This is part two on ruminations of what happens if civilization falls. thoughts stemming from just having read the créme de la Crème of Zombie apocalypse literature:
There’s another aspect to be borne in mind beyond mere survival-and that is building up a culture afterwards. I live in Magna Grecia. If I had strong enough binoculars I could see the temple where Pythagorus taught math from my terrace (it’s about 15 miles away).
The very landscape, the very shape of the architecture around here bears witness to the Dark Ages. The local museums are full
of artefacts of life here two thousand years ago under the Pax Romana. And then the empire fell and that level of technology and any aspect of social life beyond mere survival were not to appear here for two thousand years.
The Greeks/Hellenes/Romans who lived here in antiquity had a high degree of technology, a safe and efficient highway system and prosperity due to commerce throughout the Mediterranean.
Excavations show how the cities were laid out along the coast
and along the river plains, open spaces, large streets, open temples. But what I see now is only hilltop villages with stone walls, only recently a good road system. I see the remains of a culture closed in on itself.
It survived, but at a huge cost. Though much of what I NOW see around me is attractive in the sense that there is general prosperity again only of a non-corporate kind (luckily) and a very sustainable culture.
I eat food produced by the farmer and livestock grower and vintner and olive oil producer who consumes those products him/herself and feeds it to their children. Not grown by agribusiness conglomerates whose board members are probably from 6 or 7 countries and whose only idea is to make huge profits, even if they have to poison us.
They don’t care. They eat better than what they produce.
This is a tightly-knit society and it is not unusual to have a trade handed down from father to son or daughter. Which
sounds awful but really isn’t. My butchers are 3rd generation and I swear they know each animal by name and there are no antibiotics in the feed.
Every evening, unless it’s freezing or raining, the main street is crowded until around 10 or eleven with three sometimes four generations, just out for a stroll. On the weekends, it’s amazing, it’s like the streets become salons. My town is, by official Italian statistics, the safest city in Italy, probably because of some of these traits.
I think we’re all agreed that we’re living in an unsustainable way and that the tipping point can come at any minute. A pandemic, a huge natural disaster that wipes out that 10,000 mile supply line for food and parts (and which is insane any way you look at it).
If enough people start thinking about this, there is a slight slight chance that we might rethink things ourselves, start devolving, start becoming more self sufficient, particularly in energy. Energy and food should be local. Networks are resilient. But our system might collapse all at once and send the smart few who have planned into the hills because all hell will break loose.
There’s a great apocalyptic novel called One Second After, one second after an EMP destroys everything run on electricity, civilization stops. And that is when you-know-what will hit the fan and there will be massive deaths and destruction. It will take a lot to survive that.
But over and above hunkering down and surviving, we need to plan for the After. We must save some medical and technical knowledge. We must be prepared to hand the core of our learning down to the next generation and the one after that. We must insure that some space be given to the arts because that is who we are. We are makers and producers but we are also artists and writers and musicians.
Some of our culture must survive. Only the best, because a lot of that is now crap, but some provision for a rudimentary library, for training in the arts, must be made. It takes a long time to learn to be a farmer, a mechanical engineer, a doctor. And it takes a long time to learn to play music, to paint and to write. Because we are
more than beasts of burden.
Honestly? I think keeping civilization alive will be the greatest challenge.