Dangerous times, if you leave out things like meteor impacts blacking out the sun for decades or volcanoes doing the same, are usually times of social (whatever that means) disarray. Like the current financial situation.
But what multiplies the danger and makes it really nasty is always the response to the bad times. In times like these the thing to watch out for is, as always, fundamentalists. European history in the early 20th century at the time of the last really big financial crisis gives a beautiful study of how it tends to pan out, with despots selling quick fix scapegoats. The end result was tens of millions of dead people and a devastated landscape.
But the despot is nearly always a very late character on stage. There's a gradual building up to their appearance through repeated harping on simplistic, scapegoating themes. People eventually get whipped into such a frenzy of blame that they'll then unite behind any tinpot twit who comes along and promises them salvation.
So for mine it's time for a big fat raspberry to anyone who wants to paint the world in great swathes of black and white right now. It's like playing in a munitions store with matches, these people should actually be incarcerated for the damage to us all they're risking. In fact even though it's become a scapegoat of its own, it's beyond me why sections of the media have been allowed to whip up this sort of divisive frenzy even in the good times. Individuals break the law when they incite violence or racism and such like, but the more tabloid media seem to have almost complete impunity. No great Chomskian narratives here - no painting in blacks and whites - but surely there's a pretty clear and sensible, calm and common sense reason to not allow this sort of thing?