In thinking about the results of a total collapse of financial institutions in the United States, some conclusions can be drawn to identify events that would unfold immediately following the collapse. Following these conclusions, however, it becomes increasingly difficult to theorize how the subsequent future of society would look once order is restored.
The collapse will obviously be violent and downright depressing. The cities will see conflagrations, mass killings, and famine, similar to what is seen in urban warfare. Because of the violence and difficulties living in the cities, there will likely be a migration of survivors into the rural areas in search of food, shelter, and peace. Luckily for those in rural areas, most “urbanites” will be on foot since gasoline will be gone quickly in a collapse, either from poor usage planning or thievery. These sojourners will not get too far before they either settle in nearby suburbs with relative stability or in refugee camps, or they die from either brigands or myriad accidents.
One of the more virulent aspects of the collapse that will affect all people everywhere will be disease and pestilence. Normally treated and suppressed communicable sicknesses, like influenza and colds, will kill many who cannot receive treatment. Simple cuts will cause cases of tetanus and/or infections. Medicines will become the most valuable of commodities.
Areas that were once arable, like the California Central Valley and other farmlands of the West, will return to desert. Other stable farmlands that utilize modified crops will fail as well, especially the Midwest, where vast farmlands will be rendered untenable by the vast areas to cover as well as the deficient genetics of the crops used. Pestilence will reign because of the lack of pesticides and other chemicals used to protect crops. Most rural areas will not be immune to the collapse.
The only farms that will survive will be those small-scale farms that utilize traditional methods of both durable crops and a proper crop rotation. These farms will be operated by individuals that know and understand the environment in which they live and have adapted the learning of “Physiocracy” into their farmstead.
These farms will be tended by large families or survival groups that provide both manual labor and defense of their lands. The success of the farmstead will be dependent upon the physical fitness of the group and the skill sets of individuals. The farmstead will also be in community with other farms or survivors in development of a community of mutual defense and charity.
So what’s next?
Once stability has been established in communities throughout a region (either through diplomatic efforts to establish communities or through decimation of fighting forces in combat), civilization can begin to rise once again. Depending on outside threats, the nation will be able to reunite under similar circumstances as our current system, or the nation will be “Balkanized” for a considerable amount of time.
For the nation to reunite, the small communities that were once opposed to each other would have to be united against a common foe, like an invading army. This army would either be from a region of the country that quickly reestablished itself or from a foreign nation bent on conquering the old United States. It seems unlikely, though, that a foreign power would rise to such an occasion. Also, the quick establishment of a region would depend upon a lot of pieces coming together, especially access to natural resources – the most important of which is food and water.
In the Balkanized model, small communities that survived the collapse would become independent states, commanding areas delineated by natural barriers– mountains, rivers, and desert; a population of people to hold the territory; and diplomatic agreements with other communities. These communities will probably have differing forms of government and lifestyles, depending on how they managed to survive.
From a historical perspective, these states might resemble the ancient Greek city-states or feudal Europe. There will be differences amongst themselves, but they’d be united under webs of treaties and promises of mutual defense. There will likely be small wars, especially over borders and natural resources, but there will also be diplomacy. The individual states may see fit to keep themselves separated from other states, especially if the state holds an advantageous position of natural resources or strategic location against its neighbors. These advantageous states will eventually be able to exert control over their neighbors, either through diplomacy or war, and will expand outward.
Pockets of similar growth will be seen throughout the country, until the small states have become large states. In the end, it seems logical that these states will eventually unite into a new United States. Questions remain, however, as to how the new U.S. will look. Will it be founded under the Constitution? Or will there be some new form of government?
While that could be debated, it seems logical that the original families and groups that created the original stability will hold considerable control in the evolution of the states. The rise of powerful families is another logical conclusion to the destruction of modern society. There will likely be an aristocracy of sorts, possibly similar to the Roman division of Patricians and Plebeians. The landowning families may develop large estates with the lower-class citizens working the fields.
Eventually, gasoline would become available again, and machinery will overtake the agrarian lifestyle that got people through the crunch. The question would then be how will cities develop themselves? Would it be like today? Would technology learned today be applied to create futuristic cities? Would the future government be like Orwell’s 1984, controlling every aspect of life? Who knows?