Using Human History as a guide Could Our Present Civilization Fall Into a New Dark Age?

Parson

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So western society as we know it would falter, but all countries where there is little reliance on industry most people would survive (apart from lack of imported advanced medicines) and in modern countries everyone like re-enactors, Amish, new ager commune people would do OK. So the human race would continue, just not the ultra-modern bits.
Indeed. And even here in the very mechanized rural areas there is more than enough expertise to survive on a 1780's life plan. --- But there would be horrific die off in the first years to a decade.
 

Montero

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Indeed. And even here in the very mechanized rural areas there is more than enough expertise to survive on a 1780's life plan. --- But there would be horrific die off in the first years to a decade.
Rats would flourish.
 

Temperance

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Rats would flourish.
After the Roman withdrawl from Britain - well within a century or so - the rat population collapsed, some species seem to have even become extinct.
They were simply used to feeding on the graneries and human waste, actually having to fend for themselves proved slightly beyond their...capabilities.
Britain simly didn't have the food output, storage and urbanisation to maintain a scavenger species
 

Temperance

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That's seriously fascinating.
The Fate of Rome by Kyle Harper has some insteresting aspects on just the level of kicking a pre-industrial society can take, and what happens to the local flora and fauna.

The Plague of Cyprian - best guess, a type of Ebola in a society with no concept of germ or virus theory - is particularly scary, where even the legion administration broke down due to the death rate.

And then there are the odd "doesn't translate" plagues, people being suddenly covered in blood and needles...which makes me think of Adam Bakers zombie novels with metal spines growing out of people.
 

Parson

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the rat population collapsed, some species seem to have even become extinct
Interesting, but I would point out that collapsing is not the same thing as the rats becoming extinct. They adapted, and they thrived again, just not in the same numbers for a long time.
 

Dave

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even here in the very mechanized rural areas there is more than enough expertise to survive on a 1780's life plan.
I would dispute that, not upon their knowledge of farming and expertise, but because of both the amount of trade necessary, and the amount of land under cultivation necessary to achieve a balanced diet, even in the 1780's. There are a lot of people today, especially in post-Carbon Transition groups who promote self-sufficiency and who think we can survive by growing your own in your back garden or allotment. Gardening and growing food are great and should be encouraged. Lowering our food air miles is necessary too, but a family could not live for a year on the food produced from such a small area. The kind of community you describe would need a very large area under production and therefore a population of a village to work the land. Survivors would need to find each other and work together is some kind of structured society, after society had already fallen apart. They would need to exchange their excesses for shortages with nearby other villages doing the same. Even if they were able to trade, they would still have a more limited diet, be subject to famine due to weather and pest events, and possibly be deficient in some vitamins. They would not have access to chemical fertilisers or pesticides and yields would be much lower. They would not have medicines or vitamin supplements. Their health would suffer and their life expectancy fall. Over 90% of people would be employed in agriculture. Even the Mennonites and Amish trade with the outside. The global nature of our current society and our food production cannot be over emphasised.

Therefore, if there is any collapse of society, then I predict that it will be total and catastrophic, and while such collapses of society have in the past been regional, this would be world wide and on a global scale never before witnessed.

There are many theories for the collapse of the Roman Empire. One interesting one is that Lead Acetate, added to sweeten wine, poisoned them. However, whatever the reason. the importance of trade, even to the Roman Empire, is clear from the way that collapsed so suddenly.
 

sknox

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The Empire did not collapse suddenly. In the East, it persisted until 1453. Even in the West, the Empire survived in a variety of ways long after Odoacer throttled Romulus Augustulus. At the other extreme, one could make a case that whatever it was after Diocletian, it wasn't the Roman Empire of Trajan or Vespasian. Or, if one is feeling playful, that the Empire never existed at all because Augustus restored the Republic.

The chief problem with all explanations for the "decline and fall of the Roman Empire" is that they all proceed from a false assumption. And they none of them spend much time defining what they mean by the key terms of empire and fall.

Given that there has never been anything like industrialized society, still less a post-industrial one, we can't predict what a collapse would look like (though it does make for fun fiction). But I'll stake my Historian's Gym Card (never used) that whatever happens, it won't go in the direction of anything pre-industrial. It'll be a whole new sort of catastrophe.
 

BAYLOR

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The Empire did not collapse suddenly. In the East, it persisted until 1453. Even in the West, the Empire survived in a variety of ways long after Odoacer throttled Romulus Augustulus. At the other extreme, one could make a case that whatever it was after Diocletian, it wasn't the Roman Empire of Trajan or Vespasian. Or, if one is feeling playful, that the Empire never existed at all because Augustus restored the Republic.

The chief problem with all explanations for the "decline and fall of the Roman Empire" is that they all proceed from a false assumption. And they none of them spend much time defining what they mean by the key terms of empire and fall.

Given that there has never been anything like industrialized society, still less a post-industrial one, we can't predict what a collapse would look like (though it does make for fun fiction). But I'll stake my Historian's Gym Card (never used) that whatever happens, it won't go in the direction of anything pre-industrial. It'll be a whole new sort of catastrophe.
Octavian was one of histories greatest PR con men. He duped the Roman public into supporting him by preserving the trappings of the Republic. In reality, he had no intentions whosoever of trying to revive the Republic because he knew the Republic was dead and , he wanted all of the power for himself and his extended family so he took it. His Uncle Julius Caesar thought along similar lines. Roman fate was largely sealed when she became an Empire.
 

pyan

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Roman fate was largely sealed when she became an Empire.
With all due respect:
Roman Republic - 482 years. Roman Empire (to fall of Rome) - 503 years. Roman Empire to fall of Constantinople - 1,480 years.
In what way was Rome's "fate sealed" by becoming an Empire?
 

BAYLOR

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With all due respect:
Roman Republic - 482 years. Roman Empire (to fall of Rome) - 503 years. Roman Empire to fall of Constantinople - 1,480 years.
In what way was Rome's "fate sealed" by becoming an Empire?
With all due respect do you see a 21st century Roman empire/Republic ruling Europe and part of Asia ? Rome didn't make it to the present day.
 

Dave

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The Empire did not collapse suddenly.
Okay, that was a rather sweeping statement, granted. I was viewing it solely from the point of view of a Roman Briton when asking for military help, which must have had the reply, that the last person should turn out the lights. Yes, it did survive in some form for quite a bit longer, and certainly much longer in the East. Also, I was talking about trade. Without a strong government you can't have the same well maintained roads and defended sea routes.
 

Montero

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The routes might not be defended, but I have a faint memory that pre-Roman Britain was regularly trading tin for olive oil, wine and nice pottery and the tin trade was one of the things that brought the Romans to Britain - maybe one of you historians will remember that better than me.
So while the European part of the route was probably defended, how much would the English Channel have been protected? And when were Spain and Gaul romanised?
 

pyan

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With all due respect do you see a 21st century Roman empire/Republic ruling Europe and part of Asia ? Rome didn't make it to the present day.
The Romans ruled most of their known world for the best part of two millennia. That's ten times the length of the British Empire, ten times the amount of time the United States has been in existence, and twenty times as long as the USSR lasted. The only comparable civilisation to the Romans for longevity are the Chinese - who, you could argue, with 3,500 years of written history, are unlikely ever to be caught, let alone surpassed.
 

BAYLOR

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The Romans ruled most of their known world for the best part of two millennia. That's ten times the length of the British Empire, ten times the amount of time the United States has been in existence, and twenty time as long as the USSR lasted. The only comparable civilisation to the Romans for longevity are the Chinese - who, you could argue, with 3,500 years of written history, are unlikely ever to be caught, let alone surpassed.
Fair enough.
 
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