Roman silver and gold coins were the principal money for the known world. The US dollar is the world’s reserve currency today, and nearly all the other 170-odd government fiat currencies are aligned with or refer to it. An accelerating dollar collapse will take most of them down, just as surely as the Roman currency collapse propelled the world into the Dark Ages.
May 26, 2022
A Roman lesson on inflation
[I know people preparing for a version of the Dark Ages. IIRC, they were planning on surviving with mid-1800’s technology. Among other things they were making hard copies of important books which explained the everyday tech to make and preserve food, build homes and barns, raise farm animals, create and care for tools, etc.
If I were seriously concerned about a major reset I would target the late 1950s or early 1960s. This would be the era just before semi-conductors because tubes aren’t that hard to make compared to semiconductors. Internal combustion engines with electric starters and instruments should be doable. Oil wells and refineries, even if operating at much lower production levels, with output prioritized for agriculture production, processing, and distribution should be able to prevent a die-off that sends us back to the true Dark Ages. This preserves enough tech to get us back to present day capabilities before the highly skilled people are all gone.—Joe]
In all these prepper scenarios none of the engineers are alive.
I’m not sure why people make those assumptions.
I always liked “Lucifer’s Hammer”. It has a pretty plausible looking scenario for a major but not complete “stone age” collapse. One of the elements is a rocket scientist, one of the kind with broad interest in many things, who finds a role as technical advisor to a group of good guys. (That character is the reason I own the “How things work” books — not the cartoon one but the translation from German (?) that looks like a collection of encyclopedia articles.) And in fact, while a lot of engineers are narrow and won’t do much good even in a mere “back to the 1950s” collapse, let alone back to middle ages, some fraction of them are “renaissance” types who will make a big difference in survival and reconstruction.
Meanwhile, on the “back to the 1950s” case, that’s an attractive scenario because so much of what we know would still basically work. But apart from that, I’m not sure why it is plausible. If fiat money blows up, much of what’s left is barter, and a barter economy is, optimistically speaking, a medieval one. While it’s possible in principle to replace fake money by real money leaving much of the rest undamaged, it’s hard to imagine how that could happen in reality.
I see the collapse as a renewing. But the government is what’s going to determine the level from which we have to start over.
Currency collapse is the easy part. Infrastructure collapse is more difficult, but manageable.
Millions of hungry fighting age males from the third world are a whole new level. Remember, they have been lying to us for 40 years about 12 million illegals?
While our youth, both men and women, have been weakened in every manner possible. Both mentally, and psychically.
And when only a few are left. Who’s to say the Chinese won’t just show up with overwhelming bloodlust to make us a park. And an agriculture colony?
Wouldn’t that be just like the communist? Grow all the food here under slave labor. Do the manufacturing there. And all the slaves live in those big new cities the Chinese built. That are all empty right now?
And if you want to eat. You do what your told.
You’ll have nothing, and you’ll be happy with it. (Let me finish the sentence for Klaus here.) OR ELSE.
It could be we don’t have much of a future to work with.
But were Americans, and we scare the crap out of the whole world. For good reason. That’s why they say WERE the real treat. Because we are. (You didn’t think the Antifa/BLM/Ghetto drug slinging whore boys are going to rule over anything do you?)
No matter what level we have to start from.. Hard books are the best place to start. As knowledge, coupled with human ingenuity, is the engine that rebuilds.
Especially science/engineering/chemistry books from the 1900’s. And as Joe posits. The 50’s/60’s are some of the best.
And let us settle it in our hearts that man is never again be without a sword in his hand. Just like Jesus told us to be.
“Currency collapse is the easy part” — how do you figure that? Perhaps I misunderstood “easy”. Without money, just about everything we do every day becomes either impossible or very much harder. Are you 100% self-sufficient? Unlikely. So, without money, how would you obtain something you need from someone else who has it? Barter? That’s the alternative. Or robbery, of course, but that stops working quickly.
Currency collapse is the easy part. The reason depressions go on for years is that the government keeps covering for their elitist buddies. And meddling with natural processes for cleaning out the problems/deadwood.
Which would normally close down, get sold out. and replaced by someone providing something people are willing to pay for.
A year or two. Maybe three. Painful, but most survive.
And when compared to what 30 million fighting age HUNGRY males from the third world are going to do?
(You don’t really think they’re bringing them in as a new voter base, do you?)
Everyone that’s been imported to this country in the last 25 years would go tribal/medieval on us in 30 seconds flat. And right now, the commies are just waiting for someone else to blame the genocide on. (Not sure, let me guess, White racist’s?)
It will be the Weimar republic of Rwanda, with the Mexican cartels running it. And we be the modern version of the Tutsis. Albeit, well-armed ones.
Ya, I’m thinking currency would be easy to fix.
I see, but depressions are not currency collapse, not in the way I understand the term. I take it to mean Weimar Germany applied to the USA, or worse. If people stop believing that greenbacks are “money”, we’re in a world of hurt, much worse than 1929 or anything else in US history.
Ya, I’m mincing terms there, sorry.
But in both, we see people under duress to maintain standards of living.
And it seems to me the next donnybrook is going to be epic.
I see the west as having made itself weak so it can affect a realignment of nations.
At the same time China and Russia see a chance to replace the west’s hegemony.
I could be all wet on this one. And I truly pray I I’m.
But it feels like something really stupid, this way comes.
I expect a depression exceeding the one of the 30s only more violent with the US falling apart.
However, since the future is inherently unpredictable. I like Taleb’s concept of Antifragility by becoming more self reliant. If you are not doing it today, what makes you think you can do it when it really counts? And note the limits of stored wealth. It’s what you can create or offer of value when the going gets tough that will count.
Spot on Chet.
One of the hardest things for people to deal with is the culture shock. And learning to deal without all those things that make life very easy for us. Stored wealth should be exactly as you say. It should be looked at in the light of getting one thru that culture shock.
I’m reminded of the Yukon gold rush. The mounties of the day were making sure people had enough provisions to last a winter. And noted that several trips had to be made to carry everything necessary.
They recorded that one man was carrying a large grindstone. I bet that guy made a killing just sharpening tools. When most busted out.
As you say. Value. No matter what went on. That guy was going to be of value.
joe, your comments are well thought out. such a plan will never supplant mass hysteria, riots and murderous and thieving conduct. buy guns, brass, powder, bullets and reloading equipment, and preserve your fields of fire. have some chickens, eggs and some sheep for eats and wool. enjoy the ride.
p.s. and, a veggie garden, with plenty of beans and potatoes.
Except “the late 1950s or early 1960s” are very much not the era before semiconductors and the basic ones in the form of transistors and such aren’t hard to make, very possibly less hard than tubes.
You can also buy scads of inexpensive discrete ones today (and maybe some microcontrollers) for not that much and that would cover everything you need that you could feasibly get from tubes for a long time except for high power radio transmission, using a lot less power and with a lot more reliability. Get plenty of passive components while you’re at it, and electrolytic capacitors from different sources.
Something else to stock up on is traditional solder with lead, lower temperature and won’t form tin whiskers.
Re homemade transistors: how hard is it to make the necessary raw materials, pure enough to work? And what types can be made by amateurs? Point contact and alloy junction, sure. What types would be needed to get decent RF operation? One thing about tubes is that you can definitely build them in the basement, good enough to build radios and (with patience) simple computers that run at tolerable speeds.
And yes, you can buy lots of semiconductors cheaply, though through-hole (wire lead) parts are quite a lot more limited. But there’s a difference between having a stock of stuff good until it runs out, and a technology base that lets you build more of what you need.
As for real solder, absolutely. I still use mine. I don’t actually have any no-lead solder, what would be the point?
The pilot of that MiG stated that they were forbidden from turning on the radar while on the ground, as it was so powerful that it would kill rabbits at a couple hundred meters distance.
It seems to me that you need more than basic electronics for useful work. I’d add wire, sensors, motors, and controllers to the list along with long list of tools including a lathe and other machines.
But keep in mind that until you can actually make all those things, you’re still living off the past. Still as Adam Smith said there is a lot of ruin in a country. Perhaps even enough for a lifetime if you know how. Almost all products contain useful components that can be repurposed and reused.
Quite true. A dozen Lindsay Publications books would be a good thing to have. One of the things it shows is how to make a lathe; you need to cast aluminum and it takes some straight (cold rolled) bars of steel. But some other books will show how to make an accurate flat surface.
The first screw was hard; given one of adequate accuracy, making more is comparatively easy.
Check Clayton Cramer’s blog on this. He did machining for a long while for a small amateur astronomy business of his as well as his own needs. He did some calculations based on existing standard machine screws as to how to recreate accurate machine tools.
That said, old lathes, milling machines etc. are pretty durable and the hand operated ones might still be somewhat available and not so expensive.
If you don’t recognize the name, Cramer’s among other things a historian and RKBA activist and his work has been cited in Federal court decisions. Also played a big role in getting Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture by Michael Bellesiles debunked etc. along with historians who used probate records heavily.
I got the timeframe wrong. I knew Dad had some CK722s in the early 1960’s and assumed they were fairly new then. Also, the television at that time was tube based. They did have a transistor radio though. The cars in the area, if they had radios (somewhat rare), used tubes.
I not sure about the manufacture of transistors. I think I could make reasonably pure silicon and maybe even slice it into wafers. I would stop there and ask for help from someone with more expertise on the doping and making electrical connections.
One data point: the first all-transistor commercial computer came out in 1958 — roughly at the same time an IBM product (650?) and a not well known Dutch machine (Electrologica X-1). I don’t know the IBM machine’s speed; the X1 had instruction times exceeding 10 microseconds. So not blazingly fast. But by 1964 there was Seymour Cray’s CDC 6600, the world’s first supercomputer with a stage delay of 5 ns and a 10 MHz system clock.
On machine tools: there’s a nice book, unfortunately rather expensive, published by Moore Tool Co. “Foundations of Mechanical Accuracy”. It shows how they made gauges and tooling for their precision machinery — measuring machines, jig borers, that sort of stuff. The chapter about surface plates is very nice.
I have a 1930s era lathe, yes, simple and sturdy. I wish I had a milling machine. Maybe someday. I know Arne Boberg made one of the prototypes for his XR-9 pocket handgun on a Bridgeport manual (not CNC) milling machine. It seems rather clear he’s a way more skilled machinist than I am…
For home made machines there is the series by David Gingery, originally published by Lindsay which unfortunately closed down a decade or so ago (retirement, not bankruptcy).
Sherline makes quality desktop manual/CNC lathes and milling machines. Their focus is on one-offs not production, but with care you can make precision parts. CNC adds a lot of options that would be impracticable on traditional machines (threading is not limited to the what the manufacture provided).
I should note that the standard motor that comes with Sherline products is limited, so I’m replacing the standard motor with a 48v 565w BLDC motor on the lathe so that the spindle can be synchronized with the axis movements primarily for threading, but CAM tools (Fusion 360) can also take advantage of the synchronization for other operations.
And don’t forget to look at engineered materials. Both plastics and engineered wood (e.g., HDF) are potential replacements for metal parts. And think small rather than large. Will you really need to turn an 4in bar?
In addition, be sure to look at 3D printing. Even an entry level machine is capable of printing nonstructural parts (washers, frames, …) and some structural parts (gears) depending on the requirements. 3D printing is much easier than using a lathe or milling machine since you do almost all the work in software.
When you consider 3d printers or any other CAD type devices, be sure to confirm that they still work without a functioning Internet. For example, I’ve been tempted a bit by the MarkForged machines (fiber reinforced plastic printers) but their standard CAD seems to be web-based. No good if you want to make stuff after SHTF.
Also, while 3d printing is neat stuff, it doesn’t yet seem to be suitable for making weapons.
In speaking of tubes. I worked with a guy whose father helped reverse engineer that MIG-25 whose pilot defected to the west in. (blasted right by our air defenses into Japan.), Way back in the 70’s. The government returned the Mig on the demand of the Soviets, in boxes of course.
Anyway, The guy said his father always marveled that the tubes used in the MIG, (vacuum tubes survive nukes, so the soviets used them rather than transistors), that the efficiency had been brought up to something like 98%.
It could be all crap. I have no way of knowing. But it seemed interesting for lunch time BS.
It fits the logic of Soviet thinking. Relying more on human prowess and efficient low-tech to win the day. There might be a lesson in there for us.
Then again, that MiG also was built of steel, not titanium. And assembled with rivets, round-headed ones.
There’s a nice book written (ghost or otherwise) by the guy who flew that MiG, “MiG Pilot” I think is the title. I have it somewhere. It was quite a feat, given that he had no useable maps — Soviet pilots were not allowed to see those let alone have them in their hands.
And now we know why. To Bad the So. Korean pilots didn’t study them a little better. The commies got real antsy after that.