The historical refresher of watching the Roman Empire on Netflix, a stylish mix of documentary and lavish historical epic chronicling the turbulent, violent reigns of Commodus, Julius Caesar, and Caligula, reminded me how little has changed since. Surely, times are less murderous these days, without discounting the barbaric attempt at insurrection recently.
The Roman republic collapsed due to the unending power struggles between the ruler and the senate, neither of which could make decisions independently. The rulers were often disposed of when the senate’s power overshadowed the ruler or, inversely, when the ruler decided to reconstitute the senate. How pertinent to today’s battles between the President and the legislative branch.
The problem then and now is the same. We have evolved very little. Humanity, and the empires it spawns, in the words of Albert Einstein, operates without a theory that determines what can be discovered. And without a theory, you cannot expect reliable systems or institute rules to promote the collective interests of humanity.
The rulers of the Roman Empire never had an agreed-upon theory, which is why the revolving cast of characters, interested in primarily protecting their personal interests, caused the Empire’s collapse. Five thousand years of cognitive evolutionary development, as arguably the most intelligent species ever lived, has not yielded a viable theory for humanity. At the pace we are going, the American Empire, unchanged, is doomed to fail as spectacularly as the Roman Empire.
The Roman Empire, operating at horse and buggy speed, lasted about one thousand years. The American Constitution, a stubborn rulebook without a preceding theory, treated with the absolute yet long unsubstantiated claims of a bible, is about 240 years old, preventing the much-needed renewal of the American Empire and with the introduction of technology deflating evolutionary excellence at internet speed.
Real leaders, not the puppets that masquerade for them, should establish a higher normalization of nature’s truth that distributes humanitarian merit to everyone who helps humanity adapt to nature’s entropy. Human adaptability to nature’s entropy, the decline of available energy, is and always will be our most important survival skill.
Humanity is increasingly faced with the reality that nature does not give a damn about how we assign merit to ourselves. Money is irrelevant to nature. GDP is irrelevant. Classical economics is a gross confounding of consequence and cause, leading to grave depravity of reason. Human existence and 99% of animal species that have already gone extinct on planet earth are irrelevant to nature. Our planet will recover in a thousand years as if we were never there, a negligible bump in the road of eight billion years of planetary existence.
Climate change is a consequence of entropy (aggravated by our soiling). Aging is entropy. Declining resistance to disease is entropy. Planet Earth slowly wobbling away from the sun is entropy. Entropy rules. We must conclude that we are not at the top of the animal pyramid. Humans are mere mobile Petri dishes filled to the brim with microorganisms outnumbering human cells ten to one, eating us alive if we do not offer renewable strength as resistance. Microorganisms we know almost nothing about.
Humanity must learn how to play nature’s game. And when nature demands we pay her attention and we instead dress up every day in proverbial Halloween outfits to appease ourselves, we are fooling ourselves on a grandiose scale. The suspense of disbelief induced by a pageantry of positivity is what kills humanity.
We must learn to adapt to nature’s reality and realize that our life cannot be one of endless debauchery, like the panem et circenses from the Romans, but is responsible for a better future of humanity.