Go to contents

Who is more barbarous?

Posted August. 30, 2022 07:46,   

Updated August. 30, 2022 07:46


Crane Brinton (1898-1968), an American historian, once pointed out that modern people consider the ancient as barbarous while modern people are the one who detonate an atomic bomb without blinking an eye. If one would oppose to this statement arguing that Professor Brinton made such a remark during the Cold war era and modern people object to the use of nuclear bomb, that I would encourage the person to think about the random bombing attacks took place during the World War II, Vietnam War, and in Ukraine right at this time.

What Brinton intended was to criticize the illusions modern people have – then we may also need to consider our prejudice against the ancient people’s life. I wonder who or where the illusion started that the life of ancient tribes were simple and peaceful. Since the emergence of the Age of Discovery, European countries argued that it was civilized nation’s responsibilities to award the people live in the under developed part of the world with benefits of civilization and thus free them from uncivilized life styles. I do not intent to disagree with this argument.

Yet, such a theory created by the civilized nation often was exploited to support imperialistic rules, which Korea had been a victim to, throughout its history. Perhaps, the concept of ‘the naivete of ancient world not tainted by civilization and capitalism’ emerged to rebut ethnological prejudices the civilized had, questioning whether the ancient people had a soul just them - a theme featured in the movie ‘The Mission.’

Yet, Karl Marx, who criticized capital’s abusiveness, also opposed to the idea of admiring primitive culture. The German philosopher regarded the ancient as a society dominated power and violence, not pure and romantic.

One of the scenes in the movie where the conqueror’s army from outside destroys peaceful world is also just an imagination by the civilized people. Even before the foreign power, armed with new weapons from civilized world barged in, cruelty and destructions have already existed on the land of the ancient. There had been just no means to record them.

Then which one is more barbarous? The question itself may render unnecessary. Human always was two sides in them. We become this reasonable angel when the matter is irrelevant to our own interest. However, when it comes to our interest we take another side of us to use anything as an excuse to justify our actions. We need to remember that civilization brought us the capabilities to send food and medicines to those suffering from starvation and poverty as well as to deploy merciless and destructive drones and missiles attacks on the same land.