As the fogs of destruction begin to descend upon us, here is the likely manner in which the future of the human species will play out. Don't say you weren't warned.
- Economic collapse: Already in the process of occuring, the "green shoots" of media lore will be revealed as a gigantic sham, conjured up by a ruling class which wants to wish its way out of economic desolation. In this they have reached the point where reality has evaporated from their grasp and delusion becomes the operative 'reality'. The value of the dollar will evaporate as the worldwide pyramid of debt crashes and burns and the FEDGOD will turn to monetization of the deficits to escape the vortex and continue to subsidize the bovine classes dependent on stolen revenues to survive. Hope you stored your precious metals and stocked your pantries while you had time.
Starvation and near 100% unemployment is the end result, and civil order will come perilously close to breakdown. The Federal government will assume increasingly open autocratic powers to protect itself.
- WAR!: In every era of civilizational collapse, the road to death always ends in war as the various national elites scramble for control over dwindling and increasingly scarce revenue sources. It is irrelevant as to how the State powers are arrayed in terms of "sides". (With any State, the only thing that is clear is that it is never on your side.) It is certain that any upcoming conflict will make use of nuclear weapons.
Cities and nations will evaporate in mere moments under the white pillars of radioactive fire. Untold billions will be snuffed out in a historical instant, the greatest and final act of State mass murder in history. Vast regions will become uninhabitable, these massive tracts poisoned by radiation for tens of thousands of years to come. Depending on how much arable land is contaminated, this affects whether humanity will achieve extinction or not. We will be generous and assume some survivors...
- End of civilization: With war, the order of the economy will dissolve as the division of labor breaks down. States will disappear as their elites are exterminated from within or without. All aspects of civilization will evaporate overnight as the specialized knowledge that makes civilizations work is either physically lost to the fires of the atom or is otherwise destroyed in the attendant mass slaughter of those with the knowledge. Try sustaining a mechanized society if no one knows anything about how machines operate. The human knowledge lost will be incalcuable and will likely not be regained for millenia, if at all ever again.
The needs of humanity will shift to bare survival - no public relation executives need apply (though many former PR executives will be trying and failing to attempt to grow food for themselves and their families). Cities will be abandoned to ruin and advancing nature as the starving survivors flee to the countryside to make a last chance scramble for survival. Most will not succeed as virtually everyone alive has little to no knowledge of the rudiments of agriculture, due to former specialization of labor which has now broken down, utterly useless as an organizing means of a society which now exists at barely a subsistence level. Those who do not perish of radiation sickness will die a slow painful death by starvation or be killed in battle with their fellow men over scarce resources. Those who survive will be those who know how to live off the land (survivalists, Stone Age societies) or those who feel the least compunction to butcher with impunity. In all the human population is reduced to somewhere around 350 million (a generous estimate) with many regions entirely depopulated. (Some groups, like the natives of the Brazilian rainforest or the New Guinea highlands, will not be so affected since their relationship with Western civilization is indeed tenuous at best. In retrospect, good for them.)
- Warlordism: The pathological sociopaths have not all died, just the ones in positions of formal power. A new crop of leaders arises as if by parthegenesis from the decimated human population - those who feel no shame in wielding a gun and murdering their fellows with impunity. Nearly the rest of the human population is consumed as these criminals battle each other for ultimate power in the post-civilized age. This stage of the end days will be fairly lengthy and will last for about 50 to 100 years depending on the extent of the damage done beforehand.
- It is finished: The handful of human survivors, if any, will by now have learned to forage and hunt for food, so populations are sustained at low levels, roughly a few hundred thousand at most. The warlords have devolved into chieftains of their clans, as people find it advantageous to band together against threats. Natural law will begin to prevail again as State organizations can not be sustained at the hunter-gatherer level, and traditional concepts of right and wrong will shape most systems of justice. Agriculture may exist but on a limited basis, as most edible crops have been leached of their nutritional content through years of corporatized agricultural practices.
For those who have managed to reach this level, life is actually quite reasonable (notwithstanding the shorter human lifespan of approximately 30-35 years, dependent on how much medical knowhow survived the atomic flames), though certainly far less sophisticated than the gleaming civilzations of yore. A few enfeebled elderly may manage to recall the days when cities gleamed bright and people traveled not by foot or horse, but by fuel powered contraptions, some of which even took flight in the air. In all some history might survive, passed down orally through the generations as in ancient times.
And perhaps in another ten thousand years (or not), humanity will achieve the lights of Western civilization yet again. Let us pray that our descendants are not as depraved as we are and will make a better run of it.