In many ways, the breakdown of society is the hardest survival scenario to plan for, and probably poses the greatest risk too. Our country relies heavily on business to function, which underpins the financial markets, which in turn integrate with the global economy.
We’ve seen several occasions in well documented history when the dollar has come close to collapse, and many experts believe that sooner or later that day will come. It will cause the value of your bank account to plummet, and potentially become worthless. The fact that the dollar is the standard for currencies around the world will likely compound the issue, causing each to fall in sequence like a row of dominoes.
Of course, when currency fails, the world will panic. We think of virtually all items in terms of their monetary value, yet with no value, that premise means nothing has any value any longer, yet clearly we still need to eat. That’s the paradox we’ve created by using money in place of the bartering that happened in generations gone by, and that will be where the concept of commerce returns. There will be no credit cards, no online transactions, no wallet full of notes to pay at the supermarket – everything will return to trading one thing for another in the event of currency collapse.
That’s the easiest way to see how society can fail, but it’s by no means the only way. We could see a deadly virus spreading out of control, wiping out a significant proportion of humanity. That’s not something that will respect authority, or be respectful of who it infects, so anyone and everyone would be at risk. Once it regresses and dies out, who knows how many will have survived, and what skills will have been lost forever in the swathes of worldwide casualties?
Another possibility is the uprising of the people against the government or other authority. In the US, we’ve seen demonstrations against the perceived injustices at the hands of police, and other advanced nations like the UK have seen rioting on the streets from large parts of the population that feel disconnected from the people and policies that define the way the country is governed. These swelling levels of anger can flare up quickly, and with enough following can be difficult to contain. Sooner or later the time will come when the authorities struggle to contain the spread of ill feeling, and it only takes a few to escalate the violence to the point that entire cities can be significantly damaged.
Finally the demise of society could come from somewhere unexpected – movies like to depict zombie invasions and robots surging on artificial intelligence. Perhaps these seem far fetched, but the latter is far more plausible today that it might have seemed a couple of decades ago. We’re starting to hand over control of our world to robots after all, we’re already seeing cars that drive themselves, robots to do chores and much more, so where will it end, and how safe are humans from these machines getting cleverer and more intelligent?