Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Hadrian and China

In the year 124ce Hadrian’s glittering Imperial procession reached the easternmost province of the empire, Bithynia on the Black Sea. At the city of Trapezus (modern day Trabzon in Turkey, near the border with Georgia) he erected a monument to the good luck and prosperity of the town. Trapezus was a successful tunny-fishing and trading port, so Hadrian built a new harbour and surmounted his monument with a large gilded copper fish. However, if instead he had carried on building, higher and higher, he would have become cognisant of a remarkable fact.

As more and more of the Eurasian continent came into his view, spreading out for hundreds of miles below, he would have looked westward with satisfaction to the colourful patchwork of his own empire, a criss-cross of roads connecting market towns with marble citadels, walled frontier forts and shipping lanes free of pirates. But his knowledge of Alexander the Great’s expeditions and the subsequent trade in silks, incense and spices would not have prepared him for the shocking site to the east. For there, neatly balanced at the other end of the Eurasian continent to his own, was another empire which was almost a mirror- image of his own.

Hadrian’s shock would be complete were we to also equip the Emperor with a time-machine. In less than three hundred years, he would see the western half of his empire in turmoil; cities burning, forests encroaching, Saxons crossing the North Sea. Another two hundred years, and the eastern remnant of his empire is collapsing under the onslaught from Arabian desert tribes. Meanwhile, in the far east, the mirror-image oriental empire is calm, ordered and progressing, for as far and as long as he can see.

Hadrian left Trapezus with no such insight, and it is my contention that it is only very recently that historians and others have begun to understand and study the significance of the simultaneous emergence of manifest oriental and occidental civilizations. I will have more to say about this at the end of this essay. Happily, the Emperor did receive a revelation of another sort during his sojourn; it was in Bithynia that Hadrian met Antinous, his comrade, lover and life-partner.

At the time of Hadrian, the Roman and Chinese Han empires were both roughly the same size at around 4 million square kilometres each. Both were the same age, becoming recognizable empires at around the same time during the beginning of the second century bce, and both were centred on and exploited the main geographical feature of the region; for Rome the Mediterranean Sea and for the Han empire the great northern plain of China.

Most surprising of all, both empires were equivalent in population at about 60 million people each (approximately the population of the present-day United Kingdom) out of a total global population of perhaps quarter of a billion. As the Stanford ACME Project puts it, “2,000 years ago, about one-half of the human species was contained within two political systems, the Roman Empire in western Eurasia and the Han empire in eastern Eurasia. At no time since has such a large proportion of humankind been ruled by two governments.”

To understand the central conundrum, that is, why the occidental empire fell while the oriental empire continued to flourish into the present, is the task of the rest of this essay. Since both empires were the result of city states and smaller kingdoms merging mainly either through dynastic diplomacy or through military invasion, until finally being swallowed by the regional great power, it is necessary to examine the internal composition of each empire in turn.

Between 221-210bce the Qin state managed to unite the other six imperial states (Yan, Qi, Wei, Zhao, Hann and Chu), who had been fighting during the Warring States period (481-221bce), to create the Han empire. The Han empire continued to expand into it’s hinterland and lasted until 220ce, when it split into the Three Kingdoms. Previous to the Warring States period, the Spring and Autumn period (770-481bce) had witnessed the consolidation of around fifteen major feudal states into the previously mentioned seven imperial states.

What is essential about these feudal and imperial states in early China is that they were all homogenous, sharing a common origin and close racial and cultural affinities. According to Toynbee: “The fathers of the Sinic civilization do not seem to have differed in race from the peoples occupying the vast region to the south and south-west which extends from the Yellow River to the Brahmaputra and from the Tibetan Plateau to the China Sea. If certain members of that wide-spread race created a civilization while the rest remained culturally sterile, the explanation may be that a creative faculty, latent in all alike, was evoked in those particular members, and in those only, by the presentation of a challenge to which the rest did not happen to be exposed…none of the related peoples farther south, in the valley of the Yangtse, for example, where this civilization did not originate, can have had so hard a fight for life”.

The compositions and histories of the city states and kingdoms which were eventually to coalesce into the Hellenic universal state, i.e. the Roman Empire, were very different from those of China.

Prospects for a Hellenic European empire, as stable as China, started well with Aryan Greek colonization of the Aegean, Black and northern Mediterranean seas from the eighth century bce. The Battle of Chaeronea (338bce), when Alexander the Great of Macedon defeated the combined armies of Athens and Thebes, marked the most spectacular example to date of a core civilization, in this case Greece, being swallowed whole by a comparatively larger but closely-related nation on its periphery. Usually, members of the core civilization consider its bigger, more powerful neighbour to be semi-barbaric, despite sharing the same language and cultural roots. Ironically, Macedon was to suffer the same fate at the hands of Rome after the Battle of Pydna some 170 years later.
At Pydna the stakes were higher than Chaeronea because more territory was under dispute, nonetheless Rome shared the same racial and cultural origins as Macedonian Greece, in the same way that Macedonians themselves had originally shared a civilization with Athens and Thebes. So the military defeat of Macedon and the Greeks in 168bce signified not the defeat, but the consolidation of Hellenism. “Behind the greatness of Rome we can recognize forces of the heroic Aryan-Western cycle at work…While next to other peoples such as the Greeks and the Etruscans the Romans may at first have appeared as ‘barbarians’, their lack of ‘culture’ concealed (as in the case of some Germanic populations at the time of the barbarian invasions) an even older force that acted in a style compared to which all cultures of an urban type appear as decadent and disaggregative.” observes Julius Evola “Many people thought that the Roman world, in its imperial and pagan phase, signified the beginning of a new Golden Age, the king of which, Kronos, was believed to be living in a state of slumber in the Hyperborean region. During Augustus’s reign, the Sibylline prophecies announced the advent of a ‘solar’ king, a rex a coelo or ex sole missus, to which Horace seems to refer when he invokes the advent of Apollo, the Hyperborean god of the Golden Age. Virgil too seems to refer to this rex when he proclaims the imminent advent of a new Golden Age, of Apollo, and of heroes. Thus Augustus conceived his symbolic ‘filiation’ from Apollo; the phoenix, which is found in the figurations of Hadrian and of Antoninus, is in strict relation to this idea of a resurrection of the primordial age through the Roman Empire.”

The same fear of a vast, monolithic, “semi-barbaric” neighbour became evident to central Europeans from the Eighteenth Century onwards; this time the stakes could not be higher. For a while in the Twentieth Century it looked as if western Europe would be absorbed into a new Soviet imperium, and once again a core civilization would have been swallowed whole by a racially and culturally-related, but much bigger, neighbour.

Before the defeat of Macedon, five principal states struggled for supremacy in the Mediterranean: Rome, Macedon, the Seleucid empire, Carthage and Egypt. The Seleucid empire encompassed the Hellenic successor states to the Aryan Persian empire which Alexander had conquered. Carthage was the most powerful of a network of Phoenician Semitic colonies spreading along the southern Mediterranean from Palestine to Spain. It was the pinnacle of what Toynbee refers to as Syriac civilization. Egypt, well past its Golden Age by this time, was composed of a population of Semites and Africans with a recently-installed Hellenic ruling elite.

Rome triumphed, and was left with the task of managing the volatile, heterogeneous, multiracial population on all sides of the Mediterranean Sea and beyond. It was Rome’s singular misfortune, just after the official establishment of Pax Romana and the Empire, to have lost against the German chief Arminius (Hermann) of the Cherusci at the fateful Battle of Teutoburg (9ce). “Varus [the Roman commander] nearly wrecked the empire, since three legions with their general and all their officers and auxiliary forces, and the general staff, were massacred to a man. When the news reached Rome, Augustus ordered patrols of the city at night to prevent any rising” says Suetonius, before describing the devastating affect the defeat had on the emperor himself. The anguish of Augustus was understandable; had he secured the territory between the Rhine and the Elbe as was his plan prior to 9ce, a virgin vista would have offered itself up to Rome. Legionaries would have been standing at the threshold of the northern European plain, which opened up far beyond what one day would become Rus. Rome need no longer depend on essential grain from Africa if Ukraine could be brought into production. The local tribes, Scythes, Germans and Celts, and early Slavs shared a common kinship and heritage with Rome, unlike the diverse peoples on the southern and south-eastern shores of the Mediterranean, even if initially this kinship went unrecognized by either conquerors or conquered. We can be sure that, as in Italy and Gaul, a fruitful synthesis would have ensued. Rome for the first time would have been a truly European empire, not merely a Mediterranean empire, with a prospect of prosperity and security stretching far into the future.

China’s long era of unified harmonious administration came to a temporary halt at the close of the Han Dynasty and the succession of the Three Kingdoms (Wei, Shu and Wu 220-265ce). After a period of political, administrative and bureaucratic confusion the former Han empire was reconstituted during the Sui (581-618) and Tang (618-907) dynasties. Periods of strong centralized imperial dynastic rule alternated with more diffuse administrations. The only significant threat to China’s invulnerability came in 1206ce when Genghis Khan unified the Mongolian tribes into the Mongol Khanate, which allowed Kublai Khan to conquer the Chinese central plain in 1271ce. Kublai Khan went native, as is the way when pastoral nomad tribes invade and hold settled communities, so traditional life continued while the Middle Empire strengthened and expanded.

Even after multiple shocks and divisions China, because of its racial and cultural homogeneity, is able to reconstitute itself as effectively as the intelligent liquid metal which makes up the T-X Machine from Terminator III.

Rome’s initial decline can be ascribed to internal factors, weakening the borders sufficient to allowing the breach which ushered in the Age of Migrations, when once again race plays a decisive role in history. Whether Gibbon and Nietzsche are right, and the internal decline can be blamed on the introduction of Christianity, or whether more prosaic developments such as the hollowing-out of the productive classes, or economic stagnation, or the increasing laxity of stipulations required for Roman citizenship are to blame, there can be no doubt that Constantine, the first Christian emperor, dealt a decisive blow by dividing the empire in two, with a new capital city vaingloriously named after himself.

The western empire was overrun by German tribes from 410ce; Visigoths in Spain, Ostrogoths in Italy and central Europe and Franks in Gaul created enduring feudal successor states, culminating in a weak and limited restoration of empire by Charlemagne (742-814ce) on a part of Rome’s western territories. Thus the Rhineland, which in the previous (Hellenic) cycle of Aryan civilization had been a fiercely disputed frontier became the core for a new cycle of Aryan Western civilization.

The remaining eastern half of the empire with its capital at Constantinople came under increasing attack from Arab Muslim armies from the 630s ce onwards. 650ce marked the consolidation of Islam in the former Persian Sassinid empire, Arabs under Islam now controlled all the territories once claimed by Carthage, Egypt and the Seleucid empire. Of the five major powers that had been co-opted to create the Roman empire, only the two Aryan powers of Greece (once Macedon, now Byzantium) and Italy escaped Islamic hegemony. Any attempt to restore the Roman empire, with borders co-extensive to those at the time of Hadrian, was undesirable and besides impossible after 630ce with Mohammed ruling half of Arabia.

Thus the fall of Rome in 410ce proved to be permanent. Unlike China, its constituent elements were too diverse, too multiracial and multicultural to orchestrate a successful reprise. Attempts have been made with increasing frequency to unite the new Western civilization, but such a Western universal state (Imperium) remains for the future.

The Middle Kingdom or Middle Empire, along with its closely-related ancient oriental civilizations of Korea and Japan, is essentially autarkic. Historically, despite periods of exploration, China has displayed no appetite for global dominion. Napoleon is quoted as saying, “I recognize only two nations, the Occident, and the Orient” and however controversial his plans for Europe were, and continue to be, we can be sure that he had no serious plan to invade China. Even for the European most often portrayed as bent on world domination, Adolf Hitler, China was not a part of the programme. China is simply too massive, too old, too sophisticated, too culturally alien for any sensible European to even contemplate provoking. Although that has not stopped the Western plutocracies attempting in their greed-inspired stupidity to undermine Chinese sovereignty.

Comparisons between the ancient Mediterranean and China were studied and written about by Georg Hegel, Max Weber and Karl Wittfogel, and a number of specialist historical studies have appeared sporadically since the 1980s, but the subject has never received the proper attention that it deserves. According to ACME, “There is no intellectual justification for this persistent neglect…the comparative history of the largest agrarian empires of antiquity has attracted no attention at all. This deficit is only explicable with reference to academic specialization and language barriers.”

Might it be that a comparative study would reveal causes for the permanent fall of the Roman empire that the academic establishment, still wedded to discredited notions of multiculturalism and multiracism, would find too unpalatable to contemplate?

Hadrian. Stewart Perowne (Hodder & Stoughton, London 1960)
Study of History Abridgement of Volumes I-IV. Arnold J. Toynbee (Royal Institute of International Affairs/ OUP, London 1946)
Mystery of the Grail. Julius Evola (Inner Traditions, Vermont 1997)
The Twelve Caesars. Suetonius (Penguin, London 1979)
Agicola and the Germania. Tacitus (Penguin 1948)
China National Tourism Administration
www.cnta.com
Stanford Ancient Chinese and Mediterranean Empires Comparative History Project (ACME) www.stanford.edu/~scheidel/acme/htm

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2 Comments:

Blogger cylon said...

Visualization is a tool that has been used for thousands of years by initiates of all the metaphysical schools. Today, it is incorporated into top athlete's daily routines and is used in business affairs frequently. It's use is wide-spread among highly successful people, either consciously or unconsciously, aware of its create power. So if it has stood the test of time and is still being used by high achievers we must come to the conclusion that it works! But has it ever worked for you?

If you answered 'yes' to the above question then you know how powerful this technique can be. If, on the other hand, you gave the more likely answer 'no' then take heart for I am about to reveal to you a sure fire way of reaching your objectives through this mostly misunderstood art.

The trouble with visualization is simple - its in its name!

When studying and contemplating the art of visualization most people have the impression that they must create visual images and make them real or life-like. Many people, in fact the majority, find this almost impossible to do. Even if they can formulate a solid picture of their objective they find it extremely difficult to sustain the image for any length of time. Either the image fades, changes or other intruding thoughts intervene.

This type of visualization is almost impossible to sustain and luckily it is not at all necessary. Why? Because it is in the subconscious mind that your visualization needs to be placed and there is good news. The subconscious mind does not know the difference between an imaginary event and a real one. Your visual image only needs to be a strong visually as any other imagined event. However, that is only half the story.

If all you had to do was just imagine stuff and your world automatically changed to reflect your imaginings this world would be full of chaos (not to mention all those creepy crawly bug-eyed monsters!). Therefore, there are a few more steps to complete before the visualization is passed to the subconscious for manifestation.

Let's try a little experiment. Remember a scene from your past that has a lot of good feelings around it. Any good memory will do, like the first time you heard the words "I love you" from your partner, an amazingly spectacular sunset, a great holiday event or your last birthday. Pick one and remember it. How clear is the image? Can you remember any sounds? What way did you feel? Is there any sense of touch, taste or smell? Identify how your memory works. Is it mostly visual, auditory, kinaesthetic or of a feeling nature?

Now we are going to create an imagined event in our lives that has the same strength and potency as that image. So relax and let's go.

Imagine something that you do everyday, something that you did yesterday, today and will do tomorrow. Let us take the example of waking up tomorrow morning. Don't try to add or take anything away, just think about it and analyse the scene. Is it dark or light? Are you lying next to someone in bed? Do you still feel tired? Has the alarm clock sounded? Are you irritable that you have to get up or full of joy at the dawn of a new day?

You will find that the imagined event is very similar to the memory with probably one key difference - your point of perspective. Is the memory behind you and the future event in front of you? Is one to the left and one to the right? Maybe they are both in front of you or the future seems to move in a clockwise direction. Whatever the perspective the thing to notice is that they are very similar in appearance.

Now imagine doing your future event a week from now, then a month from now, then six months from now. Where are those images placed? Are they moving further away, going clockwise, from left to right? This is your time-line and using it is important in visualization as you will see later.

Ok, let's imagine something that is very unlikely to happen and see where it differs from the last image.

Imagine you are sitting somewhere familiar which is extremely comfortable and relaxing to you. Now imagine that a person you know well comes up to where you are and says "hello". Imagine them telling you that they want to show you a new trick. All of a sudden they have three juggling balls. They throw them in the air and begin to juggle with ease. Then they begin to whistle one of your favourite tunes. You suddenly realize that there is a strong smell of flowers in the room and notice a vase of them just behind the juggler. Imagine laughing loudly at the scene and feeling joyful at the experience. Then the person juggling leans forward stands on leg and puts the other leg outstretched behind them. All the while still juggling and whistling. Then they begin to hop on their leg as a small bird flies over to perch on their head. Once you have the imagined event and stayed with it a few moments just let it fade.

Ok open your eyes. What was the difference between the two images? Can you spot any? Did you use more, less or roughly the same senses in your fantasy event as you did in the future one? Did you see them from different angles? Was the picture bigger in one than the other? Was the sound clearer, the feelings more acute or the smell stronger? Take some time and go back to each scene in your mind. How does the future event differ from the fantasy one? Are you looking at both from a different vantage point? Do you see yourself in the image of one but not the other? Analyse the scenes and see where they differ.

Have you identified how the future event differs from the fantasy one? If you have then its time to make visualization work for you! Take a goal that you have been working on or would like to achieve. Nothing too far-fetched at this point please! Pick something that is possible but at the moment seems a little impractical. Once you have it form a mental image of what it would be like to have, be or do that thing or be in that experience. Remember to form it the same way you do a memory. Give it the same strength visually, in sound, feeling, taste and touch - use your mind in its natural state. All you have to do is imagine the scene.

Ok how does it differ from the scene of waking in the morning? Can you identify the differences in perspective, sound, taste, touch, feelings and what you hear?

Now there will be one other key thing that differs in the images- it is very simple but often overlooked. You know that the future event is going to happen! This is reflected in the way we experience the image. So what we are going to do is fool your subconscious mind into thinking your goal is definitely going to happen by manipulating your goal image!

Once you know what the differences are in each image begin to change the goal image so that it is seen the same way as the future event in your imagination. Place the visualized scene in exactly the same position with the same perspective as your future event.

Place it in the correct position on your time-line. You may already begin to feel that the goal is more possible. Visualise in this way everyday and you will condition your subconscious mind to manifest the experiences necessary to make your goal attainment certain.

One more thing to remember: During the day think about your goal often. This reinforces the visualization and will begin to dispel doubt from your mind. subliminal messages

9:42 AM  
Blogger Alisdair Clarke said...

Thanks, Cylon

Peter Tatchell was a (relatively) early proponent of the effectiveness of visualization in modern medicine, in his books about HIV.

2:08 PM  

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