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"Civilization" implies something more than basic survival.

No doubt this will be downvoted, but I would go with some basic legal texts. The law has been part of civilization from the beginning (Hammurabi). Something like Blacks Law Dictionary would be vitally important in setting up a reliable system post-zombie.

> The law has been part of civilization from the beginning (Hammurabi)

I tend to agree that if there's a civilization, there are laws, but your example is bizarre. A quick check of wikipedia informs us that Hammurabi was born circa 1810 BC. Compare Sargon, who took his throne about 500 years prior, or Narmer, who unified Egypt over a thousand years before Hammurabi was born. And we only know about them because they left records. The Egyptians also left records of various near-eastern peoples who clearly had flourishing civilizations at the time, but left no records of themselves. These great conquerors come from a backdrop of states that are already old.

Seven thousand years ago, pre-Egyptian nomads left religious art in what is now the Sahara desert (though at the time they used it to pasture their animals). Nomads aren't traditionally considered civilized; we like to use agriculture as the threshold. But those nomads surely had laws, even if you'd find them primitive, and they were organized enough to leave monuments behind and, eventually, conquer the farmers who lived along the Nile and set themselves up as the ruling class.

Hammurabi is cited by lawyers because it demonstrates some advanced legal principals that are still with us, specifically the separation of civil and criminal law.

There other, older, legal traditions but they rarely are relevant to modern jurisprudence.

Hammurabi isn't relevant to modern jurisprudence in any way that older legal codes wouldn't also be; we have inherited nothing from mesopotamian culture. People still refer to him today because for a time he was popularized as the man behind the earliest known, written legal code, but that's purely a question of journalism. Today we have even older mesopotamian legal codes, but they haven't been publicized the way Hammurabi was.

And I responded to you saying that Hammurabi was the beginning of civilization, which is even more ludicrous.

"The law code also extended into the daily life of the ordinary citizen. Builders were held responsible for the buildings they constructed. If a house collapsed and caused the death of its owner, the builder was put to death. Goods destroyed by the collapsed must also be replaced and the house itself rebuilt at the builder's expense."


That is basically how the common law functions today. Harm people and you are personally punished. Harm property and you must pay for that property. Criminal law and civil law, crimes and torts.

*Of course the "property" in the original were actually slaves, but the principal holds.


    200. If a man knock out the teeth of his equal,
         his teeth shall be knocked out. 
    201. If he knock out the teeth of a freed man,
         he shall pay one-third of a gold mina.
    202. If any one strike the body of a man higher in rank than he,
         he shall receive sixty blows with an ox-whip in public.
    203. If a free-born man strike the body of another free-born man or equal rank,
         he shall pay one gold mina.
    204. If a freed man strike the body of another freed man,
         he shall pay ten shekels in money.
Please, tell me how this leads you to the conclusion "harm people and you are personally punished; harm property and you must pay for the property". Freed men aren't property. Free men have never been property.

Here are a couple more interesting clauses:

    108. If a tavern-keeper (feminine) does not accept corn according to gross weight
         in payment of drink, but takes money, and the price of the drink is less
         than that of the corn, she shall be convicted and thrown into the water.

    114. If a man have no claim on another for corn and money, and try to
         demand it by force, he shall pay one-third of a mina of silver in every case.
So... breaking the bone of a man lower in rank than you is a "civil" offense. Striking, without necessarily injuring, a man higher in rank is a "criminal" offense. Accepting payment in cash but refusing payment in kind is not just a criminal offense, but a capital offense. Demanding goods or money, by force, from someone who doesn't owe you anything is a civil offense, and a fairly minor one going by the fine.

And, again, there is no cultural continuity from mesopotamia to modern europe or america. Similarity between Hammurabi's Code and the English common law does not represent influence of one on the other, it represents parallel evolution. It is therefore no more and no less relevant to understanding the common law than, say, early Indian law, or 1700s Japanese law.

I'd make sure to leave those books out (religious texts as well)...

Other civilizations have got by just fine without them, and maybe without tainting influences, the survivors will do better next time.

Heh. You don't get to choose who decides to bring along their moral capital, something that I'm glad to see people in this discussion realize is just as important as any other of these areas, and I would argue more important, in that without it, you aren't going to get very far with anything else.

E.g. too many of these things require fixed assets and a framework where nomadic raiders are kept from totally despoiling those and the people working on them, the classic example being agriculture and farmers. Sans that, you might have something called "civilization", but it won't support very many people, and it won't be pretty. Or you might collapse all the way down to small, hostile to each other bands of hunter-gatherers. I seem to remember reading in Guns, Germs and Steel that the Australian aborigines came from a civilization that farmed....

Take a look at Blacks. Legal dictionaries are not moral works. The language of a legal system does not dictate how that system is used. It doesn't define what is legal or not, or set punishments. All it does is provide a framework, a common starting point for building upon.

There is a lot of implicit baggage there still, for example in saying that punishments are a thing courts can do, and that they are a response to crimes.

The paints 'civilized law' as authoritarian, vengance based, and using primitive means to try to alter behavior.

Your logic is off. Punishments are a response to crimes as part of the definition of "crime".

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