Civilized, Barbarians, Savages


Antonio C. S. Rosa | Editor - TRANSCEND Media Service

Leia em Português

23 Mar 2020 – A civilization or culture is defined as a set of customs, traditions, ethics, values, language, music, dance, gastronomy, clothing, religion, and social and political organization of a people, ethnic group, tribe, or nation.


British scholars of the 19th century classified the peoples and races as Civilized, Barbarians and Savages, based on their respective “evolutions.” Such classification was based primarily on three factors:

  1. Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution;
  2. the Industrial Revolution in the beginning of industrial capitalism; and
  3. the Reformation of the Catholic Church, the schism from which Protestantism arose.

False premises that led to false conclusions.

Such a classification made the field fertile for the appearance of a Capitalist/Protestant ethic, which would produce today’s capitalist system.

The Theory of Evolution (not a science, but a theory) postulates that only the most capable, among the various species of living organisms, survives and evolves. Darwin labeled his theory Survival of the Fittest. This competition for survival and evolution would be in genetic, biological, adaptive and/or mutative terms, in relation to the environment from which they would have evolved and where they would live. Human beings have been labeled Homo Sapiens, representatives of the supposedly most evolved species–the most apt. The civilized, barbaric and savages represented an attempt to hierarchize Homo Sapiens.

To speak of capitalist ethics is to incur a contradiction in terms as capitalism does not have an ethic, but a single overriding value: profits. On the other hand, a Protestant ethics is based on the Old Testament of the Bible and on the doctrine of Martin Luther that God, a supposedly elderly, male, white entity, distributes His blessings in the form of material wealth, power, good life to those most deserving and for whom He feels greater affection. The subtext is that the poor are poor because they are sinners. And Jesus, the messiah son of that God, was a white Jew. The pieces fit together historically.

  • In the Civilized category would be the European, white and Christian colonial empires, with Anglo-Saxons being the civilized par excellence.
  • Labeled as Barbarians would be Asians (yellow skinned, in their classification), nomadic peoples, Arabs and North Africans, Eskimos, all non-Christians (pagans), as well as all dark-skinned races that were not in the category of savages, such as the Indians (from India).
  • Finally, the Savages would be the inhabitants of black Africa, the Indians of the American continent, the so-called primitives of the Pacific Islands: Aborigines, Maori, Polynesians, Melanesians, Micronesians, etc., and cannibals.



The only two other civilizations respected by this novel Western Civilization were the Greek and the Roman, their progenitors–not very civilized to be sure, built and sustained by wars, conquests and slavery.

There were also the Slaves, captured like animals from the Savage group, who in the 19th century came predominantly from the native peoples of sub-Saharan Africa and the Americas. Christians believed that these savages, like animals, did not have a soul. Hence the legality and morality of their objectification by Christians who sold them as merchandise. Arabs also exploited the slave trade, a major source of investment/profits.

A corollary of such doctrines and beliefs were attempts to ‘civilize’ barbarians and savages through Christian missions that would take European religious organizations to evangelize the African, American and Asian continents, as well as the Pacific Islands. Such missions gave rise to genocides and exterminations of nations and native peoples who refused to be ‘evangelized’ and ‘civilized’. Spain (Corona de Castilla) is an extreme example of this in South and Central America where its conquistadores decimated the Inca, Maya and Aztec civilizations among others. The religious missions exist and persist today, albeit in derisory numbers and without much influence and credibility.

Tibetan Buddhist Culture – Transcending the civilized-barbarian-savage Classification.

From the First to the Third World

The 20th century witnessed a change in the English classification, with the advent of Communism in Eastern Europe. The conceptualization of the divisions was then redefined as First World, Second World and Third World.

  • Within the First World, were grouped the most affluent capitalist societies that were economically, politically and/or militarily dominant, and whose citizens were Jewish-Christians of white color.
  • As Second World, were labeled all those countries that adopted the Communist/Marxist-atheist ideology/economy.
  • And the Third World was left with everybody else: poor, destitute, barbarians, savages, all people of color, etc.; the majority of earth’s population.

God remains a white entity who rewards material wealth, and civilized Anglo Saxons and Judeo-Christians remain His chosen people.

After WWII, the divisions were renamed by the International Monetary Fund as Developed, Developing and Underdeveloped countries (IMF country classification.pdf). These labels remain in effect with the prejudices intact in the world’s deep culture/structure.

In this new characterization, all non-economic considerations were then discarded. Japan and the Soviet Union, for example, were accepted into the exclusive Developed Club of the First Civilized World, although the Japanese were Eastern, non-Christian and non-white, and the Soviets were Communists and atheists.

The North American empire claimed world leadership from the British empire and the Capitalist/Protestant ethics, with Anglo-Saxons always at the helm, acquired an irresistible and unstoppable momentum, with science and technology, the planet’s riches and resources becoming servants of the lords of capital.

The outcome of WWII was the determining factor for the definitive establishment of the capitalist market economy globally. It overcame Socialism/Communism and today stands above all the governments of the planet whose armed forces, police, and intelligence services are manipulated and used against anyone and everything that dares to challenge the Free Market Capitalist Economy whose foundation are the banks, central banks, financial institutions, hedge funds, and so on. A Mafia–by definition–getting what they need/want through lethal force, sanctions, Machiavellic manipulations, bullying, threats, and so forth.

Slavery of the Mind and Lack of Ethics

At the same time, unification has developed–complicity I would say–between economic, military, political, religious, intellectual, media and scientific elites from all countries in any of the categories. The New World Order of the third millennium is characterized by haves vs have nots, that is, who accumulates money vs. who is prevented from doing so. The number of billionaires grows exponentially with the spread of misery: the famous 1% against the remaining 99%. The class war that Karl Marx’s foresaw–also two centuries ago–hitting the bull’s eye. The present rat race is who is going to be the first individual trillionaire. Money addiction by definition. Keep in mind that this is all under the same Capitalist/Protestant/Judaic/Industrial Revolution/Anglo Saxon/Civilized ‘ethics.’

Today slavery is of the mind, conscience, awareness, aided by the Main Stream Corporate Entertainment Social Media and communication technology. Wall Street is a Church. The goals–profits, favors, privileges, powers–justify any means necessary. Armies are their faithful servants. Does this survival of the fittest have anything to do with that advocated by Darwin two centuries ago? Is this state of affairs natural, normal? We are destroying the planet–its oceans, rivers, forests, insects, animals, the atmosphere–for whom or what to be the fittest? Those who win a nuclear war? Something went definitely wrong on the way to heaven.

We must extinguish from our collective psyche the idea that human beings are naturally divided into economic, social, or other spurious classes by birth. We learned to reason collectively from within the confines of the Theory of Evolution [a theory and not a science, I repeat], which implies competition rather than cooperation. The nomenclature has changed and adapted to new conditions, but the prejudice remains; it must be eliminated. We are not royals or commoners, slaves, barbarians, savages, capitalists or workers; our primary identity is humans. Period.

Global finance capitalism is not and should not be seen as a last word. Its greatest deficiency lies in providing an unequal, unjust and unfair distribution of wealth between producers/capitalists/shareholders and wage-workers, consumers. The cruelty and aggression  of this system against nature reached its peak at the beginning of this century, especially among international elites that, allied, constitute the aristocracy that nourishes and maintains the royal family of industrialized countries, the most apt among the Fittest. What a farce! A false, illusory and illogical socio-economic engineering that is incompatible with the intelligence, compassion, imagination and nobility of character inherent in human beings and humanity, revealed in the arts, culture, science, even in the new technologies unfortunately used primarily to kill, control and dominate for selfish delusional purposes.

The three pillars of high finance and international movers are:

  1. oil,
  2. armaments (legal and illegal),
  3. drugs (legal and illegal).

International capitalism has become hopelessly dependent on the activities of organized crime, in fact adopting its Modus Operandi.

Government officials are hostage to their complicity with lobbies. The mafia entered the system and imposed its ethics. This state of affairs is not resolved with terrorism, but with radical changes not only in the paradigms of economic, political and social structures, but also and especially in the minds, in the individual consciences/consciousnesses that are beget in the womb of reality. We are the builders of our own realities–from the personal to the collective.

Need for an Alternative

For each Hitler there is a Gandhi. For each Trump there is a Nelson Mandela. For each Bolsonaro or Boris there is a Luther King. Those who are not part of the solution are, by necessity, part of the problem in a world with a record population of 8 billion interdependent beings where everyone affects everyone and nobody is an island. We represent a colony on earth—not a globalization construct, not merely numbers, statistics or resources to be exploited.

It is undeniable that societies classified as Civilized, First World or Developed, led by the USA and the West but spread throughout, retain the reins of world markets, politics, economics and culture, being the main producers of weapons, technology, science and atmospheric pollutants as well as wealth (or poverty, depending on the viewpoint) and materialistic values. As such, they also retain the greater share of responsibility for the misery that spreads throughout the so-called Third World. After the fragmentation of the former Soviet Union, the number of members of the underdeveloped has increased, not because poverty has expanded, but because the labels have changed places. In English, there is a rhyme: the West and the Rest.

We need a viable alternative–more benign–to the ‘trickle down’ economy, more aptly named ‘trickle up,’ which slowly and inexorably corrodes and erodes the spirit of nobility in everyone’s character, whether labeled or believed to be civilized, barbaric or savage. We become slaves to the monster we believe in, our Leviathan. The so-called Capitalist/Protestant ethics is outrageous, ignominious. God is not the God of the affluent, white people. This is an incongruity, heretic, unadulterated primitivism.

Our mental paradigm must change, both individually and collectively, towards cooperation, nonviolence, conflict resolution by peaceful means, and sharing–with equity and reciprocity–of the planet’s resources, instead of lethal competition for them; passing through the elimination of sick nationalisms and sociopathic and homicidal patriotisms that kill legally en masse. Our mental constructions must be modified by ourselves, by education, and not by the state. If there were no soldiers logically there would be no wars as generals do not fight each other. We must achieve a degree of civilization that does not require authority, police, justice, militarism or weapons of any type or size for collective control and destruction. Replaced by social servants, leaders. Utopia? I believe not; if we work for it.

United in our diversity and accepting our differences instead of dividing us into races, we may, in any future, acquire a Consciousness of Civilized Beings–and act on it. Without this shift in consciousness any other meaningful change is unlikely as Darwin’s myopic and ethnocentric theory will continue to influence our lives, private and public, and our spiritual (not religious) evolution.

I recommend the works of Prof. Johan Galtung.


antonio rosaAntonio Carlos da Silva Rosa (Antonio C. S. Rosa), born 1946, is founder-editor of the pioneering Peace Journalism website, TRANSCEND Media Service-TMS (from 2008), an assistant to Prof. Johan Galtung, Secretary of the International Board of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment, and recipient of the Psychologists for Social Responsibility’s 2017 Anthony J. Marsella Prize for the Psychology of Peace and Social Justice. He is on the Global Advisory Board of Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies and completed his B.A., M.A., and graduate Ph.D. work in the fields of Communication-Journalism and Political Science-Peace Studies/International Relations at the University of Hawai’i. Originally from Brazil, he lives presently in Porto, Portugal. Antonio was educated in the USA where he lived for 20 years; in Europe-India since 1994. Books: Transcender e Transformar: Uma Introdução ao Trabalho de Conflitos (from Johan Galtung, translation to Portuguese, 2004); Peace Journalism: 80 Galtung Editorials on War and Peace (2010, editor); Cobertura de Conflitos: Jornalismo para a Paz (from Johan Galtung, Jake Lynch & Annabel McGoldrick, translation to Portuguese, 2010). TMS articles by Mr. Rosa HERE. Videos HERE and HERE.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 30 Mar 2020.

Anticopyright: Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgement and link to the source, TMS: Civilized, Barbarians, Savages, is included. Thank you.

If you enjoyed this article, please donate to TMS to join the growing list of TMS Supporters.

Share this article:

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.

3 Responses to “Civilized, Barbarians, Savages”

  1. Antonio, thank you so much for this portrayal of misleading, oppressive and unhealthy categorizations that have evolved over the past century. As you say, ‘Our mental paradigm must change, both individually and collectively, towards cooperation, nonviolence, conflict resolution by peaceful means, and sharing–with equity and reciprocity–of the planet’s resources, instead of lethal competition for them” This is such a profound universal truth that must be projected everywhere, fueled by love and a deep commitment to solidarity.

  2. Thank you so much for your wonderful and crucially important work, dear Antonio, particularly in these trying times! A BIG YES to your final sentences: “United in our diversity and accepting our differences instead of dividing us into races, we may, in any future, acquire a Consciousness of Civilized Beings–and act on it.” In admiration, Evelin,