by Charles Hugh Smith
Of Two Minds
Threats, propaganda and the Orwellian dissolution of social trust cannot stop a withdrawal from the status quo.
Longtime readers know I’ve had an active interest in what differentiates empires/nations that survive crises and those that collapse. There is a lively academic literature on this topic, and it boils down to three general views:
1. Collapse is typically triggered by an external crisis that overwhelms the empire’s ability to handle it. Absent the external shock, the empire could have continued on for decades or even centuries.
2. Crises that could have been handled in the “Spring” of rapid expansion are fatal in “Winter” when the costs of maintaining complex systems exceeds the empire’s resources.
3. Civilization is cyclical and as population and consumption outstrip resources, the empire becomes increasingly vulnerable to external shocks.