As mentioned last week, I recently ran across an article (found here) on why the “typical” survivalist mentality (“Rambo,” or the Lone Prepper Syndrome) is a “recipe for certain death.”
The author discusses the reasons he believes this thought process is so prevalent–largely a combination of what he calls the “defend what’s mine” mindset and the immense number of guns to be found in the country these days. The “defend what’s mine” thing is really an alter ego of what I call the “I’ve got mine, so f*** you” mentality I see so much of these days, particularly amongst the very rich (1%) and in the right wing generally. Basically, this thinking goes, when the collapse happens, it becomes a free-for-all; I have to defend my “stash” from all comers. (An unspoken part of this is the inverse: if I can take what’s yours from you, it becomes mine…)
The downside to this is that your stash is only as good as what you’ve thought of (and been able to collect). If you’ve missed a scenario, or overlooked something, your life just got even more complicated than the collapse had already made it. You’d be better off if you had a small group; there would be lots of overlap, to be sure, but having multiple eyes on the “problem” will bring multiple solutions, and predict possible complications you may have missed on your own.
Better still would be to have a community–you’re less likely to have to “bug out”, you’ll have an even wider base of resources to fall back on, and overall your support network will be much bigger. (If *your* house burns to the ground, having a town of folks able to come together to rebuild/recover is a quantum leap above having four or five people, to say nothing of just having yourself…)
But there’s another factor, which the article’s author describes eloquently, but never quite comes out and says: we humans are social animals. We work better when we’re surrounded by friends, or when there’s a number of us pursuing a single goal together. It’s probably been this way since we discovered that a group of us can take down a mammoth much easier than any one of us can. We’re even wired for group living: the average Dunbar Number for humans is about 150–the size of a fairly self-sufficient village (or extended clan/tribe).
This also plays into the theory of “collapse” as a relatively drawn-out process; one of the “stair-steps” down (hopefully a rather distant one, but I’m sure it’s there) will probably include a regional breakup. Long-distance governance of an empire as diverse as ours is a highly complex thing, dependent to a large extent on some fairly complex communication mechanisms. While I believe a full de-evolution to city-states is possible, we’re much more likely to do something a bit more feudal first. But it’ll be so slow to reach that point that village-communities will probably form naturally, out of simple necessity–and these villages would be entirely too familiar to a time-traveling visitor from the 13th century.
All of that is speculation; I’ll close with one of the author’s points as to why going with community is the better option:
…What is “survival” even worth if you are encased in a concrete bunker for years, eating MRE’s and drinking recycled piss water, living in a constant state of paranoia that someone will “take what’s yours?”…I would much rather live my last days actively doing meaningful work with people I love, creating a more beautiful world than the one we left behind… You can keep your bunkers.