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Progress Is No Myth

April 14, 2014

Chris Hedges tends to throw, confusedly and pessimistically, that baby, civilization, with the bath. He concludes his  “The Myth of Human Progress and the Collapse of Complex Societies” with:

“Collapse comes throughout human history to complex societies not long after they reach their period of greatest magnificence and prosperity.”

This is rather NOT true, in general. Indeed, the royal road to collapse is plutocracy. And plutocracy is a severe form of degeneracy (that we experience today). For example Rome peaked as republic, around, say 150 BCE. Instead the aristocratic historian Gibbon puts the peak of Rome under the fascist plutocracy of the Antonine emperors, 250 years later. However, then, although the Roman empire was larger in territory, the wrong philosophy could get anyone executed.

So the Antonine empire was certainly not a period of greatest magnificence and prosperity. And this is typical: plutocracy is a malignant, lethal growth that tends to kill most societies. And that’s the beauty of it: it can be fixed. By revolution. Not cynical pessimism about the “myth of progress”.

Progress is no myth. If you think it is, try prehistory and cannibalism instead.

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