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Thread: So what will happen when society collapses?

  1. #1
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    So what will happen when society collapses?

    I don't consider it a hypothetical or a joking matter anymore. There is the possibility that society is going to come out of the climate/financial/intellectual triumvate of crises and that it's going to be business as usual for thousands of years more. But I consider it more likely that we're going to go through a couple of dark ages of violence and struggle during which a lot of our culture and knowledge will be forgotten.

    What will remain and what will be gone?

    How will future historians write about our society?

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    TJ TeresaJ's Avatar
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    I tag @ferrus.

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    TJ TeresaJ's Avatar
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    Personally, I'm expecting the future to look a lot like a flashy remake of Soylent Green with lots of CGI refugee crowd scenes.

    And I sincerely hope that the concept of human rights makes it through the next dark age, hopefully stronger. It would be really nice if there's at least an idea that people (esp women) are not chattel.

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    Senior Member Tetris Champion notdavidlynch's Avatar
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    I will take your stuff.

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    All of this is going out from a "best-case" scenario... where we collapse into chaos and not into police states.

    There's a seed vault in spitsbergen that hold seeds of every plant on earth. Which ever group gets their hands on this (and a printed-out copy of wikipedia) should be able to get food production going to the degree that they can spend some time rebuilding society. If we're smart we'll figure out some way to balance the demands our species puts on it's environment with sustainable techniques. I hope we'll have remembered the lesson.

    Supposing everybody is too busy surviving for there to be much time for maintenance... a lot of buildings will breaks down we'll probably be left with a whole lot of steel, concrete and other raw building materials.

    I think our society will be remembered as a violent but equally enlightened one. There hasn't been much peace to go with our prosperity. They're probably not going to think highly of our cultural output from the last 50 years.

  6. #6
    Dr.Awkward Robcore's Avatar
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    Society might collapse...but what collapses will be the stuff that currently sustains stupidity, violence, and neglect...I mean, the media is going the way of cigarette smoking...at first there were a few nerds who knew it was bad, and then more and more, and now smokers aren't cool, they're gross. So it shall be with the media.
    And government...will be like daycare providers...we're going to come to a collective realization that we're grown-ups, or at least adolescents, and that our autonomy trumps their facade of authority.
    And war...when we dismantle government and the media is recognized for the cancer that it is, then there will no longer be identifiable groups to target...war will be sort of futile then...much more difficult to organize as well...at least on a large scale.

    I can see it all happening...but I don't see knowledge and culture being lost...I see them becoming enhanced. To me, leaderless movements = culture at its prime. Collective rejection of retarded institutions and corporate dictatorship = wiser populace.

    Not the Dark ages...
    ...the origin of emotional sickness lay in people’s belief that they were their personalities...
    "The pendulum of the mind alternates between sense and nonsense, not between right and wrong." ~Carl Jung

  7. #7
    Member Aurast's Avatar
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    Well this is always a fun question to take a crack at. The answer largely depends on how society collapses. Let us say that this collapse results in the sudden end of almost all mechanized agriculture and the total loss of the rule of law (perhaps a monster solar flare and a nuclear war in the ensuing confusion could cause this). First, at least 95% of people will die of starvation, if not of other reasons. The planet can support quite a few people with traditional farming methods, but not on short notice.

    Some well prepared governments will survive and maintain limited industrial capacity for possibly as much as a century, depending on how well they can maintain their command structure. They will try to reassert control over the Mad Max's that now populate the world, but will be largely ineffective. They will govern small regions that are relative bastions of order.

    Slowly but surely, microstates will pop up around the world. In the beginning most of them will be despotic and lawless, but some will develop primitive governments and legal systems. These are most likely to appear in rural areas where agriculture is a viable alternative to stealing other peoples' canned food and shooting them. They will have some success at restoring electricity and other services until they run out of spare parts for repairs.

    Eventually there won't be any scraps left to pick and almost no industrial technology will remain functional. The world will once again be wholly agrarian. No one alive will have been born before the collapse, but they will see the ruins around them and wonder how their ancestors could have fallen so far. Our time will seem very enigmatic and become the stuff of legends. Those who can read will find most books almost completely incomprehensible. In most areas, all books and other text will become unreadable before something to write on is re-invented.

    We will eventually fall into a condition similiar to that of the "Dark Ages". Knowledge will be scarce and most people won't aspire to more than farming until their death at age forty-five. It will take a very long time to pull out of, as classical skills such as masonry and pre-industrial metallurgy will be as lost then as they are now. It will likely take several millennia, and by then all of today's knowledge in any form will be dust.

    But pull out of the Dark Ages they would and follow much the same course of technological advancement that we did. They would eventually come to understand how we were destroyed, but I don't think this would prevent any state from developing nuclear weapons, though they might keep it secret from their people. Essentially, history would repeat itself.

    But take heart, assuming you're a random sample of all humans that will ever live, the fact that this scenario appears to have not happened in the past means it probably won't in the future either. If it occurs five times in human history, then you would only have a 20% chance of living before the first (ahem, this probably needs an asterik).
    Last edited by Aurast; 04-28-2015 at 04:27 AM.

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    Minister of Love Roger Mexico's Avatar
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    I figure there will either be lots of gunplay, or alternately perhaps just a bunch of badass kickboxing.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ptah View Post
    No history, no exposition, no anecdote or argument changes the invariant: we are all human beings, and some humans are idiots.

  9. #9
    Member Works's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aurast View Post
    Well this is always a fun question to take a crack at. The answer largely depends on how society collapses. Let us say that this collapse results in the sudden end of almost all mechanized agriculture and the total loss of the rule of law (perhaps a monster solar flare and a nuclear war in the ensuing confusion could cause this). First, at least 95% of people will die of starvation, if not of other reasons. The planet can support quite a few people with traditional farming methods, but not on short notice.

    Some well prepared governments will survive and maintain limited industrial capacity for possibly as much as a century, depending on how well they can maintain their command structure. They will try to reassert control over the Mad Max's that now populate the world, but will be largely ineffective. They will govern small regions that are relative bastions of order.

    Slowly but surely, microstates will pop up around the world. In the beginning most of them will be despotic and lawless, but some will develop primitive governments and legal systems. These are most likely to appear in rural areas where agriculture is a viable alternative to stealing other peoples' canned food and shooting them. They will have some success at restoring electricity and other services until they run out of spare parts for repairs.

    Eventually there won't be any scraps left to pick and almost no industrial technology will remain functional. The world will once again be wholly agrarian. No one alive will have been born before the collapse, but they will see the ruins around them and wonder how their ancestors could have fallen so far. Our time will seem very enigmatic and become the stuff of legends. Those who can read will find most books almost completely incomprehensible. In most areas, all books and other text will become unreadable before something to write on is re-invented.

    We will eventually fall into a condition similiar to that of the "Dark Ages". Knowledge will be scarce and most people won't aspire to more than farming until their death at age forty-five. It will take a very long time to pull out of, as classical skills such as masonry and pre-industrial metallurgy will be as lost then as they are now. It will likely take several millennia, and by then all of today's knowledge in any form will be dust.

    But pull out of the Dark Ages they would and follow much the same course of technological advancement that we did. They would eventually come to understand how we were destroyed, but I don't think this would prevent any state from developing nuclear weapons, though they might keep it secret from their people. Essentially, history would repeat itself.

    But take heart, assuming you're a random sample of all humans that will ever live, the fact that this scenario appears to have not happened in the past means it probably won't in the future either. If it occurs five times in human history, then you would only have a 20% chance of living before the first (ahem, this probably needs an asterik).
    Very interstellary minus the space.

  10. #10
    dormant jigglypuff's Avatar
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    i get together with some like-minded people and we form our own little society living off the land and making art all day and shit.

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