On preparing

In the usual corners of the ‘net, you’ll find all sorts of talk about ‘prepping’, and the methods (and madness) that come with looking out for yourself and your loved ones in the coming possible apocalypse.   No need to elaborate here – a quick search on ‘prepping’ will get you an eyeful/earful.

Now, for some folks, this is silly; the traditional apocalypse won’t happen.  We’ll have a stairstep collapse, and things will get bad in fits and starts, but we won’t have groceries on the shelves one day, and Mad Max the next.   This isn’t a setup to denigrate those folks; they’ve got a point, and for anyone who thought the ‘collapse’ would happen in 1975, they’ve missed a lot by selling everything, and holing up in some remote location (and gone broke).  There are scenarios that could give us that (an EMP strike), but even with that, holing up by yourself probably isn’t the best idea.

People who survived the breakup of Yugoslavia and the old Soviet Union, and the crises in Argentina (and now Greece) have some great advice that does sync up with some of the ‘prepper’ world, apocalypse or not.   Ferfal, who survived in Argentina, and Dmitry Orlov (who saw the collapse of the Soviet Union) are two folks to follow on a regular basis, and who’ve detailed what has happened almost down to the molecular level.  Ferfal, especially, has some harrowing tales from Argentina, and his commentary on security, lying low, and how to navigate an economic collapse is worth listening to.  From what I can gather, the distillation of their experiences comes down to one pretty basic thing.  I’ll put it here with a single bullet point:

  • Your community is what will save you – get to know folks, really *know* folks before things get rough.

This seems so simple, and so obvious, but from all the reading I’ve done, it seems that without that, all attempts at saving food/learning how to get food/acquiring self-defense skills and tools/saving money/being a resourceful person/etc. will be for naught if you don’t have people you can trust.   Take any scenario, with a single person who has everything, but no friends and/or connections.  Yes, during good and stable times, money can buy a bit of loyalty, but as soon as things go pear-shaped, those getting paid to protect you may not be loyal, or even turn on you.

Orlov’s Communities that Abide is pretty clear on this (and he gave a great talk, from what I’ve read), and JMG’s comment that the folks in command usually are killed by their own security personnel are good indications that ‘going it alone’ isn’t a viable survival strategy.

So, what does one do to prepare?  In a nutshell – be a hardworking, generous,  trustworthy, soul.   If you have money now, help out trustworthy folks who aren’t doing so well.   If you don’t have money, be trustworthy with what you do have, and don’t stab people in the back, literally or figuratively.  This can’t be done, of course, with a calculating sort of “I’ll give $X so that I can have N people at my back when things go bad;” that sort of math probably isn’t possible anyway.   Getting involved in a community, a real community, has psychic benefits that are tough to quantify anyway.   So – get out there and connect with your community, your neighbors, the folks in whatever organization you belong to, and stay connected.

One suggestion I gave to someone who was advising someone who came into a multi-multi-million dollar fortune was to start giving serious scholarships to the students of the high school where his summer home was located.  Think about it – most people who vacation in places outside of cities are seen as ‘summer people’, and generally aren’t seen too kindly by the local townies (I’ve seen this in action).  However, if you were seen as someone who truly cared about the town and its inhabitants, their worldview of you would be far different than someone who simply drove up on the weekends and shoveled money at the few who were actually doing work for you (mowing your lawn, feeding you at local restaurants, etc.).

This doesn’t mean that this will give you a guaranteed pass when things get rough.  But people who think of their communities in good times will definitely be more welcomed when things go bad.


  • Do you have a real (not virtual) community?  What is it based on?
  • Do you discuss possible unpleasant futures?
  • Given that unpleasantness happens with some regularity, why do people who have wealth consider it a bulwark against history?
  • Is the idea of providing a local high school scholarship ill-advised?   In what other ways could you use your resources to show a community that you were a worthwhile member of it, even when you aren’t a full-time member?

4 thoughts on “On preparing

  1. Ben

    1 – I have a fairly threadbare community, I’m afraid. I have my wife and family, as well a dozen or so close friends that live in my city. There is a community gardening group my wife and joined, but all of its members are over 60 and may not do well if the USA hit a truly rough patch. My other close friends are scattered across the US, so they would be of limited mutual aid if things got Soviet-collapse-era rough.
    2 – I do discuss the coming unpleasantness w/ friends and family, though only about four or five of them, (including, fortunately, my wife) take the topic at all seriously. Even those who do take it seriously mostly treat it as an academic possibility rather than one that needs prepped for today.
    3 – My guess is that people with wealth (I assume you mean in the USA) think it is a bulwark against rough times because if they’ve never experienced real problems (not the first world kind), they simply cannot conceive that the world could very easily treat them otherwise.
    4 – That last one is tricky. I lived for two years (round the year) in a small town in western Pennsylvania, and neither my or my wife ever felt like we were members of the community, worthwhile or otherwise. That said, I’m not sure I have better suggestions.

    1. peakfuture Post author

      Volunteering is good. The Maker, ham radio, and gardening communities are all good starts. My thought is that if you are trying to get a real community together, you will have the skills to *make* a community work. It isn’t easy, yeah.

      I know Chris Martenson has just come out with a book (Prosper) that he was talking about on the Kunstlercast. That might be a start for ideas. Asking the folks over at the Archdruid Report might be good too.

      Keep on keeping on. You are incredibly fortunate that your wife ‘gets it’ – a differing worldview in a marriage can be horrible.

      1. Ben

        Yeah if making communities were easy, I’d have written a book about it already and made some money.
        I do check out Kunstler’s podcasts from time to time, I’ll have to look that one up.
        Yeah I am glad to have a wife the ‘gets it’ at least most of the way. We’ve taken Greer’s advice to pick up old timey hobbies for fun. Makes preparing a lot less tedious.

  2. Pingback: Learning to live without | peakfuture

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