HR & Management

Could a Mad Max wasteland scenario ever come to fruition?

5 min read

23 February 2018

Deputy Editor, Real Business

It's been announced that “Brexit will not leave Britain in a Mad Max wasteland” – not quite. That's a reassurance... But could we ever find ourselves going down that dystopian route – and how would companies operate?

Brexit secretary David Davis made headlines when he claimed Brexit would not “plunge Britain into a Mad Max world. These fears about a race to the bottom are based on nothing, not our history, not our intention, not our national interest.”

It’s good to know that the Thunderdome – a gladiator arena where conflicts are solved in the Mad Max franchise – won’t be built any time soon, but tweets have revealed that Davis’ words have left people less than reassured.

Did you know Mad Max, while still an exaggeration, was based on what could have happened after the 1973 petrol crisis? Let’s not ask why the film stars do so much driving then, but ponder on how easy it is for countries to lose access to resources. It seems the crisis started due to an imposed embargo, a move intended as retaliation rather to actually keep oil reserves from dwindling.

Davis is convinced that won’t happen to Britain. Please let him be right because, according to screenwriter James McCausland, “people will do almost anything to keep vehicles moving.”

The franchise is also known for its depiction of a world without much water, and already we’ve heard news that Cape Town will run out of water in around 90 days. Even Jay Famigletti, chief water expert at NASA, believes we could go the way of Mad Max if we consume water faster than rain can replenish it.

Of course, when everyone is trying to kill each other for oil and water, business as we know it would change. Talking with Real Business, author Marianne Page suggested “companies would operate on honour and deal-making at the beginning. We would branch off into self-sufficient groups, only reaching out to ‘outsiders’ for what we couldn’t achieve on our own.”

A bartering and exchange system would come into play, she explained. Legal services would be exchanged for medical care, for example, and petrol cars would be converted to off-grid solar-powered vehicles in exchange for a roof over our heads.

“We’d likely grow our own vegetables and travel into the concrete jungle to trade our carrots from some home-brew,” she added. “Currency would be online and electronic such as bitcoin for the privileged. The poor would be forced off-grid apart from in small areas where generators and solar powered ‘underground’ internet cafes would be operated, piggybacking off the data allowance of the rich.

“The IT guy would be King. Those who know the dark art of connectivity would be worshipped. The underprivileged would exchange bottle tops gathered from the drained canal network as their meagre offerings. Those who own metal detectors would be the most successful, and factions would be constantly changing the WiFi codes and selling information to get the edge.

“Business coaches and mentors would evolve into the most efficient deal-makers – changing mindsets to create successful teams of ‘next generation’ winners; convincing those who are confused and who have lost their path that there is still hope and they can still find their niche. We would teach people to make plans, cash in on ‘how-to’ guides for alien tasks, assign goals to learn new skills, to reach out to others and build networks.”