Softening Up the Beachhead: Why Internal Behaviors Predict the Likelihood of Civilizational Collapse (2023)


Researching how societies collapse involves understanding the internal and external variables of a society and their interactions within their own societal structure. Complex chaotic and orderly variables seem to be constantly impacting large societies throughout history.

Systems Theory is based on the biological systems approach to complex organisms and discusses stability and change in cultural systems in terms of many interlocking factors both natural and man-made. Response(s) to stimulus (variables), or feedback, are a control element within the entire system and can be natural reactions, subconscious behaviors, individually or group directed, autonomous (i.e. faith).

Systems theory is used to understand how different parts of a system interact with each other and how they can be used to create more efficient systems. Adaptive systems are able to respond to changes in their environment or in the parts that make them up. Feedback loops are an important feature of adaptive systems and help them reach a state where all stimulation ceases.

José Antonio Martín H., Javier de Lope and Darío Maravall have proposed the concept of adaptation, anticipation and rationality in natural and artificial systems which suggests that computational paradigms can be used to mimic nature.

Human behavior determines the effect of entropy, and the speed of the effects of entropy define future changes of behavior, thus leading to either the prevention or the deflection of inevitable collapse. Around three million years ago, African apes began to stand upright, leading to larger brains and better tools. This caused problems such as difficulty in childbirth due to large heads, leading to shorter pregnancies. I postulate that religion emerged due to vulnerability during childbirth, with men providing a defensive perimeter and midwives providing a border around the birthing woman.

Civilizations are complex systems that are susceptible to entropy and collapse. Religion can act as a strange attractor that stabilizes and regulates chaotic and orderly behaviors within small groups. Hunter-Gatherers began to settle down permanently and formed larger communities with centralized settlements. Around 10,000 B.C.E. to 6000 B.C.E., core religions were established. Between 4500 - 4000 B.C.E., the first large-scale civilizations arose in Mesopotamia, with language groups merging and trading goods between cities. Sumer was the first polytheistic religious belief system to be written down and established at its internal structure, followed by the Egyptians who developed their own language and hieroglyphics. The Tigris and Euphrates rivers of modern-day Iraq were home to the Sumerian city-states. Religions have been used to stabilize large groups with more complicated behaviors, often represented by "the great flood". Structured belief systems are modeled after Hunter-Gatherer societies, with religiosity flowing throughout the group.

The probability of collapse increases with complexity and is affected by the interactions between civilizations. A civilization's internal systems must be strong and stable to resist external forces. The Late Bronze Age Powers of the Eastern Mediterranean used cuneiform to communicate and trade resources, and shifted from worshiping gods to believing the elite were gods. The Sea Peoples caused chaos, but Egypt managed to stave them off, leading to the assimilation of many small language tribes into larger nation-states. Rome established a representative senate and patron-client relations, and adopted many cultural traditions from the Hellenistic-Greeks.

Insert into the world a very new religious concept – Monotheism.

The Roman Republic eventually collapsed in 476 C.E., leading to a period of feudalism in Europe. Genghis Khan believed he was God and his nomadic hordes spread information and ideas back and forth about the old world. Columbus reconnected the old world with the new back in 1492, leading to a paradigm shift in thinking and belief systems. The Enlightenment Era allowed for two revolutionary nations to revolutionize their ideas of behavior in society: The French First Republic and The United States of America. France’s internal structure was built upon the ideas and needs of those unjustly being taxed and misrepresented by their monarchies. Terror tends to breed chaos, and empires ruled by leaders who view themselves as omniscient tend toward entropy due to their leading by fear. The feudal system in Europe was a period of about 750 years of a few core families going to war repeatedly. Whereas in America, an entirely different set of outcomes occurred that sent the nation on a trajectory far from France’s fall of terror back into empire. No, America took an adapted, monotheist adapted, religion with origins dating back nearly six thousand years old, if not older, and was observant enough to see the flaws in most major civilizations which has led to its continued success as a republic, while having to adapt to significant global systems changes for the near 250 years of its existence.

Civilizations can collapse due to a combination of external chaotic forces and internal behaviors that cannot keep up with the rate of change. This leads to assimilation, dissimilation, or revolution. The Entropic formula models civilizational collapse based on complexity, chaos, time, order, and behavior. If a civilization can control itself through morals and civility and prepare for both internal and external factors, collapse can potentially be mitigated or delayed.


Researching how societies collapse involves patient reworking and reflection upon how humans behave amongst and far from one another. As civilizations grow from small tribal groups to highly complex societal structures, most if not all eventually collapse, either back to smaller groups or dissolve entirely through decimation due to war, disease, or famine. Two primary definitions of collapses play off one another: a) the internal and external variables of a society and their interactions within their own societal structure and b) these same variables existing externally to their societal structures (Middleton 2017; Hudson 2012). These internal or external variables act as a catalyst (or it could be said many catalysts) that are always pushing every civilization in a specific direction for a certain period of time (Diamond 2011). The build- up in complexity of these variables is interesting, because it grows and can last for generations, regardless of whether the complex civilization in question thrives or collapses over time. This has led me to ask, “Are all large-scale civilizations continuously being pushed towards collapse?” and “Is it really all the other factors or is it our behavior that determines whether a complex civilization collapses?” And, from a biological perspective, let me expand this line of thinking and inquire, “Is there a certain point where an inherent self-organization takes control, driving our human behavior back to prefer a less complex society of small groups, resulting in restarting or ultimately collapsing the societal system as a whole?”

Complex chaotic and orderly variables seem to be constantly impacting large societies throughout history. This concept is derived from ideas existing in Complexity Theory where it is postulated that life is always at the edge of chaos and order, and it is our behavior that really determines the outcome of societies and species at large (Waldrop, 2019). These variables spiral out larger and larger until at a certain degree of complexity, the system hits a point where it falls completely apart. Except, the Complexity Theory does not include in its equation the minute changes in behavior of individuals within the system that play a powerful role in the increase or decrease of entropy of the society. Human behavioral interactions determine the extent of the effect of entropy, and the speed of the effects of entropy relate to future changes of behavior, thus leading to either the prevention or the deflection of inevitable civilization collapse.

This is similar to a concept introduced in Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park novels called the “softening up of beachhead,” which postulated that the mass extinctions of the dinosaurs were the result of the species having been so weakened by environmental change that they could not cope when their environment returned to normal (Crichton 1995). Whether we see true collapse or simply one society assimilating into another large society, there is never a time that any civilization isn’t on the verge of collapse or being pushed in that direction (Tainter 1988, Murray 2020). Therefore, the outcome of whether a civilization collapses or not, could be determined primarily on the behaviors of people and groups in response to these chaotic variables and not the direct effects of the variables themselves.

Problems of Evolution

Around three million years ago, African apes that lived in trees began to spend more time on the ground. These apes were not very special, with small brains and no special physical abilities. However, they started standing on their hind legs to see over tall grass, and this led to them walking upright (Clark Spencer Larsen 2019, Ember et al. 2015).

Over time, as these apes stood upright more often, their hands were free to use tools. Like other apes, they used simple tools at first, but gradually developed more complex ones. This caused their brains to grow larger and more complex, creating a cycle where better tools led to bigger brains, and bigger brains led to better tools. However, this brain growth created problems, such as difficulty in childbirth due to large heads. To solve this issue, human babies were born earlier in development, when their brains were still small enough to pass through the birth canal (Clark Spencer Larsen 2019).

Another form of self-organizing behavior I postulate is that civilization was caused due to this same reasoning. Shorter pregnancy, larger brain size, and its influence on our behaviors. I believe what triggered the emergence of religion in our small group hominin societies was vulnerability. When we made that adaptation to have children earlier in development, that didn’t change the dangers still associated with birth, it actually increased them. Due to head size and bipedalism, hominin women have a tremendous issue at hand in the birthing process. While many tribal groups recognize easier processes through which to give birth, such as squatting or ‘wrapping’ around trees, this is in present day (Mselle and Eustace 2020). These are behaviors exhibited by tribal groups after extensive decreases in predators post-younger dryas period, where large swaths of megafauna went extinct. I think that due to the very nature of the birthing process itself, the dangers and hazards involved just giving birth to the baby, that by instinct we laid women on their backs. This enables better control over the behavior of the birthing mother by the midwives, as well as prevents the mothers line of sight from being on possible dangers, such as predators, possibly stalking the birth.

Now, due to the prolonged birthing process, there is a need for two people, at least, to help deliver the infant. So, what do you do when the lions come? Birthing is not only a complicated process, but it does have a tendency for a pungent odor. If my understanding of African big game predators is correct, children are not only easier to kill, they also have an extremely high nutrient content, as do birthing mothers with excess fat storage. This issue is exacerbated by the fact that in order to give birth, not only is the birthing woman on her back, but those also helping to deliver the baby and comfort as well as attend to the mother are gathered around with their backs to potential predators. The attendees are more often than not other females in the group, based on historical behaviors of modern humans dating back at least 300,000 years.

Now, also because labor can be induced randomly, there is no specific time that a baby is coming into the world. Meaning that if a monsoon is in effect or it is the middle of the night during a lightning storm, nothing will stop a woman from going into labor, nor stop the predators from smelling and hearing the birthing process.

So, who is watching out for the predators. I think that in these instances, the guardians would be organized around the midwives. Meaning, the men provide a defensive perimeter, while the midwives provide a border around the birthing woman. Over time, predators such as lions developed some degree of critical thinking and could get past the first wave of defenses. If this is possible, then the likelihood of success in the kill is increased as well. So, what drove the outer defensive line of men to be more proactive? Perhaps, one of the midwives, or even the birthing mother screamed, “Grab a rock and throw it! Do something!”

This one change in behavior of the internal structure of a small group set into motion a faith-based solution to the main issue concerning the success of our species. It created a trust between men and women, where women trust that when they are most vulnerable, men can, and will, protect them. This also meant that human children were helpless for a long time after birth, requiring stable social structures for long-term childcare. This led to societies developing education to teach children how to behave and execute their roles in the group.

If we consider where natural selection plays a role in this story, it may act on various aspects like brain size, pace of development, and social behavior. Some aspects may also be the result of self-organization, like how infant appearance can influence adult behavior. Self- organization can have both positive and negative effects on populations, influencing change or causing decline.

Faith is a strange attractor that appeared as a result of the dangerous birthing conditions in combination with extended infant and childcare, which are the main drivers for civilization in the first place. Behaviors based on these two processes could also play an excessive role in how societies collapse since it is the core stabilizing point of the social structure. Faith on the system or in something or someone specifically. Now, depending on what type of faith is presented, this also determines the internal group behaviors that need to be developed. Having a stable religion at the core of your group increased the likelihood of birth-rate success. This could also be how chants and traditions surrounding pregnancy and new life began to also appear. If the group did a certain type of chant or action, it could repel or scare off other predator groups. Through performing the behavior, these groups could reasonably believe that they communicated with an invisible outside force that “protected” them, or watched over them, etc. But when the chants don’t work and the lions do come, how stable the internal structure is also determines the risks being worth taking, such as picking up a rock and finding a way to attach it to a stick, thus creating a physical distance between the defender and the threat. This instigated all sorts of social classes and groups within the main group, only furthering commitment to certain behaviors, so long as success rates are high.

Softening Up the Beachhead

Civilization complexity is core to determining how rapidly it will collapse due to the entropy of its internal systems like economy, politics, and religion in reaction to a variety of external variables including environmental conditions, technological progress, etc. To understand how this works we must first understand Systems Theory. Systems Theory is based on the biological approach to complex organisms and discusses stability and change in cultural systems in terms of many interlocking factors both natural and man-made. Systems are usually defined as having inputs, processes, outputs, and feedback (Gibson 2019, Complexity Rising: From Human Beings to Human Civilization, a Complexity Profile — New England Complex Systems Institute 2014,).

In civilizations, the inputs vary widely and include human to human, environmental stimulus, available resources, biological requirements, etc. Outputs include predefined goals and objectives, reactionary behaviors, catastrophic impacts, behavioral modification, societal growth or contraction, and even the collapse of civilization. The processes can be natural or human driven and take the inputs and produce the outputs. Feedback is a control element and can be natural reactions, subconscious behaviors, individually or group directed, autonomous (ie. machine control), etc (Yang et al. 2016). A special kind of system is an adaptive system. It is a set of interacting or interdependent entities, real or abstract, forming an integrated whole that together are able to respond to environmental changes or changes in the interacting parts, in a way analogous to either continuous physiological homeostasis or evolutionary adaptation in biology. Feedback loops represent a key feature of adaptive systems, such as ecosystems and individual organisms, or in the human world, communities, organizations, and families. Adaptive systems can be organized into a hierarchy (Casti 2023). The law of adaptation may be stated informally as: “Every adaptive system converges to a state in which all kind of stimulation ceases.” (Martín H. et al. 2008).

As civilizations reach certain levels of complexity, they also increase certain likelihoods of encountering entropy – more specifically, they are more susceptible to falling prey to positive entropic feedback loops. Thus, the complexity of a civilization increases the probability of its collapse. At certain levels of complexity, civilizations are introduced to and must interact with other complex civilizations following this same basic model. These interactions are governed by the individual structures of each individual group whose behaviors toward one another are random and unpredictable, especially upon initial conditions. These variable conditions can inject stresses on an internal system, and can occur at any time, thus forcing a reactionary response by one or more civilizations in either a chaotic or orderly manner, The more time that has passed from initial conditions, the more predictable interactions become and the larger the system grows resulting in a net increase of unpredictability which will inevitably lead to collapse (Tainter 1988, Davis, 2012, Greene 2018).

According to the 2004 paper Probabilities of Extinction, Weak Extinction, Permanence, and Mutual Exclusion in Discrete, Competitive, Lotka-Volterra Systems that Involve Invading Species, researchers found through mathematical computer models that the stronger an internal system is, the less likely it will collapse into extinction when faced with an invader or external force.

“Since we start with a strongly stable system, we expect in general that the probabilities for permanence will grow and the probabilities of extinction will decrease. This is observed. The probabilities for having permanence grew significantly so that the possibility of having permanence in a five-dimensional model grows to 5-10% whereas in a purely random model the probability is much less than 1%. Extinctions in the purely random model occur roughly 50% of the time, however, in this situation the extinctions decrease dramatically. The probabilities go from about 40%, for a model with two species and one invader, to 20% for a model with four species and one invader.”

The same paper then describes even more interesting details involving complex systems. Their model shows that not only do the chances of extinction drop when a stable species is attacked, but the likelihood of extinction also drops significantly in contrast to random models. The outcome is dependent on how many other stable groups are joined in defense against the invader (Chan and Franke 2004).

So how many systems does it take to make a civilization? How many systems does it take to make one collapse?

This can be answered in short with a concept I, as the researcher, derived from the late anthropologist, and author, Michael Crichton. The original concept Crichton called in his work, The Lost World, was “Softening up the Beachhead.” In short, his concept was:

“After major environmental change, a wave of extinctions has usually followed – but not right away. – it's almost as if species are weakened by major change, but die off later.”

The basis of the concept is primarily prehistoric dinosaur extinctions, however, being a work of fiction, there is no bibliography to reference Crichton’s sources. But upon reading and comparing the academic literature involving systems collapse, I believe that the “softening up the beachhead model” is a major factor in explaining Civilizational Collapse. My hypothesis is that a civilization is weakened by major changes in its related systems and underlying behaviors, and collapses sometime after the major change has long subdued, based on the level of stability of the internal system. Two key variables in the societal systems making up a complex civilization include behavior and civility among internal groups (cities/language groups/etc) within one overarching system (state). These internal behaviors that drive the overarching system (state) interact with other overarching systems (other nations), creating a larger, more complex interconnected system made up of many smaller, differentiated groups, better known as a civilization.

Core to my concept is a formula describing the impact of entropy on the systems at large.

Softening Up the Beachhead: Why Internal Behaviors Predict the Likelihood of Civilizational Collapse (1)

Where the complexity of a civilization at any specific time is represented by:

Softening Up the Beachhead: Why Internal Behaviors Predict the Likelihood of Civilizational Collapse (2)

Chaos: the inverse of the amount of societal control (0 to 1)

Order: the stability of a society (0 to 1)

Essentially, if a civilization’s internal systems are in order and stabilized in their behaviors, then the system should flow over the course of time and be able to balance the assimilation of connected smaller systems to a larger civilization. The challenge to describing this transformation is determining what strange attractor provides scaling variance to this model. To address this, I have developed a model, represented by a double helix, to describe the impact of internal human behavior on the interval of chaos affecting the movement from assimilation to dissimilation and the level of order in the system.

Softening Up the Beachhead: Why Internal Behaviors Predict the Likelihood of Civilizational Collapse (3)

Figure 1 - The Spectrum of Internal Behavioral Conditions Double-Helix by Isaac Williamson Hubbell.

Figure 1 is a representative image describing a healthy internal system of a stable system within an overarching system. Complex internal systems must be able to flow back and forth between small groups and large groups. This is supported by Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution by means of Natural Selection - small groups in a large, open niche environment create a system, and there are two states the groups flow between (Darwin 2009).

Assimilation - a period where the individual groups or states within a civilization are heavily interconnected and interacting with one another. (Nationally focused)

Dissimilation - a period where the individual groups or states within a civilization are more distant in their behaviors and interact primarily within their own small groups. (State focused)

Prolonged periods of dissimilation are typically in response to prolonged periods of assimilation. Assimilation typically in response to external chaos during a time of dissimilation, and the cycle continues over time. Why then is this a double helix if it is representative of only one internal system? That is due to the spectrum of behaviors that exist in response to opposing ideas.

An example of this would be if you put one person at the head of a committee, you will almost certainly get something done and produce feedback into a system. Add two more people to make three, and this can generate a collective of ideas that the best of which can be decided with a tie break or majority rule, thus creating more certainty of an outcome, just slower over time. This is healthy and slowing down outcomes is not always a bad thing for an internal system. But, as you increase the number of people on the committee to ten, this not only slows the outcomes of a committee, but it also creates something else, a split between two sides, creating a spectrum of thoughts and ideas between them and also it also develops internal conflicts or disagreements between individuals. This doesn’t stop the ability to produce an outcome, per say, but significantly slows the rate at which change can occur, thus slowing the rate at which outcomes are produced even further. Reach up to say, thirty people, outcomes aren’t produced at all and the system stalls in outcome production. This then directs towards dissimilation or creates conditions primed for entropy to occur.

Increased input only increases output within the group to a certain limit before conflict begins among groups. The more ideas and inputs you add drives the system further away from the middle ground, inherently closing the spectrum, reducing innovation and the rate at which we evolve as a society. When we allow for scaling back into our individual groups, or states, within the overarching nation, we allow for the so called “island of ideas” to clear back open for the small groups to grow yet again. If you prevent this process, it severely weakens the bonds between the internal groups due to disagreements promoted by the individual behaviors in the group, thus creating a wider gap and further dissimilation among and across groups. If this dissimilation rises too far, no matter what the external chaotic variable facing the entire system of small groups, the internal structure becomes so disconnected that collapse hits a point of inevitability, whether the external variable was there or not. The variable didn’t directly cause the collapse. The combinations of variables that are always impacting the system were able to affect the system enough over time that changes in behavior within the internal system create division among groups (Hall 1994, Greene 2018). Now, due to having to face constant external chaos, the internal system must still assimilate to address the external threat. Depending on how great of a divide the spectrum has, and once enough unregulated change occurs and the spectrum becomes too dissimilated or assimilated, disorder and entropy ensue. If this is not quelled by ordered, negative feedback, or is encouraged further by internal groups, the positive entropic feedback will encourage too much change among group behavior. It isn’t the external event that causes the collapse, it’s the weakening of organized internal group behaviors that cannot handle the level of chaotic change (Hall 1994, J. Froyland 2019, Waldrop 2019, Tainter 1988, GROBMAN 2005).


Complexity of behavior within societies plays a vital role in the stabilization of society itself. In the feudal era, the power of the elite could be significantly diminished or disregarded in times of strife by the serfdom class, especially when starvation set in. Complexity of behavior in societies almost acts as an unstoppable force, pushing further without any regard for slowing down. A troublesome detail emerges in all models that is not easily tracked without the aid of nonlinear mathematics, and while we may be able to solve for this detail today using crowd- control models, the level of precision varies widely due to the reliability of data across such complexity. How do you track the regulated and unregulated behaviors of a population at large (excluding the elite class) surviving or dying throughout a societal collapse? One could look to religion as a good place to start.

Around the middle of the paleolithic era, evidence of the “worshiping” of animals, or Animism, appears in the human record. This pre-form of what would become polytheism, or the belief in many gods (Smart 2018). These gods were based off-of the worship of plants, animals, and forces of nature that would have been observed as a part of the ecosystem in which a particular hunter-gatherer tribe was located have been seen in depictions used by shamans to represent the spirits of ancestors and their gods. They are shown within their local area of foraging and hunting and provide an array of different representations of pivotal driving forces for the regulation of human behavior. (Peoples et al., Narr 2021, Greene 2018))

The emergence of religion could be seen as a key mechanism for the regulation of large group behavior established either intentionally by tribal leaders or spontaneously by the group as a means of addressing the needs of the people to prevent decline. In other words, complex religion is a strange attractor that heavily stabilizes and regulates chaotic and orderly behaviors within small groups. Religion is a random force that appeared in our species long ago and is something we could have inherited from much older Homo sapiens group behavior (Peoples et al. 2016, DK Publishing 2020).

This is the basis for the concept of ideal societal behavior, as seen through the lens of a higher power or force. This higher power or force is that which groups of people and society at large follow for guidance in how they should strive to behave day-to-day, which over time, affects the size and strength of a society or civilization. This guidance in and of behavior spawns a basis of morality reflecting the requirements of a higher power or force which in turn allows for the emergence of a civilization. Even in the most basic modeling formulas, the larger and more complex the society is, the greater the effects of the phase shifts in marginal returns are (Tainter 1988, Waldrop 2019,Hall 1994).

This could be applied to how large groups respond to internal and external factors including religion.

About ten to twelve thousand years ago these sporadic tribes of Hunter-Gatherers began to settle down permanently and did something quite drastic. They not only domesticated animals and started cultivating agriculture, but they also formulated larger, even more organized, and now centralized, settlements. These centralized settlements, or towns, formed the bedrock for even larger communities to emerge. This settlement process also allowed for another expansion of small group behavior regulation to occur, more often than not driven by the group’s accepted culture, language, beliefs, traditions, and faiths, or better summed up as: Internal Cultural Behaviors. Their Internal Cultural Behaviors were maintained through oral tradition, making the storyteller a key individual was part of their direct connection to the past (Clark Spencer Larsen 2019, Ember et al. 2015).

Like their settlements, group beliefs were often centered around central figures within the stories the faiths themselves were based. These figures included gods and spirits who were often supernatural, half animal half human, and in many cases connected to the natural world and natural phenomena. These gods and spirits were not normally viewed as omniscient, meaning they cared little for humans, human lives, or their prospects. They tended to have abhorrent behaviors and morality before the archetypical “Great Powerful Creator” steps in to save “innocent humanity” from what the lesser gods have done and taught them to do (Dalley 1991, Livius 2004, Livius 2019a, Livius 2019b,). At this point, the Creator’s action is traditionally represented in almost every religion across the globe through what is often called “the great flood.” Their religions often fell into one or two types of structural belief systems: The group’s leader(s) are initiated by the gods, or the leader is quite literally an incarnate representation of their god(s) (Pinter et al. 2011).

Civilizations with the most stable internal structures seem to model that of an expanded version of the Hunter-Gatherer societies versions, where the “religiosity flows” throughout a group. Religiosity meaning, the structured guidelines and rules for how to behave in the group. Groups that had the ability to spread their ‘faiths’ to the most people, seem to have been able to stabilize themselves into much larger groups with more complicated behaviors within these large groups. From the end of the last glacial period roughly 10,000 B.C.E. to around 6000 B.C.E., these sporadic groups of faith finally achieved a great feat among their peer groups consisting of different languages and cultures, by establishing several core religions (Narr 2018, Peoples et al. 2016, Pinter et al. 2011).

Between 4500 - 4000 B.C.E, the rise of the first large-scale civilizations occurred from what is commonly known as the “Cradle of Civilization.” It is here, humanity established themselves throughout Mesopotamia. Within these city-states, the merging of different language groups began as trading of goods expanded relations between cities. After centuries of small cities rising and falling, one group of cities, located between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers of modern-day Iraq, merged with the native non-Semitic. It is here they created the first polytheistic religious belief system ever written down and established at its internal structure. This started a chain-reaction of complex self-organizing behaviors to be set off in what would now be known today as Sumer (The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica 2018; Easton et al. 2019,). They were followed soon after by the Egyptians. The Egyptians developed and used their own language.

Their pictographic form of illustrative writing, called hieroglyphics, was applied quite literally. As in, whatever was drawn, carved, or written, is what they believed really transpired (Brunner and Dorman 2019, DK Publishing 2020).

By the 16th century B.C.E, the Late Bronze Age Powers were established and the Eastern Mediterranean, while a place of consistent back and forth land grabbing, mostly operated in a functional economic system. The four nation-states of the region used a universal writing system called cuneiform to provide a consistent method for communication. This enabled these modern regions to trade resources including gold, bronze, tin, agricultural products, and textile goods. It was the time of chariots and bows and the makings of the first of three revelations within the religious beliefs that now form the structure for societal behavior throughout the western world (Greener 2019). And the reemergence of an old tale of an exodus that may have taken place four thousand to almost eight thousand years prior to the dates recorded in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles.

“Civilizing” Ourselves

The Eastern Mediterranean Assimilation Period

An issue arose during the Late Bronze Age regarding the actual internal structure of each individual nation-state. The hyper-elite classes of each state at this time seemed to have a tendency to morph from a) being “chosen” by the lower classes of gods - encouraging the worship of the gods and to follow their likeness, to b) believing that they, the elite, are the gods themselves incarnate, or c) encouragement of panic through the belief that the gods are angered by their cultures (Diamond 2011, The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica 2016). This cultural shift in behavior can be observed throughout the governing and trading states of the region: The Mycenaean Greeks, the Hittites, the Mitanni, the Kassites, the Assyrians and the New Kingdom of Egypt.

What more objectively seems to have occurred at this time is that after nearly four thousand years, there was a tendency for individual states to rise and fall internally as new members of the elite powers would either inherit or directly seize control of each individual state. This caused a flux in overarching cultural beliefs within each state, weaking the basic structural belief systems of many, if not all, of the major powers in the Eastern Mediterranean during this period, except Egypt.

Starting 1370 B.C.E. and officially ending in 1050 B.C.E. a group known as the “Sea Peoples'' emerged and began periodically attacking and sacking cities of all the major powers of the regions. While the Sea Peoples may have wreaked havoc throughout modern day Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, and the Levant, the Egyptians under Pharaoh Ramses III managed to stave off these seafaring arsonists, preventing the total destruction or collapse of Egypt, only to leave Egypt with no more partners to trade with, even with their great victory (Middleton 2017, Hudson 2012).

Egypt was essentially the first state to manage a healthy balance of large group to small group intermission periods to allow for the internal structure to reorganize itself. In reference to our model (see fig. 1 in Softening up the Beachhead), Egypt followed the Behavioral Spectrum Double-Helix on an internal level, at least for a large majority of the Dynastic Periods. This allowed for the larger Pharaonic nation-state of Egypt (the collective of small groups under one banner) in a period of assimilation, to flow into a period of dissimilation. This could certainly be (often during times of external or internal chaotic strain) due to its geographical region allowing for this process to bloom and occur, but more importantly, that the “gods” allowed for it. Egyptian religious culture oddly mirrors that of ancient Babylonia and Sumerian, as described in the former section, was a quasi-hybridization of polytheism lower deities governed by an all-powerful monotheistic-like creator (Dalley 1991, Canadian Museum of History). Evidence shows that the Egyptians took their beliefs quite literally, especially when it came to the afterlife, which was positive (Dorman and Baines 2017).

As for the rest of the Eastern Mediterranean, their introduction into the age of iron ended in flames but allowed for something else to happen en masse. With the collapse of most of the major nation powers in each region and new, larger nation-states forming, the dozens of small communal language tribes of people in each region were forced to assimilate and adapt to whichever cultural powers took control of their region. Their only alternative was to leave the region using former trade routes and find new regions and peoples to establish communities with, however, this was not always possible nor successful (Middleton 2011, Diamond 2005, Patterson et al. 2022).

The collapse of the largest complex economic civilization of that era led to the Eastern Mediterranean and eventually Egypt to be absorbed into the Persian Achaemenid Empire. It was there that Zoroastrianism was introduced heavily throughout the region, influencing many of these small groups to assimilate their culture faiths to more Persian and eventually the Hellenistic Greeks, which had a heavy influence on religious faiths of the time. During this period, we see the merging of two large scale behavior systems into a new type of faith, born out the old legends, that initially embodied the very old Sumerian Semitic belief system, and added the Hindu Vedas’ ferocity in the balance between the God of Good and God of Evil, eventually combining the two with an unexpected fulfillment of a longstanding promise. A promise ten thousand years in the making, that will change the paradigm of complex civilizations for almost two millennia (Captivating History 2021, Duchesne-Guillemin 2019, Smith and Narayanan 2018, Hornblower 2018, Salo Wittmayer Baron and Haim Zalman Dimitrovsky 2018, Doniger 2023).

Rise of the Republic, Fall of the Empire

Rome really had the potential to be something truly remarkable. In fact, however, it was remarkable that Rome managed to exist at all for its roughly nine-hundred-year reign. Rome itself is a far different system than the previous ones we have discussed. Starting with systems of government, Rome instituted a new political system whereby a representative senate, or the Senatus Populusque Romanus, was established at the onset of the Republic itself in 510 B.C.E.

The governing republic and senators ran on direct elections, but used what was called the Clintela/Patronus system. This was a form of patron-client relations that continued for generation after generation and relied on a quid-pro-quo bargaining policy, meaning, “if you do this for me, I will vote for you.” And voting was done in public, so lying, first of all, wasn’t easy. Second, it meant that your word meant something (Saller 2019, The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica 2019b).

While maybe not equal in today’s world, the basic political structure for the republic was a process of checks and balances through the idea of shared governance. They would elect two consuls at a time that would serve for one year only, and there were also ten tribunes who held the power to veto any new laws before becoming instated. Above these twelve positions, there was a Senate of elites, and then the Plebians or all free Roman males. From its emergence as more than just a boot shaped piece of land in 264 B.C.E., the Romans set a name for themselves as an expanding republic and its dominance throughout the Punic wars made Rome extraordinarily wealthy (The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica 2018b, DK Publishing 2020).

For a culture that saw the Hellenistic-Greeks as posh and backward in their way of thinking, they openly inherited a tremendous number of cultural traditions, stories, and adopted large amounts of philosophy and other works into their own cultural values systems, both under Republican, and Empirical, rule (Saller 2019, Greene 2018).

The rise of the Roman Republic is the embodiment of one of the most quintessential pieces of Western philosophy and belief, and that is to do the very best with what you have got and see what opportunities you can get. Through their patronage system of governance, for the first time in human history, the idea that an individual man’s life, the life of his family, and the future of his family, wasn’t entirely under the control of someone else, and they had some form of loosely trusted representation in their society. It was not the Roman Republic that was conquered in 476 C.E., rather it was the empire that fell. How does an empire form out of a republic? Better yet, what happens when something random gets thrown into the mix (Dahl 2018, The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica 2019b).

Somewhere in the early stages of the Republic of Rome, the Judaic religion, went through a change in its doctrine, shifting group belief behavior from what had always been the case, polytheism, to something new. Monotheism, or the belief in one god. They removed key books involving many minor deities under their chief God, Yahweh, that mirrored that of the faiths of most other religions. In doing this, they changed the way people viewed not only their creator, but themselves as individuals.

A change in behaviors occurred, leading to the emergence of not only a fulfilled prophecy, through a man named Jesus who claimed to be the God of Gods, the King of Kings, right in the middle of a time where under Roman Empirical rule, you must worship the emperor. The emperor was viewed and many of them behaved, like the gods the culture worshipped, at any cost or sacrifice of life (Greene 2018). Emperors such as were so narcissistic in their question for godship that they quite literally beat his pregnant wife to death. He was so aggrieved, that he took it upon himself to take Sporous, a young boy he had castrated, and dress him as his mistress (Charles 2014). It calls to question not if man could become a god, this is obviously untrue, but whether man can behave like a god, or ‘God’ for that matter? And what god triumphs over another god? What happens if, “my god says I can burn your house down and steal your family” or “well my god says I can lie anytime I want to.” becomes a day-to-day conflict in behavior among a population?

While there may not have been an actual man named Jesus who was the physical being form of God, because of this man, Jesus, a new faith was inspired out of the old Abrahamic, Jewish, and now monotheistic religion. Christianity. With their emergence, Roman Emperors began to persecute all those who did not worship Roman paganism, targeting Christians in particular. What is interesting, is that the more the Roman Emperors continued their rule by pagan faith, the more the internal behaviors of groups continued to dissimilate from one another (Britannica 2019, The Editors of Encyclopaedia 2019).

During this time of renewed monotheism centered around the poor, children, and women in the birthing of Christianity, these were the times of the first of the Jewish-Roman wars that were to come, and even worse, the mass persecution of Christians throughout the Roman Empire. Let us not forget the legends of the evils and debauchery of Tiberius, and Nero, who was said to have murdered many of his relatives, had sexual relations with his mother, and was said to have played the fiddle while Rome was set a blaze… which he also supposedly started (Pohl 2019, Ray 2023, The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica 2019c)

Again, the details do not truly matter when it comes specifically to what the external or internal chaotic variables are, rather it has everything to do with the processes in which they occur. It has to do with the “load bearing strength” of the internal structure and how much external or internal entropic pressure can be placed on it before it reverses the system’s path to failure. The more fragmented and dissimilated a society is from one another, at a certain point and with the right amount of pressure, there won’t be an internal structure to support it. That structure is based on the behaviors of the people towards one another.

In simpler terms – The more internally fragmented and dissimilated the internal system is in its behaviors and interactions, the more likely that a positive entropic feedback loop is to occur. This is not to say that certain negative responses cannot be taken to prevent a complete collapse and can often at least slow the process down and temporarily stabilize the internal structure. But, unlike what we witnessed in the Eastern Mediterranean at the end of the bronze age where civilization breaks down and people need to be assimilated, Rome had almost the opposite problem. The Western Roman Empire fragmented itself too far apart from ‘itself’ after its initial dissimilation from a Republic to an Empire.

So, what caused this expanding republic to rot and dissimilate over a five-hundred-year period of empirical rule?

For civilization to move to a continental scale, post-fall of the Roman Empire, a new way of approaching connecting groups of people and information needed to be established. The feudal system in Europe, while it did bring civilization out of the dark ages, was inferior in almost every way imaginable when compared to the Roman Republic. Europe, now centuries out of Roman rule, had essentially put itself at war with itself. The feudalist system, or monarchical rule, in medieval Europe was essentially a period of about 750 years of a few core families going to war repeatedly as their children and their children’s children, became heirs to their thrones.

There was an excessive amount of inbreeding that occurred, and the interesting thing is, due to family relations, most of the monarchs throughout medieval Europe were in some way or another, blood related, which is not good genetically for reproductive success and often causes severe abnormalities and mental conditions. This method of incestual bloodline rulers has been used by many cultures throughout history and isn’t that abnormal, such as the Egyptians and Romans we discussed previously. What is strange is what this time period of feudalism led to everywhere else, in many cases far outside western Europe. A new, but temporary, idea emerged at the turn of 13th century C.E. and in 1206, this idea came in the form of a horde, raging conquest across Asia all the way to the Arabian Peninsula (The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica 2018b, DK Publishing 2020, Bengtsson 2014, Saller 2019, SAUNDERS 1963).

The Mongol Empire under Genghis Khan, who quite literally believed he was God, and the nomadic hordes that were his army, became the largest Empire of the Old World. He and his hordes spread information and ideas back and forth about the old world at a rate never seen (Encyclopedia Britannica 2020). He and his hordes were interesting because while they controlled the largest empire by way of external borders, the Mongol Empire never established a true kingdom, but instead roamed throughout the Asian steppes East to West, until the empire was assimilated into the Yung Dynasty as Genghis Khan’s great-grandson seized control of China. It birthed the idea that a very small group can evolve very quickly when niches are open (Weatherford 2012 [2004], Hudson 2012).

In the next stage of history, into what is known as the enlightenment era, monotheism and polytheism played an underlying but extremely significant role in addition to continuing Khan’s practice of sharing ideas and evolving those ideas properly and healthily. This would be done by two revolutionary nations out of the medieval feudalist systems in Europe. One would take the turn of establishing a new type of Republic, under one God. The other would fall prey, as so many of the rest have before it, back into Empire, but only after a year under the reign of godless terror (Weatherford 2004).

The Age of Two Republics

When Columbus reconnected the old world with the new back in 1492, a new shift in thinking and belief systems emerged pioneering new means for understanding the world was breaking free of its chains. The Enlightenment Era brought back the acceptance of science into the civilized world, slowly but surely becoming less and less like a form of witchcraft and more like a tool for expansion of monarchal rule and imperial boarders, as well as a source of industry and military technological breakthroughs. It also allowed for the conditions to reemerge for a third time for another grand civilization to take hold of the now globally connected world, and by 1792, two nations revolutionized their ideas of behavior in society, and how the government should be involved in the lives of the people (Hudson 2012).

These two revolutionary states stood on two continents, both sharing common roots with Rome, and the Bronze Age Mediterranean, as well as religious and language roots back to the Sumerians introduced in the previous section on religion. And at the dawn of Victorian England, the last great century of one of the last great centuries old empires to date, the British Empire, watched as two worlds previously under their control begin to grow. And as they watched from their island, one nation chose to embody the pathway of a representative republic while the other chose that of the empire following a similar path of the former emperors of Rome, like Caligula or Nero (Hudson 2012, The British Museum 2022, The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica 2018c, The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica 2019).

Those two new nations were The French First Republic and The United States of America. Both nations were under the later oppression of the old feudal system. Both nations were built upon the ideas and the needs of those unjustly being taxed and misrepresented by their monarchies. If conditions were so similar and both had the same opportunity to build a new governing system. While neither have officially collapsed, even though a lot could be said for the French tending to lose quickly and choose rather to submit to occupation, they both experienced dramatic events that were affected in different ways by the behaviors of their people (The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica 2020, Hudson 2012, DK Publishing 2020,).

Terror tends to breed chaos, and empires, ruled by leaders who view themselves as omniscient, tend toward the entropic because of their leading by fear.

Fortunately for the French, Robespierre and his reign of terror would come to an end in July of 1794, with his arrest and subsequent guillotining, as well as other Jacobins. But the legacy left in the wake of this terror set the stage for another empire to rise yet again in the old western world, Napoleon being directly influenced by emperors like Alexander the Great. And it also opened the doors to a new wave of French politics founded in Socialism that would go on to set the stages for the 20th century, noted explicitly by the three great wars that took place throughout it (Duignan and Cranston 2018, The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica 2019b, The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica 2020).

Socialism is a secular version of modern polytheism, and when injected into society under the guise of rationalism, it can have serious effects on the behavioral structures of a nation. One of the trends is towards Nazism or Fascism, the other, Communism. It is important to understand that both are attempting to do the same thing (Conan Fischer 1991). They both have the same outcome in mind but are simply taking two different approaches towards it. Large centralized federal power structure with totalitarian control over civilians through collectivization. The French and their revolution introduced the socialist philosophies that would go on to inspire many German political philosophers (Ball 2019, Paul 2019, The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica 2022, Ball and Dagger 2019).

Now, the United States, having survived its civil war, and unlike Rome, managed not to fall into the status quo of becoming an empire, turned its sights towards a different method of stabilizing its fractured structure. The Americans took the approach of not only industrialization, but doubled down on its belief as one nation, under God, not one nation, under a mortal emperor. What the United States was able to do was complete the model that Egypt had on a much larger scale. The United States manages, in times of excessive internal or external pressures on the total internal structure itself, to allow for its citizens to comfortably go from being more nationally focused to being more state focused, enabling a healthy shift from assimilation to dissimilation, something Rome was not able to achieve. And due to its use of a capitalistic market space, the states and their markets, and commerce in general, isn’t directly controlled by the federal government. States are allowed their own mini versions of the larger federal system (Hudson 2012, Kidd 2019, Kidd 2019b).

The French could not accomplish this balance. I believe that the United States is on to something fairly unique in regard to making the Behavioral Double-Helix cycle work. It plays into an idea of courtesy towards one another. There is a courtesy made by the federal government to respect the many different states and their groups of citizens and those citizen’s beliefs. There is a courtesy made by both the federal and state governments that the people have a right to assemble and if a policy or other object is truly heinous, it will be removed, regardless of what the state or federal government believes. The United States, even after a bloody and divisive Civil War that was never properly reconstructed, still holds onto its belief that a Republic is more courteous towards its people than Imperial rule (Hudson 2012, Kidd 2019, Kidd 2019b). There is a courtesy between the people and the government, and oddly enough, a consistent push that the United States is one nation of many states under God, while ensuring there is no state mandated religion. The rule of law and the entire sociological-economic-political structure is under and protected by God. Not by a man who thinks he’s a god, or groups of people who have different gods to justify their side, etc. But the president of the United States is under God, not a(n) god(s). A cultural monotheism is seen to be a major gain when at the basis of an internal system of multicultural/ethnic backgrounded people(s), in order to keep the internal system stable (Murray and Common Sense Society 2023, Gill et al. 1969).

“E plurabus unem” – “out of many, there is one.”


Civilizations do not collapse due to any specific external force, but rather a combination of external chaotic forces driving internal behaviors on a direct course of order or chaos in defense. After defeating or preventing external forces from causing internal collapse, if the internal behaviors of a civilization have changed so drastically, as in the case of Rome as well as the French First Republic, that the state, society, or civilization cannot handle the extent of these changes. This in turn seems to lead to one of three positions in which the newly collapsed small groups can take: Assimilation, Dissimilation, or Revolution. The only true collapse of any empire is its very memory laying waste, lost to history. This is observed to occur because as the internal structure can no longer keep up with the rate of change that has occurred, the smaller groups within the civilization or state must find a way to survive, leading to the small groups that made up the system to begin with to either assimilate to a new large group/state, dissimilate into even smaller groups even further, or revolutionize the small system, mirroring the same principle found in Charles Darwin’s Evolution by Natural Selection theory. Small groups in a large open niche area evolve the fastest.

The validation of my hypothesis, as illustrated through use of the Entropic formula for modeling civilizational collapse, is that the ratio of complexity, chaos, and time as related to order and behavior determine how strongly or weakly events impact a civilization and increase entropy and ultimately the collapse of it all. The behavioral conditions that affect entropy are a result of the level of order of the population over time. While the effects of chaos do not always result in total collapse, they do maintain a helical cycle of assimilation and dissimilation. The takeaway for this is that if a civilization can control itself through morals and civility and prepare for both internal and external factors as their population increases over time, collapse can potentially be mitigated or optimistically delayed infinitely. The collapse cycle that has been shown in this paper is real, but not inevitable.


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