Cycle of Civilization Literature

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Michael Haupt:

"Here are the 7 Phases of the Cycle of Civilization. Where there are additional names in brackets, these refer to John Glubb’s 1977 book, The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival. You can find references to all sources here.

The key insight is your own perspective during the overlapping phases of Phase 0 (Emergence) and Phase 7 (Collapse). The two events occur simultaneously, which leads to wide-scale confusion: some view this phase as calamitous and others view it as the birth of something profound. Your personal perspective will determine how you respond to unfolding events.

  • Phase 0/7 — Emergence of the New; Collapse of the Old: Civil society starts organizing in new ways; new forms of governance emerge.

Defining characteristics: contrarian thinking, courage, hope, determination, perseverance.

  • Phase 1 — Stability: Egalitarian; ecological and economic harmony and equilibrium. Extraordinary eloquence, rhetoric and reasoning skills.

Defining characteristics: vigor and virtue.

  • Phase 2 — Early Growth (Age of Pioneers or Conquests): Division of labor. Resource allocation & governance systems are built.

Defining characteristics: optimism, confidence, shared purpose, high moral code.

  • Phase 3 — Prosperity (Age of Commerce): Relatively long period of peace & prosperity.

Defining characteristics: unity, pride, patriotism and devotion to duty, self-confident.

  • Phase 4 — Overshoot (Age of Affluence): Conspicuous overuse of resources. Debt and socio-economic inequalities increase.

Defining characteristics: Greed, selfishness, complacency, arrogance, self-righteousness.

  • Phase 5 — Hubris (Age of Intellect): Power concentrated in the hands of a few hubristic individuals who “know best.” Standard of living plummets.

Defining characteristics: Decadence, decay, narcissism, elitism, self-interest, all talk no action.

  • Phase 6 — Totalitarianism (Age of Decadence): Dictatorial government & leaders, censorship & propaganda, civil uprisings.

Defining characteristics: cynicism, pessimism, fatalism, fanaticism. “Rotten to the core, the society awaits collapse, with only the date remaining to be determined.” — William Ophuls, Immoderate Greatness

  • Phase 7/0 — Collapse of the Old; Emergence of the New: Civil society starts organizing in new ways; new forms of governance emerge.

Defining characteristics: contrarian thinking, courage, hope, determination, perseverance."



As recommended by Michael Haupt:

  • Spengler, in his book The Decline of the West (1918), argued that all cultures are subject to the same cycle of growth and decay.
  • Toynbee in his Study of History (1934), described the existence of civilizations in a life cycle of four stages: genesis, growth, breakdown, and disintegration.
  • Sorokin argued in Social and Cultural Dynamics (1937) that civilizations cycled through three cultural mentalities: ideational (spiritual needs), sensate (“wine, women, and song”), and idealistic (a balance of needs and ends).
  • Quigley offered, in The of Civilizations (1961), seven stages of a civilization’s change: mixture, gestation, expansion, age of conflict, universal empire, decay, and invasion.
  • Melko, in his book The Nature of Civilizations (1969), provides a model of a civilization cycle’s stages including crystallization, transition (T), complete disintegration (D), and ossification (freezing at a crystallized stage) (O)."