I'm watching a fascinating DVD called Surving Progress. Some points covered...
# The Egyptians and other kings would normally cancel debts. This stopped the culture and economy from stagnating. The Romans were the first not to. So wealth continued to accumulate in a a wealthy elite who as individuals were more greedy than a more pragmatic state or king would. This weakened the empire by going to war to reclaim debt from conquered people because in the process the war destroyed the conquered's infrastructure and access to their own resources. So this oligarchy ended up killing the golden goose.
Excuse the generalisations of time frames here but they seem too similar. : 500 yrs of Roman Empire. 500yrs of dark ages 500yrs of civilization once more. But there is still none of the old tradition as the ancient kings to periodically cancel debt. 500yrs later we are once more in the positions of the Romans and in grip of a tight fisted oligarchy screwing up economy. Also resources as climate change demands cancelling of debt in terms of just letting go of their stock in to-be-used fossil fuels in the ground etc... It seems to imply another dark age. Personally I think it will be the devestation caused by flooding and drought and hurracains from irreversible global warming 50yrs or less from now. It will be our dark age. This oligarchy who as individuals are not regulated by the state or the king have not seriously begun to avoid cooking their own goose.
# This film posits our brains are still hard-wired to the 50 000 years spent as hunter gatherers. Of that only 5 000 years in a civilised state. Which makes the last 200 yrs of industrial and technological innovation look like sheer overdrive if our brains are incapable of becoming as modern to keep up.
Look at primitive war mongering in the world or our primitive superstious religious minds. Just these two examples seem to be beyond our modern day rationality or capability hard-wired as homo-sapiens are to a brain still stuck in its 50 000 year conditioning. Oh and they thought nature would always provide too
There is too much other information in this DVD to lay out here so check it out. Its also on netflix.
Interesting concept, "progress trap". Growth economy sounds like a fit, as does "Drill, Baby, Drill!
... past civilizations were destroyed by "progress traps"—alluring technologies and belief systems that serve immediate needs, but ransom the future. As pressure on the world's resources accelerates and financial elites bankrupt nations, can our globally-entwined civilization escape a final, catastrophic progress trap?
I located an online source Surviving Progress