2016/04/08

Spartans and Laconophilia

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There's a huge affection with the Spartans in popular Western culture, and it's an old thing actually. This admiration and affection is utterly unwarranted.

(yes, I know where this is from)

Let's look at a short description of their society:
The citizens lived mostly in their city, had subjugated several more numerous people, weren't productive themselves but focused on the profession of arms, had their subjects do the work (mostly agricultural work) for them, women were at home doing the homework and rumour has it that the weak or crippled children were effectively euthanised.

Does this remind you of something? Well, it should. For everyone who thinks that this is in any way desirable will would either do so with Hitler's idea of Germans dominating Eastern Europe as 'Lebensraum' or be a hypocrite.

The so-called "Spartans" (Lacedemonians) were essentially protonazis, lacking only the F├╝hrerkult; absolutist tyranny. They sure made up for it by having outright slaves (as did the other supposedly civilised ancient Greeks, of course).

Frankly, I'm tired of this.
Whenever "Spartans" appear in fiction, you should side with their opponents, not with the protonazis.

S O
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13 comments:

  1. Not to let the nazis off the hook or anything, but they weren't the most evil regime in history... If you measure institutional evil by the number of people murdered, then adolf hitler comes in at 3rd place only (followed closely by king leopold of belgium). The communists mao zedong and josef stalin take 1st and 2nd place, by quite a wide margin. http://www.realclearworld.com/blog/dictators.jpg

    On the other hand (and this is definitely not PC to say in todays climate), both the nazis and commies had a more realistic take on the role of women. They knew that females are happiest when barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen. Men were allowed to take hold of the house and keep their women in line (without constant meddling from beta males in government). Todays supposedly more enlightened female is far less satisfied than her predecessors.

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    1. Happy pregnant women aren't exactly the rule, and "the commies" actually insisted on women's emancipation and save for politics actually achieved it in many places. Employment and status of females dropped significantly in Eastern Germany after the reunification.

      And frankly, talking about "beta males" alone is a modern telltale hint that somebody is full of "it".

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    2. "And frankly, talking about "beta males" alone is a modern telltale hint that somebody is full of "it"."

      In what way? The existence of sexual hierarchies is an axiom of contemporary evolutionary and sociobiological thinking. As far as I'm aware no species exist where those hierarchies cannot be observed.

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  2. For their time, they were fairly progressive
    Yes, they owned slaves, so dud everyone, yes, disabled children were left for the wolves, again, hardly unique

    They were however probably the best example of women's rights until Rome.
    A Spartan woman could expect to live as long as a Spartan man, an Athenian woman would die 10 years earlier than an Athenian man.

    Its easy to say we should support their enemies, until you look at their enemies...

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  3. I see the admiration of Sparta being focused on "their valor and success in war" (to quote Wikipedia)

    I do not see much praise for their government, stability, moral standards or other traits, and do not recall any reference to Sparta when discussing these subjects. Are you referring to academic work, the "public" discussion, politics or where do you see this affection?

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    1. I wrote in the first line "in popular Western culture".

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    2. Oh, so you did. I read that as popular in Western culture for some reason. My apologies.

      I am still wondering about which "pop" culture objects you are referring to?

      I still just see popular culture as portraying the Spartans as being the best soldiers in the same (slightly ridiculous way that the French are the best lovers, the Germans the best engineers, etc.

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  4. "Whenever "Spartans" appear in fiction, you should side with their opponents, not with the protonazis."

    What if the opponents are just as bad?
    Why would I want to choose between two bad sides?

    I can uphold my own values.

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  5. While rightly renowed for their military prowess built on the brutal exploitation of others in some aspects even the Spartan approach to war was in some ways questionable.

    Given that their military was a reflection of their society it is no surprise that their focus on their heavy infantry was, well, heavy. The other arms did get relative little attention, which caused severe problems over the years. I don't recall much tactical innovation of the Greek world coming out of Sparta, do you?

    On the other hand "democratic" Athens became a aggressive sea empire exploiting it's weaker members/vessels and annihilated cities which would not surrender to its will.

    Firn

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    1. Well, they ultimately defeated Athens, but Sparta had indeed a reputation for being conservative. They depended on auxiliaries for most if not all their light infantry and cavalry.

      The idolization of Spartans in modern times is probably first and foremost a cult of "masculinity". All that full-time warrior-ism and so on.

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  6. In any evenly matched war, and those are the kind of wars people are most interested in, there is a quality and quantity side. (To be balanced)

    The people prefer and side with the quality side most of the time, as we consider it to be superior. The hordes on the other hand get no real aknowledgment.

    So it is more about elite forces and less about masculinity imho.

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  7. Rather one sided view of the Spartans and neglecting their contribution to western civilisation.

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    1. Feel free to mention them yourself. I'm not aware of any other than the idea of using cheap metal for coins.

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