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The Perfectibility of Society

April 25, 2016

I have been reading the book Secular Cycles, a “synthetic” extension of the Malthrusian perspective on population growth that incorporates modern Marxist themes. I have decided to use its model of population growth and decline in my model of human, and indeed plant, populations.

The crux of the model is that population growth is geometric, while food production growth is arithmetic. You have, at the beginning, more food than you can eat. However, as each agent has several children, the food produced begins to be insufficient. Once the two lines meet, the food produced is insufficient for the size of the population. In this state, the agent population is vulnerable to crop failure, and food shortages that would be minor at previous points in the graph prove catastrophic as famine and disease wrack the population. This crisis can be pictured directly after the lines intersect.Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 12.11.41 PM

The resulting population decline ameliorates the problem to a certain extent, coupled with improved food production methods that may support larger populations. The cycle then repeats.

In Secular Cycles, the authors incorporate the  exploitation of the underclass by the upperclass and the growing decadence of the ruling elite. To compound this, the growing wealth pre-crisis allows for greater upward mobility into elite status, furthering the exploitation.

The main factors that contribute to this problem are food and sex. These are essentials needs of all humans that do not in the near future prove to be abating. One could postulate about powder diets, sterilization, or bodiless simulations, but no real solution presents itself to escape the needs of energy and reproduction, thus the problem of the perfection of society.

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