Now, in Latin, the ACI construction can be done with many verbs, not only "to see" ("I see him swimming") but also with "censeo", or "I opine, think" ("I opine him swimming" - I think he swims.) Next, throw in a cool "Ceterum" = by the way, and combine this with the obligation of the gerundive, and we get:
Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam =
"By the way, I think that Carthago is to be eliminated."
For another example, in Dutch it happens to work with "see" (zien): "ik zie hem zwemmen" (I see him [to] swim), it doesn't work with want, and with expect, "verwachten", you would have to add "to": "Ik verwacht hem te zwemmen" (I expect him to swim).
Drawing historical parallels is always risky. There have been plenty of times where Western civilization was assailed by barbarians, not just outside the gates but breaking them down and coming in. That happened to Rome itself in the 5th century AD. There are plenty of other examples.
So what if they weren't state-sponsored beliefs? State-sponsored beliefs aren't supposed to be part of Western Civilization (although it's hard to tell these days in many so-called Western countries).
As for "commonly held central tenets", those are tenets of Western Civilization now, but they weren't for most of the time that Western Civilization existed, at least not in the form we have them now. But if you look at where all those tenets came from, Western Civilization plays a central role. (I would also add individual liberty and the rule of law to the list.)
You're also claiming that tenets of Western Civilization now exist and didn't at some time before, but that there are places that were "Western" even though they didn't hold those tenets, which makes things even more unclear. It seems like there's some lineage of culture that you're seeking to identify, but which doesn't exist as objectively as you'd like.
Its also kind of interesting you'd identify individual liberty as one of the tenets of such a mythologised civilisation, when slavery existed in that civilisation for the vast majority of its theorised existence.
No, I'm making the claim that one of those cultural beliefs is that the state doesn't tell us what to believe. Of course states exist and we have to deal with them, but that doesn't mean we have to let them tell us what to think.
> You're also claiming that tenets of Western Civilization now exist and didn't at some time before
I'm claiming that those tenets have evolved over time, so we shouldn't expect to see them in the past in exactly the same form we have them now. But that doesn't mean there's no relationship between the tenets we have now and the ones in the past.
> Its also kind of interesting you'd identify individual liberty as one of the tenets of such a mythologised civilisation, when slavery existed in that civilisation for the vast majority of its theorised existence.
Yes, the tenet of individual liberty has evolved just like all the others.
> No, I'm making the claim that one of those cultural beliefs is that the state doesn't tell us what to believe. Of course states exist and we have to deal with them, but that doesn't mean we have to let them tell us what to think.
So you're saying that state-sponsored non-interference in people's beliefs is an important element of western states :)
Drawing an exact boundary is not possible, but is also not necessary. If you are trying to argue that every single country in the world today embodies a roughly equivalent version of the traits of "Western Civilization", then we evidently don't live on the same planet and there's no point in further discussion. And if you acknowledge that there are significant differences in cultural traits, that it is meaningful to describe certain countries as part of "Western Civilization" due to certain traits, and others not, then what's the point of quibbling about the boundary not being exact down to the last atom?
> So you're saying that state-sponsored non-interference in people's beliefs is an important element of western states
No, I'm saying that the state simply not interfering in people's beliefs is (supposed to be--again, it's hard to tell these days in many western countries) an important element of western states. The state doesn't have to "sponsor" non-interference; it just has to not interfere. (And this whole idea that the state has to "sponsor" anything significant in a society is also not supposed to be part of Western Civilization.)
Depends on what trait you're talking about. But I also don't believe that there's an objective definition of Western Civilisation, so trying to argue that some country does or does not embody its tenets sufficiently is fruitless - its always arguable.
> No, I'm saying that the state simply not interfering in people's beliefs is (supposed to be--again, it's hard to tell these days in many western countries) an important element of western states. The state doesn't have to "sponsor" non-interference; it just has to not interfere. (And this whole idea that the state has to "sponsor" anything significant in a society is also not supposed to be part of Western Civilization.)
Awesome, so you're saying that the character of the Roman empire in the 5th Century AD was not Western, given their state-level rejection and criminalisation of paganism.
In that respect, no, they weren't. "Western" isn't a binary category. But I do think it's a meaningful one. You appear to think it isn't, so I guess we'll just have to disagree about that.
It's that somehow people see Western Civilization as encapsulating certain beliefs, held in certain states, despite the state supposedly having nothing to do with and no power over those beliefs, and even though those people didn't even necessarily have those beliefs that are "western" at the time, and even though many of those beliefs (for instance the rule of law, which arose in the middle east) arose in places that weren't "western". It's that much like the Romans did with the Aeneid, modern true believers in the sanctity of the "west" and the detractors of the "barbarians" mythologize the origins of that conflict.
States don't have beliefs. Individual people have beliefs. Sometimes lots of individual people have the same beliefs. But that doesn't mean the state of which they happen to be citizens has beliefs.
Also, states are not agents in themselves. States are run by humans, and those humans do things using the power of the state. So "states" don't interfere with people's beliefs by some magical power independent of the actions of humans. When states interfere with people's beliefs, what's actually happening is that certain humans are interfering with the beliefs of other humans because they claim the power of the state allows them to. Which in practice always turns out to mean certain people exercising arbitrary power over others for their own benefit, simply because they can. When I say one of the important tenets of Western civilization is states not interfering with people's beliefs, what I mean is that Western civilization is supposed to be about not letting certain people exercise arbitrary power over others for their own benefit simply because they can. States are supposed to be tools that we can use to keep such things from happening, not tools for certain people to use to do such things.
> Also, states are not agents in themselves. States are run by humans, and those humans do things using the power of the state.
Yeah, so states aren't detached from human beliefs at all. A state doesn't exist independent of people, and so we must view states through the lens of the beliefs of the people running them. There's no state seperate from human belief, so to say states don't "have" beliefs is nonsense.
> ... Western civilization is supposed to be ...
Says who? From what epic poem are these tenets and conflicts derived? It certainly isn't from Rome circa 500 AD, when it was against the law to even write the beliefs of another faith down. So where is it from? That's the point. It's mythological - these tenets and conflicts are derived from nowhere, nothing, and no-one. There's nowhere to point and say "this is definitely 100% characteristic of the West", because "the west" is a made up concept, which has an indistinct meaning.
And, if you think you can point to a particular state and say it's emblematic of the west, that clashes with your claim that only individuals can have beliefs :)
To me it's an obvious truth since states aren't agents. Not only can't states exist separate from human beliefs, they can't exist separate from human actions. When we say a state "does" something, what we mean is that humans do things and claim that the power of the state allows them to. And when we say a state "believes" something, we mean that some humans, usually those who have some particular position of power in the state, believe it.
If that's what you mean by a state "having" beliefs, then we just have a difference in the language we choose to use. Otherwise you're going to have to explain to me what you mean by a state "having" beliefs since I don't know of any other interpretation of that phrase besides the one I described above that makes sense.
> From what epic poem are these tenets and conflicts derived?
You're the one who brought up an epic poem, not me. I'm simply giving my understanding of what "Western civilization" means.
> these tenets and conflicts are derived from nowhere, nothing, and no-one
Huh? You admit there are humans who have beliefs, and those beliefs include the tenets I've described. And humans who have those beliefs have expressed them in many ways, not just in epic poems. The US Declaration of Independence and Constitution, for example. Even mythology is not "nowhere, nothing, and no-one"; myths exist and are human creations just like other beliefs--or states, for that matter.
> if you think you can point to a particular state and say it's emblematic of the west
I haven't. It's you who keeps dragging in states as if only states could be emblematic of the west, or anything else for that matter. The term is Western civilization. Civilization is not the same as states. As I said, states are tools that civilized humans use to help manage civilization.
> The US Declaration of Independence and Constitution, for example.
Why do you believe that these documents which describe the US state are emblematic of the "west"?
> I haven't.
Awesome, so why does Rome circa 500 AD or the constitution have anything to do with the definition or character of the "west"?
Why is it vacuous? It's a perfectly well-defined claim. You might not agree with it, but that doesn't make it vacuous.
> Why do you believe that these documents which describe the US state are emblematic of the "west"?
You used the word "emblematic", not me. Stop putting words in my mouth.
At this point I've said what I want to say. I'm done.
I did use that word, I typed it out. I'm not sure why it particularly upsets you. I'm not implying that you said the word. I am implying you believe that in mentioning the US constitution, you were mentioning something linked or representative of the "west". Please help me understand why the US constitution is "western" in character, and what objective standard you're comparing it to to make that character judgement.
>I see similar narratives forming about bastions of the "west" constantly assailed by the barbarians just outside the gates.
The irony is that this is a true statement of any major culture/society/empire/etc. Unraveling a complex structures is easy (entropy) when compared to the effort it takes to build and maintain one. All complex structures are always susceptible to atrophy and sudden collapse. All complex structures inevitably collapse due to entropy. In very real ways there are 'barbarians' at the gates of every major culture.
Probably because a ‘raw’ version doesn’t make much sense.. its like looking at a log file. It’s dense. Far too dense to be worth communicating in that format.
So instead you pick out key facts and build out a narrative of events, usually with something in mind (a moral, a bug, etc).
The bias and myth that people complain about is an inevitable result of this process.. it’s simply a complaint that one set of facts, and resulting narrative, was chosen, but this second set of facts, and narrative should have been chosen instead. Of course, sets C, D and E also exist, but they’re not being argued for.
Of course, history is written by the victors. But what is the connection to today's narratives? In particular, a narrative today bearing resemblance to the past does not mean that it's wrong.
For the Southern heroes like General Lee, the mythologized opinion is the common one: https://getpocket.com/explore/item/the-myth-of-the-kindly-ge...
A simmering rebellion in the South would have also tied Johnson's hands and enabled the legislature to fully enact its desires (or at the very least ensured Johnson's conviction by the Senate.)
This is an interesting hypothetical. I don't agree that it would have been preferable to what actually happened, because I'm not as much of a fan of the radical Republicans and the impeachment of Johnson as you seem to be. But these are judgment calls about which I think reasonable people can disagree.
The violence didn't quite go away, either. It just moved out West.
You could say the same about Grant or any of the Union generals. Since the Union refused to accept that the Confederate states had seceded, all of the Confederate soldiers killed were fellow citizens.
And if we're going to talk about what could have been done, we should also talk about why the US didn't just pay off the slaveholders, the way Great Britain did, and end slavery peacefully. Why did it have to cost a million lives? Or we could ask why the North didn't secede from the Union, as many abolitionists were advocating, in order to free itself from any obligation to uphold the fugitive slave clause in the Constitution?
If we're going to de-mythologize, we should do it impartially, not just to one side.
As to why the North did not secede I would probably say that when you have the majority of the votes you don't need to be the one to leave. The slave states were already losing ground in the legislature and after the 1860 census they would fall even further behind. The North could just wait them out and then impose its will, and the South knew this...
This was certainly true in 1860 and arguably for the better part of the decade before that. But abolitionists had been advocating for secession much earlier. They were a major factor in the Hartford Convention in 1815.
Also, abolitionism as a movement had the unfortunate but entirely predictable effect of making the South harden its own position. In 1831, the Virginia legislature was considering a bill to abolish slavery in the state, and it had a good chance of passing. Then word came that William Lloyd Garrison had started publishing an abolitionist pamphlet in Boston, and the bill failed.
The payments to slaveholders were 40% of the British Treasury's annual income and about 5% of British GDP at that time. Hardly negligible.
Eh, no. Carthage and Rome are both gone. There are lots of attempt trying to draw people around the civilization again. But the population, the new religions and the new reality makes it anything but possible.
I have to admit I struggled a little through the English revolution. The American revolution was much more interesting. Then the French revolution was absolutely fascinating.
The same can be said of ancient Israelites (read the tale of the daughter of Jephthah, as well as David's sacrifice of the sons of Saul "to the Lord"). The same can be said of Romans and Egyptians.
- If you do nothing, sacrifice continues indefinitely.
- If you intervene, you'll likely cause a short-term uptick in deaths of would-be sacrifices, with the goal of completely ending sacrificial deaths thereafter.
Jokes aside, the youtube channel Invicta has some good material on the punic wars, he uses the game total war to illustrate everything. There are a few minor mistakes there, and he only covers the first punic war, but still it's some good material.
The biggest difference is that "μὴ εἶναι" isn't quite equivalent to "delendam esse".
The John Bolton of ancient Rome.
So, the Romans finally destroyed Carthago (took them a while, Punic war 1, 2, and 3), with Cato egging them on ("Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam").
(I find it interesting for two reasons: 1. Alternative history - what if Carthago (Hannibal) had won?? 2. The Roman general who defeated Hannibal, Quintus Fabius Maximus Cunctator a) is my namesake :-) and b) won by... doing not much, just staying away and picking up the pieces (cunctator = "the delayer, doubter"). "Cunctator" is not as sexy as "Terminator", but he turned out effective nonetheless.)
But next, so Virgil's Aneid has Aneas visit Carthage, in particular the queen Dido, and they fall in love, but then he, duty bound, leaves (clandestinely at night), to found Rome. She, crestfallen, commits suicide (after predicting eternal strife between Aeneas's people (Rome) and hers (Carthage)).
This was set to music by English composer Purcell in Dido and Aneas, with the famous piece "Dido's Lament" - she sings before committing suicide:
When I am laid // am laid in earth,
may my wrongs create // No trouble,
no trouble in // in thy breast
Remember me, remember me, // but ah! forget my fate.
Remember me, but ah! // forget my fate."
The piece is brilliant - a simple underlying musical structure (Passacaglia - a constant repeated bass line) with her heart-felt lament. Check out the versions linked below (YouTube links), by Jeff Buckley or Janet Baker or Jessye Norman or any other. I mean, this did not happen, and 2500+ years ago, but still can make you tear up today.