Dominance vs. Subjugation: Which to choose?

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ibn Saud and FDR

Since the dawn of the Human race, we have always viewed other species as inferior to us. We’ve constantly, throughout our tenure on Earth, tried to out survive, outwit, overpower, all other creatures of our planet. As well, we’ve also attempted & have used these same methods against members of our own fellow man. As far as dominating other Non-Human creatures, this makes sense. However, to dominate one’s own fellow man has always been something very controversial & uncomfortable to discuss: from wars & conquests, to slavery & colonization, from time memorial to the present-day, Human beings have always been in the business of conquering one another. And, for some reason or another, we as Humans have also made ourselves willing to be conquered by our fellow man.

China

This subject isn’t about the morality vs. immorality of Humans conquering, enslaving, colonizing other Human beings, rather, it’s necessary to explore the reasons how and why this phenomenon still takes place among Humans in our modern-world. Now, in order to get a clearer glimpse of how we’ve inherited the desire to control our fellow man, we must look to the universally most recognized architects of Human civilization: the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Chinese. Within these respective civilizations, they’ve all had something very much in common: they’ve all viewed themselves as ethnocentrically superior to other civilization, as a result of the extents of the accomplishments of their respective neighbors, competitive civilizations within their spheres, etc. So, because, these respective civilizations stood out the most, out of the other civilizations, they developed very common world-views: they’ve all deemed their civilizations as superior to anyone else. For example: in Mandarin, the actual, original, name for China is actually “Zhong Yuen” meaning “Central-Kingdom” or “Central-Civilization”. The ancient Chinese literally saw themselves as the center of the Earth, in terms of Culture, sophistication, Diplomacy, Governance, Arts, Warfare, Math, Medicine, etc.

Ramesses II

In the Mediterranean-World: the Egyptians, Greeks & Romans all had their turn to be a dominant civilization, with one leeching off of the other & eventually one engulfing the other. The Egyptians, being the eldest of these three respective civilizations were the first to decline & fall. Then, the Greeks engulfed Egypt & made it  part of the Hellenistic-World. Eventually, Greece also declined & succumbed to the might that was Rome, and both the remnants of Egypt, as well as Greece became a part of the even larger Roman-World, which dominated the Mediterranean & basically all of known Europe for nearly 15-centuries.

Machiavelli

The Dark-Ages & Middle-Ages gave rise to the Holy-Roman Empire, the independent kingdoms of Europe, etc. These realms had their own dominance over distinct populaces, with barely any resistance to their respective authority. And, then, there’s the rise of the Shogun-Era in Imperial Japanese History, which was almost completely parallel to European-Feudalism, with the exception of the fact that the chief Monarchs of Japan, at this time, were completely powerless. So, then, we look to the Papal-States & wealthy Maritime families of Italy, predating the modern Italian-Mafia, which produced great political minds the likes of Niccolo Machiavelli, etc.

All of these very vivid examples of how Humans have dominated other Humans, across spans of over 5,000 years & better prove that domination among Humans, against other Humans isn’t something recent, and it isn’t likely to go away. One particularly thing that I’ve been able to draw from these historical examples is that Humans, even without the existence of other creatures upon the Earth would still conquer one another. I state this because, it’s simply, based upon the aforementioned examples that I’ve presented, that Humans, by nature, are control-freaks. Also, Humans, by nature desire order, to be told what to do, how to dress, how to think, how to feel, what to believe in. It’s something that we aren’t able to escape from. The need to be led and/or to lead are essential qualities of being Human. Even if one looks back to school: there were class presidents, why? so that from young ages, people would know and/or discover where they fit into society. Every society, regardless of whether they are Animal or Human societies, must have a chain of command, must have leadership, must have order. There must be a system in place that all peoples respect, recognize, accept as the order for their societies. The issues are whether who more of a justification to be at the helms of societies, and that’s what fuels conflicts, and as well, that’s how wars & conquests are ensued.

The main issue, of course, is why do Human desire the insatiable thirst for control. The answer is simply that certain people, as a result of environment, personal ambition, etc., are able to manifest leadership qualities which attract others & inspire others to follow them. While there are other people who aren’t able or are just not willing to assert dominant qualities necessary for taking reins of leadership.

Augustus

Let’s look at important figures in History, like Gaius Octavianus (the real-name of August, the 1st-Emperor of the Roman-Empire), for example: his entire political career was based upon the platform of him being an heir of Gaius Iulius (the real-name of Julius Caesar, the leader of the 1st-Triumvirate & last Leader of the Roman-Republic). Unlike his political genius of an uncle, Octavianus, after the assassination of Iulius, was able to hold on to the remnants of his political legacy. However, at first, a Caesar he was not: Octavianus wasn’t the most adept politician, nor was he an admired military master, like many of his political rivals, namely Marcus Antonius (the real-name of Marc Antony, a member of the 2nd-Triumvirate along with Octavianus), especially for the tumultuous & dangerously deadly political atmosphere of Ancient-Rome. However, what he lacked in both political & military prowess, he compensated by being able to use his powers of rhetoric, his relation to Iulius, and the political vulnerability of his opponents to be the last man standing. However, his story isn’t at all very common. Most people in his shoes would’ve fell to the waste side. However, because of his great abilities to manipulate other people, he survived perhaps the most dangerous time in the history of Ancient-Rome’s political history. Octavianius had thus proved that one doens’t have to have all the tools of leadership in order to be dominant, one just needs the right amount of circumstances in one’s favor & capitalize on those opportunities. That’s what I’d really like to talk about: risk-taking: many, most Humans are very comfortable being dictated to, as opposed to dictating, because, that involves great risks. Most Humans are very satisfied being safe, ordinary people. But, it takes a lot of daring, cunning, ambition, and a slight bit of carelessness, to be a risk-taker.

Hannibal

If one notices, no political personality was ever successful, unless they were drastic risk-takers. Look at the great military leader, Hannibal, the one-time ruler of, the North-African City-State, Carthage (modern-day Tunisia). He made a daring invasion of the capital of the Roman-Republic, Rome itself, during the Punic-Wars. Now, ironically, even though he lost the Punic-Wars, and his kingdom, he’s actually even more famous than the Roman general who defeated him, and whom the entire continent of Africa bears his name: Scipio Africanus (Africa, of course, meaning “the Land Africanus conquered” in the language of Latin).

The reasons as to why Humans have such an easy time to dominate one another is because we often view those who are perceived to be less advanced than we are as sub Human, and/or animal like. This thinking is one of the main contributing factors which people use to justify racial-superiority. It’s the need/want to always have an advantage or the illusion of an advantage over someone else which gives Human the drive to pursue dominance over their fellow man.

One may ask why does any of this even matter. Well, the reasons why it matters, as to what drives Humans to dominate one another is the fact that self domination of one’s fellow man occurs in every sphere of Human existence, whether on the school playground, or at home, or at work: anywhere & everywhere that Humans live, thrive, there will always be someone in charge, and those who are told what to do. It eventually comes to the point of which side of the line drawn in the sand do you, as an individual want to be on. Each one of us, as Humans, really have to self evaluate our own outlook & perception of our fellow man, to decipher whether we are leaders or followers, and if we are either one, whether or not we enjoy being either one, and if not, then, are we willing to switch.

Honestly, this isn’t really an easy question to answer for anyone. There are, believe it or not, benefits to being either one. When the dominant, one has the privilege to exercise power & control, to their own agendas, while being dominated alleviates one of the responsibility of providing certain necessary essentials to entire populaces, and/or maintain certain normalcies of societies. However, the downside to either one is being overthrown from one’s power & authority, and at best forced to leave one’s domain, or at worst risk being killed or enslaved by one’s respective conquerors. Also, those dominated may very well have basic Human rights taken from them unjustifiably, without any say about it, and virtually no way to retain those basic rights.

It’s basically a choice of preference at a certain point. There are some of us who think that we would make great leaders, but, when given the opportunity to be leaders, either shirk in our responsibilities, or get overthrown. Likewise, those of us who so choose to be controlled have the illusion that it’s less work to be a subject, whereas, in fact, being a subject of someone else forces you to work even harder for the respective power-structure that one is under. This dichotomy, dominant vs. dominated, is definitely not easy, or simple options to choose between.

Gareth Bryant/2014

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