MIND IS TOUGHER THAN DIAMOND.
There are many reasons why societies collapse. The plutocratic explanation works well most of the time, and explains a lot. In particular, it explains most of the defeat of Athens by Macedonia, and all of Rome’s degeneracy into theocratic despondency.
In a plutocratic collapse, propped up by the redoubtable power of the exponential function, an oligarchy monopolizes ever more riches and power, to the point the rest of society becomes weak and dumb, which is both an effect, and a way to achieve the rule of the plutocracy. Such a process is apparently engaged, once again, in some major countries of the heretofore triumphant West, and that is why the Western plutocracy prefers to put everybody to sleep, by accusing… China.
The plutocratic explanation was actually brandished by the Mongols to the Caliph in Baghdad, before killing him, his family, and about 800,000 Muslims in the capital (Christians were spared). The Mongols insolently claimed to their Muslim victims, that Muslim plutocrats had let the Caliphate degenerate, as demonstrated by the Mongol victory, and thus it belonged to them, Mongols, to put an end to this miserable lot.
Another reason for collapse is ecological devastation. It happened to Sumer, due to salination (agricultural abuse) and flooding (catastrophe at the hand of God). This is also what happened to the Mayas, victim of drastic drought (7C), in combination with abuse they had made of the resources (be they trees or water). Plutocratic strife did the rest, as the duopoly of the two leading cities was replaced by a generalized war.
Still another reason for collapse is determined invasion by bloody aliens (part of the reason for Athens’ collapse). Most societies and civilization go down that way. The case of the Mayas (internal implosion by civil war, down to the bitter end), is rare (and the drought made the difference).
Generally bad plutocracy, or bad ecology makes a society weak, and then it gets invaded. But the powerful Aztecs went down first because of an alien invasion of Conquistadores (having too many local edible enemies was also crucial).
The Incas were also defeated by astoundingly brazen and belligerent conquistadores, but only after the empire and its organization had been already wrecked by a smallpox epidemic (which preceded the European invaders that brought it). If Pizarro had come before the smallpox, he would have probably failed, as he would have encountered a united empire.
Love is a good motivator, but it does not lead armies. Facing the Mongols, the armies of the Chinese plutocracy were overwhelmed. China was very militaristic, but Genghis Khan’s army was much more efficient.
Not so for the Mongols with the Europeans: after a costly victory in Hungary, although they had defeated all European armies, but that of the kingdom of France, the Mongols remembered what had happened to their ancestors the Huns. Hence they wisely decided to not pursue further west beyond the Hungarian steppe. Instead they switched to cooperation with the Franks (they invaded Syria together). Islam survived only because the racist Pope excommunicated the collaborating Franks, and was not keen to cooperate with Nestorian Christians. Peeved, the Mongols became Muslim instead.
Ultimately the collapse of a society or civilization is caused by truth and consequences denying love and future to the people. It cannot be avoided when caused by a giant scientific and technological gap.
Reciprocally, when the Europeans did not succeed to invade durably, it is because the technological gap was not as great as it looked. This is clear with India, China, Thailand, Japan. The latter two could not even be bothered militarily.
Little known, this is even true with Black Africa. Africa was NOT neolithic. Africa resisted European colonization, in great part because it had indigenous steel technology. Thus, when the White Man was not yet dead or morbid from African diseases, steel arrowheads would do what was needed. So, for centuries, White Men, and that includes the Arabs in the East and the Moroccans in the Sahel, stayed on the periphery, unable to get inside the Black continent seriously. The Whites traded slaves with the Black potentates inside (who were busy making war on each other, as usual).
France ultimately “conquered” Senegal and most of West Africa with a dozen French officers, and 5,000 rifled armed Senegalese soldiers. If you can’t beat them, you join them.
In the Qur’an, or the Bible, God is depicted as “merciful”. But otherwise, there is little nice about him. He is depicted as jealous, furious, forever vengeful, but also loving (New Testament), or practicing (very tough) love (Qur’an), between two torture sessions for miscreants.
No doubt those who wrote Bible and Qur’an took quite a bit of inspiration from the real universe out there. The Cosmic Comedy, la Divina Commedia, is quite a bit as mad, furious, and tender as classical gods. Nature even mercifully provides with endorphins, and the forgiveness of wisdom.
However, if we want to love the children, and their children’s children, we need to see far, and carry a big stick. Nothing less is moral.