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Civilization is an agreement among most of the people in a given area to not flip the fuck out and slaughter each other. Even those who are no strangers to love and don't know the rules.
More formally, Civilization is characterized by the struggle to eliminate intelligence, also called Progress.
Consequently, civilization is not popular with many young people, who decide to walk around like jackasses with their pants hanging down and pieces of metal stuck where metal really ought not be. They often listen to annoying music, like Chris Brown, or that Souldjah Boy shit.
However, Education has been used with great efficiency to eradicate intelligence amongst children and teenagers, and whatever residue is left is dealt in modern times through Leadership and other Management Science disciplines.
Civilization is based on agriculture. Prior to agriculture Man lived in a state of nature as a nomadic hunter gatherer. When he had depleted the food groups in one area he would just move on to the next, leaving the first area to regrow its food groups for a later "harvesting." Then Man said, "Enough with all this walking! Lets pen up our favorite food animals so when we want to eat one we won't have to chase it. And we'll grow plants to feed the animals." Woman knew better, but then as now no one listened.
As settled agriculturalists those people were well on the road to civilization. With a steady supply of food their numbers soon increased and they were able to support specialists to make luxury products no one could do without as soon as they were invented. Everyone had plenty of everything and no one was above or below anyone else- they weren't fully civilized yet.
Then came the raiders. They swooped in from the scenery itself, killing, burning and looting. The settled peoples scattered to survive. After the raiders were gone they returned to rebuild, replant and regrow. Once this was done, the raiders came again. And again and again; as soon as they had restored all they lost, the nomads were there to take it.
One day the nomads said, "Enough with all this riding! Lets pen up our victims so when we want to loot them we won't have to chase them. And instead of taking everything and killing them lets just take a little at a time, so instead of raiding them every few years we can tax them year-round."
Then they built high walls around the settlements and said, "It is for your protection." Also they moved into the biggest, nicest houses, which was also, "for your protection" and began making laws and dispensing justice, which was "for your protection" as well, though by this time "for your protection" clearly meant "for your protection from us."
Thereafter the people lived crowded within stone walls and oppressed by the administration of the nomads and their extortion racket. Now at last civilization had begun.
Civilization began in Ancient Europe around 1918 AD. Two guys, This Guy(America) and That Guy(Germany) were sitting on their mud huts whacking each other on the head, and That Guy decided to take his anger out on the helpless not-at-all racist Germany.
That Guy said to This Guy, "Did you ever notice our bodies don't hurt so much when we DON'T press these little trigger-thinger-maggigers when pointed at each other?"
That Guy responded, "No shit! You're right", but strangely, they continued the ritual without knowledge one can only take a certain amount of damage before they start to see pretty rainbows. duh.............. jackasses.
Early man was illiterate even if both his parents were married to each other. As a result he lived in a state of prehistory, which did not yet exist as prehistory is a modern term invented by literate people. Reading and writing were invented in response to the social pressures brought about by the recent invention of civilization, such as the need to rewrite history, which could hardly be done in the absence of writing.
Early business contracts were sealed by one partner stabbing a lump of clay with a sharp stylus, saying, "If ya don'ts pay when the Boss says, see, this'll happen to ya, see, and this..." The lump of clay would then be given to the business partner to keep for a reminder. From generic stab wounds the step to pictograms representing the contract was a small one, but even more directly damaging. Now when their was a business dispute, the offended party could produce his baked clay as a legal witness. Since the clay "spoke" it could be recognized as a legal person, and since after hardening it could not be changed, or "lie," it's word had more credibility than any flesh and bone person's.
This was big magic, and it was promptly taken over by a new priesthood known as the lawyers, who based their authority on knowledge of the mighty marks and understanding of the cryptic sayings of clay tablets. Most importantly, since peasants cowered before the power of the written word, the newly arisen lawyer class was able to replace the ancient rule of might makes right with a new one; write makes right, and the billable hours rolled in.
Prior to civilization was the law of the jungle, fair but ruthless; it's fairly considered ruthless because it is, and ruthlessly fair because everyone gets eaten in the end. The law of the jungle still holds in Earth's wilderness areas, urban ghettos and kindergartens. For the rest of us the law is law.
Law is the curse of literacy; before speech could be written, there was no greater authority than the "I say so" of the strongest man in the room, unless there was also a clever person present, in which case he or she could baffle him with bullshit. Wars only lasted as long as living memory recalled the original offense, Satan could not sign you to an enforceable contract, and the king could change the law just by saying, "It is no longer illegal to piss in the street," and then, while zipping up, "It is against the law to piss in the street." But with writing came the permanence of words. Now history books could hand war down from generation to generation, Satan could get you to sign on the dotted line, and the king may still piss in the street, but he has to write an amendment in the constitution exempting himself with twenty-nine sub-clauses to cover passers-by splatter and so forth, and the billable hours roll in.
In the early days law was indistinguishable from religion because this solves the enforcement problem; whereas the king cannot in person be every where at once enforcing his own laws, people who believe that laws are the will of the gods enforce themselves because the gods are always watching. Ironically, literacy, which created the problem of law, also mitigates its worse effects, because an educated, literate populace can come to dismiss divine revelation as holy fairy tales.
The earliest surviving legal code is the Code of Hamonbunofrye, a sandwich recipe enforced equally throughout Babylonanonon.
Undoubtedly among civilizations greatest benefits to mankind, war, scourge of the earth, sport of kings and likely the end of us all, first reared its head with the rise of civilization.
Organized conflict existed long before the rise of civilization in the form of tribal clashes and in-laws. But it was unrefined and lacking in glamor; also it was too personal as everyone knew everyone back then, and everyone always understood the reason for the fight, and when it was all over both sides could sit down for a beer and a talk. It can hardly be called war as we know it unless you're killing strangers for no reason you understand. The concentration of manpower in cities made kings able to muster masses of their citizens, teach them to march in rows, and then march them straight into the valley of death while they watched from a nearby hill. Thus the sport of kings was born.
Primitive raiding was done for things like horses and revenge over what he said about my momma; civilized war came to be characterized by different, socially sanctioned motivations like God said so, their skin is the wrong color and it's for the children. Impersonal war leads to impersonal slaughter, not like in the good old days when a man stole your horse you met him eye to eye, looking up because he was on your horse, and when he wouldn't give it back you ran away because you can't beat a man on horseback.
War also spurred the development of scientific knowledge in many fields, from chemistry to metallurgy to genetics there has never been a scientific advance which has not been exploited for warlike reasons, proving that war is both the impetuous and the point of all progress, the journey and the destination in one.
edit Marriage and Infidelity
Civilization further expanded as This Guy and That Guy realized other things worked better if they didn't always treat each other like shit.
For example, That Guy was pounding This Guy's Old Lady for several years. This Guy would catch his wife with That Guy, beat the shit out of That Guy, and then madly hate fuck his old lady until she was disabled that she couldn't do the dishes, even with a proper beating.
This became a biohazard in the This household.
Then one day, That Guy came over to apologize (actually a cover for getting at This Guy's wife, again).
This Guy knew why he was there, and said, "Dude, seriously, if you wouldn't bang my wife, our house would probably smell better, because then she'd probably recover from all the hate fucking and the beatings."
That Guy agreed, "Your house does smell like ass."
In truth, That Guy was tiring of fucking a woman who smelled like garbage and with bruises all over her.
Once more, civilization triumphed and the dishes were cleaned a week later.
As civilization spread, it became apparent that being civilized didn't always get it done.
This Guy and That Guy sat down, and concluded that an organized effort would probably be more productive.
Thus began the first war.
These People, instead of stealing Those People's cows, decided to enter Those People's town. They burned down all the shanties, raped the woman, raped the men, and killed the men. They thought about killing the women, but then This Guy said to That Guy, "Remember how you could never get some good ass and were banging my wife?"
Thus, war also gave rise to sex slaves, still one of the more popular aspects of civilization.
Primitive economies were organized on the basis of value given for value received; I found these berries, can I trade some for your grubs? While this system was sufficient for honest exchanges of value, it was worse than useless for Ponzi schemes, insider trading and consumer fraud. As government and priesthood became increasingly organized, more efficient methods of extracting the wealth of the masses were developed. Civilized economies are based upon money; which does not exist, or rather, is an agreed-upon fiction by which this scrap of paper is equivalent in value to that life-sustaining pizza and some change to boot. Money is durable, as grubs and berries are not, and so retains its value long after grub-and-berry season has passed; money is also untraceable- ever try laundering grubs? Best of all, money is worth whatever the issuer says it is, which allows for inflation, which makes everything more expensive by decreasing the value of money. Grubs don't increase or decrease in value; a grub is a grub, a little package of fats, proteins and amino acids regardless of how Wall Street is doing today. You can't swindle anyone with a grub because anyone who contracts to accept grubs as payment knows exactly what they're getting, and likely deserves it, whereas with money you can pay off tomorrow's debts at yesterday's rates with today's promises and pocket a tidy profit on the margins, and all that after taxes, too. The mysterious workings of money have baffled the world's greatest philosophers, which is why they all lived and died in poverty after making bleakly incomprehensible statements such as, "Money is dead" and "If Money didn't exist man would have had to invent Money." In the end what really matters is not do you believe in money, but does money believe in you?
As war became totally popular and the leading employer of people on This Planet, everything else languished.
This Guy, being a sharp dude, realized there was huge wealth waiting to be made by NOT going to war. Instead, he let That Guy be drafted, while he stayed home and sold This Government weapons to help That Guy fight the war.
Thus, civilization gave rise to the economy.
edit What's Happened Since
History has since born out a mixed record for civilization. On the one hand you had Nazis which are way cool and make it easy for screen writers to model bad guys against a caricature of evil. On the other hand, you have the Confederacy; kind of a low point for civilization, what with all the ragged beards and fat-based fat products being eaten.
edit Much Later
edit Quotes on civilization
“England spread civilization through the seven seas, and now it is coming back to hunt us!”
“You have found an advanced civilization. Build city, Y or N?”
“Civilized my ass!”
“The only thing that is good about civilization is how damn funny it is to blow it to smithereens!”
“Civilizations are good, because if someone hadn't invented the civilization, we would probably still be living in caves using kerosene lamps and cooking off Trangia stoves.”
“Civilization is all wrong. Savages didn't go to school or learn Latin.”
“Civilized are you? What know you of civilized? For eight hundred years have I trained anarchists. My own counsel will I keep on who is to be trained! An anarchist must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind. Civilization. Heh! Law and order. Heh! An anarchist craves not these things.”