And they do. It is not an exaggeration to say that all civilizations fail, but some collapse and disappear, defying an easy explanation. Why? What happened to them?
Is our civilization next?
Why Civilizations Fail
Maybe. I am organizing a book on the subject. Expect it soon. However, since you are searching, I’ll offer a few insights on “why civilizations fail” without giving the book’s hypothesis away.
The form of some civilizational failures is the reason why archeologists can’t explain them.
Still, I find it explainable. The failure cause, amazingly, is neurological–this book and this site will explain it in detail.
Throughout history, hominid (Humans, Neanderthals, homo-Erectus, etc.) societies have disappeared because they have been attacked and destroyed by a regional competitor. This is unfortunate, but it is nevertheless understandable. Others disappear because of environmental changes caused by climate cycles or climate changes associated with vulcanism or a meteor strike. Again, this is unfortunate but explainable. Others, however, inexplicably vanish or collapse for no apparent reason: e.g., Neanderthals (and other hominids), the late bronze age Mediterranean palace states, Rome, Etruscans, and many others. Sometimes these failed civilizations are followed by a regional “dark age.” Their collapse and post-collapse “dark age” are often inexplicable to anthropologists and archeologists. But it is not to me.
Did you know that the Neanderthals inhabited Eurasia for almost 400,000 years? Think about that. Homo Sapien civilization (the “smart ones”), by contrast, collapsed several times over the past several thousand years (for example, Roman Empire). The Neanderthals were larger and, in many ways, better adapted. But the Sapiens nevertheless prevailed. Why can’t the Sapiens hold it together, yet their civilizations eventually lurch forward?
Archeologists nevertheless think Homo Sapiens are responsible for the extinction of the Neanderthals (I don’t). Sapiens appear bellicose, but the evidence does not compelling lay the blame for Neanderthal extinction at the Sapien’s feet. The Neanderthals were resiliant. Why did these primitive people survive across 400,000 years, with extreme environmental variation, while Sapien societies inexplicably collapsed over just a few thousand years–and under relative environmental stability?
I believe I know why. Soon you will too, but the preceding paragraph constitutes some other clues.
In short, homo sapiens had reason, and the others did not.
The specific causes for the collapse of these civilizations are invisible to the mental models of our present Homo sapien minds.
The following image represents an analogy for this point. It is an optical illusion. Two animals are represented in the picture (a duck and a rabbit). If you were not looking for both, you would likely see only one and move on. That is, your mind perceives only one. The other is “invisible.”
And so it is with the causes for the unexplained civilizational collapses. The mental models of contemporary minds placed the causes of these failures outside of our mental visibility.
You will soon understand that archeologists’ historical mental blindness is neurological. After I explain it fully, your mind will change. As with the above picture, your mind will adapt. After that, you will readily see both animals whenever you look at the image. And here’s the good news, contemporary civilizational politics will become just as clear and correctable.
Then maybe, we can avoid the nearly inevitable collapse of our civilization. And maybe, Homo Sapiens might take another evolutionary step.