10 September 2022

Rejecting apocalypse

I'm not a fan of "post-apocalyptic" fiction or movies.  I don't believe a collapse of civilization is going to happen, and with vanishingly rare exceptions, I find nothing of interest in the speculations they offer.

However, since I regularly read right-wing blogs in an effort to stay broadly informed (there's no one more ignorant than he who reads only sites with a viewpoint he already agrees with), it's very noticeable that many of them are firmly convinced some sort of collapse is coming, and post a lot about preparing for it ("prepping") in various ways.  Such preparations usually emphasize stockpiling guns and ammunition and canned food, exchanging information on how to make and maintain tools that don't depend on electricity, and suchlike.

I don't see any reason to take their expectations seriously.  The various crises they point to that face modern civilization are trivial compared to the challenges that societies routinely met and survived in the past.  (Ironically, they never mention the biggest real threat to the modern world, global warming, because they don't believe in it.)  Superficially their attitude looks similar to the tiresome moan-groan-doom-gloom bleating which has long been fashionable on the left, but really, it's not the same thing at all.  These are people who mostly don't like the way modern civilization is evolving, and relish the thought of it collapsing.  A lot of their fantasies about collapse emphasize the thought of people in big cities, or in general people who don't think like them and didn't obsess over "prepping", starving to death or being reduced to beggary.  Part of the claimed reason for the fixation on guns is an anticipated need to ward off the starving hordes from their supplies.  It's a fairly standard fantasy -- a dream of the world changing in such a way that they would become powerful and be proven right.

As I said, I don't believe any such thing is ever going to happen.  I keep a certain amount of canned vegetables and other non-refrigeration-dependent food on hand, and some jugs of distilled water and other basics -- enough to last a few days in case of a temporary emergency like a medium-size earthquake or a really major power outage.  I'm considering getting a gun, just for the possibility that looting might break out in such a case (though I think it's unlikely in my area).  If such an emergency happened, I could get through a few days waiting for the authorities to restore order.

But an actual civilizational collapse?  A total breakdown of modern technology and organization as we know them, with modern norms of living not restored for decades or centuries, if ever?  What if that did happen?

I'm not making any preparations for such an event, not only because I don't believe it will happen, but also because if it did, I would simply have no interest in surviving.

A real civilizational collapse would mean the end of everything that makes life worth living, or even endurable, and the domination of life by everything dreary and boring and painful.  No more internet, no more dentists with modern anesthetics, no more modern hospitals or clinics, no more vaccines or antibiotics, no more bookstores or libraries (or only very limited ones), no more reliable clean water or food, no more air conditioning in summer or heating in winter, no more police to keep the thug element under control, no more easy travel, no more feeling of security at night, no more real freedom.  Life would at best become a constant struggle to get enough to survive, at worst would degenerate into gangs of armed assholes strutting around a Mad Max hellscape.

I can't imagine any reason at all why I would want to continue living in such a situation.  I've already had a pretty decent life.  There's no longer any other person for whom I have any responsibility.  Mere existence for its own sake has no particular value to me.  If everything pleasant and easy disappeared from life, and nothing remained but the prospect of a dreary and arduous struggle, and if I were genuinely certain that things would not get back to normal in the foreseeable future -- then I'd have no difficulty reaching the decision to just end it right there.  So for me, "prepping" would serve no purpose.

I'd happily leave Hell to those who longed for it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If it does happen, global warming, running out of an essential resource (e.g., oil) with no alternatives, or a pandemic with idiots going around deliberately infecting others because some guy on Facebook told them vaccines and basic hygienic measures like masks are secretly a plot to turn you into a cyborg...

So basically the world ends not in a bang or a whimper but in the masses being terrifyingly stupid due to group think.

10 September, 2022 05:33  
Blogger Paul W said...

I've noticed these Apocalypse Planner types a long time ago, when they were all ready and waiting for the Mayan Calendar to tick down to Dec. 21 2012 and then NOTHING HAPPENED. You keep seeing them among the grifters of the Evangelical/Extremist Christians, prophesizing that God told them THIS DATE will be the End Times and so please send your preacher's TV Network all your money so you'll be Right With God when the Rapture happens that will protect the Righteous.

And then when the Day never happens the same lying preachers come back next month saying "Oh wait, the comet interfered with the star chart, the End Times will happen NEXT YEAR so keep sending me your money." /headdesk

To me, Rapture has always been a scam, a trick getting played on those who have been raised to fear and hate, who will end up crawling into their bomb shelters convinced the streets will run red with blood if the dirty libruls ever fully win and then come out two weeks later when the rioting never happened to blame it all on Obama while sending more money to trump's legal defense gofundme site.

It would be pretty to think at some point the people getting conned will wake up and stop sending money, but they're so invested into the Far Right Narrative and Turner Diaries bull(expletive) of racism and misogyny that they will never admit they made any mistake and walk away.


10 September, 2022 07:23  
Blogger Lady M said...

I guess I am the most ignorant because I will not read far right wing view points. I find them distressful and revolting. They make me physically ill like watching torture in movies. They fill me with anguish and hatred. Life is too short to feel like that. I like mainstream news based on at least some facts and research and if well documented and full of evidence I am open to new points of view. But I refused to pay mind to conspiracy theories etc.

10 September, 2022 09:33  
Blogger Lady M said...

As if distressful is a word - its distasteful and distressing all in one.

10 September, 2022 09:51  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Anon: For most of history most people were even more uninformed and mentally limited than most people now. Even leaders knew very little, by modern standards, about things like how disease worked. Bad things will certainly happen. But barring a giant meteor or something like that, I don't see anything that poses a realistic threat of a broad collapse.

Paul: Most of the people I'm talking about aren't sending money to anyone and don't seem to be all that religious, or at least they don't talk about it much. I'm not talking about people anticipating a rapture or religious/superstitious event. They just hugely underestimate the resilience and capability of society in the face of the real stresses operating on it.

Lady M: Of course one has to be careful about what to believe or not believe (and the same caution applies to information sites on one's own "side"). And I wouldn't describe most preppers as far right, really. The right wing includes a wide range of sub-categories.

But, yes, even though it's unpleasant sometimes, I find it necessary to read what they have to say. Some far-rightists are repulsive and hateful, but that's not most right-wingers. Most leftists grossly misunderstand what most rightists are like, and vice-versa, because they never read what those opposing people say in their own words, unfiltered -- only in words summarized or curated in some way by people on their own side, which can never lead to accurate understanding. I read right-wing sites, religious sites, pro-trans sites, etc because if I didn't, I would have no credibility writing about those things.

10 September, 2022 09:52  
Blogger Mary said...

I agree with your post 100%. Especially the part about not wanting to live in a world like that. I too have had a pretty good life, I’m older now, a widow, no children, so it would be a no brainer.
The hope for the world, in part, rests on 2024 and our election choices, because that will bend it one way or another and it will have ramifications worldwide.

10 September, 2022 11:44  
Blogger jenny_o said...

Probably my favourite genre of books is post-apocalyptic, but it's not because I highly or eagerly anticipate it happening. It's just a preference, like horror or spy novels are for others. But I do believe there's a chance it could happen if something critical happened to the internet/computerized systems of the world. We are so dependent on electronic information in so many ways. If something DID happen, I tend to think I wouldn't want to live in that new world, the same as you. However, I do have younger family members who I would try to help and protect, so I do think somewhat about how to do that. I think it might surprise the average person how quickly civilization could slide into chaos.

10 September, 2022 12:21  
Blogger SickoRicko said...

It's nice to know that civilization will not collapse because of differences between left and right, or christianism and rationalism, or capitalism and socialism - I threw in that last one because of things they say on the World Socialist Web Site (they're so quaint). Whoever rises, like cream to the top, civilization will still function with all of today's modern technology and organization. It's just a matter of degrees as to how tolerable or intolerable that will be. However, in the event of a giant meteor, or perhaps an accidental nuclear holocaust, that gun would come in handy. I know I would use one, if I had one. Living to exist is not appealing to me, either.

10 September, 2022 12:39  
Blogger Richard said...

We are in a collapse. What else would you call it? Civilization will not disappear, but we are changing.
Some things are worth fighting for, mr frodo.
Probably we will be called the Post-Classic stage of whatever they will call us. One of the hard and sad parts of being mortal is not being here to see what happens.

10 September, 2022 15:46  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Mary: Thanks. I can see it might be different for people with, say, kids, but for those of us who have no responsibility for anyone else, there'd be no purpose in sticking around purely to suffer and struggle.

But it's not going to come to that. I for one anticipate a fairly comfortable retirement for some time yet.

Jenny_o: We're certainly very dependent on the internet, but from what I know, the internet is highly decentralized and not tied to any one set of machines or countries, so it would be difficult to sabotage. It was specifically designed to keep functioning even through a nuclear war.

In real-world cases where authority in some ares has collapsed for a time, things don't always slide into chaos. Sometimes people cooperate and self-organize instead. It's probably a matter of that the basics of the local culture are like.

Ricko: For one thing, it's important not to extrapolate from conditions in the US to civilization generally. Most developed countries aren't as polarized as the US, and the US isn't as polarized as the political noise machine would have us think. Most people are sick and tired of the scorched-earth, dead-end demonization of each "side" by the other, and are looking for candidates who will focus on practical results instead of yelling and screaming about the evils of their respective ideological opponents. I know I am.

Also, having evil people in charge of civilization is not the same thing as a collapse. When the Nazis took over Germany, it didn't collapse at all -- all the technology and basic organization kept running the same as before. Those are two separate problems, and I'm talking here about people who expect an actual collapse (after which there would, by definition, be little or no government of any kind).

10 September, 2022 16:46  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Richard: We are in a collapse. What else would you call it?

Sorry, not even close. Conditions now are probably less collapse-like than at any time in the last thousand years. Frankly that may be the dumbest comment anybody's ever left here.

10 September, 2022 16:49  
Blogger Mary said...

Two things….
Germany did collapse. What would you call it’s total defeat and ruin? But yes, in time, it did rebuild to where it is today and that is the likely scenario for all of this, minus that asteroid thing.

I view Richard's comment as much saying the same thing. He actually did say "change". We are definitely in political and climate flux and the end result of that is yet unknown. And being mortal, many of us won’t see what happens. It may be not much or it could be life altering and historically the end of era. But I agree, not total collapse. I guess it boils down to a personal definition of collapse.

11 September, 2022 03:47  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Ricko was talking about evil forces coming to the top in a society. I was pointing out that that isn't the same thing as a collapse, even in an extreme case like the Nazis taking over Germany. Yes, Germany collapsed later, as a result of losing a war, but that isn't relevant to the analogy since Ricko was talking about evil forces taking over a society, not about losing a war. Anyway, Germany was just one country, not the whole of civilization, and the issue here is the likelihood of a civilizational collapse.

Sorry, but Richard's comment was just idiotic. He starts with "we are in a collapse" and then talks about change, which has nothing to do with collapse. Words mean what they mean, not what somebody redefines them to mean on the fly. For centuries we've been "changing" away from the likelihood of collapse as civilization grows stronger and more robust. You can't compare lesser problems like global warming and the relatively modest political polarization of today with the real civilization-level threats of centuries past.

Saying "We are in a collapse. What else would you call it? Civilization will not disappear, but we are changing" is like if I predict the car we're riding in will not crash, and somebody replies, "We are already in a car crash. What else would you call it? The car won't actually hit anything, but we're now driving northward instead of eastward like a few minutes ago." It's so mind-bogglingly silly that it's impossible to seriously engage with it.

11 September, 2022 06:24  
Blogger Jack said...

Yes! I share your views on not wanting to survive a true collapse of civilization. Those who delight in being part of the Mad Max world can have it. I'm sure they'll make their Jesus proud.

11 September, 2022 13:30  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Khrushchev said that after a nuclear war, the living would envy the dead. In most cases of real civilizational collapse (and a nuclear war is one of the very few things that could plausibly cause that), the same would be true.

11 September, 2022 15:49  
Blogger Martha said...

Like you, if such a thing would ever happen, I wouldn't want to be in that type of world. What for? And I do not actively seek out opposing viewpoints because, sadly, I know individuals personally who have some pretty "way out there" opinions and beliefs. So I get a dose of that personally sometimes, which is enough for me. It's mentally exhausting trying to have a conversation with these folks. It hurts my brain!

15 September, 2022 04:34  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Martha: I think even the "preppers" would get sick of a post-apocalyptic world once they'd suffered through it long enough. Obviously many people would choose to live on, but more out of a sense of duties (to their kids, say), than anything else.

It's a serious problem that people today more and more exist in a bubble of only the like-minded. It started off with groups like Rush Limbaugh's dittoheads, but now almost everybody does it. I don't know what the solution is, but having everybody sealed off from opinions they disagree with is ultimately dangerous.

15 September, 2022 09:45  

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