Saturday, February 17, 2024

History: The mythologies and philosophies of civilizational decline and fall

We examine the history of past civilizations through the stories of decline and fall. 

When civilization is being built, the society is led by men of action—warriors, engineers, explorers, slavers, expansionist politicians, traders, and preachers of mythology and religion. There are hardly any men of ideas or intellectuals—philosophers, writers, historians, academics—in a rising civilization to imagine and propagate history. 

It is when things start falling apart, when there is irreversible economic, cultural and political collapse, that the class of intellectuals comes into being and they start philosophizing, fictionalizing and mythologizing the history of civilization and its people. The intellectuals are not the fountainhead of civilizations; they are the climax. 

After the intellectuals have done their work, civilization gets wiped out: The collective memory fades, traditions are lost and the survivors of the civilizational collapse flee in different directions to find a new identity and home.

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