There can be too much of a good thing. Liberalism for example, when taken to the extreme, can be as ominous and destructive as religious fundamentalism…
No empire is forever. No culture is immune to time. All societies, no matter how advanced and ‘civilized,’ have an expiration date, by which time they either have to morph, reinventing themselves, or perish altogether.
We seldom focus on the advanced societies and how their extreme sophistication and civility — not their bluntness — brings them down
We have heard everything there is to hear about the unfit and disorganized societies; about how they fail to make the grade, play the game, or keep up with the pace of progress at their own detriment. But we seldom focus on the advanced societies and how their extreme sophistication and civility — not their bluntness — brings them down.
Let’s explore the subject a little further. Prod into the quagmire of civilization.
Take Rome, the template for Western Civilization. When Rome fell, she was the world’s most advanced society by many standards, whose sophistication could in theory withstand the fury of the goths and other barbarians knocking at the gates. But she fell all the same.
The reason behind Rome’s downfall was her obsession with increasingly trivial and meaningless topics of conversation, which allowed those in power to abuse Roman wealth while her people and representatives were busy fighting over inanities.
As a result, Rome crumbled under the weight of her ineptitude, which her enemies exploited patiently.
I have a word for this condition: ‘over-civilization’; a process whereby the downturn comes about from being too civil i.e. more preoccupied with propriety than outcome, with trivia rather than details. People become engrossed with variety and latitude, and screw functionality, What works takes the back seat, giving way to all kinds of opinions. People fret over every single point of view in the name of multiplicity, obsessed with all the anomalies in the system, which they deem insightful (many of them are, true), but they do so to such as extent that they lose their sense of direction, heading in every which way. Soon, what works is swamped by what doesn’t, all in the name of diversity and pluralism, and for a moment (see generations in terms of history) everything drowns in a deluge of mis-information.
Let’s not kid ourselves. Corruption and graft, and cultural fatigue, play a major role in the decadence of cultures, no doubt. But over-civilization crunches things up, or makes them spin on the spot. A culture can only deal with so many viewpoints at any given time. If consensus cannot be readily achieved, order gives way to the hit-and-miss nature of chaos.
See, civilization is not an antidote to chaos. Things can still be in tatters even under the most auspicious circumstances. With civilization they’re simply more presentable and palatable.
Truth be told, it takes time for things to break down in over-civilized societies. But break down they do, with each unwarranted display of empathy and with each misplaced exercise of democracy. Too many cooks spoil the food. Spoiled food makes everyone cranky or a crook. Too many crooks give rise to guardians. Too many guardians screw up the child. It’s that uncomplicated.
Whoever grows too strong in any field, be it physical or abstract, will inevitably crash and burn, making way for something fresh, improved and exciting
Irony yet again. Civilization, the cause of a culture’s downfall? Genial! The scriptwriter of life on Earth, be it God, a simulation programmer, or sheer time, is wicked. And smart. The dynamic is loaded with an anti-hubris algorithm, making sure that whoever grows too strong in any field, be it physical or abstract, inevitably crashes and burns, making way for the fresh and improved.
Goodness is no exception to the rule. There can be too much of a good thing, too liberal a thing, too empathic a dynamic. Cross the line and down everything comes, displacing abstract and self-righteous morality in favor of constructs rooted in common sense.
And there you have it. The common ground between overzealous liberalism and radical religion. They are both self-serving, unreasonable and counterproductive.
Sorry, uber-liberal friends. Your number was up.
Eyes open, mind sharp.
PS – Voltaire didn’t voice the quote in the top image. A man by the name of Kevin Alfred Strom did, in so many words. But the picture speaks wonders, so there it is.