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Why Do Societies Give Up?

LynRobison Wrote: Feb 15, 2013 9:26 AM
"By any historical marker, the future of Americans has never been brighter." Optimism is great. Unfortunately, arithmetic trumps optimism. Arithmetic dictates an inevitable collapse of the U.S. dollar. Doing a "rah rah shish koom bah!" cheer for American might be fun and make us feel better for a few minutes, but optimism and happy talk won't save the dollar. And when the value of the dollar collapses, our marvelous standard of living in America will collapse with it, as will our military might.

Why do once-successful societies ossify and decline?

Hundreds of reasons have been adduced for the fall of Rome and the end of the Old Regime in 18th-century France. Reasons run from inflation and excessive spending to resource depletion and enemy invasion, as historians attempt to understand the sudden collapse of the Mycenaeans, the Aztecs and, apparently, the modern Greeks. In literature from Catullus to Edward Gibbon, wealth and leisure -- and who gets the most of both -- more often than poverty and exhaustion implode civilization.

One recurring theme seems consistent in Athenian literature on the eve of the city's takeover...