We came across an interesting article on a survivalist blog. The writer said he believed that too many people are being too negative in terms of their projections about what will happen after TEOTWAWKI.
This writer spoke about his belief in the basic goodness of the American people, and offered up various high-minded platitudes to this effect. As well as platitudes, he also described in some detail a scenario that he believed would apply.
Basically, it was the ‘neighborhood watch on steroids’ concept, where the residents in a neighborhood all banded together to defend themselves against roving gangs of looters and rioters.
A mean-minded person would point out that his reference to roving gangs of goblins already acknowledged that cities would become lawless to a greater or lesser extent. But let’s not score points through rhetoric, and let’s concentrate instead on the viability of smaller neighborhood communities managing to keep law and order within their own cul-de-sac or apartment complex or gated community or whatever.
He added the comment ‘around where I live, there are more rifles than people’; that may or may not be true about where you live, but it doesn’t really matter and obscures an appreciation of the issues that do matter.
Let’s simply agree with this optimistic view of the future – that you and your neighbors have lots of weapons, are decent honest people, and you all effectively band together harmoniously and create your own micro-community and safe zone, keeping the goblins away.
What happens next?
By this we simply mean, what happens when food starts to run low in your little micro-community? We see three breakdown events occurring in the days after the creation of your neighborhood cooperative.
The first level of breakdown will be when your tiny self-defense cooperative is first formed. What’s the betting that part of the deal will be the organizers saying ‘We need to join together and pool our resources for our shared common good’. Now that all sounds fine and dandy when they’re saying ‘We all need to take turns watching out for raiders and repelling them’ but the chances they are also saying ‘And let’s pool all our food and other survival resources’.
So right from day one, you’ll be under pressure from your fellow law-abiding neighbors to share away everything you have to help them. In return for this, they are offering additional security – ostensibly from others outside your neighborhood, but the unwritten unstated ugliness is you’re also getting security from them, too.
However, let’s say this is not a problem. Maybe you are all equally prepared, so redistribution of all your supplies has little effect.
But now for stage two. Some people in your community have strangely used up their share of the pooled community supplies much faster than others. Are they secretly hoarding food? Eating twice as much as anyone else? Or just being wasteful? Whatever the cause, your community and you now have your second social crisis. Do you reward these people’s bad behavior and give them more food – especially because, at this point, everyone’s supplies are now diminishing.
With any measure of remaining civilization, this is almost certainly what will happen, because not only will some people be lobbying for more food, half the other people will also be looking ahead to the point where they too will be needing support from anyone who still has surplus food. So they’ll support the concept of daily redistributions of food based on need, because they see themselves becoming net beneficiaries of the policy, too. A bit like taxing a few wealthy people to feed the many poor people, right?
Besides which, while you might have had to shoot at and maybe even hit looters attempting to attack your community, they have all been strangers at a distance, and there’s been a life or death, them or us, element to the encounter. But are you to let one of your neighbors starve in front of you? And will they just passively starve while you continue to eat, or will they fight you to get your food?
The outcome of this second breakdown is almost certain – you give up still more of your own prepared supplies in exchange for a little bit more peace and safety within your community.
Now for stage three, and this is the point where we feel we must surely ‘win’ the argument (we use quotes, because we wish we were wrong, but we fear we are right).
You’re now at the point where everyone in your community group has exhausted their food supplies. What do you do now?
Your choices are starkly simple. You stay where you are, and slowly starve to death, or alternatively, you do whatever it takes to get additional food for your friends, your families, and yourselves.
This is the point where all community members, of all communities, have no choice but to become ‘lawless looters’ – except that it won’t just be empty stores you’ll be smashing into to steal food from. The stores will already have been emptied, days or weeks ago. The only places where you can get food now are places where people still have food and are protecting their food from people like – yes, from people like you.
What do you do when your polite request for a gift of food is rebuffed? What do you do after you’ve offered to pay them with money, with valuables, with anything at all they care to ask for, and they’ve still refused to sell/exchange even a single food item?
Most people will manage to become morally outraged at this, and so will then see what happens next not as their own transition to a lawless looter, but instead, they’ll see themselves as morally empowered to fairly redistribute the remaining food and to stop selfish people from illegally hoarding more food than they could ever truly need.
These people will not see themselves as killing the current lawful owners of whatever food remains. They’ll see themselves saving the lives of many others when they secure the food and redistribute it.
Indeed, what passes for the remaining lawful authorities will probably pass urgent laws making it illegal to keep more than a day or two of food in one’s house, requiring ‘hoarders’ to give up their food, and authorizing any necessary level of force to take it from these demon selfish ‘hoarders’. (Do we need to add that the people passing such laws are very unlikely to be preppers?)
The Life or Death Question That Has Only One Answer
We agree with the person who wrote the positive heartwarming article. Many communities will band together to create isolated pockets of safety where the rule of law prevails. Maybe even entire towns and cities will do so.
But what happens when the food runs out? Let’s assume there’s less than a week of food for the community. Maybe on half rations, that will keep people reasonably healthy and comfortable for two weeks. But if there’s no clear sign of food resupply coming any time soon, at some point people will be forced to choose between taking food by force from wherever they can find it, or passively dying of starvation in their dwellings.
A starving person has no choice – they have to do whatever it takes to find food.
How Fast Will the Collapse Occur
Probably the total collapse of society doesn’t occur instantly. Depending on the nature of the Level 2/3 event, it may take some days or even weeks for a clear understanding of the changed world to be broadly accepted.
Maybe the authorities will succeed in maintaining order to start with. But police and national guardsmen have to eat, too, and so do their families. This sets in place another no-win situation. Either the security forces are given food while the rest of the population starves, or else the security forces starve alongside the population as a whole.
In the former case, the alienation between the communities and the security forces will grow to the point where ordinary people will no longer feel inhibited at revolting against uniformed officers with guns and badges. In the latter case, the security forces won’t hesitate too long to join in the lawlessness themselves, because if they don’t, they’ll die.
Things might slowly decay over the course of a week or two – maybe even three or four, but if populations can’t eat lawfully, they’ll do whatever it takes to get food, any way they can.
And because of the very nature of cities and our country today, there is no way that urban concentrations can become self-supporting. Some cities have a million or more people, and little or no food growing resources within 100 miles.
Do you know how much food a typical person needs to eat every day? Let’s say, on low rations, they need half a pound of solids (plus lots of water). That is 500,000 lbs of solids every day – 250 tons of food a day to support a million people. Where will 250 tons of food a day come from?
People can’t start planting gardens today and harvesting enough food to live tomorrow. Apartment dwellers can’t do it at all. People with yards would need seed, fertilizer, and patience – what say the Level 2/3 event comes just after the end of a growing season, with perhaps 200 non-growing days now to wait through before seed can be sown and crops started?
Without the promise of adequate resupplies of food, there is no avoiding this outcome. Level 3 events, by definition, imply no resupply for over a year, Level 2 events for somewhere between some weeks and a year or so.
The collapse will come, at a rate determined by the remaining supply of food and the certainty of future resupply. The cities will become totally lawless and anarchistic, and the former city dwellers will necessarily stream out from the cities in their essential quest for food.
These people will stop only when they find food or die.
What You Must Do
Prepping for a Level 2 or 3 event must start from the decision that you will abandon your urban residence and flee to a safer retreat, far from urban concentrations of people.
Stockpiling food in an urban location will only result in it being taken from you and you finding yourself no better equipped to survive than the unprepared people all around you.
You must develop a plan to leave the city and to live in a place where you have stockpiled food and where you can transition to a self-contained and sustainable lifestyle. City living does not, will not, and can not allow for this.
Are We Being Too Optimistic?
You might think this article is negative – perhaps even too negative. So please now consider reading an article based on comments from a veteran police officer, but if you don’t have the time to read the entire article, its title will give you a clue as to what it says : Cities Will Collapse Even Sooner Than We Fear.