October 1

Amber pages

Vladimir Horowitz, Russian pianist, born today in 

331BCE: Alexander the Great defeated the Persian army in what is now Iraq.

To me, it is statements like this one, commemorations like this one, which best explain why the human world continues to be the failed mediocrity that it is. 
"Alexander the Apalling", "Alexander the we-should-be-ashamed", "Alexander the brutal murderer, destroyer of entire countries, reducer of people to slave-captivity". Please name one thing that he did - not his successors like Ptolomy[1], but himself; one thing, that added something positive to the human world? No, not the cities that he founded - they were mere replacements for the cities that he destroyed in conquering countries that he destroyed by destroying their cities, and their people in the process. And what were his cities anyway, at that time? Garrisons merely, just like the castra which the Romans put up everywhere they conquered: fortified police stations and army barracks from which to control the subjugated populace.

But maybe, the thought insists itself upon me, maybe I've missed something, so I have typed "what did Alexander the Great actually achieve" into my google search-engine, and it has come up with:

"Conquering the mighty Persian empire and others and thus creating one of the largest empires ever."

"He was King of all Greek nations, Shah of Persia, Pharaoh of Egypt and ruler of many more lands."

"He founded multiple cities and named them after himself (most famously Alexandria in Egypt)."

"He was responsible for the inception of several Greek dynasties in foreign lands (such as the Ptolemaians in Egypt)."

"He solidified the economy of the vast lands by creating a single currency."

In other words: a very large Ego for Alexander, but absolutely Zero for humanity.

Yet we say "Great", despite the fact that there is no distance at all between Alexander's defeat of the Persian army and the next entry:

Today in 1946, Martin Bormann sentenced to death in absentia at Nuremberg. GER!

Or this too, really: 1949, Communist China founded.

And as to the building of universal empires: today in 1958, NASA was inaugurated. I have expressed elsewhere in this blog my hope that human attempts to colonise other planets will end in disasrous failure and are then abandoned; bad enough we have turned this planet into a toilet, but we should not be planning ways to endanger the species of other planets too.

[1] Ptolomy's great achievement was the development of Alexandria as the scientific and intellectual centre of the world, developing Greek science to the highest level humanity had yet achieved. When the Romans under Julius Caesar conquered Egypt, adding it to their empire, Julius Caesar, another of the "great men" of history, ordered the total destruction of its library - which was the equivalent of say, Oliver Cromwell deciding to demolish both Oxford and Cambridge universities to the last piece of shreddable paper and botany dish. The illustration at the top of the page shows that devastation.

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