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Not with a bang, but a whimper

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posted on Apr, 24 2008 @ 01:54 PM

This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

-T.S. Eliot, The Hollow Men

One focus of my research in history has been to study the collapse of civilizations and economies. While many posters on ATS prefer to focus one cataclysmic events such as disease or war, there are many civilizations and economies that collapsed due to other forces, or even a sort of undefineable general disintigration.

The Anasazi, the cliff-dwellers of the Native American Southwest are one example. Though they may have come under pressure from the Aztec Empire and several severe droughts, a long-term change is climate was not their death so much as a loss of organization. The ruins of Chaco canyon show an intricate pattern of irrigation, that made their culture fairly drought tolerant, but evidence shows the irrigation network was slowly abandoned in progressive waves. It is not known if the people were kidnapped by slavers, or succumbed slowly to long-term disease, or internal warfare.

Another example is the Black Death in Europe in the 14th century. Most of what you've been taught is not accurate. Black Death was definitely not caused by bubonic plague in rat-infested cities; it spread just as quickly in small villages and isolated farms. And it didn't kill everyone; often no more than 10% of the population in any one plague. But over a period of 50 years, seventy five percent of Europe's population was dead. No one disease, one plague or one outbreak killed them all. Instead, their society succumbed to a long-term medical crisis they couldn't shake. And Medieval civilization collapsed, to be replaced by the Rennaisance.

I'll save some other examples for a future post.

For now, assume with me that our society is entering one of these "whimper" periods of cultural attrition and pruning back.

Imagine the following scenario:

1. Gasoline prices where you live increase an average of 5% per week for the foreseeable future.

2. Electricity prices rise at the same rate; electricity is "voluntarily" turned off for a set time period each week by your utility provider. Suppose that an additional hour of blackout is imposed each week, until eventually the lights go out and never come back on.

3. Food costs rise by about 10% per month for the rest of your life. Gardening supplies become unavailable at brick and mortar stores starting this month, and never return.

4. Violent crime almost disappears; yet theft becomes pandemic, and passersby will steal anything having even remote value. Food scraps cigarette butts, aluminum siding, and fencing materials (Moscow in the early 1990's; USA in the great depression).

5. Most media companies go bankrupt, as advertizing no longer sells goods. Newspapers, radio, TV, even the internet, all of them shut down over a period of months.

So, how will you respond?

-There isn't a lot of violence, and your neighborhood remains fairly calm even as people become desparate.

-Most stores stay in business, though more and more empty aisles are roped off, and employees are turned away, as the delivery trucks come less and less frequently, and arrive with more and more empty space.

-The usurge in petty theft means you can safely walk the streets at night (since there's a crowd on foot everywhere you go), but your garden isn't safe, and bicycles are stolen, even when chained to a post.

-many people become tramps, walking to the next city or town in response to rumors of jobs or charity food lines. If you live in a city of more than 75,000, people are drifting away, leaving empty apartments and houses around you. If you live in a town of less than 20,000, the population creeps up as hobos arrive looking for opportunity.

-Cities go bankrupt. Mail service goes first, then fire and finally water service. When abandoned buildings are accidentally torched by squatters, they are allowed to burn themselves out.

How will you cope with all this negative change???


[edit on 24-4-2008 by dr_strangecraft]

posted on Apr, 24 2008 @ 02:00 PM
I would try and become self sufficient, i'm in the process right now. The way I see it as long as your self sufficient you will survive, and have a good life.

As hard as it is to face though the collapse of our society is a very real thing. As long as I'm prepared i'm fine with it though.

posted on Apr, 24 2008 @ 02:06 PM

Originally posted by theendisnear69
I would try and become self sufficient, i'm in the process right now.

I'd love to hear what strategies you are pursuing.


posted on Apr, 24 2008 @ 02:08 PM
A chilling and infinitely more realistic situation than armageddon you paint here, Dr Strangecraft! I think I would actually prefer a quick all out armageddon to a pained, slow demise.

I would attempt to cope in such a situation by returning to the land. I would attempt to find arable land and grow crops, or hunt or forage.

Truth be told, I would turn into an animal and act on instict. In situations I've been in before where my life was at risk, Ive always found it easy to rely on instinct to carry me through. So in short, I wouldnt be able to plan on a course of action, I would just go out there swinging wildly and hoping to hit upon survival.

posted on Apr, 24 2008 @ 02:12 PM
Well I recently bought some property in a pretty out of the way place. It has it's own well so I don't have to rely on city water.

Now I'm starting a garden, I got tomatoes, corn, peas, and some various small flowers.

After that though i'm lost
, any advice on where to go now?

posted on Apr, 24 2008 @ 02:13 PM
I think your assessment is accurate.

It seems that we are just grinding to a halt. We have had a series of events that we are unable to fully recover from, financially, structurally, culturally, emotionally - 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq, Tsunami, Katrina, Rita. Add to it the housing/credit crunch, perceived food shortages and oil issues, spring floods, etc.

Even here in ATL we had a pretty serious tornado event about six weeks ago and there are many, many windows still not replaced in the heart of downtown. When you think of the lost sales tax revenue that is bound to be a result of the current economic crisis, it is not hard to see that infrastructures, public utilities and services around the country will be affected within the next year or two.

It seems it will be a slow shift downward to more localized efforts to maintain a sense of normal civilization. I would suggest people get to know a few good neighbors.

Slow Crash

[edit on 24/4/08 by kosmicjack]

posted on Apr, 24 2008 @ 02:23 PM
I think we can look to the fall of the Soviet Union for an example of a falling superpower. It will be worst for people that allow themselves no flexibility to adapt to a slumping economy. To comment on a few of the OPs original points:
1. Gas prices - we will learn to combine trips to the store and carpool.

2. Electricity - we will readjust to natural light cycles and read by fire light. There are ways to make and store your own power.

3. Food - prepare now to plant and store food - at least enough to fortify your diet with bean sprouts or other easy grown foods. There are apples that rot in the streets around me. Lots of food is wasted and lots of land left untilled. this will change if needed.

Gardening supplies- Start composting your food scraps, grass and garden "waste" and or get a worm bin. You can build great soil for growing food with next to nothing. For example: put all your fall leaves in a pile and keep adding to it. After a couple years fellow gardeners will lust over the leaf mold.

4. This is a great point. I guess I will learn to disguise things of worth. I heard that bike messengers would sometimes paint their bikes to try to make them look crappy. Alot of people have guns in the country. Thieves will suffer.

I like my chances. *knocks on wood*

All in all it might be healthy for us to have a correction.

posted on Apr, 24 2008 @ 03:06 PM
It's important to remember that most of the time, even when an empire ends, the vast majority of the people survive it.

Even in 1934 (the depths of the US depression, by most measures), only a few thousand people starved to death. I know that sounds callous; but seen in perspective of the dustbowl and the worst blizzard in decades, it's surpising that deaths were so low.

A childhood friend of mine married a Russian national. She lived in Moskow through the collapse of the USSR. She told me she lost about 20 kilos. Her grandfather made good money picking up cigarette butts and re-rolling them, then selling the smokes on street corners. He father owned the only working car in what had been an upscale suburb; he ran a "scheduled cab service" (which I think was illegal), and the whole neighborhood paid to keep the vehicle running. She was surprised that a visiting American would think a U.S. dime was an inconsequential amount for a bus across moscow--she thought it cheaper to walk. She told about how every house had a garden in the back, and a club studded with nails by the door, to keep the neighbor kids from stealing produce.

Not exactly a golden age, but definitely survivable by creative and flexible people.

posted on Apr, 24 2008 @ 04:39 PM
reply to post by dr_strangecraft

I always do enjoy your posts Dr. Strangecraft, I hope I add well to your thread here.

See here, my boys: See what a world of ground
Lies Westward from the midst of Cancer's Line,
Unto the rising of this Earthly globe;
Whereas the sun, declining with our sight,
Begins the day with our Antipodes,
And from th' Antarctic Pole Eastward behold,
As much more land, which never ws described,
Wherein are rocks of pearl that shine as bright
as all the lamps that beautify the sky!
And shall I die, and this unconquered. - Marlowe describing General Bonaparte -

An interesting poem, that without understanding its backward is just jumbled words on words with little meaning. But masked behind their clandestine innocence is the true nature of Humanity, the path we travel and the future of our destinies.

Empires, the greatest kingdoms, and all Nations suffer strife of some kind, and like you Strange, I enjoy the study of how Civilizations decline, but more specifically, what is Civilization, what defines it, and if disrupted, its consequences.

In France's case, it was a powerful nation that fell unto its self through internal strife. All it then took was one powerful and charismatic leader to step forward and take a previously desecrated society and lead a war to ravage the world.

In America's case we are a vortex, a black whole of unimaginable gravity. Everything in the world is tied to us, everything is pulled to us, and everything revolves around us. Maybe not our people, and we may be despised, and we may not be trusted, but the simple factor remains - we are needed.

And without that absolute NEED we would have fell long before, but as of now the only reason things have not yet unraveled the very thread of our society is simply because the economic power we hold is so powerful that it literally keeps us together like glue.

A conceded remark, perhaps, arrogant, maybe, but nonetheless it is a fact.

As our Dollar deteriorates and the powers of the world shift and in motion the centers of influence in the world are changing, America its self looses, bit by bit the economic power they once had, culminating in the 1990's, our peak or last Golden Age if you will of prosperity has passed.

Now is the time of the East.

Long has the West dominated the world, and America filled the vacuume when the Cannibalistic Europeans destroyed themselves, but now, the power has rested on the shoulders of American's for to long, eventually it is packed so tightly that more and more wealth, production, means of intelligence and innovation move out, a consumer society that survives now on spending money to stay afloat, where such a large portion of our economy is service related to our own people.

China, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Africa, South America, all of these places are unexploited, not used to their potential by any means, and as more and more industry moves out of the West, into the East, a snowball effect is the only logical outcome.

However, this is no easy, no abrupt event.. most typically nations on the decline become increasingly unstable, to the point of insanity at points. No Kingdom, Nation, Empire, what have you has ever just stopped being a world power, and sulked off into the shadows to be forgotten.

It is not as Eliot says

This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

Because he was not talking of revolutions, a shift in global power, nor the end of the world.

He was talking of failed revolutions.. how a revolutionary plotted his attack against the institution, and instead of coming out on top, was executed, Guy Fawkes Whimper.

In all reality if America collapses, and it will eventually, or at the very minimum, a very big transformation into a new entity, not unlike Rome into an Empire.. it will be with the most explosive and powerful bang one could imagine.

Like France, in my opening, the United States represents awesome power, the likes of which have never been seen by man.. in the event that power erodes our efficiency to keep order in such a vast land, one could only imagine the terror America could inflict where it to "fall into the wrong hands".

Rome, which America mirrors rather astonishingly, was weak at the point where the Republic moved into a phase we recognize as the Empire.. they expanded, spent to much money, over taxed her people, and where being attacked on all fronts..

Like America, our Republic has expanded economically to the point that unless there is a drastic change in policy poverty and social decline will accelerate, we are seen as weak, a dieing power, our people's finances stretched to the breaking point and our financial institutions in a state of urgency. It would not be impossible then for America to enter a stage where we transition from one form of government, and foreign policy, into another, one of aggression, war, and a completely different mind set. Not to differently then Rome, or France..

But I do understand what you mean, Strange, that civilizations even the most powerful can succumb to otherwise menial reasons, however, after many a new order is established, and something more powerful, organized and efficient replaces it.

An endless cycle through the ages, as one civilization dies, from its ashes rises another who learned, or did not learn, the lessons of their ancestors.

One of my favorite poets W. B. Yeats wrote this:

Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold,
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned,
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Quite honestly when you look at the world, it is sad when you first come to understand that before there is but one system to save us, and that is materialism, and when we spend our selves into destruction, there is nothing left to save us.

posted on Apr, 24 2008 @ 06:06 PM
I almost welcome the chaos, lawlessness, riots, anarchy, murders, burning cities...

Bring on the cleansing flames....

The only whimpering will be by the weak.

Civilization is but a thin veneer on us savage talking monkeys; we will eat our brothers babies when hungry enough.

I'm Ready!

[edit on 24-4-2008 by whaaa]

posted on Apr, 24 2008 @ 06:23 PM
Good post.

I can see the dollar slowly losing value till it's worthless. The fed has to walk a tight line to deep the dollar from losing too much value while keeping the interest rate low to help out the "mortgage meltdown"

If they print too many dollars, they will lose value at an ever increasing rate. If they print too little money, interest rates skyrocket and unemployment increases which in turn fuels more people losing their houses. A vicious cycle that we don't want either. So to me, the Fed is walking a tightrope with peril on either side.

My opinion, just thinking about economics, we need to stop the hemorrhage of money that we're spending in Iraq. I believe that it's about 12 billion a month right now. (I realize that this could result in a bloody civil war in Iraq)
The government then needs to think about stimulating the economy perhaps with a public works program to rebuild the infrastructure of our country and/or establishing our country as energy independent. This would put Americans back to work in industries that pay a decent wage(allowing them to pay their mortgages) and it improve our existence.

Otherwise, I see us descending slowly into some sort of economic depression.

I don't see the situation X that so many people on this site seems to imagine. ie a sudden catastrophic event that sends us all into a mad max world. But I can easily see hard times ahead.

Also, no matter how hard it US economy is hit it will be harder in most other countries. If the US stops buying all the cheap goods from China, their economy will go into a tailspin. Same with India. It could be bad from the whole world.

posted on Apr, 24 2008 @ 07:02 PM
It is very interesting, solar power and wind power exist and will in all likelihood begin to grow as oil prices continue to climb. Aside from that, the ability to hunt and find food is not a forgotten skill here in the US. And for anyone in the Chicago area, I am sure you can attest to an abundance of deer around here. Not to mention you can strip out the grass in your yard and use that land to plant food. Corn, etc....

posted on Apr, 24 2008 @ 08:15 PM
reply to post by Rockpuck

Beautifully put. I have always believed that in the end the US will take the rest of the world out with us. No one likes to relinquish power. Better to burn out than to fade away.

posted on Apr, 24 2008 @ 10:16 PM
reply to post by 44soulslayer

Lots of people will be doing that, and unfortunatly I can only imagine bad things happening. My family lives on a small farm in western canada, and my father loved to tell stories of the The Great Depression. He always told stories about the people who would travel on foot past his farm and steal his home grown vegetables, and a couple times people attempted to burn down his house for whatever reason.

I haven't seen hard times like those of course, but i can only imagine. What are the people who live in small apartments in large cities going to do? They will flock to the country in search of food and shelter. I am scared because when someones life is on the line they will do whatever it takes.

I already have a garden that has more then enough food to feed for a year and its been feeding me for the past 4 years. Ive rarely bought veggies from the store unless its been something that i can't grow such as bananas. I have chickens and cows and it would be nothing for me to go hunting and get some meat. But im not planned for all the people who will be coming out to the country thinking that surviving will be a peace of cake and this worries me.

posted on Apr, 24 2008 @ 11:11 PM
I can certainly agree with this post.

Sometimes I think the whole "war with Iran" thing is just a rumor to get us all worked up. Meanwhile, the economy collapses around us, which is in fact the true next terror attack.

Perhaps the next 9-11 doesn't have to happen suddenly, without warning. Maybe it can be drawn out over months - and we're seeing this.

Does anyone have any good links to some survival websites? It may not be needed immediately, but it's definitely good knowledge to have when everything falls apart.

posted on Apr, 24 2008 @ 11:44 PM
Stalin, Hitler, Mao, and the list goes on... What do they have in common? They enslave their people by turning them against themselves first, then those that are left they placed into camps, they worked their land but were not allowed to eat any of their own food.
Starvation is a kind of illness of the elites. Watch them starve and kill each other for a potatoe.
What am I doing? Much the same as you, not enough. BUt what is mine I intend to defend, to keep and to use for my own survival. I am an American and I will survive. What is going to happen if they take the guns from the Vets in late June early July? I do not know a single one willing to go quietly into the night.
This is not the past, and the tactics of the past will not work on as many as people think. I think it will be long and drawn out, it will break people with the survival level, on many levels. Switch and Bait. Red Herrings, it is going to get crazy and my plan is to be open to all that comes because I will not be alone.
I have little, so I do not have far to fall. I heat with only wood, I am used to not going out alot. We can entertain ourselves. My kids play music and ball, we are all artists. We enjoy the things that life gives us for free.
I worry about the welfare parasites and the psycotropic drug users, but thats going to be everyone in the future. It is going to get worse before it gets better. I do not want to harm anyone, I will protect my family.

posted on Apr, 25 2008 @ 01:57 AM
I live in Arizona, and one of my goals is to get solar up on my roof to power my entire house. I believe solar is the only electricity that will survive.

I don't think I'll have the money to finish the project, or maybe even get started, before I'll need it (just my feeling), but that's part of my plan.

If I do get that up and running, I'll be taking steps to reinforce my house so that I can defend it if people want to come to the only place in town with the lights still on.

Even that wouldn't last forever, light bulbs eventually burn out, other things need maintenance, so that's just to hold out as long as I can if I can.

Aside from that, the rest of my plans include lightweight tents and sleeping bags, survival tools, enough fuel on hand to get me and my wife away from this city if things get ugly. According to your criteria though, it's not to be violent, but I'd get us out of here regardless, not to go looking for jobs, or food lines, or anything like that.

It's not going to take much for the collapse to come, and finding work is going to be the least of our worries. We'll revert to hunting and gathering and establish ourselves in a nice out of the way place with some people we know, grow some fruits and vegetables to supplement our diet while we build ourselves our own little self sufficient community.

The key, for me, is staying away from the masses and relying on a small number of individuals that you know and trust.

posted on Apr, 25 2008 @ 03:53 AM

Originally posted by 44soulslayer
A chilling and infinitely more realistic situation than armageddon you paint here, Dr Strangecraft!

I'll echo that. This thread resounds with authenticity and is a welcome contrast to the countless sensational armageddon threads. One thing that has always struck me is that when we look back on history, condensing thousands of years worth of events into a few school lessons and a few history books, it's easy to imagine all those wars, economic collapses and crumbling-civilisations occuring almost instantly, like the blink of an eye. In reality, they were all slow processes, certainly no quicker than the gradual decline we're beginning to see emerge in our lifetime.

posted on Apr, 25 2008 @ 04:38 AM
I think that self-sufficiency, or at least being self sufficient in as many aspects as possible, is the way forward. Whether its being able to grow your own food, forage, hunt, heat your home without gas/electricity, distill/filter water, administer first will all help. Whatever you can do will certainly give you a headstart in the situation.

The problem with theft, as mentioned by an earlier poster, is going to be a huge problem, and protecting what you produce is going to be an important thing to consider. I disagree with the notion that there will be less violence. I think that as the situation worsens, and people become more desparate, it is inevitable that people will fight, kill and die over diminishing resources.

One disadvantage we all face in our westernised coutries, is that we are very much more atomised as a society than previously. Social interaction, community spririt and co-operation have all declined over recent years. A lot of people don't even know their next door neighbours these days. In the past, it has been this sense of community and co-operation that has pulled people through adversity. How will we cope now that we as people have a different and more singular social dynamic?

posted on Apr, 25 2008 @ 10:51 AM
I just wanted to add some things that I have been thinking about if the peverbial crap hit the perverbial fan. These are some suggestions:

Plant an indoor garden, buy a gun, buy a bike, store canned goods, stick with family, learn to fish and hunt, buy camping gear, learn to purify water, get fit, be self sufficent, learn how much food it takes to survive and plan accordingly, stash some cash (just in case its worth something), and above all, prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

I also am a firm believer that if the world came to an end, or our civilization, it would be a long, slow process. If something is going to happen in the near future, I believe the time is now to prepare, and all the things mentioned above can be aquired with some time on a limited buget.
I for one am becoming self-sufficent, and am learning the ways of the gardener. I am also learning how to shoot, and protect my family if needed. I am not just preparing physically but also mentally and spiritually as well. I am a strong believer that if something big is going to happen in my lifetime, it will happen sometime in the next 3-15 years.

[edit on 25-4-2008 by schism85]

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