2305) Collapse [of a complex society] is manifest in such things as:
a lower degree of stratification and social differentiation;
less economic and occupational specialization, of individuals, groups, and territories;
less centralized control; that is, less regulation and integration of diverse economic and political groups by elites;
less behavioral control and regimentation;
less investment in the epiphenomena of complexity those elements that define the concept of "civilization": monumental architecture, artistic and literary achievements, and the like;
less flow of information between individuals, between political and economic groups, and between a center and its periphery;
less sharing, trading, and redistribution of resources;
less overall coordination and organization of individuals and groups;
a smaller territory integrated within a single political unit.
Joseph A. Tainter The Collapse of Complex Societies (1988)
2306) The Ik are a people of northern Uganda who live at what must surely be the extreme of deprivation and disaster. A largely hunting and gathering people who have in recent times practiced some crop planting, the Ik are not classifiable as a complex society [...] They are, nonetheless, a morbidly fascinating case of a collapse in which a former, low level of social complexity has essentially disappeared.
Due to drought and disruption by national boundaries of the traditional cycle of movement, the Ik live in such a food- and water-scarce environment that there is absolutely no advantage to reciprocity and social sharing. The Ik, in consequence, display almost nothing of what could be called societal organization. They are so highly fragmented that most activities, especially subsistence, are pursued individually. Each Ik will spend days or weeks on his or her own, searching for food and water. Sharing is virtually nonexistent. Two siblings or other kin can live side-by-side, one dying of starvation and the other well nourished, without the latter giving the slightest assistance to the other. The family as a social unit has become dysfunctional. Even conjugal pairs don't form a cooperative unit except for a few specific purposes. Their motivation for marriage or cohabitation is that one person can't build a house alone. The members of a conjugal pair forage alone, and do not share food. Indeed, their foraging is so independent that if both members happen to be at their residence together it is by accident.
Each conjugal compound is stockaded against the others. Several compounds together form a village, but this is a largely meaningless occurrence. Villages have no political functions or organizations, not even a central meeting place.
Children are minimally cared for by their mothers until age three, and then are put out to fend for themselves. This separation is absolute. By age three they are expected to find their own food and shelter, and those that survive do provide for themselves. Children band into age-sets for protection, since adults will steal a child's food whenever possible. No food sharing occurs within an age-set. Groups of children will forage in agricultural fields, which scares off birds and baboons. This is often given as a reason for having children.
Although little is known about how the Ik got to their present situation, there are some indications of former organizational patterns. They possess clan names, although today these have no structural significance. They live in villages, but these no longer have any political meaning. The traditional authority structure of family lineage, and clan leaders has been progressively weakened. It appears that a former level of organization has simply been abandoned by the Ik in their present distress.
Joseph A. Tainter The Collapse of Complex Societies (1988) citing "Rethinking the Ik: A Functional Non-Social System" by Colin M. Turnbull in Extinction and Survival in Human Populations (1978) edited by Charles D. Laughling, Jr., and Ivan Brady
2307) [T]he characteristics of societies after collapse may be summarized as follows:
There is, first and foremost, a breakdown of authority and central control. Prior to collapse. revolts and provincial breakaways signal the weakening of the center. Revenues to the government often decline. Foreign challengers become increasingly successful. With lower revenues, the military may also become ineffective. The populace become more and more disaffected as the hierarchy seeks to mobilize resources to meet the challenge.
With disintegration, central direction is no longer possible. The former political center undergoes a significant loss of prominence and power. It is often ransacked and may ultimately be abandoned. Small petty states emerge in the formerly unified territory, of which the previous capital may be one. Quite often these contend for domination, so that a period of perpetual conflict ensues.
The umbrella of law and protection erected over the populace is eliminated. Lawlessness may prevail for a time [...] but order will ultimately be restored. Monumental construction and publicly-supported are largely ceases to exist. Literacy may be lost entirely, and otherwise declines so dramatically that a dark age follows.
What population remains in urban or other political centers reuse existing architecture in a characteristic manner. There is little new construction, and that which is attempted concentrates on adapting existing buildings. Great rooms will be subdivided, flimsy facades are built, and public space will be converted to private. While some attempt may be made to carry on an attentuated version of previous ceremonialism, the former monuments are allowed to fall in decay. People may reside in upper-story rooms as lower ones deteriorate. Monuments are often mined as easy sources of building materials. When a building begins to collapse, the residents simple move to another.
Palaces and central storage facilities may be abandoned, along with centralized redistribution of goods and foodstuffs, or market exchange. Both long distance and local trade may be markedly reduced, and craft specialization end or decline. Subsistence and material needs come to be met largely on the basis of local self-sufficiency. Declining regional interaction leads to the establishment of local styles in items such as pottery that formerly had been widely circulated. Both portable and fixed technology (i.e. hydraulic engineering systems) revert to simpler forms that can be developed and maintained at the local level, without the assistance of a bureaucracy that no longer exists.
Whether as a cause or a consequence, there is typically a marked, rapid reduction in population size and density. Not only to urban populations substantially decline, but so also do the support populations of the countryside. Many settlements are concurrently abandoned. The level of population and settlement may decline to that of centuries or even millennia previously. [...]
In a complex society that has collapsed, it would thus appear, the overarching structure that provides social services to the population loses capability or disappears entirely. No longer can the populace depend upon external defense and internal order, maintenance of public works, or delivery of food and material goods. Organization reduces to the lowest level that is economically sustainable, so that a variety of contending polities exists where there had been peace and unity. Remaining populations must become locally self-sufficient to a degree not seen for several generations. Groups that had formerly been economic or political partners now become strangers, even threatening competitors. The world as seen from any locality perceptibly shrinks, and over the horizon lies the unknown.
Given this pattern, it is small wonder that collapse is feared by so many people today. Even among those who decry the excesses of industrial society, the possible end of that society must surely be seen as catastrophic.
Joseph A. Tainter The Collapse of Complex Societies (1988)
2308) Every time history repeats itself the price goes up.
Message on a popular sign quoted by Joseph A. Tainter in The Collapse of Complex Societies (1988)
Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began). As of today, there are 357 days remaining in the administration of the worst American President ever.
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)
Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.