One of the biggest unknowns that we as preppers face is what will happen if/when some sort of event occurs that disrupts our modern society and its smooth functioning.
To put it in more specific terms, what will happen if something means the supermarkets run out of food, water no longer comes out of the taps, the toilets no longer flush, and our power is out? How will people respond – positively and constructively? Or negatively and destructively?
We are concerned about what will happen not so much five minutes after these events, but more like five days after these events (possibly sooner).
In particular, what will happen when people start to realize that these outages will be longer term rather than temporary, and most of all, when people face the fact that the government won’t be coming to help them?
The massive calming concept of overarching authority has gone, and that points to the big question – what will people do when law and order breaks down?
There are two main schools of thought here.
1. Some people believe that everyone will band together and positively work through the problems. This would be similar to the ‘Blitz spirit’ demonstrated by determined Londoners during the German air raids in World War 2. Or not tremendously different from many poor countries today.
People who believe this is the more probable outcome point to the rational reasons for acting this way, and point to mankind’s underlying noble spirit and caring nature. They expect the people who have spare resources to share those resources with the people who need them, and the people who need the scarce resources to be polite and respectful, and appreciative of the assistance they are given.
We desperately hope this scenario proves to be the correct one. Now let’s look at scenario 2.
2. Some people believe that chaos and anarchy will rule, with gratuitous senseless violence taking over, and indeed, senseless mobs destroying some of the scarce remaining resource rather than caring for it and using it carefully.
People who believe this point to the occasional outbreaks of lawlessness and looting that sometimes bedevil parts of western society, and rather than claiming man is an evolved creature with higher moral principles, they suggest that mankind is inherently base, selfish, and if not actively evil, certainly not actively good, either.
Can we say one thing about these two outcomes. The first type of outcome envisages a scenario where there is still enough resource for everyone to manage to survive. Maybe no-one will live well or very comfortably, but there will still be enough basic food, water and shelter for everyone.
That’s a big weakness of the first scenario. If there is a major failure in our society, and if the supermarkets don’t get their daily or even twice daily shipments of ‘just in time’ food deliveries, there simply won’t be enough food, and it is going to run out very quickly, rather than gradually and slowly. The supermarkets will be empty within a couple of days. People’s pantries will empty out a couple of days later.
Where, other than supermarkets, will an urban population of some millions get food? Even if people had garden space, they don’t have gardens, and neither do they have seeds. By the time any sort of basic gardening was underway, the enormous bulk of most urban populations would have starved to death.
The other big weakness of the first scenario is that in almost all cases where people do act nobly, the ‘rule of law’ has remained intact and in-place. That was true during the London Blitz, for example. It is largely true of normal life in poor countries – there is a social and legal structure regulating people’s activities. Even if the local effectiveness of such things might be briefly shattered, everyone perceives it to be a short-term, temporary, and very local phenomenon.
No-one thinks that the rule of law has been fractured and broken for a long-term, and no-one thinks that other external support resources aren’t about to come in and provide alternate and additional support. But what happens after some truly major national disaster? What happens if a solar storm destroys our electricity grid and there’s no likelihood of its restoration for several years? What happens when it is unavoidably obvious that there is no ‘deus ex machina’ coming to magically save the day?
We suspect in such cases, people’s restraint will be abandoned, and it will indeed become a ‘dog eat dog’ struggle for survival, with no remaining rules or constraints on how people behave.
The Rasmussen Survey
There’s another reason to fear that scenario two is the more likely. It is easy to perceive the people who loot and riot, and those who support them, as ‘outliers’ and as tiny minorities, albeit with a disproportionate impact on our society. If only a very small number of people ‘go rogue’ in an adverse scenario, maybe the rest of society can ‘keep it together’ and voluntarily continue to observe laws and act in a civilized manner.
But – we suggest – the perception/hope that the anarchistic element in our society is small and insignificant is sadly wrong. It may be massively larger than we think. A national survey by Rasmussen and just now released has now shown that 25% of the population believes the mob violence and looting in Ferguson is appropriate and justified, and another 23% are not sure. Barely half the country view it negatively!
As for the shooting that started things, the survey finds that 23% of the country has already decided that the police officer should be tried and found guilty of murder (indeed, these people probably don’t even feel the need for the trial). Another 51% are undecided – we guess they want the trial, but aren’t quite so insistent on the guilty verdict automatically following. Only 26% are giving the officer the benefit of the doubt and assuming he was acting in self-defense.
Note this is a national survey, and adjusted to be representative of the country as a whole. It is not just a survey of ‘poor black folks’ in Ferguson. It is a survey of all of us, everywhere.
These numbers seem to clearly illustrate that WTSHTF it won’t only be a troublesome but tiny minority of people who cause problems for the vast majority of decent citizens. It will be a quarter the population, probably more, and possibly half the population who are quick to adopt an ‘every man for himself’ approach – as well as a ‘what’s yours is now mine’ approach.
This points to an interesting additional point, one we’ve seen for ourselves in some other countries. When a certain percentage of the population starts acting in a particular fashion, the remaining people feel compelled to join in, otherwise, they are the foolish few who are being taken advantage of by the vast majority. The social norm has shifted. In this case, which would you choose to be? A taker of other people’s property, or the victim who the others are taking from?
We’re not saying that you too will be caught on a security camera, triumphantly carrying a blender or a television or something else equally useless out of the local store WTSHTF, but we are saying that most of your neighbors – probably including the least likely of them – may act in such an irrational fashion. And, yes, when we’re all struggling to eat, and there’s no electricity, we do expect the local gangs to still be stealing DVD players and televisions!
The Bottom Line
We suggest this Rasmussen survey points to a much larger slice of the population being poised to ‘go rogue’ at the slightest provocation, and with no qualms or concerns about their behavior when they do so.
Even if we say that only some of the 25% of the US population who support the Ferguson riots would actually go out looting themselves when things first go haywire, isn’t that enough to destroy things totally? And at that point, the balance of the 25% will surely join in, and then more and more of the 23% of ‘not sure’ people will decide they may as well help themselves too.
Then, what will happen to the remaining 52%? How many of them are sheep – are lambs moving blindly to the slaughter? Only a very very few are the people who will fight back to protect themselves and their families. Quite likely, there won’t be enough of those people – of people like us – to influence the outcome.
Our best hope is to ‘Get out of Dodge’ – to bug out to our rural retreat – at the first sign of the cities degenerating into chaos, mayhem, and murder. It seems inevitable that if our society is disrupted, the people in our society will respond negatively and in the least appropriate manner, endangering not only their own survivability but that of everyone around them too.
So, the bottom line? We suggest that the Ferguson riots, and the Rasmussen survey, both point to there being a much larger segment of society who is poised to ‘go rogue’ at the slightest provocation, and we suggest we need to plan for a future where society turns on itself in a destructive manner.
Most of all, we suggest that the large urban population concentrations will fall into violent anarchy. Think rioting, fires, looting, raping, senseless destruction and violence of all kinds, and also think of no police or other law enforcement presence to constrain and control these evil forces. We suggest this will all happen more quickly than you might think, when a disruptive event occurs.
Think of bugging out early, in other words!