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Thursday, 24 January 2013

An Approaching 'Dark Age'?

A comment left on yesterday's post by Just Another Richard, got me thinking about what we mean by a "Dark Age." When you mention this term, most people think in terms of the supposed 'collapse' of 'civilisation' in Britain and Western Europe as usually presented by popular fiction. It usually features wild Norsemen (they actually came later) pillaging their way across Europe, brning houses, destroying towns and so on. Studying history, one quickly discovers it wasn't quite like that, at least not in most of Western Europe. Certainly certain structures vanished, like the Roman civic administration and, more slowly, the road network. Another casualty was written records and there was a certain loss of 'knowledge' as the scholars retreated Eastward to Byzantium, Alexandria and other places out of reach of the wave of invaders in the West.

So what do we mean by a "Dark Age"? The definition I prefer is that it is a period in which the structures of national and local government breakdown, lawlessness prevails, knowledge and understanding are diminished and the sciences stagnate. To this list should be added, there is a collapse of communal co-operation, individualism rules with the strongest preying on the weak as new power structures emerge, old one's crumble and even national ties loosen and change. All of these are identified in studies of the late Western Roman Empire and most are present in our society today. Another key element in the run up to a "Dark Age" is the loss of a single cultural identity as mass migration begins to change the face of communities and nations. This is, again, a feature of the late Roman collapse, eventually Northern Italy, Southern France and the Dalmation coast had a higher percentage of Visigoths, Celts, Franks and Vandal inhabitants - all with a culture alien to the Roman and Etruscan/Greek occupants - than there were of the original peoples.

Looking around us we see a similar pattern developing as our economic power declines, but our perceived 'wealth' attracts those seeking to escape poverty or oppression elsewhere. Just as with the Romans, there was initially some assimilation, but increasingly, the cultures of the 'host' nations are rejected and the very cultures which locked the newcomers into poverty at home are imposed onec again. Education is, it is said, now more universal than ever before, but it is also being weakened, by the attempts to 'broaden' appeal. Drop out rates from schools are worrying in many 'western' societies and, when you couple it to the lack of 'unskilled' jobs you realise that a latge 'underclass' of poorly educated and unskilled people is being created in the midst of perhaps, one of the greatest technological ages in human history.

Our political elites have lost the trust of the majority as well, creating the opportunity for 'alternative' political structures to emerge - like the "Pirate Party" in Germany, or the socio-political "NGOs" that Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, World Wildlife Fund and even some Aid organisations have become. No longer is the ballot box sufficient for the voters, now we must take to the streets for one cause or another, demanding 'action' on something the majority present rarely fully understand and with no regard for the consequences or ramifications if the 'issue' is dealt with in the manner usually 'popularly' demanded. Just as in the late Roman period, 'celebrity cults' have formed and are exploited to drive competing ideologies of the individual or the 'masses' - a clear indicator of a would be dictator lurking in wait.

The clear marks of a dark age are the breakdown of the political structures, the prevalence of unpunished crime, the failures of education to 'educate' and the collapse of moral authority. Perhaps Just Another Richard is right, a Dark Age is looming over us. How long it will endure remains to be seen, what will emerge from it I'm not sure those who currently hold sway in education, celebrity, politics and law will like it. But then, like the Roman elites, they'll probably decamp and leave the rest of us to suffer the consequences of their folly.

5 comments:

  1. By use of the word barbarian, I don't mean to imply just a thuggish demeanor or behaviour, but also those well dressed but thoroughly dishonest interlocutors; people whose agendas are largely hidden for the most obvious of reasons - self interest or the truth that what they are selling is of no interest to the target of audience. This of course could encompass the vast majority of the Western political elite, elevated to positions of high authority by the false claims of high moral virtue, compassion and concern for the well being of the populace, all the while harbouring a latent ideological agenda, which if truth will out, would send the vast majority of sane people running of in the opposite direction.

    While it is true that the political establishment has never been held in such low regard by the populations of the entire Western world, yet still, the most venal, the most transparently obvious opportunists, continue to get themselves elected and re-elected, revealing that our societies are deeply corrupted.

    The social engineers of our age, will not stop until the chaos and disaster they have unleashed, devours them whole and in person.

    The tragedy of our age is that these deceitful charlatans can convince vast numbers of the electorate that their intentions are of the cleanest of motives and the purest of desires.

    Then again, there are vast sections of society, who will never see that the person promising the most free goodies, (with other peoples monies), does not have their best interests at heart, only their utility as a voter to further their personal political elevation.

    We would do well to remember the old adage - that those that actively seek our good offices in order to elevate themselves into positions of power and authority over us, are generally and usually, the last people who should be granted that authority

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  2. As to your last comment Monk. Where will they decamp to...good question, for where is there to go which will not be in the same dire predicament. The very forces and institutions they actively denigrate are the structures which grant them security, when those tumble the 'great and the good' will simply be food for the vultures.

    I guess they could all decamp to Fidel's Cuba, or some like place, they are after all mostly Marxist in outlook, but with all their wealthy baggage, they would offer a tempting target for the most venal amongst them, and would soon be diss-possest. I don't actually envy them their inevitable fate, for with their ill gotten gains they will become prime targets. Recall just what happened to the Roman aristocracy during the destruction of Rome, they did not fair well as the new overlords took charge of matters. Running away simply delayed the end.

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  3. Actually most of the Roman 'Nobility' did survive and survive still, those that could decamped to the East, those that couldn't formed new alliances with the invaders and managed to keep their wealth and their property in 'the family.' These are the ancestors of most of the titled families in Western Europe. As in Russia in 1917, the movable wealth left at the first sign of trouble, leaving behind the sacrificial 'scapegoat' to take the fall and noting of any usable value.

    It happened in Germany and Austria as well in 1918/19 - though much of that returned after 1949. Same happened in Cuba, which, interestingly would welcome an influx of wealth, just as China and India are at the moment. If you look at who is moving operations and wealth into China, India and Brazil, you find the same small number of very wealthy 'families' are involved. So, where do they plan to go? Choice of three really, all three offer far more stability than the 'western' economies and societies with their angst driven liberalism.

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  4. For the very wealthy...you are probably correct. But they will be few in number, as I don't see either the Indians nor the Chinese accepting a large number of immigrants, no matter how wealthy, indeed I suspect there would be a huge resistance from India, as they have spent the last 60 plus years of divesting themselves of the cultural trappings of their last encounter with white European culture.

    Which leaves the vast majority of the cultural wreckers, who will take them... the tenured academics, (the bitterness studies crowd), the no talent celebrities, the media hacks. I cannot see a reverse tide of cultural emigration, especially after the example set by these same cultural refugees within their own societies. Only the West has been foolish enough to dissolve their societies. No other culture will be prepared to follow the same path, not with the evidence of the inevitable consequences staring them right in the face.

    Then, given the small size and comparative wealth of the few remaining refugees, I don't expect them to be able to hang on to that wealth, after all the experience of the last hundred years points to the Marxist cultural proclivity to simply shoot those who have wealth which the ruling authority covets.

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  5. Both India and China are already 'accepting' this inflow of capital, but Brazil is doing better. One thing, if you study the histories, these families do is build alliances with the rich and powerful in their host nations very quickly. There are a surprising number of extremely wealthy "Chinese" in Hong Kong and Shanghai with very European names - and connections.

    As I commented earlier, by the time the revolutionaries start trying to shoot, only the sacrificial lamb remains and everything portable is long gone ...

    In today'selectronic age it is even easier to 'vanish' wealth to a new and safer location than it was in 1917 - 19. They'll hold onto the wealth OK, it's what they are very good at.

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