Which historical period would you prefer to live in?

9 posts

Bob Dylan Roof

Inspired by a Pontius Pilate Throwing Up 350 Pounds On The Bench poast at the phora, I decided to to create a thread here in order to see which historical period poasters would prefer to live in. I created the thread in the Philosophy subforum because, whereas Pontius' poast concerned strictly economic measures, I believe the question can only be adequately answered on the individual level by reference to economic and philosophical-moral-spiritual principles. Chuck Murray likes anything before 1963.


Post-human epoch.

President Camacho

Most interesting periods/places to live in and experience:

- 5th century BC Greece (or for that matter, 10th century BC Greece, since we know next to nothing about it)
- Byzantine Empire at the height of its power (4th-7th centuries)
- A Western soldier participating in the Crusades

The important thing in all these periods is participating in a living culture, surrounded by compatriots driven by the same world-feeling and sense of Destiny. The byproduct of the High Culture-- the Civilization-- reduces life into a series of material problems that need to solved and ignores or denigrates any metaphysical consideration of the human condition... hence Goethe's rebuttal to the world-improvers of every Civilization: "What is important in life is life and not a result of life."


Continuing Camacho's line,

I would have liked to have been a man in either John Brown's militia or Muhammed's.
The first crusade would have been amazing for the sheer, pure zealous fervor.. but they suffered a lot. Also, if I were a participant and had my memories from present day, it would ruin it for me because I know the Franks lose Jerusalem to the Muslims, and that in 900 years it'll be administered by a heap of kikes.

Niccolo and Donkey

Europe between 1918 and 1945 with specific focus on 1919 in Munich and Berlin, the late Weimar period, Spain during the Civil War and of course Croatia 1941-1945.

The era of tension, of political extremes, of the collapse of the legitimacy of democracy.

Bob Dylan Roof

I gather that living standards aren't as important for Camacho, Ango, and Niccolo. For me, I'll take Gronkowski or Lundgren genetics (and aesthetics) in 1,200 B.C., poised on the northern border of Greece with Iron Age gear to march through the civilized world appropriating wealth and women and burning the rest, singing great poetry and spreading my seed.

TL;DR digression here, but I like these Econ 101 class debates. The two times I've observed and participated, the professor began by asking whether we would prefer $1 million today or $1 million in 1900. Each professor was dumbfounded that 95% of the male students preferred 1900. The reasoning, I guess, is that the raw purchasing power of $1 million in 1900 conferred a greater amount of personal freedom and power (political influence, etc.) than $1 million today. The corollary is that, in contrast to the bookish prof, the alpha bros in econ 101 classes would rather take their chances and delight in raw power and freedom than engage in actuarial cost-benefit analysis of superior healthcare, transportation and communication capabilities, potential mate pool etc. If the professor had extended the time horizon to incorporate, say, the old kingdom period in Egypt, I'd wager that the percentages would remain the same, assuming that the option included Pharaoh-like power.

I mention Egypt because another common econ 101 theme is that the average working class American is wealthier than the most powerful Egyptian pharaoh. The Pharaoh may have commanded huge armies of warriors and forced laborers, but he still had to defecate in a compost toilet, suffer the medical "advice" of the day, live under the threat of Malthusian collapse etc. The reasoning in the 1900 scenario would nevertheless compel the choice of Egypt, probably for stronger reasons (at least for alpha bros.) Of course there's probably a point at which the marginal return on freedom and power dips below zero (perhaps in the anxiety of the state of nature in prehistory), but that certainly didn't apply for Pharaohs.

President Camacho
I don't think this is a case of "alpha bros" being too stupid to realize that 1900 was lagging technologically compared to the modern day. Humans are social creatures and they don't assess themselves in terms of their freestanding "wellbeing"; this is one of prime assumptions and simultaneously one of the main weaknesses of economics. People-- and men especially-- will assess themselves first and foremost with respect to their relative position within a given social hierarchy. The professor posed an "economics" question, but the answers he received had nothing to do with economics, which demonstrates that most people aren't even wired to think the way that these bean counters would assume.

There is an economics study similar to the question your professor posed that demonstrates this hierarchical principle more clearly: Respondents were asked if they would prefer to earn $100,000 per year in a world where the median salary was $120,000 per year, or if they'd rather make $80,000 per year in a world where the median salary was $60,000 per year. Every other factor-- the society's state of technological advancement, purchasing power, job type, etc, was held constant across both hypothetical worlds, but nevertheless the vast majority chose the latter option.

In other words, people value power over absolute wealth or nebulous concepts such as "happiness". And in democracies at least, "power" is largely a function of relative wealth .
Bob Dylan Roof
I didn't intend to imply that. I voted for 1900, too.
Bob Dylan Roof