Barbarism in our Time

 

When we think of barbarism, our first inclination may be to think of ancient times, when primitive collections of people were violent and uncultivated. The Germanic tribes were described as barbaric. The distinctions between our own culture and the people of ancient times were substantial. Most of us couldn’t even relate to their culture or behavior:

Since to be human is to be civilised, those who behave inhumanly are the uncivilised or barbarians. Who is the barbarian? He is the stranger or foreigner, the one who speaks in a strange tongue. More precisely, he is someone whose speech is unintelligible or who makes incomprehensible sounds like an animal.

The barbarian is someone who is thought to be more of an animal than a human being, yet without being either the one or the other. He is something in between a human and an animal. He is bestial or beastlike.

The word ‘barbarian’ was used to refer to the native or savage, the wild (untamed) man, the cruel man who lacks grace.

As we moved into more recent times, when slavery was practiced in this country, people spoke out against the barbarity of slavery. Senator Charles Sumner addressed in 1860 the efforts of those who tried to clothe slavery in a noble garment:

It is now more than three years since I deemed it my duty to expose, in the Senate, the Barbarism of Slavery. This phrase, though common now, was new then. The speech was a strict and logical reply to the assumptions of Senators, asserting the ‘divine origin’ of Slavery, its ‘ennobling’ character, and that it was the ‘black marble keystone’ of our national arch. Listening to these assumptions, which were of daily recurrence, I felt that they ought to be answered. And, considering their effrontery, it seemed to me that they should be answered frankly and openly by exhibiting Slavery as it really is, without reserve; careful that I should ‘nothing extenuate, nor set down aught in malice.’ This I did.

Eventually, through the efforts of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War, slavery was abolished, followed by another 100 years of working to eliminate the residual racism.

Yet no matter how advanced we perceive our civilization to be, barbarism seems to lie, often hidden, in the human soul. We tend to notice barbarism in the “other”: cartels, gangs, and riots. But we never seem to advance beyond it, and instead bury it deep in our psyches. I’m proposing that barbarism is emerging in many areas of our society in ways that are not as obvious.

For example, the emergence of moral relativism planted the seeds of barbarism; if there is no objective truth, then “anything goes.” Attacks on people on social media are often so vicious that they could be described as barbaric; people who support open borders, which encourages illegal immigration from all over the world, including terrorists and criminals, are barbaric and support barbarism; pro-Hamas protests; summer riots; no bail cities; those people in politics who believe in winning “by any means necessary,” including fraud, deception, and manipulation, are barbarians.

Do you think “barbarian” is too strong a word? Aren’t these the people who essentially live in a world that ignores the rule of law, where they make up their own rules, create their own language, and detest people who insist on following the Bill of Rights and the Constitution?

Here are two recent incidents that represent many other similar occurrences of barbarism:

 On Monday at the University of Berkeley, to choose one of so many examples, a violent mob gathered outside an event featuring an IDF reservist. The students who gathered to hear him—and never got a chance to—were forced to evacuate. One student reported being physically assaulted. Another says he was spat on. Various students say the mob yelled slurs including ‘Jew, Jew, Jew.’

Another alarming story from November

At Hillcrest High School in Queens this week, a New York teacher had to lock herself in her office as hundreds of high school students rioted after learning that she posted a pro-Israeli statement on Facebook. Dozens of police had to be called to quell the riot, which caused property damage throughout the school.

These stories are not just examples of anti-Semitism. They are examples of a society that is becoming more primitive and wild. We have gone through periods of losing our humanity, such as with slavery and Jim Crow. We have memories of genocide and the Holocaust, and each time we hope that we will never witness such atrocities again. We want to believe they are a passing derangement, a temporary sickness, and that we will heal ourselves and learn how to be better human beings.

But the woke attacks persist. Terrorism is ongoing and will likely escalate over time. Progressive Attorneys General will continue, for the foreseeable future, to let murderers out of jail without their serving time; many will continue to be elected by naïve and idealistic constituents. (I’m not just saying the murderers are barbaric, but also those AG’s who allow their own idealism to repeatedly put citizens at risk; they are barbarians for ignoring the rule of law).

I see no signs that these actions and behaviors will decline over time; in fact, I worry that we are trapped in a barbaric reality.

How do free ourselves from this barbaric morass?

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  1. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Susan Quinn: I’m not just saying the murderers are barbaric, but also those AG’s who allow their own idealism to repeatedly put citizens at risk; they are barbarians for ignoring the rule of law

    The murderers are typically human suffering from the evil traits of human nature that comes with being human. Civilization works to alleviate the burden of these evils but the barbarians do the opposite and this makes them the most evil of all humanity.

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: I’m not just saying the murderers are barbaric, but also those AG’s who allow their own idealism to repeatedly put citizens at risk; they are barbarians for ignoring the rule of law

    The murderers are typically human suffering from the evil traits of human nature that comes with being human. Civilization works to alleviate the burden of these evils but the barbarians do the opposite and this makes them the most evil of all humanity.

    You are so right, Bob! They think they are helping criminals by letting them free, but when they let them go without accountability, they cripple them, turning them into barbarians–just like them.

    • #2
  3. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    My goodness, how could I forget the raids and theft in retail stores! Barbarism at its best…

    • #3
  4. Kevin Schulte Member
    Kevin Schulte
    @KevinSchulte

    In general I agree. However , the power hungry use barbarians for their purpose . 

    The problem with labeling the power hungry with the term barbarian . Then there is no distinction between them and the oct 7 massacre participants. 

    The power hungry generally (in this country anyway) would never do the acts of the miscreants of Hamas .   

    There is uncivil , uncivilized , lawless  and degrees up to full barbarism . 

    The problem with grouping all under the term  barbarian, the word looses it’s distinction. 

    Kind of like the word Nazi or racist. These words have lost there meaning as well as others. 

     

     

    • #4
  5. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Kevin Schulte (View Comment):

    The power hungry generally (in this country anyway) would never do the acts of the miscreants of Hamas .   

     

    Would you classify those who would support others engaging in barbaric acts of violence, even though they will not commit those acts themselves, to be at a new level of evil not available to the natural man? I do agree with you that we need to retain a distinction.

    • #5
  6. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    Related: The Feelings Economy

     

    • #6
  7. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Kevin Schulte (View Comment):

    In general I agree. However , the power hungry use barbarians for their purpose .

    The problem with labeling the power hungry with the term barbarian . Then there is no distinction between them and the oct 7 massacre participants.

    The power hungry generally (in this country anyway) would never do the acts of the miscreants of Hamas .

    There is uncivil , uncivilized , lawless and degrees up to full barbarism .

    The problem with grouping all under the term barbarian, the word looses it’s distinction.

    Kind of like the word Nazi or racist. These words have lost there meaning as well as others.

    I guess I think those who are power hungry are acting like barbarians, and they are in the process of creating more barbarians in their wake. For my purposes, I wasn’t all that interested in making distinctions but in shaking people to make them aware of what’s going on. I do see your point.

    • #7
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Kevin Schulte (View Comment):

    The power hungry generally (in this country anyway) would never do the acts of the miscreants of Hamas .

     

    Would you classify those who would support others engaging in barbaric acts of violence, even though they will not commit those acts themselves, to be at a new level of evil not available to the natural man? I do agree with you that we need to retain a distinction.

    If they support them, they are barbarians, too. They should be called out. Remember Kamala paying bail for the rioters? 

    • #8
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    David Foster (View Comment):

    Related: The Feelings Economy

     

    Interesting, David! When we prioritize feelings over critical thinking, instead of appreciating when each is important, those feelings when set free can be violent and destructive.

    • #9
  10. Kevin Schulte Member
    Kevin Schulte
    @KevinSchulte

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Kevin Schulte (View Comment):

    The power hungry generally (in this country anyway) would never do the acts of the miscreants of Hamas .

     

    Would you classify those who would support others engaging in barbaric acts of violence, even though they will not commit those acts themselves, to be at a new level of evil not available to the natural man? I do agree with you that we need to retain a distinction.

    It’s the old selfish sin nature petting the flesh of ” I Want ” and willing to turn a blind eye to the brown shirts . This has always been with us . Only now that our country has broomed Christianity and the left taking over all horns and institutions can the power hungry  operate in the open.  In the past it was done in secret .

    I

    • #10
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Kevin Schulte (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Kevin Schulte (View Comment):

    The power hungry generally (in this country anyway) would never do the acts of the miscreants of Hamas .

     

    Would you classify those who would support others engaging in barbaric acts of violence, even though they will not commit those acts themselves, to be at a new level of evil not available to the natural man? I do agree with you that we need to retain a distinction.

    It’s the old selfish sin nature petting the flesh of ” I Want ” and willing to turn a blind eye to the brown shirts . This has always been with us . Only now that our country has broomed Christianity and the left taking over all horns and institutions can the power hungry operate in the open. In the past it was done in secret .

    I

    Exactly. They’re emboldened.

    • #11
  12. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Kevin Schulte (View Comment):

    The power hungry generally (in this country anyway) would never do the acts of the miscreants of Hamas .

     

    Would you classify those who would support others engaging in barbaric acts of violence, even though they will not commit those acts themselves, to be at a new level of evil not available to the natural man? I do agree with you that we need to retain a distinction.

    Maybe a new term is needed; I submit “Rad-left.” They respect the law only to the extend that they can use it to advance their thirst for power.

    • #12
  13. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):
    Maybe a new term is needed; I submit “Rad-left.” They respect the law only to the extend that they can use it to advance their thirst for power.

    Good suggestion. I’m open to people’s thoughts on an alternative. But I like the pejorative nature of calling someone barbaric. Rad-left doesn’t have the same impact.

    • #13
  14. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Kevin Schulte (View Comment):

    The power hungry generally (in this country anyway) would never do the acts of the miscreants of Hamas .

     

    Would you classify those who would support others engaging in barbaric acts of violence, even though they will not commit those acts themselves, to be at a new level of evil not available to the natural man? I do agree with you that we need to retain a distinction.

    Maybe a new term is needed; I submit “Rad-left.” They respect the law only to the extend that they can use it to advance their thirst for power.

    That was always true of the radical left.

    • #14
  15. Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist Coolidge
    Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist
    @Flicker

    Kevin Schulte (View Comment):

    In general I agree. However , the power hungry use barbarians for their purpose .

    The problem with labeling the power hungry with the term barbarian . Then there is no distinction between them and the oct 7 massacre participants.

    The power hungry generally (in this country anyway) would never do the acts of the miscreants of Hamas .

    There is uncivil , uncivilized , lawless and degrees up to full barbarism .

    The problem with grouping all under the term barbarian, the word looses it’s distinction.

    Kind of like the word Nazi or racist. These words have lost there meaning as well as others.

    Yes, this fits more with my use of the word barbarian.  Barbarian was more than use of the unknown Ba!-ba! language; it was also the behavior.  I think of barbarians as being first and foremost destructive to society and to the products of society.  Vandals tagging beautiful marble buildings with graffiti.  Flash mobs loots and gutting stores.  Shooting people over slights and minor insults.  Knocking down trees for the fun of it is barbaric; as so is knocking down people for the pleasure of it, what was once called the Knock-out Game.  Destruction for its own sake is barbaric.

    The recent Summer of Love was barbaric on a grand scale.  And of course, killing and raping women with tools, locking people in cars and setting them on fire, and roasting babies alive is perhaps the height of barbarism.

    But as with the lion tamer, only the lion is barbaric.  The lion tamer is erudite, facile and impeccably dressed and his lion performs for the crowd.  The barbarian serves the master.

    • #15
  16. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Globalitarian Lower Order Misa… (View Comment):

    Kevin Schulte (View Comment):

    In general I agree. However , the power hungry use barbarians for their purpose .

    The problem with labeling the power hungry with the term barbarian . Then there is no distinction between them and the oct 7 massacre participants.

    The power hungry generally (in this country anyway) would never do the acts of the miscreants of Hamas .

    There is uncivil , uncivilized , lawless and degrees up to full barbarism .

    The problem with grouping all under the term barbarian, the word looses it’s distinction.

    Kind of like the word Nazi or racist. These words have lost there meaning as well as others.

    Yes, this fits more with my use of the word barbarian. Barbarian was ore the use of the unknown Ba!-ba! language; it was also the behavior. I think of barbarians as being first and foremost destructive to society and to the products of society. Vandals tagging beautiful marble buildings with graffiti. Flash mobs loots and gutting stores. Shooting people over slights and minor insults. Knocking down trees for the fun of it is barbaric; as so is knocking down people for the pleasure of it, what was once called the Knock-out Game. Destruction for its own sake is barbaric.

    The recent Summer of Love was barbaric on a grand scale. And of course, killing and raping women with tools, locking people in cars and setting them on fire, and roasting babies alive is perhaps the height of barbarism.

    But as with the lion tamer, only the lion is barbaric. The lion tamer is erudite, facile and impeccably dressed and his lion performs for the crowd. The barbarian serves the master.

    Well done! But I wasn’t clear about your agreement with Kevin’s comment #10; you expressed a concern. Do you think it’s possible that we will overuse the word “barbarian”?

    • #16
  17. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Do you think it’s possible that we will overuse the word “barbarian”?

    That’s what “monster”is for. ;-)

    • #17
  18. Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist Coolidge
    Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist
    @Flicker

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    The power hungry generally (in this country anyway) would never do the acts of the miscreants of Hamas .

    As far as I understand it, I agree with every word of Kevin’s comment.  I don’t think that I have ever used the words “barbarian” until the barbaric Oct 7 ingression into Israel.  There have always been better, and better understood, words to use.  As far as I know, I’ve never even referred to drawing and quartering babies in the womb and sucking out their brains and using the parts for scientific purposes as barbaric; or those who do it as barbarians, though they probably are.

    Now you pleasantly compel me to look it up in my OED.  In this context, Barbarian means a rude, wild, or uncivilized person; or, an uncultured person, one who has no sympathy for literary culture.

    This seems petty tame to me.  But I particularly agree with Kevin’s statement: “The power hungry generally (in this country anyway) would never do the acts of the miscreants of Hamas.”

    And I myself draw the distinction and separate out one who employs barbarians to accomplish barbaric ends, but wouldn’t countenance committing barbarous acts himself.

    • #18
  19. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Globalitarian Lower Order Misa… (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    The power hungry generally (in this country anyway) would never do the acts of the miscreants of Hamas .

    As far as I understand it, I agree with every word of Kevin’s comment. I don’t think that I have ever used the words “barbarian” until the barbaric Oct 7 ingression into Israel. There have always been better, and better understood, words to use. As far as I know, I’ve never even referred to drawing and quartering babies in the womb and sucking out their brains and using the parts for scientific purposes as barbaric; or those who do it as barbarians, though they probably are.

    Now you pleasantly compel me to look it up in my OED. In this context, Barbarian means a rude, wild, or uncivilized person; or, an uncultured person, one who has no sympathy for literary culture.

    This seems petty tame to me. But I particularly agree with Kevin’s statement: “The power hungry generally (in this country anyway) would never do the acts of the miscreants of Hamas.”

    And I myself draw the distinction and separate out of one who employs barbarians to accomplish barbaric ends, but wouldn’t countenance committing barbarous acts himself.

    You and Kevin bring up an interesting point. I don’t want barbarian to become part of the everyday lexicon. I want it to describe extraordinary, outrageous and immoral behavior, so that we use it selectively. In fact, I pray we can turn things around so that we can stop using the term.

    • #19
  20. JoshuaFinch Coolidge
    JoshuaFinch
    @JoshuaFinch

    Thomas Hobbes wrote in “Leviathan” that people are essentially anarchic (barbaric?) and only a strong sovereignty/monarchy can prevent civil war. 

    • #20
  21. Steve Fast Member
    Steve Fast
    @SteveFast

    Kevin Schulte (View Comment):
    The power hungry generally (in this country anyway) would never do the acts of the miscreants of Hamas . 

    The power-hungry in America applaud the atrocities committed by Hamas. And in this country they applaud and finance those who dismember babies in the womb under the guise of family planning and mutilate children and teenagers and call it gender-affirming care. I see little difference between the perpetrators and those who finance them and cheer them on.

    • #21
  22. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    I tend not to use the term barbaric to describe evil things that people do. Sometimes I like to get in touch with my barbaric origins, but not the way you’re using the term here. 

    • #22
  23. Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist Coolidge
    Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist
    @Flicker

    Steve Fast (View Comment):

    Kevin Schulte (View Comment):
    The power hungry generally (in this country anyway) would never do the acts of the miscreants of Hamas .

    The power-hungry in America applaud the atrocities committed by Hamas. And in this country they applaud and finance those who dismember babies in the womb under the guise of family planning and mutilate children and teenagers and call it gender-affirming care. I see little difference between the perpetrators and those who finance them and cheer them on.

    It’s a close call perhaps.  And it may be more connotative than denotative, but I think a Machiavellian leader who manipulates and uses barbarians is not by definition a barbarian himself.  Very few barbarians drive Lamborghinis and dine in fine restaurants, they drive Hiluxes and eat out of the refrigerators of those they’ve just killed.  But I see your point.

    • #23
  24. JoshuaFinch Coolidge
    JoshuaFinch
    @JoshuaFinch

    Does anyone think Tlaib or OC or Ilhan Omar would shed a tear at the lynching of their political enemies? And if they could participate in such lynchings with impunity, does anyone think they would not join in?

    • #24
  25. Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist Coolidge
    Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist
    @Flicker

    JoshuaFinch (View Comment):

    Does anyone think Tlaib or OC or Ilhan Omar would shed a tear at the lynching of their political enemies? And if they could participate in such lynchings with impunity, does anyone think they would not join in?

    I’ve heard AOC rehearsing “I’ve got the rope!” in Arabic.  Someone always has the foresight to bring the rope.

    • #25
  26. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    Globalitarian Lower Order Misa… (View Comment):

    Steve Fast (View Comment):

    Kevin Schulte (View Comment):
    The power hungry generally (in this country anyway) would never do the acts of the miscreants of Hamas .

    The power-hungry in America applaud the atrocities committed by Hamas. And in this country they applaud and finance those who dismember babies in the womb under the guise of family planning and mutilate children and teenagers and call it gender-affirming care. I see little difference between the perpetrators and those who finance them and cheer them on.

    It’s a close call perhaps. And it may be more connotative than denotative, but I think a Machiavellian leader who manipulates and uses barbarians is not by definition a barbarian himself. Very few barbarians drive Lamborghinis and dine in fine restaurants, they drive Hiluxes and eat out of the refrigerators of those they’ve just killed. But I see your point.

    The “leader who manipulates and uses barbarians” is also a barbarian.  Many of our most powerful barbarians “drive Lamborghinis and dine in fine restaurants.”  That’s one way to spot them.  

    • #26
  27. Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist Coolidge
    Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist
    @Flicker

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    Globalitarian Lower Order Misa… (View Comment):

    Steve Fast (View Comment):

    Kevin Schulte (View Comment):
    The power hungry generally (in this country anyway) would never do the acts of the miscreants of Hamas .

    The power-hungry in America applaud the atrocities committed by Hamas. And in this country they applaud and finance those who dismember babies in the womb under the guise of family planning and mutilate children and teenagers and call it gender-affirming care. I see little difference between the perpetrators and those who finance them and cheer them on.

    It’s a close call perhaps. And it may be more connotative than denotative, but I think a Machiavellian leader who manipulates and uses barbarians is not by definition a barbarian himself. Very few barbarians drive Lamborghinis and dine in fine restaurants, they drive Hiluxes and eat out of the refrigerators of those they’ve just killed. But I see your point.

    The “leader who manipulates and uses barbarians” is also a barbarian. Many of our most powerful barbarians “drive Lamborghinis and dine in fine restaurants.” That’s one way to spot them.

    Okay.  I just think that that over-generalizes barbarity.

    • #27
  28. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    Excellent post, Susan. You pose difficult questions. I wish I had a simple and peaceful answer. But I do not remember from history times of barbarism being overcome peacefully. Normally it must be overcome with violence by a more powerful force guided by better angels.

    • #28
  29. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    cdor (View Comment):

    Excellent post, Susan. You pose difficult questions. I wish I had a simple and peaceful answer. But I do not remember from history times of barbarism being overcome peacefully. Normally it must be overcome with violence by a more powerful force guided by better angels.

    That’s what I fear, and I so hope I’m wrong.

    • #29
  30. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    The worst barbarians, at the moment, are the Israeli Jews.

    They have slaughtered almost 20,000 Palestinian women and children.  Your examples are trivial by comparison.

    There has also been vicious and violent action against pro-Palestinian demonstrators, including the reported use of the noxious chemical “skunk” by Israeli students at NYU — students who were former IDF soldiers, reportedly.

    Yep.  We actually allow Israeli soldiers onto our college campuses to assault American kids.

    • #30
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