The Best of American Survivor

Tacticool” advertising would make Edward Bernays quite proud, for it has convinced many who have rejected the left-right paradigm to still be tricked into buying shit they don’t need in order to impress people they don’t like, because as any Madison Avenue social engineer knows, you don’t so much as sell a product to a customer as you sell that customer on the false imagery of a lifestyle that can be commodified and sold. A marketing niche has thus been created within the alternative media as a source of revenue generation, which largely capitalizes on the fear generated from obsessing about doom porn that is done in accordance with the Hegelian Dialectic. Truth be told, you can still prep for real disasters using improvised equipment that is more affordable and pragmatic than anything these “celebritarians” try to sell to you.


best of american survivor cover


This anthology of articles originally published in American Survivor over the course of several years is quite possibly the very best survival book I have ever read, by far. Jim Jones enthusiastically remarks:


I am a survivalist, and by nature a survivalist is an optimist…[i]t is difficult to find any well-recommended historian, economist, political scientist, sociologist, or military strategist that will predict that disasters are not inevitable, yet we survivalists dare to be optimistic about the future. We survivalists do not need to predict the probability of disaster any more than we need to predict the sun setting…[t]he survivalist can not lose because his survival preparations will be of value regardless of what the future has in store[t]oday’s survivalist is an asset to his community and to the world and should be proud to say, ‘I am a survivalist.’ ”


Although I certainly appreciate his unapologetic attitude, the truth of the matter is that a few years ago during a meet n’greet with some anarchists right here within the Greater Austin metropolitan area, I straight out told them that I was a survivalist and then answered their questions about why I chose to be one, which promptly led to a mutual disassociation not two weeks later. Granted, this could be chalked up to well-practiced vetting, but perhaps there is such a thing as revealing too much too soon.

People’s dependency upon the system, whether it be unethical welfare state handouts or amoral electrical and plumbing via the grid, is rather quite pronounced. Jones says:


“The vast majority of the population has no idea how to cook anything from scratch. At best, they can follow the directions on a box where most of the hard work has already been done. The urban population depends mostly on fast food, delivered food, and microwaves. As if to prove my point, I was amazed to see that Cracker Barrel and other restaurants were packed on Thanksgiving! Most folks take refrigeration, air-conditioning, central heating, and clean running water for granted. They do not associate these comforts with how they get them and tend to panic when they fail.”


Considering the fact that 81.4% of the total American population is urbanized, this means that ~ 252 million Americans are city rats and thus utterly and hopelessly dependent upon the grid as it stands, whether they want to be or not. This creates a situation of moral hazard against survivalists, homesteaders, and others who seek alternative lifestyles not completely dependent on the grid, which for the most part, is voluntary. Generally speaking, nobody put a gun to these Americans’ heads and coerced them to buy electricity and plumbing services, which is further evidenced by the very presence of the Amish (unfortunately, municipal ordinances, such as nuisance abatement, are now being used by local bureaucrats and politicians to criminalize off-grid living).

One of the few demerits of this particular book by Jones is his political attitude. Granted, he seldom goes into politics in any real depth, other than encouraging a healthy skepticism towards government, yet I think his observations about Leviathan are awfully naïve:


The State can be any level of local or national government. It is a creation of the people and is arguable composed of the same proportions of positive and negative people as the society it represents. It is responsible to the people and empowered by them, but it has a vested interest in the criminals that justify its power. This is an unintentional but real symbiotic relationship. Prohibition laws in the 1920s increased the wealth and power of gangs and government. Drug laws today actually increase drug use and gang power while justifying more police powers. Terrorism’s first major blow was to the civilian freedoms. If there were no crimes or threats of terror, etc. more laws, taxes and bureaucracies would be hard to justify. By nature of the state tends to opposes individualism and self-reliance and promote dependency and regulation. It will take whatever wealth and power the people will give it. The great majority of politicians and government employees (fire, police, etc.) are also good people, but it is in the nature of the entity to grow, tax, and pass laws. Since the state can sometimes serve the people and sometimes be the criminal, it is a neutral force that can go either way.”


Keep in mind that this is a survival book, not a political treatise. Though I appreciate his honesty regarding the historical (and present) collusion between government and organized criminal syndicates, I do find his populist mentality rather tiresome, because I’ve seen this so many times before that I truly do want to puke my guts out. Again, if individuals were to understand that the State is an oxymoronic “expropriating property protector,” then the alleged necessity for it, as touted by Thomas Paine, just kinda evaporates into a mist of smoke, just kinda…POOF! Gone, and hopefully forever.

Medically speaking, there were some improvised technologies I found rather enlightening. Jones explains:


“‘Dakin’s Solution’ was an antiseptic fluid developed by a British chemist and a French-American surgeon. This was basically a 1/10 strength Clorox, with a little boric acid in sterile water. They would simply place a tube in the wound and run the fluid over/through the wound. The solution would kill germs and dissolve dead tissue without harming healthy tissue. Studies indicate that solutions weaker than .025% are ineffective and stronger than .25% kill healthy tissue so a .025% – .050 solution is recommended. The wound needs to be kept open and flushed frequently, as the solution remains effective for a short time on the wound. With the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant strains of Staph and the possibility of shortages of antibiotics in a large-scale emergency. ‘Dakin’s Solution’ might be something to consider.”


Century Pharmaceuticals, Inc. presently sells both “half-strength” (0.25%) and “full strength” (0.50%) for $10.60/pint or $84.80/case. Obviously, I’m not all that confident that Jones’ percentages are accurate, so I would suggest that before you take his word for it you ought to consult a nurse before you invest in this material or otherwise homebrew your own batch of Dakin’s Solution. Another improvisation was this rather affordable bio/chem suit idea:


“You can improvise a protective suit from plastic rubber bands and a pair of surgical gloves. Latex gloves are a handy item that I keep with each mask. The suit…consists of two large bags used as a skirts and head/body cover and four small ones used to cover arms, legs and shoes. It is important to note that any form of non-porous covering is better than none. Even just the one big bag covers 50% of the body. A raincoat or poncho is far better than nothing. A step better is the basic Tyvek chemical protective suits with the hoods and feet. These are cheap (around $12.00), light and easy to carry. I keep one in all my survival packs. These too are often available in hardware stores and are used by painters. They are bit bulky for pockets, but fit well in the glove box, desk drawer, or locker.”


All things considered, this is a rather ingenious idea. I’ve really gotten sick and tired in my private conservations with other “preppers” about whether gas masks and their filters are worth stocking up on, and if so, what kinds. The fact of the matter is that the likelihood of having that material near at hand when you most need it is pretty much nil, which is why I think that Jones’ advocacy of N95 masks, and even paper napkins, are infinitely more practical and friendly to the wallet in order to deal with lethal airborne bullshit. Naturally, these and similar recommendations bear further investigative research, but suffice it to say for now, there is quite a lot of insightful leads to follow up on.

Fascinatingly, Jones suggested alternate versions of everyday carry (EDC), one of which entails littering your coat pockets with four specific items:


“The first item is a pack of common safety matches or a butane lighter. This is the only case where smokers have a survival advantage. Yes, waterproof camp matches are better, but the box is bulky and you may not want to have them in every coat and pair of pants you have. The second item is a few paper napkins. These are always handy, cheap, and have many emergency applications. Third is a small plastic sandwich bag. The bigger the bag the better, but we are talking about your pockets not a backpack. Finally, have a few heavy-duty rubber bands. You can distribute these items throughout your pockets so you hardly know they are there. There is nothing here that should cause any problems going through security inspections.”


Another version entailed the use of a “belt kit” whereby pouches filled with equipment can be slid onto your belt. Evidently, both the coat pocket and belt kit approaches are variations on EDC, and I think they are worth experimenting with, provided you don’t spend 250 quid on just the leather belt alone.

Interestingly enough, the list of improvised “survival” foods from your local grocery store was well within the realm of possible affordability, even for the poorest “prepper.” Jones’ list, in part, included:

  • Quaker Instant Oatmeal, individual packages
  • Beef jerky, small package (2 oz.)
  • Power Bars
  • Knorr soup mix (tomato beef)
  • Nature Valley Granola Bars (2 pack)
  • Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate
  • Lipton rice mix
  • Lipton noodle mix
  • Ramen Noodle mix
  • Trail mix, dried fruit & nuts (6 oz)
  • Zatarain Jambalaya mix (8 oz)
  • King Oscar Anchovies (2 oz)

Much of this is tailored towards bugging out, but then again, anything that can be used for bugging out can be tailored towards bunkering in (although the reverse is seldom true). Of course, I recommend that you abide by the adages of both “eat what you store, and store what you eat,” and FIFO (first in, first out; aka, eat the oldest shit first, numbnuts!).

James Jones’ The Best of American Survivor was truly a delight to read from cover to cover, which for me is quite rare. Much better than his previous book, which focused nearly exclusively on survival philosophy and psychology, this anthology included some of that type of material but maintained a focused balance between skills and stuff. Other than a plant identification section that was totally worthless and occasional bad grammar littered throughout, this book is more valuable than not, and is certainly worth your time to peruse its 300 some odd pages. I will leave you with Jones’ apt observation regarding the importance of controlling your emotional attitude towards not only disasters, but also life in general:

“Fear is a very powerful force that can doom those who should survive and save those who should perish. It allows the weak to subdue the mighty and the few to intimidate the many. It is why small forces can send whole armies into retreat and why whole populations can be enslaved by a brutal few. Being able to manage and overcome fear in yourself and your friends is a vital element in staying alive and staying free…[c]ourage is not being unafraid. Courage is being afraid and doing the right thing anyway.”

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