Alexander Inheritance – Snippet 06

Alexander Inheritance – Snippet 06

“There are several reasons,” she said, “but the most important are that Egypt is the richest province in the Macedonian empire and will be the richest in the Roman Empire. It’s the breadbasket of the Mediterranean, even more than Sicily. And Sicily is in conflict at the moment between the Greeks and the Carthaginians. Also, I don’t speak Phoenician, but I may be able to get by in Macedonian Greek. Certainly, I can write in Greek, even if the spoken language has changed more than we think.”

“We can be off the coast at Alexandria in two days, Captain,” said the man sitting next to him, who was looking at his computer screen. There were coffee cups scattered across the table, and the internal lights made the windows night black. “Fuel isn’t a problem. We were just loading up and the Reliance filled our tanks to capacity. Water isn’t a problem, either. We can purify what we need as long as we have fuel, but food will become an issue.”

The one he’d addressed as “Captain” nodded. Then, smiled at Marie and gestured toward an empty chair. “Please, Professor Easley, have a seat. Before we go any further, some introductions are in order. I am Lars Floden, the captain of this ship. This fellow” — he nodded toward the man who had just spoken” — is Staff Captain Anders Dahl. My executive officer, if this were a naval vessel. Next to him is our Environmental Compliance Officer, Dag Jakobsen.”

Now he nodded toward a woman seated at the far end of the table. “That is our Chief Purser, Eleanor Kinney. Who, judging from the way she is fidgeting, has something urgent on her mind.”

He said that in the sort of relaxed, good-humored way that Marie recognized as the mark of a capable team leader. She relaxed a little and slid into the seat he’d indicated. Having an effective ship’s captain would be critical in the situation they were in.

As soon as she sat down, Kinney spoke. Her accent was American — from somewhere on the east coast, Marie guessed. Not New York or Boston, though.

“That still leaves the question of how we’re going to pay for it,” the Chief Purser said. “It’s not like we can pull out the ship’s credit card and charge it to the company account.”

“Good point, Eleanor,” said Floden. “What do we have that we can afford to sell? We need an inventory of all goods owned by all the shops on the ship. Also ship’s stores. Nothing irreplaceable if we can avoid it. What can we make in the machine shops?”

“We can probably restock the ship once, maybe twice, out of the jewelry onboard. But that’s not a renewable resource,” Eleanor said. “The same thing is true of the fabrics on the ship but, again, it’s not a renewable resource.”

“Maybe not, but the laundry is. We can wash local fabrics. I don’t know how much of a market there will be for that, but it’s something.”

“Wait a moment, Captain,” Marie said. “You are assuming that these are civilized people.”

“Well, of course. I mean, Aristotle was Alexander’s tutor.”

Marie opened her mouth, then she closed it. Opened it again. “Alexander the Great truly was great for his time. He had a wide view of humanity, one that included not only his native tribe, but Persians and other Greeks as well. But Alexander was an exception. As much of an exception for his time as Martin Luther King, Junior was for his. And Alexander would be tried for war crimes in our century. Murder, rapine, slavery, brutalization, theft by force of arms — all these things are considered perfectly acceptable, even honorable, behavior in this day and age. Failure to kill your enemies is considered insane weakness.

“In the years after Alexander’s death, every single member of his family was murdered. Some of them quite brutally, and often killed by other members of the family. His mother Olympias killed his half-brother, Philip III, and forced Philip’s teenage wife Eurydice to commit suicide. Well, will kill. It hasn’t happened yet. Alexander’s wife, Roxane, had his other two wives killed within a week of his death, and she was later murdered herself, along with his only legitimate son, Alexander IV. Of the roughly two dozen top military commanders who launched the decades-long civil war that followed Alexander’s death, only three survived — Seleucus, Antigonus — not the first one, called ‘the One-Eyed,’ but his grandson — and Ptolemy. And Ptolemy, perhaps the sanest of his generals, founded a line of monarchs where incest was not just allowed, but required.”

She looked around the table. “We have arrived in the historical period known as ‘the Age of the Diadochi.’ That’s a Greek term that means ‘successors.’ Have any of you seen the TV series Game of Thrones?”

Anders shook his head; Floden and Kinney nodded.

“Well, you can think of the Age of the Diadochi as Game of Thrones on steroids. Captain Floden, these are not civilized people we will be dealing with. I can say with a high degree of certainty that the only civilized people on the planet are on board this ship. And I am actually an admirer of Alexander and Ptolemy, if you take them within their context. Further, we are just at the beginning of the wars of the Diadochi. The political and military situation of the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East is out of control right now, rudderless because Alexander was the rudder, the center that held everything together. As brutal and ruthless as the people of this era were in ordinary times, they will be even less civilized now.”

She moved her finger in a circle, indicating her surroundings. “They will attempt to take this ship by force of arms and failing that, by treachery. Any other course would be rank insanity by the standards of the time.”

Floden took a deep breath and let it out. “What do you recommend then, Professor Easley? Should we go back to the island? Should we head for America? Understand, we will be out of food by the time we get there, but we can get there.”

“No. We will have to deal with Egypt. It’s probably the most civilized place on Earth. But deal with them with guns out and armed, and with one hand on your wallet.”

Floden made a face. “Professor Easley –”

“Call me Marie, please.” She smiled. “You’ll wear yourself out if you plant ‘professor’ in front of my name every time we talk.”

He returned the smile. “Marie, then.” He made no reciprocal offer but Marie wasn’t offended. There were good reasons to keep calling a commander by his title in a situation like this. Her title just got in the way.

“This is not a warship, Marie. We have a total of twenty pistols locked in a safe,” Floden said.

“Well, bring them out and have the security people start wearing them,” Marie said. “And see if you can get them some swords and armor too. Something that the Greeks and Egyptians will recognize as weapons. Understand me, Captain, this ship is worth fighting a war for. Worth risking a thousand men in a foolish charge, if there is one chance in fifty of taking it.”

“Come now, Prof — ah, Marie. I know that we are…” Anders Dahl’s voice trailed off as he ran out of the right words to say what he wanted to convey.

Marie could make a good guess at what that was. However advanced their technology, they were only five thousand people and only one ship. Granted, it was the biggest and best ship in the world, but still only one. That had to put a hard limit on its value. She understood, and even sort of wished the staff captain was right. Instead, she shook her head.

“No, Staff Captain Dahl. If any king in this world could, he would trade his capital city for this ship without a moment’s hesitation. Babylon, Memphis, Athens — all of them together don’t represent so much wealth, in machines, in knowledge, even in direct ability to exert power. Pack them to the deck heads and you can put an army of twenty thousand men on any coast, anywhere in the world, in days or, at most, weeks.”

 

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57 Responses to Alexander Inheritance – Snippet 06

  1. Lyttenburgh says:

    “. Captain Floden, these are not civilized people we will be dealing with. I can say with a high degree of certainty that the only civilized people on the planet are on board this ship”

    What is “civilized” anyway? I sense arrogance and bias, and authors’ tract. On steroids.

    • Tweeky says:

      By our standards the cultures the ship will have to deal are brutal barbarians with Egypt being the best of the lot and in most places for example women are little better than slaves and chattel (Ancient Egypt was an exception).

      • Lyttenburgh says:

        “By our standards the cultures the ship”

        Define “our”.

        • Tweeky says:

          Twentieth-century standards of civilisation.

          • Lyttenburgh says:

            “Twentieth-century standards of civilisation.”

            And what are these “twentieth-century standards of civilisation”? Concentration camps were the direct product of said “civilization”. Atomic bombarments? Chemical warfare?

            • cka2nd says:

              Twentieth-Century standards of civilization also include modern sanitation, public health care and child care, mass vaccination, retirement security, representative democracy, labor and human rights, the rule of law and repugnance for chattel slavery. None of these have been achieved in their pure, ideal form, and there can be and has been backsliding on all of them. But at least Flint acknowledges that improvements in the standards of civilization are usually a result of the struggles of the lower classes (castes, races and nations) to win from the upper classes (castes, races and nations) the same rights and privileges that the latter would otherwise horde for themselves.

              Human progress is not without its faults, bumps and reversals, but it is real.

              • Lyttenburgh says:

                “Twentieth-Century standards of civilization also include modern sanitation, public health care and child care, mass vaccination, retirement security, representative democracy, labor and human rights, the rule of law and repugnance for chattel slavery.”

                Are you claiming that these are universal standards that could be found everywhere and not, say, mainly in the so-called First World?

                “Human progress is not without its faults, bumps and reversals, but it is real.”

                How do you define “human progress”? I can understand scientific and technical progress, because it could be measured and quatified. But as for the rest, who is to judge?

              • cka2nd says:

                I didn’t see a reply link below Lyttenburgh’s reply to my earlier post, so here is my reply to him:

                Modern sanitation, mass vaccination, labor and human rights, etc., etc. are universal standards that are ASPIRED to, and sometimes attained, in the non-First World. Imperialism and local elites generally unite to deny such aspirations when gaining them would interfere with their profits and/or power are threatened, but they are standards to which many or most aspire.

                One measure of “human” progress is average life expectancy. The average life expectancy in ancient Egypt was 30 years old. Another measure – a subjective one, it can be argued – is the treatment of women within a civilization. Chinese civilization has “progressed” from footbinding. Modern Egyptian civilization has not “progressed” nearly far enough from female circumcision.

            • marcel says:

              Sadly those concentration camps wouldn’t cause anyone to raise an eyebrow in the BC Era. Nor would Pol Pot, or Mao, or Stalin, or China’s “gang of four”. Reinhard Heydrich would probably be their idea of a strong leader.

              The Greeks razed Troy and left no survivors (except Aeneas) , Cyrus & Darius & Xerxes murdered hundreds of thousands of Greek citizens in response to their insurrections. In the third Punic war (149-146BC) the Romans burnt down Carthage, and plowed the soil with salt. Egyptian soldiers were paid for the number of right hands they turned in after the battle.
              Also, forget about freedom of religion, because the state religion is part of the tyrant’s power base.

              And I’d hazard a guess that the human rights situation for women and Jews in Saudi Arabia today isn’t (much) better than in it was in Nazi Germany.

              So in the end, even including two world wars, the holocaust, and colonialism, when we talk about 20th-century civilization (or 21st), we should mean USA, Canada, NZ, Australia, Japan and Europe including Russia. For all its many faults, it is still less violent than the rest of the world. Even Latin America’s dirty generals can’t compete with African warlords in terms of genocide, or with Pakistan’s oppression of Bangladesh, …

              • Lyttenburgh says:

                “The Greeks razed Troy and left no survivors (except Aeneas)”

                You know this is a myth, right? Albeit, yes, real Troy did suffer enough disasters including several sackings.

                “Cyrus & Darius & Xerxes murdered hundreds of thousands of Greek citizens in response to their insurrections.”

                Why not billions? :) I’d like to see a source about “hundreds of thousands “, btw.

                “In the third Punic war (149-146BC) the Romans burnt down Carthage, and plowed the soil with salt. “

                What, you weep over salt wasted?

                “Egyptian soldiers were paid for the number of right hands they turned in after the battle.”

                1) Assyrian
                2) Allegedly.

                “Also, forget about freedom of religion, because the state religion is part of the tyrant’s power base.”

                If you were brought up in such society you would know no better and truly belive in that. So – irrelevant.

                “And I’d hazard a guess that the human rights situation for women and Jews in Saudi Arabia today isn’t (much) better than in it was in Nazi Germany. “

                Are they gassed? Rounded up and sent into extermination camps?

                P.S. Godwin 4 ze win!

                “So in the end, even including two world wars, the holocaust, and colonialism, when we talk about 20th-century civilization (or 21st), we should mean USA, Canada, NZ, Australia, Japan and Europe including Russia. “

                Absolutely arrogant and parochial, and shows your own ethno-cultural bias.

    • hank says:

      By its original definition “civilized” just meant “living in cities.” This is *not* the meaning anybody has used for, at a guess, 1500-2000 years now.
      Yes, civilized is a loaded word, as is barbarian. But civilized is the word people will use to mean “people who meet our standards of proper behaviour.” That is what civilized has come to mean.
      It is easily possible to drive oneself nuts over meanings of words like this. For a different example, I avoid using words like liberal, conservative, fascist, communist, etc. in casual conversation.
      Hank
      PS (WAY off topic) Ever since I was a little kid back in the late 1960’s I’ve been amused by the phrase “Godless Commies.” A little bit of research will quickly show that the only groups that have tmade communism work for a period that can be measured in multiple years were *all* religiously based. (and most of them couldn’t make it work over multiple generations.) It is a common mistake to confuse terms of political ways society can be organized with terms that are about economic ones. IE: Democracy is not a synonym for capitalism, nor is totalitarian a synonym for socialism. ( and I tend to think both socialism & capitalism are deeply flawed systems, just in different areas. (Good news-each is the cure for the problems of the other.)

      • Johnny says:

        As a side note, polynesians practiced communism for thousands of years and it wasn’t religious based.

        Of course they didn’t have much exterior pressure other than other polynesians, they had limited resources and land, they had a unified culture… lots of things that other countries didn’t have.

        • Mark L says:

          . . . and if you proved too antisocial (by their standards), you got invited to dinner – as the main course. Especially when food resources got too limited on a Polynesian island. An invitation you could only ignore by getting in your boat with others disfavored and finding another place to call home.

      • Lyttenburgh says:

        “Ever since I was a little kid back in the late 1960’s I’ve been amused by the phrase “Godless Commies.””

        You don’t need to go anywhere far or obscure, when you have the example of the first Christian (THE Christian, I might add) ecclesia of Jerusalem set up by the Apostles.

      • marcel says:

        Civilization should also mean the social contract (a 19th-century term) necessary to live in those urban/urbanized societies. That is, the commonly accepted forms of social interaction necessary to make that city (and the lands around it) survive.

        • Lyttenburgh says:

          “Civilization should also mean the social contract (a 19th-century term) necessary to live in those urban/urbanized societies. “

          Why?

          “That is, the commonly accepted forms of social interaction necessary to make that city (and the lands around it) survive.”

          Gee, there must be no cities before that and invention of the social contract… Oh, wait!..

    • John Cowan says:

      There is civilization elsewhere on the planet, like China, although it’s politically disunited at the moment (the Warring States period). But truly, Christianity and Islam have (as Mary Renault said) “irrevocably changed the moral reflexes of the world.” As of now the standard is still pagan Greek: “Do good to your friends and evil to your enemies.”

    • Jeff Ehlers says:

      The only serious bias I’m seeing here is coming from Lyttenburgh.

      Anyone from the 20th century who got sent back in time more than a few decades would be appalled at the commonly-accepted standards of any culture they encountered. Standards that differ too much are almost always going to be considered barbaric or insane – as much by the people from the 20th century as by the people of the time they got plopped into.

      But using that as an excuse to lambaste a writer for being ‘biased’ is, frankly, nonsensical. Like it or not, this is a reasonably accurate description of how people from this time would react to standards that are so dramatically different from the ones they’re used to. It’s how the human mind works, after all.

  2. Lack of civilization is a major problem.

    But someday we will get a novel of teh people from 5000 AD finding themselves in a North Dakota wheat field.

    “This is a war machine. We duplicated it from George Pal’s documentary of the martian Invasion…Mars was habitable until 5000AD, when the Lords of Time interfered with its formation, thus cancelling the appearance of martian civilization…we replaced real Martians with artificial intelligences…we realize you have neat weapons. Do you think three of these for each inhabitant of the Earth will be adequate?…no, we did not mine anything. The matter summoner creates matter out of nothing, summoning it from foam space…We did try bribing your politicians, a billion dollars each…no that was goods and services…no that was for each inhabitant of the country, not just for each politician…sorry to hear you are marching on your national capital with pitchforks and hot tar…”

  3. dave o says:

    As far as I can recall, all of the diadoche were murderous bastards. They ranged from bad to very bad.

    It’s worth noting that this snippet makes the point that there are not enough uptimers, and especially uptime resources to have much of an effect on the Mediterranean world. The ship is the only resource which has much value, and only so long as there is fuel to run it. Given that, what’s the point of this novel?

    • Doug Lampert says:

      Eh? The ship is, as they point out, worth more than any other collection of objects in the world, including the combined value of at least three major cities (including the value of the people in those cities).

      The combination of knowledge, and transportation infrastructure, and built in manufacturing capability of their machine shops makes them vastly more capable of changing the world than Grantville was. I’m not sure where you’re seeing them as helpless, they only have 20 firearms, so what? The response to that isn’t “we need more guns”, it’s “get them out, and we also need weapons that the locals will recognize as weapons”.

      • dave o says:

        Only if they have a good supply of magic wands. One ship, with no support on land, except with the cooperation of the most treacherous rulers of the era, and with technology more than two millennia more primitive than the 17th century? Dream on!

    • Tweeky says:

      As was pointed out in an earlier snippet the ship is a “Flex Fuel” type meaning it can use a wide range of fuels in its engines. So with the proper planning it can run for quite a long time.

      • dave o says:

        except that the infrastructure to provide any of the possible energy sources does not exist, and cannot be produced without the cooperation of land powers. Maybe they can run the ship on olive oil, Where will they get it?

        • marcel says:

          A standard cruise ship would need about 60,000 gallons of diesel per day, or 250,000 bottles of olive oil. You might be better of with bio ethanol from Egyptian grain.

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      “As far as I can recall, all of the diadoche were murderous bastards. They ranged from bad to very bad.”

      Define “murderous” and “bastards”.

      Do you really think, that should the situation reverse, and some Sufficiently Advanced Aliens ™ would find themselves stuck on our planet today, the so-called “Civilized” Powers That Be, who are, on the outside, does not appear to be “murderous bastards” will behave any differently?

      Oh, wait!..

      • dave o says:

        Murderous: responsible for killing or directing to be killed large numbers of people.

        • Lyttenburgh says:

          I.e. – basically any modern day head of state who persues, with, ha-ha, “independent foreign policy”?

          Once again – what’s the point of this pontification and how about stop being hypocritical?

          • Drak Bibliophile says:

            IMO (and I’m not a moderator) Lyttenburgh is acting as a troll not as a reasonable person.

            We won’t convince him of anything so it is better to “Not Feed The Troll”.

            • Lyttenburgh says:

              I’m not trolling – I’m genuinly interested to find the answers here. Are you, Drak? Or is it all perfectly clear cut for you? Then, please, by all means – share with us your knowledge and answer my questions about what is civilization.

            • Daryl Saal says:

              I agree Drak. People when debating listen and consider each other’s arguments, Trolls keep pushing buttons to get a reaction.
              At core in this discussion is that meekly going ashore with costume jewelry from the on board shops would not result in trade, just a takeover. Regardless of pedantic semantics, civilised people would see the longer term advantages of trade, barbarians just want to take violently.

              • Lyttenburgh says:

                “At core in this discussion is that meekly going ashore with costume jewelry from the on board shops would not result in trade, just a takeover.”

                You are absolutely right. There were no trade (by sea or land) in the Ancient world. No whatsoever, nooope! [nod, nod]

      • Jeff Ehlers says:

        It’s clear at this point that Lyttenburgh is trolling, but at least he’s being reasonably smart about it. Sometimes, having someone who’s willing to be abrasive to make a point can advance a discussion, but it’s a fine line to have to walk.

        That being said, I think there would be a notable difference between the reactions of people from 381 BCE reacting to people from 2400 years in the future, and the reactions of people from 2017 CE to people from 2400 years in the future. Civilization builds up over time, after all; failing to recognize that simply demonstrates the truism about not learning from history.

    • Ron says:

      Cruise ships are massive with multiple thousands of guests and a crew. Many of which will have usable skills, creativity, and resourcefulness. Use the vessels ubiquitous uptime garbage such as glass bottles and jars, plastic water bottles that actually irreplaceable wonders to the people of the time to collect bulk quantities raw materials grain,wood, leather, stone, sand, ore, flax/cotton to turn into simple value added items will technological marvels to the locals in the vessels various work shops: carpentry, upholstery, tailor, machines hop. Work with the executive chef to preserve the seeds from the up time fresh produce on board that’s 2000+ More years selective breeding. Use the machine shop to turn out simpler versions of modern tools that still orders of magnitude more efficient than anything in that era. The technical section of a cruise ship has more than a dozen well trained marine engineers who are some of the most resourceful people I have known.

      • Tweeky says:

        Something that overtime that would have profound impact would be the introduction from the ship’s stores of potatoes, tomatoes, sweetcorn and other New World crops.

  4. Geoffrey Nichols says:

    It occurs to me that what they can easily sell is ice cubes. The ship already produces lots of ice. It is totally renewable as long as the ship has power. There is no local source of competition. The Greeks and Macidonians, if not the Egyptians, are also familiar with the produce.

    sent from
    Freedom of the Seas
    34 N 37 W

    • Tweeky says:

      The Egyptians would certainly find ice-cubes an amzing novelty which they’d pay a lot of money for.

      • Randomiser says:

        Or they could take the ship, enslave the crew and have all the ice they want for free. 20 pistols is not a lot of firepower with which to repel boarders while near shore trading. (I don’t suppose they have a whole lot of ammo either, nor that even american cruise ship allow passengers to bring weapons onboard.)

        Clearly they need local help. Maybe by becoming valuable to several factions/rulers as quickly as possible so that the locals stand each other off. Not quite sure how they get there. That may be the fun of the book. On the other hand , I’m pretty sure it’s not an accident that the Prologue shows us two highly placed women …

    • Ron says:

      clean potable water unto itself would be valuable even unfrozen.

      • Lyttenburgh says:

        “clean potable water unto itself would be valuable even unfrozen.”

        Why? People were getting by without it. They can’t produce it on the industrial volume to replace beer and vine as the go-to drink.

        • Tim Helbing says:

          Nobody’s putting a gun to your head and forcing you to read. If you don’t like the way they’re telling the story then don’t read it. I have questions too, we’ll see how well the book answers them.

          • Lyttenburgh says:

            Nobody’s is putting a gun to my head so as to force me not to read and not to post comments and not to offer criticizm either.

            • Jeff Ehlers says:

              Yep, you have nobody to blame but yourself for the way you’re commenting, and the way people are reacting to it.

      • marcel says:

        People prefer beer, it’s what Egyptians have been using since 3000BC instead of water, exactly because it is germ free.
        And, as I’ve said, this ship cannot be refueled, it simply needs to much fuel for this era’s agricultural base.

  5. Lyttenburgh says:

    2cka2nd

    “Modern sanitation, mass vaccination, labor and human rights, etc., etc. are universal standards that are ASPIRED to, and sometimes attained, in the non-First World.”

    Really? “Aspired”? By whom? With what kind of effort? Do you know the number of the people on our “up-time” Earth without access to the clean water?

    Empty rhetorics by a bunch of the so-called “First-Worlders” does not determine whether something is “aspired to”, neither do they have the moral or any other authority to judge whether something is indeed a sign of “civilization”. All such things are subjective.

    “Imperialism and local elites generally unite to deny such aspirations when gaining them would interfere with their profits and/or power are threatened, but they are standards to which many or most aspire.

    I’m sorry, but the “Imperialism” you are talking about here is the chief benefactor of both these so-called “universal standards” (hint: they are not “universal”) and the idea that some model of the worldview (hint: its own) constitute a real “civilization”. Most of the people aspire to so little, as food, water and shelter, which doesn’t cut event a tenth of what is considered by some enlightened privileged people as the, ha-ha, “universal” standards.

    “One measure of “human” progress is average life expectancy. The average life expectancy in ancient Egypt was 30 years old”.

    Average life expectancy among some remote and technology not very advanced people (either if taken in the historical perspective or if viewed today) if also rather big. It only tells about the environment, diet and stuff like that.

    “Another measure – a subjective one, it can be argued – is the treatment of women within a civilization. Chinese civilization has “progressed” from footbinding. Modern Egyptian civilization has not “progressed” nearly far enough from female circumcision.”

    You are absolutely right – it’s subjective and, therefore, irrelevant.

    • cka2nd says:

      You really are an arrogant, self-righteous and self-satisfied SOB.

      “Really? “Aspired”? By whom? With what kind of effort?” I am no expert, but I know a fair something about the history of revolutionary struggle in the modern world, from Patagonia to Guatemala and from Indonesia to Ireland. Tens of millions of desperately poor people have fought for the power to achieve a standard of living that you so lightly dismiss as “subjective.”

      “I’m sorry, but the “Imperialism” you are talking about here is the chief benefactor of both these so-called “universal standards” (hint: they are not “universal”) and the idea that some model of the worldview (hint: its own) constitute a real “civilization”.

      Bullshit. Do you think that the ruling classes of Europe, the USA and Japan just decided out of the blue to build cleaner and healthier cities? To mandate mass vaccination out of the goodness of their hearts? The same people who allowed their own children to die at a rate that is unimaginable to their descendants today?of Every fucking improvement in the standard of living of the majority in the developed world was a result of their having fought for and won some measure of power and some measure of access to “the good life.”

      “Average life expectancy among some remote and technology[ly] not very advanced people (either if taken in the historical perspective or if viewed today) if also rather big. It only tells about the environment, diet and stuff like that.”

      Talk about ignorance! As if man does not alter his environment, his diet or “stuff.” Modern sanitation, public health campaigns, easily accessible health care, better housing, a sufficient diet are all “stuff” that people have worked for and struggled for. And in some cases, that some smart members of the ruling class have implemented for their own purposes.

      “Empty rhetorics by a bunch of the so-called “First-Worlders” does not determine whether something is “aspired to”, neither do they have the moral or any other authority to judge whether something is indeed a sign of “civilization”. All such things are subjective…You are absolutely right – it’s subjective and, therefore, irrelevant.”

      So then, shall we discard the concept of civilization altogether? How about justice? Human rights? Labor rights? Civil rights? Does a trade unionist in Germany have no right to come to the aid of trade unionists in Cambodia or Egypt? Or vice versa? Should the Catholic Church have kept quiet about the Nazi murder of the developmentally disabled because it was morally compromised in other areas? I am well aware, thank you, that such rights are often hollow, or only applied in some places and at some times. And that they can be used by the imperialists for their own ends. But I don’t see where your “philosophy” gets anyone anything.

      • Lyttenburgh says:

        “You really are an arrogant, self-righteous and self-satisfied SOB.”

        My dear userperson cka2nd! I assure you that:

        A) My mother was a virtuous woman.
        B) I’m my father’s son

        So your “SOB” part is totally unwarranted. As pretty much all others:

        1) Please, I honestly implore you, userperson cka2nd, to show where was I sinning by arrogance!

        2) What do you understand by “self- righteousness”? I, honestly, have no idea. Do you have you own variety of righteousness? If you have – won’t it make it, well, a “self- righteousness” because YOU have it?

        Or do you have some other objective and universally accepted source of morals?

        3) I’m not self satisfied… whatever. Some other persons, other than myself, told me they were satisfied… afterwards. Well… What can I add?

        “I am no expert, but I know a fair something about the history of revolutionary struggle in the modern world, from Patagonia to Guatemala and from Indonesia to Ireland. Tens of millions of desperately poor people have fought for the power to achieve a standard of living that you so lightly dismiss as “subjective.””

        For an indignant answer you start rather… weak. First question – how did they fare?

        While you are looking – take a look at your phone, T-Shirt, sneakers, any-other-random-so-called-first-world-shit. Isn’t it brought to you by… oh, wait for it!.. tens of millions of desperately poor people have fought for the power to achieve a standard of living that you so lightly promote as “objective.”?!

        “Bullshit. Do you think that the ruling classes of Europe, the USA and Japan just decided out of the blue to build cleaner and healthier cities?

        They built, did they?! Wow! Detroit must be awesome this time of the year! And the face masks – they totally are not necessary in the Eastern Asia, right?!

        “To mandate mass vaccination out of the goodness of their hearts?

        [Sniff, Sniff] Can you smell it? Bah, of course not! Big pharma can not be smelled by someone like you, right?

        “The same people who allowed their own children to die at a rate that is unimaginable to their descendants today?”

        I’d really like to see where there is a place where economic’s elite young ‘uns are allowed such luxury as to die off at, ah, “unimaginable rate”. Where?

        “Every fucking improvement in the standard of living of the majority in the developed world…

        You meant – “so-called First World”

        …was a result of their having fought for and won some measure of power and some measure of access to “the good life.””…

        Jolly good. Have you done already as I was suggesting recently? It’s easily searchable knowledge, just look for amount of people who can allow themselves clean water today! You might be surprised, my dear – some of those who CAN’T live in the so-called “First World”, an alleged plenipotentiary holder of the fucking civilization!

        “So then, shall we discard the concept of civilization altogether?”

        In order to discard them I have to know them! And you failed to produce them.

        “How about justice?”

        Yes – what about it? When so-called “justice” (derived from the purely Latin form of IUSTICIA) becomes detrimental, insufficient, harmful or just not enough for the justness? Can you tell me?

        “Human rights? Labor rights? Civil rights? Does a trade unionist in Germany have no right to come to the aid of trade unionists in Cambodia or Egypt? Or vice versa?”

        Again – what about them? What makes them objectively “progressive”? Who determines that?

        Want to talk about something “objectively” derived? Here’s Christianity!

        The problem with believing in intrinsic rights and Christian morality (as opposed to other forms of objective morality) is that Christianity speaks of duties, not rights, and the idea of intrinsic rights (let alone “God-given” ones) was utterly alien to traditional Christian theology for the first 1700 years of its existence.

        That’s not to say that you can’t be a Christian and support human rights. Of course you can (kinda…)! But only if you conceive of human rights as a useful method of creating a moral society, open to change and modification as circumstances dictate, and NOT as some kind of intrinsic property of the universe (as in the concept of “natural rights”).

        God only gave humans duties. Not any rights. No. Not. At. All.

        Rights are created by societies and states. Ergo – they are totally subjective.

        “Should the Catholic Church have kept quiet about the Nazi murder of the developmentally disabled because it was morally compromised in other areas?”

        1) Are you Catholic? I’m asking this seriously.

        2) I’m not a member of the Roman Catholic Church.

        3) See above about some objective morality.

        “I am well aware, thank you, that such rights are often hollow, or only applied in some places and at some times. And that they can be used by the imperialists for their own ends. But I don’t see where your “philosophy” gets anyone anything.”

        Bollocks. Neither you, nor someone else here in this thread managed to answer two (2) simple questions:

        1) What is the civilization?

        2) Is the moral objective or subjective? [Hint: will help you greatly answering the (1)]

        Can you now? Can you, userperson cka2nd?

        • Lyttenburgh says:

          “Talk about ignorance! As if man does not alter his environment, his diet or “stuff.” Modern sanitation, public health campaigns, easily accessible health care, better housing, a sufficient diet are all “stuff” that people have worked for and struggled for. And in some cases, that some smart members of the ruling class have implemented for their own purposes.”

          I didn’t have to resort to that but [sight] here we go – bloody facts!

          1) Abkhazia: Ancients of the Caucasus, by John Robbins

          2) 5 Longest Living People In The World & What Makes Them So Healthy

          All without so-called “social progressed”, and achieved – literally – centuries ago. But – go ahead! Publish an article proving yourself right. It’s read it, for sure – and review. As many, many other people!

          • cka2nd says:

            You’re comparing apples to oranges. All of the examples from Robbins’ book appear to be based on the “Average life expectancy among some remote and technology[ly] not very advanced people,” as opposed to large, more technologically advanced societies, from ancient Egypt, China and Rome to today or the more recent past (for instance, Britain before World War I, which convinced the ruling class that they had to improve the quality of the masses’ housing if they expected to get healthier soldiers for their wars).

            • Lyttenburgh says:

              And I demonstrated that longer life span could be achieved without the society becoming more “progressive”. It is not a prerequisite for that, so, objectively, it cannot be used as a milestone to mark a real Progress.

        • cka2nd says:

          Examples of your arrogance, self-righteousness and self-satisfaction:

          “And what are these “twentieth-century standards of civilisation”? Concentration camps were the direct product of said “civilization”. Atomic bombarments? Chemical warfare?”

          “Empty rhetorics by a bunch of the so-called “First-Worlders” does not determine whether something is “aspired to”, neither do they have the moral or any other authority to judge whether something is indeed a sign of “civilization”.”

          “some enlightened privileged people”

          You highlight only the bad. You dismiss your opponents as privileged and “First Worlders” based on nothing more than their arguments. You imply that no “First Worlders” at all have “the moral or any other authority to judge whether something is indeed a sign of “civilization,” as if none of them have opposed imperialism or apartheid, or put their own bodies on the line. Do “Third Worlders” have such authority? Any of them? Did Mobutu Sese Seju? Does the King of Saudi Arabia?

          • Lyttenburgh says:

            “Examples of your arrogance, self-righteousness and self-satisfaction:”

            And? Nothing in these quotes proves your point. What I say there is true. You can’t argue with that.

            “You highlight only the bad. You dismiss your opponents as privileged and “First Worlders” based on nothing more than their arguments.

            No, I’m asking to take off your rose-tinted glass and see the picture of the so-called “civilization” as it is, warts and all. And, besides, how can I see other people here on the Net, if not through their own words, i.e. the arguments they make?

            BTW – are you going to argue that you, personally, are not a First Worlder? That you, compared to the vast majority of humans out there, has access to, well, much more of basically everything?

            “You imply that no “First Worlders” at all have “the moral or any other authority to judge whether something is indeed a sign of “civilization,” as if none of them have opposed imperialism or apartheid, or put their own bodies on the line.

            Yes, that’s right. They have no such right just because some of them did a right thing – too often too little and too late. Because for every firebrand opponent of these things there were lots and lots of people who endorsed and benefited from them, while the vast majority of the people simply didn’t care.

            “Do “Third Worlders” have such authority? Any of them? Did Mobutu Sese Seju? Does the King of Saudi Arabia?”

            Wow. Such a strawman you here! Pease, point out, where did I claimed that only so-called “Third Worlders” (itself an invention of the so-called “First Worlders”) must be held as the paragons of morality and civilization? No, you won’t find any.

            I asked you to answer several questions up there. You, naturally, deemed that below your dignity. But without answering ONE question we can’t move further here in our discussion. And the question is – “Whether the moral is objective or subjective”? What is your stance and why?

            • cka2nd says:

              “No, I’m asking to take off your rose-tinted glass and see the picture of the so-called “civilization” as it is, warts and all.”

              If you can’t tell from what I’ve written that I see the “warts and all” of modern civilization, then you are too close-minded for this discussion.

              “BTW – are you going to argue that you, personally, are not a First Worlder? That you, compared to the vast majority of humans out there, has access to, well, much more of basically everything?”

              I absolutely am a first-worlder. At the moment, I happen to be a poor first-worlder, barely scraping by paycheck to paycheck, which still affords me a lifestyle with access to clean drinking water and enough calories per day to survive, not to mention internet access, heat and hot water and 24/7 electricity. Does this mean that I have no right to oppose my government’s actions in Syria or Yemen or Honduras or Venezuela? How about in my father’s native land? Or does this mean that I cannot form my own opinions and must simply accept the ideology of a particular movement in such countries? Interestingly enough, former comrades of mine were chastised by fellow Americans for criticizing the Sandinistas and the African National Congress back in the 80’s, but representatives of those two groups had no problem with it.

              “Yes, that’s right. They have no such right just because some of them did a right thing – too often too little and too late.”

              And who the fuck are you to judge, you arrogant ass?!?

              “Because for every firebrand opponent of these things there were lots and lots of people who endorsed and benefited from them, while the vast majority of the people simply didn’t care.”

              So who does have the authority? And it is not as if the vast majority of ANY people mobilize to end injustice for any great length of time.

              “I asked you to answer several questions up there. You, naturally, deemed that below your dignity.”

              Actually, as I noted below, I wasn’t finished responding to you.

        • cka2nd says:

          “First question – how did they fare?”

          Generally, not well, because most revolutions fail, especially when going up enormously powerful imperial or local powers.

          “While you are looking – take a look at your phone, T-Shirt, sneakers, any-other-random-so-called-first-world-shit. Isn’t it brought to you by… oh, wait for it!.. tens of millions of desperately poor people have fought for the power to achieve a standard of living that you so lightly promote as “objective.”?!”

          And your point? Jobs have been moved from high wage and unionized areas to lower wage and non-unionized areas probably since the beginning of capitalism. The American South is the U.S.’s very own third world and has been since the end of Reconstruction. Some of us actually protest both the movement of such jobs and the horrible working conditions, crappy compensation and anti-union violence throughout the world.

          “They built, did they?! Wow! Detroit must be awesome this time of the year! And the face masks – they totally are not necessary in the Eastern Asia, right?!”

          For an historian, you seem to have very little sense of history, including the rise and fall of cities like Detroit, Gary and Buffalo. Or that typhus and other communicable diseases are making comebacks as income and wealth inequality are getting worse in the First and Third Worlds. Or that industrialization and mass ownership of cars leads to bad air quality, which can be addressed through mass or elite action. You seem fixated on the now but not on either how it happened or how it might change.

          “[Sniff, Sniff] Can you smell it? Bah, of course not! Big pharma can not be smelled by someone like you, right?”

          I missed this little bit of arrogance in my earlier list. Jesus, is everything black or white with you? Mass vaccination exists only because of Big Pharma? Public fear of polio and smallpox had nothing to do with it? Is mass vaccination a bad thing? India, China and other Third World nations violated Big Pharma’s “intellectual property rights” for decades to get drugs out there at a fraction of the cost; was elite profits the sole goal of that, or did their publics have something to do with it?

          “I’d really like to see where there is a place where economic’s elite young ‘uns are allowed such luxury as to die off at, ah, “unimaginable rate”. Where?”

          The question you should be asking is “When” not “where,” since I referenced “their DESCENDANTS today.” As an historian, I would think that you are aware that the childhood death rate was higher in the past for all classes of society than it is today throughout most of the world.

          “You meant – ‘so-called First World'”

          No, I meant the developed world. Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea can no longer be considered Third World, but First World implies white, as in Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The Second World of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc no longer exists. Imprecise , I still use Third World on occasion, especially as the imperial centers undo whatever progress was made in those countries over the last century by imposing austerity and the free flow of capital on them, or smashing them militarily.

          “Have you done already as I was suggesting recently? It’s easily searchable knowledge, just look for amount of people who can allow themselves clean water today!”

          No I did not, because I imagine that the number is somewhere north of two or maybe three billion people.

          “You might be surprised, my dear – some of those who CAN’T live in the so-called “First World”, an alleged plenipotentiary holder of the fucking civilization!”

          Who said only the “First World” is a holder of civilization, or that so-called “First Worlders” are the only ones who can determine what is or isn’t civilized?

          Alright, it’s late and I am getting tired. I’ll try to get to the rest of your post tomorrow night.

          • Lyttenburgh says:

            “Generally, not well, because most revolutions fail, especially when going up enormously powerful imperial or local powers.”

            “Treason doth never prosper, what’s the reason?
            For if it prosper, none dare call it Treason”

            In fact, true revolutions have rather high level of success. What is failing repeatedly are treasons, revolts and rebellions. The thing is – true revolutions are simply rarer and in our time any kind of protest action, any coup d’état is called a “Revolution” by the ignorant press and their readers.

            So you were wrong when originally talking about “tens of millions of desperately poor people” desperately fighting and achieving something. You were right admitting that, for the most part, they fail. They fought for themselves and their families, to improve their lot. Key word here – “their”. Ultimately, they are no more “progressive” than a bunch of feudals, revolting against their monarch, in the name to either restore or acquire new privileges.

            “And your point? Jobs have been moved from high wage and unionized areas to lower wage and non-unionized areas probably since the beginning of capitalism. The American South is the U.S.’s very own third world and has been since the end of Reconstruction. Some of us actually protest both the movement of such jobs and the horrible working conditions, crappy compensation and anti-union violence throughout the world.

            Which begs a question – is the capitalism a sign of the “Progress”? And another question – are you hearing yourself? You began with gushing panegyric to the Masses Fighting for their Lot, and ended up saying “Shit Happens. Oh, well!”.

            As for your claim that “some of us actually protest” – and what did they accomplish? A protest became a self congratulating empty ritual. It is no different than, “liking” a post expressing such sentiments, or RTing a trending “progressive” tweet. A virtual reality, made real, indeed! :) Only it has no effect on the real reality.

            “For an historian, you seem to have very little sense of history, including the rise and fall of cities like Detroit, Gary and Buffalo.

            They did not “fell” in the historical sense of the word. No one sacked them, they are still here on the map.

            “Or that typhus and other communicable diseases are making comebacks as income and wealth inequality are getting worse in the First and Third Worlds. Or that industrialization and mass ownership of cars leads to bad air quality, which can be addressed through mass or elite action. You seem fixated on the now but not on either how it happened or how it might change.

            Once again – what are criterions for the Progress then? Mass production of cars had been viewed as the epitome of the Progress back then. And as for the “ruling classes of Europe, the USA and Japan” (btw, in what sense do you use the word “classes” here?) building cleaner and healthier cities – that was your original claim. Now you are contradicting yourself.

            “I missed this little bit of arrogance in my earlier list. Jesus, is everything black or white with you? Mass vaccination exists only because of Big Pharma? Public fear of polio and smallpox had nothing to do with it? Is mass vaccination a bad thing? India, China and other Third World nations violated Big Pharma’s “intellectual property rights” for decades to get drugs out there at a fraction of the cost; was elite profits the sole goal of that, or did their publics have something to do with it?”

            And I refer you back to my original quote: “the “Imperialism” you are talking about here is the chief benefactor of both these so-called “universal standards” (hint: they are not “universal”) and the idea that some model of the worldview (hint: its own) constitute a real “civilization”

            Big Pharma’s key word is “big”. It’s transnational. It has fingers in many pies. Concessions and cuts (mostly – symbolic) are balanced by cranking up their robbing practices elsewhere.

            “The question you should be asking is “When” not “where,” since I referenced “their DESCENDANTS today.” As an historian, I would think that you are aware that the childhood death rate was higher in the past for all classes of society than it is today throughout most of the world.

            It was high for everyone, true, but the access to what passed for a medicine back then was disproportionally geared towards them. As well as the access to all things, that would prevent you from ruining your immune system so that you’d become easily susceptible to all kinds of diseases, namely: liquids safe to drink, food and housing. So, any improvement in such a sphere would become available to them first, only maaaaaaaybe later tickling down to the rest of the people.

            So, the answer is “nowhere” and “never”.

            “No, I meant the developed world. Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea can no longer be considered Third World, but First World implies white, as in Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

            Another strawman of yours. I never declared the so-called “Asian Tigers” to be a Third World. They are firmly in the First. Oh, you also forgot Israel.

            “No I did not, because I imagine that the number is somewhere north of two or maybe three billion people.

            “Good life”, as you call it. 800 millions is the number of the people who have no access to the drinkable water at all. 1.8 billion have to drink contaminated (often – by human and animal feces) water in order to survive. 2.4 billion have no access to the basic sanitation. Yearly, 2.2 million die from diseases, caused by the unclean water. 1000 children die daily from these causes.

            This is all part of our “civilization”. Don’t look away. Don’t try to pretend that it does not exist. Platitudes about “but we have good stuff too!” won’t make those people less dead.

            In 2000 UN’s Millennium Declaration called to take active measures to reduce greatly the number of people without access to clean water. The goal was to cut in half the number of people without such access compared to 1990 by 2015. At the moment of Millennium’s Declaration release there were 1.1. billion people without access to the clean water. 2.4 billion had no access to the basic sanitation

            See the figures I provided above. They are also from the UN. They failed. An epitome of our “civilization” and “progress” failed.

            “Who said only the “First World” is a holder of civilization, or that so-called “First Worlders” are the only ones who can determine what is or isn’t civilized?”

            The authors, in fact. Look, its in the very beginning of the thread:

            “Captain Floden, these are not civilized people we will be dealing with. I can say with a high degree of certainty that the only civilized people on the planet are on board this ship””

            This ship out of time (I know, I know!) is a product of the so-called First World, as well as the vast majority of the passengers on it, simply because, mainly, they are the ones who can afford a ticket on such cruise liner. When dear Professor talks about “only civilized people on the planet”, she’s talking about people like her.

            That’s the point being made by the book – and, judging by the commentaries, most people here agree with that.

            • cka2nd says:

              “In fact, true revolutions have rather high level of success. What is failing repeatedly are treasons, revolts and rebellions.”

              Examples please.

              “They fought for themselves and their families, to improve their lot. Key word here – ‘their’. Ultimately, they are no more ‘progressive’ than a bunch of feudals, revolting against their monarch, in the name to either restore or acquire new privileges.”

              Exactly who are you dismissing here? Revolutionary leaders, be they Jacobins, Bolsheviks or Sandinistas, or the masses that fought on the side of their revolutions? You’re the one sounding awfully purist here, or do you begrudge workers fighting to have decent wages and shorter working hours, or landless peasants having their own land (progressive in some cases, reactionary in others).

              “As for your claim that “some of us actually protest” – and what did they accomplish? A protest became a self congratulating empty ritual. It is no different than, “liking” a post expressing such sentiments, or RTing a trending “progressive” tweet. A virtual reality, made real, indeed! :) Only it has no effect on the real reality.”

              Actually, I’ve participated in movements that cut off government funding for imperialist adventures, undercut official support for apartheid states, raised wages and benefits for underpaid workers, kept abortion clinics open, won civil rights protections for lesbians and gays and, most recently, helped get trade unionists released from jails in probably dozens of countries. It is an overused phrase, but don’t let the perfect – in my case, internationalist proletarian revolution – be the enemy of the good. I just don’t want to see the fight for the perfect get completely bogged down in a reformist swamp.

              “Another strawman of yours. I never declared the so-called “Asian Tigers” to be a Third World. They are firmly in the First. Oh, you also forgot Israel.”

              I never said you did, but then you tend to shy away from specifics. Yes, I did forget Israel. Surprising that, since I’ve followed the Arab-Israeli conflict in general and the Palestinian struggle in particular for over 40 years, and have argued in public for a one-state, secular and socialist Palestine.

              “This is all part of our “civilization”. Don’t look away. Don’t try to pretend that it does not exist. Platitudes about ‘but we have good stuff too!’ won’t make those people less dead.”

              You’re building your own straw man if you think I am looking away.

              “See the figures I provided above. They are also from the UN. They failed. An epitome of our ‘civilization’ and ‘progress’ failed.”

              Yes, well, capitalism stopped being a progressive force for humanity probably with the end of the American Civil War. It certainly is incapable of anything remotely progressive for the majority of mankind today. But capitalism is not the totality of modern civilization. And I certainly never said that 21st Century civilization, whether the U.S.’s, China’s, Russia’s, Western Europe’s, Brazil’s or anyone else’s is in any way, shape or form, perfect. Although I will say that most of them are probably better for most of their people than they were two or three centuries ago.

              “The authors, in fact.”

              Actually, the character in question is making a comment more about the time they are in then the place. I would go so far as to say that she would consider the vast majority of people today to be more civilized than the vast majority of people alive at the time this novel is taking place.

              • Jeff Ehlers says:

                I’d say it’s not really worth your time attempting to have a rational discussion with someone who doesn’t recognize that the key difference between treason/revolts/rebellions and revolutions is who wins.

                Most attempts to overturn the established order failed, simply because the people trying to do were at a powerful disadvantage. When they were successful, there were factors which worked in the favor of the underdogs, such as Holland having assistance from France to stop Spain from sending troops overland, or the American colonies having an entire ocean between them and any British reinforcements.

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