Friday, December 13, 2019

Mediterranean Free Essays

The Mediterranean empires have been influential powers for most of the recorded history of humanity. They have inspired awe, fear and wonder, they were the first targets of Orientalism as a cultural phenomenon. The East was a constant threat and a constant lure to European civilization, capturing both lands and minds until the beginning of the 20th century. We will write a custom essay sample on Mediterranean or any similar topic only for you Order Now However, all things must come to an end, and so, too, did the rule of the East, when the Ottoman Empire disbanded. Empires rose and fell before, however, each previous time, a new conglomerate of nations took the place of the demised one. After the Ottoman Empire, no Mediterranean successor rose to power; instead, Europe took the empire’s place as hegemon, both in political power and in the power of ideas – in quite the logical succession. To understand why this is logical, we must examine the reasons for which imperialism had been so strong in the Mediterranean and why it finally fell. It is certainly more than mere political reasons, since there has been a succession of various empires. This is obviously a tendency that runs deeper, within the various Mediterranean cultures themselves. Empires fall when they grow too large, become too hard to control from one administrative center, become stagnant. What forces a culture or a number of cultures to spawn empires again and again? The Mediterranean, despite all of its regional conflicts among itself, has always been a very united region. This unity is based upon an equality of the people – however, this equality was the equality of units, not of people. An individual in the Mediterranean has always been nothing next to the greater cause, subject to exploitation to the point of destruction. Life was always nothing much important in the Mediterranean – much more important was the concept prevailing at the time and service to it. We can already see this concept in Rome, where a man was only as valuable as he was to civil society.   Indeed, even religion was in service of the state, as Seneca noted: â€Å"Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.† The situation, however, reached its apogee after the emergence of Islam in the region, and the uniting of all consecutive empires under its banner. Islam – which means â€Å"submission† – is perhaps the most deterministic religion in existence. Its dogma is that a human is less than nothing before the glory of Allah, limited by the very fact of being a mere creation, absolutely powerless. Allah is a god that promises heaven for the Muslims, however, the Qur’an explicitly states, that Allah doesn’t care how many humans are Muslim. If the people submit to His rule, they will live, if they do not – they will perish.   Islamic theology is, naturally, much more complex and interesting, yet subordination lies at its core, with a lack of it punishable by death. This concept of an uncaring ruler with an iron first is absolutely amazing for the building of a despotic empire, where humans are resources to be harvested at best and obstacles to be removed at worst. The later politics, based on religion, thus used this concept extensively. A human of the region was totally powerless before the government, a piece of material and statistics at once. A particularly demonstrative example of this policy is Mehmed II Fatih’s decree to officially kill all the brothers of a sultan who has just ascended to the throne. The treatment of humans as resources allowed for the character of all Eastern empires: with the bureaucratic class and the military being the most important classes, and the approach to power and life being purely utilitarian and power-oriented. Thus the question is: why did the people of the region comply with this for so long? Why did they tolerate such an approach? First of all, living as a tool of an Empire is not quite so bad as it may sound. A prospering empire takes care of its people, though in a strange fashion and to a limited extent. One does not destroy one’s resources – one cultivates them. In an empire where everything is based on power and strength, the proper management of resources can be crucial to success, and thus, to survival. Also, such an empire is quite comfortable to live in for a certain kind of people. Those of the region have always been warriors: and for a soldier of fortune, no better form of organization can exist. There are always plenty of opportunists in every region, enough people who are willing to advance their own perspectives at the expense of other’s lives. However, if in Europe there is often reason for misunderstanding: the cultural differences between countries are great, and the linguistic barrier, too, plays a role. In the Islamic world, there is one culture and one set of customs, which allows for operation within a single paradigm, giving greater room for both cooperation and treason. This united culture did much for the predatory nature of these great empires. The people who stimulated this culture ultimately regarded everyone who was not a participant in it as a weakling. However, after the twentieth century, the disposition changed. The Europeans proved their strength, and proved that a union of independent nations is quite capable of not only effective warfare, but of political control. This approach, considered previously weaker, had defeated the eastern empires approach, and defeated it with such flair that the people of the Mediterranean doubted for the first time that their way was the more effective one. Power is proved in the consequences, and the consequences showed that Europe was stronger by far, not only in the military sense, but in the spirit as well. Not the Europe which had to buy its way to freedom, but the Europe which was able to aid or destroy the current empire, and after destruction, capture it quickly enough in all senses, impose its culture and way of life. Europe proved that cooperation of individuals can do more than a mass of underlings, and that the cultivation of allies can do more than the growing of resources. Always ready to employ an effective tactic and learn from their enemies, the people which were once under the empires now attempt to work the way Europe has shown, as it seems more promising. However, between wars, Europe seems all too polite and complacent. Its culture is not one to cater to the heart of a warrior. It seems only a matter of time before someone in the East decides that Europe’s approach is ineffective and reverts to the traditional ways of doing politics in the Mediterranean. It is my opinion that what we are seeing is not a true transformation, but rather, a transitional moment between empires. Granted, it has lasted almost a hundred years. Nonetheless, the situation even now seems to point to the possibility of the renewal of a new, improved by Western techniques, empire. It is not the end of Mediterranean history, but the beginning of a new era in it. References 1. All Empires – An   Online Community for World History, viewed Friday, May 06, 2005 at 2.Islam Online, viewed Friday, May 06, 2005 at    How to cite Mediterranean, Essay examples

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