The Tyee's Murray Dobbins sees signs everywhere that our civilization is heading for collapse.
The exceptionally successful four decades campaign to change the "ideological fabric" of society has put western civilization on a track to irreversible collapse according to a major study sponsored by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. The study focused on population, climate, water, agriculture and energy as the interrelated factors that determine the collapse or survival of civilizations going back 5000 years.
According to a Guardian report on the study, these factors can coalesce and lead to civilization's collapse if they create two critical social features: "the stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity... and... the economic stratification of society into Elites [rich] and Masses (or 'Commoners') [poor]."
According to the study these two developments played "a central role in the character or in the process of the collapse," in the demise of the Roman, Han, Mauryan, Gupta and multiple Mesopotamian Empires as well as the Maya. The study provides convincing "testimony to the fact that advanced, sophisticated, complex and creative civilizations can be both fragile and impermanent."
...Is this really what the geniuses at the Chicago School of Economics like Milton Friedman had in mind? Did he really believe that "a democratic society, once established, destroys a free economy"? Would he have had any qualms about his policy prescriptions resulting in capitalism devolving into neo-feudalism or into Plutonomies -- a term first used by analysts at Citigroup in 2005, to "describe a country that is defined by massive income and wealth inequality.'" The analysts singled out the U.K., Canada, Australia and the United States.
Warnings go unheeded. The NASA reports says "historical collapses were allowed to occur by elites who appear to be oblivious to the catastrophic trajectory (most clearly apparent in the Roman and Mayan cases)."
How close are we to collapse? The study points out that the process can extend over decades and even centuries. Yet some of the supporting empirical studies (by KPMG and the British Office for Science) suggest a perfect storm that involves food, water and energy could occur within 15 years.
The NASA study highlights two trends -- resource depletion and inequality -- as the key factors in civilization collapse. But there is a third and it explains why historically elites have been "oblivious" to their unfolding catastrophes. That factor is the political system of the particular civilization. Designed to govern and manage social and economic life before it became corrupted, and still in the hands of the benefiting elites, these governing systems were simply incapable of incorporating the idea of collapse into their thinking.