Friday, February 5, 2021

Quigley: Seven Stages of Civilizations

In his book The Evolution of Civilizations, Carroll Quigley notes that, from their inception to fall, civilizations move through seven stages: mixture, gestation, expansion, age of conflict, universal empire, decay, and invasion. A civilization starts declining when it is in the universal empire stage and its instruments of expansion are institutionalized, which means that the systems that the civilization uses to gather, grow, and distribute its resources are politicized and intellectualized and turned into slow-moving bureaucratic institutions, which grab more and more power and resources as they grow in size—these institutions see themselves as the civilization’s true representative and the only line of defense. According to Quigley, most civilizations do not die in a fiery blaze; they wane out of existence because, with all the institutions having become bureaucratic, insular, and self-serving, no one has the power to stop the decay which keeps intensifying—the invaders, when they arrive, do not face much resistance.

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