The Unsustainability and Origins of Socioeconomic Increase

This paper was written as a masters thesis for the City University of New York Graduate Center’s Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program. It describes the unsustainable nature of our civilization and suggests ways to achieve sustainability. It won the Liberal Studies department’s first Annual Thesis Prize for best departmental thesis. William Kornblum served faculty advisor for the paper.

Read the The Unsustainability and Origins of Socioeconomic Increase .pdf.

Read in Portuguese!

Janos Biro took it upon himself to create abridged translations of this thesis in Portuguese so that the material would be available for a Brazilian audience.

Changing the Economic Paradigm
Human expansion and the theory of r-K selection

Based on…

This thesis was in great part based on the following papers, written earlier in Mark’s masters studies:


From the completion of the thesis until the birth of his daughter in mid-2003, Mark did a large amount of additional research as part of developing a general audience book which expands on this paper. A full book proposal was completed though without accompanying sample chapters. For this reason and other more dramatic ones (described in Mark’s essay Forcing the Balance), the book project has not yet made further progress since the writing of the proposal. Mark sincerely hopes that the right circumstances will evolve one day to allow him to write the book, as well as to develop companion projects in other media, most notably a website and a documentary motion picture.

16 comments for “The Unsustainability and Origins of Socioeconomic Increase

  1. I’m both astounded and delighted. Astounded at your ability to integrate the output of so many different minds into a seamless whole. Delighted that someone has undertaken a task I would be most unwilling to undertake myself–and probably in fact incapable of undertaking. Cheetahs run fast, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they would do well in the Kentucky Derby. Incredibly, you’ve made more sense of my ideas than I knew was there! (And negotiated your way around all the pitfalls that suck in so many of my readers.) There are only two or three people of whom I can say with confidence, “This person gets what I’m saying”–and this thesis proves you’re one of them… Congratulations!

  2. Merely citing your paper does not do justice to the help that it has been to me. Whenever I get stuck trying to express an idea I open up your PDF, search for a few words, and there it is. I recognize the amount of work and talent that went into this thesis. It should be a book and, in book form or not, required reading for many fields of study.

  3. After reading your masters thesis, I am very impressed. Nowhere else yet have I seen anything that comes as close to explaining our situation in this world, including Daniel Quinn’s own writings. In just one paper, you’ve managed to fill countless gaps in my understanding of this message, sharpening my mosaic by a full order of magnitude. Thank you. I eagerly await your “general audience book”… A book written to be as fidelic and still comprehensible to a wide audience would be a very valuable tool for helping our culture to shift from its current self-destructive paradigm to a sustainable — and presumably much more comfortable — one.

  4. […] This encounter, some months old as it is, has been forefront in my thoughts lately. In the previous feature, “The Subversive Spirit of Christmas,” we were graced with a comment from none less than the illustrious Mark Meritt, co-founder with Howard Ditkoff of Emergent Associates and author of “The Unsustainability and Origins of Socioeconomic Increase,” a masters’ thesis that explored the scientific underpinning of Ishmael and praised by Daniel Quinn himself. Mark and Howard are both good friends of the Tribe of Anthropik, to boot, so they’re always welcome here. But that made it all the more difficult when Mark posted this: Worth noting, though, that on some level, we could have the same conversation about many high ideals held by civilized cultures. Daniel Quinn, in The Story of B, says directly that religions are the highest expressions of our culture, and he does so while suggesting that all of the “good things” that religions want us to do are that very highest expression. At first, I was confused by this—how could the highest expression of our culture be about things that are so hard to do/be in our culture? I later realized, that’s exactly the point. Civilization makes it hard to be lots of the good things that are our birthright, that come far more naturally to people in tribal circumstances. Those things then become what we idealize, and religion is the highest expression of those idealizations. Virtues are things to strive for, to struggle for, and if you don’t reach them, and especially if you don’t try, then you’re a failure as a person. It’s the old flawed being syndrome. […]

  5. […] Baseado na tese de Mark S. Meritt Deixe um comentário Sem comentários ainda ate? o momento Deixe um comentário Feed RSS dos comentários deste post URI do TrackBack Deixe um comentário Clique aqui para cancelar a resposta. Linhas e parágrafos quebram automaticamente, endereços de email não serão mostrados, HTML permitido: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <pre> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> […]

  6. Thanks man…. Mark S.Meritt is one of the biggest world thinkers.
    His writings are an inspiration to me.
    His ideas are very good to start to change the world where we live.

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