Sutherland House Publishing

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In Defense of Civilization

Will our future imitate our past?
Genres: Education, History, Politics

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Published Date

April 4, 2023

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“Michael Bonner is a rare bird: he is a classicist and an erudite in the broadest sense of the word, familiar with Greek, Latin, Persian, Arabic, Aramaic, and Hebrew, not counting (I checked) modern languages such as French. This gives him a considerable edge over historians, and depth and perspective in identifying and understanding the true Western Civilization and the dangers of straying from its achievements over the past six thousand years.” – Nassim Nicholas Taleb

There is a consensus in the West that something is wrong. Many people have the uneasy feeling that the liberal democratic order is in danger, and that civilization itself hangs in the balance. This feeling could be dismissed as alarmism, but the present moment of pandemic, political instability, and rioting is a startling reminder of the fragility of civilisation everywhere. And we should never forget that empires and societies have collapsed many times before. But history shows that human civilisation also has extraordinary powers of recuperation, writes Michael R.J. Bonner in this bracing tour de force. Drawing on such examples as the revival of Europe after the collapse of the Roman Empire, and the ebb and flow of civilization in China despite repeated foreign conquest, he shows how mankind’s quest for clarity, order, and beauty—the crucial elements of civilization—does not necessarily succeed through innovation or a futuristic orientation, but by thoughtful examination and imitation of past experience.


MICHAEL R.J. BONNER is a Canadian political adviser and historian of Iran. He studied classical and oriental languages in undergrad, and took a master’s degree and doctorate in Iranian history from the University of Oxford. He has advised members of Cabinet in both federal and provincial Canadian governments, and he lives in Toronto with his family.

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