Writer and professor, Joseph Tainter is known for having a “sober” perspective when it comes to turbulent episodes experienced worldwide. Amid a global health crisis, walloping unemployment, the eruption of multiple hunger crises, mounting social agitation, and an increasing uncertainty about the future, when questioned if our compounding crises are signaling the start of a major societal rupture, he admitted that our “contemporary society has built-in vulnerabilities that could allow things to go very badly indeed”.
If deterioration continues to rapidly spread at the foundations that have been holding the world together, a generalized disintegration could happen sooner rather than later. In fact, he disclosed to worry it could begin before the year was over. Economists and market strategists have been constantly alerting that the downfall of a single major institution may lead to a global economic collapse. This institution could be an international bank, a leading multinational company, or even the meltdown of one of the world’s dominant economies.
A global collapse will not solely emerge through the happening of the health crisis, or the financial and economic volatility several nations have been dealing with, or even the social dissatisfaction that is being taken to the streets. It’s when not one, but all of these determinants become unsustainable in various places of the planet that things start to fall apart. And if we take a quick look at our neighbors, we’ll understand why experts have been more scared than ever that things can swiftly spiral out of control.
Civilizations are fragile, impermanent things. So the fear surrounding a worldwide meltdown isn’t an apprehension regarding a possibility, but instead the consideration that all states that ever risen in human history have also fallen one day. It seems that now, the convergence of all these critical crises across the globe has given the push needed to make society only fall downhill from here.
In other words, the unsustainability of our economic policies, institutions, political and social junctures, have made societies vulnerable to collapse. Challenges that otherwise could be manageable, such as natural disasters, popular uprisings, and viral outbreaks become insuperable. The United States was collapsing way before the occurence of health crisis. For the last 40 years, our population has been growing poorer and more unhealthy as elites continued to collect staggering profits, boosting their wealth, and expanding their institutional legitimacy.
The current sanitary outbreak has only given us a taste of what happens when a society fails to meet the challenges that it faces, when those who rule the world tend to solely focus on their own issues and leave the population to fight for crumbs. It has emphasized our economic fragility, after we’ve seen years of progress in our unemployment rates being wiped out within the first month of the burst – as well as the formation of several bubbles in the markets, the overwhelming increase of the national debt, and now we’re experiencing a hunger crisis, while our institutions continue to collapse.
Moreover, the next year’s forecasts point to a massive homelessness crisis and ever further financial hardships. That show us that the outbreak might only be the final blow in a descent that had already become inevitable. Furthermore, on the financial backdrop, the SoftBank CEO Masa Son revealed to be prepared for the worst-case scenario. Son cautioned that an imminent “disaster” could sink global markets in the next months, suggesting that despite the coming of a vaccine, there could be “a major company”, whose crash would produce a “domino effect” prompting financial turbulence around the world, and crashing global markets. With all that said, it’s clear that the world is one coup short of a serious catastrophe – one that will undoubtedly escort us to an apocalyptic future.