Oftentimes when you say you are a prepper you will get some pretty strange looks as the common (mis)perception is that there is something wrong with preppers and shows that dramatize and sensationalize the phenomenon such as Doomsday Preppers on NatGeo don’t really help.  Preppers for the most part are not gun-crazed wilderness people actively wishing for the destruction of modern society.  In fact, most preppers that I know of are regular people who have valid concerns about the long-term stability of modern society.

The more outlandish claims and prophecies about doomsday scenarios are what get all the press though and not the more common disasters that strike the world with depressing regularity.  Think about this, it is much more likely that a natural disaster such as a storm will hit you or that an economic or political crisis causes unrest than it is that an enemy will set off an EMP device in the atmosphere or a mutant virus will kill 95% of the population.  Yet for some reason it is these latter type scenarios that get all the attention.

Speaking for myself, which is all I can really do, I prep because I have no faith that the wheels of modern society will keep turning indefinitely.  I look around at the increasing dependence on the internet, just-in-time logistics, and electric gadgets and see vulnerabilities everywhere.

Some of this is an excerpt from one of the books I am working on as a follow up to The Simple Survival Smart Book.  There are plenty of preppers out there and some pretty off the wall theories about what could lead to the collapse that many seem to be hoping for.  These theories range from the singularity, collapse of the monetary system, to the arcane workings of the NWO.

As I got into prepping myself I started thinking about it more seriously.  What are the real chances of a societal collapse?  Being a trained historian I started wondering about past collapses and what caused them, how bad they were, how long they lasted, and what ended them.  The past is always a useful guide for what can happen in the future.  Even the internet has not changed human nature fundamentally.

What do we mean by societal collapse and is a societal collapse inevitable?  That is a tough one to answer.  Not least because inevitability is something that only God can talk authoritatively about.  What I can, and what I propose to do is discuss the likelihood of some type of societal collapse leading to another civilizational interregnum.  Before we can discuss the likelihood of a collapse we have to define what a collapse is.

For my purposes I will define a collapse as:

An event, natural or manmade with consequences similar too or more severe than what befell Western Europe in the wake of the dissolution of the Western Roman Empire in the 6th and 7th Centuries AD or following the 14th century spread of Bubonic Plague AKA The Black Death.  The defining characteristic of a societal collapse is a breakdown in the rule of law to the point where it no longer functions.

Both periods saw a decline in population, one sudden and one gradual, both also saw a decline in the power of the rule of law.  In the case of Rome’s dissolution that period lasted a few centuries and after the Black Death it lasted for about 25-50 years depending on which history you read and which country you are reading about.  An even better example of what a societal collapse would look like is Germany during the Thirty-Years War of 1618-1648.

That definition says nothing about the likelihood of such a collapse happening.  It does however, tell us what we should be looking for and more importantly tells us to what things or events to look out for that could bring about such a turn of events.  Another thing to recognize is that a collapse does not have to be global in character, collapses can and do happen at a regional level.  Recent examples of regional collapses include Somalia 1990-present, Lebanon during the 1975-1990 civil war, Post-invasion Iraq 2003-present, The Balkans in the Early ’90s, Argentina after the collapse of the Peso for a short time 1999-2002, Venezuela under Chavez and his successor 1999-present, and the Darfur Crisis 2003-present.

Collapse causes include:

  1. Monetary System Collapse
  2. Technological Singularity
  3. Epidemic Disease
  4. EMP strike/Nuclear Detonation
  5. Societal Decay
  6. Terrorist action (not necessarily Islamist)
  7. Global War
  8. Civil War/Revolution
  9. Millenialists
  10. First Contact

Regional collapses are generally more short term but one that lasts years is still bad.  In fact,  I would guess that the likelihood of a regional collapse is much greater in the aggregate than that a global collapse would occur.  Global collapse is possible in today’s interconnected world but absent some absolutely catastrophic event, and more likely combination of events, I believe a global collapse of any long duration is unlikely in the extreme.  That is not to say that there are not many threads that can weave together leading to a global collapse.  Any global collapse almost requires human agency to spark and hasten it.  That being said, there are plenty of fringe groups out there that would gladly take part in causing such an event.

The subpages here discuss the various scenarios for TEOTWAKI and assesses their actual probability in my opinion.  Your own opinion may differ.  I will have comments open on each page and encourage debate.