Monday, March 27, 2017

Western Civilization and its Exiles

By Rebecca Goldstein, National Geographic (2017)
In 399 BC, the Greeks tried and killed Socrates--"the best, wisest and most upright man"--because they grew tired of his anti-democratic views.  His death caused Plato to self-exile.

The Greek Empire lasted from 776 BC to 323 BC (until the death of Alexander the Great), or about 350 years.   Yet, the moment Greece killed Socrates, it was over for the Greeks, who are today the weakest link in the European Union.

The Roman Empire lasted about 500 years.

If any place cannot keep its best people, it will eventually fail or become irrelevant.  History is simply a reiteration of places that managed to keep their best people safe while attracting--and keeping--the best people from all over the world.

Propaganda and favorable media coverage play major roles in where people go, because if you never hear of certain places due to dishonest communication or inadequate media access, they won't be able to attract the best people in a systemic or broad manner.  The problem is when propaganda deviates significantly from reality, leading to dissatisfaction among both natives and newcomers. Americans are discovering that splintering media and allowing varying levels of honesty is posing major challenges in maintaining societal cohesion.

Bonus: Wisdom is often found in the unlikeliest of places.  Guess who?

“His view of American and world politics was so on point and profound and now, eerily prophetic. Even to the last days of his life, even if his mind wasn’t always there, he was devouring the news, reading every newspaper and being an oracle who foresaw what was coming.” 

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