The Collapse

XSplat asked, “what, EXACTLY, they mean by “society collapses”? (H/T: SAG)

Yesterday, I noted that government takeover and the collapse of the family from the “long march through culture” led to what you see in black America: high dependence on government, high violence, social problems, etc.

In response to a similar answer, he added:

“I want to know what happens to WHITE society. Show me a WHITE example.”

The trite answer is watch the riots in Greece and see what occurs to them over the next 5 years. There are already riots and they will likely get worse before they get better. The American collapse will be worse though, because there is no EU to bail the US out.

The not-quite-so-trite answer is Rome and the Dark Ages. Rome collapsed over centuries and Western civilization stagnated for centuries more. Collapse for the US will be different, because the US is separated by water from everybody but Mexico and Canada, and so has less of a problem of barbarians sacking them. But still, it’s one possibility.

The even-less-so-but-still-trite answer is that whites and non-whites are inter-mixed in most Western countries, so his point’s fairly irrelevant. If one group in society completely collapses, it negatively effects the other groups in society.

An almost-not-trite answer would be the Weimer Republic. Good times were had by all. The Soviet Union, it’s collapse, and Russia’s collapse into a corrupt oligarchy are another. Yob culture in Britain is another, and is not that far from the American ghetto.

I will come back to this and outline the likely scenarios for an answer that’s not trite, but first we will deal with other parts of his post.


Someone else provides him with an answer, which I think is partially correct, which he then follows up with:

“But what these future predictions miss is technology. Where we are today is the result of technology. Future technological changes will change what options we have for our future. How far off do you think biotech is from altering society? What will happen when making designer babies is cheap and readily available? When electronic implants can affect our emotions?”

I’m going to start with this, just to get the objection out of the way, so I can concentrate on the collapse.

Essentially what he is talking about is either post-scarcity and/or the singularity. I’ve written of post-scarcity before, and I believe it to be nearly inevitable; eventually we will pass the threshold of scarcity to where we do not need to “work”. The other concept is the singularity, the point where we reach superintelligence through either AI, the mind/machine interface, or biotechnology. We already have very primitive M/MA, AI, and biotech, just as we have primitive 3D printers, but the endpoint of the three is the singularity.

There’s a good chance we will reach the singularity. The most optimistic predictions I’ve seen is about 2045. Many experts have put it between 2050 and 2100. Others only say the distant future. Many, such as Steven Pinker, an intellectual I respect, doubt it will ever occur. I lean towards the more optimistic side, I’d take a wild guess at before 2100 simply because technology has generally tended to advance faster than most experts think, but I think there’s some wishful thinking in the earlier dates. Of course, the wild guess of some random guy on the internet is not exactly gospel.

I think post-scarcity will come well before the singularity simply because the mechanical is easier for man to master than the genetic, biological, electronic, and quantam. Post-scarcity is less discussed than the singularity, so the only projected date I’ve seen is 2050-75, but thbe post-scarcity from that prediction is a bit different from the post-scarcity I posited.

But anyway, let’s, for the sake of argument, say that post-scarcity will occur by 2050 and the singularity by 2080 (70 years from now, a common prediction).

The question then becomes, when is “the collapse”?

This is more difficult. The collapse, which is probably more accurately referred to as the end of the world as we know it, is a political belief of those on the alt-right, that is not accepted by most of the mainstream, so it’s less looked at by what we would term futurists. Despite this, there’s been some predictions. Patrick Buchanan, probably the best known of those predicting the Death of the West, posits it will occur by 2050, but has since wondered if it could occur by 2025. Mark Steyn’s After America didn’t give a date, but it’s obvious he expects it in the next few decades if there are no changes. If you ask anybody on the alt-right, they’ll probably have a prediction of some sort.

Outside the alt-right, Niall Ferguson has posited the beginning of the collapse of the American Empire within the next five years and Alternet posits it by 2025, but the collapse of empire is somewhat different from societal collapse, even if both are related.

The most important point is nobody really knows when the collapse will come, only that there is a good possibility of it. Just like nobody knows when post-scarcity or the singularity will come. Predicting the future accurately is extremely difficult, we can only look at current trends, extrapolate, prepare, and then take whatever chaotic occurrences come upon us.

But if we look at the predictions, 2025-2050 is earlier than 2050-2100. So, the majority opinion seems to be that the collapse comes first.

If the singularity or post-scarcity occurs, there will be no collapse. If the economy grows rapidly enough that it covers over any other problems we might have, there will be no collapse. If the collapse comes first, there will be some bad years before post-scarcity and it might delay or prevent post-scarcity.

The question is not will technology prevent the coming collapse, the question is which will hit first?

It is a race between science and economic progress on one hand and societal collapse on the other.


Wait, X-Splat’s talking of collapse due to family, you’re talking about collapse of empire, collapse due to debt, and economic collapse.

There’s no difference. It’s all related.

The collapse of family, the collapse of empire, the debt bomb, the growth of government, the housing bust, etc. are all the same collapse due to the same reason: they are all symptoms of the collapse of civil society and civic virtue. Civil society is what keeps a free society together and stops it from collapsing on itself. (A tyranny can keep society together through fear and violence, but only until someone else overthrows the tyrant). Civil society is the bonds that hold a community together and civic virtue are the values that keep society from ripping itself apart.

When civil society dies, charity dries up, family collapses, social capital disappears, churches and other traditional institutions die off, business become corrupt, society becomes corrupt, and self-organization withers. When civic virtue dies, people become corrupt, they vote themselves money at others’ expense, refuse to contribute to society, abandon family, stop volunteering, refuse public service in the military, take on huge unrepayable debt, become irresponsible, pursue decadence and hedonism, etc.

No society can survive the collapse of civic virtue and civil society and remain free.

The banging of sluts and the collapse of family are just one aspect of the greater collapse of civic virtue and civil society.


So what happens in the collapse?

The answer: that depends. There are simply to many variables to make any conclusive answers. I will give what I think are some of the likelier potentials.

(Note: I am going to focus on North American collapse, to reduce the scope. For the rest of the Western world, the answers are similar on the broad strokes, but many details might be different.)

1) Great Depression Part 2: The Great Recession turns into a Great Depression. The US sinks into a long economic malaise but still has enough civic virtue and civil society to get through it as a free nation. There are rough spots, poverty increases, there’s some minor violence and riots, and it’s tough on everybody, especially seniors for whom SS and Medicare have been drastically reduced, but the US continues to be a more-or-less free and functioning society. Eventually either pulls through or reaches economic scarcity.

This is the best of the collapse scenarios. There is no radical change to American life, just some very tough belt tightening and the occasional spot of violence. This is what blue-pill fiscal conservatives like Paul Ryan are trying to do and are failing at.

2) Brave New World: This is less a collapse than a drawn out decline. Big Brother slowly takes over and America loses its freedom. I don’t think America will slip into outright dictatorship, but democracy will become increasingly a formality rather than a reality, life will become increasingly less free, and the state will slowly replace civil society. The courts will gradually hand more power over to government and government will progressively control more of American life. Americans will essentially live in a gilded cage. Consumer goods and pop entertainment will keep most American’s sated. There will be some illusion of freedom; you will still be able to choose which brand of government approved video games you desire. You will still be free to read most books (except some of those that are “hateful” or “obscene”). You will be able to use the internet for pornography and whatnot, but some sites will be blocked.  Most people will be sated with their illusion of freedom and their consumer goods. Those that aren’t will either be jailed/put on probation for technical regulatory violations or will be given little outlets apart from society as a whole where they can be somewhat free of societal constraints (within reason) without impacting society as a whole (ex. the army). This is essentially the Bonobo Masturbation Society.

I think this is the most likely scenario. This is the Gramscian long march I talked of yesterday. The end game will eventually resemble something like Brave New World. It won’t be hellish; it will actually be somewhat pleasurable, but there will always be that thought in the back of your mind: “isn’t there something more?” and there will always be that edge of emptiness in your life, but, thankfully, the pills and VR will make it barely noticeable.

3) Demographic Violence: As the US economy worsens and people lose their government benefits as it can no longer afford to pay them, various groups will begin to engage in protest and violence. The well-off will separate themselves from it geographically, but the lower and middle classes will be engaged. This violence will take one of three forms: ideological, racial, or generational. Essentially, there will be a long, drawn-out series of riots and low-level violence.  If it’s ideological,it will occur primarily between conservatives and liberals and between fringe groups; it lead to further ideological segregation in society. Racial violence would occur between blacks, latinos, and whites, with Asians caught in the crossfire. Generational violence will occur as seniors protest the death of the social security and medicare they paid for their whole life and the younger victimize the elderly as blame for causing the collapse. Most likely it will be some combination of the three.

There will be violence either way, the question is what level of violence. In this scenario, society still functions, but violence, like the Rodney King Riots, Brehivik, or the English Riots will become much more common. Political protests become more common and often degrade into violence and rioting. This kind of violence will likely accompany any of the other scenarios to varying degrees. Eventually, this sorts itself out politically and economically with reforms or it degrades into revolution or civil war.

4) Revolution: A group revolts and takes control of the government. This could follow demographic violence, replace it, or be a part of it. What kind of society follows will depend on who does the coup.

I think this is highly unlikely. The US is too well-armed and ideologically, ethnically, and regionally divided for any single group to simply have a coup. If a coup occurs, it will most likely result in dissolution and/or civil war.

5) Balkanization and/or Civil War: Due either to demographic violence, revolution, or the reaching of some political or economic tipping point. The US dissolves itself; various states and/or regions balkanize, declare independence, and assert their own governance. This could be peaceful or violent. If done peacefully, it will not be too bad. People will move to whichever region they prefer and there will be some temporary economic and political disruption, but no real long-run problems. If done violently, it could tip into civil war. This could be relatively light war, such as in the books State of Disobedience or Empire, or it could be a major war to rival or surpass the American Civil War.

I think there’s a decent chance of dissolution. Most likely, if it does occur, it will come with some light violence. There will be some riots, a few massacres, and some firefights not really on the level of battles, that will cause the the states agree to dissolve more or less peacefully.

6) A Renewing War: A war in Europe occurs due to similar economic and political collapse. Or a war in Asia due to population imbalances, resource disputes, and ancient grudges. Or a war in the Middle East, because it’s the Middle East. Or a war against Mexico because as the drug war troubles slip out of control into full on civil war, which spills over into the US. Whatever the war, the US becomes involved, and unlike the limited wars of Iraq or Afghanistan, it reaches the level of (near) total war.  The masculine virtues reassert themselves. Unemployment disappears as the war gobbles up all available industry and manpower. Civic virtue and civil society are renewed as people handle the sacrifices of war. Men die en masse and become rarer; society realigns back towards patriarchy as female competition for men increases. Society is forged in the flame and returns renewed and invigorated.

This seems possible. It would also probably follow either #1 or #3 and would be the way past them. (Note: War could occur in other scenarios, but in those scenarios they would not have a renewing effect, it would simply be an adjunct to the rest).

Personally, I think #1 and #2 are the most likely collapse scenarios, with low-levels of scenario three involved in either of them, but none of the others are implausible. What happens depends on the circumstances of the collapse which I can not predict.


Any of scenarios #1-5 will result in the end of American hegemony. The US will simply not be able to continue to act as the world police, destabilizing the rest of the world.

Europe will no longer be able to rely on the US’ protection and if the EU dissolves, might become unstable. China will no longer have a check to it’s power in Southeast Asia, while Japan will have to restart it’s own military. India and Pakistan will lose the US’ calming influence. The Middle East will become even more unstable without the US supporting Israel and keeping tabs on the Arab countries. Who knows what will Russia will do.

The UN and NATO will lose their hard power, so international emergency response and nation-building will collapse. The international aid system will collapse without US hegemony protecting it. Africa will become even more unstable than it already is.

The collapse of Pax Americana will have massive repercussions throughout the world and will lead to a large increase in instability and violence.


If there are no changes to society as it stands and we continue on our current trajectory, the collapse will occur. What form it may take is an unanswerable question, but a free society not simply survive the combination of massive debt levels, mass dependence on the state, and the dissolution of civic virtue and civil society that is becoming the norm in the West.

But collapse is not inevitable. There’s numerous ways for it to be avoided and the Futurist has outlined a likely path out. All we need is to change the trajectory just enough to delay the collapse long enough for post-scarcity to occur.

27 responses to “The Collapse

  • xsplat

    Thorough and rational analysis. I don’t see anything that I disagree with there, but quibble with the term “collapse” as applied to some of the more likely scenarios. Brave new world, and even great depression are not what I’d call a collapse.

    Another quibble:

    When civic virtue dies, people become corrupt, they vote themselves money at others’ expense, refuse to contribute to society, abandon family, stop volunteering, refuse public service in the military, take on huge unrepayable debt, become irresponsible, pursue decadence and hedonism, etc.

    No society can survive the collapse of civic virtue and civil society and remain free.

    I’ve been in SE Asia for that last 12 years, and this is a very low trust society, when it comes to doing business. You don’t see much civic virtue, the corruption is high, there is little charity, and so forth. And although some places claim to be socially conservative, on the ground its easy to find plenty of infidelity. There is still plenty of motivation to keep the wheels turning. Ya, much of SE Asia is a third world shit hole, but I would never point my finger anywhere and use the word collapse at it.

    Degradation is, I think, the point that is being made. Collapse is hyperbole. Which is why this is one of the only times anyone has ever answered specifically what they mean by collapse. Because they don’t seem to really mean collapse.

  • SOBL1

    I’ve been writing about this often recently, with thoughts focused mostly on the breakup of the USA into multiple states along ideological with slight ethnic rationale (emigration between the states for a 1-2 yr period). My last post was focused on theinternational interest in breaking up the US. This is an element that I notice no writers discuss. It’s actually in China’s, Russia’s and Brazil’s interest to see a US broken into 3-4 pieces.

    I still view a Brazilified version of the US as the more likely outcome with a breakup the less likely. Endless war, debt, demographics and rotten institutions are the four horsemen to the downfall of America.

  • Cane Caldo

    I think it was Mark Steyn who made the point, but 1000 years from now, when they speak of our era they probably won’t refer to it as the end of the American Empire, but the end of the British Empire. America is the main repository of British ideals about freedom, property, etc. There are other repositories (Canada, Australia, etc.), but the United States is the Byzantium of the Roman Empire. It is from here that force is projected.

    So, when we talk about the collapse of the American Empire, we should link this to the chain of events that is the fall of the British Empire. Looking back to the failures in the Middle East, the release of India, the loss of South Africa–those were the beginnings of the collapse.

    Thinking about it from this perspective changes the way we look at the situation, and our place in the timeline. It explains why our collapse seems so sudden, when other vast empires took centuries.

    The other thing to consider is that there is hope ahead. On one hand, yes, everything is falling apart. On the other, we can look forward to being loosed from the chains of stupidity held by remote people. We’ll still have to deal with our own idiocy and pathologies, but at least they are ours, and we can address them.

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  • Johnny Caustic

    I’m surprised you’re so optimistic.

    I have a different view what the most likely scenarios are. Either of these two scenarios will follow a worldwide financial collapse worse than the Great Depression. The worldwide financial collapse is a 100% certainty; the only question is the nature of the social dislocation that follows it.

    (1) World War III against China. Both countries are clearly preparing for this war now. If this happens, it’s a near certainty that nuclear bombs will eventually be set off on US soil. I give this war a 70% chance of starting in the next 25 years (probably much sooner). I give China a 60% chance of winning the war.

    (2) A dictatorship in the US, complete with millions of Americans in concentration camps. FEMA is clearly preparing for this now. There will not be a coup; rather, the folks already in power will declare martial law to suppress food riots. (Remember that America is run not by elected politicians, but by an unaccountable permanent civil service, who are essentially coup-proof.) I give this roundup a 50% chance of starting in the next 25 years, unless China wins World War III so quickly that it can’t happen. If this does happen, I predict that at least 20 million Americans will be processed through the incinerators they’re building.

    The reason I believe America will do this is because it’s the logical endpoint of leftism, even moreso than it was the logical endpoint of Bolshevism. As Dostoyevsky says, “Without God and the future life…everything is permitted.” Isn’t it virtuous for America to burn millions of its citizens who are obstacles to perfect egalitarianism? It’s just restoring carbon to a less racist, less oppressive, more environmental form.

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  • Free Northerner

    You’re right, collapse may not be the best word, and for the more likely scenarios it’s probably hyperbolic, but people tend to focus on the more extreme but less likely scenarios, so that’s what gets used.

  • Free Northerner

    Not many people call me optimistic.

    1) WW3 against China is unlikely. Nobody would benefit. The US economy depends on Chinese production and the Chinese buying US debt, while the Chinese economy depends heavily on US consumerism. The elites in both countries know this and know it would be mutual suicide, even after an economic collapse. Not to mention that China has no power projection capabilities outside of their direct sphere.

    2) Outright dictatorship is unlikely. The US elites have an excellent system going. Through inflation they get to steal about 2-3% of all US wealth every year. The bureaucracy has a nice, complacent workforce providing them with about 40% or so of the economy each year. They have rich, comfortable lives from the current system. I don’t see why they would disrupt a system that is so profitable for them.

  • Free Northerner

    Brazilification would not surprise me very much.

  • Free Northerner

    Absolutely agree. Pax Americana is simply the continuation of Pax Britannica.

    There is always hope that things will improve; the collapse has a chance of freeing us from our malaise.

  • xsplat

    I think the reason it gets used is because people want both an emotional feeling of retribution, plus a hope of a social pendulum swinging back into a direction they prefer.

    It’s wishful thinking.

    I’ll be pointing to your article the next time anyone accuses the future of adhering to their emotional needs.

  • xsplat

    Ah – here is an example of what I mean by holding on to the idea of collapse for emotional reasons.

    Even after your careful analysis, you come back to the emotional argument of destruction leading to renewal. While in your thoughtful breakdown you mostly show no such renewal.

  • oogenhand

    China seeks war with Japan. Both have a very high median age and rising. Thus they will require either large families, whose children likely come too late, or open a discussion on abortion. In either case, their culture has to change. My ideology provides a good alternative.

  • oogenhand

    Abortion? I meant euthanasia!!!

  • Johnny Caustic

    People everywhere seem fond of the theory that mutual economic dependence is a strong defense against war, and I just don’t think history is on its side. It didn’t stop the Pacific War (i.e. the Asian part of World War II).

    I subscribe to Generational Dynamics, and I think that when a country reaches a Crisis Era (the once-every-60-to-90-year time when all the folks who lived through the country’s previous existential crisis are dead or retired), the society as a whole takes on the same delusions of immortality seen in teenagers, and rational reasons not to go to war simply don’t compute any more. In a Crisis Era, mutual economic dependence becomes another reason to go to war, not a reason not to. Every change in the trade status quo is interpreted as a provocation.

    Few of the folks who have memories of World War II or the Chinese Civil War are still in positions of influence. Once they’re all gone, both countries will be itching for violence, even if they have to settle for the senseless kind.

    On the other hand, I hope you’re right about (2).

  • Free Northerner

    True enough. Mutual economic dependence may not be enough to stop war. I still think it’s unlikely, but it’s always a possibility; and generational dynamics due tend to be supported by history, so who knows.

    I think WW3 would be more likely to occur between some combination of China, India, Russia, and Pakistan, rather than the US playing a major part in it though. But you never know.

  • Free Northerner

    In regards to:

    “Even after your careful analysis, you come back to the emotional argument of destruction leading to renewal. While in your thoughtful breakdown you mostly show no such renewal.”

    I said there is hope, which is there is. That does not mean a certainty or a likelihood, just a possibility.

  • Cane Caldo

    What is this FEMA occupation of America going to look like when the military sides with the population, and not the government? Without conscription, the sort of folks who sign up for the military are red-blooded Republican/Libertarian types, and utilitarians who are just looking for college money, or a career, i.e., uncommitted to the cause of American dictatorship.

    It could happen in some areas, but it will be on the coasts.

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  • collapseofman

    Very good post. I’ve wanted to read the History of the Decline and Fall of Rome for a while now, but it’s a pretty big commitment. Oddly enough, the opening chapters of the pop history book How The Irish Saved Civilization offers a very good (though brief) synopsis of the transition into the dark ages — both the causes and how it looked from the ground level. Any other recommendations of historical writing would be welcome.

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  • Senior

    Good replies in return of this difficulty with real arguments and telling all on the topic of that.

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