Throughout history societies and cultures of all different styles, shapes, and sizes have risen and fallen. These falls or breakdowns have taken on many different forms. Some happen very quickly due to outside forces. Others crumble slowly over time from within. We define a societal collapse as an event or series of events that leads to the breakdown of civil services, utilities, and societal norms of behavior.
How would your family cope if the electricity was off for an extended period of time or forever? What about city water? Could you cook and heat your home without natural gas? What if trucks stopped delivering food to the grocery stores? How long would the items you have in your pantry last? What if all of the police went home to protect their own families, would you be able to protect yours?
Think it can’t happen here? Ask New Orleans.
“Katrina helped us realize that the veneer of society is very thin and it doesn’t take much to peel that veneer back and what you see underneath it is quite ugly, quite nasty”- Defense Consultant Kevin Reece from the History Channel Docudrama, After Armageddon.
So what could cause things like this on a national or global scale? Actually there are several things. A chain reaction from various disasters, a pandemic, war, civil war, terrorism, or even rampant inflation. While not trying to sound completely alarmist, let’s look at these individually;
Disasters: Individual disasters are fairly localized and are explored more in the next section. However, the chain reaction from earthquakes, hurricanes, solar flares, or eruptions could cause a societal breakdown.
Pandemic: A pandemic is a disease affecting a significant proportion of the population over a wide geographical area. According to David Burns, an Emergency Management Expert at UCLA, a pandemic happens about every 30-40 years. (After Armageddon) We haven’t had a major one since the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918 which killed between 50 and 100 million people. Just look at the panic over SARS and Avian Flu and you can begin to imagine how people might react to something that actually is serious. Runs on grocery stores, people not going to work, breakdowns in transportation, and even civil services and utilities could happen if the outbreak is bad enough.
War: While it’s not likely that we in America will be invaded anytime soon, history tells us that it is always possible.
Civil War: We aren’t there yet and I’m not predicting it, but just listen to the rhetoric out there these days. Red states, blue states, conservatives, liberals, immigration disputes, populism, class conflict…it’s all out there and the tone is getting worse, not better. Reasonable, objective debate is almost non existent and I don’t see much hope for unity in the near future. Full scale civil war is not likely, but how about mass rioting? Do you have plans to hunker down or get out of dodge?
Economic System Collapse: This is the one that most concerns us on a societal level mainly due to the threat of hyper inflation.
In the simplest terms, hyper inflation is currency diminishing in value very quickly. Where as you can buy a can of soup for $1 today imagine an inflationary environment in which 2 weeks later that same can of soup costs $2. Under normal circumstances, we are used to inflation rates that cause a doubling of the price of goods every 10-20 years. In hyper inflationary environments prices of goods can double in days. Think it’s impossible? Look at Germany’s Weimar Republic after World War I. Inflation rates were literally off the charts. According to Brain Trumbore’s article in 2000, the historical record shows that from January 1922 to January 1923, one US dollar’s worth in marks went from 1919.8 to 17,972. That wasn’t even the peak!
In 2008, Lehman Brothers and Bear Sterns, two stalwarts of the financial industry, had disappeared overnight. Congress was at a loss over what to do and people in the know were near panic. While panic didn’t quite set in society-wide, fear ruled the day as we came unbelievably close to a financial system collapse that would have sent modern society spiraling out of control. Had the Lehman and Bear collapse spread to AIG, Citibank, and beyond you would have seen bank failures, loss of wealth, and credit coming to an absolute halt in a matter of weeks if not days. We dodged the bullet in 2007, but the threat of hyper inflation is every bit as strong now as it was then. The Fed is printing money at ridiculous rates. We are borrowing money from other countries just to pay the debt that we owe to other countries! What happens when those countries stop lending us money? We’ll have to print even more money to pay welfare, social security, Medicaid, Medicare, government pensions, and all the other things that we are on the hook for. When more money is circulated, the value of each dollar is lessened meaning it will purchase less.
What happens when everyone tries to take their money out of the bank at the same time? What happens when stores and gas stations stop taking dollars because they aren’t worth anything? How would your average American react to measures already being taken in countries like Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Ireland such as cutting welfare checks and pensions?
Again we really are happy, well educated people here at Best Survival Deals. We are not total “gloom and doomers” but we do think there are many possible scenarios that reasonable people should be paying attention to and therefore taking precautions.