Comment 43241

By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted July 13, 2010 at 16:16:29

History has been pretty clear about all this high-technology stuff. The Roman Empire, though much "simpler" than us, worked on a very similar model of conquest and exploitation, as well as local populations having comparatively "high" standards of living (getting to watch Gladiators etc). They had the highest technology, living standards and military power of anyone, ever, in the known world.

The fall of the Roman Empire was inevitable. Everyone argues about exactly what happened, or which individual factor was the "main cause", but nearly everyone agrees that one way or the other, it couldn't have lasted. You could say virtually the same thing of dozens of other civilizations which experienced similar peaks and collapses - virtually all of the Americas went through something very similar around 900 AD, long before the white man started his conquest. The Maya, Anasazi, and many others "collapsed" very rapidly, and only survived through massive social change. The Maya, for instance, built new grand cities, but never again had "god-kings". In any modern sense of the word, the Americas were much more "modern" in 800 AD than 1500. Cities, agriculture, etc. But it didn't work. Just like Babylon (which fell due to its advanced agricultural practices, turning the whole region into a desert).

Civilizations are very, very mortal. We're watching it happen all over again, a dozen factors converging - water, ecology, climate, centralization of control, warfare etc... We can guess which one will be the "main cause" of our own civilization's demise, as will anyone who comes after. But much like the actual date of peak oil, or whether Hurricane Katrina would have happened without climate change, it may never really be known. The real world doesn't need to be neat and definable to have enormous effects on millions of people.

One way or another, this way of life can not last, and will change. Only we can decide what that change will be, and mean.

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