“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.
This is known as “bad luck.”
~ Robert A. Heinlein
Anything with the potential to advance also has the potential to retreat.
This is especially true as applied to technological and social “advancement” and the past few years have raised this concern because the trivial “first world problems” Americans now tend to spend their hours debating can only continue to exist if our “first world” cultures continue to exist. This whole gender identity thing is a puzzler for me. Thinking in terms of the physical world if, for some reason – be it a terrorist attack, an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) burst planned by the Russians or simply a total breakdown in infrastructure – Americans were reduced to a quest for mere subsistence and society came to be dominated by the rules of force (think Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road”) rather than the rule of law, would “gender fluidity” still matter?
I’m thinking gender fluidity will go to the bottom of the problem list and the physically strong males become a rather sought after commodity. That’s not meant to be misogynist, just a fact even females reinforce when they state that men are responsible for all the world’s violence and wars.
Back in 2012 and I think still relevant, economists advanced the thought that the unconstrained spending and borrowing by governments is tipping the world toward a total breakdown in civilization:
“Richard Duncan, formerly of the World Bank and chief economist at Blackhorse Asset Mgmt., says America’s $16 trillion federal debt has escalated into a “death spiral, “as he told CNBC and it could result in a depression so severe that he doesn’t “think our civilization could survive it.”
And Duncan is not alone in warning that the U.S. economy may go into a “death spiral…” A team of scientists, economists, and geopolitical analysts believes they have proof that the threat is indeed real – and the danger imminent. One member of this team, Chris Martenson, a pathologist and former VP of a Fortune 300 company, explains their findings:
“We found an identical pattern in our debt, total credit market, and money supply that guarantees they’re going to fail. This pattern is nearly the same as in any pyramid scheme, one that escalates exponentially fast before it collapses. Governments around the globe are chiefly responsible and what’s really disturbing about these findings is that the pattern isn’t limited to our economy. We found the same catastrophic pattern in our energy, food, and water systems as well.”
I know the above is from 4 years ago but not much has really changed – if anything, it has gotten worse (we flew past $16 trillion in debt a long time ago on our way to the current $20 trillion) and we are even more vulnerable to a single point of failure that could plunge the entire world into a “fight or flight” situation with nowhere to flee to.
Several years ago, India had a taste of such a situation when a power grid failure left over 650 million people without electricity – that’s half of the country. Think about what a prolonged catastrophic failure would do in the US. Sure, India still has weak infrastructure but complex systems, like a power grid, are pretty fragile even in the best economies and because of our supposed “sophistication”, we depend on ours exponentially more than India does.
I’ve been researching failures of complex systems and I ran across this paper: “How Complex Systems Fail”. It includes these observations:
- Complex systems are intrinsically hazardous systems. All of the interesting systems (e.g. transportation, healthcare, power generation) are inherently and unavoidably hazardous by the own nature.
- Catastrophe is always just around the corner. Complex systems possess potential for catastrophic failure. Human practitioners are nearly always in close physical and temporal proximity to these potential failures – disaster can occur at any time and in nearly any place. The potential for catastrophic outcome is a hallmark of complex systems. It is impossible to eliminate the potential for such catastrophic failure; the potential for such failure is always present by the system’s own nature.
How much hard cash do you have in your pockets right now? How many depend on the internet for voice over IP phone service (if you have a cable TV bundle, you do)? How many use debit or credit cards that rely on electronic transactions? How many people don’t have a land line and have all their contact information stored in a mobile phone? Do you even have a phone book? What would happen to you and your family if only hard cash, silver, gold or barter was accepted as the only medium of exchange? How long would you last?
As I said, things that move forward can always go back. The base level of existence is not mobile phones, the internet and iPads. These innovations are not even a blip on the timeline of human existence, just think of how many things within arm’s reach right now did not even exist 10 years ago or if they did, had a fraction of the functionality of what you take for granted today. The base of human existence is far more savage than our modern sensibilities allow us to contemplate.