Sunday, July 10, 2011

Got a Plan? Is it Viable?

(This is a long one folks so, in case you don't feel like reading it all, I'll put the salient points up here:

1. After TEOTWAWKI people will not sit in the cities and starve.
2. Roving bands will organize into formidable militias to raid for food (and later) farmland to grow food on.
3. You can hide a bunker, but you can't hide fields, orchards or even pastures.
4. Only ORGANIZED resistance by farming communities has any chance of holding on to their farmland.
5. Medieval nobility knew that all power is ultimately derived from the land.
6. If you're thinking long term survival you need to be thinking communities not bunkers.

Sorry if that bursts your bunker building bubble.)

I recently read a letter sent to a survival blog in which a person claiming 27 years of Army experience and service in several "failed" countries states that if TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) occurs he expects a cascade of events which will render individual retreats and family survival farms untenable. His reasoning goes something like this:

A. "Food is the key resource" and there will be a tremendous population die off as the country regresses to an agrarian economy without the benefits of modern infrastructure with its (oil based) transportation and artificial fertilizer.

B. You can hide your bunker, but you can't hide your farmland.

C. After a TEOTWAWKI event unless there is an "immediate restoration of the economy" everyone living in cities is "doomed" unless they can "take over some kind of farm land."

He further states that the "teeming millions" in the cities [and burbs] will not "just starve and go away."

His points:
1. People are the most dangerous animal on earth and they'll be armed.

2. Small groups of raiders will quickly be replaced by larger better organized groups doing the same thing under the color of self-righteousness.

3. Without central authority people will form their own polities (governing bodies) organized around local government or churches [or survival groups?].

4. When (not if) a polity forms near you you'd better be part of that process or you'll be looked upon as a resource rather than a member of that community.

5. The newly formed local polity is almost certain to make mistakes. "Some of them are lethal blunders. Odds are, the locals will probably not have given a lot of serious thought to facing long term survival. They will squander resources and delay implementing necessary actions (like planting more food or working together to defend a harvest). They may even decide to take in thousands of refugees from nearby cities, thereby almost insuring their own longer term starvation."

He further states:
"A much better approach [for you] is to be an integral part of the community and use the combined resources of the community to defend all of your resources together. This would be much easier if a high percentage of the community were like minded folks who were committed to sharing and cooperating. Because any community with food is likely going to have to somehow survive while facing even larger polities, like nearby cities, counties or even state governments. Don't expect to face a walking hoard of lightly armed, starving individuals. Expect to face a professional, determined army formed by a government of some kind. [...] A small farming community can probably support a few outsiders, but not very many. The community will need to politically deal with outside polities or they will face a war they can't win. Hiding the fact that you are self sufficient is going to be hard. You can't hide farm land."

And that:
"Defending your resources against the nearby city will be even harder. You may be able to save the community by buying protection with surplus food...if you have prepared for that. You may indeed have to fight, but stalling that event for even a year could mean the difference between living and being overwhelmed."

Here I disagree. Buying off refugees fosters a sense of entitlement and insures they'll stick around for tomorrow's handout. They'll get mean when food runs low and they think you're holding out on them.

His conclusion is that to survive the community you live in will have to go into the crisis with a plan and that you'll want to go into that crisis as one of those making those plans and not as an outside resource.

He expects (based on his experiences in Albania in 1998 and other "failed" countries) that once it becomes apparent that the federal government has failed local committees will begin forming with the expressed propose of restoring order.
. . . . .

It's a frightening prospect. To begin with no small farming community has the resources to fight off a city and buying the city dwellers off with the finite amount of stored food available would only work until the farmers ran out of food they were willing to give away or, more accurately, pay. But the urbanites would still be hungry and they would know where to go for food.

But wait, there is hope because time keeps everything from happening a once. Will the unprepared hordes come pouring out of the cities the instant the end of the world as they know it is announced on TV ? Probably not.

For two reasons.
For one thing it probably won't be announced. In the face of impending crisis which announcement do you expect to hear broadcast by officials?

"Remain calm. Everything is under control or soon will be."
"Run for your lives, every man for himself!"

Yeah, I don't expect to hear the second one either. While the Chernobyl reactor was melting down Communist officials were privately evacuating their families while publicly proclaiming all was well because, they said later, they didn't want to create a panic. And I don't recall any officials or their families being caught at home in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit. Do you?

Second, when crises are announced people have a tendency to remain where they feel safe and comfortable i.e. at home. Every hurricane season we hear officials pleading with residents to evacuate endangered zones. Then we hear the death toll followed by interviews with survivors who stayed behind. In the absence of a clearly visible approaching danger people procrastinate and hope whatever it is will just go away.

If the approaching crisis does spur residents into evacuating you'll want to be the first out the gate. Our military veteran quoted above stated that once it became apparent that government control had lapsed in Albania roadblocks started going up within hours. I also believe there was at least one incidence of an official a roadblock going up when Hurricane Katrina* hit and that was when everybody knew there was still a federal government.

[*Two days after the storm passed, the Gretna police setup a roadblock on the bridge, refusing passage to evacuees. A lawsuit alleges that the bridge was closed due to racism against the largely African-American evacuees, while the city maintains that they had no facilities or manpower to serve the evacuees.[6]

In the initial weeks following the storm, only emergency personnel and contractors were permitted to use the bridge. The bridge reopened to traffic in mid-September as decreasing water levels on the East Bank of Orleans Parish allowed Interstate 10 to reopen and residents to return, but then was temporarily closed to regular traffic again when another evacuation was declared due to Hurricane Rita, with the bridge again reopening in late September.]

So you'll need to read between the lines of official news releases on an impending crisis if your plan includes vacating your bungalow in the burbs in favor of your bunker in the bushes.

But what about farming communities? Look at the size of a farm. It would take more people to defend it 24/7, particularly at harvest time, than it can feed.

Even smaller communities will have trouble though, because farming communities rely on massive amounts of outside input (oil based fuels and fertilizers) to make things work. How many farmers still have a plow horse drawn plow or a horse to pull it?

When I was stationed in South Korea I learned that farmers (there and around the world) sleep in the fields at harvest time to prevent the theft of their ripened crops.


CO writes:
"So lemme see if I follow you, because I am a little slow...

City Dwellers are going to become interested in agronomy? When I went through the Parris Island School for Boys, they made us all, as future amphibians, spend several days in a pool swimming with full combat gear. Those from the metropolitan places like New York and Philadelphia were petrified - they had never been swimming in their lives, as that is not a cultural norm of those areas, and many of them failed pitifully, and were retrieved from the bottom of a very, very deep pool before their lungs completely filled with over chlorinated water.

My point being that they will only do what they know. They don't have Pocahantas' family teaching them how to fertilize crops. My DNA may have tobacco farmers somewhere in it, but I grew up roofing with my Dad and uncle. I can't even grow a tomato, and I doubt there will be many resource materials in the Zombie World that will be available for me to use as guides. My 18th summer in Parris Island, and later, did teach me some other skills, however.

I gotta wonder if the street smart people will rely on their existing skill sets, rather than be patient and await the maturation of grain or soy bean plants. It just ain't in their makeup. It also isn't in the makeup of farming communities to understand the extreme, fast paced evil that metropolitans know as second nature. I doubt that people accustomed to riding subways are going to be skilled in equine transportation, either.

Just something to think on, brother."


Hummmmm… Somehow I've failed to communicate. What you are espousing is exactly what I thought I was writing about.

When forced by hunger to abandon their comfort zone in the cities ravenous city slickers will descend upon rural communities with the disastrous effect you outlined.


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