by Ron Russell
The purpose of this article is to give an overview on "History of Western Civilization". We will begin with the city-states of ancient Greece and proceed to the modern period.
The city-states of Greece such as Athens, Sparta, Corinth and others gave us many contributions to our present day society--democracy, philosophy and literature, just to name a few. They were the dominate force in the ancient world, but due to internal and external forces that period passed. The forces which caused this to happen we will refer to in this piece as the protracted conflict--this is an ongoing struggle between the old order and the new. With the old order always being the stronger in the beginning, but gradually giving way to the new order in the end. This, again, is a continuing struggle in history.
The city states eventually gave way to the Roman Empire, a system which,also, lasted for hundreds of years contributing a great deal to modern society-laws, architecture and literature. But again, this system would soon pass away into history because of internal struggles and the pressures from outside forces--the effects of the protracted conflict. The fall of the Roman Empire was indeed, a defining moment in world history, leading to one of history's darkest periods--appropriately called the Dark Ages or middle ages.
The Dark Ages lasted for hundreds of years. It was similar in some respects to the Greek city-state period in that there were many small seats of power--there the similarities stop. To recap for a moment--we had the disunity of the city-states followed by the unity of the Roman Empire to the disunity of power in the dark (middle ages). Not much good came from that period-- it was, indeed "dark". Probably not a good time to live in. That period begin to come to an end during what we call the Renaissance--a time of enlightenment. But again, the "city state' form of government continued to exist for a time-Florence, Genova. It was appropriate that this period started here in the heart of the old Roman Empire. Gradually, the old city-state form of government in Europe would give way to the larger kingdoms of France, Spain, Portugal, England and others. Here we have the beginnings of--The age of exploration, the Colonial Period. So far we have seem the Greek city-states (decentralized government evolve to the Roman Empire (centralized government) and that in turn giving way to the Dark Ages (decentralized government) to the beginning of the Colonial Period (centralized government)--all part of what we have called the systemic revolution.
Before we move into the colonial period, I need to point out again that this is a continuing revolution brought about by a protracted conflict--the struggle between the old and new orders. History does repeat itself over and over again--it is systemic in nature.
The Colonial Period lasted as those before it for hundreds of years. Its primary players were Spain, Portugal and England--there were others--these, however were probably the most predominate. This was a time when power was centralized in a few of the capitals of Europe, although there were conflicts between the various powers. These struggles would continue up to and including WWI and WWII. These two world wars will bring an end to this period and carry us to the modern period which will we refer to as the age of Rampant Nationalism. This is the time we live in. Rampant Nationalism, our current period, could possibly be one of our most dangerous times--due to the influence of modern technology and WMD's. New nations are popping up right and left. Who can keep up with the pace--I can't! The old colonial systems have totally collapsed and the vacuums created by that collapse have helped this process along. I don't know where this will lead, but it doesn't seem to be a pleasant place. Dangers are always out there, but this is, indeed, a troubling period. I hope by this time you have seen the continuing process that has occurred--decentralization to centralization and back, again and again. A continuing process--Systemic Revolution, and within that the Protracted Conflict.