NY Times On “The New Survivalism”

21 10 2008

I got a few chuckles out of this article from the New Your Times, not the least of which came when I noticed that it was posted in the “Fashion & Style” section of the paper. But beyond the laughs it had some interesting ideas to consider.

THE traditional face of survivalism is that of a shaggy loner in camouflage, holed up in a cabin in the wilderness and surrounded by cases of canned goods and ammunition.

It is not that of Barton M. Biggs, the former chief global strategist at Morgan Stanley. Yet in Mr. Biggs’s new book, “Wealth, War and Wisdom,” he says people should “assume the possibility of a breakdown of the civilized infrastructure.”

“Your safe haven must be self-sufficient and capable of growing some kind of food,” Mr. Biggs writes. “It should be well-stocked with seed, fertilizer, canned food, wine, medicine, clothes, etc. Think Swiss Family Robinson. Even in America and Europe there could be moments of riot and rebellion when law and order temporarily completely breaks down.”

In our modern age of “progress” we have more and more adopted the “just-in-time” philosophy to our personal lives. Few moderns even prepare for meals in the next week, let alone stocking a pantry for the winter. Those that remember hard times and the need to be prepared are passing on, and leaving behind a generation that has known only dependence on grocery stores and big-box marts.

As a result, when people become aware of how highly vulnerable they are by depending on our modern distribution network, they have to come face to face with the archaic idea of “preparedness”, thought by many to be the domain of the paranoid. People like Biggs are right to assume the possibility of the breakdown of our infrastructure, but often the inherent goodness of even having such an infrastructure goes unquestioned. But that is precisely what should be questioned. Our viewpoint should not be one of stocking up to survive some apocalyptic scenario, but stocking up as part of a change to a more normal way of life.

Some middle-class preparedness converts, like Val Vontourne, a musician and paralegal in Olympia, Wash., recoil at the term “survivalist,” even as they stock their homes with food, gasoline and water.

“I think of survivalists as being an extreme case of preparedness,” said Ms. Vontourne, 44, “people who stockpile guns and weapons, anticipating extreme aggression. Whereas what I’m doing, I think of as something responsible people do.

I now think of storing extra food, water, medicine and gasoline in the same way I think of buying health insurance and putting money in my 401k,” she said. “It just makes sense.

Actually, it makes a lot more sense than putting money in a 401k!




One response

22 10 2008
Beans, Bullets, And Bandaids « In Due Season…

[…] Bullets, And Bandaids 22 10 2008 MSNBC ran a story similar to the one we discussed yesterday, called Hard times have some flirting with […]

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