Through a Scanner, Darkly

Joseph Tainter's model of collapse offers a way to analyze the present

Collapse is an unpopular topic, which is why there are so few broad theories of it. Pretty much every literate conversation I’ve had about the topic has ended up circling Joseph Tainter’s classic model from The Collapse of Complex Societies.

Tainter’s basic idea, based on a historical study of many collapses, is that it follows the following pattern:

  1. Soci…

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