How Dark Will The Next Dark Age Be?

David Trammel's picture

Greer speaks a lot about this global civilization collapsing and a new Dark Age arising in a few centuries. How "Dark" though will that age be?

This was posted and while I'm no expert on the last Dark Age, the author makes some good points.

"Recently I read an alarmist tweet rant about how we’re in a ‘new dark age’ now and most scientists don’t even realize it. Of course, this was from a failed academic who’s way into ivermectin smoothies, bless.

It danced on that fence between sad and hilarious for a lot of reasons, but the main one? Even the alleged Dark Ages weren’t all that fucking dark. Today’s Moment of Science… Francesco Petrarca and the scientific luminosity of the Dark Ages. What happened between the fall of Rome and the Renaissance during a thousand years of Middle Ages? If you answered “idk probably some plagues and witch burnings” a lot of your misconceptions about history can be sourced to one man: a fourteenth century priest-school dropout and emo fuckboy poet known as Petrarch.

Often credited with kicking off the entirety of humanism, Petrarch had a cringe-level fetish for the Roman Empire. Like a few folks I know who discovered Ayn Rand and thought it was a personality, he unearthed some of Cicero’s writings from ancient Rome and became enraptured. Surely his countrymen would want to revive the ways of the fallen civilization beneath their feet if they just knew more about it. To be fair, having spent some time on twitter, there are assuredly some folks pining to bring back the old days of lead piping, piss taxes, and emperor assassinations in the senate. But in the 1330s when he dubbed the era after the fall of Rome the ‘Dark Ages,’ it was at best, exaggeration, and at worst, propaganda.

There’s ambiguity around how the term was both originally meant and how it continues to be construed. Generously interpreted, Petrarch was merely referencing an era with a deficit of records compared to the Greek and Roman empires. It’s more likely though that calling it the ‘Dark Ages' was heavily informed by how much he thought the 1300s super fucking sucked. I can’t blame anyone for thinking “fuck this century in particular” when their continent was hit hard with the plague, but I’m not entirely unconvinced this wasn’t about a girl named Laura that wouldn’t fuck him (true story, he wrote a lot of poetry about it). That’s no reason to pretend the world had just gone through eight centuries of intellectual dormancy because had a big sad.
He was declared poet laureate of Rome in 1341, and the event is considered by some to be the first spark of the Renaissance. After these centuries of darkness, Petrarch was sure society would soon be heading towards the light.

Imagine propaganda so effective that we consider the 1400s enlightened. Egads.

One of the earliest known dictionary definitions from the late 1800s calls the Dark Ages a “term sometimes applied to the period of the Middle Ages to mark the intellectual darkness characteristic of the time.” In pop culture today, it’s most often used to denote scientific ignorance, knowledge suppression, or backwards thinking. However, it’s also been called “a popular if uninformed manner of speaking” about the Middle Ages and “the most egregious Eurocentrism in all of history.” Through the Middle East and parts of North Africa, the Islamic Golden Age was taking root in the eighth century. There are hardly any fields of academia the Islamic scholars of this era didn’t contribute to.

Their early hospitals, bimaristans, were secular and provided universal healthcare. Antiseptic procedures before surgery started in the Islamic world far before they came to Europe. Modern numbers and algebra developed out of this era. Ibn Al-Haytham has been called the world’s first true scientist for his work on developing the scientific method, contributing research to the fields of optics and astronomy. Polymath inventor and engineer Ismail al-Jazari is still considered the father of robotics, even building a humanoid robot that could serve drinks. He was what people think Elon Musk is: al-Jazari literally wrote the book on how to build everything called The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices.

This doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of the incredible advances from the Islamic Golden Age. It’s an era that deserves a few more MOS’s. Petrarch once said “who naught suspects is easily deceived.” I’d like to offer Petrarch at least one invention of the Middle Ages from Europe: glasses, so he could perhaps fact check his own bullshit. This has been your Moment of Science, pretty sure I need a little robot that serves drinks."


I think we do have to consider that for many parts of the World, the coming Collapse may be of benefit and could even give rise to their own golden age of regional dominance. People will still run businesses, still invent and research science, still have adventures and travel the World, it just won't be as global or as Western centric as this one is. Nor will they have the energy rich infrastructure to depend on like we do here in America.

Ken's picture

Thank you for that David; I needed a good laugh! That is some good, dark (age) humor right there! As I believe JMG has pointed out in various places, periods of "civilization" are in fact, the anomaly; "dark ages" are the return to the norm. Cities are an un-natural concentration of humans in too small of a space to support them; is it any wonder that they all eventually lead to horrific ends? How about we learn something this time around and we DON'T create any "Civilization"? How about we just live our local lives and give up "The City" as the terrible idea that it is? De-centralize everything, especially power. This doesn't mean we have to live under a tree and eat grubs, it just means we should live in balance with our local environment.

David Trammel's picture

History is written by the ones with guns and gold, or by guns with which you can take the gold. That Europe experienced a period of decline after its glory of Rome period where all politics was local, but then the glorious Renaissance appeared to bring light and salvation (and consequentially was paid for by rich people paying for art to make themselves look better) is what writes the History books of the planet.

That the other 95% of the World's people didn't even notice that those pesky Europeans stopped raiding us and stealing the stuff from our cities is rarely mentioned. Kind of like thinking the entire country is in complete collapse because your local factory closed up and moved to Asia.

I'm sorry to say, even I'm guilty sometimes of implying that the end point of the Long Descent will be a world of cave dweller cargo cultists holding up toilet lids and calling them religious crowns, lol. I know better.

lathechuck's picture

... but there were apparently enough people who agreed with him to preserve his words, and not just dismiss them as one ranting whine.

IIRC: part of the Dark Ages was the exhaustion of European forests, cut to make charcoal for the comfort and industry of Roman civilization. Things brightened up after the Dutch developed a process for digging, drying, and burning peat, and then coal came on the scene (which made mine pumps feasible, which made deeper coal mines feasible).