House of Cards

The world is probably overdue for a catastrophe. The last war in Europe was 73 years ago. There have been some minor skirmishes like Ukraine and the Balkans, but nothing to alter the political arrangements. It’s been an extraordinary run of peace. Despite the howling by the neocons, there’s little chance of a war breaking out. The rest of the world is unlikely to see a major war anytime soon. Asia is too busy selling stuff to wage war and the Middle East seems to have exhausted itself, at least for a little while.

As far as catastrophes, the best chance for something significant is a plague. The last good disease outbreak was the Spanish Flu, which gets overlooked because of the Great War. That killed three to five percent of the world population. Some would say HIV counts as a pandemic, but that’s a different thing than something like the Spanish Flu. Everyone knows how to not get HIV. There’s no defense against something like an airborne virus or something carried by insects. The normal activities of life spread the disease.

Researchers at John Hopkins University simulated the spread of a new deadly disease, a variant of the flu, using real politicians to “war game” the thing. A doomsday cult releases a genetically engineered virus and the politicians were asked to make decisions based on the rules of the simulation. The result was 150 million dead in less than two years and close a billion dead by the end of the simulation. They modeled the new disease on SARS, just made it more deadly, so the infection pattern was something familiar.

One of the researchers said, “I think we learned that even very knowledgeable, experienced, devoted senior public officials who have lived through many crises still have trouble dealing with something like this.” That’s a very nice way of saying that the people in charge are not very good at this sort of thing. When you dig into the story, the impression is that the result of this simulation was the worst case scenario. Maybe they had their thumb on the scale, hoping to use the result to get research money.

What I did not see in the descriptions of the simulation is the downstream results of a serious plague. For example, the infrastructure of modern life requires a lot of maintenance. Around here, crews are out everyday repairing power lines and communication equipment. If a plague starts, what percentage of that work force has to get sick, scared or die before maintenance falls behind? Just imagine what happens if your power goes out for an extended period. Then imagine it happening during a plague.

Then you have the interconnection of world populations. A serious plague is going to hit a place like India much harder than a country like Canada. The West has come to depend on India for all sorts of services. Imagine a world without Hindu telemarketers and the world’s call centers shut down. In all seriousness, the disruptions to the supply chain would be massive, because so much is outsourced to poor non-white countries with low standards for public health. All of a sudden, outsourcing becomes a liability.

Given the disease rates would inevitably be higher in non-white areas, white intolerance of non-whites would spike. We see signs of this already, as Amerindians bring forgotten diseases like TB and scarlet fever into the US. This would make it impossible for the politicians to continue the white replacement project, at least not without declaring martial law. That assumes the military could or would go along with martial law. A plague would probably hit the military hardest, because everyone is packed onto bases.

That’s another aspect of a plague. Trust in institutions is at an all-time low in the United States. We have a strong economy and the nation is at peace. If all of a sudden food gets scarce and civil unrest is a problem, trust in the state could very well collapse. Decades of stoking hatred among the populace by the current ruling class could easily boil over into chaos. Imagine a dozen Katrina scale breakdowns around the country. The people in charge could not respond sensibly to one city-wide catastrophe. Imagine a dozen of them.

There’s something else. The common argument you hear is that there is a shortage of qualified people in critical areas of the economy. This is the argument for importing slaves from Asia. If an airborne virus starts killing people, those who work in offices will be hit hardest. What if we start to really run out of people able to do important jobs. What if 20% of the medical staff drops dead in the first wave of the infection? The point is, it’s not hard to imagine that a serious plague could cripple some important aspect of the system.

In a lot of ways, the modern society is a house of cards. Everything is dependent on everything else. In the normal course of life, this works as defense in depth, with layers of dependency and redundancy. It’s easy to see how this could be turned into a weakness, due to severe shortages of manpower or one part of the system getting hit particularly hard. The modern economy assumes everything breaks, but only breaks a little and not all at one time. Again, just imagine what happens if the power grid fails for a month.

That’s why the Black Death was so significant. It fractured the feudal system in ways that could not be repaired. Some have argued that the plague made the Renaissance possible, by crippling the old feudal order. That certainly seems plausible. The feudal order was a pyramid scheme of sorts. It required a large peasant population. Once the peasants started dying off, the system became unstable, at least as an economic model. Of course, the plague killed a lot of high-born people too. That changed the ruling classes as well.

The Late Bronze Age collapse is another example of a systemic failure brought on by exogenous forces. The reasons range from diseases, climate change to invasion, but probably a combination of them. The palace system for distributing goods and maintaining order was not able to hold up to these exogenous pressures. Since the relationships between the kingdoms were built around the palace system, one kingdom falling set off a domino effect. The result was a dark age that lasted about 300 years.

That does not mean a modern plague would result in a dark age or the zombie apocalypse, but major resets change the trajectory of human development. All of a sudden, the prevailing orthodoxy is not so strong that no one challenges it. The neo-liberal order of today is fragile and requires enormous resources to maintain. In fact, the cost of maintaining it probably exceeds the benefits. A plague would cause a major reset to the world order and probably force a retreat of the prevailing order, at the minimum.

124 thoughts on “House of Cards

  1. People have forgotten nd the media have memoryholed the storm that hit Sodom on Hudson a few years ago. With the power out for a couple of days, they were basically back to canibalism.

  2. There’s very little need for war on a planet that is overflowing with resources. Scarcity is not something most people outside of the most train-wrecked, impoverished, culturally dysfunctional countries will ever experience. We hear about LA’s homeless problem, for example, which involves about 58,000 people. Out of 10.1M…or 0.6% of the population of LA county. We actually have to look for problems to have these days.

    If there’s a major war in our lifetime, it’ll be caused by fossil fuel resource scarcity. If Science can come up with a cheap alternative, you can reset the war clock another 100 years.

    Africa contains about 600M hectares of arable land. About 60% of the world’s total “farmland” which is of course not really being put to good use. That doesn’t bode well for Africans if Asians and White decide to just say enough is enough and take it over and gentrify the place.

    re: the military. For the most part, on US soil, the military doesn’t have its people living on base. It’s the same problem you defined – crowded places – but military personnel live in local neighborhoods and their kids go to the local schools. The real problem for the military is that if something bad happened their personnel are so intertwined in the local community that they would have trouble getting people onto the base, housing them, etc. They’d get overwhelmed as their people flee a plague hoping for refuge “on base”. Military bases would quickly become fortresses housing military and their families and shooting anybody who tries to enter.

    If bad shit really did go down, you’d quickly see military people making a simple calculus: us or them. And they have a lot of weapons to protect their own. Initially, they’d go out and try to help, but the more hopeless things get, the more likely they just decide to hunker down behind the fence and let a plague burn itself out.

    re: everything connected: This is Thanos’ great miscalculation in the last Avengers movie. He assumes a random culling of the herd by 50% will solve the universe’s resource problems (haha). So 50% of everybody turns to ash. In the post-credits, however, we see car accidents and a helicopter crash into a building…so the pilot turns to ash and the three other people on the helicopter are collateral losses. I wonder if the writers will deal with that in part II next year. Thanos most likely killed 90%+ of the universe’s population not 50%.

    I’ve read somewhere that NYC has about a 3-day supply of food on Long Island. Blow up the bridges and tunnels, sink the ferries, and the majority of New Yorkers are dead of starvation, drowning, cannibalism, mayhem, etc. within a month. Hell, you don’t even have to blow it up. Just create a situation where everybody is afraid to go outside in fear of a plague…no more food deliveries…

  3. You wouldn’t even need a plague to actually kill that many people to cause economic collapses. How long before the fear of contracting it caused people to hole up as much as possible, refusing to go to the office?

    • Yep, we had ONE case of that terrible H1N1 flu (or whatever it was called) a decade ago at my old company. Everybody “worked from home” for 3 days until the Hazmat team cleared the facility after a full decontamination.

      Half the country thought they were gonna get Ebola from the one case in TX…

  4. Regardless of whatever clamity befalls us it’s the aftermath that concerns me the most. When people fist fight over the last loaf of bread during a snowstorm what madness will the masses descend into during a true disaster ?

  5. A global pandemic would certain disrupt supply chains. Given how globalized manufacturing is these days, it will certainly be a problem. However, it will be temporary. People always want to make money and are looking for whatever angle gives them the advantage. Disrupted supply chains means opportunity for the manufacturers and distributors who get their act together and up and running as soon as possible.

    Like how nature abhors a vacuum, economies abhor an unfulfilled market niche. Disrupted supply chains represent unfulfilled opportunity,.Of course people will step to the plate to pursue such opportunity.

    Unlike a global nuclear war, the infrastructure will be largely intact. This also makes economic recovery easy.

  6. “The world is probably overdue for a catastrophe. The last war in Europe was 73 years ago. There have been some minor skirmishes like Ukraine and the Balkans, but nothing to alter the political arrangements. It’s been an extraordinary run of peace.”

    It does feel like something is up, like something in the air is brewing but I’m skeptical we are going to have anything like an outright world war anytime soon. Nukes took that option off the table a long time ago for the major powers. Minor wars and probably proxy wars will keep popping up at the edges but the real powers aren’t going to do anything outright.

    (Yes, Russia took Crimea but that was kind of unusual in that a major power took a direct action instead of doing things by proxy. There wasn’t a chance Russia was going to let Crimea turn into a NATO navy base; if California was independent and they were about to flip to the Chinese, there’s no way we’d let them hold onto any strategic port either.)

    “Asia is too busy selling stuff to wage war and the Middle East seems to have exhausted itself, at least for a little while.”

    India and Pakistan are wild cards; we came pretty close to seeing a nuclear war break out between them in 2005 and it could always happen again though if it did, it wouldn’t have that much effect (India wants to be a major player but they aren’t on par with the real players which are US, Russia and China). As for the Middle East, there’s still a war going on in Yemen, Iraq and Syria are still a mess and there’s usually a fight between Israel and Gaza every five years so we might see that happen. But in the end all that is either proxy war or minor in the grand scheme of things. If we didn’t have constant news blasting everywhere, none of it would register with most people.

    “As far as catastrophes, the best chance for something significant is a plague. The last good disease outbreak was the Spanish Flu, which gets overlooked because of the Great War. ”

    Its probably the strongest possibility right now; the ebola outbreak a few years ago was a close call but we are pretty vulnerable if something does show up and get out of hand. All of your examples are good ones but imagine localizing it; picture a place like NYC but where everyone is terrified to use the subways. The city wouldn’t be able to function. (Technology could help on the fringes; video conferencing and stuff like that but that of course doesn’t solve anything that requires actual physical labor.)

  7. The thing with any catastrophe in our age, be it war or plague, is the growing fragility of our civilization due to the ever-increasing helplessness of “civilized” man. If water, food, and shelter are the necessary components for life, how many people know how to secure/grow/build these things? During previous historical disasters 95% of the population knew how to milk a cow, cultivate potatoes, build a spring house, etc. The doctor was accustomed to manual labor, the engineer could capably produce things with his two hands, and every non-city kid grew up knowing how to take a squirrel with a .22LR. Today? Most of the professional class (who say they work “smarter”) haven’t had dirt under their fingernails in decades, and PROUDLY so, yet know nothing about water purification. If there’s a blip (let along a meltdown) of our Just-In-Time delivery system of food/fuel or local government’s delivery of county/city water, plague will be the least of “civilized” man’s worries. Of all the wonders of AI I’ve yet to read how it could produce food or water.

  8. A bioengineered disease that killed people quickly would be fairly easy to identify and stop. A disease that spreads slowly and has less dramatic but still damaging effects would be potentially more devastating. How about a disease that just makes people tired? What would happen if everyone was say, 10% less productive? At some point society would become dysfunctional.

    • Gaz;

      Industrialization beat you to it. Q: So you’ve caught Lime Disease too_? It works just like you say.

      The only definitive diagnostic protocol I’m aware of: You start to feel like shyte for no obvious reason. It doesn’t go away in a few days like the flu. You get a hunch and start the big gun antibiotics. Suddenly, after a day or two you start feeling ok (except for the unfortunate effects on your gut flora).

      IFAIK, it was only identified in CN in the 70’s (?) following the reforestration of New England allowing the rebound of the deer population which feeds the intermediate vector (deer ticks) causing them to rebound as well. It is apparently endemic in field mice which the deer ticks also feed on. Apparently delayed payback from Native Americans.

  9. Call me an optimist, but I believe that humanity will survive and learn from the massive death and chaos just around the corner.

    A ‘great re-learning’ will unfold among the remnant; while living in a poisoned and depleted ecosystem, resorting to cannibalism in hard winter, and totally unmoored from their cultural roots, they’ll be free of feminists, snowflakes, social-justice bureaucrats, vegans, the NY Times, trannies, libertarians, and all annoying people generally.

    So cheer up.

    The future won’t be pleasant, but heck, we’re all biological realists here and what we care about is the ongoing triumph of human nature. The most advanced societies flourished well into the 19th century without power grids, SWAT teams or the CIA; cut off the power in 1850 and you still have the world of 1850; cut off the power in 2018 and you have the world of 650.

  10. Low fertility societies will find it impossible to persist in any war involving significant casualties. In a society where families have many children, parents may be willing to sacrifice one or two for a cause. Parents with few children are not. The pressure to bring the boys home will mount with each death. If a country persist, massive draft dodging and desertion will severely deplete the ranks. This will mean that any war involving countries of North America, Europe, or East Asia will end shortly after the casualties start to mount. Anything more than 10 to 20k casualties for any country will result in suing for peace. This pretty much rules out conventional warfare as the cause of the apocalypse.

  11. Z: “A plague would cause a major reset to the world order and probably force a retreat of the prevailing order, at the minimum.”

    So this is how the Dissident Right keeps morale up…with plague talk. Like a glass of iced tea on a hot day. Thanks Z!

  12. The DRACO story:

    It is currently side-lined because other broad-spectrum anti-virals are being developed and commercialized. Given how cheap it is to set up a biotech lab these days (less than $200K), there is no question that lots of biohackers will make DRACO on their own if we really do get a “slate-wiper” plague.

    This is the other reason why I no longer fear the “slate wiper”.

  13. A bio-engineered plague is unlikely because it is technically hard to make a killer virus that can transmit effectively. You’re up against a fundamental trade off of virulence vs. transmission. A highly lethal virus will not transmit very well because it kills its host too quickly. Additionally, there are only 4 to 5 virii families that are air-borne and contagious to humans. Influenza is the one that is most likely to become a natural killer. It is the most easily transmissible of the 5 families. However, influenza is the Ferrari sports car of virii. it has 8 genes that code for 12 proteins. Insert another gene and you screw it up so it cannot transmit effectively. This is why it is unlikely to be used as a bio-engineered virus. This is why I generally do not fear bio-engineered plagues any more. They are unlikely to work.

    A natural plague is more likely to be influenza than anything else. Of the 5 families of virii, it is the most mutagenic.

  14. The reason bioweapons have never been deployed in any significant manner is because they’re largely ineffective. A plague can’t happen until the public health system breaks down and would be limited to places where the public health system (by which I mean supply of water for drinking and washing and sewage disposal) does break down. A plague would be the result of a catastrophe not the cause of one – the flu pandemic after WWI being a case in point.

    • This is true. Some sort of super virus may be creatable, but the USA is the only country with a biotechnology level anywhere near being able to produce it. And the people who could certainly wouldn’t.

  15. Good research/analysis as usual, “Z”. Suspect that you also are supporting a “when,not if” scenario also, regardless the form of catalyst. And as such, I reprise:
    “CitYzens/urbies”, coasters, physically debilitated/drug dependent, UN-armed/provisioned will be the first to be “severely negatively impacted” (tongue-in-cheek). I . . . CHOOSE to remain SIMPLIFIED with clean, chemically UNadulterated water/food, shelter/warmth, garden, provisions and . . . arms in the hands of MANY for not just “survival” but THRIVING in an inland, rural “1-2-1 System D” operating/transacting environment. As the storm clouds of economic/financial chaos and war continue to “gather” – regardless of the current “Carnival-Barker-In -Chief Extraordinare’s” prognostications – so are the Lord’s “Repenting Remnants” so GATHERing – finding both physical and spiritual sustenance in fellowship of collaborative, PRODUCTIVE activity as the Lord so intended and benefacted to the CHOOSING.

  16. “A doomsday cult releases a genetically engineered virus …”

    You could call that a “bomb plague”. Another variant I would call a “gun plague”, i.e. a plague that only affects a genetically targeted population.

  17. Firstly, get organized, now, in groups.

    Everything going on in the world today, if you aren’t prepared, you’re a dead man probably with a dead family.

    • How do you organize without an FBI infiltrator or an HR dept checking if you’re progressivism-compliant?

      • Get 4 or 5 people who live close to you and do IRL stuff, doesn’t have to be small unit tactics, hang out, drink, do things for each other that build cohesion. We are a high trust people. Get guns, learn shooting,
        Start stocking up.
        If you have male relatives like I do, take them to the range, don’t get political!
        Become a good friend
        Be a good uncle
        Be a good brother and brother in law
        If they don’t see things your way, the will when the SHTF

  18. Consider a norovirus outbreak…on a cruise ship for instance…or better yet a plane…. somewhere south of 20 virus particles able to cause infection, the ambient enviromental viral load
    (for lack of a better way to desribe the growing viral cloud) increasing with each person blowing their guts ….from either end… virtually everything one contacts is a vector….with the enevitable outcome being actual death, rather than just the desire for it….and couple that with an shedding asymtomatic incubation period of weeks…. YOWZA!

    As for A.I helping to save the day…..we can’t even protect our most critical military secrets / databases from intrusion/manipulation….

  19. ” Asia is too busy selling stuff to wage war “, this is a catastrophic flaw in the reasoning of many who think economic interests trump nationalism among populations. First it supposes that great events in history are determined by a few technocrats, when in actuality, it is determined by masses of people – insofar as their leaders reflect the sentiment of the masses. It was not in Japan’s or Germany’s economic interest to attack Pearl Harbor or its neighbors; it was driven by nationalistic fervor and the belief in superiority. The Chinese currently hold this same belief and no threat of loss in commerce will prevent her from trying to claim her righteous place in history as the undisputed global superpower over the barbaric, young, arrogant, US. This is because in their mind, they will *impose* commercial structure on their subjects. This is currently happening with Silk Road infrastructure and investment projects. They are embarking on a “lebensraum ” expansion in a manner nearly identical to Pre-WWII Germany.
    China is preparing for total war against the United States and will preemptively attack at a time of her choosing. This does not mean she will triumph, but will likely suffer the same catastrophe as those in the WWII Axis. It also means there’s no guarantee the US will survive in its current state.

    • What a maroon! “…their leaders reflect the sentiment of the masses.” Are you suggesting that the Imperial government of Japan in the 1930’s and ’40s reflected the sentiment of the masses? Or that Kaiser Wilhelm’s actions, as well as the actions of Franz Joseph of Austria reflected the will of the masses in Germany and Austria respectively? According to you, then, Kim Jong Un and his bizarre regime is just reflecting the will of the masses of North Korea, who have obviously chosen to live in near starvation for the past 7 decades because {reasons}. You can’t be serious. You’re trolling us, right?

      • Certainly with respect to Japan the answer is yes. You don’t get the kind of fanatical loyalty and dedication Japanese soldiers displayed without the support of the masses. In Germany and Austria, there were great senses of national pride and devotion. Where the monarch has failed to reflect the sentiment of the masses to any large degree, you get the Russian, French, Spanish (and so on) revolutions., or you get a change of monarch by the landed classes, as happened so many times in England.

        As for North Korea, Kim Jong Un is indeed a reflection of the sentiment of the masses. You’re just wrong about the sentiment in question. The sentiment isn’t “We like living in starvation under a series of clownish tyrants.” The sentiment is “We are too cowed and lacking initiative as a people to die fighting for something better rather than just muddle through with the way things are in this shithole.” The Kim regime certainly reflects that.

        The current government of the US is an accurate reflection of the sentiment of the masses, because the average American loves him some Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid a whole host of other gimmes and subsidies he can pretend he deserves and he doesn’t care that he has literally sold his kids’ futures down the river to get them.

      • And the average moron Americans wanted no part in FDR’s wars in Asia and Europe. But what could they do?

        • My Dad, a couple of my uncles and my maternal grandfather fought in WW 2. They believed it was their patriotic duty to do so. The average American was pro-war.

          • Do you know if they had opinions on Charles Lindbergh’s attempts to keep the US out of WW2 (the original “America First”)? Of course, after Pearl Harbor, he enlisted.

          • My sister remembered her dad and the men sitting around the table, frowning and saying darkly, “FDR had something to do wth this”, after Pearl Harbor. They had all voted for him.

    • Wrong about Japan. Yes, their inferiority complex caused an outbreak of superiority complex, but Japan at the most basic level feared starvation. They grew, and could grow, only 40% of the caloric needs of their population. They had no oil, little iron, few natural resources. For all of human history before that point the solution was to take it.
      The Chinese are not preparing total war with the US. They plan to dominate the world and have not particular reason to believe we can or will stand in the way of those plans. The Chinese are more inclined to view the US with pity. They greatly admire what we were. The Golden Mountain.

  20. Little chance or little reason for war to break out? The US is still on the hook for all kinds of war guarantees and mob protection for countries many haven’t even heard of.
    Look at that little affair in 1914 over an assassination.

    Hell, if the Neocons and shitlibs had there way now, the silos would be empty because of Russia.

    • David;

      You are very right to be concerned. But the real danger is a conventional war against Russian that might turn nuclear. Since the collapse of the USSR, NATO has been busily writing checks that it can’t remotely hope cover at current force and readiness levels, even if the US should be so stupid as to heed the margin call by emptying our silo’s.

      Burning out the Accella Corridor to save Montenegro_? I’d guess not, but then again… (Nothing personal, Monti, just business.)

      It is even touch and go whether we could even get there if opposed by Russian subs in a conventional war scenario, given the disarray in the other NATO countries navies.

  21. zman, the biggest threat for what you discuss is an EMP attack. Have you looked into this? A nuke detonated in the atmosphere of middle America would cripple the entire country’s electric grid, blowing out transformers across the country. There are no reserve transformers in the country and they are built only in two places on earth – Germany and South Africa. It would take 6 months or more to ship them here. Because of ourjust in time distribution model, with regional warehouses stocking only a month of food at most, the country would turn into Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome in no time.

    It wouldn’t have to be a nuke either. Solar flares powerful enough to wipe out the country’s grid occur about once every 100 years according to NASA. The last enormous one was the Carrington Event in the 1850s which destroyed the nascent telegraph system.

    • I think if the electrical and transportation systems stay up then society has a chance to survive. With the electrical system operating water can be pumped and houses heated. Transportation working allows.for food distribution. Most families are 9 meals away from starvation. If either fail then it will be Mad Max time.

  22. “…Despite the howling by the neocons, there’s little chance of a war breaking out…..”

    This reminds me of the great economist Irving Fisher’s remark in 1929 that the stock market was at a “permanently high plateau.”

    Or better yet, the international best seller in 1910, “The Great Illusion,” made a open and shut case for the impossibility of a war in Europe.

    Or why the machine gun would make war obsolete because no general would send his soldiers to advance against an enemy machine gun.

    Or that conglomerates or other dominant firms would crush all competition and take over the world; e.g. – ITT , Microsoft, Exxon, KMart and Sears, the railroads, etc.

    Or Ken Olsen of Digital Equipment (DEC) prediction that ordinary folks had no use nor need of personal computers.

    Wars start because politicians run the world and they are so arrogant and elitist – and oft times really stupid people (Obama, John Kerry, Madeleine Halfbright, Bush, Cuomo, Merkel, etc. ) they refuse to believe they do not know better; that their decisions are always correct and proper.
    (John Kerry has got to be the dumbest and most stupid politician of the last 100 years).

    The next war will start by “accident.” Some idiot politician somewhere will give some order or pursue a policy to teach another nation a lesson and pow, things will unfold in a totally unpredictable manner.

    A pandemic may or may not happen. Historically they have but they have all occurred before the onset of modern medicine. Not to say a pandemic is impossible, but the tools available (including quarantines) today never heretofore existed.

    But stupid and arrogant political leaders are still with us and because they are politicians, they never learn the lessons of history. They just keep repeating the same mistakes over and over.
    That is why a war is inevitable.

    Welcome to the real world.

  23. Even the best paramedics, nurses, firefighters, police get sick and/or stop coming to work. Schools close, so single mom nurse has to bring child/dog to work for days at a time and work nonstop shifts til she gets sick. EMT services stop responding for the most part. All beds are full anyway.

    This is all survivable in the short-term in the single- city scenario like Houston after TS Allison or Katrina. But even Houston has only a few hundred ICU beds and a few hundred ventilators. And suddenly Dallas or San Antonio can’t send any supplies or help.

    Utilities aside, the next to fall apart is food. Thanks to just-in-time inventory practices, stores have nothing in reserve. Truck drivers cant or wont deliver.

    As someone said, “apocalypses have a way of not happening”, but if it does, it’ll look like that. Every time you think you need more rounds, consider buying food.

    • Every time you think you need more rounds, consider buying food.
      Only if you’re already in a place that is conducive to survival otherwise all your doing is having a stockpile for your enemy to use…

  24. It’s not just call centers that have been outsourced to India and elsewhere. Entire departments, especially IT and Finance, have been offshored. A modern corporation can literally do nothing if its IT and Finance operations shut down.

  25. A war, over a mutual misunderstanding, could happen somewhere (India-China, India-Pakistan, China-Vietnam; one little spark, a zealous Vietnamese patrol boat commander vs an arrogant Chinese destroyer captain, or a ‘spectacular’ terrorist attack). The ME could also kick off a general sunni-shia (Saudi Arabia Iran) showdown??

    But the plague scenario is definitely another possibility. And I share the sense that we are ‘overdue for a disaster’. (Europe had a 99 yr gap in continentwide war, from 1815 to 1914 but inbetween plenty of 1-on-1 wars, a lot of them involving Prussia. And America had the civil war halfway through that peace).

    I do suspect nuclear weapons are relevant to the 73 yrs of no war between great powers (except US vs China in Korea, IF China was a ‘great power’ then). And I do wonder if peace, by some hidden mechanism in the nature of man, has a similar effect as gradually building up fuel for a bonfire, ie the longer it lasts the greater the conflagration?? But I can see no immediate reason to think this is the case, other than growing naivety about the nature of war.

  26. Here’s a link to USAMRIID and their documents that you may find useful.

    That said, we are already importing hordes of diseased 3rd worlders. Remember the Zika virus? It was unknown in the U.S. until illegals from Central America brought it in. The same thing with the resurgence of measles.

    Incurable TB? Illegals bring that in as well and no one says anything. ICE/CBP AFAIK no longer does tests on illegals to see what diseases they are carrying.

    Our schools let in illegal alien kids with no vaccinations that we know of.

    And it will not stop if there is a nasty influenza(or favorite doomsday disease). The CDC does not support closing the borders or stopping air traffic in such situations. This was brought to light during the Ebola outbreak a few years back. The CDC is compromised and cannot be trusted.

    • Rod;

      Agreed: During the Ebola panic the CDC demonstrated that they were incompetent at contamination control. This was probably due to ignorance and indiscipline among their nursing staff.

      During the Cold War, WMD attack exercises that I personally participated in repeatedly showed that medics were shaky about dealing with contaminated casualties. Besides this, decades of cost reduction pressure have more than squeezed out any excess capacity in our medical system. So replacing front-line health workers who die through carelessness will be very difficult in anything larger than a purely localized incident.

      So, Z’s speculation that the medical system would rapidly break down in any sort of plague or nuclear attack scenario is entirely on target.

      • When my kids were kids, about 20 years ago, you couldn’t enroll them anywhere for anything without their immunization records being shown. Incompleteness of the immunization history was not acceptable. I guess things have changed.

    • I remember Zika. Do you also remember back around 2013 or 2014 a few dozen or hundred kids were afflicted with some mysterious virus?It was polio-like in that it caused paralysis. I believe a few journalists tracking the story concluded that all the cases occurred near facilities where “unaccompanied minors” from the border were being housed. 90% of the MSM of course, adopted a “Golly gee, shit happens, nothing to see here” angle.

      • Speaking of the MSM, I heard a fatwa was issued by one of the crazy clerics last November, for the followers to burn down everything they can in the country this summer. Have you seen the photo of the guy who got caught setting the fires east of L. A. last week? It’s not very widely posted…

  27. I don’t think it’s an accident that the decline of mass plague deaths coincides with the rise of the germ theory of disease transmission and the discovery of vaccination. Our societal structures simply aren’t as vulnerable to disease as they used to be.

    • We are, rather, on the cusp of becoming helpless against a series of old diseases grown resistant to many generations of antibiotics. Bacteriophages are a completely new and radically different approach to this eventuality under research right now which can’t come on line soon enough.

  28. I looked up the Ebola outbreak that caused so much panic and I found only about 11,000 recorded deaths. From the media panic, I expected it to be a lot higher.

  29. I agree with your main point.

    Aside: “That’s why the Black Death was so significant.” True. The English population halved, serfdom ended, and and the peasant’s wages doubled. It took 200 years (8 generations) for the population to recover numbers.

    BUT… It is interesting that the people who lived at the time of the main waves of the black death included Chaucer, Langland and the Gawain poet – and these barely or never mention the Black Death – seemingly it didn’t really register among people at the time. (It was a time of many plagues and early deaths, esepcially among the poor.)

    Makes Yer Fink, Dunnit…

    • The plague was significant in Western Europe (mainly Italy and England) as an engine of change. Remember that it originated in the Eurasian steppe, and spread to China as well as the Islamic world, but didn’t cause a radical change in thinking there- the thinking that allowed the West to advance in power and dynamism while the East stagnated, and why, is something to consider.

    • Actually I was reading that they are not all that sure that the Black Death was bubonic plague or even a single entity. It may have been several distinct viral epidemics. Some account report that once a victim had recovered from the illness they would never get it again, suggesting viral. Makes sense, seems like you would see localized outbreaks from time to time in the modern era.

      • The nature of the Plague was called into question by the most curious fact: the very small percentage of homosexual men who are proven quite immune to HIV were found to have twin copies of the double delta plague gene. One copy provided recovery from plague, a double copy provided total immunity, for which in some instances caused those healthy souls to be burned as witches.

  30. My favorite parts of WWZ (the book, not the God-awful movie) were the surviving humans using lessons learned to eliminate the hordes. Through clever manufacturing and tactics, they managed to bring the plague to heel.
    Hi-tech isn’t the only answer, always. Human cleverness is.

  31. Some (me included) would argue that HIV was a badly-needed plague that we unwisely interfered with for political reasons. It was effectively reducing the population of sub-Saharan Africa, and also of notable groups of loud troublemakers in the West, and doing so in a way that encouraged better behavior from everyone else. But instead of letting nature follow the same pattern it does with forest fires – clearing away rotted old forest to make room for new growth – we put superhuman effort into saving lots of not-very-useful people from the entirely predictable consequences of their own bad decisions. Now the troublemakers rule us with an increasingly iron fist, while the Africans, who are experiencing a population explosion since we removed the natural check on its growth, flood into our countries. And I suppose we deserve it. Nature has a way of punishing hubris ruthlessly.

      • Ironic that Cuba would develop a vicious strain of HIV. Ol’ Fidel clamped down hard on HIV back in the 80s

        • I see an epidemiolic path:
          1. Ape strain SIDS mutates in Angola, is picked up by people butchering and eating bloody monkey meat
          2. Cuban soldiers in Angola consort with infected Angolan prostitutes
          3. Some Infected Cubans get thrown in jail or prison
          4. Infected prisoners sent to Key West as a bio-bomb in the 1981 Muriel boatlift
          5. Key West is the Gay kingdom of the East Coast; gay practices turn AIDS into a homosexual disease here, while it is often a hetero disease elsewhere

          (The USSR, Cuba’s patron, sent out Jewish Red Mafya from it’s prisons in 1979 in a stealthy ‘humanitarian’ bid. The prisoners carried tuberculosis.)

          • Was actually offered a private gig in Angola opposing the Cubans many decades ago. Mess. Didnt go.

    • The bear and the rabbit were both sitting and using the same log to go to the bathroom. The bear turned to the rabbit and asked “ does poop stick to your fur?” “ Why no” said the rabbit. The bear then reached over, grabbed the rabbit and wiped his ass with him.

  32. Is this an advocacy piece?

    FWIW, military mobilization in the US for WWI was the primary vector for the spread of the Spanish influenza. The first known case was a farm kid from Kansas (or maybe Missouri). He joined the military and was shipped by train to a camp in Massachusetts. Flu spread through the camp and onto ships sailing to Europe, then into the camps and trenches in the European theater.

  33. The post-plague economy would offer lots of opportunities for automation. Just like the Black Death of Europe, a plague would wipe out a lot of excess labor. So, lots of opportunities for automation. There will be a skills shortage. But I expect that to get resolved rather quickly. As long as there is money in something, there will always be people to step up to the plate, learn the requisite skills, and make the money. Decentralized free-market systems are actually quite resilient because they are inherently dynamic with lots of redundancy.

    Think of a plague as a form of creative destruction. Social hierarchy get wiped out, with a much greater upward mobility as a result. This is always a good thing.

    • The trouble with the automation angle is we are pretty close to the point of diminishing returns in the robot revolution. The cost of additional automation often exceeds the benefit. That means it takes very big brained people to squeeze out the extra drops efficiently. Maybe the great reset frees up the smart fraction. Maybe it kills them first. The Spanish Flu hit the young and healthy the hardest.

      Even if the big brains survived, a drop in the number of medium brains would force the big brains into performing less demanding, but more vital tasks. If the plague wipes out a lot of guys capable of maintaining the power grid, the people to fill the gap are not going to be ditch diggers. Its going to be the available engineers and computer programmers.

      • Using your example of medical personnel, I don’t think we’ve begun to touch labor saving tech and AI. At least in white collar.

      • You might be surprised at how much AI is capable of doing these days. It’s not perfect, and a lot of it won’t be seen in consumer products for several years or maybe even decades, but rest assured that if the tech were desperately needed, it would be rolled out in a flash.

        In fact, I think a mass die-off might well be the catalyst for a singularity-like event. People are rightly afraid of the consequences of deploying certain technology until there’s been adequate safety and reliability research, but if the labor force suddenly plummeted and the lack of food/infrastructure/medicine became a more imminent threat than Terminator robots (using the pleb caricature on purpose here), then the calculus suddenly changes, and people and companies will start attempting things that were previously thought crazy or even taboo, like seed AIs and large-scale facial recognition.

        Of course, that’s just one possible outcome, but it’s worth considering for the same reason that “Peak Oil” never happened and never will happen. Once the economics change, the institutions and technology adapt.

        • A population crash on that scale will mean we won’t bother with maintaining society. Its cheaper to scav what you need from the people who don’t need it

          Assuming that our recovery method is “more machines” we just insured population will never recover as people still won’t have any means to buy anything.

          The Black Death created labor shortages which lead to wage growth and a larger economy

          Automation would end that trend and you’d end up with a smaller population with less ability to support itself

          If the die off was bad enough people could create a low tech , reuse permaculture kind of alternative . This would be pleasant enough and while sometimes precarious generally good for people

          However unless the rest of the society became Panem and suppressed them , you’d basically have a lightly populated 3rd world country with a few first world areas .

          That won’t be very stable

      • “The trouble with the automation angle is we are pretty close to the point of diminishing returns in the robot revolution. The cost of additional automation often exceeds the benefit.”

        I have no idea how you arrive at that but Im pretty sure you re not right. AI isn’t gonna be ‘big,’ it’s gonna be a new age and I don’t necessarily mean ‘better’. But certainly new.

        • I think A.I. is mostly hype. However, the underlying technology, deep neuro-nets, is very useful for machine vision and other pattern recognition tasks. I expect to be using deep neuro-net machine vision in my work in the next few years.

          • You’re right that we don’t yet know if AI will be actual, literal artificial ‘intelligence’ or just a drastic boost to automatic, continuous digital optimization. But in either case it will be to the PC what the PC is to the typewriter, more or less.

      • The world is not light on big brains. Out of my very small acquaintance I personally know at least 4 people with IQ’s (stanford-binet) of over 160.
        That includes myself, of course.

        • Smart people are a dime a dozen. This is a country of 320 million people. Even if you’re looking at the top 5%, that’s still over 16 million people with IQ’s over 140.

          • Bad math. IQ 140+ = 0.25% of a mean 100 IQ population. Naively (i.e. not considering the size of populations with different mean IQs) that’s 800K people in the United States.

      • Myself, I am an automation guy. So I know what automation can and cannot do. Although I consider A.I. (especially self-driving cars) to be load of hype, There is a lot of open opportunity for automation. We’ve not even scratched the surface in terms of what we can do and is economically profitable.

        My point is that guys like me (assuming I actually survive the plague) will be golden in a post-plague economy. Most certainly we will be doing the les demanding, but more critical tasks as well (like getting the electricity and water up and running). There will be a huge demand for automation simply because there will be a lot less labor. Yes, there will be less demade as well. But because all economic theory is based on scarcity, which is a fancy way of saying that wants and desires always exceed available supply, the huge demand for automation will nevertheless be part and parcel of the post-plague economy. There will be other benefits. Real estate in nice places will become cheap again. Imagine how cheap beach holidays will be with all those hotels in Hawaii and Cancun half empty.

        You know as well as I do that, in history, the Black Death broke the guild system, thus allowing for innovation and upward mobility for the first time in over 500 years. It is fair to say that the European Renaissance and industrial revolution would not have occurred without the Black Death. Consider it a form of creative destruction.

        I’m a strong believer in creative destruction. It destroys rent-seeking parasitism (all forms of bureaucracy and hierarchy are nothing more than rent-seeking parasitism) thus allowing the people who do want to innovate, do real work, and create a more open future, to do so free of the restraints of the rent-seekers.

        A plague would be a horrible humanitarian disaster. No one right in the head should wish it for anyone. However, if we do have one, why not take advantage of it as a form of creative destruction?

        When the world gives you lemons, you get busy making lemonade.

      • My overall point is that there will be lots of job and business opportunities, relative to the population, in a post-plague economy. Automation is only part and one example of this. People who are considered “too old” by HR in today’s economy will have lots of opportunity in a post-plague economy.

      • If the plague wipes out a lot of guys capable of maintaining the power grid, the people to fill the gap are not going to be ditch diggers. Its going to be the available engineers and computer programmers.
        Ahh Z I wouldn’t count on them being able to fill the gap either…Most of them I know are scared of heights or the high voltage they would have to deal with…You want an honest opinion if the grid goes down because lineman are dead don’t expect it to come back up for a long long time if ever…

    • Abelard, the problem with what you are proposing is that humanity has tapped most of the freely available energy sources. There’s not enough oil left to jumpstart a new civilization, and that forms the entire basis for the modern economy. There’s lots of other natural resources that are mostly tapped as well. Without oil, it’s hard to imagine another civilization getting off the ground.

        • Yup, the dinosaur/tree myth of petro-creation is believed only by the truly stupid.
          How the evil oil companies shipped all that shit to methane rich Titan has yet to be explained.

          • Not that the oil is gone, but that the cheap easy stuff is gone. One could stick a pipe in Saudi Arabia or Libya’s ground and send the light sweet crude straight to a fuel tank. Abiotic refill, while geologically correct, is glacially slow.

            Titan, with gasoline oceans and water-ice volcanoes- how cool is that?

      • Well, do you think a plague will increase or decrease the long term demand for oil?

      • A breakaway civilization fueled by the US economy’s missing trillions (21 and counting) is rumored to have already reached Mars and beyond without using fossil fuels. Search for Richard Dolan and Catherine Austin Fitts for details.

    • Automation is why we have so many troubles now, The ability to earn is large driver of male status and removing higher T, less skilled males from earning and worse replacing them with women speeds up civic suicide.

      It also grows government and as noted by Cato and fact tested by NPR?! government spending in the US is about 40% of the total GDP .

      It won’t go down simply because there is a surplus of labor that increases every year both by population growth and automation

      Also the more robots we have paradoxically the less people we can support. Robots don’t buy goods or have more importantly have babies

      Its not remotely a surprise that they first below replacement fertility period in the West happened around the 1930’s when automation began to take hold and what’s kept it from a rapid decline is mass importing of people and massive government growth

      This is mainly automation driven

      In the end assuming a high enough level of automation you’ll get a 1% owns everything ruling class , a mass of government employees and a lower class than assuming we don’t go the Elysium/ Hunger Games dystopia root with robot enforcers will be everyone gets 1k a month unchanging, health care, section 8 and day labor

      That society will be utterly dysfunctional with low fertility, huge drug abuse and a magnification of the mess w ehave now

      we’d honestly be better off with automation controls and make work like requiring a solvent license to pump fuel as Oregon and New Jersey once did . Paired with repatriation we can artificially increase the value of labor.

  34. Actually, whites would be hit the hardest as they have weaker immune systems and lack masculinity. There is a reason white girls are having children with Men of Color. The truth is that the world is getting better daily because white men are slowly but surely being driven out of institutional power.

    It tells you something that ALL People of Color agree that white men are the scourge of the earth.

    • Hey Devon. Whaddya get when ya cross a black baboon with a white chubster?

      A caramel with turd for brains that hates itself!

      Ba-dump tssss… HAR HAR HAR!

      I’m here all week! Try the veal!

    • The naturally inferior always come together in agreement that the naturally superior are terrible oppressors. What else is new?

    • Qualified: whytPepoe
      Critical areas: Gibz

      Please revisit today’s missive with these translations at hand.

        • This is artful trolling which gets the goat of cishet white males. What he wrote is stock, completely devoid of charm.

          “As a proud homosexual, I can offer you a clear case where diversity is of great benefit. Frankly, here in the Deep South, there are many who would rough up LGBT persons if not deterred. We have formed an alliance of convenience with the African American population. Most of the gay bars are in black sections of town.

          Blacks provide protection by warding off bashers. In return, we in the LGBT community provide them with economic enfranchisement and with our above average IQs, warn them of the nuances of structural and institutional racism, helping them to win jobs and outmaneuver white privilege. We share dance moves that enriches both communities and stimulates the entertainment industry.”

        • Well, get back in the game, try something like ‘fuck all honkies’ as first comment on the next post, see how negative that would be in here lol

    • One day the world may stop feeding Africa. Most likely Europe will not be willing to take in more Africans. Picture it Devon Troll, the hundreds of millions of black bodies, rotting.

    • D. T.

      Actually, Men of Color will very badly need the indulgence of White Men in order to survive any of the dire events discussed in Z Man’s post. No racism is needed to grasp the unfortunate facts. Your fellow MoC are disorganized yet highly concentrated in vulnerable urban areas. They and their families of whatever sort are therefore highly vulnerable to mass casualties in any kind of disruption, plague or WMD attack scenario.

      I’d reconsider my attitude.

      • Good advise Al, but nigs are too stupid to listen to reason. If an extreme event occurs, it will be TNB 24/7 on steroids. Without Whitey’s gentle hand nigs are even more extreme in their savagery.

    • As the troll poster, Tiny Dork, shows, common sense demands we avoid the Brown Wave, always always, never, never vote for a Democrat. Flush the Brown Wave.

    • You’re right. We are. And we still conquered the world despite our “lack of masculinity”. So what does that say about POCs and the white losers who love them (like you)? Best if you POCs and traitor whites stop poking the bear before our patience with you parasites runs out. In the immortal words of Bill Bixby, “Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry”

      • The white people that matter don’t get triggered by racist black people on the internet they created and made cheaper for everyone. No one is poking any bear (i.e. the ones that matter)

        I’m sure if all black people buggered off to Africa like they were 400 years ago. Trade will still bring white people to Africa. Live and let live. A plague can’t be engineered to perfection. No one knows what the outcome will be and it is best left for the movies. Do you want to imagine if the plague wipes out all white people? That’s another 10,000 years before we get back to 2018.

        The world today is a world built by white people with a few others. Everyone knows this and is basically waiting on Americans to actually solve its domestic issues and go back to taking the lead in breaking barriers with others in tow.

    • I think you need to do some research Mr. Thetford

      “African Americans have higher death rates than all other groups for many, although not all, cancer types.”

      ” investigate the sources of disparities in prevalence of HIV infection between black and white men who have sex with men (MSM).
      The higher prevalence among black MSM is a well recognised public health problem,and evidence that the number of cases among young black MSM has increased adds urgency to understanding the discrepancy. “

    • yo Devon, ya really [accidentally?] know how to “get the flak”. Couldn’t possibly have anything to do with dip-shit white fems/c*nts who love big black dick and are ready to fuck any/eveything – including birth control – especially when it adds more to the monthly welfare check?

    • The white man who hunted down and killed Osama Bin Laden could very easily cap your ass, Devon.

    • Except the Asians who don’t seem to think White People are all that bad. They are the only ones whose opinions really matter as they are smart and numerous.

      Race mixing is much rarer than you think and at least with blacks fertility if often a serious issue.

      That said this isn’t up to standards, its outright vicious rather than faux demoralizing.

      Try harder next time, Duck.

    • Whites don’t have a weaken immune system, you low IQ baboon, lol. As for “white girls having children with Men of Color,” (WTF did you capitalize men of color??), currently, 7% of self-identifying white women and 7% of white-identifying men, participate in miscegenation.
      That 7% contains light-skinned mixed race ppl who identify as white as well as white Hispanics.
      Broken down, approximately 3-4% of “white-whitish” women and 2% of “white-whitish” men participate in miscegenation with African-American men/women.
      The remainder are Hispanic & Asian, at higher rates.
      Don’t get ahead of your fantasies, hun. I’m sure there’s still a chubby white single mom out there who’ll let you put the Alabama snake on her.

    • You guys (below, earlier posts) are violating rule one and of course rule one is don’t feed the troll


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