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How Civilized Are We Today?


Argus

If I was to hold Roman Gladiator style games - to the death  

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So are we that much more civilized than the Romans were? I mean, really? If we strip away the laws and regulators would we be above the same sorts of behaviour? We crave entertainment. If I was to duplicate the Roman style games, complete with sword and axe fights to the death, and men facing off against lions and bears, how many would rush to watch?

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If we strip away the laws and regulators would we be above the same sorts of behaviour?

It is precisely our laws and regulations which make us, even makes the Romans, civilized.

The Romans were certainly very clear about this, that it was their laws that separated them from the uncivilized.

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Are you kidding? If we had a sport that involved swords and axes and fights to the death, and it was legal and publicized like any other sport, it would be one of the most popular sports ever. Just look at how people cheer and get excited when fights break out in hockey - it is the highlight of the game for the crowd.

There is no fundamental difference between the humans of today and the humans of 2000 years ago, evolution can make little change over so short a timescale.

Edited by Bonam
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Are you kidding? If we had a sport that involved swords and axes and fights to the death, and it was legal and publicized like any other sport, it would be one of the most popular sports ever. Just look at how people cheer and get excited when fights break out in hockey - it is the highlight of the game for the crowd.

There is no fundamental difference between the humans of today and the humans of 2000 years ago, evolution can make little change over so short a timescale.

Ultimate fighting - perfect example of barbarity. You beat on the skull of a man who is unconscious..real nice stuff and growing in popularity..and I took a peek out of a window where I was visiting - it was behind a facility that feeds up to 1000 so-called homeless men per day...the lingering ones were all quite crazed..real civlized - our charitable institutions have become so- corporately parasitic that they do no good. Look at the young human ego that exists in the young elite and wanna bee elite - They never give a poor person a single red cent - because they believe that the lower they can drive them into the ground the higher up the social chain they themselves climb - real civlized -- talk to the average honest lawyer (if you can fine one) He will comment on our judical system "It is covered by a very thin vineer of civility - underneath it is corrupt and barbaric" - Yes we have come a long way ---There is not such thing as evolution - the term evolution is used by jerks who want to create the self assuring illusion that we have gotten so refined and civlized with the passage of time - I really don't see that.

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Are you kidding? If we had a sport that involved swords and axes and fights to the death, and it was legal and publicized like any other sport, it would be one of the most popular sports ever. Just look at how people cheer and get excited when fights break out in hockey - it is the highlight of the game for the crowd.

There is no fundamental difference between the humans of today and the humans of 2000 years ago, evolution can make little change over so short a timescale.

The Romans knew all about that! RELEASE THE TIGERS AND OR LIONS AND OR OTHER BIG CATS!!!! They fight the beasts, then each other.... it was quite popular.

Bloodsports.

Have you seen Robocop? The first one? If you have, you may recall the TV spots during the show like 'Climbing for Dollars' and such. It was a setting in our future, but now we are starting to see these kinds of events. Eventhough UFC is not near that stage (yet), but it is a cage match, and these guys brutaly beat the tar out of each other untill one gives in. There are really no rules either. This is just the next step from sports like Boxing and martial arts. Sports have progressiely gotten more aggressive and more bloody.

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I figure the original Roller Ball movie, not the cheesy remake, pretty much showed us the future. If there is a dollar to be made while distracting the great unwashed masses, then blood sports will be coming to a TV screen near you soon.

As for the Romans and the Barbarians of the day, the only difference between them and us is illusion of civilization, scratch beneath that thin veneer..........

Edited by Sabre Rider
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"Modern" Europeans slaughtered some 50 million people in the past century, and the killing occurred as recently as 10 or so years ago.

How do you measure civilization?

Modern North Americans haven't been slouches in that arena either, especially our southern cousins. Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, various Central American nations, Iraq, Afghanistan just to name a few places and people who have felt our kinder gentler touch. Untold millions have paid the ultimate price for defying or attempting to defy their Imperial Lords and Masters.

Have we become more civilized, I for one don't see it myself. However, we have become a lot more proficient at whole sale slaughter on the cheap. As much as I hate to say it, but I seriously think that mankind as a whole really gets their collected rocks off playing the barbarian warrior thing.

So, blood sports on the telly complete with death and dismemberment? It's time has probably has come and I am sure the bookies, advertisers, and drooling masses will lap it up and demand even more.

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The flaw with everyone's thinking in this thread is the definition of "civilized" as the extent to which one is averse to physical violence. That is not what civilization is. Humans have not become any more inherently averse to violence than they were 2000 years ago. But our civilization today is certainly far more advanced than it was then. The simple consideration of whether you would prefer to live in the USA or in Rome should be sufficient to answer the question.

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The flaw with everyone's thinking in this thread is the definition of "civilized" as the extent to which one is averse to physical violence. That is not what civilization is. Humans have not become any more inherently averse to violence than they were 2000 years ago. But our civilization today is certainly far more advanced than it was then. The simple consideration of whether you would prefer to live in the USA or in Rome should be sufficient to answer the question.

Apart from obvious technological advances, is there really all that much difference between the two?

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Apart from obvious technological advances, is there really all that much difference between the two?

Technological advance is the only kind of advance that really matters. Technology creates new opportunities, extends and improves peoples lives, and allows people to do what they never could before. It is the advance of technology, and the utilization thereof by visionary individuals, that creates new wealth. Society and politics only determines how the wealth is to be distributed, whether by merit, by birthright, by tyranny, or by enforced equality.

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Modern North Americans haven't been slouches in that arena either, especially our southern cousins. Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, various Central American nations, Iraq, Afghanistan just to name a few places and people who have felt our kinder gentler touch.
North and South America are peaceful continents.

Your criticism of our "southern cousins" ignored the greatest death toll: about 1,5 million in the US Civil War. This pales in comparison to how Europeans slaughter one another.

Europeans civilized? Americans uncivilized? Which continent has lived in peace for longer with fewer deaths? Europeans are violent people and European history is filled with war and death. By comparison, we Americans have centuries of long borders without dispute. When did Bolivia attack Brazil? When did North Dakota attack Manitoba?

Europe is from Mars and America is from Venus.

-----

I don't want to ignore Argus broader point in the OP: Are we more civilized today?

This past summer, I walked around Buchenwald in Thuringen - it was large. Buchenwald was a prison camp where people died because of atrocious conditions. Some 60,000 people died there. Buchenwald existed for over 10 years before the Americans liberated it.

In Treblinka, much smaller in area, where I walked around last year, some one million people were exterminated in about 18 months. In fact, no one knows how many or who died in Treblinka. It was never liberated and it wasn't a prison camp. Treblinka existed for about a year or so and then disappeared - Treblinka was the extermination point of Warsaw Jews, or Jews brought to Warsaw.

We know of Auschwitz primarily because it was a work camp, and also the extermination point of south Polish Krakow Jews.

The German Nazis placed extermination camps in eastern Poland, east of the Vistula, and used Christian Ukrainians and Poles to work in the camps/prisons.

---

All this happened about 70 years ago. So, in comparison to Imperial Rome, how civilized are we today?

BTW: I'm not Jewish at all.

Edited by August1991
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I don't want to ignore Argus broader point in the OP: Are we more civilized today?

This past summer, I walked around Buchenwald in Thuringen - it was large. Buchenwald was a prison camp where people died because of atrocious conditions. Some 60,000 people died there. Buchenwald existed for over 10 years before the Americans liberated it.

I"m not sure that the Holocaust is an apt measure of civilization, August. It was done at the behst of a handful of people in one nation, and kept largely secret from even their own people. A truer comparison could have been made if, instead of executing the Jews in secret, the Nazis had trotted them out into public arenas to throw them against lions and tigers while immense crowds of Germans looked on, laughing and shouting and delighted at the carnage.

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Technological advance is the only kind of advance that really matters.

I disagree. Social advancement is important, as well. And I think we are more socially advanced, more socially aware, than the Romans were.

Well, some of us.

Yes, masses of people would come out to watch such carnage, but I wonder how many would return again and again.

And one presumes the carnage would be done by willing subjects, but in the Romans' time, that was not the case.

If the government were to stage such games using unwilling prisoners, would people still come out to watch? I think yes, but not nearly as many, and I think they'd have a hard time getting through the crowds of protestors who would be - in an ironic twist - violently inclined towards stopping the show.

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I believe while we are all capable of descending into barbarity, our culture, our values are incredibly different for our forebears of 2000 years ago.

Our laws are a reflection of the society we have created for ourselves and we have done so willingly but even more so our own internal consciousness and conscience would revolt at what was considered normal in 20AD.

While things like the holocaust have indeed happened in our civilized times, they are regarded as atrocities. Rome (or any other power of the day) would not have elicited much uproar over the wholesale slaughter of an entire people. A city that resisted a siege and fell would be turned over to the soldiers, who would then have their fill of rape murder and plunder. The lucky ones would be spared their lives and sold into slavery.

Heads of households had unlimited power over their dependants and could legally kill their children, wives or slaves.....

We balk at the idea of capital punishment and in order to appease our conscience even the most rigid society seeks to implement the deed in the most humane way. The romans on the other hand made the punishment so cruel that it beggars description. Starting with a scourging that would rip the flesh off the victim and moving towards a beating, the victim is them nailed by the wrists and Achilles tendons to slowly suffocate, an ordeal that could take days played out in public squares....

There is no comparison between what we consider civilized and what the Romans or greeks consider civilized. We see it as a moral imperitive, they saw it as the ability to govern efficiantly with sound laws and courts....

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Social advancement varies from state to state.

Some places are far more socially advanced than the Romans are. While some are 2000 years behind the Romans.

Public executions are still common in certain parts around the world. And it is not just in places like rural Africa with its mob justice and lynching. Public beheadings are still common in Saudi Arabia which by most standards is "rich" and "advanced".

We in Canada are certainly more advanced than Rome was at its peak, but we cannot deny our basic human instincts (lust for sex, power, violence, need to belong etc). These are evolutionary traits that cannot be wished away in 2000 years.

On a grimmer note certain areas across the world have slipped backwards at an alarming pace. Sudan (the once powerful Nubian empire) comes to mind. The Middle East went from being equal in geopolitical power to Europe to an Islamic fundamentalist wasteland awash with oil, guns, illiteracy, poverty and self pity. The Hindu Kush (modern day Pakistan) went from an area where ideas originated to...well...Pakistan. China is also moving backwards socially. Free thinking is no longer tolerated by the “people’s party”. Mob mentality is dangerously championed.

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Have you seen Robocop? The first one? If you have, you may recall the TV spots during the show like 'Climbing for Dollars' and such. It was a setting in our future, but now we are starting to see these kinds of events. Eventhough UFC is not near that stage (yet), but it is a cage match, and these guys brutaly beat the tar out of each other untill one gives in. There are really no rules either. This is just the next step from sports like Boxing and martial arts. Sports have progressiely gotten more aggressive and more bloody.

This is simply not true. There are rules. Mixed martial arts matches are conducted under the supervision of relevant authorities (the Nevada State Athletics Commission being prominent, as many of the events are in Las Vegas.) The matches are overseen by doctors, and supervised by experienced referees. Mixed martial arts events follow rules governing combat sports that have actually existed for a long time. Combatants may not close their hand about the neck or collarbone, strike at the neck or spine, strike at the groin, strike the back of the head, butt heads, knee a grounded opponent in the head, make a downward-striking motion with the point of the elbow... I'm sure there's more.)

They do not fight until someone is unconscious (though, that certainly happens from time to time.) Many fights go the time limit and are decided by judges. Many fights end when a fighter verbally submits due to being caught in a joint lock or choke hold that he can't escape. Many fights are ended by the referee when he decides that one fighter is simply not able to defend himself effectively. The referees in mixed martial arts exercise a high level of care in protecting the fighters from harm.

Critics of mixed martial arts will say things like "well, I saw a fight where one guy was on top of the other guy and was just punching on him!" Well, in situations where the guy on top does gain a position where he's able to land punches unopposed, the match is stopped immediately. If a guy on top is punching but the match is still going on, it's because the guy underneath is still protecting himself from punches and still working to advance his position. It is surprising how often the guy on top makes a mistake and winds up caught in a choke hold or a joint lock.

I have seen boxing matches where one fighter takes a barrage of punches to the head, and eventually falls down. The referee steps in, gives the fallen fighter time to recover, and lets the fight resume until the wobbly legged boxer takes another barrage of punches and falls down again, and maybe even a third time before the fight is over. In the mixed martial arts, that fight would have been stopped before the fighter fell the first time. In mixed martial arts, the referee would see the fighter is not able to avoid the punches to the head, and he would stop the fight right then. Which sport is really the savage one? Mixed martial arts tries very hard to protect the fighters' safety, and they do a good job of it.

The trend in mixed martial arts is not to increasing savagery, it is to the opposite. The first UFC events truly were "no rules", which resulted in some rather shocking results. However, they have conformed to regulation by athletics commissions in an effort to make their sport commercially viable. They realize that the belief that it's lawless savagery is what is holding their sport back and keeping them from receiving legal sanction in many jurisdictions, and they work to maintain a level of safety and sportsmanship to try to combat that impression.

-k

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The saying of "money is the root of all evil" could be replace in this era of.... power is the root of all evil especially militarily. You have countries with nukes and other superior weapons of mass destruction and the leaders, usually men, pound their chest and threaten I'm more powerful than you and I will bury you!! Its like a guy with a gun, power, take the gun away and were is his power?? I'm not sure how civilized man is today.

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