During my Christmas break I finished reading Jared Diamond's book Collapse. After digesting my impressions for a week so I conclude that it is one of those books that has altered my perspectives and given me many new insights.
I haven't got a clue if Diamond is a controversial figure or not, but his writing surely is demanding and does confront some serious assumptions we tend to have about life, humanity, growth and progress.
In Collapse he first tells the stories of historic collapses of societies – The Maya, Easter Island, Greenland Norse, etc. – and then draws parallells to our modern day societies. There are some scary links that we need to think seriously about, one of them being deforestation. Another soil erosion. Yet another our dependencies on trading partners. And the biggie – over-population.
Jared does have a hopeful tone in his writing. But I think his hope presumes that we are able to learn from history and apply the learnings to our activitites today and in the future.
The jury seems to be out on that one. But perhaps the current downturn could create some space for fresh thinking about the future, about history, and about work.
If sustainable societies are our main concern, then surely work needs to be redefined and reinvented on a massive scale.