When a society collapses, it rapidly loses complexity.
Its internal organization and institutions, laws, and
technologies become dramatically simpler, while
its inhabitants’ range of social roles and potential
behaviors is sharply narrowed. Many people suffer,
because without complex institutions, technologies,
and social roles, societies can’t keep large populations
living well. After collapse, people consume far less,
move around far less, communicate far less, and die
far sooner. Entire article by Thomas Homer-Dixon.
What can we do? In truth, a great deal. First,
though, we need to recognize that episodes of crisis or
breakdown are not always bad things—if they’re not
too severe, and if societies are ready, they can create
both the motivation and opportunity for renewal and
Keeping breakdown from becoming catastrophic
means making our technologies, economies, and
communities more resilient. For instance we
can increase the ability of cities, towns, and even
households to produce essential goods and services,
such as energy and food, instead of depending
completely on distant producers of these things for
our day-to-day survival—as we do now.