June 15, 2010

Akkad, Sumer, and the Modern World

One of these days I suppose I will have to sit down and write a book about the relationship between the Akkadian invasion of Sumer and the modern world. It pops up again and again in my blog posts, YouTube comments, and even in comments I make on Facebook. It has taken me a couple hours that I really cannot spare today, but I have gathered all of the relevant posts together here in one place.

The Short Version:

In about 2350 B.C., the corrupt Akkadian king was assassinated by one of his staff. That person became the king of Akkad. In the south, the Sumerian city-states were struggling to somehow preserve their ideal of individual liberty while meeting the needs of their citizen's growing decadence and sense of entitlement. Largely as a result of their citizens belief that the city was obligated to take care of the people, Sumer had been suffering from declining infrastructure and had endured a century-long economic depression. The new Akkadian king saw that the south had become both militarily and economically weak, so he gathered his forces and began capturing the Sumerian cities one by one. With each capture, his army and his national wealth expanded through the absorption of both soldiers and personal wealth.

Sound familiar? It should. This pattern has been repeated over and over again throughout history. In China, in Rome, in Khymer, in India, in Europe, and apparently now in America. Through sacrifice, greed, and ambition, a civilization rises from poverty into dominance, then slides slowly but surely into decadence until finally someone else steps up to take control, beginning the cycle over again.

There are two forces at work in human history. Christians call them "God" and "Satan". Being a Christian, that explanation has great appeal for me. I cannot deny, however, that with or without supernatural influence the pattern is consistent and the forces are obvious. The individual strives to be free to think, feel, and act in ways that will allow them to raise a family, protect their property, and grow ever more prosperous. The collective, regardless of its size, tries to force the individual to behave in ways conducive to the goals of the collective which are always expressed in same vocabulary as the goals of the individual, but for various reasons are only able to be realized in the lives of the collective's leaders. The collective seeks to control the individual and through that control, increase the survival of individuals who on their own, would not survive. The individual simply seeks to apply their personal survival skills to their own life and the lives of their family.

We are always in a state of conflict. The Arabs are quite right when they say, "I against my brother, my brother and I against our cousins, our family against our neighbors, our family and our neighbors against the tribe, our tribe against the next tribe, our two tribes against the nation, our nation against the world."

The only way to break this cycle of violence is to preserve the rights and privileges of the individual while at the same time preventing each individual from infringing on the rights and privileges of those around him. Akkad was a corrupt, oppressive, collectivist society. Sumer was a faltering society of individuals in decline. The war these two societies fought raged for decades. Once Akkad had finally captured the Sumerian cities, Sumerian rebellions lasted for generations. The final product of this conflict is the desert that stretches from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf. Although, to be fair, there are many scholars who blame the desert for the conflict despite ample evidence that the entire region was once rich in flora and fauna, a true "garden of Eden".

So then, here are links to posts where I relate this ancient conflict to what is happening in the world around us. Sometimes I do well and sometimes I fail completely, but this is a theme that I come back to time and time again and will continue to emphasize as the world comes crashing down around me.

The Long Version:

The role of history
Christianity takes on the porn industry
The mythical golden past
Freedom fighters or hoodlums
Zeitgeist, the movie
For the greater good?
Idols of our time
It's never about religion, or is it?
Collectivism vs. Individualism
Rotten at the core
The real war
Holy days and holidays