Survival Manual/2. Social Issues/Life After the Collapse, Part 1 0f 2)
Part I. Life After the Collapse (a sample from the e-book)
Life After The Collapse © 2009, by James M. Dakin
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What will life be like after a collapse? This topic has been addressed by scores of fictional works, both the written novel and in movies. Many more short stories dwelt with various aspects of the topic. This also might be thought of as a work of fiction, because it is just like all the others, a WAG (wild ass guess). The only reason I think I might even have something remotely valid to contribute is I focus mainly on life after the Age Of Oil ends, and my guess is it ends badly. I could be totally wrong. I really hope so.
As badly as our current system is, the majority of us are either exploited poor or wage slaves encumbered with a pair of golden handcuffs, it still beats living a barbaric existence of dog eat dog, hands down. But I don’t think I am wrong. I’ve spent a great deal of my time, my effort and even my savings both studying and preparing for just such an occurrence to rudely alter my life. I don’t delude myself thinking that just because I’ve done this that I will be right. I am merely gambling. Just as I believe those that don’t are also entering their wager in this great game.
It is all a game, because none of us can know for sure. But only the blind or the blindly optimistic don’t plan for it one way or another. If you think things will continue as normal (at this point, a multi-generational slow decline) you invest your time and money in a college education, an automobile and a mortgage. If you think things will end badly you strive to insulate yourself somewhat by preparing for collapse. Obviously, you aren’t reading this as a part of your higher learning coursework.
I hope this humble work is more detailed and comprehensive than others of its kind. I hope I give you much more to think about than what end of the world fiction has. Fiction is a great vehicle, in that we think visually. Fiction plays into that medium. But I’ve yet to become proficient in fiction, so this booklet is what I offer. I’m going to cover the collapse in a quick overview. Not because I’m trying to fluff up this work. If I wanted to do that I would cover the multitude of reasons why collapse could occur. The end of oil isn’t the only possibility. No, I want to go through the collapse period because most likely this is going to effect you. I wish I could live on a remote mountaintop, enough supplies to divorce myself from society secured away. I wish I could avoid the coming messy business of society self destructing. I’m not that lucky and neither are you. So I won’t completely ignore what is likely to happen. But I promise not to spend too much time there. I have a burning desire to know what things will look like in our brave new world. As I imagine you do. By trying to spell it out I help myself as well as you. It won’t be perfect. It is just my best guess. I do know it won’t be pretty.
This is not a book destined to sell a lot of copies. I don’t include the required happy ending. Most authors seem to think they need to devote half the pages to giving you a glimmer of hope. A course of action to stop the insanity. Perhaps thirty years ago whining to your Senator produced change (or perhaps that change was for the worse, such as squandering our last giant oil fields on business as usual ). Today our Empire is on course to crash and burn. There is no going back since the vested powers won’t change. We are as the Roman Senators, working the last of the land for the last of the wealth, regardless of loss of soil fertility.
Why write this at all? Even writing short booklets is a lot of work. My financial gains will be minimal. The reading might well be interrupted by grid failure, as this will most likely never see past the electronic version. As I said, laying this out in semi-coherent thought helps me myself visualize what lies ahead. And, I like to think I am also helping those that want to think rationally. Those that don’t need a sugar-coating with their message. Perhaps seeing clearer will increase the odds of survival. That’s as happy an ending as it gets.
B. Why a collapse?
Why am I convinced a collapse will occur? Why won’t we just see a gradual decline of our fortunes, as has usually occurred throughout history? After all, the average span of a historic collapse has been hundreds of years. Rome took 300 years to wind its way down. The Mayans saw 150 to 200 years from glory to jungle overgrown pyramids. My short answer is energy. Think back to the rapid advances we’ve seen since coal was first used, then oil. All these dizzying economic and technological advances were against the backdrop of an ever-growing pool of energy. Today, the entire economic foundations we enjoy are oil based. There are no more animal powered farms. No more agriculturally advanced armies. No more solar-powered industry. Not in any dominate form. That is only at the margins of society. You don’t revert suddenly to the forms of social and economic activity that sustained you one hundred years ago. All that activity rests on a slow laboriously constructed infrastructure. It takes many lifetimes of blood, sweat and tears to build anything the next generation can advance from. When you totally replace that infrastructure, you can’t magically go back to that place and time again. And we’ve replaced it all with petroleum energy.
We don’t even own the means of production anymore. Our industry is now overseas, mainly in China. What is left is all high technology and oil dependant. It’s not like we have the factories to start producing animal powered farm implements. Or the knowledge to do so even if the factory was there. Or the credit and financing to do so if we could. Hundreds of years previously, at least in some cultures, those illiterate peasant knew how to farm the land and built all their tools from what nature provided. Today, something as simple as building a bow and some arrows is a lost art. It is a simple concept, and those with the time can relearn the art. But without new training and the time to do it, you can’t suddenly master that task when your center fire rifle uses its last round. Now multiply that simple trouble by several orders of magnitude. Who knows how to convert a diesel train back to a wood fired boiler? Who can feed more than themselves when commercial fertilizers are no longer produced from natural gas? Who gets food from that hypothetical farm using that hypothetical train? I’m sure in hobby form all the lost arts of bygone eras are mastered and practiced today. But the numbers are minuscule. And who’s to say they won’t be casualties during the coming die-off? Or that they won’t live an impossible distance away?
Things aren’t so simple that we can revert to an economy based on less or no oil. Every activity in an economy is dependent on an infrastructure. Without the underlying support system, you can’t do anything. You need an industry, an educational system, a system of law and order, a transportation system, a system of payment and credit. Look at most of Africa today. They have vast treasures of natural resources in the ground. Yet, a corrupt system of rulers, a lack of a justice system, lack of a sound currency all keep those resources locked away. No one will invest and work without a guarantee that their efforts will not be subject to theft. Others countries all have an infrastructure where the opposite occurs. Investment is encouraged and rewarded. Look at oil. It doesn’t just appear at your gas station. There is a vast system that brings it from the ground to a distillery to you. It took a lot of time, effort and investment to put that system into place. It didn’t happen overnight, but over generations (with a lot of war and other calamities interrupting the process). The same must happen in reverse. In order to put a system into place that allows another system of energy or economic activity to happen, time and effort must be invested to build that system. The infrastructure of yesteryear is no longer in place. It was replaced and dismantled. Without a sound system to rebuild it, you end up with only the current dysfunctional system until the end.
In the 1970’s, we were rudely awoken to the need to replace our current reliance on petroleum. No widespread system for an alternate source of energy was introduced. Rather, conservation was used. We learned to be more efficient with less energy. But we didn’t replace petroleum. Lucky for us at the time, we went back to a glut of oil from Alaska and the North Sea, as well as replacing our currency backing with Saudi Arabian oil instead of gold. That saved us. But now, all those sources of oil are pretty much used up. Britain has gone from an energy exporter back to an importer, Alaskan crude is down significantly and is staying there and the Saudi fields are in permanent decline. And there will be no large fields to replace them. There hasn’t been a major oil field discovered for almost fifty years, and not for lack of effort. Coal will not last long if used to replace oil, nuclear fuel is not infinite, all hydro sources are already tapped. Ethanol seems to be a net energy loser, as well as doubling our food prices by using edible corn. Tar sands are also a net energy loser. We had nowhere to turn thirty years ago, and no where today. Petroleum was the only answer. Because it provides so much energy in such a compact space, no other energy source could compete. All others fell by the side. We have no other wide-spread source of energy available. And there is no incentive to provide one. All powerful and rich entities reliant on oil have vested interests in keeping things the way they are. They will go down with the oil powered ship.
Civilizations decline with the economic and energy system in place that brought them to power. There might be a few exceptions over time such as Japan. But they are the exception to the rule. Most civilizations follow a similar road. They do something right, that at the time brings them to power. Those in charge got rich following that path. They won’t give up that source of wealth. Usually as the system starts to decline, centralization keeps things running by bringing efficiencies of scale. In time, between the powers that be gripping their wealth and the lack of resources to keep the existing structure maintained or to devolve back to a decentralized form of production (even assuming the rulers would allow that), they collapse. In the end, ninety some odd percent of the population is dead or immigrated and the area is left fallow to replenish itself (in solar-powered civilizations, soil fertility is used up and produces collapse by hunger- a fate we will only avoid as long as oil fertilizes the soil we’ve used up). When our oil runs out, we all die. The soil stops producing food. We are no different from ancient civilizations other than we were able to grow much bigger and postpone collapse longer because of our one time use of petroleum.
And we don’t need to get to the point where we run out of oil. All that is necessary is that we run out of enough. Oil production follows a bell curve. Rapid increase, a slowing to a plateau, then a drastic decline. Oil fields, oil regions, or global oil all follow this pattern. Not only is that bad enough, where we have nothing to take the place of petroleum, but here in the US it is even worse. We have built our entire system on not just oil but cheap and abundant oil. Where most other nations have never had the luxury of their own supplies, we have been cursed with an over abundance. We were blessed with one of the worlds largest supplies of petroleum, to the extent that we were the global leading exporter of oil until after the second world war. That allowed our economy to explode. But as oil reaches its global peak (the top of the plateau was reached in 2005) our dependence on cheap and abundant petroleum turns into a curse. Our economy, even our political system in the form of a generous welfare state to placate the masses, is based on lots of oil at essentially free prices. Nuclear power never reached its promise of “too cheap to meter”, but oil was always essentially at that point. That concentrated energy source was the equivalent of dozens, hundreds or even thousands of man hours of labor in every unit. And most of our existence has been dedicated towards making that labor as cheap as possible. Gold, a mineral so scarce that all of it ever mined could fit in a small building, buys dozens or scores of barrels of oil which is a non renewable resource. We invade countries to keep oil cheap. Political fortunes turn on the price. We burden our grandchildren with unplayable debt to devote military and intelligence resources to keeping the price low. All told, the sweat and treasure put towards stealing the global oil output is extremely high. That is the hidden cost. But the up front cost is kept low to keep the economy running. When oil reached a reasonable cost of $150 a barrel in the summer of 2008, our economy started to tumble. I say reasonable due to the limits of global daily output being reached and the inflation of the dollar. And the economy would have started to crumble sooner or later due to the massive over subscription to the derivatives market. But the timing is interesting none the less. We absolutely must have cheap, abundant oil for our economy to survive.
C. PODA (Post Oil Dark Ages)
PODA is my whimsical and witty title for the coming collapse and its aftermath. Post Oil Dark Ages. In a few generations when our grandchildren are scratching fleas under their animal skins while living in the basements of crumbling skyscrapers, there will still be oil in the ground. Granted, it will be that which was uneconomical to pump out. All oil is not created equal. The stuff close to the surface and without a lot of additional material costly to distill out is what we have mostly been living on. Not that which is two miles under the ocean and hard to get out. It all goes back to cheap and abundant. So we won’t actually run out of petroleum or other carbon fuels. But the consequences will be equal to running out. When the cheap stuff runs out, or it takes as much energy to pump the oil left as that oil yields, it is game over. Things start to fall apart. Crops don’t get planted or harvested, or that food doesn’t get shipped, or both. Essential trade goods don’t make it to our shores. The Age Of Oil ends, the Age Of Scarcity begins. When the military starts taking its dwindling share to take the last of the oil, and that leaves less than enough for food or transport or heat, things start going to hell. It will be a bit of a process, not everything stopping at once. But here is something important to keep in mind. It might take a civilization two centuries to fall into ruin, but that is everything averaged out. In the meantime, even from the first, individuals are adversely affected. When it takes ten years for employment to fall in half, you could be one of the first ones with a pink slip. When it takes twenty years for the death rate to double, you could be one of the first corpses. Averages look good on paper. In person they are a lot more deadly. This is how you need to look at the oil running out, depopulation, the economy falling and other aspects of society unraveling. It might take until your children’s old age for the last of the Petroleum Age to end, but you will be hurt much sooner than that.
Some theories point to the end of the 1970’s as the start of the end. That is when the per capita amount of energy available started to decline. We don’t see that, being sheltered here in America. But plenty of the world’s population suffers while we fiddle in an orgy of gluttony. It is that average number. We do great, others live on almost no oil, on average the world economy looks good if not perfect. Looks can be deceiving. We are just masking reality. We will eventually see those low numbers. If we survive the unraveling. We will reach the point of less oil. I focus mainly on oil. There will of course be other factors. The credit crisis that started in the fall of 2007 and started to be felt a year later. That is sure to be a lot worse by the time you read this. The natural tendency of governments to hyper-inflate the currency when there is no other way to pay the bills. Our long vanished national grain stockpile and the idiocy of just-in-time inventories (great for saving money short term, suicide come any supply disruptions). Our declining soil fertility due to artificial fertilizers made from natural gas substituting for proper nutrient management. Over population encouraged by corporations as a downward force on real wages. All these things make it worse. But they are not the primary cause of our civilization collapsing. Energy is fundamental to life and an economy. The oil has already started to decline globally. We are making up some of the shortfall with less than ideal substitutions that are big picture energy net losers, such as ethanol and shale oil. Stay tuned. At first it will be easy. Less driving for the holidays. Turn the thermostat down, add insulation. Then, it becomes a lot harder. Rationing, learning to do without. Readjusting. Then it gets hard. Martial law, unrest, skyrocketing crime. Less than enough calories. Than it gets life threatening.
Ready for that journey?
D. Life during the collapse
So far we have followed trends already occurring. Now we move into murkier waters. The next phase, life during a collapse, is pretty straight forward. We have countless examples during the last century of war and conflict. Our situation will differ slightly, as we are not used to invasion or being an exploited colony. But we can guess at a lot of it. Remember, America was special at one time. We had the best government and the best society, despite a lot of flaws such as slavery, Jim Crow laws, Native American genocide and the like.
Sadly, we are reverting to typical heavy handedness as our resources run down and most likely will become just like any other fascist hell hole in time. The window dressing given our current government transformation should fool no one. Just because you call ‘water boarding’ or rendition Constitutional doesn’t make it any less like torture. Get used to it. It will get worse, not better. All societies decaying get a centralized government to manage the same in the economy. It doesn’t matter who is elected anymore. Not that elections are even fair or just. They are surely rigged. More of the same from now on. Czars will guide the Homeland. We are and will remain a curious American mixture of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russian and will be until the nation breaks apart. To think otherwise is to ignore history.
America was special, but will follow the path of past nations collapsing. We were blessed with natural resources which allowed us to share the wealth. These resources are now gone and as we fight for pieces of the diminishing pie the fight will get ugly. Free men were allowed to remain armed, almost uniquely American in practice. That abundance of personal weapons will make for a very bloody end. That is about the only way this collapse will differ from any other. Men will fight in a more decentralized fashion rather than being dependant on fewer sources for their weapons.
E. Economic collapse
The collapse starts economically. It already has. Many people think this is a replay of the Great Depression of 1929 to 1942. Understandable as that is the only model on display. So, they believe this is another power grab by the bankers. Before, there were independent banks, not beholden to the new central bank, the Federal Reserve. In 1913 Congress slipped in its creation in a slow holiday period. Those banks that engineered and “solved” a previous bank panic pushed for its creation under the guise of stability. One imagines this was one of the cheapest national and economic power grabs ever. The bribes paid must have been mere pocket change compared to what followed. The banks then loaned money to the Allied powers during the First World War and pushed for our involvement when they were in danger of defeat and hence default. The German reparations also benefited the banks. Which paved the way for Hitler (also thought to have banker backing).
The easy credit of the 1920’s was courtesy of the Federal Reserve, which led to gross over extension and the Wall Street crash. Then, the Fed mopped up by buying failing banks that weren’t part of the central banking system, foreclosed on hard assets such as businesses, homes and farms, plus engineered FDR’s gold devaluation and confiscation to assure its printing press monopoly. It was in effect a decades long coup de ta. So, obviously, the banks know no limit to greed and want even more. Yet, what is there to gain this time? We were the global oil exporter, the globes premiere manufacturing economy. We were the global breadbasket. Today, we have no real economy other than a consumer economy with imported Chinese goods.
We import seventy percent of our oil, so there is a doubt we can even have enough for a bare minimum life support system.
We import twenty percent of our food, with domestic production endangered by water supply problems, oil dependency for fertility and transport and our ethanol program competing for stomachs.
There can be nothing but Monopoly money for anyone trying to win these spoils. I don’t think that this is a banker manipulated problem. It would be stealing gold trim off a sinking Titanic. I think this is the real deal. God, but I wish this was one conspiracy theory I would love to be right. It might mean we wouldn’t collapse in my lifetime. But this does line up with petroleum draw down. So let’s go ahead assuming this is really an economic collapse.
This is just the start of our problems. Normally, a few extra barrels of food, a couple of solar panels, some extra ammunition and a few silver coins would see us through until normalcy returned.
I’ll go ahead and cover the economy, then we can move into the much larger problems of system wide collapse. Those that make the economic collapse a warm up. Economic collapse makes matters worse for everyone, for obvious reasons. With soaring unemployment those households with diminishing income will immediately see petroleum shortages, regardless of outside supply. And when international trade starts to freeze up our nation will face oil shortages regardless of where international supply is at that point. An economic collapse will actually help in the oil run down since far less will be used. Less economic activity will see less energy use.
One the other hand, diminishing demand will scale back exploration, pipeline construction, new field development or even existing infrastructure upkeep. So the effects all in all will be to magnify oil shortages. Already in the winter of ’08 international trade in goods is down sharply, simply from the freeze up in credit. Gasoline prices at the pump were down to the levels not seen for five years (those five years saw doubling prices of everything due to inflation and a weakening dollar). Yet the economic downturn is well under way and decreasing energy prices are not boosting activity. This is the interplay between economics and energy. It looks as if the collapse will continue, mostly economic rather than from oil shocks. Is there a correlation between the three year long drop in oil supply and the economy? Global oil supply fell around five percent. Imported oil to the US fell eight percent. Most likely this was the trigger setting off the financial time bomb that grew larger since the Tech Wreck at the turn of the millennium. For seven years the economy was not allowed to falter due to easy credit creation. Housing bubbles fed the economy. This has faltered drastically and the financial house of cards seems to be going up in smoke.
As employment falls, housing loses value. Less jobs, more foreclosures, less value on homes as values drop as housing inventories explode. Credit is squeezed everywhere. There are no more home equity loans. Personal credit cards are seeing shrinking credit limits. Between the two, no one can make ends meet on credit. Businesses fail as their credit dries up. For a long time, business activity was not much more than buying out your rivals and acquiring its customers. Without credit to expand, business activity shrinks. Driving up unemployment. It is a vicious cycle.
Big businesses with high legacy costs are desperate. When vehicle sales drop due to rising unemployment and shrinking credit, Detroit can’t meet current retiree costs. Bankruptcy looms. If you think Detroit is bad now, with slum homes for sale for $600 in back taxes and an unemployment rate double that of most other areas, wait until the auto makers go belly up. And don’t think Toyota will rescue them. It is seeing sales fall over thirty percent in one year. Japanese companies are very well run, but their biggest customer is the US. Falling demand effects everyone.
Commodities stop their recent drive upwards. Gold companies close due to credit problems. Increasingly, people and businesses look for federal government help. As the government sees overseas loans dry up, hyperinflation is just over the horizon. There will be no other way to pay for the increased need for the welfare state. We will see a short period of declining prices as inventories soar and the remaining businesses are desperate for sales. Then we will see prices go insane as Washington turns on the printing presses (a lot easier now with computers replacing a lot of paper currency).
Remember, the economy is the result of cheap and abundant energy. Nothing else made it possible for our bloated welfare state and empire spanning military to function. Yes, the economy is going to be very important to you as it implodes. After a time, it won’t matter about global oil reserves. The price of gas is unimportant if you repoed your car and the electric company shut off your power. But it is important for a very simple fact. Declining global supplies of petroleum mean that the economy won’t recover. We will have ups and downs, false recoveries and periods of slowing decline. But long-term, we will not see the old days return. It is the beginning of the end. Don’t mistake this for a simple economic Depression. It is also coupled with oil draw down. Decline is here for good. The severity and timing are the only questions.
F. Oil run down
Oil draw down is the process of running out of petroleum. Oil production is a bell curve. Sharply up, a plateau is reached, the numbers level off and then we start on the down side. A sharp downturn of oil production. Currently we are at the plateau where we have global oil production leveled off. How long this lasts is anyone’s guess. It won’t be that long however. Some very educated guesses have our oil age at about a hundred years. Take 1930 as a start, when oil really started to dominate rather than being a source of illumination only. By the end the 1970’s per capita global energy use started to decline, the half way point. In 2030 we will be back to the level of one hundred years previously in total oil use ( yet with a much larger population and no other way of powering the food and production like we had in 1930 ). But don’t think we have until 2030. The availability of oil is already starting to suffer. All of the king size fields are in decline, including Saudi Arabia. And no large fields have been discovered in fifty years. There will be no Alaska or North Sea oil to save us from the next oil shock. And, least you think cheap gas is a great Christmas present for 2008, this economic disincentive will discourage smaller fields from being exploited. Those would have smoothed out the large field slowdown. Right now the only thing smoothing it out is the fact that economic activity in the worlds largest oil user is in a tailspin. Less US oil use is helping to disguise oil draw down. Enjoy $1.50 a gallon gas, because it will be the last time energy is going to be cheap. We are, simply, running out of energy on a global scale. It wouldn’t be too bad if we only had to turn down the thermostat and stop driving our SUV’s so much. But, we will soon discover to our dismay, cold houses and weeds growing up the wheels of our thirty thousand dollar sheet metal monster are the least of our problems. Oil, today in our country and most other places outside Third World peasant fields, is food. Without oil there is no food. Without food there is famine.
Famine is not something most of us ever consider. This country has been the bread basket of the world for over a century. The Ukraine used to be the bread basket of Europe before collectivism introduced by the communists. It isn’t that the soil isn’t still fertile, but back again to infrastructure, you need a stable system to reap resources. In America’s case, we are not only farming on infertile soil due to corporate profit being put ahead of maintaining the most strategic resource we used to command, but the only way to continue farming enough to feed the population we have is to pour oil into the process. Most of our fertilizer is not renewable animal manure, but non renewable artificial fertilizer derived from natural gas. We can’t use animal fertilizer as manure, or non mechanized machinery to farm because they don’t work for corporate farming. They are financially inefficient. Corporate farming is our main source of food, and they can’t function without oil. Or, for that matter, easy and cheap credit which may or may not be available in the near future. Now, it is true that there is enough widespread knowledge about intense labor organic farming that we will be able to switch to that form of food production when needed. However, that depends on government no longer favoring large corporations with taxes and subsidies. We can’t go back to decentralized, low lost farming without the government stepping out-of-the-way. Mainly by eliminating high property taxes. As suburbs have encroached on farmland, farmers have seen their land values skyrocket. So their taxes go up. Yet, grains are a commodity sold by volume by the big players. The little farmer can’t compete. The system favors the corporate farmer.
Now, by the time the government no longer favors the rich corporate lobbyist and allows small farms to proliferate, we might already see cracks appearing in the food supply chain. Governments move slowly. Especially if re-election money from deep pockets is at stake. However, our food supply is now on a just-in-time inventory system. We harvest it and ship it out. There are no longer any months long supplies of grain stockpiled, as was the case during the Cold War when it was felt feeding the population in an emergency was a good thing. Now, any widget sitting on store shelves is considered as lost profit to our bankers and corporations. Come any calamity, there is no stockpiled supply to see us through. And even if there were, you need to take into account our transportation system and our banking system. Less oil will also affect our ability to ship crops. And any problems with our credit system will halt shipping anyway. American business (I have left out of the equation our imported food- it constitutes 20% but is mostly processed or luxury goods and can be survived without) are used to ninety day credit. They buy on credit, then pay after they sell the item. This poses a potential problem. So, again, we see both oil and economics as a problem. Food should not be assumed to remain a gluttonous American birthright. We can see a famine, and since none of us remain farming the land it could be as bad as any African calamity or even worse. We have no cushion against shortages. And no stockpile to see our transition from mechanized corporate farming to decentralized local labor intensive organic farming.
H. Military dictatorship
With both a shock to the economy from dwindling oil supplies and a potential of famine bringing on heavily armed civil unrest, we can be assured that government will at some time or another impose martial law. Whether we see a military dictatorship or not is not even very important. Whatever cosmetics they put on the pig to make it look like something else, the outcome to civilians is going to be the same. Whatever illusion you have that the Constitution will help you will finely be shattered. We don’t have a Constitutional Republic anymore. You can argue we haven’t had one since the War Of Northern Aggression. When a sovereign state which voluntarily joined a Union is forced at gunpoint from leaving same, you can call that a pretty firm break with the document that is supposed to protect our natural rights and limit the power of the government. But, barring that, perhaps because you are a Damn Yankee and won’t confess to a social crime committed by your ancestors like Southerners are supposed to do with slavery, you could at least make a good case that our Republic was sold out by creating the Central Bank in 1913. He that controls the purse strings controls the politicians. Even if that isn’t good enough for you, you have to admit that FDR (may his twisted foul soul be damned for all eternity) took whatever restraints on Federal government there were and wiped his liver spotted ass with them. After him, we had full blown socialism and an out of control military industrial complex along with unbridled bankers and corporate stoolies help them out to rape and pillage what was left of our nation. So, don’t think that quaint piece of paper is going to protect you. It hasn’t and it won’t. The only question we have to ask ourselves is, when and how bad. It is guaranteed to happen. All declining civilizations become despotic at the end. Centralization helps then survive and thrive. But you need a strong government to go from local, decentralized production to centralized control. For a time the economics of scale feed yet more population and bring ever more treasure to the king. When disaster strikes and resources start to run out (fertile soil, neighbors to conquer, rainfall, mild weather, mineral deposits, etc.) you can’t go back, as there are not enough resources to rebuild the old decentralized infrastructure. The only thing you can do is to tighten your control. Try to extract more resources from the profit takers. Try to prevent disorder and rioting as resources run out.
So, don’t think of the power grabbers introducing more fascism as just greedy and controlling. They are, but that is not the point. They are being played by events out of their control, just as you are. Resources run out and the government becomes stronger. They need to keep themselves running, not only to keep order so as to stay in power, but also because those benefiting from the old system won’t allow them to do it any other way. As the system crumbles, those benefiting economically from practices now harming things can’t give up what made them wealthy. They need that wealth to survive.
So, Roman Senators allowed their estates to play out of fertile soil just as there was no more fertile lands to take militarily. Southern plantation owners did the same, just as there were no more states to enter the Union as slave holders. New soil was needed to keep the rich wealthy since they had used theirs up, and there was no more to be had. It is going to be the same with the wealthy of today, those that buy and control politicians. Highly leveraged financial gambles will continue to be sold to the last sucker before the whole economy implodes. The last tanks using the last gasoline will fight over the last oil field, more than likely illuminated by radioactive glows from the distant city sites. No one is going to seriously push for independently owned cheap solar panels on every rooftop. The only serious solar (as far as supplying any large percentage of energy) will be centrally located and controlled by major utilities.
Martial law is as inevitable as the sun rising. No one voluntarily gives up power and wealth. When people begin to starve, they revolt. To keep the revolutionaries from sharing their wealth, the rich use the government to control the population. Luckily for use, our government can’t put many resources into this proposition. There is no real wealth behind them, just printed dollars backed by the ( dwindling supply from ) oil fields of Saudi Arabia. Economics also effects the government’s ability to pay for people and supplies. I’m not saying they won’t steal what they need, just that a broke and weak government is going to be trying to pacify a three thousand mile long nation at a time when transportation is not as easily fueled. As long as the oil flows, a relatively small government and military can control us. In fact, most of us want to be controlled. When that runs out, it will be a long-term losing battle to control us. Small consolation to concentration camp victims or tortured dissidents. I can’t see more that is going to be added from the long sorry history of martial law by us. We will start out being pretty brutal. When you don’t have a lot of resources to control people, you start out trying to terrorize them so most offer no resistance. This is how the Japanese controlled large areas of land with few soldiers. You give that crazy little bastard a bayonet and instructions to chop suey anything less than perfectly obsequious. I can’t see Americans anywhere close to as effective as the Japanese at pacification. We might have a few folks like Janet “BBQ” Reno able to torch small children or jack booted thugs willing to stomp kittens to terrorize a family, but they belong in the psycho wards to begin with. Normal folks have no ability to do these things, let alone to their own countrymen. Plenty can be brainwashed, but not enough to control all of us for very long. Yes, it will be brutal and bad at first, but the few thugs the Feds have will quickly lose control. There will not be enough of them to control the millions too hungry and cold to care anymore. Desperation will help the government for a time, then it will turn things against them. We will happily turn in our neighbors for unpatriotic thoughts, in return for bread and circuses. When that is no longer provided, the ‘narcs’ and stooges will turn on their handlers. Which is when we will see race wars on our way towards the national breakup.
I. Race wars
The truly ignorant actually try to see a difference in people by their skin color or their religion. This can be pretty comical at times, if you are outside looking in. Such as the Nazi’s and the convoluted racial classifications trying to protect “pure” whites while discriminating against Jews or Slavic’s. Is a White Russian okay, but a Ukrainian not? Or a gypsies bad, even if they are mostly from Aryan stock? Why is a Jew impure if he is from a long line of Germans? Is the picture perfect white German less pure if his great-grandmother one-third Jew? Etcetera. My view is that skin is really not much more than adaptation to environment, but I’m sure that view will get me on a few elimination lists if the three members of the American Nazi party can get a few meth addled skinheads to assassinate me. Well, add the fact that I’ve been married to more than one Mexican gal. I sure wasn’t worried about protecting the purity of my race those times, even if I did practice birth control. Most people, despite the continual indoctrination of our public school systems (the ones controlled by white politicians that send their kids to private schools charging enough tuition to eliminate most of those of a darker hue) still have a certain problem with other races, even if they don’t know why. Typically, I hear racist attitudes along the lines against those types they didn’t grow up around. I have no problem with Mexicans, growing up in Southern California. But to be honest the majority of blacks are like foreigners to me. The reason is not skin color. That is a cop out for those not wishing to think the matter through. It is simply about tribal identity. And fear of the unknown. But mostly tribal. Humans belong in social groups. It is a survival mechanism. And we automatically identify with our tribe and against others. We are usually lazy and rather than rationally voice this, we spew some crap about skin color (and you all know the “colorful” terms used to describe other races). That is a mental shortcut. Give it any amount of thought and you can see what I’m talking about. Tribe equals safety. Other tribal members equal the enemy. Whether they are different skin colored or not is not the main issue, other than that is a sign of their tribal identity.
Multi-racial nations rarely work out long term. The tribal marks are not overcome in difficult times by national identity. During safe, economically easy times, we can all get along. As soon as times turn tough the old tribal markers mean a great deal more. We will have racial conflict. Not because blacks are evil, or whites are superior. It doesn’t matter. You can be any color. Others will turn against you. Skin color is just another excuse to exclude you from another’s tribe. Religion will also be dividing. But with the long history of conflict between the colors in this country, it will be easy to justify unpleasantries against others due to their skin. Blacks have a long grievance against whites, whites have always feared blacks because of this. Mexicans have been exploited economically, and we did steal a lot of their land (although to be fair they stole it from the Indians). Indians were nearly wiped out through germ warfare and have a lot of justifiable issues. I sure wouldn’t want to be living near any fair sized reservation come hard times. Nor near any ghettos, regardless if it is black or Mexican. A wouldn’t want to be a white living in Hawaii for that matter. Living in northern Nevada with a clear majority of whites is not preferred because I am racist. It is because I am trying to be on the local winning tribes side. Simply self preservation. You might give it some thought. Do you trust other tribes to treat you fairly when times get tough and they have an economic incentive to expel you ( less mouths at the limited trough )? And they won’t be offering a first class ticket on Amtrak to leave town. Far easier to attack you with ball bats and tire irons and throw you in a shallow mass grave.
Look at the tribal conflicts in eastern Europe or Africa. Skin color doesn’t come into play as much as actual tribes going back centuries. But the dynamic is the same. Starvation looms and one tribe turns against another. That tribe which eliminates the other survives on the limited resources available. This is human nature and explains why there are conflicts. I’ll cover this more later on, but it is pretty simple. Group identity is a survival mechanism, safety in numbers. And stealing another groups resources guarantees one group will survive in lean times. No one joins hands and sings about one world and helps those less fortunate in times of hunger. Not when both groups are starving. Charity is only possible when one group has a surplus. Without that, one groups kills off another to survive with full rather than half rations. And they will justify it in many ways, racial, tribal, vendettas, etc. Race wars will happen in this country as soon as times get genuinely tough. Count on it or you will belong to the body count.
Continued in (Survival Manual/2. Social Issues/Life After the Collapse, Part 2 of 2)
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