Post y2k culturegreenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
Assuming that TEOTWAWKI or something similar does happen, what kind of culture will arise from the mess?
Personally, I'd like to believe that all the crap of our current society will be swept away. That the new society will be built in the image of individual achievement and the sum of that achievement creating a great society. Think of Galt's Gulch in Atlas Shrugged. If you don't know what I'm talking about, read the book. It's more than worth it.
As for culture.. I wonder if disaster movies would still be popular, once people have experienced the real thing? Or even action movies, after just about everybody has fired shots in anger themselves? What about DURING the reconstruction period, when communities have started to form but there are still a lot of "roving marauders" and food is still short enough that in a bad harvest people would die of starvation? If people had time for movies and entertainment then, do you think they'd watch "action", or simply old sitcoms or something about normal people in an urban environment who don't have to worry about starvation or violence? THAT, to them, would be escapist.
-- Leo (email@example.com), November 22, 1998
I'd expect a post-TEOTWAWKI American culture to look a bit like the rural states-oriented structures of the last half of the 19th century here in the US. While I do not expect (and would actively work to avoid) an absolute libertarian society of the sort you suggest, I *would* expect to see vastly smaller governmental entities, with such functions as welfare and disaster relief being relegated to churches and local communities themselves. (i.e. no return to the megawelfare state - but no 'survival of only the fittest, either).
if one studies the fiction published during various wars and depressions, as well as the movies produced between 1930-1945 one will see that there was a definite pattern of escapism...I would expect post TEOTWAWKI media (local actors guilds, perhaps?) to succeed through offering similar sorts of things.
-- Arlin H. Adams (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 22, 1998.
They were also JINGOIST TO THE MAX, which is something we probably will be unable to duplicate in the coming storm, as we will have met the enemy and he will be us.......
If you don't know who POGO is, well you are really too young to worry much..............
-- Chuck, a night driver (email@example.com), November 23, 1998.
"Assuming that TEOTWAWKI or something similar does happen, what kind of culture will arise from the mess?"
What I see happening in the U.S. is quite different from small pockets of communities being self sufficient. With the current Executive Order, and the recent comment made by Congressman Horn, I see Y2K being declared a "National Emergency" (and all that implies) somewhere in the middle of next summer.
Big brother will take over. The infrastructure, individual freedoms, will be consumed in the blink of an eye. Mind you, this is not my wish. I just cannot see anything else happening.
I welcome any comments to the contrary with supporting logic. Please prove me wrong!
-- Anna McKay Ginn (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 23, 1998.
I agree that this will likely lead to a "National Emergency" being declared at some point. However, there are simply not enough resources for "Big Brother" to control everyones' lives. If the infrastructure breaks down to the point where some of us think it will, it will be totally impossible for Big Brother to do much at all. The government is just not that organized. In fact it's horribly organized. That's why we have this problem. The military will likely focus on the largest cities, KEEPING PEOPLE IN, areas with the greatest natural resources, and its own installations. I'm sure that if you're in some small town, away from the reservoirs that serve a large city, (as an example) and nowhere near a military installation or major highway leading to one, that big brother is going to ignore the hell out you. (which also may not be such a good thing)
I do think there will be lots of local pockets of varying degrees of autonomy. If the lights go out, things above the county level are just not going to work.
I also think that people in some places will kill each other for a bag of Doritos, and people in other places will grow community gardens. I don't think anyone can control this country. It's already outa control! Individual freedoms will depend on where you are. Yes I can imagine, if I don't get out in time, not being able to leave NYC, being forced from my home to the local school or whatever, and being forced to stay there "for my own protection." But that won't be the case everywhere.
As far as culture is concerned, again, it depends on severity and location.
Hey Leo, you're really getting into "Atlas Shrugged," aren't you. (don't take it TOO seriously...) Maybe people will learn to READ AND WRITE again...
-- pshannon (email@example.com), November 23, 1998.
I've been doing a lot of thinking about this subject too. I've been particularly interested in the notion of buisness beyond Y2K. Assuming that the otherside brings us something short of total anarchy (which is impossible to fathom), I believe it's useful to contrast business before Y2K to that after. I'd appreciate some of your thoughts on these contrasts:
PRIOR TO Y2K: To advance up the career ladder as far as possible.
BEYOND Y2K: To develop your own business to survive
PRIOR TO Y2K: College degrees and specialized credentials
BEYOND Y2K: Apprenticeship under skilled "master" craftsmen
PRIOR TO Y2K: Products for leisure and "surplus" living
BEYOND Y2K: Products for simple, basic living
Financing of Business and Commerce:
PRIOR TO Y2K: Centralized banking and credit
BEYOND Y2K: Local barter networks
Enemies of Business Freedom:
PRIOR TO Y2K: Government interference and regulation
BEYOND Y2K: Armed Pirates
These are just a few contrasts I've considered. Can you think of other possible long term scenarios?
-- Jim Rose (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 23, 1998.
http://www.publicinterestpolling.com/MHoliday.htm Would someone put this in as a hot link....it deserves some exposure.
-- z (email@example.com), November 23, 1998.
pshannon- I finished reading the book on the weekend. The government is exaggerated and many of the characters are caricatures (and we then have to realise that it was written in the fifties and seems to have been set in the forties), but I agree completely with the main points.
Jim- I can't entirely agree with you. The rural civilisation you describe (back to the middle ages, effectively, of small villages and towns) will probably happen -but only passingly. I predict several stages:
1) Breakdown. This is the first few weeks or months, when the old order is disintegrating. Typified by divisional commanders ignoring (or no longer recieving due to lack of communications) orders from higher-up, then those divisions breaking down into brigades and battalions, and those breaking down into smaller units. Lots of violence. A lot of people are going to die. Smart survivalists will be hunkering down with guns and long-term food supplies.
2) Lawlessness. Roving gangs, and so on. This could go for a while, depending on the area. Disease kills people; violence kills others. The survivalists and rural people would be keeping to themselves, staying on their own farms and shooting intruders.
3) The rural-based society which you predict. This happens when groups of people unite in villages. Primary industry is the key; secondary exists and is minor. Getting enough food to survive on is the main issue. I don't think this phase would last for more than 10-25 years. Eventually someone is going to reintroduce technology, perhaps from an overlooked warehouse or something. Someone will begin making something -maybe petrol, if in Texas or somewhere with wells; maybe ammunition or perhaps just steel cutlery. Electricity will slowly come back, depending on the areas. It's highly possible that a lot of people won't want it back, won't like this progress. Maybe someone will get railways back online. I can't see huge amounts of technology happening anywhere there aren't oil wells, but I *can* see parts of Texas or Alaska gaining huge economic power (with all the oil you want, you can use vehicles, industry, and even aircraft. Think of it: a mechanised army versus a collection of local villages. The oil-using forces have aircraft and machine guns. The village people have horses and guns that have a finite supply of ammo.
Anyway, stage 4 is IMO a set of regional governments- fiefs and duchies, if you like. Probably a lot of them; a couple of hundred in the US, maybe more. In these, there is space for some people to be "rich"; there are factories, perhaps powered by steam or water turbines, maybe by petrol if it is available. These governments provide protection against bandits and invaders in return for taxes.
But it could be a while - a LONG while- before we get back to what our society currently is (probably a Stage 10, comparatively).
-- Leo (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 23, 1998.
Leo - good set of long term phases. What have you thought about the brain drain, brought about by initial violences and diseases, then over the years by lack of higher learning and old age. At 25 years out, or even 10, I can foresee a real lack of material and intellectual capability necessary to re-vivify infrastructures.
-- Mitchell Barnes (email@example.com), November 24, 1998.
That's a good thought. But the way I see it, a couple of things prevent it from being a huge factor-
First, the information will still survive. Libraries may very well be burned, but I'd say some won't and the information -"how to build an oil refinery", for instance- will be intact.
Second, I'm inclined to believe that y2k will have a positive effect on the mean intelligence of the country. Dumb people will perish. Smart people will probably not. Ten years on, I think there'll be a higher proportion of engineers surviving, than of cashiers surviving.
Still, that *is* a good point, one I hadn't really thought of or factored in. Also, there's the problem: Without refineries, you don't have petrol. But to build a refinery, you'd need cranes and a lot of other stuff that NEEDS petrol. The same would go for steel smelting, oil wells, and a lot of other key 2ndary industry.
-- Leo (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 24, 1998.
Post Y2K? We're going back to tribal lifestyles. How ever the Indians lived in your area, that's how you'll live (with a few tools they didn't have). I suspect that once I get used to the slow pace, I'll like living in touch with nature, without all the noise and pollution that is inevitable with technology. And I won't be eager to start all that over again. The gangs with guns are going to be a problem though. Some kind of defense will be required. Check out the movie, The Postman. from David
-- David Hammer (email@example.com), November 24, 1998.
David - impossible to go back to AmerIndian tribal culture now. The rich resources they used are gone, paved over, built upon, gratuitously killed.
The Calif Sierra deer dress out, for ease of computation, at about 100 pounds of meat. Your dogs get the innerds, if your dogs haven't been eaten yet, after that, you get the innerds. You eat 3 pounds of meat a day, we will say because your 6 months of food ran out.
Some fast and dirty computations:
Inefficient way: 1 person 100 lbs spoiled in 10 days eaten 30 lbs wasted 70 lbs Efficient way: 3 people 100 lbs spoiled in 10 days eaten 90 lbs wasted 10 lbs (or less)
It would appear then that one deer for 3 people every 4th day. 3 people - 7.5 deer a month - 90 deer a year
Village of 75 people - 187 deer a month - 2250 deer a year
Greater Sacramento urban area - 2 million people - 5 million deer a month - 60 million deer a year
Greater San Francisco Bay Area - 7.5 Million people.
Try this with wild rice, berries, acorns, squirrils, etc.
-- Mitchell Barnes (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 25, 1998.
Regarding "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand. In highschool and college iI read a number of her books. A few friends and I were very into her philosophy of life...an extreme form of humanism that Rand herslef labeled as "me-ism." Mid way through college I saw her on the Phil Donahue show being interviewed. She came across as a lonely, bitter disgruntled old woman. I remember thinking, "If this is where her philosophy of life leads to forget it." At that point I was also investigating the claims of Christ and the Bible. A few months laater I became a Christian...which has been a totally differnet experience than what Ayn Rand's books led me to believe it would be. I hope that the Y2K crisis turns every one of us to the Lord. We are people we will never be self sufficient. God made us to be dependent on Him first and than givers to one another. His word is the lamp to our feet and the light to our path. Have a great day!
-- Angela Corrova (email@example.com), November 27, 1998.
This is directed, specifically, to pshannon, but for others to see: On April 1, we are going to have a "dress rehearsal." Canada, Japan, and NEW YORK STATE, pshannon, will advance to fiscal 2000 in their computer systems. What will New York City be like, pshannon, if all the folk there, living on welfare, do not receive their checks within the week? I believe this is one of the reasons Ed Yourdon, and family, moved out of there last Spring...to get away from the possible debacle! Perhaps, pshannon, you will keep us posted when the time comes?? And, on April 6, Great Britain's fiscal 2000 begins. Perhaps someone from the UK seeing this post will also inform us what happens. I trust the first-hand experiences from these posters more than what the governments and media will put out! These events are only some 16+ weeks away! Whew!
-- Holly Allen (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 27, 1998.
Angela- I do not admire Ayn Rand personally. She never seemed to acheive a lot of success in life, but on the other hand I vastly admire her work.
I'm an atheist. I don't have anything against Christianity -in fact, I rather like it. It's a nice religion and it's done a lot of good for the world. If the premise of some great superior human *that has not shown himself for 2000 years* wasn't..well, not believeable to my skeptical mind, then I'd be one. As it is, I give money to Christian charities because they do a lot of good.
Anyway, I believe that Ayn Rand's philosophy is the simplest form of capitalism. I don't agree with all of it -I'm more a Hank Rearden or a Dagny Taggart than a John Galt, who rejects all of society instead of trying to save it- but maybe that's just because I'm a nice guy. If everyone worked to improve themselves, the world -everyone- would be better.
And it is THAT which I agree, THAT which I admire.
-- Leo (email@example.com), November 27, 1998.