Remember when we were Rome
What with the modern “reliance culture”, the banking crisis of post 2008 and all the environment issues we seem to be facing we often don’t realise that Corporate Social Responsibility and the Environment form part of a larger civilisation issue. Civilisation has evolved to become it’s own huge industrial challenge and lest we forget, the environment will selfishly take care of itself – as for us humans it’s simply a 20th century lifestyle that we are trying to preserve.
The banking crisis of 2008 was perpetuated by naive greed; by people who had blind faith in the predictive infallibility of their models – these people felt it was beyond or beneath them to sanity check their own world, furthermore they also ignored what was going on in the real world.
Any system that requires 700 Billion of anything to sort its problems out is fundamentally unwell!
Today’s society relies on models and frameworks and countless millions of people blindly believe they are safe. Well I for one am wide awake at the moment because in my opinion we are relying on experts who rely on predictive models. A quick scan of NN Talebs masterpiece The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable reminds anyone to be wary of experts who presume to know (with scientific precision to whit) where they are going.
I know I am repeating stuff from a previous article here next but humour me. 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 again is this; “¿ is this something that is happening to us, (Western civilization circa 2008 AD) in our present state of advancement, or is there a way to change things before the tyranny that is present day 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. Regulatory 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 in their seminal works describe how the great Roman Empire fell; it collapsed simply because everyone became so dependant on Rome itself, that when its time came to collapse as all structures eventually do, the Empire collapsed with it. In due course life changed and Europeans survived, life carried on albeit precariously, and many Empires rose and fell before the next superpowers arose. In 2008 AD there exist only two superpowers, the USA and China, the third last one, Russia flounders under just such circumstances as I describe above.
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 transient authority and make every effort to blindly become an upstanding member of society at large or (in the inimitable words of the late 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.
Let us be prepared and see what happens.