Revolt By The Masses Destroys Civilization

Humanity existed in a “knowledge bubble” for the last few centuries, having discovered enough to draw dangerously over-broad conclusions, but not enough to see what was actually going on. As more information comes forth, the old theories die, and we rediscover traditional wisdom. Recent archeological evidence affirms the Platonic, Spenglerian and Evolan view of civilization collapse:

Researchers in Guatemala have found evidence of a 1,200-year-old massacre in an ancient city called Cancuén, the capital of one of the richest kingdoms of Maya civilization. The discovery, deep in the jungle of highland Guatemala, provides a snapshot of the Maya civilization as it began to collapse.

…”When they started excavating (the site), the archaeologists started hitting bones, and then more bones, and then more bones, and we then began to realize that the entire bottom half of this swimming pool was filled with human bones,” Demarest says.

Precious adornments found near and on the skeletons — including jade, carved shells and jaguar-fang necklaces — led the team to conclude that the people massacred had been nobles.

Civilization collapse is brought about by success. Civilization is, after all, organization of humanity. Specialization of labor and economies of scale lead to greater efficiency and thus wealth. At that point, many who could not survive without civilization are able to survive, and eventually, they rebel against civilization — because by definition, they do not understand it or that it requires leadership and hierarchy — and in doing so, destroy it.

As part of this process, they kill off the nobles. Scapegoating the nobles is easier than accepting the basic problem, which is that there are too many people with not enough to contribute in terms of productivity. From Ancient Maya: The Rise and Fall of a Rainforest Civilization, by Arthur Demarest:

Another basic question regarding the collapse, decline, or transformation of the lowland cities and kingdoms at the end of the Classic period is why in many areas Maya leadership did not respond with effective corrective measures by the stresses generated by internal, as well as external, factors. Cross-cultural studies of culture change show that “complex societies are problem-solving organizations, in which more parts, different kinds of parts, more social differentiation, more inequality, and more kinds of centralization and control emerge as circumstances require” (Tainter 1988: 37).

Yet the K’uhul Ajaw failed to respond with effective corrections of infrastructural problems. Their ineffectiveness was most likely due to the canons of Maya leadership and its limited range of action. The elites of most Classic Maya kingdoms, in general, did not manage subsistence systems or production or exchange of utilitarian goods. Most Maya polities, while held together by the rituals and authority of the center, were decentralized with local community or family-level management of most aspects of the economy. This decentralized system facilitated adoption of farming systems to the local microenvironment (e.g. Dunning et al 1997; Dunning and Beach in press).

[H]aving their role defined in terms of ritual and inter-elite alliance and warfare, it is not surprising that the K’uhul Ajaw responded through these same mechanisms to problems such as demographic pressure or ecological deterioration. They naturally reacted by intensifying ritual activities, construction, or warfare — the activities within their purview.

Plato points out the same thing: drones are left to manage their own affairs locally, in accord with natural selection. Given help by civilization, they grow in number, and then blame others for the local results of this overpopulation. They want their leaders to fix the problem caused by their own acts, which is classic scapegoating.

We can see in our world today that different types of civilizations have different types of governments. The third world favors kleptocratic strongmen; the “second world” has token political leadership, and local leadership by mafiosi; the first world prefers organized governmental systems which take on attributes of the other two systems based on the degree of decline. In other words, civilization is a spectrum from primitive to complex structures.

The rise of overpopulated drones creates a large audience for third-world style government. They cannot manage themselves, and want government to do it instead, so they depose their leadership and replace it with managerial government. This in turn exhausts the elites, who by taking up their traditional roles in the ensuing government have become slaves to managing unruly and self-destructive children, and they fade away as a result of this existential stress and misery.

Babysitting of this nature is the hallmark of declined or declining civilizations, and represents the root of Leftism, which is an organized form of Crowdism or the collective defense of individualism, which is what everyone who wants to be managed desires. He wants to avoid having to make reality work for him, and instead be told what to do in some things so that he can do whatever he wants everywhere else.

Without being cruel, we might refer to those who need to be managed as incompetents. They cannot take their small local farms and make them work, mainly because as a group, they have reproduced too frequently to sustain themselves. Those who need to be managed desire strong government to be accountable for their welfare, usually through wealth redistribution since they cannot produce wealth locally owing to overpopulation, and their political actions inevitably involve killing off the elites to take their wealth.

Since they are incompetent, and mismanage their own wealth, their seizure of wealth produces a temporary boom — including more population — and then a consequent crash, much like happened after the French and Russian revolutions.

By the time western conquerors arrived, the Mayan civilization was in full decline, which meant that it had a few ceremonial elites of a weakened nature and many peasants. The Spanish were able to overthrow this empire with only 500 men, many of whom were sick with jungle diseases, because the peasants saw an opportunity to further depose the elites. In so doing, they conveyed themselves into slavery, from which they “liberated” themselves in the early 1800s, promptly becoming a third-world society ruled by disease, corruption, unsanitary conditions and crime.

In the first world, we overthrew our elites during the years 1916-1968 by removing their political and economic power. Since that time, we have been ruled by incompetents. In principle and in result, our actions achieved the same end that the Maya did.

From this example, we see that civilization collapse comes about through lack of hierarchy. Leadership does not micromanage its people; it handles the bigger questions of diplomacy, war and cultural direction. As a result, it is always caught by surprise when the incompetents gang up on it and others, in fear of violence, go along with it. Then those others must suffer under rule by tyrants, fools and criminals.

The perpetual rallying cry of the incompetents is “equality.” They realize they are bankrupt, and want to take from others to subsidize themselves, thus become parasitic because civilization depends on hierarchy to exist. As long as one allows the quest for equality to continue, the health of the society will plummet until it reaches third-world status.

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14 Responses to “Revolt By The Masses Destroys Civilization”

  1. james wilson says:

    You give too much credit to well fed drones. Very able and successful people do not and never have had an admirable record in reproducing themselves. The decline model of civilization should give equal or greater weight to the deterioration of intellectual and moral standards in the ruling classes. That was the path the Roman Republic eventually took into Empire, and which ended in collapse. It is too clear that our Progressive rulers of the West did not succumb to drones, rather they led the way down also. The Greeks may make a better claim for destruction by drone , but pure democracy is the purest poison.

    • In contrast, if this site has a thesis, it is that our thinking is inverted.

      Drones create elites.

      Human illusions create ideologies.

      The problem is us.

      • james wilson says:

        Disagree. Elites create all, and for the time in which they are advancing the elites are the doers, not the mandarins. Classes get old just as families do.

        One of the great 19th century Englishmen, it may have been Mallock, believed that there was a ratio in life that one person was responsible for or directed the fortunes of sixteen people, that of the one the same ratio would apply above them, and so on. Whatever the true ratio may be is unimportant to the principle. We can see that the quality of drone differs from Angola to Germany, but all civilization is built and maintained by a very few.

        Von Mises believed that the masses of common men do not conceive any ideas, sound or unsound. They only choose between the ideologies developed by the intellectual leaders of mankind; Coleridge, that so few are the minds that really govern the machine of society, and so incomparably more numerous and more important are the indirect consequences of things than their foreseen and direct effects; Balzac, that a generation is a drama with four or five thousand outstanding characters.

        But a drone is just a drone.

        • We can see that the quality of drone differs from Angola to Germany, but all civilization is built and maintained by a very few.

          I agree here. But it does not touch the point: groupthink, mob rule, cult behavior and the like are the result of the masses. So are all decisions, intended and not, from democracy. Our elites — which are not really “elite” — are the result of the masses.

    • Sig Sawyer says:

      In medieval england to the industrial revolution, the nobility actually out bred the peasantry.

  2. david s. says:

    The Spanish overthrew the Aztecs, not the Maya which had collapsed centuries ago. And an El Nino ten year drought probably destroyed the Mayans which were already skirting agricultural collapse because slash and burn agriculture was quite inefficient.

  3. Avraham Rosenblum says:

    In the account of the war between Sparta and Athens [Peloponesian war by Thucydides] there is a very poignant account of a revolution that ruined the lives of all involved. This was very much in the minds of the founding father of the USA. [It was a sister city of Lesbos I think. One faction wanted oligarchy and the other democracy. I forget the details.]

    • Dualist says:

      It sounds like you’re referring to the Mytilenian revolt of 428-7 BC. Lesbos had long wanted to revolt against Athens, and had secretly being working on narrowing her harbours etc. in preparation for one (even though Sparta wouldn’t accept her into her League at that point). But by this point, the Mytilenians were trying to bring the whole of Lesbos under its control, and certain spies informed Athens that all the building work was for a planned rebellion, forcing the hand of the Lesbians (being led by the Mytilenians). Despite suffering from the Plague, Athens reacted as could be expected.

      All the ringleaders were brought back to Athens where some were put to death, but the Athenians were much angrier than usual because the attack was clearly premeditated and because Mytilene was not even a subordinate state. They therefore decided to kill not only ALL of the men involved in the uprising, but also every single man in Mytilene. However, after sleeping on it overnight, their fury had subsided a little, as it often does.

      A debate was then held to decide what to do, in true Athenian fashion, with Cleon starting the discussion, giving his reasons why he believes no mercy should be given. The whole debate is very relevant to the article above and deserves to be read in full, but I include its opening, below, because it demonstrates the knowledge that our forefathers possessed but we have now forgotten: that any immigrant race, no matter how seemingly-civilised, will only ever act in self-interest, no matter how much kindness they are shown by the host Nation. He therefore describes well one of the chief delusions that any promotion of Diversity rests upon:

      “Personally, I have had occasion often enough already to observe that a democracy is incapable of governing others, and I am all the more convinced of this when I see how you are changing your minds about the Mytilenians. Because fear and conspiracy play no part in your daily relations with each other, you imagine the same thing is true of your allies, and you fail to see that when you allow them to persuade you to make a mistaken decision, and when you give way to your own feelings of compassion you are being guilty of a kind of weakness which is dangerous to you and will not make them love you anymore. What you do not realise is that your empire is a tyranny exercised over subjects who do not like it and are always plotting against you; you will not make them obey you by injuring your own interests in order to do them a favour; your leadership depends on superior strength and not on any good will of theirs. And this is the very worst thing – to pass laws and then not to abide by them. We should realise that a city is better of with bad laws, if they remain fixed, than by good laws that are constantly being altered; that lack of learning combined with sound common sense is more helpful than the kind of cleverness that gets out of hand…….”

      “…..The fact is that when great prosperity comes suddenly and unexpectedly to a state, it usually breeds arrogance; in most cases it is safer for people to enjoy an average amount of success rather than something which is out of all proportion; and it is easier, I should say, to ward off hardship than to maintain happiness. What we should have done long ago with the Mytilenians was to treat them in exactly the same way as all the rest; then they would have never have grown so arrogant; for it is a general rule of human behaviour that people despise those who treat them well and look up to those who make no such concessions. Let them now therefore have the punishment which their crime deserves”.

      Would you agree with these sentiments, Mr. Rosenblum?

  4. Avraham Rosenblum says:

    I am not sure. I frankly remembered that I saw both sides had a point. The side of mercy I seem to remember also had some good points. I think my main feeling was that if Athens had been allowed to expand all that would have happened would have been an Athenian Empire instead of Roman Empire. [I could not see any difference between the way Athens treated her allies and the way Rome did.] As for the actual case that you refereed to I really am not sure. There are times when strict justice is proper. Maybe Cleon was right.

    • I submit this also: every venture has an arc (think of Pynchon here). It starts out well but exclusive, then grows and becomes inclusive, which results in a simplification and standardization after which point, entropy wins. The mistake is made in losing the exclusivity which is the only human substitute for Darwinism.

    • Dualist says:

      I was actually asking you what you thought of Diversity etc., thought I didn’t make that at all clear. Fair comments on the debate, all the same. Disregarding who was right, I’d say Cleon’s argument is the poorer of the two, other than those better parts that I quoted. He basically just says the people have become degraded by listening to too many rhetorical speeches and now have a higher predilection towards intellectualism – hence we should never, he concludes, listen to any reasoned debate but just act on impulse.

      Diodotus’ rebuttal starts off poor, talking about the uselessness of the death penalty (“No one has ever yet risked committing a crime which he thought he could not carry-out successfully”). I’d answer: “yes, but even though the conspirator knows he COULD carry out the plan successfully, he normally still believes there’s a risk involved. So, a greater penalty should then reduce the proportion of people who carry through the initial ‘thought’ to its execution (given that, although there will always be some incorrigibles, most men can be swayed by both Good and Evil)”. His next part made more sense, where he argues that if they execute everybody, then in any future uprisings the instigators would from then on ALWAYS get the support of ALL the population in the city – knowing they would all be killed anyway, whatever the outcome.

      As for Athens’ fall, surely you consider that a good thing? Because if Athens never fell, then we alive today may not have such masterworks of Art as this:

  5. Avraham Rosenblum says:

    Cleon anyway had some good points but when I read the rebuttal I recall that it was more convincing

    • Avraham Rosenblum says:

      That whole story disturbed me greatly I should mention. In fact the entire war really sank into my mind deeply. Every time I think of it I am saddened. I can think of few tragedies as great as the fall of both Athens and Sparta.

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