“I’m not paranoid, I’m really not. But we’re prepared...”
September 1, 2016 1:35 PM   Subscribe

A Fortress Against Fear: In the Rural Pacific Northwest, Prepping for the Day It Hits the Fan [The Washington Post] “The Bradways fled California, a state they said is run by “leftists and non-Constitutionalists and anti-freedom people,” and settled on several wooded acres of north Idaho five years ago. They live among like-minded conservative neighbors, host Monday night Bible study around their fire pit, hike in the mountains and fish from their boat. They melt lead to make their own bullets for sport shooting and hunting — or to defend themselves against marauders in a world-ending cataclysm.”
posted by Fizz (193 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
 
I've been thinking about this and I think what I need to do is start preparing to be a Marauder. Everyone is picking Team Defense and I think there are going to be a lot of job openings for Raider and Creepy Forest Cannibal and the like.
posted by selfnoise at 1:43 PM on September 1, 2016 [215 favorites]


im gonna be an unspecified wasteland rogue i think
posted by poffin boffin at 1:46 PM on September 1, 2016 [35 favorites]


Team "long deceased jump scare corpse in a Witkenesque set piece" checking in.
posted by idiopath at 1:47 PM on September 1, 2016 [56 favorites]


“You’ll see people walk up to black people here sometimes and just talk to them because they’ve never spoken to a black person before. In terms of them walking around [saying racist things], you never see it.”

Welp, I'm convinced.

Recently I looked into ordering some survival food, not because of any paranoid ideation but just in case of a natural disaster that leaves me in need of a source of calories that won't require cooking or water and won't spoil. It was tough to find a company that didn't seem to be crazy or #1 with the crazy.

In terms of the actual cataclysm they seem to be expecting, I think I had best check out early and avoid the rush.
posted by Countess Elena at 1:48 PM on September 1, 2016 [16 favorites]


I'll be a mutant. You know, the ones you slaughter by the dozens and then discover evidence that they actually had a peaceful, introspective society, and then you wonder who's really the monster.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:48 PM on September 1, 2016 [113 favorites]


“Anybody with a peanut-sized brain...”
Just what I was thinking.
posted by klanawa at 1:49 PM on September 1, 2016 [11 favorites]


It's strange that these people think society will collapse, and they'll have to depend only on themselves and their families for survival, and there's only one half-hearted reference to farming in the piece.

Stockpiling will get you through a natural disaster, not civilization's collapse.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:49 PM on September 1, 2016 [86 favorites]


Everyone is worried about economic collapse and the like. I'm hoping that it'll be a more of an asteroid hitting the earth or our moon exploding kind of situation. I mean if you're going to go, go with a bang. This reminds me that I need to reread Larry Niven's Lucifer's Hammer.
posted by Fizz at 1:51 PM on September 1, 2016 [6 favorites]


Oh man, that "just talk to them" quote.

I visited a friend in Idaho with my then girlfriend, who happens to be black. Literally strangers walking up and saying "your hair is amazing, is it real?" and touching it, like wow, people actually pull that shit. I might as well have been wearing a clown outfit for all the staring going on.
posted by idiopath at 1:52 PM on September 1, 2016 [20 favorites]


Welp, I'm convinced.

Especially with this quote just two paragraphs above it:
Treller said he settled on Coeur d’Alene after scouring city-data.com, a website where he looked for his ideal mix: conservative election results, low crime rates, solid incomes, low population density, affordable house prices — and few illegal immigrants, because he said they erode “American culture.”
Hmmm. Hmmmmmmmmm.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:53 PM on September 1, 2016 [61 favorites]


Personally I'm stocking up on railroad spikes and spot welders. When it hits the fan, the man who can weld spikes to dune buggies will be the next Levi Strauss, mark my words.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 1:57 PM on September 1, 2016 [111 favorites]


I'm just glad they didn't pick Seattle.
posted by b1tr0t at 1:57 PM on September 1, 2016 [6 favorites]


Once in my early 30's I got sort of interested in the idea of self-sufficiency, and started compiling a list of skills that would be needed to survive without human society (or cataclysmic lack thereof). As the list grew and grew (just as a sample: farming, blacksmithing, woodworking, animal husbandry, etc. - stockpiling guns and ammo, let alone knowing how to use them, was waaaay down the list) I quickly realized there's no way to live completely independent of civilization without having to live terribly primitively at best. It really does take a village to be self-sufficient.

Put me down for the "check out early" list.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:57 PM on September 1, 2016 [26 favorites]


All sorts of stressed and rising executives who had been forced, during the dark days of the Breathe-o-Smart tyranny, to jump in front of trains or stab themselves, could now just clamber out on to their own window ledges and leap off at their leisure. What frequently happened, though, was that in the moment or two they had to look around and gather their thoughts they would suddenly discover that all they had really needed was a breath of air and a fresh perspective on things, and maybe also a farm on which they could keep a few sheep.
— Douglas Adams, Mostly Harmless

If fear for their rights and resentment of their neighbors is prompting these people to move to the country, then good for them. They've found "a pristine place of abundant water and fertile soil, far from urban crime, free from most natural disasters and populated predominantly by conservative, mostly Christian people with a live-and-let-live ethos and local governments with a light regulatory touch and friendly gun laws", which is apparently right up their alley. There are worse ways to react to the expected end of civilization as we know it.

I quickly realized there's no way to live completely independent of civilization without having to live terribly primitively at best. It really does take a village to be self-sufficient.

Well, it sounds like that's what they're doing—staying in communities of "preppers", helping each other out.
posted by Rangi at 1:59 PM on September 1, 2016 [6 favorites]


What amazes me is how eminently exploitable these people are.
posted by klanawa at 1:59 PM on September 1, 2016 [40 favorites]


There are worse ways to react to the expected end of civilization as we know it.

That's not what this is, really. It's just a particularly malignant form of white flight.
posted by klanawa at 2:02 PM on September 1, 2016 [77 favorites]


Everyone needs a hobby.
posted by octobersurprise at 2:03 PM on September 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


All preppers have been forever outshone by Jim Bakker in my mind. I literally can't see anything else but him, his weird beard, his crowd, and his loathsome potato soup.
posted by dirtdirt at 2:03 PM on September 1, 2016 [16 favorites]


People, please don't go shooting actual lead bullets into things you want to eat and random places in the woods. Please. Don't.
posted by GuyZero at 2:04 PM on September 1, 2016 [37 favorites]


A fun thing to do, for a while, is to watch episodes of Doomsday Preppers and see how many fatal flaws you can spot in their survival plan/chosen doomsday scenario. So much broken glass, friendly fire, and easily preventable illnesses in their future.

Re: farming. oh ha ha ha. Most of these people don't even have viable gardens, let alone any first-hand experience of how often you starve as a subsistence farmer. I guess they're planning on eating a high-protein diet for a while?
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 2:04 PM on September 1, 2016 [7 favorites]


All I need is this freeze dried Ice Cream and this gas mask...and this generator....a machete and this chair.

And my dogs paddle ball
posted by clavdivs at 2:06 PM on September 1, 2016 [27 favorites]


I'm an afficianado of apocalyptic fiction (hit me up for recommendations), and I enjoy my end-times daydreams as much as the next person, but I always wonder what these people imagine they and their children will do on Day 366 when the supplies have run out.
posted by twsf at 2:06 PM on September 1, 2016 [22 favorites]


Seems like a mildly racist, Conservative retirement community. The prepping is basically a hobby.
posted by gwint at 2:08 PM on September 1, 2016 [23 favorites]


"World-ending cataclysm" means "world-ending." I mean, I get where this attractive fantasy of retreating to The Land and living this bucolic Little House on the Prairie-style existence springs forth from, but if things really do Hit The Fan (like, in The Road, not some piddly little economic depression or whatever) your little band of hardy preppers will more than likely just wind up dying a slower and possibly more unpleasant death than the rest of us. But whatever gets you through the day.
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:08 PM on September 1, 2016 [11 favorites]


I enjoy "lol cultural and racial separatists" stuff like this as much as anyone, but I do wonder who is actually in a good position to survive. My armchair guess is whoever can head over to Amish country with enough firepower to just install themselves on top of their community. On the other hand no one on this planet exists outside of fossil fuel based civilization, so it's all a crap shoot.
posted by MillMan at 2:09 PM on September 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


Of course, if the Yellowstone Caldera erupts, these guys will be right at ground zero. But if that happens, most of the population of North America will be leaving early. We'll be the rush.

Really, I had a hard time reading past this:
the American Redoubt, a term coined in 2011 by survivalist author and blogger James Wesley, Rawles (the comma is deliberate) to describe a settlement of the God-fearing in a lightly populated territory that includes Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and the eastern parts of Washington and Oregon.
The smug cleverness and paranoid pessimism and the belief that God is on your side, combined with the fact that that area is "lightly populated" because the area aggressively depopulated by other smugly clever paranoid Jesus freaks, just makes me so angry that I can't even find the words.

I really am filled with love for all humanity, but motherfuckers make it real hard sometimes.
posted by curiousgene at 2:09 PM on September 1, 2016 [30 favorites]


I also like how one of the dudes is a sommelier. For who? Immortan Joe?
posted by gwint at 2:11 PM on September 1, 2016 [79 favorites]


> I enjoy "lol cultural and racial separatists" stuff like this as much as anyone, but I do wonder who is actually in a good position to survive. My armchair guess is whoever can head over to Amish country with enough firepower to just install themselves on top of their community.

My bet's on active units of the armed forces. Pre-existing chains of discipline and command, more firepower than anyone else is likely to have on hand, ready access to useful supplies and caches of food, etc., etc.
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:13 PM on September 1, 2016 [10 favorites]


Everyone is picking Team Defense and I think there are going to be a lot of job openings for Raider and Creepy Forest Cannibal and the like.

My dad's plan for world ending cataclysm:

#1) Join group of 100 or so random people.
#2) Locate someone hoarding 100 or so guns
#3) Kill them and take their 100 or so guns
#4) Occupy a Costco with now armed 100 or so random people.

He likes this plan the best because it not only requires little pre-prep, he gets to show some gun loving asshole that 100 dudes with no guns is stronger than one dude with all kinds of guns.
posted by sideshow at 2:15 PM on September 1, 2016 [41 favorites]


They have no idea. When you look at how they actually live, right now, from day to day, they're not learning how to till the soil, they don't even really have a plan to turn those acres into a sustainable truck farm. (And that's assuming that whatever cataclysm takes place doesn't completely fuck up that "abundant water and fertile soil".) The best that they can hope for is to be one of the people holding their rifles on the new peasant class, aka those that didn't get the drop on their neighbors with their own firearms. That, or they'll just starve and start roaming the countryside as the people that they originally came to the "Redoubt" to escape.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:16 PM on September 1, 2016 [13 favorites]


“The bottom line is that our clients are tired of living around folks that have no moral values,” Savage said. “They choose to flee tyranny and leave behind all the attributes of the big city that have turned them away.”

Savage spoke as he drove his Chevrolet Suburban with an AR-15 rifle tucked next to the driver’s seat, a handgun between the front seats, and body armor and more than 200 rounds of extra ammunition in the back — along with a chain saw to move fallen trees and two medical kits, just in case.


Good riddance.

“You have GEICO; I have an AR-15,” Savage said.

And don't come back.
posted by codacorolla at 2:18 PM on September 1, 2016 [26 favorites]


MillMan says "... I do wonder who is actually in a good position to survive. My armchair guess is whoever can head over to Amish country with enough firepower to just install themselves on top of their community."
Good point. Whether it's conscious decision making or unconscious, these folks are setting themselves up to be the future raiders & rulers of those who can actually produce a surplus of food. IE - future royalty.
posted by King Sky Prawn at 2:18 PM on September 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


Seems like a mildly racist, Conservative retirement community. The prepping is basically a hobby.

This is basically all of the over 50 sales/managerial types that I work around. They live in rural or semi-rural areas, do some type of farming/ranching as a hobby, collect and trade guns, drink wine, and kvetch about Obama, millennials, and the decline of American civilization.
posted by dudemanlives at 2:19 PM on September 1, 2016 [6 favorites]


I'm just glad they didn't pick Seattle.

That's because Seattle is more for "artistically weird" and Portland is for "ideologically weird". Coeur d'Alene seems to be a magnet for racists and survivalists
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 2:20 PM on September 1, 2016 [6 favorites]


I don't own guns but I am a nice guy and a talker. My plan is to show interest in some prepper neighbor's plans and ask lots of detailed questions. Then when the disaster comes, I'm gonna whack him over the head with a shovel and take over his bomb shelter or whatever. That seems way easier than making my own bullets or some other shenanigans.
posted by freecellwizard at 2:25 PM on September 1, 2016 [43 favorites]


In recent years I've started to entertain thoughts of moving someplace more naturally beautiful than my current location, with more opportunities for outdoor recreation. Namely, someplace with mountains, woods, mountain biking, hiking, and so on. What gives me serious pause are people who also move to places like that but do so in order to hoard guns and fantasize about society collapsing and killing all the liberals and fags such as myself. I don't really want to live someplace where all my neighbors want to see me dead.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 2:26 PM on September 1, 2016 [27 favorites]


author and blogger James Wesley, Rawles (the comma is deliberate)

Is this just to mess with databases?
posted by Hlewagast at 2:26 PM on September 1, 2016 [22 favorites]


Everyone needs a hobby.

Alternatively, they could just keep bees.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:26 PM on September 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


Is there anywhere liberal and rural that isn't obscenely expensive or oppressively cold (looking at you Vermont)?
posted by ChrisHartley at 2:27 PM on September 1, 2016 [7 favorites]


I'm no doctor (well, not a toxicologist, anyway), but I'm pretty sure inhaling all those lead fumes isn't helping their survival skills any. Although they probably dismiss the idea of heavy metal poisoning as just more propaganda from the ivory tower elite.
posted by TedW at 2:29 PM on September 1, 2016 [5 favorites]


I don't own guns but I am a nice guy and a talker.

Ah yes, the henchmen approach to post-apocalyptic survival. Find the top dog, serve drinks, laugh at jokes, etc.
posted by Fizz at 2:29 PM on September 1, 2016 [9 favorites]



“Anybody with a peanut-sized brain,” he said, can see that the U.S. economy is in perilous shape because of the national debt, the decline of American manufacturing and the size of the welfare rolls.


Meanwhile, those of us with grapefruit-sized brains take a more nuanced view of things.
posted by TedW at 2:32 PM on September 1, 2016 [95 favorites]


Is this just to mess with databases?
My money's on sovereign citizen. The movement's populated almost exclusively by dumbasses who think punctuation is literally magic.
posted by Merzbau at 2:34 PM on September 1, 2016 [39 favorites]


I'm thinking the comma in James Wesley, Rawles's name is more to do with a sovereign citizen thing.

Which, I noted, this article scoots WAY far out of the way from even mentioning.
posted by jfwlucy at 2:34 PM on September 1, 2016 [12 favorites]


The fact that this is a group of people who are regularly sold magic beans does not convince me of thier great triumph when the disaster they so desperately want comes and they can finally start that race war they've been gunning for.
posted by The Whelk at 2:37 PM on September 1, 2016 [9 favorites]






Where does one buy an electric guitar that shoots gouts of flame? That's the best strategy that comes to mind.
posted by delfin at 2:39 PM on September 1, 2016 [30 favorites]


Preppers completely ignore many of the most basic things that could bring on an apocalypse and they give zero fucks about maintaining order or restoring civilization. They only like stuff that puffs up their fantasies of being the few remaining right-thinking white folks in the world. They don't have any interest in preserving human life. They just like the idea of shooting at undesirables while the world burns and they shout "TOLD YA SO!" from their shitty little bunkers.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:39 PM on September 1, 2016 [62 favorites]


"im gonna be an unspecified wasteland rogue i think"

So many times in my life I've heard the phrase "dress for the job you want, not the job you have" and apparently I've been doing it the entire time without even knowing that the job existed. Today is a good day.
posted by komara at 2:40 PM on September 1, 2016 [77 favorites]


Which, I noted, this article scoots WAY far out of the way from even mentioning.
Probably something along the lines of the 'Don't Offend the Armed Racist Fuckhead' principle.

I know I've said this in other Armed Racist Fuckhead threads, but it is a miserable attitude to sit around preparing excitedly for the day you get to shoot your neighbours and steal all their stuff. That doesn't make you better person, it doesn't make you more prepared. It makes you an Armed Racist Fuckhead.

Actual 'Prepping' for the apocalypse looks like participating in your democracy. It means paying your taxes. It means looking after your community AND MAKING SURE THE APOCALYPSE DOESN'T HAPPEN. Anything else is being an arsehole.
posted by prismatic7 at 2:41 PM on September 1, 2016 [153 favorites]


oh, there'll be plenty of time to learn how to farm from scratch after the apocalypse
posted by terretu at 2:44 PM on September 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


Yeah, the very next comment down from the one Sokka shot first quotes has a quote from Mr. James Wesley, Rawles that makes it pretty clear he's a sovcit.
posted by Tknophobia at 2:45 PM on September 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


I feel nothing but contempt for the cowardly and yeah, racist adults who do this and lots of pity for the kids (and possibly spouses) they drag along.
posted by emjaybee at 2:45 PM on September 1, 2016 [12 favorites]


What amazes me is how eminently exploitable these people are.

There's a reason why the SovCit/Prepper/fringe/not-so-fringe-right is nothing but one scam and grift on top of another. It's like an entire ideology designed to separate the gullible from their money (an ideology of which Donald Trump is the logical result). What's remarkable is that for all their cynicism about "the system" and "the government," these are some of most gullible suckers alive.
posted by octobersurprise at 2:46 PM on September 1, 2016 [18 favorites]


This reminds me that I need to reread Larry Niven's Lucifer's Hammer.

Isn't this the one where all the black people decide to form a cannibal gang while they shout black-power slogans?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:47 PM on September 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


...when the disaster they so desperately want...

This right there is what disturbs me about these people. If you truly believe society will collapse in your lifetime, by all means, prepare yourself. Go for it. However, if you also support people and policies that actually might hasten said collapse...well...we have ourselves a little problem then.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:49 PM on September 1, 2016 [13 favorites]


Isn't this the one where all the black people decide to form a cannibal gang while they shout black-power slogans?

That's a lack of Christian values right there, that is.
posted by bonehead at 2:51 PM on September 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


"Well, it sounds like that's what they're doing—staying in communities of "preppers", helping each other out."

Maybe the "end of the world as we know it" will change their minds about looking out for others, and they'll form lasting caring communities that share their successes and hardships.
posted by Hicksu at 2:51 PM on September 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm thinking the comma in James Wesley, Rawles's name is more to do with a sovereign citizen thing.

Which, I noted, this article scoots WAY far out of the way from even mentioning.


The article is practically playing linguistic Twister to avoid any sort of actual analysis of this lifestyle. The closest it comes is reassuring us that the preppers are not racist (because they say that they aren't). It reassures the reader that these are just the nicest people (because they say they are).

I wish I had fewer morals, and more business sense so that I could extract money from these people.

I remember reading an article on here a few years back where a company with a few hundred acres in the middle of the country sold apocalypse security vaults to people like this. A few thousand bucks deposit a month for a guaranteed spot in the country where you could hunker down with the family while the bombs fell. Except they never actually built a damn thing, except for the show-room vault, because they know as well as anyone that the necessity for the vault was a paranoid fantasy.
posted by codacorolla at 2:53 PM on September 1, 2016 [14 favorites]


I do wonder who is actually in a good position to survive.

Almost no one, for any value of "apocalypse." It's like a nuclear war: the living will envy the dead. That's why the smart money isn't on trying to survive it; it's on trying to prevent it.
posted by octobersurprise at 2:54 PM on September 1, 2016 [26 favorites]


The thing they don't get it that small-scale "helping each other out" isn't sustainable either. Disasters have to be looked at as wide-area , ecosystem-wide level threats. Anyone can have a really bad day and get help from their neighbours. That's a personal tragedy, but it's not a capital-D Disaster.

Disasters aren't, kind of definitionally, able to be responded to effectively by those who suffer it. Help needs to come from the outside. Outside the disaster zone, the stressed ecosystem, the country in trouble, what ever. You don't need friendly neighbours down the street, you need friendly ally counties or states or nations.

You survive and rebuild after disasters by having friends, and friends all over. Not by turtling and isolation.
posted by bonehead at 2:58 PM on September 1, 2016 [17 favorites]


Here's an explanation of that "the comma is deliberate" thing, and yeah, these people are pretty out there, despite the sheen of normalcy this article tries to project.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:59 PM on September 1, 2016 [31 favorites]


This article has so many choice quotes, but the ending scene with the family eating their Tex-Mex food is pure delight. Just like their taco salad eating idol, Donald Trump.
posted by tofu_crouton at 3:05 PM on September 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


These people are a disaster waiting to happen.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:11 PM on September 1, 2016 [6 favorites]


These are the people I want to shake and scream "You realize we all live in a society, right?" at. But they'd rather fantasize about shooting people and ruling over the wasteland.

Social contract, what has it done for us, other than science, sanitation, infrastructure, education, clean water, electricity...
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 3:13 PM on September 1, 2016 [18 favorites]


Look, if you can find a way to prove that you are A Real Man Who Walks Upon The Land and not a ficticious creation of the Bilderbergs without the use of a comma or a pickup full of ammo, I'd like to see it.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:14 PM on September 1, 2016 [11 favorites]


Another one, a nice combination of Timecube-ish delusion and refreshing faith in the power of punctuation.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 3:15 PM on September 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


You know, given the modest size of our house and yard, an underground bunker really wouldn't be the worst possible idea, storage and guest accomodation-wise. Plus, think of the LARPing!
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 3:18 PM on September 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


Look, if you can find a way to prove that you are A Real Man Who Walks Upon The Land and not a ficticious creation of the Bilderbergs without the use of a comma or a pickup full of ammo, I'd like to see it.

My hickory-smoked long pork ribs will make a believer out of you.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:19 PM on September 1, 2016 [8 favorites]


Athol, huh?

How apropos.
posted by Seamus at 3:22 PM on September 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


Another one, a nice combination of Timecube-ish delusion and refreshing faith in the power of punctuation.

Ernie.
Wayne.
Tertelgte.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:24 PM on September 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's nice that they are going solar and so forth. That's a good trend generally. But:

“There are some things you don’t talk about,”

He says in a big publication for an article being posted online.

So, either, on some level, he knows this is some kind of head game -- some kind of thing he is playing at -- or he's basically crazy. Because if you know security depends on not talking about it, you don't go giving interviews of this sort.

This is like a cartoon where a child is marking something SECRET with big signs all over it or something.
posted by Michele in California at 3:26 PM on September 1, 2016 [10 favorites]


Melting lead into bullets seems and stockpiling large quantities of freeze dried food don't sound hugely like capturing the skills of our forefathers in any meaningful way.* I can take a fleece and turn it into yarn very slowly and even work a number of looms and grudgingly make cloth, and I figure that makes me about as prepared for the apocalypse as them. And, what's more, I don't want to be the weaving crone of some post-apocalyptic society. Basically, my plan for large-scale society melting catastrophe is to be one of ones that dies early with no idea of the horrors to come. Luckily, as I live in a city and have all the defence capabilities of a teacup, that is likely to be a thing that happens according to every disaster film ever.

* They've got the racism right though, so, um....
posted by lesbiassparrow at 3:27 PM on September 1, 2016 [18 favorites]


I've been thinking about this and I think what I need to do is start preparing to be a Marauder.

I thought the same thing but the class was grayed-out when I tried to select it. Apparently it's not available for characters of my race.
posted by straight at 3:29 PM on September 1, 2016 [21 favorites]


And, what's more, I don't want to be the weaving crone of some post-apocalyptic society.

How about when the revolution begins.....?
posted by Fizz at 3:31 PM on September 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


I loved this, "and friendly gun laws."

So, the laws are friendly? Kind of like an old friend who moved out to Montana from Bellingham WA (not a prepper--for school) who used to joke that they had a "two gun minimum" and firearms were issued to you when you crossed the state line.

But, the week I spent driving backroads and camping my way from Seattle to Missoula to go visit was just beautiful.
posted by Gotanda at 3:41 PM on September 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm on Team Do-Some-Work-To-Stop-The-Collapse-From-Happening-In-The-First-Place-Because-Things-Can-Be-Quite-Nice-If-We-Try.

I'm putting less of my money into stockpiling, and more of it into supporting the global transition away from fossil fuels. That probably makes me the kind of person they moved to get away from.
posted by anonymisc at 3:45 PM on September 1, 2016 [19 favorites]


Two sources of water: check
Solar power: check
Underground living and storage space: half check
Isolated location: check
Stockpiled food: only to get through snow events, but I'd kinda like to expand to two months
Guns: NOPE (but I wield a mean wood splitting maul)

Hrm.

> Is there anywhere liberal and rural that isn't obscenely expensive or oppressively cold

Monteverde Costa Rica comes to mind. But IME, there are plenty of liberals in the rural US to have communities, just small and somewhat spread out ones.
posted by joeyh at 3:51 PM on September 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


He says in a big publication for an article being posted online.

Children, let me tell you of a legend passed down to us by the great Wapo, a storyteller from the before-time. Far away in the Redoubt is a man with a stockpile of Stagg chili the likes of which you can scarcely dream of. We must brave the lead pellets of his thunderstick and take them from him
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:52 PM on September 1, 2016 [31 favorites]


I watched the videos of Ernie Wayne Tertelgte and I'm... I'm not sure I can face the concept that he's not joking. It's so absurd that he must be playing a role of some sort. But he's not. He means it all.
posted by curiousgene at 4:00 PM on September 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


I wonder how many of these people belittled, fought, and voted against solar energy development every chance they got. More than just some of them, I'd guess. I'm not sure solar energy counts as "independent" in the sense that these people mean. Affordable solar panels are fragile, high tech fruits of government sponsored university research and globalization. The preppers can only remotely afford them because of the very trends they're running away from. In a hypothetical societal collapse, solar panels become priceless gifts from the ancients, completely beyond the manufacturing abilities of a New Iron Age for generations.

"We're slowly dying of malnutrition but we can still watch Bruce Willis movies on Blu-Ray! Because we spent big on Chinese solar panels before the collapse! We're self-sufficient!"

What about medical care? These people trend old. What's the plan for dealing with the injuries that will inevitably follow unfamiliar toil in the hastily tilled fields?

I wonder if these people ever do drills. Practice runs. Spend a winter month truly off the grid, without commercial electricity, without fossil fuels. Only the wood you managed to gather with muscle power, only the bounty of your garden-filled root cellar. See if that's really a life you want to pursue long-term.
posted by Western Infidels at 4:01 PM on September 1, 2016 [51 favorites]


And, what's more, I don't want to be the weaving crone of some post-apocalyptic society.

How about when the revolution begins.....?


Who are you calling a crone, buster?
posted by Madame Defarge at 4:03 PM on September 1, 2016 [14 favorites]


I had older relatives who moved to small-town PNW for retirement, and this article made me laugh and laugh. Most of the people profiled were retirees from public service jobs, do they feel that their prepper street cred is diminished in any way by their public pensions? How about when Medicare is paying for a home health aid? Have they invested in handlebars for their shower, or does that tarnish the fantasy? Sometimes it feels like small-town PNW is overrun by retirees from somewhere else. The people profiled are a type, and not just a racist prepper type. I feel that any retiree who moves to a small town that they previously had no connections to is trying to live out a fantasy of one kind or another.
posted by stowaway at 4:06 PM on September 1, 2016 [10 favorites]


> I remember reading an article on here a few years back where a company with a few hundred acres in the middle of the country sold apocalypse security vaults to people like this. A few thousand bucks deposit a month for a guaranteed spot in the country where you could hunker down with the family while the bombs fell. Except they never actually built a damn thing, except for the show-room vault, because they know as well as anyone that the necessity for the vault was a paranoid fantasy.

Again with The Road (spoilers?); at one point The Man and his son stumble across a fully-stocked, immaculate bomb shelter in somebody's back yard. Of course, the owner is not there because when It Hit The Fan he was stuck in traffic or away on business or somewhere that wasn't at home, ready to run into the bomb shelter.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:08 PM on September 1, 2016 [10 favorites]


Michele in California: "So, either, on some level, he knows this is some kind of head game -- some kind of thing he is playing at -- or he's basically crazy. Because if you know security depends on not talking about it, you don't go giving interviews of this sort."

I think on a really basic level it's an attempt to create a real estate bubble. First identify an area that people might want to live with the values the target community prefers, then generate lots of publicity to make people think there's a land rush going on. I'm not saying this article is part of that publicity (it sounds like the preppers are more into their own websites and podcasts than mainstream media like the Washington Post), but the fact that two of its most loquacious sources are real estate agents is revealing towards who is trying to make this a thing.


bonehead: "You survive and rebuild after disasters by having friends, and friends all over. Not by turtling and isolation."

Absolutely.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:11 PM on September 1, 2016 [11 favorites]


As a leftist from California, I take umbrage at this. That being said, how many of us would have to move to Idaho and Montana to turn them both the deepest shade of electoral blue?
posted by heatherlogan at 4:19 PM on September 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


I am just hoping the apocalypse waits until I perfect my Zardoz style flying head. I will throw candy to the best dressed Sean Connery cos player of each wasteland tribe
posted by Perfectibilist at 4:20 PM on September 1, 2016 [6 favorites]


You have died of dysentery...
posted by Naberius at 4:21 PM on September 1, 2016 [30 favorites]


My survival plan is to stockpile nothing, but spread rumors that I have massive stockpiles of food, and then eat whoever shows up in search of my fictitious stockpiles.

It's not 100% ideal, but it plays well to my laziness and procrastination.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 4:29 PM on September 1, 2016 [43 favorites]


my survival plan is to go to greg nog's house where there are machetes and pickles
posted by poffin boffin at 4:32 PM on September 1, 2016 [18 favorites]


my survival plan is to go to greg nog's house where there are machetes and pickles
Exactly! Can't cut pickles with an AR-15, people!
posted by prismatic7 at 4:39 PM on September 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


I like DIY stuff, and I like gardening/home canning, and I'm into fermenting, and occasionally Pinterest leads me down some very dark holes. Like, there's this whole category -- no, culture -- of 25-35 year-old women who have prolific blogs with taglines like:

"I'm a newly skinny, cardio-loving mom of four homeschooled angels! I reclaim vintage furniture and use adorable distressed paint jobs (and stencils!) to make it look unique and antique! I can, freeze, or use my Food Saver to store away at least 3 dozen meals a week for when SHTF. [See coupon for Food Saver at the bottom of the page!] I help support my family by clipping coupons and rummaging through dumpsters for heavy metals that can be turned into ammunition! Follow me on my daily walk with Jesus as I teach you how to do all these things -- AND teach you how to make the perfectly fizzy, perfectly pro-biotic, perfectly tummy-loving peach kombucha! It's only going to get worse, people. Be prepared!"

Also, they all wear pastel cardigans with only the top button buttoned, and have impossibly white teeth.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:41 PM on September 1, 2016 [89 favorites]


People have pretty amazing imaginations, don't they?
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 4:46 PM on September 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think the best plan for survival after the collapse of society would be to 'be useful'. Society will start to reform pretty much immediately from the survivors. You want to be part of that, not some random loon in the wilderness not contributing anything and sitting on a cache of land and resources, and you definitely don't want to be in conflict that society. Having skills that are desirable would help you be accepted. I think the most likely people to be accepted and valued in this way are probably doctors (universally useful, hard to train) but other medical personnel, mechanics, and other generally useful abilities that aren't easy to teach are probably all good.

Plus, a half-apocalypse (major financial collapse, civil war, etc.) is a lot more likely than a full one. Having a valuable skill will do a lot to keep you employed and out of poverty.

Another thought; how safe is your wilderness sanctuary going to be when the fire services are gone and wildfires are just allowed to burn?
posted by Mitrovarr at 4:51 PM on September 1, 2016 [9 favorites]


how utterly clueless they are - there's a mythical land called the midwest where people, millions of them, actually survived and thrived, even, before the introduction of automobiles, supermarkets and all that 20th century stuff

if only they could find the magic words and magic punctuation to take them there ...

it may be flat and boring but we have farmland, damn it
posted by pyramid termite at 4:51 PM on September 1, 2016 [6 favorites]


I love preppers. I have many observations, but one that IME is almost universal among this subset is the ignorance of the degree to which 20th century science has made our lives mostly pain-free. If you dig into the medical side of things in a conversation with them, you'll eventually hit the point where 'industrial disease' comes into it: gout, hypo- or hyper-thyroidism, congential heart disease, hell, even glasses and fallen arches, they're all 'industrial disease'. You see, we won't have to worry about these things when the SHTF: they're the by-products of our current, degenerate way of life. People didn't have these problems in 'the good old days', they lived healthy and clean, and had good long lives. And died at 38, which a goodly number of these people are far past.

OTOH, I also know a few people who have just 'checked out' of civilization: they don't want society to end, they love Netfilix, they enjoy their lives, love their neighbors, think Trump's a raging asshole, etc. They just live further out than most and with fewer comforts than most. One's working on a novel, he spends his days reading nature writers and walking in the woods. Another one's living on family land because it's cheaper than town and he lives off rent from a townhouse, and he spends his days carving wood ( 'sculpting' ) and painting miniatures and designing The Great American Role Playing Game ('I've been working on it since 1987!'). Turn on, tune in, drop out is a big tent.

There are definitely two types: the type A, you're all gonna be sorry, bullets and manic glee type, and the type B, we're all in it together, hippified, nature-loving-and-lving have-a-homebrew type. There are a few, I'm sure, who bleed between the two camps, but from personal experience, the type As generally have it as a hobby, and it's an expensive hobby, and more than a few of them wound up selling their supplies and hidey-holes in the mountains after they got canned in 09-10. The type Bs are usually in it for the long haul.
posted by eclectist at 4:57 PM on September 1, 2016 [19 favorites]


CtrlF "first aid" = 0
CtrlF "cpr" = 0
CtrlF "medicine" = 0
CtlrF "antibiotics" = 0

I love preppers. Do they understand that the main thing throughout human history that people have died from is INFECTION? If we have a total societal collapse like these sorts of people dream about people would start dying from stupid shit again like a UTI or an infected tooth. People still die of that stuff today. I crack up so hard thinking about their macho fantasies which involve marauding hordes of whoever they have a hate boner du jour for trying to take their food and guns. In this fantasy the brave white dude stands his ground and has a Chuck Norris Lone Wolf McQuaid style shootout with the bad guys and then reigns triumphant having protected his family and stock pile of canned baked beans. The reality would be more like, whoops I cut my leg fucking around and because I have no idea what cellulitis is I got septic and died pitifully while my family stood around like "what the fuck we were promised a fucking shootout, not for dad to die from a scraped fucking shin."

Fantasy - Global war, brave survivors huddle in bunker, spend days shooting foreigners.
Reality - Didn't wash hands, got e. coli in food, got food poisoning, died.

Fantasy - Race war, brave survivors huddle in bunker, spend days shooting brown people.
Reality - In a hurry and forgot to boil water, got diarrhea, got dehydrated, died.

Fantasy - Nuclear war, brave survivors huddle in bunker, spend days shooting mutants.
Reality - Got appendicitis, there are no surgeons around anymore, appendix ruptured, died.

Fantasy - The rapture, the end times, left behind, etc, brave survivors huddle in bunker, spend days shooting minions of the antichrist.
Reality - Didn't floss, got gingivitis, flossed too much, got endocarditis, died.

Fantasy - World runs out of resources, brave survivors huddle in bunker, spend days shooting hungry people.
Reality - In haste to eat baked beans food went down the wrong pipe, got pneumonia, died.
posted by supercrayon at 4:58 PM on September 1, 2016 [94 favorites]


Dr. Silberman: It won't work, Sarah. You're no killer. I don't believe you'd do it.
Sarah Connor: You're already dead, Silberman. Everybody dies. You know I believe it, so don't fuck with me!


Sarah was a true believer in the apocalypse. She didn't give interviews. She raised John offgrid and made secret caches of weapons, including filling her casket with them instead of buying her body there.

If you really believe an apocalypse is coming, you do not advertise that there are many houses in Idaho with solar power and unspecified months worth of food stashed away so that when the apocalypse hits, everyone can drive out there with their last tank of gas, murder your sorry ass and eat your food.
posted by Michele in California at 5:01 PM on September 1, 2016 [14 favorites]


My dad is on the prepper spectrum. From where I sit, it's a pretty common societal reaction to difficult times. The Great Depression led to a generation that was generally risk averse, and more prone to saving. Japan has had economic issues that are compounded by the high savings rates of their citizens. Neo-liberalism is a frightened response to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

My dad has had enormous privilege. But his mom and his wife both come from relative poverty. (My mom is of mixed ethnicity, so I like to describe them as "if Romney and Obama got married") I can't pretend to live inside his head, but a lot of his actions feel like a struggle to justify this privilege to himself. Prepping tries to address both parts of that anxiety: 1) Become the sort of person who can survive on nothing, 2) create a safety net so large you never have to find out if you can't.

It not a particularly healthy model, since it doesn't address the anxiety. So it takes more and more to feel prepared. I think it's fundamentally true that they aren't terrible people. But they are also so distracted trying to find the oxygen mask on their head, they can't get around to helping anyone else. Especially not in an organized way that liberal democratic society requires.

Also, I don't think it's helpful to think of "There are some things we don't talk about" as a security or defense mindset. It's like money. You show off the tactical pen, or talk about the bunker you've been considering. But food rations are basically currency, so that'd be gauche to discuss.
posted by politikitty at 5:20 PM on September 1, 2016 [9 favorites]


Yeah, not enough has been made of the enchiladas and refried beans shade the author is throwing at the end. "Oh, you hate illegal immigrants but like Tex Mex? Well, here's an interesting thing about that . . ."
posted by Yoko Ono's Advice Column at 5:27 PM on September 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


My kid is stockpiling Pokémon cards, so we're good.
posted by Lyme Drop at 5:42 PM on September 1, 2016 [15 favorites]


I know I've said this in other Armed Racist Fuckhead threads, but it is a miserable attitude to sit around preparing excitedly for the day you get to shoot your neighbours and steal all their stuff. That doesn't make you better person, it doesn't make you more prepared. It makes you an Armed Racist Fuckhead.

Actually, it's a big country. My father in law, a retired lefty scientist/academic, has been a prepper of sorts since the 1970s. For him and his ilk it's about social breakdown caused by ecological disaster, not the inevitable coming race war or whatever.
posted by Lyme Drop at 5:49 PM on September 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


>That's not what this is, really. It's just a particularly malignant form of white flight.

Yeah, they mention and try to distance themselves from the Aryan Nations but the "American Redoubt" just seems like a rebranded Northwest Territorial Imperative with a lot more toys to swindle people with.

>I enjoy "lol cultural and racial separatists" stuff like this as much as anyone, but I do wonder who is actually in a good position to survive.

Mormons.
posted by edeezy at 6:00 PM on September 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


You know, given the modest size of our house and yard, an underground bunker really wouldn't be the worst possible idea, storage and guest accomodation-wise. Plus, think of the LARPing!

And you could use AirDnD to rent it out.

Mormons.

Of whom there are many in Idaho. The preppers might find that they will get their lunch eaten by more prepared and organized groups, rather than the slavering brown hordes they are imagining.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:02 PM on September 1, 2016 [11 favorites]


I know I've said this in other Armed Racist Fuckhead threads, but it is a miserable attitude to sit around preparing excitedly for the day you get to shoot your neighbours and steal all their stuff.

Actually, it's a big country. My father in law, a retired lefty scientist/academic, has been a prepper of sorts since the 1970s.


Just to add another thread to this, I grew up Seventh-Day Adventist and there's a significant chunk of the church which takes things like Mark 13:14 as God's command to basically become a prepper.* This is often combined with another popular Adventist commitment, pacifism. There are actually a great many different viewpoints from which modern society looks, in part or as a whole, deeply and deservedly fucked. I don't partake of any of those viewpoints anymore myself, but I've spent enough time around people that do to know that they're not all anything - not all racists, not all armed, not all fuckheads.

*Adventist End-Times theology can be basically summarized as "we get the Apocalypse, but not the Rapture".
posted by AdamCSnider at 6:03 PM on September 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


pristine place of abundant water and fertile soil

Hahahahahahahahahaha

The mountain west only has significant water year round thanks to enormous, continued investment of money by the federal, state, regional and local government along with large utilities. In the collapse that these folks dream of, who exactly is going to maintain the dams and ditches?
posted by rockindata at 6:13 PM on September 1, 2016 [29 favorites]


Holy crap, the sovereign citizens thing is too much, like something out of an Umberto Eco book.
posted by signal at 6:26 PM on September 1, 2016


I've spent enough time around people that do to know that they're not all anything - not all racists, not all armed, not all fuckheads.
You play in the pigpen, you get covered in the same shit as the pig.

The ideology boils down to 'Fuck you, I've got mine', and actively preparing to kill people you don't like, to the extent of sabotaging your community now in favour of some imagined advantage following an eagerly-awaited catastrophe. I find myself very, very disinclined to give people aligned with that ideology the benefit of the doubt.
posted by prismatic7 at 6:27 PM on September 1, 2016 [5 favorites]


I've been down this. Wouldn't want to live there.
posted by clew at 6:30 PM on September 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


Dude, in Maine we don't do "Fuck you, I've got mine." Ever. We gossip about the best place to get butcher and how someone knows how to deliver cut and dried wood. Because we really depend on that sort of information here, it's not prepper stuff, it's basic information.

I can make soap from scratch, sure, and I can render fat, and probably could figure out how to make a candle from that. But we aren't going to need to do that sort of thing. It's just a hobby for me, I am not a prepper, I live in the country. We use the internet here, and I guess so do preppers.

I have books, my life's experience, and a wealth of friendly neighbors. I'm never in a million years going to hoard food and live in a hole in the ground. Whatthefuckover, Rover? That's just crazy talk!
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:41 PM on September 1, 2016 [8 favorites]


The ideology boils down to 'Fuck you, I've got mine', and actively preparing to kill people you don't like, to the extent of sabotaging your community now in favour of some imagined advantage following an eagerly-awaited catastrophe.

I'm pretty sure the point was that the ideology of apocalyptic paranoia is actually bigger than this particular type. There sure are a lot of these guys though.
posted by atoxyl at 6:42 PM on September 1, 2016 [2 favorites]




I am 100% pro 'living in a rural community and knowing how to get by'. It's 'holing up in the backwoods and stockpiling ammo so that I can shoot folks who come to take my stuff, and by the way taxes are the same as tyranny' that I find really offensive. #notallpreppers enables those guys to get away with the hideous selfish shit they do.
posted by prismatic7 at 6:47 PM on September 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


Treller said he settled on Coeur d’Alene after scouring city-data.com, a website where he looked for his ideal mix: conservative election results, low crime rates, solid incomes, low population density, affordable house prices — and few illegal immigrants, because he said they erode “American culture.”
When he finds about about this, will he be self-deporting?
posted by indubitable at 6:48 PM on September 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


This all sounds Charles Manson-esque.

The only preparation I'm worried about, living in Portland, is earthquake preparation. I know where my designated earthquake meeting spot is and that's about it.
posted by gucci mane at 6:53 PM on September 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


Holy crap, the sovereign citizens thing is too much, like something out of an Umberto Eco book.

I fell down a rabbithole of SovCit stuff back during the Malheur Occupation, thinking I could put together a fictionalized podcast where a bunch of militia folks Encounter Some Shit. The thinking behind the movement is fascinating, on par with Wilhelm Reich Cloudbusting and Secret Space Programs. I wish I could find a good narrative throughline to do an FPP that wouldn't just turn in to Look At These Assholes.

I remain convinced that the best American Improv does not come out of UCB or ImprovOlympics or whatver - it's from the Internet Fringe. Those people can Yes, And like a motherfucker! "I think that the government creates legal fiction versions of ourselves at birth to hide the gold we are due by virtue of being citizens!" "Yes, and you can fight that by putting commas in your name when you sign your bill at Denny's." "The government hides space technology from us!" "Yes, and they have already been to Mars thanks to alien/Nazi defectors!"

The problem, of course, is the Fringe, like all improv groups, has it's own That Guy that keeps suggesting the same shit over and over again and is persistent enough to get it on stage. Except for the Fringe, it's not Michael Scott pulling a gun , it's horrible racism and antisemitism. "There is a shadowy group controlling the world!" "Yes, and they are all Jewish." UNGH.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:54 PM on September 1, 2016 [37 favorites]


Brit here...

We've got crazies in the UK too, but wow... I'm kind of in awe of these guys. They are on a whole different level...
posted by 43rdAnd9th at 6:55 PM on September 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


I grew up on a farm that had some mule powered equipment, row cropping with out diesel would purely suck. On the other hand, being able to make good shine with out sugar would probably make you valuable to the best community or worst warlord.
posted by ridgerunner at 7:10 PM on September 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


Um, I knit, spin, am a nurse, grow food and put it up, sew, pretty much I hit the marks on what these people think are skills needed to survive an apocalypse.

I would rather die. These people have never had to subside from the land. Almost all my vegetables come from me, and that crap takes work. I mean not just planting and harvesting, but enriching the soil, tilling, crop rotating, knowing how to co-plant to encourage pollinators, how to cultivate bees for pollen and natural sweetener, even cook.

Pathetic. Everyone in my family can do this, but the point is I'd rather go to Publix. (I am also not a Christian, crazy racist, or anti-civilization.).

Vote.
posted by syncope at 7:14 PM on September 1, 2016 [38 favorites]


I remember reading an article on here a few years back where a company with a few hundred acres in the middle of the country sold apocalypse security vaults to people like this. A few thousand bucks deposit a month for a guaranteed spot in the country where you could hunker down with the family while the bombs fell. Except they never actually built a damn thing, except for the show-room vault, because they know as well as anyone that the necessity for the vault was a paranoid fantasy.

This is a plot point early in Robert McCammon's Swan Song (aka The Stand, But With Nukes), in which there's a company that comes up with the great idea to sell time shares in their bunker in the mountains; you're betting that nuclear war will happen during your two weeks per year. Of course, they build the place with the lowest-bidding contractor, and when the birds finally take to the air, hilarity ensues.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:27 PM on September 1, 2016 [5 favorites]


I feel that any retiree who moves to a small town that they previously had no connections to is trying to live out a fantasy of one kind or another.

The fantasy of living somewhere cheaper than a big city, to make their limited income stretch a little further?
posted by Thorzdad at 7:39 PM on September 1, 2016 [10 favorites]


cashed out of the stock market and invested in gold and silver.

I love this because of something I read by The Argentinian, a prepper who actually lived through the collapse of the middle class in Argentina and found out that the end is far more likely to be an extended depression than an asteroid, mass zombification, or insurgency against a socialist regime. He's full of really good prepper advice like "hoard chocolate, because after six months, you'll put a gun in your mouth before you eat rice and salt for another meal."

He had a trenchant observation on hoarding gold, namely that absent civilization, no one deals in gold because no one can assay it. Gold as a store of value requires infrastructure; on the black market, gold gets you pennies on the dollar because the verification mechanisms are gone (he now hoards 'junk gold' like rings and necklaces from pawn shops). What got him through was his DVD collection, which was easily verified as legit (i.e., an actual watchable movie), and became incredibly valuable for trade once the currency collapsed.
posted by fatbird at 7:43 PM on September 1, 2016 [59 favorites]


I have some survival skills. I've survived for weeks on what I could scavenge and hunt, with improvised weapons. I've made charcoal and smelted iron from black sand. These are just hobbies.

What will save me is that I can make alcohol, tasty alcohol, both fermented and distilled, with improvised materials and ingredients (so many natural sources of starch breaking enzymes, so many wild yeasts).

And if you give me a disinfectant, some grain or cow shit, and a fire... I can grow mushrooms in a massive scale with improvised equipment made of boxes and trash bags. The fun kind of mushrooms.

I am not so good at growing weeds, but there are many people who know how.

I feel I will be safe and sound running my post-apocalyptic 'Drinks, shrooms and assorted weeds' dispensary out of some burnt out derailed train cars.

Who is going to want to kill their barman/dealer/shaman? Who is going to let someone else kill their barman/dealer/shaman?
posted by Doroteo Arango II at 7:45 PM on September 1, 2016 [24 favorites]


Team "Guy Welding Spikes to Dune Buggies" here.

You got a dune buggy, you need spikes welded onto it? I'm your guy.

I will also weld spikes onto your dirtbike, '70s muscle car, big rig, or Toyota hilux.

No jet-skis.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:53 PM on September 1, 2016 [21 favorites]


I've often thought that if things get really bad, the thing to do is get bicycles, lots of bicycles and bicycle parts. When there's no (local at least) gas or diesel, bikes will be the way to get around, and they're sufficiently high tech that a modern bike is hard to build and hard to repair without parts.

But then too I figure I'd like to go in the first wave, so go ahead and use the idea.
posted by Death and Gravity at 7:57 PM on September 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


Coeur d'Alene is known white supremacist haven. These assholes know that, and aren't fooling anyone. What's funny is trying to imagine these clowns repopulating the earth after a cataclysm. It will be like Idiocracy minus the electricity and running water.
posted by Brocktoon at 8:00 PM on September 1, 2016 [11 favorites]


The bikes are done when all of the tires are worn out or rotted. Kind of assumes a pretty bad apocalypse, though.
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:04 PM on September 1, 2016


I remember reading an article on here a few years back where a company with a few hundred acres in the middle of the country sold apocalypse security vaults to people like this. A few thousand bucks deposit a month for a guaranteed spot in the country where you could hunker down with the family while the bombs fell. Except they never actually built a damn thing, except for the show-room vault, because they know as well as anyone that the necessity for the vault was a paranoid fantasy.

This was the plot of an episode of Elementary this season.

Fantasy - Nuclear war, brave survivors huddle in bunker, spend days shooting mutants.
Reality - Got appendicitis, there are no surgeons around anymore, appendix ruptured, died.


And that was in Last Man on Earth. Many things have bothered me about that show (yes, it's a situation comedy, but still) but the two biggest were the location — Tucson, really? Don't you need, uh, fresh water? And maybe arable soil? — and the fact we never see anybody break into the library in order to find out how to do something. I realize the main character is supposed to be a pretty terrible human being, but some of the rest of them actually seem to have at least one coping skill. I think if I found myself somehow surviving an apocalypse my first couple orders of business would be figuring out solar power and water filtration, and then I'd start trying to keep tomatoes alive. I could loot all the dried pasta I'd ever want, but I'd sure want to eat more than that.

But then I guess sovcit people aren't known for thinking things through.
posted by fedward at 8:13 PM on September 1, 2016


The idea of going and invading the Amish depends on a couple of crucial misconceptions -- first, that the Amish run farms that can support their families, which is increasingly less true, as more and more Amish communities depend on either craft and construction work (woodworking, cabinetmaking) or factory work in "English" communities to get by; second, that you and half a dozen friends can use guns to convince 500 insanely committed pacifists to follow your orders rather than get martyred; and third, that you can go to sleep every night secure in the knowledge that there are no teenaged boys who are going to shiv you. If you're at all familiar with the crime statistics for Amish communities, you'll know that there are plenty of teenaged boys who'd be willing to shiv you, or maybe even shoot you. Teenaged boy are teenaged boys, even in pacifist communities.

"He had a trenchant observation on hoarding gold, namely that absent civilization, no one deals in gold because no one can assay it. Gold as a store of value requires infrastructure;"

Yeah, gold is pretty and all but it's kinda useless as a metal. It'll be a great way to show your neighbors that you're the most important barbarian king, but it won't really DO anything for you. I've always thought I'd hoard hammers, because everyone's gonna need hammers after the apocalypse. Also classic John Deere steel plow blades because have you ever tried to plow prairie sod with a cast iron mouldboard plow or, God forbid, an ard? Yeah, that's what I fuckin' thought.

And collecting historic plows is a TOTALLY NORMAL ACTIVITY, for some values of normal, so no one will even suspect my stockpile until I control ALL THE PLOWS IN THE WORLD!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:14 PM on September 1, 2016 [40 favorites]


but I do wonder who is actually in a good position to survive. My armchair guess is whoever can head over to Amish country with enough firepower to just install themselves on top of their community.


Seriously, though- if this is your plan, be ready to kill a whole bunch of Amish people. Because they will not fight you, and they will not work for you, so you're going to have to murder most of them, and then where will you be?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:20 PM on September 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


“You have GEICO; I have an AR-15,”

AR-15: 15 Rounds Will Save You 100% Off Everything
posted by dr_dank at 8:26 PM on September 1, 2016 [12 favorites]


I've spent a fair amount of time on the fringes of some of these fringes. I'm interested in some tangential subjects such as emergency preparedness (for common short term issues like wind or ice and snow storms, or larger issues like earthquakes, volcanoes, or tsunamies); I'm a woodworker and craftsman; and I'm also interested in outdoor, "primitive", sustainable, and old-time technologies (but mostly from a historical, skills and engineering perspective). We've been without power for almost a week in the dead of winter, and it was nice to have food and firewood for our entire local extended family and I got extra points for being able to hand grind coffee beans for everone.

But I have no illusions about my long term chances post collapse. Even though my interests and skills would theoretically give me a fighting chance (yes, I can start fires without a match or lighter, and I can build almost anything that can be made out of wood). But it wouldn't make a damn bit of difference. My medical history says if society goes, I'm not far behind. I'd hang in as long as I had family to fight for, but not a day longer. Life's too short to root against society in hopes for some elusive proof that you're special.

So it's always a huge pain in my ass when I'm reading up on some subject or trying to get my hands on a good portable water filter, only to run head-long into a huge pile of wild-eyed crazy. Another website or resource lost. Cause who needs the aggravation? I just don't feel like supporting it.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:30 PM on September 1, 2016 [14 favorites]


He had a trenchant observation on hoarding gold, namely that absent civilization, no one deals in gold because no one can assay it. Gold as a store of value requires infrastructure; on the black market, gold gets you pennies on the dollar because the verification mechanisms are gone (he now hoards 'junk gold' like rings and necklaces from pawn shops). What got him through was his DVD collection, which was easily verified as legit (i.e., an actual watchable movie), and became incredibly valuable for trade once the currency collapsed.

That's pretty funny. I often wonder how much more valuable creature comfort skills would be: being able to do small appliance repair, or having a huge collection of bootleggable movies and a stash of blank DVDs, or custom building very low-cost emulation machines that could run off of crank power, or being able to put on a good show at a local picnic / tavern / town meeting. All these people learning "survival" skills, and then fucking off to the middle of nowhere with no social support system. What if instead you were trained to make life more entertaining and bearable for people, and actually lived in society?

That's actually sort of the plot of a play I've always wanted to see, Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play, where a group of survivors turn a re-enactment of the classic Simpsons episode Cape Feare into a traveling pageant of sorts.
posted by codacorolla at 8:37 PM on September 1, 2016 [9 favorites]


I just spent some time with people just like this outside Coquille OR. After driving down a gravel road for 30 minutes I came around a corner to the fenced compound. Cameras at the gate and a sign warning that without a warrant no government agents were allowed on the property. It is an alternate universe.

Seemingly lovely people armed to the teeth with big gardens using the VA, Medicare, and Social Security to survive. I only asked one question - Can you name one country that you respect that has a small government? No response. I didn't push it. I remained respectful and listened a great deal. These are long time friends who moved from So Cal to So OR. I care about them. They can spend our tax dollars how they want.
posted by cairnoflore at 8:41 PM on September 1, 2016 [2 favorites]




and I got extra points for being able to hand grind coffee beans for everone.

Oh God, coffee. That sort of determines if I'd want to, or be able to, live.
posted by bongo_x at 9:07 PM on September 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


An excellent counterpoint to this sort of survivalism is Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. She takes her husband and two daughters to an acre in middle America and they dedicate themselves for one year to eating only food they grew themselves or obtained locally, with a few practical exceptions like olive oil. As you'd expect, it was hard but rewarding. There were lots of things that were surprisingly accessible to them (like making their own soft cheese) and some creature comforts they would murder for (like coffee, or fresh fruit out of season), and overall, if you think might have to live on your own following the collapse of civilization, this is the book you start with to get a handle on what you need to know how to do, and what needs to be stockpiled beforehand.

I often wonder how much more valuable creature comfort skills would be

Tremendously valuable, according to ferfan (the Argentinian). As a result of economic collapse, entertainment and non-essential services went away for most people, so those who could barter a replacement became the ones who lived well. No one went to restaurants anymore, but being able to put on a decent meal for friends or throw a party for kids where a DVD they hadn't seen would be played... these things became the social staple instead of consumerism and tourism. This is a common pattern in poor communities, where a social support network is far more important and useful and a normal part of people's days--being able to repair an appliance means being able to ask for a meal later on, and that can be the difference between life and death.
posted by fatbird at 9:37 PM on September 1, 2016 [14 favorites]


It stuns me at times how many people, especially in America, seem to be motivated primarily or perhaps entirely by fantasies that aren't even thought through beyond the moment where they get to say "told you so."
posted by DoctorFedora at 10:33 PM on September 1, 2016 [12 favorites]


The idea of going and invading the Amish depends on a couple of crucial misconceptions -- first, that the Amish run farms that can support their families, which is increasingly less true, as more and more Amish communities depend on either craft and construction work (woodworking, cabinetmaking) or factory work in "English" communities to get by.

I see Amish families buying groceries at Wal-Mart like twice a month. They seem to buy just as much Mountain Dew as the rest of us.

Things like that are why I categorize preppers with aspiring hobby farmers and wealthy people who name their drafty weekend getaway houses shit like Deer Creek Back Field Grain Mill And Schoolery. They're basically cosplaying; reality doesn't figure in to it. I mean sometimes I fantasize about living in a big city and being a fancy lawyer who is driven everywhere in a black SUV and is constantly destroying opponents with quips while wearing very fancy shoes so like. We all have our dreams.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 12:09 AM on September 2, 2016 [10 favorites]


It's funny to me that most survivalist's plans are "hunker down." I've always seen myself in the apocalypse on a motorcycle with at least $500 in ones, not necessarily armed, finding my people and heading toward a place we can all live together communally. I've probably watched/read "The Stand" too many times.
posted by bendy at 1:03 AM on September 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


THere's a lot of spouting in this thread about this particular stretch of Idaho, which is a stretch of Idaho I have driven across in various directions on delivery routes for hundreds of miles every day for the past several years basically every day of the week. Let's talk a bit about the facts, shall we?

The area around Coeur d'Alene, especially north of CdA toward Athol, is very productive farmland with a lot of smaller rivers and streams flowing through it. Much of it is probably irrigated via diversion dams, but water is available and abundant. I see a lot of fields of wheat out on my drives, but also a wide variety of crops like onions and blueberries and potatoes. It's in a particular watershed that doesn't leave it dependent on long-distance shipping of water like a lot of what was upthread called "the Mountain West".

CdA itself has a troubled history with racism, especially during the time that the Aryan Nations had a compound there. They were driven out by legal means and moved to Florida in 2004. There is no doubt that there are remnants of their thought legacy in the town, but it's not at all the horrific place it was over a decade ago.

While there are a lot of Mormons in Idaho, they are primarily located in an entirely different part of Idaho. Coeur d'Alene is up in the panhandle, where the state is only about 60 miles wide between Washington and Montana. Basically all the LDS are down in the southern, less forested/mountainous part of the state where Boise and Idaho Falls and Pocatello are located. This one website (that I selected but others have roughly concurring information) is that about 5-6% of the population in Coeur d'Alene are Mormon.

Lake Coeur d'Alene is one of the most beautiful lakes you will ever see in your life. It looks idyllic and might be a great source of food, were it not for the gigantic amount of heavy metal pollution that has gathered in it from mining in the Wallace, ID area that drained the mining waste into the river that fed into the lake, which is blocked by a dam that resulted in massive sediment build-up of this pollution. I wouldn't eat any fish caught in this lake, nor anywhere downstream of it including from the Spokane River that flows through my own beautiful city only a few dozen miles away.

I don't think there is any doubt that the wilds of the mountain zones in the Idaho Panhandle or of far-western Montana attract a lot of survivalist types. There's plenty of deer in the forests (I've hit three of them with vans so far this summer), there's plenty of water, there are streams that aren't polluted in which you can fish, and there's a lot of isolation from the rest of society. This is one of the parts of the country that routinely shows up on all cell service coverage maps as being without coverage by anyone. One highway I drive on regularly has a couple of wide pullout spots in a couple of places clearly labeled as "cell phone pullouts". They're the only places on the road that has any reliable bars.

But I don't really think it's fair to paint this part of the country as a bunch of backwater racist hicks who are always carrying guns and wanting to pet black people's hair and other such nonsense. Patty Duke lived in CdA and established a pretty thriving amateur and semi-professional theater scene during her years there. There is also a thriving gallery and music culture happening in the area, along with all the more liberal attitudes that come along with that sort of business atmosphere. I'm not saying it's Haight/Ashbury or even the Portland Farmer's Market, but it's not at all what most people writing in this thread picture it to be based on their comments here.
posted by hippybear at 1:06 AM on September 2, 2016 [37 favorites]


Amen Hippybear. I have family in Coeur D'Alene and they are certainly not racist hicks. Yes, there are some pretty hard core conservatives living in the area. There are also plenty of open minded people, such as the ones who turned the old Aryan Nations compound into a Peace Park
posted by weathergal at 1:18 AM on September 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


I always kinda respect preppers of all stripes. Even the ones I disagree with. I always think they are just goofy kids who liked playing army or warriors or alien planet or Cowboys and they were so immersed they just couldn't let go of that pure sunshiney feeling and more than anything they just want to keep playing. But because of their other hang ups or the circumstances of their background their make believe world expresses itself in preparing for the Horned One or Peak Oil or Global Economic Collapse or Extreme Solar Flare or whatever and their entire make believe super fort world is tainted with fear and anger.

I really like all those silly prepper tv shows. Some of them are really into the 'threat' based portion of their fantasy (i.e. Peak oil or whatever) and then the prepping seems like it's all informed by and an outcropping of that particular acenario. But some of them just seems like lovable goofs that are like....welp...I am GOING to have a SUPERFORT so I need a grown up reason to do so. Umm, everyone seems to be afraid of solar flares...works for me.
posted by ian1977 at 1:35 AM on September 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


Also, all the cool super Eco off grid techy sorts of projects are made possible by suburban middle class rightish wing prepper dollars. It's an odd Venn diagram. Life is a tapestry is what I'm saying.
posted by ian1977 at 1:38 AM on September 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


I actually didn't know that CdA had anything like this, mostly because my friends that visit there regularly are typically on business, going to co-ops and such. I haven't made it over but it seems like a cool little area.

Montana, on the other hand, I have always heard as having a big survivalist and right-wing/militia atmosphere, in various places. I don't know any specific groups operating out of there but throughout my life I've either read or heard about people moving there for a lot of the same reasons as mentioned in the article. When I was in high school it was commonly brought up by people as a place where there were no blacks or Mexicans, and that that was a reason to move there. I have friends in Missoula, it sounds like a nice place to live, and I can't imagine it being a racist enclave
posted by gucci mane at 1:40 AM on September 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


I want what the political breakdown would be of 'off-grid' vs 'prepper'

Off grid types (i.e. Make the fantasy reality real, ASAP) seem like they'd tend towards left wing with some obvious exceptions. Preppers (be prepared for the horrible event that allows us to live our fantasy) seem like they'd tend more right wing.

I'm thinking hobby farms vs bunkers.
posted by ian1977 at 1:46 AM on September 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


“Anybody with a peanut-sized brain,” he said, can see that the U.S. economy is in perilous shape because of the national debt, the decline of American manufacturing and the size of the welfare rolls.

Indeed.... :/
posted by ian1977 at 1:48 AM on September 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


He's full of really good prepper advice like "hoard chocolate, because after six months, you'll put a gun in your mouth before you eat rice and salt for another meal."


I was very unprepared for a hurricane once, and had a week and a half of living off my meager supply of.....all the things in the house that I had never wanted to eat when I had a choice. There were a few cans of fruit cocktail and they really made me almost weep with happiness when I doled that out.
posted by thelonius at 2:53 AM on September 2, 2016 [12 favorites]


I've been thinking about this and I think what I need to do is start preparing to be a Marauder. Everyone is picking Team Defense and I think there are going to be a lot of job openings for Raider and Creepy Forest Cannibal and the like.

Surely, once Civilisation Collapses, the cops and/or military, now liberated of their duty to a no-longer-existent society and in possession of formidable arsenals, will be the first to form the marauding Killer Caravans that will roam the wastelands.
posted by acb at 3:06 AM on September 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


<Rereads Lucifer's Hammer ...>

Oh. My. Ghod. I used to like that book.

My plan for the coming dark age is to put it off by about 20 years so that the next generation has the opportunity to do the same for another 20 years after I am gone. If civilisation had collapsed 4 years ago, I'd be dead by now, because cancer. Instead I'm alive, and healthy enough to chase those damned kids off my lawn.
posted by Autumn Leaf at 3:29 AM on September 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


It's always really confusing when government employees are anti-government. There are some where I work as well, but I never want to ask because of workplace diplomacy.

That said, I'd certainly like to learn more about self-sustaining - both gardening, farming and all the pickling and preserving you need to do as well.
posted by mumimor at 4:16 AM on September 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Seriously, though- if this is your plan, be ready to kill a whole bunch of Amish people. Because they will not fight you, and they will not work for you, so you're going to have to murder most of them, and then where will you be?

Would the Amish stick to their pacifist resistance after a few days of seeing their colleagues killed in horrific, spectacular ISIS-style executions, or would some of them break away and declare themselves to be happy to serve their new masters, and others break away and have a go at going down fighting? Because I imagine any such scenario would start looking somewhere between ISIS-occupied Fallujah and Peru after the Conquistadores' arrival.
posted by acb at 4:30 AM on September 2, 2016


We need to start a Lucifer's Hammer-bashing thread. It is sickening on just about every level (and, yes, I loved it when I was 14, but I did a lot of stupid stuff when I was 14. I got better).
posted by Mogur at 5:15 AM on September 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


Re: farming. oh ha ha ha. Most of these people don't even have viable gardens, let alone any first-hand experience of how often you starve as a subsistence farmer.

Yeah. So. My ancestors were clerics, carpenters, seamstresses, and farm owners in Denmark (before the year 1200, yes, we have records all the way back – clerics!) and Norway up above the North Pole (Lofoten and Troms fylke).

They came to Canada when they got bit by the religious bug; some pal of my great-grandfather up in Lofoten claimed he had been elected by Jesus to herd his flock through the imminent apocalypse, he was charismatic, big with the ladies, abusive, controlling, etc. and so forth. Unsurprisingly, their sudden decision to cut themselves off from neighbors made survival somewhat difficult in the North Pole. In fact, if anyone from Lofoten is reading this, and knowing this was in the early 1900s, there's a good chance they still know exactly who I'm talking about, ha. That's how bad it was; there have been repercussions to the present day, in part because a few people in the cult remained. It's still around, though no one quite knows how they manage. Anyway. "Jesus" spoke to the leader dude and said, "hey! Changed my mind! Go to Canada!" My great-grandfather being a boat carpenter, he found work roundabouts Kristiansand (Oslo) and worked up to foreman. He supervised and contributed to building the boat that took him to Canada. Him alone, because my seamstress great-grandmother – to whom he wasn't married yet, because they had no money, because they'd given the finger to their Lofoten neighbors and had to high-tail it south – had to come over later, due to the same money issues. She worked for a family in Kristiansand meanwhile.

So. Within three years, they and their group create their apocalyptic cult's self-sufficient Lofoten-dialect-Norwegian-speaking utopia outside of Winnipeg. The dozen or so families who came are all from long lines of farmers, carpenters, seamstresses; they KNOW what they're doing. Self-sufficient? These people built the fucking boats they sailed the Atlantic on. Within two decades they were starving. Naturally "Jesus" now told them to go to Oregon. You know, because that's what Jesus would tell anyone. (is my dry Scandi humor coming out again? hm.)

Thankfully my grandfather, who'd been born in the meantime, was a motorcycle-riding, cigarette-smoking rebel who fell in love with an Irish girl from North Dakota, who – wheehee – had been raised by hardcore Catholics in an Irish farming enclave that was going tits-up largely because they refused contact with outsiders too. Others were making do; they weren't. He said "okay" to Oregon because they planned to do their own thing once there. Which they did. Grandma was delighted to escape her family; Grandpa, in the nascent family tradition, was giving the finger to his parents, who'd given the finger to theirs. In turn, my grandparents had kids who joined a fundamentalist evangelical cult (to their despair), one of whom had me, and I gladly carried on the now-grand family tradition of giving the finger to my parents and futzing off to somewhere else.

Once in Oregon, my great-grandparents and their cult remained cut off from others. Most of what they built has since disappeared. My grandparents, on the other hand, made loads of friends and business partners, and amassed enough in their lives to both retire very comfortably and pay for excellent end-of-life care.

Moral of the story: if you cut yourself off and hope to be self-sufficient, all it takes is problems, and those happen to everyone. Thousands of years of apocalyptic groups have had pretty consistent outcomes (i.e. "not good"). If they were only adults, yeah, good riddance would be a viable response. But there are so often kids involved. Having grown up hearing my grandparents' stories... yeah. They did well for themselves, but damn.
posted by fraula at 5:41 AM on September 2, 2016 [47 favorites]


Incidentally, good luck on that coffee thing in your postapocalyptic survival plans, since the plant does not grow in the contiguous United States and presumably you've been cut off from the rest of the world due to the demise of global mercantile shipping and/or that big fucking wall at the Mexican border. Or maybe just because the rest of the civilized world has given up dealing with a country that willfully ripped itself apart and no longer has a stable currency and guarantee of safety at port.
posted by ardgedee at 6:00 AM on September 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


As a slight counter the best prepared will probably be the old guys you see occasionally (less and less) out in the country with a yard filled with stuff, old cars, old metal somethings, stacks of plastic containers, just a huge junkyard of non-digital stuff. Post world wide disaster ordering a multitool from amazon will be really slow, but having a stash of semi-processed bits of metal or containers for water will be very useful. Making a simple plow or hoe will be the best survival skill.
posted by sammyo at 6:16 AM on September 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Moral of the story: if you cut yourself off and hope to be self-sufficient, all it takes is problems, and those happen to everyone.

Apparently that's also what doomed the Viking colony in Newfoundland (having converted to Christianity in recent generations, they were quite fundamentalist about their religion, and believed that the pagan Inuit who had survived in that climate before had nothing to teach them; then came the Little Ice Age, and guess who didn't survive?)
posted by acb at 6:18 AM on September 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


"We need to start a Lucifer's Hammer-bashing thread. It is sickening on just about every level (and, yes, I loved it when I was 14, but I did a lot of stupid stuff when I was 14. I got better)."

You know that FanFare does books now, right? You have the power to make this a reality.
posted by komara at 6:34 AM on September 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/international/intinv/intinvnewsrelease.htm

is the one graph that gives me pause now.

But when people talk about this:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/FYGFD

while avoiding this:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/CP

they're part of the rightwing bullshit brigade.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 6:44 AM on September 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Survivalism has been part of our culture since the 50s, and I don't see it winding down anytime soon, but this thread does raise an interesting question, which is other than rejecting firearms just where does common sense preparedness end and paranoid survivalism begin?
posted by Beholder at 6:46 AM on September 2, 2016


where does common sense preparedness end and paranoid survivalism begin

rejecting the value of ALL of your fellow Americans, ie. the racism / white supremacy crap.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 6:48 AM on September 2, 2016


This is a Fortress of Fear, not against it. I feel so bad for them.
posted by scruss at 6:57 AM on September 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


For those looking to google The Argentinian, his name is ferfal, not ferfan. He now has books and everything.
posted by whuppy at 6:58 AM on September 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


NPR did a story on these yutzes back in August. In case of world-ending cataclysm, the WaPo and NPR will have done the nation a service by informing potential marauders of where all these well-stocked shelters are.
posted by Gelatin at 7:12 AM on September 2, 2016


When I contribute to plans for disaster prep (and we do plan for this), we look at incident recurrence times historically and their severity. There's a whole science (and a lot of art) to risk planning and prep, what level of build-out is reasonable, that is likely to be needed. It's pretty common to make green-yellow-red charts and say we need to cover everything in the red-ish boxes, in the high-liklyhood combined with significant effects corner. That's considered reasonable preparedness.

However, one of the more interesting things of the last decade or so though is prep for "black swan events", that box that is both highest severity, but often judged lowest probability and so often marked with green. The people who end up paying for all the prep, usually industries, but also folks like municipalities who don't have a lot of spare cash, hate this idea: big events mean a lot of capacity build-up which often sits unused. But then there have been a lot of "100-year" events recently: the tsunamis of Aceh and Japan (and so the Fukushima disaster); the Gulf of Mexico and the Kalamazoo river oil spills; Katrina and the flooding of New Orleans. And everyone is scared of what earthquakes might do. I'm sure I'm missing a bunch, but you get the point.

As said by many above, another feature of modern disaster response prep is failover. No one agency can respond to a local event, indeed it's considered likely that they will be plotzed quickly. Human costs even on medium-small events are huge and burned-out people don't make great decisions (another thing the preppers have no idea happens). Friends from away who can help are not just nice but essential. These are built-in to modern plans.

Finally, you absolutely do have to practice. And practice as realistically as you can. Paper "tabletop" exercises are fine, but nothing beats actually getting mobilization going, facing the stupid logistical, personnel, organizational and legal impediments that always happen. If you're not practicing, you're really not ready.

That's why preppers, in my view are delusional. They're far to focussed on on their gear---which is a necessary component---but don't pay attention to risk estimation, their own failure points, mutual aid, and they certainly don't train enough or in the right ways.
posted by bonehead at 7:13 AM on September 2, 2016 [22 favorites]


All I can see is that six months after whatever disaster, the more populated areas are slowly pulling themselves back together from something rough to rebuild society. Meanwhile, the preppers are busy raiding their neighbors for stuff they have already exhausted, or out of paranoid fear that their neighbors would do the same to them.
posted by Badgermann at 7:14 AM on September 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah the best prepping you can do is to be a decent friend and neighbor now so people will share their Dinty Moore with you when the time comes.
posted by ian1977 at 7:20 AM on September 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


> But then there have been a lot of "100-year" events recently...

This makes me wonder how many different kinds of 100 year events there are. probably more than 100 since it's a big earth, sufficient for a major newsworthy rare-for-its-type natural catastrophe every year on average.

Which of course is being exacerbated by global warming and other man-made problems but fundamentally one major difference between our perception of a world with a seemingly-peaceful past and seemingly-catastrophic present is likely to be global media access and YouTube.
posted by ardgedee at 7:27 AM on September 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


bonehead: "Finally, you absolutely do have to practice."

This is a big deal. The military truism “We train like we fight, and we fight like we train” means that you have to practice as realistically as possible, or else your training may desert you when you actually have to carry it out. But even the simplest practice is better than spending your time shopping for freeze-dried food and gun oil on Amazon.

Last year I took Red Cross first aid & CPR class. One of the lessons is "check, call, care" as the order of responding -- and though we all nodded seriously when we listened to the trainer explain it, he still made us each take turns kneeling by a CPR dummy and acting out the three steps. The first person giggled nervously as they asked the dummy if it was OK and then ordered another student to call 911, but by the end everyone took it seriously.

When I showed up at a bad car accident this past September, it was much easier for me to just repeat the same steps for the lady in the overturned car that I had done in class while I knelt next to the CPR dummy. The event was very scary, but I'd done it once and knew I could just pretend it was practice again.

If you don't practice your skills, you don't really mean it.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:27 AM on September 2, 2016 [19 favorites]


Savage spoke as he drove his Chevrolet Suburban with an AR-15 rifle tucked next to the driver’s seat, a handgun between the front seats, and body armor and more than 200 rounds of extra ammunition in the back — along with a chain saw to move fallen trees and two medical kits, just in case.

Dude doesn't realize that the Suburban is his Achilles' heel. It makes him dependent on fossil fuels that won't be available if civilization collapses. And it makes him dependent on roads. Sure, he has a chainsaw for fallen trees -- all the better for someone to knock a tree down over a road and bushwack him when he gets out to clear it. Yeesh.
posted by Gelatin at 7:32 AM on September 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


Surely, once Civilisation Collapses, the cops and/or military, now liberated of their duty to a no-longer-existent society and in possession of formidable arsenals, will be the first to form the marauding Killer Caravans that will roam the wastelands.

The cops are a couple steps ahead of the military there already.
posted by entropicamericana at 7:38 AM on September 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


> Can't cut pickles with an AR-15, people

Who are we? We're preppers, not quitters!
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:04 AM on September 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


I've been telling people (well, some people) for years that my In Case of Apocalypse plan is to 1) rally survivors at the nearest Costco, then 2) caravan with as much shelf-stable food as we can carry to the MD Renaissance Festival, where we will 3) form a self-sustaining nerd community where our weird skillsets will be useful. The site is walled in, relatively isolated, and will be full of people who can repair solar panels, weave cloth, *and* build trebuchets. We can fill the parking lot with raised-bed gardens. Assuming The Big One doesn't just make a crater of the DC metro area, I'm set.
posted by nonasuch at 8:16 AM on September 2, 2016 [9 favorites]


Heywood Mogroot III

they're part of the rightwing bullshit brigade.

Another useful overlay that props up this point:

Federal Government: National Defense Consumption Expenditures and Gross Investment

Trends in U.S. Military Spending
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:14 AM on September 2, 2016


Survivalism has been part of our culture since the 50s,

There is research that the human brain is designed for functioning in a tribe of 150 people. Most people do not get to experience that ever. We are dealing mostly with groups either vastly larger or vastly smaller than that. Then we complain about a lack of community.

It was in the lifetimes of my children that the human race became more urban than rural. It wasn't that long ago that most Americans lived or worked on farms. Now, more than half the human race lives in the city.

I kind of think people like this are expressing the idea that humans aren't really designed for modern life and a whole lot of people would need to die for most folks to have any hope of having some sort of tribe of 150 people in an agricultural setting or something. It is like an admission that "I just can't quite adapt to modern life and I don't really want to try and I also don't know any means to establish a genuinely satisfactory life. So I am going to hope for An Act of God that returns humans to conditions that make more sense to my primate brain. (And since I am a Good Christian/Good Person, I shall be one of the survivors who gets to live in this post apocalyptic heaven.)"

It doesn't work, but I do have sympathy for the enormous sense of frustration with the modern world that it seems to express. "The grass is always greener...etc"
posted by Michele in California at 10:41 AM on September 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


And, what's more, I don't want to be the weaving crone of some post-apocalyptic society.

How about when the revolution begins.....?


You know - and I'd be happy to be corrected by the woman herself - she didn't seem that happy about it all, even with the knitting. Never felt she got what she needed from those executions. Which was probably her family back, come to think of it.

Yep. Survival still sounds horrible, even if you get to rule a free-dried food world.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 10:44 AM on September 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


I also like how one of the dudes is a sommelier. For who? Immortan Joe?

Immortan Joe: "Do not, my friends, become addicted to Chardonnay. It will take hold of you, and you will resent its absence!"
posted by Blackanvil at 11:12 AM on September 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


If these people run out of food and call for help, I'm sure they'll eventually find a taco truck on every corner.
posted by steeringwheel at 11:17 AM on September 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think the best plan for survival after the collapse of society would be to 'be useful'. Society will start to reform pretty much immediately from the survivors. You want to be part of that, not some random loon in the wilderness not contributing anything and sitting on a cache of land and resources, and you definitely don't want to be in conflict that society.

In Max Brooks' World War Z, that's almost exactly how things shake out. One story talks of yuppies whose skill set is useless in a post-apocalyptic scenario being humiliated by being taught basic life skills by their former gardeners and maids. In another segment, a soldier (narrated in the audio book by Mark Hamill!) who was in the push to reclaim the country from the zombies talking about stumbling across so-called "Last Man on Earth" types, which he says they called LMOEs, pronounced "Lame-os".

He mentions that while some of them were just happy to see other people at last, others didn't want anybody interfering with their little fiefdoms. So the Army just passed them by, leaving the lame-os for the mop up squads following behind.
posted by Gelatin at 11:27 AM on September 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


(The point about doctors is also a good one; in the comic The Walking Dead -- can you tell I dig zombie stories? -- Rick Grimes' group encounters a settlement that tolerates its doctor beating his wife, because they don't want to lose his services.)
posted by Gelatin at 11:30 AM on September 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


For those looking to google The Argentinian, his name is ferfal, not ferfan. He now has books and everything.
Yeah, and he looks to be a total nut. First of all, his description of the crisis in Argentina does not jibe with the personal accounts of a lot of people I know, he seems to be exaggerating a great deal to make it look like some kind of Zimbabwe meltdown situation, when it was more of a pretty bad economic recession. I wasn't there personally, but Mexico received a lot of Argentinians in that period, I know quite a few personally, and his descriptions seem wildly out of scale with what other people have told me.

Secondly, he seems to be something of a right-wing nut himself. I'm not sure if this is a persona he's adopted to sell his books to the American right-wing paranoia market, but it's pretty marked. Anything from referring to expropriation as "stealing", gloating about the collapse in Venezuela, reviewing knives and guns (so many knives and guns), anti-gun control stuff, calling British Columbia "a beautiful province that continues to overrun and ruined by leftists, the politically correct and socialism run amok", defending Argentina's military dictatorship, calling Cristina Kirchner's government literally a dictatorship, predicting that in 10 years dictatorship will come to the US as well, linking to far-right prepper websites and Koch brothers run organizations, entertaining letters from readers about the "realism" of crime rates amongst black people, Monsanto and GMO conspiracy theories, talk of the "lack of moral standards these days"...

Just maybe this guy's not a neutral observer.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:44 AM on September 2, 2016 [7 favorites]


The prepper movement fascinates me. I remember reading about a woman who had stockpiled batteries and videos and stuff, so she and her kids could live an unchanged life in the event of some catastrophe. I just read this, which has some interesting bits, but assumes that any catastrophe will be massive and absolute. I'm pretty amazed at how quickly we learn from one disaster to the next. Since the Great Ice Storm of 1998, I'll bet the utilities have gotten better prepared for the next one.

I prep a little because we get power outages from big storms and it makes sense to be able to keep warm, have food, and be able to cope. I keep a weeks' worth of soup and ginger ale on hand in winter because I live alone, away from town, and if I get the flu I want to be able to manage.

I like the idea of myself as capable and prepared. I think preppers take that really far. And they really think the world is extremely unsafe. In an emergency, they'd kind of scare me, as opposed to most of my community, who would be most likely to be checking on each other and providing help, which is how Mainers got through the Great Ice Storm.
posted by theora55 at 11:47 AM on September 2, 2016 [7 favorites]


Bonehead, your comment in anti-eponstyrical, and Marie Mon Dieu said it right about Maine.
posted by theora55 at 12:04 PM on September 2, 2016


Apropos of nothing, one of my favourite stories from the Ice Storm:

Some of the RC people I used to volunteer with were deployed to the Sherbrooke office in Quebec's Eastern Townships, which was one of the areas most hard hit. It's quite a rural area and there are lots of folks living quite a ways away from help in some rough terrain---getting supplies to them was a constant trouble and worry for the disaster coordinators.

One woman in particular, called in with a medical emergency on a night when it had started to get snowy. The snowmachines were not going to be able to get to her quickly and, in any case, people were worried about a long trip with someone with medical issues on the back of a machine, or possibly in a sled coming back to the hospital.

Well, this conversation was going back and forth on the radio for some time, trying to work out who could get there the fastest and still be safe to transport her into town, when a new voice came on the line, assuring the command post that the situation was being dealt with and asking for a landing zone zone near the local hospital. When asked who they were, the response was to not ask too many questions, but to expect an incoming helicopter within the hour.

And sure enough, a black, unmarked helicopter delivered the woman to the doorstep of the hospital in short order.

Apparently one of the US special forces groups had been training in Vermont and someone decided to make a call. Somehow, the local ATC and cops never found time to make formal reports about it either.
posted by bonehead at 12:11 PM on September 2, 2016 [33 favorites]


I've known a few folks on the prepping spectrum. And while different people Prep for different reasons, I find the ones that are in the deepest also tend to be the ones that are the most disappointed with how their lives have turned out so far. Especially when they see others around them "succeeding."

High-school/college drop-out? Dead-end job? Unhappy romantic life? But your sister and brother-in-law are DINK yuppies with a nice house and retirement savings and talk about their vacations all the time? Well, won't you just show them when the world comes crashing down and they come crawling begging for your help.

This AskMe has stuck with me because I could absolutely see people I know going off that particular deep end. So, it's not just a question of being hateful and racist (though, that certainly is tied to it), it's the overall idea of "this world doesn't need/appreciate me, but I'll be a King (or Queen) in the next one."

Which would just be sad except for, as discussed above, the very real harm that the libertarian/prepper/fyigm attitude can do to societies in the real world.
posted by sparklemotion at 12:18 PM on September 2, 2016 [7 favorites]


There's another version, sometimes called the Theory of Anyway, that makes me more cheerful. (But it involves short showers now, not MREs later.)
posted by clew at 2:03 PM on September 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


So there used to be a fake reality show on Discovery called 'The Colony' where they took a team of specialists (carpenters, biologists specialized in infectious disease, engineers, mechanics, survivalist, artists who worked as blacksmiths and glass blowers, etc...) and let them rebuild a colony post apocalyptic disaster. It was filmed in part of the area that was flooded in Louisiana so it was post-suburban survival. Long story short, some of their stuff was successful, personalities frequently resulted in the standard reality TV conflict. Ultimately I thought about that these were the best equipped people - not the suburbia I am surrounded with. Most IT workers I know are kinda hosed unless they have good weekend hobbies. The finance and lawyer types can be the first eaten once laws against canibalism are null and void and money has no value for trade... I mean, I can tell people make charts. Or that of they need to know how much media they should buy - I'm their man.

I guess I could tell them that or I can show them that I can weld, forge, build circuits, replace windows, navigate by compass and the stars, mountaineer, sail, and garden.

I dunno. Realistically, I'm not a prepped, and i'll never be one. I'm never going to deliver mail by horseback, or accidentally help out a female sex-prisoner break on train. I don't have gills and webbed feet. But, I unfortunately live in the survival triangle of Massachusetts where I am outside the meltdown radii of all the nuclear reactors in my area. That means, I might have to survive for a while - survive long enough to walk into the burning sea of radiation western Middlesex and eastern Worcester County find themselves surrounded by.

Viva la roaches!
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:01 PM on September 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


God help you if you're attacked by a feral infant.
posted by indubitable at 7:11 PM on September 2, 2016


We need to start a Lucifer's Hammer-bashing thread. It is sickening on just about every level (and, yes, I loved it when I was 14, but I did a lot of stupid stuff when I was 14. I got better).

Niven ain't so bad. I blame Pournelle for the worst of it. And Ronald Reagan.
posted by mikelieman at 9:59 PM on September 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm so glad Obama took everyone's guns.
posted by misterpatrick at 10:29 AM on September 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


> My kid is stockpiling Pokémon cards, so we're good.

I don't see a difference between your child and the preppers. I get unreasonably ticked off at the "prepper" name and other labels that give this movement a veneer of respectability. As so many MeFites have pointed out, they aren't prepared to live sustainably at all. I call them "collectors" because that seems to be the sum total of their activities. Marvel at my array of firearms, be impressed by my canned goods, compare your cache of precious (!?) metals to mine and be left wanting.

These people will earn nothing but my scorn until their activities stop resembling a racist, murdery power fantasy and begin to resemble something like a volunteer fire department.
posted by Monochrome at 9:34 AM on September 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


I had a really, really different take on this article than y'all. My thought was:

"Huh - if they're all moving to the same spot in the US, that gets them all out of all the other counties in the US, so there's only one state that will be influenced by their voting patterns now. That.....might be a good thing."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:13 PM on September 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


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