Arthur Demerest, an anthropology professor at Vanderbilt University, says the Golden Age often precedes a fall:
On the future of the U.S., or of Western civilization in general, I tend to be quite pessimistic. Perhaps that is simply because “collapse” is what I do. As an archaeologist, I have excavated single trenches, just a few meters deep, in which you can see stratigraphic levels of several civilizations. We find layers of artifacts and evidence indicating periods of great prosperity, but always separated by levels of burned earth, ash and artifacts that reflect the epochs of social disintegration, chaos and tragedy that seem to conclude the achievements and aspirations of every society.The answer?
The answers and specific policies will only begin to emerge after voters and workers, as well as politicians and CEOs, lower their expectations a bit for prosperous societies to a somewhat lower level of growth (and opulence). As voters and stockholders, we need to expect less of our leaders and we need to begin thinking in terms of longer periods, and slower processes, for judging success.As far as I'm concerned, we need to start with smaller families, or no families at all. In other words, religion has to go! The bullies of the world's religions have to embrace birth control and stop trying to win out by overpopulation. The Jews have replaced the Holocaust victims by now. The Quiverfull Christians have only been partially successful in convincing women to be brood mares for Christ. Muslims number over a billion and constitute a majority in 49 countries. Isn't that enough?
So the first lowered expectation: family size.
The second lowered expectation: religious hegemony.
The third lowered expectation will take care of itself after those are satisfied.