greentara wrote: There has always been ruthless leaders and inequality right through history. Is the last straw the 7 billion people stampeding over the thin crust of the earth thats not sustainable!
Civilizations go through cycles. A lot of historians are aware of this, though their advice is seldom taken seriously by the political class. There is also seldom the political will to really address long-term disintegrating factors because of short-term goals and contemporary political interests. The west is living beyond its means and should downsize its consumption, but there's no political will for that, neither from the elites nor the commoners. So, using violence to obtain unearned wealth is logical albeit immoral and illegal, though laws of course are only applicable when it is politically suitable.
However, that use of violence and the obtained wealth is subject to the law of diminishing returns. Societies solve problems through increased complexity, though it requires additional energy inputs. An energy subsidy in the form of booty from conquest or new energy source can remedy energy shortfalls, but there are limitations.
When a society is undergoing stress, it often responds through increased policing and legitimization. This is what we're seeing in the west right now: increasing internal surveillance, eradication of civil freedoms and propaganda detailing how we are the custodians of "human rights" (which legitimizes attacks on foreign countries that do not cooperate with us on our terms).
Unfortunately, human societies very seldom ever voluntarily reduce their complexity. We really should downsize our lifestyles and use a lot less energy, but that won't happen voluntarily on any significant scale for the foreseeable future. So this politically enables the western power bloc to exercise violence if need be to obtain the desired resources. We're all collectively responsible for the wars in the Middle East because of our consumption habits in a sense. That's just one example of many.
Our present environmental issues are another factor that will be our undoing. It won't be the end of humanity, but industrial civilization as we know it is unsustainable. The Roman model come the 3rd century became unsustainable. They started suffering decreased crop yields because of soil depletion. The government devalued the currency, effectively borrowing from a future which couldn't protest. Likewise, we're suffering energy stresses now and the solution has been to stave off collapse by devaluing currency.
So, it'd be optimal to downsize and sacrifice a lot for long-term sustainability, but it won't happen in my estimation. The rest of the world is likewise not keen on sustainability. But then that's a quality of humans: short-term planners. It seems our evolution didn't provide us with the ability to plan long-term.