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The Patriarchal Family in History
The Dynamics of History | 1933 | Christopher Dawson

Posted on 10/18/2002 4:18:48 PM PDT by Askel5

THE PATRIARCHAL FAMILY IN HISTORY

Christopher Dawson | 1933

The traditional view of the family was founded on a somewhat naive and one-sided conception of history. The knowledge of the past was confined to the history of classical civilization and to that of the Jews, in both of which the patriarchal family reigned supreme. But when the European horizon was widened by the geographical discoveries of modern times, men suddenly realized the existence of societies whose social organization was utterly different to anything that they bad imagined.

The discovery of totemism and exogamy, of matrilinear institutions, of polyandry, and of customs of organized sexual licence gave rise to a whole host of new theories concerning the origins of marriage and the family. Under the influence of the prevalent evolutionary philosophy, scholars like Lewis Morgan elaborated the theory of the gradual evolution of the family from a condition of primitive sexual promiscuity through various forms of group-marriage and temporary pairing up to the higher forms of patriarchal and monogamous marriage as they exist in developed civilizations.

This theory naturally commended itself to socialists. It received the official imprimatur of the leaders of German Socialism in the later nineteenth century, and has become as much a part of orthodox socialist thought as the Marxian interpretation of history. It was, however, never fully accepted by the scientific world, and is today generally abandoned, although it still finds a few supporters among anthropologists. In England it is still maintained by Mr. E. S. Hartland and by Dr. Briffault, whose vast work The Mothers (3 Vols., 1927) is entirely devoted to the subject.

According to Briffault, primitive society was purely matriarchal in organization, and the primitive family group consisted only of a woman and her offspring. A prolonged sexual association, such as we find in all existing forms of marriage, except in Russia., is neither natural nor primitive, and has no place in matriarchal society. The original social unit was not the family, but the clan which was based on matrilinear kinship and was entirely communistic in its sexual and economic relations.

The family, as we understand it, owes nothing to biological or sexual causes, but is an economic institution arising from the development of private property and the consequent domination of women by men. It is “but a euphemism for the individualistic male with his subordinate dependents.”

But in spite of its logical coherence, and the undoubted existence of matrilinear institutions in primitive society, this theory has not been borne out by recent investigations. The whole tendency of modern anthropology has been to discredit the old views regarding primitive promiscuity and sexual communism, and to emphasize the importance and universality of marriage. Whether the social organization is matrilinear or patrilinear, whether morality is strict or loose, it is the universal rule of every known society that a woman before she bears a child must be married to an individual male partner.

The importance of this rule has been clearly shown by Dr. Malinowski. “The universal postulate of legitimacy,” he writes, “has a great sociological significance which is not yet sufficiently acknowledged. It means that in all human societies moral tradition and law decree that the group consisting of a woman and her offspring is not a sociologically complete unit. The ruling of culture runs here again on entirely the same lines as natural endowment; it declares that the human family must consist of the male as well as the female.” [1]

It is impossible to go back behind the family and find a state of society in which the sexual relations are in a pre-social stage, for the regulation of sexual relations is an essential prerequisite of any kind of culture. The family is not a product of culture; it is, as Malinowski shows, “the starting point of all human organization” and “the cradle of nascent culture.”

Neither the sexual nor the parental instinct is distinctively human. They exist equally among the animals, and they only acquire cultural significance when their purely biological function is transcended by the attainment of a permanent social relation. Marriage is the social consecration of the biological functions, by which the instinctive activities of sex and parenthood are socialized and a new synthesis of cultural and natural elements is created in the shape of the family. This synthesis differs from anything that exists in the animal world in that it no longer leaves man free to follow his own sexual instincts; he is forced to conform them to a certain social pattern.

The complete freedom from restraint which was formerly supposed to be characteristic of savage life is a romantic myth.

In all primitive societies sexual relations are regulated by a complex and meticulous system of restrictions, any breach of which is regarded not merely as an offence against tribal law, but as morally sinful. These rules mostly have their origin in the fear of incest, which is the fundamental crime against the family, since it leads to the disorganization of family sentiment and the destruction of family authority. It is unnecessary to insist upon the importance of the consequences of this fear of incest in both individual and social psychology, since it is the fundamental thesis of Freud and his school. Unfortunately, in his historical treatment of the subject, in Totem and Tabu, he inverts the true relation, and derives the sociological structure from a pre-existent psychological complex instead of vice versa.

In reality, as Dr. Malinowski has shown, the fundamental repression which lies at the root of social life is not the suppressed memory of an instinctive crime -- Freud’s prehistoric Oedipus tragedy -- but a deliberate constructive repression of anti-social impulses.

The beginning of culture implies the repression of instincts, and all the essentials of the Oedipus complex or any other complex are necessary by-products in the gradual formation of culture. [2]

The institution of the family inevitably creates a vital tension which is creative as well as painful. For human culture is not instinctive. It has to be conquered by a continuous moral effort, which involves the repression of natural instinct and the subordination and sacrifice of the individual impulse to the social purpose. It is the fundamental error of the modern hedonist to believe that man can abandon moral effort and throw off every repression and spiritual discipline and yet preserve all the achievements of culture.

It is the lesson of history that the higher the achievement of a culture the greater is the moral effort and the stricter is the social discipline that it demands. The old type of matrilinear society, though it is by no means devoid of moral discipline, involves considerably less repression and is consistent with a much laxer standard of sexual behaviour than is usual in patriarchal societies. But at the same time it is not capable of any high cultural achievement or of adapting itself to changed circumstances. It remains bound to its elaborate and cumbrous mechanism of tribal custom.

The patriarchal family, on the other hand, makes much greater demands on human nature. It requires chastity and self-sacrifice on the part of the wife and obedience and discipline on the part of the children, while even the father himself has to assume a heavy burden of responsibility and submit his personal feelings to the interests of the family tradition. But for these very reasons the patriarchal family is a much more efficient organ of cultural life. It is no longer limited to its primary sexual and reproductive functions. It becomes the dynamic principle of society and the source of social continuity.

Hence, too, it acquires a distinctively religious character, which was absent in matrilinear societies, and which is now expressed in the worship of the family hearth or the sacred fire and the ceremonies of the ancestral cult. The fundamental idea in marriage is no longer the satisfaction of the sexual appetite, but, as Plato says: “the need that every man feels of clinging to the eternal life of nature by leaving behind him children’s children who may minister to the gods in his stead. [3] This religious exaltation of the family profoundly affects men’s attitude to marriage and the sexual aspects of life in general.

It is not limited, as is often supposed, to the idealization of the possessive male as father and head of the household; it equally transforms the conception of womanhood. It was the patriarchal family which created those spiritual ideals of motherhood and virginity which have had so deep an influence on the moral development of culture. No doubt the deification of womanhood, through the worship of the Mother Goddess had its origin in the ancient matrilinear societies. But the primitive Mother Goddess is a barbaric and formidable deity who embodies the ruthless fecundity of nature, and her rites are usually marked by licentiousness and cruelty. It was the patriarchal culture which transformed this sinister goddess into the gracious figures of Demeter and Persephone and Aphrodite, and which created those higher types of divine virginity which we see in Athene, the giver of good counsel, and Artemis, the guardian of youth.

The patriarchal society was in fact the creator of those moral ideas which have entered so deeply into the texture of civilization that they have become a part of our thought. Not only the names of piety and chastity, honour and modesty, but the values for which they stand are derived from this source, so that even where the patriarchal family has passed away we are still dependent on the moral tradition that it created. [4]

Consequently, we find that the existing world civilizations from Europe to China are all founded on the tradition of the patriarchal family. It is to this that they owed the social strength which enabled them to prevail over the old cultures of matrilinear type which, alike in Europe and in Western Asia, in China and in India, had preceded the coming of the great classical cultures. Moreover, the stability of the latter has proved to be closely dependent on the preservation of the patriarchal ideal. A civilization like that of China, in which the patriarchal family remained the cornerstone of society and the foundation of religion and ethics, has preserved its cultural traditions for more than 2,000 years without losing its vitality.

In the classical cultures of the Mediterranean world, however, this was not the case. Here the patriarchal family failed to adapt itself to the urban conditions of the Hellenistic civilization, and consequently the whole culture lost its stability. Conditions of life both in the Greek city state and in the Roman Empire favoured the man without a family who could devote his whole energies to the duties and pleasures of public life. Late marriages and small families became the rule, and men satisfied their sexual instincts by homosexuality or by relations with slaves and prostitutes.

This aversion to marriage and the deliberate restriction of the family by the practice of infanticide and abortion was undoubtedly the main cause of the decline of ancient Greece, as Polybius pointed out in the second century B.C. [5] And the same factors were equally powerful in the society of the Empire, where the citizen class even in the provinces was extraordinarily sterile and was recruited not by natural increase, but by the constant introduction of alien elements, above all from the servile class.

Thus the ancient world lost its roots alike in the family and in the land and became prematurely withered.

The reconstitution of Western civilization was due to the coming of Christianity and the re-establishment of the family on a new basis. Though the Christian ideal of the family owes much to the patriarchal tradition which finds such a complete expression in the Old Testament, it was in several respects a new creation that differed essentially from anything that had previously existed. While the patriarchal family in its original form was an aristocratic institution which was the privilege of a ruling race or a patrician class, the Christian family was common to every class, even to the slaves. [6]

Still more important was the fact that the Church insisted for the first time on the mutual and bilateral character of sexual obligations. The husband belonged to the wife as exclusively as the wife to the husband. This rendered marriage a more personal and individual relation than it bad been under the patriarchal system.

The family was no longer a subsidiary member of a larger unity -- the kindred or “gens.” It was an autonomous self-contained unit which owed nothing to any power outside itself. It is precisely this character of exclusiveness and strict mutual obligation which is the chief ground of objection among the modern critics of Christian morality. But whatever may be thought of it, there can be no doubt that the resultant type of monogamous and indissoluble marriage has been the foundation of European society and has conditioned the whole development of our civilization. No doubt it involves a very severe effort of repression and discipline, but its, upholders would maintain that it has rendered possible an achievement which could never have been equalled under the laxer conditions of polygamous or matrilinear societies.

There is no historical justification of Bertrand Russell’s belief that the Christian attitude to marriage has had a brutalizing effect on sexual relations and has degraded the position of woman below even the level of ancient civilization: on the contrary, women have always had a wider share in social life and a greater influence on civilization in Europe than was the case either in Hellenic or oriental society. And this is in part due to those very ideals of asceticism and chastity which Bertrand Russell regards as the source of all our troubles.

For in a Catholic civilization the patriarchal ideal is counterbalanced by the ideal of virginity. The family for all its importance does not control the whole existence of its members. The spiritual side of life belongs to a spiritual society in which all authority is reserved to a celibate class.

Thus in one of the most important aspects of life the sexual relation is transcended, and husband and wife stand on an equal footing. I believe that this is the chief reason why the feminine element has achieved fuller expression in Catholic culture and why, even at the present day [1933], the feminine revolt against the restrictions of family life is so much less marked in Catholic society than elsewhere.

In Protestant Europe, on the other hand, the Reformation, by abandoning the ideal of virginity and by the destruction of monasticism and of the independent authority of the Church, accentuated the masculine element in the family. The Puritan spirit, nourished on the traditions of the Old Testament, created a new patriarchalism and made the family the religious as well as the social basis of society. Civilization lost its communal and public character and became private and domestic. And yet, by a curious freak of historical development, it was this Puritan and patriarchal society which gave birth to the new economic order which now threatens to destroy the family,.

Industrialism grew up, not in the continental centres of urban culture, but in the most remote districts of rural England, in the homes of nonconformist weavers and ironworkers. The new industrial society was entirely destitute of the communal spirit and of the civic traditions which had marked the ancient and the mediaeval city. It existed simply for the production of wealth and left every other side of life to private initiative. Although the old rural culture, based on the household as an independent economic unit, was passing away for ever, the strict ethos of the Puritan family continued to rule men’s lives.

This explains the anomalies of the Victorian period both in England and America. It was essentially an age of transition. Society had already entered on a phase of intense urban industrialism, while still remaining faithful to the patriarchal ideals of the old Puritan tradition. Both Puritan morality and industrial mass economy were excessive and one-sided developments, and when the two were brought together in one society they inevitably produced an impossible situation.

The problem that faces us today is, therefore, not so much the result of an intellectual revolt against the traditional Christian morality, it is due to the inherent contradictions of an abnormal state of culture.

The natural tendency, which is even more clearly visible in America than in England, is for the Puritan tradition to be abandoned and for society to give itself up passively to the machinery of modern cosmopolitan life. But this is no solution. It leads merely to the breaking down of the old structure of society and the loss of the traditional moral standards without creating anything which can take their place.

As in the decline of the ancient world, the family is steadily losing its form and its social significance, and the state absorbs more and more of the life of its members. The home is no longer a centre of social activity; it has become merely a sleeping place for a number of independent wage-earners. The functions which were formerly fulfilled by the head of the family are now being taken over by the state, which educates the children and takes the responsibility for their maintenance and health. Consequently, the father no longer holds a vital position in the family: as Mr. Bertrand Russell says, he is often a comparative stranger to his children, who know him only as “that man who comes for week-ends.”

Moreover, the reaction against the restrictions of family life which in the ancient world was confined to the males of the citizen class, is today common to every class and to both sexes. To the modern girl marriage and motherhood appear not as the conditions of a wider life, as they did to her grandmother, but as involving the sacrifice of her independence and the abandonment of her career.

The only remaining safeguards of family life in modern urban civilization are its social prestige and the sanctions of moral and religious tradition. Marriage is still the only form of sexual union which is openly tolerated by society, and the ordinary man and woman are usually ready to sacrifice their personal convenience rather than risk social ostracism. But if we accept the principles of the new morality, this last safeguard will be destroyed and the forces of dissolution will be allowed to operate unchecked.

It is true that Mr. Russell, at least, is willing to leave us the institution of marriage, on condition that it is strictly demoralized and no longer makes any demands on continence. But it is obvious that these conditions reduce marriage to a very subordinate position. It is no longer the exclusive or even the normal form of sexual relations: it is entirely limited to the rearing of children.

For, as Mr. Russell is never tired of pointing out, the use of contraceptives has made sexual intercourse independent of parenthood, and the marriage of the future will be confined to those who seek parenthood for its own sake rather than as the natural, fulfillment of sexual love.

But under these circumstances who will trouble to marry?

Marriage will lose all attractions for the young and the pleasure-loving and the poor and the ambitious. The energy of youth will be devoted to contraceptive love and only when men and women have become prosperous and middle-aged will they think seriously of settling down to rear a strictly limited family. It is impossible to imagine a system more contrary to the first principles of social well-being.

So far from helping modern society to surmount its present difficulties, it only precipitates the crisis. It must lead inevitably to a social decadence far more rapid and more universal than that which brought about the disintegration of ancient civilization. The advocates of birth-control can hardly fail to realize the consequences of a progressive decline of the population in a society in which it is already almost stationary, but for all that their propaganda is entirely directed towards a further diminution in the birth rate.

Many of them, like Dr. Stopes, are no doubt so much concerned with the problem of individual happiness that they do not stop to consider how the race is to be carried on. Others, such as Mr. Russell, are obsessed by the idea that over-population is the main cause of war and that a diminishing birth rate is the best guarantee of international peace. There is, however, nothing in history to justify this belief.

The largest and most prolific populations, such as the Chinese and the Hindus, have always been singularly unaggressive. The most warlike peoples are usually those who are relatively backward in culture and few in numbers, like the Huns and the Mongols, or the English in the fifteenth century, the Swedes in the seventeenth century, and the Prussians in the eighteenth century.

If, however, questions of population should give rise to war in the future, there can be no doubt that it is nations with wide possessions and a dwindling population who will be most likely to provoke an attack.

But it is much more likely that the process will be a peaceful one. The peoples who allow the natural bases of society to be destroyed by the artificial conditions of the new urban civilization will gradually disappear and their place will be taken by those populations which live under simpler conditions and preserve the traditional forms of the family.



The meek shall inherit the earth.




[1] B. Malinowski, Sex and Repression in Savage Society (1927), p. 213.
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[2] Malinowski, op. cit., p..i82.
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[3] Laws, 773 F.
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[4] For this reason the Catholic Church has always associated its teaching on marriage with the patriarchal tradition, and even today she still concludes the marriage service with the ancient patriarchal benediction: ‘May the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, be with you and may he fulfill his blessing upon you that you may see your children’s children even to the third and fourth generation.
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[5] He writes that in his days the diminution of population in Greece was so great that the towns were becoming deserted and the fields untilled. The reason of this is neither war nor pestilence, but because men “owing to vanity avarice or cowardice, no longer wish to marry or to bring up children.” In Boeotia especially he notes a tendency for men to leave their property to clubs for public benefactions instead of leaving it to their heirs, “so that the Boeotians often have more free dinners than there are days in the month.”. Polyb., Books XXXVI, 17, and XX, 6.
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[6] The same change, however, has taken place in China, where, owing to the influence of Confucianism, the whole population has gradually acquired the family institutions which were originally peculiar to the members of the feudal nobility.
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TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: godsgravesglyphs
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1 posted on 10/18/2002 4:18:49 PM PDT by Askel5
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To: Siobhan; patent; ELS; LaBelleDameSansMerci; Phaedrus; D-fendr; betty boop
The latest from down the rabbit hole somewhere ... =)
2 posted on 10/18/2002 4:20:32 PM PDT by Askel5
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To: Askel5
Hey Askel, where've you been! Your posts are always top notch. V's wife.
3 posted on 10/18/2002 4:34:03 PM PDT by ventana
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To: Askel5
Do YOU have an opinion on this?
4 posted on 10/18/2002 4:35:01 PM PDT by lepton
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To: ventana
Blessed are the pure of heart! So difficult in this age. V's wife.
5 posted on 10/18/2002 4:53:57 PM PDT by ventana
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To: Askel5
Thank you for this post.
6 posted on 10/18/2002 5:04:33 PM PDT by fdcc
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To: lepton
He's right.

Particularly the part about the "premature withering" of civilizations remarkably similar to ours.

We can draft in all the immigrants we want ... doesn't change the fact that our legal system, in particular, has slanted the (hedonistic) playing field such that marriage and children are an impediment and something which neither men nor women are much interested in until middle age when they've lost their vitality and their family is destined to come ALWAYS second to the Career they put first.

We are in decline.

Additionally, given the extraordinary attention paid to "population control" by our government, it's strongarming and coercion of of the weak and it's infliction of inhuman practices on cultures not nearly so decadent or "Enlightened" as ours, it's possible these lines were also most prescient on Dawson's part:

If, however, questions of population should give rise to war in the future, there can be no doubt that it is nations with wide possessions and a dwindling population who will be most likely to provoke an attack.

But it is much more likely that the process will be a peaceful one. The peoples who allow the natural bases of society to be destroyed by the artificial conditions of the new urban civilization will gradually disappear and their place will be taken by those populations which live under simpler conditions and preserve the traditional forms of the family.

7 posted on 10/18/2002 5:10:31 PM PDT by Askel5
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To: ventana
Thanks. Hope to resume a little more posting of articles for a change.
8 posted on 10/18/2002 5:10:57 PM PDT by Askel5
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To: lepton
It's been my "thing" lately to make all "its" possessive. Don't know why that is ... =)
9 posted on 10/18/2002 5:11:39 PM PDT by Askel5
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To: lepton
Uh, make that "contractions". (Clearly this disconnect has been hardwired exactly backwards somehow ... =)
10 posted on 10/18/2002 5:12:15 PM PDT by Askel5
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To: Askel5
Hey... Francis Schaeffer must have read this guy. Where'd you find this?

I endorse it heartily.

11 posted on 10/18/2002 5:41:41 PM PDT by Oberon
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To: Askel5
NEWSFLASH!!! THE GODDESS HAS TRIUMPHED!!!

WICHITA MAN----

Archaeologists from around the world have gathered in this sleepy Midwestern town to study human bones unearthed by a backhoe operator working on one of the many Federally-mandated upgradings of decaying waste treatment plants throughout the area. The peculiar arrangement of the bones has excited speculation by some experts that this may be the first solid evidence of the long-rumored existence of a sect who died out under mysterious circumstances. The team has named the find “Witchita Man” in honor of the town in which the waste treatment plant is located.

....Nothing else to do. We had to tell them the others were upstaris. To survive. That's all that matters. Alive. Crouched in the closet listening. "Please sir". A laugh. A thud. Waiting for the next order. Alive...

No notes necessary. He knew the phrases by heart: The devastation of black-on-black crime. The indignity. Black women. The lyrics. He could hear a commercial blaring on the other side of the wall. It was a living. He glanced across at the woman who would accompany him on the show. They hadn't spoken since their brief introduction by an assistant producer. A twelve by ten room, or so. The walls of this room reminded him of the walls in an old city hospital where he once waited for his grandmother. He glanced at her brightly colored head wrap. She looked at the other wall. Silently moving her lips. Nervous maybe. "We'll do the segment," they had promised, "if you can get someone to authenticate your message. You know what we mean." I know. You're my authenticator, he thought. He imagined a scene in which he suddenly turns to the camera and yells: "Run for your lives! They hate our guts! Are you deaf!? Can't you hear the words?" A small laugh escaped. The woman looked across at him. She didn't ask. He didn't tell. Another assistant producer was beckoning them in. He paused for her to pass. He heard the muffled deep base thump-thump of a commercial. He hoped the extra few pounds wouldn't show around his face. "That would never do," his grandmother always said. No. That would never do.

...To start over. Montana maybe. Clean slate. We've all stopped looking at each other. It's better that way. She's whispering to the floor that he promised not to kill us and that's all that matters. Ten years from now. Beauty is truth, truth beauty. Where did that come from? Another yelp and a thud. Then a laugh. The ineveitable laugh. A groan. We're all still alive and that's what counts....

Someplace in Kuwait she said, jingling her keys impatiently. He let her go. The parking lot was a cold place for a conversation. He heard that she had secured the business loan. She looked busy. The way a businesswoman looked. At least he knew where the boy was now. Last he heard he had been stationed--somewhere on the Balkans. Or was it "in"? The day he enlisted they sat in uncomfortable silence in the car outside the Kentucky Fried Chicken. He hadn't ordered anything. Maybe he was worried about cash flow since the mill had closed permanently two months before. He told him about the interviews at WalMart and the casino. To reaasure him. They shook hands. He would probably never come back here. Who could blame him? Anyway, he was alive. That was all that mattered.

...Everybody in the world isn't as lucky as you are. Don't stereotype. Don't assume. Count to ten. I remember everything. I will learn to forget. Getting along. Getting to know you. Cooperation. A thud. A whimper. And the laugh. "Four!" More laughter. The golf club by the door, of course. Did it kill him? Did he slice open his head? Count to ten. Breath deeply. To forget. A groan and a sob. "Please sir." No. not dead. They were coming back now. Not dead...

Let it be a beer-gut bubba. That's all. A prime, juicy, grade-A, all-American redneck. No sign language. No frantic semaphoring. No secret decoder rings for the press conferences. And thirty-thousand dollars the girl said! Just to advise them on the technical aspects of the investigation when the case is wrapped up. The plans were already in the works she had informed him briskly, looking around the littered office. "It smells like a gym in here. I wonder if we can get that on the screen? For 'authenticity,'" she said, pronouncing it as four separate words. Maybe as much as thirty thousand she repeated. Staring at something invisible on the ceiling she assumed a monotone voice, like a chant, to describe the plot-in-progress. "Angry. Intelligent. Member of the New Black Panthers. Joins the force for reasons even he can't understand." Breaking out of her reverie she pointed with both index fingers and said excitedly: "He doesn't know his grandfather was the first black cop in some Southern town and solved the case of a string of child lynchings by the local KKK which, it turns out, is run the beloved mayor. But we won't reveal that until almost the end." Then, in the monotone again: 'Clashing with a Chief he believes is an Uncle Tom. In spite of all this, remorselessly tracks down the serial sniper." He would give them tips of the trade and earn thirty-thousand. The killer would be a flabby, pasty-faced guy. Anybody could play him. Or maybe a sharp-faced, angular guy whose blue eyes were locked in a permanent squint. A guy---a guy who looks like that, he thought with surprise as he caught a glimpse of his reflection in the coffee maker. Just let it be a classic redneck. In hunting camo. Thirty-thousand. Might smooth over some of the pot-holes that had formed in the road. Please.

.... The smell. Will it be with me as long as I live? When I'm old and living in a cabin in northern Canada somewhere, stirring the fire, will I catch of whiff of it on me and run out and roll in the snow? Once, in the early days, stretched out full length on that fake sheepskin rug, she had whispered:" I love your smell inside of me and on me." Was she lying? Was she saying it because she had read in a magazine that was something she might say?...

Relaxation. He relaxed around those people. No. Not "those people". He knew the looks when they thought he couldn't see. What they said when he was not there. It was a living. To be consulted on the great issues of the day. About people who were fighting for land and life. No apologies. No worries. They even had settlers. Not like our settlers. Who could not be spoken of without...worrying. Long gone people. To feel relaxed. If only for a segment of time between the thumping commericials. Their survival on the line. Clean and clear. His tie was too tight again. It made him look heavy on camera. Relax. Prophecy, seamlessly unfolding.

...What happened to that rug? If, somehow, he found it stashed in a box of old things and buried his face in it, wrapped himself in it, would this smell be banished? She must have been lying. My stomach is in my throat. Every hair on the back of hand smells of it. She's whispering that he promised he would let us live. His smell on me is in her mouth. It flys off her lips. She says he promised her. I smell her repeating it. We are all one now. We are the world.....

Qualifications? A traffic coordination technician, he supposed. All that he could be. At this moment in time, as the TV people liked to say. A Mercedes gliding by kicking up the desert dust. Looking but not looking. An owner of oil in this Line In The Sand, he supposed. He shifted to his left leg. He had directed traffic in Kosovo a while back. Swung his arms in large circles pointing north. Black-hawk helicopters hovered overhead slapping the air in time with the feet of the people tramping in that direction. Little boxes wrapped up in table clothes and shawls. Layers of clothes and wooden crosses hung around their necks. Bad Guys. Losers. Looking but not looking. Pointing and rotating his arms, breathing deep and shifting from one foot to another. The winners, the freedom-fighters, lined the route and shouted something he could not understand. The black-hawks droned on; making lazy circles above. He rotated his head on his neck. Clockwise. Counterclockwise. Another Mercedes. Kicking up desert dust. At this moment in time.

...We would be old. We wouldn't have seen each other for fifty years, maybe more. We meet on a snowy field. Somehow. Somewhere in northern Alaska. The sun is blinding and we are walking towards each other. Nobody else in sight. Two old, old people shuffling along on the snowpack. We almost pass. At the last moment we recognise each other. After all the years. We don't need any explanations. We know. Then I will ask her: "Were you lying when you said you loved my smell in you and on you? Because..." And she will laugh the way she laughed a long time ago and put her fingers over my lips and tell me that everything was OK. All five of us do not fit in the trunk. Economy cars. No one sees three naked men being packed into a trunk. No one sees two women, naked below the waist climb into the car with two warmly-dressed men in brand new shoes. We are invisible. We are alone in the universe. Nothing above us. Nothing below. We are all together. Tumbling through space. We are alive.....

Craning his neck around for a full-face shot. Three heads bobbing around the microphone. Old hands, careful not to block each other out. High voices. Earnest little boys. Women liked that. Don't want to sound like the Old Man in the Mountain. Bread and butter. A woman's choice. Shriller now. Stretching his neck out further. "Outrage". It was a word they liked. It is an outrage. Teachers forced to buy toilet paper out of pocket. Bread and butter. Craning harder. Voice higher. Bread and butter. He was not one of those kind. He understood. He would make them pay. Don't forget on election day. He wasn't like them. A breeze. The odor of hair spray and sweat. He'd make the evening news. Priceless exposure.

...Before I leave for Alaska. We'll be able to think more clearly with our clothes on. A bath with my clothes on. Everything with my clothes on from now on. From now on. Beauty is Truth, truth beauty. From now on we will be alive. She said he promised her. I remember now. Beauty is truth, truth beauty. There. He called him "sir" again. "Please sir, don't kill me." The shot. I finally remember where I heard it. Finally...

He loved this town. They weren't supposed to say it. Not in public. No. They were all outsiders reluctantly taking office in order to clean out Dodge City. But so comforting to be here with people who understood how the real world worked. People from all over the real world. He loved them all. They were so sensible. So realistic. They knew what was real. They understood. So clear about what they wanted. Sometimes he had to clamp his teeth together to keep from shouting across to the other Party that he was just like they were. His wife was just like their wives. We all have to say these ridiculous things to the people out there. You to yours. Me to mine. They don't know what it's all about and we have to ask them for their votes. They were infants, really. It was degrading. A condolence note. Marine son. Kuwait. Casualty of the Real World. But only one, thank God. An army of one. The mother. Different last name. No address for a father. Word would get around to him if he was alive. My dear Mrs...Ms...Madame...Mother of a Fallen Hero? Too bad there wasn't a father's address. Dear "Mister". Simple. Unchanging. Then over to the mosque for a bit of islam is peace and don't even think about it rednecks. "Dear grieving mother of a Fallen Hero...."

.....Standing next to that old, old man. I was so pissed off. My dad's grandfather. Walking me around his farm and reciting endlessly. I wanted to go in and watch something on TV. A class assignment. To get out of the cold. I could see our breath meeting in the air between us. Little icicles forming on his eyebrows. He went on and on. Dad made us go there. Mom sometimes called him the "ancient fart" when dad wasn't around. She said: "Today we are going to visit AF." We would laugh. I was so pissed off. He kept going on and on reciting something and finally, just as I was about to interrupt, he squeeezed my shoulder and shouted into the night, his breath billowing out from his mouth: "When old age shall this generation waste, Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st, 'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,--that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.'...The Nikes are coming over here now. Throwing out gravel as they move. Red spots on the bright white laces. New shoes coming towards me...

Rising up from the dirt and gravel and litter like a mirage. Amazing speed. Phenomenal savings. They came quietly and left quietly evry day, counting their cash. A bath and two closets in every bed suite. Game room. Nautilus. Pool. Computer room, of course. Acoustically correct music room. Marble, tile, pink granite, teak, slate. They worked sixteen hours on the summer days. Not a complaint out of them. They laughed and clinked glasses. It was all real. Here's to what's real. The dream house. The men trudged down the long, winding driveway carefully inspecting their little white envelopes. Leaving them alone laughing and clinking. They would be back on Monday to work.

.... My breath will shoot up into the night air beween us and hang there. : "Beauty is truth, truth beauty,--that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know." As long as he lives. He'll never be able to escape. Dying well, the best revenge. Coming this way again. Shoes are huge from this angle. The snow and gravel in my cheek. Fame is coming my way. My picture on every channel twenty-four hours a day. Concerned heads nodding, repeating our names over and over and over. We are a slogan. My picture on the front page of the New York Times. Not the dorky sophmore picture. My breath melting the snow.

Please, sir......

12 posted on 10/18/2002 5:44:19 PM PDT by LaBelleDameSansMerci
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To: LaBelleDameSansMerci
Slouching toward Sodom, already born. we live in the end times, not by the supernatural signs coming into view; rather, civilization has nowhere to go to be reborn on Earth, thus whatever comes after the experiments at civilization awaits in the near future. That is why the Lord is soon returning, because humankind has lost the spark of frontiers and the room to ignite.
13 posted on 10/18/2002 5:58:08 PM PDT by MHGinTN
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To: Oberon
My grandmother gave me his book last time I was down there. She's been very generous about her "lending library" but this was one volume she actually presented to me and asked that I please keep. =)
14 posted on 10/18/2002 6:46:22 PM PDT by Askel5
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To: LaBelleDameSansMerci



Where did you get that?

(And, in a completely different stylistic vein, have you read the Children of the Last Days series yet?)
15 posted on 10/18/2002 6:55:39 PM PDT by Askel5
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To: Askel5
Labelle wrote that piece, I'll bet.

Tell me if I have your photo right - a Serbian woman confronting a NATO soldier in Kosovo.
16 posted on 10/18/2002 8:54:43 PM PDT by secretagent
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To: Oberon
Francis Schaeffer must have read this guy

He he. Dawson is Catholic.

17 posted on 10/18/2002 8:56:37 PM PDT by cornelis
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To: secretagent
You think? (I think she's dynamite but if it's hers, it better have been something she had lying around ... no one will mistake us for each other anymore if she composes THAT fast. =)

The photo was captioned "An Albanian woman in anti-Serb demonstrations shouting nationalist slogans Mitrovica, September 1999" on the old Mr. Thaci and Friends.

18 posted on 10/18/2002 9:05:11 PM PDT by Askel5
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To: cornelis
Damn. Remiss of me not to ping you. This is precisely the reason I rarely flag anyone anyway.
19 posted on 10/18/2002 9:06:25 PM PDT by Askel5
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To: Polybius
This aversion to marriage and the deliberate restriction of the family by the practice of infanticide and abortion was undoubtedly the main cause of the decline of ancient Greece, as Polybius pointed out in the second century B.C.

Namesake ping.

20 posted on 10/18/2002 9:09:07 PM PDT by secretagent
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To: Askel5
Thanks. Read the first 3 articles. Yuck.
21 posted on 10/18/2002 9:16:16 PM PDT by secretagent
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To: Askel5
C'est rien. Don't damn yourself, you're a great sis.
22 posted on 10/18/2002 9:24:30 PM PDT by cornelis
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To: Askel5
The author gives away the store in an attempt to refute imaginary demons. To his credit, though, in 1933, those demons were thought to be real. But they aren't, which has the unfortunate effect of rendering this article into more of a historical curiosity than a trenchant and insightful critique...
23 posted on 10/18/2002 9:57:29 PM PDT by general_re
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To: general_re
You can't be serious ... =)
24 posted on 10/18/2002 10:27:29 PM PDT by Askel5
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To: Askel5
Entirely serious :^)
25 posted on 10/18/2002 10:38:54 PM PDT by general_re
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To: general_re
Which are the imaginary demons?
26 posted on 10/18/2002 10:42:40 PM PDT by Askel5
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To: Askel5
Good question. Here's a bit...

But when the European horizon was widened by the geographical discoveries of modern times, men suddenly realized the existence of societies whose social organization was utterly different to anything that they bad imagined.

The discovery of totemism and exogamy, of matrilinear institutions, of polyandry, and of customs of organized sexual licence gave rise to a whole host of new theories concerning the origins of marriage and the family.

This was written in 1933, and is pretty clearly heavily influenced by the 1928 publication of Margaret Mead's nine-day wonder, "Coming of Age in Samoa", and her 1930 work "Growing Up in New Guinea". The trouble is, virtually no societies like these described here have ever actually existed, Mead's fevered imaginings notwithstanding.

That's the basic problem here - the author wants to make the case that "traditional" family arrangements prevailed over "non-traditional" arrangements, but in so doing he's accepted the basic premise that such "non-traditional" arrangements have ever really existed in the first place. And once you do that, you're reduced to quibbling over the details.

And it's not very good quibbling, either. If patriarchy is the key, then there were few societies that were more patriarchal than classical Rome - the Romans invented the concept of patria potestas, and they took it to extremes not really seen in any other society. But here we're told that they "failed to adapt to urban life" (why, we aren't really told), and thus lost out in spite of their patriarchal society.

Anyway, if you want to argue in favor of traditional families, it seems to me that the classical conservative argument is still the best argument - "non-traditional" arrangements don't really exist in the way some would have you believe, and never have existed, really. So let us not embrace the new and untested simply for the sake of novelty, which is all you've got in the absence of a track-record - traditional families have served us all quite well over the last few thousand years, and we ought to be loathe to simply abandon that time-tested experience for the latest fad in "alternative families".

The moral of the article might as well be: don't frame your own argument in such a way as to implicitly accept the basic premises of your opponents. Do that, and you've lost right off the bat, because you're arguing on someone else's home field ;)

27 posted on 10/18/2002 11:20:04 PM PDT by general_re
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To: general_re
I believe I've got him speaking about the Roman Empire in particular elsewhere. Perhaps you can impeach him on point if I dig up the quote.

I think he too is rather dismissive of the matriarchy thing ... flat out say any such society is negligible because it cannot -- never has -- produced anything remarkable in the least.

What about his two paragraphs on the Hellenistic civilization. He appears to be describing us.

As again he does appear to nail us in the second to last paragraph.

28 posted on 10/18/2002 11:24:31 PM PDT by Askel5
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To: Askel5
Before you snap off a quick reply - yes, I'm aware that he's making much of the case that I make here. But there aren't significant matrilineal societies, or matriarchal societies, and never have been, according to what we know at the moment. E.g., polyandry? Uh-uh - just doesn't really happen. Question these new "discoveries", first, is the best thing to do - otherwise you're fighting a rear-guard action.

It's overloading the concept of family, in a sense - the decline of cultures is a complicated thing that doesn't lend itself well to simple theories about the breakdown of family structures. If non-traditional families led to the "decline" of Rome (over the space of several hundred years, no less), why didn't the introduction of Christian values revive it? Why is American influence and power apparently waxing at the very moment that the "traditional" American family is waning?

Thin. Complex events tend to have complex causes...

29 posted on 10/18/2002 11:32:03 PM PDT by general_re
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To: Askel5
Dang it - your quick reply beat me ;)

I think he too is rather dismissive of the matriarchy thing ... flat out say any such society is negligible because it cannot -- never has -- produced anything remarkable in the least.

But that's the point - matriarchal societies have produced nothing remarkable because the number of truly matriarchal societies we know about from history right now is exactly zero. There's no evidence that even primitive neolithic societies were matriarchal - all that happy-happy peaceful pagan Goddess-worshipping tribes (until those damn testosterone-loaded men wrecked it all) bullshit is just that. Bullshit modern mythmaking. There never was a society like that.

What about his two paragraphs on the Hellenistic civilization. He appears to be describing us.

His counterexamples don't follow, though - ask the Tibetans or the Vietnamese about the "peaceful" Chinese. Ask the Pakistanis about the non-aggression of the Hindus. The English may have been a bit thin on the population end of it, but they were hardly "backward" by the standards of the 15'th century. Backwards compared to whom?

Anyway, the trouble with historical analogy is that this is terra incognita in some ways - the "American experiment" continues unabated, and it's increasingly difficult to find historical analogues in some particular aspect. We're a culture built on the notion of exceptionalism - it's served us well so far. Why give up on it now? ;)

30 posted on 10/18/2002 11:45:44 PM PDT by general_re
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To: general_re
Why is American influence and power apparently waxing at the very moment that the "traditional" American family is waning?

Because we're losing the culture wars against those who would destroy us from within?

Those who don't pay attention to history being doomed to repeat it.

And -- given the way our guys are legitimizing homosexuality and de facto unions, invoking population controls (state sanctioned birth control and abortion), upholding and specifically protecting For-Profit Porn as "Free Speech", cranking the legal system AGAINST the father in particular with their "weeding out the white male" syndrome and even seeking to pad our imploding reproduction rate with the drafting in of immigrants ... ALL OF WHICH is taking place under a dizzying assault of the most lurid and decadent salvo of sex and perversion to which any age of man has ever been subjected.

Bob "Down Boy!" Dole hawking Viagra?

C'mon guy ... we first tangled on the "War Stressed Prostitutes" thread wherein I was balking at the notion that men were entitled not only to use sex as "stress relief" but -- desensitized readers of the Penthouse Forum they are -- sit and detail their escapades on a forum ostensibly a mecca for Conservatives and the wives and family of military men looking for the latest on the war in Afghanistan. You think a thread where folks are down to talking about what their bunk buddies do with their black socks isn't clogging latest posts and attracting some attention?

And I was FLAYED ALIVE for having the audacity to complain about "men being men".

Boys is more like it.

I could take 30 minutes and likely bury this thread in links on how marriage is "passe", no longer attractive for men, how women have their own money and don't need men if they can pay top dollar for a nanny (unless they want the ever-more popular "Trophy Husband" who's content to work at home while the wife pulls down the big bucks in Diversity Land where the Corporate Governance types have taken a page from the Bush I Administration's military and made no bones about "weeding out the white male" in favor of women, minories and homosexuals).

Maybe it's all just happening too fast for you do draw the connections.

I realize population control and culture wars are kind of my bag but I really am kinda stunned you dismiss him out of hand because he starts with what may well have been the rage at the time but -- without a doubt -- is the bottom of the heap where civilizations are concerned ... the same "alternative" lifestyles all the rage today.

With the added incentive, of course, that is our sexually liberated and Enlightened society's having removed the stigma entirely from either aborting or keeping -- or purchasing to spec -- your illegitimate and fatherless child.

31 posted on 10/18/2002 11:47:20 PM PDT by Askel5
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To: Askel5
You're moving too fast for me tonight - I may have to pick this up in the morning with my morning extra-caffeine brain fuel ;)

I realize population control and culture wars are kind of my bag but I really am kinda stunned you dismiss him out of hand because he starts with what may well have been the rage at the time but -- without a doubt -- is the bottom of the heap where civilizations are concerned ... the same "alternative" lifestyles all the rage today.

I'm trying not to dismiss it out of hand. You (and he, I think) argue that those societies are the bottom of the heap - I'm saying to you that those societies never really existed in the first place. IOW, once you accept that such a thing exists, you inevitably open the door for airy-fairy Margaret Mead and her intellectual heirs to come over and lecture you about how wonderful they were, and how happy and well-adjusted everyone was. And you're basically reduced to arguing about how horrible or wonderful these completely imaginary cultures were, and trying to apply the lessons of these imaginary cultures to modern society. He's pointing to someone else's imaginary pie-in-the-sky and telling us it's a steaming pile of dung. Fine, but it sort of misses the obvious point that it's pie-in-the-sky in the first place...

But I think you mistook what I said in my other post anyway - my point is that American power and influence is at its very peak exactly when the traditional family is on the decline. So maybe the two aren't directly linked after all, or maybe they are, but there are a whole host of other factors....

32 posted on 10/19/2002 12:04:23 AM PDT by general_re
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To: general_re
>> I'm saying to you that those societies never really existed in the first place<<

I'm totallly lost here and this isnt even my debate...

In college I took cultural anthropology how ever many semesters it was required in order to cross it of my "you have to sit through this crap if you want to graduate" list.

I remember one of the first groups we talkked about or read in the text about. If I remember right it was even a current culture to boot. Anyways the adult brothers and sisters lived together with the brothers suppporting the sisters and the sisters children. The brothers were free to go visit other peoples sisters and teh sisters were free to have whatever male visitors were currently catching their fancy. I remember this because I thought it so totally and completely odd -and depraved.

Over the course of the class I ran into other similarly odd cultures. All third world backwards groups lauded as being culturally rich- I guesss that is the PC view. I thought it was terrible to live the way they did. I am not an evolutionist or otherwise accept Darwin's musings- but if we had descended from animals these peoples we studied would definately be the missing links.

Now- is this what you are saying never even existed in the first place?

>>airy-fairy Margaret Mead and her intellectual heirs to come over and lecture you about how wonderful they were, and how happy and well-adjusted everyone was<<

I love this statement because it is so accurate- this is exactly how tehy were pictured in our textbook- wonderful happy thriving cultures. Yes- if it came to me I would definately argue the wonderful/horrible debate- on the horrible side.

>>my point is that American power and influence is at its very peak exactly when the traditional family is on the decline. So maybe the two aren't directly linked after all, or maybe they are, but there are a whole host of other factors<<

I'll respond backwards to this. Certainly there is no single simple reason for a civilizations demise, there are many reasons adding up. Internationally we are powerful and influential, but this, to me, focuses outward- in the world we are that way but so what. Within our borders we murder are young while still in the womb. We have teenages taking assault rifles to school and killing fellow teenagers Mothers kill there born children and fathers kill their wives AND children. We just had a summer where it seemed every week another young girl was showing up dead, sexually abused. There is a nutcase running lose in our capital. Need I go on about all the internal conflicts, the cultural defiencies, the decline of civilization. Maybe it is just coincidence that these things seem to get worse as the state of the traditional family gets worse. For now, maybe we are still a powerful and influential nation, but how much longer will be able to keep that up- how long until internal conflict blows this whole "social experiment" up in our faces. And our predecessors will learn lessons from us- until they too forget the foundations.
33 posted on 10/19/2002 3:12:37 AM PDT by kancel
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To: cornelis
He he. Dawson is Catholic.

As were many of the great theologians. What's that got to do with anything?

34 posted on 10/19/2002 5:57:55 AM PDT by Oberon
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To: Askel5
Bumping for later read . . . always like your stuff, Askel.
35 posted on 10/19/2002 6:12:17 AM PDT by Phaedrus
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To: Oberon
What's that got to do with anything?

tut-tut. Did you care to know? Let's just put it this way. Sometimes the one wants nothing to do with the other.

36 posted on 10/19/2002 7:40:35 AM PDT by cornelis
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To: general_re
We don't need to admit the "existence" of Antigone's family to admit it was dysfunctional. Perhaps there is some leverage by saying that they actually existed. This reminds me of a habit of thinking on the evolution threads. To put it bluntly, just because you exist (and we know you do) doesn't mean that you should. Or the other way around. If you don't exist, that doesn't mean you should not have.
37 posted on 10/19/2002 7:46:52 AM PDT by cornelis
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To: cornelis
We don't need to admit the "existence" of Antigone's family to admit it was dysfunctional. Perhaps there is some leverage by saying that they actually existed.

Such as...?

38 posted on 10/19/2002 8:00:25 AM PDT by general_re
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To: general_re
Such as...?

The question deviates. It matters when it does, but it does not always matter. Your own examples will work fine, but not every time.

39 posted on 10/19/2002 8:20:44 AM PDT by cornelis
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To: secretagent
To: Polybius........... This aversion to marriage and the deliberate restriction of the family by the practice of infanticide and abortion was undoubtedly the main cause of the decline of ancient Greece, as Polybius pointed out in the second century B.C.............. Namesake ping.

Polybius brought up this point in his Histories, Book XXXVI, when he discussed when historians should not attribute certain calamities of society to the work of Fate or Chance or the Gods.

Polybius noted that, for example, a natural disaster such as a flood from heavy rains or a drought could be attributed to Fate or a god for lack of a better explanation.

However, Polybius observed that the explanation for many of the calamities that certain communities suffered from needed no further explanation than the examination of the behavior of the people in those societies.

"Now indeed as regards things the causes of which it is impossible or difficult for a mere man to understand, we may perhaps be justified in getting out of the difficulty by setting them down to the action of a god or of chance, I mean such things as exceptionally heavy and continuous rain or snow, or on the other hand the destruction of crops by severe drought or frost, or a persistent outbreak of plague or other similar things of which it is not easy to detect the cause. So in regard to such matters we naturally bow to public opinion, as we cannot make out why they happen, and attempting by prayer and sacrifice to appease the heavenly powers, we send to ask the gods what we must do and say, to set things right and cause the evil that afflicts us to cease.

But as for matters the efficient and final cause of which it is possible to discover we should not, I think, put them down to divine action. For instance, take the following case.

In our own time the whole of Greece has been subject to a low birth-rate and a general decrease of the population, owing to which cities have become deserted and the land has ceased to yield fruit, although there have neither been continuous wars nor epidemics. If, then, any one had advised us to send and ask the gods about this, and find out what we ought to say or do, to increase in number and make our cities more populous, would it not seem absurd, the cause of the evil being evident and the remedy being in our own hands?

For as men had fallen into such a state of pretentiousness, avarice, and indolence that they did not wish to marry, or if they married to rear the children born to them, or at most as a rule but one or two of them, so as to leave these in affluence and bring them up to waste their substance, the evil rapidly and insensilby grew. For in cases where of one or two children the one was carried off by war and the other by sickness, it is evident that the houses must have been left unoccupied, and as in the case of swarms of bees, so by small degrees cities became resourceless and feeble.

About this it was of no use at all to ask the gods to suggest a means of deliverance from such an evil. For any ordinary man will tell you that the most effectual cure had to be men's own action, in either striving after other objects, or if not, in passing laws making it compulsory to rear children. Neither prophets nor magic were here of any service, and the same holds good for all particulars."

40 posted on 10/19/2002 12:21:12 PM PDT by Polybius
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To: Polybius
Polybius brought up this point in his Histories, Book XXXVI, when he discussed when historians should not attribute certain calamities of society to the work of Fate or Chance or the Gods.

Great point, P!

It is a rather "primitive" idea that attributes success to the gods. Perhaps it is better called a fallacy. Although the primitive book of Job saw through this.

41 posted on 10/19/2002 12:34:21 PM PDT by cornelis
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To: cornelis
Great point, P! It is a rather "primitive" idea that attributes success to the gods. Perhaps it is better called a fallacy. Although the primitive book of Job saw through this.

However, whether he was a believer in the Gods or not, Polybius firmly believed that religion had a very favorable effect upon the character and virtue of the citizens of the Roman Republic.

Histories, Book VI, Chapter 56:

"The sphere in which the Roman commonwealth seems to me to show its superiority most decisively is that of religious belief.

Here we find that the very phenomenon which among other peoples is regarded as a subject for reproach, namely superstition, is actually the element which holds the Roman state together. These matters are treated with such solemnity and introduced so frequently both into public and into private life that nothing could exceed them in importance.

Many people may find this astonishing, but my own view is that the Romans have adopted these practices for the sake of the common people. This approach might not have been necessary had it ever been possible to form a state composed entirely of wise men. But as the masses are always fickle, filled with lawless desires, unreasoning anger and violent passions, they can only be restrained by mysterious terrors or other dramatizations of the subject.

For this reason I believe that the ancients were by no means acting foolishly or haphazardly when they introduced to the people various notions concerning the gods and the belief in the punishments of Hades, but rather that the moderns are foolish and take greater risks in rejecting them.

At any rate, the result is that among the Greeks, apart from anything else, men who hold public office cannot be trusted with the safekeeping of so much as a single talent, even if they have ten accountants and as many seals and twice as many witnesses, whereas among the Romans their magistrates handle large sums of money and scrupulously perform their duty because they have given their word on oath.

Among other nations it is a rare phenomenon to find a man who keeps his hands off public funds and whose record is clean in this respect, while among the Romans it is quite the exception to find a man who had been detected in such conduct."

When he describes such conduct, it should be kept in mind that Polybius was a Greek himself. :-)

42 posted on 10/19/2002 1:03:13 PM PDT by Polybius
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To: Askel5
The problem that faces us today is, therefore, not so much the result of an intellectual revolt against the traditional Christian morality, it is due to the inherent contradictions of an abnormal state of culture.

Wow. That's some "rabbit hole" you've got there, girl. But it sure does make perfect sense to me.

Will have to chew on this one for a while. Thanks for the bump to a truly excellent post.

43 posted on 10/19/2002 3:03:11 PM PDT by betty boop
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To: Polybius
Thanks for both of your informative posts.

I wonder if the decay mentioned couldn't have come from other causes than "decline in morality", with the latter following from the former.

For example, I wonder if Greece went through a land consolidation that disowned the small landower and the shepard of the commons. I thought I read that Rome experienced that - presumably after Polybius' time.

A new slave class, formerly self sufficient, then adopts slavish habits of "escape"...

44 posted on 10/19/2002 6:05:48 PM PDT by secretagent
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To: secretagent
I wonder if the decay mentioned couldn't have come from other causes than "decline in morality", with the latter following from the former....... For example, I wonder if Greece went through a land consolidation that disowned the small landower and the shepard of the commons. I thought I read that Rome experienced that - presumably after Polybius' time..... A new slave class, formerly self sufficient, then adopts slavish habits of "escape".

You are correct that Rome experienced a disownment of the small landowner and it occurred precisely during Polybius' lifetime between the Second and Third Punic Wars.

I would highly recommend "The Punic Wars" by Brian Caven for a detailed history of that period. During the First and Second Punic Wars, Rome relied on her citizen soldiers. They farmed their small farms during peace and then served in the Legions when duty called to defend the Republic.

The dogged determination that Rome showed until victory during the First and Second Punic War, despite massive naval losses in the First and devastating defeats by Hannibal in the Second, leaves you in awe of the Romans of that time period. It was their "Finest Hour" and the character of the Roman people during that time reminds you of the British and the American character during World War II.

However, the Roman government failed it's citizen soldiers in the end. Although some Conservatives glorify pure capitalism, what happened to Roman society after the Punic Wars shows that sometimes government does need to step in and do what is right, not only for the benefit of it's citizens but for it's own welfare.

Rome's failing was the absence of a social safety net for the families of their citizen soldiers. When a soldier lost his life or was badly wounded in battle and the wife could not maintain the farm in economic health, large landowners came in and bought those debt-ridden properties. The children of the veterans would then grow up landless and migrate to the city where the wealth from war booty allowed the government to feed Roman citizens that were less than productive.

The results were predictable and turned a noble citizen-warrior population into,.... well......Democrats.

The final nail in the coffin of the Roman Republic came when the Legions were manned by professional soldiers who were more loyal to their commanders than they were to the Republic. Where as earlier Romans fought to defend the Roman Republic and their homes, the new breed had nothing at home to fight for so they fought for their own enrichment.

Caesar just happened to be the commander that killed the Republic. With such an Army, it was only a matter of time before some commander did so.

A Julius Caesar would not have arisen in the citizen-soldier Roman army of the Punic Wars.

In regards to Greece, land ownership by large landowners was always a problem. In Athens, Solon (the Lawgiver) put a limit on the amount of land an individual could own in order to address the disownment of the small farmer. However, Greece only had about 20% of it's land suitable for farming so the Greeks had other venues such as maritime trade support it's citizens.

What truly brought about the end to ancient Greece was it's total lack of political unity. While the Romans had a gift for uniting, the Greeks were a herd of cats. Only massive threats such as Xerxes' invasion could get the Greeks to stop fighting each other and fight for Greece as a whole.

By the time of the Second Punic War, it became evident that whether the winner was Carthage or Rome, the divided Greeks would not be able to prevent a military takeover by the winner.

Polybius recounted a speech made by one Greek at a conference convened to attempt to resolve this problem of Greek disunity in the face of the military danger that was looming to the West:

Histories, Book V, Chapter 104.

I shall report the speech that Agesilaus of Naupactus made before the king and the allies at the first conference. It was as follows:

"It would be best of all if the Greeks never made war on each other, but regarded it as the highest favour in the gift of the gods could they speak ever with one heart and voice, and marching arm in arm like men fording a river, repel barbarian invaders and unite in preserving themselves and their cities. And if such a union is indeed unattainable as a whole, I would counsel you at the present moment at least to agree together and to take due precautions for your safety, in view of the vast armaments now in the field and the greatness of this war in the west.

For it is evident even to those of us who give but scanty attention to affairs of state, that whether the Carthaginians beat the Romans or the Romans the Carthaginians in this war, it is not in the least likely that the victors will be content with the sovereignty of Italy and Sicily, but they are sure to come here and extend their ambitions beyond the bounds of justice.

Therefore I implore you all to secure yourselves against this danger, and I address myself especially to King Philip. For you, Sire, the best security is, instead of exhausting the Greeks and making them an easy prey to the invader, on the contrary to take thought for them as for your own body, and to attend to the safety of every province of Greece as if it were part and parcel of your own dominions.

For if such be your policy the Greeks will bear you affection and render sure help to you in case of attack, while foreigners will be less disposed to plot against your throne, impressed as they will be by the loyalty of the Greeks to you.

If you desire a field of action, turn to the west and keep your eyes on the war in Italy, so that, wisely biding your time, you may some discovery at the proper moment compete for the sovereignty of the world. And the present times are by no means such as to exclude any hope of the kind.

But defer your differences with the Greeks and your wars here until you have repose enough for such matters, and give your whole attention now to the more urgent question, so that the power may still be yours of making war or peace with them at your pleasure.

For if once you wait for these clouds that loom in the west to settle on Greece, I very much fear lest we may all of us find these truces and wars and games at which we now play, so rudely interrupted that we shall be fain to pray to the gods to give us still the power of fighting in general with each other and making peace when we will, the power, in a word, of deciding our differences for ourselves."

45 posted on 10/20/2002 11:06:41 PM PDT by Polybius
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To: Polybius
Thanks Polybius. You really know this period!

Brian Caven, "The Punic Wars" - I'll see if I can find it used.

I don't know I agree with the majority of libertarians on land ownership or the Georgist libertarians who mark off land as a separate form of property, forever removed from private ownership.

Give me a recommendation for the Greek landowner situation, if you have one.

46 posted on 10/21/2002 10:13:36 AM PDT by secretagent
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To: LaBelleDameSansMerci
After reading your post, I feel like I have just been punched in the gut. You write beautifully. Thank you.
47 posted on 10/21/2002 1:32:35 PM PDT by Alain Chartier
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To: secretagent
Give me a recommendation for the Greek landowner situation, if you have one.

I don't have any particular text I can recommend to you dealing exclusively with the landowner situation in ancient Greece.

However, for an excellent, one stop shopping text on all things Classical, I highly recommend The Oxford Classical Dictionary that is actually a 1200 page, small font, one volume Classical encyclopedia rather than a dictionary.

It's entry on agriculture stated that although some large slave estates were established in pre-Alexandrian Greece, " Small estates remained neverthelessthe rule in the Greek motherland and were common also in the Greek colonies in Sicily and the Balck Sea coast."

Brian Caven, "The Punic Wars" - I'll see if I can find it used.

For any used book about any subject, try out the Adnced Book Exchange web page. It is a web page that gets used book dealers and buyers together. Just type in the title, author, list by cheapest price, hard back or paperback, etc. and you can find almost any used book you are looking for.

A quick search showed a copy for $10.

1. Caven, Brian
Punic Wars
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London 1980. Light rubbing on DJ., First ? Edition, F/Fine, 308 pp. Bookseller Inventory #727 Price: US$ 10.00 (Convert Currency)
Bookseller: Milan Gilmore, Richmond, CA, U.S.A. | Search this Seller's Books | Ask a Question |

48 posted on 10/21/2002 10:05:58 PM PDT by Polybius
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To: Askel5
"...Where did you get that?..."

From the bowels of my brain.

"... have you read the Children of the Last Days series yet?...

No. Do you recommed it? I have an allergy to anything that smacks of millenialist infantile fatalism. (Maybe I should learn to submit before it's too late.)

49 posted on 10/23/2002 8:01:31 AM PDT by LaBelleDameSansMerci
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To: MHGinTN
"..humankind has lost the spark of frontiers and the room to ignite...

That is a stunning image. And yet, I reject your preceding conclusion. It is suffused with an anti-humaness that I am tempermentally, intellectually and spiritually unable to embrace. It is not so much a moral posture, in my opinion, as the physical posture of submission to a monstrous self-loathing---similar in many respects to the prayer posture of mohammedan men--a degrading, submissive anti-human posture; a posture that the Greeks loathed when they witnessed their Persian foes conducting their cultural rituals.

God did not become man in order to teach us to loath ourselves; still less to teach us to deform ourselves with fatalism and submissiveness. Further, I believe the idea of Jesus is as much an attempt by God to redeem himself as to redeem us. To rescue himself from the Grim Otherness which seems to please so many self-hating humans.

And yet, the news today reveals that the victims in Witchita died kneeling in submission; naked before their persecuters. So you may be correct. In which case I will proudly go down fighting, being wrong....

50 posted on 10/23/2002 8:22:38 AM PDT by LaBelleDameSansMerci
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