2012 January 02 Monday
BCE, CE, Common Era: Makes No Sense

Bob Sykes makes a great point:

Actually, the substitution of BCE and CE for AD and BC is an example of extreme cultural arrogance and stupidity.

There is no common era except as imposed by 200 years of Anglo-American dominance. The Orthodox Church still uses the Julian Calendar (AD/BC and CE/BCE are Gregorian), and the Hebrew, Hindu, Chinese and Muslim calendars are also still in use. Perhaps you have heard of Tet?

Before Common Era? Think about it. What changed around 1 AD that made what we live in into a common era? Common shared experience? Emergence of a common world shared culture? Nope. The Roman Empire's decline ushered in a shrinking of the size of shared polities, at least in Europe. As for the rest of the world: empires were expanding and contracting. No obvious pattern toward a common era.

It wasn't until the industrial revolution led to cheap enough transportation and communications and eventually the internet that we can speak of global shared cultural experiences. Even 20 years ago few people globally could share experiences with each other between historical civilizations. Now I can write posts knowing they will be read by people in multiple different countries who speak different native languages. I can watch referral URLs come up where people are using Google page translation to read posts I've written. This is starting to become a common era. Still not there yet.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2012 January 02 08:19 PM  Cultural Wars Western


Comments
Tim said at January 2, 2012 10:11 PM:

Common era is just another attempt by some disgruntled people who don't recognize "Before Christ" for ideological reasons.

Anonymous said at January 3, 2012 2:57 AM:

I see nothing wrong with continuing to use AD and BC just as I don't see a problem with having our months and our days named after various gods.

Red said at January 3, 2012 3:03 AM:

I had a Muslim coworker ask me why I thought Turkey would never be included in the EU. I explained that the borders of Europe exactly match the borders of medieval Christendom. Christendom is Europe and Europe is Christendom no mater how much they want to erase the past. Including Turkey in Europe feels as out of place as including Israel in Europe. They have a similar culture, but it's not Europe.

bbartlog said at January 3, 2012 7:19 AM:

It doesn't have to make sense, it just has to be a standard. In this case any arbitrary point in time will do as a zero.
I've always been curious about how and when the seven-day week became universally adopted, but apparently much of that history is lost to antiquity.

Abelard Lindsey said at January 3, 2012 10:57 AM:

"Common era is just another attempt by some disgruntled people who don't recognize "Before Christ" for ideological reasons."

I agree. It is the anti-Christian bigotry that is common in present-day academia. I continue to use BC and AD when discussing history just because it is anti-PC. One does not have to be Christian to recognize its contribution to civilization. This is where the PC people go off the deep end.

WJ said at January 3, 2012 11:28 AM:

It's an insistence on remaking the culture to the extent the Left can get away with. They could never get away with starting a whole new calendar and starting from zero - instantaneous rejection, rotten tomatoes, laughed off the stage. So they slowly start redesignating the names and forcing them upon us all. A few years ago King County, Washington (home to Seattle) redesignated itself as being named after Martin Luther King rather than William Rufus King.

Another example: I can't think of many cities in the US where racial minorities have had been of less cultural, political, or economic importance than Salt Lake City, but the *only* downtown streets we have named after people are named after minorities - Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, and Cesar Chavez. Fortunately since the streets also have coordinates no one refers to them by the names.

100 years ago pretty much no one in the West really cared that our calendar was based on the estimated birth year of Christ. But now pretty much every Western, historically Christian country has started to let in vast numbers of frequently surly, non-Christian people who refuse to accept the culture of the country they moved to. So WE have to remake our culture for THEM. The hypocrisy is that changing the date is supposed to suggest "diversity" and "tolerance," when in itself it is intolerant of the cultural and religious history of the vast majority of Americans.

Anyway, if we're going to have a new dating system I suggest we make 1964 #the year of the Civil Rights Act, and the year before Hart-Celler# the Year Zero and designate all years PC and BPC - "Political Correctness" and "Before Political Correctness."

WJ said at January 3, 2012 11:48 AM:

The Texas textbook standards board, which generated so much controversy a few years back, decided to require all texts to use the AD/BC nomenclature. So Texas and any states using books based on its standards are safe - at least until conservatives lose Texas, which may not be long.

solaris said at January 3, 2012 12:17 PM:

What next? Will the left try to rename Friday and Thursday? Don't laugh - in the French Revolution the left did exactly that. But the modern left has a much bigger hate for "Christ" than for "Frige" and "Thor". Petty and spiteful, our lefties.

Ryan said at January 3, 2012 12:24 PM:

Turkey's inclusion into the EU has been largely promoted by Anglo-American interests.

Anglo-America wants Turkey in the EU to both serve as a trojan horse for their interests and to further move North Atlantic Institutions into the Middle East.

Thankfully the French and Germans aren't playing ball and are ensuring that the Turks won't be a part of Europe any time soon, despite Anglo-American protests.

WJ said at January 3, 2012 9:35 PM:

I can understand the Israel/Jewish lobby wanting to drag Europe into the Middle East mess and, perhaps contradictorily, wanting more Turkish immigrants in the EU to weaken Christian influence, but I always asssumed America's lobbying for Turkish EU membership was more about placating an ally in the Iraq & Afghanistan wars.

CamelCaseRob said at January 4, 2012 8:36 AM:

Yeah, if there is such a thing as a "common era", it should be dated from 1492, I would think.

Abelard Lindsey said at January 4, 2012 9:06 AM:

"Anyway, if we're going to have a new dating system I suggest we make 1964 #the year of the Civil Rights Act, and the year before Hart-Celler# the Year Zero and designate all years PC and BPC - "Political Correctness" and "Before Political Correctness.""

Good one, that! I prefer to make 1969 the year zero for this is the year we first landed on the moon. Oh, but I forgot. We're not supposed to revere productive accomplishment any more. We're only supposed to revere suffering and political correctness.

California kid said at January 4, 2012 11:42 AM:

It makes complete sense to the Left wing. They hate Western Civ and want to destroy it. I mean the people, the buildings, the learning, the culture, all of it.
Once you understand where the Left wing is coming from, everything they do makes sense.

Bertie Wooster said at January 4, 2012 1:36 PM:

A brief gander at Wikipedia shows you who in history has been most concerned about removing Christian references from the dating system: Nazis, Communists, and French Revolutionaries. Fanatics all. Pretty much lets you know all you need to.

If the change isn't improving the system then it shouldn't be changed. The only problem with the current system is that there is no Year Zero, so that people are often off on their calculations by 1. For example, in 2010 many groups (even some colleges and universities# were celebrating the 2500th anniversary of the first marathon. The Battle of Marathon was in 490 BC, so [2010 - (-490) = 2500], right? Wrong, because there was no Year Zero. For that reason astronomers just use negative and positive numbers to make calculations easier, with 1 BC = Year Zero.

Randall Parker said at January 4, 2012 6:48 PM:

solaris,

Thor's day: Wow, that is so cool!. Thor's Day, Thunor's Day, all hail Thunraz, the god of thunder!

dearieme said at January 6, 2012 1:50 PM:

They are pronounced Christian Era and Before Christian Era.

Randall Parker said at January 8, 2012 10:34 PM:

dearieme,

You can pronounce them that way. But today the people using BCE and CE are using Common for the C.

Brian said at January 25, 2012 11:31 AM:

"What next? Will the left try to rename Friday and Thursday? Don't laugh - in the French Revolution the left did exactly that. But the modern left has a much bigger hate for "Christ" than for "Frige" and "Thor". Petty and spiteful, our lefties."

Wow solaris, you are so sharp! How can we untangle all that babbling of yours?

It was exactly the left that brought about the Printing Press, the Enlightenment, modern Astronomy, the French Revolution against the insulting monarchy and The Social Contract which you have never read.

The defense of "Christ" is what brought about one thousand years of inquisition and dark ages. Some dumb little rightie you are. Are you a fascist?


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