Humanity's Coming Dark Age (a warning)

The rise and fall of empires
The Rise and Fall of Empires (published: 2003-01-29)

Symptoms before each collapse: ignorance, superstition, religious fundamentalism, xenophobia, intolerance, rejection of science.

Supporting Material:

  1. The Phoenix Principle and the Coming Dark Age by Marc Widdowson (British military analyst and educator)
  2. Download ($10) an eBook of The Coming Dark Age by Roberto Vacca - 153 pages in PDF format
  3. While there are many complicated and interacting reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire, I am convinced that Edward Gibbon was correct when he stated that the primary reason was due to the effects of organized religion. Additionally, we know from the writings of Roman historians (Pliny the Elder is one of many) that Ancient Rome began its decline not long after Romans began to replace "observational science given to them by the Greeks" with so-called "common sense". Roman civilization stagnated then decayed from within. Without science, we, too, should all prepare for increased incidences of cholera, typhus, and plague (diseases that ancient Rome and medieval Europe were all-too familiar)
      
  4. Today it is no different. Many westerners were once fond of the expression "If we can go to the moon then why can't we (fill in the blank)?" but today some now joke "If we can go to the moon then why can't we go to the moon?" To be clear, it was only the Americans who were able to send twelve men to the moon between 1969 and 1972. The rest of humanity was merely sharing in their triumph. But after Richard Nixon gutted the American manned space program to help keep America solvent while it fought a pointless war in Vietnam, and Ronald Reagan cozied up to Jerry Falwell's "Moral Majority" to win the presidential election of 1980, America has barely been able to put humans into orbit. Since the demise of the space shuttle program, Americans can only visit the ISS (International Space Station) by hitching a ride with their former cold-war enemy, Russia. So it is now apparent that America's place in the original space race was nothing more than a cold-war political stunt. I'm not sure why Americans love their smart phones and tablets while simultaneously hating the scientific research which enabled the technologies behind them. It's a weird form of schizophrenia.
     
  5. But it has gotten much worse. This side of Y2K, North Americans with only a Sunday-school understanding of the English Christian bible actually believe they are doing humanity a service while publically arguing with highly educated scientists about such topics like: evolution, the age of the earth, and climate change to only name three of many. According to the following 1980 article from Newsweek, ignorance and stupidity have been alive in the west for a very long time. The article reads:
     
    "There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."

    -- Isaac Asimov (Newsweek, 21 January 1980)

    A cult of ignorance
     
  6. Recent news (this side of 2003):
     
So now I urge you to return to the chart at the top of this page and ask yourself: am I comfortable living on the decline of the last bump?

If the answer is "no" then I suggest you suppress your expressions of: ignorance, superstition, religious fundamentalism, xenophobia, intolerance, rejection of science.

Together I feel we could (collectively) minimize the amplitude and period of the last bump but this is only possible once we realize that our current behavior is not normal.

Speculation on how the current wave might end

Executive Summary: Political ideology can be polarizing. So much so that you see your closest ally as an enemy while the both of you are surrounded by true common enemies (but your political ideology will blind you to the danger). Many people do not believe this is possible but it has happened before.

A few years back I finally got around to reading The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War (1998) by Robert B. Strassler. The book weighs in at ~ 800 pages (a whole lot less than the original eight books written by Thucydides) but even this publication was something only academics and historians would love. Nevertheless, I muddled my way through. Here I present several oversimplifications in order to make my point.

The 3km (10,000 foot) View

But it gets worse

Questions:

  1. Why did Athens and Sparta focus more on their political and cultural differences while failing to notice that they were surrounded by common enemies?
  2. If Athens and Sparta had put aside their political and cultural differences, could they have prevented the military expansion of Macedonia?
  3. If so, the Macedonian General Ptolemy (under Alexander) would not have transformed Egypt (Cleopatra was a Greek) into something which could be exploited by Rome 300 years later
  4. This is a lot of ifs but now for the big question: would the Greeks have been able to hold their own against a less-strong Rome?

Speculation

If the Greek Empire fell, and the Roman Empire fell, and the British Empire continues to fall (e.g. BREXIT will trigger the departure of Scotland, Northern Ireland, and British Gibraltar) then who among us can claim that the United States won't fall or at least decay from within? It seems to me that politics and populism instill a kind of madness in us all.

Sparta Athens Rome USA
1 conservative liberal conservative everyone is becoming more conservative, including the liberals
2 oligarchy democracy 500 years as a democracy republic
500 years a an empire
democracy
3 superstitious less so superstitious superstitious (perfected conspiracy theories)
4 religious less so religious religious
5 militaristic more interested in developing: philosophy, logic, mathematics, science militaristic mixed but appears to become evermore militaristic starting with the end of world-war-2
6 army navy (during times of war; merchant marines otherwise) army + navy army, navy, air force
7 institutionalized slavery (required so that Spartan men could join military schools starting at age 7 rather than working in other ventures like agriculture) slavery was frowned-upon institutionalized slavery (approximately 1 in 4 citizens was a slave) slavery allowed up to 1866; people of color treated very badly for following 100 years
8 kept no written records (everything we know about Sparta comes from others; so in the eyes of Romans the Spartans were barbarians) kept written records about themselves and others kept records; developed philosophy and law; no began as a liberal bastion for enlightened thought (at least for white Europeans); now appears to be attacking science and scientists whenever they disagree with the political zeitgeist (eg. in 2017 the USA announced NASA budget cuts for gathering climate-change data)

Thoughts on alternative-facts

Have you ever noticed that when you present people with facts that are contrary to their deepest held beliefs they always change their minds? No, me neither. In fact, people seem to double down on their beliefs in the teeth of overwhelming evidence against them. The reason is related to the worldview perceived to be under threat by the conflicting data. Creationists, for example, dispute the evidence for evolution in fossils and DNA because they are concerned about secular forces encroaching on religious faith. Anti-vaxxers distrust big pharma and think that money corrupts medicine, which leads them to believe that vaccines cause autism despite the inconvenient truth that the one and only study claiming such a link was retracted and its lead author accused of fraud. The 9/11 truthers focus on minutiae like the melting point of steel in the World Trade Center buildings that caused their collapse because they think the government lies and conducts “false flag” operations to create a New World Order. Climate deniers study tree rings, ice cores and the PPM of greenhouse gases because they are passionate about freedom, especially that of markets and industries to operate unencumbered by restrictive government regulations. Obama birthers desperately dissected the president’s long-form birth certificate in search of fraud because they believe that the nation’s first African-American president is a socialist bent on destroying the country. Click here to read more.

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Neil Rieck
Kitchener - Waterloo - Cambridge, Ontario, Canada.