The Patriarch

By the middle of the 19th century it was clear that the days of principalities and tribal boundaries were at an end, and it became obvious to all that the nation-state was the final stage in the political development of humanity; Family, Clan, Tribe, City-State and now Nation State. I would argue that the next stage is the Connected-State, the state in which all the nations in the world are finally connected by advanced technology, particularly the electric grids that connect all human activity, from farming to space flight. This Connected-State will last until the next major solar flare to hit Earth and the electro-magnetic pulse wipes it all out, frying everything on the electric grid. The cities will die first as the water systems stop delivering water and food shipments no longer arrive from outside. Hunger, thirst and violence will destroy the cities and surrounding areas as tens of millions of starving people from London, New York, Seoul and every city on Earth, large and small, spread out in search of food and water. Natural flowing water will sustain many, but hunger will eventually kill them as the supply of domestic animals quickly gives out. The rural areas will be overrun, and farmers defending their families and food kill the city dwellers until finally overwhelmed by the surviving hordes from the cities and suburbs now deserted by the living. Eventually, most people alive when the EMP pulse hits Earth will quickly die, the unlucky few survivors too softened by civilization to long survive an inhospitable world. The least hard hit areas will be those portions of the Earth where connectivity was minimal – sub-Saharan Africa and the more mountainous parts of central Asia. Essentially those peoples who never quite rose above the Tribal phase of development will have enough survivors to sustain human life on Earth at at least the Family level, to gradually and over time regain the level of a Tribal culture. And since these people never got above the Tribal level the first time around, the chances are the Earth will never again see the likes of a Periclean Athens. When will this happen? We are told we may expect a solar EMP to strike Earth about once every 150 years. The last one to strike Earth was the Carrington Effect in 1859, long before there was an electric grid. Do the math.

His weathered face lit by the dying fire
His tiny grandson peaceful by his side
He watched the sky that never seemed to tire
As in the darkness something dying cried
Around the patriarch his kin lay sleeping
Soft summer grass stirred lightly in the breeze
The strange bright dreams were only his for keeping
Their meaning though made all his blood to freeze
The future was his past and stood out clearly
Defying all experience and mind
The dreams showed that the future had paid dearly
For gathering to them and all their kind
The knowledge of the universe surrounding
That led to hubris and to pride of place
He lay down in the grass, his heart still pounding
And to the dying fire turned his face