The following article has been contributed by Brandon Smith of Alt-Market – helping to insulate you from economic collapse.
Editor’s note: When the SHTF, as in total collapse of our economic system or power-grid, chaos will reign supreme. Most preppers are confident in their abilities to make it through tough times, as they should be. Many of us have spent a great deal of time, energy and money over many years preparing our larders, defense, and building skill sets. But whether you’re out in the boonies fifty miles from civilization, or living smack-dab in the middle of suburbia, going it alone is a daunting proposition. When one considers the seriousness of a collapse-style event it becomes abundantly clear that mutually beneficial relationships with neighbors and your greater community will be necessary to keep you and yours safe from harm. In the following article Brandon Smith lays out the importance of community in a post-SHTF world and provides some reasons for why and how you should consider expanding your horizons on this topic if you haven’t yet done so. We strongly recommend looking into doing what you can to establish relationships with others now, because putting food on the table, keeping your property maintained and your perimeter secure 24 hours a day will be a difficult task to accomplish with just yourself or a small family (especially if you have kids). The strategies outlined can be applied to those living in rural communities, or even in suburban lifestyles.
The year was 2002, and while the majority of Americans were completely obsessed with the so called “War On Terror” and other devices of distraction, something much more real and decidedly prophetic was going on in our southern hemisphere. Argentina was in the midst of total collapse, driven by banker fraud and extreme currency devaluation in tandem with government mismanagement and corruption. First, cities exploded with rioting and violence as Argentinian police and military attempted to crush all dissent. Soon after, displaced refugees from population centers along with roving bands of thieves flooded into the countryside, wiping out isolated farms, murdering families, and hunting down any small group of survivors weaker than themselves and flush with supplies. The authorities (and I use the term loosely) were too busy trying to suppress civil protests to bother protecting those who were caught unprepared.
This behavior is part and parcel of economic destabilization, regardless of the time or place in which it occurs. Only nine years ago, a very modern and technologically savvy nation of people, nearly cannibalized itself. Those who survived and thrived did so through family aid and substantial existing wealth, or, the tactical building of communities for the purpose of mutual defense and alternative trade. Farmers armed themselves and formed regional groups along with security measures. City dwellers formed neighborhood watches and barter networks when the mainstream economy disappeared. The bottom line; lone wolves and isolated country families were nothing more than tempting targets at the onset of the breakdown in Argentina.
I and most other Americans have never personally lived through such a collapse, though some would be preppers rather boldly claim to be experts on surviving these specific kinds of catastrophes. I am not an expert, and neither is anyone else who has not experienced a collapse first hand. However, we CAN learn from the experiences of experts; those people who lived through the Great Depression, the Argentina crisis, the implosion of Bosnia, the breakup of the Soviet Union, the ongoing breakdown in Greece, etc. We can analyze their successes, and their failures, and devise solutions based on that which actually WORKED, instead of the random theories of people who can only guess at what life is like in the thick of hell.
One solution that has consistently been adopted and applied by numerous societies across the globe in the face of a stratum of different calamities is the art of community building. This strategy has proven itself over and over again regardless of catastrophic conditions. It is not theory. It is not debatable. Community networking has been proven time and again as a means of subsisting safely during depression, hyperinflation, mass hysteria, despotism, martial law, and even widespread war. Unfortunately, it is a methodology that has gone mostly ignored by many Americans, even those who are well aware of impending economic danger.
Common Oppositions To Community Building
First, we must put to rest those misconceptions that hinder the development of meaningful defensive community before we are able to understand the nature of various organizational methods and their benefits. Let’s examine some often heard arguments against the formation of survival relationships, groups, and focused networks…
1) Other People Aren’t Reliable. I Can Survive Better On My Own…
I’ll be the first to admit that some people are unreliable if not downright pathetic. On top of this, many in our culture find it necessary to exaggerate their abilities or their resolve until they are faced with an actual crisis, and then they fold like a wet blade of grass. Counting on such men is a waste of time and energy, not to mention, dangerous. Certainly, every prepper should have the ability to make it on his own, at least for a short time, in a collapse environment, and anyone who does not have that option is in some serious trouble.
I write a lot about “dangerous assumptions”, almost to the point of feeling ill, because most if not all of America’s problems are either caused or exacerbated by them. We presume too much too often, and it always comes back to bite us. Presuming that one will never be forced into a situation where he might have to survive alone for a time is foolish. There is no guarantee that we will always have others to fall back on, or that we will never be driven from our homes. On the other hand, it is equally foolish to presume that you will not face even worse circumstances while you are on your own. Unless you have the ability to go for weeks without sleep, and to be alert to every conceivable detail at every conceivable moment, it is insane to CHOOSE lone wolf survival over community and mutual defense. Its good to have the ability to go solo, but if you want to actually make it through a collapse similar to that which occurred in Argentina or worse, eventually you will have to work with others. This is not my opinion, it is a fact made concrete by numerous economic disasters around the world.
2) Groups Draw Too Much Attention. It’s Better To Keep A “Low Profile”…
I’m not sure where this nonsensical theory came from, but it definitely didn’t get started by anyone who has actually lived through economic implosion. The root of this strange position is that organizing networks of people for trade and for defense makes you a visible “target” for a corrupt government. At least, that’s the argument. It may be true that more focused groups of liberty minded people are indeed placed on lists, and singled out for surveillance or media ridicule, however, we need to apply some logical thought here.
During an economic collapse, EVERYONE becomes a target. A target of poverty, a target of homelessness and starvation, a target of crime, a target of mass hysteria. Honestly, martial law and despotic politicians are secondary concerns. If you have no solid community structure to brace against the fiscal avalanche, then your problems are much larger and more immediate than any alphabet agency goon squad or military outfit crossing the Rubicon. You, my friend, have no support. You are relying on “luck”. This is pure stupidity.
A strong community rarely attracts antagonism. On the contrary, strong communities dissuade attack, as has been proven in numerous national disasters. The risk of raiding the retreat of one man or one family is negligible compared to the risk of raiding an entire town. Most criminally minded people (this includes bloodthirsty bureaucrats), deliberately target the noticeably weak, and avoid any confrontation that might actually deal them a damaging blow.Believing that one can “hide” until the storm blows over is also a serious stretch. Again, assumptions kill.
Finally, fearing the potential actions of government so much that we refuse to take meaningful steps to even protect ourselves is such an affront to the principles of freedom and liberty that I shudder to imagine what it must be like to be stricken with such cowardice. The Founding Fathers didn’t sign the Declaration of Independence, “Anonymous”. We should have the same courage to openly organize against those entities and events which aim to harm us. As we like to say here at Alt-Market; grow a pair!
3) I Don’t Have To Organize, I Can Just Leave The Country…
This argument often includes references to WWII and the flight of more affluent Europeans to places such as South America and Australia to escape tragedy. First, let’s be clear; anyone who fields an argument like this must have at least some means to travel internationally without much warning, otherwise, they are kidding themselves. Second, they would have to leave before the crash reaches critical mass, and before transportation and infrastructure are affected, or they will be trapped in-country like the rest of us. Finally, I would venture to ask them where exactly they think they will flee to in order to avoid the effects of a GLOBAL economic crisis? Only the ASEAN trading bloc has taken measures to shield itself from both a European and U.S. financial crash, and those countries have their own problems; financial and social.
Strangely, I find China is often cited as a possible expatriate escape. If someone is dense enough to run away from possible totalitarianism in America just to live under assured totalitarianism in the land of the CPC, then I say good riddance. You can’t “escape” the destruction of globalization, you can only stand and fight it. All other solutions are a stop-gap at best.
4) There’s No Point In Organizing. We’re All Doomed Anyway…
Ah, the stench of nihilism strikes again! How often do we hear this from day to day? Good men and women have been confronting tyranny since the dawn of time, for the betterment of the future, and without fail, there’s always some group of quivering mental weaklings nearby to assert that “all hope is lost”. If liberty minded people didn’t pay these whining slugs any attention back then, why should we pay any attention to them today?
The origin of this argument springs from the average nihilist’s underlying feelings of inadequacy. For them, defiance IS impossible, because they lack the backbone and the will needed for success. Unfortunately, nihilists also lack the gumption to admit this to themselves.Thus, to compensate for their failings, they project their weaknesses onto everyone else.
“Surely”, they claim, “If I can’t fight back, then neither can anyone else”. You’ll find it is common for nihilists to react furiously and melodramatically when they are confronted with people who have the will to stand firm in their convictions. Nihilists feel highly threatened by men with solid character, because their feebleness is made more apparent when strong personalities are present. They also have a tendency towards eugenics, or overt religious zealotry to the point of obsession with apocalypse or rapture. They WANT the downfall of humanity, because they feel so isolated by their own pitiable existence and the desire to be proven correct in their wretchedness that they would actually be happy to see the end of millions of lives just to experience a fleeting moment of sour vindication.
Trying to speak plainly with anyone who makes this argument against community building or proactive organization is usually a waste of time. Most are simply incapable of hearing you…
Methods Of Community Building
Community networking is our best available solution in the wake of inevitable economic chaos.Ending the Fed is a noble goal. Changing government through reform and by running for office should be pursued. Reducing or completely negating the unchecked power of agencies like the DHS, FEMA, the CIA, the ATF, etc, is essential. But, none of these actions will undo the underlying damage to our economy, or prevent a collapse. At this point, nothing can turn back the tide on the dollar, or our national debt, and we will see a considerable downturn in markets, employment, and wages, along with severe inflation in prices. The dam has been broken, and the flood cannot be turned back. This means that more than ever, we must organize to lessen the injury to ourselves and each other as much a possible, so that we are better capable of repairing the damage done later on.
The following are a few different methods for actively constructing community groups and organizations. Some may fit particular situations more aptly than others, but the point is to get out of your house, and start meeting others face to face. Without this, there can be no community.
Meet-Up Groups: This is better than nothing. At the very least, we should be able to find the time to talk with others of like mind in a neutral setting away from our computers and express our concerns. Weekly or bi-weekly meetings are a must. Anything less frequent will probably go nowhere. If taken seriously, Meet Up groups can easily develop into the first strides towards real community.
Protest Groups: As I’ve said in the past, street protest alone is not enough to effect positive change. Governments today ignore the will of the people, and assert policy measures without regard for public outcry. However, a protest group could help in initiating wider political action and help build bonds of trust. It is a step in the right direction, but not the end of the journey.
Farmer’s Or Garden Co-ops: Now we’re actually producing something vital; food. This kind of organization creates tangible safety in the form of commodities which can cushion communities from hyperinflation or total breakdown. Notice the recent government crackdowns on smaller private farming, private gardens, and even Amish farm goods? Personal food growing and especially organized citizen growing is a threat to establishment and corporate systems. If you are no longer dependent on their food, you are less likely to be swayed or controlled.
Barter Networks: My personal favorite. Barter networks take farmer’s co-ops and other private entrepreneurial ventures and form living, breathing economies which decouple from the mainstream system. Now, not only does your community have its own food sources, but its own full fledged Alternative Market along with numerous options for currency and trade. A strong barter network with knowledgeable and skilled participants is like an oasis in the desert of economic disaster. It insulates and protects community, yet it refrains from centralizing or dominating community. Barter networking should be a number one priority for every American today.
Neighborhood Watch: No, not the kind of neighborhood watch where everyone on the block gets together for a barbecue and talks in hushed voices about all the devious criminals you think are hiding behind every neatly trimmed shrub. And, not the kind of neighborhood watch where you call the cops every time you see a car driving slowly down the street. Those types of groups only create paranoia and dependency. A real neighborhood watch is a move towards independence, and self defense. With municipal investment disintegrating, and states (like Wisconsin) on the verge of default, you cannot always count on local police to have the funding or the motivation to help you. Which means, you’ll have to help yourself. This is much easier when the rest of the neighborhood is behind you.
Survival Groups: Prep alone if you must, but build relationships with others if you can. Survival groups allow training with others who may have extensive knowledge in areas you do not. Also, Survival Groups can share the financial burden of stockpiling goods, and, they can coordinate the acquisition of supplies so that each person has less work load to carry in the long term.Hiking, hunting, and trips to the shooting range build team awareness. If worse comes to worse, and a full spectrum collapse takes place, you will have an organization of trusted friends with fundamental training ready to back you up.
State Or County Militias: Yep, I used the “M-word”. Militias are perhaps the most criticized and demonized community type in America, and ironically, the only group on this list specifically mentioned in the Constitution as a national necessity. A county militia sponsored by a liberty minded sheriff would be the ideal situation, but this is, of course, not always possible. So, often these groups must form on their own accord without any support from local officials. Militias are an interesting breed of organization which I have a lot of respect for, despite the accusations of “domestic extremism”, and here’s why; militias aren’t just larger survival groups whose only concern is the extension of their own lives. Most militias very often take responsibility for the protection of the surrounding communities as well. They seek to ensure the safety of others in the event of collapse. This is an honorable endeavor, not “extremism”. The establishment is so threatened by militias because they supply another means of defense beyond standing military or law enforcement. Some militia members actually ARE standing military and law enforcement. Bad government needs the masses to remain dependent, or, it loses its source of influence. Militias take away that influence, and so, are constantly and maliciously scrutinized in the media.
Safe Haven States: A Safe Haven State, or a “Free State”, is a state that has nurtured so many alternative markets and liberty minded communities that it acts as a barrier to not only collapse, but also to aggressive and corrupt government. Today we have the beginnings of several Safe Haven States ready to be cultivated, but not any that could be called full fledged. A Safe Haven State is Tenth Amendment conscious, supportive of sound money measures, and restrictive of federal interference in its affairs. Barter networks are a normal part of daily life, and use of Federal Reserve fiat is minimal. It is a community that sets an example for the rest of the country.
Alt-Market and Oath Keepers are nearing launch of a project which we believe will help in the growth of Safe Haven States. The difference between this and most other communities is that it does not form through local effort alone, but is populated by independent people from around the nation seeking a more free way of life. Some areas of the U.S. already have considerable foundations for community, while others are sparse, or unreceptive. Liberty Movement participants in these places may decide that it is better to move to a more welcoming and productive environment. Safe Haven States could fulfill this role.
Make It Happen
All community efforts require one thing above all else; initiative. We have to be willing to put in the work. Plain and simple. The sooner this is done, the sooner we can reap the benefits of insulated commerce, sound money, mutual defense, and sincere associations and friendships. The most detrimental failing of the Liberty Movement today is its propensity for inaction, or the belief that internet research is “good enough”. Eventually, we will have to leave our comfort zones and do something with what we have learned. That means setting aside our jobs (which likely won’t exist in a couple years), our hobbies (which we likely won’t care about in couple of years), our habits and addictions (which we likely won’t be able to afford in a couple of years), our financial designs (which will be laughable in a couple of years), and ignore the skepticism of our immediate families (who will be thanking us in a couple of years). It means getting our priorities straight. This can be done, by everyone, and it can be done now. All that is required is the resolve to take action, and the determination to see it through.
You can contact Brandon Smith at: www.alt-market.com
Join Alt-Market today, find a barter network in your area, or start your own. Insulate yourself and your family from economic collapse before it is too late.
Be sure to check out Operation Sleeping Giant, an Oath Keepers project dedicated to getting veterans and communities prepared for the worst.