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Tag Archives: Durant

Pre-Politically Correct History: Traditional Hindu Marriage vs. Western ‘Romantic’ Marriage

“The child was hardly born when the parents began to think of its marriage. For marriage, in the Hindusystem, was compulsory; an unmarried man was an outcast, without social status or consideration, and prolonged virginity was a disgrace. Nor was marriage to be left to the whim of individual choice or romantic love; it was a vital concern of society and the race, and could not safely be entrusted to the myopia of passion of the accidents of proximity; it must be arranged by the parents before the fever of sex should have time to precipitate a union doomed, in the Hindu view, to disillusionment and bitterness…

Should marriage be arranged to coincide with sexual maturity, or should it be postponed, as in America, until the male arrives at economic maturity? The first solution apparently weakens the national physique, unduly accelerates the growth of population, and sacrifices the woman almost completely to reproduction; the second solution leaves the problems of unnatural delay, sexual frustration, prostitution, and venereal disease. The Hindus chose child marriage as the lesser evil and tried to mitigate its dangers by establishing, between the marriage and its consummation, a period in which the bride should remain with her parents until the coming of puberty. The institution was old…it had been rooted in the desire to prevent intercaste marriage through casual sexual attraction…”

Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage, 1935

Pre-Politically Correct History: Eugenics and Hindu Caste

“The caste system had the eugenic value of keeping the presumably finer strains from dilution and disappearance through indiscriminate mixture; it established certain habits of diet and cleanliness as a rule of honor which all might observe and emulate; it gaver order to the chaotic inequalities and differences of men, and spared the soul the modern fever of climbing and gain; it gave order to every life by prescribing for each man a dharma, or code of conduct for his caste; it gave order to every trade and profession, elevated every occupation into a vocation not lightly to be changed, and, by making every industry a caste, provided its member with a means of united action against exploitation and tyranny. It offered an escape from the plutocracy or the military dictatorship which are apparently the only alternatives to aristocracy; it gave to a country shorn of political stability by a hundred invasions and revolutions a social, moral and cultural order and continuity rivaled only by the Chinese.”

Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage, 1935

Despite all the flaws and cruelty we’ve seen come from the Hindu caste system there’s something to be said for making sure people spend more time getting things done rather than putting all their energy into competing for status.
Also, compared to the constant uncertainty of existence in our own society there is something to be said for being born into a trade union that has real leverage.

Though we must be mindful of the sort of strife that is typical in Indian society, surely there are important lessons to learn from them as well. Lessons that can put the barbarous excesses of our own system in perspective.

Finally, results matter. Hindu society has proven far more stable for far longer than our own.

Another Excerpt on Hindu Caste and Eugenics from 1927

Pre-Politically Correct History: Primitive Languages Lack Abstraction

“The languages of nature peoples are not necessarily primitive in any sense of simplicity; many of them are as complex and wordy as our own, and more highly organized than Chinese. Nearly all primitive tongues, however, limit themselves to the sensual and particular, and are uniformly poor in general or abstract terms.

So the Australian natives had a name for a dog’s tail, and another name for a cow’s tail, but they had no name for tail in general. The Tasmanians had separate names for specific trees, but no general name for tree; the Choctaw Indians had names for the black oak, the white oak the white oak and the red oak, but no name for oak, much less for tree.

Doubtless many generations passeed before the proper noun ended in the common noun. In many tribes there are no separate words for the color as distint from the colored object; no words for such abstractions as tone, sex, species, space, spirit, instinct, reason, quantity, hope, fear, matter, consciousness, etc.

Such abstract terms seem to grow in a reciprocal relation of cause and effet with the development of thought; they become the tools of subtlety and the symbols of civilization.”

Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage, 1935

Pre-Politically Correct History: The Fall of Babylon to the Persians

“Within thirty years after his(Nebuchadrezzar’s) death his empire crumbled to pieces…The army fell into disorder; business men forgot love of country in the sublime internationalism of finance; the people, busy with trade and pleasure, unlearned the arts of war. The priests usurped more and more of the royal power, and fattened their treasuries with wealth that tempted invasion and conquest. When Cyrus and his disciplined Persians stood at the gates, the anti-clericals of Babylon connived to open them to him, and welcomed his enlightened domination.”

-Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage, 1935

Pre-Politically Correct History: Dysgenics, Immigration, and the Fall of the Assyrian Empire

“The Assyrian armies…were weakened by the very victories that they won; in each victory it was the strongest and bravest wo died, while the infirm and cautious survived to multiply their kind; it was a dysgenic process that perhaps made for civilization by weeding out the more brutal types, but undermined the biological basis upon which Assyria had risen to power…

They had brought into Assyria, as captives, millions of destitute aliens who bred with the fertility of the hopeless, destroyed all national unity of character and blood, and became by their growing numbers a hostile and disintegrating force in the very midst of their conquerors.”

-Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage, 1935

How often do we see this kind of deeper analysis in modern day scholarship?

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