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The Appeal of the Impending Collapse

When our best efforts leave us no better off than the people making no effort, and particularly when our best efforts are filed with the non-efforts of the useless eaters, we enter into a perilous mindset where we start to yearn for the collapse of everything that once seemed legitimate and now seems corrupt and putrid. In this moment, one becomes a ready vessel to be filled with visions of collapse and fantasies of doom. Why? Because when you have collapsed on an individual level, and your self-congratulatory betters blame you for your own fate, it's tempting to fantasize about a tsunami that will capsize all boats.  Your boat is already swamped, and since the asshat who sneers down at you from the deck of his multi-million dollar yacht won't throw you a line, you dream of seeing him treading water right next to you. Collapse promises to be the great equalizer, to bring the arrogant and the undeserving down to the level of the defeated and humiliated.

Or so goes the fantasy. The reality would be quite different.

In reality, the collapse is likely to proceed in the stair-step fashion that John Michael Greer describes as "catabolic collapse." According to Greer's vision, the collapse of industrial civilization will take the better part of a century and will consist of a series of collapses and partial recoveries. During the partial recoveries, voices of authority will insist that the crisis has passed and that industrial civilization has resumed it's endless upward climb.

During the mini-collapses that make up the larger landscape of total collapse, the rich will do better than the poor, and the fruits of the partial recovery will go disproportionately to those least in need. By way of illustration, consider the supposed recovery that followed the recession triggered by the housing market crash of 2008.

According to the statistics that the investment class takes seriously, the economy has enjoyed a robust recovery. The stock market and corporate profits have climbed to new highs, but the jobs destroyed in 2008 and 2009 were replaced largely by service sector jobs with low wages, no benefits and little potential for advancement. The people who do these jobs do not have the same pride of purpose or sense of solidarity with the rest of the society that people working middle class jobs enjoy.

The unemployment rate is low because someone who lost a good job and took a shit job out of necessity counts as being just as "employed" as the worker who holds a respectable job with good pay, medical benefits and considerations for retirement. The people who lost jobs and never found new ones and who now scratch out an existence in the informal economy are don't count as workers. They aren't receiving unemployment benefits, so they are not counted as being unemployed. They used to be employed workers, then they were unemployed workers, and now that they have permanently left the workforce, what they do to feed and house themselves is of no concern to those who maintain the official measures of employment. They have become former workers, and their lack of formal employment is not reflected in the official unemployment rate.

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