John W. Smart has made his predictions for next year. I’m not going to argue or quibble about them, but I do want to discuss his closing:
I’ve demurred from the most drastic predictions, though a few above are scary. This should not be taken as an assumption that far worse can’t happen in 2012. It can. It might. In a decadent culture – and we are one – the membrane surrounding and protecting civil society is wafer thin. It takes only one black swan event to rip the artifice apart. Reagan did not destroy the Soviet Union. Chernobyl did. The Arab Spring erupted after decades of corruption because one Tunisian man cried out in horrifying anguish. I cannot predict such an event will happen here. I can say we’re closer to one than we’ve been in over a century. A shattering event in 2012 would not surprise me in the least. This society no longer works. Everything has become a commodity. Every moment of our lives is constructed to make a profit for someone else. The worst go unpunished. The good get taken. We claim to love our young, but all our actions say we don’t give a rip about them. We give lip service to responsibility, but never take it. None of this can last. It stands in opposition to humanity itself.
Will the system finally break in 2012? I doubt it. But it could. The membrane holding us together is thin. And getting thinner. If pushed, I’d predict we’ll bumble on until 2016 or so. But 2012 might be just the year for a cleansing fire. Lots of people say so.
I’m not sure who the first post-apocalyptic visionary was but we’ve been seeing this idea expressed in literature and movies for generations. Basically it is humans living like savages in the ruins of cities as a new Dark Age covers the land. Civilization has collapsed and the survivors are trying to rebuild.
The reasons for the collapse aren’t always given – sometimes it’s a war, other stories it was an environmental disaster. The cause changes over the years – in the fifties it was nuclear war, in the sixties we worried about overpopulation. Then Stephen King made the superflu popular, and now it’s the zombie apocalypse.
There are three main alleged causes of the apocalypse, internal, external and environmental. The last is the least likely – least likely to foresee and least likely to take place. A natural disaster like a super-earthquake that wiped out the entire west coast would still leave the rest of the country untouched, while a major meteor strike only happens every hundred million years or so.
An external threat is slightly less unlikely. Like it or not, we’re still the big dog on the block. Neither Canada nor Mexico has the capability nor the desire to invade us. The nations that might have both the willingness and the ability are too far away.
As long as we retain our nuclear weapons the biggest outside threat to us is a rogue state or a terrorist group detonating a bomb in one of our cities. That would be tragic but would not wipe out the whole country, and whoever perpetrated such an act would cease to be a threat to anyone for all time. Carthago delenda est.
As for internal strife, it’s over-rated. Who’s gonna revolt? Poor people? There’s not enough of them, they are too spread out and they are dependent on the current system. The same goes for OWS, and it’s especially true for the government union workers who fill out the OWS ranks whenever they stage a big event. If we overthrow the government, who is gonna pay the government workers?
The fact is most people are too invested in the current system to overthrow it. We don’t have people starving in our streets, in fact we have fat poor people. People in this country don’t realize how rich they really are. People in other countries do, that’s why they want to come here.
Yes, there are a lot of people out of work right now, BUT MOST PEOPLE STILL HAVE JOBS. Most people still have homes to live in and food to eat. For most of us this is the worst economic situation the country has seen in our lifetimes. But we’re still here, and the sky hasn’t fallen. You want proof?
Last week people were fighting over $190 pair sneakers!
For what it’s worth here’s my prediction:
Things will get worse before they get better, but they WILL get better.
So sayeth the Klown.