Given that we in the industrialized world, and the United States in particular, now appear to be standing on the brink of the greatest civilizational collapse in at least 1600 years, how should one proceed? As I see it there are five viable options, each with its own merits and drawbacks.
1) Party Like There’s No Tomorrow
Crisis? What crisis?
This option is quite natural, and will no doubt be the default choice of a great many. Since partying on is all a lot of us know how to do at this point, why not have one last blow out, a Titanic-sized clusterfuck, an orgy-to-end-all-orgies before the ship splits in two and heads for the ocean floor? The main drawback to this option is that the ship may sink slowly, and no one can party forever, meaning that the hangover will be horrific--at least until your life reaches its merciful conclusion at the hands of the inevitable zombie cannibal hordes.
2) The Amish Option
Move to a small town, get to know your neighbors, start a vegetable garden, create a resilient community, rewind your lifestyle to around 1750. This is a popular choice for many well-meaning people, who have images of some kind of peaceful “power down” to a Renaissance Fair world of blacksmiths, goat farmers and lute players. But who are these people kidding? Anyone with an ounce of understanding of history and human nature knows that civilizational collapses never play out like this, especially not in a civilization as utterly unprepared for post-collapse life as our own. When America goes down, it will almost certainly be a violent, ugly, hellish conflagration, like every riot and Katrina-style disaster you’ve ever seen on TV happening everywhere all the time. Folks like the Amish will be sitting ducks for the desperate zombie hordes who will pour out of urban areas looking for easy targets to loot. This isn’t just a survivalist fantasy I’m afraid, but an obvious fact to anyone with their eyes open. Which brings us to the third option…
3) Run for the Hills!
A perennial favorite of the more fearfully inclined: hole up in a remote cabin or farm stocked with a ten year food supply, stable water source, guns and ammo and sit with your back to the wall awaiting the arrival of the zombie cannibal hordes. This has the added advantage of giving you at least a fighting chance of surviving a real apocalypse, such as nuclear war, supervolcano, 2012 cosmic catastrophe, etc. The problem with this scenario is that a) you’ll eventually run out of supplies b) it could get quite boring and c) to be safe from the marauding hordes and government jackboots you’ll have to go so far into the wilderness that you’ll have a hard time holding out for long unless you have the skills of a true survivalist. There aren’t many Jeremiah Johnsons left, but if you’re one of them, more power to you--the world will one day be your kingdom!
4) The Alaric Option
Has there ever been a better time to storm the capitals of this corrupt and tottering Empire?
This option is for the more ambitious among you, the would-be warlords and barbarian chiefs of the post-industrial world. Take advantage of this once-in-a-millenium opportunity to position yourself as a future Alaric, Attila or Genghis Khan and start organizing your tribe now. Think of the possibilities: coastal raiding, piracy, hijacking, seizing banks, gas stations, oil tankers, Wal-Marts--the possibilities are endless. Why should looting be confined to the bankers in pin-striped suits? Why not grab your piece of the pie now, before it has all been gobbled up by the fat cats? The biggest downside to this option is the danger of being killed or imprisoned by the still-formidable forces of the Empire. The last place you want to be at a time like this is in a FEMA camp or federal detention center. But to quote a Frenchman I've never heard of: "when we conquer without danger, our triumph is without glory." Now, if you’re too cowardly to go for glory, but still crave some kind of action, you can always...
5) Fight for the Empire
Given that socioeconomic collapse, resource wars and die-off are all but inevitable, there should be no shortage of challenging work for people in the military, national security and law enforcement apparatus of the Empire. Certainly the police and national guard will have their hands full maintaining domestic order before long, as the zombiefied masses wake up to the fact that Beverly Hills 90210 isn’t going to be anyone’s future address. On the international front, slaughtering Third-Worlders to keep your neighbors’ SUV’s gassed up isn’t the most pleasant work, but it pays the bills and may even offer some opportunities for plunder. Think of this as your chance to go out in Wagnerian style amidst the coming devastation—fire up “Ride of the Valkyries”, give a hillbilly “Yeeehawww!” and ride the bomb straight down to ground zero.
Whichever option you choose, I can’t really argue with your choice--different strokes for different folks. The only option that isn’t viable is to do nothing and assume that business as usual will continue, or that the insane state of affairs we have come to think of as "normal" will ever return. It’s a new century and a new world, falling apart fast but full of opportunities. Seize the day!
The Black Magicians
3 months ago