Thursday, January 6, 2011

Survivalism theorizing and lack of Connection with Reality

Mr. Ferfal,
I love reading your blog. You speak reality when so many other 'survivalist' bloggers like to forcefeed Mad Max and The Road to anyone who sees hard times coming.
I am curious- I just read Mr. Rawles predict that the dollar will collapse within the next few years. I'm sure you can hop over there and read it for yourself if you like.
I read your writing about Argentina, and KNOW that we have some good things going for us here in the U.S. Chief among our good things is the national 2nd amendment, which supports gun ownership nationwide, and that there are many local jurisdicitions (such as Texas) where the right to self-defense is heartily endorsed.
That being said- with so many American preppers preaching doom and gloom for the nation, and you finally being able to emigrate to this country, can you illustrate some reality for what Americans are facing? I don't just mean increased crime, increased unemployment, increased hardship and cost and poverty... I get all that. How legitimate is the idea that the U.S. dollar could collapse within the next few years? And if it did, what would that actually look like?
Tin Man

It’s been years since I last read anything by Rawles. Give me a second while I go check again... No, still not interested. The posts are long, boring and worst of all, his survival recommendations are frankly of little or no use to me. Probably my fault, that S didn’t HTF the way he said it must. :-) I prefer practical (useful) and to the point information. Maybe worst of all, some of the information given is simply wrong, and that wasn’t as bad back when he started writing and everything was fine in the US, but now that people are getting a taste of what an economic crisis feels like, these mistakes will cost you. Too many people have quit their jobs and moved to the sticks, even worse, used up their savings and bought retreats, farms, and such, spent their hard earned money, only to realize that itty bitty detail rarely mentioned by him: Its much easier to live in a retreat when you already make a lot of money through your blog and books. You make serious amounts of money from home already? Knock yourself out man. Buy a farm in Mongolia if that floats your boat. But when a person quits his job, moves to the sticks, and buys a retreat only to find out that its much more expensive and far less productive than he/she was initially led to believe, that’s a different story. There’s a reason why cities are overpopulated in the 3rd world, why they were overpopulated 5000 years ago too. Not because they look (or smell) nice, but because all things considered, that’s where the jobs are, and Americans need jobs more than ever these days, specially since the future isn’t looking very good.

Lets just hope things don’t get even worse. If violence strikes the American population like it does in some 3rd world countries or places like South Africa, the fantasy of defending your “retreat” with your family and a couple buddies will crash against an immovable object called reality.
Today I had some errands to run. Came across a couple roadblocks, found a group of people, maybe 100 or so protesting, another bunch living in tens just a couple blocks away from Obelisco. As I walked around the capital district, the foul smell and people living, sleeping on the streets surprised me,  there’s more and more of them. That’s what happens after an economic collapse. I see it here but it’s the same old story when you look at the experience in other countries.

Here’s a few photos I took today with my cell phone:
Tents in 9 de Julio Avenue. These folks job? They make a living out of protesting and supporting the officalist politial party.

Protesters blocking 9 de Julio in the Heart of Buenos Aires. They wont free the road until a rise in handouts is arranged.

Anti Riot tank of the federal police, common sight in the Captial District.

After that, I came back home and spent a few hours checking some of the survival forums and youtube channels. There’s more and more talk about doing this or that, in preparation for the coming “economic collapse”. Its good that people are getting interested, but apparently every possible thing people can come up with will be invaluable after such event takes place. Yet I scratch my head while I think “What the heck..?” Where do people come up with all this? Some people talk with absolute certainty and not a hint of a doubt about subjects they clearly know little of, or in some cases nothing at all. While some are clearly in it for the Benjamins (in that case I don’t care), I really don’t want to be mean with others because I believe their intentions are good. It’s a bit naïve though to think that your orchard will produce more than fresh food for the family. No, you wont be bankrupting Walmart with your fresh tomatoes. While crime will be a problem, nope, raiders wont be camping on the outskirts of town, just waiting for you. Its much more efficient to steal and rob when honest, hard working people are busy earning a living, and heck no, they wont fight fair. Hostages are plentiful, just take a look at your kids.
About your question, think of it this way.
If you keep saying that this or that will collapse, sooner or later you’ll “get lucky” I guess, but I don’t take that type of prophetic claims seriously. Rawls changed his novel’s title several times to fit the in vogue scare, each time adjusting the first couple pages to fit the current year. The world was supposed to end 20 years ago.  First it was Gray Ninties, then the world ended in the year 2000 (computers where supposed to take over the world, remember?) then it was 9/11, and now again the economy. For 2012 it will probably be the Mayan calendar or something. 

Will the dollar collapse? No idea man. It sure is weak and it could, but that doesn’t mean it will any time soon. Do you think the world ends if the dollar collapses? No it wont. There will just be a lot more poor Americans, that’s all. In the long run if it doesn’t get back on its feet, t may be replaced from its leading role by another superpower but the world will not end a la Mad Max. America as you knew it will no longer exist though, and people would remember for generations its past glory. Again, these things have happened before, empires fall.

I understand your question and comprehend what you are going through. Man, I understand that more than you can imagine. We LIVE with that uncertainty every day here. That’s one of the things that kills people in Argentina. Let me give you just a couple examples. There’s little or no cash left in most ATMs in Buenos Aires. Same thing with gasoline. There’s just not enough gas and lines (if you find a station with gas) go for blocks. Will this situation be solved in 72hs as they promise? How bad will it be afterwards? We just don’t know, and not knowing is what drives you nuts. What will our economy look next month? In a serious country you can make a reasonably safe forecast, but not in Argentina. We lost that after 2001. We just don’t know what the president will do, what capitalists and investors will do, and the consequences it will have in the country’s economy. We live day by day and its about impossible to make long term plans. The average Joe in Argentina goes to work every day not knowing if road blockers, buses or train strikes will let him get back home that night. You are experiencing a bit of that right now, like sour aftertaste in your mouth. The dollar will collapse in the newt few years. What a daring statement, such precision. Kind of loses its awesomeness if you repeat that two decades in a row. 

In my opinion, I think that this year we’ll see the dollar losing more of its value, not collapsing or bluntly devaluating. If they follow the Argentine example which so many economists seem to believe it’s the best option (sons of B&!%*! Should try living here for a while as middle class instead of experiencing Argentina from their Hyatt hotel suits) what you’ll see is more inflation. Little by little inflation will undermine the American middle class and the dollar not officially collapsing. That game can be played for decades, but hopefully with a new administration the destruction of the American middle class will be stopped before its too late. Lucky for you, the American middle class is still strong. And it goes back to what this blog is about: The process already started, some people will be ready for it, some don’t even know its happening. The water level is rising and you must keep yourself at the top (or middle) of the social pyramid on all fronts. Security, economic wise, the things I talk about here. Some folks will be caught with their pants down by crime, others wont. Some will end up losing their homes, becoming poor, but others will manage to keep their standards of living, adjusting their budget where it can be worked on without significant consequences, creating additional income. Others will detect the new market niches and make money thanks to the crisis.

Trying to answer your question as best as I can, the concern of the dollar collapsing is legitimate given the current situation, but I don’t think it will collapse, at least not in any obvious way. As I said before, somewhat similar and less dramatic results can be achieved with a… lets call it “crappier” dollar.
And if it did, what would that actually look like?”
It will look like something you’re not used to experiencing. You mentioned unemployment, poverty and you said that you get all that, but that’s what I’ve been blogging about over two years almost on daily basis. Its such a complex matter I could keep writing daily aobut it for another two years and still have things to tell.

If the dollar collapses you are looking at the world ending as you know it like we did here. Forget the everything you know about everything. The American lifestyle as you know it will end. You guys have an entire country that is built around the assumption that transportation will always be dirt cheap. You barely use public transportation. What will happen? Well, if you can make a living and can’t afford gas or a vehicle, there will be mass exodus into the cities, not the other way around like survival gurus claim.
Cities will of course suffer high crime rates but people wont have much of an option. That’s where the little job to be found is. People will lose their farms like it already happened throughout history in different countries (including USA) and thousands of small towns will be killed by the deep recession that follows the collapse of the dollar combined with folks moving over to bigger cities desperately looking for work.
As the cities and suburbs become dangerous, overpopulated places where the mass of the country, mostly poor live, heavily guarded communities will be built in the outskirts, close enough to commute. Some of the nicer suburbs may be walled and turned into such a place if they are close enough. As the country in general deteriorates, it will be reflected in health and education as well. The O-Public health will be a joke, and only those that can afford expensive private health care (it will become a luxury)  will be covered for real. Of course his will be denied until the end of times like it always happens.
Many of the megastores I saw in Texas, there’s no way those could stay open if the dollar collapses. Some of the malls I saw in Fort Worth were already pretty deserted, wouldn’t want to see what happens to them if the dollar goes down. Lots of these stores that are having a hard time now will inevitably go bankrupt. You’ll be seeing lots of large, empty buildings, ruins of a glorious past.
Basically that’s what it would look like, a 3rd world version of USA. Lots of similarities with what happens here or other countries and of course some differences which you’ll have to analyze to see the provable outcome.

     Hope that answers your question, take care!



Pete said...

Ferfal, some of your articles, like this one, you can really tell when you pour your heart out and I cannot thank you enough. I live in a very rural area and hate the thought of moving to a crime infested city in order to survive; but, would you recommend to some of your readers that live in the more rural areas to do some preperations by looking into moving into larger cities? Maybe start small like buying rental property in larger cities?

Anonymous said...

Alot of people think we are doomed, but there are still great ways to make money. Even while the economy is collapsing around us.

I subscribe to the guy from australia and his FFT economic newsletter at that guy has called many big events before they have happend, including the stock market crash in 2008 and the current financial collapse of the US. (currently happening) I found him from a friend last year, and he has some important work.

His oil calls are insane, and I have been making good money with them. He is well worth a look, if you want to keep two steps ahead of the sheeple out there.

I am worried about my financial future. Is anyone else nervous out there?

Anonymous said...

These are the post that I cherish.
You're there, and you can relate it to the road coming for many countries.
Please keep on speaking your mind as loudly as you can.

Adventures in Self Reliance said...

I don't know that I'm ready for a collapse. I do know I have prepared as well as I could because of you ferfal. I ate for 2 months because of a medical bill and it was fairly easy cause I didn't need to shop. Survival or preparedness doesn't have to be the "apocalypse" it can be a medical bill, a dead car or appliance. Or it can be a tornado, flood or simple idiocy. (NY City snow/trash removal). The same basic rules apply.

The Survivalist Blog said...

I have to agree an economic collapse does not mean a collapse of government, I talked about that here, but some people want the Mad Max event (or think they do) and no matter what you or I say they will not be swayed from this belief.

As for JWR, well what can I say, he is a business man pure and simple. It's all about the money and finding a way to make more of it.

On another note and one you should keep in mind is that there are other types of disaster besides economic collapse. Some would be much worse.

David III said...

Ferfal, I read you daily, and I greatly appreciate your sharing with us.... I do disagree with parts of this post. The U.S. is not like Argentina, we (enough of us)are willing to "Rebel" in a violent fashion and attempt to make a return to the concept of freedom. We have done it several times in the past and we may again. I do agree that whatever happens it will not be anything like what Rawles envisions... I think it will be unlike anything any of us can imagine.

David said...

"When everyone is on one side of the boat, it usually capsizes with them underneath."

"Everyone" these days is convinced of a looming dollar collapse. This is so consensus a view that its opposite gets hoots of derision.

The world is awash in dollar DEBT. What do debtors need more than anything. The money in which the debt is denominated.

The dollar is unlikely to collapse until after most of the dollar-denominated debt has disappeared. Those with few dollars and lots of guns, gold, land, and peanut butter are apt to find their preparation a mite unbalanced. Just my humble opinion...

NWpodcast said...

hi Ferfal,

excellent post - these are the posts that keep me coming back. Realistic perspective on what can happen. Too many of the 'survivalist' blogs focus on TEOTWAWKI, when history (and Argentina) show it is more the "fall" of a society is more a death of a 1000 cuts. Yes, our world will change, but no, it won't become the world of "Thunderdome" overnight. Slowly loosing my middle-class lifestyle will be much more difficult than waking up one morning to fight off waves of hungry bandits at my front door. How do i keep my kids educated, fed, and preparing for a new world i don't understand? Well, i'm working on it and i do have HOPE. We will be fed, they will get an education, and they will be able to do welding, carpentry, plumbing, and electrical work. They may go to college to become an engineer or accountant, but they'll be able to feed themselves in the absense of middle class work.

Sorry to go on so long. Keep it up - your perspective of what you are SEEING happen is 100x more valuable to me in my prep than the postings of a "bunkerite."

FerFAL said...

David III, I think that we all like to think we're special and unique, and that things happen to others but never to us.
USA is not the only country that won its independance. We defeated Spain, the won when the British invaded Bs As, yet here we are again, being ruled by authoritariasn that are part liberal, part socialists, part comunisits but 100% capitalists when it comes to thier own pocket. Hard to figure that out, but in a nutshell you could say they are lying thieves.
In my opinion, I think Americans can take MUCh more before pushed to a point were a significant number will push back.
When that time comes, being an armed society, Americans will have an edge most other populations dont. Dont expect that to happen any time soon, there's a slow, tortuous way to go before reaching that point, and you have to figure how to make it through that.


Anonymous said...

I already live in a city, so maybe I should plan on staying here, since the tent cities are likely to explode, and we will have even more people than before living in tents in the streets. I once came upon about three dozen tents lining the road outside of a soup kitchen, and I wish I would have had my camera because the first thing I thought of was Argentina. By the way, we already have walled suburbs in many places here, right now it's more for looks than anything but it will soon get serious.

I was recently struck by the idea that people who can't afford healthcare are going to witch doctors, several dozen people gathered in Oregon not that long ago to be "healed" by being looked at by some guy who claims to be a shaman, and immediately I thought of people not having access to health care, and being told that they can't get care because they can't afford it, and going to shamans and other alternative healers as a last ditch move. Hey, paying $60 to benefit from some dude's "healing gaze" is a lot cheaper than paying thousands for medicines.

It is really bad here, and it will get worse. I don't know what the point is where Americans revolt with guns, but I pray it will happen before it's too late to turn things around. The Republicans are already backing off some of the budget cuts they said they'd make. In California, the new governor is planning on dumping unfunded mandates by the truckload on local govt's to save the state govt. At this point, it's a game of musical chairs, and nobody wants to be the guy left standing. I worry about our troops overseas, will they be abandoned if money gets tight?

Anonymous said...

Ferfal, in reference to your comment on a comment: "I think that we all like to think we're special and unique, and that things happen to others but never to us.
USA is not the only country that won its independence. We defeated Spain, the won when the British invaded Bs As, yet here we are again, being ruled by authoritarians that are part liberal, part socialists, part Communists but 100% capitalists when it comes to their own pocket. Hard to figure that out, but in a nutshell you could say they are lying thieves.
In my opinion, I think Americans can take much more before pushed to a point were a significant number will push back."

Perhaps, I do know that our government is already starting to call anybody who resist the agenda, a "right wing extremist" AKA nut job. I know the nut jobs are out there and lumping every dissenting voice into that group is mere propaganda. They appear to be like thieves who caught in a crime in progress are sorry for the necessary inconvenience.

By the way I've been following your blog from near it's beginning, have read your book and hold more with the experienced view than theory. I want to say something about societal differences. When Sri Lanka experienced the tidal wave a number of years ago the people responded a bit differently and better than New Orleans did with hurricane Katrina. Both situations were handled poorly, but the main difference was the heart of the people. In the same way the US is so large geographically that disasters such as earthquake, flooding, wildfires, etc. in places like Montana, Wyoming, Tennessee, etc are handled far better than simply running out of cheese at the typical Southern California Food Bank.

For me the appeal is details, like house security, traveling to and from the store (stop sign etiquette) and so on. It's better to learn from your experience than the hard way. I also enjoy your candor that most people in Argentina are as much like mindless sheep as they are here. This helps relate your experience to what may be our own.

Thank You, Fred.

Anonymous said...

> How legitimate is the idea that
> the U.S. dollar could collapse
> within the next few years?

The U.S. dollar is definitely going to collapse if Mr. Rawles and others like him say it's going to collapse.

DaShui said...

I think "collapsed" is a better adjective.
If you are depending on the stock market, pensions, social security, corporate, lifetime employment, the police, the educational system, the government to be there for you, you are out of luck.

russell1200 said...

The problem is that we just don't know what will happen.

You have some potential complete near or actual existential collapse scenarios: which would include: nuclear war, global warming, economic collapse.

You have some slow strangle scenarios: which would include: nuclear war, global warming, economic collapse.

And you have small. limited area or limited effect scenarios: which would include: nuclear war, global warming, economic collapse.

The effects of nuclear war depends on who, and how many. The effects of global warming include what negative or positive feedback loops kick in. The economic collapse comes down to why (dollar collapse, peak oil/resources, etc.)

Too many permutations.

However, in general, historically people have not done well by camping out in very small groups in the wilderness. With the advent of firearms it is even (demonstratively) less of a successful strategy. Its roots come from the (possibly hopeless) effort to survive nuclear war, and the even greater reality that most survivalists are not the type of people who would by nature be able too want to convince others to occupy a retreat with them.

The bugout bag is a classic example. It comes from the need to get out of dodge in hope that you will beat the bombs/fallout. It used to extend to special bug out vehicles with extended range fuel tanks to get people to their safe havens (the JWR's statements about being 600 miles- or whatever away from a major metropolis). However, if you take the recent riots in Chili after the earthquake, the likely effect of bugging out probably just got whatever was left of your valuables that were left behind stolen.

It is not that there are no scenarios where getting out of dodge and hiding in the hinterlands wouldn't be a good idea. It's just that there are a lot of scenarios where it is a really bad idea as well.

Preparation and a little self sustainability are not a bad idea at all. But a little bit of flexibility in approach might be wise.

Maldek said...

Hi FerFal,

this is the best posting you made this year! Great work!

The reader can realy grasp the statements are backed up 100% by your heart - a big difference to the blablabla of overweight-armchair-wannabe-rambos.

A few add-ons to your great post if I may comment:

"that your orchard will produce more than fresh food for the family"
IF we are talking about a TEOTWAWKI
scenario where 3 out of 4 people will die - then thats all you will need.
In every other (more likely) outcome you will be very poor, very quick. Farming is HARD, honest work, but when it comes to money it is the sux.

"cities"..."that’s where the jobs are"
So true. Basicly in 3rd world countries you have a small group of "Elite" and a large group of "poor/paid slaves".

If you need your monthly payment check you belong to the large group.
Now in a crisis live is going to get harder for the large group and you will have to work more for less. If you dont like that - there are 100 people outside who want your job, because their children didnt eat for 3 days.

If you (like me) spent the first 30+ years of your life in a rich first world society where the "poor" are those who can not afford a 2nd car; then my friend you will have to adjust to reality.

Let me be very clear on this subject.
Poor in the meaning of a 2nd or 3rd world country is a person who can not afford a roof over his head, protecting him from rain or rats and snakes.
Poor is a person who knows the true meaning of the word "hunger".

If you didnt make a fortune and some preperations in the "good" times (the last 40 years) - chances are, when the hammer falls, one of the poor...that will be YOU!

Anonymous said...

hi ferfal,

thanks for this excellent post ;)

i have one question :
what is the repartition of the population in argentina's towns, before and after 2001:
the poors living in downtown and the riches in the suburbs like in usa;or riches in downtown/poors in the suburbs; or something else??

Vincent Cate said...

I think the dollar will collapse. You can see my reasoning at:

In a nutshell it is not fair to the rest of the world that the US can print dollars and get oil or anything from China. This unfair system must end.

Hyperinflation in the world reserve currency will be much worse than hyperinflation in a single country currency. When things are bad in Argentina you can hold US dollars. But when US dollars go what does the world do? The markets for oil, sugar, rice, etc are all messed up.

cryingfreeman said...

The PTB use the threat of civil unrest, "Mad Max", etc., to scare and yes, they might even let it happen to a degree, but only enough to serve their own goals. IMHO, it will always be reined in but at the price of more lost liberties, worse austerity measures, or some other unpleasant social change that is still somehow more bearable than total meltdown. And I'm speaking from my own experience of government manipulation in Northern Ireland during 25 years of the Troubles.

Alvin said...

Thanks for your wisdom on this issue. I still read Rawles often because sometimes I find something useful. But I keep asking "what if you are wrong?" I've made plenty of mistakes in my life and learned a few things. One of the most important is to always ask myself "what if you are wrong?" Folks who cash out their IRAs and put it all into gold and silver, or sell everything and move to the wilderness may be doing the right thing. But if they are wrong they are making a colossal error that will seriously hurt their futures. It's possible to make prudent preparations without betting everything on an arachic collapse.

J. Croft said...


And a comment: I find that a lot of people who are survivalists are really rooting for a fantasy version of some apocalypse. Of course they conveniently forget that they too will be experiencing such an event and they'll either run out of food and starve, get found by the starving and the starving with guns, or maybe they wise up and build connections and networks. Figure out a way to survive not just the megadisasters but the disaster of bankster created economic jihad against their enemies-us.

Take care in Argentina

tjbbpgobIII said...

Ferfal, I read your blog every day and it is an eye opening read. I also purchased your book and found it to be full of good information from one who was there. Most of the other books I have read mostly seem to be hyping their own way and with a bunch of stuff to sell, which is ok, people have to eat, but I didn't really get any usuable info out of them, just things like the list which seem to be adaptabal to any circumstance. Does this make sense?

Jonas Parker said...

Great article, my friend... I'm sharing it with a lot of folks!

Jonas Parker said...

Excellent article, my friend... I'm sharing it with many... Thanks much!

DonB said...

I can't quibble much except to say that deflation is the killer for (established) farmers. I don't think a collapse of the dollar is likely to be devastating for them.

The 80s recession caused a farm crisis. The depression caused a farm crisis. Both of these were deflationary situations.

J Stuart said...

Ferfal, I read you book recently and also enjoy your regular posts. Your way with the English language is very alive compared to many of the others writing on this subject. You've mastered this among other things. Thanks.

Good luck getting to the U.S.A.

J. Stuart - Baltimore/Washington D.C.

Bill in NC said...

There are a limited number of scenarios where it would make sense to be well outside the cities.

Any type of deadly pandemic, for instance.

Forget bugging out, though - if you're not already there, at best you'll be taken off the road and shunted into a refugee camp.

Anonymous said...

I wish I had more time, but it might suffice to say that I greatly appreciate the perspectives of both FerFal and James Wesley, Rawles. There is no one best answer for what to do for all. Both have strengths and weakness. Neither commentary is comprehensive. Rawles cannot put it all out there due to the political climate, and like myself, can't possible assimilate the overwhelming amount of information. Instead of commenting, I now use my time to consider as many different perspectives, quality opinions, as possible. I cannot total endorse a particular view by any one person. The reality of the situation, I as see it, includes a range of outcomes, the most severe is not not discussed here. Never in the history of Mankind has we been faced with such an extreme set of circumstances. How can we then begin to be certain about any 'most likely' outcome? Even genius may not. That said, Albert Einstein, one of only a few that could perceive 4th dimension of 'space/time', in addition to the 3-D world that we perceive: "I do not know what weapons will be used to fight WW3, but WW4 will be fought with rocks." Got guns? Howabout God? Pray hard. a