THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 542, October 25, 2009
"I am about to embark upon a new adventure."
Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise
It's interesting to go digging through wikipedia, reading about early civilization (or "syphilization", as Edward Abbey called it). Mostly what we know (through the historians and archaeologists) is what kings like Sargon II and Sennacherib did, which seems to have boiled down mostly to going around, conquering and looting other little city-states, and then having monuments to their own glory built. Since these monuments are the sorts of things that survived the ages, our view of these cultures tends to be a bit king-centric (although that may also reflect the proclivities of historians and archaeologists). And the kings that get the most attention are the greatest plunderers and enslavers: the Sargons, the Tiglath-Pilesers. They built their "shining city on the hill", the hill consisting of human bones, of individuals who hardly matter in histories.
I took a look at the wikipedia entry on Ebla, one of the earliest known city-states in that cradle of syphilization. This sentence struck me: "The form of government is not well known, but the city appears to have been ruled by a merchant aristocracy who elected a king and entrusted the city's defense to paid soldiers." Sounds familiar, eh? That might be said in a history of America some day. As Ecclesiastes put it, there is nothing new under the sun. (Although not a Christian, I am a great admirer of this book in the Bible.)
Modern-day empires, are they so different? They seem to be merely a refinement on a plan laid down by the likes of Sargon. A parasitic class gets on top and has a good time at the expense of a host populace, the productive class. The parasitic class grows and grows until the host expires and the whole thing comes crashing down. Empires come and go; always have, always will.
Or will they?
Our empire is certainly in decline, no intelligent person can doubt that. Yet, need it be replaced by another version of the same old thing?
I have a feeling things might be different, this time around.
For one thing, Americans are a lot better armed than most peasants have been in the past; and seem more inclined to use those arms when "lowlifes need killin'". Will a post-American enforcer caste have as easy a time of it, as Sennacherib's? It seems unlikely. Will plunder of the productive class still be tolerated? Perhaps not.
Another difference is communications. We have evolved from illiterate peasantry, through literate peasantry (yet with communication organsand our world-viewstill controlled by the parasite class), to literate "peasantry" with free world-wide communications (the Internet). We have evolved from enforced ignorance, through government-schooled indoctrination, to homeschooling and self-education via Internet. Harder to keep peasants peasants, when they begin to understand what is going on, and how the world works. Our life is no longer circumscribed by our village boundaries.
Travel is easier, and relocation more viable. This means escape is easier, as with Emerson Ngu.
Language is less and less the barrier it used to be. Knowledge of English and Spanish goes a very long way.
Maybe there is something new under the sun, after all. Maybe our long period of "syphilization", of kings and empires, is over; and there is something better beyond it. Something called "freedom".