Thursday, June 20, 2024

The Collapse CLII: Reasons

 02 August 20XX+1

My Dear Lucilius:

I fear that there is not much to write of a novel nature over the last few days – even as the week before, my activities and efforts focus completely around this plot of land I call home. The heat during the mid part of the day here can make working outside an exhausting and sweaty effort, so rising as soon as the sun is up and working until early-afternoon has become the standard practice. After that, it is a short lunch break and then whatever work can be done out of the sun – one particularly useful activity has become sitting in the shade of the trees behind The Cabin in the afternoon, working away at tasks that can be done sitting and chatting.

Today, as we were sorting Black-eyed peas, Pompeia Paulina asked “Do you think this whole thing could have been avoided?”

I looked up at her. “This? No, you have to remove the husk or the whole thing cooks and you get mush in the soup…”

She looked at me crossly. “That’s not what I meant and you know it. This, all of this – the failure of money, the shutting down of everything, the deaths...could it have been avoided?”

It is a fair question Lucilius, and one that I have given thought to myself as well.

The odd thing about this entire thing – The Collapse, that is – is that I still do not really know what happened. I can theorize of course, but I was never one for much following the media in the last few years and certainly once things accelerated I had absolutely no idea what was happening. The contact with the Armed Forces almost a year ago now was the last time I heard or spoke to any representative of any official branch of government. And no-one I have interacted with since has said provided any information – in fact, no-one has really mentioned it at all. It is as if the event happened and no-one speaks of it at all.

Is there a national government? I assume so, somewhere. Is there a state government? Possibly – although given the population of this state, likely it functions no more than on a very local level if at all. And if our area is any indication, local government has essentially become the same as “everyone that lives in an area”.

But could the whole thing have been avoided?

I am no economist to understand or predict such things, and therefore felt completely unqualified to comment on the matter (and said the same to Pompeia Paulina). But it did strike me, I said, that throughout my lifetime I had only ever lived in a world where debt at every level had gone from something that was to be avoided to something that was to be actively pursued as a policy or practice. Current deficits, it was said, would be paid for by future returns.

Until, of course, they are not. Even I as a historian realize that 7,000 years of recorded history say otherwise.

What will the future look like? I have no idea. I have tried to think of examples in history of civilizations doing an economic cold start. It is tough to come up with examples. It is not just the fact that the money needs to be there, of course. You need infrastructure and energy and trained personnel to make all of that happen. And then, of course, you need the will to make all of that happen.

I am not sure where people’s will is right now, Lucilius. Mine is currently in the simple life of harvesting Black-eyed Peas with my wife on a fine Summer’s day.

Your Obedient Servant, Seneca


  1. A good Philosophical question, they whys of collapse. Not bad for distraction while doing nearly mindless actions like shelling beans.

    As long as the politics remain civil a nice distraction.

    But from the practical standpoint, it's like asking what snowflake or series of snowflakes falling on the already unstable economic snowbank triggered the avalanche. My order from Amazon for the "God's Eye" view system hasn't arrived LOL. So, at best we have mere guesses and opinions to discuss.

    Saving-Salvaging a fallen republic? Has it been done in History?

    There were a few examples of strong leadership turning back the barbarians and chaos for a while, but all empires as far as I know were falling well before the outside forces attacked.

    Too much debasement of currency, too many parasitic elites all trying for a larger part of the pie. Like an old milk cow covered in blood sucking-disease carrying ticks (Poly-tics spelling intentional) and being fed poorly even it fails to produce enough milk for the bucket of society's needs.

    "What will the future look like"? The future is for those that survive the chaos, endure, struggle and create children to carry the torch forward.

    1. I think that most civilizational collapses have both proximate and ultimate causes. They can bounce back if proximate causes are dealt with (The Roman Republic weathered at least two major defeats and a Civil War), not so much if the ultimate causes are not dealt with (long term financial issues being one; the unraveling of society being another).

    2. Anonymous11:05 AM

      Agree, currency debasement, excessive debt and social mores failing is historically a empire killer.

      Is America missing any of this list?


    3. No, I do not know that you are Michael. Sometimes I feel like the whole structures is rotten, ready to fall.

  2. Nylon128:35 AM

    Too many pushing for radical change, debt higher than Everest, enemies within and many care about the Big Picture when everyday life is getting more difficult?

    1. Nylon12, it is hard to care - even for myself - given the fact that I have a regular job and activities outside of it. Things like upending civilizational systems, spending that seems to not impact me, and the constant wear of "risk" tends to fade into the background with what passes for daily life (for a lot of people - not for me; I worry far too much about it). Add to that the oft-repeated phrase "What can I do about it as a single person?" and I guess I am not surprised we are where we are.

      The other issue, of course, is that we have made it so that we cannot really talk to each other but rather fling words, which means that any solution is beyond our grasp.

    2. Nylon1211:47 AM

      "fling words"........I like that, could be a band name......... :)

    3. Nylon12, I think that idea is stolen from Sylvia Plath in one of her stories, where she refers to Christians as "Flinging Bible verses like bullets at each other."

  3. Anonymous11:01 AM

    Getting more difficult is the phrase that matters. Well said Nylon.

    Scripture speaks about uplifting each other and I enjoy reading other people's ideas about getting on or making do as things progressively get worse.

    Slowly then suddenly things fall down. Hat tip to Pappa Hemingway.


    1. It is getting more difficult Michael, in lots of ways. Peoples experiences seem to be different, but more and more I get the sense that people feel like something is wrong, although they cannot really make out what it is (or do not want to confront it).

    2. Anonymous9:41 PM

      I think it's as you said, "or don't want to confront it".

      A lot of people are in what I call the "La, La, La I can't Hear you" phase of dealing with current problems.

      Most folks around here would rather suffer than admit they are having MONEY Troubles. Is it the same elsewhere or just a New England thing?

      Personal credit card use according to Barrons and such is historically HIGH. Balances are Historically High, Banks are reporting 90 day delinquencies again at Historically High levels.

      When Walmart is offering (and I SEE Folks USING) SNIP: Walmart buy now, pay later (BNPL) is a financing option available to customers when making a purchase.

      FOR FOOD and toiletries. I am really worried. If your buying FOOD to eat this week and paying for it over 3 months....

      My working at the Food Bank shows well-dressed folks driving nicer cars than I picking up food baskets. I know more than a few of them, they do have money problems.

      Auto repos are becoming more common.

      I am lucky, both my beautiful bride and I were raised by thrifty folks. I listened to my Grandmothers Great Depression stories; my wife's parents lived through it.

      We live well below our means. We pay off our credit card balances every month. Keeps our credit rating high and I rather enjoy getting a 2% free money.

      My 08 corolla will be my daily driver until my trusted mechanic says, "Its dead".

  4. Interesting. Do you read Charles Huge Smith's blog? ( This is the kind of thing he blogs about in terms of current economic events. Always food for thought.

    Of those current events, it's bad enough that we now have a debt based economy and that this is considered not only normal, but desirable. The worst part is the gaslighting, the being told that things are great, things are great, things are great. I doubt many in the common public believe this, so who are they trying to convince?

    1. Leigh, I do read Smith more the occasionally, usually when someone recommends a post of his. I certainly do not always agree with him - but like you, find him excellent food for thought.

      I just fail to see how a debt based economy results in anything but more debt and ultimate collapse. I really just do not. And the time and energy being spent to suggest that this is best things have been in years when clearly - on the ground - it is not so suggests that even Our Political And Social Betters (OPASB0 know this.


Comments are welcome (and necessary, for good conversation). If you could take the time to be kind and not practice profanity, it would be appreciated. Thanks for posting!