Everyday more people discover that more freedoms have eroded and much of what they depended upon is in danger of not existing tomorrow. Retirement funds lose substantial value as politicians ask for more from citizens and then give it away to questionable recipients. People want to know what they can do to survive the uncertain future looming on the horizon.
However, if some tales of survivalist stockpiling are to be believed, our nutty neighbors have enough of the social lubricant squirreled away to hold the most epic end-of-the-world-party of all time outside of Edgar Wright's social circle. It might not be practical, but who needs practical when you and everyone you know is doomed to die from radiation poisoning or cancer?
Strategic Objective 5: As the movement of people, goods, and services across borders increases, our national health security is increasingly dependent on global health security. NHSS identifies ways to strengthen global health security by supporting international capacity and capability to detect, prevent, and respond to disasters and public health emergencies.11
Another wave of survivalism began after the September 11, 2001 attacks and subsequent bombings in Bali, Madrid, and London. This resurgence of interest in survivalism appears to be as strong as the 1970s era focus on the topic. The fear of war, avian influenza, energy shortages, environmental disasters and global climate change, coupled with economic uncertainty, and the apparent vulnerability of humanity after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, has increased interest in survivalism topics.
Herman Melville's Moby-Dick has been read as a critique of Emerson's philosophy of self-reliance, embodied particularly in the life and death of Ahab. Melville's critique of self-reliance as a way of life is seen to lie in its destructive potential, especially when taken to extremes. Richard Chase writes that for Melville, 'Death–spiritual, emotional, physical–is the price of self-reliance when it is pushed to the point of solipsism, where the world has no existence apart from the all-sufficient self.'In that regard, Chase sees Melville's art as antithetical to that of Emerson's thought, in that Melville '[points] up the dangers of an exaggerated self-regard, rather than, as [...] Emerson loved to do, [suggested] the vital possibilities of the self.'Newton Arvin further suggests that self-reliance was, for Melville, really the '[masquerade in kingly weeds of] a wild egoism, anarchic, irresponsible, and destructive.'
The 66-year-old tried starting his own spinoff meetup. Ozarks Resilience Group was to be a pragmatic organization that ran drills on real-life scenarios like hiking out of town with a bug-out bag. After six months of nonparticipation, he gave up. Allen estimates there are several hundred “hardcore preppers” in Springfield, but at most, there’s two dozen whom he would trust in an emergency.
(Clarifying note: best practices are best practices for a reason. Most successful companies don’t innovate, but copy in clever ways. Bob Dylan’s first album had no original songs on it — but he made each of those songs his own. We should always do what’s working as long as we can be ourselves while we do it. Often, originality doesn’t mean coming up with something totally novel, but combining tried and true elements in a new way — a creative endeavor that becomes impossible if you become a slave to the experts who say the best method has already been discovered and can never be altered or improved upon.)
Perhaps the most unusual thing about the female prepper lifestyle is that it suggests a counterintuitive movement through time: a return to a slower, more elemental way of life, one that eschews the conveniences of modern consumer society in favor of the empowerment that comes from doing things yourself. Some of the women I spoke to said being a prepper helped them carry on the same old-fashioned life skills — like gardening, canning, and smart budgeting — that helped their mothers and grandmothers during the Great Depression. Others harkened back to the homesteaders of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, whose pioneering settlement and cultivation of the Great Plains form the backbone of the American myth of self-reliance.
And while most of them will tell you they got into survivalism out of an interest in self-reliance, that spirit by no means excludes a sense of cooperation. It’s there in the endless churn of blog posts, advice columns, Pinterest boards, Facebook groups, online classes, and digital marketplaces these women use to connect and swap information every day. And it’s here at Wild Abundance, in the open-air living room, where a woman with short hair and tattoos balances two tall boards of wood on the ground as another starts screwing in the shelves that will connect them into a bookcase.
This group consists of people who live in tornado, hurricane, flood, wildfire, earthquake or heavy snowfall-prone areas and want to be prepared for possible emergencies. They invest in material for fortifying structures and tools for rebuilding and constructing temporary shelters. While assuming the long-term continuity of society, some may have invested in a custom-built shelter, food, water, medicine, and enough supplies to get by until contact with the rest of the world resumes following a natural emergency.
This doesn’t mean living in a void, it just means that we’re conscious about our relationship to the world and other people. It’s not rejecting external advice outright, but trusting ourselves enough to sift through which advice is worthy. We’re aware of the agendas of others, and don’t let them sway us from our self-determined path. Self-reliance doesn’t necessarily mean rejecting all established customs and values, it just means experimenting with them so we know if they work for us. It’s putting stock in our inner wisdom.
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day.--'Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.'--Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.
The irony of this didn’t escape me: While I’d been drawn to freeze-dried food as a convenient way of preparing for a cataclysm that may never come, there I was, toiling away for hours in the kitchen to prepare a dish I’d be eating that night and the next day. It was the most fortifying meal I’d eaten all week, and a minor achievement: Thanks to the premeasured portions and easy-to-follow instructions, I’d learned how to make a chicken pot pie from scratch.
“Let a Stoic open the resources of man, and tell men they are not leaning willows, but can and must detach themselves; that with the exercise of self-trust, new powers shall appear; that a man is the word made flesh, born to shed healing to the nations, that he should be ashamed of our compassion, and the moment he acts from himself, tossing the laws, the books, idolatries, and customs out of the window, we pity him no more, but thank and revere him, and that teacher shall restore the life of man to splendor, and make his name dear to all history.”
Though its light weight and long shelf life are ideal for navigating harsh conditions, freeze-dried food is probably most famous as a cultural curiosity: Like many Americans, I discovered it in a museum gift shop, gawking at the styrofoam-like ice cream that astronauts used to have for dessert. More recently, I encountered it at a disaster preparedness convention in Raleigh, North Carolina, where smiling, gray-haired preppers manned tables piled with plastic bags full of vegetables, meats, and stews.
“And carnal nature said, ‘I’ve got eight shots, they’re not by their weapons, I’m going to kill every damn one of them.’ And then I saw the women. Hollow-faced, it looked like you had draped skeletons with cloth. Horrible, and the children were the same way. Far, far worse than anything I had ever imagined. I could see it, I could smell it, I could taste it, I could feel it. It was real. It’s going to be an experience you don’t want to go through.”—A dream Len Pense had, circa Fall 2017.
To find out, Mills placed ads on some popular prepper websites, recruited his cohort, and started his road trip. His goal wasn't a quantitative study; it was ethnography, which is largely talking to people, spending time with them, and seeing whether there are commonalities in how they think. It's important to note that regardless of how popular these prepper sites are, they probably won't produce a full cross-section of the prepper community, either, nor will selecting people based on willingness to talk to a researcher. That said, you'll still probably get more depth than you would by selecting for great TV.
Spurred on later by fears of the 2012 Mayan prophesies of an apocalyptic nature, the Prepper movement is seeing a lot of growth in late 2011 and into 2012. The advent of many television shows and movies that are collapse oriented has helped to nearly bring preparedness to the forefront of societal consciousness. While it is still considered “fringe” by many, the Federal Government is actively promoting preparedness through Ready.gov and many states are developing specific readiness programs.
"So you know, I'm not a survivalist nor am I really very outdoorsy in general. I'm basically a relative novice prepper, but what I was looking for with this book was more like "have a plan after the plan" resource. I got to thinking that survival would be necessary after an emergency, but at some point, it would need to become how to live your life with whatever changes there had been in the world. So this was more like an "ok, I survived, what do I do now?" pick for me."
Terrorist attacks including the 911 plane attacks, bombings in London, Madrid, Bali and many other places, led to a strong online interest in discussing personal readiness and self reliance. Fueled by United States disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and Ike and international disasters including earthquakes and tsunamis in Indonesia, Chile, Japan and elsewhere, the Prepper Movement gained a lot of momentum without having a particular date in mind (unlike Y2K) which led to many people recognizing a need to change their lives to be more prepared and self reliant.
If our young men miscarry in their first enterprises, they lose all heart. If the young merchant fails, men say he is ruined. If the finest genius studies at one of our colleges, and is not installed in an office within one year afterwards in the cities or suburbs of Boston or New York, it seems to his friends and to himself that he is right in being disheartened, and in complaining the rest of his life. A sturdy lad from New Hampshire or Vermont, who in turn tries all the professions, who teams it, farms it, peddles, keeps a school, preaches, edits a newspaper, goes to Congress, buys a township, and so forth, in successive years, and always, like a cat, falls on his feet, is worth a hundred of these city dolls. He walks abreast with his days, and feels no shame in not 'studying a profession,' for he does not postpone his life, but lives already. He has not one chance, but a hundred chances. Let a Stoic open the resources of man, and tell men they are not leaning willows, but can and must detach themselves; that with the exercise of self-trust, new powers shall appear; that a man is the word made flesh, born to shed healing to the nations, that he should be ashamed of our compassion, and that the moment he acts from himself, tossing the laws, the books, idolatries, and customs out of the window, we pity him no more, but thank and revere him, — and that teacher shall restore the life of man to splendor, and make his name dear to all history.