There are so many thoughts and beliefs around what our own personal TEOTWAWKI reality will look like. Every prepper I talk to about any subject has their own take on what will happen when it will happen, how bad it will get, and in what order the chaos will or won’t descend into their world. I call this the Prepper Fantasy. I don’t mean fantasy in the sense that preppers wish for events like this, but if something bad is going to happen, this is what they view as maybe the most likely scenario.
Each prepper has to take the facts as we see them and apply our own set of experiences, bias and guiding principles to any potential outcomes we foresee. Nobody can tell the future, so the best we have is history, combined with some individual common sense that hopefully leans on lessons from the past to tell us what to prepare for and guide us toward what we might expect. What each of us is actually faced with may be exactly what we anticipated, or it could be completely different. The trick is to not let a surprise do you in.
I think a lot of people have a best-case scenario view in their minds of how the world is going to end and how they will fare through the upheaval. I think that this creative vision exercise is natural and shows how we each have our own thoughts and creativity. Often these different perspectives are helpful to me by making me consider other points of view that maybe I had overlooked. But the trend of prepper fantasy seems to go something like this.
The perfect prepper fantasy
- There is a global EMP or Financial Collapse or Pandemic that kills 90% of the world’s population in about 1 year.
- The Prepper will have plenty of survival supplies and heirloom seeds to keep them alive. The garden will be started right after the catastrophe and they will hunt and fish for food all day long because they no longer have a 9-5 job to go to. They also have guns and plenty of ammo to keep the bad guys out of the house.
- After the huge die off, the prepper will begin the task of rebuilding society with some incredibly talented friends (doctors, ex-Special Forces, nuclear engineers, etc.) They will be able to barter for just about anything they need either with supplies they have or goods they are able to produce. The lack of money or banks won’t impact them.
- This New World will be populated only with people who were smart, good-looking, and tough enough to have survived through the bad times and we will be so much better off. Oh, and all of the women will wear leather bras and very tight pants. And they will have Ninja skills too.
Sounds like the outline of a movie plot, doesn’t it? One of the many problems I see with this view is the timeline itself. While a global pandemic could make the rounds of the planet in under a year (see Spanish Influenza) there would need to be a lot of other things that fall nicely into place for this Prepper Fantasy to work out.
For one, you would have to be incredibly lucky and everyone else who came up against you – to include hunger, disease, and accidents, would have to be equally unlucky. In addition, you would also need to completely discount any form of government in the world. You would also need to overpower any and every opposition force (including governments, militias, bands of thugs) or be able to hide indefinitely all the while surviving.
What if they held a riot and nobody showed up?
I have often wondered about the fall of society and in our present-day and age how a government could keep 318 million people in check during a collapse. We expect that when things get bad it will play out just like it always has around the world and even here on smaller scales with places like Ferguson and Baltimore most recently. There will be riots and the police will show up to keep the order. Arrests will be made and eventually if things get bad enough our politicians would step in and urge some redress of our grievances. That is how government works, right? People complain so we create new laws.
The police will keep things from getting too violent and the firemen will put out the fires in the burning buildings and overturned police cars and the clean-up can begin at some point. There will be speeches and rallies and this will all be broadcast on the news.
But what if it isn’t?
What if there is some event that causes people to riot and the police don’t appear? What if the fire trucks don’t roll down the street to put out the shops that have been set ablaze? What if all of the buildings and shops are looted, people are killed, the mob simply takes over and nobody stops them? What if the government doesn’t step in at all for some reason and we burn our own country down? What if we kill off 80% of the population fighting amongst ourselves and the government sits back and gives us “room to destroy” – to let it all happen without stepping in? What if nobody took your guns because they wanted you to use them to kill your neighbors so they didn’t have to?
Well, we could all march on Washington and demand to be heard! We could storm the capital and crash the gates at the white house. What if nobody was occupying those buildings anymore?
How do you control 320 million people?
I think there are only a few realistic ways you can control that many people. (warning, gross oversimplification ahead) The first and easiest is fear. Fear will make perfectly sane people do irrational things. You will give up your freedoms, your privacy, your rights, your property and dignity for a little safety. It has happened over and over again throughout the years and I would argue it has been going on here since 9/11. You can control people with fear. If they are afraid of something or someone and you offer them protection, they will do just about anything you say.
The other way to control people is through force. This would be harder to do in my opinion without a full-scale war because it relies on the people being controlled to go along quietly. That gets back to fear. You would use the fear of death in a war to get people to give up their freedom to you.
The easiest way to control people is to amuse them. Keep them distracted and focused on other things besides how they are being treated, or how crappy their life is. For this, to work you need a highly evolved media and entertainment industry which we have in spades; a reduction in the awareness of civics and common sense of the masses which, unfortunately, we also have plenty of.
I for one don’t believe that the people in power are going to give anything up willingly but they will still need to control the population. Right now, control isn’t an issue because, for all intents and purposes, everything is fine. Sure we have record unemployment but there are still people working. You have your smartphones even if they are paid for by the government. You have cable TV and you can go to Walmart and buy your groceries on the modern-day equivalent of food stamps as you watch reality TV all night long on-demand and post updates to your Facebook page.
But what happens when that all goes away?
Preppers assume that at some point it will. The electricity will go off, people will riot and get angry and we will march on Washington to demand a change. Once our government sees we have had enough they will completely see the error of their ways. Then they will step down willingly and let better people – people who think like we do, assume control.
Do you really see that happening?
Who needs us anyway?
Our country doesn’t manufacture anything anymore. We the people aren’t needed to keep the wheels of commerce moving in a large sense. We aren’t vital to the war effort. We just exist to buy things and pay taxes to bail out the banks (who no longer need our money but will take it anyway) and conduct wars on foreign lands (that the people don’t agree with). I don’t think we are viewed as necessary in the eyes of some.
Modern-day Eugenics proponents say that our population needs to be wiped out for the greater good. John P. Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy wrote in the book, Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment,“To provide a high quality of life for all, there must be fewer people.”
If fewer people is actually the goal of some of the “experts” in society, wouldn’t it behoove them to take steps to ensure that goal is achieved? Some could say that plan is already well on its way and I agree, but getting back to the prepper fantasy; do you think Government is going to simply disappear overnight because you don’t like what they are doing? Do you think nobody is going to maintain power and control at the highest levels? That simply doesn’t happen in history.
I am personally not expecting a big SHTF event to happen where in only days; I will pull out the stops, armor up, and begin watching the streets for tricked out buses full of mutant zombies to come rolling into town looking for the last can of gas. Even if there is a global financial collapse, people will still be going to work, maybe not me or you. Mortgages will still be due even if people can’t pay them, grocery stores will still get food, even if there are riots and shortages. It may not completely come crashing down for everyone at the same time.
So, do your prepper plans anticipate a different kind of collapse that isn’t in line with the generic prepper fantasy? Can you live through a slow decline into oblivion? One that doesn’t happen overnight, but over a decade? When our country turns into a third world hell hole in slow motion, will you still be prepared for that?
Preppers should have a plan. The easiest scenarios to plan for, in my mind anyway, are catastrophes well down the road – like Mad Max where you know it’s time to bug out because the evidence is unmistakable. We assume the crisis will happen overnight, but I don’t think it will be like Hollywood. It will take a long time to build all of those souped-up hot rods… and the costumes you will have to create. That will take some time too.
I don’t think we will wake up one day to zombies and I don’t think governments will crumble over the span of a few weeks no matter what happens with the financial markets. There may not be a huge showdown or revolution in the streets. We may all just fade away very slowly.
Are you prepared for that?