For twenty-five years, I have studied the problems of human failure, of falling short of the promise, and of the decay and collapse of great empires. This phenomenon has existed throughout the five thousand years that man has been recording the history of his efforts. During the first twenty years that I devoted to this study, I amassed huge files of information about the various civilizations. I compared these facts in order to find common denominators which might lead to a solution. I also took into consideration such factors as man’s environment, his nature, and the persistence of certain patterns in his behaviour.
This led me to an involved study of the animal kingdom, and a compilation of those factors which it bore in common with the plant kingdom. About five years ago, I discovered the common denominator of man’s civilizations. I had come to it directly through my studies in biology, for this common denominator is found throughout the plant and the animal kingdoms. Because it was a natural phenomenon, and such a ubiquitous one, an ordinary and accepted part of all levels of plant and animal life, no scholar had previously thought to examine this factor as a prime cause of the degeneration and fall of empires.
This factor was parasitism. In the great advances which medicine had made during the past century, one of its most impressive achievements had been the rapidly developing field of parasitology. It had been found that many of man’s most serious ailments were caused by parasites. From these studies, it was only a matter of time before scholars would be able to deduce that a similar condition might occur among man’s civilizations, and that it might also cause sickness and death. It was to be expected that in their autopsies of buried empires, scholars should conclude that this condition, parasitism, was a definitive factor in the fatal diseases which befell human civilizations.