Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Book Review: The Revolt against Civilization


THE REVOLT AGAINST CIVILIZATION’ by LOTHROP STODDARD, Ph D begins with the analysis of civilization more as an effect, than a cause. The effect of sustained energy, which is constantly conditioned by race. How it is a burden as well as a benefit to its members and, the mechanism by which it grows, stagnates and retrogrades is analyzed in this book.

Unless the bodies which constitute one desire so, civilization has no reason to perish. The populace, which constitute the body should be having no such desire. But throughout history it has happened. All the civilizations from time immemorial, perished. Author examines this and identifies certain tendencies common to all. The very values that enable people to civilize themselves, once civilized, take part in unmaking the civilization. 

How we fight for a law of equality when an underlying natural law, law of inequality is always at work? How then inferiority proliferates, and along with other disastrous consequences, for example, of diseases, how it spreads fast? These questions are then covered. The end result a flourishing civilization then becomes 'unsound thinking by unsound brains leading to unsound doctrines' and, 'wild thoughts', the gradual effect of which is even more dangerous as it can easily escape notice.

Thereafter the book explains how, such urges of revolt gets rationalized and ends in the destructive criticism of the existing order. How that leads to a change in hopes and aspirations of the people to finally result in a revolution. A discussion on other esoteric topics of interest like eugenics and its impact, the final death of civilization as well as its impact on society brings the book to a close.

I think many of the points mentioned here is of great significance in today’s tumultuous world. The author’s opinion on the presence of the destructive elements of a civilization, within itself, is a point to ponder. Can we put the ideas presented here to use, in moderating our world?  

As the author has found, when a civilization’s functional parameters (how life is viewed, how people are differentiated, etc) acquire a rather static nature, I think we should be expecting its demise soon. The attraction, the world is showing towards extremism, the repugnance, with which we view moderate people’s behavior, and the alacrity we show in disciplining women are all to be seen as warning signals. For example, even a casual look can show that the liberal thinking flourished in the past century is becoming a thing of past. Gone are the days when people used to take pride in calling themselves a nonconformist. There is visible competition among all groups, cults, religions and sects to identify themselves with the traditional rather than the progressive. (Banning mini skirts, swimsuits etc are only a few steps taken in this direction!)

We need to stir the society in metered doses to avoid a catastrophe.

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