Unlike the era of the Greek city-states, we will not become small and separate entities due to geographical boundaries; rather, we will be separated by a lack of energy resources and political will to connect us. When the United States devolves, will there still be a New Jersey? What about a Delaware, or a Pennsylvania? The size and duration of the various currently existing political institutions will depend on a complex amalgamation of factors, and ultimately decided by the will to control, be controlled, or allowance for self-determination—a variety of flavors concurrently surviving not unlike the many Greek city-states.
The larger the government, the more likely it will be wiped out, and should we really complain? Government controls and regulations are the bad apple, in so much as they represent the execution of arbitrary power and are not driven by democratic forces. Some of them have worked their way into becoming a norm that is above argument—case in point are the bloated systems of police, unfair tax systems and money distribution to favored industries (such as energy and defense), and the like. However, the new concern will become the fungus that exists at the margins, or in many cases is already embedded on the larger host: gangs and mafia-esque power hierarchies that are more adapted and adaptable to the local landscape. In and around these will be the battlefield of the future. Unlike in government, where long drawn out talks only partially ever solve huge inefficiencies, inefficiencies in these “institutions” will endure until they are gunned down, and the gunman will bring with him new inefficiencies and draconian styles that the neighborhood will have to suffer.
So why am I telling you this? This is what we will be faced with as our over-governing malaise becomes weaker (because raw energy inputs will decrease with time). A new and unfamiliar pecking order will be waiting to establish you somewhere in their peasantry, unless you are prepared to make a stand, alone, or more shrewdly with others, to not be controlled and willed over. If you stand alone or speak out because your mind hasn’t adapted to the new reality—slowed by such tomes as Fukuyama’s “The End of History” which presume the infallibility of a technological hyper economy—you will be singled out and exterminated, and the traditions you once believed in and lived by are dust in the wind.
While on the topic of those who haven’t adapted to the new reality… there are also those that will flat out refuse to relearn the ancient art of patience and frugality, and will use violent means to avoid any such entwining with such activities. Not many of these will survive for obvious reasons, but those that do will become slave drivers, giving up any ounce of morality to avoid being a hard worker. Why the reason for this? You can’t expect the “Me Generation” to give up on their iphones and pick up a shovel and dig, especially without knowing the conclusion of their efforts. Not only will they not have the comforts they were used to, they won’t even have any practical survival knowledge to gain from their ancestors, as civilizational “progress” has efficiently swept away the great bulk of this. Rather than be worse off than the cave people, they’ll try their luck at bullying others.
Believing that gangs will primarily contain themselves to city walls is a mistake that must be gotten rid of with the rest of what is to become antiquated thinking. If there’s one place that won’t have much importance in this future world it is cities. De-urbanization will happen a lot more quickly and even more chaotically than urbanization has in the past couple centuries. Cities are far too large and dependent upon a complex well-oiled machine of different systems to sustain their livability, systems which it is unimaginable will continue functioning or having purpose. They exist on land that has been stripped of its generality and become very particularized for specific high civilization use, and cannot continue to be inhabited by any but the wretched and mindless, who will quickly die off anyways. It is from cities that the most desperate people will come, and to which one will have to keep a very cautious eye upon, hoping to divert their migratory flows to not flood ones locality. Amid all this gangs will have no problem overflowing their ranks with starving bodies that only held the money/capital ideal, which would have since been vanquished when the low caloric value of green paper was understood.
Another general migration of people will come as the people living far north of the tropic of cancer realize and curse the mistake of their ancestors to make the northward journey. A large plurality living there with a limited growing season will become a thing of the past. Its hard to say if global warming can keep up with energy loss to keep these areas fertile with some sort of edible plant life (they will certainly not be able to rely on any consistency of imports, if any at all). Increasing sunlight won’t be part of the correlation anyways, so in all likelihood the coveted land will be that which is closer to the equator. Expect there to be tensions down there. Those who try to avoid war yet still live in fertile land may come to find creating equatorial floating islands or reverse dredging and making an island on the continental shelf to increase farm area as a limited but fruitful expenditure of labor. Whether they do it of their own volition or are forced to by a gang leader is quite another matter, to which I return to now:
We who want to make the most of the future economic contraction would be well to not go it alone; likewise, to not wait for the chaos to wake us and get us organizing. We’d be nothing more than reactionaries that, generally in my view, don’t deserve the utopia in which we hope to build, if only locally.
Yes, we must be well prepared and already undergoing our own, alternative plans, so that we can make a lasting Feudal Refusal!