totally stolen from wikipedia:
According to Joseph Tainter, in his book The Collapse of Complex Societies (1990), societies that inevitably collapse adhere to one or more of the following three models in the face of collapse:
1. The Dinosaur: The best example is a large scale society in which resources are being depleted at an exponential rate and yet nothing is done to rectify the problem because the ruling elite are unwilling or unable to adapt to said changes. In such examples rulers tend to oppose any solutions that diverge from their present course of action. They will favor intensification and commit an increasing number of resources to their present plans, projects and social institutions.
2. Runaway Train: An example would be a society that only functions when growth is present. Societies based almost exclusively on acquisition, including pillage or exploitation, cannot be sustained indefinitely. The society of the Assyrians and the Mongols, for example, both fractured and collapsed when no new conquests were forthcoming. Tainter argues that Capitalism can be seen as an example of the Runaway Train model as it requires whole economies, individual sectors, and companies to constantly grow on a three month basis. Current methods of resource extraction and food production may be unsustainable, however, the philosophy of consumerism and planned obsolescence encourage the purchase of an ever increasing number of goods and services to sustain the economy.
3. House of Cards: In this aspect of Tainter's model societies that grow to be so large and include so many complex social institutions that they are inherently unstable and prone to collapse.
i can see traits of all three in the current global hegemony.
but such a collapse would also require the loss of large amounts of information. considering we've had several hundred years of the printing press as well as several decades of vast electronic storage, is that still possible?
come on everyone, let's doom-monger a bit! it'll make the weekend seem even better.