Becoming Part of the Solution, Not Part of the Problem, Post TEOTWAWKI
In our article about the most dangerous ‘fourth wave’ of threats against your retreat and its members after a societal collapse, we talk about the risk and problems you’ll encounter from regional ‘power groupings’ and gangs; some of which may be true lawless gangs, others of which may be groups of people cloaking themselves in the mantle of semi/pseudo legitimate authority.
Yes, you can resist such power groups, but we make the point that such resistance is likely to be more harmful to you than to them. Wherever possible, you want to co-exist with such groups rather than to be in conflict with them.
There are some ways in which you can make yourself, your retreat, and your resources, an asset to some types of more realistic lawless gangs. For sure, there will be some situations where you have no choice but to ‘fight fire with fire’ and resist with all means available to you when roving gangs of looters and marauders seek to take over your retreat. But this is your last resort and least desirable strategy.
There is nothing much you can do about lawless gangs prior to WTSHTF. But the other category of fourth wave risk/threat is one which you can take advance precautionary measures to minimize. We are talking about the effects of semi-legitimate seeming groups who assert control over an area, using some thin legal basis for their actions – a legal basis doubtless enhanced by including the local judge and sheriff as part of their group.
Let’s come back to the scenario we posed in the earlier article where the local judge, mayor and sheriff turn up on your doorstep, themselves all ‘needy’ and demanding, under the authority of ‘law’ which they’ve granted to themselves, that you surrender your supplies of food and share your shelter with other locals.
Complying with their demands would destroy the viability of your retreat. You’d lose the inventory of food that you had amassed, and all that would happen is the many other people would have their food needs met for a short time, then all of you would starve together. Hardly a win-win outcome. But not complying to their demands would see them return with a posse of equally hungry and heavily armed locals, using the authority of the law to evict you from your retreat, and possibly imprisoning you too (and that is assuming that a rougher form of ‘frontier justice’ hasn’t already taken hold of the region). The local SWAT team would descend upon you with their automatic weapons, their armored vehicles, tear gas, and who knows what else.
What would you do? Give in up front, or have your food taken from you by force and your retreat destroyed as part of the process? The question is partly rhetorical, but also completely serious, because it is a situation you quite likely may face.
Fortunately, is a question that may have some possible answers – there may be a third option, beyond the two we’ve just mentioned.
The Third Option
What you want to do is when the three leaders appear on your doorstep, to be able to say ‘Good morning, John, Bill, Paul. Great to see the three of you today. You’re all looking good, which is surprising after the late night the four of us had yesterday. That moonshine really does pack a kick, doesn’t it! How are things going, and can we do anything more together to keep the town ticking over?’
In other words, you don’t want to passively hideaway and only encounter ‘the other side’ when it has become too late and they have already committed to a course of action, without any inputs from you as to what it may be. You want to be part of the community and thought leadership, right from the get-go, so you can influence and shape what happens. You don’t want to be seen as an impersonal ‘one of them’; you want to be thought of as ‘one of us’. You want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
How to do this? Rather than isolate yourself from your local community (something many preppers instinctively feel to be best ‘Opsec’), you want to integrate yourself into it. You – or some member(s) of your group – need to be volunteer deputy sheriffs, volunteer firemen, volunteer paramedics. Is there a local Civil Defense group? Join it. Become a leader of it.
Indeed, why limit yourself to being volunteers? If some of your group have chosen to move permanently to your retreat, they can become fulltime members of local organizations and businesses. Even become the barman at the local watering hole – sometimes people like that occupy a more key role in ‘thought leadership’ than do elected officials! Teetotalers might find a similar opportunity at the local library. If your community doesn’t have a local library, why not coordinate the creation of one.
You should belong to the local Chamber of Commerce or Rotary Club or Lions or whatever else. Women can join local women’s groups. Is there a sports team to belong to – or at least support? Maybe coach little league baseball. For the less physically active, how about a bridge club? A local historical society or something else?
Join a church or other social group, and as broadly as possible, generally be a respected member of the community. Maybe you don’t have a lot of money to throw around, but you can contribute your time and provide positive inputs into these essential parts of your community as well as simply money.
If resources allow, consider establishing a business in the community. It may employ other members of the community, and provide helpful services to the community as a whole. It needn’t be extraordinarily profitable, but if you have members of your group with time on their hands, this could be a good way of getting established in the community and even making a small return on the time you invest.
You need to be part of the community. Get involved in local politics – indeed, if some of your fellow retreat members get involved in the Democratic side and some in the Republican side, you’ve covered your bets both ways. Don’t think of this as being tricky or underhand – every large company in the country gives to both sides in election campaigns. In reality it is our country’s approach to paying protection money, but in a different way and by a different name. Consider running for elected office – although this risks polarizing your support, with some people now liking you and others disliking you. However, in addition to such positions, maybe there are other public service roles you can take on – become an appointed member of the local arts commission (if there is one!) or some other committee or grouping.
You also want to consider deliberately ensuring you have some surplus resources, so that when pressed to do so, you can contribute some support without harming your own viability. To contribute nothing would be a modern-day response similar to that which sparked the French Revolution when Marie Antoinette’s response to the starving people who complained of having no bread to eat was ‘Let them eat cake’.
A Stitch in Time Saves Nine
When you are integrated into the community, you’ll be plugged in to how the community responds to a societal collapse. You’ll be able to be present at the meetings where people gather and discuss what they can do to ensure their safety and survival.
People are less likely to say ‘Let’s go take all Bill’s supplies’ if you (ie Bill) is present at the meeting. Instead, you could stand up and volunteer ‘Look, I’m in as difficult a situation as everyone else, but I can probably spare some food; it won’t be much, but I’ll share all that I can’.
If you can be present when policy is being formulated and plans are being made, you’ll be better able to slightly shift and deflect the meeting’s focus from going after you and your resources, to instead seeing you as ‘part of them’ and also being in need of assistance.
It is always very much easier to influence policy in its earliest stages of being formulated. But after policies have been established, they take on a rigidity and life of their own, and it becomes very much harder to then get them changed or cancelled.
If you’re hiding out in your retreat, you’re not able to help shape the policy positively. But if you’re in town, attending the public meeting, and if the other people in the meeting vaguely know of you and understand you to be ‘one of us’ then you’re going to have a much greater chance of controlling the outcome.
If nothing else, you can switch the tables on the group – instead of having them deliver a fait accompli to you and have them tell you to go protest it to no-longer-existing appellate courts and distant authorities, you can at the meeting point out that the meeting’s authority to resolve whatever it is considering is questionable and uncertain, and it needs to get the approval of these higher authorities before it implements its actions.
Plan to Incorporate the Local Community Into Your Future Survival Activities
A danger is that if you offer the local community a conciliatory olive branch and give them some spare food and supplies, you are almost certainly not buying an undisturbed future, free from their ongoing requests (and demands) for more and more support.
Rather, you can be creating a dependency cycle. You give them food and supplies which they passively accept and consume, then they come back to you for more. During the extra time your food and supplies has given them, they’ve done nothing about creating any self-sufficiency, they’ve merely done what they’ve done all their lives to date – eaten the food that comes to them without giving any thought about where it came from, or how it was grown, or what they could do to create their own food in the future.
Adopting this strategy of appeasement will be no more successful to you than it was to Britain’s appeasing of Hitler prior to the eventual collapse of that policy that saw a much stronger Germany then embark on World War 2. Appeasing will not buy you much time and will definitely not ensure your future survival and safety.
Instead of simply giving food and supplies with nothing in return, you should offer to exchange their labor for your support on a fair basis that is win-win. Have a plan for how you can grow your farm production if you suddenly get a large growth of manpower.
If you say ‘Sure, I can help out; I’ll create jobs for the local people and pay you all in the food and energy we create together’ then you are a positive part of the solution, and you’ve shifted responsibility for caring for these people from yourself to themselves. They no longer simply passively take from you under a banner of entitlement. Instead, they work with and for you, and earn support directly proportional to their efforts.
People can no longer say ‘You should give us more (and more and more)’. Instead, they can see, from their work each day, how much food and other resources they are creating, and their only remaining negotiation should be one about what percentage of the food and other resources they create is theirs to keep, and what percentage is yours. As long as the net result to you is that your net personal productivity is at least as great if you are supervising other people compared to if you are doing the work yourself, you don’t really care too much if the split of food produced is 50/50 or even 90/10.
You have placed the responsibility for providing for themselves onto the people who are now working for and with you.
This is like the concept of ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime’. Help the people in your community to fend for themselves and to become self-sufficient; either completely independently or integrated and coordinated with your own activities.
You will benefit from this too. You’ve in effect helped these other people to become fellow survivors. And the larger group of you is now united with a common shared goal of self-sufficient surviving. You can also now spread your risk – by having two potato fields on opposite sides of town, maybe one might have a good yield and the other a poor yield, but you’re no longer now in an ‘all or nothing’ situation with only one potato field. You can also diversify into more crops and activities. This is definitely a win-win for you and everyone else.
Use the Collapse of Current Laws Positively
As we details in our article on urban drift, our society is now dominated by city dwellers. Many of these city dwellers are affluent and influential, and they have very little comprehension of the ‘real world’ outside of the cities and what it takes to produce the food that conveniently appears – as if by magic – in their neighborhood supermarket.
For puzzling reasons that we really can’t guess at, these people have caused a growing number of laws to be passed, laws that restrict and interfere with the normal prudent use of our land and its resources. Although the history of mankind and its evolution and advancement to date has been built on the concept of productively using the planet’s natural resources for our gain and benefit, these city-dwellers seek to turn that around. Spotted owls and other obscure species that may or may not even be present are now considered more important than our own welfare.
We’re not allowed to drill for oil in places that people never visit, for fear of destroying the claimed natural beauty of such places. Rational people would point out that who cares what a place may look like if no-one ever visits, and they might also point out that when carefully managed, oil drilling does not measurably harm the environment anyway, but these city dwellers are more emotional than rational. They’d rather pay dollars more per gallon of imported gas than allow us to drill for our own.
They complain about power plants that burn fossil fuels and demand we shift to ‘renewable’ energy sources, but then they also demand that hydro-electric power stations – the ultimate in renewable energy sources, and which have been in place for 50+ years – now be destroyed because they interfere with fish migration patterns.
Okay, enough of such griping! Our point is simply this. Your ability to create a viable sustainable existence in the harsh reality of a Level 3 situation is constrained and compromised by laws passed by people who never had to suffer the impacts of the laws they passed, in a world that was much kinder and gentler.
In a Level 3 situation, maybe you can turn the sudden flexibility in lawmaking to your advantage. Perhaps you could get a new law passed authorizing you to dam a nearby river, something that was formerly banned by various state environmental laws and regulations. All of a sudden, you – and others around you – have sudden access to plentiful water, and maybe even the ability to build a small hydro-electric power plant as well.
Maybe you can get the city, county or state government to assert ownership over government lands and forests. All of a sudden, there could be an instant timber industry, and a huge source of fuel for the community.
Maybe the zoning restrictions on your land can be lifted.
Do some dreaming based on the area you’re in, and the current opportunities and constraints, so that if a crisis occurs, you can lead public opinion with solutions that are more long-term and beneficial to all, rather than becoming a focus of a short-term temporary fix that simply involves taking everything you have.
Predicting the Future Social Evolution and Issues – Lessons from the Movies and History in General
People who don’t learn from the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. You don’t have the luxury to make mistakes, so you need to do all the learning you possibly can.
While it is true there has never been an event in history analogous to the sudden collapse of an advanced civilization, there have certainly been plenty of examples of new social systems wrestling with ideologies, corruption, the external elements, and so on and so forth. Indeed, our own country has some relevant and moderately recent past to draw upon – the period from about 1850 through about 1900, primarily west of the Mississippi – what we look upon as our ‘Wild West’ era.
This was a period redolent with struggles between good and evil, between lawlessness and attempts to impose law and order, rapidly changing social values and culture clashes, fast wealth alongside poverty, hard times, and so on – many of the same things that we can expect to encounter in a future Level 3 situation.
It is common to turn to old books to learn how to grow food using ‘low tech’ methods; we should also turn to old books (ie history books) to learn about ‘low tech’ methods of social structure and order, and how to manage and govern pockets of civilization that are surrounded by modern-day ‘wild Indians’ and definitely modern-day gangsters and gunmen.
The actual reality of what the wild west was truly like is open to much debate – perhaps because if you could imagine it, then it probably happened somewhere at some time, so maybe everyone’s perceptions are right to some extent or another. Whether accurate historically or not, the movie depictions of the wild west can have some interesting worked examples of potential social scenarios that might evolve in our own Level 3 situation, a situation not very different to the wild west of 150 years ago.
Think of some of the western movies you’ve seen with power struggles between wealthy ranchers, poor townsfolk, an under-manned local sheriff, an exploitive gang that allays itself variously with the shadier of the wealthy ranchers, out of county politicians who are either honorable but powerless, or dishonest and influential, and so on and so on. There’s a lot to learn from and anticipate.
Remember also stories about how the villains end up running the town, electing themselves as mayor and sheriff. Or about how the sheriff himself becomes corrupt.
If you have time, it also would be helpful to read some accurate history of the social evolution of the wild west, and in particular, how small towns formed to protect themselves against external threats from marauding bandits.
A Major Social Change
One of the great things about US society, and something very different to many other societies around the world, is that – currently – people can make money and become as wealthy as they like, while attracting little negative response from the people around them. This is because, at present, we understand that the success and wealth of one person in no way detracts from the ability of other people to also succeed and become wealthy too. If anything, the success and wealth of one person or company helps the people around them – they spend money in their local community, they create jobs, and so on.
But things will be very different in a Level 2/3 situation. People who are poor will definitely resent people who are wealthy, and there will be a large push to force wealthy people to share their wealth on a much greater basis than that which is created by today’s graduated taxation systems. This is because the people who are poor will be very poor, and will also be very aware of their massively reduced standard of living, having of course formerly been living in a much more comfortable situation.
They won’t feel they have the luxury to wait indefinitely until someone else’s wealth might trickle down and impact on their lives; they will want a restoration of their previous lifestyle as urgently quickly as possible. Whether fair or not, whether rational or not, they will resent your success and your better lifestyle.
In other words, be discreet about your own standard of living. Be like the people in some countries who have beaten up old doors and entry ways into their apartments, but luxurious inner interiors, carefully concealed, that can not be seen by chance from open doors or windows.
Like it or not, we all live in the society that surrounds us. We can’t avoid it, and with each passing year and more constraints on personal privacy and more data collection, our ability to obscure our lives and insulate ourselves from the watchful society around us becomes more and more limited.
This is the reality. We mightn’t like it, but we must accept it and plan our present and future lives within it. Rather than either withdrawing from society or fighting against it (in the figurative rather than literal sense!) we need to become a part of it – both now and definitely in the future after TSHTF.
If we integrate ourselves positively into our local communities we can help shape and influence how the communities react and respond to the collapse of society and its support mechanisms. We can guide them positively towards becoming self-sufficient, and we can minimize the risk of them using either pseudo-legal authority or just plain blunt brute force to take our supplies and resources from us.
We should make ourselves part of the solution, not part of the problem. Everyone will benefit when we do that.