Recovering from system collapse: what if we can’t transition in time?

A question that just occurred to me, which I can’t remember being asked by anyone, but which is nonetheless a significant and important question … is how any proposed economic framework would recover from absolute collapse of the status quo (property/trade/currency based economics and all the rest).

By absolute collapse, I mean (as one general hypothetical example), the scenario where:

  • The large engineering companies who currently supply fossil fuels have collpsed;
  • Not enough replacement power generation has been created as yet, so there’s pockets and gaps of power supply;
  • The banks have collapsed, as have most government services, and the military have largely isolated themselves;
  • Communities break up into smaller manageable chunks, many of which degrade into barbarism;
  • Arguments and alliances over power and resources ensue;
  • Within some protected and/or isolated communities, high technology continues to some degree …

… and to make things really interesting and realistic:

  • We haven’t solved the ecological problems we’ve already caused;
  • In both the desperation and fighting, many more have been caused;
  • The thermodynamic momentum of ecological change continues unabated;
  • … and if we don’t do something soon, we’re seriously fucked …

BUT … it is also recognised that:

  1. Population control by those with the military power to pursue it, is not a solution, because it cannot even begin to turn around the thermodynamic momentum in the system, nor does it do anything to repair the damage, and the risk of losing the ideas required to solve the problem outweighs any possible gain from killing people unnecessarily;
  2. The previous system that created all this chaos in the first place, is not an option;

… and so, what is the alternative?

Possible solution scenario:

Clearly in such a case, recovery is uncertain, and even if possible could take a very long time … during which time the human species is extremely vulnerable to extinction level events, many of which have become vastly more likely, and the potential solutions have become far less easy or certain of success.

So we have to accept at the outset that, no matter the proposal, we are in completely uncharted territory here … and we cannot refer to the past for solutions, for the past occurred under entirely different conditions, many of which either no longer exist, or are no longer available at the levels required to avail ourselves of those options … besides which, we know where that road goes, so if we’re wise, we shouldn’t want to take it again.

Having said that, it’s not all doom and gloom, even though with almost absolute certainty, the suffering of people during this time will be extreme and far more wide spread … and many who thought their wealth and power would buy them a safe haven, will experience the cold harsh reality of just how mistaken those assumptions were.

… but we still have a few resources to work with here, and all the motivation we could possibly need.

Now, to make things easier, let’s skip past the part where we have to actually convince people to get involved, and just look at how Open Empire would deal with such a situation:

  • In those areas where power and internet is available, we have a mechanism for creating and maintaining some degree of social and ecological stability … and people in these areas are motivated to consolidate this security and stability, then extend it to others;
  • Without the capacity (or motivation) to pursue past destructive means of power generation, but also without huge productive reserves, a critical focus on power usage is chosen as strategically sensible, and in which strategy the maximum budget for development is ascertained;
  • Many such communities around the world are aware of each other, and thus work together to create as much mutual benefit as possible, and to as quickly as possible create new areas of stability;
  • Projects for the creation of new power production capacity are selected based on available resources, and the capacity to secure such developments;
  • Outside such communities, where Internet and mobile networks may not be available, efforts are made to provide some basic means of manually journaling as much detail of transactions between people as are possible, and using text recognition software and subsequent algorithms / processes on the data collected, people within these more technologically advanced communities can analyse the data to determine the immediate and most pressing needs of those areas, in order to assist in the creation of some social stability;

… and as we follow this kind of train of thought, what you can see is the capacity for a leaderless restoration of communal stability and the return of social services, but without the bullshit of the past.


As I said at the outset, this is an extremely difficult and uncertain scenario for any proposal to deal with … but ultimately it is possible to achieve without a central authority, so long as the framework exists and works somewhere on the planet with relative security.

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