31 July 2012

New Dark Age Survival: Thinking Long Term

If civilisation is going to collapse, it will not go easily. If it goes, there is a good possibility that many parts of the currently-developed world will suffer quasi-dark age conditions without aid or re-supply, for an extended period -- months, years, perhaps longer.

A lot of people talk about which book or books they would like to have with them, should civilisation collapse. But people who think in those terms are likely to be dead before many weeks have passed. If they have not internalised and practised the necessary skills, the best use for any books may be to use them for either desperate escapism, or as fuel for a fire.

Long Term Survival in the Coming Dark Age by James Ballou gets mixed reviews across the web. First let's look at the review of the book in Survivalblog:
Chapter 3 was worth the price of the book. The Survival Workshop. I could tell that this is the area where Mr. Ballou has experience and expertise. The basic metalworking, riveting and shop set-up ideas are well presented, with less “could-be” or “might be useful” and more “normally very effective”. I like to read “is” instead of “might” when it comes to life-or-death analysis of what I may have to do in a societal collapse. I am not a hobbyist. I really like the idea of making a thread cutting die from a file, or a vise from 2 x 4s. Now those examples are something that could be potentially used in the Dark Ages! This chapter, like quality survival books, really got me thinking. He has a book dedicated to this subject I want to buy.

Chapter 4 is also very good, a review and reminder of the countless things that are thrown away of potential use in a later time when they may not be able to be manufactured on a large scale. Still, it's not survival in the Dark Ages, it's things one can do now, while there are dumpsters to dive. I scavenge in cities I visit. I find this fun and sometimes of financial benefit. I share the writer's inclination to look for wheel weights and other small items in parking lots. This is a skill common in Third World countries. All preparedness-minded people should at least think about routine scavenging. Forget about the image of the homeless degenerate culling for food in a back-alley garbage can like an animal. Be discreet. Dress with durable clothing. I have found climbing rope, drills, hardware, electrical supplies new-in-box among other things too numerous to detail here. I do it while jogging while carrying a cloth shopping bag. I even sometimes wear a silk mask if the dumpster is under surveillance. One has to keep warm, right? Good points are made by Ballou, but this could have been a separate article or included in another book. It's not post-dark-ages survival guidelines.

The rest of the book covers the subjects of fire making, cordage and what trade goods to store. Again, this is very basic information. The Bushcraft skills would be better reviewed by reading Ray Mears. Ragnar Benson also covers trade goods in his writings including the specific need for spare tool handles. No one can argue against the possibility that, in a Dark Age, things like matches and other high tech manufactured items be scarce or unavailable. Ballou directed the reader to more complete, already published works, rather than attempt to re-introduce the entire subject in a few pages. If he has direct experience, maybe just discuss his first-hand problems with bushcraft techniques and his own personal solutions, if any. This is what another important bushcraft writer John McPherson does.

Mr. Ballou has written a pretty good introduction to the world of preparedness with two strong idea-based chapters on survival metalworking and improvisation from found objects. _Survivalblog
The author of the review above had several nits to pick with Ballou, but overall gives the book his qualified recommendation.

Here is another interesting review of Ballou's book from Amazon.com:
I enjoyed the chapter on how to make caches so that supplies can be hidden and recovered years later.

The author takes the basic premiss that life will revert to something like the 1800's, so much of the book describes methods of improvising things like axes, knives, tools, clothes, rope, etc. While the author's homemade tools and clothes are beautifully crafted, I have a hard time imagining myself spending much time forging steel during a survival scenario. Even if all the stores are looted I think our society will have an abundance of remnant knives and axes to last quite a while. For at least a couple of decades I think scavenging will be a more important skill than blacksmithing.

This book is full of interesting skill and project ideas, but it's fragmented. The author has us building forges as if we will be cut off from the remnants of our civilization, but also caching guns, as if rounds or shells and gunpowder will somehow be available. It's somewhat hard to picture the scenario in which all these skills come together.

No one can paint a perfect picture of what survivors will be facing so we never know what skills exactly will be essential, so I will take what I can from this book... _Amazon.com

It is interesting that the two reviewers above both had mixed impressions of the book, and would certainly engage each other in heated argument as to which parts of the book were worthwhile and which were not.

Truth be told, most "book survivalists" who remain merely book survivalists, are probably not going to make it, should TSHTF over an extended period of time. It just depends upon whether they are lucky enough to land in the middle of a community of well-prepared, competent, and generally cooperative persons -- such as a local chapter of the understandably secretive Society for Creative Apocalyptology.

There are lists online which suggest particular tools that might help one to re-start civilisation: 50 Tools and Technologies to Rebuild Civilisation, for example

And then there is the ongoing project to open source the rebuilding of civilisation, called the Global Village Construction Set.

For those willing to dive into technologies such as the Global Village Construction Set, the possible learned competencies would be invaluable in a widespread catastrophe -- when you are without the possibility of outside aid or re-supply.

Your best bet, in such a long term situation, would be to find yourself in a community of dangerous children, born and raised. And if you see the wisdom in such a plan, remember: It is never too late to have a dangerous childhood.

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Blogger MnMark said...

What are the central reasons that people believe we are on the cusp of a new dark age?

I ask because I can't think of many examples of this ever happening in human history. The only one I can think of is the fall of Rome. The printing press and digital media have spread scientific and technical information much more widely than it was then, so it is very unlikely to disappear.

Frankly I think a dark age among Northern Europeans is vanishingly unlikely, for the reason that Northern Europeans seem to have a genetic tendency to organize in cooperative ways after disaster. Look at how the the Northern European whites in Fargo, ND/Grand Forks, MN reacted after the devastating floods a few years ago: no looting to speak of, just people quickly organizing to help one another and get things back to normal. Contrast that with how blacks behave any time the least bit of breakdown in infrastracture occurs: they seem to be eagarly awaiting an opportunity to loot, burn, and rape (e.g. Hurricane Katrina).

Whites living around blacks have reason to fear social collapse, and need to be prepared, but that preparation mainly needs to be guns and transportation out of the area to whiter locations. Not much can be done for blacks though since it seems to be in the nature to behave as they do. (They behave that way, more or less, everywhere they live in the world.)

So I wonder if this TEOTWAWKI mindset among some whites (and isn't it almost exclusively whites who are into survivalism?) is primarily a sense that the darkening of the country's demographics presage a period of violance and ethnic cleansing that they need to prepare for? If the country was still 95% white I doubt people would expect their neighbors to behave any differently than the people in Fargo did in an emergency, and all this extreme doom would seem unreasonable.

Tuesday, 31 July, 2012  
Blogger al fin said...

The doomer mentality is being franchised by many groups. You have the climate catastrophists; the peak oilers; the economic collapsers; the power grid collapsers via EMP, solar flare, and cyber war; the religious doomers; the pollution armageddon doomers; the genetically modified foods doomers; the nuclear (or bio - chem) war doomers; the global pandemic doomers; etc etc etc . . .

But you are correct that the collapse of populations from Japan to Southern Europe to Russia (not counting the muslim immigrants) etc. combined with a rapid influx of relatively low IQ third world immigrants into Europe and North America, casts the future into a somewhat dimmer light for many.

Considering that humans are at critical inflection points in terms of the possibility for important breakthroughs in disruptive areas such as life extension, space development and migration, brain augmentation, robotics, nano-manufacturing, genetic engineering, body augments and radical alterations, and much more, it seems important to many of us that the R&D infrastructure of the most innovative and productive nations not be allowed to fall under the control of regressive, dieoff.orgy ideologies (such as the lefty-Luddite green dieoff.orgy or the fundamentalist religious orgies of Islam or any other religion taken too far).

Tuesday, 31 July, 2012  
Blogger MnMark said...

The doomer mentality is being franchised by many groups. You have the climate catastrophists; the peak oilers; the economic collapsers; the power grid collapsers via EMP, solar flare, and cyber war; the religious doomers; the pollution armageddon doomers; the genetically modified foods doomers; the nuclear (or bio - chem) war doomers; the global pandemic doomers; etc etc etc . . .

All of which groups are composed almost entirely of white people, right?

Doomerism may just be a white phenomenon. Non-whites (northern Asians excluded) who don't live in white countries all seem to live in some degree of apocalyptic mess as a matter of routine (I'm thinking of Africa, especially....Africa is like a post-apocalyptic scenario - by white standards - pretty much all the time.)

Tuesday, 31 July, 2012  
Blogger MnMark said...

Just to extend and solidify my last thought: maybe, basically, doomerism is a manifestation of a white man's growing realization that the current trend is leading to him and his family being ruled by blacks, muslims, and other non-whites and cultural aliens. That is a real threat. Maybe "collapse of civilization" = "growing political power of non-whites".

Tuesday, 31 July, 2012  
Blogger al fin said...

There may certainly be applicable logic in your racialist argument. But it is also possible that culture plays just as large a part or larger in doomerism than race.

It would be best not to take it too far into racially exclusionary territory. Personally, I would not want to live in a racially monotone society -- particularly if segregation was enforced by law rather than being entirely voluntary. Neither would I, of course, wish to live in Haiti or Zimbabwe.

In addition, Islam is a religious phenomenon, rather than a racial one. Most westerners of all races would be reluctant to live under Sharia law, regardless of the race of the administrators of that law. They would also object to living under fascist or communist governments, as a rule, regardless of the race of the overseers.

Tuesday, 31 July, 2012  
Blogger neil craig said...

Radio would survive since technologically it is relatively easy once we know how. Just as mobile phones are the biggest driver of growth in Africa, radio communication & having all the technological information in record should assist humanity in getting back from circa 1800 to a modern mass society in 2 generations or less.

Thursday, 02 August, 2012  
Blogger MnMark said...

Personally, I would not want to live in a racially monotone society -- particularly if segregation was enforced by law rather than being entirely voluntary.Neither would I, of course, wish to live in Haiti or Zimbabwe.

I think people living in exclusively white countries had a very nice situation. Iceland, for example...they wouldn't allow blacks into the country at all until recent times. Scandinavia in general had virtually no non-whites. The community I grew up in in the USA had no non-whites when I was a child. These were all very good places to live with no one but whites living there. Whites do not at all require non-white presence in our countries in order to have a high-quality, peaceful, rich quality of life.

And you do have to enforce it with laws or strong cultural norms that discourage outsiders (non-whites) from settling there, otherwise if they have a higher birth rate than we do, they simply reproduce themselves into political power and then change the country to be THEIR country, and you are at their mercy, literally. It is not a good thing for whites to live as minorities in a non-white country. Ask the whites in (former) Rhodesia or South Africa how that's working out for them. Ask the American Indians how it worked out for them that whites came here "just to try to better their lives" and then reproduced and immigrated faster than the native Indians could.

Whites really need to think about this and "get real". White minority status is baked into the cake at this point, and all around the world, in almost all place and times, it has been a bad thing to be a minority in a country. And being a minority in a country where the majority are people as civilizationally dysfunctional as blacks and Mexicans. What has happened to the quality of life of white South Africans since apartheid was ended and they bought the white liberal line that equal rights would only enrich their lives, not harm them?

Again, I have to strongly object to your implication that living in an all-white society would somehow be undesireable. It is a very nice thing. Low crime, low corruption, safe streets, families able to live in the central city and thus no need for suburban sprawl, much lower cost of government, good schools that are safe for white children to attend...I've lived in that kind of society (as a child, here) and it was heaven compared to what we have now. What depresses me is that the younger generations of white people have no idea what they have been deprived of...they don't know anything other than the dysfunction that these other races introduce, and they have been brainwashed to believe it is *good*. Frightening.

Friday, 03 August, 2012  
Blogger al fin said...

I understand your point of view. And you may yet find such a society in some small towns and rural areas of North America, Oceania, Europe . . . But one man's utopia is another man's dystopia.

With the rapid and natural de-population of many rural jurisdictions, it is possible for a determined group of newcomers to populate a county to the point of achieving quasi-control, politically. But such a county would still have to obey state and federal laws and statutes.

This thread was originally about survival in a neo-dark ages. I'm not sure that you made a clean and clear connection between your main point and the original thread.

You did bring up an interesting point about the psychological fear of being out-bred and out-populated by newcomers who may lack the ability to maintain order and prosperity, and without the competence to operate a complex, high tech infrastructure.

The "doom mindset" goes back much farther and is much more comprehensive than that, but there may be a subset of doomers who fall into the category which you posit.

Friday, 03 August, 2012  
Blogger Stephen said...

A society doesn't have to be homogenous to be prosperous. The Modern West does multiracialism so poorly with its anti-white and dygenic policies. I can imagine a what a stable multiracial society would look like:

First, it would stay majority White and Western by ending unchecked immigration. Second, it would allow people who are mostly white (87% White, 75% White, ect) to stay. Many White Nationalists insist on only people who are 100% White in their fictional ethnoatate. So if I like my mostly White co-workers or neighbors they have a problem with it because of race purist ideology. Such people largely are treated as whites and live (and bred) with whites.

I would not have a problem with misceginationists such as John Derbyshire or Fred Reed, both lovers of freedom and enemies of the left, as my fellow citizens. If a non-white has married an honorable white, as opposed to say an underclass non-white impregnating a teenage white girl, and the couple is pro-civilization and pro-western, I have no problem with them. Would a white ethnostate punish law abiding worthwhile non-whites and mixers, even if they were only slight portions of the population?

While I think immigration should be done away with for the time being in order to protect the GENERAL ethno-racial character of the country, I do not have a problem living among those non-whites who belong to groups possessing intelligence and legality, especially when the individuals in aforementioned groups are sincere about assimilation and loyalty to the host culture. Yes, I am aware some are not loyal but others are.

I realize that certain racial groups have low IQs and frightful records of criminality and this is a serious problem. If I had my way such groups, perhaps with the exceptions of unusual individuals of worth and/or good well, would not share my space. But I don't have my way and I agree with Al Fin that I wouldn't want to be threatened by the gov for criticizing any exclusivist and racial purist fanatic policies.

Friday, 03 August, 2012  
Blogger al fin said...

Interesting comment, Stephen, thanks.

Again, I understand MnMark's argument. But anyone who wants to shape the world around him must necessarily begin at the local level, in compliance with the law.

And again, in response to MnMark's theory that doomers may be afraid of falling under the political control of a less competent culture, it is important not to over-generalise. Most doomers do not understand the basic underlying concepts of their own technology, much less do they understand population dynamics or crime and corruption statistics.

Sunday, 05 August, 2012  
Blogger CarlBrannen said...

I think it's not appreciated just how much old tech survives. I was shocked to discover that the knowledge of how to build an 18th century ship of the line is still completely whole. Part of the info is in paper but a great deal is in the minds of people who have hobbies.

So I don't think there's any need to learn how to make dies out of files. It's trivial to convert a metal lathe to run on something other than electricity. You simply replace the motor. Once you've got a lathe running, the rest of machinery is easily available; a lathe can make a lathe. And given the massive amounts of scrap steel a post industrial society would have I don't think you'd need to have anyone need to relearn the art of turning ore to steel for hundreds of years. Even electricity will always be available when we need it.

Other examples of useful hobbies are paper making, wood crafts, various geology / mining, ceramics. These talents are sprinkled over every major city. The people who know these things are not numerous enough to rebuild a society but they're numerous enough to begin the spreading of the knowledge.

All that said, I don't think we're even close to this sort of thing. I heard a guy on the radio going on about how we're doomed but he was clearly talking his politics (green and left) and is still in denial about natural gas and shale oil.

Sunday, 05 August, 2012  

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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