Out of the thirty-odd foremost known civilizations that preceded our present day, globalised, Western civilization, about twenty of them simply disappeared through some form of self-perpetuated annihilation. While many may wonder why these civilisations disappeared, the question I like to pose is this; “¿ is this something that is happening to us, (Western civilization circa 2007 AD) in our present state of advancement, or is there a way to change things before the tyranny that is power commits suicide again?”.
Recent history shows us that humanity and social order evolves best while consisting of a loosely organised alliance of communities scattered far and wide. Arguably these communities work very well while they are nearby enough to interconnect, and small enough and with enough distance between them to so as not to dictate and limit each other’s day to day conduct and activity. This way, each community is free to reproduce or adopt another’s technology and accomplishments, and in turn, each learns enough to avoid having to repeat the other’s catastrophes and failed endeavours. Ironically, once this state of communing is achieved, “expansion” occurs and the advantage disappears.
This group of communities becomes a dense civilisation as a result of growing together. Thereafter things get out of control again as a result of all the structured solutions that this so-called society requires and subsequently imposes in order to “grow”. The societies then become so fundamentally structured that solutions to problems and innovation become controlled by a hierarchy and rules are imposed from above. The people largely begin to depend on a procedure bound, centralised, risky and Byzantine organization. (a.k.a. Infrastructure or State) and accept the accompanying compromises for the greater good. This mindless sacrifice of self-sufficiency is what brought about so many reversals of fortune in the euphemistically termed “great” civilisations of the past.
Historians like Edward Gibbon and David Womersley describe how the great Roman Empire fell; it collapsed simply because everyone became so dependent on Rome itself, that when its time came to collapse as all structures eventually do, the Empire collapsed with it. Europe was lucky, life carried on albeit precariously, and many Empires rose and fell before the next superpowers arose. In 2007 AD there exists only one superpower, the USA, the second last one has collapsed. But … humanity has the resilience and wherewithal to survive with or without complex super-systems.
Here I feel compelled to quote Win Wenger
“Advanced civilizations are structured like complex metazoans, susceptible to aging and dying. Having discovered economies-of-scale, having for a number of reasons fallen into the romance of bigness (is today’s merger-mania the latest outcropping of this?), and settling into complexly vulnerable, specialized arrangements and lines-of-supply—these are what usually prove ultimately fatal to the societies which have come to depend thereon.”
So what is my point you may ask?
Actually it is quite simplistic. The globalised western society we live in today exposes us to an environment that is far from ideal.
There are those people who sacrifice their spirit (and the spirit of their loved ones) for a lie that is mediocrity, by abdicating individual responsibility and allowing the procedures and systems to dictate and provide the excuses for their lot in life. They surrender their will to authority and make every effort to become an upstanding member of society at large or (in the inimitable words of Robert Anton Wilson) domesticated primates.
Then there are those, who are aware that there is an ebb and flow, an essence, in all that is life. Those who will seek, through sages and learning, to attain deep awareness, wisdom and understanding; those who, no matter what becomes of the structure, or what the structure becomes, are able to prosper and grow. These are the true conquerors, the real heroes, for they provide solutions when others simply expect them.
Which of us is you?