Jared Diamond scours human history to identify five prime factors that determine the likelihood that an existing society will fail: environmental damage, loss of trade partners, hostile neighbors, climate change, and how a society chooses to respond to its environmental problems. Any of these, alone or in combination, can trigger a society’s collapse. Turning the question around, what makes a new society likely to successfully establish itself? First and foremost is economic opportunity, followed by environmental suitability, opportunities for investment and trade (implicit in this is military...
They were the U.S. Army’s decision to occupy Canada during World War II and Joseph Stalin’s decision to create the Gulag, a string of forced-labor camps and exile towns across Siberia, between 1929 and 1953.
The burden socialist planners placed on the Soviet economy by founding these cities in such inhospitable locations was so great that in their book The Siberian Curse, Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy argue that “the cost of the cold” deeply saddled the Soviet economy and helped bring down the USSR in 1991.
We can call it the evolutionary-optimality challenge: if the proposed intervention would result in an enhancement, why have we not already evolved to be that way? There are three categories of potential answers: