Permanent Collapse- I don't think so. : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Everyone seems to assume that when we get TEOTWAWKI, it will be permanent, or at least long-lasting. That we have to be ready for an agricultural society that will probably last for the next couple of hundred years. That nobody will get up and decide to fix it.


In the 19th century, people built the infrastructure that our society is based on. These ferocious capitalists were called the robber barons by the masses. I call them heroes. So would anyone who's read Atlas Shrugged.

Many people -most, even- would probably stay on their farms, making enough food to survive and some surplus to trade for luxuries. I'm sure after a couple of years, people will have learned to be efficient enough to make quite a good living.

But some people -and I am one of them- would not be content with that. Some people would go out, armed with guns for defense and manuals for offense, to the cities and the railways and wherever the smashed components of the motor of the world lie. These people will examine the power plants and the engines and the machines and they will work out ways to get them running again. They will enlist the scavengers into something more profitable than selling scrap to farmers; they will take intact pieces of one broken motor and use them to replace the broken pieces of another. They will rebuild the oil wells. They will get industry flowing again.

Not because of altriusm. Who the hell wants to risk their lives to marauders, just in order to maybe help people eventually. I can see why, but altruistic people would be more likely to stay in safety and help the farmer with little land. These people will be in it for themselves, at least the ones likely to succeed will be. They will be doing this because they want profit and personal success. And that desire will be the motive force that gets people, gets the achievers, to make society run again. Not in a thousand years, not in a hundred.

In twenty.


-- Leo (, December 11, 1998


I've been biting my keyboard every time I read a variation on what Tom Benjamin has quoted as, "We'll come roaring back like the roaches we are."

When I first read Declan McCulloughs Y2K wake-up on the Times-Warner site in August, 1997, I became seriously concerned that it could gravely endanger the society we have come to cherish. On the recommendation of a friend, I did further research into the "oil peak," anthropogenic climate effects like global warming and ozone depletion and several other environmental crises of which I was only peripherally aware. These included, but were not limited to mass extinctions, contamination of water and air, topsoil loss and exploitation of natural resources in a profligate manner at an unsustainable rate. I'll leave issues of social justice and equality for another discussion. To my mind, compared to these considerations, Y2K is less serious

My research convinced me that basic attitudes toward progress and the natural environment were antithetical to continued healthful existence for my children's children and, that unless we scaled back our stressing of both supplies (resources) and sinks (waste accumulation,) we would not be able to "sustain" civilization, perhaps not even life, for out progeny.

Now I don't want to be seen as someone who hopes for the worst to happen in order for the pretty trees and the cute little bunnies to recover from our thoughtless excesses. On the other hand, I am mindful of evidence which suggests that curtailing industrial growth may go a long way toward providing and maintaining a decent habitat in which our great-great grandchildren may prosper, even unto the Seventh Generation, as advocated by our Native American forbears. Although I am routinely ridiculed for advancing this viewpoint in other discussion groups, eg: csy2k, I know there are many here who understand and may even agree with my viewpoint.

No, I don't hope for the worst. I'm not cheering for Y2K to take us out, or back to the 19th century, or back to nomadic foraging. I just hope that we might be more thoughtful and deliberate in our recovery. Is it our wisest goal, as Leo suggests, " make society run again. Not in a thousand years, not in a hundred. In twenty?"

Perhaps TEOTWAWKI might be TBOTWAWLI---the beginning of the world as we like it.


"Whatever befalls the earth, befalls the children of the earth. Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one tread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect." --- Chief Seattle

-- Hallyx (, December 11, 1998.


First, I have some problems with where your post can take us if taken to its logical extent, which approaches a Neo-Luddite position. (Do the extrapolation),

Second, I find it curiously fitting that you close with one of the late 20th century's greatest hoaxes, that of Chief Seattle. A bit of research will turn up the fact that this "speach" written by "Chief Seattle" was written by a New Englander as an exercise in writing. the actual author of the speach, whose name is not at the tip of my tongue, has thoroughly documented the trail of the "Chief" in a number of publications.


-- Nope (not@this.time), December 11, 1998.

Hallyx, a primitive society will not have much capitalism active. It will be agriculturally-based. People will spend too much time simply trying to survive. There will be no forward momentum. It will be hard as hell for an ambitious individual to advance beyond a certain level.

Technology will solve all of our problems. So will the free market system. Otherwise, I have to say: to hell with the planet. There are others. Earth first; we can strip-mine Mars second, then Venus, then move outwards. Cover Mercury with solar panels and use some kind of microwave technology to beam the power to a distribution station orbiting Earth.

Hey, if you have the technology to beam power -and we could have that within 20-30 years, I'd say- then you've definitely got the technology to bore a fifty-klick shaft into the ground, near a river or other source of water. Divert the water into this shaft; enjoy unlimited steam turbine power courtesy of Earth Core. Gravity brings the water INTO your shaft; the heat boils it and makes it come out as steam. There's probably problems with my idea there, but I'm sure the concept -using the earth's core as a source of unlimited heat- is a good one.

What else? How about artificial "lungs"? Find the densest, most oxygen-productive-per-cubic-foot form of plant matter you can. Create an artificial environment perfectly suited to it, and BIG. Dump a shitload of it, watch it multiply, enjoy the fresh air.

I'm not a scientist. The above are only a couple of my ideas. I want to learn some basic science, maybe do a physics course or something. But there are people who have devoted their lives to science and know it inside out. And there is a solution. There are solutions to the world's problems -with science.

--Leo, who does not even particularly consider himself an optimist.

-- Leo (, December 11, 1998.

I've read that too about "Chief Seattle." Doesn't mean that the "quote" isn't still relevant...

I think the point is that no matter what level of technology we end up with in twenty years or two hundred or a thousand, we need to make sure that our systems are in sync with nature so as to be sustainable. I think that, as an example, one of the reasons that the powers that be in this country are so concerned about China is that they see a huge nation of potential consumers; and what if every family in that country wants to own an automobile? What environmental havoc would that wreak? Technology should make our systems more efficient, but consumerism makes us wasteful.

And Leo, be careful which heroes you choose. Many of those "Robber Barons" were mainly concerned with controlling the resources and the society. I don't think they were particularly thinking in terms of the nobility of the self as much as the exploitation of the many...

-- pshannon (, December 11, 1998.


I don't know how you infer that I may subscribe to the viewpoint of old Ned Ludd. I'm a practical and pragmatic mechanical engineer who really enjoys hi-tech from an easthetic perspective. The Rev. Ludd was not against technology in the abstract, but rather it's application--- what it did to the workers and their well-being. Hmmm, maybe you're right after all.

I've researched the so-called Chief Seattle hoax. And while we may never know whether the actual quotation was a (poor or excellent) translation by Dr. Henry A Smith or a third generation paraphrase by PBS filmmaker, Ted Perry, the sentiments expressed therein accurately and eloquently reflect the sentiment of most of the American Indians whom I have the pleasure and priviledge of calling friends.

I'm disappointed that you chose to spend your time and bandwidth commenting on my quote, rather than addressing what I consider a very pertinant issue.


"Do not misunderstand me, but understand me fully with reference to the land. I never said the land was mine to do with as I chose. The one who has the right to dispose of it is the one who created it. I claim a right to live on the land and accord you the same privilege." --- Heinmot Tooyalket (Chief Joseph) of the Nez Perce

-- Hallyx (, December 11, 1998.

Pshannon- the robber barons achieved great things. If their motive was to get rich, then that's fine with me. If their motive was to deliberately screw thousands of people, that's not so nice -but I can't see anyone building railways or whatever simply in order to hurt people. Personal gain is a vastly more intelligent motive.

Hallyx; I believe I did address your point.

As for China, I think that when that happens..good. It'll drive the demand for resources WAY up. It could very easily make it cost-effective to start prospecting space.


-- Leo (, December 11, 1998.

Leo --

The problem with the "robber barons," in England as well as the U.S., was that they didn't give a damn what happened to the people doing the work. Those great fortunes were built by forcing tens of thousands of workers and their families into lives poverty and dismal, hopeless hardship.

If that's acceptable to you, I hope you won't be participating in the restoration.

-- Tom Carey (, December 11, 1998.

Leo, young friend,

You're proving my point. Regardless of Ayn Rand's puerile philosophy, individual ambition is not the only way (notice I didn't say good or bad here--no value judgment)of achieving a society in balance with the environment, while obeying the Second Law of Thermodynamics--- an understanding of which, when you achieve it, will answer all those "mining the asteroid" (tm) suggestions.

You said, "Technology will solve all of our problems. So will the free market system." Sure. Look how well it's solving Y2K.

Some of your blue-sky ideas are not bad, btw. But it comes down to a situation similar to Y2K. Time, my friend, and hubris. Do you really think that a philosphy, economy, society, worldview which could allow a simple thing like Y2K to endanger it's continuing existence, could advance to the technology you postulate before it kills itself? I suppose I did too, at your age.


"Mortals are just silly diversions."--- Andy Savage

-- Hallyx (, December 11, 1998.

"First, I have some problems with where your post can take us if taken to its logical extent, which approaches a Neo-Luddite position. "

Halyx's post was very well thought out and I didn't see any Luddiotic ideas in it at all. He's simply pointing out what many here have said here in many different ways; that we should be careful in rebuilding post-y2k so as not to repeat the same environmental and social problems we know have.

-- Chris (, December 11, 1998.

Leo, try these.

Each time "progress" happens we and our home gets just more degraded. Science is the current Western and first world religion. I don't worship there, thank you, there are workable, sustainable paradigms resulting in much higher quality of life.

-- Mitchell Barnes (, December 11, 1998.

Leo: I'm afraid some of your detractors don't get it. The "robber Barons" in doing their thing PRODUCED the ability of of the modern world to exist. If they had not done their thing we wouldn't be sitting in front of our computers talking about evironment, communication, survival, technology, and every other technical, political, or social problem that allows high tech society and the multitudes to even EXIST. Each advancement i.e. each great dam, or bridge,or building, or airplane or cure for polio, or aids produced by the "Robber Barons" allows people to live a better life, but ALWAYS some people will be killed or die, or get hurt in the process. Should we stop doing these things? Each advancement has a cost. This is why the Robber Barons are true heroes, they are the major, perhaps only, driving force for all these advancements. If they did not exist we could all go back to Africa and start over. However, what would happen, due to human nature, is somebody would make a better spear so more food could be acquired to make society better, but unfortunately that spear could, and probably would, also kill someone. Should the "Robber Baron Spear Maker" cease making spears? I don't think so. I propose a solution, let's call the "Robber Barons" the "True Enablers", the ones that make our society possible. The ones that allow me to enjoy the beautiful life I have lived. I APPRECIATE their contribution to society. They have allowed me to read "Atlas Shrugged", "Dr Zhivago", "The Bible", and other great works. They have allowed me to marvel at "The Mona Liza" and other great works of art. One of the University presidents I worked for said it best. Technology is what makes life possible, art makes life worth while. Love you all. HAK

-- HAK (, December 11, 1998.

Hallyx, TBOTWAWLI---the beginning of the world as we like it. Thats wonderful!

Leo, if we cant get this planet right, we dont deserve to go anywhere else.

pshannon, right... Our systems HAVE TO BECOME in sync with nature so as to be sustainable. Otherwise to quote a favorite TEOTWAWKI phrase, Were toast!

HAK, The "robber Barons" in doing their thing PRODUCED the ability of of the modern world to exist. But at what long-term COST to the whole of humanity? Y2K is but a small example. Failing planetary eco-systems is the bigger one.

Technology, combined with wisdom and heart, is what can make a far better, more sustainable, life possible.


-- Diane J. Squire (, December 11, 1998.

I agree with Chris.

If we have a chance to do things over we should not repeat the mistakes of the past. One of those mistakes -- played out on a terrible scale by the Robber Barons and frequently still played out today -- is assuming that as long as the "market" is functioning unhindered, all that we do is by default fair and just. B_llsh_t!

Raw capitalism, untempered by compassion and justice, can be just as brutal as raw socialism has proven to be. The Robber Barons were cruel men; to call them heroes is a slap in the face to all of the hard-working poor ground down under their greed.

-- Franklin Journier (, December 11, 1998.

Interesting that nobody brings up animals here explicitly, they are just background ciphers to you all. My view: we are animals, no better or worse than any species. Furthermore, we happen to be a "weed" species of animal, that is one that can adapt well to a variety of habitats, like rats and cockroaches. All the talk of morality, getting along, making the world as we like it, that's like rats or cockroaches hoping they'll take over when every competing species is extinct. We've nearly achieved that, but it isn't anything to be proud or ashamed of. Rats and cockroaches would do the same if they could, and they may yet. Our "advanced" cognitive endeavors are no more or less interesting than the dam-building behavior of beavers or the mud house building of some wasp species - beavers build dams, we make computers, it's all the same, just species competing, proliferating as long as they can adapt, wiping out competitors directly or indirectly while strong, fading or dying when weak.

Y'all still have an "exceptionalist" idea about the human race. Forget it, we are no better and no worse than any bacteria. We'll reproduce until we destroy our petri dish then we'll fade or die off completely. Anyone who has a moral issue with what I've written should examine their relation to animals - I mean there fractional part in what we have done to all non-human animals and their habitats.

No morality, that should be obvious.


-- Runway Cat (, December 11, 1998.


ignoring the neo-luddite arguments (which history shows are just plain silly), I'd suggest that your theory hinges on the degree to which *knowledge*, and the knowledge of how to access that knowledge survive. Consider the possible parallels between an Infomagic '8' and the plagues in medieval europe. The long term damage wasn't just due to the fact that the plagues killed a whole lot of people - it was also because the plagues were naturally concentrated in urban areas. This in turn assured that an intellectual (clergy, mostly) or leader/manager (nobility) was actually more likely to die than a peasant...result: mostly peasants survived and society spun it's wheels for 400 years attempting to relearn all of the lost skills...not the first time that's happened, either, I might add.

That being the case, perhaps the challenge is to preserve the knowledge neccessary to rebuild our technological civilization, and to do so in a manner accessible to folks who may not have all of our current technology available to them.

and why do I think I just gave you a plot for another one of your short stories?


-- Arlin H. Adams (, December 11, 1998.

One little problem:

The easy-to-get-natural resources that fueled the industrial revolution are gone.

E.g., oil in Pennsylvania was oozing at ground level.

The easy-to-get resources allowed tools and machinery to get at the hard-to-get resources.

If everything falls apart, and you can't find the hard-to-get resources, "whachagonnado"? If you can find them, and they're a mile down, and you don't have the tools, "whachagonnado"?

-- b (b@b.b), December 11, 1998.

"...Technology is what makes life possible..."

Sorry, HAK, but that might be just about the dumbest thing I've ever heard...

" makes life worthwhile."

OK, that's better...

I think that we are stuck in a myopia...we have never experienced another civilization, and so we believe that we have reached the pinnacle of achievement...and we worry that it will all be taken away.

What is it that makes industrial/technological society so great? I mean really, what's the big bloody deal? Isn't it just possible that there's a better way to live? What's so great about "capitalism", anyway? Please, don't answer that, I know all the angles. Just think about it. What's the big deal about "progress"? And "growth"?

I ain't no Luddite, that's not the point. The technology itself is benign. It's our attitudes. If the next couple of years really do lead to The End Of Our Civilization As It Is Currently Configured, and it then needs to be rebuilt, why in hell would we want to copy what we have now? ..."Technology will solve all of our problems. So will the free market system..." Yuck! Sorry, I guess I'm finding all this a little tiresome. I'm gonna go do something else for a while...

-- pshannon (, December 11, 1998.

Why Mr.Cat, a "deep-ecologist." Who woulda thunk it? I happen to agree with you most soulfully, sir. But, though I have alluded to it on some other posts, I have not the courage to express it as forthrightly as you have. Time for a kevlar flame-suit.

And I just knew that a lot of you "get it" on a level inconceivable to the technoids at csy2k. Love ya dearly.

TEOOCAIICC.....Wunnerful,p. Thanks


And this our life, exempt from public haunt, Finds tongues in trees, Books in running brooks, Sermons in stones and good in everything. ---'As you like it' 2:1 William Shakespeare

-- Hallyx (, December 11, 1998.

b: I see your point, but the fact is that most of the resources (except oil) would be right there for the taking. Getting a ton of steel by pulling apart three cars is probably easier than getting it out of the ground- ESPECIALLY if you plan to use that steel for cars anyway. You want wiring? Just rip up the old electric system. You need a railway for transport? No need to go build one, just lay claim to the nearest one and get some guys to stop scavengers taking the rails.

The lack of oil will be a major problem, true. But human ingenuity can fix anything.

Diane, what do you mean by "we"? As in "we don't deserve"? Perhaps the scumbags don't. But I think that if some people exist with the vision and ability to build a colony on Mars and build an enormous strip mine, then they deserve every cent of profits from that mine. And of course they deserve to be on Mars, if they can get there.

Pshannon, the problem with our society is not capitalism or industry. It is the welfare state, the "Big Mother" mentality that allows many people to think the government owes them a living and they don't have to work, or work hard.

If we had pure, Ayn Rand, capitalism, then that would not be happening and the sum of human achievement would be considerably larger than it presently is.

Besides, Diane and Pshannon, what alternative society are you advocating? A static rural culture, like the villages of the 19th century?


-- Leo (, December 12, 1998.

Anyone, anyone who believes technology in this world we enhabit does not allow "life" as we know it to exist simply does not understand the role of technology. I asked two world renown agriculture Professors the other day what would happen if we banned herbicides and pesticides produced by modern technology? Their unequivical answer "At least 3 BILLION people would die" since they could not be fed by a non-technical world. The lives the great majority live on this planet are TOTALLY dependent on technology. This is precisely why Y2K is so important. If y2K computer technology fails and food is not distributed or grown or energy is not produced in sufficient quanities there will be a massive number of deaths, at least according to the 10's, the GN's. I'm a 6->7 but I am an overly optimistic person. Never the less I know "life" as we know it is not possible without technology. In fact, due to several old age infirmaries, I would probably die if it weren't for technology. However, I conceed I am biased in my opinion since I'm still alive and also worked an taught as an engineer for 45 years.

-- HAK (, December 12, 1998.

Dead right Hak. Don't you just love to hear some dude at a get- together, wearing polyester, with cell phone and digital watch, driving a computer controlled car, calculator and digital scheduler in his pocket, wearing synthetic leather in his belt and shoes - railing against the evils of technology. Even his silk tie is dyed with synthetic dyes. The only natural thing about the character is his cotton underwear and his stupidity.

-- Paul Davis (, December 13, 1998.

Altruism made it possible to live in civilized, free countries. Altruism motivated many to fight and die for freedom they themselves would never enjoy. The Robber Baron "heroes" got their start by selling shoddy equipment to the poor slobs who had to fight in the US Civil War. They and their sons did not shed any blood. I am reminded of Ayn Rand's commencement address to the West Point graduating class. These guys are expected to get blown to bits so people like Miss Rand can sell millions of books telling us all to enjoy selfishness? A little irony here maybe?

It is a long standing Western tradition for parents to altruistically sacrifice for future generations. Much of the scientific work which lead to our wonderful technology was developed by guys who sacrificed their whole personal lives to make their discoveries.

I could go on but why sacrifice my personal time when Ayn Rand would have me believe this is my one and only life.

-- Joe O (, December 15, 1998.

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