I am often asked by people why I’m interested in survivalism. It seems a foreign idea to them, that one should prepare themselves for some unlikely, nebulous threat. Am I just a pessimistic, negative person? (No, not really). Am I some crazy conspiracy theorist? (No, not really). Aren’t survivalists those wackos that live in the forest and drink their own pee? (Well… yes, some of them are like that. But some are level-headed, normal folk as well).
But first, a little history.
WHAT IS SURVIVALISM?
Many of the skills cultivated by modern day survivalists were basic life skills in generations past. For most of human history, the vast majority of any population needed to work in food production to ensure there was enough to eat. As a result, we lived close to the land, and had to be extremely self-sufficient (our ancestors didn’t have the luxury of being a 5 minute drive away from a Wal-Mart).
The industrial and agricultural revolutions brought about massive change in the way people lived their lives. Less people needed to be directly involved in food production, leading to more specialized jobs and more complex societies. And this change, for the most part, has been very, very good. We now live at a level of comfort unimaginable to generations past.
But this specialization has led to a vulnerability- most people now rely on the system for some of the basic necessities of life, and should that system somehow stop supplying those necessities, many people’s basic ability to survive may be compromised. It’s a scary thought, but one I think every adult human being needs to think about. And that’s what a survivalist is: simply a person who tries to minimize and mitigate this vulnerability as much as possible. Someone who has decided to take their life into their own hands.
SKILLS, TOOLS AND TALENTS
Survivalists look to develop certain skills that would allow them to survive in difficult times, and live better in good ones. Some of the skills modern survivalists look to cultivate are:
Food production (hunting, gardening, farming, raising livestock).
Food storage and water storage.
Trade skills such as carpentry, plumbing, electrical work
Securing living spaces
General self sufficiency
They aim to supply as much as the basic needs of life as possible.
SURVIVALISM THIS CENTURY
As one might guess, survivalism usually sees a spike in interest during trying times. The modern movement began in the 1950s and 60s, during the Cold War when the threat of an all-out nuclear war was very real. It saw a revival during the oil crisis and inflation of the 70s, and again during the renewed arms race of the 80s, the Y2K scare of the late 90s, and after 9/11. When times are tough, people are more open to the idea that they need to supply for their own needs and be less dependent on the system.
So… why be a survivalist, then? After all, those things that scared people into survivalism never really happened. There wasn’t a nuclear war. Y2K never happened. The economy may be bad, but it hasn’t spiraled into a Great Depression like many had feared. So why bother putting all that work into prepping? Am I not just wasting my time?
Well, I liken it to wearing a seat belt. I had a friend who never wore a seatbelt, and I asked him once about it. He said that the chances of a car accident were so small, that it wasn’t worth the bother. I didn’t say it to his face, but his logic is seriously flawed.
First, while the chance of getting in a car accident is small on any given day, extrapolated over a lifetime of driving, all of a sudden it becomes fairly likely you’ll be in an accident sometime in your life. Second, if that small percent chance DOES happen, wearing a seat belt makes a HUGE difference (often the difference between life and death). Since the investment in time and energy is so minimal to put on a seat belts, it makes sense to do it on the off chance that unlikely event happens.
And so it is with prepping. Most of what you worry about, on any given day, probably won’t happen. But over your life? The last few generations, in most places in the world, have had a level of peace and stability unrivaled in the history of the planet. And even for them, prepping would have been a good investment. We’ve still seen major events (9/11, Katrina, etc) that would justify the work survivalists do. And are you really willing to bet it all on the hope that a few decades of relative calm are how things will carry on indefinitely?
So that is why I am a survivalist. That is why I prepare. I believe in taking my life in my own hands, and not being a slave to the outrageous arrows of fortune often slung at a society that believes it’s become invulnerable.
But that’s just me, and you’re free to do what you like.
Good luck and stay prepared!
P.S: To all my readers, stay tuned for big things to come. I’m about a week away from entering a phase where I’ll be making a ton of brand new content. Expect at least a few articles a week from now on, come April.