It’s the summer of 1939 as the looming darkening clouds engulf Europe. The last gasps for peace have vanished as Nazi Germany is at the cusp of unleashing its fearsome blitzkrieg and plunge the world into yet another world war far more devastating than the first.
Unlike 1939, there is no one specific, tangible sovereign enemy in 2021 against whom to defend and counter-attack, rather a series of decades-old emerging and sadly preventable threats that include the Pandora’s Box deluxe collection of pandemics, climate change with severe resultant worldwide droughts, floods and heat waves, fragile supply chains, food shortages, inflation and stupefying socio-economic inequity all which can trigger a global economic implosion of poverty, starvation and subsequent social unrest.
Behind Closed Doors of the New Normal Urban Landscape
Many analysts have provided their macro academic predictions and perspectives in general terms as to what the “new normal” will look like. However few have dared to describe the prolonged, daily dystopian dark & gritty world most citizens will inhabit on the streets and behind closed doors after the economic downfall takes place before the end of the year.
This summer wildfires are everywhere most notably the 80-plus wildfires in 13 western states a heat provoke the equivalent intensity in the form of social unrest in the urban jungle. Millions of law-abiding citizens risk homelessness and will not hesitate to resort to violent methods to feed themselves and their families. Housing moratoriums are ending at the same time food prices are rising because of shortages which are pushing everyone to the economic and psychological brink.
For this reason the present-day increase in shoplifting will morph rapidly into mass shoplifting and eventually into outright looting, specifically on food stores in the absence of social unrest by easily overpowering and overwhelming unarmed, minimum wage guards.
There are no more urban sanctuaries from crime whether one lives in a well-to-do neighborhood or a modest one hidden, far from the urban center enclave, the infamous “sordid underbelly” is coming to your neck of the woods marking the end of societal stability & civility.
The Cavalry Is Not Coming
The emergency number 911 is nothing more than the vanishing dummy crossing button on street corners which serves as nothing more than a prop. The crisis is so serious that not even ubiquitous surveillance cameras serve as a deterrent to the desperate from committing crimes. The diminished presence of law enforcement can be summed up with the dramatic change in NY Police Department personnel similar to what has occurred with law enforcement throughout the country as follows:
Present-day: 36,000 officers
2020: 2,767 retired
2014-2019: Less than 1,800 retired in each year
We Are All The Omega Man
In anticipation of this growing crime rate many businesses are closing early, even well before sundown during the long summer days. Like Charlton Heston in the prescient sci-fi movie The Omega Man (1971), who takes an experimental drug to survive after a China-USSR germ warfare has decimated the world’s population, Heston must return to his urban redoubt before sunset when the slow-dying but still active & violent mutants wake up.
A disturbing example can be found at the Dunkin Donuts at Astor Place located at the busy crossroads between NYU and the popular East Village in NYC that changed their operating hours and close at 4 pm every day. Dunkin Donuts is the quintessential comfort food, takeout hole-in-wall venue nationwide near that doesn’t serve alcoholic beverages. Summer closure hours before sundown in an active, hip, neighborhood is disturbing. Despite being a franchise business that thrives on selling donuts & coffee, they perceive themselves as a target during social unrest.
More business establishments have established before sundown closing times. Furthermore the social unrest threat is so acute that some stores may close permanently not because of lack of demand for their goods & services rather their location where it’s susceptible to sustained high crime and social unrest.
One could define this as part of a de-gentrification process where formerly edgy NYC neighborhoods revert back to their 1970s and 1980s “personalities” such as Bed-Stuyvesant, Williamsburg, Bushwick, Lower Eastside but with continuing sky-high rents. It’s the economic twisted irony of living in an increasingly unaffordable yet at the same time high-crime neighborhood as a college-educated resident with a white collar job.
The Boomer generation is in a difficult position. Some are in denial. Others identify this emerging period as triggering their psychological anti-bodies acquired in young adulthood experiences to prepare and brace for impact. Regardless as senior citizens of the societal herd they’ve been profiled and targeted members by predators. The savvy Boomers are able to identify threats well before their offspring generation but because they are out of shape they will find it physically difficult to escape or defend themselves as during their youth.
The younger generations such as the Millennials, Generation X and Y are like younger, coddled animals brought up in the soft Disneyworld bubble. In a ruthless “eat or be eaten world” although they are better able to physically escape, they are unable to recognize the threat until it’s too late. This means that both Boomers and the young generations are equally vulnerable.
Domestic Violence & The Brothel Next Door
With the progressive ending of housing moratoriums throughout the country the homeless population will explode. For this reason those fortunate enough to have shelter may be more vulnerable to domestic violence because there will be far fewer housing alternatives.
Firstly married women in a cohabiting arrangement may be forced to tolerate infidelity for purposes of survival.
Secondly many people who have no family or friends to accommodate them are loathe to becoming homeless. Single women living alone who are desperate, unemployed or under-employed, including many middle age, formerly well-paid white collar professionals, will seek cohabiting arrangements. This desperation will manifest through dating sites, a verifiable cyber-cesspool filled with sexual predators, seeking clients or sugar daddies creating the brothel next door.
There will be far more women competing for fewer clients and sugar daddies who themselves are suffering financially and will eliminate or cut back on “entertainment” expenses as their lifestyle and lucrative cash flow is under threat.
Cybercrime | All in the Family
Expect an explosion in cybercrime internally from family, friends and roommates desperate for funds to either survive or maintain a modicum of their pre-pandemic lifestyle. This scenario is akin to what unfolds in many action movies in which the hero makes a phone call to the villain whose henchmen desperately try to trace to location of the call. Suddenly the henchman’s techie yells to the astonishment of the crew, “He’s in the building!” and then all hell breaks loose because the hero has penetrated their inner defenses. Because of the proliferation of cybercrime, financial institutions are reluctant to reimburse lost account monies and will abide by the letter of their policies and law before making any payments particularly if an account has been inactive for as little as 30 days.
Alcohol and Substance Abuse
The searing psychological pressure of no job or under-employment, cessation of governmental benefits, no savings, no medical coverage for medications, personal debt and no access to loans because of cancelled credit lines, plunging credit score, and maxed credit cards will push many Americans to the brink.
This trend is disturbingly articulated in the following chart entitled Historic Spike in US Drug Overdose Deaths provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as overdoses surged almost 30% from 2019 to 2020. Controlled substance demand is robust as demonstrated by the open drug market in NYC’s Washington Square Park.
Citizens are losing their jobs, then their residence (owned or rented) and often their minds. If they believe that their personal financial recovery is impossible then the suicide rates will spike especially amongst the vulnerable “little guys” – owners of independent, family-owned businesses, gig workers, young people with high debts (student loans, mortgages), and the elderly on fixed incomes.
Canines and citizens are pack animals whose group living arrangements have served them well for centuries. These group bonds are genetic, thus unaltered and unbreakable, and always manifest far stronger in a crisis environment.
Abandoned Pets Forming Wolf Packs
As citizens struggle to feed themselves and their families, the heartless will abandon their pets on the streets. During the initial spring 2020 lockdown many Americans acquired comfort pets so the resultant abandonment because of unemployment and food insecurity will be much worse.
Because dogs are natural pack animals the desperate survivors – breeds that adapt best in an urban or rural environment - will become dangerous competitors for food as lethal dumpster divers with the homeless as Fluffy’s genes revert to her ancestors’ prehistoric mode as a wolf.
Gangs of New York Redux
The urban gangs never disappeared even throughout the Disneyland 1990s into the 21st century rather just operated low-key and underground. Sadly like abandoned pets this abandoned youth were already on society’s periphery because of dysfunctional families. And because humans are pack animals like dogs, the gangs’ membership will surge and morph into America’s newest fast growing terrorist group that will jack up the crime rate.
Equivalent homeless as in emerging countries or even western countries such as Brazil and Argentina, will become a long-term fixture on urban and rural streets, shantyvilles and favelas with its own informal governing laws, government and security.
DYSTOPIAN CULTURE | DANCES OF DEFIANCE
Regardless of the historical depths of depravity, citizens still want to have a good time. Expect parties like a 21st century version of Studio 54 in the 1970s but far edgier as if there’s no tomorrow because there may not be one. The dystopic parties, depraved and overflowing with alcohol and drugs, will be “too big to raid” creating a de facto off-limits zone from law enforcement. They will be similar to the uninhibited dance bacchanal scene in the Matrix Reloaded in the face of probable annihilation after attendees were informed that the machines were burrowing furiously towards Zion.
THE HAVE AND HAVE NOTS
As millions of Americas descend into poverty, they may have to take lessons from the present-day average Lebanese citizen who struggles mightily every day simply to survive with hyper-inflation. The following short YouTube report released June 2021 provides an overview of their daily struggles.
The Elite of the Elites
If you’re curious as to how will the elite of the elites will weather the socio-economic storm, here’s a chart entitled To What extent Do US CEOs Outearn Their Workers? provided by the AFL-CIO. According to the AFL-CIO report the average S&P 500 CEO made $15.5 million in 2020, 299 times the pay of the median worker which certainly doesn’t endear the employees to go “above & beyond” in their job performance.
The Dystopic Urban Jungle
Governmental sources are engaged in a public relations full court press utilizing the word “transitory” to describe inflationary pressures and other problems as a normal occurrence during an uneven post-pandemic, re-opening economic recovery. However the citizenry is well aware that rising prices tend to stay elevated for extended periods of time and for his reason they consider these official statements as meaningless.
As some states reimpose mask wearing edicts, even amongst the vaccinated, to slow down the new supposedly more highly contagious Covid variants, we face the possibility of near future possible imposition of lockdowns as in many other countries.
Shortages, inflationary prices and tightening restrictions are placing the citizenry in an ever-shrinking territory making everyone more vulnerable to the predators within them. This means that literally, as the adage goes, “Only the strong will survive.”
© Copyright 2021 Cerulean Council LLC
The Cerulean Council is a NYC-based think-tank that provides prescient, beyond-the-horizon, contrarian perspectives and risk assessments on geopolitical dynamics and global urban security.