The death of a civilization revisited

4 Feb

Last week, on the Dawn of Shades, I had three guys from–Andrew Barnes, Marcus Brooks, and Paul Taitt.  We had a really good time, even if the topics were rather unexpected.  I certainly didn’t plan them, and I doubt they did either!

The first hour, we talked of the Black Thing, which ranks as the all time most unexplainable event I have ever observed, and one which still has me utterly baffled as I try to make sense of it.  That was completely unexpected, as that event occurred, in my case, nearly a decade ago.  It has been probably about six years since I quit actively seeking out stories from other experiencers about what had occurred during their own encounters with the dreaded Black Thing.  Don’t ask me what it is…which is why everyone refers to it as the Black Thing.  (It’s a thing, and it is black, the blackness of congealed shadow, the blackness of something which light cannot penetrate…it’s like a hominid formed of the stuff that fills a deep cave far beneath the surface of the earth, a blackness so complete that nothing of light can reside in that space.  Take that as you will–by any definition of light, as far as I am concerned.)

The second hour, we somehow got away from our intended topic (the recent sightings of UFOs and what that may mean) and off onto the rise and fall of civilization and technology in the forgotten history of mankind.

Since there is no evidence to truly support this idea, it is based on pure speculation and a set of “what-ifs”.  Our foundation idea was the idea of some kind of serious, broad spectrum disaster striking this planet, whether it is disease, war, meteoric, atmospheric, shifting of the earth’s crust, or some other natural disaster that our conspiracy and earth change associates can dream up from the nightmarishly long list of possibilities.  It doesn’t matter how severe or mild it is, as long as it disrupts the infrastructure where it cannot recover within a few months, essentially shattering the backbone of civilization.

When this unknown disaster strikes, because of its magnitude, there is no relief organization flying in with tents and MREs.  There is no Red Cross coming with their battery of medical units and boxes of personal hygiene supplies.  It’s a case of each man for himself, survival of the fittest.

That particular situation means that the biggest and meanest have an advantage, because they can take what they need to survive from the smaller and weaker people around them.  The anarchy has descended at its worst, with the predators destroying and taking what they want, when they want, and from whoever they can.  People then group together for mutual protection, and a few strays will survive by being loners who stay out of sight of others, surviving by being invisible.

These groups are the same as “tribes,” formed of people either by families or by mutual interests, and on occasion, by geographical proximity.  Women need these groups for protection while bearing and raising children.  Everyone will be focused entirely on survival, and education will be of little concern to most people, especially those who are ill prepared to cope with the changes they have thrust upon them with the sudden absence of technology and modern society.

With survival a critical issue as technology fails, these groups focused on taking what they need by brute force, no matter what label you place on them: looters, raiders, bandits, soldiers, nomads…whatever, are the initial predators.  On occasion, they kill.  Sometimes they rape and kidnap.  Slavery could once again raise its ugly head with humanity.  The tribes band together to minimize losses to the predators.

In addition, especially during the initial adjustment period, a number of people will be lost to accidents and injuries, either by failed attempts to resurrect society or by sheer bad luck.  There will also be losses to disease, far higher than before technology failed, or even after the adjustment to the lack of technology has completed.

These losses may total to more overall than were lost during the initial disaster, perhaps as much as 2 or 3 times that initial (but substantial) loss of population.  But these initial loss levels haven’t finished.  One more loss phase will undoubtedly occur.

That final loss phase will be the losses of population that is incapable of mentally and emotionally coping with the rapid change of society’s structure and the methods necessary to survive.  Some of these losses would be actual suicides, but there would be others that died ultimately due to their inability to cope with change, whether they loss their grip on reality or their will to survive in the new world they were thrust into.

Once these losses have taken place, the population would have crashed to its lowest.  It is from this point that these survivors would rebuild from.  Living in small family groups or small tribes, their primary struggle is to find adequate food and provide adequate shelter.  Scavenging the remains of the technical society that had failed would only supply them with so much raw material that was usable in any form with the loss of the supporting infrastructure.

Hunting, gathering, and agriculture would be the methods of supporting your group.  Each small group would pool the bulk of their goods and supplies to increase the likelihood of the entire group’s survival.  Little time would be left with most of these groups to consider things such as education of their youth even in basics such as reading and writing, let alone things like science, art, and history.  Within a single generation, almost everything we have learned in the past two thousand years would become an almost forgotten elitist bit of education, kept alive only in a few small enclaves of society, if it survived at all.

Most of our great achievements would be crumbling ruins within two generations, hidden from view by the encroaching natural world.  Populations would be small villages and some roaming bands of nomads with their herds, intent on efficient survival with little regard for the past.  Their future would be focused on whether or not they’d have enough food in the coming winter, not on whether ancient artifacts were preserved or whether anyone was recording history.

Language would begin to shift once again, and dialects would evolve into entirely different languages, so that while they may share a common route, soon, villagers from just a hundred miles away would speak an entirely different language, largely unintelligible to distant tribes.  Religions would shift similarly, changing into forms that would be unrecognizable to us today.

It seems impossible, as we sit within our houses today, with our electricity and computers and instant communication, to think of a world where it was all gone, where none of it was functional.  But it is very possible, and wouldn’t take much more than what we’ve seen in the last week alone to induce just such a state.

We have seen evidence of nearly instant earth changes in the past, radical changes such as crust slippage.  Remember the frozen mammoths with spring/summer foliage in their stomachs, undigested?

We have evidence of dramatic changes from other sources too, from weather pattern changes to asteroid impacts.  We have our own violent natures and massive wars to consider.  We have our own political machines and their agendas.  We have storms and seismic activity.  It is not an impossible event.

It makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

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