Sunday, December 5, 2021

Civilization Versus the Noble Savages

The words “polite,” “politics,” and “police” are derived from the Greek word “polis,” which means city-state. This implies that a polite society stands on two legs: a good political establishment and an efficient law enforcement (policing) system. The Latin equivalent of “polis” is “civitas,” from which the words “civic,” “civility,” and “civilization” are derived. 

The suppression of base instincts and freedoms is a necessary condition for the creation of a powerful society or civilization. The civilized men, those who live in a powerful society, can never be free. They must live within the framework of laws passed by the political establishment and enforced by the system of policing. The bigger or more powerful the society or civilization, the more numerous are the regulations and restrictions, the more efficient is the policing system, and greater are the constraints imposed on the citizens. 

The notion that our ideal of liberty is the product of the “people of the polis,” or the civilized people, would have surprised the Enlightenment thinkers like Montesquieu, Voltaire, and Rousseau—they believed that the savages (the noble savages) enjoyed the greatest liberty.

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