and through the centuries.

You can read the essay for yourself here, and I highly recommend that you do. But in this article I will try to give you a brief overview of what Glubb writes.

First, Glubb argues that the life span of empires tend to be the same: about 250 years, or ten generations (if a generation is considered to be 25 years)….

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Each empire seems to progress through four main stages: 1) The Age of Outburst/Pioneering/Conquest; 2) The Age of Affluence; 3) The Age of Intellect; 4) The Age of Decadence.*

First, in the Age of Outburst, often a group of hard working, aggressive people, who are not in any strong position of power already, rise up and take control. Perhaps they move in and take the power over from an older empire which is far along into its decadence stage, or perhaps they move in on a less developed culture and dominate it. This age is characterized by exploring men with fearless initiative and military conquest of older orders.

Second, there is commercial expansion ushering in the Age of Affluence. With one power controlling many sections of land comes ease of travel, common currency, common language, law and order — all of which allow people to trade extensively. If the empire is large, it will cover several different cultures in different climates making available many various goods to consumers all over the empire. Great wealth grows during this age.

Third is the Age of Intellect. With affluence comes a decline in “courage, enterprise, and a sense of duty … [and] the first direction in which wealth injures the nation is a moral one.” (Glubb) The general outlook of the citizens of the empire move from one of service to one of selfishness. While the Age of Intellect creates advances in science and technology, and while it also creates a culture of reason, debate, and argument, it also leads to division in the empire as the common good obvious in the previous ages becomes muddied in the endless chatter of the intellectuals. While the problems created by the selfish culture can only be solved by renewed selfless service, the intellectuals believe they can solve the problems with their new ideas. It doesn’t work and the culture weakens and loses self-esteem.

When the system holding the empire begins to degrade, the empire enters its final stage: Decadence. The people have lost sight of why the empire should even exist and have little to no desire to preserve it. Glubb gives some signs which show an empire has entered this last stage: civil dissension, an influx of foreigners (who do not conform to the host culture), frivolity, a decline in religious belief and morals, and a welfare state. The heroes of the first ages of the empire, warriors and leaders, are replaced by pop-stars and celebrity chefs. Glubb also points out that in the age of decline more and more women want to enter into positions of power previously only held by men. He doesn’t go into why, but it is interesting to point out. (A confusion of gender seems to be a factor in the Decadence stage.)

Glubb asks the important question: Can we learn from history? His answer is yes, if we actually study it — if we actually study world history instead of only our own empire’s history. Only when we learn to prevent the Age of Decadence by not becoming selfish and lazy in the Age of Affluence can we hope to break through the continuing fate of empires.

Further reading…

First Things: Camille Paglia’s Teaching

The Case Against Western Civilization by James B. Jordan

You can also watch a fairly lengthy video on the fall of the Roman Empire by Stefan Molyneux here.

I also highly recommend James B. Jordan’s book Crisis, Opportunity, and the Christian Future

*Glubb divides the life span of the empire into six stages: 1) Pioneers; 2) Conquest; 3) Commerce; 4) Affluence; 5) Intellect; 6) Decadence. I’ve compressed it to four for the sake of simplicity.

Cultural Marxism

No one individual has ever been officially elected to represent white people, or black people, or gay people, or any similar universal group. And the reason is obvious — there is too much diversity of thought amongst the individuals in such a large group. No one person could possibly accurately represent them all at the same time.

Democracy only works at a small and local scale. People of like interests tend to stay near each other. This is why, in a nation like Canada, we elect individuals who represent smaller groups of people. Those elected go and argue for the wants and needs of their groups against the wants and needs of other groups who are also represented by elected individuals. These elected individuals do their best to come up with compromises that make the most people happy.

Unfortunately these days we do have people trying to act as the representatives for whites, blacks, gays, and others. Those who try to do this are, whether they know it or not, cultural Marxists. Cultural Marxism strives to place everyone into categorical groups. Once a person has successfully been placed into a group, he or she is no longer judged as an individual, but only by the group they “belong” to. All gays are the same, and therefore, if you’re gay, you are the same as all gays, and we can easily define you and represent you, and if you stray from our definition, you will be ostracized.

Cultural Marxism is of course nonsense, but it works great as a political tool in western victim culture.

“[Insert group here] are marginalized and need the Canadian government to help them!”

“But, all individuals in this country already have equal rights. How can you say that all [insert group here] are marginalized? Some individuals in that group might feel that way, but many others won’t. Aren’t you concerned that the policies you put in place to ‘help’ [insert group here] will only harm individual rights for everyone else?”

“You’re a racist!!”

Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy Quotes #17

“Today as every day, [God’s] Spirit demands from us an answer to this question: What is as yet unfinished, uncreated, unprecedented, uncompromised in the vicious circle of our thinking? And we shall always find that the future of Christianity is present here and now as long as two or three Christians believe in it, and answer. And they answer, these poor timeful creatures, by contracting time to a point of most fruitful faith and love, and in this contraction, the suddenness of the end of the world and the endlessness of a first beginning are coupled and bear witness to the timelessness of our origin and our destiny.”

~from The Christian Future, page 91

Propaganda (Brief Book Review)

propaganda

“Modern propaganda is a consistent, enduring effort to create or shape events to influence the relations of the public to an enterprise, idea or group”
~Edward Bernays

I recently finished reading Propaganda by Edward Bernays. It’s a short book written in the late 1920s describing the methods used by anyone who wishes to push their ideas and agenda onto a large group of people. The methods described in the book are still in use today.

Propaganda is a neutral term; it is neither good nor evil in and of itself. It can be used for good and used for evil, but mostly it is a vessel used to push an idea.

If I were a newsman who recently read a report done by some major university on the annual financial earnings of men and women and wanted to do a story on it, I could choose a couple of different ways to present the report. If I have no agenda but to present the report to the public for their own scrutiny, my headline would look something like: New Report on the Financial Income of Men and Women Released by U of T. However, if I’m a feminist, and do have a strong agenda, and I see in the report that men, due to more frequently working full time, putting in more overtime, and taking jobs in higher paying fields, are earning more money on an annual basis than women, I can use that information to push my agenda, and my headline would look more like this: Women Only Make Seventy Cents for Every Dollar a Man Makes New Study Shows. And that headline would be propaganda. It’s not an outright lie; it’s just that I am presenting the information to the reader so as to sway his or her opinion toward my agenda (which, for the feminist, is to convince the public that women are oppressed by men).

propSo, even though propaganda is neutral (and should not be mistaken with opinion writing), I would argue that it will most often lean towards dishonesty as the presenter of the propaganda is most likely not being sincere in his or her propagation of the information, even when the cause behind the propaganda is a good one.

I gave the book 3/5 stars.

A Warning to the West

Following is an excerpt from a speech given by Alexander Solzhenitsyn in New York City in 1975….

July 9, 1975

Is it possible or impossible to transmit the experience of those who have suffered to those who have yet to suffer? Can one part of humanity learn from the bitter experience of another or can it not? Is it possible or impossible to warn someone of danger?

How many witnesses have been sent to the West in the last 60 years? How many waves of immigrants? How many millions of persons? They are all here. You meet them every day. You know who they are: if not by their spiritual disorientation, their grief, their melancholy, then you can distinguish them by their accents or their external appearance. Coming from different countries and without consulting with one another, they have brought to you exactly the same experience; they tell you exactly the same thing: they warn you of what is now taking place and what has taken place in the past. But the proud skyscrapers stand on, jut into the sky and say: It will never happen here. This will never come to us. It’s not possible here.

It can happen. It is possible. As a Russian proverb says: “When it happens to you, you’ll know it’s true.”

But do we really have to wait for the moment when the knife is at our throat? Couldn’t it be possible, ahead of time, to assess soberly the world-wide menace that threatens to swallow the whole world? I was swallowed myself. I have been in the dragon’s belly, in its red-hot innards. He wasn’t able to digest me. He threw me up. I have come to you as a witness to what it’s like there, in the dragon’s belly.

It’s an astonishing phenomenon that communism has been writing about itself in the most open way — in black and white — for 125 years, and even more openly, more candidly in the beginning. The Communist Manifesto, for instance, which everyone knows by name, and which almost no one ever takes the trouble to read, contains even more terrible things than what has actually been done. It’s perfectly amazing. The whole world can read, everyone is literate, but somehow no one wants to understand. Humanity acts as if it does not understand what Communism is, as if it does not want to understand, is not capable of understanding.

I think it isn’t only a question of the disguises which communism has assumed in the last decades. It’s rather that the essence of communism is quite beyond the limits of human understanding. It is hard to believe that people could actually plan such things and carry them out. And precisely because its essence is beyond comprehension, communism is so difficult to understand.

In my last address in Washington I spoke a great deal about the Soviet state system, how it was created and what it is today. But it’s perhaps more important to discuss with you the ideology that inspired the system, that created it, and that still governs it. It’s much more important to understand the essence of this ideology, and above all its legacy which hasn’t changed at all in 125 years. It hasn’t changed since the day it was born.

That Marxism is not a science is something which is entirely clear to intelligent people in the Soviet Union. One would feel awkward to refer to it as a science. Leaving aside the exact sciences, such as physics, mathematics, and the natural sciences, even the social sciences can predict an event — when, in what way, and how an event might occur. Communism has never made any such forecasts. It has never said where, when, and precisely what is going to happen. Nothing but declamations. Rhetoric to the effect that the world proletariat will overthrow the world bourgeoisie and the most happy and radiant society will then arise. The fantasies of Marx, Engels, and Lenin break off at this point, not one of them goes any further to describe what this society would be like. They simply said: the most radiant, most happy society. Everything for the sake of man.

~Excerpt taken from Warning to the West, by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 1976, pg 52-55