The West’s Classical Values, and the Clash of Civilizations
Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis
The author is an Orientalist, Assyriologist, Egyptologist, Iranologist, and Islamologist, Historian, Political Scientist, Dr. Megalommatis, 49, is the author of 12 books, dozens of scholarly articles, hundreds of encyclopedia entries, and thousands of articles. He speaks, reads and writes more than 15, modern and ancient, languages. He refuted Greek nationalism, supported Martin Bernal’s Black Athena, and rejected the Greco-Romano-centric version of History. He pleaded for the European History by J. B. Duroselle, and defended the rights of the Turkish, Pomak, Macedonian, Vlachian, Arvanitic, Latin Catholic, and Jewish minorities of Greece, asking for the international recognition of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Born Christian Orthodox, he adhered to Islam when 36, devoted to ideas of Muhyieldin Ibn al Arabi.
Greek citizen of Turkish origin, Prof. Megalommatis studied and/or worked in Turkey, Greece, France, England, Belgium, Germany, Syria, Israel, Iraq, Iran, Egypt and Russia, and carried out research trips throughout the Middle East, Northeastern Africa and Central Asia. His career extended from Research & Education, Journalism, Publications, Photography, and Translation to Website Development, Human Rights Advocacy, Marketing, Sales & Brokerage. He traveled in more than 80 countries in 5 continents. He defends the Right of Aramaeans, Oromos, Berbers, and Beja to National Independence, demands international recognition for Somaliland, and denounces Islamic Terrorism. The Author's E-Mail address: email@example.com
It is essential to state beforehand that throughout the present article the term ‘West’ is used only conventionally.
The polarizations around Prof. Huntington’s notorious book have brought to surface the inadequate and inconsistent way cultural differences, civilizations’ variants, and religious confrontations are approached, perceived, and dealt with by the world’s academia, intellectuals, social elites, and political classes.
The erroneous concept of ‘Clash of Civilizations’, which is a profane coverage of the correct term ‘Clash of Political - Religious Ideologies’, invaded the minds of millions of people in despair and agony after the September 11th events that have been mistakenly interpreted as corroboration of Prof. Huntington’s theory.
In fact, the Mankind’s worst enemy can hardly be identified with religious extremism, fanaticism, irredentism, and overt terrorism; these threats are certainly very real, but far worse than all of them combined is the provenly reduced ability of the Mankind to see clearly, understand correctly, and perceive accurately.
Confusion not Terrorism is the really worst Enemy
Despite the West’s undisputed academic, intellectual, and scientific superiority, great confusion prevails among all elites and masses, originating from the mixture of personal, collective and national interests with the searched and explored data and info.
The West’s responsibility is even greater, if we take into consideration the orchestrated diffusion of the Western methods, criteria, conclusions, and theoretical systems to the rest of the world. Through various combinations of theoretical – ideological – intellectual processes, involving Christian theology, secular anticlericalism, materialism, Hegelianism, existentialism, Marxism – Leninism (China and Cuba are surviving forms of that system), the Western thought, systems and values have been – one way or another – imposed on the rest of the world.
This of course means diffusion of the Western confusion as well. The dimensions of the confusion are great, encompassing even the basic sphere of accurate self-identification. As long as the West lived as a Medieval Christian society limited between Northern Spain and Eastern Europe, there was no Identity Crisis; the various European Christian Catholic peoples found as source of their identity the fundamental beliefs of the Christian faith. In the same way, throughout the Eastern Roman Empire, the various indigenous and immigrating peoples identified themselves as Roman citizens and the loathsome word ‘Hellenes’ (Greeks) was cursed as pagan, profane and idolatrous. Never did the medieval Western Europeans considered the terms ‘East’ and ‘West’ as bearing the slightest cultural connotations. East and West were relevant only of Geography.
When the Eastern Roman Empire collapsed, the opposition to the expanding (for one more time) Islamic World that was perceived as the Adversary was expressed mainly in terms of Faith, religious wars, and political rivalry. It would not make sense to call the Ottoman Empire ‘East’ because it was extended in the West of Germany and Italy, as it included modern Algeria and Tunisia within its vast territories. The opposition could not even take a dimension North vs. South as significant territories of the Ottoman Empire and the Safevid Empire of Iran lied in the north of significant Christian territories in Southern Spain and Italy.
Search for Identity: a problem dating in the Renaissance era
The Search for an Identity became a problematic issue, when a part of the European elite that had long been oppressed managed to come to surface and to start introducing novel concepts, such as a great interest for the pre-Christian Antiquity of Europe and the Mediterranean world, the Value of the Exploration, the Search, the Experiment, the Knowledge and the Universal approach to the phenomenon of Man. For the forerunners of this long and difficult process, it was clear that Man, not God, should be at the epicenter of the Human Search, Concern and Values. This was greatly parallelized with the shift from the geocentric to the heliocentric system.
The two wings of a world stretched from Italy to Germany and Holland and from Spain and Portugal to Venice kept fighting down to our days but the prevailing part, if we view the phenomenon divided in periods of centuries (avoiding confusion due to ephemeral preponderance of a part), was always the humano-centrist elite, all those who idealized the Pre-Christian Antiquity. Without understanding it, they truly speaking ‘exported’ all their ideological preferences and philosophical predilections to the highly idealized and totally unreal ‘Pre-Christian Antiquity’ of theirs.
If we only compare Savonarola to Pico della Mirandola and Du Bellay, going from the middle of the 15th century to the middle of the 16th century, we get astounded.
Savonarola pales in a comparison with Ayatullah Khomeini and Ayman Zawahri, as he demanded capital punishment for sodomy, and sent his followers to collect from houses – virtually eliminating private life – all possible items they would consider as associated with vanity and perversity, namely mirrors, women’s hats, lewd pictures and the like. Illuminating contradictions and juxtapositions, Savonarola’s ideal political system was not a monarchy but a Republic of the Morally Clean and Innocent, Modest and Penitent.
One century later, with les Antiquites de Rome, we solemnly inaugurate the modern search for, and focus on, the Pre-Christian Antiquity. Overstressing the search for the Antiquity, Europe easily reached an impasse out of which the modern world will be pulled only with great difficulty. This can be easily attested in the imaginative world of the Classicists.
The problem is twofold; during the Renaissance, the Search for the Antiquity was not a neutral, objective search. It was politically motivated, as the anti-clerical party of Europe needed ‘ideological weapons’, convincing arguments and very attractive images for their propaganda.
At the times of Classicism, the idealizing presentation of the Antiquity deformed horridly the historical reality that emanates out of the lines of the texts and the monuments. If we only try to setup a juxtaposition between geographical texts of Strabo and Pausanias, who described Greece, and the imaginative paintings of Nicolas Poussin, which were for centuries believed as sacrosanct representation of the historical truth, we realize the existing tremendous gap.
Identifying themselves with what they called in an aberrational way ‘Classical’, and attaching to it – and therefore to themselves – all sorts of imaginative attributes and concepts, the intellectuals of the Renaissance and the Classicism contributed greatly to the formation of a deceitful concept that left an irrevocable stamp on the modern world.
The Enlightenment Myths
Adding to the already unreal background, the philosophers of the 18th century failed to stand critically in front of their sources, be they ancient or modern. Along with the rising academia of the Western European countries, and gradually expanding in the North (Scandinavia), the West (American colonies), and the East (Russia under Peter the ‘Great’), they did setup an ideological approach to help people implement finally their ideals at the level of social life and political power. To do so, they ended up in the most erroneous assumption, that of the diffusion between the Democratic West (claiming ‘Classical’ Greek and Roman descent) and the Despotic East (represented by the Ottoman Empire, the Iranian Qadjar Empire and the ailing Mogul India).
The aberration reflected again the dreams, the needs and the erroneous conception of the ‘West’; there had never been ‘West’ and ‘East’ as culturally different entities representing quantitatively dissimilar cultures. Out of various misread and misinterpreted texts (Aeschylus and his anti-Persian empathy to offer a simple example) and under the burden of two centuries of European dreams taken as reality, the Enlightenment Philosophers and the Classicists of the European universities generated an imaginative division that put a definite end to the Identity Search that started at the end of the Middle Ages.
As this issue relates to either internal or external affairs, it pulled Europe to disastrous internal strives, due to lack of Identity and to selection of false models, and to a most devastating approach to the rest of the World, due to false and divisive lines.
How can you avoid a WW I and a WW II, if you focus on the Roman Civil Wars (Caesar) and on the Peloponnesus War (Thucydides)?
How can you avoid being loathed, when you disregard the Other’s Past (Ottoman, Abbasid, Aramaean, Egyptian, Phoenician, Assyrian – Babylonian, Hittite, Persian) that was greater and more illustrious than yours, if you choose a Carian renegade (Herodotus) as your supposed ‘father’ of History, despite History had started more than two millennia before your favourite but biased source?
And how can you dare believe that the present Clash of Political - Religious Ideologies is a Clash of Cultures to which you think you may put an end through – again disastrously misperceiving reality – restoring the supposed ‘Classical Values’?
‘Restoring’ ‘Classical Values’ on any other territory except Europe consists in sheer Cultural Discrimination; ‘restoring’ ‘Classical Values’ in Europe is a suicidal repetition of the same Deception.
These unrealistic and deceptive, false intellectuals should be told once forever:
- Your ‘Classical Values’ are not classical, and are not values.
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