Come the Revolution!

I’ll assume you have feasted your eyes on at least one of the many dystopian movies made famous by Hollywood’s marketing departments in the past decade. You know, a meteor strikes Earth, the sun flares and burns off the atmosphere, and a strange virus erupts and wipes out half the population. And that’s excluding the zombie genre entirely.
Then there are disaster-related books, old and new titles. Some are based on the probability of one of the many zoonotic diseases getting loose and killing us. Oh, wait, that’s the nonfiction department! In case you don’t remember, zoonotic diseases are those that we can share with animal populations. One estimate I’ve read recently puts the number of zoonoses at thousands, and that’s not counting the ones just waiting to break through the barrier and be the next big Covid.

But it’s not the diseases or the things that go boom I want to talk about. It’s us as people. I was around and active on the fringes of the counterculture of the 60s. I have not so fond memories of discussions with hotheads who were declaring that ” The Revolution is coming!” Luckily, it got postponed daily, and only a tiny idiot fringe insisted on violence.I am beginning to wonder if we can be so lucky again.
Without arguing the politics, economics, or morals of the issues that are creating divisions, I’d like to discuss what would happen if we lived in a dystopia. 
People in the movies do just fine with little or no power. They bravely cope. But how long can you go without some basic stuff you need power for? What about your washing machine? How long will you stay neat and civilized without clean underwear? They never have an aside about their clothes itching or smelling in the movies. You can’t charge your phones, so long-distance communication is back to horns and drums. Everyone in a Hollywood epic powers through the script to the next action scene.

Everyone looks a little skinny, but where is the food coming from? If the power grid goes down in an insurrection, you won’t have frozen or fresh food from the market for long. Canned goods? How long will the supplies last in a supermarket? And who will do the rationing? You barely know the names of your three closest neighbors, and suddenly you will form an active coop with thousands for survival? Municipal services aren’t set up for that sort of thing. I guarantee the utility will not send crews to reestablish power in a combat zone.

Now let’s talk about the real kicker; supply chain. You became familiar with supply chain issues during the Covid pandemic. Ports may not operate at all. Ship owners will not send ships into areas where they’ll be vulnerable, and as we remember, many of the things we need have to travel on a ship to reach us. The second part of this issue is trucking. If the highway system is interrupted, supplies of all kinds will not get through. Anything not locally produced will be an issue, just as toilet tissue did for some not too long ago.

For me, the real kicker will be medications and immunizations. One source I checked asserted that about seventy-one percent of brand-name drugs are not made in the United States. Good luck with the ibuprofen situation. But worse, vaccines and immunizations may be scarce too. Just think polio, smallpox, and diphtheria will be issues again. Antibiotics and surgical supplies will also vanish rapidly. Think about facing a major operation with no sterile supplies and no anesthesia.
If what I’ve said doesn’t worry you because you have stockpiled supplies, remember that supplies may not last, can’t be replaced, and have limited shelf life.

I’ve pointed all this out because an actual revolution or insurrection will not be like a movie. In films, wounds don’t generally go septic, and people don’t die of gangrene or tetanus. From personal experience, I can tell you the smells of sepsis and gangrenous wounds are not something you want to experience, much less suffer from.
So the revolution will not be a glorious crusade of right over evil. It will be smelly, dirty, unsanitary, and hungry before we add the mental anguish of all the death, illness, and trauma.
Think about these things before marching off with your militia, group of righteous rioters, or lynch mob. It will not be a romp for a tourist.

9 Replies to “Come the Revolution!”

  1. I agree dystopia is not represented accurately in the movies. They are there for entertainment. But your last remark about thinking before marching off to fight, is directly to the point. People are not thinking, or they are over thinking what they will accomplish by forcing their beliefs on society. I think also, the rhetoric of fighting for what one believes in, can stir people for good or bad causes, and persuasive rhetoric can lure people into doing things they would not normally do.

    1. Yes, we are adjusting to a new normal in many ways. But people can still be lured from sitting in front of the tv watching their favourite news station, to marching for a cause they have been convinced is important. Something they may not have done otherwise.

  2. I’ve thought about this, too. A year in post-cultural Revolution China was a little practice. “Martha! There’s milk downtown!” “There’s bread in the college bakery!” “Martha, we have meat!” And a footlocker partially filled with medications I couldn’t have found in China. Still, I wouldn’t say I’m prepared.

    1. I think you are better prepared for it than most. You’ve seen shortages. Most people are worried that if the Teamsters strike their Prime orders will not arrive. They do not have a clue.

      1. It was seriously more difficult re-adaptiing to life in the US than it was adapting to life in China. It was like traveling to the future. When I came home there was liquid hand soap, new Ford models, the color mauve was THE deal and everyone was saying “Where’s the beef?” I found cars and phones profounding annoying. I read signs on the free way as carefully as I had to read street signs in China to figure out what they said with my limited language. It was bizarre.

  3. I’m hoping to be long gone before it gets to that but the way things are going, it may come sooner than we expect. It’s a frightening thought and I never choose to watch even Hollywood”s version of it. Nothing entertaining there. We are already remote enough to be cut off in an instant and I have no place to store long term supplies. I just have to hope and trust that whatever happens, it will work out even if, well, you know.

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