The Economy Goes Apocalyptic

Nope, not talking about the latest financial news – even if it does seem that way some days. I’m talking about what kind of economy could exist in a post-apocalyptic world. Because, as much as we’d like to think that could be one of the benefits of the apocalypse could be the destruction of the economy (ie: no banks or credit card companies equals no debt owed), some kind of economy will have to exist in order for goods to be exchanged (especially after the immediate wake of the end of the world, and / or society starts to rebuild.) The question is: what kind?

Note: I’m no economist, so my terms are my own, not the technical sort, so please forgive (and correct if you have other suggestions or correct terms – always good to learn new things).

Source:, originally from Hmbr at he.wikipedia source Wikimedia license GFDL

  • Gold / silver monetary exchange – This is fairly similar to what we have now. My problem with this economy is simple: you can’t eat money. And if it’s a matter of survival, I wonder about the benefits of collecting something that unless others recognize its value, has little intrinsic value of its own (ie: you can’t eat it; it’s pretty to look at but not a strong metal; paper money might be helpful starting fire, if you have nothing else, but tastes lousy; neither gold nor paper help me fight off zombies, since I doubt they’ll be bought off, etc.)
  • Feudal  / Warlord / Dictatorship system – Here’s where the guy with the biggest stick captures power, and in exchange for the promise of safety and security he (or she) provides, you sign on for servitude, whether this is working in the fields, military service, etc. My problem with this system? It worked fairly well historically, but it did eventually die out when there was weak leadership, when people got tired of working all their lives for essentially nothing, and when the once weak become strong, leading to a potentially endless cycle of war and combat as everyone fights for supremacy.
  • Communism / collective ownership – Ignoring some of the other associated examples and attempts at communism, what I’m talking about is essentially (in a simplified sense) a share-and-share-alike system, everyone does what needs to be done, gets what they need sort of system. My problem here? People from our society sometimes aren’t very good at sharing. Again, this could require strong leadership to maintain, which could degenerate into a dictatorship or warlord system.
  • Barter system – Basically, trade something the other guy wants for what you want. This is in many ways similar to a monetary system except that the currency consists of items with intrinsic value – I trade my goat for your pig (or maybe your son, who knows). My problem with this system? I guess theft and naivety could be problems, but actually this is the system I find most viable, especially in a post-apocalyptic world that hasn’t yet rebuilt to the point that there are banks, or where items with non-intrinsic value (like gold, silver, or paper notes) are given value again.

So, what do you think? What systems or possibilities have I neglected? Thanks for reading, and have a great week.


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