No-one really knows what to expect after TSHTF in an extended Level 2 or 3 situation, but it seems universally agreed that the starving masses will be forced to flee their city dwellings and do whatever it takes to survive, wherever they can find the opportunity and ability to do so.
It is helpful to look at the types of people who will come out from the cities as a series of different waves, each with different characteristics. We’ve discussed the first three waves of refugees in this other article, and the good news is they will be relatively brief in duration and not necessarily ultimately threatening to the wellbeing of your own retreat community – indeed some people in the third wave could well become positive additions to your community.
In this part we wish to instead look at the last of these waves – the fourth wave. And rather like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, this is the most threatening and dangerous wave – not only by its nature, but also because it will be the longest lived of the four waves. (Christians will be impressed at how closely all four waves can be viewed as having characteristics similar to the four horsemen described in Revelations.)
The first two waves were fairly simple and easily understood. In the third wave, we saw how some members were threats but others could be valuable allies. There is a similar dichotomy to the fourth wave, but in a very different sense, and their duality is part of their danger.
Both will be organized groups, and both will probably already have their own shelter and possibly even other food sources. They probably don’t need your shelter, and they may not even need your food and other resources. But, taking advantage of a collapse of law and order, they want to take it simply because they can, and because all around them, other people and groups are acting similarly, just like the looter who takes items from stores in a city riot, even if they are things of no value – they just take them for nihilistic reasons.
Organized Lawless Gangs
The first of these groups will be organized lawless gangs, seeking to dominate and rule their new expanded territory. The might possibly seek ongoing tribute and ‘taxes’ from you in exchange for their ‘protection’.
Or maybe they’ll be less formal, and will simply be roaming around as an organized and maybe nomadic gang, taking and destroying as they go.
Gangs that seek to impose their own structure and what passes for their version of order may be groups you can negotiate with. But groups who are little more than anarchistic looters will not be people you can negotiate or create win-win outcomes with.
When encountering the former, you need to shift their perception of you from being a one-way source of goodies they can seize from you, to instead being a two-way trading source and resource they can benefit from. Maybe you can help them maintain some of their equipment. Maybe you have medical resources. Maybe you can trade with them – exchanging items they’ve plundered elsewhere and have no use for, and giving them in return food or other things they do need.
When encountering the latter, you are best advised to indicate to them that you are not an easy target, and any attempt to attack you would seriously weaken or destroy their own force, while leaving you relatively unharmed. With most of the rest of the entire continent lying helpless at their feet, encourage them to go after easier targets.
This encouragement is best done in a ‘face saving’ manner. If you challenge the gang leader’s authority, and the overall ‘machismo’ of the gang itself, they may have no social choice but to fight it out with you – and from their perspective, the lives of their junior gang members probably has much less value to the gang leaders than do the lives of your family and fellow community members to you.
We’re From the ‘Government’ and We’re Here to ‘Help’ You
The second of these groups may be more dangerous. They will claim to be semi-official government groups, seeking to impose their definition of emergency martial law on the region they have assumed control of.
Sometimes their intentions may be honorable and well-meaning (even if dysfunctional and dangerous to you in the process), other times they may be as corrupt and despotic as the outlaw gangs, but cleverly seeking to wrap up their dictatorial actions with an ill deserved veneer of assumed legality.
Unfortunately, whether honorable or not, it is almost a certainty that these self-appointed groups of enforcers will be primarily tasked with taking stuff from you – either to keep for themselves, or to give to the unprepared other people in the region who have empowered these people to act for their benefit.
They may attempt to claim special emergency powers that suspend all your normal legal protections and constitutionally guaranteed rights, and if they have been sufficiently clever and sophisticated, they’ll have compliant judges ready to issue court orders authorizing things that should never be authorized.
If you don’t like it, they’ll say, you can go appeal, all the way to the US Supreme Court if you wish – this being in a scenario where the Supreme Court may have ceased to exist, and even if it did, it would be close to impossible for you to go there, and may take years for you to get a case heard and resolved. Meantime, you will be told you must comply with what they tell you is a lawful order to surrender your food, to take in refugees, or in many other ways to destroy the viability of the retreat that you built, for yourself.
Some of the people in this fourth wave will be people you might choose to reluctantly ‘do business’ with. If they are realistic and don’t seek to ‘kill the goose that lays the golden eggs’ and understand that only if your are prosperous can they take a levy or share of your prosperity, then all you’ve done is substituted one form of previous law, order, and taxation for another. And whether the people imposing it on you are bona fide government officials, lawless gangsters, or ‘pretend’ government officials, the net result is the same, and you simply have to matter-of-factly strike the best win-win deal you can.
But if they ask too much, and leave you with too little, you have some real problems to face.
Even a True Democratic Elected Government May Abrogate Your Rights
In particular, you know that even in the ‘best’ of our 50 states, the massive majority of the population is not nearly as well prepared as you are. In the normal world, they might be wealthier than you and have more possessions, a fancier house, and who knows what else, but in the post-crisis world of a Level 2 or 3 event, their wealth and possessions become meaningless while yours become invaluable.
Any sort of democratic majority based government, especially one raised on the notion that the ‘wealthy’ are obliged to support the ‘poor’, and doubly especially where the lawmakers themselves are not prepared and are faced with their own pressing life or death challenges, won’t hesitate to urgently pass any needed laws to compel you to give everything you have to them.
This may well be unconstitutional and unlawful and illegal. But who are you going to complain to, when the local mayor, the local sheriff, and the local judge all turn up on your doorstep together, themselves all starving, and demanding by their joint powers that you give them all your food?
We don’t have easy answers to offer you about these ‘fourth wave’ attackers. But we can tell you that the fourth wave will be an ongoing thorn in your side, and you may find it increasingly difficult to tell between the ‘lawless gang’ fourth wave members and the ‘lawful posse’ fourth wave members.
Hiding from Fourth Wave Threats
Many preppers feel that an important part of their overall defensive strategy is to keep as low a profile as possible; to obscure the existence of their retreat, so as to avoid being noticed – both before and after the onset of some type of societal collapse.
Obscuring yourself prior to social collapse is getting harder and harder with every passing year. The ‘information society’ is finding out more and more about us, and with the increasing tendency of government drones, spotting planes, and even satellites to survey vast areas of countryside, and to create extremely detailed ‘GIS’ databases of all the land and structures in a region, your retreat structure will surely be noticed and if not officially registered, sooner or later will cause the authorities to respond.
If you have an unauthorized structure that has not been permitted and which is not compliant with applicable zoning and health and other regulations and restrictions, you risk having it seized and destroyed. You also risk civil and possibly criminal penalties, and being labeled as another crazy group of survivalist/supremacists. You can imagine the headlines now – ‘Anti-government supremacists arrested, large weapons cache found on site’ and so on and so forth. Remember that what we consider prudent, and what is indeed truly lawful, can – and will – be portrayed as evidence of crazy extremism by the news media and the authorities.
Because one of the fourth wave groups you may encounter will be some form of revived local government, it is inevitable that the ‘footprints’ you have created in developing your retreat will be uncovered. Local health department approvals for your septic system. Utility records for electricity or internet or cable services. And so on and so on. Indeed, one of the weaknesses of the generally sensible strategy of locating in an area with low population density is that you become more obvious by your presence than you would in a denser region.
You may delay your discovery, but you will not prevent it. You need to have a more viable plan to ensure the safety and security of your retreat – fortunately, we have some suggestions on this point to share.
Becoming Part of the Solution, Not Part of the Problem
Your key strategy is to position yourself, your retreat, and your community, so it can create ‘win-win’ relationships with organized ‘fourth wave’ groups.
One of the key things about this fourth wave threat is that it is longer term. Earlier waves of threats can be repulsed or ignored or in some other way worked around, but the fourth wave will be a longer term issue that must be resolved.
A confrontational approach risks failure on your part. And any type of exchange of hostilities can be much more damaging to you than to your opponents. Your opponents probably have either greater manpower to start with, and/or greater ability to recruit new members into their forces. They are willing to accept some risk to their rank and file ‘foot soldiers’.
But you have a finite community of friends, family, and colleagues. You can not dispassionately risk their lives in an encounter. Remember also that with a loss of the sophisticated healthcare facilities we enjoy at present, even minor wounds become life threatening, and even if the wounds can be treated and resolved, they risk depleting your precious limited supplies of antibiotics and other medical resources.
There may be times when you must respond to force with force yourself; where the potential outcome associated with giving in to a fourth wave group is worse than the potential outcome of repulsing their attack, and in such cases you must be resolute in your defense of your retreat and its community.
But in general, you want to position yourselves so that you can find ways to co-exist on a win-win basis with these fourth wave groups.
How would you do that? Please see our article on becoming part of the solution, rather than part of the problem, for a discussion on strategies to create win-win situations for you and the community you are close to.
After an initial period of grave social disruption, during which the first, second and third waves of refugees will occur, the rate of change will slow and some periods of semi-stable social arrangements will probably follow.
Invariably, regional leadership organizations will appear, and whether they are ostensibly benevolent or despotic, you need to position yourselves and your community so that it can co-exist on a win-win basis with these other (and possibly stronger) forces around it.