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I'm not sure if you are trying to put all societies into two general macro categories, or if you are possibly excluding from consideration those that might fall under a category of "people without history." I'm not sure if I would see the notion of "improvement" being a factor in, say, the Kwakiutl of the Pacific Northwest Coast, as they were during their pre invasion and pre disruption period. Some of that may have occurred in the form of small pox plagues spread across the continent through trade routes before Vancouver sailed in. Archaeological evidence indicates they had a long, relatively stable, steady state relationship with their environment, and with their neighboring groups, each with a range of common technological adaptations, though with some different cultural manifestations.
I guess if I were to identify a major feature or in my speculative narrative, it would be the availability of an easily harvestable and relatively inexpensive abundance of energy. I see it fueling a kind of accelerating momentum that is being managed in concert with a global effort to generate governments that are receptive to neoliberal economics.
I suspect the extreme "synarchistic" tendencies of this current U.S. administration, which is most idealistically embodied in the neocons, will give way, thanks to its monument to ineptitude, the debacle in the Middle East. But the policies that drive it are, I'd say, non partisan. The strategic thinker I picked for my diary is not a neocon, for example. Just a very bright guy, well indoctrinated with the principles of neoliberalism. And he's in a critical place in the upper echelons of government to share in the planning.
"I would pillow myself on the stream, for I'd like to cleanse my ears" - Sun Chu (218-293) Chinese recluse
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