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When they boarded the ship, some of them thought they knew what to expect: sun-bathing, lots of good food, daily (and nightly) entertainments, rest and relaxation. For some of them, this was the first cruise they had ever been on. Things went the way they should have for a while. And then, without warning, the Carnival cruise ship Triumph lost power. Now, floating in the Gulf of Mexico, being dragged by tugboats, the boat isn’t a floating paradise anymore … it’s a living hell.

Reports are streaming in of bands of cruise-goers brawling like savages over slim resources. There are five toilets for 4,200 people, so the savages are urinating and defecating on the floors. Apparently, raw sewage is running down the walls. The smell is so bad that people are vomiting everywhere. Onion and cucumber sandwiches were all the passengers got yesterday, and that was if they were willing to wait in line for hours. And the boat is listing at 4.5 degrees. Really, Carnival will have much to answer for (and pay for) when this thing is over.

But what is interesting, and terrifying, to me is how quickly this situation started looking like the Lord of the Flies. Just like what happened in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. People started acting like wild animals. And this will keep happening. The ready availability of abundant resources has given all of us the illusion that we are in fact civilized. But the reality is that the civilization we’ve undergone has been largely superficial. Most of us are still savages at heart.