By Nicholas Haberling
“It is the 41st Millennium… To be a man in such times is to be one amongst untold billions. It is to live in the cruelest and most bloody regime imaginable. These are the tales of those times. Forget the power of technology and science, for so much has been forgotten, never to be relearned. Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for in the grim dark future there is only war. There is no peace amongst the stars, only an eternity of carnage and slaughter, and the laughter of thirsting gods." (1)
Most mainstream science-fiction tends to avoid the idea of a Dark Age or technological stagnation. Weapons and civilizations will always get bigger and better. If the story wants to take a dystopian turn or talk about a societal issue it generally revolves around a technology we can’t fully control yet, not the possibility of us actually going backwards. In fact, all of us here are living in the greatest period of technological and economic progress in human history. The possibility of it stopping or even going backwards is foreign to us. Yet, it has happened before. In Western Civilization the Bronze Age Collapse and fall of the Western Roman Empire diminished the quality of life of the people in those regions for hundreds of years.
While it would be disingenuous to say I follow the Warhammer 40K universe, the idea of Space Marines fighting with guns they don’t know how to repair and searching for weapons thousands of years old to give them an edge in a modern battle is entertaining. Sort of like Roman legionnaires fighting under the Great Pyramids, structures thousands of years old at their time and how even today we still have debates about how they were built. Or perhaps some tribal elder in the distant future admiring the view of an abandoned Manhattan skyline.
With that in mind our first series of 2018 will explore a number of topics.
- What is a Dark Age? Is it an accurate term? As well as an overview of our own entanglement with Dark Ages and a brief history of the Imperium of Man.
- How long does a Dark Age last? Using available economic data we will look at the GDP per capita of Roman and post-Roman citizens. How long did it take for them to recover economically and is economics the best way to measure recovery from a Dark Age.
- Creating an estimate of the Imperium of Man’s GDP we can get an idea of how far they’ve fallen from their economic peak and explore what options they have to go on the offensive.