cycles of civilisation

The rise and fall of civilisation can be analysed from a number of perspectives.

Mythosociology examines power relations between women and men through cycles comprising phases of patriarchy, women's emancipation and collapse countered in traditional communities with women's and men's business presided over by elders accompanied by women's and men's dispute resolution.

In the absence of balanced structural decision-making, civilisation proceeds under patriarchy, consolidates with women's emancipation and then collapses.

For the most part this cycle is patriarchal, delivering endemic disadvantage to women.

Structural reform comprising a republic with women's and men's legislatures presided over by an executive of elders accompanied by courts of women's and men's jurisdiction relieves women's repression in perpetuity and aligns culture with its essential elements to produce sustainable civilisation.

The collapse of comtemporary civilisation is anaylsed in the following article.


Why the West is riding for a fall

Sydney Morning Herald

January 15, 2005
by Paul Sheehan

A little book with a big title, Dark Age Ahead, published last year, tracked the ebbs and flows of civilisations over centuries. It came to this chilling conclusion: "We show signs of rushing headlong into a Dark Age." Not slipping towards a Dark Age. Rushing.

Dark Age Ahead (Random House, New York), was written by Jane Jacobs. She may be almost unknown in this country but has been famous in North America for 40 years, making her name writing about how communities thrive or decay. "Jane is like a rock star in Canada," her publisher, David Ebershoff, told me. (Jacobs is American but lives in Toronto.) Her dark age warning was directed at the United States but she also wants the rest of the West to heed the signs. She thinks Western culture is not as sturdy as it looks: "Writing, printing, and the internet give a false sense of security about the permanence of culture. Most of the million details of a complex, living culture are transmitted neither in writing nor pictorially. Instead, cultures live through word and mouth and example ... [and] countless nuances that are assimilated only through experience."

She singles out several pillars of culture that she believes are "insidiously decaying":

Community and family: A culture of consumerism and debt is working against long-term cultural regeneration. People are choosing houses over families, consumption over fertility, debt over discipline. "This bubble will burst," she says.

Higher education: "Credentialling, not educating, has become the primary business of North American universities." More and more people are being churned through corporatised credential factories. And not just in North American universities.

Bad science: Huge numbers of mediocrities with flimsy credentials are sprouting jargon in defence of outdated orthodoxies. Jacobs is especially brutal about economists.

Bad taxes: "Fiscal accountability of public money has almost disappeared from the modern world." Governments buy elections and suffocate innovation. "False image-making has become a very big business throughout North America and is a staple of the US government. Legions of hired liars labour to disconnect reality from all manner of images."

Jacobs sees junk culture creeping over society, and skills being exported wholesale to low-wage countries in the name of consumerism and corporate profit, and communalism in decline. "A culture is unsalvageable if stabilising forces themselves become ruined and irrelevant. This is what I fear for our own culture."

What makes her fears more troubling is that they are complemented and amplified by another substantial public intellectual, Jared Diamond, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and professor of geography and environmental health sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles. His latest book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, will be published in Australia next month by Penguin. Its thesis was summarised in an essay published in The Best American Essays 2004, entitled The Last Americans:

"One of the disturbing facts of history is that so many civilisations collapse. Few people, however, least of all our politicians, realise that a primary cause of collapse of those societies has been the destruction of the environmental resources on which they depended. Fewer still appreciate that many of those civilisations share a sharp curve of decline. Indeed, a society's demise may begin only a decade or two after it reaches its peak population, wealth and power ...

"Because peak population, wealth, resource consumption, and waste production are accompanied by peak environmental impact - approaching the limit at which impact outstrips resources - we can now understand why declines of societies tend to follow swiftly on their peaks."

Diamond's warning appears when both the US and Australia have never enjoyed so much material wealth yet had so much environmental poverty. No advanced economy is as dependent on natural resources as Australia's. On Wednesday came the news that Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth face serious water shortages within 10 years. Research showed that without drastic changes to Sydney's water supply and consumption, the city faces a dire shortfall in 25 years. ...