The “Fall of The Roman Empire” is a myth
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23-10-2011, 07:45 PM
 
The “Fall of The Roman Empire” is a myth
The “Fall of The Roman Empire” is a myth. Rome has never fallen – it’s still with us today. Actually, we, in the ‘Western’ world are it. There is a direct, continuous (although fading in and out) line that connects us to our heritage. It is the same philosophy: values, methods, aims, decadence—just as it was back in Nero’s time (although with a lot more lying and denial). Everything we pursue today: science, ‘democracy’, technology, ‘justice’, bureaucratic and hierarchical structures, ‘civilizing’ the savages – were there already: in Rome.

The rest of the world is our playground: to conquer and loot at our whim and pleasure. Science and technology gives us the weapons, organizational ability gives us the methods to accomplish this. In this, we are ‘superior’ to the rest of the world and we never let them forget it. A cruise missile here and there and the occasional ‘punishing war’ will serve as a reminder. And our trump-card: our nuclear arsenal, that can destroy all life on Earth, is our final argument. That is why we go to any length to make sure that the ‘savages’ don’t get their own. We certainly would not like it used against us, even as a threat.

However, just like in Nero’s time, we are so decadent, so out of touch with reality, that we seem to be helpless against the hatred and determination of the ‘savages’. We bumble from one attempt at conquest or reprisal to another, bleeding our blood and money on the battlefields, losing way more than what we gain.

In the meantime, the Planet is steadily being destroyed under our feet and we face self-destruction when we run out of victims to feed on.

Yes, we are actually eating the rest of humanity alive. Yesterday’s headlines on CBC website: “25 million people starve to death each year”, “14,000 new HIV patients every day”. Aids is spreading from Africa to Eastern Europe, Russia, India and China. The planet is fast running out of resources and pollution (especially outside ‘Rome’) reach catastrophic levels. This is the price the rest of the world has to pay for our ‘affluence’.

We pretend that globalization is helping those poor people ‘over there’. We are giving them jobs in the factories we set up on their land to spread civilization. First we had to destroy their way of life, foist the most ruthless among them to do our slave-trading for us and prop them up with weapons and loans so they can suppress their own people for us.

Then, since they are so deep in debt for the unpaid weapons, we make them pay for it by growing exotic fruit and coffee beans for us; make our shoes, clothes and play-things for us; let us extract and cart away all their natural resources, shipping it to the west in a never-ending convoy of transport ships. In exchange we let them live in the shanty towns surrounding our modern factories, and not quite starve on the wages we pay them. The lack of minimum safety standards and pollution preventing safeguards is just an unfortunate side effect they have to live with.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is true, we, in the ‘Western Democracies’, are still the Empire of Rome, in aims, methods, values, ruthlessness and appetite.
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24-10-2011, 08:00 AM
 
RE: The “Fall of The Roman Empire” is a myth
PS.

I forgot to ask my question.

Thinking Atheists, by their majority, use rational thought and critical thinking to arrive at their atheism.

Is it inevitable that the same mental faculties would compel them to examine their social/political environment as well and, using the same rational thought and critical thinking, see through the propaganda and brainwashing we are being relentlessly bombarded with, day after day, year after year?

I would like to think so, but I wanted to ask the rest of you: how much your mental tools that you use justifying your atheism do you also use in deep understanding of your social/political environment?

The first post on this thread is the result of my own using the same mental faculties as I use to justify my atheism.

What is yours?
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24-10-2011, 12:20 PM
RE: The “Fall of The Roman Empire” is a myth
First, I think that Rome isn't the correct place to stop when trying to look for the foundation of what we pursue. The things you listed are traits of all humans, from China to Rome, to the Native Americans. You're blaming the West because our ambition was the one that succeeded. If the Chinese had succeeded you'd be blaming them for spreading their ideology, same with the Arabs, or any other civilization throughout history whose ambition failed to catch. Admittedly, the West has done terrible things to themselves and to "savages," but we have also done a great deal of good. We've cured diseases, learned to produce more food, helped to better other people through education and medicine, and have worked to protect the innocent in some places.

Do I use the tools that led me to my atheism to examine the world around me? Yes. Do I reach the same conclusion as you? No. You're looking at a storm cloud and assuming that's how it is everywhere. Storms come and go, same with the troubled times in humanity. We know that we pollute the world, that's why we have things such as recycling, or that we outlawed CFC's because they were damaging the ozone layer. We saw the damage done by polio and smallpox, and we found cures for them. We realized the injustice of slavery and discrimination, so we outlawed them. We've seen the terrible cost of war and the technologies that were used, so we try to limit them. We live in an era where wars are significantly smaller in magnitude than they were before.

Is the Western world perfect? Not even close, but we derive our morality from history. We have trouble looking ahead and changing our course, but we look to the past to see what we should have done differently.

Of all the ideas put forth by science, it is the principle of Superposition that can undo any power of the gods. For the accumulation of smaller actions has the ability to create, destroy, and move the world.

"I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul." -W. E. Henley
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24-10-2011, 12:45 PM
 
RE: The “Fall of The Roman Empire” is a myth
(24-10-2011 12:20 PM)Glaucus Wrote:  You're looking at a storm cloud and assuming that's how it is everywhere.

Actually, I am looking at repeating cycles in human history. We were on an upslope in the sixties, we are on a downslope now. Unfortunately, while our emotional/mental profile, determined by our place on our evolutionary journey, has not noticeably changed during the last few thousands of years, our technology shot up exponentially, making us a lot more destructive than we were in bow-and-arrow times. Soon we will reach breaking point because human psychological drives and destructiveness of technology are on a collision course. All the good things we have been doing will not matter when the 'super bomb'/'super storm'/'super bug' (our own creation) catches up with us. I know it is not nice to think of these dangers lurking on our horizon but denial won't make them go away, rather the opposite. Sorry to contradict you, but it is not just 'more of the same' any more, the forces that our science and technology has unleashed are deadlier and deadlier every year. Right now, in anticipation of the unavoidable global warming and related disasters, major experiments are underway to try to counter the effects our technology has on the planet with very dangerous Geo-Engineering projects.

ETA:


1992 World Scientists' Warning to Humanity


Some 1,700 of the world's leading scientists, including the majority of Nobel laureates in the sciences, issued this appeal in November 1992.

Quote:Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course. Human activities inflict harsh and often irreversible damage on the environment and on critical resources. If not checked, many of our current practices put at serious risk the future that we wish for human society and the plant and animal kingdoms, and may so alter the living world that it will be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know. Fundamental changes are urgent if we are to avoid the collision our present course will bring about.

..............

We the undersigned, senior members of the world's scientific community, hereby warn all humanity of what lies ahead. A great change in our stewardship of the earth and the life on it is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home on this planet is not to be irretrievably mutilated.

It is definitely not just 'more of the same'. If you don't believe your scientists, who do you believe? Your priests? Your politicians? Your corporation-funded think-tanks?

You could read the whole report at the link I provided, or you could listen to David Suzuki talking about it in 2006.
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24-10-2011, 12:51 PM
RE: The “Fall of The Roman Empire” is a myth
Being Italian born and raise, I can assure the OP that the Roman empire did, in fact, fall. Maybe OP should educate him/herself a bit more on Western History, specifically what the Roman empire really was about, and what happened during the Dark Ages.

English is not my first language. If you think I am being mean, ask me. It could be just a wording problem.
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24-10-2011, 01:03 PM
 
RE: The “Fall of The Roman Empire” is a myth
(24-10-2011 12:51 PM)sy2502 Wrote:  Being Italian born and raise, I can assure the OP that the Roman empire did, in fact, fall. Maybe OP should educate him/herself a bit more on Western History, specifically what the Roman empire really was about, and what happened during the Dark Ages.

Sys -- have you EVER heard of the literary device called: allegory?

For clarity's sake: I was NOT serious with the comparison, I was only trying to make a point in a, what I hoped, amusing kind of way. I you really think that I do not know history, then maybe you should read my posts a bit more carefully.

I am often tongue-in-cheek, an art that seems to be lost on some. Rolleyes


....
PS. I added a lot more detail to Post #4 if you want to take look....
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24-10-2011, 02:29 PM
RE: The “Fall of The Roman Empire” is a myth
(24-10-2011 01:03 PM)Zatamon Wrote:  
(24-10-2011 12:51 PM)sy2502 Wrote:  Being Italian born and raise, I can assure the OP that the Roman empire did, in fact, fall. Maybe OP should educate him/herself a bit more on Western History, specifically what the Roman empire really was about, and what happened during the Dark Ages.

Sys -- have you EVER heard of the literary device called: allegory?
Do you mean allegory or analogy? While some patterns are common to many historic times, I don't think the Roman empire is a good analogy for modern society.

Quote:PS. I added a lot more detail to Post #4 if you want to take look....
The analogy to the Roman empire is still incorrect. Do you actually know why the Roman empire fell?

English is not my first language. If you think I am being mean, ask me. It could be just a wording problem.
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24-10-2011, 02:40 PM
RE: The “Fall of The Roman Empire” is a myth
You're right, technology and advances come with side effects so we do require an update to our "emotional/mental profile". But I'd argue that it had changed dramatically over the course of the species existence. We once treated women as property, we once regarded non-whites as animals, we once viewed the world as too big to effect. Yet, all of those ideas have been overturned as the older generations die out and younger generations are taught about the mistakes of their ancestors.

We do think about the dangers at the horizon, that's why we're looking into renewable energies, conservation efforts, and nuclear non-proliferation. We're realizing that the 6.5 billion of us are starting to have an impact on the world, and we are making changes to our habits. And because an update to ourselves is always a generation away, we rely on technology to buy us time. We now have the technology for safer nuclear reactors and pollution reduction methods that will buy us time until there is a changing of the guard. Research is going on across the globe for safer and safer technology to fix the mistakes of those who were here before us. So we are stuck with the curse of technology that allows us to fix our current problems while revealing more.

Geo-engineering is a fun and dangerous idea, it's not bad to look into it. It even says in the first paragraph:
Quote:They are just researching backup systems that we might need if the reductions don’t happen fast enough.
I would be surprised if this was used without being in a dire situation. We hardly understand the effects of CO2 on the atmosphere from our factories, let alone throwing god-knows-what into the atmosphere in large chunks. Research into this could even be helpful to future generations, as geo-engineering is the first step towards terraforming another world.

BTW, I'm sorry if I've gone off track from what you were asking, but your original post seemed to imply that the only rational conclusion for us to draw was doom and gloom because we're reckless with our technology.

(24-10-2011 08:00 AM)Zatamon Wrote:  Is it inevitable that the same mental faculties would compel them to examine their social/political environment as well and, using the same rational thought and critical thinking, see through the propaganda and brainwashing we are being relentlessly bombarded with, day after day, year after year?

Of all the ideas put forth by science, it is the principle of Superposition that can undo any power of the gods. For the accumulation of smaller actions has the ability to create, destroy, and move the world.

"I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul." -W. E. Henley
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24-10-2011, 03:10 PM
 
RE: The “Fall of The Roman Empire” is a myth
(24-10-2011 02:40 PM)Glaucus Wrote:  You're right, technology and advances come with side effects so we do require an update to our "emotional/mental profile". But I'd argue that it had changed dramatically over the course of the species existence.

What confuses you (and many citizens in the affluent world) is the fact that our new-found tolerance, liberated thinking, progressive ideas are ONLY SKIN DEEP!

I once read that every society has the morality it can afford.

What you will find hard to believe is the following: if the situation turns dangerous, hungry, desperate -- those nice, liberated, 21st century humans will turn into horrible savages, because they are hostages to their DNA-controlled psychological makeup. And they will have high technology in their hands to rampage with!

DNA does not evolve in a time-scale less then millions of years.

In my long life I have personally seen citizens of a civilized country turning into a mob of vicious killers, sadists even, destructing everything and anyone they could touch.

It is expressed, to perfection, by Quark, in Star Trek's Deep Space Nine:

Quote:Let me tell you something about Hew-mons, Nephew. They're a wonderful, friendly people, as long as their bellies are full and their holosuites are working. But take away their creature comforts, deprive them of food, sleep, sonic showers, put their lives in jeopardy over an extended period of time and those same friendly, intelligent, wonderful people... will become as nasty and as violent as the most bloodthirsty Klingon. You don't believe me? Look at those faces. Look in their eyes.

I couldn't have said it better myself.

@Sy2502 -- this thread isn't really about the Roman Empire, however interesting the subject is. Why don't you start a new thread just for that. Sorry for misleading you with the title. Sad
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24-10-2011, 03:39 PM
RE: The “Fall of The Roman Empire” is a myth
(24-10-2011 03:10 PM)Zatamon Wrote:  What you will find hard to believe is the following: if the situation turns dangerous, hungry, desperate -- those nice, liberated, 21st century humans will turn into horrible savages, because they are hostages to their DNA-controlled psychological makeup. And they will have high technology in their hands to rampage with!

There's a key word in that statement, if. A lot of your ideas come from a fear that we'll unleash something terrible that will jeopardize everyone. Maybe we will, or maybe we'll see the destructive capability of what we're doing (take the atomic bomb for example) and work to control it (non-proliferation, nuclear energy, IAEA).

(24-10-2011 03:10 PM)Zatamon Wrote:  In my long life I have personally seen citizens of a civilized country turning into a mob of vicious killers, sadists even, destructing everything and anyone they could touch.

And what stopped them?
Quote:The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing -Edmund Burke
Luckily, as society keeps moving forward there are people who work to keep it in check to make sure that we don't go back to our animal instincts.

Of all the ideas put forth by science, it is the principle of Superposition that can undo any power of the gods. For the accumulation of smaller actions has the ability to create, destroy, and move the world.

"I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul." -W. E. Henley
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