A Deadly Future

This is going to be a difficult subject to bring up – especially by me, since I was advocating the ecovillage idea. But I’d like to discuss it and see if we can’t all learn something.

I’m also posting this here in this particular forum so it receives the broadest possible audience (and hopefully, participation). Not everybody visits the ecovillage forum.

Regarding ecovillages, or intentional communities and their place and purpose –

The reason and purpose these are most often done or are being advocated are two-fold.

a) To provide a better, alternative lifestyle.

b) To enable the members to sustain themselves in the event of collapse.

I think all reasons and justifications for an ecovillage or intentional community could fit under one or both of these reasons.

They sound admirable – but do their advantages hold up under a collapsing civilization or economy?

When considering the collapse, will the ecovillages actually be better off – and for how long?

The problems arise when you consider the difficulty that will come to millions of people. Hungry people do desperate things – to say nothing of the government which is well-known to do desperate things (even now, in pre-collapse times).

Ecovillages will become targets (as will most things and everyone). But the difference here will be “noticeable targets”. Their efforts, development and sources of sustainability (food stores, crops, greenhouses, all of it) will become extremely desirable resources for many, many people.

Defending the ecovillage then becomes paramount. But is a ecovillage truly defensible? Or would the members even want to? It goes without saying that if they don’t – they won’t have an ecovillage very long.

This principle applies to the retreat, commune or any other known “resource asset”. If you’ve got something the horde wants – and they know you have it – you’re either going to defend it, or lose it.

But the question of defensibility arises. Can it be defended? An ecovillage is not a military encampment and the attitudes, skills and resources of the ecovillage is not oriented around defensibility, training or such skills.

The reality is – without going into an extensive debate – no, the ecovillage is neither defensible, or equipped with the necessary skills, resources or commitments of the people that start or participate in such efforts. That is not their focus, and precisely because it is not their focus – they won’t survive collapse.

They will be targeted – and destroyed by marauders, be they individuals, groups or governments. Their resources will prove to be too valuable to consider the human lives within.

It is well worth noting that military encampments are always setup with defensibility in mind. Not because they are “military”, but because of the assets and resources that are found within.

The only way an ecovillage will survive the post-collapse future is if the village has dedicated itself to defensibility – but this is far harder to do then often imagined.

I’m capable of hitting man-sized targets at 1,000 yards and more these days – which means a lone sniper could easily terrorize an entire “village” of granola crunching “greens”, until his demands (food, supplies, women) were met. Now imagine what two of these qualified rifleman could do… or a group of ten desperate and hungry people…

A 1000 yards is 3/4 of a mile… with a .50 caliber, you can extend this to over 2,000 yards. It’s easy to see the difficulty here.

This of course, leads directly to the question of accessibility and location. If you’re refuge or retreat or ecovillage is accessible to large numbers of people (or simply a determined few), then you’re facing a difficult proposition. Heavily populated areas or states will become total war zones. Although these will be the very areas most patrolled by any government troops (if they even bother), they will also be the hardest to defend. Imagine being in California (or anywhere near) when the hordes start leaving the cities like starving rats… those that are not armed,will be very soon (those that survive that is).

But is all this really on the plate for the future?

To narrow the argument down into bite-sized chunks, a couple of things must be first understood. These are:

1) Collapse is inevitable. This is predicated upon the belief that no energy source exists to replace the utility and versatility of oil. Moreover, it is also based upon the knowledge that our world wide situation regarding civilization, culture, government and the environment is most definitely not getting any better. It is in fact, getting progressively and demonstrably worse and there is absolutely no evidence that things are “improving”.

I think this point needs to really sink in before the ramifications of this really start to hit home.

This means collapse WILL happen. Perhaps not overnight – but inevitable all the same. There are simply too many people to support with cheap energy and plentiful resources. When these run out – they will come looking for whatever isn’t bolted down or defended.

2) Die-off is inevitable. Billions simply will cease to exist. But not before a desperate and violent attempt at survival is first undertaken. A few of these will undoubtedly make it based on skill and luck. The rest will leaven a wake of devastation behind their corpses. The ecovillage and all known resource assets (particularly food and medicine), will be the primary targets of their voracious appetites.

I see NO way around this. If collapse is a fact, a predetermined outcome of our collective futures – then survival becomes extremely tenuous (no matter what you do). It remains tenuous even in an ecovillage, maybe more so, since you’ve announced your presence and sustainability.

Therefore, accessibility and location becomes a “layer” of your defensibility (but not a security blanket – they don’t exist). Proximity to populations, highways and general access become your downfall. It’s unavoidable.

But even in remote locations you are far from immune to attack. This will most likely begin with your neighbors, who deeming it too risky to venture into town, will attack you for the assets you’ve prepared and set aside. “Know thy neighbor” is a good motto – but it won’t be enough. You’re neighbor needs to be a part of your “village” or they will become your enemy (or maybe just a trading partner, you can toss your trade goods back and forth over your barbed wire fence while keeping each other under the muzzle of your gun).

But if your neighbor doesn’t become your enemy – his will. You know, that guy that lives 3 miles down the road… or the guy that lives on the other side of him another few miles down…

The problem is, people are not preparing themselves adequately and resources (food, water, medicines, essentials for survival) will run out. And when that happens – all bets are off. Everything and everybody is a target.

Eventually, die-off will kick in and the survivors will have learned to cope with whatever they have and the slow process of rebuilding begins again (if possible).

Now, I can think of a couple of responses to all of the above that would offer a lot more “guarantee” (it doesn’t exist) then sitting on a mountain of food in your “village”. I also think this will occur to a lot of people… because they’ll learn it – or die failing to learn it. And that is to stay hidden for the duration. Stay out of sight, shut up and “disappear” while the world and its insanity rage around you.

It’s not a bad strategy – after all, who wants to be a part of the misery?

But where to hide becomes the next question. Where can you go, where you won’t be threatened, attacked, raped or killed?

I’ll post this now so that you can all start thinking about this.


admin at survivalacres dot com

5 thoughts on “A Deadly Future

  • December 7, 2005 at 3:04 pm

    Just read this and another article of yours on the consequences of a civilisation collapse. Here are a few comments on how I see the breakdown happening:

    It isn’t going to happen overnight. When the proverbial ploppy hits the air conditioning, things will change. The government WILL impose all sorts of restrictions – namely rationing – to deal with shortages. I just don’t believe in a sudden and total collapse. Yes, everyone’s living standard (as measured by contemporary standards) will drop drastically but life will go on.

    At the very worst, the central (in the case of the US, the federal) government may totally collapse. More likely, it will relinquish power to local authorities (State?) as it loses the ability to maintain the central government infrastructure (largely the civil service and army). In short the clock will turn back to a political system in tune with its available technology. How bad that system depends on the society’s underlying culture. Countries still run on tribal and/or religious lines (Irak?) will split along those lines. Others, like the USA, may just go back to a greater reliance on local democratic government to solve their immediate problems.

    OK. Now, let’s assume you’re right and the breakdown is total and the hungry hordes are heading your way (I assume somewhere in the countryside). How are they getting there? On foot? Without shelter? Helped along by their horde-fellows? Assuming you don’t actually live within easy distance of a large population centre, I don’t think you need scan the horizon for cloud dusts too frequently.

    As you rightly point out, the main danger comes from your neighbours. The answer to that one is something you Americans seem to have largely forgotten (at least that’s the impression I get from the Web): community. Generally speaking, your neighbours aren’t certified lunatics. When faced with a threat you will form a community pretty sharpish. Next step, will be to establish ties with the next community and so on and so forth until you are on your way on to something vaguely resembling a state. Before long your lonely sniper will end up admiring the view from an improvised gallows and providing the jeering crowds with their Sunday entertainment.

    On a more personal note, seems to me like you are suffering from a little bout of depression. That’s pretty much how I felt when I first found out about Peak Oil. However, when I thought it out there was nothing I could do about it on the macro scale. The fan IS going to get smelly so you may as well just accept the fact and prepare. Here’s how I did it:

    1. Move to the countryside.
    2. Move to the countryside, near where I have family. Family is the ultimate insurance policy.
    3. Educate myself. I’ve gone from a deskjob to trying my hand at anything and learning about basics. While I ain’t an expert at anything, I reckon I can either deal with most things or find out how to do so.
    4. Make friends with your neighbours. Especially the ones you normally wouldn’t touch with a barge pole. Neighbours are no substitute for family but it’s the next best insurance policy. Anyway, it doesn’t cost much to be pleasant and helpful and it won’t be a wasted investment even if they find some eternal source of energy to replace oil with.
    5. Prepare my house for low technology which basically means insulating it and providing an independent means of pumping water to where it’s needed.
    6. Stop bloody worrying! It doesn’t solve anything and it stops your enjoying your SUV (only joking!). Preparing yourself within reason is all you can do. Beyond that you’ll just have to rely on humanity’s old mainstay: HOPE.

    On that note I bid you good night and good luck.


  • December 7, 2005 at 3:16 pm
    I agree with Snowhite. Barring a sudden Katrina-type collapse, authority will not weaken. On the contrary, I think it will evolve to a dictatorship. The last thing that dies is government. Look to Africa: even after decades of civil war there is always a war lord standing. If you happen to still retain valuable resources, then you will become a target. So the most obvious methods of preparation is to keep what you can carry by yourself: knowledge, guns and gold (this last tested for several milenia)
  • December 8, 2005 at 8:26 am

    I don’t recall stating that collapse will happen overnight – just that it will happen. Regarding the government feeding people during or after collapse – with what? Collapse effects everyone, even the government. The government is very busy stockpiling for its own needs right now by the way. But there simply isn’t the system capability to stockpile for everyone. The sources of supply that the government relies upon are the same ones that are relied upon by everyone else. Collapse therefore, is wide spread and all inclusive.

    The US government is barely in control now – with all of the support systems in place. Just imagine a hundred million armed and hungry people overwhelming the few million (also hungry) law enforcement. Such scenarious could easily transition through any sort of “order” to total chaos. It’s not that hard to imagine.

    But collapse is already happening by degrees right now, which leads to the thought that it will continue to happen by slow degrees. It might – and it might not, there are quite a few trigger events “available” that could cause this to quickly accelerate.

    I’m not predicting when or if or even how – only that it is now a guaranteed certainty and the system capacity isn’t there, particularly in a modern techno-dependent society like the USA.

  • December 9, 2005 at 8:06 am
    There are two important lessons that history teaches and the recent and on going events in New Orleans diminstrate…

    1) To maintain order during a crisis the govenment must keep the people passified or face choas, and frequently the jibbit.


    2) never, ever, become a refugee. (another way to put it is you can only depend on yourself.)

    Taking a look at the implications of the first point we have two courses of action that could be used to keep order. Firstly, the govenment will play the rescueing hero and will “take care” of the displaced people.

    Displaced people will be the first widely visable sociological manifestation, and they are already appearing and many more are on the verge. As the prices of food and energy rise above a point that allows people to maintain their lifes they will find that they are forced out of where they are and that there is really nowhere else to go that is any better then where they are. The two groups that will be hit first are the inner-city poor and the people in the country. The government will probably not do anything about this unless there is a event that causes the problem to become highly visable (a massive storm that forces people out of there homes as there is no heat/electric, or massive riots, both likely). At some point, however, the problem will have to be delt with. Camps (read prisons) are the historic solution. We saw what this means in the Superdome in New Orleans. The offer will be along the lines of come to the camp, we will give you money, food, PROTECTION, jobs, etc…. When you get there it is likely to be a prison with no bars, but it lets the government attempt to control the impoverished, centralize logistic resources, look good on TV, create jobs rounding up people (as in New Orleans they are likely to force people into the camps even if they are perfectly fine on their own land, causing no trouble, and needing no help), and in security and logistical possitions. This is the solution that has been used in the past and is very likely to be used again. As long as the people don’t leave, and the TV cameras are kept out its will seem a winning one for the government as the “trouble makers” will be locked up in one place, they will look like heros for doing it, and they can dump money on the fire of the failing economy creating jobs and consumer spending all at the same time.

    The other possible solution, which will be used eventually and maybe sooner rather then later is to create “demand distruction”. Seen as a let them die, make them die sort of situation. The camps will serve as a excellent cover for this “solution”. Something like, “Welcome to the Survival Camp. I’m sorry, but this camp is full. Please board this bus, train, whatever which will take you to anouther camp that has room.” and no one sees you again. Sounds horrible (it is) and perhaps a little paranoied (it is), but it has happened before, and it is very likely to happen again, espeacally if the only other choice is to let us all run around and kill one anouther.

    Of course, the camp aspect could be bypassed by the release of a biological agent. This could be blamed on terrorism (leading to more war, which is good for the economy but really bad on resources), nature, or on a accident. I don’t favor this idea as much unless the economy has already fallen apart, or is on the verge of doing so with no recourse by the PTB. On the other hand, we don’t seem too far from that point now, but that has seemed to be the case for years and hasn’t been allowed to happen so who know if we are really there yet or not.

    The one thing we can be sure of as resources dwindle is that the “powers” that control, or can take over, these resources will begin to consolidate into the vitally important logistical centers. Food, heat, electricity, trasportation, consummer goods, et al will be concentrated in the logistical centers and along vital corridors between them. In the US that means the Coastal Port cities, and Mississippi basin. This will be done to preserve the status quo. Defense and aid of the areas outside of these cities and travel corridors will cease, and anyone living there will be on their own, probably decleared an enemy of the state, and be subject to being shot on sight. The assumtion being that if you are not trying to help maintain the status quo then your are dangerous and up to no good.

    There are no good choices in this situation, and we will all suffer to some extent. Even if you can set yourself up in a sustainable community (no one will survive without a community), hide really well (remeber you have to hide from drone aircraft, satilites, helicoptors, infra-red and night vision, etc…, at least at first), and avoid conflict (neighbors, family, community, government, well armed and trained baditswarlords, ferral animals, wild animals) then you are still going to have to face the premature death of almost everyone you know (including yourself).

  • December 9, 2005 at 12:30 pm
    Wait a minute here.

    I think people have forgotten other lessons of Hurricane Katrina.

    Matt Savinar, in his articles about preparing and relocalizing for Peak Oil once pointed out when discussing who attends Peak Oil Relocalization Meetings:

    “There are no poor people, no ethnic minorities, and very few women.”

    That statement needs to be remembered.

    Benuboy, Hurricane Katrina did teach us not to become a refugee. But it also taught us that not all Americans are ignorant consumers–many are poor, and it is that poor who is going to be just as helpless as the ignorant consumer, yet they didn’t consume.

    People who talk about leaving the city for a rural life should remember that that is beyond the economic means of many poor people. In fact, that’s the same of system failure. It doesn’t discriminate between good and evil, and anarchists tend to think that this collapse is some event in which “they” survive while others don’t. A total fantasy.

    I think Hurricane Katrina has shown us that even in dire straits, people cannot move “into the countryside.” It is not possible for those people to leave the city, because they’d have to go in extreme debt to do so. Steven Lagavulin stresses the importance of having no mortgage, but what if you have to take one out in order to acquire land?

    Not all Americans are ignorant consumers, and many people at Wal-mart are the poor who cannot afford anything else.

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