The recent expiration of the Extended Bennies for the Unemployed and the various arguments revolving around the FSA and the Social Welfare State that exists in most Western Industrialized countries has led me to muse on the problem of impoverization of societies. Many societies since the advent of Agriculture have had the problem of impoverished people, though it has become more acute here since the Age of Oil.
In the early years after the development of Agriculture, the problem of Impoverishment was resolved through Slavery. If you had no property and no power in the society, if you were to continue Living you became the Property of someone else, Beholden to that individual for your daily sustenance. Your existence was at his behest, you had no rights, you existed only to serve the Master. If you weren’t productive, if you were disobedient, the Master could punish you or take your life, with no legal repercussions for this.
However, even Slave Owners had some moral responsibility toward treating their slaves decently. Really nasty ones tended to have more problems with Slave Revolts, and being the slaves lived relatively nearby, they might occasionally cause you some problems if you were a particularly nasty Master. Even the Bible suggests that Masters should treat their Slaves well, just as they should be good stewards of their Cattle and their Lands. There is still some RESPONSIBILITY in the system.
With the advent of Industrialization and the Capitalist system, responsibility for the workers and for the Environment was completely lost. The monetary system provided a degree of separation between the Owners and the Slaves. No longer was the well being of any individual connected to that of another, even through direct ownership of a human life. The impoverishment of a given individual could be blamed on that individual, rather than his mistreatment at the hands of his owner.
As the Ag paradigm gave way to the Industrial paradigm in the 18th and 19th centuries, the inevitable impoverishment of the lowest classes of society led to many social problems. Beggars, Workhouses, an explosion of Prisons for Debtors as well as Criminals, which really were all essentially one in the same thing. This defined the world Charles Dickens lived in when he wrote novels like a Tale of Two Cities and Oliver Twist. It was an extremely unstable society, and for the entire period from the mid 1700s at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution with the advent of the Coal fired Steam Engine right through to the Second World War in the Age of Oil, Industrial Society was constantly engaged in one sort of war or another. The French and American Revolutions, the Napoleonic Wars in Europe, the Civil War here in the FSofA, these were all part and parcel of the same running battle, which ebbed and flowed in tandem with the monetary cycle of Capitalism as it progressed forward through the Industrial Age. Through all that time period, NO solution was ever found to the problem of the Have Nots that both the Ag paradigm and the Industrial paradigm create as a result of manufactured scarcity stemming from the Ownership of Property and the Means of Production. The simple fact of the matter is that as long as you have a very large society and allow some folks to become very Rich, this necessitates other folks becoming very Poor. It’s a Zero Sum Game for any society, but at least in the Ag Society there was still some responsibility taken for the Slaves by the Slave Owners. In Industrial Society, NO RESPONSIBILITY was taken, at least not until Otto Von Bismark developed the incipient Welfare State, and until the Bureau of Indian Affairs created a similar dependent population amongst the surviving aboriginals of the NA continent.
Through the latter stages of the Age of Oil, in most of the Industrialized world there has been enough surplus to buy off the impoverished inside each of these societies, but it has of course come by further impoverishing the rest of the world through this time period. Now as resources become too thin worldwide, its no longer possible to insulate the local impoverished in many industrialized countries, or more accurately it becomes less possible to do that by the day. The cut off of extended UE benefits here in the FSofA is just the beginning of the eviceration of the social welfare state, but with that also comes the evisceration of many of the control and protection mechanisms the State has evolved to maintain control over the population. In Camden, where the crime rate is already massive, the Police force has been cut in half as austerity budgets are put in place. In CA, there is a standing order by the SCOTUS to reduce the Prison population, way overcrowded and too costly to expand anymore. Where will said prisoners go? Out onto the streets of the now vastly expanded world of Charles Dickens.
Similarly, budget cuts in Education will further reduce the ability to warehouse children and discipline them into the kind of drones necessary to run an industrialized society. As anyone who worked in the field of Public Education knows, any semblance of “learning” was lost in these schools long ago and the last 20 years has been spent bloating the administrative end of education in the effort to keep some discipline in the environment. It has of course failed miserably even in that effort.
The end result here of the failure to accept responsibility for the society as a whole by the beneficiaries of that society is the dissolution of the social contract, and the collapse of this sort of society. The result of that is the legitimacy of the State as governor of the society will ultimately fail. The last gasp of such a society is of course is consolidation of the Haves in the society around a military dictatorship such as Rome had in its dying days. Dependent as this military infrastructure is now on the lifeblood of Oil, as the war to control it consumes the resource, this military structure will itself inevitably collapse, although it could take quite some time for that to play itself out. Before it does, the collapse of the social structure which was supported by the thermodynamic energy of oil will result in increasing civil disturbance requiring deployment of soldiers for internal control as well as fighting the external battles for control of the oil resource. Eventually this will over stretch the control ability on both ends, and then this form of organization will itself collapse. Its doubtful that this collapse takes as long as it did for the Roman Empire, which was spread over a few centuries. This one more or less will follow the Peak Oil curve, and likely will play itself out over a single century at the most.
So we return now to the question of what happens in the aftermath of this collapse? The Social Welfare State funded as it was by the Thermodynamic Energy of Oil is clearly in its Death Throes. The society cannot function with millions of people living in abject poverty with no means of making a living “honestly”, nor any support from the State apparatus. The idea that Private Enterprise will spring up magically once the support mechanisms are withdrawn is to say the least, utterly ludicrous. Rather what you will get are individual areas sorting themselves out locally to develop some sort of sustainable local economy. I’m not talking “sustainable” in the long term, just sustainable meaning they don’t devolve into Mad Max and Cannibalism in the near term. The larger the local population is relative to locally available resources of food and water, the more likely that area is to devolve into Mad Max. Read that: The Big Shitties are TOAST.
As noted in my recent thread on the topic of Expats and Escape, its still possible if you have some money and a willingness to relocate to get out of the way of the worst of the near term dislocations. However, generally speaking for most people with typical Job Skills, you won’t be able to find a job in the new location you go to, so you better have enough currently functioning money to set yourself up independently in the neighborhood, until that neighborhood develops its own local economy. I do agree that for the most part Oz and NZ are better places for White Anglos than the Lower 48 of the FSofA. Please migrate there rather than Alaska. LOL.
Wherever you do migrate however, do not expect a free ride through the Zero Point, no place will remain untouched as we wean ourselves off the Jones of our addiction to Oil. All communities that have been connected to the Global Banking system and the Industrialized economy will suffer extreme dislocation. However, with luck in the smaller communities off the beaten path, it won’t be the kind of Mad Max the Big Shitties experience. That will be a Nightmare beyond all the most horrific legends of the Dark Ages. Vlad the Impaler will return, and with him will come the armies of Werewolves, Zombies and Vampires.
Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You.