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Dear Mr Orlov,
I agree that real practical skills in a post-collapse society will become the new currency, but there are many areas in modern Western society (especially compared to the USSR) where people not only have no such skills, they don't even understand the concept of what a skill is. I specifically mean in the ultra-underpriviledged and possibly (ironically) the ultra-overpriviledged spheres of society. People in those areas often show little regard for neighbourly values, respecting the environment, not dropping litter, etc; society has only taught them to take. Isn't it fair to say they wouldn't care how good a carpenter you are, and would rather beat you into a pulp for your last tin of beans?
Wednesday 27 July 2011 09:58:54 am
I don't think that that's fair. Both the US and the USSR generated a large group of people who were incompetent on all levels. In fact, I see a particularly powerful parallel in the infantilization of males, where women are forced to do just about everything while men do less and less (beyond sometimes making money, but then also squandering it on drink and on toys.) Household work seems to have been just a little more respected there than here (of course, being a "homemaker" was not a possibility in Soviet Russia, where everyone had to have a job). I think that there is a fair amount of respect for ability and skill among the working class everywhere. It falters somewhat at the very bottom, among the non-working working class people, but the place where it's largely missing is among the well-to-do, the people who feel that they will always be able to get anything they want just by paying for it.
Getting back to your original question, I come across this sort of hyperbole quite often, and I think it's a product of fantasy rather than observation. People who would commit bloody murder for a can of beans are so degenerate that they are likely to be the first to die in any scenario, from self-inflicted injuries. It takes a pretty thorough Stage V cultural collapse to get people to behave like animals, and even then they tend to behave like normal animals, not degenerate ones. Normal animals kill only when it's absolutely necessary, because of the high risk of injury. To get what they want, mostly they just posture and try to intimidate.
One group of people in the US that requires very special handling and extreme caution are the crackheads and the crystal meth addicts who have turned their brains into Swiss cheese. People who snort "bath salts" are probably also in that group. These ones might actually beat somebody to death for a can of beans, although they are more likely to do it for candy bars or something else that can satisfy a hellish sugar craving.
Wednesday 27 July 2011 11:34:58 am
Thank you for your interesting and perceptive reply, and for taking the time to do this. Thanks also for an excellent book!
I would happily live on a boat, but I get seasick very easily!