The Emerging Pattern

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Glubb studies the emerging pattern of great nations:

In spite of the endless variety and the infinite complications of human life, a general pattern does seem to emerge from these considerations. It reveals many successive empires covering some 3,000 years, as having followed similar stages of development and decline, and as having, to a surprising degree, ‘lived’ lives of very similar length.

The life-expectation of a great nation, it appears, commences with a violent, and usually unforeseen, outburst of energy, and ends in a lowering of moral standards, cynicism, pessimism and frivolity.

If the present writer were a millionaire, he would try to establish in some university or other a department dedicated solely to the study of the rhythm of the rise and fall of powerful nations throughout the world. History goes back only some 3,000 years, because before that period writing was not sufficiently widespread to allow of the survival of detailed records. But within that period, the number of empires available for study is very great.

At the commencement of this essay, the names of eleven such empires were listed, but these included only the Middle East and the modern nations of the West. India, China and Southern America were not included, because the writer knows nothing about them. A school founded to study the rise and fall of empires would probably find at least twenty-four great powers available for dissection and analysis.

The task would not be an easy one, if indeed the net were cast so wide as to cover virtually all the world’s great nations in 3,000 years. The knowledge of language alone, to enable detailed investigations to be pursued, would present a formidable obstacle.


  1. ASDF says:

    Perhaps it goes something like this:

    1) Society comes up with a pro-social memeplex.

    2) During the growth phase that entire memeplex is reinforced. People follow the memes, society expands, people are rewarded.

    3) At some point the memeplex runs up against some limit and stagnates.

    4) People in the society figure out ways to manipulate the memeplex (loopholes). Each generation gets better at this.

    5) Eventually the loopholes get so big it starts to take down the system.

    6) Even less cynical actors start to look out for themselves.

    7) Collapse

    8) New memeplex is discovered and pattern starts all over.

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