Surviving the Horde

They were munching, marching, stumbling, crowding through everything — eating their way down to the last grain and morsels to be found. I couldn’t believe my eyes!

Death was arriving at my door, what was I to do? I’m afraid, very afraid, they’re going to find me, crunch my bones, eat my flesh, steal my food. I am dead… dead…

Would I wish that this day had never come!

I mean no disrespect for using the term “horde” when I describe the people who will wind up in them (perhaps even you), but it does accurately describe what everyone has seen in virtually every apocalyptic movie. A virtual horde of thousands of people on the silver screen, munching its way through everything it can find to eat.

Even the good-guys are always scrounging for food (the common theme in every flick). Yet this is also the survival reality, back in the real world where strife, riots, civil war, societal breakdown, economic collapse, hurricanes and disaster can and do strike. It is (almost) first and foremost always about finding enough to eat. Personal safety is also extremely high on the list.

Wherever things break down, these are the two primary issues that must be dealt with, sometimes immediately. I’ve known some customers who have told me that they don’t cook. They don’t even store any food in their homes. And of course, they live in the city. Wow. What a combination for disaster. That means if even the power goes out for a day or two, they’re out of food immediately and will be already among the horde.  They won’t even know how to prepare homo sapien sushi. Definitely not advisable.

Hordes don’t care about anything except getting what they want. Breaking things, stealing things, killing, raping, looting, it’s all the same.  The recent flash-mob craze, now happening all over the country is a horde, breaking, stealing and beating up people. It’s very easy to see how this is going to worsen as people realize that they can easily get away with this. There isn’t enough protection out there to stop it.

An observation that should be made: Anywhere a large group may be be gathered together, the rules of normal behavior can break down virtually instantly. We have all seen this at football games (especially soccer), where mob-behavior takes over. This is survivable without injury most of the time  — stay out of the mob. Go home and go back to your life. But mob-behavior can be much larger then this, or much deadlier then this. The horde is where a take-over occurs, establishing new rules of behavior (all of them bad).

Hordes do not necessarily have to be large, they can actually be pretty small.

The definition:

1. a large group, multitude, number, etc.; a mass or crowd: a horde of tourists.
2. a tribe or troop of Asian nomads.
3. any nomadic group.
4. a moving pack or swarm of animals: A horde of mosquitoes invaded the camp.
5. to gather in a horde: The prisoners horded together in the compound.

A ruthless gang of biker zombies is a horde. A gathering of punks is a horde. A riot is a horde.

Hordes are characterized by a sort of mindless mayhem, but I’d be terribly remiss to not tell you that you must also survive the non-horde, or specific, targeted threat posed by individuals and small groups. These are just as dangerous, but require different types of preparation.

Hordes can smash and grab, simply overwhelming any defenses by their sheer numbers. They can even break down concrete barriers, fences and barricades when determined. Once they get in, they can instantly clean you out, or kill everybody. But here is where the horde differs — they move on. They’re acting with a different agenda then the individual or small group.

Small groups, including as small as a single individual, can wait nearly indefinitely, probing and looking for a weakness. If they succeed, they can choose to stay. We’ve seen this on the silver screen too — where the terror never stops for those that let their defenses down.

This is what everyone fears — an attack or takeover by either a horde or by a gang, even an individual. Every father or mother knows and understands deep down inside that you cannot let this happen. It is what drives us to consider our other options, hoping that we will not have to face this type of a threat. But here is the reality: these threats have always existed. There is not enough law enforcement in this entire country to prevent or eliminate these threats. Even in peacetime, the threat still remains (but is admittedly lower). However, it can and does happen instantly, all over the country.

Here, crime is rural, but growing. There are daylight robberies now. No flash mobs yet, no hungry hordes yet, no zombie biker gangs yet. But there are rapes, murder, shootings. Anywhere people can be found, you will also find their crimes and criminal acts. And as the economy continues to drop like a rock, it will keep getting worse no matter where you are.

But here is the conundrum — getting far, far away from people creates an entirely different set of problems. Bugging out to the wilderness without resupply is the pathway to cannibalism. You and your fellow ‘survivalist’ will get to compete on who eats last.

Many will still choose to do this, not fully understanding the full implications (see Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV in this series). The fear of dealing with the horde of people that may have shown up at their door is one of their reasons.

Staying put, ie., “bugging in” does not make you immune to hordes or gangs or lone predatory individuals. Horde immunity does not exist, unless you are the lone survivor in an Antarctic ice base — watching your food supply dwindle by the day, eying the frozen copses around you. This isn’t survivable either, with the point ultimately being very simple: the predators, large and small, will have to be dealt with by somebody (perhaps not you).

This is the only pathway ahead. The horde, the gang, the cannibal, the lone survivor preying on others will have to be stopped. This is actually how society works now, tolerating relatively small levels of predatory acts. It does break down, and probably will again (and again), the only long-term viable solution is to once again, remove the threat to tolerable levels.

You could try to get far enough away from the threat as often advocated, and this would work if you can resupply and you stay safe. But as I’ve noted earlier in this series, the problem(s) that caused you to run / flee or hide will HAVE to be dealt with.  Perhaps not by you, but by someone.

A Mad Max World

I want to dispel the notion of a Mad Max world. The extreme unlikelihood of this happening in your lifetime is so incredibly low to not even worry about it (you are wasting your time). It is also worth pointing out that if this ever did happen, no planning, no preparation, no “figuring out what you’re going to do” will matter anyway.  Only the most vile, ruthless and despicable would survive. There would be no “good guys” as oft depicted, not even one. All notions of morality, decency and character would be replaced with self-serving survival by extremely brutal and violent means. The good guy(s) or gals would most certainly NOT “win”.

Human history shows that for “goodness to win”, it must come from at least one or more of the following:

The majority;
An external influence;
From within civilization (a critical point);
Acceptance (or submission);
A more powerful source (this usually means “temporary violence” or threat).

The Mad Max world, i.e., “total collapse of civilization” and “every man for his/herself” doesn’t even accept the idea that there is a civilization anymore, and if that were actually true, the “winners” would be only the most brutal. And the cockroaches of course.

I no longer accept the view that a total collapse will happen (barring truly catastrophic ELE type events, something nobody can accurately predict). My own learning curve has uncovered many reasons why I believe we will indeed rebuild and reestablish civilization. Quite simply, “it is what we do”. It is what humans do. If we survive. If enough of us still exist and go on living, we’re going to do what we’ve always done.

The obviousness of this last statement should not be overlooked, because it is not only often assumed to be wrong, it is often completely overlooked. Humans will do what they have always done. We are really not going to change that much. Our desire is to live together, not apart. To build, create, raise families and so forth. This implies by actual example, civilization.

Surviving the horde / gang / predator then becomes a requirement. There is only one defining characteristic on how this might be done. You must keep civilization alive.

If you let it “all die”, then you will have Mad Max with the outcome above. If you keep it alive, then you will have the chance to keep everything else alive too. You. Your family. Morality. Respect. Decency. Productive capacity. Everything that we need as humans to actually live, especially with each other.  Let it all break down and we will all die. The only path ahead with any hope of any survival is to harvest the predators from among us, sending them on to their just rewards.

You — everyone of you alive today — are “civilization”. By banding yourselves together, in marriage, in families, in cities and towns and villages, in rural communities and in tribes, all across the entire world, are “civilization”. All working together for the common good (daily survival). Tear this all apart (or allow it) and you will have Mad Max, or some lesser version of it.  Your goal then is to keep this together as long as is humanly possible. It is in fact, the only way you will survive, and the only way humanity itself will survive.

Our fear of collapse has us envisioning all kinds of scenarios and even embracing all kinds of ridiculous but non-survivable ideas. We need to overcome these fears first of all. And we need to dispel the myth of “every man for himself”, or this too will be OUR reaction to collapse. That will only lead to utter disaster.

Even so, many will still act on that belief. They will either operate alone or decide to join and / or lead others, and there you have it. Your gang / warlord / horde / biker zombie cannibals are born. To address these, you are vermin, and will be exterminated by the rest of us. We simply will not allow your kind to exist beyond a tolerable level (just like we do right now). We won’t bother to imprison you either. I fully intend to bury you were you fall, or simply let the buzzards eat you. If you become “large” (numerous) enough, you will overwhelm many of us, but as long as civilization exists within our families and friends, communities and nation, we will try to prevent this from happening. We will become just as brutal as required of us, i.e., “temporary violence”. Even a “no questions asked” policy will be enforced, based upon how severe things have become. And then, we will try pretty hard to go back to what we were.

The only way good can survive, is to get rid of the evil. Evil will flourish as long as the good does nothing (Burke). Some will attempt to pray the evil away, but in the end, it will always be a human that has final stood up and put a stop to it. I’ll let you decide what is more effective.

Our “success” then, the “win” that we all envision, on the “how” we might survive a collapse, is not going to be based upon “lone survival” or bug out to the wilderness or anything like that. If we have a societal collapse, we will only get through it, survive it, by pulling together. This is the only “win” there is.

If we succeed, what we rebuild isn’t worth speculating on right now, as it is just that — pure speculation.  However, if we fail, then it will be because we acted selfishly, independently and with short-sightedness. Or perhaps we simply couldn’t, despite our best collective efforts (which means the outcome is already a given). A truly large event, could make it virtually impossible for us to survive. But nobody “knows” if this will happen — or if we can actually survive such an event or not. We’d still try.  Of course we would. And since we’d try, our best chance, our only chance is to find ways to do this together.

Banding Together

If I were single, I’d try to find at least a few others that would help me, and I help them, pulling together. If I lived in the city, suburbs or country, I’d do the same. Everyone will need to do this (almost) without exception. Lone survivors will need to be totally self-reliant (hard to do), totally self-protecting (very hard if not impossible to do), totally self-capable of resupplying (very hard to do), a virtual “master of all survival skills and requirements”. Alone, you are at extreme risk of something going wrong, and prey to other loners and larger groups.

Again, we should look at human history. We’ve only survived this long, through famine, drought, war, strife, disaster, conflicts and crimes because we have help. We’ve survived as a species through some really catastrophic events. There have always been others to assist us, watch our backs, bind our wounds, grow our food, provide security, cook our meals and so forth. Humans are still here quite simply because other humans are still here. They (ultimately) found ways to work together. This will not change in collapse. You will need to find ways to come together, work together. It won’t be easy — and it won’t be without conflict.

What is the alternative? We’ll be at each others throats, with only the strongest, most brutal, most violent to survive. That is NOT acceptable to me, and probably not to you.

Preventing the horde from becoming is key to our current civilization. Leaders in the past have often failed to do this, declaring idiotic statements such as “let them eat cake”, bringing on the wrath of the people. An important lesson can be learned here however. Prevent the horde from coming into existence.

This may not always be possible (hordes are mobile), but you can make a contribution towards this goal in your area. First, band together if you can (a simple request but not easy). Figure out how you can feed everyone. This (and security) is the highest priority of people everywhere (and of course, all of civilization, past and present).

Everyone requires this, and everyone will be attracted to this. Advising you to become a “magnet” is however, not what I’m suggesting. To keep your own family, group, neighborhood, community or village alive (note: cities are deliberately excluded for reasons shared below) you will need to figure out how to feed them anyway and to provide for their security. This is a group project of the utmost priority.

Cities are simply far too large in population to feed themselves. This doesn’t happen now, and won’t happen in collapse. Cities rely upon hundreds of millions of tons of essential imports (food, water, supplies) to keep their populations alive. Do not plan to survive long in the city during a significant collapse. While you may be banded together, “urban survival” is unrealistic as hell. You can’t even find water if the power goes out, let alone plan to grow enough food. You are surrounded by too many mindless, ill-informed zombies. You may be okay during the small hiccups and declines we are now experiencing, but if it’s “big” — get out. My advice is you should have long since moved.

Much has been written on where to go, who to go with, how to find others and on and on, including how to have secret gardens, hidden defenses, what calibers are best, “zombie guns” and virtually every conceivable topic you can imagine. Put all that aside, because while it may seem like good advice, it still lacks a lot. “Telling” you what to do isn’t particularly accurate in every situation anyway. You will need to understand the generalities and common requirements, but the specifics are really up to you and your group. No point in fixating on the “ideal” specifics because it may not even be applicable.  Instead, learn everything you can and apply what will work for you and yours.

Feeding and farming for your group / community will need to be done within your security perimeter. If not, expect no harvest. Every community should be making these localized plans and preparations now. This is also the goal for “buy local” movement, so you can feel good about it too. Plan to grow enough to meet your total needs and then some (because others will be joining you — count on it). You will also experience a fairly high crop loss through natural predation (bugs, critters, weather, waste), so you will need to accommodate for this too.

I also advocate food storage since it is virtually impossible plan on crops maturing to harvest. Too many things go wrong, especially to newbie farmers. Even experienced, seasoned farmers see total crop losses (pretty often these days too). Food storage is intended to meet any shortfall, and in any collapse situation, it among the very first things people will panic about. We are all virtually mere days away from starvation without a constant resupply. If resupply is absent, delayed or non-existent for even short periods of time, food storage is your only other realistic option.

Hunting, foraging, fishing will be possible, but iffy, with the increased competition and risk of other humans. Again, history shows the local game being virtually wiped out from hungry humans whenever the food supply stops arriving. Nobody really knows how long hunting would feed anyone or how even how many (not many), but expect mere weeks at best. There are simply far, far too many humans to feed now without farming keeping 99.999% of them alive. Farming / gardening and food storage are the only realistic options — and that essential need for resupply is going to come from a group effort. This needs to be setup immediately.

Secure your perimeter by whatever means you have to. Any food will be a magnet. Same for water, medical supplies, essential gear, even your woman. I’ve recently read some truly horrifying, but true stories of widespread death by rape. Humans are capable of the most vile, despicable acts imaginable (far worse then rape), finding “justification” of their actions through ideology, religion or manufactured necessity. You will need to come together (because you CANNOT do this alone) and secure your perimeter.

Nobody alone can secure their perimeter indefinitely. It’s just not possible unless you were incredibly isolated, inaccessible through barriers, and totally self-reliant. As previously noted in this series — you will have to come out sooner or later. The resources you would need to pull this off, by yourself for any meaningful length of time are quite significant. And some of us can shoot a mile or more, killing you in your fortified compound, when you come up for bit of air, letting your body rot where it falls. Then they’ll figure out a way to scale your fortifications and occupy your throne.

Breaking It Down

Alone, you don’t stand a chance.

Only a group can secure their perimeter indefinitely, and even replace lost sentries, or go after the snipers or raiders or repel attacks.

Or meet all their other needs in order to stay alive ‘indefinitely’.

Groups can also be pretty effective in stomping out evil. Individuals actually fair poorly in this particular fight.

You must form groups. Or join one. Or stay in the one you’ve already got.

Only groups can preserve civilization.

Only groups can repel the horde.

Only groups stand an honest and realistic chance of pulling through whatever happens.

Everybody else is destined to die. In unpleasant ways.

We need to preserve a civilization, not simply abandon it. Otherwise we are all alone, facing a truly terrifying future.

I cannot live without some kind of civilization to help me — and neither can you. None of us can. Therefore, we must find ways to preserve the essentials if it does falter further. The only path ahead to do that is to work it out — together. Those that do will be the survivors. Those that won’t or refuse, will die, because in reality, they cannot survive without us, without civilization. They will either die out (die off) or be wiped out. These are the “horde”, which has no future, no hope, nothing going for them at all.

Your only alternative is to position yourselves firmly against them, together — divorcing yourselves from becoming part of the horde. You cannot do this alone. Nobody can. You need us and we need you. Working together to meet our daily survival needs, ensuring we are watching each others back, taking care of all of our concerns and requirements. We are civilization when we are together, and we will need to do our level damnedest to ensure that some of it survives.

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