Stages of Societal Collapse

The ever-readable Wilder, Wealthy, and Wise blog has a particularly important post. In it, John Wilder relates the Stages of Grief to the psychological process we’ve been working our way through over the last decade.

In the order, Wilder labels the stages:

  • The Warning
  • The Event
  • Disbelief
  • Panic
  • Heroism
  • The Cliff
  • Disillusionment
  • Rebuilding

Exactly what constituted The Warning and The Event (I have my own ideas about those) are arguable. For many, the period of Disbelief has been cushioned by the generous – many think OVER-generous – relief offered under the guise of Covid Isolation/Quarantine. Many people are now hovering around, nervously checking for signs of a “Return to Normal”. Those in proximity to power – many of them media and academia – insist that THIS is the ‘New Normal’.

The disconnect between what you might call The Event Deniers, and those that used that brief interrupt of normal life to make plans, reduce spending, stockpile supplies, and prepare for the worst, is the difference between Those That Can See the Writing on the Wall (the Normals), and those who Walk into Walls (The Event Deniers).

There HAS been time to adjust, it’s just that some saw no reason to. They were largely insulated from the pain of income drops, budget-busting inflation, and fear of the future. Many, particularly those whose focus is still on getting the government to cover the cost of their loans, literally don’t see the economy heading to the dumpster (some would argue that it’s already hit it).

I’m like a lot of people. In between planning and stocking up, I had periods of needing to get away from the reality. I basically stopped watching television news – from ANY part of the spectrum. I got what information I needed from reading on the web, from a variety of viewpoints. I probably missed a lot of news, focusing as I did on the most essential.

For example, I’m not up to date on the progress of the Russia-Ukraine War, other than noting the Ukraine has been holding off the Russians with major losses of people and property, and that Putin should be worrying that he has exposed the weakness of the Russia military to the world.

And, by world, I mean China. They are the ones that would be most eager to see Russia fail.

China is in a slow collapse – economy, real estate, manufacturing – all are in serious distress.

But, as I’ve pointed out, I’m no expert on any of that.

Today, my focus is the PANIC stage.

That’s the one that is likeliest to get many of us killed, or wiped out of resources.

From what I see in my neighborhood, most people are sensible. They take care of their home, their families, and their immediate surroundings. I’m in a neighborhood with mid-to-higher incomes; many own the houses they live in. Some of those homes are multi-room, multi-story, restored Victorian mansions. Others are more modest, although 3-4 bedroom houses, for the most part, in good condition.

These are the people that pay their bills, discipline their children (the neighborhood kids are a delight), and pick up after themselves. The neighborhood is quiet after dinner, with few people on the street. They have offered assistance to others – I had a neighbor, who noted that I was struggling with a leg injury, who brought my garbage cans back after pickup for several months, without asking if I needed help.

Others have helped me chase down my dog when he got loose in the neighborhood, and always take the time to acknowledge me when I’m out and about.

Not in-your-face-nosy, just aware and caring people.

I don’t believe that they will be the ones panicking, when TSHTF. They have resources, stored food (not necessarily prep-level, just sensibly taking care to keep the pantry/freezer full of essentials. They will have access to cash/credit/tradable goods in an emergency. They have family and friends, also with some resources.

Judging from the number of neighbors with security systems, they also have a sensible mistrust of strangers nosing around for easy pickings. I’m guessing that there are a few of them who have defensive weapons, and I don’t mean kitchen knives.

The ones I worry about are those that have spent their lives being the Feckless Grasshopper, and – should they run out of food/fuel in a crisis – will not hesitate to look around for an easy way to ‘liberate’ what they need from someone weaker and less defended. As I walk my dog around, I’ve taken care to vary my route. I’m on the alert for signs of chaos:

  • Neglected yards – uncut grass, trash, and other signs that the residents either don’t care, or are renters. Glass in the sidewalk that is not attended to within a few days. Badly sagging porches and other poorly maintained housing.
  • Vicious dogs – not necessarily a bad thing to have a watchdog, but a dog that doesn’t just bark, but indicates that he might tear my head off, should the chain not hold is a BAD sign.
  • Aimless wanderers – when you see a guy with a backpack in the early morning, that’s often someone who is either living on the streets, or one who has been turned out of temporary housing for the duration of the day (a common practice in homeless shelters – it gives them time to clean and do their paperwork, without having guys hanging around that need watching).
  • Public housing – that includes half-way houses, shelters, and senior living situations. A lot of public housing doesn’t look like it used to – it may be Section 8, or other subsidized housing situations. But, the people occupying it don’t have a financial stake in that residence.
  • Vacant houses and lots. Piles of bricks (not being used to make repairs). Groups of young men hanging around, or walking in an intimidating manner. Panhandlers. Graffitti.

That’s just a few of the things I’ve been on the lookout for – you can probably add others.

While in my car, I make a point of noting highways/roads/torn-up roads, and detours. As this is Northeast OH, road repairs are a given in the warmer months. I’m trying to build up my awareness of alternative routes, no-go zones, and accessible fuel stations, places I might get help, and escape routes.

I’ve not been out much at night, so bars with problem patrons haven’t been on my radar, so far.

Why is all of the above important?

My personal guess is that the majority of panic will be from those problem points I’ve noted. That’s not to say that an hysterical person in a good neighborhood can’t cause their own chaos, but, as I’ve mentioned, we are – mostly – stable families here. Most with a man on premises. I’d be cautious about women living with men in a temporary alliance – they might have a good, although non-marital partner. Just be careful.

Remember, panic is contagious. And, FWIW, in my experience, women are most likely to suddenly panic, putting everyone around them in serious danger. If they cause a large number of your neighbors to suddenly leave, that leaves an open niche for predators to take over the environment. Not a good thing.

And, for God’s sake, know where your Karens live. They are NOT to be trusted in a chaotic situation.


  1. Patriots and the foresighted need to think of defense as the first priority from now until the resolution of the current crisis. Unfortunately, the supreme defensive weapon for a fixed position such as a properly stocked home is the medium machine gun. Floor mounted and properly gimballed, of course.

  2. I’m thinking that a medium-sized drone, for spotting approaching trouble, might be almost as useful. Not to mention tiny cameras mounted high on houses/chimneys. Information is key.
    And, BTW, the GMRS radios are a good backup – cheap enough to use in a neighborhood watch group, and can be used with minimal training. They have a broader spectrum, with subchannels, than a FRS type.
    Radio – when you can’t depend on the cops to rescue you, but need to quickly communicate with others nearby.

    • CA on August 17, 2022 at 5:44 PM

    STRONGLY recommended:
    Perfect tie-in to your post.
    CA, WRSA

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