The Paradox of Barbarism

The Paradox of Barbarism

Detail from the Philadelphia City Hall building.

Barbarism is an interesting word. It has two basic definitions; "absence of culture and civilization" and "extreme cruelty or brutality". It tacitly equates lesser cultures with violence; And inversely, civilization with humaneness. It implies that the more advanced a culture, the more sympathetic, just and compassionate it is. Unsurprisingly, those who have fancied themselves as the civilized, have claimed the moral high ground throughout history.

A more accurate reading of history proves otherwise. The self-declared civilized have brutalized the primitive at disproportionally higher rates, and continue to do so. The savagery of the Charlie Hebdo attack united the whole civilized world. And yet, in the year 1999, when NATO bombed the headquarters of Radio Television of Serbia, killing 16 civilian technicians, not many took notice. Instead, the attack was justified. Paraphrasing, "the studios were making important contributions to the propaganda war". They could have chosen to destroy the transmitters instead of the urban studios, but I guess that wouldn't have, "sent a strong enough message". I won't even bring up the historic and ongoing colonialism, imperialism and resource wars the "civilized" have waged, and are still waging, on the "primitive".

The paradox of barbarism is that the "civilized" ending up being more barbarous than those who they call barbarians with a constant fear of savage violence. Civilized and barbarian are just meaningless words. Violence is violence, and injustice is injustice, no matter who commits them.
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