The Dongola Times

(Anachronistic) Dispatches from the Kingdom of Makuria.
05th of December, 2014

Real-Time Greerian Nuclear Collapse Today

There is an article from VICE News, on the USA’s nuclear arsenal, and it shows how (with the real-time speeds that only modern technology can support) the slow process of civilisation decay goes. It makes for interesting reading, but first on the üntergang of civilisations.

Those who know John Michael Greer also know that he has things basically right in his "catabolic collapse" model of how civilisations go down. (Those who don’t know him should go find out about his collapse model.) It is not quite the spectacular catastrophe with which other, less-enlightened, pagans of the modern World would like to replace the One True Apocalypse. His model rather sees slow, grinding decay as the primary way by which civilisations collapse. This is, of course, entirely sensible and accurate.

The only time he is wrong is when he assumes that there will never be such a spectacular collapse (that is, the One True Apocalypse), because of an unsupported and insupportable faith in perpetual constancy. Of necessity, in a World where there were such shocking discontinuities as the appearance of man, or even the Cambrian Explosion, there can be no justification for denying apocalyptic collapse. We have proof that things simply aren’t always gradual. Just as the appearance of the first Adam was such a shock to existence itself, the appearance of the Second Adam, on His second coming, will be a shock to existence itself.
(But I take it as a given, also, that John Michael Greer is so brilliant, and yet also a reprobate heretic, a pagan archdruid, that he is a vessel of wrath, supposed to demonstrate that intelligence, and knowledge, and human wisdom, does not entail saving faith in God. “I have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I harden whom I reprobate.”)

But precisely because Greer’s model, in its accuracy, denies sudden collapses, it supports slow decays of the kind that we see around us all the time. It is so accurate, in fact, that it maps over very well to the ageing of any system under entropy. It is a pity that we live in a time when this is somehow cutting-edge thinking.
But consider this, on America’s ageing nuclear Arsenal. Here are a few quotes to pound the reality home:

The nuclear warheads that sat atop missiles and bombs before the Cold War ended weren't intended to last forever. Components degrade and need to be repaired or replaced. And in very high-precision machinery, there's an enormous difference between an original part and the almost — but not quite — identical replacement part. Many original component manufacturers have gone out of business, and so now "equivalent" replacement parts need to be used. In some cases, this has even involved the reverse engineering and reinvention of "lost" highly classified materials.

Even worse, the nuclear workforce is getting older, meaning there are fewer and fewer people with actual hands-on nuke experience. Before long, it will just be folks who have hand-me-down lore from past generations, a pile of manuals, and ancient pieces of machinery that need to be very reliable.
If you know John Michael Greer enough to know his fiction stories, you probably see the 1:1 relationship they have with reality, in that particular quote.

It’s a very interesting sneak-preview of where and how the USA is going. Modern technology does have a way of getting from A to B fast.
And, in what would be a sweet counter-Greerian irony, this article says that the reality of Greerian decay in the USA’s arsenal promises a nuclear catastrophe. Of course, this would be one bad crisis, not the end of the World as we know it. But still, it is a valid counter-Greerian point, since Greer does in fact exclude all-out nuclear war from his scenarios (while a valid application of his model leads to it, as in the article cited).