“It would be a wise thing, I would suppose, to be able to have the means to provide your own food, shelter, and water for at least a year. There’s great comfort that comes when we’re prepared…get it, put it up, put it away, don’t worry about it. Great piece of mind. Prepare for a rainy day. Prepare for when things might not be as rosy as they are now…take the time; be self-reliant – prepare. You can fight for freedom better when you’re prepared yourself.”
Set against the backdrop of a hyperinflationary doom porn scenario, the originator of Survival Blog has fictionalized what The End Of The World As We Know It (TEOTWAWKI) might look like here in America. Known within the novel as “the Crunch,” this socio-economic collapse rears its ugly head in 2009 with gold bullion priced at $5,100 per ounce and a can of beans costs $150. In essence, the Great Recession is assumed to have rendered Federal Reserve Notes (the American dollar) virtually unusable as currency, which in light of today’s reality is why this novel is a work of fiction.
My favorite character is Kevin Lendel, whom you might imagine to be a more self-assured version of former political prisoner David Lee Fry. As a bookish electrical engineer, Lendel was the most unusual of the survivalist retreat group membership. He is described early on thusly:
“He wore glasses with thick lenses, and had a mop of black hair that he constantly brushed out of his eyes…He was not particularly interested in the outdoors, and until he joined the Group, he had never fired a gun. However, Lendel did see the wisdom of preparedness, and changed his lifestyle and spending habits accordingly…typically, he had his nose in a book during most of the meetings that were dominated by discussion… He had acute hearing, outstanding night vision, a fencer’s fast reactions, and a curious ‘sixth sense’ about potential ambushes. He liked the position of point man, and quickly earned the respect of all the group members…”
Lendel was also the only member of the retreat group, besides accountant Todd Gray and his wife Mary, who invested in his own bug out homestead; his was to the tune of $92,000 (paid in cash) for 26 acres, which had a house designed to be of an earth-bermed passive solar construction.
Three years into the Crunch, a trading faire was securely organized by another nearby retreat group in order to enable a semblance of commerce amongst the survivors within the local area. Leaving behind a contingent of “the Group” to hold the fort as it were, the majority of them attend the event:
“The Barter Faire itself was spread out up and down the main street. It seemed like a veritable horde, since they hadn’t seen large gatherings of people for nearly three years…It was a simple affair. Anyone with a sizeable quantity of goods to sell simply rolled out one or more blankets on the pavement, and spread out their goods. Direct barter of goods and services was the most common form of payment…Most of the merchandise for sale would have been considered nothing but junk before the Crunch, but now every item was carefully scrutinized and considered…The second day at the Barter Faire went much like the first…the gathering, including the dance, was peaceful. Those who stayed for the dance got a ride home the next day when the third increment from the retreat arrived. In all, the Faire was a big success.”
Sounding like a cross between a flea market and a shindig, the Barter Faire was the first real civilizing force of spontaneous order since the beginning of the Crunch. Violence and deprivation had been the norm, whether it be killing rioters and bandits or just cannibals who carried the limbs of young children in their handcarts.
Without giving away the ending too much, a real turning point is about five years after the Crunch, when a bureaucrat arrives via a Beechcraft C-12 airplane. This Mr. Clarke relays the message of the allegedly President pro tem, who essentially says that the United Nations is heavily assisting the new provisional federal government in rebuilding the country, and to that end, regional police forces, a new currency, and a mandatory National ID card will be imposed so as to restore “law and order.” When pressed upon some in the crowd as to what the new living conditions will be, Clarke admitted that most firearms will be outlawed, with the remainder subject to mandatory registration.
After some colorful back and forth between Clarke and the discontented crowd, Todd Gray popped onstage alongside Clarke to deliver an ultimatum:
“From what you have told us today, Mister Clarke, I don’t think that there is much that your provisional government has to offer us that we cannot provide for ourselves. Restoring industry, utilities, transportation, and communications are indeed worthy goals. However, if doing so means surrendering our personal freedom, then our answer is an emphatic no…You do not represent anything legitimate, Mister Clarke. You represent a totalitarian globalist oligarchy instituted without the benefit of any semblance of democratic process, or incorporating a republican form of government.”
Needless to say, a guerrilla war begins not long after, which includes relying on Lendel’s home as a fallback when the Gray’s homestead is destroyed as a boobytrap. Years later, Todd remarked to Mary that:
“Tyranny is a product of our sinful nature. Hopefully films like we saw today will be reminders that will keep people vigilant, so tyrants don’t spring up so often. Thank God for our Constitution. It kept us from having to confront tyranny on our own soil for a lot longer than the average European…From now on, the Federal government is not going to be allowed to corner the market on coercive force. Far more force is being retained by the states, and by the people. That’s why we keep the APC out in the barn. And there are thousands of other APCs and tanks in private hands all over the country. There may be more rough times ahead, but we’re ready for whatever might come.”
While I certainly appreciate the privatization of weaponry, I must disagree with this promotion of slavery-lite. It makes no sense at all to say on the one hand that tyranny is a manifestation of human nature, but then on the other hand act as if the federal Constitution is somehow itself not a similar manifestation of that very nature, as Patrick Henry suspected. The federal government and corporate globalists are not the be all and end all of tyranny, for the State is itself an oxymoronic “expropriating property protector.”
James Rawles’ Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse is truly, as other reviewers pointed out, a survival manual disguised as fiction. There are a lot of different directions one could take with its content, and that makes it valuable for reference (unlike Atlas Shrugged with its utopian depiction of Galt’s Gulch). Both Rawles’ novel and Alongside Night showcase economic collapses and the revolutions they spawn, albeit with noticeably different ideological underpinnings (agorism versus survivalism & constitutionalism). Personally, my favorite scene is the epilogue, set 27 years after the Crunch, when Solomon Lendel (Kevin’s middle son) is attending college. A classmate shrieks when she sees Solomon’s pistol in his shoulder holster, to which the professor says:
“Son, take off your coat…young lady, this gentleman is not carrying a concealed weapon. I can see it as plain as day…There is no University policy on the carrying of firearms, whether concealed or not. Nor should there be. Granted, open carry of guns has gradually gone out of style in the big cities these last few years…however, this young gentlemen’s choice to carry a gun – for whatever reason he chooses – is his own…the state has no say in the matter. It is strictly an individual choice…the right to keep and bear arms is an absolute, secured by the Bill of Rights. I should also remind you that it is one of the main reasons we spent four horrendous years fighting the Second Civil War. How quickly we forget. Now let’s get on with class, shall we?”
Obviously, the political implications linking gun ownership with survival are anything but subtle. Rawles presents here a story of how a group of like-minded people might collaborate as a freedom cell to pool their resources into constructing and defending their stronghold, and then remain together once they’ve lost their retreat and become guerrillas so as to resist the coercive imposition of martial law within these United States.