Monday, October 22, 2018

Collapse for the Oligarchy

My taxonomy of collapse, which I explained in detail in my Five Stages of Collapse, published close to six years ago, presupposed a certain canonical collapse cascade. Financial collapse should come first, since finance is fundamentally a confidence game and once it becomes clear to a critical mass of investors that promises made to them will not be kept a financial scheme can collapse instanter, as has happened repeatedly, from the Dutch Tulip Mania collapse of February 5, 1637 to the Wall Street crash of October 24-29 1929. Commercial collapse should logically come next, as commercial credit dries up due to the financial collapse. Next is political collapse, as tax receipts dwindle because of commercial losses and falling incomes. Social and cultural collapse come dead last.

Since then, as I’ve watched various collapses unfold, I have been noticing, to my dismay, that the canonical collapse sequence is not always being followed. Yes, there are cases where financial collapse still leads, commercial collapse follows it and political collapse comes next. But there are other cases where social and cultural collapse are definitely in the lead while the financial realm remains intact. It is kept afloat using desperate measures, by playing ever more brazen confidence games or through outright fraud. But commerce continues to serve the needs of those who still have some money even as the political realm steadily degenerates into an unfunny farce. Did I get my collapse sequence wrong?

For quite a while I marveled at this turn of events, not sure what to make of it, but eventually it dawned on me that two types of collapse are possible: one is, let’s say, organic; the other, engineered. And shortly thereafter it became clear to me who would want to engineer collapses in just such a manner—by collapsing society and culture first.