Sunday, January 27, 2008

Civilization -

The three great elements of modern civilization, Gunpowder, Printing, and the Protestant Religion. --Thomas Carlyle

Civilization exists by geologic consent subject to change without notice. --- Will Durant

Reporter: "What do you think of western civilisation?"
Ghandi: "I think it would be a good idea." is largely because civilization enables us constantly to profit from knowledge which we individually do not possess and because each individual's use of his particular knowledge may serve to assist others unknown to him in achieving their ends that men as members of civilized society can pursue their individual ends so much more successfully than they could alone.-- F.A. Hayek

In every era of human history, modernity, or some equivalent term has meant the ways, norms, and standards of the dominant and expanding civilization. Every dominant civilization has imposed its own modernity in its prime. The Hellenistic kingdoms, the Roman Empire, the medieval Christendoms, and Islam, as well as the ancient civilizations of India and China, all imposed their norms over a wide area and radiated their influence over a much broader on, far beyond their imperial frontiers. Islam was the first to make significant progress toward what it perceived as its universal mission, but modern Western civilization is the first to embrace the whole planet. Today, for the time being, as Ataturk recognized and as Indian computer scientists and Japanese high-tech companies appreciate, the dominant civilization is Western,and Western standards therefore define modernity.--Bernard Lewis, _What Went Wrong? - Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response_, cr. 2002, Oxford University Press

The dark age is likely to intervene anyway. It is very unusual for one moral order to slide into another with no intervening chaos. There are many other symptoms. The excessive interest in eroticism is characteristic of the end of a civilization, because it really means a growing impotence, and a fear of impotence. Then the obsessive need for excitement, vicarious excitement, which of course the games provided for the Romans, and which television provides for our population. Even the enormously complicated structure of taxation and administration is, funnily enough, a symptom of the end of a civilization; these things become so elaborate that in the end they become insupportable because of their very elaboration. Above all, there is this truly terrible thing which afflicts materialist societies -- boredom; an obsessive boredom, which I note on every hand. Mine is, admittedly, a minority view; a lot of people think that we are just on the verge of a new marvelous way of life. I see no signs of it at all myself. I notice that where our way of life is most successful materially it is most disastrous morally and spiritually; that the psychiatric wards are the largest and most crowded, and the suicides most numerous, precisely where material prosperity is greatest, where most money is spent on education. - Malcolm Muggeridge, Jesus Rediscovered, 1969, page 213

If all that Western civilization offers is freedom, then it is a civilization bent on its own destruction. - Roger Scruton, The West and the Rest, ISI Books, 2002, p v111

Civilization--and by this I do not mean talking cinemas and tinned food, nor even surgery and hygienic houses, but the whole moral and artistic organization of Europe--has not in itself the power of survival. It came into being through Christianity, and without it has no significance or power to command allegiance. . . . It is no longer possible, as it was in the time of Gibbon, to accept the benefits of civilization and at the same time deny the supernatural basis on which it rests. . . . Christianity . . . is in greater need of combative strength than it has been for centuries.-- Evelyn Waugh, 1930

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