Fractal Collapse of Societies.
25 May 2009
Societies do not collapse . They shrink .
Societies can be described as fractal networks of memes . Under stress , the networks collapse fractally (ie at every level .)
The society shrinks and becomes coarser , but even after extinction of the overall network , subsidiary meme-networks survive.
The Ideal case:
Whatever the reason for the stress , this results in decrease of population until there is not enough surplus to sustain the city populations . These simply die out or return to the land .
The result is abandoned cities and a subsistence agriculture .
But usually , outside intervention by looters and brigands occurs before this .
This is best illustrated by case studies :
This is their second time around (cf Zimbabwe ruins) . Though their imminent collapse is eagerly prophesized by a vulpine press , they just keep on shrinking . The hands-off attitude by SADEC and SA , plus porous borders , means that the city populations could flee . What is amazing is that the civilization keeps on functioning , but at increasingly coarse levels . It does not collapse . (The reason is hope .)
This ties in with their currency . It is the only instance I know of where a hyper-inflation was allowed to go on unchecked until it's conclusion . As expected , it became worthless , but in a smooth fashion . There was no discontinuity of collapse .
It will be fascinating to learn how memes from Zimbabwe I (circa 1400AD) played a role .
2.Maya and Angkor Wat
Gradual depopulation due to drought (deforestation : see "Biotic Pump") and subsequent wars made surpluses too small to sustain cities . They just went back to the jungle to make a subsistence living , abandoning the cities .
Even after losing the hinterland of Anatolia , the trading elite managed to hang on in a decreasing fashion until they were catastrophically overwhelmed by the Turks in 1453 .
4.Western Roman Empire.
The Latifundia were the critical element . These were basically self-sufficient , vertically integrated companies , using the Roman genius for incorporation . As inflation eroded the currency , trade decreased . The only way to eat regularly was to belong to latifundia . The foundation stone of the Feudal System and Roman Catholic Empire .
A transformation , not a collapse .
5.The Mongols .
The Mongols are given the blame for killing millions of people in the Middle East (Kwaresm Empire , especially.)
But where are the mountains of human bones ?
Cities like Balkh and Merv have been picked over by everybody and his uncle .
But , nobody has found a million skeletons .
(This is at least 10 000 tons of bone . In a dry and depopulated area .The Mongols supposedly left no survivors .So what happened to all them bones ?)
Most probably :
The population had fractally shrunk due to desertification . By the time the Mongols arrived , there was only a small population of elites left in huge expanses of abandoned ruins (Like Constantinople) .
The Mongols deliberately spread disinformation as a terror tactic . It worked too .
Modern estimates of casualties are estimated from the size of the ruins of cities like Balkh. But these were already mostly deserted by the time the Mongols arrived .
Most telling is the fact that they did not stay . These areas could no longer support the herds of horses they needed . They had to push on to the Southern Russian steppes . And not linger too long , either .
The herds numbered about 10 million for horses alone , never mind sheep and goats .
Each Mongol had about 20 remounts . Add mares , foals ,stallions , transport , etc . Large . And all ate grass .
The Mongols were tethered by their horses .
The Present .
Population levels of natural persons (humans) in Western Europe and Japan has been falling .
One would then expect a fractal collapse .
Virtual Persons .
Companies are virtual persons (even under most legal systems) .
Expand this to include interactions via FaceBook , Twitter , Interest Groups , etc . Each set of interactions forms a virtual person , with a meme-set .
This counteracts the fractal-collapse at every level .
So even if the number of humans decrease , the number of virtual humans increase factorially .
Virtual persons outnumber real persons by many orders of magnitude . Most of the money in the systems belong to virtual persons (eg companies) . Real persons try to get a slice of it (eg share options) . The system oscillates , but not to a great degree .
Money is not a counter . It is a futures contract . (See previous posts)
Will all these trillions of added money cause inflation ?
Look where the money is going .
To Virtual Persons . And we can create as many of them as we like .
Inflation is only a problem when Real Persons have to pay more for Air , Water , Food .
Hence the immense amounts being spent on basic research by the Obama administration .
It is a vote for the future existence of humans .
The promise that humans will keep on existing to redeem these future contracts .
Besides , it will make them an embarrassing amount of money .
Every past pulse of hope was accompanied by a pulse of population growth (see 18th century)
The same will be true now , but the population will include virtual persons .
Expect really large spin-offs from company-forming , facebook forming , etc.
The Irony .
Everybody is rich as long as they do not try to cash in on a big way .
The money is in virtual persons .
Locked into future performances .
See http://andreswhy.blogspot.com "Room at the Top" et al .