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Exploitation in the Social Structure of Civilizations - Assignment Example

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Name of the Writer Name of the Instructor History and Political Science   Date Submitted Exploitation in the Social Structure of Civilizations Introduction That man is a social animal simply cannot be denied. As societies grew and developed, man has been intrigued to move from a solitary existence to a communal one…
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Exploitation in the Social Structure of Civilizations
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Download file to see previous pages Discussion Let us first take the recordings of Diego Duran regarding the Aztec civilization, its social structures and beliefs. Though these recordings were made from interviews taken from voyagers or their descendants at least fifty years after the Spaniards had encountered the Aztec empire, yet we find a compelling story that shows the interest that Duran must have had in recording them for posterity. They do not aspire to compare one civilization to another in terms of superiority or greatness; rather they are a faithful representation of the Aztec civilization as seen through Spanish eyes. Quite likely the Spaniards were taken aback at the elaborate social structure that existed in the Americas so far away from home, even though they felt revulsion at the human sacrifices that were made to the sun god Quetzalcoatl and other demigods. Contrarily speaking, the Spanish treatment of the Aztecs at the hands of Hernando Cortes was no less barbaric and demeaning, and leaves one with a bitter taste in the mouth. As Mel Gibson has so eloquently shown in Apocalypto, neither could aspire to be on the higher moral ground. What is clear is that religion and economics had a key role in separating society into classes. The upper class consisting of the king and nobles led an existence quite different from that of the lower social classes. There were three ways in which a man could aspire to move upwards in society, through distinguishing himself in battle, through entering the priesthood or through being a good trader and marketer (Stryker, 604). Quite consciously, hundreds of families would have aspired to rise in the annals of society but only a few would have achieved this feat. Imagine a normal Aztec not even being able to wear sandals on his feet, while this was a privilege given only to the nobles and leaders in society. The average Aztec would have led a life of subsistence and want. Indeed, circumstances could become so dire that a man could sell his wife and vice versa in times of economic distress. Or they could decide to sell the child that troubled them the most, claiming that he or she was a misfit and a troublemaker. The Aztecs treated their prisoners of war in brutal fashion, seeking no doubt upward social mobility by sacrificing their victims to the gods and after having torn their hearts out, would even take home the carcasses to feast upon like cannibals (Stryker, 603). Moving on to the account given by King Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty, he regards the supreme power of the King was to be able to pardon or condemn a subject, thereby ending his life or sparing it. It was of course necessary to make an example of dishonest men like Hu Chien-Ching, a corrupt official who terrorized his neighborhood and usurped their lands, for which the King recommended he be executed along with his family in his native place. At other times he made a careful review of appeals and spared people their lives. The King appears to be a practical man, and is disdainful of the practices that men use to gain favor with him. Quite often these men talk of principles and teaching that they themselves do not follow, but seek to impress by their knowledge. This kind of knowledge is empty and useless, much in the manner of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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