American Apocalypse

Never-ending predictions that the world is about to end

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Meanwhile, the rise of nuclear weaponry made the sudden destruction of the United States an actual possibility. And if the end of the Cold War diminished that particular anxiety, the September 11 attacks thrust the country into something even more intense: the possibility not that someone far away will fire a missile, but that anything around you might be a sign of a new terror plot. When people enter an apocalyptic frame of mind, Landes writes, “everything quickens, enlightens, coheres. They become semiotically aroused—everything has meaning, patterns.” In the months following 9/11, that mentality was almost inescapable.

And then there is what may be the most persistent source of American apocalyptic fear: the country’s physical terrain. Every natural disaster enacts the endtimes in miniature. As Hurricane Katrina crushed the Gulf Coast in 2005, there were enough signs of the last days to fill a thousand folk ballads: a drowning city, death and starvation, martial law, rumors of barbaric behavior. “It was kind of like the end of the world,” one survivor told a reporter from KTRK-TV.

But 9/11 and Katrina also remind us that the last days never quite seem to arrive. We exit apocalyptic time. A city starts to rebuild. Normal life resumes. Many people’s worlds come to an end, but the world itself persists.

And then the next disaster strikes from above, or the next millennial fever surges up from below. The endtimes never really end. It’s always Armageddon somewhere.  

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  • Drave Robber||

    The closer you look at American world history, the more it seems that someone somewhere is always in apocalyptic time.


    Americans have indeed produced some excellent and colorful "the end is nigh" BS, but there's no evidence of the volume of said BS being higher than elsewhere. FWIW, the most recent "end" seemed to have more traction in China.

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    FWIW, the most recent "end" seemed to have more traction in China.

    I noticed that. Any idea why?

  • Drave Robber||

    I don't know enough about demographics of the cult to make any guess.

    Beeb has a hypothesis:

    The belief has gained considerable popularity in China where the film 2012 was a box office hit.
  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    So they found John Cusack and Amanda Peet compelling?

  • Drave Robber||

    I haven't seen the movie myself (I rarely watch movies less than five years old :P), but wasn't Chinese military pictured in a somewhat positive light in it?

    From my (quite limited) experience, at least some Chinese value compliments from long-nosed barbarians.

  • waaminn||

    Man that makes a ll kinds of crazy sense dude.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Who doesn't want to be around when the world ends? I surely don't want to miss out.

  • JeremyR||

    As the saying goes though, "If something can't go on forever, it won't". While people are perhaps being silly in thinking it's imminent, it is inevitable. Ask the American Indians. They had nations that lived longer than ours.

  • Sevo||

    And if you lived like they lived, they had lives much longer than ours.
    Man, eating nuts and berries gets TIRED!

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Ahhh, now I see. The army of Glenn Beck prepper-doomers are just the descendents of Puritan nutjobs. So obvious.

  • $park¥||

    Shreek, I hope you make a New Year resolution to stop being a raging retard.

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    Sounds about as likely as my New Years resolution to be young and skinny again.

  • Sevo||

    $park¥| 12.27.12 @ 8:24AM |#
    "Shreek, I hope you make a New Year resolution to stop being a raging retard."

    It'll be broken 1/1/13, 12:00.01

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||


    Seems odd to me how people fail to see the huge difference between the two sides of that hyphen. If you think we're all doomed, why even prepare? Disasters happen, but that doesn't mean we're doomed. Most disasters amount to little more than extended inconveniences.
    But the people who really confound me are the ones who won't even keep three days of food and water in the house, but then complain bitterly the next time a hurricane knocks everything out for a week.

  • Rothbeard||

    We don't have to keep enough food and water to survive a disaster, that's why we have FEMA.

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    We don't have to keep enough food and water to survive a disaster, that's why we have FEMA.

    Good luck with that.

  • fish||

    Again with the Glenn're like the girl desperate to get the captain of the teams attention by being a complete ass. Really Shreek it's most unseemly!

  • Sevo||

    Here, fixed:

    Palin's Buttplug| 12.27.12 @ 7:58AM |#
    'Ahhh, now I see. The *climate catastrophists* are just the descendents of Puritan nutjobs. So obvious.'

  • anon||

    To be fair, the end is always nigh for someone. Death & Taxes. Hell, sometimes death by taxes.

  • LiberTarHeel||

    I feel fine!

  • NoVAHockey||

    You're not fooling anyone. You'll be stone dead in a moment.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Terror is titillating.

  • Rothbeard||

    Titties are terrifying.

  • schizuki||

    Of course, Global Warming is totally real. I'm super-serial.

  • ReganC||

    I don't know if you have ever heard of the 1499 story of the oncoming apocalypse. Boats, death, chaos.


  • Sevo||

    Good story, but:
    "keep Jesus and the life He wants us to live in focus at all times."
    You got a problem; there wasn't any junior.

  • Libertarius||

    I don't get why you guys are into all these conspiracy theories.

    Everybody knows that Bernanke is the Architect of the neo-liberalism/fiat feminism matrix, as I can assure you there is no coincidence in his resemblance to the guy in the movies. And it is common knowledge that your wife was bernankified by the fiat feminism matrix, into which you will be assimilated, or you are a racist domineering patriarch and a yokeltarian.

    But if someone wanted to get serious about where the obazocalypse will come from, look no further than the nihilism of fiat money printers and open borders in a welfare state lolzozlzolz

  • bonesteelwarren||

    The author could write a very similar article about the people who thought that what was going on in post-revolutionary Russia was great news. ...or...the folks who said we'd never go to war, before WWI. ...or the bubbling great news, economically, before The Great Depresssion...or the great things going on in Germany, after the fall of the Weimar Republic.

    I also hear that tulip bulbs are a great investment...

  • Sevo||

    "I also hear that tulip bulbs are a great investment..."

    So we have options here:
    1) The tulip panic = the end of the world?
    2) bonesteelwarren is a bit 'confused'.
    I'm taking #2 as a lock.

  • bonesteelwarren||

    Naw. It's called 'systemic collapse.'

    google: 'a reader's resources on systemic collapse.'

    see also:
    'The Fourth Turning" by Strauss and Howe.
    Jim Goulding's "Winter is Coming."
    Miller, Butler and Jourbert, "Twelve Thousand Years of Elliot Waves." and "The Rise and Fall of Civilizations."

    iow, doom. ...and gloom. Coming soon to a neighborhood near you.

    otoh, freedom lovin' fools come out ahead once all the running, screaming and dying is over with.

    You missed my point, in any case. ...and I fully understood the author's point.

  • Rothbeard||

    The author would be correct if referring to the "Mayan apocalypse" that we now realize was bs, but there are in fact historical examples of what will inevitably though unpredictably happen with this massive debt issue.

    Oh and I forgot to mention: fuck you, cut spending. (Or are we done with that?)

  • advancedatheist||

    Massive debt = massive private U.S. dollar assets TO THE PENNY, because the money literally can't come from anywhere else. I don't see the problem with that on my side of the national spreadsheet.

  • ||

    What followed was one of the most notorious massacres in American history. Government troops ended up killing between 170 and 190 of the Indians, including at least 18 children. More than two dozen whites died too, largely from friendly fire. Fearing an apocalypse, the soldiers inflicted one instead.

    And the Civil War just keeps on giving!

  • advancedatheist||

    Funny how libetarians laugh at other people's apocalypses, yet they keep promoting their own Austrian Apocalypse (the hyperinflationary collapse of the American economy). I've heard predictions of that doomsday since the 1970's, and from prominent figures in the libertarian movement like Murray Rothbard.

    Of course libertarians also don't see the conflict between the gold standard and cornucopianism, unless they want to forbid all technological progress which might turn gold into a much more abundant commodity. This happened to aluminum, which went from a laboratory curiosity and a luxury item to a throwaway material we use for food and beverage containers.

  • Sevo||

    advancedatheist| 12.28.12 @ 12:06PM |#
    ..."Of course libertarians also don't see the conflict between the gold standard and cornucopianism, unless they want to forbid all technological progress which might turn gold into a much more abundant commodity"...

    It's always amusing when some ignoramus shows up with a knowledge of libertarianism gained from a drunken talk with freshman classmates and tells us libertarian positions on some issue or other.
    BTW, brain-dead lefty shits who worship 'the environment' are always telling us how the world's gonna end. Would you be a brain-dead lefty shit by any chance?
    I'm guessing yes.

  • Libertarius||

    This lefty seems to pretend that hyperinflation didn't actually happen in the 70's.

    And it betrays the extent of its intellect in rolling out the latest form of alchemy, probably in reference to the dumb experiments of trying to use bacteria to grow gold in a petri dish. They have to use a gold oxide in the process, which means you have to use a suspended gold solution to grow gold in a lab, which means that alchemy is still junk science.

    And regardless of whatever the fuck "cornucopianism" is, remember that in real life, rock beats paper every time. Reference: 6000 years of monetary history

  • cinsel chat||

    individual memories can be outsourced to the good blogos cinsel sohbet & sohbet


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