Wednesday, September 28, 2005


I was talking with one of my work friends today, and he said that it sounded crazy, but he was thinking about preparing to survive. I told him that, if you went to the website of the Department of Homeland Security, you could find a list of things you should have on hand to survive a few days after a major catastrophe (hurricanes, anyone?). He said, no, that wasn't what he was worried about, he was worried about the collapse of civilization and acquiring trade goods and that sort of stuff for a new world.

The end of civilization survivalism has always seemed kind of silly to me. I am assuming that, with the collapse of civilization will come the temporary collapse of agriculture (at least for a season or two). Without agriculture, we have about 6,000 times as many people as we can support. With 6,000 people competing for enough food to feed one of them, there's only one skill that you need. Sure you may know how to fillet the three kinds of edible North American salamander, but the person who has the truly needed skill, the efficient application of deadly force, will take your carefully prepared salamander fillets from you. Unless you're that one most violent person out of 6,000, and have a good-sized collection of other equally violent people with you, I'd kiss you chances of surviving goodbye.

The kind of survival that I worry about is how to survive political repression. Unlike the end of civilization, political repression happens constantly, all over the world, to all sorts of people, for all sorts of reasons. How would I survive an American version of the Holocaust with my people as the target? That's what I worry about. So I started thinking about how to survive political repression, and I came up with this preliminary list of the things you need to know and learn (feel free to add to it, by the way):

1. A hiding place. How many people survived by having someplace to hide? Hiding for days, months, or even years, has kept many people alive who should be dead.

2. Friends. Stockpile as many of these as you can, with particular emphasis on people outside of your traditional groups. It didn't do the Jews a lot of good to have lots of Jewish friends, but those with gentile friends who were willing to help them, even ever so slightly, were much more likely to survive the Holocaust. Bonus points if your friends are foreign, and can arrange to get you out of the country, which leads to:

3. Escape routes. Plan how to leave, and multiple routes to get where you're going. They'll probably close off the more obvious ones.

4. Skills. Learn some trade other than your own, preferrably one that is semi-skilled and in a normally unregulated sector, gardening, for example. You want something that will earn you a living that people are used to hiring somewhat random people to do. Find out what the illegal immigrants in your area are doing, and learn how to do that. You will essentially be an illegal immigrant in your own country.

5. Camoflauge. Urban camoflauge. I don't mean the mottled grey that soldiers wear, I mean looking precisely like everyone else, and therefore like no one. The best bet, it seems, would be to go into a bank, see what the tellers are wearing, and wear that. Bank tellers are a good bet, because they are good, upstanding citizens, meaning that they won't draw undo attention from police, but they are also rather meagerly paid, meaning that they'll have common, affordable clothing. They look just like everyone else. Furthermore, if possible, remove your most distinguishing features. Get a boring haircut and remove piercings. Anonymity is the best camoflauge.

6. Documents. Have the requisite documents to get out of the country. Money is a document.

7. And most important of all: SHUT UP! And get your kids to shut up as well. I remember watching a documentary about WWII, in which a woman was told by her child, that her neighbor listened to the radio the exact same way she did, with her ear against the speaker. Suddenly, that woman realized that she and her neighbor both had the power of life and death over each other, all because two little kids had gotten to talking.

8. This is the thing which you don't need: firearms. There is only one time when a firearm may be useful, and that is when they first come to arrest you. After that, drop the heater. You are not going to start a revolution, no matter how hard you try. The heater is counterproductive for several reasons: (a) it offers justification that your people are dangerous and need to be dealt with, (b) every security force in the world is trained to spot people carrying weapons, (c) in the days of the radio, even if you should happen to blast your way out of a tight spot, you won't be able to blast your way out of the next one, (d) those security forces who might have been sympathetic, or who you might have been able to talk your way out of, will suddenly lose all interest in talking with you.

Be afraid, be very afraid.


Anonymous Flying Squirrel said...

Great! Now I'm even more paranoid.

The collapse of civilization is more fun. At least then I can fantasize about utilizing my farming background. Besides a group of moderately violent individuals still trump an extremely violent individual. So there! I can still live my post-apocalyptic dreams.

3:58 PM  
Blogger Hamlette said...

I'm afraid. I'm very afraid. Thanks a lot :-(

9:58 PM  
Blogger Octavo Dia said...

What about the huge cannibal army that overruns everything in Lucifer's Hammer? They'll overrun everyone! Be even more afraid!

7:56 AM  

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