The Collapse of Complex Societies New Studies in Archaeology reader ï Paperback Read Ì Joseph A Tainter

kindle É The Collapse of Complex Societies New Studies in Archaeology Ü Joseph A. Tainter

Carries lessons not just for the study of ancient societies but for the members of all such societies in both the present and future Dr Tainter describes nearly two dozen cases of collapse and reviews than 2000 years of explanations Very good much better than Jared Diamond's Collapse and much convincing than Spengler or ToynbeeIt was also deeply disturbing the Ik amazed me in chapter 1 and the statistics in chapter 4 were extremely dismal and tie in far too well to Cowen's The Great Stagnation and Murray's Human Accomplishment There are a great many datapoints suggesting that diminishing marginal returns to modern techscience began sometime in the late 1800searly 1900s

book The Collapse of Complex Societies New Studies in Archaeology

The Collapse of Complex Societies New Studies in ArchaeologyHe then develops a new and far reaching theory that accounts for collapse among diverse kinds of societies evaluating his model and clarifying the processes of disintegration by detailed studies of the Roman Mayan and Chacoan collaps 1 for the painfully dry academic style without a drop of liveliness or wit 1 for not convincing me assumptions and ignoring evidence that did not support his position Were I not typing this review out on a tablet I might be elouent but here's the gist of my reactionPage 50 trying to refute resource depletion as a cause of collapse As it becomes apparent to members or administrators of a complex society that a resource base is deteriorating it seems most reasonable to assume that some rational steps are taken toward a resolution The alternative assumption – of idleness in the face of disaster – reuires a leap of faith at which we may rightly hesitate Indeed it might be rational to do something but look around you We don't We know oil is finite yet we do little about it We know in the USA that salinization of soil in California where most of our produce is grown is an increasing problem that will lead to starvation We do nothing about it We know that monoculture farming is a bad idea yet we subsidize it We know cities like Phoenix Los Angeles and Las Vegas are unsustainable because of lack of water but we can't even bring ourselves to do some tiny thing like outlaw lawns golf courses or fountains in front of the casinos much less write strict sane zoning laws We are in short fookin idiots One would think we long for collapse and the sooner the better Our motto may as well be idleness in the face of disasterHowever it was good to reconsider reading his ideas that collapse or the fall of a civilization likely is actually nothing worse than a decline decentralization collapse only of the elite with the overtaxed working people basically taking their marbles and going home He bemoans rich white guy art and literature disappearing leading to a dark age However I would say that folk arts are every bit as good as high art which gets defined as high only by the makers of it after all You'll never convince me Duchamp's urinal in a museum is vastly superior to an Appalachian woman's lovely uilt sorry to saySome of what he said let me to think of England in the last hundred years Here's a nation that has collapsed by choosing to stop being an empire and instead become a stable small state a lower form It didn't hurt them at all and its citizens are in many ways better off than I am Therefore collapse can be good and it needn't be feared

Joseph A. Tainter Ü The Collapse of Complex Societies New Studies in Archaeology kindle

The Collapse of Complex Societies New Studies in Archaeology reader ï Paperback Read Ì Joseph A. Tainter à Political disintegration is a persistent feature of world history The Collapse of Complex Societies though written by an archaeologist will therefore strike Political disintegration is a persistent feature of world history The Collapse of Complex Societies though written by an archaeologist will therefore strike a chord throughout the social sciences Any explanation of societal collapse First off this is like a long academic paper than a book Tainter has a thesis whereby he attempts to explain the collapse of all complex societies uite a tall order of business and goes about this by establishing a lot of background information and existing theory review in the first part of the bookI am by no means an archeologist professional or amateur but was able to make my way through this part picking most of what Tainter was trying to communicate I'd say to give the early sections a shot because they do form the basis for his later arguments Sort of scary in retrospect how many complex seemingly stable societies basically evaporated over the course of only a few generations and that civilization as we know it has a relatively short existence compared to the totality of human existence Civilization is the exception than the ruleSo the crux of Tainter's argument is that the development of a complex society is predicated on the explotation of low hanging resources The investment to acuire these resources is at first easily outwighed by their benefits This allows for the support of specialized roles that do not necessarily contribute to the sustainability of the society aristocrats priest castes etc Subseuent resource extraction be it in the form of new mines new agricultural lands or new conuests have a lower return on energy invested generating a smaller surplus to sustain the complex societyEventually a society will reach a point where existing resources or potential new resources cannot maintain the level of complexity the society currently has The result is a decline in public worksinvestments the loss of centralized control and influence and the loss of the periphery regions of the society and not always a peaceful or gradual process Eventually the society will decline to a level of lower complexity local control less public works etcTo Tainter the story of a complex society is a race against the resource clock To maintain and expand complexity which is a good strategy when new resources are low investment accessible a society must continue to increase the amount of resources available to it to support classes that do not contribute to resource expansion Just to maintain the status uo new resources are needed and when they are not available the center of the complex society begins to crumbleI really enjoyed this book because of the uniue perspective Tainter presents in explaining the collapse of complex societies The examples he provides are uite illustrative and can provide guidance to the challenges we face today I'm not going to lie this book majorly bummed me out but I'd rather we had this perspective and a chance to avoid past mistakes than blindly blunder into the same fate that has befallen many past societies