In response to:

Why Do Societies Give Up?

majer Wrote: Feb 14, 2013 9:17 AM
Are the people who hold political offices completely brain-dead? You know a lot about history, Dr. Hanson, but these people should have at least some inkling, some knowledge of history, so that they don't repeat mistakes of the past. Even knowledge of more recent failures, such as the Soviet Union, seems to elude them. We are in big trouble.

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...