Many people say they could not have lived in the middle ages. That the thought of no waterclosets, medicine or other modern comforts we have, is unbearable. They seem to totally forget that , if they had lived in the middle ages they would have had no knowledge of these commodities. In fact most people of today have no access to most benefits the modern society provides. Not even, though they may have heard of them.

If we look at the Soviet Union or the Nazi Germany, we may wonder how people could have lived under those regimes. How absurd lives people must have lived. But we utterly forget, that the lives of those people were what they thought to be normal. What we, who have been born and raised in the modern western countries, think as normal is by no means normal to all people around the globe. If one looks at our society and the “normal” phenomenae it witholds, it is full of strange traits, that must seem weird to the people of other cultures, let alone to the future generations. One way or another. Wether if, a culture may be judged to be “absurd” or even evil, it must be put to a certain amount of relativism.  All cultures are under constant change. That change should be for the better. Any culture must be compared to the previous one, if we are to determine it good or bad, absurd or normal.

Was the Nazi Germany culturally better, or even more developed, than the Republic of Weimar or even the Imperial Germany? It was defenetly a historical continuation of both of those. The Imperial Germany was by no means a model state by modern standards, but it was the first industrial nation to have a pension system for all citizens. It was rasistic in many respects, but even jews held the position of a citizen. The Nazi Germany bore all the negative cultural traits of the Imperial Germany, but it also managed to create a staggering nuber of horrors not employed by the Imperial Germany. On the positive side of development in Nazi Germany you have the autobahn, and that is just about it. Economically and in human rights Nazi Germany was a disaster even compared to the Imperial Germany.

Soviet Union resulted from a revolution in the Imperial Russia. There is no question wether Stalin was a rampant mad dictator.  However, if we compare the Soviet Union as a state to the Russia of the Tsars, both the similarities and the differencies are obvious. Both Stalin and the Tsars used the internal exportation and prisoner camps in Siberia. Both had a murderous secret police. Stalin sent more people to Siberia than any tsars, but none of the tsars gave people any of the rights such as free education, free healthcare, pension, a certainty of a job, like the soviet leaders did. Most of the prison camps were demolished during Soviet rule, not as a result of it falling. During the tsars russians, let alone other nationalities in the empire, held no citizenship. Soviet Union confescated all property to the state, but from whom was it confescated from? From a very few very rich families of noblemen. The common man lost nothing or very little. The ownership of state meant that all citizens were the owners collectivily. One may argue against the economity of this solution, but it is obvious that the Soviet state was economically much stronger than the Imperial Russia and this was achieved in a rather short while, even though the Soviet Union was under embargo from the very first moments on. Was this econimical growth worth the sacrifices?

What are the measurments that we should use when we evaluate societies? Is economical strength a valid measurement, if it does not provide for the masses of the nation? What about human rights situation? The traditional aboriginal society of Australian natives is one of the best cultures in human rights, yet it is called primitive. The fact we have it better than the past generations, does not mean we have reached the ideal state or “normal” form of society. It is a often enough stated as a fact that even though western democracy is not perfect, it is the best form of government we have. That may or may not be so, but what ever the case, we should strive for something better. We may never achieve a “perfect” society, but we should be able to reach something far more better than this.  The world is not ready. It is incomplete, inequal and on the brink of a catastrophy. It is our ethical responsibility to make it better, now that we know what harm our idea of “normal” is causing. We can not simply close our eyes and ears from it.

Western culture has many benefits in comparrison to what was before, but “normal” is no excuse for injustice. It has never been. Nor does it pass as an excuse for the destruction of the envarioment. Culture is under constant change, let us be sure the change is for the better.

How will the future generations judge our current civilzation? Perhaps they will see us as undeveloped barbarians, who destroyed the envarioment, just to have minor comforts, that we thought would make our lives easier, like tobacco, coffee, cars and plastic dipers. All the while these things we so value make us sicker, nervous, fatter and allergic. Maybe the future generations are able to see how mad it was that our culture engaged in ferocious and destructive wars about the ownership of the diminishing natural resources and phossilic fuels. Will the future generations appreciate us for not taking action against overpopulation, famine and disease, simply because the disasters are in other countries? Or will they simply see us as immoral apes with tribal morals? How will they see all the garbage  and pollution we are leaving them?

Or maybe the futre generations will judge nothing, if we leave them no conditions to live in.