I was reading a guest post at The Survivalist Blog
It was title “Commerce and TEOTWAWKI”
All I can say is, “what an odd post.”
It is this type of logic that leads to the idea that a collapse of our government through failure to extend our debt limit is a good idea (see here for why it is not). After all, we are prepared. We will sit in our bunker for a few of years, and then we will be trading wheat cakes with our surviving neighbors.
I can only gather that the author has been influenced by reading too much cozy fiction. It has to be the novels, because even Hollywood, land of the optimists, has their collapses lasting longer than a few years.
There is no basis for the assumption that the 19th century is the limit to our technological collapse: none. The author clearly has no idea how complex and interlocked the 19th century economy was. It had assembly plants, mass production, and world trade in all resources, transported by a combination of steam, and very sophisticated sailing craft.
Based on the archeological and, when present, historical records, the die-off is likely to approach 90%. That is how bad it was in Dark Age Greece. Many parts of the Roman Empire effectively collapsed right past the Bronze Age into the pre-historic agricultural level of technology. The remnants of both the Maya, and the Hittites wound up in completely different geographic areas than their original homeland. It would be similar to a time traveler goes forward to visit the year 2500 AD and finding the United States is composed of Eastern Kamchatka and Western Alaska straddling the Bering Straits.
If advanced pre-industrial revolution cultures can fall that far, it certainly stands to reason that the collapse of today’s just-in-time, electronically coordinated, world economy can be at least as bad. That there are no longer any serious non-advanced groups on the periphery to move in and take up the slack may be something of a mixed blessing.
The post goes on to talk about a happy little trading post. Well with both the Dark Age Greek and Roman collapse, villages got much smaller, and moved away from central locations. Even as late as the 11th century, on the Baltic, you have villages sited away from the coastline and navigable riverine routes; they were too dangerous.
As for regional trade hubs, the Champagne Trade Fairs are generally felt to have started around 1137 to 1164. From the early date, that is 727 years after the 410 AD sack of Rome. If you want to credit the Carolingian’s with a “renaissance” or at least a partial recovery: 307 years from the 830AD collapse of their empire, or 341 years (751-410) from the sack of Rome to the establishment of the Carolingian empire.
So the net:
Don’t worry about commerce in a bad TEOTWAWKI unless it is in the sense of keeping your grandchildren alive so their great grandchildren can participate in it.