As preppers, we have to prepare for two sets of possible future adverse circumstances. The first is to prepare for some sort of event that interferes with LAWKI (life as we know it), and which diminishes our quality of life to a greater or not quite so great extent, for a short or long time period.
While we all responsibly prepare for the short-term minor events (what we term Level 1 events) the really big deal is preparing for the Level 2 or 3 events (we define Level 1/2/3 events here).
But even this is relatively easy, because we sort of know what things we’ll need, and if we start from an assumption that we’ll be on our own with no external support, no external sources of water, food or energy, we can plan from that worst case but clearly understood scenario.
One of the defining points of the transition from a Level 1 event to a Level 2 or 3 event is the need to leave our normal residence in a Level 2/3 event. And the reason for needing to do this? There are several reasons, but the most pressing one is usually the need to ensure our own personal safety.
In a higher density city type environment, we’ll be surrounded by unprepared people who, as the Level 2 event unfolds, will quickly run out of food and out of self-control. We anticipate lawlessness will reign, and see our safety and survival as best achieved by leaving the lawless city behind us.
But even in our Level 2/3 retreat situation, we necessarily should continue to be concerned about the actions of non-prepared people, because this is the other major adverse circumstance we will have to endure and survive in a major event – the anticipated but unknown negative actions of our fellow citizens.
The Unknown Variables Posed By Non-Preppers
Please excuse us if you don’t share a similar viewpoint about the anticipated negative actions of non-preppers in a major breakdown of society. May we explain?
Our perception is based on what we feel to be a gritty reality – people will do whatever they have to do in order to survive, if the circumstances are extreme enough. Sure, we believe in the innate goodness of people, the same as you do, but we also believe that when people – and their families – are starving to death; if they see a chance to get life-sustaining food, they will do anything and everything they possibly can to take that food, no matter what is required.
This sort of motivation can make honest decent people into criminals.
We also acknowledge that while most people are basically good, unfortunately some people are basically bad. You already know this, too. You call those types of people murderers, sex offenders, arsonists, violent offenders of all sorts, gang members, and so on. You probably support their incarceration, whole of life sentencing, ‘three strikes and you’re out’ laws, and maybe even the death penalty. Even the most idealistic of people can’t close their eyes to the ongoing level of violence that goes on in our society today.
The underlying reasons or demographics are irrelevant – the ugly but unavoidable fact is that some people are just plain bad. Almost 1% of our population is in jail on any given day, and you can decide how many more percent should be with them, and you can worry about the former inmates that are now free but not reformed.
We see that good people will be forced to do bad things due to the underlying basic imperative need to survive. But we also see that bad people will do very bad things, just because they can and want to, for fun, and because the normal law and order imperatives will be massively weakened (as is repeatedly shown, all around the world, in gratuitous rioting and looting events).
Planning For Encounters With Malefactors
So, we wonder and worry about what to expect as we shelter inside our retreats. More to the point, we don’t just wonder/worry about what we’ll do while safely inside our retreat. We also worry/wonder about when we’re exposed outside – doing gardening, tending to livestock, traveling to the neighbor to trade our surplus foodstuffs for his, and so on.
Some people have developed elaborate theories about the types of encounters they’ll have. Some people support their theories by referring to what has occurred in other societies during times of social disorder. Other people have developed very different theories, possibly supported by very different factual underpinnings.
Who is right? What can we expect? And, as preppers, the essential question we ask ourselves is surely – How can we prepare for such events?
Plan and Prepare For Everything
Well, there is both good and bad in what we have to suggest. There is no one single right answer. All answers, all predictions and prognostications, are correct, to some degree. And all are likely to occur, in some random sequence of events, to some people, some of the time.
We must plan for all possible scenarios. We can not restrict our planning to what we consider to be the most sensible, the most likely types of encounters. We know everyone is different with different preferences. That is why there are dozens of different types of baked beans to choose from in the stores. We know everyone has different opinions – that is why horse races can occur with a spread of betting over the widely different horses. We know some people do incredibly stupid and unpredictable things. But if we haven’t planned for that incredibly stupid or unpredictable thing, maybe we end up being the stupid person, and a victim of the unpredicted thing.
This is the key take-away point of this article. Don’t just plan for one type of scenario when it comes to people and their actions. Plan for them all, from the mildest to the wildest.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that when you’ve identified the most likely type of events, that these will be the only events you encounter. Even if you can think exactly like some type of malefactor (we won’t ask how that is!) you can’t think like other types of malefactors. But they are all out there, and we need to plan for the unexpected as well as the expected.
Scenarios for Encounters
Maybe some people will just lose the will to live and quietly die in back alleys. Maybe other people will beg and plead for food, then go away, nonviolently, if refused.
Notching up a level, maybe some others will attempt to take food by force, but will give up when confronted by superior force, without any shots being fired. Maybe some of these people, if able to take food without needing to kill to do so, would proceed to take food, but would turn away if required to kill first.
Notching up another level, maybe some people will indeed trade shots, but if they don’t quickly triumph, they will then give up and go away, looking for easier pickings/takings elsewhere.
And getting closer to extreme, maybe some people will fight to the death, having made it a point of honor to win the encounter, or die in the attempt, no matter what.
Maybe some people will simply and noisily storm the front door in the mid-day sun.
Maybe others will sneakily plot and plan to surprise you when your door is open. Maybe they’ll lie in wait for you in your fields.
Maybe some will kidnap one member of your party and try to bargain their safe return in exchange for food. Maybe others will simply kill anyone they encounter (and, yes, maybe even eat them too!). Note – if you don’t consider the possibility of cannibalism in your defensive strategies, you are not thinking far enough outside the box. A yucky thought, for sure, but civilized rules will be in abeyance in an extreme scenario.
Maybe some will impatiently mount a battle, but if they don’t quickly triumph, and if they start taking casualties, go away defeated, never to return.
Maybe others, if unsuccessful in a first attack, will instead redouble their determination and come back, perhaps in greater force, and mount a more prepared planned and sustained assault.
Some people will approach from the obvious quarter. Others will approach from unexpected places.
Varying Group Size
Maybe you’ll encounter some people on their own. Maybe you’ll encounter small bands of 4 – 6. Maybe you’ll encounter larger groups of 10 – 20.
Maybe you’ll think you’re defending yourself against a group of four attacking you from the front, when all of a sudden, ten more people appear from behind.
A Range of Skill Levels
Most people will have a gun – maybe a ‘good’ gun and maybe a ‘bad’ gun (you can decide what the terms ‘good’ and ‘bad’ mean in this context!). Some will be good shots. Some will be sniper level shots. Others, as often as not, will be poor shots.
Some will have no knowledge of tactics or how to behave under fire. Others will be veterans who have fought in one of our country’s many recent overseas wars, and will be skilled at such things (see our article about the rising problem of gangs and how some gangs deliberately have some members serve in the military so they have military level training and skills within their group).
Some opponents will quickly learn combat skills, and others will run away the first time a bullet zings angrily overhead.
All Sorts of Equipment and Weapons
The most common weapon you’ll encounter will be some type of rifle. Some optimistic types might try to assault your retreat with only a pistol, and a few might bring a shotgun to the party.
But who is not to say that some people won’t have a fearsome .50 cal BMG rifle that will punch holes in just about anything it hits? Maybe someone has developed his own explosive charges, and maybe someone else has developed a cannon or mortar? And don’t forget the person with the Molotov cocktail, either. Fire can be one of your most fearsome challenges.
Maybe someone from SCA has created an old-fashioned catapult, or a battering ram, or something else like that?
Maybe someone has liberated a tank or APC or other military vehicle/weapon from the local armory and can safely assault your retreat from behind the vehicle’s armor, and knock down your front door with their vehicle.
Frequency of Encounter and Group Coordination
Maybe you’ll go six months and not see anyone. Maybe you’ll end up with a dozen encounters within as many days.
Maybe you’ll have outsmarted the entire world with your choice of ‘out of the way’ location. Maybe one or two backwoodsman type hunters will stumble across your retreat while you’re complacently reveling in the success of your secret.
Or maybe other people will have thought the same way as you, and will be specifically going to JWR’s American Redoubt areas and looking for preppers and all their food and supplies, using the same factors to guess where you might be as you used to decide where to go.
Maybe roving gangs will meet and share stories and swap details of potential targets. The gang you fought off last week might encourage another gang to return next week.
Maybe self-appointed ‘warlords’ will claim control of a district and everyone in it. Maybe – really worrying – he’ll have some degree of pseudo-legal status or actual legal status, and is levying ‘taxes’ on all residents in the area. With 100 of his troops acting as tax collectors.
The preceding sub-sections have been intended not to list all the possibilities, but to open your thinking to the range of possibilities that may occur. Don’t stop thinking – this is not a complete list! You should be able to come up with plenty more.
It is easy to anticipate the basic issues and challenges we’ll face in a major Level 2 or 3 event. Take away all external support. No more electricity or gas or internet. No more 7-11 or supermarket. No more Home Depot or Office Depot or any other type of depot. That’s okay. We can anticipate and plan and prepare for these things.
But the hardest thing to anticipate? The actions of our non-prepped fellow citizens. Think of as many scenarios and nightmares as you can, then drink a fifth of bourbon, and think of some more. Any – or all – of these might come to pass (well, maybe not that one with the mutant alien zombies that you came up with half-way through your second fifth, right before you fell asleep!).
Because we can’t predict exactly which of these encounters we will face, we should plan and prepare for all of them.
We can harden our retreats to make them resistant to all but the most serious of attacks, we can design our lots to make them easy to defend and hard to attack, and – most of all – we can either join an existing community right from the get-go, or if not, we can group together with our neighbors to create a new form of law and order and mutual support and early warning system.
For More Information
If you’re specifically interested in researching potential future scenarios and how normal people might respond to them, we suggest you follow our category of articles on Communities.
Beyond that, we’ve a lot of information on all types of prepper related topics. Please roam far and wide around our site. Thanks for visiting.