Barbarian at the Gates: One vision of the coming Collapse of the United States

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    • #305410
      Ohio Barbarian
      Moderator
      • Total Posts: 17,114

      Jack McDevitt is an American science fiction writer, who writes of alien artifacts and intelligences in a way worthy of the late great Arthur C. Clarke. I’m not going to go into the sci-fi part, but I am going to sketch out his vision of our future that threads through his Academy or Priscilla Hutchins novels, starting with The Engines of God.

      The books start in the early 23rd Century, and provide glimpses of calamitous events in the 21st Century as seen through McDevitt’s characters. There are references to someone reading a historical novel set right after the collapse of the United States, old grievances held by the descendants of people who were executed in the Second American Revolution, and hints of what happened in the “present” day political structure of a nation called the North American Union.

      McDevitt leaves a lot to his readers’ imagination, and I let mine run with his ideas to write the following general description of one possible future.

      Sometime in the 21st Century, the American kleptocracy’s failure to prepare for the effects of climate change catches up with them in dramatic fashion. McDevitt writes of a government that had become so corrupt that it was openly bought and sold to the highest bidders, which should sound very familiar. A series of devastating climate change-induced disasters eventually brings on some sort of devastating economic collapse, the government fails to adequately address it, and some sort of violent revolution occurs. It seems that the rank-and-file military turns on its masters, as is almost always the case.

      A revolutionary government, or possibly regional governments, is formed, and one provision of the new Constitution is that no public servant can accept any form of contribution or gift from anyone, initially under penalty of death for both the public official and the donor.

      Old ways die hard, and tens of thousands of people, some undoubtedly innocent, are executed or forced to flee into exile. Assets of the very rich are seized. Wall Street ceases to exist in any recognizable form, public banks spring up everywhere to finance local efforts to adapt to the ongoing crises. Massive public works projects are undertaken and the energy grid completely transformed. How? Well, there’s fusion power. Whatever the plot requires.

      Scarlet Pimpernel stories abound, of brave scions of wealthy families venturing in to rescue others of their ilk from revolutionary wrath. Apparently, some of the richest families of corporate owners and politicians of the ancien regime are nearly wiped out. In McDevitt’s future, some of the descendants of these people end up meeting the descendants of the revolutionaries who had sentenced their ancestors to death several generations ago, which is interesting.

      Meanwhile, the effects of climate change worsen, with globally catastrophic effects. Billions die worldwide of famine, disease, and war. Canada and Mexico have their own revolutions and chaos. The revolutionary American government goes whole hog into adapting to climate change, and North America doesn’t suffer quite so much as much of the rest of the world. New technologies help, but don’t cure, for runaway effects have begun.

      For whatever reason, after some years the necessity of mutual cooperation prevails and the North American Union of the former Canada, United States, and Mexico is formed. McDevitt gets a little optimistic here–his sci-fi plot requires that, after all–and it appears to be a strong social democracy. There are two main political parties, the Republicans and the Greens. Not once in all of McDevitt’s books is the old Democratic Party even mentioned, and right now I dig that.

      The Republicans are, of course, the more conservative and capitalist, but are also more in favor of space exploration after faster than light drive is discovered. (Hey, it is science fiction). But they’re more like Eisenhower Republicans than the current variety. The Greens are more inclined to spend resources at home, but do pay attention to science. This Green Party is not at all like today’s.

      They’re strong, organized, and willing to be ruthless. They are the heirs of Revolution, and while there is no longer a death penalty for political bribery, the law is still on the books for the entire NAU and violators still face imprisonment and financial ruin. It’s just…not…done. All elections or completely publicly financed, and seem fair, so there must be paper ballots, though McDevitt never goes into those details.

      The sobering thing is that this is an optimistic scenario at this point. I see zero chance of a peaceful political revolution happening that can deliver the changes humanity must undertake in order to survive. I thought I’d throw this out there, though, for in McDevitt’s vision our civilization survives, but the Democratic Party doesn’t.

      As for me, I don’t think the Democratic Party deserves to survive, and that in order for our descendants to have a life, that it must be completely destroyed and replaced by something newer and truly populist. What do you think?

      It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it.--Eugene Debs

      Show me a man that gets rich by being a politician, and I'll show you a crook.--Harry Truman

    • #305451
      Mr. Mickeys Mom
      Moderator
      • Total Posts: 4,298

      @ohiobarbarian

      I believe somewhere out there is someone in the futurist movement who wishes to make this so. Unfortunately, it takes longer than I’ve probably got in this incarnation to see it through. The process for me, were it my vision to SEE this through:

      Step one:  Get money out of politics (a series of removing existing legislation, starting with Citizen’s United)

      Step two: Live through some awful outcomes of seeing those without any safety net, die in the streets. This is the bloody revolution part I could well live or die through.

      Step three: Ready a home base from which the next generation can start over. If that is my role, then I’d say I’m in a position to do it.

      Hell, no... I'm not giving up...

      • #305465
        Ohio Barbarian
        Moderator
        • Total Posts: 17,114

        @mrmickeysmom Call me crazy, but I do hope I live long enough to see it. Part of the reason is a sort of revenge–I want to hear my comfortable liberal friends who have Voted Blue No Matter Who and called me immoral for refusing to do so squeal in the agony of losing some of their comforts. I want to see them suffer like my stepkids have.

        I’m Norse pagan. It’s OK for me to do that.

        It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it.--Eugene Debs

        Show me a man that gets rich by being a politician, and I'll show you a crook.--Harry Truman

    • #305479
      Satan
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 3,621

      Unfortunately, I don’t see either one happening. A new version of the Green party, replacing the Vichy Democrats/Turd Way (as described above) would be a great move, but I don’t see the Republicans reverting to the party of Eisenhower/Teddy Roosevelt/Abe Lincoln anytime soon. Hell, even the Turd Way is to the right of Eisenhower. Half the time they’re to the right of Reagan anymore.

      I’m also not sure of an all encompassing “North American Union” containing all of Canada, The US , and Mexico. Probably more likely that existing countries split up into smaller regional unions such as “Cascadia” which might stretch all the way from British Columbia down to at least Northern California. Depending on to what degree Mexico is involved with this realignment, southern California would likely be part of a different arrangement . Though where exactly the split would be between the two Collieforneeas… Hell only knows.

      Numerous maps of what this might look like are all over the internet. Here’s one of the more legible ones, though some of the “borders” seem random & oddly placed, to say the least….

      Definitely prefer the name “Cascadia” to “Ecotopia” though….. and I’m not so sure Hawaii would opt-in to that new country, or declare independence on their own.

      "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable". - John F. Kennedy

      • #305533
        Ohio Barbarian
        Moderator
        • Total Posts: 17,114

        @satan I was more interested in the bit about the government being corrupt and what its members and beneficiaries get executed for during the fictional Revolution.

        I can easily see Big Three North American countries breaking up during a social and economic collapse brought on by climate change and ineffectual capitalist government responses to it. Regions with common interests and resources would be forced to break away from the central governments in order to have a chance of saving themselves. Some will, some won’t.

        That’s what happens when empires collapse quickly.

        It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it.--Eugene Debs

        Show me a man that gets rich by being a politician, and I'll show you a crook.--Harry Truman

    • #305484
      djean111
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 4,627
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