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Societal Collapse (wikipedia.org)
73 points by alokrai on Jan 3, 2021 | hide | past | favorite | 85 comments

This led me down a Wikipedia hole where I learned about John B. Calhoun’s experiments with mice - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_B._Calhoun#Mouse_experi... Very interesting - once the “mouse universe” reached a high population density, it descended into violence and chaos, which was succeeded by massive behavioral changes across the entire population - male mice became introverted, ceased fighting and attempting to reproduce, and simply ate, drank, slept and groomed themselves until the population collapsed.

Sorry for my potential ignorance, since I have a very limited view of what's happening in Japan. But this sounds a lot like what I hear what is happening in Japan with the men.

From bōsōzokus to hikikomoris

The grass-eater men phenomenon is crazy. And the people who live in net cafes are painfully sad.

Man, sharing this link in January 2021 is just brutal :D

It made me wonder though, who here legitimately thinks their society is nearing collapse? Which society? By which measures are you evaluating the situation?

Do you feel you have any control over the collapse, or a participation mandate at any level? How much does it seem to parallel your current personal life situation? Are things similarly chaotic, or do you find yourself at peace?

Just curious.

I have a friend who is convinced that we're already mid-collapse and have been for decades. He cites many of the same causes found in the link above. He says, "just look at what happens to any wild animal when there aren't enough resources or they're stressed, they start going crazy: self harm, eating young, death by refusing to eat."

He sees echos of behavior patterns like a fractal, so tiny patterns of behaviors in mice emerge as patterns in larger human society. He has said that he thinks human societies are just another organism that lives, ages, and dies. He doesn't really prep or anything, just expects he and most people he knows to die in food riots sometime in his life. He doesn't even bother prepping (so he says) because such a collapse likely would come from a way that he can't expect and wouldn't likely survive anyway. He realizes there isn't enough ammo to hold off millions of starving people, and the people who survive likely would do so accidentally or through freak luck, but a new society would emerge again in a few generations to repeat the cycle again. Fun guy, my friend.

I too wonder if mental health issues are symptoms of larger problems in our society, but I am hopeful that we can figure out the mechanisms and adapt. It's difficult to study complex systems, but I have some 'faith' that we can build the tools necessary.

Some mechanisms that seem obvious to me are overpopulation and laws restricting personal freedom (e.g. laws on sexuality or laws on drug use). The 1 child policy is an example of a (failed?) attempt at addressing the 1st issue.

The whole premise of 5% target growth per year is flawed and unsustainable. To my understanding the world's economic policies are set to spend resources to promote growth. 5% growth means doubling virtually everything every 10 years: imagine doubling energy consumption, double population in every city, double production, consumption. There is no a non-ideological answer/solution to the state of the world. The balance of nature will settle itself to an equilibrium, hopefully without too much pain and without complete destruction of the environment.

Where do you get 5% growth from? Is it just extrapolated from expected returns on investment?

Not the original commentor, but much of the US' financial system is run with the express goal of trying to grow at about 5% per year. The target inflation of 2% is intended to encourage us to spend money reinvesting in new business rather than sitting on it. Returns have to be better than 2% to just break even.

But where do you get this 5% figure from? My understanding was that the inflation target of 2% was to reduce the risk of runaway deflation. I'm not saying you're wrong, but I hear the "unlimited growth" argument crop up a lot with no basis.

Really sorry for causing confusion, by putting up such an exact number, 5%. It is just my common understanding that the countries anchoring the growth goals around that number.

The policies pf cause vary by country (developed, developing), for example for GDP:

Japan's "annual forecast is +3.6% in 2021, and +2.2% in 2022". [0]

The UN's Sustainable Development Goal [1] sets "For the least developed countries, the economic target is to attain at least a 7 percent annual growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP)."

Long time ago I remember watching a video by a prof, who asked a local council what would be the desirable growth (in range 1%-10%). The council agreed that 5% is reasonable. Here I found the video [2].

[0] https://www.ubs.com/global/en/investment-bank/in-focus/2020/...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_Development_Goal_8

[2] https://youtu.be/DZCm2QQZVYk?t=520

Or possibly we never before in history had the wherewithal to be aware of, diagnose, and treat mental health issues to the extent we can today?

This is definitely possible. And we will possibly never be able to tell, since the information required is already lost to history.

I think your friend could use some help and positive encouragement. This kind of scenario has not played out in previous famines. They are not exactly rare events in history. People would do what they could and make the best of what they have, as we have always done. Our knowledge and technology are also going to help us feed ourselves and if you need any proof of that just look at the marvelous vaccine work that has occurred in less than a year.

I mean, there have been famines in recent human history in which people have allegedly turned to cannibalism and other behavior we would consider barbaric?

I wonder, has your friend looked into the "growth and change looks like death" folks? Barbara Marx Hubbard is a good example. She offered the example of butterfly metamorphosis, which involves a pretty stunning systemic breakdown at a very deep level.

I moved from Europe to the US as a teenager, and I remember being shocked at the evident shock, decay and poverty I saw even in what was supposed to be a large and prosperous city (New York).

It took me a long time to realize that this is how America works: things that didn't work or that nobody wants are allowed to fail, and this clearing out of the underbrush is what allows new things to come forth. Contrast this with Europe, where things like unprofitable state enterprises are propped up essentially forever, sucking away capital and people that could be doing something useful instead.

But this was a long, long time ago. These days I don't hold out much hope for the US or for Europe: humanity's future is in Asia.

I believe there will be collapses and very hard things, but we can be OK (for a long list of reasons). I've written more elsewhere (at my site). But really, if we try to learn and do what is right, with a clear conscience, we can be OK.

(Honesty and kindness are very important, as are the principles underlying the US Constitution. And more.)

I have multiple ant colonies in my garden and when I was younger spent a whole lot of time trying everything imaginable to get rid of them (induce collapse you could say). But with each attempt my admiration for them just kept growing. Cause these fuckers with their spec of dust sized brains keep chugging along the next day morning as if nothing at all happened. Its like every calamity is just a minor interruption to whatever they are upto. So I just use their model. My mantra over time has become - "Dont sit around appreciating the pain. Get back to work"

But the caveat here is, as with the ants, you must have a goto list of things to do. When I was younger I had no idea what I wanted to do so the mantra worked terribly. But the older I have gotten the list of things to do has grown. So like the ant no matter what happens theres always something to do.

> It made me wonder though, who here legitimately thinks their society is nearing collapse? Which society? By which measures are you evaluating the situation?

Since you ask:

* https://old.reddit.com/r/collapse/

The more pratically-minded lean more towards:

* https://old.reddit.com/r/preppers/

There's a certain minimum effort that most people should probably do (even if you don't live in a earthquake zone or hurricane area)

* https://www.ready.gov

* https://www.getprepared.gc.ca/index-en.aspx

Parts of the United States resemble a failed state with endemic violence, hunger and poverty exacerbated by the pandemic.


> It made me wonder though, who here legitimately thinks their society is nearing collapse?

Indeed, it seems passive-aggressive to just post this link without any further commentary.

>It made me wonder though, who here legitimately thinks their society is nearing collapse? Which society? By which measures are you evaluating the situation?

Not exactly, but I can completely see why some people think so.

What's happening fundamentally is that the boomers are on the verge of retirement. The worker shortage of 2030 is set in stone and the only way to mitigate the damage is very large amounts of immigration.

the problem is that housing is limited, worker shortage means housing wont be built to required capacity, and our top industries are becoming parasitic at best. This creates political pressure.

Then add in the consequences, women entering the workforce has been wonderful but not for the average worker. Supply increased by demand decreased because political policy of globalism shipped jobs out of the country. Thus we have income inequality that's out of control. We also have historic lows of marriage and births.

The blame is 100% in the hands of the government. you then look at the government's failure and it's a disaster. So many federal governments are functionally bankrupt and the debt is higher than ever. the government cant afford to fix their mistakes.

What's the point of society? It's the humans. We have failed in this regard. Will it be collapse?

Nope, but I know what's coming to prevent the collapse. the governments know how to do this each time.

I have been learning more about biology and the immune system. I’ve realized that genetic engineering of viruses is something far easier than making a nuclear weapon and could easily wipe out humanity. It doesn’t have to be a government some crazy cult might just do it 50 years from now and create a pathogen immune to most vaccines.

You might enjoy looking at society as one large organism [1]. Many biological patterns reemerge at this scale.

Imagine the pandemic government response as a large scale societal immune response. Inner city violence as a form of inflammation...

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_organism

You don't even have to wipeout humanity, look at the financial destruction the current virus has done and consider how non-lethal it is compared to many others.

For that matter, every tinpot dictator and would be terrorist in the world could easily get their hands on this virus, store it for a few years until immunity has worn off and we don't have huge stockpiles of a vaccine, then purposefully release it in a dozen major cities at once, it would spread for a couple of weeks before being noticed.

I'll take the liberty to share some notes from unscientific sources, because I find the official sources plain boring.

A civilization is generally started by great people that put grand ideals into its foundation. A sign of such founders is their borderline unbelievable holiness, that makes them a legend. During its lifespan, great minds get replaced by small minds. The typical lifespan is about a million years, but maybe this time things move a lot quicker. The latter are attracted not to the ideals, but to the earthly things, such as shiny metals and power over others. I believe we are here now. In all cases, such people eventually discover the secret of black magic (I know, many would cough here) and the dark age begins. A sign of that phase is cyclopic brutalistic architecture that worships human body (that's an important detail). We've had a glimpse into that already: nazism. We seem to be moving rapidly in that direction: powerful dictatorships are plenty, while democracies are few. Another sign of that phase is abandoning liberty and reason, because the evil (the dark side of every human) has neither, and embracing chaos and fatalism. Example: the idea that voting doesn't matter, whether it's technically true or not. The terminal stage of every big civilization is a collapse into a sort of a black hole: people are paralyzed by fear and hate, the dominating ideology is a dark cult. There's no coming back from that stage, as that kind of dark cult has real power. At this point, the civilization always gets an external "help" that wipes everything out, so the few survivors could start it over, but now at the next level.

I saw an intriguing comment yesterday on here about how the Extreme Ultra Violet Lithography machines that are producing our cutting edge processors are "the greatest achievement of science and technology on the planet"[1]. I can believe it. And it's fascinating how that affects geopolitics, much as other science and technology has in the past (the printing press, nuclear energy, etc)

I'm not OP, but why I think this Wikipedia article is relevant is because the more I actually learn about the world and history the more I begin to wonder whether in fact _mercenarism_ not technology is the defining trait of modern civilisation (and by extension I wonder about whether this is true for HN as a whole too). The great leaps were made by traders, rather than scientists, those willing to exploit and enslave rather than innovate and create. Of course they feed each other, think of the Marine Chronometer[2]. But if indeed mercenerism is the defining characteristic then it makes a lot more sense to think about societal collapse, because the fundamental design of the West, like many other civilisations, is based on logistical exploitation, which, unlike technological innovation, is fundamentally unsustainable.

And as a hacker, to me, such a design flaw cannot be patched away. Not that I advocate surrender, but rather, how do we, as hackers, minimise the impending destruction of a failing system? I wonder if one of the first steps is to stop wasting energy on any efforts based on the idea that we can fix this? Rather how can we, if it is even possible, gracefully manage the collapse?

1. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25361028

2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marine_chronometer

There's a great podcast / Youtube series called "Fall of Civilizations" that documents some of these collapses and why they happened: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCT6Y5JJPKe_JDMivpKgVXew

Fantastic podcast. Recent two-parter on the fall of the Aztec Empire is particularly good:


With reproduction below replacement rates, we are headed toward a depopulation societal collapse.

Maybe this is a good thing!

I personally agree with the message of and support the The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement [0].

There is good introduction in form of a short film "Thank You For Not Breeding" [1].

[0] http://vhemt.org/ [1] https://vimeo.com/7652051

This takes as an ultimate goal the preservation of Earth and its ecology. I personally think of the Earth as just a means to an end (intelligent, conscious existence). I find little inherent value in an Earth that isn't collapsing but which has no (human-level or greater) intelligent, sapient entities. And no inherent value in an Earth without any sentient entities.

My personal ultimate goal is to simultaneously reduce the suffering of sentient life and allow it to flourish throughout the universe. The Earth itself is just a necessary container for it for the time being. It's an inanimate hunk of molecules. Blow it up for all I care, and all the plants and archaea and bacteria and such, if beforehand every human and non-human animal can be safely transported or teleported to another celestial object or structure which supports animal life. (Obviously this is extremely unrealistic.)

Is the best way to preserve sentient life the elimination of sapient life? It's one way, but I don't necessarily think it's the best way. And that's not even considering the utility one might attribute to the total number of sapient entities and how it might compare to non-sapient ones.

Also, practically speaking, it's probably easier to convince enough people to address the problem of ecological destruction than to convince everyone on Earth to never reproduce. If both turn out to be impossible, then I guess that's just how the story goes.

I like this idea of reaching the stars as a higher goal, partly because it (to me at least) clearly implies that we must treat each other non-destructively. Learning to improve oneself, and service to others in their growth and goals, bring real joy. I guess maybe it comes with the expansion of self and others in that way. Selfishness tears it down, like the story of the crabs in the heated water (or something like that), who prevent each other from exiting up & out.

And maybe those higher aims can serve as one's higher aspirations or guiding purpose, even in the absence of religious beliefs that one sees as actually true, and which lead one to be kind & honest, and to strive for competence in service to family and humanity. I suggested so in my own writings (at my site), but perhaps less eloquently than the parent comment.

My beliefs agree that the earth has a purpose, and also is a creation worth of our respectful stewardship, for high purposes. And that we can be OK and don't have to depopulate -- that there is enough, and to spare, to fulfill the higher purposes, which is comforting to know.

George Carlin has defined the purpose for humans to produce plastic, because the Earth needs plastic.

Here is the famous quote from him:

   “We’re so self-important. Everybody’s going to save something now. “Save the trees, save the bees, save the whales, save those snails.” And the greatest arrogance of all: save the planet. Save the planet, we don’t even know how to take care of ourselves yet. I’m tired of this shit. I’m tired of f-ing Earth Day. I’m tired of these self-righteous environmentalists, these white, bourgeois liberals who think the only thing wrong with this country is that there aren’t enough bicycle paths. People trying to make the world safe for Volvos. Besides, environmentalists don’t give a shit about the planet. Not in the abstract they don’t. You know what they’re interested in? A clean place to live. Their own habitat. They’re worried that some day in the future they might be personally inconvenienced. Narrow, unenlightened self-interest doesn’t impress me.

   The planet has been through a lot worse than us. Been through earthquakes, volcanoes, plate tectonics, continental drift, solar flares, sun spots, magnetic storms, the magnetic reversal of the poles … hundreds of thousands of years of bombardment by comets and asteroids and meteors, worldwide floods, tidal waves, worldwide fires, erosion, cosmic rays, recurring ice ages … And we think some plastic bags and some aluminum cans are going to make a difference? The planet isn’t going anywhere. WE are!

   We’re going away. Pack your shit, folks. We’re going away. And we won’t leave much of a trace, either. Maybe a little Styrofoam … The planet’ll be here and we’ll be long gone. Just another failed mutation. Just another closed-end biological mistake. An evolutionary cul-de-sac. The planet’ll shake us off like a bad case of fleas.

   The planet will be here for a long, long, LONG time after we’re gone, and it will heal itself, it will cleanse itself, ’cause that’s what it does. It’s a self-correcting system. The air and the water will recover, the earth will be renewed. And if it’s true that plastic is not degradable, well, the planet will simply incorporate plastic into a new paradigm: the earth plus plastic. The earth doesn’t share our prejudice toward plastic. Plastic came out of the earth. The earth probably sees plastic as just another one of its children. Could be the only reason the earth allowed us to be spawned from it in the first place. It wanted plastic for itself. Didn’t know how to make it. Needed us. Could be the answer to our age-old egocentric philosophical question, “Why are we here?”

   Plastic… asshole.”

Clever, but ... ouch.

I am very grateful to have learned for myself by multiple means that God is real, in charge, and has a long-term plan for us that extends beyond this life, and for which this earth is an important part, that we should respect, also because it is His beautiful creation and our home.

Others will disagree, and we all will choose for ourselves. I hope that while we are choosing, we can treat each other and the earth with honesty, respect, and kindness.

(thoughtful comments appreciated)

This should be either His evil intent or His professional negligence that estimated 1.5 billion masks has entered the oceans in 2020.


You raise an interesting issue, and pollution is a concern to me also. In my beliefs, part of His plan is letting us exercise our agency (or ability to choose), for our experience/learning/growth, and to find or show what it is we really desire; and there are consequences. It is up to us to learn to make good choices, but He does not force us. There will be justice, and mercy to those who seek it, for whom I believe things really will be made OK in the end. (Our choices matter, and we live in a very imperfect world.) So, there are both big issues and opportunities for individual peace while we work on the issues, and even as we experience troubles (Edit: and our good efforts are all worthwhile, as this is neither the beginning nor end of our existence). It seems good to start with ourselves, and encourage others (that honesty/Golden Rule stuff).

I hope that makes some sense, whether or not we agree on details. More is elsewhere.

> It is up to us to learn to make good choices, but He does not force us.

If you are saying that you are solely responsible for your own actions, why then you need an inert Bystander?

It is completely indifferent and you can choose any other Totem to run your thoughts by, or act in the Name of.

You can choose Neutrinos, for example. They are truly abundant and omnipresent -- quazillions of Neutrinos are passing through your body each femtosecond. They are not forcing you to do anything (because they do not interact). They are just filling your body with their presence.

You can talk to them and ask them for the Way, and they will share the same space with you to comfort you, as you know they are with you, but also leave you to your options.

The Neutrinos are fully inert Bystanders.

As I noted, there will be justice. He will judge and provide eternal punishment or reward, fairly according to our knowledge, for our thoughts, words, and acts. It will be very specific and real. Mercy, and help in our lives, right now, are available as noted above, but only to the extent we choose them. These can now and will be concrete in their impact on us, not abstract, and I can attest to that in many specific ways.

I have learned some things for myself, not as a constructed philosophy, but as a determination of truth from multiple angles. Anyone can begin and continue to learn for themselves if they want and humbly & sincerely try. It has been important to me, to know for myself, because just believing what someone else said or wrote has limits. I have written about it in great detail at my site (noted in my profile), to be either skimmed or pursued, to the extent that one desires. All the best wishes to you in your endeavors.

(Edits: some phrasing.)

Edit: Also, everyone will eventually have a opportunity to know and choose accordingly, so by "fair", above, I mean that all will have a fair chance to receive their reward or punishment according to their own true desires and choices.

I am reminded of the scene from the British series Utopia:

* https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UxVrVV-fDSs

Think of immigration.

"Immigration as a solution for fertility" is rooted in the assumption that the developing world stays forever poor and keeps producing surplus fresh meat for you to attract and assimilate, which is some combination of offensive, racist, and also deeply incorrect.

or be more creative. think of technological advancement so rapid that a less numerous generation can still be more productive than the one that preceded it.

That is valid, but I don't know if you can still talk of "society" about a very reduced population, it depends on the reduction factor and stops at reproduction rate zero.

A probable outcome would be that another society takes over the one disappearing.

Immigration or population replacement?

Immigration is the base of any country.

Your may be talking about more strict immigration policies but the subject here is "societal collapse" and population reduction and I was pointing out a possibility.

I wonder if I am an outlier here (physically the US) and think society is not collapsing, but diversifying. Also, given the state of the environment, national debt, employment prospects for many in the generations proceding me, and civic unrest, it seems prudent that we evaluate our socioeconomic activities.

Immigration is addressed in the article as a potential cause of societal collapse.

I do think we (the US in particular, and the western world in general) are undergoing a process that, if it continues to fruition, is societal collapse. That said, I don't think it is imminent or unavoidable.

I do think there's a gray area between immigration generating diversity and immigration serving the same ultimate purpose as invasion. At some point you go from becoming diverse to being supplanted. Immigration rates high enough to drastically change the culture of a society within the lifespan of one human being can be catastrophic. It naturally creates division and strife.

It really doesn't matter if the cultures are both equally advanced, good, if one is being mean to the other, etc. There will be friction. When this happens slow enough, over a few generations, newcomers adopt prevailing norms, and the incumbent culture adopts some newcomer customs. Also, the stronger the incumbent group hold to their customs and take pride in them, the more immigration they can handle, because this creates peer pressure on the newcomer group to assimilate.

The combination of massive immigration and social pressure to view our own customs as unimportant or even inferior is potentially a bad combination for the survival of our society. I hope to see it survive, I do like it, I wouldn't want an entirely homogenous society.

> I do think there's a gray area between immigration generating diversity and immigration serving the same ultimate purpose as invasion.

At what point did you stop being the invader and become the invaded? Conceivably, someone could have held the same sentiment about someone more vunerable in your lineage whose efforts leave you where you sit today. I favor giving that person a chance and not labeling them an invader. I believe that's what's outlined in the rulebook here (the United States for me).

> At some point you go from becoming diverse to being supplanted. Immigration rates high enough to drastically change the culture of a society within the lifespan of one human being can be catastrophic. It naturally creates division and strife.

This line of thinking, positioning and labeling I consistently find troubling as it leads to violence against minorities justified by often false, purposeful anecdotes without consideration of the policies and practices that cause inequality. That's catastrophic.

>At what point did you stop being the invader and become the invaded? Conceivably, someone could have held the same sentiment about someone more vulnerable in your lineage whose efforts leave you where you sit today.

Yes. There are those in the US that still regard the mass migration onto the continent of the European settlers as an invasion.

>This line of thinking, positioning and labeling I consistently find troubling

I agree, but 1) this line of thinking will always occur, and has occurred in native populations in every instance of mass immigration, and 2) whether troubling or not, in at least some scenarios is the correct analysis of the state of affairs.

You cannot decide what people think no matter how hard you try, and you cannot ignore something if it might very well be true just because you find it troubling.

We don’t have this problem in the US, most of our immigration is from fellow western and Christian nations like Mexico and similar in central America. Maybe what you describe is an actual risk in Europe.

> I do think there's a gray area between immigration generating diversity and immigration serving the same ultimate purpose as invasion

Sure. For example, historians debate the extent to which the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain was a migration vs an invasion. However, we know the Anglo-Saxons at least did things like set up their own kingdoms and cause some of the Celtic Britons to flee to Wales and Brittany. It seems to me like immigrants in present-day western countries are really, really far away from doing anything like that.

And the nations which are overtaking us - Taiwan, Korea, Japan, China - are the complete opposite of diverse. Perhaps diversity is not our strength?

Good side effect of that is strong culture. It doesn't get diluted by diversity.

I can only imagine what it would have been like to travel to another country many decades ago before globalization and travel. Here is Tokyo 100 years ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQAmZ_kR8S8

The simplest of things - a tunic or a shirt is commoditized by the entire globe. Everyone on the whole globe just wears a shirt/pants. Each nation had their own attire and it was just normal to wear skirts in Scotland and suits in England, and kimonos in Japan. This was erased by globalism and diversity. It may be that shirt/pant combo is actually superior attire due to some particular measurable quantity, but I suspect it was because of English imperialism.

> Good side effect of that is strong culture. It doesn't get diluted by diversity.

Yeah, CCP is kinda working on that whole eliminating cultural diversity thing as we speak

I was thinking more on the lighter side - huge fan of Civilization, the game! Cultures are cool.

The ironic thing is that people who view East Asia's "non-diversity" positively also tend to be the same people who are vehemently against East Asian-style policy, such as: covid lockdown and mask mandates, more money on public education, single-payer healthcare, and no guns. In other words, if anyone strongly believes that there's any cultural advantage to East Asian countries (very debatable), America can be in a better position to compete by giving more power to minority voices.

You mean places that had the least to offer to any kind of migrant from the West during the period of European imperialism are also the least diverse? Setting aside the complicating factor of the West African slave trade as a factor of population displacement, color me surprised. This whole diversity thing just fell out of the sky over here.

How are they overtaking us again?

In depopulation. All have fertility well below replacement rate and negligible immigration.

China is very diverse place.

new zealand successfully contained the virus. they have extremely strict immigration policies..

They also have no land borders. Very easy to close borders when all it involves is closing airports and turning ships away. That's doubly true when you have no exports that are vital to the world economy.

Also, a country of the size of New Zealand is easier to control like a speed boat vs. US like a huge tanker. Ofcourse, if you put an authoritarian boosters on the tanker (China), its possible.

Just to put things in perspective, New Zealand's population is half of Silicon Valley / SF Bay Area.

Roman empire didn’t collapsed, it became diversified by the Lombards, Franks and Wisigoths.

It's not clear to me whether your point is intended sarcastically, but for those who don't know, the Roman Empire was incredibly diverse throughout all of its history. Rome itself was a cosmopolitan urban center for centuries. Even after the split and collapse of the WRE, the east remained hugely diverse.

Not so much Rome as the entire Mediterranean has swapped genes and cultures a hundredfold for thousands of years being the trade hub between Europe, West Asia, and Africa.

I also feel like I'm reading a bunch of coded statements with some of these comments in here.

Oh yeah, I've found 'the reason why Rome collapsed' type arguments to be at this point mostly a kind of 'Rorschach Test' for the ideology of whoever is promoting it.

Honestly, I'd rather deal with the coded language visible thus far than have to explain why Diamond's Collapse is utter garbage for the hundredth time.

Both are exhausting, honestly.

Rome didn't collapse, it just diversified into several other smaller states. The Aztec empire wasn't overthrown by the Spanish, but just fractured. The empire of Genghis Khan didn't collapse, it just got successfully split until what remained resembled nothing of what it once was.

I'm not trying to be argumentative, but rather pointing out that -- in the grand scheme of history -- every collapse can be recast as a 'diversifying' of the original society, even if the end state of the society has little in resemblance to the original.

For example, the Roman empire lasted -- in the form of the byzantines -- until 1453, only a few decades before Columbus discovered America, but the Byzantines were not really Roman in the way we think of ancient Rome, despite having every claim to being one and the same with the Roman empire.

>every collapse can be recast as a 'diversifying' of the original society, even if the end state of the society has little in resemblance to the original.

The folks from Easter Island would beg to differ if they were still around!

I can't tell if you're joking or not. Easter Island is yet another example of my general premise. The people who colonized it originally -- the rapa nui -- are still around, even if their current culture is very different from the civilization that erected the moai?

"In a speech to Roman nobles, the Emperor expressed his pressing concern over the low birthrates of the Romans elite. He said that freed slaves had been granted citizenship and Roman allies given seats government to increase the power and prosperity of Rome, yet the "original stock" was not replacing themselves, leaving the task to foreigners.[66] Roman poet Ovid shared the same observation."

Well well. It's truly remarkable to see how our current laws and religious texts have roots in history.

note that augustus said this at the beginning of what is called the "pax romana", a ~200 year period of unprecedented stability and affluence for the empire.

Fascinating. This quote from Toynbee in the section on decay is is particularly eerie given current events in the United States:

First the Dominant Minority attempts to hold by force - against all right and reason - a position of inherited privilege which it has ceased to merit; and then the Proletariat repays injustice with resentment, fear with hate, and violence with violence when it executes its acts of secession. Yet the whole movement ends in positive acts of creation - and this on the part of all the actors in the tragedy of disintegration. The Dominant Minority creates a universal state, the Internal Proletariat a universal church, and the External Proletariat a bevy of barbarian war-bands.

I am certain that Trump's efforts to retain power will fail. Unfortunately he has laid the groundwork for someone competent to seize power. It feels like only a matter of time.

I think our collapse began before Trump with the advent of Machine learning. ML was then hitched to advertising and click generation. Now individuals entire view of the world are shaped by algorithms designed to keep you clicking so they feed you to an echo chamber. This is the reason for the massive chasms between the 2 political sides, Brad Parscales was just able to harness that power for Trump.

If you step back and think about how almost everything you see on the internet is designed to keep you coming back for more and the way it can shape peoples world view, it is quite terrifying.

Let me recommend the book - The Fate of Rome by Kyle Harper (2020)- about how climate change and pandemies slowly sapped strength of Roman Empire..

From Antonine Plague to Plague of Justinian and from Roman Climate Optimum to Late Antiquity Ice Age.

[2] - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Warm_Period

[3] - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Late_Antique_Little_Ice_Age

[1] - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34427005-the-fate-of-rom...

I don't think the British Empire is a good example. It has divested/separated areas under its influence without any sort of societal collapse affecting neither the individual former piece of the Empire, nor Britain itself.

> Yet some have not collapsed but have only gradually faded away, as in the case of the British Empire since 1918.


A very interesting (though I think it’s impossible to proof or refute) read related to this: https://www.julianjaynes.org/resources/books/ooc/

I learned about it while reading Dawkins’ “The God Delusion,” and since then, Jaynes and Hofstadter have been the biggest influences on my personal philosophy.

I don't believe society will ever truly collapse, because there's too much money involved, and too much see evaporate.

"It is easier to imagine an end to the world than an end to capitalism."

- Mark Fisher.[1]

I think the next hundred years will show us how fundamental capitalism is to our society. Making a living now gets in the way of having a life (and reproducing life) for the majority of people.[2] Whether or not capitalism can survive without growth has long been debated. (See e.g. [3], [4] for recent popular-media examples.)

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Fisher

2. https://www.populationpyramid.net/world/2050/ Look especially at the expected trends for the major economies of the world--Europe, Japan, China, RoK, Russian Federation, USA--and upcomers--Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, India, and so on.

3. https://www.degrowth.info/en/2014/06/the-good-news-no-capita...

4. https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/02/the-end...

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