Tuesday, January 26, 2010


What do you think about Survival blog?  Seems completely over the top to me, and useless for most things except the occasional piece of information that could apply to real life... I enjoy yours more because it's far more realistic in regards to how the world functions... no one over there pointed out that in Haiti, money still counts, and that's typical of that type of site that relies upon the world actually ending completely (when it hasn't yet in thousands of years of human civilization).


Hi Steve, I’m glad you find my blog useful.
Not sure if its over the top or not, the survivalist retreat thing just doesn’t work for me personally and how I chose  to prepare.
 I have a different approach regarding survival and preparedness, and at least in my case, I don’t have much use for certain type of information that could be more valuable for someone planning to heavily spending money on setting up a retreat as an answer to most possible events.
Doesn’t fit for what I want in life in case of the “other” alternative situation either. You know, the one where the world does not end.
It’s not right or wrong, just saying its not what I do or what I’d do myself.
Because of the economic crisis the survival situation via an economic collapse is in vogue lately, and based on my experience heavily spending money in a fixed position isn’t the best approach.
Lets just suppose for a second that the worst possible outcome occurs. An economic collapse in USA, the dollar falls to a fraction of its value. But hey, lets not stop there. Some people seem to think that USA is special and what typically happens in countiries where economies collapse wont happen in USA, they think it’s going to be much, much worse.
In my opinion,  such a supposition is an attempt these folks make to consider themselves special. I humbly believe that we all want to be special but in reality, at least when it comes to masses, we’re all the same.
There are cultural and religious differences but at least in the western world we’d all react very much the same. Compare the looters of Haiti ad Katrina if you have a hard time believing this, or the looters and “piqueteros” in Argentina, slaughtering looted cattle right there on the road, people running around with chunks of bloody meat.
But again, lets throw that in as well. Economic collapse, plus this extra of roving raiders, huge fatality rates because cities will run out of food within a couple days, the hole 9 yards, a complete end of the world as you know it.
Yet before we get all paranoid and get into Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” territory, where the world pretty much ends , there’s a handful of mostly cannibal survivors in a world of ash and death, we have to take a deep breath and get back to reality. Collapse of society as we know it, anarchy, and roaming raiders and gangs with no police. .. and you’re going to keep living in your land, farming, and with a bunch of friends standing guard? Even if we’re talking about a town, how long can you stand in such a dire situation? How man gunfights will you survive? How many of them will you kill per one of your own and how long can you hold in such a situation.
 What I’m trying to say here is, I don’t believe its realistic to think you’ll hold the fort so to speak during these end of the world scenarios because it hasn’t worked in the real world in scenarios that weren’t nearly as bad. In a majorly hostile environment, history has taught us that you either leave of die, so you see, for a realistic worst case scenario, mobility and the ability to relocate in other countires or continents is of much greater importance that a fortified farm or compound.
And before suggesting that such anarchy would extend to the entire world, keep in mind it has never happened before, ever in history. If you think this would be a world wide situation, I’m afraid its not very realistic.  There’s always been other countries, other continents where people fared better. Of course a meteor may hit and turn us all into dust, but I prefer to analize and prepare for realistic situations and scenarios and that’s where you MUST ask yourself, Has this happened before?” “How did it affect people and how did they deal with it?” In spite of what our parents tell us and what we’d like to think, we’re not that special people. We  don’t learn from history, we repeat it.
Now, you may think that supposedly preparing for the worst possible scenario you prepare as well for everything in between, Well, it just doesn’t work that way.
If you think you’ll be fighting off zombies from your barricades 5 or 10 years from now what’s the purpose of going to college? Why invest? Why have real estate which you plan to rent for a living, as a way to have an inflation proof retirement income?
My approach to survival and preparedness is that the system is very much like cockroaches (and maybe some lawyers)after a nuke:  They just wont die.  It  reconstitutes itself and comes together like the Terminator thing. The “man”, the “system”, its part of our evolved society and there’s no going back. We wont go back to simpler, purer times.
Instead of trying to stay away from society and expecting it to disappear after a disaster, I tend to expect it to still be there.
Society as we know it and its cruel pyramid wont disappear, so instead of beating it or ignoring it, how do I deal with it? How do I manage to stay on the top of the iceberg? How do I deal with disasters but also how do I learn to deal with the system, our society?
As of right now, there’s already supermarkets opened and stocked in Haiti. People find a way out guys.
I’ve read the theory of ho w everything is so darn complex, how trucks travel thousands of miles to deliver a bag of potato chips and so on.
Argentina isn’t USA, but its still the 8th largest country in the world when it comes to territory.
Trains? They just died. No more train network connecting the provinces. Road infrastructure? Its been decades since there’s been a serious nationwide plan. Roads such and we have the greatest car accident death rate of any country but hey, still there.
Fuel? We experience shortages because of one reason or another, and several trucks use  natural compressed gas anyway. And I’m not even getting into farmer strikes, a government that boycotts producers, and roadblocks and leave trucks on the side of the roads for days, the fruits and vegetables rotting and going to waste as they wait.
And yet here we are.
Yes, the super digital high tech logistic of the first world would burst into flames if a cell phone malfunctions, but there’s other ways to do things too and in 3rd world nations “other ways” is all they have, and there’s nothing special about them, they just don’t have the high tech, synchronized delivers
For me its about being realistically assessing your risks, and incorporating a survival mindset to your lifestyle. Most of all, keep it real, and don’t’ go for far fetched scenarios that would do you know good when dealing with the more realistic ones, that are more lkely to occur.
We all have our points of view, priorities and beliefs when it comes to survival and preparedness.
This is the way I view things, how I prepare and recommend others doing as well.
As always, you millage may vary and so be it. It would be quite boring if we all thought alike.



Anonymous said...

Ferfal -- This is one of your very best posts(!) ... and you have written many that are very, very good!!



Sixbears said...

Okay, you got me thinking. Right now, I love living in a rural area. However, you got me thinking about being able to head out to other countries. What do you think about having a sail boat capable of International travel? I have secure places where I could preposition a stocked up boat and have it ready to go.

Unknown said...

I just started reading your book and, like this post, it is a breath of fresh air for the preparation minded. One thing that is lacking in much survivalist thinking is an acknowledgment of probabilities rather than just consequences of worst case scenarios. For example, I suspect most people in the U.S. would be much better served by developing skills in case they have to find a new job, learning to live within their means, and saving money than worry about bugging out to a rural area. With 10% unemployment and an unresolved financial crisis the probability of losing one's income seems disturbingly likely for many folks while a reversion to a subsistence farming economy seems much less likely. Spending all of one's time and money preparing for the latter while not taking care of the former is foolish.

Furthermore, the notion that modern civilization, compared to subsistence farming, is fragile strikes me as completely wrong. For example, something like the burning of the library of Alexandria is impossible today - knowledge is too widely dispersed and available. Also, subsistence farming is an extremely tenuous existence and one that is particularly subject to bad weather and (this is probably a big surprise to some) the machinations of politicians (e.g. the Irish famine, Stalin's treatment of the Ukraine, etc.). Finally, the notion that a typical person can just head off to the country and successfully grow enough food to feed themselves should at least be tempered by trying to grow some food in a garden.

I dearly wish that more people would take basic measures to prepare for bad times but I think there is a lot of romanticism that probably discourages people from covering the basics, which is very unfortunate.

Anonymous said...

best post ever.....aside from your long initial essay.....

Anonymous said...

Not so sure about the roads lasting. Here in USA we have bad winters, and roads fall apart quickly if not maintained. Plus, there is so much road, it really is amazing but extremely expensive to maintain.

Peak oil is the kicker; if you believe in it, there is no way the roads will be maintained without cheap oil to make asphalt. Not to mention cars. 22 gallons of oil to make a truck tire, for example.

I think roads may get very rough, ad driving very local. Who wants to drive to another state if you may not be able to get gas on the way, or break an axle in a pothole?

Just a thought.

Don Williams said...

1) I have always been intrigued by where Porter Goss and other CIA officers retired in the 1960s -- Sanibel Island on the western side of the Florida penisula near the tip.

These were the guys who attacked the Soviet deployment of nuclear missiles on Cuba --the closest we came to nuclear war in the Cold War. They knew the US areas targeted by the Soviets and how nuclear fallout would cover the USA in a nuclear war.

2) Sanibel Island was off the coast of Florida, connected to the mainland by a long defensible bridge. It was shielded from the population of Miami by the huge Everglade swamp which in those days was pierced mainly by the highway Tamiami Trail --which also could have been easily cut.

3) In his novel, "Alas Babylon" Pat Frank had already noted the big advantages of Florida for the survivalist in those days: Fish, year round growing season, salt.

Plus Sanibel Island was one of the few areas on the USA unlikely to receive any fallout -- since the Gulf of Mexico was to the west and the nearest targets --Tampa etc -- were well to north.

4) But the other thing about Sanibel is that it had a back door.
The US Mississippi River Valley and its cities were easily accessible by sailboat if they survived --plus the cities of Central and South America were also easily accessible to the south by sailboat.

In other word, Sanibel supported the emigration Plan B that Ferfal suggests.

In contrast, you are pretty well screwed if you are in western Montana and things don't work out. (Drought, Mongol Hordes, etc.)

In primitive conditions, the only ways to transport several tons of food and supplies is by boat -- and the coast is a long way from Montana.

5) In the past 50 years, of course, Florida has become greatly overpopulated and has lost much of its appeal as a survival retreat.

Anonymous said...

I believe the historic parallel in the US is to the fall of Western Rome. We live in an age comparable to 375 AD and (Western) Rome is falling. Corruption is rampant, and systems are breaking down, like a slow motion train wreck. However, this (the US) is still the best place to be for the foreseeable future, and it may take many years to decades for our decline to play out. In the current scenario, the timeframe may be accelerated compared to Rome but the comparision is the same.

Why do I think it comparable to 375AD? Because nobody in Washington DC can speak the truth without being crucified. They can't say we're going broke and the financial outlook is terrible, that Social Security and Medicare benefits are unsustainable, and that government cannot create jobs. They can't say a fiat currency (the dollar) coupled with a government printing press run wild ends badly. They can't say the US cannot afford wars on a credit card. They can't say a 1/3 retracement in the US standard of living is baked into the cake due to decades of poor decisions and policies, and that's the optimistic outlook. They can't say they negotiated our industrial base away to countries like China and Japan.

Ferfal, what I really appreciate is your bringing to our attention that even in the most advanced countries, a breakdown like you have seen and like we're seeing will result in "interruptions" of previous stable services - like food supply, water systems, transportation, banking, healthcare, etc. As a people we're not ready for that, and it is wise to prepare for such eventualities, even if they never occur. (1 is none, 2 is one, 3 is 2)

As for the collapse of civilization and living off the land - should that occur, I think we would more likely have a civil war first, with some other form of government and currency. Ferfal is dead on when he says an organized civilization is like the T3 Terminator in the movie - it reconstitutes itself quickly. It's in our DNA.

Ferfal's message is - plan for the worst, hope for the best, be realistic, test your assumptions constantly, and then go live your life, as nothing is guaranteed.

Key areas of preparedness where I was not ready include - more water storage, more food storage, expanded first aid and normal drug inventory, precious metals, emergency power generation/battery back up/lighting, fuel and cooking back up, household "hardening" for security. After the Haiti disaster, and since we live in a earthquake area in the Western US, its never useless to be prepared. I lived in Northridge during the first earthquate (1971) and it was eye opening to see how most people are utterly unprepared for anything, let alone a real disaster.

DaShui said...

Que Pasa FerFal,

China in 1800 was the richest country-then 200 years of turmoil.
Best I know of number of fatalities:
European and Japanese invasion (20million),Taiping rebellion(20 million), Muslim rebellions(2 million), Korean War(1 million), Political infighting(4 million), famine (30 million.
However, last I heard China is still there, with a government

Anonymous said...

Good article Ferfal. Just like the previous commentator, I was going to make the parallel to the fall of Rome. Sometimes (but very rarely), barbarism replaces organized government. From my reading of history, it took hundreds of years before the government of Rome evacuated to Constantinople. It was then another 1000 years until Constantinople fell. So, even though the Dark Ages was approaching, it was preferable to move rather than fight the Goths, Vandals, and Huns.

Sorry to hear about the trains in Argentina. It sounds more like "Atlas Shrugged" than "The Road".

Anonymous said...

Ferfal, very well written. Common sense. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Ferfal - My crystal ball shows three types of events - Possibilities - Probabilities - and Certanties. Your comments assume only a severe degree of financial collapse. Although this is the highest on my list of possibilities and probabilities, one cannot ignore other problems in their planning. The US does face other problems beyond the potential for economic upheaval. We are incredibly involved throughout the world and have developed many actual and possible enemies. Argentina does not have this problem. The possibilites for massive problems are endless, but the probability of them happening is quite small. The Yellowstone caldera will blow, a certainty, but when?
Our exposed grid system is an open target to cyber attack. A small nuclear attack on an American port is a possibility. Attacks on Saudi oil loading docks are possible and would affect the world. I read numerous articles describing developing problems throughout the world. I can go on and on with my list, as can everyone else.
I fear that the current financial problems will be a catlyst for much more severe problems. These problems might lead to even more problems, then to other problems.
If your view of a limited economic/societal breakdown is correct, then your advice is perfect for the situation. However, if A leads to B, and B to C, then maybe Survival Blog should be listened to?
Maybe it is different this time.

Anonymous said...

I read this blog and survivalblog regularly, because both have insightful things to say. Nobody is an omniscient god, so of course it's smart to read a variety of viewpoints.

Some of our major problems have happened before: economic collapse, imperial decline, drought, etc. Some are completely unprecedented in human history: peak oil, global warming, etc.

Each of these are complicated problems, and they're happening at the same time. We will probably see them interact in ways that surprise everybody.

It's dangerous to spend all your time on unlikely scenarios, but it's also dangerous to get caught unprepared by something because you dismissed it as far fetched. The idea that we could change the Earth's climate by driving around and eating corn-fed cows would have seemed absurd at one time, but it's wiping out species left and right and causing our crops to fail. Everything that happens has to happen for the first time.

We do know that we have have almost 7 billion people on a planet that could only support 1 billion or so before oil. We do know that our ability to produce oil is slowing down. We have a lot of dying to do no matter what, and different scenarios will happen in different places. Some will starve for lack of money. Some will starve from crop failure. Some will die fighting over food. Some will die from sickness if/when sanitation systems break down. Some will get bombed. We can say all of that with some certainty, but who can say how they're going to die even under normal circumstances?

Good luck to everyone.

Anonymous said...

Great, great post. Thanks for answering my question, and in excellent fashion.


Anonymous said...

Wow Ferfal, you've certainly attracted a new , more gloomy readership.

Guys, the world won't end, ESPECIALLY in America, you just don't have a firm grasp of just how rich and spoiled we are.

Prepping means living the right way today, because no matter what, basic self improvement will matter far more than extra AR's.

Quit smoking, lose 20 pounds, pay off the mortgage, and THEN buy a retreat property and 9th handgun.

Anonymous said...

When I hear the word collapse I think of Pompey. Anything else short of that is nothing more than a reshuffle of the status-quo in society. Some people move to the bottom and other to the top. To stay abreast the tide in such a reshuffle, be it natural or man made, you need to be agile. I agree 100% with Fernando that it makes little sense to anchor yourself and your wealth to a location. I go back to what I have often posted at the Grab the Apple forum: Cash, Passport, and Transportation are the trade marks of a true survivalist. All the other hardware, including the remote farm in Idaho, are fun things to have and enjoy, but secondary to the purpose of surviving.


Anonymous said...

When the empire is collapsing, it's best to join the barbarian lords.

Jedi said...

"How man gunfights will you survive? How many of them will you kill per one of your own and how long can you hold in such a situation?"

We tried this in Texas. With enough good men, you can last about 13 days.

dc.sunsets said...

Most discussions on "survivalist" themes make the same assumptions about people as do socialists: "People are too dumb, blind, or self-interested to coordinate their actions in a beneficial way without the structure of political systems."

This reflects a profound lack of understanding of how people work. It is like a person who thinks that, if the government didn't provide education, people would be ignorant. This is the same for the Peak Oil thing. "World Running Out of Whale Oil: World to go dark soon" was a real headline in a Boston newspaper in the late 1800's.

We're just in for a long period of credit deflation, that's all. 75 years of continuous credit inflation (in the US and the world) has caused tremendous misallocation of resources, especially people and their occupations. Lots of unemployment, asset values should collapse, etc., etc., but life will go on.

Keeping what we have now will be tough, but that's the main trick.
assume people are like bees, kill the queen and the workers and drones are clueless. This is the

Anonymous said...

Excellent post. I found this blog from survivalblog actually. "Cash, Passport, and Transportation" - changed my entire way of thinking... Thank you!

Joseph said...

Blogs that advocate prepping for the end of the world seem to think most people have a lot of free cash. I don't think one person (or one group, one town, etc) can prepare for total devastation. For one thing, unless you are Bill Gates, it is unlikely you have the finances.

One survival blog suggested the .308 Lee-Enfield, because it was relatively inexpensive for a battle rifle. It failed to note, however, that .308 ammo does not grow on trees...kind of cancelling out savings on the rifle. All have ideas worth reading, but to me practical information is far more useful than retreats with reinforced concrete walls.