How American Civilization Collapses

(NOTE: This post from November, 19, 2009, is getting hits at my other blog. We’re now entering the unchartered waters of 2013, so maybe it’s time to take another look. The post opens with an anecdote, and it takes a while to get to the point. I’ll add a troubling note at the end. — John)

When we talk about corruption, we think of big government and big business. But corruption pervades every aspect of American culture and society. It’s a rot and decay that threatens to destroy American civilization. We hardly notice anymore.

Here’s an example of the current American zeitgeist:  Driving from West Ocean City to Salisbury. In the rearview mirror, about a half-mile back on Route 50, is one of those big, modern ambulance vehicles.    Continue reading

Dark Age Ruminations (Hurricane Sandy Inspired)

Let’s think seriously about “apocalypse.” Stay with me. This will be brief. The dictionary definition is:

“noun, the complete final destruction of the world, esp. as described in the biblical book of Revelation; an event involving destruction or damage on an awesome or catastrophic scale: a stock market apocalypse / an era of ecological apocalypse.”

However, I’m not thinking of “apocalypse” in the biblical sense; or in the nuclear-annihilation sense.

Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Sandy this past week provided us with a  vivid picture of how the apocalypse of modern civilization might go. The suffering of the people of New Orleans, New Jersey, and New York could be widespread in the not-too-distant future. (Any city or state with “New” in its name has reason to be frightened.)

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Another Black Swan Lands — Super Storm In The South — How Much We Depend On Each Other

Farmer and sons walking in the face of a dust ...

FATHER AND SONS WALKING IN A DUST STORM IN OKLAHOMA IN 1930s. Image via Wikipedia

The Black Swan has landed again, this time in the American South, a Super Storm that roared through Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. The tornadoes that ran with this storm wrecked communities all along its path. The worst devastation appears to have been in Alabama.

When has America seen an inland storm of such magnitude? Our worst storms usually develop over water. In the East, the most powerful weather events are hurricanes. Other natural disasters in my memory are earthquakes, tsunamis, blizzards. Major flooding happens along inland rivers. But an inland storm like this? How often, if ever, has a storm system like this been seen in the history of North America?

The only comparison I can conjure is the Dust Bowl — famously “The Worst Hard Times” — of the 1930s. The worst coincidence of natural and manmade disasters in at least a  century, I would have to say, was the Dust Bowl, which coincided with the worst economic disaster, the Great Depression, which was immediately followed by World War II, the worst military-criminal disaster. I suppose it should be stipulated that the conditions for the Dust Bowl were created by human means.

To many people, it feels like disasters, both natural and manmade, are striking with increasing frequency and ferocity. In the past few years: Hurricane Katrina, earthquake in Haiti, the Gulf Coast oil spill, earthquake and nuclear crisis in Japan, multiple wars in the oil region of the Middle East, and now multiple uprisings and civil wars.

We Need Civilization and Cooperation

The first thing people do in natural disasters of such proportion is look around to see what remnants of organized civilization remain standing. Assistance is called for, and expected, from local police and fire agencies, National Guard, Red Cross, and FEMA. Disasters remind us not only how fragile is human life, but also how fragile are human institutions, and civilization itself.

It is more than troubling to realize that millions of American citizens, and their elected representatives, are at this very moment hoping and planning — you might say, “plotting” — to bring down the government of the United States of America, and with it, possibly, the worldwide economy. That would indeed create the worst catastrophe, and the greatest suffering, since the combination of Depression, Dust Bowl, and World War.

It’s almost beyond comprehension, but it’s true. Many Americans now hate government so much that they would prefer anarchy. As police and shocked bystanders say after an especially heinous crime: “This must be the work of insanity or Evil.”

Can you think of another explanation?

— John Hayden