For many years, there have been those who have been prognosticating an economic crisis – not just a recession lasting a year or two, but a full-blown Greater Depression that would eclipse any major event we’ve seen in our lifetimes.
That may appear to be an overstatement, but historically, it’s the norm for a time of major upheaval to occur every eighty years or so. And although some of us began analysing and commenting on the Greater Depression many years ago, it’s clear to all of us that we’ve now entered the leading edge of the crisis.
All of the traditional warning signs are present, and although technology has changed considerably over the millennia, human behaviour has not. We are witnessing the same symptoms that were present in major collapses of the past, going back at least as far as the Roman Empire.
We are therefore seeing not only the initial stages of an economic collapse but the concurrent events, such as an almost total corruption of the political structure, a move toward totalitarian rule, the destruction of currencies, and a loss of faith in leadership across the board. Along the way, we’re also experiencing a decline in logic and morality and an eroding sense of humanity.
That’s quite a lot to take in, yet, sorry to say; we’re only in the first stages of collapse. It will get quite a bit worse before it gets better.
As the economy begins its collapse in earnest, what we shall witness will be a population that will be unable to adapt quickly to the symptoms of the crisis as they increase in frequency and magnitude. The reaction to each will be, first, shock (an inability to comprehend that the impossible has occurred), then fear (a state of confusion and inability to adjust to rapidly-changing conditions), and finally, anger.
This last development should give pause to us all, as it’s the stage when those who have been most strongly impacted realise that there’s precious little that they can do to regain normalcy. When they find that they can’t get their hands around the necks of those who actually are to blame, they’ll take out their anger on whomever is in their proximity – each other.
So, the questions arise: Where will these problems be most prevalent? Where will the situations exist that should be avoided as much as possible, in order to minimize the likelihood that we’ll become collateral damage of the crisis?
Having studied previous similar historical periods, I can attest that this is a question that, unfortunately, requires an extensive and complex answer. However, as a rough guide, there are three considerations that will be overarching.
Regardless of any other concerns that may affect the reader individually, all persons would do well to stay clear (as much as possible) from the following:
First World Countries
Since 1945, the First World countries (the US, UK, EU, Japan, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) have led the world in both prosperity and power. Under the driving force of the US, they’ve created not only the advances of the last eighty years but also the rot that has led to the current crisis. As such, these countries are not only the countries where we’re seeing the most dramatic oppression of people; they will also experience the most precipitous fall economically, politically, and sociologically.
Although these countries have, until recently, seemed to be the most attractive locations in which to live, that condition has now begun a reversal, and in the coming years, they’ll represent the very nexus of decline. As such, they’ll become the most unpredictable and even the most dangerous places to be.
Conversely, the choicest countries in which to live will be those countries where change will be minimal. Those countries where the populations and governments have been relatively unambitious over the last half century or more, will be the locations that are the least likely to change dramatically during the crisis. That one fact speaks loudly to the reader’s economic, political, and social well-being in this period.
The colder a location is, the less hospitable it will be in a crisis. When governments collapse economically and seemingly basic amenities can no longer be paid for, politicians will look after their own needs before those of the people they are meant to represent. Simple services such as snow ploughing may be dropped from city budgets that must experience cutbacks. More importantly, during an energy crunch, you’re likely to experience periods in which heat cannot be attained. This doesn’t mean that you will necessarily freeze to death, but it does mean that life will be much harder. In addition, produce cannot be grown in colder climates, which eliminates even the possibility of a kitchen garden in colder months.
By far, this is the riskiest of the three concerns. The more concentrated the population is the greater the risk. The larger your building, the less control you have over utilities. If the water, electricity, or heat is shut off due to energy shortages, you will have little or no recourse.
But, by far, the greatest risk in a city will be the inherent depersonalisation that exists even in the best of times. Even if you live in a very nice apartment building in a nice neighbourhood, you’re likely to be socially isolated from others. (You may not even know the people in the apartment across the hall.) People in cities tend not to help each other much at the best of times, but in a crisis, those around you can become a threat to your very existence.
Most importantly, food supplies are likely to be interrupted for indeterminate periods and, as Isaac Azimov stated, “After nine missed meals, a man will kill for food.” Even if you’re able to obtain a loaf of bread at a neighbourhood store, you may not be able to walk home with it without being waylaid. Even brief periods of interruption of food delivery to a population centre may result in a simple loaf of bread being worth killing for.
And even for those who live in prosperous neighbourhoods where the neighbours tend to be civil, poorer neighbourhoods are not so far away that their residents, if desperate, will not make the short trip to where they think others have the essentials.
Such breakdowns, as described above, tend to occur slowly, then suddenly. Those of us who have lived through city riots understand that tension builds as people attempt to maintain normal decorum, then some small event sparks off rioting. A citywide riot can go off like popcorn spontaneously. In good times, police can quell a riot in a few days or weeks, but when rioting is citywide, and the cause cannot be quickly remedied, riots can last for extended periods, potentially turning formerly-safe city streets into the equivalent of a war zone.
Of course, there’s the tendency to say, “Don’t be ridiculous – it can’t get that bad.” However, history tells us that whenever a major crisis period occurs, the above conditions almost always occur.
The reader may wish to assess his exposure to the three conditions above. Ideally, he’ll find a location to sit out the crisis – a country that’s likely to be less affected by the events that are now unfolding. He may choose a location that’s warm year-round, where food is plentiful even in harder times. And he may try to locate himself in a community of lower population density, where neighbours habitually help each other.
But regardless of what the reader chooses to do, he should be aware that the future of his well-being and that of his family may hinge on the choices he makes in the very near future.
Reprinted with permission from International Man.