Friday, July 18, 2008

Norman Cantor on why the Medieval Civilization Fell and Our Problems

"A civilization, like a human being, has a will to live, but it may also arrive at the neurotic condition of having a will to die. Medieval civilization in the half century after 1270, by its violence, extremism, and suicidal destruction of its fundamental values, manifests such a will to destroy itself, just as in the early middle ages, against enormous material obstacles, it had exhibited a will to live. What was the origin of the neurotic death wish of medieval society? As is the case with neurosis of individuals, it was the result of repression. The continual repression of difficult and insoluble problems may eventually reach a point where these become no longer conflicts which can be put aside, and the consequence is a sudden and debilitating breakdown. This is what happened to medieval civilization. The creativity of the twelfth century had posited certain conflicts of the most fundamental kind which have never been resolved in human society and thought; the conflict between revelation and science, the conflict between sacerdotal authority and the freedom of individual religious experience, the conflict between hierocratic authority and the sovereign state. During the first seven decades of the 13th century medieval civilization made the most strenuous efforts possible to resolve these conflicts. The men of the new generation of the later 13th century found it impossible to maintain the slender web of subtle compromise which the two previous generations had painfully constructed. The new world order which had been created in the early and middle 13th century was so finely balanced that they found it impossible to sustain. They wanted to end the exhausting repression of conflict which had been built up from 1198 to 1270; they sought an aggressive breakthrough to a clear and affirmable extreme. They wanted science or revelation, personal piety or sacerdotalism, the sovereign state or hierocratic supremacy. They wanted to end the complexity, the subtleties, the compromises, the intricacies of medieval civilization. They wanted to affirm some fixed and identifiable extreme which could be a new starting. They willed, in other words, the death of medieval civilization, which had become an impossible burden, one could not bear."

I think America is neurotic.

We haven't resolved certain thingss:

1. We are constantly faced with science, but still believing in God is promoted. The main difference in a God system and an atheist system, is that one can free oneself from responsibility in a God system, and if one chooses to be without God they must claim the Sartrean morality that what one does, they think everyone should do, that we are only behavior and responsibility. But instead we have most people having no God, and not knowing they are atheist, and choosing to gamble in Las Vegas and spending their money on big screen on HD televisions. Since we refuse to let God go, no new morality has been supplied to replace the old morality of irresponsibility

2. We will not concede to genetic influence of behavior or existence precedes essence. The psychology professors that have taken over the laws of the Will will not concede to one point. Some believe in bio-Darwinism and some believe in cognitive-behaviorism. Both contradicting views, but somehow taught in our universities and on our televisions subliminally at the same exact time, both given equal measure. At Youngstown State University, and I would bet in many colleges, there are professors that teach both behaviorism and bio-Darwinism, and the professor does not even know that they are teaching contradicting views. (It must also be said what existence precedes essencee implies before anyone writes something in the comment box. Existence precedes essence does not involve fight or flight instincts or any little things like that. It implies that if a human is raised by a Muslim family they will probably refer to themselves as Muslim. If a person is raised in a culture where everyone eats with forks, they will probably eat with forks and not chopsticks. If they grow up seeing their mother sniff coke every time she gets stressed out, they might do that also, maybe in a different form, like drinking or pill abuse, but the thing is that they are running from their problems.) The difference is this: Bio-Darwinism says that we do things because of our parents or race, which negates responsibility. While existence precedes essence says we do things because we learn them but at the same time, since they are not concretely placed in our genetics, we can change our behaviors through choice and changing of environment.

3. Democracy allows every one to have a voice, but at the same time it cancels out everyone's voice in the process.

4. Capitalist countries have rich people. Those rich people pay the majority of the taxes, the logic implies that since they pay the majority of the taxes the government which is mostly funded by them must do what they would like. People assume it the lobbyist and campaign donations that create this problem, but it starts with the taxes.

5. A problem that has been with us a long time if you have studied the history of national parks and the people involved with making them and sustaining them. But isn't making a mainstream appearance until now. Does mankind have a right to destroy nature for the sake of his or her happiness? But can lead to in the future huge environmental problems.

6. Does one person have the right to have billions or be born with millions in a nice neighborhood. While another is born into a neighborhood of poverty stricken drug addicts and violent behavior. And while many work hard for barely any money at all and no health care.

7. Do the surrounding of oneself with purchased objects make one happy?

These are deep philosophical problems that plague our country. We have been repressing them for years and because of that, we have become neurotic. We are an insane population, festering with mental illness.

I think people want this to die. They aren't caring on purpose, they want some side to win and take over and give them a clearer mind and direction. The Nebraska Redneck and the NYC hipster liberal are both choosing to be equally oblivious to the oil and natural gas situation because they see it as a way out of these dilemmas. This society contains at least seven philosophical problems if not more, and this is causing everyone to go nuts and not to be happy, even if they do have electricity and an efficient sewage system.

People are not ignorant or lazy concerning the oil crisis. The information is there, and the logic is there. By the fact that it is there and they are avoiding the behaviors to fix it or even learn about it, shows that they are choosing or willing the death of our civilization because they do not care about maintaining it anymore. Because they do not actually enjoy the results. And they do not like the contradictions they must live with on a daily basis.


Justin Rands said...

Nail on the head. My bosses wife told me a story about a fight she was in during highschool the other day. I hardly see her at all. She got really worked up and started swinging her fists around and getting angry. She has two kids and is married to the son of the daughter of the company.

Justin Rands said...

*son of the mother who started the company i mean.

jereme said...

i am feeling kind of laconic but i like what you wrote

i will make short comments

1. democracy is flawed and will never work. The "stupid" or "ignorant" or "disinterested" will always out vote the minority.

2. Politics attract politicians. Politicians are people who seek glory and grandeur. they seek fame and power thus negating the entire point of government office, which is supposed to be a voice of the people not a parent making decisions that they think are good based on their value system.

3. Nothing is altruistic. Government will always be oppressive.

4. The best government would be a monarchy system where those in charge cared for their people. This is patently intangible though.

5. god is not as we understand it.

6. What did the bull elk tell you about your life?

7. fuck noah cicero

8. i am saying "fuck noah cicero" to create excitement and curiousity. Thus promoting him.

9. I watched batman last night. it was good.

Anonymous said...

I don't buy that Heritage Foundation propaganda that the rich pay most of the taxes.

Keith Whitener said...

I think Jereme makes a good point about politicians, but I would phrase it as, "we need leaders that care about people rather than their own personal gains," but I would apply that to businesses as well. Take food manufacturers, for example. They all use high fructose corn syrup because it's cheaper, but it's not good for the population. Same with outsourcing. They value their own personal gains over the wellbeing of their customers and the greater population.

Or, on the hyper micro scale. They had a fajita lunch at my college. I got in line to get a tasty fajita but was turned away because the buffet ended at 1 and it was 1:02. If they were there to provide the students with a service, they would have sold me a fajita. However, they were there to create the appearance that the college cares about it's students. Again, they valued what they gained over me, the student.

It's not only personal gain, however. Some may value ideology/ideas over people as well, which will lead them to sacrificing millions to, say, mold society to fit their view of what society ought to be like, like the Soviets did.

I don't see how they don't realize how their own personal gains can only exist in reference to the people whose wellbeing they are sacrificing. To employ a hyperbole, it's like becoming king but in the process everyone else is dead. Now you're the most powerful person in a population of one. Whoopty-doo.

Daniel Bailey said...

there are far more poor people than rich people. wouldn't the poor's taxes amount to more than the taxes of the rich? (this is not a defense of the rich controlling the country)

Noah Cicero said...


To tell you the truth, Bush was pretty nice to the poor concerning taxes, not what he did with them, but how much he made them pay. Unless you make 20,000 dollars and don't have any kids, you might some. But if you have kids, you might be getting money back.

If you have a kid you get 1500 dollars no matter what, and if you have three 3 you 4500 dollars. I know a million strippers and servers who don't pay any taxes but get back over 4 thousand dollars on their return.

Here's the chart

Vicente Fox said...

Bush was pretty nice to the poor concerning taxes

Not nearly as nice as he was to the rich:
"Based on an exhaustive analysis of tax records and census data, the study reinforced the sense that while Mr. Bush’s tax cuts reduced rates for people at every income level, they offered the biggest benefits by far to people at the very top — especially the top 1 percent of income earners."

brian salchert said...

I agree with much of what you wrote
and also what the commenters wrote,
but I haven't figured out yet how I
want to respond.

Meanwhile/ this suggestion:
Do a Detainees Dinh search.
That will return a link to
Linh Dinh's blogspot site.
He is a poet, short story writer,
et cetera who is presently residing
in Philadelphia. He has posted
numerous articles by others
about what is happening to this
nation. A general label he uses
for these articles is:
too late late capitalism.
An excellent recent one is by
Danny Schechter.

Noah Cicero said...

I know Bush is a penis.

If you have ever lived without health care, you will know what it is like trying to even get pills for a cold and how shitty it is. I've had to go to the hospital twice for stupid things, if I had health care I could have went to a family doctor and actually got it looked at. But I had to go to the hospital and sit in a waiting room for four hours, then see a doctor, the doctor said both times, "What do you think is wrong." I told him, and he gave me pills based on what I said.

I don't know why we couldn't spend all those 1500 dollar checks and income tax returns on health care.

what the republicans do reminds me of that Don King movie HBO made, on how Don King gave Mohammed Ali a case full of money because he knew poor people don't understand abstract things like contracts and long term benefits. The Republicans do that, they know that poor people are fucked up and look at money in terms of cash and not long term payoffs. So they throw money at them, and the poor person is like 'yeah' money. Eventhough by taking the money, there is no long term payoff.

jereme said...


I concur about the service thing.


thanks. now i have to read 1000 posts about stupid taxes.

et al,

Capitalism is not the issue. Bush is not the issue. Democrats and Republicans are not the issue.

The issue is and has always been government. oppressive power. we used to have limits to our government. We used to talk about revolt and cutting heads off if our government became perverse.

What the fuck happened to us.

Our government is one stellar perverse entity. it is insane. they are making laws so you cannot do the smallest of things.

you cannot drive without a seat belt

you cannot smoke inside

you cannot smoke outside

no talking on cell phones while in the car

but texting is fine because they forgot to put that in the newly enacted law

blah blah

shouldn't government be worrying about 2 things?



that is it people. i don't know why you would want to give these assholes power in return for free health care or less taxes or blah blah

our taxes are high because our government is perverse.

except this kind of perversion you can't do anything about.

this kind of perversion is rape

and they make us acknowledge it is rape

but here is your ipod and your football season and your glorified war on foxnews

shut up and bend over, here comes government.

Anonymous said...

Capitalism is not the issue.

Who do you think the government oppresses you on behalf of? CAPITALISTS.

Don't swallow the "free-market" bullshit.

jereme said...



do you even know the difference between a true free market and the perversion we currently call free trade?

i am so tired of people rebelling to another extreme because they do not like their current reality.

Why don't you look at both sides objectively instead of one side subjectively?

You should find oppression on either side of the gamut.

you should find abuse of power on either side.

you should find everything you hate now portrayed throughout history on both sides.

but you won't see this unless you look at the issue


and not subjectively

Anonymous said...

bedda get to lecting some exjectives and gettin the politcos back to livin unda the law they done made up fo us po folks.

bring them senatoors on home and pudum to work fixing folks thangs that need fixin at home, and stay outa them other folks bidness.

day dont need no leerjet to be tempted with smugglin in some sniff, make em grow that home-grown stuff, and keep the money outa the bidness altogether.

be fine if wash town just forgot plumb about us out here and we forget about them, or could.

somebody said...