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Old Jul 30th 2011, 08:04 PM
Tom Palven Tom Palven is offline
Cranky Curmudgeon
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 2,058
Default Re: Collapse, by Jared Diamond

Originally Posted by Michael View Post
Well yes, the inabillity to produce sufficient food is almost always the immediate cause of any extinct/lost civilization, but I think the key point about the Easter Islanders is that for them, this was an 'unintended consequence' of their passion for big statues and the resulting mass tree-chopping needed to move and erect those big stone statues.

One can't really fault them for not understanding the nature of soil erosion as that's a result of our modern science.

Well, looking at the data presented, that seems to be exactly it - these small and isolated societies approached problems in different ways - some succeeded and some failed for various different reasons. That's an interesting topic of study in my opinion.

And Diamond does make a further study of comparision of various 'features' in common for the disasterous decision-making societies. It does seem as if there are several notable features in common in those cases studied (successes and failures) - Diamond studies in detail the North Atlantic Norse settlements where several succeeded (Orkneys, Shetlands and Faroe Islands Iceland) while a couple failed (Iceland, Greenland and Newfoundland). Likewise with several Polynesian colonized islands in the South Pacific Ocean - several succeeded despite being very tiny (less than two square mile island in one case, has maintained a population of about 1400 people for over 1000 years).

Btw, Iceland is a bit of a mixed case - the original settlement was a disaster and pretty much denuded the island of trees and vegetation. Iceland's subsequent poverty and eventual survivial seems to have involved substantial new immigrations and major adaptions to the environment.

Diamond points out that 'failures' tend to have geographic areas too large for one person to see and understand the landscape, but too small to produce a centralized government apparatus. This seems to apply to us, by the way.

The question is not about assigning 'blame' rather the question seems to be motivated by the desire to prevent our own society from making an equally disasterous decision. That is to say, some societies met challenges and succeeded - others failed in spectacular ways. Asking why is there a difference there might help us prevent our own extinction.

While I certainly do agree that our present form of government does seem to be horribly corrupted, I can't help but to consider the fact that the only thing worse than the government that we've got, is not having an effective government at all - and with or modern world, that would be havoc and hell. I don't see any viable way out of this problem.
We are brainwashed by well-meaning teachers in government schools to believe that we couldn't exist without layers of bureaucrats and politicians arranged in a pyramidal hierarchy with a Decider-In-Chief at the the top to bully and/or protect us, just as we are brainwashed in Sunday school or in Temple to believe that we can't exist in in a happy, rational, and ethical state without a strong belief in an Almighty God at the top of a pyramid of deacons, priests, archbishops, and so on.
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