Study of Societies

WHEN CIVILISATIONS PEAK AND PLATEAU

It is the visionaries who inspire their nations towards a path to greatness, while the inept and the corrupt leaders drain the resources with their delusions of grandiose and their irresistible appetite for megalomania. During the early and rising phase of the civilisation, the rulers are mindful of their integrity and are patriotic and compassionate. Then, while civilisation is at its peak, a transition takes place; thereafter each new leader takes the nation further and deeper towards a weaker position.

The society during the rising phase of the civilisation is restrained, i.e. justice, moral behaviour, tolerance and cohesiveness are promoted. Creativity, inventions and innovations, as well as knowledge of sciences, are all considered vital for the lifeblood of the nation. In contrast, when the civilisation is in decline, restraints are slowly removed; freedom to behave immorally becomes fashionable. Creativity, inventions and innovations are no longer considered a priority. The point I am trying to make here is that all this is a top-down approach.  Popular cultures, as well as values, are all controlled and manipulated from the top. When the ruling elite become immoral and corrupt, it is only a matter of time before the whole society is infected by the same ills.

Understandably, during the final phases of the decline, when the collapse is apparent; fear, totalitarianism and false propaganda are extensively applied to keep the oblivious public blind to the corruption by the elite. Fearmongering is commonly utilised to deceive and control the public. John J. Mearsheimer, in his book; Why Leaders Lie, The Truth About Lying In International Politics (Oxford University Press, 2011) tells an important truth, that the leaders are more likely to tell lies to their own public than to other international leaders. Prime example being the 2003 invasion of Iraq:

What has now become apparent is that the American Empire’s influence is shrinking fast, globally. One may argue that the American Empire peaked during the late 1960’s or early 1970’s when President Nixon agreed to the petrodollar. Whilst at its peak the USA boasted to have conquered the moon, and now during the declining phase, it is struggling to reconquer the Middle Eastern colonies. In the next decade, during the final collapse phase, like all failed and disintegrating states, it will be fighting to reconquer its own population. A civil war seems to be on the cards for the US. The petrodollar will lose its status as a global reserve currency during the next decade and America as an empire.

Ibn Khaldun (27 May 1332 – 17 March 1406), the world’s first sociologist, in his famous book ‘Muqaddimah’, argues that urbanites tend to offer little resistance when being oppressed by their own rulers. This is due to them being conditioned by so many laws that they have to abide by. Whereas, the recalcitrant people living far from big cities have much stronger fortitude. Maybe this is the reason why Afghanistan was attacked. Did their fortitude become their crime? Then again Afghanistan is the graveyard of the empires.

A look at contemporary politics indicates that as the global hegemony of USA comes to an end, the public everywhere is losing trust in their leaders. The governments are constantly spewing out disinformation and lies through the controlled media. There is always a cost to be paid when governments indulge in such detrimental behaviours. Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned for all of us from Ibn Khaldun’s famous book, Muqaddimah:

Not everyone is master of his own affairs. Chiefs and leaders who are masters of the affairs of men are few in comparison with the rest. As a rule, man must by necessity be dominated by someone else. If the domination is kind and just and the people under it are not oppressed by its laws and restrictions, they are guided by the courage or cowardice that they possess in themselves. They are satisfied with the absence of any restraining power. Self-reliance eventually becomes a quality natural to them. They would not know anything else. If, however, the domination with its laws is one of brute force and intimidation, it breaks their fortitude and deprives them of their power of resistance as a result of the inertness that develops in the souls of the oppressed.

In conclusion, I like to say that the empires rise only to fall. What has a beginning also has an ending. Perhaps what is strategically more important is the progress we make as human beings and the unleashing of the human potential. The peak of an empire or the decline of an empire is just an opportunity for others to supersede and not let the progress stop. Our job as individuals is the noblest; our task is to help humanity, to help each other become more creative. By helping to create the right conditions and a healthy environment conducive to restoring the mind, we celebrate life.

 

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