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Thread: How war has influenced ancient, classical and medieval societies

  1. #1
    Strategist and Storyteller Member Myth's Avatar
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    Default How war has influenced ancient, classical and medieval societies

    Prior to the introduction of gunpowder and mass conscription, warfare was a significant part of the social-economic structure of society. Not that it ceased to be afterwards, but it was such in a different way. The further we go back in time (especially prior to the creation of the crossbow mechanism), the more warfare is linked to individual skill and valour.

    Hence a good warrior (or the best one) usually became a formal leader, and was always a non-formal leader in his society. We can see it in the way ancient sagas and myths are constructed. The hero is always a warrior (sometimes a cunning one, sometimes a brave one, sometimes an unbeatable or strong one). The Roman republic was based on warfare and advancing in society required that one was an accomplished military leader.

    Of course, rose tinted glasses aside, war is an ugly business of death, blood, tears and suffering through various forms. Yet, if there must be war, would not one prefer the war of individual skill, physical ability and valour than to the nameless and faceless mass of the post mass conscription method which has lead up to combined arms?

    I am not saying that modern day soldiers do not have individual skill and valour, indeed there is a difference between a chump with an AK and a pro soldier. However, basically anyone can kill anyone else through gunfire. And the soldiers nowadays do not play a pivotal role in society. Their voices are never heard, courtesy of modern military doctrine. We don't need a Praetorian Guard which changes our leaders whenever it sees fit, but the de-humanization of the warrior has lead to society being separated from the whole aspect of war. Unless it's on your doorstep.

    IMO humanity cannot escape war. Unless the green men invade, we will never set aside our differences (real or imagined). Greed will always prevail. Yet I somehow see a positive influence of the image of the valorous and heroic warrior on past societies, and I miss that.

    Heck, I miss the coming of age aspect and the role model aspect they provided. A young boy in a tribal, classical or medieval society wishes to become a man worthy of the title. Being a man was indeed a title, earned through a coming of age ritual. It was not a given, one was not entitled to being a man because he grew stubble on his chin. The boy had to prove to other men that he was capable. And he looked up to the biggest, best and most acclaimed warriors of his society and wanted to become like them.

    What are our current role models? Do we even have any which inspire the desire for one to improve himself? To become stronger, tougher, more disciplined? IMO the youth of today (myself included) could use some discipline and such role models. I don't like seeing squishy, pale faced teenage boys with dyed and straightened hair and nail polish. And don't tell me that a 15 year old knows that "that is who he is". It's not a matter of sexual preference either. It's a matter of turning boys into men. Somehow modern society is missing the whole coming of age thing, and we are spoiling children more and more with the ever widening no man's land called "teenager".

    There used to be no teenagers in history, only children and adults. Right now, this "not quite grownup" group is being pampered into becoming moma's boys. Then the women complain that they get jellyfish for boyfriends who can't let go of their mother's skirt. Unless your life molds you into becoming an adult, you could get some psychological issues (Jung speaks of this, the subconscious sexual fantasies of the cradle) just by virtue of the society we live in. It lacks direction and motivation for the youth to seek to become men of value.

    I'm not saying let's all be like North Korea and have 50% of our population employed in the army. Nor am I saying let's breed more soldiers to go kill more people. I'm saying, let's replace the image of Achilles, Hector and Alexander with something else which kids can aspire to. Or am I wrong? Is my way of thinking archaic?
    The art of war, then, is governed by five constant
    factors, to be taken into account in one's deliberations,
    when seeking to determine the conditions obtaining in the field.

    These are: (1) The Moral Law; (2) Heaven; (3) Earth;
    (4) The Commander; (5) Method and discipline.
    Sun Tzu, "The Art of War"
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    Headless Senior Member Pannonian's Avatar
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    Default Re: How war has influenced ancient, classical and medieval societies

    Quote Originally Posted by Myth View Post
    What are our current role models?
    TV provides the answer.

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    Horse Archer Senior Member Sarmatian's Avatar
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    Default Re: How war has influenced ancient, classical and medieval societies

    Quote Originally Posted by Myth View Post
    I'm not saying let's all be like North Korea and have 50% of our population employed in the army. Nor am I saying let's breed more soldiers to go kill more people. I'm saying, let's replace the image of Achilles, Hector and Alexander with something else which kids can aspire to. Or am I wrong? Is my way of thinking archaic?
    In the words of master Yoda, who is wisest across all galaxies, wars don't make anyone great.

    Meditate on that you must, Myth.

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    Default Re: How war has influenced ancient, classical and medieval societies

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    "The good man is the man who, no matter how morally unworthy he has been, is moving to become better."
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  5. #5
    Strategist and Storyteller Member Myth's Avatar
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    Default Re: How war has influenced ancient, classical and medieval societies

    Guys, i was hoping for serious debate here. SHAMEFUR DSIPRAY!

    Last edited by Myth; 04-29-2014 at 18:43.
    The art of war, then, is governed by five constant
    factors, to be taken into account in one's deliberations,
    when seeking to determine the conditions obtaining in the field.

    These are: (1) The Moral Law; (2) Heaven; (3) Earth;
    (4) The Commander; (5) Method and discipline.
    Sun Tzu, "The Art of War"
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    Senior Member Senior Member gaelic cowboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: How war has influenced ancient, classical and medieval societies

    Link below to this author who was on talk radio the last day.

    He seemed to address a few points relevant to this OP


    Ian Morris WAR! WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?
    They slew him with poison afaid to meet him with the steel
    a gallant son of eireann was Owen Roe o'Neill.

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    Headless Senior Member Pannonian's Avatar
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    Default Re: How war has influenced ancient, classical and medieval societies

    Quote Originally Posted by Gelatinous Cube View Post
    War isn't the answer
    War is definitely the answer if the question is what word do you get if you spell raw backwards.

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    Member Member Greyblades's Avatar
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    Default Re: How war has influenced ancient, classical and medieval societies

    “Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.”
    Socrates.

    I've always liked the idea of making everyone do 2 years of Service either in the military or in some kind of social work, but I suspect all those European states stopped doing that for a reason so I really don't know.
    Because conscription rarely win's votes.
    Last edited by Greyblades; 04-29-2014 at 20:06.
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    Iron Fist Senior Member Husar's Avatar
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    Default Re: How war has influenced ancient, classical and medieval societies

    Modern day society also lacks the aspect of living under one roof with all the house animals such as cows, pigs, chickens and then slaughtering them behind the house when the time has come. Modern society lacks the community spirit to get along with or kill your immediate neighbors instead of chatting with people several kilometers away. Modern society lack the black and white view of child/adult and friend/enemy that used to make discussing politics so simple, straightforward and effective unless the lord of the land said you are wrong. Modern society lacks the bond between rulers and subjects where the former would take good care of the latter in return for some labor-favors. Modern society lacks the natural checks and balances that would let the unworthy and weak die because they could not keep up, or just wipe out a third of the population. Modern society lacks the spiritual leadership that would tell the children who they should start a crusade against before they die on the way there. Modern society lacks the traditional gender roles where the man's role was to define what the roles are about. Modern society lacks the inspiring stories where we all live on a big tree and Thor has a really big hammer (true story!). Modern society lacks the sense of sacrifice where people want to die for the aforementioned guy with the hammer to achieve a benefit for society. Modern society lacks brigands, who could turn travel between cities into an actual adventure. Modern society lacks simple rules to live by, like might makes right and the winner takes it all.

    Let's all just hope that the Ukraine crisis really blows up to remind us all that we are pussies and that real men with the right attitude don't need nukes to win elegantly, but will do so anyway.


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    Horse Archer Senior Member Sarmatian's Avatar
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    Default Re: How war has influenced ancient, classical and medieval societies

    If Jesus could sleep in the stables (or was it a barn? (what's the difference between the two?)), so can we.

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    Headless Senior Member Pannonian's Avatar
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    Default Re: How war has influenced ancient, classical and medieval societies

    Quote Originally Posted by Gelatinous Cube View Post
    You know, its possible to criticize the things that are bad about modern society without also lamenting the time when we all slept with the family cows.
    Is that an American hazing ritual? Did you use protection?

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    Shadow Senior Member Kagemusha's Avatar
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    Default Re: How war has influenced ancient, classical and medieval societies

    War is never a good thing, but i would just like to point out that there are Western democracies that still have large popular support for conscription. Like for example Switzerland and Finland that both have akin 70% support for conscription in a way of either mandatory military or civil service. In my opinion it is a great way to teach young people how to work together and in a sense diminish unnecessary extreme individualism. To me conscription as purely military means is becoming somewhat obsolete unless applied in extreme conditions like for example in Israel, where maintaining large enough professional forces would be quite impossible, but i can definitely see it having benefits, if applied in democratic society, while it of course has its downsides as well.

    I have always found it interesting why there is such big dislike towards conscription in the Anglosphere part of the world. Maybe our members from such countries might be able to shed some light in the issue?
    Ja Mata Tosainu Sama.

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    Member Member Greyblades's Avatar
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    Default Re: How war has influenced ancient, classical and medieval societies

    I have always found it interesting why there is such big dislike towards conscription in the Anglosphere part of the world. Maybe our members from such countries might be able to shed some light in the issue?
    World War 1.
    Last edited by Greyblades; 04-29-2014 at 20:46.
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    Headless Senior Member Pannonian's Avatar
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    Default Re: How war has influenced ancient, classical and medieval societies

    Quote Originally Posted by Kagemusha View Post
    I have always found it interesting why there is such big dislike towards conscription in the Anglosphere part of the world. Maybe our members from such countries might be able to shed some light in the issue?
    Britain, as an island, has not had to endure war on its land (with rare exceptions). So the military has not been a fact of life as much as it's been on the continent, and while doing a necessary service, were both distant and comprised of the lower sections of society (Wellington's scum of the earth).

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    Shadow Senior Member Kagemusha's Avatar
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    Default Re: How war has influenced ancient, classical and medieval societies

    Quote Originally Posted by Greyblades View Post
    World War 1.
    Its not like only English died in World War 1. Sorry too hazy to satisfy my curiosity. Maybe UK have had professional armies for so long that the thought of conscription have become less attractive? Already because of Geographical issues UK has not have a dire need for huge armies in numerical sense in most of her conflicts. Could that be at least a partial reason for dislike?

    EDIT: Apparently Pannonian already answered my question before is asked it.
    Last edited by Kagemusha; 04-29-2014 at 20:45.
    Ja Mata Tosainu Sama.

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    Strategist and Storyteller Member Myth's Avatar
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    Default Re: How war has influenced ancient, classical and medieval societies

    Quote Originally Posted by Pannonian View Post
    Britain, as an island, has not had to endure war on its land (with rare exceptions). So the military has not been a fact of life as much as it's been on the continent, and while doing a necessary service, were both distant and comprised of the lower sections of society (Wellington's scum of the earth).
    That's cause your longbowmen are overpowered plus the AI sucks at naval invasions.
    Last edited by Myth; 04-29-2014 at 20:50. Reason: will write srs responce lateron phone now
    The art of war, then, is governed by five constant
    factors, to be taken into account in one's deliberations,
    when seeking to determine the conditions obtaining in the field.

    These are: (1) The Moral Law; (2) Heaven; (3) Earth;
    (4) The Commander; (5) Method and discipline.
    Sun Tzu, "The Art of War"
    Like totalwar.org on Facebook!

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  17. #17
    Horse Archer Senior Member Sarmatian's Avatar
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    Default Re: How war has influenced ancient, classical and medieval societies

    Quote Originally Posted by Myth View Post
    That's cause your longbowmen are overpowered plus the AI sucks at naval invasions.
    Which game are we talking about? Oh, wait, it's like that in all of them. British lobby has been the death of the strategy games industry.

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  18. #18
    Member Member Greyblades's Avatar
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    Default Re: How war has influenced ancient, classical and medieval societies

    To clarify my earlier post: The first world war also entailed the first major conscription effort in the Empire, and it resulted in a complete clusterfuck that killed off enire communities, there were few families that didnt lose a member to the war and noone could say why. In the aftermath the nation had to deal with thousands of ex soldiers that couldnt function in society and those that could were staunchly against ever doing it again.

    In some way our nation's leaders lucked out with the nazi's the second time round, without an actual enemy that deserved fighting we'd probably have warred ourselves into complete isolationism.
    Last edited by Greyblades; 04-29-2014 at 20:59.
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    Headless Senior Member Pannonian's Avatar
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    Default Re: How war has influenced ancient, classical and medieval societies

    Quote Originally Posted by Myth View Post
    That's cause your longbowmen are overpowered plus the AI sucks at naval invasions.
    Just thank the gaming gods the amphibious AI wasn't programmed by Germans, or it would have sucked even worse. Maybe CA should employ American programmers to do that part of their AI, as they're pretty good at doing invasions, although their AIs tend to massively overdo the invasion forces.

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    has a Senior Member HoreTore's Avatar
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    Default Re: How war has influenced ancient, classical and medieval societies

    Quote Originally Posted by Sarmatian View Post
    If Jesus could sleep in the stables (or was it a barn? (what's the difference between the two?)), so can we.
    Stables are for horsies, barns are for moo-moo's.

    And Giovanni Gentile approves of the OP.
    Still maintain that crying on the pitch should warrant a 3 match ban

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  21. #21
    Member Member Greyblades's Avatar
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    Default Re: How war has influenced ancient, classical and medieval societies

    That's cause your longbowmen are overpowered plus the AI sucks at naval invasions.
    Our longbow's arent overpowered, the AI just have a habit of being too stupid to know that cavalry charges into stakes is a bad idea.
    Last edited by Greyblades; 04-29-2014 at 21:06.
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    Horse Archer Senior Member Sarmatian's Avatar
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    Default Re: How war has influenced ancient, classical and medieval societies

    Quote Originally Posted by Pannonian View Post
    Just thank the gaming gods the amphibious AI wasn't programmed by Germans, or it would have sucked even worse. Maybe CA should employ American programmers to do that part of their AI, as they're pretty good at doing invasions, although their AIs tend to massively overdo the invasion forces.
    Saxons and Normans could actually do a good job. Now, Spanish programmers doing a naval invasion AI, that's a recipe for disaster.

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    Senior Member Senior Member gaelic cowboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: How war has influenced ancient, classical and medieval societies

    Quote Originally Posted by Greyblades View Post


    Because conscription rarely win's votes.
    sometimes it even loses you a chunck of land that was considered as British as Kent

    Conscription Crisis of 1918


    It destroyed the Irish Parlimentary Party which had gotten an assurance of Home Rule after WW1.


    (A promise I believe the liberals would never have kept anyway)


    The linking of Home Rule and conscription killed the IPP and led to Sinn Fein starting the War of Independence.
    Last edited by gaelic cowboy; 04-29-2014 at 21:31.
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    Banned Kadagar_AV's Avatar
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    Default Re: How war has influenced ancient, classical and medieval societies

    Quote Originally Posted by Greyblades View Post


    Because conscription rarely win's votes.
    Maybe where you are from...

    Quite a lot of countries, and people, support it.

    Also, those who support it are often more likely to deem it an important political question, compared to those who are against it but don't care much either way.

    I guess it's because the "against conscription" side only have vague idealistic ideas of what's good and not... While people for conscription often have very matter of factly arguments (turning boys to men being one good argument).

    At least that's how I look on it.


    Myth's OP was interesting, and I give him right in his general reasoning. "Teenagers" get away with way too much, on top of that, they stay teenagers well into their 20's - mentally and practically.

    Heck, in Sweden, it's quite normal nowadays for 25 year olds to live at home with mom and dad... That didn't use to be the case (immigration also plays a part in this specific problem though, as we simply don't have homes for everyone with the extreme influx of immigrants we accept).

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    has a Senior Member HoreTore's Avatar
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    Default Re: How war has influenced ancient, classical and medieval societies

    Swedes live at home* because they don't have jobs. That's got nothing to do with housing issues.

    Anyway, as for instituting conscription:




    *those who haven't fled to Oslo to become glorious banana peelers, that is.
    Still maintain that crying on the pitch should warrant a 3 match ban

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  26. #26
    Strategist and Storyteller Member Myth's Avatar
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    Default Re: How war has influenced ancient, classical and medieval societies

    First of all, as much as I respect and like Husar, I don't see his counter arguments anywhere. I mostly see a straw man argument. I'm not looking at ancient societies with some idealistic romatnic notion that "everything was better". There is no need to bring in the failings of feudalism, the black plague, highwaymen (who still exist BTW, go us right?). Religion bashing is also there, though I find it funny. IMO it's better for my son to want to fight and die for the glory of Odin like a real man than to become a Scientologist or what other new bullshit they come up with. Gender roles, war etc. - Husar you touch on so many subjects which we STILL haven't fixed, us being so modern and all. Heck, your post outlines 90% of the stuff we argue about today and most of the things which make people get infracted here

    Who would kids look up to nowadays? Most of the real alpha men become successful business men or athletes, but they're a small part of the equation. Still, It's better for your kid to admire your nation's greatest boxer or football player. At least he's not a corrupt weasel or bureaucrat. You can't seriosly tell me that hearing "Gee dad, I want to be just like Tony Blair when I grow up" will not make you cringe. Not bashing TB or Britain here, just giving an example (Geroge W. Bush was just too comic to even give as such an example).

    Also, I'm not implying that mandatory military service is the panacea to this issue, though I do find a correlation to its removal in 2003 and the increase of youth in our lands that look like this: https://img84.imageshack.us/img84/8366/2950230hr7.jpg

    And don't tell me you guys have it better - I see Swedish and German young adults (lol) when they come over to our beaches. It's sad and/or pathetic.

    Also, I admire HoreTore's intellect. He keeps finding new and innovative ways to call someone a Nazi. Sieg Heil my friend.

    My point was that society offers no real way for our kids to enter the adult life. Unless your dad is a bad enough dude, you've got problems. Heck, even Japan has a better model with their extra curricular (called clubs) and their constant drive for everyone to do their best.
    Last edited by Myth; 04-29-2014 at 22:12.
    The art of war, then, is governed by five constant
    factors, to be taken into account in one's deliberations,
    when seeking to determine the conditions obtaining in the field.

    These are: (1) The Moral Law; (2) Heaven; (3) Earth;
    (4) The Commander; (5) Method and discipline.
    Sun Tzu, "The Art of War"
    Like totalwar.org on Facebook!

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    The Black Senior Member Papewaio's Avatar
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    Default Re: How war has influenced ancient, classical and medieval societies

    Stories have a limited number of particapents so the listener/reader can follow along.

    Ancient society stories tend to focus on the heroes, leaders and game changers. They are no more an accurate portrait of life then a Hollywood movie. Spoiler alert there was no magical Golden Fleece. For every Alexander there was a legion of followers. And for every legion there was logistical support from baggage train to smiths to cooks to camp followers.

    Believe it or not only a fraction of most societies were ever of the warrior class and plenty of others found adulthood through more constructive means.

    Nor is war often won by a lone individuals skill at arms. Most of the time it came down to gold, logistics, patience, cunning and tactics (both brave, cunning and horrific). It's not like the Macedonian pikemen were in any different a position to a modern rifleman. We forget that most of the wars are fought by grunts and for us to comprehend the complexities we simplify them and hang the glory on the leaders.
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    Iron Fist Senior Member Husar's Avatar
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    Default Re: How war has influenced ancient, classical and medieval societies

    Quote Originally Posted by Gelatinous Cube View Post
    You know, its possible to criticize the things that are bad about modern society without also lamenting the time when we all slept with the family cows.
    That still doesn't explain why hazing rituals are a good thing. I find them horribly stupid and outdated.

    Quote Originally Posted by Myth View Post
    First of all, as much as I respect and like Husar, I don't see his counter arguments anywhere. I mostly see a straw man argument. I'm not looking at ancient societies with some idealistic romatnic notion that "everything was better".
    Of course not, I wasn't even directly replying to you, but I still think that hazing rituals and manly manliness are overrated. I see Russia as a country where a lot of men follow these ideals and if you go to the Ukraine thread, you will see how much people like Russian behavior.

    Quote Originally Posted by Myth View Post
    highwaymen (who still exist BTW, go us right?).
    I said modern society.

    Quote Originally Posted by Myth View Post
    Religion bashing is also there, though I find it funny. IMO it's better for my son to want to fight and die for the glory of Odin like a real man than to become a Scientologist or what other new bullshit they come up with.
    How does scientology not qualify as a target of religion bashing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Myth View Post
    Gender roles, war etc. - Husar you touch on so many subjects which we STILL haven't fixed, us being so modern and all. Heck, your post outlines 90% of the stuff we argue about today and most of the things which make people get infracted here
    You mean the countries that advocate the manly manliness sort of behavior and hazing rituals the most still haven't fixed these issues. How is promoting manly behavior and advocating strength going to fix rivalries and unfairness? Or are you arguing that the way the world should be is that the strong take their rightful place above the weak?

    Quote Originally Posted by Myth View Post
    Who would kids look up to nowadays?
    Men with morals who actually stand by what they say and don't need manly hazing rituals to be able to pretend that they are someone.

    Quote Originally Posted by Myth View Post
    Most of the real alpha men become successful business men or athletes, but they're a small part of the equation. Still, It's better for your kid to admire your nation's greatest boxer or football player. At least he's not a corrupt weasel or bureaucrat.
    Yeah, they just become really stupid moderators (on TV, I see this could be misunderstood), opposition politicians in their home countries or go broke because they never learned anything to feed them after their career. I'm not sure that's what I'd want my child to go for, not to mention that not every child is made for that sort of sport.

    Quote Originally Posted by Myth View Post
    You can't seriosly tell me that hearing "Gee dad, I want to be just like Tony Blair when I grow up" will not make you cringe. Not bashing TB or Britain here, just giving an example (Geroge W. Bush was just too comic to even give as such an example).
    Maybe it's the dad's failure if his son chooses Tony Blair over Angela Merkel.

    Quote Originally Posted by Myth View Post
    Also, I'm not implying that mandatory military service is the panacea to this issue, though I do find a correlation to its removal in 2003 and the increase of youth in our lands that look like this: https://img84.imageshack.us/img84/8366/2950230hr7.jpg
    Did you check for other potential factors or are you just using completely unfounded anecdotal opinion?

    Quote Originally Posted by Myth View Post
    And don't tell me you guys have it better - I see Swedish and German young adults (lol) when they come over to our beaches. It's sad and/or pathetic.
    Why? Do you like to look at young naked men?

    Quote Originally Posted by Myth View Post
    My point was that society offers no real way for our kids to enter the adult life. Unless your dad is a bad enough dude, you've got problems. Heck, even Japan has a better model with their extra curricular (called clubs) and their constant drive for everyone to do their best.
    And their extracurricular suicide rate.
    Last edited by Husar; 04-30-2014 at 01:28.


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  29. #29
    The Black Senior Member Papewaio's Avatar
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    Default Re: How war has influenced ancient, classical and medieval societies

    Quote Originally Posted by Husar View Post
    That still doesn't explain why hazing rituals are a good thing. I find them horribly stupid and outdated.
    You need a clean slate to write a new program.

    If you look at the techniques in military training, boxing and cults you will see a lot of crossover.

    Cults often separate their recruits out from the general population, keep them very busy, deprive them of sleep and indoctrinate them on the rituals of the group.

    Boxing often has to train people out of bad habits and the grueling training is as much to train physical as well as mental stamina.

    So military training takes a bit out of the tricks of cults in general. A non destructive hazing ritual which disorientates the recruits, puts them through a difficult task and then joins them to the bigger team but teaching them tricks of the trade is proably a much more effective bonding ritual then a graduation parade.
    Our genes maybe in the basement but it does not stop us chosing our point of view from the top.
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    The rest is either as average as advertised or, in the case of the missionary, disappointing.

  30. #30
    Old Town Road Senior Member Strike For The South's Avatar
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    Default Re: How war has influenced ancient, classical and medieval societies

    If one more person tells me how to be a "real man". I will beat them up, screw their girlfriend and eat a steak
    There, but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford

    My aim, then, was to whip the rebels, to humble their pride, to follow them to their inmost recesses, and make them fear and dread us. Fear is the beginning of wisdom.

    I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation.

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