Wednesday, March 17, 2010
I'm having a survivalist moment
My friend B has a great scene in her new novel where a couple of hippies are talking about self-sufficient homesteading after the collapse of industrial civilization, and one of them makes the point that people with guns can always just take what other people grow.
The point is - and it is made in a different way in this article by Toby Hemenway - that it is myopic to look at self-sufficiency in terms of being able to provide food, fibre, fuel, and shelter for oneself.
It is clear to me that were the shit really to hit the fan, waves of violence could disrupt all well-laid plans. The first line of defense is, of course, keeping the shit from hitting the fan, which is where my commitment to social work - which I conceive of as the empowerment and wellness of all individuals and communities for the sake of political and environmental stability - comes in. Should that not work out, long-term thinking (which is what I am increasingly convinced "sustainability" comes down to) would be the last thing on most people's minds. So what would it mean to really be prepared?
I have some thoughts:
1) Community. People organized into communities stand a much better chance than people alone.
2) Openness. Tolerant people living interconnectedly and in relationship to one another are much less likely to experience division.
3) Fighting. This is complex, because the whole act of training as a fighter or fighting force - and planning a community accordingly - only reinforces fear-based thinking, and it is reasonable to believe that the very act of preparing for such an eventuality might contribute to the reality of its occurrence.
4) Wilderness skills. In a pinch, people would need to be able to hunt, fish, trap, forage, track, hide, and survive minimally in the wilderness. This could be an important stopgap measure for weathering the worst WROL periods.
WROL is a term I've recently discovered. It seems to be used mostly by militaristic Christian types, some of them homesteaders, some of them not. They are planning for the eventuality of a world "Without Rule Of Law" should the shit hit the fan. Unlike the permaculture and left-leaning homesteading folks, they emphasize machines and guns and fighting skills in addition to (or instead of) other homestead skills. In fact, their idea of food needs seems to come down to packaged food reserves.
What would it mean to be prepared in every possible way? To explore this, I need to brush aside the fact that the whole exercise is fear-based and fear-perpetuating. But what the hell, here goes:
(a) Knowing how to fight. Military training would be best, but of course would involve serving in dubious American military campaigns overseas. In lieu of this: learning how to use a gun and shoot, reading up on guerrilla tactics and defense, skirmish practice paintballing, and small arms urban combat classes at the local shooting gallery.
(b) Owning weapons. Small arms. An AR and a good pistol. Plenty of ammo. Good gear. Repair kit.
(c) Planning a homestead for defense. Thinking tactically about how one would defend one's land and home, or how a community would defend it's lands and homes. Have a plan, several plans, and rehearse them. Have an outer line of defense and an inner line of defense and an escape strategy.
(d) Know your water source and how to protect it. Poisoning water is the ultimate seige tactic.
(e) Know your neighbors. This goes without saying. Build trust. Work at as large a scale as possible without sacrificing direct relationship.
(f) Wilderness skills. Learn how to hunt, track, hide, and move in the wilderness. Know wild edibles and how to make fire and shelter.
(g) Mechanics. Know how to fix machinery. Machines may go eventually if shit stayed bad long enough, but motorized vehicles and fuel reserves would last a while. Keep fuel reserves.
(e) And, of course, were one able to hold on to it, the most fundamental resource would be good land on which to grow enough food for oneself and one's dependents. And knowing how to work it.