viernes, 28 de junio de 2013

Abrupt Civillization Changes (II)

Prosigo republicando en este blog de Observar y Pensar algunos textos en inglés publicados por mi en 2010, que creo conviene revisitar en la coyuntura actual siria, como así mismo de otros países próximos, en esta hora de profundos cambios estratégicos tanto a escala mediterránea como global. 

Abrupt Falls


Modern man has kept a constant focus on certain historic moments. One of the most frequently observed is the collapse of the Roman Empire. This is curious because the Roman fall was very smooth. It started at around the III century A.D. and the last political signal as Roman State was sent to the History in the Vth century, when the Prefect of the Annona stopped the free distribution of bread to the Roman poor in 476 A.D.
Therefore the Roman collapse is not an Abrupt Collapse, it is just like many other collapses - a decline of territorial “imperium”, and political unity. It is worth mentioning that Roman armies won most of the wars engaged against their German foe.
Another very important thing normally forgotten…or even never learned…is that the Roman Empire was divided into two sections several centuries before the collapse of the western area. The eastern section survived a long time after the western collapse until 1453. It is a fact that Constantinople was the capital of the surviving eastern Roman Empire. Its decline was also very smooth, and, paradoxically, Constantinople´s decline is related to Christian invasions and partial destruction made by war fleets and armies from Gene, Catalonia. One of these Christian attacks on the capital of the Holy Roman Empire was from Crusaders going to Jerusalem in 1205. In this way the final decline of Constantinople was a sum, such as that of the Western Roman Empire, of successive crises lasting dozens of years through, at least a couple of centuries.
Thus, when we talk or read about the Collapse of the Roman Empire we are before one of the best documented long declines of a political entity in known History.
If we look before the Roman glorious period and its smooth decline, we find the Greek-Hellenic-conglomerate of city-states federated under Alexander’s domain. The cause of this Pan-Hellenic federation under Alexander is the loss of power by Athens and Sparta. The former occurred in a very short span of time, and the latter through a political and military eclipse before the strength of the Macedonian king Phillipos, the father of Alexander.
I think the fall of Athens is full of interesting, useful, information, going well beyond its chronological frame, a glimpse of this phenomenon will follow:
The long war between Sparta and Athens lasted a grand total of 26 years from 431 to 404 B.C., and it marked the abrupt military decline of Athens. This war is well known through Thucydides book “The Peloponnesian War”, where a lot of interesting details of ancient war are shown for the very first time. For me the most useful information, derived from this detailed written source, is the abrupt decline of Athens because of its catastrophic naval expedition against Sicily in 415 B.C. The power of Athens was at its highest threshold, the continuous mutual attacks between Athenians and Spartan armies were of no consequence since both acted on different strategic spheres: the Athenians preferred to war at sea while the powerful terrestrial army of Sparta kept their battles on the ground. Therefore, quoting Thucydides, neither enemy destroyed the military might of their rival despite many long years of war. But Athens did step into a naval-terrestrial expedition into Sicily which foresaw that the strategic key to win against her enemy was by attacking one of the most rich and active rearguards of the Peloponnesus league, controlled by Sparta. The Athenian expedition ended in 415 with the complete destruction of the Athenian army, her soldiers were killed or enslaved. From this moment on, Athens lost not simply an army but a very qualified one: in this Sicilian expedition her soldiers were very well trained sailors and the operative core of her fleet. The final battle of Aegospotami in 405 was a paradoxical battle where the superior speed of the Spartan fleet trapped the Athenian ships lying in shore. In less than 10 years from the Sicilian catastrophe Athens lost military control of the Ionian sea, the access to the Hellespont, and most importantly, the leadership of the Dalian League. The late did mean the abrupt loss of any ability to reshape her former power among the Hellenic city-States. Athens, after her military and political Abrupt Change, did not disappear from either the maps or from the memory of men. But nothing was the same again for them. In this sense it is worth mentioning that some Abrupt Changes within the geopolitical sphere do not necessarily imply the physical smashing of cities, people and civil organisations. This kind of abrupt geopolitical change does not have to imply abrupt civilization change.
Is there any other example where such an Abrupt Change provoked physical destruction of cities and the dispersion of their inhabitants? Yes, indeed, and in our next post we are going to surf onto some key examples. 

miércoles, 12 de junio de 2013

Felices a pesar de todo


en la playa de Almeria

Recostado en tu arena fresca

de un atardecer ultra celeste

veo el barco que me llevaba a Nador

años ha




arroz a banda


Oh cocina mediterránea andaluza

te saludo vehemente

pues tu me has curado una vez más

En lo simple 

encuentro lo que busco

aqui y en la orilla catalana

por unas horas y dias

antes de regresar al sur lejano

Sabores intensos


 geografías diversas

me iluminan

la piel y el alma

A pocos metros del mar antiguo

los mismos paisajes de la orilla mora

se aperciben en esta orilla cristiana

Toda la actitud ante la vida breve

ante la vida intensa y simple

plasmada en el sagrado paseo del atardecer

a orillas del mar

de cientos

de miles de vecinos

que en Almeria y Alhucemas

y en otros tantas playas y ciudades equivalentes

del norte y del sur

del mar nuestro

salen a pasear

para conversar

para mirarse

para encontrarse

para comer pescaito

con la misma pasión

con igual sabiduría


El rumor de las conversaciones

se iguala

con el sonido de las olas del mar

A distancia de pocos metros

de las olas

incluso las lenguas del norte

de gentes rubias

aquí se amalgaman

en un producto sonoro humano

Distinto del canto de las golondrinas

que revolotean a centímetros de mi cabeza

en el alfeizar de la Alcazaba 

Diferente de todo otro sonido

estas conversaciones humanas a orillas del mar

me recuerdan las viejas escuelas helenas

que sobre la arena mojada de las playas orientales

creaban figuras geométricas universales

rodeados por decenas de estudiantes

los sabios maestros de occidente y de oriente

No se si volveré a vivir en tus orillas

amigo mediterráneo

mar de mis tormentas

Por eso apuro las horas

mirandote en la madrugada solitaria

y al anochecer

me regalo escuchando las voces

de las gentes

que te moran


a pesar de todo

Igor Parra

en Arqueología del Futuro Antiguo

lunes, 10 de junio de 2013

Cambios Abruptos de Civilización (I)

Creo pertinente en esta parte de la observación sobre Siria sacar en este blog lo que publiqué hace pocos años atrás en otro sitio en lengua inglesa. Es un complemento a lo que estamos observando reiteradamente en el mediterráneo oriental por esto días.

Is there life after that?

Igor Parra

Is it possible for a politically organised group to be resilient to Abrupt Civilization Change? That is, is it possible for people to survive temporal Abrupt Change which is rapid, when compared with human small-scale proportions - even when politically organised? This is an interesting question because, in general, the answer is in the negative. There is human life beyond Abrupt Civilisation Change, however.
We have already mentioned the particular case when the whole of Ebla Civilisation was materially destroyed by military invasion. I think that there are many other examples throughout History that will conform to this theory. In the face of terrible violent and catastrophic changes that have been brought about by war for instance, we see very many extraordinary examples of human adaptability.
There are other valuable examples available to us in contemporary western history. Let us look at Germany. Firstly, let us notice that Germany, France, Britain and other European countries have shared significant similarities in religious and political structures for centuries. These civilisations have consequentially developed comparable social organisations. Twice during the 20th century war was resorted to between these close neighbours, in an inter Western Civilization attempt to solve geopolitical differences that had arisen due to colonial matters causing fluctuations in the power balance and because of other influences within Western and Eastern Europe at the time.
These two wars ended the world influence of Europe because ten years of war (4 years of the First World War and 6 for the Second) exhausted Europe in terms of direct material destruction. This temporal 10 % of the 20th century means the decline of the European economy based on the colonies of Africa, Asia and America. This decline was not the result of alien attacks on the European countries; they collided among themselves with all the “efficient” might that their industrial technology could provide them. As a consequence we see the notorious emergence of America as a world power, born from the ashes of these European wars.
Germany is an interesting case, similar to Ebla, because of her big cultural and economical influence on Europe before, throughout and after both World Wars. Huge damage occurred to Russian and Eastern European territories at the hands of Germany during the Second World War but an equivalent revenge was had in 1945.
It took four decades for Germany to disappear as a notable political entity. We must remember that the political and geographical unity that Germany reached by the middle of the nineteenth century was a modern situation. It has recently been shown by a British scholar how terribly the Germans suffered after the Second World War, when more than 3 million died violently. Rapes were often used as punishment by both Soviet and American Forces. These facts were first heard in the Memories of Konrad Adenauer. More recently Gilles Mc Donogh gives us a precise account of this post war event.  Never before or since in recent history was defeat so complete, as it was for Germany in 1945. Its fate was similar to that of Ebla and several other old civilisations that were obliterated in total political and material destruction.
The German case here illustrates two somewhat different scenarios rather well. Firstly we have a scenario where destruction happens between close neighbours who share the same Western Civilisation ideologies and socio-economic organisation. Secondly we have a scenario that shows a resilient outcome to Abrupt Change caused by total military defeat. This Abrupt Change was a destructive one, but it did not mean dramatic changes of the socio economic structure in Western Germany, therefore it was an Abrupt Change but not an Abrupt Civilisation Change.

What about when such brutal violent change involves deep changes in the economy, and in the social organisation too?