World History Curriculum
Daniel J. Elazar
Approximately 90 miles north of San Francisco, on the Pacific Coast, sits Fort Ross State Park, a quiet and pleasant restoration of a small frontier settlement. In the 1820's, Fort Ross was the southern most Russian outpost in North America. For a brief moment, it reflected the outer limits of the expansionist ambitions of certain Russian leaders, who saw in the still politically chaotic Pacific coast of North America of the early nineteenth century a chance to extend Russian hegemony southward in the face of the rival British, American and Spanish claims.
The Russian effort was brief and unsuccessful. It had no real support from St. Petersburg (then the capitol of the Russian Empire) and was confronted by intense opposition from the rival claimants. The Russians abandoned the fort in the 1830's, withdrawing to Alaska where they were to sit for another generation until Secretary of State William Seward arranged to purchase that territory for the United States in 1867. Today, Fort Ross is a collection of restored log structures whose piquant history is an added attraction for visitors to a lovely section of the Californian coast.
In one sense, however, Fort Ross is far more significant than its brief history would indicate. It represents the point of convergence of those elements of what we generally define as Western civilization in their movement to encircle the globe. Its founding and brief history brought to a culmination four millennia or more of expansion that ultimately embraced the whole world.
Over five thousand years before the founding of Fort Ross, the Near Eastern civilizations out of which western civilization was to spring, were inventing civilization itself in the fertile crescent from the Nile to the Tigris and Euphrates valleys. Some two millennia later, Israel gave birth to Judaism which became the religious foundation of western civilization. A millennium thereafter the Greeks began the development of western philosophy and science. Between the Semitic peoples of western Asia and the Hellenic peoples of the Greek isles, the contributions of these two civilizations were spread throughout the Mediterranean Basin during the course of the millennium immediately prior to the rise of Christianity.
Two thousand years ago, Christianity was born out of the Jewish people and within its first millennium synthesized its understanding of Jewish religious civilization with the contributions of Greek philosophy and civilization and spread throughout Europe. The energies of the West thus organized and released, the following millennium saw the Christianized Russians move eastward across Siberia and the Bering Straits and the Christianized Spanish, French, Dutch, and British peoples move westward across the Atlantic, away from their European heartlands, to colonize vast new territories and implant western civilization within them. The eastward movement of the Russians and the westward movement of the other European nations finally met - after having girdled the globe - in northern California at Fort Ross, thereby completing literally millennia of migration, settlement and cultural transformation. The consequences of this western globe-girdling have become quite apparent in the twentieth century as the entire world has entered the embrace of western civilization.
While Western Civilization has succeeded in girdling the globe it has done so at every step by absorbing important elements from the other civilizations it has encountered sometimes more and sometimes less, so that 150 years after the building of Fort Ross, Western Civilization had been transformed; first into modern civilization and then into world civilization. Today, the history of humanity needs to be based on an understanding of that interplay of civilizations and how the new world civilization now emerging is more than simply western civilization but is indeed an amalgam of the world's civilizations that has been continuing since the very beginning of time.
The history of the world can be looked upon as the story and the record of how humanity emerged as a single entity in East Africa tens of thousands of years ago, progressively divided itself into sharper and finer divisions racial, ethnic, and national while at the same time moving to a world unified on a more complex basis. Today we have reached the point where a unified world history can be seen and understood by all. What remains is to reorganize our teaching of world history to incorporate the worldwide perspective while at the same time not falling into the trap of making all historical events equal so as to give equal weight to all peoples and places at all times or to equate the history of public events with that of private behavior.
This curriculum is designed to do just that. It takes what may be called a "civilizational" approach, looking at different civilizations, first and foremost West and East, but also North and South. We shall try to understand how civilizations in the various areas of the world either interacted or acted separately from one another over nearly ten thousand years of human history.
In doing so we will follow several themes:
All of these themes have been of vital importance in guiding human history since the beginning and in every subsequent era. They form the basis for our understanding of how humans function in history. These are the themes on which we will focus in this curriculum.
- the common source and ties binding the human race as a whole as well as its separation into various subgroups;
- the pattern of human migrations which populated and have organized the populations of the world, first creating the distinctions among humans and, in the last five hundred years, bringing about their reamalgamation;
- the frontier (in the sense that Frederick Jackson Turner used the term) as the driving force behind those migrations and the consequences of successive frontiers in bringing about human development or the lack of frontiers in retarding that development;
- the role of human invention in responding to those frontier challenges and in repeatedly reinventing the world which human beings occupy, examining the human capacity to invent things that can elevate us or things that can destroy us;
- the other great force driving humanity, namely, the force of religious belief which, more than any other human factor, has galvanized humans to decisive action or to change themselves.
- humans and their institutions, the way in which humans have organized their lives and cultures to respond to the first five.
The study of history is a matter of selection and judgment. Human activity is carried on at so many levels and with so many facets that any attempt to record and make sense of its history requires selection and the exercise of judgment in evaluating the record produced by what is selected.
In this respect history is prismatic rather than systematic. That is to say, what is selected and studied is based upon the questions asked, i.e., what facet is being explored. Thus the study of world history will involve examining the historical record through examining that (or those) facets which have been most influential in shaping the history of the world. Consequently, it will have much more to do with public affairs than, let us say, if we were to study the history of the family which involves more of the private dimensions of life, a different facet in most respects. The selection of one facet or another does not necessarily reflect on the importance of that facet in the overall scheme of things but on the questions being asked. This curriculum will focus on the facet of world history and will concentrate on issues of public importance first and foremost, looking at personal and private matters only insofar as they bear on those of public importance.
If human life is a prism, the different faces of the prism also act as a control on the historian's judgment. In other words, while the historian looks at history and makes his or her selection on the basis of a particular view into the prism, the face of the prism itself must be to some degree controlling since it can only show the historian what is there and the historian must honestly try to discover what the face has to reveal. Thus, while every historian, like every human being, comes with a particular set of leanings or judgments, he or she would not be a historian if he or she was not bound by the historical realities reflected back by the particular face of the prism and by other faces as well.
The orientation of this curriculum is toward the identification and exploration of those peoples, civilizations, and forces that have molded the world as we know it. If this at times seems "Eurocentric," it should be understood as accurately reflecting the forces that have shaped the world which have been heavily influenced by European civilization at least since the late Middle Ages. The curriculum's approach to European and other civilizations, however, is not at all Eurocentric. Indeed, it shares in the critique of Eurocentrism which often has distorted the perspective through which we in the West see the world.
For example, since the Age of Exploration and Discovery, the Eurocentric world has focused on Atlantic Europe and North America, relegating Asia, Africa, and South America to a secondary position. But if we emancipate ourselves from that perspective and go back before the rise of Islam, we will find a world centered on the Mediterranean including within it southern Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa equally active in one common sphere of activity with close connections between them and between the part of each continent within the sphere to those parts beyond it. That is a very different perspective than the Eurocentric perspective of today.
By the same token, when we speak of the conquest of the world by Western civilization, we are not simply or even basically speaking of military conquest. Nor is all of Western civilization European. In our own times, for example, just as Western industrialism and economic development has conquered the world, so, too, has rock music, a North American synthesis of African, Jewish, and southern white musical expression that has become the basis of popular musical culture around the world. The MTV station seen in Asia is located in India and develops that popular musical culture in the style of Indian music, which is notably different from the MTV broadcast in North America; the synthesis takes place but the music is unmistakably rock.
In other words, just as "Eurocentrism" is a bias, so, too, is the assumption that Eurocentrism means a bias toward European white male elites. By now, various groups, many of them distinctly outside of the original European elites, have participated in the conquest of the world by Western civilization and both the role of "elites" and those outside must be noted fairly and fearlessly.
The Common Source of Humanity
The combination of archeological and DNA explorations has brought us to a knowledge of a common source of all humanity in East Africa, even though contemporary theory holds that there was literally a first woman and a first man and that all subsequent humanity are descended from them. The history of the emergence of the first two homo sapiens and the spread of their descendants around the world in such a way that they became separated into various subgroups teaches us about the unity and diversity of humanity both. Both are critically necessary and how human history is, in one respect or another, an interplay of that unity and diversity with both contributing to human behavior either in its underlying uniformities and similarities or in its manifest differences.
A major source of the separations and differences for tens of thousands of years that is now becoming a major source of human reintegration is to be found in the pattern of human migration. Those migrations, beginning from East Africa, populated and organized the populations of the world, generated the differences among peoples, yet brought different peoples into contact in different ways, at times hostile, at times symbiotic, and at times friendly. The very process of migration has changed individuals and peoples by bringing them into contact with new and unfamiliar environments and creating circumstances that have forced them to adapt and adjust to those new and different environments and circumstances. Humans appear to have a drive to migrate and at the same time the act of migration keeps humanity on its toes.
The term "frontier" was transformed by Turner from the European definition describing the border or border zone between two states or countries to what became the American one, describing the border between the settled and unsettled, the "civilized" and the "wilderness." The frontier, in Turner's view, was a dynamic process.
As a result, the central political problem of growth is not simply how to handle the physical changes brought by each frontier, real as they are. It is how to accommodate newness, population turnover, and transience as a way of life. This is the frontier situation. It is a recurring one in history and needs to be understood if we are to find ways to solve our problems, or at least meet them adequately, and at the same time, preserve those characteristics which have enabled certain countries to continue to develop for a period far longer than has been historically true in the case of other countries and societies.
The frontier is not merely a dramatic imagery but a very real process, indeed the basic socio-technical process that informs the experience of certain people and countries. As a process, it is dynamic and essentially progressive, although fraught with problems of its own, as is every other dimension of human life.
A frontier in the sense used here involves ten characteristics:
In essence, these frontier characteristics are what the frontier spirit is all about. To manifest itself, a frontier needs a great deal of freedom and willingness to take risks that really are risks that is to say, without some outside source protecting the risk-takers from negative consequences because that same outside source will limit the benefits which can be gained from the positive results. People with the frontier spirit see opportunity where others see only danger; will tend to say "yes, it can be done," rather than immediately responding "no, it has never been done before." Most can handle the ups and downs of risk-taking and are able to begin again, if necessary.
- Frontier activities are those devoted to the exploration of that which was previously unknown and the development of that which was previously "wild" or undeveloped.
- The frontier involves extensive new organization of the uses of the land (or space), uses so new that they are essentially unprecedented but so much a part of the process in question that they will be applied across the length and breadth of the continent.
- The frontier involves an expanding or growth economy based on the application of existing technologies in new communities or new technologies in settled communities.
- The frontier movement, though manifesting itself as a single "whole," actually coalesces a number of different "frontiers," both geographic and functional, that exist simultaneously and successively; each with its own goals, interests, character, and frontiersman, yet all tied together by their common link to the central goals, interests, and character of the larger frontier of which they are parts.
- The frontier generates opportunities to grow, change, risk, develop, and explore within its framework amid elements of risk and action, and demands responses involving courage, freedom, and equality.
- There must be reasonably free access to the frontier sector of society for all who want it.
- A frontier situation generates a psychological orientation toward the frontier on the part of the people engaged in conquering it, endowing them with the "frontier spirit."
- The "feedback" from the frontier leads to the continuous creation of new opportunities on many level of society, including new occupations to be filled by people who have the skills to do so, regardless of such factors as family background, social class, or personal influence, thus contributing to the maintenance or extension of equality in the social order.
- The frontier feedback must influence the total social structure to the point where the society as a whole is significantly remade.
- The direct manifestations of the frontier can be found in every section of a country or region at some time (usually sequentially) and are visible in a substantial number of localities that either have, or are themselves, frontier zones.
The frontier spirit animates two types of people: frontiersmen and pioneers. Frontiersmen are those who go out ahead of the camp and who gain their primary satisfactions from exploring something new or from the fallout of being first at something and thus freer with regard to it than those who follow them. They may or may not gain the more conventional benefits of pioneering but often do not, nor are those their primary interest.
Pioneers, on the other hand, seek those conventional gains. First and foremost, they follow the frontiersmen to plant settlements where only explorers have gone before them; in the imagery of the land frontier, to farm the land rather than merely trap furs on it, not to invent computers but to establish networks in cyberspace and profit from them.
In sum, frontiersmanship and the frontier spirit are as much a part of culture as of personality. Personality may be the most important when we try to identify individuals with that spirit, but certain cultures appear to produce more people with those personality traits than do others. Some cultures seem to have a penchant to produce a modal personality that is frontier- oriented. Even in such cases, no doubt, we are talking about a minority of the population, but a minority significant and large enough to influence the entire society. This is similar to the case of other kinds of revolutionary movements, particularly religious, where whole populations are moved by key minorities in key positions.
The application of the foregoing principles and the human "package" that they produce is expressed through the role of human invention in response to those frontier challenges. The new circumstances brought about by migrations and frontiers can only be mastered through human invention of all kinds, in technology, in ideas, in mores and ways of living, as individuals, in families, groups, and society. While Americans are more conscious of the role of invention than most, since American society has given such a prominent place to inventors and inventions in very concrete and visible ways, humanity in general has tended to think of invention primarily in the realm of technology and not sufficiently in other human realms. One can make a good case that history is about invention, its furtherance, and resistance to it and its consequences, as well as the impact of inventions themselves.
The by now well documented apparent need of human beings to "believe in something," that is to say, to reach out beyond themselves as individuals to transcendent powers that outlive the human lifespan, has been recognized as a dominant human psychological characteristic if nothing else. In fact, humans, in their reaching out, have developed religious belief which in its more primitive forms simply answer those psychological needs but in its largest and highest expression provides humans not only with the satisfactions of belief but with guidance as to how they should live their lives. Great systems of religious belief not only provide humans with great satisfactions but place great demands on them to be better than they might otherwise be if they imply followed their own natural inclinations. Indeed, human nature as expressed in human psychology may lead humans to satisfy the aforementioned needs through religious belief, but true religion serves to raise humans beyond their natures.
Within human nature there is the capacity to go beyond normal human limitations, but since that requires great effort, there must be a will to do so. Religious belief and religions have been the great forces driving that will. A proper understanding of history would provide an understanding of how this is so, the various forms it has taken, and how to evaluate those forms in light of our transcendent goals for human improvement and the improvement of the world.
Humans and Their Institutions
History is dynamic. It moves along forward, backward, and sideways. Every kind of human behavior can be found within it. It does not seem to follow any clear rules. At least for some, generalizations from or about history seem to be futile or impossible. Yet the dynamics and confusions of history should not obscure the truth that humans make, transmit, preserve, and change their history through their institutions. No matter how attractive any particular story or actor in history may appear to be, the significance of the story or the actor is only in proportion to the degree to which institutions are involved. By institutions, we mean the structures of civilization, the forms which political and social life take, and the organized or structured expressions of particular cultures or ways of life. Civilizations are, in the last analysis, congeries of institutions, among which are law, religion, government, economies, educational systems - one could go on to list many others.
Institutions and Cultural Orientations
While there are many different kinds of cultural orientations that inform and shape the institutions of civilization, all may be reduced to one or another of three basic models or ideal types. They are hierarchy, organic development, and covenant. Particular polities and societies are, in most cases, some combination of all three but every one has a dominant orientation to one or another.
Hierarchies organize authority, power, and status in a pyramidal fashion with clear divisions between higher and lower elements in the pyramid and greater authority and status, and usually power as well, ascribed to the higher and less to the lower. Hierarchies may be more rigid or more flexible, but in the end they always come out to be hierarchies. The model of a hierarchy is the pyramid.
Hierarchies are often, one might even say usually, established by conquest, sometimes by conquest from the outside and sometimes by conquest from within. They are frequently maintained by force or at least by the threat of force.
Organic development describes social organizations generated by what seems to be accident or chance, whereby people in specific situations respond in limited ways to deal with specific situations or tasks. Over time institutions are formed as a result of those limited responses, adhering to one another and persisting through the generations. There seems to be little in the way of overarching design in the institutions, societies, or the civilizations produced by this kind of development. In one sense organic development is less a matter of higher or lower than hierarchy, but in another, history reveals that the end result of these kinds of incremental developments is usually the development of an elite occupying the center of the polity, society, or civilization, with the rest of the population outside of the central circle located in the peripheries, what Robert Michel referred to as "the iron law of oligarchy." This suggests that without planning and making provisions to the contrary, authority, power and status will inevitably gravitate toward a central elite, leaving the others outside.
When people perceive themselves to be equals, they reject submission to power pyramids or to the iron laws of oligarchy and choose to establish their institutions and societies by reflection, choice, and design. They do so by covenanting among themselves, that is to say, coming together and agreeing to morally based pacts that provides for the constitutionalized distribution of authority and power among themselves to preserve as much liberty and equality as possible within a political and social order where institutions necessarily restrict liberty to some extent to enable people to live in society and recognize those necessary inequalities generated by the human condition and needed for society to survive and flourish. Covenants are designed to provide that all those entering society preserve some share in its shaping, either by acting together collectively or cooperatively, or by acting individually, thereby preserving basic liberties and equality. The result is a mosaic, or matrix of arenas of political and social organization framed by common institutions established by agreement.
As indicated above, these three models are ideal types. In fact, in the real world they are usually combined in some way, with all civilizations, societies, and institutions having hierarchical, organic, and covenantal elements, but different ones begin from different starting points and emphasize one of these models more than the others. For example, East Asian civilizations as a rule are more hierarchical while English-speaking civilizations as a rule are more covenantal. Both have mixtures of other models within them and some specific countries or institutions may be predominantly of one of the other models. By the same token, continental European civilizations tend to be either hierarchical or organic, but in the modern period acquired elements of the covenantal model. We will deal with these models where appropriate in the following discussion.
The models, their mixtures, and the struggles among them and between institutions, polities, or civilizations having one or another, made a decisive difference in history, in shaping the direction of parts of the world and then the world as a whole. Not only that, but their study adds a special spice to the study of history.
(prehistoric times to approximately 4000 BCE)
Human history begins with the invention of writing sometime around 3750 BC or approximately 5750 years ago (significantly close to the date that both the Jewish and Christian traditions note as the date of the creation). Of course we have archeological records that go back considerably further and paleontological records that extend back 3.6 million years in the case of the first finds of homo sapiens, beings that were human in the way that we are, and 6 million years for the first pre-humanoids. Finds such as Australopithecus, Pithecanthropus, and Neanderthal man have entered the human lexicon and mark the beginnings of what we take to be human life.
Perhaps most exciting are the discoveries of the past few years, since the beginning of contemporary genetics based on DNA and on the studies pursuant thereto, that all human genes can be traced back to one woman and one man in East Central Africa, the "Adam and Eve" of the human race. It is now fairly certain that homo sapiens originated in East Central Africa as the works of the Leakeys, father and son, have demonstrated. The additional findings of the geneticists only strengthen the Leakeys' findings and also bring us closer to understanding the beginnings of humanity.
From East Central Africa, the Kenya of today, these early homo sapiens began to spread around the globe. All of this took place in what is defined as the Pleistocene Age, which is divided into three periods: the Lower Paleolithic or Older Old Stone Age, from 600,000 years ago to 100,000 years ago; the Middle Paleolithic, from 100,000 to 50,000 years ago; and the Upper Paleolithic, from 50,000 to 10,000 years ago. During those 600,000 years we have found evidence of four ice ages and three interglacial periods which are benchmarks in human development.
By the end of the Pleistocene period, not only had humans migrated throughout the world, but what today we identify as the basic human races, the Mongoloids of Asia, the Negroids of central Africa, the Caucasoids of West Asia and Europe, and the Australians were all clearly established.
Our material evidence from the Pleistocene Age includes skeletal remains of proto-humans and early humans, stone and bone weapons and tools, and, toward the end of the age, cave art. Although the matter is not clear, we can learn something about the patterns of migration from these discoveries. At least three of the four groups of tools had their origins in Africa. The fourth might have since the finds are on the south shore of the Mediterranean, on the Iberian Peninsula, and in southern France.
The finds for one group are concentrated on the Asian mainland in southeast and east Asia. The finds of the second in western and central Europe and west and south Asia. The third group finds are found in the same area, the fourth group primarily in Europe but seemingly brought northward by people from Africa. The first material evidence of religion comes from this period, as well, with findings that indicate belief in magic, a hunting cult, and a belief in gods as well.
After the end of the fourth ice age around 10,000 BCE and the retreat of the ice northward, the Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age) culture period began. Most of our material evidence for it is from west Asia and throughout Europe from the Mediterranean to the Scandinavian coast plus Africa. It seems that most settlements were along or near the seacoast and that people lived by hunting and gathering, often living in small settlements either in caves or huts of their own construction.
Tools become more sophisticated and included canoes and skin-covered boats, paddles, fishhooks, and weapons for hunting both large and small game animals. Dogs were domesticated. The division of labor giving women responsibility for collecting plant foods and men for hunting was evident. In the Middle East primitive farming began and brick buildings were constructed in the earliest cities such as Jericho.
The Mesolithic period was replaced by the Neolithic. It came relatively soon in the warmer parts of the world while the Mesolithic period persisted into the second millennium BCE in northern areas. Neolithic people had become more sophisticated. They made more sophisticated pottery (e.g., funnel-necked beakers). They invented more sophisticated weapons (e.g. the battle-axe). They developed more extensive trade based on more travel by rivers and by roads or paths, with the latter even improved by logs and branch in wet places. The wheel was invented, more animals were domesticated including horses and oxen, and from the evidence, their religions developed a belief in life after death, a heavenly god or gods, as well as continuing to believe in magic and evil spirits.
Culture expanded and people moved to new settlements when they needed new land.
This was the era of the so-called Neolithic Revolution (Gordon Childe), with the domestication of wild grains for cultivation and sheep, goats, pigs, and asses. At the very end of the period, the first cities (hardly more than villages) were founded (e.g. Jericho and Damascus), with buildings constructed of dried brick. There were great advances in art, in the way of jewelry, sculpture, decoration, and both abstract and naturalistic representations of humans and animals. Stone construction was introduced. The first sacred buildings were erected in the form of temples in the Mesopotamian cultural area. The first steps were taken toward language in the form of picture language which later evolved into cuneiform and hieroglyphics. With the development of writing, a new era could be said to have begun. What, to me, seems most interesting about this period before history is the story of the emergence of humans as it unfolded. It is especially interesting to learn that there was a single human race with even common mother and father, and that their migrations led to the development of very real and lasting diversity among them.
This combination of fundamental unity along with very real diversity has accompanied humanity from earliest times to the present, with the human visions that we have come to admire all reflecting a striving for restoration of that unity in one way or another with the best visions seeking to achieve unity without eliminating the enhancing elements of diversity and the worst visions seeking unity only through the triumph of one group over another. In essence the human vision is in part a search for the benefits of the farthest past, albeit not by going back, which cannot be done, but by going forward.
The second major item of interest is the pattern of human migrations, how humans have been a migrating, one might say (in Frederick Jackson Turner's terms), a frontier phenomenon, since our emergence as a species. That continuing frontier and the challenges it poses, effectuated in part through migrations, has been a constant motivating force for human development.
The third point is that humans are an inventing species from the first. We make a constant effort to overcome our limitations, weaknesses, and/or discomforts through inventions. More than that, we have the same capacity for inventing things that elevate us or things that destroy us. The invention of art and agriculture come alongside the invention of better weapons of destruction.
Four, the emergence of religious belief and its apparent development into cults, indicating that humans have been believing creatures since earliest times and that it is impossible to conceive of humans without belief systems to which they are attached and rituals to symbolize and express them.
All of these four themes have continued to be of vital importance in guiding human history in every subsequent era. It can be said that they form the basis for our understanding of how humans function in history. These are the themes around which we will focus in this curriculum.
Second Period: Beginnings (C.4000-2000 BCE)
This unit shall focus in more closely on the emergence of civilization or civilizations in East Asia, particularly China; South Asia, particularly the Indus Valley; West Asia, particularly Mesopotamia and the Fertile Crescent; North Africa, particularly Egypt; and should also examine developments in this period in the other regions mentioned above, but should emphasize the specific civilizations whose impact has been most completely articulated and longest lasting in the world.
Much of this period is referred to as the Bronze Age. Metalworking developed in the Middle East, but by the fourth millennium BCE, the period under consideration here, it had spread to Europe as well, principally in the Balkans but rapidly throughout the rest of eastern and western Europe. While this led to a more sophisticated material culture, the social culture that went along with it remained basic in Europe throughout this period.
While the evidence from material culture gained through archeology for this period is great, including the discovery of the first written records, this still has many of the element of prehistory in the sense that we must piece things together from archeological evidence, some recorded myths, and monumental inscriptions describing the victory of one ruler or another, usually exaggerated and at times not even accurate, as we have come to know from other sources. The first documents were found in excavated libraries or archives but do not have a historical record upon which to draw. Nevertheless, civilization does come into its own in this period and very different patterns of civilization are established, both in Africa where earlier forms of civilization continued, in the four centers of advanced civilization and perhaps even in Europe. In the regions of the advanced civilizations, primitive migration and normalism is no longer a major factor. That kind of migration is confined to the peripheries and in the civilized areas themselves a relatively sedentary age begins in which there is much less migration and what there is is more sophisticated.
On the other hand, there is a great burst in those areas in the development of the accoutrements of civilization in terms of a technology, government, administration, economics, and religion. In the case of the latter, the great creation myths are given sophisticated form to become the basis for the mythic system of the West but probably also of south and east Asia. Not only that, but we can distinguish the three forms of political and social organization that are to accompany humans at least from then on: hierarchy, organic development, and pact or covenant.
The former, usually the result of conquest, either external or internal by some powerful individual or group, leads to a political and social order organized as a power pyramid, where the last word is at the top and the pyramid is built so that those at the top can exercise maximum possible control up and down the line. Egypt is the best example of that.
In the organic model, people as families, clans, or tribes more or less drift together, settling at the same point and at some point need to organize themselves. This usually happens when the heads of the families, tribes, or clans come together as a governing elite and divide power among themselves based on the ability of each to control those within his group. What emerges is a circle with a governing or ruling inner circle or a center surrounded by a periphery within its orbit. This was the pattern in the Mesopotamian city states.
It is hard to say whether the third model was found in this period, although we may assume so. It was a model whereby all individuals or families in a particular area were considered equal and came together as equals to establish pacts, usually sacred, for organizing their lives. Originally these were probably peoples that saw themselves descended from some common ancestor and hence related, thereby establishing the basis for their equality. Under such arrangements, no hierarchies were dominant, nor were elites able to gain control of the inner circle. Rather there is a specialization and differentiation based upon a rough but genuine equality among those bound by the pact. Whereas the first two were well established by the time this period ended, the third was not to take on full form until the next period.
If Africa is the heartland of the first period, the Middle East is the heartland of the second. It is there that the major civilizational advances are made. A major sign of this is that area led the way in the invention of writing in this very early stage. By doing so, in essence it established the dominance of its myths which were later to migrate westward to become the central myths and beliefs of Western civilization and ultimately to spread throughout the world.
At some point around 6,000 years ago or 4,000 BCE, the first advanced civilizations emerged following the "Neolithic Revolution." These were the riverine civilizations in Egypt along the Nile, in Mesopotamia along and between the Tigris and the Euphrates, in India along the Indus, and in China along the Hwang Ho. The historian Wittfogel has referred to these as "hydraulic societies" and has written an elaborate theory of the emergence of sophisticated techniques to manage the water upon which they depended including centralization of government. In fact, what emerged were different forms of social organization in each place, which have been amazingly persistent in shaping the civilizations that emerged from each ever since.
All four emerged in the great belt of arid land, desert and near desert, that stretches from the Sahara to east Asia. It is possible that a climate change which began in the Mesolithic period led to the growth of those desert belts after the population had increased in what were originally watered areas, as a result of simple farming. If so, the inhabitants of those areas had to migrate to the fertile river valleys and organize the use of the rivers to provide water to enable their societies to continue to exist.
The development of a more sophisticated economy eliminated the need for all to engage in subsistence farming and began an economy of exchange and economic specialization beyond simple trading. Not only did economic exchange increase but also specialization took place with regard to more sophisticated craftsmanship, defense, religious life, administration, and technology. This led to social stratification and the development of a differentiated society covering the means of production, trade, defense, and organization.
Cities became centers for the production and exchange of goods, for trade and markets, for religion and defense, and became generators of civilization, not merely convenient places for agriculturalists to meet and exchange. City walls were built and temples and other sacred buildings were erected. To carry on all of this, writing developed, first as a kind of picture language as in the Egyptian hieroglyphics or the Chinese word characters. Almost immediately thereafter, Mesopotamian populations developed cuneiform, which was a step beyond the earlier pictograph. They also began to write on clay tablets.
These early civilizations included metalworking, brickmaking, the use of square hewn stones for construction, polygonal wall construction, working in precious metals and stones, production of thin-walled vessels, large sculptures, polished stone, irrigation, urban settlement, and writing. Political and social organization became differentiated and more sophisticated.
Egypt and the Old Kingdom (2850-2052 BCE)
The six-hundred-mile-long stretch of the Nile Valley from the Mediterranean into the African Desert from ten to fifteen miles wide became the site of the Egyptian empire, the oldest of the empires of the ancient world. The two kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt developed around 3000 BCE. They united under Narmer and Ahi. A joint capital was founded at Memphis at the boundary between Upper and Lower Egypt.
Since the two kingdoms and their joint successor were separated from other populations because of their physical location, they developed in substantial isolation. Except for border struggles with nomadic tribes, they were able to dictate when and where they came into contact with others. They did through periodic invasions into Lebanon at the north and Nubia on the south. The first two dynasties, known as the Thinis period, functioned between 2850 and 2650 when dynasties III to VI beginning from 2650 and lasting to 2190 constituted the age of the pyramids.
A hierarchical political and social order emerged, capped by the pharaohs, each of whom was revered as a god or the son of a god. They maintained a state religion to support pharoanic rule. Power was centralized, a sun-based religion was the state religion, and the Great Pyramids were built. Society was hierarchically ordered into sharply differentiated classes of rulers, priests, warriors, officials, craftsmen, traders, peasants, and slaves. All of the polity was organized around the annual flooding of the Nile and the ability of the ruler and his administration to control and regulate that flooding, for which they used writing and newly developed accounting procedures to organize the technology, the economy, and the food supply. Egyptian society did not develop a flourishing urban civilization but rather used cities as administrative centers for an essentially rural civilization. It was entirely appropriate and probably no accident that the symbol of that civilization became the pyramid, the embodiment of the hierarchical approach to social and political organization. As we know, pyramids were built by the pharaohs in that period as their tombs and monuments. By the sixth dynasty, the pharaohs were becoming increasingly weaker and the power of feudal lords increased. The unitary state began to break down as struggles broke out among the feudal lords. The south gained its independence.
All of this is reflected in the literature of the times. Between 2190 and 2052 the feudal lords remained powerful and in conflict until regional rulers of Heracleopolis gained power and reestablished a centralized state. During this entire period hieroglyphic writing was the norm. A solar calendar of great accuracy was developed, probably to support the solar religion. In Mesopotamia, on the other hand, cities became the centers of civilization. Each was independent or semi-independent, governed by councils of local notables, those who occupied the key positions in the city's political and social order. These were essentially oligarchies in which the rulers were no more than first among equals. These cities seemed to have developed more or less organically out of responses to necessity in the valley of the two rivers.
The first such civilization was the Sumerian civilization. The Sumerians settled in southern Mesopotamia sometime between 3200 and 2800. They divided the land into city-states which had their own patron gods, although they shared the same pantheon. Local princes known as lugal, meaning great man, dominated both the priesthood and the city in each case. Their economy was a kind of state socialism. Cuneiform writing was developed.
Somewhere around the year 3000 in the Middle East there was a great flood in both Egypt and Mesopotamia involving the Nile, the Tigris, and the Euphrates. Mesopotamian civilization left us the Gilgamesh Epic from that period, while the Bible leaves us with an account of the Flood and the religious explanation for it.
The origins of the Sumerians are shrouded in mystery. There is some evidence that they came up from the Horn of Africa. There is other that leads us to speculate that they came from the Indian subcontinent. Samuel Noah Kramer has given us the best account that we have of Sumerian civilization, summarized in his book History Begins at Sumer. In any case, their migration either northward or westward was critical to the establishment of civilization, especially Western civilization of which they can be said to be the forerunners.
Between 2800 and 2500, Semites entered the area. With them came monarchy and the development of a centralized religious center at Nippur. Earlier connections between the priesthood and the political order that led to the earlier combination of political and priestly power, was ended, and with that a market economy was initiated. Three centers of power formed: the palace, the temple, which became a power (the ziggurat), and the market.
In 2500 or thereabouts, the Kish dynasty was overthrown and separate dynasties were founded in Ur and Lagash. The latter was commemorated in the oldest historical document that we have, called the Stella of the Vultures, which records the deeds of the son of the dynasty's founder. The dynasty lasted to 2360 when it was overthrown by Lugal Zaggisi (king of the lands) of Uma who conquered Lagash, Ur, Ereh, Larsa, Kish, and Nippur and advanced to the Mediterranean, founding an empire.
He was the last of the Sumerian rulers and was overthrown by Sargon I of Akkad, who established the Akkadian empire, which included parts of Syria and Asia Minor as well as Mesopotamia. Sargon founded a centralized state and built a new capital at Akkad. His empire lasted until 2150 when it was conquered by Gutians from Iran. One hundred years later Utu Khegal, King of Ereh, drove the Gutians out and restored the Sumerians to power in the year 2050.
Meanwhile, civilization advanced in northern Mesopotamia. City states like Ebla flourished and left large cuneiform libraries recently rediscovered which give us extensive documentation of life in that millennium.
The Indus Valley
Before 2500, the Indus Valley consisted of separate Neolithic industrial centers such as Amri, Nal, Quetta, Kulli, and Indara. In 2500, Haratta emerged as the most important center. Haratta civilization introduced rajahs (kings) and maharajahs (superior kings) as rulers in cities laid out according to a checkerboard plan with a castle hill dominating each. It is likely that they had contact with the Sumerians, although they developed a separate culture.
Meanwhile, north of the region between central Europe and southern Russia on the Kirghiz steppes, the Indo-Europeans began to emerge. We have little archeological evidence of them since they were nomadic peoples, but their language became the basis for the Indo-European languages. By and large they were organized under a patriarchal system of large families and tribes with a pastoral economy. Their migrations, which began at the very end of this period, were both westward into Europe and southeastward into India.
The first settled European civilization which the Indo-Europeans founded was the Minoan civilization in Crete between 2600 and 2000. They built harbor cities on the island. At the same time, other centers were formed in the Aegean region in what was called the early Helladic epoch. A peasant society developed in Thrace, Phocis, Boeotia, Attica, Argolis, and Corinth, with close communication with the Semitic and Hemetic civilizations of the eastern Mediterranean. Asia Minor became a meeting ground of civilizations as the Indo-Europeans migrated southwestward and the Semites migrated northwestward to what became the first "West."
Humanity, having diversified racially and geographically, entered a period of sophisticated diversification based upon the combination of major migrations and the development of strategies or adaption of the migrating peoples to the new areas in which they relocated. In every case, those strategies had to be implemented through invention. In all, humans rose to the challenge but the uneven character and spread of their inventions made the difference from civilization to civilization in two ways: One is technical - that is to say the level of sophistication that they attained. The second is political - how they organized their civilizations and the societies within them.
The combination of their technical and political inventions within their geo-historical locations shaped or reshaped their religious beliefs in light of their migratory experiences. Hence in hierarchical Egypt, the human on top of the hierarchy was seen as a man-god while in oligarchical Mesopotamia the gods were also seen as dominga super oligarchy above humans but interacting with them in ways subject to human manipulation.
In Indian and China, on the other hand, inventions seemed to reach a kind of plateau and these civilizations turned in different directions. In those parts of the world where invention was arrested for one reason or another or failed to progress at the rate that it did elsewhere, the civilizations themselves became more static. They fell prey to the more dynamic civilizations or were pushed into the back-waters of world history.
Third Period: The Beginnings of East and West
With the central elements of civilization as we know it in place in Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley, and China, world history took a new turn in this period. The period saw the beginnings of the conscious division of the world into East and West. The civilizations of the former were grounded in a search for harmony through quiescent individual acceptance of the myriad natural forces beyond human control, and the latter, the pursuit of human development through the harnessing of the many dynamic forces in the world through conflict and the management of the tensions that stimulate human progress.
The Indian and Chinese civilizations and their offshoots came to represent the East, while the Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations and their offshoots, particularly the Israelite and Greek peoples, came to represent the West. Persian civilization developed in this period as a kind of bridge. In this period, those offshoots often emerged out of rebellion against the great empires or civilizations already in existence. In the process and direction of those rebellions, they sharpened the differences between East and West while maintaining contact between the two.
By the end of the period, the differences between Eastern and Western civilizations were clearly defined and the course of each more or less laid out. We shall focus on Western civilization which, over the next four millennia, spread around the world and became the dominant civilizational thrust, albeit, only after absorbing elements of other civilizations.
The two peoples that were critical factors in shaping this period were Israel and Hellas, that is to say, the Hebrew and Greek peoples. The Israelites gave the world monotheism and laid the religious foundations of Western civilizations and the Hellenes gave us philosophy beginning at the very end of this period, out of which came the definitions of excellences in Western civilization. Both monotheism and the idea of what constitutes excellence were to be the principal shapers of first the Western world and then the world as a whole.
While the Israelites and the Greeks founded what became Western civilization, their location and flourishing in west Asia and its immediate European and African environs meant that their cultures and communities were still linked to both East and West and partook of the civilizations of both. Hence they were bridging cultures as well as architects of the separation.
So, too, in their own way were the great cultures of Egypt and Mesopotamia. Egyptian culture was both tied to the other cultures of the Fertile Crescent and west Asia and also reached southward and westward into Africa, down the Nile and north and south of the Sahara Desert. Meanwhile, in the farther reaches of Africa south of the Sahara, independent and separate African cultures took form.
So, too, Mesopotamian culture had a powerful influence on the Iranians (Medes and Persians) who lived to the east. Elements of Mesopotamian culture reached the Indus Valley via the Persians. For example, all students of linguistics know that, with the exception of the pictographic writing of the Mayans and the east Asians, all alphabets, east and west, grow out of the original Semitic alphabet of western Asia whose earliest expressions have been found along the eastern Mediterranean coastal areas from Sinai to Phoenicia (Lebanon and coastal Syria today) from whence it was diffused to Europe and Asia. In its diffusion the original alphabet was modified, both East and West to become, in time, the Greek, Latin, and Cyrillic alphabets that the Western world uses today and the Arabic and south Asian alphabets that are used in the East. Only north and east of the Himalayas did an independent culture area develop, minimally influenced by the root cultures of the Fertile Crescent, although from ancient times there was trade between the two regions whose extent is just being rediscovered in our times.
The beginnings of Israel and Hellas had much in common. The Israelites began their great project perhaps 600 years before the Hellenes to introduce their greatest contribution, namely, ethical monotheism, at about the time that the Hellenes were beginning to emerge. The peak of the Hellenic contribution came at the very beginning of the next epoch in the golden age of the Greek city-states at a time when Israel was moving into the second phase of its project, the development of Judaism as we have come to know it.
The beginnings of both are in the confrontation with the great empires of the Nile Valley, Mesopotamia, and the Iranian steppes that dominated or tried to dominate their respective parts of the world. Both simultaneously drew from the cultures of those great empires and, in their revolt against them, tried to reshape those cultures and to winnow out what for them were their best aspects, refine those aspects, and turn them into instruments for further development.
Unlike many later world-class conflicts which were interracial, these revolts were essentially within the same racial groupings or transracial. The Israelites emerged out of conflict with the Semitic peoples in the Middle East, while the Hellenes emerged in confrontation with the Indo-European peoples of central Asia and beyond. Not only are there no signs of racial prejudice in the history of these peoples, there are no discussions of white against black or yellow or brown or any other combination of these. Instead, there are all kinds of records indicating that there was no racial issue, that, indeed, the races mixed insofar as they came into contact.
Both the Israelites and the Hellenes were small peoples confronting large and powerful empires. In both cases, the small peoples involved emphasized quality over quantity in their respective projects. Indeed, their respective emphases on quality are among the most notable features of their civilizations, based upon their recognition of their smallness and their confrontation with much larger empires.
Another element the two have in common is their location at the crossroads between Asia, Africa, and Europe. Israel is particularly well-located in that respect, but the Hellenes in their original location in Asia Minor were hardly less so.
Finally, we should consider that, while the great empires against whom the Israelites and Hellenes revolted and fought were increasingly imperial, that is to say, hierarchical and inequitable in their character - what nineteenth century historians referred to as oriental despotisms, both the Israelites and the Hellenes were essentially egalitarian, popular, and non-centralized in their orientations toward life in political society. They were united by ideas rather than by power pyramids and succeeded in holding their peoples together through those ideas, their spread, and exercise. Their institutions were empowered through their critical ideas and their revolts invariably involved a significant dimension of revolt against power pyramids and their power holders.
All of this ultimately combined to give Western civilization its essential characteristics, even if, as is often the case, their implementation of those ideas within their societies left much to be desired. The Greek polis is still looked upon as a classic polity in world political history, while the Israelite tribal federation has inspired generations of political scientists and theologians in the development of their ideal polities.
Both the Israelites and the Ionians originated in migrations. The Bible, indisputably the single greatest and most influential book in Western civilization, gives us the record of the sacred history of the Israelites. That sacred history is founded in great migrations, first, the migration of Adam out of the Garden of Eden as a result of expulsion; second, the dispersion of the peoples of the world as a result of God's displeasure over the Tower of Babel whereby the human race tried to become like God, i.e., to challenge God's supreme power, according to the biblical account; third, and most important for our purposes here, the migration of the Patriarch Abraham and his family from northern Mesopotamia westward to the land of Canaan by God's command so as to detach himself from the land of his birth, his civilization, and his kin, and thus be open to the fundamental transformation of his culture to build a new way of life based on monotheism that would not be encumbered by the forms of the old in place.
Abraham's migration is ultimately followed by the migration of his grandson Jacob and the Israelites to Egypt. After generations of Egyptian slavery, the by-then very numerous Israelites led by Moses, left Egypt in the great Exodus to return to Canaan. Through that decisive migration they fully established themselves in what became the Land of Israel.
The Bible goes on to describe two other sets of migrations at the end of the epoch, one, the forced exile of ten of the Israelite tribes by the Assyrians at the very end of the eighth century BCE and then the forced exile of the last two tribes by the Babylonians relatively early in the sixth century BCE. The period culminates with a small but significant return migration of Israelites from Babylonia to the Land of Israel after the Persians conquered the Babylonian empire and destroyed it.
The Bible treats these migrations with the significance they deserve. The attempt to establish new civilizations based upon new ideas and beliefs can only be done if people are detached from familiar surroundings and relationships and forced to build anew because the old and familiar cannot sufficiently provide for them. Contrast the difference between the American and French revolutions in our time. The American Revolution came as the culmination of an initial migration from Britain and northwestern Europe involving Pilgrims, Puritans, Dutch Reformed, Huguenots, and Scots, who sought a new world in which to build a new way of life, which contributed greatly to the measure of its success.
The French had to have their revolution in the midst of the old order, the Ancien Regime, and could never fully disrupt the institutions or habits of the old order, despite far more radical efforts than ever tried in the new United States, including the reign of terror, an attempt to replace the Christian calendar with a new revolutionary one, and many other such devices. For example, the French army to this day considers its first loyalty to be to France, which survives from regime to regime, because the army had its origins in pre-revolutionary France and was able to serve the revolutionary regime and the regimes that followed it on the grounds that it was serving France. Thus, the biblical insight as to the importance of migration for renewal is very important and still stands.
The Ionian peoples were also migrants into the western part of Asia Minor where they settled and founded their cities. Ionia was the mother city of more than ninety urban settlements along the coast of the Black Sea. Hence, their history also contains a record, albeit less explicit, of their migrations and their civilization was also born after the peoples who gave it birth had been detached from their original places of settlement. The migrations of Indo-European tribes known as Ionians or Aeolians (Achaeans) is usually believed to have taken place between 1850 and 1600 BCE as a series of movements by tribes and parts of tribes into the region.
These migrations, which took place about the same time as Abraham left Mesopotamia for Canaan, were followed after 1250 BCE, about the time that the Israelites left Egypt, by a new wave of migrations. Over the following 250 years there occurred the Delian migration. The Illyrians advanced to the Mediterranean Sea. Northwestern Greeks settled in Epirus, Aetolia, and Acarnania. The Aeboians migrated to Crete and southwestern Asia Minor by sea and to the Peloponnesus by land.
Another wave of Greek colonization further to the west took place between 750 and 550 BCE. It was brought about by the development of crafts, the expansion of maritime trade, and the emergence of a population surplus which had to be relocated. There also was a growing indebtedness of the peasantry and social conflicts, especially in Greece proper (e.g., Corinth and Athens). There was also emigration for political reasons. What united all of this colonization was a new consciousness of life asserting itself with elemental power.
The colonization involved the founding of a mother city, often influenced by an oracle, which planted satellite colonies around the Mediterranean for both trading and agrarian purposes. Each colony acquired political autonomy, but also maintained its connections with the mother city through common cults and customs. The expansion proceeded westward because the Greeks were blocked by the Assyrians to the east. Hellenic civilization essentially spread on the northern coast of the Mediterranean because the Carthaginians, themselves descendants of the Phoenician colonists of Carthage, dominated the southern and far western Mediterranean.
Both the Israelite and Greek migrations were into what were then called the lands of the West and, in essence, established another fundamental element of Western civilization, what Americans later referred to as "westering." In a sense, Asia's Mediterranean coast from the Sinai Peninsula to the Dardanelles and the area immediately east of it to a depth of perhaps 100 to 150 miles was the first conscious West of human history; that is to say, it was referred to at the time as the land of the West and the Semitic peoples who settled those lands were known as Amorites or the peoples of the West. The building of new civilizations in those lands by various peoples Hittites, Phoenicians, Israelites, and Ionians - was the first conscious westering process to be recorded in history. Out of those westering elements, the Israelites and the Ionians emerged to successfully give birth to the major elements that became known as Western civilization.
By the end of the period, the Israelites had also embarked on a colonization effort of a different sort. Exiled from their land, they were not in a position to found separate and independent cities as colonies but were forced to establish minority communities in lands occupied and governed by non-Israelite majorities. To do so, the Israelites developed a diaspora with communal institutions such as the synagogue that could be implanted wherever a group of Jews were settled together and could function with some measure of autonomy within the host society. Thus, two forms of colonization were in place by the end of the period: one, the establishment of new, independent entities in available spaces, and the other, the establishment of diaspora communities in already settled areas. Both would continue as useful and acceptable means of colonization in the world.
The recorded history of those peoples that we have is a history of what we would later come to call frontier challenges and responses, the process of organizing peoples in new territories to form new peoples with new political and social institutions. The migrations and the formation of new peoples and new institutions should be the essence of our interest in them. What were the frontier challenges that faced them and how did the Israelites and Ionians respond to these challenges? The Israelite response was essentially religious and rural, while the Ionian response was essentially aesthetic and urban.
The subjects which help define a frontier include a "West," the role of migration and its impact on cultural change, the problem of land distribution, equal or equitable access to land, and the question of appropriate governmental forms to serve frontier situations.
We can view the Israelite and Ionian experiences as parallel phenomena at the western extremity of Asia. In both land frontiers led to the development of their forms of civilization. Applying Turnerian categories, we see that they played a role in that development similar to that played by frontier settlement elsewhere in later times. If so, both Hebraic and Hellenic civilizations had their origins in the West Asian frontier from the Negev to Asia Minor.
From the Hebrews and the Greeks Western civilization expanded along two lines over the next three millennium. One went westward through the Mediterranean, then northwestward through west central Europe and western Europe, across the North Sea to the British Isles and Iceland, and then across the Atlantic Ocean to North and South America. The other line moved northward around the Black Sea into the Russian steppes, then eastward across Siberia, then across the Bering Straits to Alaska where it turned southward. The two lines met at Ft. Ross in northern California, about 70 miles north of San Francisco, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, thereby completing the encirclement of the world.
Ft. Ross was an outpost built by the Russians in their efforts to penetrate southward, just north of the northernmost mission settlements established by the Spanish in the late eighteenth century in their effort to expand northward and just below the point where the British and Americans were penetrating into what was then referred to as the Oregon Territory. While circumstances brought about a Russian retreat after a relatively few years, that retreat was accompanied by greater British and American penetration into Alaska and the Yukon, continuing the links between the eastern and western branches of Western civilization, achieved after 3,800 years of "westering." Offshoots of the first line also spread northward into Scandinavia, southward to southern Africa, and eastward through south and southeast Asia to east Asia, in some cases having frontier characteristics.
In the century following the meeting of the two streams, the land frontier - more accurately, the rural land frontier - was completely settled by the West and, except for a few isolated spots, ceased to be a vital force in the development of civilization. Indeed, in most places the frontier period was a short one, marked by the sociological and political fluidity of the settlement of new territories which, once occupied, ceased to manifest the characteristics of a frontier.
The frontier challenges for both peoples essentially involved entry and settlement of their respective territories, establishing institutions - political, social, and religious - that enabled them to express the new societies that they were building. In the case of political institutions, both established federal arrangements, first confederations and then regimes more like federations, in Israel based upon tribes and in Ionia based upon cities. The Greek polis is still looked upon as a classic polity in world political history. While the Israelite tribal federation has inspired generations of political scientists and theologians in the development of their ideal polities. Socially, in both societies there were three defined groups: citizens, resident aliens, and slaves. The Israelites granted equal civil and social rights to both citizens and resident aliens, had limited terms of servitude for Israelite slaves, and reserved the political and religious rights for citizens. The Greeks distinguished between citizens, resident aliens, and slaves across all three dimensions.
By and large, these responses were inventive since they not only had to serve new societies but new societies that were far more egalitarian in their orientation than any non-tribal societies that preceded them. Any examination of those responses, whatever technological advances were involved with them, would be very useful. For example, the Greeks entered into the Iron Age earlier than the Semitic peoples including Israel. Indeed, the Israelites had to acquire Iron Age technology from the Philistines, that branch of the Hellenic peoples who migrated southward, apparently from Crete, to the coast of Israel.
The greatest inventiveness of both peoples was directed toward the realm of religion and philosophy. Israel's great contribution was in the field of religion and, indeed, that contribution set the tone of Western and subsequently world civilization from then on. Israel's great contribution was monotheism, and ethical monotheism at that. We must understand that monotheism is not a matter of arithmetic, one god against more than one. It is a basic and total transformation of the way people look at the world.
All polytheisms essentially view the world as cyclical and controlled by fate. There is no beginning and no end, hence no progress, only a repetition of a sequence of events fixed either for the human race as a whole or for certain groups of humans. The cycles can be great ones, as in the case of Indian religion which sees worlds being created and destroyed after very long periods of time, or they can be based upon shorter cycles as seems to have been the case with regard to Greek religion, but cycles they are. Everything is going to repeat itself, at least in its essence, and humanity does not move forward. In that sense there is no history, for history has to have a beginning and potentially an end.
Beyond that, the world is ruled by fate. Even the gods are subject to fate as the Greek myths describe. The gods represent a kind of a club. There are greater and lesser gods but basically they are all equal members of the club. The gods can interact with humans and do so in ways that have all the flaws of human behavior, without the restraints that humans have placed on themselves by virtue of the limits of human power or their moral expectations. The gods, with fewer limitations, can indulge their appetites to a greater degree. Those appetites include sexual appetites and appetites for greed, revenge, power - all the weaknesses of humanity. The gods interact with humans to satisfy these appetites and passions. In pagan religions, the task of humans is to achieve self-protection by pacifying and conciliating the gods or learning how to manipulate them through magic. All of these lie at the foundations of pagan rituals. The gods need to be propitiated, pacified, and manipulated. Sacrifices are designed to propitiate and pacify, imitative rituals such as fertility rites are designed to manipulate the gods.
Monotheism, on the other hand, posits one powerful transcendent being who is not part of the natural world but transcends the natural world, who initiates history through His creation and moves it along certain paths which, if humans follow them faithfully, will ultimately bring about their redemption, i.e., the end of history and human suffering. In the interim there must be progress toward that final end and humans are encouraged to be progressive to enable things to move along. Moreover, monotheism has a strong ethical dimension. There is a distinction between good and bad. Appetites must be controlled for the good to occur. The good consists of fulfilling God's commandments which include, even emphasize, commandments that are designed to promote justice, charity, kindness, neighborliness, and righteousness. God is not neutral with regard to these qualities, but loves good and hates evil. These differences mark the great gulf between monotheism and polytheism. Monotheism also recognizes that nature per se is neutral and what is natural is not always what is best, that God has made humans responsible in this world, not only for respecting nature but for directing nature, including human nature, into the service of the good.
If Israelite religion through the Bible and then Judaism and, later, Christianity and Islam was designed to bring the world under monotheism for its own good, Greek thought emphasized excellence rather than the good. That excellence could vary from excellence in the pursuit of the excellence of the body expressed through sport, excellence of the mind as expressed through philosophy, and excellence in the pursuit of morality as expressed in obedience to the laws, but the emphasis was on excellence. The greatest work of the Greeks, Homer's Iliad, composed at about the same time as the Bible, is a celebration of excellence within the framework of the cyclical world of polytheism and the tragedies that are fated to result.
All of the activities of the Greeks, from the athletic to the aesthetic to the moral, are predicated on this achieving of excellence. At the end of the epoch, that drive for excellence of thought was to lead to the birth of systematic philosophy, the greatest Greek contribution to human self-definition. Philosophy initially developed in Asia Minor from the seventh century before the common era. Its first exponents were located in Asia Minor and in colonies far from the Hellenic heartland, testifying that it was also a frontier experience that rose out of the interaction of Greek cities with the frontier challenges and non-Greek societies.
Biblical monotheism and Greek philosophy were later synthesized by Philo, a Jew from the Hellenistic city of Alexandria, Egypt, into a single system. That system was adopted by Christianity after its birth and institutionalization and became the system that directed the thought of the West for 1,600 years until it was challenged by Spinoza, another Jew living in the Reformed Protestant Netherlands in the seventeenth century of this era.
Meanwhile, the great empires of the Middle East came and went. The Egyptian empire in the Nile Valley which extended its powers southward into Ethiopia and northward along the Mediterranean coast as far as Asia Minor; the Assyrian empire of Mesopotamia which extended its power throughout the valley of the two rivers and westward to the Mediterranean; and the new Babylonian empire which replaced partially three Assyrian empires (the old, 1800-1375 BCE; the middle, 1375-1047 BCE; and the new, 1047-625 BCE). After 539 BCE the empire of the Medes and the Persians conquered western Asia and tried to conquer the Hellenic peoples in Asia Minor and in Greece proper. The history of Greece acquires its central character through the successful struggle of the Greeks to resist Persian domination, just as the history of Israel consists of the efforts of the Israelites to survive by maneuvering between the Egyptian and the several west Asian empires.
Meanwhile, in China, in the years between 1500 and 1000 BCE, while Israel and Helles are emerging to define Western civilization, the Shang dynasty established a feudal state in northeastern Hunan which initiated the transformation of neolithic China into a more institutionalized feudal state governed by Taoism, a religion dedicated to the search for the ordered universe through a combination of ancestor worship, fetishism, and the pursuit of harmony with those forces.
Regional empires rose and collapsed in both India and China. What seemed to be the most lasting "achievements" of both were the establishment of permanent hierarchical arrangements through which to organize society including political society, the caste system in south Asia, and Chinese feudalism in east Asia. These were to become so rooted that they were to continue to have their influence long after their original manifestations had been eliminated or transformed.
In India, that same period was the early Vedic period in which the Aryans conquered the Dravidians, the original inhabitants of the subcontinent, forcing them to the southern part of the subcontinent. These Indo-Europeans brought the chariot with them to give them military superiority. The Vedas, written in Sanskrit, became sacred scriptures establishing a systematic polytheism and a caste system for the human believers. Both were to last until late modern and even postmodern times and to continue to shape the South Asian peoples. In Africa, only the Nile Valley peoples as far south as Ethiopia entered into the mainstream of world history during this period, primarily in connection with Egyptian culture and political power.
Fourth Period: The Shift to Europe (500 BCE-500 CE)
While the great civilizations of the world continued to flourish in their respective locations throughout this period, the European segments of Western civilization became especially powerful and set the stage for their later dominance. The cutting edge of civilization was transferred to the West from the Middle East. The first step in that direction came through the flourishing of Greece and the rise of speculative philosophy and a comprehensive aesthetics during the Greek Golden Age in the fifth and early fourth centuries BCE. Then from the middle of the fourth century onward for the next two centuries, Hellenism flourished. Hellenism was a syncretistic civilization whereby the Greek conquerors of western Asia and northeastern Africa developed a syncretism of Greek, West Asian, and Egyptian elements into a neo-Hellenic civilization that represented the last significant attempt to unite East and West until modern times.
Rome and the Roman empire replaced the Hellenistic empires to the east in the first century BCE, and the Carthaginian empire to the south and west a century and a half earlier, establishing a new border between East and West, between the Roman and Parthian empires. This was the period in which Rome grew, flourished as a world empire, and declined, dominating the stage in the Old World. It was also the period in which the Jews developed Judaism as we know it and then gave birth to its offshoot, Christianity, which became the first mass-based monotheistic religion, especially in the West.
With the triumph of Christianity, paganism virtually disappeared in the West, remaining only in northern Europe for another six hundred years. Paganism survived in the rest of Asia, and Africa, and the Western Hemisphere still unknown to the West. South Asian civilization flourished separately but with inputs from the Middle Eastern civilization. East Asian civilization was far more separate, despite continuing trade contacts with west Asia. New civilizations developed in Africa south of the Sahara, also influenced by those in north Africa, and entirely separate civilizations developed in the Americas. An almost completely separate history was being developed outside of the Mediterranean. Africa south of the Sahara was only slightly more connected to the West.
The Roman empire was finally brought down by the invasions of barbarian tribes from the East. Those tribes settled in central and northern Europe and contributed to shaping the map of Europe as we know it today by establishing new peoples.
Two great migrational trends can be noted. One was the sweep of the barbarian tribes out of China and the great steppes of east-central and central Asia into eastern, central, and even western and southern Europe. Those tribes, while primitive compared to the civilizations they encountered south of the Caucasus, Carpathian Mountains, and the Alps, were filled with a tough military spirit and were strong in their collective institutions, including political institutions that were less hierarchical than those they confronted among the civilized peoples they encountered. Coming to better lands in Europe than they had known on the steppes, they settled down and ultimately merged with the indigenous populations to form today's European peoples.
The other great migrational stream consisted of peoples who were exiled from their lands as a result of military conquest and religious oppression. Their major migrations were generally westward: Greeks, Jews, and countless other Asians who were conquered by the Romans and taken westward as slaves or prisoners or who migrated westward of their own free will when their homelands could no longer provide them with a decent living or life. Less massive was the migration eastward into the western and northern parts of the Indian subcontinent by similar populations displaced from the various Persian/Iranian empires that controlled the territory between the eastern edge of the Roman empire and India proper.
The first migration was more in the classic frontier model; that is to say, people searching for new lands and new opportunities, while the second was more in the dispersion model, peoples who had to migrate not because they wanted to but because of the circumstances in which they found themselves, circumstances generated by human activities such as wars, conquests, and famines.
By and large, this was a period in which the frontier as we have described it here had less of an impact. Most of the areas that were settled and resettled as a result of these population movements were already inhabited. Only in northern Europe and in the desert areas of northern Africa and western Asia was there a line between the settled and the unsettled. Northern Europe did, indeed, become a frontier area as the steppe tribes spread into those unoccupied or very lightly populated areas and made them their own. The desert areas also saw some localized frontier situations as in the desert immediately south of the settled parts of the Land of Israel in what is today the Negev and the Sinai Peninsula where settlement was extended into desert areas by the development of sophisticated irrigation techniques. But on the whole, the battle with the desert was (and is) a continuing one with sometimes the desert winning and sometimes humans winning and extending their settlements into it. In any case, the frontier areas were all related to the rural land frontier, so that once the land was settled, the frontier disappeared, since there was no means for continuing the experience.
On the other hand, there was considerable invention, especially for a pre-industrial age. The Romans were particularly inventive in material matters and technology. Their inventions ranged from better road building to serve the needs of their empire to the construction of systems of indoor plumbing to make life easier.
The Jews and Greeks continued their inventiveness in their traditional fields of religion and philosophy, the Jews by inventing both rabbinic Judaism and Christianity, and the Greeks by inventing systematic philosophy and aesthetics. Both developed institutions to transmit their ideas that were very long-lasting. Some still remain with us, such as the synagogue, the church, and the academy.
Politically, the age continued the struggle between hierarchical imperialism and popular republicanism, at times supported by federalism. The Romans began with an adaptation of the Greek polis and initially expanded their empire through a series of treaties between Rome, the great polis, and other city-states which it conquered. These cities were related to Rome as foederatii. Those federal relationships, while quite different from the comprehensive federations and confederations of a later age (they were similar to the federacy or associated state relationships that exist today, e.g., between the United States and Puerto Rico or the United States and the Marshall Islands), were nonetheless authentic federal linkages that preserved the local autonomy of the cities in question but transferred powers over foreign policy and defense to Rome. The system persisted until it was destroyed during the Roman empire when the formal constitutional framework was changed to match the true imperial distribution of power, but by that time it had long since become a paper framework only.
This period was one of great upheavals in religion throughout the world. The period started out with a series of religious revolutions including the emergence of Buddhism in India and its spread to south and southeast Asia and the emergence of Confucianism as a quasi-religious system in China and east Asia, all of this within a single century in the sixth and fifth centuries BCE. The Israelite religion of the Bible was transformed by Ezra into normative Judaism organized around the halakhah, the sacred law of the Jewish people that combined both civil and religious elements. While this religious revolution did not change the moral character of biblical teachings, it changed the means by which those moral teachings would be made operational. Instead of kings, priests and prophets, Ezra introduced an assembly of those educated in those codes to teach and interpret them. This republican meritocracy became the principal pillar of Jewish religious and civil self-government for the next millennium. An intellectual paganism developed among the Greeks, led by the Greek philosophers different and, indeed, considerably more sophisticated in character and content than the popular paganism. In Persia, the emergence of Zoroastrianism with its belief in two gods, one of good and one of evil, replaced the older polytheism of the Persians. Buddha was active in India and Confucius and Lao-Tze in China. These great Asian religious reforms came at approximately the same time as the Greeks were introducing their great philosophic reforms so that the juncture between the sixth and fifth centuries BCE became a period of extraordinary transformation in belief and intellectual endeavor throughout the civilized world of the time, East and West, each civilization in its own way. Not until our own times has there been such a convergence of transformatory movements in a single century, a time when all four forces that we have identified here as being critical to the civilizational process seemed to converge.
In the middle of the period, Christianity and gnosticism were born as well as a number of other pagan cults, but the day of overt paganism was coming to an end in the West. After several centuries of struggle that involved substantial persecution of Christians by the Romans, Christianity triumphed to become the Roman state religion and as such to be given the keys of the kingdom. That transformation put Christianity in the position to become the overwhelmingly dominant religion in Europe, a task mostly accomplished by the end of the period, and quantitatively and intellectually the major religion of the West. It also enabled the Church to persecute other religions.
The triumph of monotheism in its Catholic and Orthodox Christian forms reorganized and in many respects transformed European thought and behavior in fields far beyond the immediately religious. The rise of Christianity may indeed be the biggest story of the period in terms of its lasting influence. Its successful synthesis of the striving for piety and justice of Judaism, and the striving for rationality and excellence of the Greeks was to generate the engine that has driven Western civilization to its central position as the foundation stone of world civilization. Once these characteristics were combined and assimilated by the energetic and aggressive (often too aggressive) peoples of Europe, the way was clear to move ahead but it took another thousand years to complete that three-way combination.
By the end of the period, Christianity had divided into two major wings, Catholic and Orthodox, and had also developed a number of separate Christian churches, mostly national in character; that is to say, serving particular nationalities. These began the permanent schisms in Christianity which continue to the present.
The period began with the Babylonian Exile and dispersion of the Jews and the Greco-Persian Wars. The destruction of Judea by the neo-Babylonian empire led to the dispersion of the Jews throughout the Fertile Crescent and into the Balkans, but unlike the situation with other peoples, the Jews, held together by their "peculiar" religion, vastly different from the paganism surrounding them, retained their identity as a separate people and their very presence began to spread the monotheistic idea. Fifty years later, the neo-Babylonian empire was conquered by Cyrus the Great of Persia who allowed those Jews who wished, to return to their land, which became an autonomous state within the Persian empire.
Simultaneously, in the middle of the sixth century BCE, Persia conquered the Greek cities of Asia Minor. At the turn of the century those cities revolted against Persian rule and were destroyed. The Persians then initiated their campaigns to conquer the cities of Greece proper because they had assisted in the Ionian revolt. The fight went on for fifty years until peace was established between Persia and Athens in 448. Athens, the great gainer from the victory, entered into its golden age, led by Pericles, but half a generation later initiated the Pelaponessian Wars (431-404) which, when they ended thirty years later, had essentially bankrupted the city in every way. Meanwhile, Socrates began the transformation of philosophy that he, Plato, and Aristotle brought about, that was to be Athens' greatest legacy to the world.
During the fourth century Macedonia became the dominant power in the Hellenic world. Its greatest emperor, Alexander the Great established his empire and with it, Hellenism, from the Adriatic to the Indus and from the Caucasus to the Upper Nile. Alexander's approach to solving the Greco-Persian problem was to fuse the two populations, but his premature death ended this last effort to completely meld East and West.
The breakup of his empire and its successors restored the political separation but enabled the cultural mixing to continue and intensify. The successor empires continued to exist and to preserve the Hellenistic world until first century BCE when they were overrun by the Romans.
The westward shift of the Western world already had taken a major step forward in the eighth century BCE when first Carthage and then Rome were founded. Carthage was a Phoenician colony and, hence, of West Asian (Semitic) origin. For the next 600 years there was a struggle between the Semitic/North African peoples on one side, led by Carthage, and the Indo-European/Latins led by Rome on the other over who would control the Western world. While it is not often helpful to speculate on the "ifs" of history, it pays to give a moment's thought to what would have happened if Carthage had won in that struggle. Carthage was an expression of Semitic-Canaanite culture. It had consolidated its position in Spain until the Romans drove them out of the Iberian Peninsula. Had they beaten the Romans, it is possible that all of what has become Latin Europe where the Romance languages prevail would have spoken a Semitic rather than an Indo-European language. Beyond the language question, the cultural changes in the map of Europe would probably have been equally profound.
As it was, Carthage was defeated, and while there would be one more great incursion of Semitic-North African peoples into Europe, that of the Muslims in the eighth century, the Semitic influence on Western civilization receded from the political realm and shifted to the realm of religion, science, and philosophy, of which more later. Neither Israel nor Greece, the intellectual and spiritual heartlands of those civilizations, directly participated in that struggle. Nor were either represented by the two actual contenders, Carthage and Rome.
For the first 240 years Rome was ruled by kings. At the time it became a republic, the first Roman-Carthagian treaty was concluded. For the next 300 years Rome and Carthage actively competed and fought with one another until Rome finally destroyed Carthage and established the Indo-European/Latin civilization as the dominant one in the West. All the while, the Roman republic was extending its control over the Italian peninsula and the northern shore of the Mediterranean, westward to the Atlantic and eastward to Asia Minor.
The destruction of Carthage may have been decisive for Western civilization but it was disastrous for the Roman republic. It opened an era of civil wars that led ultimately in the middle of the first century BCE to the end of the republic and the establishment of imperial rule. During all that time, however, the Roman empire expanded. It took until the end of this entire period for imperial Rome to collapse, which it did as a result of the barbarian invasions from the north and the internal decline from within the empire and Rome itself. In the interim, the empire had reached what is today the English-Scottish border in the northwest, to the German border with the Low Countries, France and Switzerland in the north, and the Russian-Romanian border and the Black Sea in the northeast. It included all of today's Turkey and western Asia including Syria and Israel, as far as Mesopotamia. The empire also held the whole north shore of Africa.
Roman civilization spread throughout the areas of its rule and as Latin civilization left its enduring impact on Europe, we continue to live off of it or its syntheses with the civilizations around it.
Rome was also very inventive governmentally in the systems of governance that it devised for that empire and its various provinces.
Israel was one of the first nation-states in the world along with its immediate west Asian neighbors Araam (Syria), Moab, and Edom. It also was the first federation. The Greeks perfected the polis, the independent city, and bequeathed it to the West and also invented confederations of cities. Rome perfected imperial rule. No empire survived as an empire longer than any other in the West, rivaled only by the Chinese and Japanese empires in the East. It did so initially by developing a third form of federalism, asymmetrical federal association or federacy. Importantly, all three had republican roots and foundations.
Meanwhile, immediately to the north of the established peoples in Mediterranean Europe, there appeared a group whose pedigree goes back as far as their neighbors to the south but who remained within local rather than continent-wide political and social frameworks and hence their visible influence on history was less. These were the Celts, who settled from Asia Minor, across Europe, to Iberia and the British Isles. The Celtic peoples are known mostly through archeology rather than historical records because they apparently never had an imperial instinct. The importance of Celtic foundations in shaping the local cultures in places as diverse as Switzerland, Spain, Ireland, Brittany, and Scotland only became recognized much later.
The Roman empire reached its greatest extent in the third century. From then on it became more of an absolute state headed by soldier-emperors. At the same time, it came under increasing pressure internally from Christianity and externally from the Germanic tribes who originally were found in southern Scandinavia, Denmark, and Schleswig.
The name "German" first appeared at the beginning of the first century BCE. The German tribes were differentiated into three groups: the north Germanic tribes living in Scandinavia; the east German tribes who had migrated from Scandinavia to the region east of the Elbe. These included the Vandals, the Bergundians, and the Goths who were to become so important in leading the assault on the Roman empire a century later; and the west German tribes, most of whom settled down in particular localities and only one of whom, the Franks, acquired the same importance and menace as their east German compatriots. They were governed by a certain primitive republicanism and were polytheistic.
At the same time, the Slavic peoples were entering eastern Europe. The Slavs were in some cases connected with the Germans. Behind them were the mounted nomads from the Asian steppes. These included the Huns, the Bulgars who settled in Bulgaria, the Magyars who settled in Hungary, and the Khazars who settled north of the Caucasus. Altogether these were the peoples involved in the great barbarian migrations from the late fourth through the sixth centuries, of which the east Germans are the most prominent. These peoples, after they settled down, formed the backbone of the different nations of Europe that we know today, reaching across into the western third of North Africa.
Meanwhile, Rome was undergoing various political and administrative changes, increasingly losing to the barbarian invaders. Constantine the Great adopted Christianity at the beginning of the fourth century. The capital was moved from Rome to Byzantium, renamed Constantinople, to remove it from the pagan influences of Rome itself. At the end of that century, the empire was formally divided into the Eastern and Western Roman empires. The Western empire ceased to exist in 476, while the Eastern empire continued to exist for another 1,000 years.
While the Roman empire was at its peak, the Jews in their land made several efforts to throw off its yoke, leading to the destruction of the Second Jewish Commonwealth at about the time that Christianity emerged. The Jews were then dispersed throughout the known world of the time. As a diaspora they continued to be influential factors in world history because of the cohesion and intellectual energy they maintained even in their dispersion wherever they found themselves.
The Greeks, who initially saw themselves as the true civilizing forces in the Roman empire, were also reduced to no more than a local people at about this time, who barely managed to keep the light of classical Greek knowledge alive in their academies. In a certain sense, the Eastern Roman empire in its Byzantine personality was an extension of Greek culture, but it represented a rejection of classic Greek culture in favor of a Christianized version. The former which was not to reappear as an overt influence in the West for another millennium, after having been preserved by Jews and Muslims in the intervening years.
In the East, the Persian empire became the Roman empire's leading rival. The Medes and the Persians were centered on a high plateau between the earlier civilizations of Iraq and the Punjab in India that came to be known as Iran or the land of the Aryans. The Persian empire achieved its central power position in the sixth century BCE. At its height the Persian empire included all of settled western Asia and reached from the Mediterranean to the Indus. It also conquered Egypt and the area that is now European Turkey but failed to conquer the city-states of Greece.
At the same time as the Persian empire arose, Zoroaster (either 660-583 or c.570-c.500 BCE) appeared to found a new religion based on revelation. The Persian empire encouraged local autonomy in over 120 states and also religious toleration. It was the first major Indo-European power but became an oriental despotism after a century and was destroyed a century later by Alexander the Great. With its destruction, the eastern Mediterranean coast and the heart of western Asia passed out of the sphere of the Asian heartland and became linked again with the West, a linkage that was to remain for the next 1,000 years.
India at that time passed out of the late Vedic period, emerging with its caste system fully developed. Gautama Buddha (563-483 BCE) appeared on the scene in India at about the same time as Zoroaster did in Persia. His teaching, Buddhism, represented a purification of Hinduism. It emphasized the importance of moral conduct so that through reincarnation moral individuals could ultimately enter Nirvana. Buddhist influence was strong in India throughout this whole period, especially among the ruling classes. It would be only in the eighth century of this era that Hinduism would succeed in driving Buddhism out of India.
After India's brief brush with the West in the person of Alexander the Great, the major part of the subcontinent was united under the Maurya Dynasty whose greatest emperor was Asoka. With the collapse of that empire, the northern and western parts of India were pulled into the realm of the various Persian and Parthian empires. It was not until the fourth century of the present era that an indigenous Indian empire was reestablished and even it was brought down by the incursions of the white Huns from the Asian steppes.
The third of the great moral reformers to appear in Asia in the period between the mid-sixth and mid-fifth centuries BCE was Confucius (551-479 BCE), who appeared in China at that time. Confucius established an ethical system and a meritocracy that manifested itself in a bureaucratic hierarchy for the administration of China. Together both became the essence of Chinese civilization. His work was supplemented by that of Lao-Tze, a mystic who gave Taoism a new dimension but who essentially agreed with Confucius that human society was to be governed by wise men. His teachings reenforced the Confucian system of thought and government. After an epoch of warring states, the Ch'in Dynasty established a unitary centralized state in the third century BCE which continued under the Western Han and Eastern Han Dynasties more or less until the end of the period under question.
Fifth Period: The Eastern Challenge
This unit should focus on the resurgence of the East during the period in which Europe was plunged into the Dark Ages and only slowly began to recover itself in the Renaissance. While that was true of Europe, there were major cultural developments outside of Europe, particularly in Asia and Africa, that had a great impact on world history, particularly the rise of Islam in the seventh century. The new faith not only conquered all of west Asia and north Africa but which invaded Europe through the Iberian Peninsula and was only stopped at the Battle of Tours in France. The Islamic conquest rolled eastward into the Punjab and then continued through military and religious means to establish Islam as a major presence in central Asia, western China, and southeast Asia as far as what is today Indonesia and the southern Philippines. In Africa, Islam penetrated south of the Sahara and along Africa's east coast as far as Zanzibar. A century after its rise, it had become a world religion rivaling Christianity in its scope and exceeding it in its militancy.
Since then, it can be said that monotheism has dominated the world. Even though monotheism formally represents only half of the world's population, it sets the tone for all but a few isolated animists. Monotheism itself remains divided into three great religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, each internally divided further and the first two periodically in conflict with the last, to the north and east of the Islam world.
This was the period in which Japan and Korea were consolidated. Great empires developed in China and Mongolia that turned westward and spawned the Mongol invasions of the West. Those invasions were so fierce that they succeeded in wiping out the original civilizations of the West in western Asia, leaving Europe alone to carry the torch of Western civilization, caught between the Muslims to the south and the Mongols to the east.
Between the eighth and eleventh centuries, Christian Europe was further embattled by the still pagan Vikings of the north who launched a two-pronged attack on Christendom, or so it can be viewed in retrospect. One prong reached down the west coast of Europe including Normandy and France, both coasts of Britain, and the northern and eastern coasts of Ireland, and then sweeping into the Mediterranean as far east as Sicily, which the Normans, the Frenchified Vikings, conquered. Sweeping eastward, the second prong of the Viking "assault" penetrated the east coast of the Baltic sea, heading down through Russia following the river system as far as the Black Sea, and then, as traders, even further into west Asia itself. Ultimately, a beleagured Christendom did succeed in imposing Christianity on the Scandinavian countries, thereby sending those Vikings who refused to submit, off to the west where they settled Iceland, Greenland, and Vineland (North America).
Meanwhile, within Europe, feudalism led to countless local conflicts which prevented European Christendom from achieving political unity equal to its religious unity. The one great effort which western European Christianity was able to launch was the Crusades. In the process of temporarily capturing the Holy Land, the Crusaders did more damage to Eastern Christianity, not to speak of the Jews in their way, than they did in the long run to the Muslims. The weakening of the Byzantine empire by the Crusader invasions opened the door to its invasion from the east by the Ottoman Turks (also from the Central Asian steppes) and to its ultimate collapse in the last century of this period.
Outside of Europe this was the period of the great empires in black Africa to which Africans and Afro-Americans in particular have turned in recent years as examples of African high civilization. Parallel to the African efforts were those in the Americas particularly the Aztec empire in Mexico, the Mayan empire in southern Mexico and Central America, and the Inca empire in Peru and western South America. Those three represented the climax of native American civilization prior to the coming of the Europeans and were notable creations indeed.
Although this period was not as "dark" as once portrayed, it was the period of greatest contraction of European civilization in the context of world civilization since the rise of the ancient Greeks. The barbarians who had migrated to Europe in the previous period spent this one entrenching themselves, developing first into separate peoples and then separate states. The only frontier-oriented migrations from Europe were those of the Vikings to the northwest Atlantic and North America. While those had little to no impact on the world scene, they were in themselves good examples of the relationship between certain kinds of migrations and frontiers and how where a migration is associated with the opening of new frontiers, the combination promotes liberty and democratic republicanism, as it did in Iceland and Greenland.
The only other major migration that could have had the same kind of effect was the Polynesian migration that settled the Pacific islands. Moving eastward from what are today Malaysia and Indonesia, those migrants ultimately settled all of the inhabitable islands of the south and central Pacific, establishing Polynesian civilization in the process, the last of the world civilizations to be touched by the reach of Western civilization a millennium later. It, too, had no real impact on the world at the time and also remained an extremely local affair, scattered over a vast peripheral area.
This was perhaps the longest period of closed frontiers in human history since the beginning of civilization. The closest approximation to frontier-like phenomena one can find in Europe proper was the establishment of cities serving the mercantile class and craftsmen whereby the city became a vehicle for the establishment of greater self-government and a communitarianism based upon greater equality. The cities' government if rather oligarchical, had strong republican elements. Almost all of those European cities were republics, nominally owing allegiance to the regional or imperial rulers of the territories in which they were located but actually quite autonomous.
The Jews, too, enjoyed or were forced to confront a certain kind of frontier. A permanently persecuted minority in Europe, they nevertheless lived in autonomous communities of their own, usually as autonomous parts of other European urban settlements. The constant expulsions they faced from the various feudal-governed territories in which they found themselves led them to have to rebuild their lives repeatedly in new territories. Judaism and Jewish law as had developed from biblical times had kept the Jewish people republican throughout. Even their kings were constitutional monarchs. In medieval Europe they brought that republicanism to a new level of achievement for local and regional communities and even for the Jewish people worldwide, anticipating almost the entire array of political ideas and instrumentalities that in the next period were to become prominent in Christian Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth Europe.
The other exception was the German colonization of the east in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. This took the form of the extension of feudalism based on agriculture and rural organization. When cities were established, they were given autonomy similar to the cities in the Holy Roman empire which gave them protection to maintain their ethnic as well as their class identities. By and large, this colonization did not succeed and the German settlers left the land and either moved to the cities or returned to Germany.
In general, this also was not a period of invention. Even in the frontier-like situations, the level of invention was very low, just enough to enable the people involved to meet the new challenges. Indeed, as late as the early Renaissance, people with inventive minds like Leonardo Da Vinci developed their inventions in theory only. We have Leonardo's records and now know that his inventions would have worked, but he never tried them. The same was true at the other end of Eurasia, the Chinese did indeed invent many things which were later separately invented in Europe, but the Chinese treated them all as toys, useful in their ritual life rather than as instruments for changing their daily lives, and so did not develop those inventions.
In the realm of government, feudalism, for all its drawbacks, did serve to produce some idea of constitutionalism and republicanism, albeit mostly in theory, breeched in practice. Still, it was sufficient to enable the more honestly republican elements in Europe to at least emerge in the cities.
The only exceptions were in Scandinavia where the valleys of Norway were small republics untl the coming of Christianity which, allied with strong kings, imposed hierarchical regimes on them. Iceland and Greenland were rural seafaring republics from their founding until their conquest by Denmark. In the mountainous areas of Europe, along that ragged set of ranges separating northern and southern Europe, centering on the Pyrennes and the Alps, and to some extent down the spine of Italy, mountain republics survived (Andorra, Santurino) or emerged as bastions of democratic republicanism (Switzerland). During the medieval period, especially from the thirteenth century onward, similar peripheral areas such as the swampy lowlands north of the mouth of the Rhine (now the Netherlands), which only the brave were willing to try to reclaim from the sea, also proved hospitable to free people and republican government.
These points consolidated themselves in the latter half of the Middle Ages, almost like the remaining glaciers in the high mountains after a retreating ice age. From them their influence was to spread throughout Europe, then to North America and the other new worlds of settlement. Ultimately those ideas and practices have spread in some manner or form throughout the world as democratic republicanism.
In short, those little pinpoints of light in the Dark Ages preserved the spirit of liberty and republicanism. To recapitulate, these were in the order of their influence, the mountain republics of the European heartland, the swampland republics of the lowland periphery, the cities of the bourgeoise, the Viking colonies, and the autonomous Jewish communities. Elsewhere in the despotic world, the only exceptions to despotism were those tribal societies not absorbed or incompletely absorbed within the despotic empires, that were able to maintain their primitive tribal democracies, and perhaps a few mountain villages able to preserve a kind of republicanism. Our knowledge of both is almost entirely lost to history and is discovered by archeology and anthropology at best.
Religion dominated the period as in no other in recorded history. Unfortunately, it also took several steps backward in its influence on other human "goods." The religions which had formerly encouraged liberty and justice now for the most part became supporters of feudalism and hierarchy and remained so for a long enough time for that worldview and the injustices that came with it to become deeply entrenched in European civilization. Alexis de Tocqueville was to point out that, in Europe, religion and liberty were inevitably antagonistic to one another, which had a number of consequences.
Christianity, whether Catholic or Eastern Orthodox, not only acquiesced in the hierarchical feudal order that set about to systematically abolish republicanism and local autonomy but actually encouraged such efforts in a kind of devilish covenant with the secular feudal rulers, becoming so fully identified with them that only a Reformation that broke Christianity into pieces could even partially change the direction of the Church. Islam, while more hospitable to the discussion and consideration of ideas than Christianity for much of this period, was founded on the rejection of tribal republicanism as pagan and the substitution of a comprehensive, systematic, hierarchical system of government as part of the Islamic world view. That alliance became so well entrenched that it is only beginning to be eroded in our days and the change has many opponents. Perhaps the only exception, and then only partially, to this was Judaism which, perhaps because of its special circumstances, never had the ability to develop or to unite with the instruments of oppression that came to be so influential in other religions.
Of the oriental religions, little more need be said. Confucianism, indeed, had tried to introduce a humanistic hierarchical approach at the beginning of the previous period. The result, however, was a bureaucratic despotism tempered only by the degree of moderation built into Chinese civilization. Japan, less attuned to that moderation, generated a hierarchical system modified only to the extent that it had long periods of feudalism as well. Hinduism became utterly identified with its caste system.
In Africa, except for the tribal societies that survived as autonomous entities, the situation was just as bad. The African empires were as despotic as any. They did not even have the leavening of a republican theory. The empire was the personal property of the ruler who could do with his subjects what he pleased. That was even true in some of the tribal environments. The same was true in North America. The empires were hierarchical despotisms. Only in the more primitive parts of the Americas where tribalism survived did primitive tribal democracy survive with it. No doubt this is one of the reasons that Western civilization ultimately triumphed. It was the only one to preserve republicanism, and sometimes even democratic republicanism, under advanced civilizational conditions rather than just in the most primitive ones, and even its record was limited in this period to a few then-despised examples that managed to escape the efforts of the major European rulers to crush them.
In the meantime, Europe and indeed much of the world was organized into large empires embracing smaller feudal units with the power of each fluctuating in relationship to the other. As the Middle Ages wore on in Europe, some of the successful feudal units developed into large enough entities to begin to take on the form of states along lines that we would come to recognize in modern times. By the end of the period, countries like Spain, Portugal, France, and England had just become or were on the threshold of becoming states in a post-medieval sense.
For those interested in tracing the burst of energy that revived the West, they should keep their eyes on the regions that in the Middle Ages were called "marches." These were borderlands areas where wars took place but also where populations had to relate to one another and to be inventive in finding ways to do so.
Meanwhile, in the northeastern and eastern Mediterranean, Byzantium survived. It became the vehicle for the spread of what had become Western civilization northward into Russia. There Byzantine civilization was taken over by the Russians and developed into a modification of its earlier form. It was to be spread eastward in the next period.
China in this period was influenced to some degree by Buddhism. Despite the many dynastic and territorial changes, the cohesive Chinese civilization was formed during this period. This was the period of Chinese inventions such as gunpowder, firecrackers, printing, and porcelain, that remained unexploited.
Japan also emerged as a separate entity at this time, taking its writing and its bureaucratic state organization from China and using both to strengthen its separation from previously dominant Korea. Japanese Shinto became the state religion. Japanese strength was consolidated in the thirteenth century when, in a great effort, it repulsed the Mongol invaders.
The Mongols came out of northwestern China and spread both eastward and westward, capturing northern China by breaching the Great Wall and then the rest of China after that, attempting to capture Japan but failing, succeeding in its efforts to capture the whole Iranian plateau and Mesopotamia and raiding as far west as the Mediterranean coast and Syria and Palestine. The Mongols captured almost all of the open lands of what is today Russia. In eastern Europe they reached Lithuania, most of Poland, and into Hungary as far as the Adriatic coast, sowing devastation wherever they went. The Mongol destruction was so great that western Asia did not recover from it until modern times.
During its period of expansion, Islam penetrated the Indus area but was stopped there. It was three hundred years before they next advanced into the Punjab. From there they continued to advance until at the beginning of the thirteenth century they established the Sultanate of Delhi which lasted for more than three hundred years until early in the sixteenth century, interrupted only by the Mongol invasion under Timur.
Perhaps the most interesting century in this whole period was the thirteenth century which seemed to have been the climactic century of the period all over the world. That was the century of the Mongol invasions and greatest advance, the establishment of the great mendicant orders in Catholicism - the Franciscans and the Dominicans and the Comeroids, the establishment of the Inquisition, the age of Thomas Aquinas and Maimonides, and the Albegensian Wars, the last Crusade and the fall of the last parts of the Crusader kingdom to the Muslim reconquest. The century began with the issue of Magna Carta in England (1215) and concluded with the establishment of the Swiss Confederation (1291), the two great beacons of liberty in the Middle Ages; the successful Christian reconquest of most of Spain; the high point of the Hanseatic League in the Baltic; the consolidation of the French national state; the establishment of the elected German monarchy; the conversion of the Teutonic knights in eastern Europe, to give just a sample of the century's events.
The period concluded with a culmination of events in the fifteenth century that opened the way to the next period. In the Catholic Church, the Conciliar movement began the era of Church reform. In the East, the Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople and ended the Byzantine empire to create a new power in west Asia and the Balkans. In Spain, the Christians completed the reconquest of the peninsula from the Muslims and expelled the Jews. The Portuguese began the Age of Exploration by attempting to find a route to the East around Africa, while in 1492 Columbus "discovered" America for Europe. The European slave trade increased enormously as a result of the finds of the discoveries of Africa and "white" Europeans and "black" Africans began to have a significant history together which, despite its very painful beginnings, has continued ever since.
The thrust of European explorations was to reach and begin trading with Asia. While that did not happen until the next period, it did mean that this period ended with Asia having entered European consciousness and the reconceptualizing of the world not only as physically round but as interconnected. Humanity was only a short step away from beginning a worldwide history.
Sixth Period: The Resurgence of the West (1450-1750 CE)
The challenge from the East failed either because it did not have anything better to offer the West or because when it did, it did not know how to exploit what it had to offer. The first was the problem of the Mongols and the second, the problem of the Chinese. In the end, all they left the West was a strong impression of Oriental barbarism and despotism that was to color Western attitudes toward the East for centuries to come and to enable Westerners to ignore or denigrate the very real achievements in the East. Focused Western use of the inventions that came to represent progress in the next period, many of which originated in the East but were not developed there, put the West in a much stronger position, and the very energetic and combative West used its strength to conquer the East and, for that matter, the rest of the world outside of Europe.
To do so, the West first had to put its own house in order, in the sense that it had to launch its own house along paths that transformed medieval Europe and opened the door to modernity. The fact is that the West did so and in relatively short order from an historic point of view. It did so first through the Renaissance of the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries which revived humanism, learning, and the classic arts. The idea of humanism was the key to the Renaissance ideology. By humanism they meant that returning to the great human sources of antiquity it was possible to overcome the other-worldly-centered doctrine of scholasticism which had dominated medieval Christianity. Humanism took many forms but shared this common conception. The humanists explored ancient Hebrew, Greek, and Latin classics, reintroducing them to the Western world. This restoration of ancient texts became the effort to give them expression through literature, drama, and the arts. This was accompanied by the movement for civic republicanism, especially in the northern Italian city-states, the idea of cultured, civic-spirited, people leading in the governance of their respective cities.
Then the Protestant Reformation came on the heels of the failed attempt of the Conciliar movement to reform the Catholic Church from within. The Protestant Reformation succeeded, and greatly. It shattered the unity of Western Christendom, took a further step forward in depaganization of the West, and launched the West on the road to democracy through its doctrines and organization. Following on its heels was the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century whereby medieval science and philosophy were overthrown and thought placed on a whole new premise that removed the earth from the center of the universe and humanity off center stage along with it. All of this was set within the context of the Age of Explorations whereby Europeans not only discovered new worlds beyond Europe but began to conquer and settle them.
The four events that marked the beginning of the new age were the invention of printing in 1445, the fall of Constantinople in 1453, ending the Byzantine empire and bringing the Ottoman empire into its most glorious period, Columbus' discovery of America in 1492 for the Europeans, and the beginning of the Reformation when Martin Luther nailed his theses on the church door in 1517. Thus, in the space of 72 years the foundations of the medieval world was overturned.
The fall of Constantinople was the last successful assault of the East on the West, although it was just the beginning of Ottoman expansion into Europe and the Ottomans twice reached the gates of Vienna, the last time in 1689. Both times they were defeated, as they were in the sea battles of the Mediterranean, so that 1453 can be seen as the high point of successful Ottoman expansion. The Ottomans continued to hold southeastern Europe for the next several centuries and, indeed, were not removed from the Balkans until the beginning of the twentieth, but, by the same token, that region, which still played an active role in human civilizations at the time of the Ottoman conquest, was slowly reduced to a backwater.
The first half of this period of expansion was dominated by Spain under Hapsburg rule because of marriages became the rulers of Spain (and Portugal as well) and the Holy Roman empire. Spanish power declined at the beginning of the seventeenth century and was replaced briefly by the Dutch who, as a small country, overreached themselves in their efforts to achieve world power and were ultimately reduced to poverty and replaced by the English in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century.
The seventeenth and first half of the eighteenth centuries became known as the Age of Reason, a period of great philosophic and scientific discovery and invention in Europe. The period was presided over by kings who perceived themselves as ruling by the divine right who themselves became subject to the new Age of Reason and by a rising middle class gaining power through the advance of capitalism and the wealth that it produced for them and their countries.
Migration received a major boost in this period with the discoveries in the Western and Southern Hemispheres and the development of new connections between Europe and Asia. By the end of the period, Europeans had begun to settle every unsettled space on the globe at least in its beginnings. Australia and New Zealand were the last to be settled at the very end of the eighteenth century.
Migration took place in three forms. First were the European settlers to the New World. They can be grouped into three basic categories: those who went for ideological reasons, in almost every case to pursue a religious vision of building a new Jerusalem or a city upon a hill in some empty territory (which actually may not have been so empty). Then there were those who went in pursuit of wealth and glory. A third category consisted of those who sought to escape persecution or forced military duty or to gain religious freedom.
The second category involved those who emigrated as a result of force. Principal among them were the African slaves transported to the New World. The period started with the medieval expulsions of the Jews from the Iberian Peninsula, from Spain in 1492 and Portugal in 1497. The Jews' migration, both eastward and westward, not only responded to the tragedy but threw off a tremendous amount of energy that became critical to the expansion of the Ottoman empire and the settlement of the new worlds. Another group consisted of Europeans indentured and transported either to take up or to be indentured. Many in this last group were criminals who were given the choice of imprisonment or migration. Since the punishments were far more severe than the crimes, certainly by the end of this period, there were many immigrants convicted of petty crimes who emigrated to avoid harsh punishments. A third group of migrants consisted of those who migrated because they were forced off of their lands by incoming migrants from elsewhere. Most of these were tribal groupings in the territories newly discovered by the Europeans. The history of the Native Americans, in that respect, is particularly instructive, but so, too, is the history of African and Australasian groups.
The final category consisted of those rural to urban migrants who left their lands to seek greater freedom or opportunity in city settings. That was to become a principal migration category in the next period, but it began in this one. Here we should add the migration of the so-called Bantu peoples from Central to Southern Africa in search of new lands and new forms of social and political organization, who in time became the Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, and Tswana peoples of Southern Africa.
The results of all of this were worldwide population upheavals caused by migration and its effects, and a shifting and mixing of populations that had not been seen for more than a thousand years and on an extent that had never occurred before in history.
The catalyst of these migrations was the opening of the Great Frontier. That frontier, unlike earlier land frontiers, was to set off a chain reaction whereby the frontier phenomenon, once unleashed, was able to continue through different stages. As its earlier stages were exhausted, new ones opened up, to start a process that still continues at the end of the twentieth century in ways that could never have been even dreamed of by those who opened the first frontier.
The scope of this frontier was, and remains, vast. Essentially it involved the entire earth except Europe and certain long-settled core regions in Asia and Africa. Western Europeans pioneered frontiers in three great areas of the Americas - North America, the Caribbean and Central American region, and South America, southern Africa, and the South Pacific, and made abortive attempts to enter the core areas in Africa and East Asia. Eastern Europeans pioneered in Siberia, advancing all the way from the Ural Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. Southern Europeans attempted to open frontiers in Northern Africa and the Middle East.
The Great Frontier has had great impact, not only on those who pioneered it but on those who were in their way. In a sense there were three kinds of impacts: the impact on the frontiersmen and pioneers who settled in new lands and who built new societies where those lands were sufficiently unoccupied; the impact on the peoples displaced by the new settlers; and, in those places where the peoples were too numerous, where they either repelled the new settlers in time or were subjugated by them, the impact on their lives and civilizations. All three groups need to be considered in looking at the history of the world. Another significant question is the differing character of different frontiers, for example, the difference between the settlement of British North America by the British and Siberia by the Russians, based on the differences in the pioneers, the people displaced, and the different uses to which the different frontiers were put.
This transition period also saw the beginning of the Age of Invention. Indeed, the period can be said to have begun with the invention of printing in 1445, a clear contestant for one of the greatest inventions of all time. The degree to which printing transformed the world, opening up the possibility of universal literacy and universal access to printed materials, in the process making censorship of ideas impossible and opening up new possibilities and problems for freedom of speech. The Renaissance itself was an age of invention in arts and culture, the seventeenth century became an age of invention in science and philosophy, and the eighteenth century, in technology. The connection between invention and the frontier became closer and closer as the frontier stimulated needs and inventions in response to those needs.
Other inventions of the period included gunpowder, in use for firearms from the fourteenth century, and the compass and other navigational aids that made seagoing voyages possible.
Not all were equally beneficial to humanity. For example, the first massive use of artillery (the technological application of the earlier invention of gunpowder) was in the siege of Constantinople when the Turks used their heavy guns to blast holes in the city's walls, thus giving them their victory. Indeed, military inventions advanced tremendously even in this period, although nothing like what happened in the next. It was in this period that the weapons of earlier ages were all but abandoned in favor of gunpowder and its derivative weapons.
The key to the transformations brought about in this period may well lie with religious transformation. In the fifteenth century, reformers from within the Catholic Church attempted, through the Conciliar movement, to change the Church organization so they could get at some of the behavioral and theological problems that had developed in medieval Catholicism. They did not succeed, nor did the first reformers in Central Europe. The mixture of religion and politics led to both groups being crushed politically and religiously.
Martin Luther successfully inaugurated the Protestant Reformation in 1517. His sober, hierarchical, and even rigid brand of Protestantism that subsequently became known as Lutheranism captured much of Germany and the Scandinavian countries. He was followed almost immediately by Huldrich Zwingli of Zurich who founded Reformed Protestantism, later known as Calvinism, even though the two are not exactly identical.
Whereas Luther continued the medieval doctrine of rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's, and kept his church essentially involved in spiritual reformation, Zwingli sought to build the kingdom of God on earth. Hence, his church had to undertake both theological and political reformation. In Switzerland that was possible city by city without conflicting with the political culture already functioning in that country. Rejecting both were the free churches that arose in western Germany that rejected the idea of church and state entanglement and sought to build congregations of believers driven by matters spiritual and ignoring matters political outside of their own church governance. Finally there was Anglicanism, essentially a continuation of Catholic ideas within an independent church form established in England, in part to serve the political needs of Henry VIII.
Luther soon allied himself with the rulers of the countries where his version of Protestantism was becoming strong and, with their support, developed Lutheranism as the established church in many German principalities and all of the Scandinavian kingdoms. Zwingli's Reformed Protestantism captured city after city in Switzerland and the Rhine River Valley and developed strong bodies of adherents in France (the Huguenots) where, in the end, Catholicism allied with the state prevailed; in the Low Countries; and in Scotland.
In all of the places where Reformed Protestantism was strong, there emerged a Protestant republicanism that opposed tyrants even as it demanded local religious conformity. Reformed Protestants in England became the Puritans, whose name indicated that they wanted to purify the Anglican Church as much as the Catholic, which they had rejected. In the seventeenth century they launched the first of the great modern revolutions, the English Civil War, against royal absolutism, opening the way for modern democracy.
The Reformation also brought a period of religious-based or -justified warfare which lasted until 1648 when the Treaty of Westphalia established the modern state system and its international order known as the balance of power, that lasted until World War II. In that treaty, the princes of Europe agreed to remove religion from the public agenda, thereby starting on the road to privatization. States would no longer go to war over which religions would be established where, but would accept the religions of their respective rulers as their state religions and compete over secular matters only. Since this was a period of absolute monarchy (the divine right of kings), this kind of agreement was possible. At the beginning of the next period when absolutism was dissolved in Europe, the idea that religion would be kept off the public agenda, except perhaps on an internal basis, and increasingly not even there, remained.
Religiously, one of the most important aspects of the Reformation was the way it further detached Christians who became Protestants from the remains of paganism and idolatry. When Christianity first began to become a popular religion, a century or more after the death of Jesus, it did so by being willing to become syncretistic; that is to say, it embraced local gods and their festivals and transformed the gods into Christian saints and the festivals into Christian holidays. While in time the regional gods were forgotten, the result was still a compromise because the saints were seen as powerful in their own right as long as proper obeisance was made to Christian belief in worshipping them.
Protestantism rejected all of that. It sought a stark, unadorned religion, the worship of God through the mediation of Jesus and no one else. Their churches were simple and unadorned in contrast to the rather ornate and even baroque Catholic churches that they rejected as symbolizing paganism. Thus, Christianity, a further step removed from the pagan side of its origins, was able to take an important step toward the kind of pure monotheism which it advocated in principle. Indeed, some Protestants, the Unitarians for example, went so far as to reject the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus to even further purify their monotheism. This new Christianity was to return to influence Catholicism's later movement in that direction as well.
The next vital thing the Reformation achieved was to make the Bible accessible to all. From the perspective of Reformation theology, every individual was responsible for his or her individual religious acts and consequently had to know how to act. The only way to know to know how to read and understand the Bible. Coming as it did, just after printing had been invented, it now became possible to print Bibles for mass distribution. Indeed, the sixteenth century was a great period of Bible printing and translation. In their work, the leaders of the Reformation consulted the original Hebrew and Greek texts to get the most accurate renderings they could, considering that the Bible for them was the literal word of God and had to be clearly and accurately understood by everyone.
This new biblicism promoted literacy in the Protestant world. It also promoted individual autonomy as many individuals looked to Scripture directly for guidance rather than to their priests or even ministers.
In an important follow-on to this new biblicism came the restoration of the idea of covenant as a central principle in Christianity, certainly for Reformed Protestants, and for its introduction into the struggle for democratization and modernization. As a religious idea in the sixteenth century, covenant became the foundation of the federal theology (as Reformed Protestants termed it) which saw the human relationship with God as the result of the pact (covenant) between the two described in the Bible. This idea was a very daring one because it presented God as self-limiting for the sake of human initiative. Humans were thus empowered to be partners, albeit junior partners, with God.
In the seventeenth century, that idea was secularized as the idea of the political compact in which humans covenanted with each other to establish civil society. In the eighteenth century, the covenant idea became the root of modern constitutionalism. Hence the constitutional democracy that we all know today has its roots in that Reformed Protestant revival of the biblical idea of covenant which was not only important in the fight against tyrants and hierarchies but could be made operational in political systems that would protect liberties.
It should be noted that a kind of proto-capitalism emerged in the sixteenth century parallel to the Reformation. It would not become full-fledged capitalism for another century or two but the outlines were there, and it began to influence human thought.
The African kingdoms of the eleventh to fifteenth centuries represented the high point of indigenous African civilization after ancient Egypt. Some of these African kingdoms were Muslim and others pagan until the Europeans arrived and began to convert the royal families to Christianity. The coming of the Europeans expanded the slave trade and turned the kingdoms' leaders into collaborators in that dreadful business. The leaders of these kingdoms shifted their economies to benefit from the new slave markets which, in the end, probably led to the destruction of their empires.
Africa was first affected by European explorations as early as the second half of the fifteenth century. It was only in the early sixteenth century that India felt that impact, first through a Portuguese commercial empire which by the end of the century had been seized by the English and, after that, by the Dutch, the British, and the French.
In the Americas also, the Aztec, Mayan, and Inca empires were reaching their peak. The Mayans actually faded in the fifteenth century, losing out to the Toltecs, but the Aztecs and the Incas reached their peak just before the Spanish arrived to conquer them early in the sixteenth century. The Spanish, appalled by the barbarism of human sacrifice, forced the Indians to accept Christianity and incorporated their territories into the Spanish empire. The Portuguese conquest of Brazil, a less developed Indian area, led to the division of Latin America into Spanish and Portuguese segments. By mid-century, except for the areas deep in the hinterland, all of Latin America had been absorbed into those two empires.
North American settlement, on the other hand, came only in the seventeenth century; the spanish in the south (as early as 1565) and southwest, the French in Quebec and the British and Dutch and Swedes along the east coast of what is now the United States. The contrast is instructive. The Spanish and Portuguese conquered the relatively densely populated areas from the Rio Grande to the Straits of Magellan at a time when feudalism still survived in Iberia. They found it quite suitable for transplantation to the New World and introduced feudal orders including a class system that distinguished between European natives, natives of America of European descent, mixed bloods, and purely native. To this was added early on a population of African slaves after it turned out that they were better slaves than the native Americans. Thus the Latin American frontier was aborted by the importation of medieval models. By the time the French reached Quebec, their medieval order was in the process of disintegrating. Moreover, many if not most of the settlers of French Canada were Bretons from the Celtic part of France. Hence the French could only introduce limited hierarchical and feudal arrangements, which lasted until the British conquered Quebec in 1759.
The British themselves settled along the east coast of what is now the United States and the Atlantic provinces of Canada. While some of their settlers came in pursuit of wealth, the most influential ones came in pursuit of religious utopias or religious freedom. They set the tone and established a more egalitarian society based on covenantal principles as filtered through Puritanism and Reformed Protestantism.
In China, the last Mongol emperor was driven out at the end of the fourteenth century and a new dynasty came to power which ruled until 1644. Under the new dynasty China also began an era of expansion, sending naval expeditions as far as Africa to open new trade routes and directing Chinese emigration towards Southeast Asia. The strong Chinese concentrations in Southeast Asia date from that period, but in a relatively few years the Europeans arrived to dominate them. At the beginning of the sixteenth century the Europeans were given bases at Canton and Macao. Toward the end of the century Jesuits were encouraged and engaged in missionary activity in return for imparting mathematical and technical skills. Meanwhile, Chinese medicine developed acupuncture.
In Japan, the country effectively broke into small principalities in the era of the Samurai which lasted from 1478 to 1573. European firearms and Christianity were introduced. A new Japanese empire was created after 1573 and European access was severely restricted in 1639.
In India, the Moghul empire in northern India was subjugated by 1526, using artillery. Akbar, the greatest of the Moghul emperors governed in the latter half of the sixteenth century, promulgated an edict of toleration for all religions and maintained personal contacts with Jesuits and Parsis (Zoroastrians). At the beginning of the seventeenth century, England began its colonization of India. During this period, Urdu, based on Hindu grammar and Persian Arabic vocabulary, became the language of the state, while Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi, and Maharashtri also developed. Many familiar Indian customs including the strict isolation of women, the increase in child marriages, and the burning of widows were introduced at this time. There also was a burst of intellectual, artistic, and architectural activity including the building of the Taj Mahal in the mid-seventeenth century. Hinduism divided into many sects including Sikhism.
As European colonialism increased, the Spanish and Portuguese lost their monopoly. The initial challenges to them came in connection with the Reformation. The revolt of the Netherlands against the Spanish led to Dutch expansion in North America (New Amsterdam), South America (in northeastern Brazil, an attempt that did not succeed), southern Africa (the founding of white settlement at Capetown and the Cape of Good Hope in 1652 and thereafter), Ceylon, and the Dutch East Indies. Dutch traders penetrated China and Japan. The English followed on the heels of the Dutch, heavily settling in North America and also colonizing the Caribbean and spreading their trading companies to South and Southeast Asia. The French also attempted colonizing efforts in North America, the Caribbean, and the Far East.
These efforts led to conflict among the imperial powers, beginning the first of what were to be seven "hot" world wars in the modern epoch and one worldwide Cold War in the postmodern. World Wars I and II were the sixth and seventh of those wars. The first world conflict began in the seventeenth century. It was followed by four more in the eighteenth. Although the first five were seen principally as European wars, in fact they were fought on all parts of the globe because of the new trading and colonial expansions of Europe and increasingly made use of troops not only from the countries involved but from their colonies. This procession of world wars was clear evidence of the worldwide expansion of Western civilization and its beginnings as the world's civilization.
Seventh Period: The West Reinvents the World (1650-1950)
This period covers the modern epoch which begins in the middle of the seventeenth century with the Treaty of Westphalia and the English Civil War, and concludes with the end of World War II, the beginning of the nuclear age, and the age of decolonization. The modern epoch completes the story of the spread of Western civilization throughout the world and how modernization became one version or another of Westernization. It concludes with Europe having exhausted itself in its conquest of the rest of the world and especially through its incessant internecine wars. In the process, European hegemony passed to its New World offshoots, particularly the United States, which picked up the falling flag and, by judiciously combining the European version of Western aspirations with the aspirations of non-European, indeed, non-Western peoples, transformed Westernization into modernization and reaffirmed its dominant role.
In this period, we explore the rise of capitalism, democracy, individualism, the industrial revolution, and modern technology to the threshold of the cybernetic age and how the various civilizations, areas, and regions of the world responded differently or were affected differently by those several guiding factors. While some things need to be looked at region by region, the general approach should be a universal one to see how all the pieces fit together in what had become, by 1650, a single worldwide history whereby major events have worldwide impacts and are usually worldwide in scope.
For example, what we know as World War II was really the seventh world war. The first occurred in the struggle between the British, Dutch, and French in the seventeenth century; the second between the same forces at the beginning of the eighteenth; the third, what to Americans was known as the French and Indian War in the middle of the eighteenth; the fourth was the American Revolutionary War which rapidly became a worldwide conflict between the French and the British involving the Spanish, the Dutch, and many others; the fifth was the bundle of Napoleonic Wars that had an even wider spread. Then the world avoided world war for a hundred years until World War I which was the sixth, while World War II was the seventh. In all of these wars, nations, states, and peoples in all parts of the world were involved and battles were fought in all parts of the world, both at sea and on land, and later in the air as well.
A chronological division of this period would look at the segment from the mid-seventeenth to the beginning of the nineteenth centuries, say until the end of the Napoleonic Wars, as the period of the great revolutions that gave shape to the modern epoch both political (as in the English Civil War at the beginning of this segment of the period, and the American and French Revolutions toward its end); scientific and technological, (beginning with the mid-seventeenth century revolutions in biology, physics, astronomy, mathematics, and chemistry, and continuing through the Industrial Revolution of the eighteenth century that led to the application of the principles of the scientific revolution); and philosophic (in the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment) which saw the transformation of ancient and medieval philosophy into a new modern system resting on very different premises, far more psychological and "scientific" and less judgmental than earlier philosophic systems.
The second segment included the nineteenth century, from 1815 to World War I, a period of relative peace and progress in Europe during which the Western world assimilated the developments of the first half of the modern epoch and, at the same time, extended its rule, through colonialism, to every corner of the rest of the world. Major segments of the non-European world settled by Europeans (North America, Latin America, Australasia, and parts of the European periphery) gained independence, setting the model for decolonization that was to sweep the world after World War II.
The third segment, from World War I to the end of the period, covers not only the two wars and the world scene in the interwar period with the Great Depression and its consequences, but also the rise of Communism, the Bolshevik Revolution, the National Socialism of the Nazis in Germany and the Fascists in Italy, Spain, Portugal, and elsewhere, the emergence of the welfare state in the democratic countries of the West, the Mexican Revolution with its particular brand of radicalism, the beginnings and expansion of the anti-colonialist struggle in Asia and Africa, and the struggle for equal rights in the United States, especially by Afro-Americans but also the earlier struggle of Southern and Eastern European immigrants and by Jews in Europe.
Even more than in our study of previous historical periods, the issue of centers and peripheries becomes significant. Whereas in earlier periods one could identify greater and lesser centers with a certain amount of separation between them, the transformations of modernity linked virtually all of them, far more than they ever had been. The central civilization of the epoch was the West, actually a cluster of centers with new ones added as the West consolidated its expansion. The peripheries consisted of those civilizational areas whose role was more localized and self-contained. They may have had some regional influence but it was secondary to the influence of the Western center.
A secondary area of emphasis is on the major cultural transformations that were particularly pronounced in this modern epoch as modernization spread throughout the world and Westernization was transformed into modernization. The far more intensive impact of culture contact made cultural transformations much more visible and extensive.
Finally, the interactions between patterns of settlement and levels of technology also intensified, especially with the onset of the industrial revolution. The initial discovery, exploration, and settlement of the new worlds in the latter part of the previous period had its major material impact in the spread of new world products not previously found in the old world tobacco, for example, chocolate, or corn throughout the world. With them Europeans also acquired the techniques for using them.
In the modern epoch the response of the Europeans and the settler descendants to their encounters with the new worlds was to develop new technologies and invent new devices to exploit those technologies that would help them in their settlement of those new worlds. It can fairly be said that this was a major impetus for technological development, change, and invention throughout the modern epoch, beginning with the steamship, progressing through the railroad to the automobile and the internal combustion engine in the field of transportation, the harnessing of electricity, and the development of first the telegraph and then the telephone and the radio in the field of communication; the manufacture of iron and then steel to make the equipment to build steam engines and automobiles or whatever and sewing machines to manufacture clothing.
For example, as people moved off the farms into the cities, their work became more specialized so they no longer made their own clothing or shoes but had to purchase ready-made items. In other cases, these inventions became necessary in order for Europeans and other Westerners to reach out to other parts of the globe, whether in the form of regular steamship lines from Europe to the Middle East inaugurated in the 1830s, or railroads to cross the American prairies, plains, and mountains, inaugurated in the 1840s in the United States.
Migration in the modern epoch was of three kinds: that connected with the great frontier in which elements of Europeans and Africans and smaller numbers of Asians came or were brought to the New World as settlers or to make settlement possible and to help the frontier societies move on from the rural-land to the urban-industrial frontier. The second kind was rural to urban migration as a result of the industrial revolution and its offshoots. The third was displacement and involved growing numbers of refugees.
Particularly in Europe, but in the latter stages of the epoch in North America and Latin America, southern Africa, and Australasia as well, farmers and other people who lived in rural areas moved to the cities in search of opportunities in the new urban-industrial world. In Europe, the industrial revolution was not a frontier phenomenon. This was mostly because people were driven off their lands by the changing character of the economy, including the changing character of agriculture which had less room for small subsistence farms and required more massive farming efforts, as well as because wages were better in industry. In Africa and Asia, the colonial powers and their allies both used cities for commercial and governmental purposes which attracted people because they offered a better chance to earn a living than in their even more marginal subsistence farm.
Some migration was generated by colonialism itself, involving not only the colonial rulers and those who staffed the colonial administrations and armies, but also their allies. For example, British colonialism was very heavily dependent on a British-Muslim alliance, either with indigenous Muslims who stood by the British locally or non-indigenous Muslims brought in to the British colonial areas to assist the British. Commerce in those areas, moreover, was principally in the hands of Jews, Parsis, or Chinese who emigrated to the new areas from their areas of origin to take advantage of the opportunities. British settlers in the Caribbean and in Africa also imported South Asians, particularly the peoples of India, to settle in their colonies to do work that the British upper classes would not undertake. Thus were born the large South Asian concentrations in central and southern Africa, the Caribbean Islands, northeastern South America, and in the Pacific, at least as far as Fiji. Chinese found their way into these colonies as well, sometimes in overwhelming numbers. In part, that was a continuation of the emigration efforts of the Chinese dynasties in the last part of the previous epoch.
The French and to a lesser extent the Italians and the Germans used a different approach. When the French annexed Algeria they opened its doors to European colonists, primarily Italians and French from southern France. Those colons came in and settled on previously Arab lands where they stayed until the French ended their rule over Algeria at the end of the 1950s, at which time almost all of them abandoned those lands and moved to France. A similar situation prevailed in Libya where the Italians colonized the area, and in the African colonies of Germany until the British with their African allies captured them in World War I.
The frontier remained a very powerful influence throughout the modern epoch. It began with the rural-land frontier which persisted for 400 years until World War I, more or less, and which brought with it the first settlement of these new worlds, spreading farms, ranches, mines and towns catering to those industries across the land. It is fair to say that all of the pre-seventeenth century territorial frontiers were one-time occurrences, bounded in a particular territory and time-span. The one possible exception, depending on definition, was that of the Jews, whose original land frontier was like all the others but whose history of exile, dispersion, and resettlement gave them at least two additional opportunities to return to the Land of Israel under frontier conditions. On the other hand, the frontiers, initiated simultaneously with the opening of the modern epoch or within that epoch, more often than not set off this frontier chain reaction.
Early in the nineteenth century United States, the rural-land frontier generated an urban frontier which was based upon industrial development, just as the rural frontier was based upon the availability of free (or cheap) land. The generation of new wealth through industrialization transformed cities from mere regional service centers to producers of wealth in their own right. That frontier persisted for more than 100 years as a major force in American society as a whole and, as we shall soon have reason to note, perhaps another 60 years as a major force in various parts of the country. The population movements and attendant growth on the urban-industrial frontier generated the second settlement pattern in the United States, of free-standing cities built around the new industrial base from coast to coast. The American frontier is paradigmatic. The continuing frontier, wherever it is found, has all the characteristics of a chain reaction. In these lands of great opportunity, each frontier, once opened, has bred its successor and has been replaced in turn by it. Each frontier stage has generated its own new world with new opportunities, new patterns of settlement, new occupations, new challenges and new problems.
While colonization was continued by much of Europe on the other continents in the modern epoch, what became truly frontier colonization essentially narrowed down to the English-speaking world. Once the French and the Dutch were driven out of North America, the British had control of all the sufficiently unpopulated lands where that kind of frontier could develop. The Spanish and the Portuguese confronted masses of Indians whom they had to accommodate and absorb, except in the central and southern reaches of Argentina and Chile where, because Spanish society did not leave room for a truly open frontier, the frontier ended with the completion of land settlement. The Iberian settlement of Latin America began in the sixteenth century, a century before the modern frontier process with its dynamic characteristics opened up. There the Iberian settlers brought the social, political, cultural, and economic patterns of the late Middle Ages to territories rather heavily populated by aboriginal peoples, most living in highly developed civilizations with (for them) strong political frameworks. Nevertheless, they were relatively easily overwhelmed by the Spanish and Portuguese and their military technology. The populations remained, so that the land was not empty in any respect, and the techniques used to establish Iberian hegemony had to take that into consideration. The Spanish and Portuguese did so in the medieval manner.
The French ran into the same problem in all of their colonies, even in Algeria where they did succeed in planting a large population. Otherwise, the existing indigenous populations far outnumbered any efforts on the part of new settlers to transform those territories into frontiers. The British had all of English-speaking North America, the least inhabited islands of the Caribbean, Australia and New Zealand open for them to settle by the millions and true frontiers developed in all. With the exception of the Caribbean, all also set off chain reactions so that new frontier stages appeared as the old ones were closed (in each region of the larger countries). Only in Africa did the British get into the kind of situation that their European neighbors encountered everywhere. The British tried to bring in settlers, but the lands were not sufficiently vacant to overwhelm the indigenous inhabitants.
At the same time it is true that wherever there were many indigenous inhabitants and a sufficient number of colonists, cross-racial contacts inevitably developed and at least some led to intermarriage and the biological mixing of races for the first time in thousands of years. This was particularly true in Latin America. It was even true in South Africa where the white settlers tried to practice a strict apartheid. Given the racist attitudes prevalent in Europe at the time, some of which were echoed by the indigenous peoples as well (for example, the Japanese to this day have a strong streak of racism against non-Japanese and against intermarriage of Japanese with non-Japanese, even other Asians). These ties were frowned on except where they were hierarchical; that is to say, where whites could mobilize indigenous peoples to be their servants or middlemen between them as rulers and the people over whom they ruled. Nevertheless, the stage was set by the end of the modern epoch, actually at the time of the strongest white racism, for postmodern patterns of cross-racial and national integration.
In this connection it is difficult to overestimate the degree of racism that affected the modern world from the 1870s until the end of World War II. This was the period when "scientific" theories of racial superiority and inferiority were developed to distinguish between peoples within Europe as well as between Europeans and non-Europeans, when there was probably the least appreciation of cultural differences, and when prejudice moved from religious concerns, which in many cases had a certain basic legitimacy (for example, Spanish opposition to Aztec and Inca human sacrifice or British opposition to the suttee, that is to say, the burning alive of a man's widow upon his death, and racism which rejected a people simply because of their race, regardless of how they lived or how well they chose to accept Western norms). No doubt, what brought racism down was Nazism when the Nazis carried racism to its logical conclusion, namely, genocide and the effort to destroy so-called inferior races by murdering all of them. The world finally awakened to the evils of racist thinking and the way became open for a change of minds and hearts.
More than ever in the past, invention and the frontier went hand in hand. Indeed, the felicitous connection between science, technology, invention, and frontiersmanship led to the possibility of the frontier becoming a chain reaction and, once new lands were settled, for the frontier to continue by other means. That is indeed what happened, most particularly in the United States but in the other frontier countries as well. While invention could make less of a difference in the industrializing countries that did not go through the frontier experience, even here it could loosen up older restrictions and open the door to greater freedom, opportunity, and democracy, although it seems that just as frequently the opportunities that were opened only partially in the face of rather rigidly hierarchical societies led to fascism and totalitarianism as the preferred popular response. Here, the contrast between Germany and the United States or Russia and the United States could be very enlightening.
Where neither an indigenous frontier or an indigenous inventiveness were to be found, a vacuum was created which those who reflected both, namely Europeans or who had access to inventiveness or to both came to fill. Colonialism was as much a matter of filling vacuums as it was a deliberately designed effort on the part of Europeans or their settler offspring. Indeed, colonialism was stimulated in part by the statism promoted after the Treaty of Westphalia by which every European state sought to become totally independent, totally homogeneous, and totally self-sufficient.
The fact that none of these could be achieved, and in almost every case at least two of the three were contradictory, made no difference when those ideas were at their peak. So France, for example, sought to control territories with the raw materials needed to become self-sufficient abroad, while at the same time repressing and suppressing the indigenous minorities at home. Great Britain, ambivalent about modern statism, did not try to suppress indigenous minorities, only to make certain that the English ruled them. It sought markets abroad, and in the process found it necessary to conquer a good part of the world to guarantee those markets.
Religion played a dual role in all of this. On the one hand, Christians, convinced of the superiority of Christianity and hence of Christian civilization, found in their Christianity powerful support for overseas colonization of both the frontier and the colonialist kind. The need to Christianize the pagans of the world also provided a strong support for those settlement and colonialist efforts and made even the brutal among them more respectable by giving them an alliance with the Church or various religious groups concerned about saving heathen souls.
On the other hand, Christianity also provided the antidote in the sense that the cruelties of frontier settlement and colonialism were opposed by influential groups in the name of Christianity because of Christianity's moral principles. At first, the latter were often lost in the clamor and excitement of conquest, but in the end they won out, beginning with the American Revolution in the eighteenth century and culminating in the post-modern epoch, the subject of the next historical period.
Religion was a powerful influence throughout the whole epoch, even as it was becoming increasingly privatized. The Treaty of Westphalia may have formally pushed it off of the agenda of interstate conflicts, but individual states still continued to support particular established religion or, even if not established churches, then Christianity as a whole. Slowly, other religions were accepted into the fold although the line against pagans and atheists remained firm and unbridgeable until after World War II. Even now their role raises problematic questions in most countries.
The United States was the first country to extend itself beyond Christianity to accept what in the eighteenth century were felicitously called "Jews, Turks, and infidels," i.e., Jews who were obviously highly monotheistic but rejected the divinity of Jesus; Turks, a term generally used for Muslims at the time, who were also fully monotheistic but came from cultures very different from those of Christianity and therefore only followed behind Jews with whom Christians had first-hand contact in Europe and, for that matter, in the New World; and infidels, that is to say, non-believers, who presented a much more difficult problem in that, in the views of the time, people who were non-believers could not be expected to take oaths made before God seriously because they did not believe in God. Even after infidels were included, there was no provision for heathens. That was beyond the pale; that is to say, polytheism was in that sense worse than atheism.
The strongest exponents of both positions were Reformed Protestants who took a very strong stand against those whom they believed to be sinners, but also took a very strong stand against immoral behavior on the part of those who considered themselves Christians. In a certain sense the Catholics were the most relaxed on these matters with Catholicism most experienced in accepting human weaknesses, including both human weakness in general and the weaknesses of Christian conquerors in particular. Thus in Latin America the conquerors did commit great cruelties, while at that same time the Christian missionaries and clergy secured the integration of converted natives into the local societies, recognizing them as human beings with souls, deserving of minimal fairness. The Protestant colonists, on the other hand, were usually restrained in their cruelty but had little provision for recognizing natives who did not fully assimilate into their religiously informed culture.
Throughout all of this, Calvinism was a powerful driving force in the promotion of both capitalism and democracy and should be examined from that perspective.
At the same time, after the American Revolution the trend throughout the Western world was to separate church and state and keep religion as a private matter, to give state citizenship and state interest precedence over it, beginning a process of excluding religion from the public square. It was to have very significant consequences in the next period. Still, religion remained a powerful force in the lives of the world's peoples throughout the modern epoch and the process of privatization proceeded differentially in different countries and civilizations.
The history of non-Western civilization in the modern epoch could no longer be treated separately from that of Western civilization except insofar as pockets remained untouched or minimally touched by the world trends. For example, the Plains Indians in the United States were much affected by the coming of the Europeans to North America long before they encountered them in person, in the sense that they were driven westward out of their lowland, prairie, and forest regions by Native Americans driven westward from the east coast by the pressure of the European settlers and they acquired horses from tribes that had been exposed to the Spaniards long before they saw any Spaniards.
The Indian subcontinent, lacking any comprehensive governmental structure and divided into many princely states, was easily brought into the Western orbit by the British and, to a lesser extent, the French and the Portuguese. China, which did have a central government of reasonable strength at the beginning of the period, was more resistant and even tried at the end to fight the Western influences, the consequences of which were that the old Chinese empire collapsed in 1911 and was replaced by an unstable republicanism mixed with warlordism until the indigenous Communist takeover of the country in 1946-49.
Japan, after initially allowing Westerners to enter the country at selected sites, both for purposes of trade and even allowed missionizing, made a turnabout and destroyed the Western outposts, becoming totally isolated from the West for several centuries until the Americans forced it to open up in the 1850s, after which it adopted Western modes and inventions, developed an imperialism of its own, and ultimately came into direct military conflict with the West beginning with the Russo-Japanese War and continuing in World War II.
Africa, whose northern reaches had been part of the ancient world and whose southern tip was settled at the very beginning of the modern epoch, was the last continent to be freely penetrated by the West in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It had already been transformed by Westerners through the slave trade which attained massive proportions from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries, changing the character if not the course of African civilizations.
One of the most important developments in the modern epoch was the spread of democratic republicanism, what we refer to today simply as democracy. At the beginning of the epoch this took the form of challenging the divine right of kings. Royal absolutism was rendered obsolete and eliminated in relatively short order by the middle of the epoch. It was replaced by a republicanism that recognized rule by elites but increasingly empowered ordinary people to participate in the governing process in some manner. The opening of the process to all adults was not achieved until the very last generation of the epoch when women were granted the right to vote, but the direction was clear by the mid-nineteenth century. In the twentieth century, people began speaking about democracy rather than democratic republicanism and the democracy of which they spoke was increasingly liberal democracy; that is to say, the empowerment of the individual, the reduction of government restraints on individuals to achieve social goals, and the recognition of every individual's civil rights.
The democratic persuasion still was confined to a minority of the countries and civilizations of the world, but it was the cutting-edge minority, many of whom were still in the process of democratizing, at least by today's standards. Many retained strong elements of the communal unity that they had inherited from premodern periods and in many cases democracy was simply integrated into that communalism to become a kind of communal democracy which recognized the primacy of the community or the dominant group in the community.
At the beginning of the modern epoch, the philosophers of democratic republicanism had developed the idea of civil society, namely, a political order framed by government but in which a substantial segment of societal life was in the private sphere, particularly in the economic and religious realms, and where collective activity was often undertaken by voluntary associations, public non-governmental bodies through which people cooperated with one another voluntarily and thus eliminated the need for government action. The rise of statism and its later combination with socialism cut into the principles of civil society from the governmental side, while the rise of liberal democracy cut into the civil society idea from the perspective of the individual. The result was the decline of consciousness of the idea, although the democratic reality involved its continuation in practice to the point where even totalitarian polities that claimed to be democratic had to pay lip service to the elements in the civil society model, although, indeed, totalitarianism involved the preservation of the forms while taking over the contents.
Political democracy became the goal of many peoples and became part of the anti-colonialist struggle, even as state involvement in previously private or public non-governmental spheres grew in response to the needs of an industrialized society or as socialism or welfare state liberalism spread. Indeed, many of the elements of both were made into "rights" to which every human being was "entitled."
By the end of this period, two major struggles were going on in the world, one, a struggle between two modern forms of government democracy and totalitarianism for hegemony. At the same time, both were also struggling with each other for influence with traditional societies, most of which had strong authoritarian dimensions but were often seeking new ways as they modernized.
Eighth Period: Toward Globalization (1945- )
After the end of World War II the world entered into what some have called a postmodern epoch, initially in response to the upheavals of the period from 1914 to 1945 including both World Wars and the Great Depression of the interwar period, the rise and spread of Communism, and the rise, spread, and defeat of Fascism. This period inaugurated a world significantly different from that of the modern epoch. First of all, the nation-state and the statism associated with it in the modern epoch began to be transformed through a new interdependence stemming from a new world order.
Nowhere was this more so than in connection with the economy. The Great Depression had taught the leaders of the world that protective trade barriers only led toward worldwide catastrophe. Moreover, the economy itself became increasingly globalized.
While the first 45 years of this period witnesses a struggle between the Communist world and the free world which was based on a combination of market capitalism and the welfare state, Communism and its partner, state socialism, which had proved to be so attractive during the first half of the twentieth century, were demonstrated to have clay feet economically (not to speak of politically and socially). Only those countries which judiciously combined capitalism and the welfare state emerged successful, economically and socially.
In part this was due to the great good sense of the United States and its leadership who in the immediate postwar period, did not take full immediate advantage of its weakened allies or full revenge upon those it had vanquished during the war but rather assisted in their reconstruction, at the very least as a bulwark against Communism and Soviet imperialism. It was indeed touch and go for a while with the Community movement threatening to acquire power through elections in Western and Southern Europe. In the end, however, the economic miracles wrought by the countries benefitting from U.S. assistance made the difference. While the struggle continued for another four decades, in the end the Communist states were bankrupted and unable to meet the economic or political demands of their people and hence collapsed.
The end of World War II brought with it the opening of the nuclear age with its threats of potential mass destruction. If global economics and the reorganization of the world to accommodate it made a long-term difference, nuclear weaponry made an even greater one in its immediate impact. The United States and shortly thereafter the Soviet Union as nuclear powers appreciated the destructive capacity of nuclear weapons and kept theirs under sufficient control even during a massive nuclear and conventional weapons arms race. The threat of nuclear weapons limited the hot wars of the period in a number of ways and kept the Cold War from erupting into a hot one no matter how angry the great powers were at one another.
Economic need, combined with the need to prevent Europe from continuing with the curse of intracontinental wars, led to the establishment of the European Community, now the European Union, in the 1950s. After an abortive attempt to establish a United States of Europe, the EC represented a more modest set of linkages not federal but confederal in character. "Sold" to the European public as a sophisticated set of trade treaties at first, it soon became apparent that the EC was more than that. After a "time of troubles" it emerged even stronger than it had begun and, with the adoption of the Single European Act and the Treaty of Maastricht, it became the first full-fledged postmodern confederation. Many other less institutionalized, less comprehensive multi-state relations developed in other parts of the world as well.
The two great themes of this period were decolonization and globalization. The first was connected to the great decline of racism as a defining around the world (not just in the West, although the decline took place first and foremost in the West) while the second became the new defining view after triumph of democracy and capitalism over totalitarianism and communism.
Both elements were direct consequences of the impact of World War II, even though signs of both had appeared even before. Anti-colonial movements were born first and actually were born in the West in the various colonialist countries where opponents of colonialism developed strong opposition to colonialist government policies. Indigenous opposition to colonialism from the colonies themselves beyond their initial military resistance to conquest emerged shortly thereafter.
The United States, the most reluctant of the colonial powers, was the first to begin withdrawal or plans for withdrawal from their colonial possessions almost simultaneously with acquiring them in the Spanish-American War. Germany lost its colonies in World War I, but they were conquered by other colonialist powers, Japan and Great Britain. The success of the Japanese in World War II awakened the Asian peoples' sense that they could resist the powerful West and greatly strengthened anti-colonialist movements there that had developed in the interwar period. Indeed, the Asian colonies were, with minor exceptions, the first to get their independence after the war. The success of the Asians stimulated African anti-colonialist movements, although Africa did not emancipate itself until the early 1960s.
By that time, the European colonial powers, weakened by World War II and their recovery efforts, had lost interest in colonies, having discovered that trade rather than rule was a better bargain. Hence they even began to pressure those colonies that did not want independence, as in the Caribbean, to take it because the mother countries were no longer willing to support them. Most of the former colonies became independent states. A few became associated states that voluntarily continued their ties with their former rulers. Still others developed federacy arrangements as in the case of the United States and Puerto Rico whereby they obtained great internal autonomy but remained linked to the former mother country but as a federated unit tied to it.
By the end of the 1980s, Western colonialism was essentially over. The last bastion of colonialism to fall was the Russian empire. Despite the Soviet effort to give their empire a different appearance, it was just that. The Russians had colonized Siberia in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, central Asia in the eighteenth and nineteenth, and Eastern Europe in the nineteenth and twentieth. All of that was swept away with the Eastern European states' revolt against Communism and the collapse of the USSR. The Eastern European and Baltic states became independent once again, while the fifteen Russian republics each became independent within a loose confederal arrangement.
The collapse of the Soviet empire brought an end to the Cold War, the dominant feature of the first generation of the post-modern epoch. The fear of nuclear war kept the Cold War "cold" rather than becoming "hot," although in Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan the world came close because one side or the other was directly involved. Elsewhere, regional or internal hot wars were fought by the surrogates of the two great powers, the United States and the USSR. The Cold War was essentially a battle of diplomatic maneuver, military threat, and economic manipulation. In all of these the West had the advantage because of the power of the United States and the ability of American aid to strengthen the power of its allies and to enable them to become self-generating economically. The Soviets were literally driven into bankruptcy and a last ditch effort to save the USSR through liberalization came too late.
With the end of the Cold War, globalization could begin to flower. The first signs of globalization had already appeared in the late nineteenth century but were so dominated by statism, both normatively and as a reality, that they were considered signs of interstate cooperation, almost entirely in the form of posts and telecommunications. While more such developments occurred after World War I within the context of the League of Nations or parallel to it, it was really not until the end of World War II that globalization began to emerge as a force in its own right.
Initially, globalization reflected the efforts of the United States and its allies to prevent a new depression after wartime demobilization, and so in 1944 at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, agreements were put into place to provide for international monetary and trade stability. In 1945 the United Nations was founded and while it did not become what its founders hoped, it did serve as a forum for certain kinds of actions and as a link for international technical services that supported globalization. In the 1950s and 1960s new devices were developed to supplement the original ones, primarily in the economic and secondarily in the social fields.
By the 1980s most states were at least in regional economic arrangements and the vast majority were in worldwide ones as well. While all were technically treaties, they were the kind of treaties that despite formal rights of withdrawal, no state could afford to. National sovereignty had been curbed for even the most powerful nations, if only because no nation could take the risk of having a nuclear war or going it alone economically. The difference between politically sovereign states and the constituent states of federations was diminishing to, in effect, establish a system in which 180 formally politically sovereign states and twice that number of federated states were merging into one international system. While this did not seem to be leading to some kind of world government, at least not immediately, it did generate a worldwide framework of interconnections and linkages that were being constitutionalized since they could not be dissolved.
When linked together, these two phenomena had even more significant consequences. In the aftermath of World War II when the Nazis brought racism to genocide, there was a revulsion against racial discrimination. At least formally, the barriers between the races began to fall, both internally, as between whites and non-whites in the United States, and globally. Over the next fifty years a major reevaluation of the races occurred around the world. While still to some extent based on stereotypes, the assumption that whites were better disappeared in most quarters. The peoples of East Asia were recognized as a powerful new force on the world scene and afforded great respect for their achievements. The other colored races also were accorded new respect.
Moreover, cultures began to mix. African and most especially Afro-American cultural patterns entered the mainstream of popular culture and indeed began to mold it. Opportunities were opened to people of every race, if not always entirely equally, with far greater equity than ever before, and representative figures from every race were able to rise to the very top in their respective fields. The forms of globalization assured that this would be the case in international political affairs, while efforts to overcome prior racism made it possible for non-whites to rise in the economic spheres in most of the richer countries of the world where they were present.
With the transformation of the South African apartheid regime in the early 1990s, the last formally racist polity, with the possible exception of Japan, ceased to exist. Racial discrimination had become a matter of habit and custom wherever it continued to exist and not a matter of public policy.
What of the major themes that we have followed through human history? Migration, which had become such a major element in the modern epoch, continued to play a major role in the world but took on new forms as a result of globalization. No longer a matter of "one shot" movements from rural to urban areas or from one country to another in the search for opportunity, migration now became a continuing process of movement from place to place and across borders. Here, too, the United States was the pioneer. It seems that people who had moved from the Old World to the New, having severed their old ties so completely, were more receptive to continuing to migrate in search of opportunity if it seemed to be necessary. This they communicated to their children and children's children, so Americans became a migrating people within the United States, from east to west, from south to north, and then from north to south and wherever opportunity seemed to present itself. It became increasingly unusual to find children living near their parents and the U.S. Census showed that the average American changed his or her residence at no more than five year intervals. Of course these averages could be misleading and there are people who stay in their same residences or neighborhoods for most or all of their lives, but the pattern was clear.
It took longer for this pattern to begin to develop in Old World settings where permanence of residence was the norm, but it began to happen through metropolitanization whereby people thought of themselves as not moving out of their area but simply looking for better housing. It spread to include transborder commuting for job opportunities and, as developed countries began to need people to work in specialized occupations or in less desirable jobs, "guest workers" began to move from the poorer countries to the richer, presumably not to migrate permanently but to take advantage of employment opportunities. Moreover, the globalization of commerce and industry meant that "colonies" of people from the developed countries began to settle in different parts of the world to conduct the business of their firms. In short, the new global economy brought with it a new kind of trans-border migration and settlement. Military necessity added to this new migrational pattern as the major powers, particularly the West, established military bases around the world during the Cold War.
In many places these migrations were tied to the twentieth century frontier stages. Between the world wars, the urban-industrial frontier gave birth in turn to a third frontier stage, one based upon the new technologies of electronic communication, the internal combustion engine, the airplane, synthetics, and petro-chemicals. These new technologies transformed every aspect of life and turned urbanization into metropolitanization. This third frontier stage generated a third settlement of the United States, this time in metropolitan regions from coast to coast, involving a mass migration of tens of millions of Americans in search of opportunity on the suburban frontier. The metropolitan-technological frontier emerged in full strength after World War II in North America, South Africa, Australia, and somewhat later in Israel.
The metropolitan frontier generated conditions that stimulated and required the new-style migration and made it possible. These migrations were immense. Tens of millions of people moved onto the metropolitan frontier either from adjacent older urban areas or from more distant rural ones.
The metropolitan frontier was not just a matter of moving to new places of residence, but transformation of patterns of work, settlement, and society. The introduction of commuting principally through private transportation and especially the automobile, the great separation between residence and place of work, the development of technologically sophisticated industries and service industries transformed manufacturing workers and developed a much larger and stronger white collar population. Greater affluence led to new standards of living and, in time, made possible the transformation of the family in its nuclear form, as it had become known in the modern epoch, into a more casual set of relationships and less intergenerational in character.
The new affluence weakened the power of religion in the sphere of personal behavior. By generating more heterogeneous communities, it pushed religion further out of the public sphere and into the private. Public enforcement of a public moral standard declined as the combination of heterogeneity and new definitions of democracy led to greater demands for individual freedom of choice in a wide variety of areas previously considered necessary to the maintenance of public order.
The technological component of the metropolitan-technological frontier saw transformations from the first-stage industries of the industrial revolution to second- or third-stage industries - automotive, telecommunications, plastics and synthetics, petrochemical, and more sophisticated processing for older industries, aviation, to name only a few. It was estimated already in the 1950s that over 60 percent of the employment opportunities available at that time did not exist for the fathers of those of employment age because the jobs did not exist. Again, this provided for increased opportunities and, at least for some, substantially increased mobility. Higher education became more common and at least high school education was needed for occupational success in most jobs.
If the United States raced ahead of the pack in all of these phenomena, the other developed nations soon caught up, making obsolete earlier systems of labor training and apprenticeship. It was still possible to see a frontier line separating the metropolitan frontier and other parts of the country, only now the line was at 500 people per square mile and usually circled around older cities that were at the core of the metropolitan regions. At a certain point in the frontier's advance, the locus of employment, commerce and industry shifted from the old central city to the new suburban fringe and commuting patterns changed from being spokes toward a common center to one of leading in every direction.
Not long after that change in the basic metropolitan pattern took place, the metropolitan frontier came to a close. It was not that the suburban areas did not continue to expand, only that the expansion had become routine and the only frontier-like characteristics were those that adhered to a particular local area where growth was transforming the style of life. Although the closure of the metropolitan frontier coincided with the rebellions of the late 1960s or their aftermath, in the United States it gave rise to a strong "limits of growth" movement of environmentalists who argued that we had to abandon our frontier attitudes and settle down to a world with less development. The truth is that a fourth frontier stage opened, first in North America and then in the other frontier societies. As the first post-World War II generation came to an end in the mid-1970s the third stage of the American frontier no longer seemed to be compelling. At the same time, despite the "limits of growth" rhetoric, there was every sign that a fourth stage was beginning - a citybelt-cybernetic frontier generated by the metropolitan-technological frontier just as the latter had been generated by its predecessor.
The cybernetic revolution had begun with the invention of first computers in the late 1940s, but did not really begin to transform society down to the popular level until the 1970s. One of the transformations they wrought was to make it possible for people to live outside of metropolitan areas, either in what had come to be called exurbia or in rural areas that were urbanized as small towns. These rurban settlements of citybelts offered a whole new way of life which was soon further engulfed by the progress of cybernetics and space exploration to become what began to be called "cyberspace" involving life on the Internet or at least via the computer networks. This new way of living tied in well with globalization on the macro level by offering a micro level equivalent for ordinary people as well as for the world's leadership.
In advanced developed societies, this even led to a change in the class structure, replacing the old hierarchical structure with a new, more egalitarian, one, on one hand, but more separated, on the other. It consists of the governing classes, those who are involved at all levels and all positions of governing their globalized society and its components; the talking classes, those who led by communicating and making more communication possible; the service classes, who provided services rather than goods for the global society; the entrepreneurial classes, whose initiatives produced the new wealth that society needed; the working class, which held the more traditional jobs that had been generated by older frontiers; and a growing underclass of people who were not suited or could not be trained to find any useful place for themselves on the new frontier and who became the source of the frontier's most visible problems.
Just as the rural-land frontier gave birth to the urban-industrial frontier, it, in turn, gave birth to the metropolitan-technological frontier. In the postmodern epoch, the metropolitan-technological frontier has given birth to the rurban-cybernetic frontier which is the latest stage in the chain reaction. Today different countries are situated on different points of this chain reaction, principally animated by one or another of the four frontier stages, although more than one may exist simultaneously within a particular country. On the other hand, some countries have moved from the first frontier stage to the second or even the third and then lost the characteristics of a frontier. Still, the likelihood is that if the chain reaction is initiated, it will continue at least into the fourth stage.
While the full frontier conditions described here occurred only in the handful of frontier societies, increasingly if not from the beginning they occurred to immigrants from all parts of the world who settled in those frontier societies. The United States, for example, began principally with northern Europeans and Africans, but in time peoples came from all parts of Europe and then in our own times from all parts of the world. Today, Asians are as likely to be taking advantage of the new frontier as anyone else. Indeed, if one projects the settlement of Asians on the map of the United States to see where they are concentrated, it is quickly evident that the major concentration of Asians is either on the West Coast, the first point of arrival in the United States, or in college towns, all of which are centers of current frontier activities because of the very importance of higher education in the frontier process.
In the Old World, while the frontier did not have the kind of impact that it did in the New, consequences or "fallout" from the cutting edge of each frontier had an impact on them as well. At first that impact was merely a matter of modernization, the adaptation to the contemporary situation of the time. With globalization, it is now more than that and may actually have accelerated to the point where it is much closer to a frontier experience. When every African village has one or more radios and Indian villagers can acquire family television sets, in effect, normal space has been eliminated in favor of cyberspace and people at least become witnesses to some frontier phenomena, if not direct participants in the frontier. Thus, the impact upon them is greater than the impact of the urban-industrial frontier on Europe of the nineteenth century when that continent was undergoing modernization.
Meanwhile, a new frontier stage is forming in space. Part of it will be a continuation of cyberspace which includes the "settlement" and development of what we might call inner space. Beyond that is outer space and interplanetary activity, which may be, historically speaking, just around the corner.
Invention has become even more important than in the past because with the land frontier ended, inventions have opened and formed the new frontier stages. Moreover, invention has become more sophisticated, no longer involving the mythic picture of a single figure inventing in his garage but teams of people in universities, in great corporate laboratories such as Bell Labs and IBM, or in the Silicon Valleys of the world.
Invention is still primarily concentrated in the West, but the East has begun to be able to take inventions and improve on them - Japan, for example. Other parts of East Asia are beginning to do the same. While each frontier has continued to manifest itself on the land, by the very nature of things it has been driven by inventions that become ever more transformatory to the point where we now have to worry about the impact of inventions that erase the line between reality and fantasy which cannot be erased in real life, despite the illusions that are now immediately and overwhelmingly available to more and more of the world's population through communications and cybernetic technology. Internet may make communication instantaneous, which does have its impact, but it does not enable people to share real experiences in a real way. Still, the fact that this has happened makes invention central to the redefinition of reality.
As the impact of invention has become more concentrated, the impact of religion seems to have become more diffused. Since it is still as true as ever that every individual needs to believe in something, the religious impulse remains as powerful as ever, but the increasing complexity and "sophistication" of the world has led that impulse down new and, at times, strange paths. In the modern epoch, ideologies - of utopian reform, of total reconstruction, of racism, or whatever - became secular religions for millions of people. The terrible consequences of that particular perversion of faith were equal to the consequences of the religious wars of immediate premodern times that were brought on by conflicts between traditional religions in Europe. Just as those religions suffered rejection as a result, the ideologies collapsed during the first fifty years of the postmodern epoch.
While some of their former adherents found their way back to traditional religion, many joined with those who had abandoned or weakened their ties to traditional religion to, in effect, return to paganism, that is, a belief in material things. While they no longer worship idols and only a few have actually turned to a belief in pagan gods, their effective worship of material success and goods without any religious restraints has turned them into pagans.
On the other hand, after the crisis of belief and commitment to traditional religions in the last century of the modern epoch, when those traditional religions had to confront the challenges of modern science, there has been a religious revival in many quarters. Most frequently, it seems, this has taken the form of a turn to religious fundamentalism; that is to say, a rejection of the ideas and outlook of modernity (though not a rejection of its technology or material improvements) in an effort to return to "the old-time religion."
Each of the world's cultures has found a fundamentalism appropriate to it. For example, among Protestants it is a fundamentalism of individuals being "born again" and finding salvation as individuals. For Catholics, in many cases it is a return to or an effort to hold on to traditional rituals, Latin, or the revival of older church customs such as speaking in tongues. For Muslims, it is a virulent form of anti-Westernism. For Jews it is a return to an ultra-strict observance of Jewish law. For Buddhists it often takes the form of identification with one of the more demanding Buddhist sects.
For a much smaller minority in all parts of the world, the return to religion has sought to combine religious sensibility and commitment with the best aspects of contemporary society. The degree of religiosity varies from country to country and civilization to civilization, with the United States in the lead in the West, followed by Israel and Switzerland. Only a minority is falling away from religious standards in the Muslim world. Conversions to Christianity and especially Islam continue in black Africa, with a resulting seriousness about religion notably lacking in other places, and a continuation of normal religious indifference in East Asia, except in the matter of folk religion.
In the brief time of the postmodern period that we have already encountered, issues of politics and government have revolved around democracy and democratization, meaning, in particular, greater individual freedom, human rights, the elimination of governmental enforcement of social restraints, and basic political participation, e.g., voting, for all adults. The last gasp of the totalitarian challenge came with the Communist effort to seize power throughout the world, which was beaten back by the Free World in the Cold War. While the Free World has its own deficiencies and flaws, there was no question that it represented the better of the two choices.
The people who experienced both made their choice abundantly clear by successfully revolting against Communism in the period between 1989 and 1992. They were so successful that the Soviet Union itself collapsed. The democracy that was favored throughout the world was some variant of liberal democracy geared to the freeing of individuals from externally imposed restraints, their empowerment in some way, and the protection of their human rights. The older communal democracy continued to retreat in the sense that, when given a choice, most people seemed to reject the constraints needed to maintain community that communal democracy required unless they were motivated by religious or very strong ethnic considerations. Still, the resurgence of religion and especially ethnicity meant that communal democracy continued to survive and to seek new ways of expression in keeping with the new demands for individual rights and liberties.
The great contribution of the revolt against Communism in Eastern Europe was the revival and restoration of the idea of civil society, a founding idea of the modern epoch that is being used again 300 years later as a founding idea of the postmodern epoch. These democratic elements not only were manifested in country after country but began to be built in to the new globalized system as well which added human rights protections to its agenda.