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tnstaec wrote

John Michael Greer makes this same argument in "The Long Descent". From the Classical Maya, to the Western Roman empire, historical civilizations underwent a process of "catabolic collapse". We can picture it as a stair-step line. A crisis would create a fast but only partial collapse. For decades or centuries people would adjust to a less complex, less technically-proficient society. Until another crisis hit. This would repeat a few times over centuries until you end up with a radically different society.

Given this identifiable historical pattern, we can assume collapse of industrial society will also follow a similar pattern. Indeed, the all at once, apocalyptic vision seems based more in religious end-times narratives than available data. But I wouldn't be so quick to foreclose the possibility of that scenario. The most powerful states still possess more nukes than they could possibly use, and heads of state are getting less strategic and more impulsive about international relations. (Well, the US is, anyway)

But the bigger question is the various converging crises of our era: mass extinction, climate change, resource depletion, and other global problems are at a level unprecedented in previous civilizations. Unlike before, there is no "outside". When the Cahokians or Sumerians destroyed their local ecosystems, they could simply resettle elsewhere. We don't have that luxury.