What Causes Great Civilisations To Fail?


The excellent British historian, Arnold Toybee (1889-1975), ┬ástudied the rise and fall of great empires in his 12-volume “A Study Of History“. He couldn’t find many common drivers for them. That’s why no-one could easily have predicted that the British would have the largest land empire of all time,the Mongols the second largest, and the Umayyads the fifth largest. But he did find that every civilization has a creative minority. When a new challenge is presented to that civilization, the creatives come up with a solution. If their voices are heard then the empire continues to do well, but there comes a point when their voices are stifled. At that point the empire starts to decline. Toynbee famously said that empires die of “suicide, not murder”.

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