November 25, 2023

The Rise of Civilizations

Michael Smith

Ever wonder why civilizations form?

Given that ours seems to be eroding from the inside, I’ve been considering that question with a lot more frequency.

If you search in the libraries and online, there is a lot of information about the fall of civilizations, but not a lot of consideration of why they form. The most helpful I have found is the treatise "The Civilizing Process”, written by Norbert Elias, a prominent German sociologist, and published in two volumes in 1939.

Elias wrote:

"This fundamental interweaving of individual human plans and actions can bring about changes and shapes that no human being has planned or created. From this, from the interdependence of men, arises a very specific order, which is more compelling and powerful than the will and mind of the individual people who make it up. This order of interweaving determines the course of historical change; This lays the foundation for the process of civilization.”

What I took from that is that any civilization arises when such an aggregation of people forms around things like common beliefs, languages, social mores, economic activities, and religions, because the recognition and standardization of those "civilized” aspects are beneficial to the members of that group.

Over time, others join because they also glean some form of benefit from doing so.

Of course, civilizations compete. They compete for political power or domination, natural resources, access to trade routes, prosperity, any number of things real and imagined. In that competition, some succeed, some fail.

Above, I mentioned that people join to reap the benefits, but as often is the case, they are forced to join because they represent a benefit to the expansion of a particular civilization. It seems evident to me that the name of the civilization game is ‘Grow or die”, and history seems to bear that out. When the costs outweigh the benefits, growth stops, and a doom loop begins. Sometimes civilizations die as the object of conquest, sometimes they just rot and collapse.

In truth, I’ve thought a lot about this, albeit in small increments over a large period of time, but lately the alliances of defeated civilizations (i.e., North American (American Indian) and South American (Maya, Inca, Aztec, etc.) civilizations) with reprehensible proto-civilizat ions (radical Islamism and communism) and their bonding along irrational "intersectional ” lines.


The one that got me today was when members of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe raised a Palestinian flag raised on Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade float.

The tenuous intersectional connection is apparently that White Christian settler-colonia lists eradicated Native Americans and stole their lands in a manner similar to the Israelis eradicating and occupying Palestinian lands.

Effective only in the weak minded, such a link between the situations is ludicrous. The fact is that a multitude of Native American cultures were subsumed by an overwhelmingly superior civilization which possessed technologies beyond the comprehension of the native tribes, something they were powerless to resist long term. Had the Incas, Aztecs, or Mayans – or any aggregation of North American tribes – possessed technologies superior to those of Europe, the colonization may well have occurred in a very different direction.

In Israel, it is the Gazans who choose to make war on the Jewish people, the stated purpose of which is to eradicate Jews from a land promised to them by God and inhabited by them for thousands of years before the word "Palestine” was invented.

The "intersectional ity”, if there is one, is that these were/are not really a civilizational conflict at all, they were/are conflicts between civilized society and savagery.

Of interest to me is how this conflict between Hamas and Israel has laid bare the cracks in American civilization in specific and Western civilization in general. One of the key components of all civilizations is the ability to recognize right from wrong, good from evil, at least as defined for the good of the civilization and its members. For example, even though it took a bit, the entire world recognized the evil of Nazism.

In my estimation, absurd relativism (the inability to clearly see right from wrong and act accordingly) is the key indicator of a failing civilization. When this infection metastasizes, people, ideologies, and philosophies that are damaging to the host are allowed to enter the bloodstream and if not addressed quickly, become terminal in rapid fashion.

Liberty is what is left of freedom when just enough freedom is ceded to sustain a civil society. It is also said the Constitution is not a suicide pact, but for that to be true, we must recognize something the French philosopher Albert Camus said:

"The absurd does not liberate; it binds. It does not authorize all actions. ‘Everything is permitted’ does not mean that nothing is forbidden."

America is fast approaching her 250th birthday in 2026. Whether we make it past that point depends upon our recognition that to save our civilization and way of life, there are things that must necessarily be forbidden. Relativism and the hatred of our nation are two of those things.

Tim adds:

Anything beyond the level of the tribe is inherently unnatural to Man. The tribe is little more than an extended family, tied together by blood relations. But bigger tribes abused and assaulted smaller ones, so coalitions had to form to defend against the more powerful tribe. This only accelerated as agriculture came in; there was a powerful need to protect borders and boundaries and establish rules that protected property rights.

The current Leftist assault on civilization stems from attacks on those very things. They seek to destroy boundaries and property rights, believing them unfair to those who have not. But get rid of those and the engine of society stops because the productive no longer have security for their labors. Progressivism/collectivism is essentially an assault on the right to property, the very core of human civilization.

Life in a tribal state was not so rosy as the Left fantasizes. Starvation was common. Warfare was endless and bloody. A homespun life is impoverished. Cold in winter, hot in summer, sick, hungry, and dark. That is what the Left seeks to impose on us.

Civilizations are hard to build but grow out of necessity, out of the need for safety and security. The rise of Europe stemmed in no small part to the endless attacks on it after the demise of Rome; whole new institutions needed to be constructed to secure people. Vikings, Moors, Turks, Mongols and Huns, the multiple Germanic tribes, etc. all posed grave threats to the inhabitants of Europe. So they consolidated into kingdoms capable of resisting all these. In the process they devised new ways to do things, and so science was born, as well as technology and new military tactics and all manner of scholarship.

This process happened to a lesser degree in the Americas but the American civilizations were always much more vulnerable because they had inherent flaws. Only one staple crop (corn) so they couldn't really diversify and famine was a constant problem. (The Mound Builder culture of Cahokia, for instance, collapsed in no small part when the Little Ice Age began and agriculture collapsed.)They did not develop much infrastructure outside of their cities so they couldn't control what was happening.(The wheel was never invented in America, making travel difficult, and they had no beasts similar to horses.) Most importantly they lacked the proper religious/legal institutions - the Rule of Law. All were ultimately empires based on tyrants, or near enough. They conquered other peoples and held them by force, but offered them little in return.

Without the kind of cross-cultural interaction as in the Old World America simply never coalesced,and where it did when the fall came it remained fallen. Cahokia was completely abandoned by the time Europeans arrived. It is said the Aztecs,for instance, were not even aware of the Incans to their south.

Pressure creates civilizations. Without it the default for human beings is the tribe. We just don't feel kinship with people who are too different from us.

The Nation-state was an attempt to create a civilization that held common characteristics. It worked in Europe, less so in Africa or India, which had never had a common culture. Most African nations are nothing but territorial in nature, which is why Africa is so poor and war-torn. Nothing in common.

Now the radicals seek to dismantle the nation-state,to destroy the economic and religious and cultural ties that bind us together. The end result will be - Rwanda! Or the Balkans. Or the Caucasus. Or any other place that is poor and war-torn.

Civilizations are ultimately born out of need and benefits derived. They die when too many turn away from the virtues that made the civilization in the first place. That is where we are heading. (It's why all this migration is so destructive; bringing in people with no stake in society and who will reject the old order that built it.)

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at 11:25 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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