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View Diary: Thanatos: this is the end (160 comments)

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  •  Collapse of Complex Societies (4+ / 0-)
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    sydneyluv, goodpractice, amsterdam, KJG52

    I am pretty sure that one of the principle engines of decline is structural rather than psychological. Which is not to say that the human psych is not also a major factor, however the dark side of human nature is a constant presence even when a particular society is buoyant, in the process of formation, and/or doing well.  So it cannot be the whole explanation.

    I recommend that everyone read "The Collapse of Complex Societies" by Joseph A. Tainter, (ISBN 0-521-38673-X) which creates a compelling case that large, complex social entities - meaning nation-states  and even the "civilizations" within which these exist - are inherently unstable, full of unresolvable conflicts tensions and contradictions.

    Political entities change over time, trying to resolve the changing economic, military and societal changes that arise within them. All of those efforts, though successful at first, lead to increased complexity and thus  further problems. This situation leads to "diminishing returns" where eventually the effort to overcome the latest challenge is greater than the benefits from continuing to  maintain the entire edifice. And so the society fails. Groups fissure off. Individuals "walk away", if not physically, at least from identification with the nation.  

    Solutions? Perhaps there are none, and we must just be prepared to completely reformulate our society and economy every 8 or 9 generations or so.

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