If You Want to Read About Collapse, Read The Good Stuff

Collapse is a popular word these days owing to negative social mood, but the word is used cheaply. There is serious scholarship on the topic of collapse and it pays to read some of the better work on the subject if you want to have a deeper understanding. The two authors below deal with historical and archaeological evidence; complexity theory is another.

I have read Dr. Joseph Tainter. (See: Dr. Joseph Tainter presentation. His book is a must read for anyone interested in the topic and his findings are interesting, such as the fact that collapse does not necessarily lead to a decline in standard of living because complexity consumes resources (A very simplified explanation of collapse is that when the marginal cost of complexity begins to exceed the benefit, collapse becomes increasingly likely.) The Collapse of Complex Societies

There is another book out that makes use of archaeology and history in studying collapse: 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed

Here is a review: System Failure: Eric H. Cline on 1177 B.C. – The Year Civilization Collapsed
The concept of systemic breakdown plays an important role in Cline’s analysis of the Catastrophe, and so too quite naturally does the concept of a system or an economy. Establishing that the Eastern Mediterranean world in the Late Bronze Age was a unified system or economy is one of the admirable goals of Cline’s exposition. Modernity, believing its own myth, styles itself as the unprecedented result of a long and arduous historical progressus from the troglodyte dawn of humanity to the present lustrous global technocracy. Cline argues that modernity is not unique in its intimate network of communications, commerce, and diplomacy, but that the Late Bronze Age also in precedence qualified as “a complex international world.”

......Just before reading The Year Civilization Collapsed I read Gregory R. Copley’s Un-Civilization: Urban Geo-Politics in a Time of Chaos (2013). Copley sees the existing global economy as a distorted, unstable system already embarked down the slope of collapse. The malaise of the contemporary system in Copley’s analysis stems from many of the distortions that Cline cites as contributing to the end of the Bronze Age: Centralized bureaucratization of the societies; overspecialization within the total mercantile network such that a disruption anywhere must spread its effects like ripples everywhere else; vulnerable infrastructure, such as, in the modern instance, the electrical grid; unregulated, massive migrations of peoples; and the development of enmitous social factions within societies, in some cases massively immigration-driven. Copley predicts a crisis, one effect of which will be plummeting depopulation leading to the desertification of the distended World Cities.
This one is on my reading list, as is Copley's book. You can find free digital versions (PDF or epub) of it here: Un-Civilization: Urban Geo-Politics in a Time of Chaos

No comments:

Post a Comment