Collapse scenario(s)?

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  • Wed, May 13, 2009 - 01:11am

    #1

    pir8don

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    Collapse scenario(s)?

http://grunes.wordpress.com/2007/03/07/joki-jarmo-lampela-2001/ is a Finnish film called Joki (the river) available with English subtitles. I watched this film earlier this year and have been haunted by it since. Normally I would not wish to impose my distress on others but this film resonated for me with one collapse scenario. The scenario is that portrayed by Dmitry Orlov http://cluborlov.blogspot.com/.

On our CM site there have been a number of discussions centered on collapse and timing. Our understanding of collapse progress and process are very varied and it is clear that no single event may characterise the collapse and that collapse may be, or is, much more personal than public for the majority of us.

The link to the film above gives the best review in English that I have been able to find. What is depicted is a small Finnish town whose inhabitants are to varying degrees in dire circumstances. It follows a variety of characters who are linked although not strongly. This variety gives us a good feel for living in this place. As in Dmitry’s depiction we have the only workers those providing alcohol, entertainment or fast food. We find the men in stages of alcoholism increasing with age. Mature women struggle to maintain the processes of living but are often thwarted by alcoholism. Social isolation is prevalent. A young mother is forced to attempt suicide by circumstances and the lack of concern of those around her.   

What the film best depicts for me is the lack of real community and selfish hopelessness that pervades the town. Each person struggles alone or at best with very few others to deal with the realities of their lives in collapse. A nice backdrop to the film is the locally ignored but explosive sound of fighter jets overflying the town as they break the sound barrier. We get the feeling of a distant government spending heaps on military hardware with just enough social welfare to keep its people from starvation or death by disease or injury.

Why I draw attention to the film and its sad message is the obvious alternative of cooperation that is not at all obvious to those living the collapse. For the suicidal mother there are only two social interactions during the days leading to her ultimate act. One person delivers a paper through her letterbox and another acquantance promises to visit sometime but doesn’t. She lives in a small unfurnished apartment and people are everywhere around her. Relationships have degenerated to something very close to begging for human interaction. At some time in the past there may have been  charity but its long gone. From the homes we can see that there has been affluence but in its passing has been exposed  a raw, soul destroying paucity of humanity. Everyone knows but no one cares. A culture of selfish greed has pervaded peoples lives during good times and allows of no alternative in the bad.

We may be powerless to influence the financial and political forces surrounding us but we have the power to cooperate within our communities or localities. Are we destined to walk the narrow path to oblivion so clearly marked out for us?

Don

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  • Wed, May 13, 2009 - 02:21am

    #2
    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    Re: Collapse scenario(s)?

Hey Don, I think I saw that film at Festival… sounds really familiar in any case.

Being my usual uncheery and slightly pessimistic self, I don’t think this scenario will be the only thing that happens. I think there will be people who thrive and blossom in the isolation. I think there will be communities who pull together and take care of each other. But, yes, I do think that a large proportion of our population are probably going to end up in this particular handbasket to Hell.  I actually don’t think these percentages are really all that new… at least not post-Industrial Era new. Seems like the underpinnings of true community started to deteriorate when we all moved to the cities to work with machines. I think the only people who are truly going to be able to survive and thrive post-TSHTF are the rare few who can adapt to radical change – either through self-sufficiency or pulling together as a community. 

The remaining 50-75% will spiral down into denial, depression and desperation, ultimately death by one means or another. We really have to realize that we have no power to make those people buck up and thrive… no matter how much we try to include them in our communities. All we can do is join up with those who want to adapt and survive and leave those without the will to pass by the wayside.Ironically, the loss of that percentage would put the human population right around the "sustainable" figures most of the scientists agree on. It’s a harsh and cold reality, but one we can’t afford to ignore if we want to get our energy, efforts and resources working to the best advantage.

  • Wed, May 13, 2009 - 04:31am

    #3
    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    Re: Collapse scenario(s)?

Hi PlicketyCat

I suppose you are right and certainly about movement of people to cities. It seems such a waste as all that is really required is a glimmer of comprehension to seed cooperative behavior.  I used to think our past experience of cooperation would someday return to reclaim our lives but it seems that this cooperation may have been very unwillingly learnt and then abandoned at the first opportunity http://www.theoildrum.com/node/4240.

On the subject of seeds and movement to cities; I see that the world according to Monsanto http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_OJcPKEYDE is becoming a significant force to herd even more of us into cities. Leaving only sterile mechanics to run the factory farms.

I had kind of accepted the probable future prognosis intellectually but am now having more trouble with it emotionally as the real horror is revealed. Strange that I regarded myself as mostly into acceptance.

I’ll go back to the humour thread then and see if I can pick myself up.

Don

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So few then with so many ways, so many now with so few ways

  • Wed, May 13, 2009 - 06:20am

    #4
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    Re: Collapse scenario(s)?

My intuition is telling me that we will be surprised by our fellow humans in all ways.  Hardship and adversity seems to bring out the very best and the very worst in humanity simultaneously, and I think we’ll be truly amazed over the next decade and beyond to see how high some will rise to the challenge, and how incredibly low some will fall.  So I think we will see that unfortunate scenario above play out in various places, but I think we’ll also see many other places that come together in all the ways many of us here are thinking about.  We just need to keep our resolve to not let our communities slide downhill.  I’ve got a 5-month old boy that I’m determined to have grow up in the kind of community that most of us are working towards, and I guarantee that anyone who stands in my path won’t ever know what hit them

– Nickbert

  • Wed, May 13, 2009 - 07:17am

    #5
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    Re: Collapse scenario(s)?

Thanks nickbert

I would feel more comfortable if I knew some stories from places where community had bloomed in the face of economic collapse; perhaps I’m watching the wrong films or reading the wrong books but I see no evidence. Dmitry tells stories of individuals thriving but not of communities. Where individuals seem to thrive it seems often to be on the backs of those in greater adversity around them. One of the characters in the film was able to borrow money from family and friends (‘suckers’) to feed his alcohol habit and was successful and resourcefully inventive in finding new ways to do this. Individuals ahead of the ‘game’ are able to buy in items of anticipated value and sell at a profit when these items are no longer generally available.

The only good example I can find is of very transitory tribal behaviour in the french quarter during katrina. Does anyone know of others?

Don

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  • Wed, May 13, 2009 - 03:47pm

    #6
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    Re: Collapse scenario(s)?

Some other positive examples: Greensburg KS after the 2007 tornado; NYC after the 9/11 bombings; San Francisco after the 1989 earthquake; Valdez AK after the Good Friday earthquake in 1964.  In my own experiences with several tornados in Texas, forest fires in Colorado, and hurricanes in the Carolinas there has always been a community pull-together to survive the event and then clean up afterwards.

During these events some thrive through self-sufficiency or cooperation, others buckle or abandon, and some do thrive through manipulation on the backs of others. As Nickbert says, adversity brings out the very best and worst in people. Unfortunately, I don’t think that a person’s basic nature will change much when the TSHTF… only get stronger and more evident. If you’re a "good" or "strong" person, you’ll become more helpful, more useful, more cooperative. If you’re a "bad" person, you’ll become less scrupulous, more manipulative, and more conniving. If you’re a "weak" person, you’ll become more despondent, less motivated, less useful. The only people I can really foresee having an obvious change are those people whose characters are currently undetermined… they’ll either rise to the challenge (positively or negatively) or they will fall before it. Adversity in that case will only manifest their strongest trait and illuminate the depth of their will and character… not necessarily turn them into "good" cooperative humans (although I’m sure the expected percentage will).

Much as I’d like to live in a world without greed, avarice, deceit, envy, manipulation, exploitation, and lack of conscience I really don’t see that happening in our lifetime (if ever). There will always be Machiavellian people who behave unscrupulously for their own personal gain. I’m an Idealist at heart, and learning to accept this fact on an emotional level is very painful… but it does keep me from having too high an expectation and thus becoming completely disheartened. Once I accepted that there are those sort of people in the world and we can’t get rid of them and they won’t change on their own, I could then focus on positively affecting what I could and helping those who wanted my help and were looking for positive change.

I stick by my original numbers: roughly 25% will survive and thrive "positively" either alone or in a community; roughly 50-75% will perish from lack of will… but there’s that fuzzy bit where up to 25% may survive and thrive negatively either alone or in a community (either as a band of thugs or blending into a community to take advantage). Psychologists estimate that 1% of the population are full-blown psychopaths/sociopaths, and many argue that up to 20% of the population show distinct borderline sociopathic behaviors.

So, in the end after the dust settles, all that may remain are a "good" tribe and a "bad" tribe of roughly equal numbers. HOWEVER, the "bad" tribe won’t be very good at taking care of each other, so there is liable to be many losses internally even though there is strength in numbers. The "good" tribe will ultimately prosper as long as they are strong enough to resist predation or manipulation by the "bad" tribe. In that case, it would be to the "good" tribe’s advantage to have a few members of thier community who are "morally vague"… those who are loyal and will do the "right" thing for the group, but aren’t necessarily opposed to acheiving "success" through "questionable" means.

  • Wed, May 13, 2009 - 04:46pm

    #7
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    Re: Collapse scenario(s)?

I dont know that I will be able to add much to this conversation. I’m glad you brought up Greensburg Plickety, I thought that was a good example.

I think things will be slow, maybe marked by a few large events. The thought of the lady alone in her apartment, bottle in hand and military jets breaking the sound barrier above doest seem a too far off reality. You would not believe how large the DOD budget is. Its trillions a year. I still think it will be a gradual collapse though. Industry leaves, people forced to rely on government for everything, mafia mentality returns, infrastructure in a state of despair. I think the Russians provided a good model of things to come.

I agree with the large city argument, but offer some counter perspective. I think large cities could be considered a community within themselves. The problem as I see it is things become so large and diverse there is a disconnect between the people. You have your circle of friends, and no longer care as much about your neighbors around you. I think large cities could change to provide their own resources, become more of a true community, but I’m not sure if that would ever happen.

That 25% negative is what is the scary part. Some people will do whatever they have to in order to survive, even at the expense of others.

I would love to purchase a large piece of land, and be self sufficient. A small community with family and friends. For now I’m stuck in a city where they just legalized gambling and increased the amount of police to provide more revenue for the city. I guess I’m just along for the ride.

  • Wed, May 13, 2009 - 06:22pm

    #8
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    Re: Collapse scenario(s)?

This is a huge subject and collapse can be different things to different communities and people.

From my view there are different things that could be considered a collapse and different possibilities for them:

1) Bank Holiday for 3 weeks plus

Issues:

a) people typically keep 1 to 3 weeks food in there house, and without money to get more food, than there can be trouble. (have nots go after the haves, death, etc.)

b) people typically do not have cash on hand for gasoline, if any is available at all, to get to work.  Work places shut down especially in long distance commuter areas.

c) Utilities can not run properly due to workers not being able to get there ((this will be another numbered concern set)).

2) Main utility lose (natural gas, electricity, water) 

a) Natural gas – In regions that get cold, not too much of an effect in summer except the people that only cook with gas and you will be taking alot of cold showers but in winter you can freeze (death), water pipes bursting, etc.  In warmer regions, this should not have much of an effect.

b) Electricity – Lose of communications, cooking if you have electric ovens, furnaces will not work well (lose of blowers), work places close down, not able to get money from banks or ATM’s, food will not stay in freezers/fridges, gasoline will need to be hand pumped, basically modern society stops.

c) Water – people do not keep much water storage in their household (after 3 days without water you die).

3) Federal government steps over the line (declares martial law, etc.) and states start to enact sovereignty laws.  Now we have civil war potential.

4) Hyper inflation – can not afford anything. 

5) Complete dollar failure (Zimbabwe scenario) – we only have so much gold on hand to use as currency

6) Major draught, major reduction in cheap food and food supply.

I think these 6 items couls cause a collapse or more likely combinations of them. 

  • Wed, May 13, 2009 - 08:06pm

    #9
    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    Re: Collapse scenario(s)?

[quote=pir8don]

Thanks nickbert

I would feel more comfortable if I knew some stories from places where community had bloomed in the face of economic collapse; perhaps I’m watching the wrong films or reading the wrong books but I see no evidence.

[/quote]

There’s one strong example.  It is Cuba from 1990 onward their so-called "special period" that occurred exceptionally suddenly when their oil from Russia stopped arriving.

There’s a longer movie on this, but here’s a ~10 minute version: 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42EkxB8umlM

  • Wed, May 13, 2009 - 08:26pm

    #10
    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    Re: Collapse scenario(s)?

Chris,

Thanks for posting the link. Everyone needs to see just what it means to have to create a sustainable society with sharply decreased energy supplies. We are fortunate to have adequate electrical power in place without it relying on imported fuel, but reclaiming our soil for organic agriculture will be a huge challenge.

 

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