Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Reply: TEOTWAWKI vs Reality Based S&P

Blackeagle said...
"I figure if you can go about your normal routines on a daily basis and not realize nukes fell/zombies arose/the Rapture occurred/aliens invaded/bird flu killed everyone, then you've done your job."

While I'm sure your tongue was firmly in cheek when you wrote this, I think it illustrates what I'm talking about. A lot of folks seem to focus on apocalyptic scenarios to the exclusion of more likely possibilities. By definition, the apocalypse doesn’t happen very often. Natural disasters and economic crises happen all the time, and are happening around the world right this very moment.

This focus on TEOTWAWKI scenarios tends to focus people on a particular type of solution: a fortified retreat out in the boonies somewhere. If you believe that cities will turn into burned out wrecks ruled over by gangs of murdering cannibal looters, there’s not much point in building up a six month food supply in the basement of your suburban home. In turn, this kind of all or nothing attitude seems to discourage a lot of people from making preparations right now and lead them towards ‘armchair survivalism’. They have detailed plans for the fortified retreat they’re going to build someday, but don’t have well balanced preparations in case a hurricane or an earthquake hits today.

For folks that do have a well stocked rural retreat, on the other hand, there seems to be a tendency to believe, “If I’m prepared for the apocalypse, I’m prepared for anything.” As FerFAL has pointed out in other posts, in a situation like the one in Argentina living out in the countryside can be more dangerous than living in the city. This is a big part of what really clicked with me when I read his older posts because it tallies very well with what I’ve read about the horrible things that have happened to people on isolated farms in South Africa and Zimbabwe (both recently and during the Bush War when it was Rhodesia). An economic collapse is not going to be a great time to be a small farmer.

This focus on TEOTWAWKI also tends to get people who are interested in preparedness painted as tin foil hat types. Gabe Suarez recently threatened to get rid of the Disaster Preparedness subforum of Warriortalk “because of all the doom-gloom, we're all going to die, negativism”. Doug Ritter has a big disclaimer on the Equipped to Survive Natural Disasters & Large-Scale Emergencies subforum prohibiting any discussion of “economics, politics, or sociology”. This sort of thing tends to create a big gulf in places to talk about preparedness online. There are places like the ones I’ve mentioned where talk doesn’t go much beyond a bug-out-bag or 72 hour kit, and there are places to discuss building a fortified retreat to survive the apocalypse, but there’s a dearth of places to discuss something in between. The bug out bag places discourage discussing longer term planning to keep the TEOTWAWKI folks away and the TEOTWAWKI folks tend to be rather dismissive of anyone who isn’t interested in preparing for the apocalypse. That’s a bit part of why I was so excited to read FerFAL’s stuff. It really seems to fit right in that middle ground I was looking for.

March 10, 2009 10:24 AM

Thanks Blackeagle for the well articulated response.
I’m posting it here too because I feel the same way, even thought sometimes I can’t put it into words as well as you did.
Preparing for TEOTWAWKI , scenarios where civilization as we know it no longer exists, is very different from preparing for what happens all the time and will continue happening through history.
Some think that by preparing for the worst possible scenario you cover everything. Not so.
What’s the point of investing in real estate or valuing the proximity for good schools and hospitals if you think that it will all soon cease to exist?
Why prepare financially? Why expect to keep on needing to pay taxes, medical and insurance, and worry about having money to do so?
The two situations have a few things in common but big essential differences.
I don’t dare say what will happen or not. If I had that power I’d be buying lots of lottery tickets.
But I do prefer to plan for something that, event though bad, is well within the odds of possibility and has already happened before.



MeadowLark said...

I'm going to say something good about myself. (sorry)

A so-called "survival" site had my blog in their blog list. I appreciated it, but I emailed and ask if perhaps they'd made a mistake because I'm not a "survival" blog.

The owner replied (paraphrased) with That's exactly the point. People who normally visit {me} your blog are not the type who would visit a survival blog... but they might be the ones who need to hear the occasional "wake up" story.

That made me feel really good.

Ferfal... your site is one of those I can forward on because people don't see it as a "tinfoil hat" place. Because you're "outside the US", they can read and learn while rationalizing "well, it's not happening here. but good info anyway" and sometimes that's the amount of distance they need to feel safe.

Peace to you

Anonymous said...

For anyone who's wondering TEOTWAWKI stands for "The End of the World As We Know It". It took me a few minutes to figure that out, so I thought maybe some other people were wondering the same thing.

A Mean Green Bean said...

Excellent summary. Possibility is often mistaken for probability on many of the forums I visit. It's the highly probably scenarios as mentioned that we should prepare for.

Anonymous said...

An excerpt from an excellent post:

"If you believe that cities will turn into burned out wrecks ruled over by gangs of murdering cannibal looters, there’s not much point in building up a six month food supply in the basement of your suburban home. In turn, this kind of all or nothing attitude seems to discourage a lot of people from making preparations right now and lead them towards ‘armchair survivalism’."

Although I've spoke about a potential worst case scenario, the reason I find FerFal's blog one of my favorite's is the middle of the road, realistic or sensible approach that is very instructive and constructive. For the reasons stated by the poster, I will no longer speak about a worst case situation. The likelihood of a worst case scenario is very small, but I disagree that it would necessarily be the 'end of the world'. I do agree the topic has serious negatives as mentioned. Most do find the prospect overwhelming emotionally and therefore fail to do anything. An economic collapse in the U.S. of various degrees can be the 'creative destruction' and the rebirth of the nation for the better.

Identifying the problem is half the solution. The course is set. The most important thing is what we do with the opportunity, the 'how' we deal with or handle the journey that can determine the outcome as an individual or nation. Our discussion isn't for not. It has left the internet and is being seriously discussed in the mainstream media and in all corners and walks of life. From there can come unexpected solutions and the avoidance of what might have a 'worser' situation otherwise.

Anon Y mous

Anonymous said...

My wife was all worried with my prepping and fixation on the news and my occasional comments about TEOTWAWKI. So I had to reasure her that no I didn't think it was going to be the end of the world, just the end of the world as we know it in the U.S. Once I told her I thought we would end up like France, she understood the need for prepping. France: shitty cars, high taxes, summer riots, everyone on strike, massive illegal immigration, while still being egotistical boneheads who still have nukes and still think they are a world power. That's where the U.S. is headed - we're going to be like France (without the good food).


Don Williams said...

1) I don't think a total dismissal of rural retreats is valid. Mel Tappan , who kinda kickstarted the modern day survivalist movement in the 1970s, always argued strongly against the "cabin in the woods" approach. He --and most other survivalists since -- have argued instead that living in a small town (5000+ people ) a long distance from major cities is safer in the more extreme cases.(Avian flu pandemic, nuclear war,etc.)

Such a fortified town could fight off most bandit groups and would have the various specialists (doctors, etc) and resources that are beyond the ability of a single family to acquire.

2) I think be able to relocate to such a bolt hole is worth having as an option -- but it would be taking a vow of poverty to live there for years in normal circumstances. You can accumulate far more capital /resources for any emergency by living in a city in normal times.

3) Even in ancient times, wealthy families in Rome fled to the hills about 20 miles outside Rome for temporary safety when civil war broke out within the city. But they didn't stay there.

4) So I think one needs to pursue a normal life/career but have a range of subplans to deal with various contingencies. I think there will be ample warning to react to the more extreme cases if they ever occur and that it is not worthwhile devoting excessive resources/time to the less likely extreme events.

Blackeagle said...

Thanks FerFAL!

DocOutlands said...

Tongue in cheek? Yes and no. Drawbacks to my approach? Yup, just like every approach. Am *I* there yet? HAHAHA!!! No, but I'm working on it.

We're rural, but not isolated. Rhodesia was part of the planning process, actually. In fact, the much maligned "Mad Max syndrome" shows rather graphically why you DON'T want to have a remote single-family dwelling.

Those of us who are planning - which is NOT everyone in our settlement - figure that if we change our lifestyle to one that doesn't *need* trips to town, etc, then our financial prep-routine changes as well.

I don't belittle anyone's prep efforts, no matter how small. I personally think my family needs more than a 72-hr bag and plan accordingly. If a 72-hr bag is all one family has, then it's a lot better than nothing. And yeah, it will *probably* get them through a lot of the more probable disasters.

We were blessed with the opportunity to NOT live in hurricane country where evacuation is necessary. Sure, we lost power with Gustav and Ivan. However, our place was the place evacuees CAME rather than the place they LEFT. We weren't exactly inconvenienced - we were prepared for it.

I'm probably starting to ramble - the kids are up and I'm trying to split time between overseeing school and articulating my thoughts in response.

Basically, my thoughts and planning approaches have boiled down to this: If we can provide our own, then what happens in town doesn't matter. This applies to medical coverage, electricity, water, food, security, and so on. We aren't there, but we *are* working towards it and are a LOT farther along than most.

Anonymous said...

Those survivalists (J.W. Rawles et al) who believe that the cities will burn and law and order/civilized behavior will evaporate, need to take a look at examples where that has _actually happened_.

Their thinking seems to be basically that "the cities will be rioting and looting deathtraps therefore I need to be in a rural retreat or small town etc". But being in a tiny village or a self-sufficient farm didn't help at all in say, Sierra Leone or Liberia. If anything, it makes it easier for the bad guys to get ya.

As FerFal has pointed out, out in the boonies, the bad guys can take their time.