Collapse of society – how to spot it and how to prepare
What is Collapse?
Collapse, in the context of this subreddit, is the devolution of our civilization from a complex state into a much simpler one, economically, socially, politically, and technologically. Depending on the cause and process of collapse, such a devolution could be quick or slow, orderly or chaotic, and willing or unwilling.
When does the collapse hit?
This is tricky to answer. A common saying on /r/collapse is that “the collapse is here, it’s just not widely distributed yet” (modifying William Gibson’s quote). “The Collapse” means different things to different people. If you have been unemployed since the Great Recession began in 2007/2008, it might feel like collapse has hit. Others have been minorly inconvenienced. Does the collapse mean Peak Oil, an EMP or nuclear attack, or a generations-long slide into a future which just becomes slightly worse every year? All of these scenarios (and more) have different timeframes. It’s best to read widely on the various factors and come to your own conclusions as to when the collapse arrives, according to your definition. Many scenarios for collapse are considered to be “inevitable” (e.g. Peak Oil, economic collapse), but that doesn’t mean that anyone can predict a timeframe for them.
James Howard Kunstler’s answer is “we’re in the zone”. That is: collapse is happening.
A key message of his book The Long Emergency is that this isn’t a short-term affair that’s going to happen one day and be done with in a week, though parts of it may well evolve quickly. Rather, it’s a long-term and permanent transition of humanity and civilization from one state of existence to another (possibly none).
Joseph Tainter, speaking on his book The Collapse of Complex Societies describes collapse as a political porcess, with consequences in other area: economics, art, and literature, for example. His definition:
A society has collapsed when it displays a rapid, significant loss of an established level of sociopolitical complexity.
He further defines complexity in terms of both number, distinct types, and relationships between, components.
Tainter speaks of collapse happening on the scale of decades, possibly centuries. Though others observe that worldwide and advanced technological societies may well collapse faster than civilizations of old.
Rather than focus on specifically when collapse happens, which is profoundly difficult given complexities and nonlinearities, it may be more useful to consider what the signs of impending collapse are, and how collapse is likely to progress.
What will the collapse look like?
Again, nobody can tell you this with 100% certainty. It could look like the world outside right now, or like Cormac McCarthy’sThe Road, or something in between. Spend some time familiarizing yourself with the resources below, and educate yourself as to a variety of scenarios.
So what should I be doing to prepare?
Prepare for whatever you consider to be the most likely form of collapse. For many, this means basic emergency-preparedness type of preparing. A supply of food and water, an emergency kit, first-aid training and resources, etc… can be useful in a wide range of circumstances. Depending on your area, preparing for various types of natural disasters can be prudent. Others develop hobbies or other preparations that will be useful whether a collapse or disaster hits or not. Examples of this include: brewing beer, gunsmithing, hunting and fishing, camping, etc…
It’s always a good idea to get involved with your neighbors and community as well. This builds your integration and importance to the community, and you might make some important connections with others in your local area. Again, this is good advice whether or not a collapse hits.
How do I convince my family / friends about collapse?
People have to come to an understanding on their own. Dmitry Orlov addresses this as his first of four questions:
In many cases I don’t think it’s possible to communicate the reality of collapse to family and friends, because some people are simply unable to shake themselves loose from the dominant paradigm of endless growth, and will go to their graves believing that a return to growth is just around the corner, regardless of all evidence to the contrary.
The trick is to have a consistent message and to not overstate the situation. Anyone who remembers your position from a few years ago, and can see that your story for how the world works is more consistent with reality than the mainstream story, is going to become your ally. Trying to convince people quickly is counterproductive.
Food: farming & gardening,
Health & Medicine,
Recycling & Scavenging
Trading, Black Markets & Bartering
Unstructured, newly added questions from a search of the subreddit. This or similar searches may be used to further develop this FAQ.
Questions should be organized and thinned down.
- Suppose collapse is imminent, what would be the first material thing you’d gather?
- Has anybody here tried warning their friends or relatives on what is going to come? If so, how did it go?
- What jobs were lucrative during the Great Depression?
- What would it take to prevent collapse?
- What type of handgun and rifle does Collapse suggest?
- What happens to personal debt in a collapse?
- Discuss: Knowing what we know about collapse, and the implications for the future, is it okay to bring a new child into this world? What would you do?
- When the Internet goes down, what should I already have on my PC?
- What is your most realistic/probable collapse scenario?
- A Fast Collapse happens tomorrow at noon. You’re not a prepper. What would be your immediate-to-short term plan?
- You are laid off from your job. You don’t know it yet, but you won’t find another job for one year. What is your Plan B?
- What was everyone’s take on Doomsday Preppers?
- What’s really going to happen to all of us?
- Why is there such a difference between what I see happening, and what I read is happening?
- What will happen to academics after a collapse?
- Maybe a better post for r/Economics, but in the event that only the dollar crashes, what foreign currency should be invested in now?
- The Collapsed Map: what new states will rise from the fully-collapsed (North) America?
- What real world collapse scenarios seem most likely to you in the near future; financial meltdown, pandemic, peak resources, rouge GMO food source depletion, climate change, global power shifts, meteor strike, nuclear accident or exchange, war, etc.? Why?
- How do you deal with everyone not seeing what you see?
- What will the 2nd American Civil War look like?
- What is the event that sends this whole house of cards tumbling down?
- What will be the state of the Internet after the collapse?
- What does economic collapse mean for my money?
- Ask Collapse Reddit: What changes do you expect to see in your lifetime?
- Collapse, what career path do you think will be most valuable to a community in the coming years?
- Ask Collapse: What are some good “careers” right now to be pursuing?
- What are some good collapse related TV shows or movies?
- What’s your personal theory on how it’ll all go down?
- What do you think is the most likely scenario to lead to societal collapse?
- When TSHTF how would you know? What will be your “It’s Happening” trigger? And what exactly will you do?
- What is the elites’ plan on dealing with upcoming collapse? Best predictions
- What’s the best, most synthetic, short video you would show to someone who is not aware of peak oil and what is about to happen during the collapse ?
- Okay, im curious. What exactly is “collapse”?
- What action(s) are you taking as a result of what you’ve learned about collapse theories?
- What is your top collapse scenario and how do you think it will play out?
- What preparations have you made so far?
- What the collapse is really like
- What being a ships officer taught me about prepping
- What will you do when the world goes to shit?
- As a 21 year old, what are the chances that I will need to use everything I am learning in the sustainability and homestead subs to survive?
- When do you think a collapse will happen?
- Anyone have a guess when an Economic Collapse will occur? USA
- If you had to put a date on when the collapse would come when would it be and why?
- Thoughts on “when”
- When Will A Possible Collapse Occur? – “When is the most likely time period for a collapse?”
- When do you think industrial society will collapse?
- When do you want a collapse of civilization?
- If you could bugout to any location in the world during a collapse, where would you go and how would you get there?
- Post collapse, will Americans flock to Canada, or will they head south where its warmer?
- Where to live post-collapse?
- Where in heck are we gonna find the oil needed for THIS decade?
- Where is the best place to live if we survive the apocalypse?
- I just discovered this subreddit and I am curious about one thing: Where do all of you stand, politically?
- where is the safest place to ride out the collapse?
- In case of worldwide economic collapse, where is the ‘safest’ nation to live/work/ or retire?
- No disrespect, just the opinion of someone who works with government agencies in emergency management. A lot of the things that get posted here as ominous government plans are actually the result of boring bureaucratic planning and often have more to do with people trying to cover their asses.
- Are there any good factual books on actual collapses and the people who have survived them?
- What does collapse recommend for those of us who live in the city in an apartment?
- I wish the collapse would hurry up
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