Ancient Civilizations: Society Subcultures and the State Essay

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Ancient Civilizations: Society Subcultures and the State

The dynamics of early civilizations that in their totality form the society that subordinates itself to the state, or leadership, and perhaps in very early civilizations means the stronger forces within the society. Those dynamics fall into subculture categories like religion, trade and exchange, the protections afforded the society in the action of warfare, and the technology that is created to support the society and to protect it; and the need to coordinate these subcultures and to organize it into an effective and cohesive working system gives rise to the state. Through archeological excavation and study and analysis remains and artifacts from the Ancient Civilizations, a pattern emerges in the socialization of the ancient society, the rise of its state, and, time and again, the demise of the ancient state (Lamberg-Karlovsky, C.C., and Sabloff, Jeremy a., 1974). Archeology tells us that new societies emerged over fallen societies, and the progress of each subsequent one tends to incorporate some lessons learned of the past societies.

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This brief essay explores the ways in the elements of the society's subcultures come together to form the overall social culture, and how, once formed, they give rise to the governing state. This essay relies upon the academic knowledge and expertise of renowned scholars and researchers who have studied the patterns of ancient civilizations. The existing bodies of works of the scholars and researchers whose work contributes to the understanding gained through this essay substantiate the rise of the nation-state governance through the unification of individual elements of the subculture.

Roman Society

Essay on Ancient Civilizations: Society Subcultures and the State Assignment

There were people living in Western Europe before the ancient Romans expanded their empire into those locales (Maisels, Charles Keith, 2001: 1-2). The early Roman Empire was ahead of other European societies in unifying the subcultures, and in the emergence of the Roman Republic as its nation-state. Rome grew out of simplistic Etruscan beginnings, seemingly the same place in their social evolution as were the societies they conquered in Western Europe after Rome evolved into a more complex organized social order (Harle, Vilho, 1998:25).

To expand its realm of control, the state used warfare to secure its own state, to expend that state, and to conquer other societies that had not yet come together in their subcultures to have a dominant and strong leadership that could form armies to assault Rome. Rome's own civilization had grown in a way that demonstrates a population explosion, and the nation put together a massive Roman army that was able to conduct its warfare exercises on more than one front.

That Rome would expand its geographical area of power in an aggressive way is perhaps exemplified by its subcultures that brought it together in an organized society. Early Roman society had itself been conquered by outside forces (Lamberg-Karlovsky and Sabloff, 24). Both Rome and Greece, in the social forms that gave rise to the great philosophers and empire building for Roman society, was the product of earlier ancient cultures that assimilated the technologies, religions, and leadership philosophies of its earlier societies that had been conquered (38).

It is an interesting commentary on nineteenth-century political philosophy that the starting point of so many theories was, of necessity, the Classical world of Greece and Rome. According to the present hypothesis, however, both of these great political developments of antiquity were not pristine but secondary formations which built on cultural foundations laid two thousand years and more before the rise of Greece. Furthermore, it would seem that the active commercial and military influences of the truly ancient pristine states, mediated through the earliest of the secondary states to appear in Asia Minor and the eastern Mediterranean littoral, were catalysts in the events of the northern and western Mediterranean (Lamberg-Karlovsky and Sabloff, 38-38)."

This unified stratification of the Roman (and Greek) elements of sub-culture into an organized nation-state. Also, the early Roman society incorporated into its structural framework slave labor in agriculture, which came from peoples conquered by the Romans (16). Rome was successful in establishing itself as a Mediterranean hegemony (Harle, 24). It was able to do this by bringing together its skilled worker classes, and leaving its unskilled slave population to perform the backbreaking task of agriculture. The skilled labor was able to create the necessary technology for the slave labor to utilize in agriculture that would feed the people.

According to a conventional image, Rome expanded its power not by an explicit design but an impersonal strategy, as one move of preventive action led to another. The process was an unplanned result of pragmatic military skill (Jackson Knight 1985: 11; Russell 1972; cf. Ogilvie 1982: 20-21). However, this picture must be inherently wrong: the Romans purposefully applied their military talents in order to promote their economic and political interests. This expansion required a solid theoretical basis of political and international ideas. This basis remained rather implicit, but towards the end of the expansion process the ideas had to become more and more explicit (Harle, 25)."

As Rome harnessed the intellectual resources of its citizenry, and as it was able to feed its multitudes thanks in large part to slave labor in their agriculture, Rome was able to create substantial armies with which to conquer and expand its empire (25). Feeding, clothing, and providing weapons and armor to those armies were in no small way conducive to the success of what was for that expansion period a warring nation-state. This, and the other social disciplines that come together to form the foundation of a body-politic, which then governs its society in a way that protects, and, in the case of Rome, expands it, is how city-states are born. Rome will stand as the example cited here of the rise by warfare.

China and Socialization

China was a society that demonstrated early on in its history one of the necessary tools for moving toward the ideal of a nation-state, because it developed laws by which to bring together its population under a central governance by way of putting into writing laws for governance and morality (Peerenboom, R.P., 1993:1). When a society begins observing behaviors of its members and judging those behaviors as deviant and not good for the whole of society, and begin to put those observations down in a form of governance, that is establishing a governance of behavior of the society. The logical direction for such a society is expand its governance over the physical body too, and devise a philosophy of religion that people hold at the center of their existence, and design their lives and behavior around.

In 140 B.C. that body of governance, Huang-Lao, was outlawed by that sector of China's society that rose as the more powerful, physically forceful element in Chinese society.

A around 140 B.C. when Han Wu Di, siding with the Confucians and Dong Zhongshu, prohibited other ideologies and banned Huang-Lao thought from court. 5 and one knew that by the late Han, Huang-Lao was associated with Daoist religion, immortality, sexual yoga, and traditional medicine. Apart from these tantalizing tidbits, little was known (Peerenboom, 2)."

What we see here is that the governance of behavior and morals led to a more forceful power in China, and one that then by way of force wielded power, even usurped the power of the governance of behaviors and morals, and incorporated that governance unto their own along with physical governance. This is one way that a nation-state arises out of the social fabric, taking unto its own that part of the fabric, religion, which the binds the society.

Chinese society became technologically adept, developing early irrigation systems as a means to increase and sustain crop production (Lamberg-Karlovsky and Sabloff, 19). They shared this in common with Rome, which was able to develop in its governance much the same as the Chinese did: through the social structure and bonding of its populace emerged a governing body that took charge of organizing society in mind, body, and spirit.

Societies move towards certain human characteristics like war and religion, and as they do, along the way, they bond in ways that bring them together under a form of governance. Usually the stronger forces in the social environment prevailing over the lesser capable or those who do not exhibit the physical strength as the dominating forces do.

Egypt as a Society

Much has been learned about trade in ancient societies as a result of archeological studies. Jeremy Sabloff and C.C. Lamberg-Karlovsky (1975) say that there cannot be a civilization without a permanent place (11). This is because without a permanent place, there is no center for authority and governance, and it is out of a permanent place that routes and destinations of trade were established in early societies. Without these permanent, fixed centers of civilization and trade, the rest of the world would probably not have fared well in their traveling societies. Development in society was intricately linked with the relationships that were created through trade (12). As these relationships evolved, so… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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