Today I’d like to discuss the intersection of two topics that have been on my mind quite a bit recently. These are (as the title suggests) localism and the coming collapse of America (and the West’s) current demographic-structural cycle. Either one by itself is an intriguing subject for deliberation that generates a lot of spilled electrons on social media. Yet, they’re subjects that naturally fit together, so let’s try to do so now.
It seems to me that the best place to begin is with the issue of coming collapse. I’ve written about this before, observing that whether anyone likes it or not it is growing increasingly likely to happen, that under favourable circumstances it would be beneficial to /ourside/, but under unfavourable circumstances it wouldn’t be beneficial to anybody.
Now, let’s ask ourselves what exactly “collapse” even means. When most people hear that word in this context, they envision some kind of apocalyptic destruction of society such as you’d find in post-nuclear war fiction, the total loss of civil society and technical civilisation, Mad Max style. But really, this isn’t close to what collapse means in nearly all cases. In the sense of demographic-structural theory, “collapse” simply refers to the phase in a secular cycle in which growth and centralisation are no longer sustainable and thus no longer take place. Often exacerbating it is “elite overproduction,” which occurs when the relative percentage of a society’s elite stratum grows larger and (since elites have an outsized ability to commandeer wealth and resources for themselves from the lower classes) begins to milk more and more treasure from the commons and for itself. This phase can last for decades before it finally reaches a “Seneca point” where the system’s unsustainability results in rupture and “collapse” in the more conventional sense of the term.
As noted above, the growth and centralisation of economic and sociopolitical power begin to reverse in a collapse phase as the powers that run society (whoever they may be) begin to lose control of the wheel. Collapse phases are typically characterised by increasing civil strife and decentralisation. Crime starts to get worse. Threats of rebellion and civil war become increasingly serious. Elite oppression of the commons becomes more and more rapacious. Towards the end, whole regions may break away from their central polity. If this sounds familiar, there’s a reason for that.
Yet, none of this implies a uniform decline of technical society from the Information Age to the Stone Age in the course of a few months, nor does it necessarily require the complete breakdown of all order and civil society. Indeed, in many historical secular downturns, life at the local level went on semi-normally for many folks so long as their village or city wasn’t an active combat zone. Sure, there’s always the chance you might see a total implosion, but collapse is such a complex phenomenon that it’s hard to tell ahead of time what will happen in any particular case.
However, this doesn’t mean that we can’t take steps to try to head off some of the worse potentialities. This is where an emphasis on localism comes in.
As noted above, secular collapse nearly always involves some form of political and social decentralisation. This is why people on social media who claim that “secession can’t happen” or “the rural areas would never survive” simply have no idea what they’re talking about and have abundant historical precedents going against them. When an empire begins to collapse, areas distant from the central regions break off. It happened to Assyria, it happened to Egypt (many times), it happened to various Chinese dynastic empires, it happened to Rome, it happened to the Franks – so there’s no reason to think it can’t happen to the United States, no matter how much FedGov may try to stop it.
So yeah, expect to see more talk of secession and “national divorce” in the years to come and expect some of it to come to fruition.
However, localism is a subject which runs deeper than various state level breakaways taking place. In a terminal collapse situation – the so-called Seneca point that I mentioned above where there is a rapid “phase change” in sociopolitical conditions – disruptions to society and the economy that have been slowly building can rapidly accelerate. This is where you’ll really see your supply chains fall apart and law and order become a thing of the past. When this happens, local communities need to be able to organise within themselves and coordinate with other local communities to provide organic measures for self-protection and the restoration of order.
Now, this may be an unpopular opinion, but I believe that suburban and exurban areas would be best situated for localist responses to crisis, due to having a better mix of factors such as their population densities, their availability of potentially arable land, the amount of stored resources and wealth available to them, and their typical demographic makeups. They’re not so dense that they’ll (literally) eat up all the local resources in three days and they’re not so sparse that they’ll lack the manpower to make organisation stick.
Suburbs are often criticised from both Left and Right as wasteful misuse of land. However, they do have the advantage of not having as many choke points for The Powers That Be to use to pen in a population as would be the case with a large city. They’ve got land that can be turned into gardens if need be and which could actually produce enough to credibly supplement the diets of the local population, unlike the efforts to turn inner city high rise rooftops into boutique gardens that could barely feed one floor in their building. So they do have some advantages.
However, the ‘burbs do have one major problem working against them being centres of local organisation. This is our society-wide lack of social cohesion, of asabiyyah. Simply put, there is very little actual sense of community or belonging anymore, due to a combination of several factors like our increased economic mobility, racial and cultural diversity, and social emphasis on mass media and entertainment, among others. Of course, this problem is even worse in the big cities, and most of the rural areas in our country suffer from it as well.
Fortunately, adversity tends to be the mother of social cohesion. History provides repeated examples of cohesion-building processes occurring during times of social stress, all the way up to full blown ethnogenesis of new ethneis. Especially if presented with conflict across the metaethnic fault line of a bunch of urban hoodlums trying to invade and take your food supplies, expect to see organisation and the rebuilding of social cohesion take place pretty quickly. Running a society without social cohesion is the luxury of a nation at the start of its secular downturn. Don’t expect it to stay that way at the end of it.
To make localism work during a terminal collapse, a few things need to kept in mind.
During your community building (and community maintenance) efforts, you need to have and maintain a good field of information, describing both how deeply and how widely the data available to you to make decisions needs to be. This can be meant in the sense of how regional and tactical situations may be developing that will impact the community (e.g. info shared by nearby communities or other locals about things like gang movements or federal activity). But it’s also meant in the sense of maintaining a community with a diverse array of skills, abilities, and resources.
In a collapse situation, it’s best to build networks across your local community and to maintain as much specialisation as possible. It’s common to see people on social media state that everybody should develop this, that, or the other skill “if they want to make it.” But this isn’t really the case. Everybody doesn’t need to run their own farm or become a blacksmith if you have a community working together. Indeed, it’s more advantageous to broaden your community’s field of information as much as possible. The only role that probably needs to be filled by every able-bodied person would be your…uh…neighbourhood watch program.
Localism allows for community-based information gathering, which in turn helps to create a sense of solidarity and shared effort. This provides a broader and more well-rounded pool of data from which to draw. This is certainly superior to the sort of atomised individualism that occurs when people just get their information from mass media while sitting in front of their televisions.
Your community may have to find ways to provide for some necessities, but this is certainly doable. In worst case scenarios, yards can be tilled and basement lathes can be used to turn out machined parts. But keep in mind that in most cases, “supply chain disruption” does not mean that NOTHING is moving, they’re just not moving as smoothly or as far as under better circumstances. Companies in Florida may not be able to ship to Oregon, but they may still be able to get goods to Georgia or South Carolina, especially as federal involvement is lessened or even eliminated.
Even during the Fall of the Roman Empire, day to day life largely went on as it had before. Yes, there were troubles and dislocations, but communities survived and went on with their lives. Supply chain disruption may result in a simplification of daily life, no doubt. In many cases, it may mean that you can’t get strawberries from California if you don’t live in California. But if your community is smart and adaptable, you’ll be able to get on with your lives too. Just make sure you’ve got your food, your ammo, and your neighbour’s back