This week we welcome the return of Ned Peglar to the Phil Soc, speaking on this subject. He says:
“Collapse is more than just twenty years of destructive warfare or swapping one empire for another. It takes hundreds of years, turning what was once the safe, sophisticated bustle of linked cities into backward, dangerous and largely empty landscapes. This kind of collapse is so against the modern expectation of progress as to cause wonder whenever a ruined city is found a wasteland.
Historians have tended to poetical analogy when faced with this devastation, comparing it to the arc of a man’s life, the change of seasons, or the Darwinian struggle for survival. Scientists blame what they can study, often either human induced or natural environmental change. The conclusion is almost always the same. Civilisations are fragile, born to die. The bigger they are the harder they fall.
Using Egypt, the Late Bronze Age Mediterranean, The Roman Empire, Early Southeast Asia, the Classic Maya, Medieval Europe and the modern world as talking points, I want to discuss how factors such as bad management, war, climate change, trade, religion, epidemics and barbarian invasion have influenced the collapse, or otherwise, of past civilisations.
Based on this I’d like to make a case that perhaps what we understand about collapse is wrong: that maybe the bigger a civilisation is the stronger it is. If this is true then our big, ugly, environmentally disastrous civilisation may have its ups and downs but it’s probably here on Earth to stay… at least until that asteroid strikes.”
Do come along this Friday to hear more, and to make your contribution.
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