The people who write about post collapse community, from their urban apartments, are going to wind up being boiled up in large pots, along with rats and road kill.
If you are entertaining any touchy feely fantasies about collapse in large cities, please type “failed state” into Google and start reading. Once that sinks in, read about the standard practice of using children as the minions of warlords.
Do you live in or near any areas with “gang problems”? If you refuse to leave, you better be making friends with those gangs, and figuring out how you can make yourself useful to them, because those guys are going to be your new masters when state authority breaks down. If you’re thinking about what kind of gun to buy, instead of how you’re going to serve the warlord, you might as well consider yourself dead. You, alone, with your gun, will lose. Why? Because the local warlord will have lots of minions at his disposal.
Don’t get me wrong. Maybe the post collapse community theorists are especially hip and have enough advanced and worthless university degrees and fashionable iPod accessories to cocreate, rebirth and revision the future to the point where the realities experienced by the rest of the planet won’t apply to their upmarket, urban enclaves. When the hungry teenage boys show up with their assault rifles, what does the hold-hands-in-a-circle crowd suggest you do? I know: Make sure you have lots of organic hemp hacky sacks and fair trade coffee to go around for the consciousness building session. Be prepared to discuss your past lives, have your chakras realigned and your auras cleansed. Hold a focus group on pithy bumper sticker design…
The dumb, vaguely New Age talk about community only makes sense to people who are totally ignorant of basic, observable realities on the ground. The warlord phenomenon springs forth from any power vacuum, anywhere there are groups comprised of more than a few dozen people. It’s like the sun rising in the East each morning. You can count on it.
Now, what are your options, as collapse accelerates? I see three general categories.
Accepting Rule by the Local Warlord:
To increase your chances of having a favorable relationship with a warlord and his minions, it helps if you have some of the following in common with them: Language, race, religion and other common cultural referents. In the U.S. “common cultural referents” for the warlords likely to be encountered will mostly fall into two main categories:
Category 1: Urban Poor— Rap music, mongrel dogs, lowered cars, tattoos, etc.
Category 2: Messianic Christianity— Deeply deranged and heavily armed.
You will want to think of ways to get the warlord to see your existence as somehow useful to him. Your “costs of doing business” may be lower, meaning, you might be allowed to exist under less harsh conditions than someone who is outside the warlord’s gang/tribe.
If this option seems vaguely familiar, it is! Warlords behave just like governments in collapsing states, but at a substate or local level. You have probably noticed how the U.S. Government no longer bothers itself with even maintaining an appearance of following the law. It just does what it wants. This is de facto law, or law by gun. The main difference between the failing state and the failed state has to do with the number of lawless aspirants to power. Failed states are characterized by pitched intergang violence as turf boundaries are determined.
Maybe you want to become a local warlord yourself? Well, if you’re just thinking about that idea now, chances are, you’re too late. There’s probably a local gang near you that has already determined who’s running the show. Hint: It’s not going to be you.
Semi autonomous villages and homesteads can form loose mutual defense arrangements. When any node is threatened, a militia, drawn from all nodes, comes to the aid of the threatened node. This is not too common in practice, but there are some examples.
Look at Switzerland and the way their military works. I don’t need to go into this in detail here, but it’s very interesting and salient to this discussion. The Swiss military is cross between a standing army and a militia. A few key points:
* No generals in peacetime; during war, the Parliament elects a general
* Small core of professional full-time officers, instructors and staff, while ALL ABLE-BODIED MEN AGED 19-31 SERVE IN THE MILITARY AND THEN BECOME PART OF A READY MILITARY RESERVE (MILITIA)
* Because of the point above, the population is heavily armed; military grade assault weapons and a ready supply of ammunition are kept in most Swiss homes
Why does this work in Switzerland?
The Swiss are all pretty much on the same page in terms of core cultural referents. This is the source of stability and the reason why no unitary warlord is necessary. If you think that the U.S. is having a hard time in Iraq, that is nothing compared to what an invader would face in Switzerland.
Farmers in South Africa are trying mutual aid arrangements as they are now routinely attacked and murdered by armed gangs. See: The Farmer Armies of South Africa:
Conserv Security assesses individual communities and draws up security plans for them. This includes rosters for community patrols, firearms training, rural survival skills and self-defence. The company serves about 3 000 landowners in the area.
Roberts said that in a three-month period, patrols by local armed landowners had helped bring down the crime rate in Muldersdrift from one attack every two-and-a-half days to one every 21 days. Police have slammed these local farmer patrols, saying they went against the laws of the country.
The unofficial farmer armies patrolling the Muldersdrift streets, many of them set up in response to the government’s decision to phase out military commandos in 2003, is illustrative of a growing trend around the country.
More and more farmers are organising themselves into rural protection units, and in many provinces have rejected the South African Police Service’s sector policing strategy as incompetent. The complaints range from police being involved in crime to a lack of vehicles and staff.
The initiative appears to be led by ex-military officials who, in the northern reaches of the country, lead military-style exercises against suspected criminals with names like Operation Clenched Fist.
Velskoen-and-firearm brigades have led to a significant drop in crime, according to Gideon Meiring, chairperson of the TAU’s safety and security committee.
Meiring, a former army colonel in charge of military intelligence, said candidly that his point of departure was that “it’s either us or them”.
Meiring was unapologetic about the security support groups he has helped to set up in provinces like Limpopo, North West and Mpumalanga, saying the police “are not part of the solution but part of the bloody problem”.
He has been involved in setting up what the TAU calls the Greenlight Police, an association of patrolling farmers with flashing green lights fixed to the top of their vehicles.
Meiring also runs frequent three-day self-defence courses. Men, women and children are taught first aid, how to use ordinary household items to protect themselves, and how to fire AK-47s, R-4s and pump-action rifles.
If you’re going to go with mutual aid, begin training early and often. Think of the Swiss, but expect a situation more like the one the South African farmers are facing.
It is said that no man is an island, but you’ll probably be left alone if you can figure out how to live in the Yukon or remote parts of Alaska. A place many miles from nowhere, coupled with extreme climatic conditions can work to your advantage.
Of course, this option is only viable for highly motivated individuals who don’t require much outside human interaction. (There aren’t many people like this, by the way.) Extreme weather conditions mean that you would have to focus a great deal of time, energy and money on the problem of simply surviving the elements. Anyone who goes with this option, however, understands the warlord issue.
This is truly an “Army of One,” or, “An Army of a Few.” There aren’t any warlords because there aren’t any minions. To be out in these places in the first place, even while states are up and running, is difficult. In a failed state situation, these areas will most likely be cut off from the starving hordes in the cities and the resulting chaos.
Now, for those of you reading in large cities, which is most of you, here’s a current example of what you have to look forward to if state authority breaks down.
The fight between U.S.-led forces and militants in and near Baghdad and the sectarian civil war raging in the capital has overshadowed another grim wartime reality — the factional strife in Iraq’s southern Shiite heartland.
Experts who study the region attribute the instability to turf battles among “warlords” and their fighters in an unstable political and social environment that is coming to resemble a failed state.
“Iraqi politicians are progressively turning into warlords,” Peter Harling, senior analyst with the Middle East Program of the Brussels, Belgium-based International Crisis Group. What has been unfolding in the south, he says, is a “very crude struggle over power and resources.”
“Violence has become the routine means of interacting with the local population,” Harling says of the militias, which have filled the power vacuum after the fall of Saddam Hussein.
“They see no interest in seeing a functional state emerge.”
MUST READ Related: Gangs Spreading in U.S. Military
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