In 1963, I was assigned extracts from a 500-page abridgment of Toynbee’s volumes for a course in historiography. It was written by D. C. Somerville. It is long out of print. Our professor did not take Toynbee’s volumes or the abridgment very seriously. I think he assigned it as an example of how not to write history: “so much to cover, so little time.” They were an extraordinary performance of a brilliant mind, but no trained historian believes that anyone is capable looking at 28 different civilizations and drawing any kind of meaningful conclusion about all of them. He would have to know too many languages. He would have to look at many documents. The results of such a project could be boiled down in advance by two brief sentences: “Here today. Gone tomorrow.” Or maybe only one sentence: “This, too, will pass.”From North’s Leftist Fantasy: The Coming Collapse of Civilization (and the Central Planning Needed to Avoid It)
If I recall correctly, the average lifespan of an empire is 250 years.
The average lifespan of a civilization is a good deal more difficult to determine, depending on your definition of the word “civilization”. Some last millennia, like China or Egypt; others for many centuries, like the Greco-Roman culture or Western Civilization.
Others last for a few centuries, like the Aztecs; decades, like the Soviet Union; or even mere years, like the Third Reich.
An Imperial observer of planetary civilizations would have a plethora of cultures, nations, religions, languages, races, and histories to investigate — far more than just twenty-eight!
(And don’t forget multiple sophont species and planetary geographies and biomes as well.)
I doubt if any conclusion could be drawn from the chaos, at least any conclusion that wasn’t “pre-loaded” from before the investigation started.
Someone is bound to try, though.
Then he writes this.
We may be more technologically advanced now. But this gives little ground to believe that we are immune to the threats that undid our ancestors. Our newfound technological abilities even bring new, unprecedented challenges to the mix.
And while our scale may now be global, collapse appears to happen to both sprawling empires and fledgling kingdoms alike. There is no reason to believe that greater size is armour against societal dissolution. Our tightly-coupled, globalised economic system is, if anything, more likely to make crisis spread.
This is the heart of the nonsense. He is making a huge conceptual mistake. He is implicitly equating empire and civilization. They are not the same.
There is such a thing as Western civilization, but what is unique about this civilization is this: no single political entity has been the source of it. On the contrary, it has been decentralized on a scale unique in human history.From North’s Leftist Fantasy: The Coming Collapse of Civilization (and the Central Planning Needed to Avoid It)
This leads to a very interesting question: is Imperial Civilization tied to the existence of an Imperium?
Or, a thousand years after the AI Virus was released, would the sophonts of the Spinward Marches, The Empty Quarter, Ilelish, Massilia, Alpha Crucis, and Canopus still be recognizably part of one civilization?
I think that the answer is yes…. but only the Referee of your game knows for sure!
The author does not discuss the historical decentralization of Western civilization, yet dealing with this is crucial for his thesis on collapse. Decentralized systems do not collapse. They change. Parts of them may go bankrupt. Some ways of doing things may be abandoned in less than a generation. But if we are talking about collapse, there has to be a crucial weak link. This weak link has to be hit by something that turns it into a broken link. Then the system will collapse. In a decentralized system, what weak link could this be?
I am not talking about global nuclear war. We all know that could happen. But it is a long-shot. I am talking about something inherent in our civilization that is vulnerable to something else that is inherent in it. The more decentralized a system is, the less likely are such vulnerabilities. The system as a whole is resilient.From North’s Leftist Fantasy: The Coming Collapse of Civilization (and the Central Planning Needed to Avoid It)
Archduke Dulinor could confidently tell you what was the weak link for the Imperial Government.
But was the Emperor also the weak link for Imperial Civilization?
Maybe not — especially after you change the name of the civilization from “Imperial” to “Vilani/Solomani”.
“The Vilsol Civilization was forged under the Second Imperium and matured under the Third Imperium. However, Vilsol Culture rose to her fullest extent only after the end of the Imperial Period and the initial double impact of self-aware silicon lifeforms and the Empress Wave.
With the re-grounding of humaniti on life-bearing worlds, a drastic but brief fall in population and technical ability, and the shattering of the Solomani, Vilani, and even Zhodani human supercultures, dramatically new ways of seeing the cosmos and man’s place in it began to emerge across human space, most notably at…”