The Shadow Knows: Part Three

The Shadow Knows

Survival Plus

The approaching cultural discontinuity will most likely be ushered in by a period of severe inflation.

This may occur suddenly and catastrophically, as speculators and investors divest themselves of the dollar and other major currencies and flee to precious metals, or it may be phased in slowly and deliberately by the central banks in order to solve the debt crisis using inflation as a “stealth tax”.

As mentioned in my previous post, the exact timing and course of these events cannot be known, because the situation is absolutely without historical precedent, and there are too many variables involved. The coming collapse of the global financial system will be chaotic in the mathematical sense of the term — like a crashing ocean wave, it can only be predicted in a general sense, and not in any detail.

We may be facing a total breakdown of society, with burning cities, roving marauders, starvation, epidemics, and all the other elements described in various doomsday scenarios. Or we may experience a more general slide into disorder, poverty, and the social conditions of a Third-World backwater.

It’s important to keep the worst-case scenario in mind, so the survivalist preparations recommended by many of our commenters are assuredly the most prudent course. However, survivalist tactics and techniques are not the focus of this series of essays.

In the comments on last night’s installment, Peter had this to say about my intention not to concentrate on survivalism.

I would ask that you not dismiss survivalism, which the above quote would seem to suggest. Any community that perseveres, or is founded during the collapse will have at its core survivalists. They’re a necessary ingredient, and integrating them into the emerging new reality is vital.

I couldn’t agree more. I am not dismissing survivalism in the slightest. If the worst predictions come to pass, the contributions of the survivalists will be absolutely crucial to the preservation of the most important parts of our civilization.

However, the reason why I don’t focus on survivalism is that it is covered so thoroughly elsewhere, by writers who are much more knowledgeable about the topic than I am. If someone wants to send me a comprehensive list of survivalist websites, I will gladly post it, because the people who create and maintain such sites are stalwart and selfless patriots, and their information is invaluable.

But there’s no point in my reinventing that particular wheel. My goal is somewhat different: I want to bring to awareness a process that is already underway, but may not have been examined yet in a systematic fashion.

If the survivalists’ scenario should come about — God forbid — then much of the customary apparatus of civilization, built up so patiently and painstakingly over the last four or five centuries, will be dismantled. Thinking about sheer survival is obviously a necessity, but when the survivors emerge and confront the reality of the aftermath — what then?

Pierre Legrand had the right idea:

One of the first things we all need to do is reach out to our neighbors and develop ties. Nothing is as valuable as friends.

What he says is quite true. And this is what the Shadow is all about.

Consider a couple of imaginary scenarios for the morning after the Big Collapse. You’re an expert survivalist, and your preparations have enabled you to survive the initial violence and chaos. You emerge from your shelter, gun in hand, and survey the columns of black smoke in the ravaged landscape around you.

Then you see another armed survivalist emerge from his own shelter. He eyes you with suspicion, and points his gun at you. You manage to shoot him dead, and repeat the process with a number of other survivors until you’re standing in a field of corpses.

What then?

A more likely scenario would run like this:

You emerge from your shelter, gun in hand, and survey the columns of black smoke in the ravaged landscape around you.

Then you see another armed survivalist emerge from his own shelter. The two of you approach each other with guns pointed at the ground, extend your hands, and shake. He’s got a haunch of venison, and you’ve got a string of fresh-caught bass. The two of you negotiate a little trade, and subsequently establish well-armed but neighborly relations.

What then?

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The focus of these essays will be on the “what then?” of the second scenario described above.

The survivalists don’t need any help from me. They know far more than I do, and can express it much better than I ever could. Those of you who follow survivalist affairs may send me links if you like, and I will collect them all together and post them.

My focus is on how to reconstitute civil society and functioning self-governance in the ruins of what went before. We can’t do that without the survival necessities — guns, ammo, canned goods, antibiotics, water purification tablets, batteries, seed corn, and all the rest. But we also can’t do it without our lungs breathing in air, and our hearts pumping blood, and I’m not going to discuss breathing and circulation, either.

A group of survivors who are substantively prepared to:

  • Establish civil administration,
  • Educate their children (and each other),
  • Communicate efficiently,
  • Design a new legal code,
  • Produce goods and trade vigorously,
  • Enforce their own laws, and
  • Defend against invaders and put down disorder

will have a competitive advantage over other survivalists who do not do these things, or do not do them as effectively.

In other words, those who make like Boy Scouts and decide to Be Prepared — not just to survive, but to establish a well-ordered and functioning society — will tend to dominate those who don’t.

That’s the reason for the seven functions I listed in my original post in this series. They are somewhat arbitrarily delimited, but they cover the necessary ground.

If it all sounds somewhat Darwinian, well, it is. That’s the nature of survival.

It seems obvious to me that those groups which function most effectively in the aftermath will be the ones which replicate as far as possible the social structures of white European civilization and its derivatives, as they existed prior to the dawn of Socialism.

Strangely enough, it is the Dead White Males who will provide the best guidance through the murk that lies ahead of us.

Next time, with luck, I will begin discussing one of the seven functions of the Shadow. Reader input is encouraged.

Previous posts about the Shadow:

2011   Mar   15   The Shadow Knows: Part One
        16   The Shadow Knows: Part Two

13 thoughts on “The Shadow Knows: Part Three

  1. We may be facing a total breakdown of society, with burning cities, roving marauders, starvation, epidemics, and all the other elements described in various doomsday scenarios. Or we may experience a more general slide into disorder, poverty, and the social conditions of a Third-World backwater.

    There is a third dystopian scenario that I regard as altogether more likely: the imposition of a harsh totalitarian tyranny. It should be borne in mind that the state, in its drive to preserve itself and maintain its monopoly on the use of force, is going to pamper and protect its own protectors: to wit, the police and the military. The former in particular are going to be presented with the choice of either casting their lot with whatever resistance emerges or preserving their pay (don’t worry, special scrips and stores along the lines of the military’s PX system will be set up for them), their pensions, their powers (flashing their badges and ordering the citizenry around), and their privileges (owning, carrying, and using weapons). I venture to predict that the overwhelming majority of cops will unhesitatingly choose the latter, the more so as the state’s increased dependence upon them will offer considerable freedom of action in abusing and plundering the populace. The violent anarchy and disorder envisioned by so many “survivalists” is actually a pleasant fantasy: it presupposes that their survival efforts are not going to be impeded by large numbers of well-supplied, uniformed oppressors acting in concert.

    Arms and supplies are all fine and well and good, but what liberty-loving people are really going to need in the event of such a future is reliable intelligence and the sources from whom it may be obtained.

  2. Papa —

    Actually, your scenario is what I envision as the political system that accompanies our slide into Third World poverty and social disorder. It would begin with martial law during civil unrest, and of course normal civilian control would never quite manage to return.

    Even the authoritarian or totalitarian state won’t prevent the economic reckoning — it won’t be able to maintain the welfare state as we know it. So it will create what you described: a welfare state for the officers of the state who impose the new order, kind of like the SEIU and the Teamsters, but with guns instead of ax handles.

    Don’t write off the militias yet, however. Some of them are quite well-trained, and include any number of military vets. When push comes to shove, the “Independent Republic of Wyoming” and similar entities are a distinct possibility.

  3. I must, very regretfully, agree with Papa Whiskey in his assessment of outcomes. Somalia-like failed states appear to be rather rare when compared to states such as China, the former Soviet Union, North Korea, Egypt, Syria, etc. While one may point out that China mcould could now be considered nouveau rich, this really should only be considered the case relative to its own economy in the recent past. As to the others, their currencies are essentially backed by the force of the state within their own borders, and disregarded outside them. Their economies, from a western perspective, range from abysmal to chaotic. Yet there is social order within them, enforced through fear (although even this may not be enough to enforce order at times, as we’ve seen recently).

    I’ve no doubt that the great portion of our nation will submit to whatever indignities are required in exchange for the promise of food, shelter, and distraction, even though in the long run they would be able to provide such for themselves to a greater extent with some delay of immediate gratification. Also, such promises are cheap to make, and easy enough to abandon.
    I think the most viable avenue for individual well-being is to seek out smaller communities where there is some degree of physical effort required to make a living for most inhabitants. General population density should be low, with sufficient good weather to allow for a relatively great degree of crop and livestock production by individuals/families. The Amish in my region come to mind as a similar model of community, where common values are shared and promoted. Low density, low-wealth (compared to a mega-city perception of wealth) would generally be of lower interest to statists, although an area of high agricultural quality will draw attention for its inherent utility. Although these areas would be considered rustic by the politically and financially powerful, I believe the quality of life for the average denizen would far exceed most residents of high population density, high political control areas in privacy, health, and real wealth (those possessions which truly improve the quality of life, rather than distracting one from reflecting up his or her condition).

    Essentially, common culture and values, combined with familiarity and accountability, are the underpinnings of a stable community in unfavorable economy or political situation.

    As an aside, Matt Bracken has published a trilogy of novels that look at a number of political and economic scenarios in the near future of the United States. Aside from the entertainment factor, they pose some interesting questions about current trends and possible responses.

    Regarding James Rawles’ SurvivalBlog site: I’ve been reading over there since 2008, and found a great number of resources, although one must winnow through the occasional well-intended but less-than-practical suggestion from contributors. Overall, it’s a great resource for events ranging from immediate emergencies of short duration to long-term social and economic adversity.

  4. The idea of a “Republic of Wyoming” is interesting. It has also been thought of by some members of the current administration’s staff, and prompted them to ask congress to pass a law which would allow the pres to appoint a federal officer as commander of state national guard detachments. Hasn’t happened yet, but it is in the hopper. If passed it will write “paid” to the “Republic of Wyoming” idea.

    I can also see a scenario wherein some external actor causes the pres to “go to war,” and basically nationalizes not only the military but also the economy. FDR pretty much did that for WWII. That way, as things get tougher, we will all be called on to “make sacrifices in the national interest,” and maybe “give up an election at this time since we are in such critical straits,” and so on.

  5. Baron,

    It might be best for your shadow organization to hide in plain site until the day of reckoning comes. Secretive organizations tend to attract all sorts of negative attention from the powers that be.

    However there is one type of secretive organization that seems to fly under the radar for the most part: fraternal organizations like the Masons, the Elks, the Knights of Columbus, etc.

    Casting a shadow organization as a fraternal organization could take advantage of the pre-existing legal framework that accommodates them, so during the decline phase they blend into the woodwork. Fraternal organizations also have things like secret symbols and handshakes (helpful to identify allies post-collapse), internal degree systems (helpful to differentiate the outer face from the long term organization goals), and cellular organizational structures (a system of privately networked lodges would be very powerful post-collapse).

    Call it the Society for Civilization, and dedicate the organization towards the study and practice of the arts of civilization. Recruit members by making the Society as home for lots of disconnected people who are exploring these arts on their own.

    In the long run, you could have seminars in permaculture and organic gardening, beekeeping, home brewing, handicrafts, blacksmithing, etc. Tap into the maker movement by building DIY machine shops in the lodge basements and teach welding, fabrication, backyard casting, etc. Teach basic self defense, archery, handgun and long arm marksmanship. Get the kids involved with a shadow scout system, or provide homeschooling and afterschooling curriculum’s in phonics, grammar, math, history, science, etc. That would be for a mature organization. More immediately the Society could simply tap into existing community activities in these areas in an organized fashion.

    That would be the very useful public face. Just a bunch of hobbyists, nothing to see here! We’ll all be cleaning up the local stream on Saturday, so come and pitch in!

    Inner circles of the group would have more of a focus on the long term view and the ultimate goal of the organization. By casting a wide net with a mainstream public face, you can both build a large network of allies, and have a large pool of potential recruits to bring into the inner circle, where there would be more of a focus on the longer term goals of group survival and the restoration of order.

  6. I’ve written two comments, both of which had some sort of error, and were lost.

    I’m not going to try a third time. This is a very good series of postings; too bad it’s so difficult to participate

  7. I agree that Papa Whiskey’s scenario is the likeliest at the beginning, but would apply foremost to the Eastern urban centers and areas of manufacture and farming, as the oligarchy seeks to control those things most necessary to its own survival, as well as needed in order to control the populace. FEMA and/or the military would be used to nationalize the property of businesses and individuals, again to allow the oligarchy to control the assets of food, medicine, medical care, etc.

    Hopefully, the less populated Northwest will be able to maintain some level of autonomy until the remaining government consolidates its hold elsewhere and develops the resources to move on them. Until such government is able to exert real control over those areas, establishing a “federal officer” would be premature. I don’t believe control of a state such as Wyoming or Montana could be established until overwhelming force could be applied. Any “federal officer” poking his head up over the barricade would likely find himself “a grave man”, National Guard or not. Recall that the National Guard, while able to be federalized, remains composed of local citizens who might well resist the theft of their goods and labor by order of the Federal government or its minions.

    Molon Labe, a book written by “Boston T Party” (can’t recall Kenneth’s full name) paints a tale of Wyoming’s resistance to a similar scenario.

  8. M. Stirner —

    Those are excellent ideas — thank you very much. They will fit right in to the next post in this series (which will arrive later tonight, I hope).

  9. A reader who had trouble getting his comments to work sends this excellent list of resources:

    Some useful sites for your readers. I tried to post in comments but had some problems.

    Interesting topic and even more interesting discussion. It will all boil down to tribes in the end.

    Family/friends/neighbors/community=tribe. No man can stand alone in this.

    My list of must visit websites. Got lots more but these are the biggies; Explore this one thoroughly. TONS of old timey wisdom. all you ever wanted to know about food preservation. Lots of good info and free downloads. Two sites, same person. Lots on prepping stuff. order the video (cheap considering the content) and free news letter and grow your own. Some good book suggestions in the older news letters, “Square Foot Gardening” is one, “ How to Grow More Vegetables” is another. Some of the Foxfire books can be found onlide in PDF downloads.

  10. I’ll try this again.

    Government is an organization which better recognizes and deploys against other orgs, so it’s best not to set up something which can be infiltrated and suborned by them. This is what happened to both the Nam-era peace movement and the 90’s Militias.

    Off grid tech can be learned at a muzzleloading Rendezvous. FYI, the gummint’s position is that a muzzleloader isn’t a firearm, and is therefore exempt from scrutiny.

    Communication can be gotten from joining an amateur radio club.

    Various groups offer emergency medical training.

    It’s quite possible to pick up a lot of the training you’ll need without announcing yourself to be part of some new group. Plus, it’s likely you’ll meet some like-minded folks with whom you can set up a MAG (mutual assistance group)

    Be a small fish in a vast ocean. Don’t do anything that might get you noticed. Cooling your heels in a jail cell while your family is trying to figure out the best way to cook a couple of rats is not an optimal plan, you know?

  11. If the American society colapses, I fulle expect the Chinese and Russians, and their proxies south of our border to invade.
    That, in addition to our fifth column, here, at home, will assure a totalitarian/fascist regime in America.
    You have no idea how close we are to this scenario unfolding.

  12. Excellent work, Baron.

    I’ll be posting a link to the series in my next link-dump post.

    There’s no reason why people that are aware of the potential for a collapse like this should not be prepared.

    It’s easier than you think.

    I have a pretty decent links page to a slew of good preparedness and survival websites at:

    Get prepared, it will improve your life, even if nothing happens…

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