Collapse — An Academic View

Under a situation of declining marginal returns collapse may be the most appropriate response. Such societies have not failed to adapt. In an economic sense they have adapted well- perhaps not as those who value civilizations would wish, but appropriately under the circumstances. What may be a catastrophe to administrators (and later observers) need not be to the bulk of the population (as discussed, fo r example, by Pfeiffer [1977: 469-71]). It may only be among those members of a society who have neither the opportunity nor the ability to produce primary fo od resources that the collapse of administrative hierarchies is a clear disaster. Among those less specialized, severing the ties that link local groups to a regional entity is often attractive. Collapse then is not intrinsically a catastrophe. It is a rational, economizing process that may well benefit much of the population.

Page 198. Tainter, Joseph A. “The Collapse of Complex Societies.” New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988

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