Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Stuff: Choose and perish.

Slate contributor Josh Levin surveys 144 scenarios for the collapse of the United States of America. From his article intro:

If and when America expires, we probably won't agree on the cause of death. For proof that autopsies of empires are inconclusive, consider the case of Alexander Demandt, the German historian who set out in the 1980s to collect every theory ever given for why Rome fell. The final tally: 210, including attacks by nomads on horseback, blood poisoning, decline of Nordic character, homosexuality, outflow of gold, and vaingloriousness.

In tribute to Demandt, I've gone looking for every possible reason why America could fall. I've paged through the work of scholars who have studied the characteristics of declining and failed societies. I also collected theories from futurists, doomsayers, separatists, economists, political scientists, national security experts, climatologists, geologists, astronomers, and a few miscellaneous crazy people. The result: a collection of 144 potential causes of America's future death.

Levin's list of calamities includes such trendy new apocalypses as doom-by-EMP-device, rightwing-nutjob faves like a demographic death spiral caused by the legalization of gay marriage, and leftwing workhorses like a theocratic takeover.

I'm especially please that Johnny-come-lately doomsdays, such as the 2012 dealie, haven't replaced long time personal favorites such as robot uprisings or "gray goo" nanotech-driven death.

You can even select five favorite doomsday scenarios as and track progress towards midnight using Slate's "Choose Your Own Apocalypse" Tool!


C.H. said...

Everyone needs a favorite apocalypse theory. I like the idea of a robot uprising too.. however, biological warfare doesn't thrill me.

zoe said...

can it just be...um...later? sort of a lot later?
decline in nordic character, that one's come up a lot. i bet that's on his list for america's demise, too?

"demographic death spiral caused by the legalization of gay marriage," wow. did you come up with that phrasing? it's fantastic! really, my husband and i are just waiting for it to be legalized, then we can abandon this sham and get to what we always really wanted...

CRwM said...


Thanks for swinging by. I'm rooting for robot uprising myself, if only because I think I'm awkward and spastic enough in my movements to pass.

CRwM said...


While it breaks the heart to hear that your secretly on the other team, I promise to support any demographic death spiral legislation that is proposed in order to hurry you and your hubby to you grand objectives.

As far as I know, "demographic death spiral" is my phrase. It simply smacks of my abnormal and asinine attraction to alliteration.

zoe said...

here, here! the alliteration is fantastic!
i think you'll be surprised (unless you're incredibly right-wing) to find out how many people are secretly on the Other Team, or at least how many are drawn by the siren-call of shiny new legislation to at least try out Other Teamness. (and don't we all desperately need the clarity of legalese to know the true direction of our hearts?)

Rabid Fox said...

The Slate article won't come up for me. Must be something going on with the site. Ah well. For me, nothing beats a good ol' fashioned global flood. Repent, sinners!