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Old 01-24-2001, 03:31 PM   #41
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Hi Kharakov

While I do not deny that Christianity can be used by the ruling classes to help promote stability, to argue that this benefit was the largest (or one of the largest) contributing to its acceptance by the elites you would need to demonstrate that the elites actually needed this benefit.

For example, prior to the adoption of Christianity, was the Roman Empire inherantly unstable, or the populous notoriously rebellious? Clearly this was not the case, and the stability of the Empire neither improved nor declined significantly in the aftermath of Constantine's conversion.

Now, it is very possible that Constantine saw that Christianity was indeed the wave of the future, and decided to get on in order to further his political goals. In the absense of being able to interview him, or to uncover such motivations however, we are only left with speculations. Personally I don't know how sincere Constantine was about his Christianity (he certainly waited long enough before being baptized, I think that happened about death bed time for him), but there is little doubt that some rulers were hypocrites about their faith, and others were very sincere. Such is the nature of the human species in general, and our rulers are clearly no different from the rest of us in that respect.

Finally, to argue that Christianity is uniquely qualified to produce a pliable population for the powerful, you should be able to show that countries where Christianity thrives are more stable and compliant than Hindu, or Muslim, or Buddhist, or pagan, or atheist, or whatever other kinds of societies we have. I do not believe that such a proof can be offered, although I welcome any attempt you may make to do so. If anything, the fact that Christianity produced our unique brand of mass democracy, I think the case would be a very hard one to make.

Thank you again for your thoughts.

Be well,

Nomad
 
Old 01-25-2001, 01:37 AM   #42
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Nomad:
For example, prior to the adoption of Christianity, was the Roman Empire inherantly unstable, or the populous notoriously rebellious? Clearly this was not the case, and the stability of the Empire neither improved nor declined significantly in the aftermath of Constantine's conversion.
</font>
The last roman emperor of the united empire was Theodosius the Great (10-30 years after Constantine?), who was also the first emperor to enforce Christian beliefs.

In my opinion: The fact that the roman empire was so large was one of the main reasons the emperors turned to Christianity to preserve the empire. As long as the empire was expanding, people were content, and there was direction for the populace.

The main problem the empire had was its size, and the rulers needed to be assured that the outer reaches of the empire were orderly. Without modern communication methods, it took months to respond with new commands from the central rulership- a far seeing emperor would take steps to ensure stability after the empires collapse: Christianity.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Finally, to argue that Christianity is uniquely qualified to produce a pliable population for the powerful, you should be able to show that countries where Christianity thrives are more stable and compliant than Hindu, or Muslim, or Buddhist, or pagan, or atheist, or whatever other kinds of societies we have. I do not believe that such a proof can be offered, although I welcome any attempt you may make to do so. If anything, the fact that Christianity produced our unique brand of mass democracy, I think the case would be a very hard one to make.
</font>
Mass democracy, but with a ruling elite who have power over the willing populace (2 Bush presidencies separated by 8 years?).

I think our nation is the culmination of centuries of thought on how to pacify and control a populace. Let people believe their decisions matter- lead them to believe they want and are satisfied with what they have through the media. All the while, certain families still have the power and the connections to rule (publicly or behind the scenes). The media used to be the Catholic church- now it is television, and is changing to the internet. The idea is still the same: if you control what someone believes(or what information they have access to- censorship that many fundamentalists want), you control the person- even if they have the illusion of choice (Oooh- democrat or republican? they are both rich and powerful.. hmmm... ). &lt;--Not a Troll!


I have to go play a video game now . My little bit of brainwashing.

Victory is peace.

Kharakov
 
Old 01-25-2001, 08:27 AM   #43
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Kharakov:

The last roman emperor of the united empire was Theodosius the Great (10-30 years after Constantine?), who was also the first emperor to enforce Christian beliefs.</font>
Hi again Kharakov

There is no question that the Roman Empire was moving towards formal division between East and West through much of the 3rd and 4th Centuries, but these problems were definitely not the result of a rising Christianization (especially in the East), nor did the conversion of the Emperor Constantine in 311 serve to accellerate or slow down this trend. A discussion on this point almost certainly falls outside of the scope of this thread, but it is a fascinating story if you wish to pursue it (if nothing else you will force me to dust off some old text books to refresh my memory ).

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> In my opinion: The fact that the roman empire was so large was one of the main reasons the emperors turned to Christianity to preserve the empire. As long as the empire was expanding, people were content, and there was direction for the populace.</font>
The basic problem with this theory is that the boundaries of the Roman Empire had basically become fixed by the end of the Second Punic War in 201BC (about 500 years before Constantine), and definitely fixed by Augustine after his victory over Mark Antony in 31BC. Except for the conquest of Britain by the emperor Claudius, no significant changes in the Empire's borders took place for the next 300 years.

On this basis, it is difficult to argue that expansion had somehow made the Empire unmanageable. As I said before, the reasons for the East-West split were rather more complicated than this.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">The main problem the empire had was its size, and the rulers needed to be assured that the outer reaches of the empire were orderly. Without modern communication methods, it took months to respond with new commands from the central rulership-</font>
I'm sorry Kharakov, but this is simply not true. The road system in the Empire made communication within the Empire very efficient, and communications from the farthest corners of the Empire to Rome could be achieved in a matter of days. They did not have telephones and fax machines, of course, but governance of such a far flung empire was certainly doable by the ancients.

Remember that aside from the Romans, the Greeks, Persians, Chinese and Mongols all goverened vast territories from autocratic capitals, and did so largely because they knew how to keep control over their populations.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> a far seeing emperor would take steps to ensure stability after the empires collapse: Christianity.</font>
I don't think you will find much support amongst scholars for the idea that the Roman Empire was about to collapse. The Western Empire did begin to go into serious decline in the 5th Century, but the Eastern portion went on well into the next millenium. I do think that Christianity did help to unify that empire, but it certainly didn't do much to help the Western one remain stable.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Mass democracy, but with a ruling elite who have power over the willing populace (2 Bush presidencies separated by 8 years?).

I think our nation is the culmination of centuries of thought on how to pacify and control a populace...</font>
Democracy has proved to be pretty resiliant in the West (and yes, it is still stable only in Christian countries, or at least countries with a Christian history), and also very stable. It also enjoys probably the greatest domestic tranquility.

In the words of Winston Churchill, democracy remains the worst form of government every tried, except for every other form of government attempted.

I don't really want to get into a lengthy discussion about the pros and cons of democracy however. I will say, that in my opinion at least, thinking that Christianity somehow produces a uniquely compliant and docile population does not really line up with the examples we have available to us from other cultures found throughout history on all continents where humans have lived.

Peace,

Nomad
 
 

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