|Some dare call it
|What THEY don't want
you to know!
“”What matters is community. And when you have a disruption that imperils society itself, people will leave unless they’ve got a good reason to stay. The reason you stay is the people you care about. That whole "prepper" movement, I think, is a counterproductive approach because it tends to be, "I'm sure society is falling apart, so I'm getting my guns. I'm getting my stuff. I'm going to protect my family." And that's an implicit message that your neighbor is going to be your enemy. It becomes self-fulfilling. That type of prepper is one of the contributions to the world falling apart.
|—Lucy Jones, author of The Big Ones
a song by Nine Inch Nails the making of preparations for an expected long-term or complete breakdown of society or its infrastructure — also known as The End of the World as We Know It (TEOTWAWKI) or When the Shit Hits the Fan (WTSHTF).
It may involve the
hoarding stockpiling of guns, food, and other supplies, the construction of fallout shelters or other shelters specific to whatever apocalypse they are expecting (there is actually one group building an ark[note 1]), the purchase of isolated rural property to retreat to during the crisis, keeping some sort of barter currency in expectation of the complete collapse of the value of paper money (silver and gold are common bulwarks here, because of course everybody else will be willing to trade food and ammo for shiny metal), and either learning how to survive without electricity or building "off the grid" power supplies (particularly those based around renewable energy sources that won't run out of fuel) in expectation of the world, or at least their region, being without centralized power generation for the indefinite future.
What survivalism is, and what it is not
Thanks to disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, there has been a sharp resurgence in reality-based emergency preparedness. General preparedness for emergencies is highly recommended by most government agencies and groups like the Red Cross, even though most people don't make these preparations as well as they should. Promoting this has been part of FEMA's official policy for a while, because after all, prepared citizens are citizens that emergency services don't have to devote as much time and resources to saving. September is National Preparedness Month. Get a kit, make a plan, be informed, get involved. Keep a first aid kit in your home and in your vehicle, and learn how to perform basic first aid and CPR. Learn how to boil water and cook food without electricity, and keep some emergency lighting and cooking gear as well as at least three days' worth of water and non-perishable food for each member of your household, so that you don't get caught off-guard and forced to spend extra money eating at restaurants if the power goes out for several days (such as after a major storm) or the water main springs a leak and gets contaminated. Learn how to change a tire so that you don't have to spend extra money to have your car towed in the event of a flat — cars come with spares, jacks, and tire irons for a reason. If you live in an area vulnerable to natural disasters, know where the evacuation routes are. If you live in or regularly travel in rural areas, learn some outdoors survival skills.
To illustrate the difference between survivalism and emergency survival preparedness, here are some scenarios. In the event of being stranded, "survival" means finding enough food, shelter, and water to keep oneself alive until one is found or reaches help, and signaling with the intent of being rescued. Likewise, in the event of a natural disaster (a hurricane, tornado, flood, earthquake, etc.), "survival" means both weathering the disaster itself and having enough resources to get by when the power is out, the stores are closed, and the routes away from the disaster area are all flooded, covered in debris, or otherwise inaccessible. Either way, this implies that the rest of society's infrastructure is still alive and well, and defines survival as keeping alive so as to return to society, not abandon it.
Survivalists, on the other hand, are preparing not for a short-term disaster that will be over in a week or two at most, but for a long-term or permanent breakdown in society's infrastructure, whereas emergency preparedness necessarily implies that the emergency situation will be temporary. They see themselves surviving apart from society or what's left of it, and don't necessarily want to be rescued in the event of an emergency. Some of them even make preparations to defend their "retreat" against all threatening intruders, including FEMA, the Red Cross, the National Guard, or the local police and fire departments. Hence, survivalists are usually rugged individualists, and are largely concerned with their own survival above that of others.
Many of those involved in emergency preparedness have begun using the term "preppers" to describe themselves, possibly to distance themselves from the wild doomsday predictions and political and religious extremism that survivalism has come to be associated with. However, those same fringe types, recognizing this, have since borrowed the term "preppers" themselves in order to look more respectable, so beware.
The popular stereotype is that survivalists wear camo 24/7, live in bunkers and cabins deep in the woods and/or mountains, have stockpiles of automatic weapons and military-grade explosives, and have copies of Mein Kampf, The Turner Diaries, and the works of Matthew Bracken et al. on their bookshelves, so one might be forgiven for believing survivalism had its origins in the militia movement (or vice versa), or among disgruntled former members of the American Nazi Party. Another popular belief is it had its origins in government civil defense programs of 1950s vintage, such as the infamous Duck and Cover.
One would be wrong on both counts. It actually had much more nerdy and wonkish origins going back to the late 1960s and early 1970s. Part of it was hippies motivated by communal, environmental or "back-to-the-land" concerns, but most of it came from libertarian gold bugs grouped around such newsletters as the Innovator and the Inflation Survival Letter. Many of the early leading lights of the movement were financial advisers and coin entrepreneurs advising people to store food and precious metals in expectation of economic collapse, and many of them were followers or graduates of the lectures of Andrew J. Galambos.
The racist-paramilitary reputation of survivalism, however, is not without good reason. The reason for it can probably be traced to a different group of (you guessed it) disgruntled former members of the American Nazi Party who latched onto the movement. The most notable of these guys is Kurt Saxon, author of The Poor Man's James Bond, who had also drifted in and out of the Church of Scientology, the John Birch Society, the Church of Satan, and the Minutemen among other groups. He claims to have coined the term "survivalism" circa 1975. Whether there is any truth to this is uncertain.
A third impetus came about with the directive by the LDS Church for its members to store a year's supply of food in their homes, as well as to purchase seeds and gardening tools and learn how to preserve food. The policy is referred to as "Provident Living" in official Church publications, and officially it is in case of unemployment or prolonged sickness, but at one point the minimum was to store seven years' worth of food reserves. With proto-survivalism being official Mormon doctrine, the heavily Mormon-populated "Jell-O Belt" of Utah, southern Idaho, Arizona, and eastern Nevada developed a thriving cottage industry of businesses selling freeze-dried food, home canning equipment, and other survival gear.
The end is near!
Since they expect a total breakdown in society, and expecting such a total breakdown from the usual floods, fires, earthquakes, and hurricanes is unrealistic at best, survivalists' apocalyptic visions come from other sources. Many of them are complete woo:
There are really only a few events that could conceivably occur and conceivably result in long-term breakdown of the infrastructure (which excludes more ho-hum run of the mill emergencies) and the probability of some of these events occurring is quite small:
- A NASA-funded study considers economic inequality and resource depletion the greatest threats to society.
- A sufficiently large solar flare/geomagnetic storm, which can knock out power for months or years. The most notable recent example would be the flare that blacked out Quebec in 1989 (however, that power outage lasted just 9 hours).
- A global pandemic or widespread disease outbreak. Relevant examples would include the Justinian plague, the Black Death, smallpox in the New World, the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic, the global AIDS crisis, the 2014 Ebola outbreak of Africa, or the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Economic collapse. Pertinent examples would include the Great Depression, the post-communist economic crisis in Russia and the former Eastern Bloc, and the 2001-02 economic crisis in Argentina.
- A nuclear war. While this threat has faded considerably in most of the Western world since 1989, it is still ever-present in India and Pakistan, two nuclear-armed states which have been to war with one another four times in less than seventy years, and which have chilly (at best) relations and a major border dispute in Kashmir. Nations perceived as enemies by North Korea (particularly Japan, South Korea and the USA). After the 2014 annexation of Crimea, panic flares of a new cold war has instigated new interest in this sector.
- A widespread, protracted civil war(s), such as that seen in the former Yugoslavia, or for a more modern example Syria.
- Repressive government and/or genocide.
- Military invasion by a foreign country. This one is chiefly an issue in the developing world (see: the Russian invasion of Georgia followed by the invasion of Ukraine), as most First World countries have renounced warfare (against each other, at least) and their less-developed neighbors are too militarily impotent to seriously threaten them.
- Collapse of government (resulting in conditions of anarchy).
- An asteroid impact or supervolcano eruption (same problem of massive quantities of dust and sulfur dioxide thrown into the atmosphere, blocking the Sun).
- Invasion and military occupation by a foreign country. An excellent example would be the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War in which Russia invaded Ukraine, occupied territory and caused major damage to infrastructure.
As for the rest:
- The "Long Emergency" scenario conceived by James Howard Kunstler, an extremely pessimistic prediction of the effects of peak oil and climate change. While it's likely that many developing countries, especially in low-lying and/or tropical areas, will be screwed over due to their limited access to both scarce resources and the means to adapt to a changing climate, the ability of the developed world to adapt through technological means and energy efficiency has been debated for years, and a solid case can be made both for and against. In addition, there's the not-insignificant chance that the worst-case peak oil and global warming scenarios may be mutually exclusive — the effects of peak oil may force a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, which can in turn reduce the effects of global warming, and most plans to stall, mitigate, or adapt to climate change would reduce consumption of fossil fuels and, with it, the effects of their shortage. One issue of the collapse of much of the developing world would be a global exodus unseen in human history, especially if much of the developed world continues to refuse to let refugees and migrants in.
- Y2K was disputed before January 1, 2000, and turned out to be a bunch of people making mountains out of molehills. While the Y2K problem was a very real issue, it would not have come close to destroying society; all it would have done was make some financial transactions screw up until they could be fixed. It did, however, provide full employment for a while for COBOL programmers who forgot about centuries changing. (It is well known that the world will in fact end in January 2038, when 32-bit Unix timestamps overflow, given that God runs Unix.)
- Plausible or real events that can't actually happen where the survivalist lives e.g. major earthquake in Florida.
- "Earth changes"
- The "Great Tribulation" prophesied in some interpretations of the Bible. Christians will have to live off the grid for three to seven years so they don't have to take the Mark of the Beast, 666, on their foreheads/wrists!
- God hates (fill in the blank) and is about to do for the U.S. what He did for Sodom and Gomorrah
- The 2012 apocalypse was coming; this one was firmly discredited on the morning of December 22, 2012
- A race war is coming because whites are being out-bred by those of inferior genetic stock (read: minorities)
- The UN's black helicopters occupying America to enforce the New World Order
- The Commies are coming and a small remnant must be ready to take to the hills and wage guerrilla warfare. WOLVERINES!
- Fluoride in our water (or mind control rays, or the Russian Woodpecker,[note 2] or whatever) makes people stupid and will do the same for the U.S. as lead in the water pipes did for Rome
- Another great flood
- The zombie apocalypse, though this one is admittedly more of a spoof or a thought experiment (usually). Some survivalists and preparedness groups (such as the Zombie Squad), while not seriously believing in zombies, use a hypothetical zombocalypse as a benchmark for survival, the theory being that, if you can survive zombies, you can survive anything. Using "zombies" as a metaphor for any hypothetical disaster scenario also allows people to talk about survivalism without getting into the sticky political arguments that characterize the movement, as is known to happen when the subject is about, say, economic collapse, terrorism, or nuclear war. Even some quite serious organizations use a zombie apocalypse as a model for various disasters – the Centers for Disease Control, for example, uses it to model the outbreak of a pandemic disease and get people interested in emergency preparedness.
Not woo, just juvenile
- Grown-up little kids for whom "survivalism" is merely an excuse to run around in the woods in camo and read magazines about mercenaries
- Some survivalists have a grudge against society and want it to collapse, whether or not they actually believe it will (see: Unabomber). These people are known as "collapsitarians", anticipating that the collapse of the status quo will lead to the ascendancy of their preferred system (libertarianism, theocracy, primitivism, hard green ideologies, neo-Nazism, and various flavors of anarchism are all popular), and that they will naturally be a part of the new 1% rather than the teeming, impoverished masses.
- In more recent times, proponents of such have taken to calling themselves accelerationists. As an ideology, accelerationism started out as a wonkish and fairly harmless tech-culture fixation on embracing the acceleration of technological development, with its left-wing strand seeing technology as making capitalism obsolete and its right-wing strand seeing it as leading to the perfection of capitalism. In the late 2010s, however, it mutated upon exposure to both the far right and the far left, for whom "accelerationism" means hastening the destruction of the established order so that they can rebuild it in their own image atop the ashes. For the far right, this means engaging in acts of terrorism and revolutionary violence designed to destabilize and delegitimize the system, leading to the apolitical masses who would normally reject a fascist takeover either dying en masse or going over to the fascist side in search of protection. For the far left, meanwhile, accelerationism means rejecting liberal reform as merely polishing the turd of capitalism, throwing breadcrumbs to the working class (such as a welfare state, a minimum wage, and workplace safety laws) that could easily be taken away from them without granting them real political power, and therefore supporting right-wing capitalist politicians who would implement anti-labor policies that would radicalize the workers, pushing them towards embracing socialist revolution. Both reject electoral politics as fundamentally rigged against them, and take a rather dim view of the people in general, seeing them as either bought off by the system or indoctrinated to vote against their own best interests and therefore easily manipulated into falling in line behind a radical party in the event of a crisis.
Politics and religion
Ironically, many survivalists claim to be practitioners of Christianity, a religion originally built on the willingness of converts to accept personal extinction in a process known as martyrdom. It also includes some New Agers, who believe in the end of the world because
J.Z. Knight Ramtha said so, or "earth changes" are coming soon, or the Mayan calendar ends in 2012, or other woo. It has also attracted some white supremacist types who think society will inevitably break down what with all the minorities unless we institute a national eugenics program ASAP.
Historically, right-wingers and arch-libertarians have dominated the survivalist movement, most notably in the 1990s when the militia movement adopted survivalist rhetoric as part of their broader antipathy to the government. However, there are survivalists with views across the spectrum. Some are completely apolitical, and there also exists a left-wing survivalist movement mostly associated with environmentalists, New Agers, the 1970s "back to the land" movement, and unreconstructed ex-hippies. This contingent, moribund since about 1981, has made a comeback in the 2010s, largely motivated by extreme interpretations of the potential effects of peak oil and global warming (we have the books of James Howard Kunstler to thank for this), and by William Strauss and Neil Howe's prediction of an imminent crisis period lasting 20 years. Because of this, the usual rightie-dominated survivalist forums are starting to complain about all the lefties who have been showing up of late. However, extreme-right interest in survivalism also appears to be at a high point right now, for various reasons (the War on Terror, predictions that the culture war will expand into an actual shootin' war, that big bad Islamic threat, Barack Obama is the Antichrist, the New World Order is coming, et cetera).
Typically, survivalism grows and ebbs over the years, and holds some attraction for mainstream people during times when a (realistic, not woo-based) potential major crisis gets a lot of media attention: economic collapse in the 1970s, global thermonuclear warfare in the early-mid 1980s, Y2K in the late 1990s, and economic collapse (again) and, as mentioned, climate change and peak oil in the present day. Each time, the mainstream folks inevitably lose interest within a year or two, leaving a core of true believers expecting one or another sort of woo. The wild-eyed apocalyptic woo-meisters and assorted right-wing extremists tend to positively repel normal folks, and normal folks usually also quickly figure out there is a difference between preparedness for emergencies and survivalism, and opt for the former. As of this writing, woo-based survivalism seems to be more prevalent than ever.
The "American Redoubt"
The "American Redoubt" in the inland northwestern US is a concept that perfectly illustrates the right-wing undercurrent underlying much of the modern survivalist movement. Broadly defined, the Redoubt consists of the states of Idaho, Wyoming, Montana (particularly the western half of the state), and the areas of Washington state and Oregon east of the Cascade Mountains (away from those filthy
liberals, minorities, Jews, tree-huggers, hipsters, immigrants, and commies in Seattle and Portland).
The idea of the Redoubt was developed by James Wesley Rawles,[note 3] owner of the popular one-stop survivalist website SurvivalBlog, as a haven for survivalists and conservatives to relocate to on the basis of its being perceived as the exemplar of "true American" values, a place where small towns, farmers, the working class, and (mostly) churches dominate political and cultural life. Furthermore, the region's mountainous terrain makes it prime territory for
subjugating the masses guerrilla warfare against an invading army — he explicitly disqualified North and South Dakota and eastern Montana from being part of the Redoubt, despite their similar values, on the basis of their open plains being "tanker country".
It was likely for this reason that the people behind The Citadel chose northern Idaho as the site of their planned community for "true Americans". The Flathead Valley in western Montana has also become a magnet for the "Patriot" community, with fundamentalist pastor and 2008 Constitution Party Presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin notably moving there from Florida in 2010 and calling on his fellow "Patriots" to follow him west.
Coincidentally, the northwestern US was also chosen by white nationalists in the 1980s as a place to relocate to in order to turn it into a white/Aryan "homeland" on the grounds of the area being overwhelmingly white. Rawles and other Redoubt supporters insist that they're not racist, though; in fact, Rawles has explicitly disavowed white nationalism (a position that's gotten him no shortage of hate mail), and speaks of Orthodox Jews (and, of course, Messianic Jews) as being in line with his moralistic Christian ideals, calling on them to move to the Redoubt as well (he don't know dem vewy well, do he).
Survivalism in practice
Ironically, the sort of long-term breakdown survivalists expect has happened in recent years — in Somalia, a country where few people had the means to make the sort of elaborate preparations survivalists make. The big irony here is if the breakdown that survivalists are expecting actually comes, they (like everyone else) will suddenly be dirt poor and forced to adopt the lifestyles of remote third world villages in order to survive. Cooperative living will be a necessity, and a stance of rugged individualism (in this case, a euphemism for being willing to knife someone in the back for a carton of powdered milk) will be a one-way ticket to starvation (or worse).
In addition, even with the collapse of the central government, many places still see some form of order — the northern states of Somaliland and Puntland have, for all intents and purposes, restored government in their areas and are de facto independent, functioning nations,[note 4] while in the rest of the country an assortment of warlords, pirates, and Islamists hold power.
One survivalist, Fernando "Ferfal" Aguirre, runs a blog called "Surviving in Argentina" dedicated to his experiences with having lived in a developed country where a large-scale economic and societal collapse actually happened — Argentina, during that country's economic crisis in 2001-02 after the nation defaulted on its debt. His observations pointedly contradict many of the assumptions made by American survivalists:
- The logic of "bugging out" to a distant rural area to escape the chaos in the cities did not hold up in practice, as major cities like Buenos Aires and Cordoba were often the first places to see order and services restored. By contrast, rural survivalist compounds often found themselves outgunned and outnumbered by criminal gangs with nobody to help them for miles. Many such compounds were later discovered by the authorities looted and abandoned, sometimes with their would-be survivalist owners murdered.
- Government collapse is always temporary. By 2003, the crisis was over and Argentina's economy was booming again, partly as a result of the economic corrections triggered by the crisis.[note 5]
- Even at the height of the collapse, collective effort was often the most effective way for many working-class and former middle-class Argentineans to make a living, as demonstrated by the proliferation of worker-owned cooperatives.
- The rich, rather than being thrown from their lofty perch, got richer during and after the collapse — income inequality rose between 2001 and 2005, and at the height of the collapse the upper classes managed to defend their wealth by hiring armed private security.
- Likewise, the decadent pop culture and lifestyles that should have been swept away (according to American survivalists) were only reinforced. To give just one example, Argentinean TV studios and networks, reeling from the economic collapse, cut costs in any way they could and went for the cheapest programming they could find. Yup — the economic meltdown led to an explosive boom in trashy reality TV, and a similarly sharp decline in educational programming.
In short, total anarchy and a return to rural subsistence living failed to materialize even in the midst of a worst-case economic meltdown scenario.
The euphemistically named Special Period in the 90s resulted from the collapse of the Soviet Union, meaning Cuba lost their primary trading partner, and 80% of their imports and exports. This meant a huge scarcity of oil and food which paralyzed their transportation and agricultural systems. The main result was that almost every aspect of society was transformed into providing food. In desperation, Cuban pets and zoo animals became sources of meat. The crisis, having exposed how fragile their sugar-dominated, export-oriented farm system was, led to a shift towards organic, urban farming. Rooftops and empty parking lots were taken over and transformed into urban gardens, and the Communist government had to relax control of the economy and allowed for food cooperatives to aid this transition.
Although outsiders tend to romanticize the organic farming transition, in reality, persistent hunger was still widespread, and more than 30,000 people attempted to flee the island after protests broke out in 1994. Calorie intake dropped to as low as 1400 during this period among children and the elderly. Nonetheless, Cubans went through a lot more exercise walking, biking, and farm labour, and shifted to more vegan diets, which led to a sharp drop in Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease, health gains that were reversed after the crisis ended.
Overall, strong social institutions and a cooperative spirit among Cubans helped weather the crisis. In particular, the population was highly educated, which made it easier for people to transition into agriculture, transform various electronics to suit their needs, and share knowledge. Many Cubans also became closer together, spending a lot of time chatting with each other to pass the time. They also ended up better off compared to their communist peers. Post-Soviet Russia went through neoliberal shock therapy courtesy of Boris Yeltsin and had their country sold off to oligarchs while people starved. North Korea, which refused to implement reforms to its command economy, underwent a massive famine with death tolls in the hundreds of thousands.
The experiences of the above countries together demonstrate many of the fallacies, shaky logic and biases surrounding the thinking of many survivalists, especially the rural right-wing survivalists that make up the majority cohort of the movement today. The prevailing stance of many survivalists is one of rugged individualism, an idealized vision of life in which a man can make it by the sweat of his brow without having to rely on anybody else. In reality, such a stance would get one killed as those who engage in collective effort, be they gangs, warlords, new city-states, or pre-collapse governments reasserting their authority by force, out-compete them and eventually drive them out. Philosophical arguments about "common law" will matter to the armed men at your doorstep about as much as arguments about Roman law did in the Middle Ages. It was never the lone cowboy that "won the West" — it was new settlements collectively organizing for law enforcement and the other infrastructure of society, backed by the power of the US Army and the Marshals Service and the cattle, railroad, and mining barons they supported.
Furthermore, many survivalists also assume that a return to rural and small-town living will be the "natural" result of the collapse, with cities descending into total chaos while the countryside weathers the storm. To be fair, this idea emerged at a time when the threat of nuclear war (in which cities would be targeted for destruction) was very real, but it is just as present in predictions of economic meltdown and other disasters. What they fail to account for is that the collapse of law and order will happen everywhere, including in their rural retreats, as trade and transportation break down and their Wal-Marts and country stores stop getting shipments of food. With the end of the Cold War and the threat of World War III, it becomes clear that this idea is rooted more in a bias towards, and an assumption of the superiority of, rural living vs. urban living than in any realistic assessment of a collapse. While large scale decline of cities has happened in past collapses, with the fall of Rome probably being the most famous and accessible example, the cities still remained places with more order and more economic activity than the largely agricultural countryside, where bandits and highwaymen often roamed free. The Roman trend of wealthy suburbanites living outside the city while still having business inside it disappeared completely upon the fall of Rome, so the suburbia many Americans mistake for "the countryside" will probably fare worse than the cities in any kind of collapse.
In short, survivalism, at least in the form commonly preached in the West, isn't so much a movement towards self-sufficiency and personal independence as it is a game for the idle rich in search of self-actualization. Their spending money on guns and state-of-the-art "survival" gear is ultimately little different from the behavior of the consumerist "sheep" that they love to criticize, especially when considering that many outdoor/sporting goods companies have started overtly targeting the prepper market. People in the developing world who actually have to concern themselves with day-to-day survival usually can't afford it.
Science fiction author David Brin's post-apocalyptic novel The Postman has, as one of its central themes, the way that survivalism siphons off resources needed to keep society running. Sadly, it's best known now for how Kevin Costner turned it into one of the least comprehensible movies ever. (On the bright side, it was one of the inspirations for the Fallout series of games.)
Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's book Lucifer's Hammer is also a post-apocalyptic novel with a more positive view of survivalism than Brin's work.
Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse is a "novel" written by James Wesley Rawles (the same guy behind the American Redoubt and SurvivalBlog). In all actuality, it is a survivalist manual using a novel as a framing device, meant to present Rawles' ideas about survival and politics in an easily digestible literary form. The plot is a fairly standard right-wing/libertarian potboiler — in the event of economic meltdown, a group of people from Chicago "bug out" to northern Idaho and later lead a guerrilla war against a tyrannical "Provisional Government" backed by Europe and the UN. It's not particularly well-written on the literary front; even its fans seem to appreciate it more for its message and its survival tips than for the actual story. Notably, when Rawles wrote a sequel that focused more on the story, entitled Survivors: A Novel of the Coming Collapse, even many of his fans thought it sucked.
The CBS TV series Jericho is perhaps one of the more notable depictions of survivalism on the small screen. Lasting about two seasons, it followed the residents of the town of Jericho in western Kansas after terrorists stage a massive nuclear attack against dozens of American cities. Made in the Bush era back when Lost was spawning a huge boom in sci-fi/mystery television, it was as much a conspiracy thriller as anything else, revealing that a Halliburton-esque corporation (one that's headquartered in Dick Cheney's home state of Wyoming, even) orchestrated the attacks and blamed them on Iran and North Korea in order to take over America and turn it into a corporate-run dictatorship, like an anti-military-industrial complex version of the usual right-wing, anti-UN conspiracy theories. The second season ended with a Second American Civil War about to begin, just in time for the show to be canceled, though the story was continued in a series of comic books. Outside of its fandom, it's best known for the campaign by its fans to save it from cancellation at the end of season one, which involved sending bags of nuts to CBS headquarters. Don't ask.[note 6]
A much longer list of depictions of survivalists and survivalism in general can be found on TV Tropes. The fact that their "trope" for survivalism in pop culture is called "Crazy Survivalist" speaks volumes.
- Autarky — when a whole nation becomes prepper from the top down
- Useless eaters — a term most commonly found in conspiracy literature, but also sometimes used by survivalists as a synonym for "sheeple"
- Duck and Cover — survivalism as taught in 1950s elementary schools
- Libertarian paradise
- List of predictions of the end of the world
- Militia movement — a distinct but sometimes overlapping group
- Survival seed bank
- Whacker — another, sometimes overlapping group
- Frugal Squirrels
- Zombie Squad
- Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends — Survivalists
- International Survival and Homesteading Forum Community - everything related to preparedness, from survival to homesteading.
- Off The Grid News — an example of the right-wing, Christian variant
- Spec Ops Brand Military Tactical Gear
- SurvivalBlog — James Wesley Rawles' website
- Mother Earth News — an example of the left-wing, environmentalist variant
- They're in western Maryland, which is not to be confused with the rest of Maryland. Western Maryland is mountainous, isolated, tends to get snowed in in the winter, and is more like West Virginia and south central Pennsylvania than the likes of Baltimore. And yes, they are building an ark, right next to Interstate 68 where they'll surely be safe from God's next big flood, although all the sheeple fleeing Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. on same Interstate 68 when TSHTF may be a problem for them.
- The Russian Woodpecker was the name given by shortwave listeners and ham radio operators to the Soviet Union's top secret Duga-3 missile radar installation; the name came from the sound of the signal in an AM shortwave radio, which resembled a high-speed tapping. It powered up in the mid-1970s and went off-line in 1989 for reasons still not publicly known in the West.
- Or, as he calls himself, James Wesley, Rawles. Yeah, that's the kind of guy we're dealing with here.
- Somaliland has made it formal and declared independence from Somalia, though it is not officially recognized as such by any foreign governments or by the United Nations.
- Specifically, the devaluation and inflation of the Argentinean peso caused a manufacturing boom as foreign companies took advantage of very friendly exchange rates.
- If you must, it's a reference to a scene in the first season finale where the main characters are cornered by a rival militia from a neighboring town. When asked to surrender, one of the characters quotes General Anthony McAuliffe at the Battle of the Bulge, who replied "nuts!" to the Nazis' call for him to surrender when they had him surrounded.
- How past disasters can help us prepare for the future: In 'The Big Ones,' Lucy Jones discusses planning for the next catastrophe by Kyle Plantz (8:00am, March 25, 2018) Science News.
- The Big Ones: How Natural Disasters Have Shaped Us (and What We Can Do About Them) by Lucy Jones (2018) Doubleday. ISBN 0385542704.
- http://dcist.com/2014/02/gods_ark_of_safety_i-68s.php God's Ark of Safety
- National Preparedness Month
- "What is the difference between a Survivalist and a Prepper?"
- Doherty, Brian. Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement. PublicAffairs, 2007.
- "Food Storage: Why, What, and How." About.com, Latter Day Saints.
- "Food Storage". Mormon Wiki. Retrieved 2010-09-27.
- See the Wikipedia article on March 1989 geomagnetic storm.
- Kunstler, James Howard. The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century. Atlantic Monthly Press, 2005.
- Zombie Squad
- The CDC on Zombie Preparedness
- Virginia Heffernan, "Apocalypse Ciao: Let the End Times Roll." Mother Jones, July/August 2009.
- Beauchamp, Zack. "Accelerationism: the obscure idea inspiring white supremacist killers around the world." Vox, 18 November 2019 (recovered 25 January 2020).
- Beckett, Andy. "Accelerationism: how a fringe philosophy predicted the future we live in." The Guardian, 11 May 2017 (recovered 4 June 2020).
- Christian Survivalists Losing Faith in the Future
- http://mark12ministries.wordpress.com/2008/10/09/the-christian-survivalist-a-biblical-view-of-preparedness/ The Christian Survivalist: A Biblical View of Preparedness
- French village faces influx of apocalypse believers
- American Redoubt
- Rawles' call to move to the mountains.
- Lenz, Ryan. "A Gathering of Eagles: Extremist Look to Montana." Intelligence Report, Winter 2011.
- In his own words. (Warning: deep well of crazy.)
- See the Wikipedia article on Northwest Territorial Imperative.
- Burghart, Devin and Leonard Zeskind. "The Northwest Imperative Redux." Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, 27 November 2012 (recovered 18 November 2014).
- Rawles, James Wesley. "Lest Any Man Should Boast: A Christian Survivalist Perspective on Race, Religion, and Reason." Survival Blog (recovered 12 January 2015).
- Surviving in Argentina
- Organic or starve: can Cuba's new farming model provide food security?
- The Lessons from Cuba’s “Special Period”
- How Cubans' Health Improved When Their Economy Collapsed.
- When in the face of scarcity Cuban ingenuity becomes art
- Cuba’s “Special Period” Remembered
- Lause, Mark A. "The Cowboy Class Wars." Jacobin, 29 August 2016 (recovered 30 August 2016).
- Brown, Jennings. "The Prepper Obsession With Clothes." 29 May 2017 (recovered 31 May 2017).
- TV Tropes: Crazy Survivalist