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The evolution of society through eyes of Ibn Khaldun

Thesis: The three conditions of nomadic life, agricultural life and urban civil life are defined in writings of Ibn Khaldun as three successive stages in development of civilization.

At first, man was a nomad living on milk, meat and wild fruits, then he became a farmer, settled on land, devoted himself to daily work, and finally built cities, ushering in an age of true civilization.

These three social conditions are characterized by many complex differences, nomads are poor, content with meager and rough food, live in small compact tribes, their main occupation is agriculture in desert. They move from one place to another.

They are constantly on move, rude and ferocious, and by very nature of their existence are hostile to any form of construction. If they need rocks to support potholes, they destroy buildings to get them, and if they need wood to make tent poles, they destroy roofs.

A race of robbers and thieves, always inclined to steal other people's property by force, to win wealth by sword, equality and democracy, these tribes at best attribute some moral authority to some richer and more courageous family than average man, but real government does not exist, and public opinion prevails over law.

Author's point of view: Building buildings is first step towards civilization, says Ibn Khaldun.

The evolution of society through eyes of Ibn Khaldun

This is how civilization began, when first farming villages appeared in midst of cultivated fields... Man established himself on ground, first with peasant huts, which is already a huge improvement compared to mobile tents of nomads. But soon this was not enough, and we pushed foundation of city further.

The author believes that construction of cities is last stage of civilization, with all sophistication of art.

Ibn Kaldun wrote:In this being, civilization means introduction of every kind of luxury, seeking to cultivate all delicacy and enthusiasm of arts, such as those invented to improve cooking Objects, clothing, buildings, carpets, pottery and everything else, what is included in housekeeping.

Industry grows, classes divide, government organizes itself, and at apex of society stands monarch, on whom depends a complex administration surrounded by courts, with strict etiquette and a complex tax system for him and needs of country provided great wealth.

Such a political organization presupposes a large population, which, as Arab philosophers deeply remark, is no longer divided into tribes, but into classes, above which stand rich extended families, surrounded by clients and servants, they usually own most of land and always monopolize high state functions.

Bottom is a mass of petty civil servants, professionals, businessmen, industrialists, a whole class of free people trying to earn a living by mental or physical labor.

They are followed by rural or urban workers, servants or slaves, and above and to some extent independent of all these classes is clergy, if in this case the word is bold. numerous monasteries in which Muslims are devout are scattered throughout Asia and Africa.

The evolution of society through eyes of Ibn Khaldun

Ibn Khaldun's description of this complex organization is detailed and undoubtedly one of most insightful analyzes ever written about Muslim society.

But Ibn Kaldun did not limit himself to describing various conditions of social life, he also tried to explain why people moved from one state to another, why nomads became settled, savages civilized and to a certain extent succeeded.

Ibn Khaldun's theory, although somewhat imperfect and artificial, is one of most ingenious, Arab sociologist admits to be a kind of ongoing struggle.

And, given constant upheavals and fierce battles of era in which Ibn Khaldun lived, it is impossible not to see war as one of main phenomena of social life.

In fact, concept of Ibn Kaldun was close to concept of Gumplovich, who imagined life of an eternal struggle controlled by laws between different groups of people on Earth.

But there are different kinds of human groups, and this struggle is infinitely varied, so for whom is victory intended and on what factors does success depend?

Ibn Khaldun, deeper than many modern sociologists and historians, never imagined that final outcome of struggle between two human groups would depend on ability of a good commander or a bad commander.

The author claims that: The law goes deeper because it makes triumph of group cohesion contingent on what he calls "spirit of body" in which spirit of body, that is, harmony of intellect and unity of will defeats a large group held together by a weaker body and mind.

The evolution of society through eyes of Ibn Khaldun

This law was absolutely true for Muslim societies in 14th century and explains why nomadic tribes always triumphed over organized states.

Ibn Khaldun explains that this is one of his main strengths, ability to deeply understand a phenomenon that modern sociologists do not pay enough attention to: radical revolutions that change society when tribal organizations fail.

Among nomadic and barbarian tribes, spirit of body is strong, and its members are inspired by a stern but passionate patriotism, perfect blend of tradition, memory and prejudice that unites all people into one mighty knot.

On other hand, formation of a large state is always accompanied by internal disintegration of a large number of tribes, ancient members of which become subjects of Sultan or basic unit of a larger and more complex whole.

At same time, spirit of body, imperial subject, is weakening, where ranks, classes, functions, interests, families and peoples are so diverse that they no longer unite with other subjects in way that members of egalitarian small tribes unite with each other Solidarity.

Thus, while Empire had a huge numerical, intellectual, and economic advantage over Horde, it suffered from internal weaknesses that made it easy prey for Horde's brutal physical and mental energy.

The evolution of society through eyes of Ibn Khaldun

According to this law, civilization spreads from person to person, and according to Arab sociologists, war is means of its greatness, and nomadic tribes that roamed civil empires came to strive for wealth, comfort and luxury in that society.

Excited to highest degree by their greedy instincts, they began to divide borders of country into small pieces, rejected on principle, but soon returned with increasing impudence to multiply success of first robbery.

Eventually, they overran empire in great numbers and overran it, replacing ancient rule. But, having seized power and seized sources of wealth, these nomadic savages quickly mastered their passion for luxury.

They adapted to political organization of empire, which gradually changed and superimposed on ancient organization of tribe, as tribe disintegrated, spirit of body weakened in group of victorious warriors, new invasions of nomads came, and new governments would fall, striking with same weapons, as his predecessors.

In short, for Ibn Kaldun and Gumplovitch, upper classes of society are made up of foreigners who impose themselves by force and must be driven out by force.

This ingenious theory is mostly true of Muslim societies studied by Ibn Kaldun, except that it has a flaw that leaves a gap, it explains spread of civilization due to wars, but does not explain origin of first civilization that became center attraction of nomadic savages, clearly could not, in turn, be born of war.

According to an Arab sociologist, this is how empires are formed, and in this respect it is curious how close he is to a modern concept widely discussed in this era: the concept of a social organism.

Reconciliation between biological and social organisms is found in theory of Ibn Khaldun,Author's Viewpoint: He admits that "Empires, like people, have their own life", that they are formed similarly. They are born, develop and die according to organic laws regulating existence of organisms.

The evolution of society through eyes of Ibn Khaldun

He writes: "Live as individuals: they grow, reach maturity, and then begin to fall. The moment of degradation will come sooner or later, because no force can hasten or delay it."

However, Ibn Khaldun was not satisfied with assertion that empire as an organism must perish; metaphor was not enough for him. He wants to know why they die and analyze mysterious mechanisms that cause them to rot.

This part of study of Arab sociologists is perhaps most profound and original, and, of course, we cannot attach too much importance to conclusions of Ibn Khaldun, since he studied only decline of Muslim societies.

His theory therefore only deals with this type of society, bureaucratic and military empires that emerged from Islam, but his observations are no less valuable, as administrative military empires are most common political form.

The Roman Empire was nothing else, and Ibn Khaldun had good fortune to carefully study some small empires that existed for a short time, in which process of decay was easier than in huge organizations of great empires, so it is in this respect that his research deserves special attention.

Politics in Muslim countries has always included administrative exploitation of conquered peoples, consisting of warrior castes, among barbarian tribes who invaded rich and civilized countries of Persia, Egypt and North Africa, subjugated population, taxed it and divided it.

This is story of almost all Muslim countries, where all members of conquering tribes found their livelihood at expense of conquered people, as civil or military officials, because in principle Islam is not ruled by fanatical ones, it is not spread by believers, but by a skeptical bureaucracy that wants to expand scope of its operation in world.

Therefore, second caliph, Umar, established social power of emerging Islam on a granite foundation, organized converts into a corps of government-paid officials, and announced after conquest of Persia that all who became Muslims would all be enrolled in army and would receive salaries from state budget .

The evolution of society through eyes of Ibn Khaldun

Ibn Khaldun examined decline of these military bureaucracies, noting that initially, when empire building was not far behind, conquering peoples had a period of great prosperity, mainly in their extraordinary growth.

The reason for rapid population growth of conquerors is simply sudden transformation of victorious tribes from impoverished, constantly starving nomads to owners of rich empires, existence of which is more or less guaranteed.

Sometimes even an increase in family size can lead to an immediate increase in income as father collects an annual payment for each child.

On other hand, an increase in conquering population would in principle increase power of empire, adding to ranks of army, given that in Muslim societies, reasons favoring population growth were accompanied by a polygamous family. formations, it is easy to understand mechanism of this phenomenon, which Arab sociologists have long insisted on.

But this golden age of empire did not last long, first symptoms of old age appeared early, and conquerors, who made up military class, soon lost habit of barbaric life.

As population increased, passion for luxury took over, therefore, on one hand, number of people who wanted to live at expense of country increased.

On other hand, demand is growing along with luxury, old salaries are no longer enough, we need to increase them.

As economy prospers, cost of treasury automatically increases, and she can no longer cope in a short period of time without dishonoring herself.

In addition, "sultan", wrote Ibn Kaldun, "ordered officers to keep savings to cover cost of transport. in test.

Point of view: When population increases and luxury goods are promoted, sultan is obliged to increase number of his employees and raise their wages, this needs money, and state requires money from taxes.

The evolution of society through eyes of Ibn Khaldun

But Ibn Kaldun was well aware that even taxes are subject to laws that transcend whims of man, arguing that taxes create a fixed amount that cannot be increased or decreased, while increase that people hope to get by imposing special taxes. also an insurmountable limit. And demand of wage laborers always increases automatically, because as soon as wages rise, luxuries immediately make new progress, and soon wages demand a new rise.

Eventually, day will come when public finances can no longer keep up with growing demand, and regular payments to soldiers, especially younger ones, will no longer be made.

Soldiers are dwindling, army is greatly impoverished, it becomes discouraged, loses all moral cohesion, nation's military strength wanes, and in great rivalry of rising and falling empires, moment of destruction draws near.

The originality and greatness of Ibn Khaldun lies primarily in fact that he achieved general concept of civilization five centuries ago, and he is undoubtedly best suited for this work due to coexistence and struggle of nomadic tribes and fundamental contrast between organized societies must have inspired a mind as profound as his own to analyze difference between two states.

Even his merits seem strange, considering difficulties with which European thought came to same concept, Machiavelli himself, one of greatest and deepest minds that ever lived, was much narrower in volume, because basically he confines himself to studying rules of political tactics, without coming to conclusion that social life is governed by eternal laws.

Machiavelli studied how people gained and lost power, but he did not study how barbarians became civilized and how civilized empires declined through internal processes of decay, as Ibn Khaldun did.

It is necessary to contact Vico to find such conceptual breadth and a first look at this great idea of ​​"civilization" that has become so popular in this century, although fuzzy and vague in many places. had such an impact on modern psyche.

However, in fourteenth century, an Arab philosopher uttered a word and defined a thing.

The evolution of society through eyes of Ibn Khaldun

But Arab sociologist did more:He was able to rise to concept of a skeptical attitude towards civilization, he did not bow to or despise civilization and was absolutely independent of spirit.

Author's point of view: Ibn Khaldun had before him two types of society: Arab tribes in desert, nomads, warriors, poor people, people without government, people without civilization, people big and small in Asia and Africa Muslim empire, society , organized by class and hierarchy, was ruled by a military class and relatively mild despotism.

A comparison of these two types of society captures spirit of Arab philosopher from first to last page of his magnum opus, he weighs their vices and qualities from time to time, but cannot draw conclusions and decide which one is better than other.

The nomadic tribe was poor and often tormented by hunger, and even in their days of abundance they were often forced to practice most painful virtues of penance.

On contrary, abstinence and even fasting are good, for they keep mind cheerful and limbs light, while excess food dulls mind and burdens body.

Moreover, when you have habit of living on an empty stomach, you don't know what a disease is. Nomads do not need doctors, and medicine is one of arts that a civilized person needs most of all.

“Diseases abound among settled peoples and townspeople, because they live in abundance and eat diversely. They are not satisfied with food alone, everyone eats without protection.

The customs of nomadic life are violent and ferocious, but civilization, if it mitigates passions, increases debauchery, willful evil, dishonesty, and tendency to use all means, good or bad, for gain.

Fraud is becoming a common vice, and in nomadic life, under tents, naive and rude puritanism imposes respect on women, and no one even allows himself to swear in front of them, on other hand, civilized people, familiarize yourself with all forms of debauchery.

The author believes that even in political and social terms, civilization is a mixture of good and evil, and tribal anarchy ended with advent of civilization.

The evolution of society through eyes of Ibn Khaldun

The state was organized, concentrated in one large state, in a complex administrative apparatus, which made development of social life, art and wealth quite safe.

But, on other hand, Ibn Khaldun believed that submission to power angers people and humiliates them, empire needs money and it receives it through taxes, but, according to Arab sociologists, submission to donations The tribe will become discouraged and lose them natural energy.

Moreover, governments are always patriarchal and benevolent at first, but over time they become tyrannical and end up corrupting very subjects they benefit.

Social relations undoubtedly expand with civilization, ancient member of a small tribe becomes a subject of a large state, basic unit of a gigantic body.

But at same time ancestral spirit that was so alive and powerful is gone, these huge gatherings of men have very little cohesion, and personality gets weaker as it moves from tribe to nation. That is why civilized peoples are easy prey for savages.

Finally, and this is culmination of sociological theory of Ibn Kaldun, civilization is not subject to laws of eternal progress, direct development.

It unfolds in an elliptical motion, returning to its starting point - barbarism, highest degree of progress of people, starting point of decline.

Due to complex process of decay that we analyzed above, empires collapsed and civilizations disappeared, an unknown force, a mysterious law of nature, pushed people to limit of barbarism, civilized people, forced Man to return to barbarism.

Author's point of view: Neither barbarism nor civilization have an eternal and exact meaning, they are two states of human life that inevitably follow each other in an eternal and automatic cycle.

The evolution of society through eyes of Ibn Khaldun

Human labor has no eternal purpose and does not create anything, but immediately makes itself prey of destructive forces of nature, and then nature only serves to supply ruins of destruction with new material for work, creative genius of man. man Provide new work material.

In this grandiose skeptical conception of humanity and history, social life no longer makes any sense, absurdity of action, an almost insane soul, from point of view of humble human logic. On a whim he delights in mindless work of creating destruction and destroying creation.

Like a true philosopher, Ibn Kaldun effortlessly gave up trying to penetrate this blind game of power, he simply wanted to try to describe it in detail, to reveal to humanity people, tribes, social classes and legal mechanism on which happiness and misfortune of Empire depended.

Following these ideas, Ibn Khaldun produced a work which, despite its confusion, childishness, childish generalizations and verbosity, is a remarkable monument to Arabic thought.

His own good conscience prompted him to declare - last curious coincidence, four centuries before Vico's proud phrase: "I created a new science." a remarkable new science, both in originality of its ideas and in its immense usefulness. We discovered it as a result of research and deep reflection.


Social formsFerrero

Imprimérie ImpérialeIbn Khaldun's Proletariat

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