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The main problem with mainstream post-apocalyptic fiction is that it conflates civilization and society, thereby assuming that if the former collapses, so must the latter. Thankfully, our social nature cannot be extinguished through nuclear arms.

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Most authors should study the aftermath of the Loma Prieta earthquake. Lots of people self organizing rescue and relief efforts. Businesses giving away perishables rather than squatting on them for excessive cash. In general, it is one of the few times San Fancisco didn't turn me off as a city.

We have plentiful examples of what can happen when social order collapses, and it's usually not pretty.