Alex Palmer's Natural History Notes and Thoughts

Thoughts and reflections on various social and environmental issues, as well as naturalist observations from the great outdoors.

Moving forward…or at least somewhere

Figure A: My interpretation of the quality and stability of American society since the country was founded until now.

The figure above gives an overview of the variation in societal stability from the founding of our country to the present.  The x-axis is each decade since 1770.  They y-axis is the stability of American society.  The only true value on this graph is 0, which means a total societal collapse (that is, where there is no longer a distinguishable culture, organized infrastructure, and/or authority).  In the early part of our country, things were getting better for newly settled peoples in the Americas (note that Native Americans are not accounted for in this respect since their societies east of the Mississippi had collapsed).  Ratification of a formalized Constitution and independence from Great Brattain paved the way for a growing new nation.  As tensions grew between the Northern and Southern States, our country saw its first major hit with the evolution of the Civil War.  Although it took a while, the Reconstruction and Post-Reconstruction periods set forth a boom in the strength of American Society.  America became so strong that it accidentally gave itself a punch in the face with the Great Depression.  But before America could collapse, FDR initiated his New Deal campaign that, along with World War II, reinvented and superbly stimulated our economy.  During the late 1940s and into the 1950s, the United State’s infrastructure on all levels of government improved dramatically.  Also, political and social activism, especially in the 1960s into the early 1970s was at its peak, brining legal equality to a variety of minorities.  In the mid-1970s, however, things began to change.  Political scandals, the unpopular Vietnam war, growing distrust of the government, and eventually the Cold War led to a decline in American Society that lasted into the early 1990s.  However, the Clinton era saw improvements in the economy, gay rights, and environmental protection, as well as a lively and unusual music scene.  But, after terrorist attacks in the early 2000s, as well as the rise of the ultra-conservative right wing, the stability of American Society resumed its increasingly sharp decline.

There are things to keep in mind upon viewing my graph.  I will list them for you:

  • The graph represents my personal views, which are heavily influenced by the fact that I am a white, middle-class male with a liberal viewpoint on politics.
  • The values (or lack thereof) on the y-axis of Figure A are arbitrary.
  • Alternative views and perspectives, such as that of minorities, are not accounted for in my graph.
  • My graph is open to interpretation, misinterpretation, and rejection of any relevancy.

Nevertheless, it offers me a good way to draw out my feelings about the status of American Society.  I drew Figure A in response to the views and findings in Jared Diamond’s book Collapse:  How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (2005).

What do you think?  Are we headed in a good direction, or are things getting chaotic to the point of dis-functionality?  I guess time will tell…


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