As I’m sure most of you remember, the heyday of preparedness was back in the late 70’s/early 80’s when it was referred to as ‘Survivalism’. It was about this time that guys like Ragnar Bensen, Duncan Long, Mel Tappan, Kurt Saxon and a few others made names for themselves with their books. I like re-reading some of these things because it’s always interesting to see how the mindset has changed since those Cold War days.
Back in the 70’s and 80’s the most obvious EOTWAWKI scenario was a nuclear exchange of some type. People stocked up against an imagined scenario of hiding from fallout, mass casualties and possibly invading Soviets. We look back now and snicker a little but that was the threat back in those days. Nuclear Armageddon wasn’t always the theme of the day. Some writers postulated we’d have a civil war or revolution following on the heels of the ‘counterculture’ activities of the late 60’s and early 70’s. This was such a strong sentiment in some quarters that groups formed specifically to combat this anticipated threat. (The Minutemen, for example.) People predicted race wars, Communist revolution, etc, etc, but the idea of a nuclear war was the meat-n-potatoes of the survivalist movement back in those days.
The changes since then have been noticeable. The distrust of the Communist governments has shifted to our own government, the notion of city-busting nuclear missles has given way the the notion of city-contaminating ‘dirty’ suitcase-nukes, waves of ‘Red Dawn’-style invading paratroops have been replaced by small cells of fanatical terrorists, etc, etc. The window dressing and players have changed but the stakes are still the same.
However, some things don’t change.
I was rereading one of Duncan Long’s lesser known texts the other day and came across this:
Dinosaurs, so the paleontologists tell us (at least they told us when I was in school), died out because they couldn’t change when their environment changed. Well maybe so, maybe not. It does make a good point. Even though the dinosaurs did some marvelous things while thundering about the earth, they died off because they couldn’t adapt to new problems. They stuck to the good old tried and proved ways. People can be like that. Once they find a brilliant way of doing something they often refuse to change plans when things stop working right. Better to admit its no longer working and try something else. Be flexible and you and your shelter group will survive. Dinosaur and you’ll only be known for sticking to a job – foolishly.
Interesting, I made a post that pretty much said the same thing the other day. Apparently, there really isn’t anything new under the sun. The more things change the more they stay the same and all that.
I wonder what it’ll be like thirty years from now when people look back on the current ‘next generation’ of survivalism. There was the ‘Golden Era’ in the 70’s, the ‘Militia Movement’ in the 90’s, the Y2K reincarnation as ‘preparedness’, and the current post-9/11 interest that moved it further into the mainstream. Many of the things that survivalists in the 70’s dreamed about are realities now. (Affordable and efficient battery and solar technology, affordable night vision, incrased long-term food options, etc.) I like to think that thirty years from now the things we dream about now will be available and better than imagined.
I wonder what the big threat will be in the future. For decades we were sure that a nuclear exchange between superpowers would be the thing that brought about TEOTWAWKI and while it is still possible, its been bumped far, far down the list. Nowadays we worry about pandemics and terrorist nukes (and, if youre into that sort of thing, ‘Peak Oil’). What will the big fear be in thirty years? I can’t even begin to guess, but I suppose I’ll know when it happens.