Thursday, January 31, 2008
Excellent article by Tim Case, spot on summary of what causes civilizations to bloom and then retract.
The warfare-welfare state can only surge on the surplus of a warm climate and the agricultural yields that it produces. Have you ever seen how too much money and wealth usually makes people go crazy and indulge in self-destructive behaviors? Those habits are curtailed when the money and prosperity runs out. Men sober up under hardship and stress. The mythological framework that supports the notion of a god-like state with infinite powers of production and charity evaporate pretty quickly when the average temperature drops by a few degrees.
Of course, all failing empires with collapsing fiat currency turn to war in their final hours.
Analogies are usually faulty and a poor way to reach conclusions, but they are often good for conveying comprehension of an idea. There is no better analogy than to compare the 12,000 year interglacial period with the four seasons in a year. During the spring and the coming summer, the grasshoppers engage in a never-ending furious frenzy of eating, mating, hopping and socializing. The fall comes and this ribald orgy begins to peak and taper off. The grasshoppers grow a bit lethargic but they continue to try to whip up the revelry despite the fact the food is less plentiful and the bloom has gone off the fields. Finally the winter arrives and the grasshoppers must feel their own brief mortality. The party is over. The only creature whose conduct makes any long term sense in this context of the big picture, is of course the ant. Ants don't work to thrive this week or this month or for a season. Ants work to thrive forever. Industrious, patient, well organized, frugal and efficient, the ant colony is always prepared for just about anything. In the final days of fall, the ant workers march past countless dried husks of dead grasshoppers, indifferent to their success or failure. Ants don't die, they multiply. Most of the other insects have their seasons but if the ant could carve a symbol over the entrance to their burrows it would no doubt be the lemniscate, the alpha-omega, the mobius ribbon of eternity.
You might not believe it but there is a mammalian equivalent of the ant, a subdivision of behavioral precepts that has been observed in every single warm blooded social creature that scientists and anthropologists know about. In the laboratory they are called Omega Rats. In the field, naturalists call them Remnants. There is a certain reserved class of mammals who survive because they are genetically programmed to survive in the same way the ant is designed to survive. Empires rise and fall, human history ebbs and surges like the tides and this same genetic kernel remains no matter what. We call them vault dwellers here at Vault-Co. The next time somebody tells you there is something strange about survivalists, you should tell them they need to learn more about the natural world. There is nothing strange about survivalists anymore than there is something strange about ants. The real transients are the grasshoppers. They're just passing through while the Sun stays warm. Since this planet's normal state is extremely cold, we can safely assume the entire modern world is something of a mad anomaly destined to give way to saner structure soon. The empire of the grasshoppers has just seen the first few snowflakes.