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Generational Dynamics and Cyclical Amnesia

One or two years ago I stumbled on Generational Dynamics website on an article popping on Facebook explaining the subprime mortgage crisis from a generational dynamics perspective

Generational Dynamics is based on a simple idea: That societies and nations make mistakes and then learn lessons from those mistakes. But generations grow older, retire and die, and are replaced by new generations who are too young to remember those mistakes and those lessons. When that happens, the mistakes are repeated.

This is the similar with Glubb’s paper: The Fates of Empires and Search for Survival. He argued that the average lifetime of empires is around 250 years. This is true irrespective of technology level. Assyrians marches on their foot while British has ocean-going ships and railways, but they lasted roughly the same. Glubb pointed out to a common invariant of these empires: the human generation time. It took 25 years for a generation of human to replace their predecessors. So it occurs that empire always decline after 10 generations. A very curious observation.

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The antidote to this is by soaking up as much history as you can and identify patterns that persists in the past to anticipate it in the present and the future. You would have advantage versus those who don’t deliberately try to.

However, I doubt that it will save any civilization. It is a complete certainty that civilization is declining, despite a few individuals trying to resist that inevitability by learning as much as they can and doing the best that they could. Unless a significant fraction of population do that, it will not matter much. At the very least, these individuals who learns will slow the pendulum of decline before the hammer of fate is struck that commanded the dying civilization to pass the baton to another, nascent civilization.

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