Forever Under Construction

Modernity

Posted in Civilization, History by homeyra on May 15, 2007

The Abduction of Modernity, an essay by Henry CK Liu, retraces the definition of “modernity” through history. The question rises as the so called “war on terror” implies the protection of some way of life, from those who reject modernity.

Is modernity a moral progress? Are technological developments a moral progress in human civilization? Are “modernization” and “westernization” synonymous? To Taoists, modernity is a meaningless concept because truth is timeless and life goes on in circles.

In order to decipher the present situation, an Aghata Christie would advise to look for who benefits from committed crimes and the money trail. One can still read Liu‘s essay and learn much about what was said about modernity by the greatest minds in human history.

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The Abduction of Modernity covers mainly the Chinese civilization and thought – Confucianism and the Legalists, Taoism, Buddhism – its evolution and draws parallels with its Christian and European counterparts. Other chapters include Islam, the Enlightenment period, the Reformation of the Church, the rise and fall of the Ottoman Empire, the colonization era, the rise of modern Japan, Imperialism and fragmentation: While Western Europe marched steadily toward integration, the non-Western world was, and continues to be, fragmented for easy exploitation in the name of national self-determination“, and finally a last chapter: Imperialism resisted.

Liu describes the Chinese civilization and its successive occupation by barbaric invaders who came to gain access to Chinese culture, not to destroy it, and compares to the present day destructive ethnocentricity.

They were times when a combat had ethical criteria, as in the Chinese martial arts or during the medieval Europe. The Battle of Agincourt 1415, marks the end of chivalry and the obsolescence of aristocratic knights defeated by foot-soldiers applying a – so far despised and considered cowardly – killing tool: the longbow.

Gunpowder, invented around the 4th century in China, would not be used in warfare until 10th century. Chinese military planners did not modernize their martial code, and continued to suppress development of firearms as immoral up to the 19th century to China’s misfortune when confronting Europeans armies. Mao would state later that “Political power comes from the barrel of a gun“.

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Liu concludes that the technological militarism is of barbaric roots and that a civilization built on military power remains barbaric, the reverse of modernity, notwithstanding the guise of technology. The present day militarism deprives human civilization of an evolving process of cultural diversity and therefore we might be living in an institutional march from modernity back toward barbarism with the predatory license for intolerance toward other cultures.

Relevant link: Afghanistan, British Media v Reality

2 Responses

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  1. Servant said, on May 16, 2007 at 4:13 am

    … militarism is of barbaric roots and that a civilization built on military power remains barbaric …

    Pretty much goes without saying for those who stayed awake in school, doesn’t it. No you can’t borrow my notes, moron. As my kids like to say when I state the obvious – Duh, father.

    It’s a universal constant in literature around the world, like the value G or E in science. Does anyone even question it anymore, except America and Israel?

    The new American empire reminds me of a sitcom from the 1960’s that replays frequently on the late night channels – The Beverly Hillbillies. Country people who get rich by discovering oil on their property. They move to Los Angeles and try to make sense out of “modern” culture from their stereotyped parochial framework. Even though they are rich they haven’t quite figured out how grocery stores work and they like to stop traffic in Los Angeles while Grandma gets out of the truck to collect a dead animal from the side of the road to put in a stew.

    But it’s still a toss up who is more silly – the pragmatic and frugal people from the country or the insular morality of the rich and famous.

    The country with the unequalled military should have strength to spare if only a relatively small amount of force is required to solve any problem one can imagine with even a modest application of diplomacy and intelligence.

    Nineteen men with box cutters are supposed to equal Hitler’s tanks rolling through Europe and Japan bombing Pearl Harbor? 3000 people die. That’s not even a nose bleed in the United States. Not even a pin prick. 1200 people die of heart disease every day here. 4500 people die in highway accidents every month.

    But what do we see? We see a complete reenactment of World War II totally out of proportion to the damage, with missing props supplied. Where no axis powers were available, we manufacture an axis of evil out of thin air Deux Ex Machina. Then we make up a totally transparent excuse to start a war only slightly less stupid than the Gulf of Tonken Incident. And since no real threat exists anywhere we fabricate a mushroom cloud doomsday scenario with the plausibility of Chicken Little crying the sky is falling.

    Why ?

    Why is the whole world at War? Has anything happened similar to Hitler invading Poland or the Soviet Union or Czechoslovakia?

    Not even close. The only thing that happened is America received a small taste of the violence it has been handing out in the Middle East since it took up Israel’s cause and since it felt somehow justified in replacing a democratically elected leader with the Shaw of Iran.

    Then when what goes around finally comes around Americans act as stupid as the Beverly Hillbillies. We see absolutely no relationship between action and reaction. We cannot see why our perfidy should be rewarded in kind.

    If you go around throwing rocks at people’s windows, I don’t think you should be surprised if someone breaks some of your windows.

    Sorry for the long rant, Homeyra. I have been reading but I haven’t had much to say. Gotta make up for lost time.

    The fix is in. Israel wants a war with Iran and the American political system is completely enthralled.

    Kilroy was here!

  2. homeyra said, on May 16, 2007 at 10:54 am

    Hi Kilroy 
    Thanks for your thoughtful comment. What comes in my mind right now it’s too cynical! I’ll just email it to you for now.


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