Civilizations Bite the Dust via Elite Blindness Driven Suicide

As a one time historian, who still reads a lot of history, I am fascinated by the fact that civilizations never seem to notice what has destroyed previous civilizations. It’s like it’s off their radar screen, but in a nutshell civilizations commit suicide by:
1) Ignoring the environmental issues that build up underneath them so to speak: the water shortages, pollution and increasingly unstable distant food supplies. Thus the Romans, Mayans, Aztecs and many ancient Middle East civilizations collapsed.
2) Allowing increasing income and wealth  inequality to erode the social and productive foundations of the civilization, which comes to serve the interests of a small increasingly hereditary elite, who like the Easter Island elite continue to cut down trees to maintain their social status via stone figures until the last tree is gone
3) Not noticing that the elite become increasingly unproductive, incompetent/un-meritocratic and decadent like the Roman elites before the collapse of Rome
4) and ignoring that the civilization no longer can count on the loyalty of the mass of its people, who get little from it, so there is reliance on mercenaries, who one day turn on the civilization, or open the gates to the barbarians. Again like Rome or the Incas before the Spanish arrived.
Now does any of this sound familiar?
Think climate change, 1% ers, and Blackwater as clues…
Oh and said elite deny that the environmental problems exist, that inequality is a problem, or that there are barbarians at the gates…what climate change, inequality reflects our hard work, what barbarians?
Percy Bysshe Shelley said it well in his poem: Ozymandias
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

About creativeconflictwisdom

I spent 32 years in a Fortune Five company working on conflict: organizational, labor relations and senior management. I have consulted in a dozen different business sectors and the US Military. I work with a local environmental non profit. I have written a book on the neuroscience of conflict, and its implications for conflict handling called Creative Conflict Wisdom (forthcoming).
This entry was posted in Conflict Poetry, Economic Conflict, Environmental Conflict, Middle East Conflict, US Political Conflict and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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