SHTF Socialism: The Prepper’s Dilemma

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Last Updated on December 8, 2020

Have you ever shared something with another person and eventually regret opening your mouth in the first place? This has happened to me a ton of times in the past usually because I just say what’s on my mind. Quickly. I will blurt out my thoughts and feelings on just about any topic from time to time without putting my words through the old tactfulness speech wisdom machine first. Sometimes I can recover, but other times I have to try to make a joke out of what I said, apologize pretty quickly or in extreme cases, make a circuitous rationalization about why the offensive thing I just said wasn’t offensive at all and the offended person is being silly.

My wife is often the recipient of my lack of thinking before I speak because I talk to her more than anyone else. With her, it is more likely that I will say something that could very easily be construed in a way that was not my intention. I remember one time she was getting ready because we were going out to dinner at a nice restaurant. I passed by the bathroom door and she turned to look at me when I said, “You’re eyes look so good with makeup”. Her mouth fell open immediately and I knew that I had just stuck my foot in it again. It took a lot of convincing and apologizing to get her to believe that I didn’t mean she was ugly without eye makeup but I eventually recovered from that little disaster.

She has never let me live that down though.

As preppers we have a unique challenge when we are communicating with other people about the topic of prepping. Part of our mission as I see it, should be to convince as many people as possible that they should be prepared as completely as they deem prudent while at the same time, not letting anyone know we are preppers ourselves or to a great detail, what we have done to prepare ourselves. We don’t want anyone knowing what we have in case they decide that they need to take it from us.

Walking that thin line is full of risks and we talk about concepts like being the Grey neighbor, practicing OPSEC and generally keeping a low profile when it comes to our preps, but sooner or later unless you live in a cave you will end up dealing with other people. Hopefully, this is on the good side of disaster and not when all hell has broken loose, people are dying or desperate and you find yourself making life or death decisions that you will have to live with.

I don’t believe our chances for survival are very high if we do not form a larger group eventually. At some point you will have to lay your cards on the table if you are ever going to grow your group outside of your immediate family. That will involve a lot of wisdom, trust and relationship building that for some, takes years to accomplish only to dissolve in flames over a single dispute.

Win friends and influence people

Bobcat sent me the following email the other day with a scenario that prompted this post. I enjoy receiving questions like this and most of them usually end up motivating me to write on a subject if I haven’t covered it many times before. I have included his entire email for context.

I have a worrying dilemma.  I was at a neighborhood potluck supper last week that I promoted to meet the new neighbors, encourage cooperation, etc. prior to any predicted problems this fall (isn’t it odd how disparate authors are agreeing on this?)

One of our new neighbors came up to me and said, “Zombies?” Did this guy know me or what?  I didn’t think I had “Prepper” stamped on my forehead.  He then went on to discuss the problems of living in our neighborhood if there were a zombie apocalypse.  I played along for a minute, but he had a serious point that he was concerned about a disaster happening “sometime”, and perhaps we should form a group to promote preparation and cooperation.  So far so good.

After talking for a few more minutes about our common interest, I got the feeling that he was someone who couldn’t keep his mouth shut if needed, and believed everyone should share resources to get along.  I’m all for that if I have some to spare, but done anonymously through trusted third parties like the church.  Otherwise, I envision a constant stream of beggars at our door, or an organized gang coming to clean us out!

So what do I do – cut off contact and hope he forgets about it, or encourage him to build a stockpile of food and supplies, so that he is equally prepared, and maybe realizes the importance of OpSec over pre-disaster organization?

First, the good news

One of the things I have noticed over the last 10 years is that as a society, there is an increased awareness and I think acceptance of the idea of prepping as a common sense action. Why is that so? I think that TV shows like Doomsday Preppers certainly had a part. Hollywood has helped expose millions to the survivalist mindset with some great prepper movies even though both Hollywood and NatGeo paint their own fair share of situations that cast Preppers in a bad light at best. Some describe preppers as downright deviants and in fact, some are.

Get to know your neighbors now before any crisis.
Get to know your neighbors now before any crisis.

The media has helped get the concept out there about Prepping, but people everywhere are stopping to think for themselves. They view these preppers on TV and listen to what they say, their rationale behind prepping and begin to think that maybe these people and their bug out bags have are on to something. People in every nation; continue to see tragedy on the news, violence in the papers and oppression in their countries and sense that they should take whatever practical steps they are able to take now in order to protect their family.

I believe collectively, more and more people are paying attention to the world around them and the message of prepping is resonating inside their lives. Preppers can see the risks in life that so many of the sheeple ignore, although each person might have their own idea of what they are preparing for. People are taking steps to plan for bad days ahead because increasingly in their own minds it just makes sense to be prepared at some level. It feels like the right thing to do.

That is one good thing from this interaction Bobcat had with his neighbor is that at least one other person in his neighborhood is worried about the future and is maybe just now taking some steps towards building a community and addressing some of the problems they can foresee in his idea of what disaster would be. Even zombies are a perfectly good reason in my opinion to prep. When it comes down to it, I would imagine that many more of his neighbors feel the same way too, but might be hesitant to say anything about it.

Walking the tightrope of OPSEC

I don’t know if I have had too many detailed conversations with people about my preparations outside of extended family. Even when I do talk to people in my own family about prepping, I probably don’t share all of the details that I share with you on the Prepper Journal. They do all know about this blog (some even read it!) so it isn’t a great secret but probably changes how our conversations go to a certain extent.

What I have done is discussed situations that a prepper could be thinking about with many people almost as a way of gauging preparedness or an inclination to that subject without actually talking specifics. Maybe it is my personality and I don’t talk or open up as much as I should but so far it has kept me out of situations like this. What would you say to someone, maybe even someone you have known for a long time who proposes sharing every resource “to get along”?

There are a couple of ways I can think of to address Bobcat’s question above and I will give you my ideas but hope everyone would comment below with your own perspective.

Choice 1 – Cut off Contact with your neighbor

It would be easy at this point to ignore the neighbor and never speak to them again. This could gain you some temporary peace, but depending on what you shared about your own preps, it could make you a target if the neighbor turns out one day looking for shared resources. You might avoid a confrontation now and possibly later if he never graces the front of your door again. Of course, you don’t know what they could say to anyone else. If this neighbor never does anything to prepare, the grid goes down and authorities come around looking for people who have “seen something” to “say something” you could get ratted out.

Choice 2 – Get closer

Another choice is to continue to speak to the neighbor about prepping but not specifically show your cards. You may be able to talk him out of his initial belief that everyone should share resources. I think people who think this SHTF socialism is such a great idea doesn’t have anything to share themselves. To them, the idea of taking from others if they need it or for “the greater good” is appealing. If you work with this neighbor and get him to build his own stocks, he might be less inclined to advocate everyone sharing if something does happen.

Choice 3 – Grow the group larger now

You can take your initial idea of getting your neighbors together and expand it. It may work out that by getting a larger group prepared, you will do one of two things.

  1. You will have a larger group of like-minded prepared people who don’t want to allow this neighbors form of Socialism in a disaster. You’ll have backup so to speak.
  2. The rest of your neighbors will hopefully get prepared in the process so nobody will need to share anything in the first place. At the very least, they will all be coming from a standpoint of shared wealth, not shared poverty of resources.

Really, this email highlighted so many things that I could have written on and I don’t even know if I answered Bobcat’s question but I appreciate the opportunity. It could easily have been about how you can share your resources, teamwork, leadership or how to grow a survival group but this is where the subject led me.

Now it’s your turn.

What would you do if this was your neighbor? What do you think about SHTF Socialism?

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Freedom-loving American doing what I can to help prepare and inform others. Editor and creator of The Prepper Journal 2013-2017, 2020 -

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Pat, You’ve made some very good points in your post. My first response would be that, since I despise socialism in all forms, that automatically extends to situations where people believe they have an entitlement to the redistribution of another person’s goods. I’m not prepping for 330 million fellow citizens; I’m doing it for my family. Regarding the growth or development of a SHTF group, I’ve really labored at determining what an “ideal” size should be, and I’m still not sure of the answer. Very large groups present the risk of becoming unwieldy and may never achieve cohesiveness. If the… Read more »

Pat Henry

Thanks Bolo, Regarding the size of the group I agree that at some point you get too big. When does a group become a town? A town a city? I would think like you that there is some happy medium but the number of people will probably depend on the territory you have to defend and the availability of resources around you don’t you think? A 12 member group might be fine if they are in the middle of the wilderness with nobody around competing for food and resources or trying to steal from you. That same group in even… Read more »


Well yes, it is certainly a situational issue. Twelve adults (plus an indeterminate number of kids) that are bunkered in an apartment are probably going to drive each other nuts, not to mention sanitation issues when the grid is down and you can’t flush the toilet. If that didn’t prompt me to bug out, I don’t know what else would. I guess my comments are directed more toward the minimum number of people it would take for care-giving, a whole raft of security issues, and foraging. The collective demands for meeting those needs are pretty significant, regardless whether you are… Read more »

Kula Farmer

I have had to really work and scrimp at times to build up a decent stash of supplies, and by most “preppers” standards im pretty sure my stash is nothing to them. But to me it represents the base of my plan for the what if it really happens moment and the following months or years. The idea of being subject to someone else and their plan to take care of people who were drinking beer and watching football and bought the new truck and boat and went on lavish vacations and dont have more than a weeks worth of… Read more »

Pat Henry

I agree a situation like that wouldn’t be nice Kula. People starving won’t simply say OK and walk away. You will have to remain hidden, beat them in a fight or offer superior strength that makes them not want to risk it. All end in some form of violence I think.

Kula Farmer

Sad, but even though these folks all know me, and i know some of them think im a total looser because i choose to just squeak by rather than be a farming selling machine making money hand over fist, plus ive been around a while and know what these transplants talk about, and they are all busy bodies on the neighborhood watch, i guarantee they will all of a sudden think hey that anti social farmer dude has food,,, Lets go get some, dont want violence but when they start demanding things from or of me my REPR is gonna… Read more »


Dear Bolofia, I get exactly where you are coming from. In my personal preference, I would like to have stocked food supplies for 30 adult individuals, for 3 years, before TEOTWAWKI. That being said, right now my survival grout is…3 adults, including myself and my wife. And sure, I am absolutely recruiting as the situation allows, and I believe that whether or not they are an active part of the group now or not, I will have several people show up that I will let in as part of the group under the same guidelines as the members now. I… Read more »


Wow indeed! Based on my calculations, that would be $350,000 worth of prepackaged dehydrated food, weighing in at 23 tons. I would also invest in a lot of ammo to protect it from the SHTF socialists that will expect their “fair” share.


Yeah it is a lot, though can cut down on the weight and bulk with ingredients. Like flour for instance. Around here at the Sams Club you can get $25 lb flour for $10. Not everything can be done this cheaply of course, but that is a staple which can save significant amounts of money.
And yes, there is definite plans for ammo as well. We have the space for both, even if we do need to build up some of it. (Food bunker for storage for instance)


When discussing prepping, I often refer to my job loss and subsequent several years of unemployment, as well as the natural disasters common to my area…I don’t get into the long term preparedness off the bat…that comes IF they show common sense…Ital ‘parrot’ the gooberment ideas of 3 days worth…and tell everyone not to come to my house…they don’t know exactly what I’ve got…I’d say, feel this guy out…don’t give out particulars, but get a sense of what he’s doing himself…if he’s all talk and no action, cut him out…


And want to add that I appreciate you as well, Pat…you don’t back down from adressing issues…

Pat Henry

Thank you so much Grammyprepper!


Thanks for this helpful post, Pat. Here’s a timely video that helped answer some questions I had about forming a prepper group: I transcribed a couple qualities prospective members needed, and my thoughts on each: Does the person: * Have the same goal? – survival of the family and group * seem like-minded? – wants to prepare for various disasters by learning skills and collecting food, water and other needed resources without outside attention or assistance. * Seem trust-worthy – Earned our trust by being reasonable and having good judgment. * Seem honorable – will follow the rules laid… Read more »

Ready Nurse

I agree with Grammyprepper. I have went so far as to “help” others get started by saying things like, “I read…….and think it might be a good idea. What do you think?” This kinda puts me at on maybe even below their level and if anything, gets them talking and reading. My job is not to take care of those who don’t help themselves. Every part of this country has some natural disaster that an individual can prepare for. Even in the south, the occasional hard freeze that takes electric lines and trees down is something to prepare for.

Uncle Mike

Why use the term socialism? It’s community. I tend to dislike socialism, but so much of what we do, roads, schools, libraries, postal service could be considered socialism,or it could be considered being part of a community.
The truth is we will need to include others in order to survive, we have highly developed social instincts, and would not do well in a bad situation with out banding together.


As per Webster; Com`mu´ni`ty. 1.Common possession or enjoyment; participation; as, a community of goods. The original community of all things. Sorry; if a “community” is “of all things” than that’s socialism. There is no room in prepping for Socialism. Carry your own weight or move on. If you bring nothing to the group, that your not part of the group. “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” ― Margaret Thatcher I agree we must “band together” BUT IMHO it’s not all for one, one for all, (socialism/community) If one has nothing to offer… Read more »


Hey Mike, great point! There is a difference between Socialism and Community though. For instance, in the discussion of say road maintenance, some are paying and some are doing work. That’s community, and the community as a whole agrees that this needs to get done. Socialism for road work would be more like one person deciding that this road needs doing, takes the resources in the name of “greater good” and forces some people to do it, regardless of whether or not they are the best people for the job. Now, don’t get me wrong, I long ago decided that… Read more »


I am a Redneck from Wyoming, so most people that are locals just assume that most long term residents are preppers to some degree. It is just a given when you live in the least populated state. Most of the residents don’t expect Uncle Sugar to come forth and ride to the rescue.


As a self-proclaimed Redneck, Gun-Toting, Ex-Hippie, Tax-Paying, Conservative, Crazy-Old-Fart from New Mexico I don’t expect Uncle Sugar to do SQUAT besides to try and take more of our freedoms away. Until the SHTF, than those POS’s will try to take everything else.


I try to NOT use the term “Prepper” so as not to telegraph anything we have or do. However, I do try to let folks know that having some “food and water ” on hand IS a good idea, “because you don’t want your wife and children in the FEMA SuperDome, while you are in line to “get help”, do you?” THAT, usually ends all talk of “I’m coming to YOUR house when the Schumer-hits-the-Fan”. At least I’ve found that to be the case….so far. In our “neighborhood”, we at least TRY to stick together, home security wise, just to… Read more »

Cliff Hunter

I have a few close neighbors and we have had “general discussions” about what if…I’m pretty fortunate, that while i live in a suburb of a decent size city we’re still away from the main hub. My neighbors consist of a retired SF Team Sgt, a retired AF cop, a retired nurse, a local firefighter/paramedic, a general contractor/carpenter and county deputy sheriff, and their families. I’m a local cop, so we kind of have the same mindset, but all of us are still pretty closemouthed about what we each have, and I think that’s good. Can we come together in… Read more »


I’m a guy in Middle Oklahoma who has the fortune of a wife who, while not sharing all my beliefs in regards to prepping, is willing to go along with most of the things I would like to get done in prepping. Most of my neighbors are people that I haven’t met (just moved out to a 10 acre property) but I have had a few good interactions with them. However, a lot of my wife’s friends, and mine through her, I have spoken to about being a prepper. I tell them some of the goals I have, but have… Read more »


John, I’d strongly consider revising your approach. Don’t talk about being a prepper. Talk about liking what those crazy preppers think about putting together a stash of food. Toss it out as a question to those you are interested in linking with, like, “What do you think about that prepper stuff? The last tornado/hurricane/earthquake got me nervous about being able to provide for my family if we’re out of power for a week or more. What do you think about it?” To the informed non-prepper, “I’m a prepper” = <<< he's got stuff. You don't need to reveal a darned… Read more »


I get that they may come to my place. For the ones that I have given any sort of detail, they are close friends who would be valuable additions. That being said, I have no cumpunction about killing someone who is trying to take from me and mine. Why? Because by taking my family’s stocked food, they are literally trying to kill us. I have absolutely no qualms with ending that threat with greater effective violence.


Time to play both sides of this game. Like the man said don’t show all your cards. Have your own stashes in place, that are never talked about outside your family, or yourself. Sometimes kids talk. But the possibilities of having a group is nice to. For security purposes, someone to talk to, a community garden. I would make it look like I’m doing as much as everyone else. So when that falls apart, its time to move on. No one needs to know that you where setting up even more stashes, for your family this whole time in another… Read more »


My obama sticker and rainbow decal say everything I want to share. Don’t be another gun-totin’ redneck with a USMC sticker, and NRA license plate holder. Grey is good, but I’m thinking arm bands from both sides makes more sense. Be the on shouting about “share and share alike.” Talk about coming together as a group. When “Bob” shouts your socialism down, shrug and move on. Catch up with him later, and quietly let him know you are on his side, and didn’t want to be the group a-hole who let sickly children starve. If you bring the initial socialism… Read more »


There is tremendous benefit to “urban camouflage”, let people think what they want to. We like to use specialty license plate frames from specific university book stores. So far, nobody gives the “urban gun wagons” a second look at all….

There can be only one.

Hi i live in ireland and found the article very interesting because i myself tried to start a prep group. What was interesting was the first person i spoke to was a neighbour who is switched on has a family and a good job so money for him is no problem.When i gently spoke about the concerns in the world at present he was well tuned but when i suggested prepping i nearly passed out…… He answered , why would i bother prepping sure every body knows your into all that outdoor stuff first place im heading if sthf is… Read more »

Pat Henry

It is a common worry among preppers. The old, “If anything happens, I’m coming to your house”. I have had that said to me too by my own friends who I am sure were only have joking. Even if that did in fact turn out to be the case, I know they aren’t thinking about how they would impact the supplies for my family and myself. I am starting to think that our gut reaction to lock the doors and keep everyone out might be short-sighted thinking in some types of disasters. Even if extra people eat more of your… Read more »


Heh. My initial thought was that neighbor X is the first guy on the hit list if the SHTF. Can’t have some idiot blabbing about how “BobW’s one of them preppers. He’s got such and such…” After a little reflection on the topic, I really think mis-direction is the right play. Don’t let someone else bring up the ‘community harvest’ from your pantry. Bring it up yourself, but do it in such a way that it makes your idea detestable to the average person. Suggest that everyone put all their food and guns in the community chest, and distribute it… Read more »


BobW, You raise a great point! In response to your comment: I haven’t had the time to look up a comparison between the caloric values of rice, grits, cream of wheat and oatmeal, so I can’t comment on which one(s) provide the best nutrition. From what I understand in a general sense, the oats and wheat are going to be better than grits, which is basically bleached corn. Even so, I like grits if they can be augmented with a healthy dose of butter! You might want to do some research on these four grains to ascertain nutritional value. Everyone… Read more »


I like rice, grits, especially cream of wheat. Sounds GOOD to me.

Pat Henry

That diversity is one reason I purchased some freeze dried meal options. I know I can keep people alive with rice and beans but the dehydrated fruits, breakfast cereals and juices are hopefully enough to keep down the mutiny.


I’m already considered a rectum by many in our “neighborhood” and church group. A lot of folks who CHOSE to not prepare have said, “we ARE coming to YOUR home when the SChumerHTF!”
My standard (and unapologetic answer, “Then you will die at the bottom of the hill with all the other Entitled “thinkers”.
And yes, I AM serious, I have zero problem letting(willingly unprepared) parents go hungry, we will make sure their children don’t starve, but their parents sure as heck can. (Don’t feel guilty about it either.)


I have health insurance, I have home owners insurance, I have car insurance – all of which I pay for out of my own pocket from my money I earned honorably. I pray I’ll never have to use any of these insurances but have them just in case. Now – I also have some items set aside (will not go into detail) just in case and I pray I never have to use them either. I bought those items also out of pocket with my own money. Unless someone wants to come along and volunteer to start helping to pay… Read more »


So I decided to approach my neighbor again, feel out his plans a little more. He asked if I thought anything disastrous would happen in the next 5 years, and I stated that while some prepper websites are saying something THIS FALL was going to happen, I really didn’t believe it. Still, better safe than sorry. He wants to form a Mutual Aid Group, which I am all for, and I suggested we only select folks to approach that a) we know from general contact in the neighborhood as being trustworthy/stable, and b) that we know have a hobby of… Read more »

Pat Henry

That sounds promising Bobcat! You’ll have to keep us updated with lessons learned and observations.



Socialism must have the productive people to survive. A democratic method of showing the people they are in control comes from the voting. The dependent seek to keep the security that redistribution brings. What the dependent never realize is that they are following the wishes by the very people who keep the dependency in place. Sounds like the hunger games. Our government keeps the division and the people stirred up so they can “provide the security” In reality it is a well orchestrated dance between riot and suppression that expands the control and power over our citizens.

Pat Henry

Excellent description Grampa!


few listen to this old fool !

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