Take for example the Roman Empire. Some of the key factors why the Roman Empire collapsed was a combination of economic crisis, barbarian attacks, farming issues from exhausted soil due to over-cultivation, inequality between the rich and the poor, detachment of local elites from public life, and economic recession as a result of overreliance on slave labor. Keep in mind that 21% of the world’s population was under Roman rule at the height of their power.
I wonder if there were Romans who thought their empire would never fall? And I also wonder which ones were sounding the alarms? Were they just laughed at? (Remember not too long ago there were many that truly believed the Titanic was unsinkable.)
It wasn’t just the Roman Empire either. You also have Persian Empire, Han Dynasty, Mongols, Spanish…every great empire has fallen in human history. So, what makes us so special? Because we have more technology? Because we have history to learn from? All true. But knowledge is not enough. How you apply the lesson learned is everything.
Perhaps it was gradual before it was sudden. Difficult to see in the future but easy when it was on our doorstep. How many of us today ignore or scoff at the warnings of climate change or destabilization of democracy? Maybe the problem with these great empires was they just didn’t pay attention. After all, it is difficult to see what is happening around the corner when we are so focused on our next TikTok video.