Three Lessons From Ruins

Archaeologists and Historians study the past to derive valuable inferences from past civilizations. This exercise is a noble and kadychan_ruinsimportant one; after all, those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. In the spirit of this thinking, I have written about a few examples of decay. If we aspire to be prepared for the worst, we need to look at people who have already experienced the worst. Fifty years ago, the places on this list were functioning, maintained, and inhabited. The existence of these ruins is evidence that bad things do happen.

By D-Ray a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

Contrary to what some people would like to suggest, civilization is a very fragile thing. In some instances, the only thing separating society from anarchy is the health of the economy and the strength of law enforcement.  With this in mind: here are a few times civilization failed.

3. The Abandoned City of Kadychan

At the peak of Kadychan’s existence in 1986, some 10,000 people lived in the Russian town. Today the town has a population of zero. In the span of a generation, the modestly successful town of Kadychan has become a ghost-town. Why? Kadychan is the casualty of poor state planning and a failed economy.

Patrick Coleman, an urban explorer, captured some haunting footage of the abandoned city.  At one point, Patrick enters an abandoned hospital and finds photographs of a patient’s lungs. Although the city is thoroughly abandoned, it is littered with reminders of a more prosperous time.  Look closely enough at the decay and it becomes evident the city was home to thousands.

Patrick’s video offers us a rare, first-person glimpse of urban ruins. As Patrick turns the corners of dimly-lit, derelict buildings, the viewer is left in suspense. A chance encounter with an opportunistic looter in Kadychan would certainly spell death. No police force can save you in the ruins of a remote, Russian ghost-town. An innocent explorer could be murdered in Kadychan and his disappearance would remain an unsolved mystery for eternity.

Related: 13 SHTF Tips For City Dwellers 

More frightening than the prospect of murderous looters is the reminder that civilization is a fragile and fickle thing. Had coal-mining in Eastern Russia been more robust, Kadychan would likely still exist. Even if Kadychan had developed a more diversified economy, the city would still be home to some inhabitants. One economic eventuality, unaccounted for by Soviet leaders, destroyed Kadychan.

To those who scoff at the concerns of preppers, look at Kadychan. In the mid 1980s, Soviets would never have thought Kadychan would fail. Fast-forward thirty years and Kadychan is a depressing collection of decaying buildings. Any city not equipped for economic disaster is one failure away from becoming the next Kadychan.

2. China’s Urban Cesspool: Kowloon Walled City

Like Kadychan, Kowloon Walled City is another example of state planning gone horribly wrong. As a result of poor negotiations between China and Great Britain, Kowloon City, a 6 acre enclave in Hong Kong, assumed odd legal status. Neither the British nor the Chinese could properly exert legal authority over the territory’s 33,000 residents. The densely populated city became a hotbed for criminal activities: gambling, prostitution, and drug production. urban_ruins_kowloon_walled_city

For most of its existence, Kowloon City was an urban jungle of unmitigated anarchy. Even murders blatantly committed within Kowloon were ignored by the surrounding Hong Kong Police. As the British were preparing to relinquish control of Hong Kong, administrators decided it would be best to demolish Kowloon City. The urban jungle was leveled and replaced with a city park.

While Kadychan is a sad story of a deserted town, Kowloon Walled City is an example of an urban environment with zero law and order.  Kowloon of the mid 1980s made South Side Chicago look like a well-regulated suburb.  What’s the lesson to be gained here? Law and order is important. Nobody wants a totalitarian police force but it is imperative the government exercise some control. If the police disappeared, our lives would get chaotic fast.

1. Belgian Ruins Along The Congo River

One of the greatest novels ever written, Heart of Darkness, details the horrors of the Congo River.  As the Congo River snakes congo_riverdeeper into the jungle, it leads travelers into areas completely devoid of decency.  The novel demonstrates that well-mannered people are easily divorced from precepts of civilization. Moreover, it proves the Congolese Jungle is an unconquerable hell; a region immune to the taming spirit of civilization.

More than a century after publication, the assertions of Heart of Darkness still stand true. Although the Belgians established some semblance of civilization in the mid-20th Century, conditions have deteriorated.  A journey down the Congo River in 2016 is just as wild as it was in 1899.  The banks of the Congo are littered with the abandoned ruins of Belgian Colonial Rule.  Medical facilities, depots, and stations sit in disrepair. They are a testament to the idea that the Jungle is unconquerable. More importantly, they are a reminder of man’s primitive nature.

Read More: A Brief History of Martial Law 

In geopolitical terms, the Democratic Republic of Congo is fairly inconsequential. The slow decay of the Congo has not had the same impact as our last two examples: the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the ascendancy of China.  No, the Congo River is worthy of such high consideration because of Joseph Conrad and his novel, Heart of Darkness.  Using the Congo as his template, Conrad outlined the intrinsic savagery of mankind.  If you haven’t read Heart of Darkness, do it.

Photos Courtesy Of:
Carpe Feline
Peter Gostelow 
Jidanni

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3 comments… add one
  • Roger October 28, 2016, 9:28 pm

    I’m surprised that you didn’t include the communities around Chernoble! They died from a combination of arrogance and stupidity, a common thing it seems! Mankind will eventually fail, perhaps be wiped out. We can’t seem to conceive of our passing despite our ‘intellect’ proving the certainty of it! Colonize other worlds in other solar systems, poopycock; we can’t even stop the tidal wave of human overpopulation because we might step on the toes of some ‘minority’! It’s simple, allow only One Heathy Woman, One Heathy Child (1HW,1HC) until our runaway populace is stopped and reversed down to a level healthy for both humans and maybe more importantly the Earth/Mother Nature! Unless we can do this, we are doomed to repeat our mistakes until WW3 (nukes) or WW4 (sticks and stones) or climate change renders this planet unlivable for humans! No deity will come just in the nick of time to ‘save’ us, we are on our own and must realize it and Grow Up! GLAHP!

    Reply
    • irishdutchuncle October 29, 2016, 4:23 am

      the Deity already left us a guide book. forget the “nick” of time, his reveallation began before Time. we were instructed to be fruitful, and multiply. the Universe, as we perceive it, can not be explained, except, that there was a creation event. I will trust the Word of the Creator, before I’d go along with the ravings of Malthus.

      Reply
    • Mitch October 29, 2016, 6:24 am

      Areas around the CNPP and Pripyat still have very few folks living there, they never leave their property except to go to a military run (up until the fascists took over Ukraine) checkpoints to buy their food and other items.
      I saw a show where a woman killed an owl and this thing was huge, I know owls are big birds but she had it hanging as a warning to other owls that might target her crop, it looked like a fat albatross.
      However, they have/had outside support from military, and I saw that show back in 2006/7.

      Reply

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