We had promised a blog post on hedonism & its destructive effects on a civilization but put it off due to laziness but finally got around to it.
Repeatedly we see fire brand Mullah’s & Christian preachers rebuking the West for what they claim is its “hedonism” which they identify with phenomena such as abortion, family breakdown, consumerism, materialism etc. The question is, are they right?
From our study of history, they appear to be correct though Hindu admirers of the West may protest as it goes against all their cherished ideals.
The signs of a decaying society are many but none is as important as a society that cannot replace its dying members i.e. a society with a below replacement birth rate. Thus we will discuss the topic of hedonism with this in mind.
Ancient Greece & Rome:
Many Hindus including the ones who are supposedly involved with Hindu activism have a very poor understanding of their own history leave alone the history of ancient Greece and Rome. But the study of the downfall of these two civilizations is very important because the very same enemies which destroyed them are now trying to destroy us (see: http://manasataramgini.wordpress.com/2013/02/10/the-end-of-the-heathens/).
Greece was once a glorious heathen civilization but became a vassal of the Roman Empire because of different reasons. One of these reasons seems to have been identified by the Greek historian Polybius whose writings describe the rise of Rome and its domination of Greece. According to Polybius:
In our own time the whole of Greece has been subject to a low birth-rate and a general decrease of the population, owing to which cities have become deserted and the land has ceased to yield fruit, although there have neither been continuous wars nor epidemics. 6 If, then, any p385one had advised us to send and ask the gods about this, and find out what we ought to say or do, to increase in number and make our cities more populous, would it not seem absurd, the cause of the evil being evident and the remedy being in our own hands?º 7 For as men had fallen into such a state of pretentiousness, avarice, and indolence that they did not wish to marry, or if they married to rear the children born to them, or at most as a rule but one or two of them, so as to leave these in affluence and bring them up to waste their substance, the evil rapidly and insensibly grew. 8 For in cases where of one or two children the one was carried off by war and the other by sickness, it is evident that the houses must have been left unoccupied, and as in the case of swarms of bees, so by small degrees cities became resourceless and feeble. 9 About this it was of no use at all to ask the gods to suggest a means of deliverance from such an evil. 10 For any ordinary man will tell you that the most effectual cure had to be men’s own action, in either striving after other objects, or if not, in passing laws making it compulsory to rear children.
Greece continued as a civilization (though shorn of its former glory) because the conquering Romans were also heathens who admired Greek civilization but the entry of Abrahamics will change the dynamics as we shall see.
Around 150 years after Polybius wrote the above, the Romans themselves seemed to have succumbed to the same hedonism and stopped having enough children which prompted Emperor Augustus to make a passionate speech condemning the childless as worse than murderers while he praised the prolific. The entire speech is available online and we highly recommend the hedonists who populate the so called “Hindu right” to read it:
As can be seen, the Emperor was rightly concerned the destructive effects of a below replacement birth rate thanks to the hedonism which seems to have infected the prosperous Romans. But passionate speeches apart, there seems to have been no great change in the attitude of the Roman populace and things continued on a similar path. This may not have been so destructive if a new Abrahamic virus known as Christianity had not arisen and preached very different values. Christianity was to ultimately put an end to the Greco-Roman civilization for good.
The Christian growth in the early Roman Empire has been explored by various authors including the Romans themselves. Kelsos/Celsus for example claimed that the Christians proselytized among women, slaves, and the uneducated because they feared knowledge. Proselytization no doubt played a part in Christian growth, but a good chunk of the growth also seems to have come from their higher birth rates because the Christians condemned harmful acts such as abortion and infanticide. For example in his “The Rise of Christianity” Rod Stark makes the claim that from an insignificant cult the Christians grew to become 18% of the Roman Empire by the time of Constantine. Other scholars estimate them as being around 10%. Variations in estimates apart, the reasons Stark gives are eye opening and deserve consideration. One of the reasons he offers is that the Christians by encouraging marriage and childbearing promoted higher birth rates among their own community. At the same time the Pagans were either stagnant or in decline because of the hedonism condemned by Emperor Augustus which resulted in things such as abortion, infanticide, bachelorhood. In time the Christians grew powerful enough demographically that Constantine declared their religion to be official and set about exterminating the pagans, the rest as they say is history and this marked the end of the road for our heathen cousins in that part of the world.
Some may say this is speculation, to that we answer that it is well founded speculation as the same trends are visible in the modern world to those who wish to see. One may refer to the works of the authors Eric Kaufmann & Michael Blume for more on this point:
Interested people are also advised to watch the following talk by Kaufmann:
So much for Ancient Greece & Rome, in a subsequent post we shall analyze more modern trends including the trend among Hindus as we are seen sliding down the same decadent path (aided & abetted by the “Hindu right”) as our ancient cousins.