Typically societal collapse is a long slow decline, but exceptions exist. For instance, warfare, drought, large-scale natural disasters, totalitarianism, lack of personal freedom, or terrorism can quickly bring on societal collapse.
The main reason I say this is because a majority of the people in the western world provide for themselves by doing jobs that are hyper-focused on one thing. Sitting here, I’m writing on a computer hooked to the internet and the power grid. If these things go up in smoke, I must find another way.
The era of Rennaisance men and women who could fix a tractor, raise hogs, mend a fence, build a cabin, hunt, practice small-scale farming, and can food are, for the most part, things of the past. We no longer live a life that spreads the risk, and we don’t have anything to fall back on if the present system fails.Scott, Ready Squirrel
It’s hard to determine what societal collapse would look like, but we can look at what has happened in the past to determine what might bring western civilization to its knees.
Why You Need A Good Survival Mindset
Societal Collapse: Electronic Dark Age
A world controlled by electronic monitoring, smartphones, cameras on every corner, snitches, special agents, etc., would be like living in hell.
The apparatus could tell you what to say, what to do, where to go, how to spend your money, what jobs you could have…the list is endless. Too crazy to imagine! It’s happening in China as I write this article.
The Western world is just now stepping into what I believe will be an electronic dark age of control. It’s bad now, but it will get a lot worse.
If you are a hostile force looking to cause Societal Collapse, one of the first things you will do is attempt to control electronic information in all its forms. Information is more valuable than gold because it can manipulate the masses on a scale never seen before.
Societal Collapse: Artificial Intelligence
As Artificial Intelligence (AI) gets more intelligent and is implemented on a grander scale, you will have fewer rights. Artificial intelligence, information gathering, and how our personal information is used must be regulated.
Social media platforms, browsers, and the internet are a force multiplier that can be weaponized.Scott, Ready Squirrel
I use AI on a microscopic scale. What I know, AI can test combinations of information to get a result. It could be to find out what you want to buy, what you want to watch, the computer programs you use, etc. It takes time, but it works to get a result.
Before using AI, if I wanted to test the optimum title for a blog article, I would do A/B testing to see which title was most appealing. It was done manually, and it took forever to do twenty title combinations.
AI does the same thing with a mountain of information, but it tests hundreds of millions or billions of combinations to see what will affect the desired outcome.
Why is Artificial Intelligence So Scary?
AI technology doesn’t get tired, and it doesn’t stop. It doesn’t forget, give up or get frustrated. It is an unseen version of the terminator on the hunt and is relentless.
AI knows where you travel on the internet, how long you are there, and what you like. It builds a profile and uses it to manipulate you. If you are using a smartphone, it’s tracking you. It knows when you enter a store and where you are on the road.
If this is being done for advertising purposes, what makes you think hostile forces are not using it to manipulate how people vote, the groups they affiliate with or to spread false narratives?
AI can test how far is too far and pull back. How much heat will the frog take before it jumps out of the pot? AI dials the message just enough to keep the frog in the pot of boiling water but not too much, so he jumps out. You feel it, and I know you do.
If you are looking to achieve global domination, control the flow of information, and manipulate the masses, abuse of technology could be a push toward societal collapse to rebuild to form an Orwellian society. I think we are already there.
Start Hoarding Food For Long-term Emergencies. Read the Ready Squirrel article, How Much Food For A Year: Proven Dry Staples.
Societal Collapse: Cyberwarfare
Cyberwarfare disrupts water treatment facilities, oil and gas facilities, electric grids, traffic systems, military hardware, food systems, shipping systems, manufacturing systems, and e-commerce. The list of targets is endless. Take out multiple systems that keep society running, and there could be a cascade effect where the entire system breaks down.
There is no limit to the amount of damage that can be done to systems open to cyberwarfare and hacking.
Cyber Warfare: The use of computer technology to disrupt the activities of a state or organization, especially the deliberate attacking of information systems for strategic military purposes.Oxford Languages
Computer hacking is practiced by every major country, including the United States, China, and Russia. In reality, there are hackers everywhere, each with its intentions.
Let’s look at another cause of the societal collapse, economic collapse.
Everybody should be concerned about economic collapse because it is the front door for unsavory control and influence. Fiscal responsibility in the Western World is out the door, and money is being manipulated from a Global viewpoint, breaking down borders and nationhood.
Some think we are entering a new world akin to Neo-Feudalism, where less than 1% of the population controls the rest of us like slave labor.
Let’s look at some events that can lead to economic collapse.
Interested in learning more about Societal Collapse? Check out the Ready Squirrel article “Realistic Societal Collapse Scenarios.”
12 Things That Lead to Economic Collapse
Financial crises sometimes appear to be driven by “irrational” factors. These include sudden runs on banks, contagion and spillovers among financial markets, limits to arbitrage during times of stress, emergence of asset busts, credit crunches, and firesales, and other aspects related to financial turmoil.Keynes 1930; Minsky 1975; Kindleberger, 1978
#1 Excessive Risk Taking
Excessive risk-taking includes excessive borrowing. An example is investors purchasing houses they can’t afford to flip for a higher profit.
Financial crises may come after periods of economic boom and bust. It doesn’t matter what the boom is if a large portion of the economy is based on that product: technology, bank loans, the stock market, housing or commodities, and any other things.
#2 High Unemployment
In 1933 during the Great Depression, the United States unemployment rate reached 25%. According to The Balance, the real unemployment rate in 2021 is around 11.1% which isn’t too far off the 1933 numbers.
Unemployment increases when there isn’t enough demand for products. Businesses lose money because they can’t sell their goods, so they reduce spending by firing workers.
Corporations will also fire workers to go after a cheaper labor market to increase profits.
For example, a corporation that manufactures phones or shoes may have them made by slave labor in China.
#3 Boom and Bust Cycles
When an economy is booming, lender and investor behavior becomes riskier, and fraud is more prevalent.
Lenders fail to vet the risk of borrowers or investment products. Buyers make investments based on the assumption that the boom won’t bust.
Here are some Lender examples:
Bundling Investment type products with poor underlying investments:
For example, Banks finance homes, cars, or credit card debt for people with low wages who can’t afford the payments. The risky loans are then wrapped in a financial product and sold as a low-risk investment. When the underlying loan bundles default, the highly-rated investment takes a nosedive.
If a person’s savings are based on these shoddy investments, they lose everything. If they aren’t invested in these investment vehicles, but the lender is highly subsidized, the institution may go bankrupt, so you lose money that way.
Investment Bankers are creative. Following are some examples of criminal-grade investment products sold to the world.
A derivative is a financial contract whose value depends on the underlying asset(s). For example, bad real estate loans, credit card debt, and auto or corporate loans are bundled into investment products. To learn more, check out the article, Role of Derivatives in Creating Mortgage Crisis.
Mortgage-Backed Securities (MBS) Securities are created by bundling mortgages. Underlying loans are not adequately vetted for risk but are sold as low-risk investments. Risky loans that mortgage holders couldn’t afford are bundled. Financers and borrowers committed outright fraud up and down the food chain.
#4 Increased Borrowing By Investors and Banks
Borrowing money to purchase assets increases the likelihood of profit but also the potential for loss.
Banks and individual investors take bigger and bigger risks thinking the boom cycles won’t end.
During the housing boom in the early 2000s, property investors started taking short-term loans that had to be paid back quickly to avoid paying more than one or two finance payments because they couldn’t afford to pay more.
The idea was to purchase a house and flip it for profit using someone else’s money. If the market starts to go down when you do this, you are left holding an investment on which you can’t make payments, and the property defaults. Remember that subprime loans were wrapped in “good” investments like A-rated bonds.
Check out the Ready Squirrel article, Cheap Survival Food For the Cataclysm, and start storing food now.
#5 Regulation and Policy Errors
Insufficient regulation of banks and lending institutions allows said institutions to operate for profit at the expense of the economy. This worsens when you consider unregulated lobbyists and special interests with politicians in their pockets, and mortgage-Backed Securities are an excellent example.
As the [housing] crisis unfolded, many central banks and governments did not fully recognise the extent to which bad loans had been extended during the boom and the many ways in which mortgage losses were spreading through the financial systemThe Global Financial Crisis, Reserve Bank of Australia
This quote means that the bad derivatives infected such a large portion of the world’s economy there was a possibility of multiple countries, if not a global economic collapse. It’s like these bankers think they are playing with Monopoly money.
Ok, so the housing market crashed in 2008, Sub-prime loans (bad loans) wrapped in sound investments and sold Globally crashed. The stock market crashes and assets become worthless. The U.S. government pumps money into the system, bails out banks, and some investment companies go belly up.
This is criminal. People’s hard earn savings and retirements were wrapped up in these investments.
When it’s all said and done, homeowners lose 7 trillion in assets. How much did the U.S. government spend to stop a full-blown economic collapse? You can rest easy knowing it’s in the trillions. More recently, 6 trillion was taken off the money tree for the V that shall not be named.
If you look at this critically, you realize that it’s not the government paying for all of this, and it’s you and the generations to follow.
Interesting Fact: When the housing market crashed in the 2000’s investors bought up rental properties and made a lot of money.
Wallstreet saw the writing on the wall. Hedge funds are now building and purchasing large lots of rental properties to rent out, and they are outbidding prospective homeowners by tens of thousands of dollars. Life ain’t she grand.
#6 Stresses in The Financial System
When boom-bust cycles occur, lenders and investors do crazy things, like leveraging money they can’t pay back. Things unravel if growth stops or the boom’s psychology takes a nosedive. Financial stressors rear their ugly heads when lenders and investors are left holding the proverbial bag.
- Loan defaults
- Assets sold below the loan balance.
- Dumping financial products or currency causes the value to decline
- Refinancing drys up, so investors and homeowners that are overextended can’t refinance their way out of a loan they can’t pay
#7 Panic Induced By Failure of Financial Institutions
The sky is falling. This is the stage of economic collapse where a lot of money is made, and those who can stomach the “blood on the street” pick up investments for pennies on the dollar.
Wallstreet is starting to recognize this. It is one reason hedge funds are beginning to invest in single-family dwellings. If they own all of the rental houses, they control the rent. All they have to do is wait for the subsequent bust, and they can swoop in and buy up property.
I’ve also thought this might be behind some of the stuff in the inner cities. Let things run rampant, shut down the police, make an area unsafe, property owners leave, purchase the property for next to nothing and turn the money spigot back on. Instant appreciation at taxpayers’ expense.
Signs of panic
- Investors pull money out of banks and investment funds
- Financial Markets become dysfunctional
- Financing Drys up
- Spending decreases
- Fear and uncertainty compound the problem
#8 Currency Devaluation
Countries like the United States borrow a lot of money to keep the system going.
A currency will collapse once a Nation can no longer repay the interest on its loans.
As I write this article, the United States’ debt load is 28 trillion dollars.
It’s not the speed that kills, it is the sudden stop.Bankers’ adage
Governments tend to print money when debt is high, increasing inflation’s speed. The goods and services we buy cost more. If inflation turns into a firey locomotive, rumbling out of control down the track, it’s hyperinflation.
Hyperinflation (HI) happens quickly, is uncontrollable, and leads to a crash. Hyperinflation may increase the cost of goods and services exponentially.
What causes hyperinflation?
Hyperinflation can be caused by an oversupply of paper currency without a corresponding rise in the production of goods and services.Investopedia
In response to inflation, a government may force a new currency on the population to maintain control. In Zimbabwe, the U.S. dollar drove the people to use a black market currency, the U.S. Dollar.
#10 Digital Currency After a Societal Collapse:
One way for a government to maintain control of a financial system crash caused by hyperinflation would be to issue a digital currency.
It might look something like the following.
Issue of a digital currency would allow [a government] to create a currency system that disallows the holding of paper money..a debit card would be created by banks through which all transactions must pass, assuring that all transaction are processed by and subject to the control of the bank. If a system like this is imposed the population would be the most economically controlled people in the world.Doug Casey, International Man
#11 Economic Collapse: Black Market
When a society collapses from currency devaluation, a black market currency and an underground economy will rise.
The new shadow economy will be illegal, but everyone will use it because they won’t have a choice.
The new economy will include what most would consider socially acceptable goods and services and shady dealings in drugs, prostitution, illegal currency transactions, and tax violations.
Once this system goes live, all of the well-gotten gains will go to personal profit instead of a country’s infrastructure. In this way, it’s a slippery slope to “not rebounding” from societal collapse.
I find it interesting that shadow markets are 100% capitalist, with pure supply and demand. The biggest black markets are in Communist countries.
According to the New Mosco Times, Russia’s shadow economy accounts for 20% of its Gross Domestic Product, including 20.7 trillion rubles in undeclared imports, income taxes, and shady dealings. Russia’s GDP is 103.6 trillion rubles.
In Venezuela, the Black Market is a part of daily life.
The Venezuelan bolivar is nearly worthless, so everyone buys items through the shadow market.
Food staples like flour, rice, and coffee are in short supply, so the black market is the only choice if you have to buy these products.
In Venezuela, the availability of some products and services is down by 70%.
The problem with black markets is the cost. In Venezuela, a two lb bag of rice, if you can find it, costs two days’ pay, and a large can of powdered milk costs a week’s salary.
Check out the most popular Ready Squirrel article on Societal Collapse, “26 Ways to Prepare for Societal Collapse.”
#12 Graft and Corruption
When a group or individual has a lot of money and power, they can influence economies at the expense of a free-market system for financial gain or power.
Keep in mind some companies make more money annually than nation-states. This includes illegal enterprises.
Being corrupt can be so familiar and prevalent in an organization that it becomes dangerous, to be honest. There is a lot of room for corruption in our present system.
Not all people are good, and a small percentage are downright evil. No conscience and no sense of guilt. Let’s make sure these people don’t get into positions of power.
Groups that can undermine an economy via graft and corruption
- Special Interests
- Corporations: Defense Contractors, Pharmaceutical Companies, Tech Companies
- Crooked Politicians
- Government Organizations
- Foreign Countries
- Religious Organizations
- Foreign Countries
Imagine if a Pharmaceutical company is paying politicians to make laws and regulations, and the same company has direct influence over Federal regulators.
If a federal worker’s dream job is to jump from the Food and Drug Administration to a Pharma company or if previous regulators that held high positions are now on a board of directors with a corporation.
Look at how many members of Congress end up on corporate boards or bend to lobbyists.
Political collapse leads to societal collapse. Big lies…trickling down into little lies.
Politicians operate under a Social Contract, and one is voted into office to uphold the Social Contract by supporting good societal principles, morals, and ideals.
When politicians fail to uphold the social contract, they will be ousted at some point. Leaving a power vacuum to whoever convinces the populace they will fix society’s economic, social or cultural malaise. This is how Hitler took power from the Weimar Republic.
When things get terrible, people get angry and go too far, choosing leaders that aren’t good for anybody. Democracy is the middle road, not the extreme.
Political collapse can occur if the citizens do not hold lying politicians and corporations accountable.
Good citizens should not accept the big or the little lies, and the little lies stack up and become representative of the nation at large.
“In religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.”
A societal collapse will be evident for those on the ground when no food or products are on the shelves. It’s also possible that power can construct commercial failure for an end goal. Things are not always as they seem.
Trade was blocked for fear of spread. Ships were held in ports, people stayed home and shopped less, and truck drivers were less likely to make it to work. It’s a big conglomerate of things that we take for granted.
The Widget: A Story About Commercial Collapse
Before a widget gets to the store shelf, there is any number of transactions that take place.
First, you need raw materials. Then you need a manufacturing plant to make the item.
Once manufactured, the widget is packaged and taken to a port, a ship, or an airplane, travels across the ocean, and drops the widget at a port or airport.
A truck driver picks up the widget and delivers it to a shipping center, a store, or a railroad.
These steps are based on the idea of trade, such as the value of currency or the ability of an entity or person to make a payment.
Once this system breaks down, it is challenging to get it going again. Corporations go out of business, Lending money dries up, and trust is lost. Decades of work can go down the drain in a day.
When there is a commercial collapse, more than likely, there is also a financial collapse. What would life be like if you couldn’t go to the store to buy what you need?
Sit for a minute, and look around your house. Think of the consumables you need to have a comfortable life. Think of bigger items—cars, lawnmowers, lumber, repair materials, electronics, etc.
If a commercial collapse occurs, things can become pretty bleak.
Social Breakdown is apocalyptic. This is the stage where many will become mindless berzerkers operating at the base of the triangle of needs. They want it, and you have it, and they take it. It’s hard to talk about and grasp if you haven’t experienced just how bad things have gotten during specific periods of history. But the evidence is there if you look for it.
Social breakdown is a disintegration of support systems and the thin veneer of civilization.
To read about a social breakdown, research The Great Chinese Famine between 1959 and 1961. 45 million starved.
During the Soviet famine of 1932, 7.5 million people starved. There is oral evidence for both famines that some resorted to cannibalism.
The Soviets printed posters during the famine that read, “To Eat Your Children is a Barbarian Act.”
I can’t grasp this. It is too horrible so let’s be good citizens and avoid it.
Start stockpiling food. Read the Ready Squirrel article “Societal Collapse: Top Foods For Long-term Storage.” or “Food For Shortages: Catastrophe Stockpile.”
Financial Crises: Explanations, Types, Implications, International Monetary Fund, Working Paper, Stijn Claessens and M. Ayhan Kose PDF
Reinhart and Rogoff (2009)
The Global Economic and Financial Crisis: Timeline, Mauro F. Guillen, Director of Lauder Institute, The Lauder Institute, Wharton Arts and Sciences University of Pennsylvania PDF
Global Financial Crisis, Reserve Bank of Australia PDF
Currency Crises and Collapses, Rudiger Dornbusch, Massachusetts Institute of Technology PDF
Causes and consequences of Corruption: An overview of empirical Results