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UNESCO - Dialogue among Civilizations

How we see others,
how others see us

Proceedings of the International Symposium
Paris, 13 and 14 December 2001

Recognizing civilizations:
cultural contacts in global history
and the role of the ‘stranger effect’

Felipe Fernández-Armesto
Professor at the University of London

Dialogue between civilizations is an ill-focused obsession of our times. In the present volume and the symposium which preceded it, UNESCO and EPHE have helped to provide the focus we need by broaching one of the most critical underlying problem: that of how civilizations form mutual perceptions. Even more deep-laid are the questions [1]I pose in these pages. We are more likely to make progress in inter-civilizational dialogue, I suggest, if we begin by asking what civilization is and what civilizations are.[i]

The nature of civilization and of civilizations has become an urgent object of study for two reasons. First, at the end of the Cold War, the ‘blocs’ into which academic scrutineers formerly divided the world disappeared. Civilizations therefore re-emerged as the most conspicuous large-scale units of study available. Samuel Huntington helped to rivet attention on these changed circumstances.[ii] He articulated the renewed importance of civilizations as categories for study, and suggested that an age of inter-civilizational conflict would succeed the vanished ages of international and ideological conflicts. Extra urgency has been added by Western leaders’ loose use of the word ‘civilization’ in justification of recent and current wars. In two contexts, the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has spoken of a war for or in defence of civilization: first, in 2000, in justification of the bombing of Serbia and again in characterization of the world emergency that began on 11 September 2001. Similar language has been used by the American President, George W. Bush, in condemning the outrage of 11 September as an attack on civilization – which it surely was, as, in their different degrees, are some other belligerent acts, including the bombing of innocent people, who bore no responsibility for terrorism or massacres, in Serbia and Afghanistan. Another adherent of the current US-led coalition against terrorism, the Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, notoriously endorsed the view that the US-led coalition against terrorism was engaged in a clash of civilizations, adding that Western civilization was superior to that of Islam.

These obviously problematic usages remind me of the last time when civilization became an attention-grabbing term in the Western world, during the First World War. Both sides in that conflict made free with the word ‘civilization’ in their propaganda and claimed to be fighting to defend it. Then as now, whenever people claim to be fighting for civilization, it becomes important for them to know, or at least to ask, what civilization is. Because the First World War was purportedly waged ‘to save civilization’, it became increasingly pertinent, as the bloodshed deepened, the destruction spread and the disasters multiplied, to establish what civilization was and how and why it should be defended.[iii] Numerous definitions – most mutually contradictory, many bizarre – were offered. One of the first in the field was that of the pacifist American film-maker, Thomas Ince, whose 1916 film bore the title Civilization. It was a brief but otherwise characteristic epic of the period, in which a war was arrested by the power of vision and prayer. For Ince, civilization was peace, no more, no less. Other definitions were just as tendentiously formulated. Clive Bell defined it as an alliance of reason and sensibility.[iv] For Freud, it was ‘a process in the service of Eros’,[v] though in fairness to him it should also be said that he saw civilization usefully as essentially a process of the enlargement of human sympathies to encompass ever-wider groups. R. G. Collingwood – the philosopher I most admire – came up with a definition which anticipated much of the best work on the problem, when he defined civilization as a mental process towards ideal relationships of ‘civility’: becoming progressively less violent, more scientific and more welcoming to outsiders.[vi] Unfortunately, however, it must be said that part of Collingwood’s motivation was his wish to demonstrate that Germans were uncivilized. At one point in later life, Toynbee called civilization ‘progress towards sainthood’.[vii] Spengler, meanwhile, reacted against the notion that civilization is necessarily progressive by defining it as the last, decadent phase of culture. A culture did not become a civilization until it was already in decline. ‘It suddenly hardens,’ he said, ‘it mortifies, its blood congeals, its force breaks down, and it becomes Civilization.’[viii]

Conflictive thinking generates study and discussion. The end of the First World War inaugurated the first great era of systematic study of civilization. Until the Second World War, it became a major preoccupation of Western intellectuals to investigate the meaning of civilization, to enumerate civilizations and to attempt to characterize world history in terms of the fluctuations of their fortunes. Almost everyone who was anyone took part in the effort; so that an exhaustive survey would demand a great deal of time and space. For present purposes it will be enough for me to pick out four giants who strode and waded through the mire of the debate: Spengler was the apostle of pessimism, who saw civilization as a condition of the spirit. He thought societies matured, aged and decayed by analogy with living organisms: this gave their histories a predictable common trajectory, a sequence of phases in which ‘civilization’ could be assigned as the name of the last stage. Ellsworth Huntington, the climatic determinist, was an optimist and a materialist. Now he is almost forgotten but his ideas were inescapable in their day: he regarded his native New England as the climax of the history of civilization, and computed the degree to which various societies were civilized in terms of the numbers of automobiles per head.[ix] Lewis Mumford felt profound, romantically inspired distrust for what he called civilization; yet at the same time he identified it with cities, which he loved, and progress, which he embraced.[x] Toynbee devoted twelve volumes of indecent corpulence to the study of civilizations, but never seemed to make up his mind about what civilization was. One of his most thoroughgoing attempts at a definition was this:  

in primitive societies … custom rules and the society remains static. On the other hand, in societies in the process of civilization, mimesis is directed towards creative personalities which command a following because they are pioneers on the road towards the common goal of human endeavours. In a society where mimesis is thus directed towards the future, ‘the cake of custom’ is broken, the Society is in dynamic motion along a course of change and growth.[xi] 

Toynbee was a redoubtable scholar, who deserves the current redress of his reputation. He was a prophet of historical ecology. And in the lines I have just quoted there is much to admire: the emphasis on the future – which, I believe, greatly influenced subsequent thinking on the subject of civilization – and the dynamism of the author’s model of the world. Nevertheless, the characterization of ‘primitive’ societies would command no assent today: all of us are the products of equally long evolution. In retrospect, it is hard to share Toynbee’s enthusiasm, in a work published just after Hitler came to power, for ‘pioneer’ leaders, steering civilization towards collective goals.

In the inter-war period, the defence of civilization seemed to be a battle that the First World War had left unfinished. New barbarians abjured civilization altogether – communists and Nazis, who repudiated humane values in the rush to exterminate whole races and classes. Mikhail Tukhachevsky, best of the generals of the first Red Army, threatened ‘to make the world drunk ... to enter chaos and not to return until we have reduced civilization to ruins’. He wanted Moscow to become ‘the centre of the world of the barbarians’. His programme for progress included burning all books ‘so that we can bathe in the fresh spring of ignorance’.[xii] The repudiation of civilization at the corresponding extreme on the right was less explicit, but the latent savagery was at least as horrible and quite as silly. Just as Tukhachevsky dreamed of ‘returning to our Slav gods’, so the Nazis fantasized about ancient folk-paganism and turned Heimschutz – the preservation of the purity of the German heritage – into a mystic quest through stone circles and along ley lines.[xiii] Futurism was the art and literature both political extremes had in common: war, chaos and destruction were glorified and tradition vilified in favour of the aesthetics of machines, the morals of might and the syntax of babble.[xiv] Both movements shared historicist justifications of violence, at a time when most theorists of civilization, however much they disagreed about what it was, were more or less united in praise of peace. Ortega’s definition – ‘postponing force to the last resort’ – expressed a common assumption or hope about the nature of civilization.[xv] For all these reasons, the age of the rise of Nazism and international communism stimulated the study of civilization, which was of value as a threatened species of human achievement. In roughly the same period – at least, after Margaret Mead published her work on sexual maturation in Samoa – civilization seemed menaced by a further threat: from romantic primitivism. Mead’s picture, based more on fantasy than fieldwork, was of a sexually liberated society uninhibited by the ‘discontents’ which psychology had detected in civilization. In her Samoa, unclad adolescents could rollick, free of hang-ups and repressions.[xvi]

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, against this background, scholarly enthusiasm for the study of civilization diminished precipitately with the disasters of the Second World War. After the Holocaust and Hiroshima, civilization seemed to have lost its lustre. The tradition of study was preserved, especially among followers of Toynbee, and some creditable work accomplished; but I think it is fair to say that in the post-war period, no contributor made much difference, or added anything new to the accumulated wisdom of the inter-war era, except Norbert Elias and Kenneth Clark.

Elias pointed out – with the genius that consists in pointing out the obvious that no one has noticed before – that it was a self-referential Western concept, which ‘expresses the self-consciousness of the West, ... everything in which Western society of the last two or three centuries believes itself superior to earlier societies or “more primitive” contemporary ones’.[xvii] He told its story in terms of what used to be called ‘civility’ or politesse – the transformation of standards of behaviour in Western society in line with the bourgeois and aristocratic values of modern, or fairly modern, times: a ‘change in drive-control and conduct’[xviii] or what the eighteenth century called the ‘planing and veneering’ of man.[xix] Although Elias’ approach started in the West, it does not end there. His successors – and I am thinking in particular of Johan Goudsblom – have done a great deal to universalize the notion of the civilizing process, which, as Elias recognized, can follow different courses and take different forms in different social contexts. What these different civilizing processes have in common is participation in growth – engaging alterity, embracing former outsiders, stretching identity and recognizing fellowship outside the pre-configured limits of the group. The civilizing process is not an uninterrupted advance towards a universal human community, because it creates mutually hostile or indifferent, ethnocentric communities en route. But the openness with which a society contemplates its margins, and concedes fellowship to those on or outside them, is, in this tradition, a yardstick of civilization.

Kenneth Clark, meanwhile, with typical English indifference to theory, devoted the great work of his life to a study of civilization and ended up by saying that he still did not know what it was but he thought he could recognize it when he saw it. He drew what has become a famous – to some critics, infamous – comparison between an African mask and the Belvedere Apollo, an ancient marble of uncertain date and provenance, which generations of art critics praised as an expression of ideal beauty.[xx] ‘I don’t think there is any doubt,’ Clark said, ‘that the Apollo embodies a higher state of civilization than the mask.’ He went on to explain that the Apollo represents an essential ingredient of civilization – confidence to build for the future; whereas the mask, by implication, comes from a world terrified and inhibited by nature's power over man. His preference was a matter of taste – of personal judgement. Clark recognized a civilized society as one which values and creates lasting works of art and which builds on a large scale for the future.[xxi]

These brief characterization of the thought of some leading contributors to the debate are, of course, no more than a sprinkling and sampling of the ideas about civilization which we have inherited from the past. But they serve to show the diversity of the views on the table and the unresolved nature of the debate. Five problems, I suggest, need to be addressed if we are now to make progress. 

[1] First, we need to be aware that we commonly use the term ‘civilization’ in mutually contradictory ways. On the one hand, we use it – in, for example, the phrase ‘dialogue between civilizations’ – to denote an area, group or period distinguished, in the mind of the person using the term, by striking continuities in ways of life and thought and feeling. So we can speak of ‘Western civilization’ or the civilizations of China or Islam, or of ‘Jewish civilization’ or ‘Classical civilization’ or ‘the civilization of the Renaissance’ and readers or listeners will know roughly what we mean. On the other hand, we use civilization as the name of a type of society, or of a stage of social development (though we are usually vague or mutually contradictory about how to characterize the type or stage). In this second sense, it is a name we deploy whimsically without any agreed standards of how or where to apply it. In effect, a ‘civilization’ in the first of these senses is just a big combination of societies: ‘a group of groups’, to cite a definition I hazarded on a previous occasion, ‘who think of themselves as such’.[xxii] Toynbee claimed to treat it as a purely pragmatic category: the biggest viable ‘unit of study’,[xxiii] while ‘civilization’ has been defined in the same sense by thinkers who certainly believed they were formulating a theory. By being expressed in impressively complicated language, this way of understanding civilization can take on the semblance or sound of a theory. Durkheim and Mauss, for example, proposed this definition: civilizations were ‘systems of complexity and solidarity which, without being contained within a particular political entity, can none the less be localized in time and space ... and which possess a unity and way of life of their own’.[xxiv] 

[2] Secondly (as I have perhaps already complained enough) the term is much abused for the purposes of rhetoric: to justify war today, just as in the recent past it was used to justify imperialism – the subjugation and exploitation of the other for the dilatation of Christianity or of notre belle civilisation occidentale. In such cases, ‘civilization’ has no objective meaning. The term is merely invoked in self-praise, to dignify barbarities and pre-empt criticism.

[3] Even when not actually abused, the term is used in an implicitly partisan fashion, or, at least, is coloured by values and warped by subjectivity. Theories of social development, for example, tend to be written parti pris, in order to legitimate some solutions while outlawing others. Those that include ‘civilization’ as a name for a particular phase usually represent development as an inevitable pattern, procured by the natural inflation of the human mind, or by technological accretion; or else social evolution is the motor force, determined in turn by economics and the means of production, or by demographics and the demands of consumption. One sequence in theoretical schemes of this kind typically reads: hunting, herding, agriculture, civilization. Another reads: tribes, totemic societies, ‘complex’ societies. Another leads through tribal headships and chieftaincies to states, another through superstition and magic to religion; another starts with camps and ascends through hamlets, villages, cities. None of these sequences is genuinely universal, though some of them may describe some phases of the histories of some societies. Whenever ‘civilization’ appears as a phase in the context of such a theory, it comes loaded with value: it may be a culmination or a crisis; it may be gleaming or gloomy; it may denote progress or decadence. But it is always an item in an agenda, distorted by a programme of praise or blame. Further or alternatively, ‘civilization’ denotes a process of collective self-differentiation from a world characterized, implicitly or explicitly, as ‘barbaric’ or ‘savage’ or ‘primitive’. By extension, societies judged to have achieved such self-differentiation are called ‘civilized’. This usage is obviously unsatisfactory – because barbarism, savagery and primitivism are also nebulous terms, partisan and value-charged. 

While making radio programmes about civilization for the BBC, I have had a privileged vantage-point from which to investigate what my fellow-intellectuals mean by it. A crude distillation of what they say, when you ask them, is that a civilized society has enough wealth to buy creative leisure for its people; it provides ways for people in large numbers to live and work together for each other's good; it has techniques of recording and transmitting its inherited wisdom; it tries to adapt nature to people’s needs without destroying the natural environment; it values welfare, education and the arts. We might use these criteria ‘to recognize civilization when we see it’. But they are not much help in an attempt to define it. They accurately reflect ideals widely shared today: our image of what we should like to be. They are not prescriptions that would necessarily command assent or determine priorities in other cultures and other epochs. All definitions of civilization seem vitiated by this sort of prejudice. They all belong to a conjugation which goes, ‘I am civilized, you belong to a culture, he is a barbarian’. An honorific to denote a society, or a stage in social development, of which we approve

[4] Even when unwielded as a weapon and unabused for self-congratulation, ‘civilization’ is a word charged with arbitrary judgements. Almost every theorist has proposed checklists of criteria which a society has to meet in order to qualify as a civilization. All these lists are useless. All the characteristics traditionally used to identify civilizations raise problems which are difficult, perhaps impossible, to solve. It has often been said, for example, that nomadic societies cannot be civilized; ‘civilization began when agriculture and a definite form of organized village life became established’.[xxv] Yet the Scythians and their heirs on the Asian steppes created dazzling and enduring works of art, built impressive permanent structures – at first for tombs, later for administrative and even commercial purposes; and created political and economic systems on a scale far greater, in the Mongols’ case, than those of any of their neighbours whose traditions of life were more settled.

For those whose enthusiasm for sedentarism goes even further, cities have frequently been thought of as essential to civilized life. But no one has ever established a satisfactory way of distinguishing a city from other ways of organizing space to live in. In medieval Mexico or Java and Copper Age south-east Europe there were peoples who preferred to live in relatively small communities and dwellings built of modest materials; but this did not stop them from compiling fabulous wealth, creating wonderful art, keeping – in most cases – written records (or something very like them) and, in Java, building on a monumental scale. I suspect that part of the reason why cities are overemphasized as prerequisites of civilization derives from false assumptions about the etymology of the word. Etymology, even when accurate, is never a very good guide to the meaning of a word. When inaccurate, it is disastrous. ‘Civilization’ is derived from Latin civilis, and appears related to Latin civitas. Meanings these words acquired – respectively ‘citizenly’ and ‘city’ – create the impression that cities are the proper settings for civilization. But the basic meaning of civitas is something much more like ‘community’. The Romans designated many peoples who by Roman standards did not live in cities as civitates. Civilis, similarly, probably meant something like ‘neighbourly’ and denoted a quality attainable outside city confines.

Writing is another ingredient often demanded by definers of civilization; but the distinction between writing and other forms of symbolic expression is more easily uttered than justified in detail.[xxvi] Many societies of glorious achievement have transmitted memories or recorded data in ways usually excluded from the category of literacy, including knotted strings and notched sticks, reed maps, textiles and gestures. Nor – although it is painful for intellectuals to acknowledge this fact – is writing necessarily a progressive development. In every case we know about, at times when writing systems were first devised, societies confided what was memorable, and therefore of lasting value, to oral transmission, and invented or adopted writing in order to record rubbish: fiscal ephemera, merchants’ memoranda, records of tribute and of redistributions of food. Elements, for example, of two works that, after the Bible, have had the greatest influence on Western literature, the Iliad and the Odyssey, were probably composed without writing and – like much ancient wisdom in all societies – transmitted by memory and word of mouth. The epics of almost every literary tradition preserve echoes from an age of oral tradition. Chinese novels, until well into the present century, were divided into chapters by the storytellers’ traditional recapitulations and included end-of-chapter ‘teases’ to induce another copper for the pot.

‘Civilization’, then, is a problematic concept, because of its abuse, its ambiguities, its partisan connotations, and the arbitrary nature of the ways in which it is commonly characterized.

[5] Finally, it is also, I think, fundamentally flawed by an error of understanding which malformed its early use and has continued to haunt its history. It began in eighteenth-century Europe – specifically, in the France of the early Enlightenment – where politesse and manners, sensibility and taste, rationality and refinement were values espoused by an elite anxious to repudiate the ‘baser’, ‘coarser’, ‘grosser’ nature of man. Progress was identified with the renunciation of nature; reversion to the wild was derogation. Men might be the sucklings of wolves, but their destiny was to build Rome. Savages might be ‘noble’ and set examples of heroic valour and moral superiority; but once rescued from the wild, they were expected to renounce it forever, like the ‘wolf-children’ subjected to a series of experiments in civilization in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The so-called ‘Wild Child of Aveyron’, for example, was a boy abandoned in infancy in the high forests of the Tarn, who survived by his own wits for years until he was captured in 1798 and subjected to an education in civilized behaviour, which his custodians were never able to complete to their satisfaction.[xxvii] Perhaps the most poignant pleasures in his pathetic life, described by his tutor, were of reminiscence of his solitude: ‘the only two good things which have survived the loss of his liberty – a drink of limpid water and the sight of sun and country.’[xxviii] The counterpart of such experiments was the cultivation of self-civilizing habits among members of the elite: the attempt to secede from nature altogether – to pretend that people are not part of the ecosystem and that the human realm does not overlap with the animal kingdom. Considered from one point of view, the civilizing process, as practised in eighteenth-century Europe, was an effort to ‘denature’ humanity: to fillet the savage out of oneself, to domesticate the wild-man within by elaborate clothes and manners.

But nature is inescapable. Man-nature dualism is an outmoded conceit.[xxix] One of the great achievements of science, since the Enlightenment, has been to establish, beyond doubt, the fact that our species belongs in the great animal continuum. The proper study of mankind is man and, to historians, nothing human is foreign; but to understand man properly, you have to see him in the context of the rest of nature. We cannot get out of the ecosystem in which we are linked, the ‘chain of being’ binding us to all other biota. The environments we fashion for ourselves are gouged or cobbled out of what nature has given us.

Prospects for the study of civilization lie in recognizing these facts, not fighting them. In my submission, the best strategy for redeeming ‘civilization’ from abuse and agreeing a more nearly objective, less deeply value-charged usage, is to refresh our awareness of the sense the term has carried historically. To improve on existing usage, we need a usage that fulfils two criteria: first, it must match the societies we conventionally and traditionally call civilized; second, it must elude the difficulties which have combined to make the concept problematic. Recognition that civilization is part of nature – indeed, a fulfilment of human nature – rather than a denaturing process, points a way forward. According to a traditional usage,[xxx] which has become so heavily overlain that it is now almost invisible, civilization is a relationship with the environment: a process of adapting and accommodating it to human uses. All the societies we commonly call civilizations do indeed have something in common: their programmes for the systematic refashioning of nature. This is why we feel the tug and attraction of the word ‘civilization’ when we describe extreme interventions in the environment: agriculture, for example, which stamps the landscape with a grid and overlays the land’s bristles and bumps with a passion for regular geometry; or systematic breeding and hybridization, which radically modifies parts of the ecosystem that humans dominate; or cities, which smother the land with a new environment to realize a vision arising in the mind. I propose to define civilization as a type of relationship: a relationship between one species – our species – and the rest of nature; a relationship which comes naturally to humans, as they try to recraft their environment, by the civilizing impulse, to meet human demands. By ‘a civilization’ I mean a society in such a relationship.

By factoring-in the environment, we shall not make ‘civilization’ a magically objective term, for the types of environment we use in our schemes of classification will, of course, always be humanly, mentally constructed. We shall draw the boundaries according to criteria of our own devising. There will be scope to debate, for example, how dry or infertile an environment must be to count as desert; or how scrubby to count as tundra; or how wet to count as rainforest, or how sea-bound to count as maritime. But at least the environmental approach brings us a little closer to objectivity, because the environment is really there, surrounding us. We can feel the rain on our faces, the sun on our backs, the altitude in our lungs, the sand in the pores of our skin.

By adopting this strategy, we shall face and, I hope, embrace certain further consequences: first, the implication that all history is, in a sense, historical ecology. This does not mean that it has to be materialist, because many of our interactions with the environment start in our minds. Like the geometry of civilizations, they are imagined or excogitated before they happen outwardly. All the traditional ingredients in the checklist of civilization are underlain by ideas: cities by ideals of order, for example, agriculture by visions of abundance, laws by hopes of utopia, writing by a symbolic imagination.

Secondly, we can, if we wish, challenge the relativistic notion that it is illegitimate to discriminate between human communities on the grounds that some are more civilized than others. Once one acknowledges that ‘more civilized’ does not necessarily mean ‘better’, moral objections to this practice disappear. Moreover, when one compares civilizations in terms of their impacts on their environments, the achievements of Africans in the grasslands of the Sahel compare favourably with, say, those of Eurasians in the steppe; the achievements of the Olmec in swamplands or the Maya in rainforests constitute, perhaps, the most conspicuous examples in environments of those types; for civilization in highland environments, the palm would perhaps go to Tiahuanaco or Tibet, not just for their material achievements, but also for the intractability of the altitudes in which they throve. This is not to deny to Western civilization its excellence in its own place: merely to insist that, if we are to rank civilizations, the environmental factor has to be taken into account. By responding to their environments in ways of their choice, societies place themselves along a scale of their own making. To be more or less civilized is not to be more or less virtuous, or more or less wise: in some environments, where the ecological balance is fragile and can be fatally disturbed by over-ambitious attempts to modify it, the best strategy – if survival is the aim – is to make few and modest interventions.

For, finally, we shall have to sacrifice the widely made assumption that all civilizations are necessarily good. Civilizations commonly over-exploit their environments, often to the point of self-destruction. For some purposes – including, in some environments, survival itself – civilization is a risky and even irrational strategy. Awareness of this fact will not condemn us to impoverishment: on the contrary, it will help us to survive. The examples of the civilizations of the past, whom we now admire in their ruins, who were self-condemned by hubristic programmes of environmental remodelling, become warnings to us to avoid their mistakes.

[i]. What follows largely derives from F. Fernández-Armesto, Civilizations: Culture, Ambition and the Transformation of Nature, New York, Free Press, 2001.
. S. P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, New York, Simon & Schuster, 1996.
. ‘Since from August 1914 to November 1918, Great Britain and her Allies were fighting for civilization, it cannot, I suppose, be impertinent to enquire precisely what civilization may be.’ C. Bell, Civilization: an Essay, p. 3, New York, Harcourt Bruce & Co., 1928; the same sort of programme was announced by Albert Schweitzer in, for example, The Decay and Restoration of Civilization, London, A. & C. Black, 1932; the work of P. A. Sorokin, Social and Cultural Dynamics, 4 vol., New York, American Book Co., 1937–41, was animated by similar minatory obsessions: the desire to explain the wreckage of the revolution in which he had played a minor part.
. Bell, op. cit., pp. 67, 200–64.
. S. Freud, Civilization and its Discontents, p. 44, New York, W. W. Norton, 1961.  
. R. G. Collingwood, The New Leviathan, edited by D. Boucher, pp. 283–99, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1992.  
. A. Toynbee, A Study of History, 12 vol., xii, p. 279, London, Oxford University Press, 1934–72.
. O. Spengler, The Decline of the West, 2 vol., i, pp. 31, 106, New York, Alfred Knopf, 1966.  
. E. Huntington, Civilization and Climate, pp. 45–6, 335–45, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1922.
. For a distillation of his views see L. Mumford, The Transformations of Man, pp. 44–5, New York, Harper, 1956.
. Toynbee, op. cit., i, p. 192.
. V. Alexandrov, The Tukhachevsky Affair, London, Macdonald, 1963; J. F. C. Fuller, The Decisive Battles of the Western World, 2 vol., ii, pp. 405–28, London, Granada, 1970.  
. A. Bramwell, Blood and Soil: Richard Walther Darré and Hitler’s ‘Green Party’, Bourne End, UK, Kensal Press, 1985.  
. P. Hulten (ed.), Futurism and Futurisms, New York, Abbeville Press, 1986. See E. Hobsbawm, ‘Barbarism: a user’s guide’, New Left Review, ccvi, 1994, pp. 44–54.  
. ‘La civilización no es otra cosa que el ensayo de reducir la fuerza a ultima ratio’, J. Ortega y Gasset, La rebelión de las masas [The Revolt of the Masses], p. 114, Madrid, Espasa-Calpe, 1930.  
. M. Mead, Coming of Age in Samoa, New York, William Morrow, 1928.  
. N. Elias, The Civilising Process, p. 3, Oxford, Blackwell, 1994.  
. Power and Civility: the Civilizing Process, ii, p. 52, New York, Pantheon, 1982.  
. J. Huizinga, ‘Geschonden Wereld: een Beschouwing over de kansen op herstel van onze beschaving’ [‘Damaged World: a Review of our Prospects of Repairing our Civilisation’], Verzamelde Werken (Haarlem), vii, 1950, pp. 479–90, at p. 481.
[xx]. F. Haskell, Taste and the Antique, pp. 148–51, New Haven/London, Yale University Press, 1981.  
. K. Clark, Civilisation: a Personal View, pp. 18, 27, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1982.
. F. Fernández-Armesto, Millennium: a History of Our Last Thousand Years, pp. 7–8, London, Black Swan, 1999.
. Toynbee, op. cit., i, pp. 63–129.
. ‘Des systèmes complexes et solidaires qui, sans être limités a un organisme politique déterminé, sont pourtant localisable dans le temps et dans l’espace ... qui ont leur unité, leur manière d’être propre’, E. Durkheim and M. Mauss, ‘Note sur la notion de civilisation’, Année sociologique, xii, p. 47. The text has been translated in ‘Note on the Notion of Civilization’, Social Research, xxxviii, 1971, pp. 808–13.
[xxv]. E. Huntington, Mainsprings of Civilization, p. 574, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1945.
[xxvi]. See the arguments of J. Derrida, De la grammatologie [On Grammatology], Paris, Éditions de Minuit, 1967, who, I think, is right at least in this; and the brilliantly exemplified case made out for Native American mapping and ‘picture-writing’ by G. Brotherson, Book of the Fourth World: Reading the Native Americas through their Literature, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1992.
[xxvii]. H. Lane, The Wild Boy of Aveyron, London, Allen & Unwin, 1977; R. Shattuck, The Forbidden Experiment: the Story of the Wild Boy of Aveyron, New York, Farrar Strauss Giroux, 1980.
[xxviii]. J.-M.-G. Itard, The Wild Boy of Aveyron, edited and translated by G. and M. Humphrey, p. 66, New York, Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1962.
[xxix]. See P. Coates, Nature: Changing Attitudes since Ancient Times, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1998; J.-M. Drouin, Réinventer la nature: l’écologie et son histoire [Reinventing Nature: Ecology and its History], especially pp. 174–93, Paris, Desclée De Brouwer, 1974; P. Descola and G. Pálsson (eds.), Nature and Society: Anthropological Perspectives, pp. 2–14, 63–7, London/New York, Routledge, 1996.
[xxx]. First expressed, as far as I know, in N. Bondt, ‘De Gevolgen der Beschaaving en van de Levenswyze der Hedendaagische Beschaafde Volken’ [‘The Consequences of Civilisation and the Way of Life of Civilised Peoples Today’], Niew Algenmeen Magazijn van Wetenschap, Konst en Smaack, iv, 1797, pp. 703–24. I am grateful to Professor Peter Rietbergen for bringing this work to my attention.


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