What are the most likely causes for a complete societal collapse?

One of the most frequent questions I get, especially from people who are new to preparedness, is “what are you prepping for?” Well, now that’s a loaded question, isn’t it! Just because I’m prepping for something, doesn’t mean it’s the same thing you and your family should be preparing for.

The first thing you need to be prepared for is localized disasters and problems that are likely to hit based on your unique situation. Read our article on how SHTF is not a specific event, it contains a lot of advice for people who are just getting started, and it starts to answer the question, “what should I prepare for?”

Once you have the basics covered, then you can start to focus on long-term disasters and things that might cause societal collapse.

What types of Disasters or Crisis might cause a Long-Term Collapse of the System?

Collapse of Civilization

I’m not going to focus on those one in a trillion situations that will probably never happen; prepping for a doomsday asteroid slamming into the earth or one of those other crazy events that you see in sci-fi movies does little to prepare you for the real world, and if something like that does happen we are all screwed anyway.

I’m going to focus on long-term disasters that I believe are most likely to occur based on historical events, politics, and the current threat structure facing the country.

A Major terror attack, targeting our infrastructure.


There’s no way to deny the fact that there are people out there looking to cause chaos. Before 9/11, most people dismissed terrorism as isolated incidents that rarely affected large groups of people. Post 9/11, we need to start looking at these events and realize that it’s a threat that if delivered in the right way could bring a country to its feet.

While luckily most of the attacks since 9/11 have been relatively small, we’ve documented numerous failed attempts where terrorists tried to take down the power grid and poison local water supplies. Should a terror organization be able to pull off one of these attacks or launch some sort of biological attack in a large city, it would likely push the country into chaos.

The threat of radical Islamic terrorism is one of the most significant threats we face as a nation, largely because our government and our media have failed to name the threat!

  • Have a Bug Out Plan: You need to have a solid evacuation plan, and you need to be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice.
  • Prepare for Martial Law: The real threat may come during the aftermath of the attack. Time and time again, our government has shown they will first clamp down on the public, and then in all likelihood ignore the actual problem.
  • Have a Communication Plan: Emergency Communication is one of the least talked about parts of preparedness, but it’s probably one of the most critical pieces of the preparedness puzzle. It’s something that you can’t afford to overlook.

EMP: Electromagnetic Pulse Attack

Rocket being used to launch EMP

During the early days of nuclear testing, experts suspected that a nuclear blast could damage electrical equipment, so they took steps to shield electronics near the testing sites. What they didn’t know, and soon found out, was how powerful an EMP could be and how they were creating a weapon that could someday take out power grids throughout the world.

Over the last couple of years, the threat of a nuclear attack or EMP has increased to levels not seen since the Cold War. In fact, over the last couple of years the government through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have started taking steps to prepare the American public for the possibility of a nuclear attack.

Political and Social Unrest

Tactical Riot Police

Social Unrest is a controversial topic; the very act of mentioning this as a threat gets half or the country riled up. But to ignore the fact that political tensions have been at a boiling point for sometime now would be doing a disservice to everyone who is trying to prepare for the most likely disasters of our time.

From the riots that started during Obama’s reign and the political tension and attacks after the 2016 election to recent racial tensions and violent attacks in the public school system, large-scale violence in malls throughout the country, and gangs of urban teens targeting innocent people throughout the country, social unrest is becoming a growing threat that we cannot ignore.

You need to take Self-Defense Seriously! There is no substitute for real-world self-defense training. Check out these articles to get started:

Financial collapse

Homeless Guy who lost it all

While economic optimism has swept certain parts of the country, the truth is the United States is anything but economically stable. The country is still well over $23 trillion in debt, with unfunded liabilities skyrocketing well past $120 trillion. I don’t care where you fall on the political aisle; there is no ignoring the fact that at some point the U.S. economy is going to hit its day of reckoning.

A couple of years ago when I wrote my book, The Ultimate Situational Survival Guide, I devoted an entire section to financial preparedness. I still believe it is one of the biggest threats we face and it’s still on top of my list of things to prepare for.

Another World War or a Civil War

Civil War

Whenever I mention the threat of a full-scale war, I inevitably get some moron on Facebook calling me a fearmonger – kind of odd since they follow a site that is dedicated to preparedness, but I guess that’s another article.

Just this month, we’ve had 100 cities/counties across Virginia Declare themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries and one county pass a resolution to reinstate the militia. One look at history is all you need to realize that at some point the world or our country is going to face a large-scale war.

How many people do you think saw World War II or a dictator like Hitler coming? How many Americans could have predicted the Civil War? History is filled with events that nobody saw coming. Unfortunately, today’s average person looks at these events as some sort of fictional account of history, and they fail to learn from these very real disasters.


Depression Era Breadlines

It’s almost unthinkable; walk into your local grocery store, and there is food literally everywhere. But the truth is it wouldn’t take much to cause a significant food crisis in this country; it happened during the Dustbowl, and it could happen again.

From our increasing reliance on countries like China and Mexico who now export a great deal of the food we eat into the country to a generation of farmers that have all but disappeared from the American landscape, our system is one disaster away from collapse.

How many people do you know that still process the skills to grow or procure their own food without driving over to the local Walmart? While many of the people who visit this site might have those skills, 99% of the country does not.


1918 Flu Pandemic

According to the CDCs internal numbers – which are probably grossly under-reported – American Hospitals are in no way ready to contain a disease outbreak or pandemic. In fact, they can barely contain the pathogens that are already known to this country.

According to the CDCs numbers, over 1.7 million people become infected by healthcare-associated infections every year, with 99,000 people a year dying from diseases they acquired while at a hospital. If they can’t stop everyday known diseases from spreading in their own facilities, what do you think will happen during a large-scale outbreak?

And then we have liberal hell-holes like California that are bringing third-world diseases back. As we reported earlier in the year, infectious diseases, some that haven’t been seen since Medieval times, are running through homeless communities throughout Los Angles. We’ve even had doctors warn that Bubonic Plague could hit Los Angeles after the Typhus Outbreaks.

We’ve even had reports of illegal immigrants from Ebola Infected African countries crossing Rio Grande River into the U.S.

Long slow death spiral caused by over-reliance on tech and the growing stupidity of society.


One prevalent theory in the preparedness community is that we are already in the middle of a societal collapse.

From an over reliance on technology and a society that has allowed themselves to be brainwashed by big tech, we have created hordes of ignorant unprepared people. It could be that we are somewhere on the timeline of a long slow spiral that ends in the destruction of society.

So what can you do to Survive a Long-Term Societal Collapse?

There are three articles on the site that I point people to when they ask this question; they are probably the most popular articles on the site and they contain just about everything you need to know about preparedness and prepping for long-term disasters or collapses.

Shirts of Liberty

OFFGRID Survival book



  1. Today, there are only a few things that could cause full on collapse, regardless of what people want to believe.

    In order, they are:

    1) man made or natural viral mutation
    2) Solar Flare/EMP/Asteroid/Comet or other space based event
    3) Man made HEMP strike by rogue nation/terrorist working together

    Some people might list earthquakes and such. Unless those are global events, they would not cause a full on SHTF. Localized is possible if, for example, Yellowstone erupted. But while it would impact the rest of the world, it would not be doomsday for mankind as a whole.

    Some might think economic collapse. Again, not probable because right now, so few hold the power at the top and they can pretty much do whatever they want to control economic conditions. The worlds economies are too intertwined now for a full on collapse to happen.

    Some will say WWIII/nuclear war. Never going to happen. There might be a terror strike or limited exchange because of some major thing but we will never see a full on war because the world is now too small. Everyone knows the consequences. AND since everything is now based on money and greed, those at the top will make sure whatever happens, does not impact that.

    Finally, some will say civil war. Again this is a localized thing. And in the end, least likely to take place especially in the USA UNLESS someone at the top actually does push to either outright abolish the entire Constitution or orders the immediately seizure and suspension of amendments like the 2A.

  2. Or it may be nothing more than the fact that champagne parties run on beer budgets tend to be short parties.

    We’ve built and built and built. Technology to infrastructure. Skyscrapers and suburbs and and fancy electronics requiring rare minerals.

    Everyone wants to do it. China is close to catching up.

    Burning through the non-renewable. And sooner or later, anything unsustainable won’t be.

  3. An EMP is the one that scares me the most, and is the one I have prepped quite well for. If an EMP happens though, it’s game over for millions!

    • You can make a faraday cage out of a metal trash can that has a good fitting lid, just line the inside with any non conductive material (I used old rubber floor mats) wrap up the items with plastic and place them inside and put the lid on tight.
      This should keep all your electronic stuff safe and ready to use after an EMP.

  4. After helping with disaster relief and working in the medical field; I feel the disruption of prescription medications, especially narcotics, would cause mass hysteria. This is just the panic of having to face reality, I am not even talking yet about the untold number of rebound effects from stopping a chronic medication cold turkey.

    • I agree, this situation is also known as the zombie mode, those folks that cant get their fix will be mindless and most dangerous.

    • Exactly. As a Clinical Neuropsychologist and Neuroscientist, the abrupt cessation of ALL medication will not only kill millions, but be the cause of countless murders. I’m not as worried about the Opiates as I am the Benzodiazepines and Hypnotics! Abrupt cessation of Valium and Xanax (and of course the Opiates), alone can not only cause Cardiac Arrest, but pain, and will shut down all functioning of the brain. Addictive Hypnotics such as Lunesta will cause such confusion and horrific side effects the person will be totally incapacitated.

      The life saving medications governing the heart, blood pressure, diabetes, kidney functioning, etc., will kill millions within 24 hours. The most dangerous of all, however, is the threat
      of the millions upon millions on Psychiatric medication, from antipsychotics to antidepressants. Within 48 hours, they could become the most potent threat.

    • With the massive divide between ideologies, I do believe there will be an eventual showdown between them and not a pretty one! The question is not if but when?

  5. At least one of these things will happen in most peoples lifetime. No, you can’t plan for everything, but it shouldn’t take much thought to figure out what will affect YOU in short order. For instance, I live at the end of a very long supply route. There have been countless times when certain items were not in stock locally because of weather problems or a glitch in the shipping process. So far, it has been nothing more than the inconvenience of not having the product you usually buy. (Have you ever seen a grocery store with NO potatoes?) But, should the problem become prolonged, shelves would empty quickly. Not only grocery items, but fuel, auto parts, and ammunition would quickly be scarce. Prepare accordingly for what you would face first, then start on the next most possible scenario. But, do SOMETHING. Failing to plan IS planning to fail.

  6. Many disaster plans tend to be one dimensional, i.e. plan for a pandemic or plan for an EMP attack. Many recent disasters, most notable, Fukushima, was at least two dimensional. They had plans for earthquakes, which were executed properly, they didn’t have a secondary plan for the tsunami. As you stated in your article, there are many possible primary causes of a societal collapse, but those are only the first of many issues that will follow a societal collapse.

  7. I have heard people say that if you are stocking food and supplies, Fema or gov. officials can go door to door, search your house and take your supplies of food etc. I can’t find anything that supports this. Does anyone know of this?

    • It’s been claimed that this could happen. But most serious preppers discount this possibility.
      It would tie-up too many police and/or “officials” to go to every house and search through it. For maybe finding a few buckets of wheat or a couple of boxes of MRE’s. Plus there’s the “danger factor” of getting past what’s probably an armed homeowner.

  8. One of the most likely events would be natural – a major solar flare called a “Carrington Event”. It would take down the electric grid in a manner similar to an EMP attack. Even grid-connected solar energy systems would be vulnerable (but off-grid would do much better).

  9. And then you have people like Maxine Waters ( D-calif )( left wing lib ) make the statement who need farms, we have plenty of grocery stores. Need I say more

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.