The following will be a general essay that I think applies to the lifecycle of societies in general, especially America. This essay is almost Spenglerian in that it sees a society as an organism of sorts which has a predetermined path. Where I differ from Spengler is a topic for another time.
What must be understood before this essay really begins is that it requires a degree of self-knowledge and willingness to commit atrocities for any new society or organism to be created, as in order for this new organism to exist it requires splitting off from some previously existing organism and then attacking that same organism or some other organism, something that doesn’t happen by accident or without direction. As such, when a society is created there is a degree of pseudo-conscious direction which lacks the innocence which will be partially described after the initial stage.
The seven stages of a lifecycle of a society are as follows:
1. Faux Goodness
4. Faux Authoritarianism
The first stage of a society is Faux Goodness. After conquering some form of territory and establishing some control over resources, the people who have done so need to create some mythos that justifies this in order to maintain this state of things, because they need to have supporters and proles of some sort who are willing to sacrifice themselves and work for the good of the organism. This can usually be achieved by demonizing some outsider group, usually the group that was dominated or split off from. This occurs in the form of war propaganda or highlighting wrongs done, and is usually a mix of truth with lies in order to really galvanize the smaller and less powerful (individually) organisms involved in the new, larger organism.
If the conscious leaders of the new organism fail to instill some mythos of Faux Goodness, then the organism will quickly fail because there is a lack of compliance or aspiration. In addition to stoking fear and hatred of some Other, there are positive goals and dreams that are pushed as what the new organism is working towards. These positive goals and dreams serve to increase the contrast between the potential Good Outcome (the survival of the new organism) and the potential Bad Outcome (the death of the new organism), which further galvanizes the smaller and less powerful organisms involved in the new, larger organism. If all goes well, the new organism survives the initial splitting off and establishes some form of stability, with the conscious leaders or brain of the organism partially lying to the followers or organisms inside the organism. This lying is not an issue, yet, but as it is the seeds for a taboo it will eventually grow into an issue.
This works for some amount of generations (that amount depends on the talent and self-awareness of the brain of the organism), but it is imperfect. There is a necessary transfer of information that runs counter to the public narrative, and transfer of information is entropic in nature in that some little bits of it always get distorted or lost in some manner. The leader may not give the exactly proper advice or do it well, or the person/people the leader instructs may misunderstand or have some different perspective that is distorted which makes them not take the advice seriously. Also, the public stances and motivations (which run counter to the real stances and motivations) are giving instructions and guides to future leaders which might stick with them despite their private tutorage.
In addition to this, the positive but partially untrue mythos surrounding the new organism has grown and cemented over time. People who were not around for the creation of the organism and not aware of lies or half-truths are replacing the aging population within the organism. As they are getting a manipulated and partially untrue version of their history, their understanding of cause and effect are becoming increasingly warped. They view themselves and their existence in ways that are increasingly illogical and untrue because they don’t know any better and have no reason to suspect otherwise. Because these people do not know what it takes to create a new society or organism, they do not know what it takes to preserve it or improve it, and they begin to value things which sound nice but have no real basis in reality. This results in a sort of innocent goodness that is naïve and is also increasingly easy to manipulate by those who know the truth but are willing to engage in the taboo (the real reasons for the creation of the organism and the methods that were effective in creating it.)
At a certain point, there is a sort of strong bifurcation that occurs in a tangible sense, where the proles and some in the government of the organism/society believe the mythos completely, and those in the leadership of the organism who know the truth of what has happened (to varying degrees) as well as how to take advantage of those who do not, and engage in deception and duplicitousness with those who also know the truth (to varying degrees) to control and direct those who believe in the Goodness of the organism.
This is generally when the organism has its strongest period of growth and increasing strength. Because the general populace within it now believes a lie, they are not burdened by the truth and have very good intentions. They are willing to work hard and follow directives like sheep. They are not disillusioned, they believe their leaders like children believe their parents and thus are a very effective and cohesive unit which can be directed and fervently accomplish directives. These accomplishments lead to general wealth and happiness, as everybody seems to be winning, and this further reinforces the idea that the organism is fundamentally Good and right, which amplifies all the willingness to do whatever the leaders say.
These people who give into temptation will start out alone. They will work in secret and tilt things in their favor, setting up ways to extract wealth from the general populace. Some other members of leadership will notice this and confront them. In this confrontation, sometimes the malicious exploiters will be dealt with and neutralized, but sometimes the malicious exploiters will manage to convince their confronters to join them in the exploitation through either discussion or threats of retaliation. As such, eventually these exploitative smaller organisms inside the larger organism will begin to group up and further increase their leverage and control over the class of people who do not entirely believe in the founding mythos of the society/organism. This is where corruption really starts in earnest, as these people and groups of people do not have naïve ideals and they are not slowed down by a desire to help or preserve those who do have naïve ideals.
At this point, taxes are introduced or raised, governmental organizations which do not serve any genuine purpose are formed and expanded, and implicit maliciousness begins to grow like a form of intelligent cancer. Where the general populace can be exploited, where money can be redirected without notice, it is. This is very minimal at first, because this cancer is in uncharted territory and careful to evade detection or punishment, and it is successful. The corruption occurring is minimal enough that it can be shrugged off or escapes notice, the general populace is still growing in strength and receiving enough rewards for their efforts that they do not really notice that an increasingly large portion of their returns are being redirected away from them.
Growth and prosperity is still occurring, but the benefits from this are gradually being stolen from the naïve people doing the work by these malicious cells. Proportionally, it is almost impossible for anybody to notice unless they essentially take the derivative of the situation to find underlying trends, which is a topic for another essay but is generally beyond the understanding of the people who are being taken advantage of, and they are naïve so they don’t suspect what is happening.
As secrets in groups never last forever, eventually the corruption and maliciousness of portions of the ruling class leaches out to those who are not corrupt or malicious but are in the ruling class. These people who are not corrupt or malicious are at a disadvantage because they are not receiving disproportionate resources like the corrupt and malicious are receiving disproportionate resources. This means that these people have essentially two outcomes: either they join the malicious and corrupt or they struggle against them and are eventually defeated. This defeat can come in the form of death or failing out of the ruling class.
Eventually, the entire ruling class which does not have the naivety of the general population in the organism is corrupted and malicious. Still, there is common sense and a desire to keep their corruption and maliciousness minimal enough that it does not impede the function of the organism as a whole. This does not last, as those who are corrupted partially are gradually dominated by those who are even more corrupted, which causes a feedback loop over time which eventually overrides the common sense and restraint of the partially corrupt.
This is when the implicit abuse of the ruling class begins to transition to an increasingly explicit form. Taxes rise further, social programs and governmental organizations grow to an increasingly conspicuous level. The more observant portions of general populace begin to feel that they are being taken advantage of. Still, the abuse is not unbearable so it is largely unaddressed or opposed. Anybody of the general populace who does take a strong stance is still operating from a naïve framework, so they can easily be neutralized or disempowered by those who are not naïve.
Now, the organism is still largely functioning, but it has become increasingly antagonistic to the proles within it. Some members within the ruling class who are corrupt will see the trend and it will worry them, and they will bring this up to those around them but will be ignored or punished. This further speeds up the abuses of the public because the people with power are increasingly sociopathic and uncaring about the long term consequences of their power.
Eventually, the explicit nature of corruption and abuse becomes jarring enough to members of the naïve population that some are essentially shocked out of their naïve perspective and ideals and begin to uncover the truth of their reality. This is a stumbling and awkward stage for these people, as they are essentially putting themselves through a process where layers of innocence are stripped away. Little insurrections or public displays may occur which will be put down or destroyed in various degrees of severity. With every defeat, these now non-naïve proles begin to understand what is happening further, and reactions and strategies to “right wrongs” (which is still naïve) are developed and implemented. These attempts are also neutralized in various forms by the ruling class, but with each iteration, the general knowledge of the abused public grows and more of the proles lose their innocence or belief in ideals. This is an exponential process which becomes increasingly hard to control or dominate by the ruling class.
At a certain point the corruption and maliciousness of the ruling class is apparent to a large enough portion of the population that it cannot be stomped out by the means which previously worked. The general public still partially believes in the founding mythos, but there are doubts and informal/critiques of various accuracy that are beginning to be developed and distributed among the general public. This is when the next stage of the organism begins.
The fourth stage of the organism/society’s lifecycle is Faux Authoritarianism. The ruling class is dealing with increasing unrest, and they know they cannot ignore it, so they begin to increase social rules and guidelines designed to impede and further disempower/impede the general public. Because the general public does not yet understand the degree to which they are being abused and there is still some goodwill that remains, lots of people will go along with these social rules and guidelines. These things will be introduced and pushed in a manner which appeals to whatever naïve impulses still exist in the general public.
Some of the more aware members of the general public, those who have come very close to the truth of what is happening, will see the strategy being employed and try to warn about this, but because the new social rules and guidelines are disguised in positive sounding ideals, these people will then be ignored or even abused by the more naïve general public which vastly outnumber them. This will be seen by the ruling class, and they will approve of it because they see how the general public has become less effective in checking their power and begun directing their focus and excess energy against each other. This behavior will be encouraged and pushed through even more social rules and guidelines which are also disguised through positive sounding ideals that appeal to the naïve and innocent.
Much like the corruption began very small, much like the initial lies which the leaders came up with to create and unite the organism in the first place, the social rules and guidelines will be implicit and minimal in nature. The punishments and social cost to breaking these rules and guidelines will be implicit enough to trick the majority of the population, and this will essentially result in an effective neutralization of the minority of the population which is not tricked.
This neutralization is not the same as destruction, it is simply the temporary impediment, and eventually those in the general public who see what is going on will begin to group up and form their own small organisms in order to better resist what they see happening. This results in even more social rules and guidelines by the ruling class, but this is also an iterative feedback loop which results in increasingly strong strains of discontented people who form increasingly strong groups of resistance. Eventually, it becomes clear to the ruling class that this implicit form of repressing the rebellious members of the general public is not sufficient, and the next stage of the organism begins.
The fifth stage of an organism/society is Authoritarianism. The exploitative ruling class begins to utilize their police to crack down on dissidents. This is also wrapped up in various forms of ideals that sound good to the non-activated general public, but it is increasingly clear to everybody that this is dishonest. Still, a large portion of the naïve general population believes in the founding mythos, but that portion is gradually shrinking and more and more people are having concerns. This explicit authoritarianism now in play does have an upside though, as it very easily neutralizes dissidents. The downside to this is that much like the Faux Authoritarianism stage, this Authoritarian stage is not 100% effective in neutralizing dissidents and creates its own iterative feedback loop where force needs to be escalated as the surviving dissident strains in the general population gain knowledge and become increasingly robust and creative in their operations and communications.
The fact of the matter is that the ruling class has far more resources than the dissident strains within the organism/society. They have more tools at their disposal and more ability to dish out punishments. They also have the power of the state and the state’s propaganda outlets, which pump out increasingly dishonest and manipulative narratives which serve to confuse and distract the general public to increasing levels. This means that barring an invasion by some competing external organism, they will eventually reach the point of explicit authoritarianism and control that the dissident strains are rendered completely unable to express themselves. Dissident strains will still not be destroyed completely, and they will grow increasingly drastic in their demonstrations or operations against the ruling class, but they will be neutralized and punished to the point where they are incapable of ever having any real influence or changing the system that is now dominating them cruelly and explicitly.
At this point, the society has been transformed completely into authoritarianism, and the ruling class has developed methods to ensure they will not be overthrown. This means that the more aware of the dissident strains will become nihilistic and exploitative in their own ways. They will also begin to exploit the naïve and confused and all the things described in the aforementioned paragraphs will begin to occur within these dissident strains in a fractal like manner, directed at the general populace rather than the ruling class. This will be essentially a smaller fractal version of the larger organism, and the ruling class will actually encourage it because they are not on the receiving end of it, and it is something which further divides and expends the excess energy of those being ruled.
Some of these dissident strains will end up working with the ruling class and become appendages of the ruling class. These specific dissident strains will dominate the other dissident strains and absorb or destroy them, and even more fractal appendages of the ruling class controlled dissident strains will be created. Eventually, there will be no meaningful or sincere dissident strains remaining. The authoritarianism will be secure and the system will be stabilized in the short term. This brings on the next stage of the organism.
The second to last stage of a society/organism is Rot. This could also be thought of as decay, but really since it is a resulting stage it is just a more visible form of decay that was already happening ever since the creation of the organism. Rot is when the seeds of decay really sprout and begin to show their fruits.
Now that any rebellion has been instrumentalized and become subsumed and the mechanisms of control have been established and are not able to be overcome, the selection pressures that ensured that the ruling class had the skills and knowledge to maintain control are no longer in play. This means that increasingly stupid and incompetent people will gain power eventually. These people are not the people who did what they had to do to dominate the general population, and over time the reasoning for rules and for the current order are gradually forgotten. The lies that were used to create the organism in the first place have grown and now are the dominant force in the organism, and this force is ultimately destructive.
The rules for controlling the populace begin to be misunderstood. The people ruling are increasingly decadent and deluded. They start believing new lies that are similar to the lies the commoners were told, but this time about themselves. These people have all the wealth and do not know how to use it properly. The psychic is upstream from the physical: they begin to become physically deformed because they are increasingly mentally deformed.
There is a lag for the mechanisms of control to degrade, it does not happen immediately. This is a top down decay that is occurring, the ruling class is increasingly incompetent and gradually replaces generals, CEOs, governors, mayors, and all other sorts of managers with increasingly corrupt friends and loyalists. The general populace is getting increasingly demented and unable to provide any semblance of a satisfactory life, and the mechanisms of control have made the theft of capital from them by the rulers even more extreme. Now there are foolish rulers who have decaying control over their subjects and their subjects are increasing in suffering and reliance on the state. This is when the final stage of this organism begins.
Reset is the end of the organism. I say reset and not death, because death implies a finality that does not exist. When an organism enters a reset, it is really transformed into a bunch of little organisms as revolts and revolutions balkanize and split apart the organism (for the process to start all over again), or the organism is then “eaten” by a competing external organism in some stage of the society/organism lifecycle.
In the stage of Reset, the organism does not have the proper mechanisms to survive. All the incentives and trends are destructive in nature. Any growth has stopped or slowed to a glacial crawl. Barely anything functions, and it is obvious to everybody that nothing is functioning, but all the lies and corruption that resulted from those lies is now the dominant force. Everybody with any real influence or control has forgotten how to make things function properly. Those who can see what is going on do not desire to save this organism, they are suffering and they hate what they see and wish to destroy it. The only sane people in the organism wish to see it brought to its ultimate conclusion. The organism is about to die.
This is the lifecycle of a typical society. There are many failure modes along the six stages prior to the final stage where the organism might die, just as there are many failure modes for a human to die of “unnatural causes” before they die of old age.
There are also ways in which this lifecycle may be changed in the future, for example if some society decides to have some machine learning AI set its policies as well as enforce them, as that would remove or shift the human trends towards greed as well as the entropy involved with generational handing down of power and transfer of information. Of course, this sort of rule would have its own failure modes, but that is a topic for another essay.