Friday, April 3, 2020

Prepper vs Survivalist

More wisdom from the weekly dispenser of truth at The Woodpile Report as Ol' Remus addresses the topic of differentiating between "preppers" and "survivalists".

When I use the terms 'prepper' and 'survivalist' I have something specific in mind. Preparationalists—"preppers"—anticipate a severe but temporary disruption of normalcy with a return in a season or two. Survivalists anticipate an extinction-level event with no significant normalcy in their lifetime.

Full-on preppers concern themselves with maintaining their former standard of living should the society around them devolve into disaster. Their model is the Roman patrician who decamped to his country estate in times of unrest or a summer plague in the city. Today they have well appointed and fully staffed retreats at remote but congenial venues. The more common prepper embraces the Five Acres and Independence self-sufficiency practiced by Scott and Helen Nearing, augmented with twenty-first century gadgetry and adorable techniques from antiquity.

Full-on survivalists concern themselves with the skills, fitness and tools to manage the worst of an apocalypse by living off the land, typically as seasonal nomads. Their model is the explorer or mountain man of the Jeffersonian era with a dash of Red Dawn for flavor. Today they have world class gear and advanced training in a wide range of disciplines. But the more common survivalist is a somewhat spartan all-weather outdoorsman well practiced in what works in his region.

These are two-dimensional caricatures of course, where the full-on prepper evades risk and the full-on survivalist engages risk. Most practitioners are a blend of the two, prepper-survivalists if you will, with one aspect or the other expanded as circumstances require.

I am not a survivalist in the sense that my primary motivation is to stay alive for the sake of staying alive. I take reasonable precautions via preparation to be able to provide for and protect my family and neighbors in the event of a serious crisis. If my family was gone and I were alone with no prospects for the future other than to keep breathing, I wouldn't expend much effort. While I grew up reading survivalist novels about a post-nuclear war dystopian future, the idea of being alone in a shack somewhere waiting for old age to get me doesn't appeal to me at all.

With any luck, the Chinese virus outbreak will lead to more people being at least moderately prepared for disasters. I expect that to be true for maybe 10% of the population or less. The rest will become more convinced than ever that the government should hand them a check whenever things get tough. With the chatter about coronavirus popping back up this fall, we might be heading into a semi-permanent state of low-grade lockdowns. Most people are incapable or at least unwilling to think about what comes next. It seems they are assuming that the Kung Fu Flu will dissipate like early morning fog and life will go right back to the way it was before. That is a very dangerous mindset. Things won't go back to the way they were and they shouldn't.

If you aren't reading the Woodpile Report every week, why do you even have internet?

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