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EMPIRE, IDEAS, AND DREAM: POWER AND CONTROL

EMPIRE, IDEAS, AND DREAM: POWER AND CONTROL

Greek philosophy was universalised through a process known as Hellenization. Through the conquests of Macedonian commander Alexander the Great, and the expansion of the Greek Empire, the ancient cultures of the Eastern world were assimilated or absorbed into the hegemony of the Greek worldview. When the Romans emerged and seized military power over much of the former Greek Empire, the Greeks largely maintained their cultural and intellectual hegemony. This pattern was repeated in the rise of the Ottoman Empire, in which the cultural and intellectual foundation laid down by the Arabs persisted, while the Ottoman Turks provided military discipline. Our modern empire also follows similar patterns. Great Britain has provided the cultural, linguistic, and intellectual hegemony of the current international order, while America dominates the world through its military power. The teaching of the Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – provided the moral and cultural compass in spreading Western and Islamic civilisation to the rest of the world.

The foundation of modern Western civilization was laid during the Renaissance in Italy. It was during this time that the glory of ancient Greece and Rome was revived. During the Renaissance, and leading up to the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Europeans began to question the world around them. The Aristotelian model of universe that guided European society under Catholic domination was questioned. European attitudes and beliefs toward nature, God, and existence shifted in fundamental ways. During this time, God became irrelevant, the authority of the church was rejected, and the natural world was sacrificed in pursuit of science. A framework began to emerge in which the living, breathing Earth became nothing more than dead matter entangled in a sophisticated, mechanical universe. The human intellect, expression, and material gratification were glorified and prioritised as the central tenet of human evolution. With this radical shift, the Europeans placed themselves at the top of an epistemological hierarchy. The idea that “European” meant being civilised, in contrast to everyone and everything else on this planet, meant that it was their duty to remake the world in their projected image. European states embarked on a project of world domination, equipped with machine guns, bibles, and the dichotomy of civilised-uncivilised at the forefront of their minds.

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