What would happen if the power went off? Would we cope if the economy collapsed?

with 3 comments

money-to-burnAnother day, another blow to the UK economy – interest rates are at the lowest rate in 300 years, savers are being penalised, and the Government is now considering printing more money to ‘help’ – the same way as it helped the German Economy after the first World War.

Now, I am not an economist…but following an interesting conversation with a friend of mine today I got to thinking – what would actually happen to the UK and indeed, the western or ‘first’ world if the economy completely collapsed?

I honestly believe that the modern generation would not (initially at least) be able to cope.  Our society is so dependent on everything that we need or want being available 24-7, that if the power went out or money supplies became worthless, we wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves.

lettuce-little-gem2aIn the post-war period in Britain – my grandparents generation – the country was in a time of hardship, with rationing continuing into the ’50’s.  However, people of that generation were so much more self sufficient than we are today.  My grandparents were both very skilled people.  My grandfather made most of the furniture still standing in their old (and now my aunt’s) house.  My grandmother could cook a meal from scratch, make new clothes out of old ones (one lovely story I remember her telling me was during the war period, a boyfriend of hers was in the parachute corps, and used to give her the old silk parachutes to make blouses out of), and throughout their lives my grandparents had a greenhouse and grew their own fruit and veg.

Compare that to today, where material possession are so cheap and easy to own – in fact so often we judge ourselves and others by what we own.  So why bother learning to knit when you can buy a jumper for £3 from your local supermarket?  Why repair a blouse when you can pick another one up for a few quid from your local highstreet.  How many people grow their own veg when you get pick up nearly anything you want from the local supermarket at any time of night?  And home cooking – sure a lot of people can knock up a meal from scratch, but equally, how many people can’t?  How many people rely solely on those cans, ready meals and take-aways?  Furniture is cheap and easy to make and so accessible – who remembers anything from their woodwork classes so many years ago?

And so often of course, sometimes the intent is there, but modern living dictates that those living in tower blocks have no chance of sawing wood or growing vegetables anyway.

People are so used to having things easy in this modern age – but what would happen if the local supermarket ran out of food?  What would we do if the electricity went off?   

Please don’t get me wrong – this isn’t going to turn into a rant about socialism – I just think its a crying shame that the skills that were considered essential 60 years ago are obsolete in a large percentage of the modern day population – and I believe this will be to our detriment. 

Perhaps its a romantic notion, but now, with the value of money going down, and the enevitable price rises / things being more expensive, people will start being more practical and start making do with the things around them, and picking up those skills again.  It would be nice to see.

I also wonder about what sort of anarchy the world would see if the global power just shut off.  Would Western countries end up imploding while those that actually DO make do with the essentials – i.e. those third world countries – prosper?

Its not a comfortable thought.


Written by Lores

January 8, 2009 at 2:35 pm

3 Responses

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  1. This is a thought that often comes to me in the wee hours of the morning. What if…?

    Our family strives daily to learn more about doing for ourselves: hunting, fishing, gardening, raising livestock, cooking, even the education of our children. But what makes me nervous is the endless list of skills we do not have. Skills that are not readily learned from reading or simply trying until you get it, or those that are only useful if you have the right equipment or supplies.

    I’ve begun to see there isn’t really such a thing as being truly self-sufficient, only “comparatively self-sufficient” or “more self-reliant.” And those are indeed a rarity in today’s western society. I wish every day that I could have had a chance to learn from my Great-Aunt, but she passed when I was far too young. I hate to imagine all the knowledge that went with her.

    Even more, I don’t want to imagine what will happen to the millions of people who never consider the possibility that they may need skills beyond knowing how to text, use a credit card and operate a GPS navigation system.


    January 12, 2009 at 7:54 pm

  2. Hi BucolicAmbition, thanks for your comment! I’ve checked out your blog…what an amazing life you aspire to – I will take the time to catch up on all of your posts over the next week.

    You are right, its probably impossible to be truly self-sufficient. You are lucky with the area that you live in – living in London with only a communal garden wouldn’t allow me to keep a goat I’m afraid! (goats milk is so much healthier and tastier than cow’s milk).

    Good luck and keep in touch



    January 12, 2009 at 8:18 pm

  3. Yeah – I couldn’t help thinking of Zimbabwe when I was reading this. Hunger, famine, valueless(almost)money… it’s not in the future for them – it’s life. And that used to be, perhaps not a first world country, but at least a prosperous one!


    January 15, 2009 at 6:20 pm

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