A History Of The Ancient World
a book by Chester G. Starr
(our site's book review)
This is a history book of the ancient world. It’s full of historical facts, but when one looks for the overall meaning of these facts, the book is timid at best. For instance, at the end of the book, in discussing the transition from despotic power to Church power, there is no concept of growing authoritarianism and orthodoxy, of the replacement of the rational and natural by the supernatural, and the way Christianity started as a faith about peace and love and compassion and soon turned into an authoritarian quest for Church power that held back progress for centuries, in its hatred of knowledge, science, rational thought, or anything else that might rock the boat of orthodox authorities.
The Church had unmitigated power
As Carl Sagan has said, when they (religious fanatics) came to burn down the libraries (the main repository of all knowledge at the time) in Alexandria a few centuries A.D., no one even tried to stop them—such was the unmitigated power of the Church. Had such degenerate, regressive forces not been challenged by the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, mankind would still be living in a regressive Middle Ages full of pain, suffering, ignorance and poverty. For a book about details of ancient history, this is a good choice.
The regressive Middle Ages full of pain, suffering, ignorance and poverty
But for a book that has a more comprehensive and integrative approach that skips all the details and looks at the overall meaning of what it all meant then, now and in the future, the large-scale historical synthesis entitled The Third Wave, by Alvin anf Heidi Toffler, is recommended. In The Third Wave a brief account of what happened and why in the early civilizations is followed by a look at mass man in industrial civilization, which is followed by a look at diversified man in modern info-tech society, which is capped off with a look at civilization in the 21st century. The Third Wave is the essential book needed to tie the various waves of history together into a comprehensible whole—the book that makes sense of it all.
And see The Concise Untold History of the United States, which masterfully covers the rise of the American empire and national security state from the late nineteenth century through the hyper-disappointing Obama administration. It challenges prevailing orthodoxies to reveal the dark truth about the rise and fall of American imperialism. Finally, see The Secret History of the American Empire: Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and the Truth about Global Corruption, about the creation of a corrupt American Empire that was and is wrecking lives, killing people, polluting the environment, and scamming country after country with an evil shell game of cynical exploitation, and then having the unmitigated arrogance to label this as "democratization"!
We are well into the 21st century and what many feared would happen is in fact happening. Science is being replaced by religion out of fear of the future but, embarrassingly enough, also because science, like politics, has turned into a massive whorehouse where ginormous corporations can get any inconvenient science fact challenged by "experts." As the oil companies have done with global warming. They trot these experts out on talk shows to counter the scary truths about climate change, and the once ecologically aware public gets the new insight that the experts don't agree after all, so the public ceases to get behind environmentally conscious candidates and legislation. Or the public becomes apathetic about the subject, which saves Big Oil a lot of money. And religion promises to do our thinking for us as it finds all needed answers in holy books—science be damned. This is especially ominous since it is only wise thinking of intelligent species (us?) that can prevent global ecological collapse.
Humans are regressing toward pre-Enlightenment thinking that depends upon "authorities" to guide them, rather than reason, logic, and knowledge. So life will be about two things: tyrants and religion. It's almost as though civilization is stuck in reverse and along with that it would seem that human evolution is stuck in reverse. Think about it: brains that cease thinking for themselves and instead let authorities do it for them are unused organs that will degenerate. (In the Middle Ages and Dark Ages, people did little thinking and neither civilization nor evolution progressed one whit.) Thinking takes lots of effort and energy, but replaying tired old religious dogma in one's head takes hardly any energy. Sort of like watching a movie compared to writing a movie or using an app compared to programming an app. Humans are more evolved than apes because they think (or at least they used to—now they just quiver in fear in megachurches). Nonthinking humans are like apes without body hair—not much else is different. There are sayings that point out that if something isn't growing it's dying, and a flowing river stays healthy, while a stagnant pool generates diseases and smells bad. A mind replaying tired old religious dogma in place of thinking and being closed to new experiences and ideas does not flow, grow, or create. It stagnates, degenerates, and is unproductive.
Unfortunately, the 21st century Dark Ages (a.k.a. Dark Ages 2.0) will be ripe for exploitation by tyrants, demagogues, and psychotics. Narcissistic political performers will fill leadership positions—they will be people out to gain power and wealth not for the people but for themselves—to stroke their egos and improve their lot in life. Sometimes their goal will be to try to make up for the fact they dislike themselves by getting others to admire them.