Friday, April 20, 2018

Civilisation: which community's or Nations's claim has substance? Or none's?

This short post ( 2500 words around) tries to show that mankind is yet to define what is civilisation in its true and sensible meaning.  It tries to show that, what mankind claims now as her ‘civilisation’ is not it in any sense, but only a make-over of his animal way of life, adding some element of sophistication!

She thinks that whatever she achieved since man’s departure from the animal stage was all her upward steps in civilisation. Can his changing the style of open defecation to closed toilets, or changing the habit of washing bottoms after defecation to rubbing the place clean with toilet paper be identified as civilisation? Or change of his travelling style from bullock-cart to hi-tech cars and aeroplanes? Or, changing to fork, spoon and knife from the habit of eating with hands?

He was able to improve a lot in the field of material knowledge, that is, his knowledge about the external world and its immediate, cause and effect working. He analysed his body in detail, hence could develop systematic methods to repair it when diseases infect him. That was a real achievement!
(medical science!)

But we should not forget, that as a result of his improved material knowledge, he was able to build-up a highly sophisticated manufacturing industry, and produced more and more ‘consumable’ and life-easing products. It had harmed the very material world in the form of atmospheric pollution, pollution of the water sources including seas, then also mountains and valleys. This new development had caused emergence of new climate-patterns, microbes and disease causing pathogens. These changes had indirectly caused deadly diseases like cancer and many similar new diseases, thus nullifying the effect of his earlier referred improvement in material knowledge. Ever increasing diseases of the mind (mental health issues) added up to the said new health issues!

His invention of gun-powder had improved the strength of his weaponry. He was also able to probe into the micro-world of matter, and was able to produce extremely destructive atomic and nuclear weapons like atom-bombs! He was ready to use this destructive weapons in great wars he fought between his own men across countries and continents, causing death of millions in every such war! Now, can all these achievements be called ‘civilisation’ in any sense?

When his industries improved in gigantic proportions, he sought markets across the globe. To sell these products in large scale and small scale, he needed a polite and friendly social-culture in society. So he was compelled to invent certain basic social courtesies. In many parts of the world, people started wishing each other referring to the freshness of morning and evenings, and grand ‘thank you’ etc after every social and commercial deal. Can such superficial social courtesies, which was emerged and used for selfish (marketing) purposes be called ‘civilisation’?

Man’s jungle time animal habits like attacking other animal-habitats, displacing them and then claiming their land and habitats as own etc had just ended in history; I am talking about European Colonisation. It ended just half a century ago, say by 1950s! Most of the European colonies got freedom during mid 20th century!  

We realise that ‘colonisation’ cannot be viewed differently from man’s early stage extermination of animal habitats, that is forests, and converting them into large-scale human settlements. Both acts showed our still alive animal nature! Can our recent leaving of such regular trait (colonisation ended in mid 20th century!) of animal behaviour makes us eligible to claim civilisation? Once again remember, it was all over just 50 years ago! It is not an ancient event, but just ended, in the currency of recent centuries! 

Even now in the world, powerful Nations show no mercy or least sense of ‘civilisation’ when a need of attacking and occupying other weak nations arise; America’s recent attack and occupation of Iraq is the best example. Earlier, Iraq attacked Kuwait in a similar animal fashion.  In modern Syria, people are warring against their ruler for many years in an attempt to dethrone him, wherein the bloody war has caused death and displacement of millions of men, women and children.  All powerful nations in the world are siding either with the Ruler or the people, thus increasing the intensity of the internal war.

Imposing own ways on others is interpreted as civilisation!

When Europeans are confronted with stories of atrocities they had committed against the erstwhile 'colonies' during the now ill-famed 'colonisation', they offer a standard reply; 'it was not colonisation or imperialism of any kind, but an act of 'civilising' the 'savages' of those lands'.

In 1845, see how a European settler to Australia, Charles Griffiths sought to justify it: "The question comes to this; which has the better right—the savage, born in a country, which he runs over but can scarcely be said to occupy ... or the civilised man, who comes to introduce into this ... unproductive country, the industry which supports life." (

The claim in a nutshell reflects the general attitude of the Western block, that whatever the 'progress' modern world witnesses today was, as once stated above, the result of the industrial progress, achieved by following her capitalistic traditions!

Civilisation for the Western block is the material ‘good life’, as once described above,  brought by the industrial revolution; the hi-tech phones, ‘the difficult to believe’ digital advancements, ever increasing liberation from manual labour, the fast-food, the nuclear war-heads, and space-crafts that might help man to ‘colonise’ neighbourhood planets in near future!

Can we, the open-minded strata of the world silently agree with the said view of the West, that their ways are 'civilised' ways?

In the above story and the account of one of the Western settlers of 19th century in Australia, we have another account from another similar settler (Dutch, Edward Curr) who said:  “Aborigines suffered less, and enjoyed life more than the majority of civilised men"

Historian Geoffrey Blainey wrote that the material standard of living for Aborigines was generally high, higher than that of many Europeans living at the time of the Dutch discovery of Australia.[31] (

Can we forget the rest story of what the settlers had done to eliminate the native population? Let us now read the story and strategy of how this elimination was achieved:

A smallpox epidemic was recorded near Sydney in 1789, which wiped out about half the Aborigines around Sydney. Opinion is divided as to the source of the smallpox. 
 Research by Craig Mear,[45] Michael Bennett,[46] and Christopher Warren[47] argues that, despite controversy, it is highly likely that the 1789 outbreak of smallpox was a deliberate act by British marines when they ran out of ammunition and needed to expand the settlement out to Parramatta.[48] Smallpox then spread well beyond the then limits of European settlement, including much of south-eastern Australia, reappearing in 1829–30, killing 40–60 percentage of the Aboriginal population.[49]

In modern India of today, the entire world might know how her present Hindu majority govt tries to establish
that Hindu culture and civilisation was the oldest and  greatest in the world. She says, the Western and the Left leaning historians had deliberately down played her contributions to all branches of science and philosophy! 

So there is now a systematic attempt to rewrite the history, showing India's ancient contributions to medicine, aircraft engineering, plastic surgery etc. A state minister in India recently claimed, that India also had 'internet' in the days of 'Mahabharata' epic war: (3000 BCE) proof is, a sage called Sanjay's ability's to narrate the far away war scenes to the blind King Dhritarashtra'!  

Syllabus of school books are also under revision, incorporating such contributions. There is an open animosity towards people of other faiths and culture, like Muslims and Christians!

All the world knows the conviction of the Islamic world, that theirs is the latest of religions in the world, (7th century AD) so the most modern. They believe, the entire world will be Islamic one day in future, eradicating all 'infidels' or non-believers! Islamic world is still severely nostalgic about their ‘golden age’, under the famed Caliphates. 

Even Christianity believes that the Christ will come again, to make the entire world under his faith.

We know that each religion has created its own image of an Almighty God. If we count them, such God’s total number will cross thousands!  We thought these religions and their Gods will bring in some respite to man’s still alive animal nature seen above, because all the above described Gods are epitomes of every imaginable goodness, morality and virtues! But it was of no avail! These religious followers frequently fight each other, especially over one God’s superiority over that of the other! History of many such bloody wars are recorded in history. It is a still going on in fact; Islamic religion is constantly in a war mode, as she believes their God demands simply death of all ‘infidels’, that is, of non-believers!

We read daily in current newspapers and hear from TV channels, stories about Muslim population fleeing Myanmar fearing onslaught of the State, which is Buddhist in majority. Stories from India unfolds similar daily stories of onslaught upon minority Muslims and Christians, and also upon low-caste Hindus by Hindu fanatic believers with the blessings of her State, who believes in the superiority of Hindu religion and culture.  We hear such stories now from Sri Lanka also.

Fights are very regular in Arab region also, wherein one sect of Muslims fight with a different sect ( Shias and Sunnis) over slight difference in the history and culture of the other sect.   

Patriotism, the love towards own country that every Nation in the world demands from citizens as a duty, is nothing but an indirect belief in the superiority of own country and its civilisation. Can patriotism be defined separated from the territorial and herd sense of oneness of animals species? Can it in any sense, reflect civilisation?

Lastly, let us take up the still active sense of ‘enemies’ among people and nations; how terribly the Western world look up at Russia and the old communist block as their opponents or enemies? The base issue was the opposite economic and political ideas both blocks kept; capitalist and democratic West hated communist way of economic and political system.

Though the prolonged ‘cold-war’ ended decades ago, still the Russian block and the Western block look at each other with suspicion. Each block covertly attempt to influence major decisions of the other, via dark means like hacking of internet devices and through paid propaganda agencies. When there are permanent declared enemies, flare-up and wars can happen at click of fingers. A sign of civilisation?

But open minds in the world observe, that state of freedom of people and economic inequality is same in both regions!

Love to share a write-up on this particular threat to world-peace here:https://m.journal-neo-org/2018/03/08/why-the west-cannot-stomach-russians/

Yes, civilisation has no universally recognised and accepted definition or criterion. It simply shows an element of 'narcissism', like patriotism, that is, loving one's own culture and civilisation above that of others'! For each person, his parents, his village or birth place, its local culture, his religion etc are tied-up with his sense of selfhood. Naturally, when all ‘others’ accept one’s ways and civilisation, naturally its ‘masters’ or original followers get a massive EGO boost! Me, mine, was right, always! I, my ways are the most ‘Nature chosen’. ( hinting at Darwin’s theory of Nature’s choice of the smartest for survival!)

If one look at the ancient history books, civilisational progress is measured or classified on the basis of the kind of tools and weapons each age had used; so we had stone age, iron age and copper age. Then it moves to the discovery of fire, then wheels followed by the steam engine and gun-powder etc. Our historians have also not bothered much to measure civilisation on the basis of the development of intellectual, moral and ‘spiritual’ ideas of each stage in history.  

Can we continue our deliberations more on the above three aspects of so called civilisation, that is, intellectual, moral and spiritual sides of human growth?

Can we define civilisation in the intellectual, moral and spiritual sides of man’s growth?

No doubt, mankind has achieved ‘intellectual’ growth if we consider its self-evident meaning in human terms. His developing rational analysis skill of every situation in his life is the proof of it. Whether it is a disease, flood like natural catastrophe, poverty like socio-economic issues, or the issue of a bullying neighbouring country, man analyses each such issue to the minutest detail and find the most effective solution. Rational here should mean only adhering to all available ‘evidences’ before him before taking action. He goes on studying his environment non-stop and then institute policies and programs to face problems, both present and future.

But can it make him civilised? He is nothing but a more sophisticated and learned animal!

What about morality? Of course he has acquired some good sense of ‘self-reverence’ long ago. He started burying his dead respectfully. This sense of self-reverence often compels him to respect the similar sense of self-reverence of others also, thus establishing certain dignified social-norms. No doubt, every man keeps some or other kind of ‘sense of morality’ and goodness within, and often suffer from a vague, strange repentance over not being able to conform to such inner needs and standards, though no clear idea as to what is the source of such landing of the ‘sense of morals’ in human psyche.

Please observe, how the entire mankind nodded in silent approval when American revolutionists declared, ‘man’s liberty is inalienable’? They declared, this axiom is ;
‘self-evident’ in Nature, and no one objected!

But such inherent sense of goodness and morals does not prevent him from behaving like animals when his or his community’s honour, freedom or property are under attack, or simply even at perceived threat!

So, how and when man developed the need to be civilised,  &how the sense of morality and goodness have landed in his mind are great puzzling questions before mankind!

2000 years ago, what the founder of Christianity, Jesus Christ offered, though was a revolutionary solution to the above puzzle, it doesn’t have much takers today, nor were any during the time during his own life or later on history. Majority of world accepted him as a prophet, but his teaching are yet to be accepted as a real counter-paradigm to man’s original animal nature yet, despite the celebrated existence of the Church he had established 2000 years ago, and its elaborate, world wide network of parishes and faithful communities all over! 

Christians are the most populous community in the world, but Christ’s solution of offering the left cheek to those who slaps at your right cheek couldn’t rise as a workable solution to man’s animal nature! He asked his followers to forgive their enemies! He asked them also not to amass wealth, but give out all one’s possessions to the have-nots. Of course such an attitude if adopted by the entire world population would definitely have paved way for ‘civilisation’ in its true sense. After all, the provider of food and shelter to every man and every living being is the Almighty God, not own toil, he distinctly taught mankind.( 'look at the birds in the sky, who do not sow and reap'....famous parable)

So, can we conclude that what draws back man from achieving true civilisation is his inability to develop his spiritual side? What is spiritual side of man? Is it not keeping faith in an Almighty God, and attend the respective religion’s rituals, as believed and practiced today?

As what we see today, the truth of Religious faith (see the existence of 1000s of Gods and our constant fights and war over them narrated above!) is simply ending in above narrated ‘narcissism’, ie, communities that warring each other about superiority of own Gods and faiths.

Was ‘civilisation’ not anywhere in the plan of nature for mankind?

Darwin’s theory exemplified the existence of certain ‘plans’ that Nature keeps. He simply ‘observed’ one of them, about how she intended species to survive. It was, as we all know, more akin to the way animals survive, by competing each other for resources to live. There was no clear element of any morals or spirituality in his theory of survival. He has not distinguished humans much different from animals in this game of survival. So we really have a vacuum of a sensible ‘foundation’ for the origin of man’s moral and civilisational sense, though many a scientific and men of philosophy had attempted to link it with his ‘survival’ needs.

This necessitates us here to create a new model that could explain, why Nature had indeed planned for man to gain civilisation in the ‘moral’ way.

It is a tedious task, needing many more pages of this short write up. So, this author seeks apology from readers for redirecting them to one of his dedicated blog-posts on the same subject, named: ‘’

 It comes somewhat obvious now that, there was no ‘ideal’ society envisioned in the scheme of things of Nature! Society or human collectives were simply ‘metaphysical means’ for Nature to give a particular , perhaps conflicts filled, ‘experience of life’ to man, so that he turns a truly ‘knowing’, enlightened entity, recognising his role in existence, and finally recognising his moral or spiritual way towards others! 

Individual man will turn out to be ‘responsible’ for his moral mind-set, and also bear with all negative behaviour of his neighbours. When all the men adopt such 'own' existential responsibility, it will pave way for an ideal, civilised society. 

In other words, this end product, the ‘enlightened individual’, naturally will create or form ideal societies! It was never seems the other way round, that is, ideal societies paving way for virtuous individuals. Individuals should resist institutions' (political, industrial) efforts to club them together into herds or crowds. It is the lesson modern world must learn, to turn the world a 'civilised' place!

Authored by : Abraham J.Palakudy

He is a philosophy, mind, Reason and polity researcher and seeker. 

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Twitter: Voice of philosophy@jopan1
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