The Secret

Jan 2017
14
Fairfax, VA
Hello all and Mary Christmas!
About three years ago I read something that made a lasting impression on me. Three or four months later I tried to find that very same statement and I couldn’t.
The information was somewhat puzzling at first, but the more I thought about it the more it became clear that it was true.
I would like to see if someone here knows about it and can steer me in the right direction of finding the source of it.
Here’s a general idea of the thought:
Since the beginning of the human civilization the Rulers knew a secret. A given society with a king or ruler has two inevitable situations and one solution:
  1. A society, if it is somewhat successful, will expand (overpopulate) a particular area which Will lead to a rebellion, the rebellion will threaten the power of a ruler.
  2. Overpopulation and/or a healthy society in general has a real problem of plagues and infectious disease, which Will threaten the power of a ruler (weakened nation has a bigger chance of the invasion by its neighbor).
The solution —
The successful society has only one way out and that is the invasion of its neighbors, this way the ruler has a good chance of accomplishing the following:
Decrease its own population
Satisfy the masses by the offer of a conquest
Expand the power over the new land and populate it
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,685
Sydney
doesn't take a genius to work out grabbing real estate was a smart move
a strong aggressive migration like the vikings , Mongols or the Magyars followed a succession of good years leading to a population increase
a few bad years create a need to get somewhere else and to convince the local it's a good idea ,
sometimes violence is required
 
Nov 2016
1,606
Germany
  1. A society, if it is somewhat successful, will expand (overpopulate) a particular area which Will lead to a rebellion, the rebellion will threaten the power of a ruler.
  2. Overpopulation and/or a healthy society in general has a real problem of plagues and infectious disease, which Will threaten the power of a ruler (weakened nation has a bigger chance of the invasion by its neighbor).
Neither of your assumptions are correct. In ancient societies in Mesopotamia, for example, the rule of a king was never threatened by the people, but rather, if at all, by competing nobles.

The reason for invading neighboring cities has nothing to do with overpopulation, but with greed and the desire to make prisoners of war of both sexes in order to get slaves or to increase the already existing slave stock. Another reason for war was border disputes. The latter was the case in a war between the cities of Lagash and Umma, which led to the construction of the Vulture Stele.


The Stele of the Vultures is a monument from the Early Dynastic III period (2600–2350 BC) in Mesopotamia celebrating a victory of the city-state of Lagash over its neighbour Umma. It shows various battle and religious scenes and is named after the vultures that can be seen in one of these scenes.

As far as diseases are concerned, your assumption is anachronistic. Plague, for example, was never attributed to the density of the population in those days, but to the will of the gods, who send evil to people through the wind or through clouds. Moreover, in such cases other cities were often affected by the same epidemic. The only remedy was to pray to the gods to undo the evil.
 
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Mar 2018
984
UK
Hello all and Mary Christmas!
About three years ago I read something that made a lasting impression on me. Three or four months later I tried to find that very same statement and I couldn’t.
The information was somewhat puzzling at first, but the more I thought about it the more it became clear that it was true.
I would like to see if someone here knows about it and can steer me in the right direction of finding the source of it.
Here’s a general idea of the thought:
Since the beginning of the human civilization the Rulers knew a secret. A given society with a king or ruler has two inevitable situations and one solution:
  1. A society, if it is somewhat successful, will expand (overpopulate) a particular area which Will lead to a rebellion, the rebellion will threaten the power of a ruler.
  2. Overpopulation and/or a healthy society in general has a real problem of plagues and infectious disease, which Will threaten the power of a ruler (weakened nation has a bigger chance of the invasion by its neighbor).
The solution —
The successful society has only one way out and that is the invasion of its neighbors, this way the ruler has a good chance of accomplishing the following:
Decrease its own population
Satisfy the masses by the offer of a conquest
Expand the power over the new land and populate it
Anything that treats "rulers" as a distinct class which somehow has access to knowledge denied to others should be viewed with extreme scepticism. There have been rulers for millennia is all parts of the world, how exactly did they share this secret and prevent anyone else from discovering it? Why would "the rulers" do this? They fight each other more often than their own people. The very way you wrote it made it sound like Adam and Eve knew something and shared it only with a preferred group of people. That is nothing for than mythology. The very framing of this theory (which is all it is) as a "secret since the beginning of human civilization" should make every alarm bell in your head scream conspiracy theory, or at the very least bad fantasy fiction.

As for the content of the theory, it is simply not true. 1. Is nothing more than a prediction of Malthusian collapse. This is a thing that has, as far as we know, has never happened in history (the only possible exceptions are tiny remote islands). Going from "something has never been observed" to "it is inevitable" is not a step one should ever do. 2. Is also false, for most of history, rulers were concerned about having too small a population, as power comes from people. And plagues/infectious diseases are a problem for everyone and is determined by health, not total population. There is simple no reason to think that either total population or population density (over the scale of a nation) is a predominant factor in health.
 
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Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
5,010
Dispargum
The idea that empires must expand or die has been expressed a lot more than once.

You might find World Systems Theory or Dependency Theory interesting. A quick check on the internet finds them only being applied to capitalism, but I find ideas like core regions, peripheral regions, and the transfer of wealth apply to pre-capitalist times as well.
 

sculptingman

Ad Honorem
Oct 2009
3,693
San Diego
the idea that empires must expand or die is false. Egypt and China both ended up with very stable borders and both survived. Over millennia of existence they certainly had their ups and downs- but Mongols who took China BECAME chinese. And Greeks and others who conquered Egypt ended up becoming egyptians... not the other way around.

Britain gave up an empire and still survives.
The US subsumed a lot of territory early on- but never really became an empire in terms of rule or overseas land acquisition. And it grew the most powerful after it conquered Europe and Asia and gave those territories back to the people who lived there.

The Ancient world relied on acquisition to fuel growth because they did not have facile maths or science with which to extract increasing value from what they already had.
Roman armies marched over beaches covered with sand entirely unawares that sand could be turned into computers. Egyptians lived on a Nile they had no inkling could provide electrical power to the entire nation.

IN the modern world- growth is sustained more thru economic hegemony and trade than it is thru conquest. And the primary source of growth is discovering or inventing NEW applications for the materiels we already have access to- rather than simply conquering another nation to get more of what we always had.

But growth is a trap created by the pyramid scheme of captialism.

As nations and their markets mature- growth becomes limited strictly to the rate of population growth- and increasing affluence stops population growth. Nations like Italy and Japan are in permanent recession because their populations are in decline. Nations like Germany and the US and Britain have growth that exactly matches their population growth- which is solely from Immigration.

The world needs to start working on a POST-growth economic model. Something to replace the ponsi scheme of capitalism.

As to wealth redistribution, that is a specious concern. Wealth is NOT an economy. An Economy is NOT money any more than electrons are electricity. An economy is the MOVEMENT of money. Ergo re-distribution is all an economy is.

The question is what WORK is being done by the movement of money? Today- the re-distribution of wealth is strictly ONE WAY- into the pockets of the super rich. this was achieved thru 35 years of legislation all over the west that eliminated proportionate taxation on the only class that can easily afford taxation, the rich and profitable corporations.

The middle and working classes are LOSING wealth to the rich faster than ever before in human history. And history shows whenever inequality becomes this severe, revolutions start to happen.

We need to stop thinking of wealth as something individuals get to have as much of as they can connive, steal, and bribe to grab onto.
We need to a start thinking of money the way we think of water.

If we allowed all the water to just run downhill... it would all end up in the ocean, and life on land would end.

Evaporation lifts water out of the oceans and rains it down on the dry highlands where it can continue to flow downhill... doing useful work and enabling life as it flows.

It is the water CYCLE that makes life possible.
It is ONLY the FLOW of electrons that creates work... not the electrons themselves.

The rich want to re-distribute all the money to themselves.
Responsible governance requires ALL wealth to be redistributed to where it will induce the greatest rate of flow.

Let's do away with this mythology of "great men" , of conquest and "leadership" and how the rich DESERVE to take whatever they want.

In truth, the Aristocracy have always been thugs, con men, criminals, and murderers.
Warlords and nothing more.


And you can always tell the real "takers" in any society- because they always end up with all the money and all the stuff.

We need to start thinking now about how to craft a less unequal society when our populations stop growing somewhere around the middle of this century.
Its just an issue of managing the flow of money so it doesn't all pool in the hands of ten families.

This is not ancient times. We have a real global society evolving.
we are not forced to repeat the solutions of men who would have thought a zippo lighter was magic.
 

tomar

Ad Honoris
Jan 2011
14,301
The rich want to re-distribute all the money to themselves.
Everybody wants more money

The "rich" is a not a group working together against all others... It is a set of individuals , each of whom is pushing his own interest which may or may not be aligned with the other rich (in other words, he wants more money for himself but does not care at all if any other rich person gets more money).... Individually they simply have been luckier and/or have understood how to play the system better than others...

There is no need for conspiracies or centralized control.... Individual agents just do what they are doing, without coordination....

A parallel is termites... When termites destroy a house (say Peter's house), they do not get together to plan it out, to strategize and to decide who is going to be doing what... All they need to do is what they like to do, i.e eat through wood.. And if Peter's house happens to be the closest to them, then they will destroy it without even knowing who Peter is or what a house is...
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
5,010
Dispargum
the idea that empires must expand or die is false.
But you agree that in past times the idea was applied, even if erroneously? And therefore the study of wealth being transferred within expanding empires has value in helping us understand what people in the past were thinking?
 

tomar

Ad Honoris
Jan 2011
14,301
Hello all and Mary Christmas!
About three years ago I read something that made a lasting impression on me. Three or four months later I tried to find that very same statement and I couldn’t.
The information was somewhat puzzling at first, but the more I thought about it the more it became clear that it was true.
I would like to see if someone here knows about it and can steer me in the right direction of finding the source of it.
Here’s a general idea of the thought:
Since the beginning of the human civilization the Rulers knew a secret. A given society with a king or ruler has two inevitable situations and one solution:
  1. A society, if it is somewhat successful, will expand (overpopulate) a particular area which Will lead to a rebellion, the rebellion will threaten the power of a ruler.
  2. Overpopulation and/or a healthy society in general has a real problem of plagues and infectious disease, which Will threaten the power of a ruler (weakened nation has a bigger chance of the invasion by its neighbor).
The solution —
The successful society has only one way out and that is the invasion of its neighbors, this way the ruler has a good chance of accomplishing the following:
Decrease its own population
Satisfy the masses by the offer of a conquest
Expand the power over the new land and populate it
Demography is not related to success.... Japan or Germany (and there are others) are very successful yet their population is falling....

Invasion does equate colonization.. You have multiple examples in history when invading a new territory did not result in any substantial amount of people from the invading power settling into the new territory (aside from soldiers and administrators). And most people want to live in their country of origin, preferably if possible nearer to the seat of power and the exciting life of a capital with all its opportunites: not populate some far away places (unless significant riches are to be made there easily)

Invasion can result in high financial costs if the acquired territory is not wealthy (and human costs if the natives are able to mount effective resistance)... This is why for example Rome did not expand into Germany / Scandinavia and eastern Europe beyond roughtly the Danube (nor into the Sahara for that matter).. those territories could not pay the cost of conquering them and administering them