Posted by: aboutalbion | October 1, 2012

BBC History of the World

Last night saw the screening of the second episode of the new eight-part BBC series entitled ‘History of the World’.

It narrated the history of the first (known) empires – Assyrian, Persian, Greek ….  The programme noted that one of the (presumably) unintended consequences of the many wars of the empires was that war was “a great change maker” for those who survived.

It also narrated the contemporaneous emergence of ‘one of the most powerful ideas in world history’ – the belief in just one God.

I was surprised that no link was made between these two developments.  To my way of thinking, a person who is successfully building an empire will be imagining continuing to build until he (and it was always a male) succeeded in ruling the whole (known) world.  He would then occupy a position of world domination and be at the head of the (one and only) world government.

I have noted in a previous post that, from an anthropological perspective, those who believe in just one God can be interpreted as meeting regularly with co-religionists to imagine ruling the world.  Christians, for example, have a triumphal community hymn which includes the words, “At the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow”.

At the end, the programme posed a political question.  How do you rule in the presence of a genuine, popular dissident?  Despite their experiment with a form of democracy, the Greeks did not have an answer … and Socrates had to die.  Having had some more time to think about it, are we in possession of a different answer …?

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