Monday, August 18, 2014

PODA weapons devolution 6


Gunpowder Empires

Empires are run on the perpetual growth paradigm.  Whatever date historians give you as to when the Romans started their decline, it was in fact the point that they no longer were expanding territorially.  There might have been a lag time between then and when the Persians attacked or the Germanic tribes pushed forward or when the taxes on farmland became counterproductive or when hyperinflation was introduced or when soil fertility or North African grain production was in decline, but that was the beginning of the end.  Just as the American Empire started its decline in 1971, the year that our oil production peaked.  You might look at our current occupation of the middle east as proof otherwise, but as Americans won their global empire on oil so they will lose it for the same reason.  There is a considerable lag time, but 71 was the beginning of the end.  If our economic might was built on oil, and our military won on a sea of oil, then it follows the supply contraction and the lose of overseas oil control means the end.  Ancients won and lost on agricultural surplus which needed land and water control.  The last 500 years was empires of gunpowder.

Nitrates for gunpowder.  Control the nitrates and you control an empire ( having more, or better, means you are the ascendant empire ).  More gunpowder is militarily advantageous, more fertilizers allow food surplus ( look at the long term consequences in WWII for each country based on food production.  Surplus makes a huge difference very quickly, setting aside the longer replacements issues ).  But no one nation in general has those surpluses ( those huge resource laden countries that did were busy consolidating land control and hence were never a threat to overseas empires with better navel capacity  ).  If you weren’t expanding, you were contracting and contraction is the death knell of empire.  You always need more.  More food, more nitrates, more ore, more of everything.  Or, your competitor eventually prevails.  Simple as that.  Once again, douche bags with Rodney King complexes ( can’t we all just get along? ) think history is full of unnecessary wars.  Every war is necessary for survival.  Just because you are on the offensive doesn’t mean you aren’t, in the end and a long time from now, needing to survive from your foes.  Nation states and empires are just tribes trying to wipe out the neighbors to steal their resources.  When your combined populations has 110% of the carrying capacity of two areas, 60% must die for the other 40% to survive, not the original 10% surplus.  Malthus should be everyone’s hero.  You might not even have an overpopulated state NOW, but since you have to grow to survive from your neighbor, you soon will.  So you strike now even if it is too early.  Growth is death later, lack of growth is death now.

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  1. Overpopulation. The elephant in the room. You combine it with competitive groups where having a population surplus gives you an advantage in competition, and you get every nation and tribe constantly being forced to go to war or being attacked. If your nation finds a way to prevent overpopulation (like the western Europeans and USA have) then you suffer an invasion of one sort or another. Europe and the USA are being invaded by 'immigrants' -usually illegal - from a lower socio-economic tribal group that has not constrained its population growth.
    Population growth CAN be constrained with either the right conditions (the USA and Europe) or significant effort (China, Japan). Unfotunately it can also swing too far the other way - Japan is a good example, they HAVE to import senior care workers to deal with their elderly who didn't have enough kids to deal with them now.
    Ideally you will live in a place with such natural barriers that those suffering over population cannot adequately invade/immigrate and with plenty of room to expand. Maybe when the icecaps melt off places like Greenland and Antarctica can fit that bill - currently with modern tech there is no such place yet...

    1. I think immigration is a historical norm. Even now, illegals create their own cities/ghettos in most places.

    2. Yes but a significantly large mass immigration can form a colony or even whole new country. Just ask the Native American Tribes, or Aborigines, etc.
      OR as in the case of Poland in WW2 - be the precursor excuse for an follow up military invasion. Once Mexico is on par militarily with the US (should both still be intact) I would expect an invasion in the southwest USA 'to protect our peoples and win back the lands that were stolen from us by the greedy gringos'.