By Eric Werker, Simon Fraser University | – (The Conversation) – To justify invading Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has painted Russia …
Cuba’s electrical grid collapsed late on Tuesday, local officials said, leaving the entire country in the dark shortly after Hurricane Ian plowed through the western end of the island leaving a path of destruction in its wake.
I have never gotten over a story The New York Times ran in its Sunday magazine back in May 2016. Maybe you will remember the occasion. It was a lengthy profile of Ben Rhodes, the Obama administration’s chief adviser for “strategic communications.” It was written by a reporter named David Samuels.
Let’s restate the gobbeldygook below into a set of simple statements (this is really three posts in one, and the top here is the third placed at the start). There is no inherent reason for modern world Civilization to decline into a Dark Age in the sense of Toynbee and Spengler and their confused theories. But there is a resemblance of the modern transition to the Hellenic transition and see that it was shortlived from Archaic Greece to a classical period which seem to stall around 400 BCe, by which time the world’s first great democracy is destroyed by oligarchic and imperialist war. The Occident ‘declines’ very slowly from this point, becomes a form of Roman barbarism, and then collapses ca 500 AD or so, with the canonical instance of a Dark Age. We see the same problem with democracy in our modern case, in the same schedule. But this is not a law of history. Note that China and India don’t follow this pattern as such.
We can recover. Note that our model distinguishes systems and free agents. We are in principle able to take over world civiliation and redirect it at will, But that is almost always the ’empire’ trap all over again. But as we see we can be subject to events in the onset of chaos, so free agency is real but in a hurricane somewhat relative!
By this analogy of the eonic model then we could easily confuse concepts. On the ancient analogy our present resembles the period ca. 400 BCE and a ‘Dark Age’ is still a thousand years away, 3000 AD! We hiave no sure grounds for such a comparison, but it seems to make some sense, as long as we remember the eonic model in only semideterministic. There are possible other forms of explanation: I don’t know how to apply ‘entropy’ to civiliztions, but there might be other such factors we don’t understand. We cited the decline of the Roman Empire but to this day its full scope and dynamic has never been given. We have to do better this time.
The obvious point then is that something else is involved: no mystery: industrial excess and climate change. This factor is unprecedented and external and will produce unexpected results. A premature Dark Age is possible if industrial processes destroy a planet, but the result isn’t quite a Toynbean Dark Age so much as a total discombobulation.
There is something uncanny in the modern transition: Democracy, the Industrial Revolution, and capitalism emerge in tandem at the climax of the modern transition and then are immediately followed by a rescue vehicle: the rise of socialism and challengers to capitalism and the exploitation of labor, next to abolition and protofeminism at exactly the same points.
Clearly in retrospect we should have had a socialist revolution near the start before industrial revolution and capitalism turned into a menace. In any case. We need to try to correct the disaster as soon as possible because the result will be worse than a Dark Age.
We cited this book yesterday and the commentary is reproduced below. I have a slight quibble here as the author cites Toynbee, a completely marginal passing reference but the issue of ‘dark ages’ is tricky. The first issue is the idea of the ‘civilization’: the eonic model looks at macro time-slices of civilization(s) as transitions. Civilizations are too diffuse to be organized dynamic entities. In our case the modern transition occurs in a very strange pattern (discussed in Decoding World History) in a subset of ‘Europe’ and this rapidly diffuses via globalization to the world Civilization (singular, capitalized) we are starting to see now. ‘World Civiliation’ is simply a general depiction and term and isn’t a Toynbean style civilization. Note that there is no European civilization nor is the modern transition a European or Eurocentric phenomenon but a local transformation in the global action of the eonic effect. Continue reading “Dark Age America? what does the eonic model suggest?”