The third stage of the process of collapse, following what I’ve called the eras of pretense and impact, is the era of response
Articles: collapse of complex civilizations (13)
The decline and fall of a civilization isn’t a single event, or even a single linear process; it’s a complex fractal reality composed of many different events on many different scales in space and time.
The stories running our heads influence everything from our beliefs to our values to our actions.
As my regular readers know, I’ve been talking for quite a while now here about the speculative bubble that’s built up around the fracking phenomenon, and the catastrophic bust that’s guaranteed to follow so vast and delusional a boom.
The real story is one of thousands of years of accelerating population growth, ruthless greed, countless wars, enormous suffering, and catastrophic ecocide.
Of all the differences that separate the feudal economy sketched out in last week’s post from the market economy most of us inhabit today, the one that tends to throw people for a loop most effectively is the near-total absence of money in everyday medieval life.
The ancient Maya provide an example of a complex social-ecological system which developed impressively before facing catastrophic reorganization.
The illusion of invincibility is far and away the most important asset a mature ruling elite has, because it discourages deliberate attempts at regime change from within.
It’s one thing to suggest, as I did in last week’s post here, that North America a few centuries from now might have something like five per cent of its current population. It’s quite another thing to talk about exactly whose descendants will comprise that five per cent.
Civilizations normally leave a damaged environment behind them when they fall, and ours shows every sign of following that wearily familiar pattern.