Looking to civilisations of the past from our existence today, clearly history does not precisely repeat itself; but it certainly rhymes.
Human societies the world over are confronted with a growing number and range of difficult and compounding problems and crises, which they are increasingly struggling to address and failing to solve, and which are slowly but surely eroding their ability to function effectively and undermining their capacity to coexist peacefully.
The best strategic response for ordinary people would probably be to build grassroots horizontal power networks and get out ahead of the failing elites by doing whatever will minimize the crisis ahead.
The idea that a civilization may collapse because of resource depletion is often hard to believe for historians.
Archaeologist Joseph Tainter, whose book The Collapse of Complex Societies I mentioned in my previous post, uses this working definition: “A society has collapsed when it displays a rapid, significant loss of an established level of sociopolitical complexity”.
Collapse can’t happen soon enough, as far as I’m concerned. By collapse, I mean the breakdown of the complexities of our current society. It’s not that I long for the feral world, red in tooth and claw, portrayed in collapse fiction, although I know there are those who fantasize about mastering a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
If you recognize controversies and hypocrisies like these, then you know what it’s like to live in Crazy Town. Laugh along with Asher, Rob, and Jason (mostly so you don’t cry) as they explore the back alleys, figure out how to navigate sanely, and even find an escape route every once in awhile.
It is only by pulling together that we can hope to salvage and protect what is most intrinsically valuable about our world, and perhaps even improve lives over the long term.
The historian and archeologist Joseph Tainter made a name for himself with his book The Collapse of Complex Societies. At a certain point civilisations collapse because they become more and more complex
But what does it mean to say that a society becomes “more complex”?
Economists make forecasts about what is going to happen in the world of that great God – money.
I suppose you could call the era of dissolution the Rodney Dangerfield of collapse, though it’s not so much that it gets no respect; it generally doesn’t even get discussed.