Why do societies fail? With lessons from the Norse of Iron Age Greenland, deforested Easter Island and present-day Montana, Jared Diamond talks about the signs that collapse is near, and how — if we see it in time — we can prevent it.

Note that he mentions the conflict of interests — when Elites “insulate themselves from the consequences of their decisions, advancing their own short term interests against the interests of overall society.”

Filmed Feb 2003

Category: Markets, Science, Video

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10 Responses to “Jared Diamond: Why Societies Collapse”

  1. FrancoisT says:

    “when Elites “insulate themselves from the consequences of their decisions, advancing their own short term interests against the interests of overall society.”

    That is exactly where we are, aren’t we? If I understood Diamond correctly, it will only be a matter of time (decades?) before the USA becomes a shadow of itself…unless democracy regains its full meaning.

    Somehow, I have the nasty feeling there would be tremendous resistance from the “Elites” to let sunlight, the Brandeis disinfectant, clean up the stables of unaccounted greed and privileges. By “Elites” it goes without saying that I include the Media people, who now considers it is not their job anymore to speak truth to power.

    We’re screwed, and it’ll hurt aplenty if we don’t shape up, growl and bites some hindquarters sooner than later.

  2. hoteit says:

    thank you for posting this video. If you don’t mind, i referenced this link and the video on my blog http://tarek.hoteit.org because it relates to my research.

  3. asiankida says:

    I would agree, his book is a pretty great read. easy to understand and provides a lot of detail on what he just spoke of in this video.

  4. debreuil says:

    Really? I read his book and thought he was a bit full of it (Guns Germs and Steel)… Very much curve fitting hand picked facts the line up with his world views. The ideas were interesting, but by the end you weren’t able to believe many of them.

  5. Theodore D. says:

    Haven’t read this one but read the first. In a Catholic College we learned that one cause of Rome’s collapse was its military model. Meaning they would pay soldiers from cities they took, but as the citys got farther and farther away was not cost effective to do this. Plus the armies were now populated by soldiers from places they conqured and eventually they realized their was no one else to conquer so it was less lucrative to stray in the military.

    Also upper class in breeding. Gotta keep the $ in the family. Pretty gross but weren’t Bush and Kerry distant cousins? Wasn’t Prescot Bush a huge banker A LA J.P. Morgan?

  6. itsmike says:

    I liked Guns Germs and Steel, but Collapse was about as good a follow up as Gladwell’s Blink was to his Tipping Point… For the best read regarding Collapse, refer to the original masterpiece by Joseph Tainter:




  7. wunsacon says:

    *The* authority on why societies collapse: http://tinyurl.com/8rrcqc

  8. @wumsacon – ROFL

  9. Moss says:

    First step was getting rid of Bush and the rest of the dogmatic Conservative regime.
    Hopefully the whole Republican party, as currently constituted, will collapse and come back with a new identity.

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