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Self-Reliance Means Being Self-Reliant

A video discussing the ramifications of having to replace the well pump that went out last week (to be fair, it was operator stupidity on my part, that caused it).

Campfire Chats–24JAN2023

Realities of Prepper Logistics

It’s about more than stockpiling a bunch of stuff that relies on global supply chains for replacement.

Doomstead Defense Considerations

A look at realistic considerations for physical security in the midst of collapse.

Campfire Chat-9DEC2022

Campfire Chat–26NOV2022

When you build a warming/cooking fire, the thermal signature and visible fire is easier to hide than the smell of smoke. Any tops or thoughts on how to mask that?

There’s a couple of options that will help.

(1) The hotter your fire is burning, the less smoke there will be. A Dakota Hole is the typical example of a solution to this. The problem with the Dakota Hole is that (a) it’s a pain in the ass to build if all you need is a quick cooking fire, and (b) while it’s okay for simple cooking, like boiling water, it burns too hot for slower cooking, like boiling rice (where it needs to simmer for a lengthy period of time) or broiling meat over coals.

The even more traditional answer to getting your fire hot enough to not smoke is making sure you’re using really dry/dead fuel. Your cooking coals should be hot enough and burned enough that they won’t put out much smoke anyway.

(2) The biggest issue is using good judgment though. While smoke may be an indicator, if there’s a lot of smoke in the air anyway—from burning/smouldering buildings, other cooking fires, wildfires or newly extinguished wildfires—your smoke isn’t going to stand out.


Weekly video

Nihilism: A Response to a Reader Comment

Mountain Guerrilla Blog


Nihilism: In Response to a Reader Comment

Ugg. OK. Let’s assume some numbers here. Approximately 20 million people know what’s going on, can be leaders, and approx 50 million are on our side, so to say, but simply don’t know what to do specifically and will never be leaders on their own. Not everyone is an 18B expert, after all.

This is not intended to be criticism, consider it generalized frustration instead. I did a paid SUT course with you around 8 years ago. I’ve read almost everything you post. Having said that, I’m not personally a trained Green Beret behind enemy lines. We’re effectively under occupation right now—we’re in a war. I have no problems deferring what I think to a Green Beret weapons expert under sound leadership. Sure, I can go out in my field and herd my 350 head of cattle. I do it every day—maybe every other day. Whatever, I’m frustrated, but the whole idea of “be your own leader,” & “nobody is coming to save you” is coming from a SF dude is disappointing. It’s a dud, and nihilistic at this point…and probably wouldn’t have gone over well in Afghanistan 20 years ago either in my opinion. That’s what I think.


If you took a class with me eight years ago, then I’m certain you heard me say “I’m not the guy you want in a leadership position. I’m entirely too corruptible.”

All joking aside though…there’s a lot of issues with the approach you’ve taken, and they go to the crux of why I say “Be your own leader,” and “nobody is coming to save you.”

Let’s approach this from two separate avenues-of-approach, first the practical/tactical, and second from the moral/philosophical.


The Practical/Tactical

You’re advocating armed insurgency/revolt against the government. Okay. Fair enough. I’ve always said I didn’t advocate that, and used UW as a model/vehicle for explaining preparedness concepts, but let’s look at it from a SOF/UW perspective.

Let’s assume some numbers here. Approximately 20 million people know what’s going on, can be leaders, and approximately 50 million are on our side, so to say…”

How did you come up with these numbers? Serious question. Do you  have a source for these? Because, if you’re just pulling them out of your ass, that’s not how it’s done. You don’t base planning off numbers or information you just made up. That information is called “intelligence,” and as I’ve written over the years, bad intelligence—whether false information, or incorrectly analyzed information—is what gets people slaughtered unnecessarily and without beneficial result. No moral leader walks into a situation and gets his people slaughtered unnecessarily, just to make himself feel better about “doing something.” I would suggest looking at my Reluctant Partisan books, especially Volume Two, which has a chapter on Intelligence Collection and Analysis considerations, including a thorough discussion of “uneducated imagination,” which is what the above issue is called.

Let’s assume for a moment, that your numbers are reasonably accurate. That gives you somewhere between 50 million (“and approx 50 million are on our side…”) to 70 million (assuming you actually meant the 20 million are not part of the 50 million) people who are “on your side.” Let’s go with the larger number for the sake of argument: 70 million people, out of a US population of 330 million.

That’s about 21% (technically, 21% of 330 million is 69.3 million) of the population. Despite the whole “3%” propaganda, it’s pretty well established in historical models that it takes a solid 1/3 of the population in support, as a minimum, for an insurgency to have a chance of success.

In fact, during the Revolution, best estimates are that 45-50% of the population fully supported the war effort, while a mere 20% remained loyal to the Crown. In fact, the 3% doesn’t matter if you don’t have the active support of that 1/3+ of the population, to hide among, when necessary, and to provide logistical support. Given the numbers you cited, you’ve got the same level of support the Crown did during the Revolution.


On a more “tactical” level of the practical/tactical side of things…

The Continental Army was saved by the arrival of Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, affectionately known to historians as “Ol’ Twinkletoes.” (I’m kidding. While he did flee Europe ahead allegations of either pederasty or homosexuality, I think a lot of the latest conjecture about his proclivities are mostly an attempt to add to the “woke” agenda. I don’t know any historians who actually call him “Ol’ Twinkletoes.”). The fact is though, none less than General Washington himself credited von Steuben with saving the Continental Army when he showed up and was appointed Inspector General, and developed an actual training program.

Here’s the thing about that, in relation to the original comment above… As I discussed in The Reluctant Partisan, Volume One, and in numerous articles in the early days of this blog, one of the key aspects of building an insurgency is having a safe location in which to organize and train your forces. Valley Forge in winter time afforded that haven. Prior to Lexington, of course, the local and state militias had—with varying degrees of seriousness—actively drilled together for a number of years.

At the beginning of the American Civil War, in APR1861, the US Army was comprised of ten regiments of infantry, four of artillery, two of cavalry, two of dragoons, and three of mounted infantry (a brief side note, in view of Dragoons of Dystopia articles…one of the interesting things about the history of US horse-mounted forces, was the complete confusion, within the Army and the mounted forces themselves, about exactly what their role was supposed to be). Of the just shy of 200 companies of the Army, less than 20 of them manned garrisons East of the Mississippi River. Total number of soldiers was around 16,000, with about 1100 of those being commissioned officers (and 20% of those resigned their commissions to return home to fight for the Confederacy). At the height of the war, Union forces swelled to almost 2.5 million under arms.

When the Southern states began seceding, Lincoln called on the states to raise 75,000 troops. While by the end of the war the regular Army swelled to over 1 million, the majority of the Union forces remained, throughout the war, volunteer units from the individual states. While the popular mythology of the War insists that the volunteer units were what made the Union Army successful, the truth is far less clear. At the disaster that was First Manassas, it was regular army troops who fought the rearguard action while their volunteer counterparts led the flight back to Washington. Further examples abound, but are outside the scope of the article.

By the time Lincoln was inaugurated on 4MAR1861, seven states had seceded and formed the Confederate States of America. In late February, the Provisional Confederate Congress authorized the organization, around the state militias, of a Provisional Army. The Union declared war in April, after the surrender of Fort Sumpter, and it was at this time—parallel to the Union effort—that the Confederate Army began mobilizing in earnest.

While there were a few lesser engagements previous to it, The Battle of First Manassas (First Battle of Bull Run—For those who may be unaware of this, Union Forces tended to name battles after nearby landmarks, while Confederate forces named them after nearby towns. I don’t remember why.) was fought on 21JUN1861, a mere two months after the mobilization effort began. Remarkably, despite both sides having roughly similarly sized—and equally poorly trained at that point—forces, the Confederate victory very quickly turned into a rout of the Union Army. This was not due to the valor or skill-at-arms of the Confederate forces, but rather to the tactical acumen of the Confederate leadership of the day: notably Joseph Johnston, PGT Beauregard, and a relatively unknown at the time, Virginian by the name of Thomas J. Jackson, who happened to be not just a general, but a professor of military science at VMI.

Much of the rest of ‘61 was spent in both sides licking their wounds, re-aligning leaders and units, and actually trying to train their forces to a degree.

During World War One, the mobilization of US forces began in April of 1917, with Congress’ declaration of war against the German empire, and the subsequent declaration against Austria-Hungary in December. The first US troops didn’t land in Europe and begin fighting until the summer of 1918.

The mobilization of the war effort took a year. That involved—among a host of other national mobilizations—the drafting of 4 million men. By summer of 1918, around 2 million had reached Europe, and about half of those would actually see combat.

In World War Two, while plans had been made and updated regularly since 1920, for further industrial mobilization of the national army, a final plan was developed in 1939, specifically because of the situation in Europe, including a project to increase the striking power of the Army Air Corps. Following the German invasion of Poland in September of ‘39, President Roosevelt authorized an increase to 227,000 troops for the Regular Army, and 235,000 for the National Guard.

Following the series of German victories in late ‘39 and early ‘40, Roosevelt called for 50,000 new aircraft and a supplemental defense allocation. While full-scale mobilization was politically impractical for Roosevelt, less overt efforts were well underway. Appropriations came in faster than the Army of the day could absorb them: $8 billion in 1940 and $26 billion in 1941. By the time of Pearl Harbor, in December of ‘42, Congress had already spent more on Army procurement than it had for the Army and the Navy during the entirety of World War One.

In 1940, the United States Army stood at 269,023. In 1941, that number jumped to 1.462,315. In 1942, the number was 3,075, 608. By 1944, when the US really became engaged in Europe, in June of ‘44 (I’m not really touching on the Pacific Theater in this article. It does change a few little things, but not the overall point I’m making here), that number was over 7 million. The Army had been preparing, in some degree of earnest, for the better part of four years of mobilization, including the above obvious factor of raising the number of trained men, under arms, from just over ¼ million men in uniform, to over 7 million (none of which numbers includes the Marine Corps or the Navy…).


What’s the “practical/tactical” point of the above?

Armies that fight successfully and win wars are trained—and as important—organized, before they are engaged in hostilities. Those that aren’t, either find some breathing room (like Valley Forge, and the second half of 1861) to conduct some crash course training, and write off the losses that occurred before that. It is dogmatic in modern American military thought that properly training your forces before you commit them to a fight, is a moral imperative.

It is currently estimated that around 12% of the American population are veterans. With a stated tooth-to-tail ratio of 1:10, that means approximately 1.2% of the American populace has some sort of formal military combat training. In the GWOT, the percentage of the American populace who has served has been estimated as roughly one-half of one-percent. That means, even within your 50-70 million partisan population, the vast, vast, vast majority do not have recent, formal, military combat training. Let’s be generous and use the vaunted “3%” number as the number of that population who think they would be willing to actively take up arms in support of your proposed insurgency. By my back-of-the envelope math (and to be fair, I could be off, I literally just did the figure on the back of an envelope), that’s around 2 million people.

First of all, I’m calling bullshit. You can’t even get 2 million people to show up to political rallies where they’re actually not likely to get shot or blown up, let alone have to sleep out in the rain, or eat cold slop for weeks on end.

But, for the sake of argument…

Dude…I’ve got guys that—after a decade of teaching classes—still show up and can’t run 100 yards without getting winded. I’ve got guys that show up who own eight different AR15s, and don’t know how to zero the damned things. You’ve still got guys arguing over whether 5.56 is adequate for a fighting caliber. There’s guys in your demographic who are so embroiled in arguments over which sleeping bag is best for guerrilla warfare, that they’ve never actually slept outside. You’ve got guys who are still trying to argue over whether MOLLE/PALS or LC-2 gear is best. You’ve got “militia” units led by self-appointed “colonels” who have not only never worn a uniform (to be fair, not historically a disqualifier for exemplary military acumen), but are morbidly obese and think “lead by example” means stand around and scream until they stroke out. You’ve got guys talking about fighting a war that can’t hump a 35# ruck 300 yards uphill.

There is no “on our side,” when guys can’t avoid vitriolic arguments over inconsequential trivialities. There’s no “on our side” because there is no side to be on. There is no mythic “army of hunters with deer rifles.”


The second “practical/tactical” aspect against your position is the point you brought up about Afghanistan, 20 years ago. The Northern Alliance had held their own—more or less, and for the most part, a little bit less than more most of the time—for almost a decade, since the rise of the Taliban in 1996. They already had an actual, organized, experienced army of fit, experienced fighters. Most of us (SF) who were there in the early days knew, very early on, that the biggest help we were going to provide the NA was the ability to call air support, to break the stalemates, and handing over bags of cash for them to pay their fighters.

What all the would-be barrel chested freedom fighters (and whether the would-be part is they would-be barrel chested or would-be freedom fighters is open to interpretation and imagination) seem to overlook is what’s going to happen to their families, while they’re out being all Mel Gibson, and tomahawking “redcoats.” Are they going to stick around and fight, while their families are at home, starving, and freezing to death, because the utilities are down? Even in the Revolution, the rebel troops expected to get paid. Prior to von Steuben’s reforms—and afterwards too, when it became apparent how worthless the Continental script was, when they did get paid—Washington repeatedly had to deal with units’ who’s enlistments were up, who—tired of not getting paid, took their toys and went home, or—as common—simply left in the middle of the night.

What a lot of people forget about Benedict Arnold—and George Rogers Clark, if you want a less controversial example—is that a lot of his anger and antipathy towards The Cause, that led to his betrayal, was the fact that he’d been paying his troops out of his own pocket, and the Continental Congress would never actually pass a resolution to pay his troops or repay him. Clark ended up drinking himself to death, after the war, because of the stress of his debts on his conscience, and the legal stresses. Who exactly is going to foot the bill for this war you’re wanting to engage in? Who’s going to pay the troops? Who’s going to feed their families, while they’re out doing cool-guy commando stuff that they’re all fantasizing about?

Don’t tell me “Oh, they’re all preppers! They’ll live off their food storage and homestead gardens!” I would gleefully make the bet, with complete assurance of winning, if there were but a way to test the result, that less than ½ of 1% of self-professed “preppers” actually have a year’s supply of food on hand, and less than that have a garden that actually produces a quantifiable portion of their annual family food budget.

“Oh, we own the rural areas! We own the farms!” No, you don’t. The farmers are going to continue to sell their products where they can earn a living for their families. If this mythic “army” has a way to pay for the products, the farmers would probably sell them some, but if history—even in the American Revolution—is any indication, they’re going to demand a significant markup in price, and because the “army” will be desperate, they’ll get whatever price they ask for. If that’s not bad enough, the US military knows how to destroy crops in the field.

“Oh, you own the wheatfields and cornfields of the Midwest? Okay.” Then, they outfit a couple squadrons of B52s with Agent Orange, or some other herbicide, and they proceed to crop dust the entire region, even if it takes a month. “Now, all your wheatfields and cornfields are belong to us!”

Not only is there no “army,” as in an organized and trained force of would-be combatants, there’s no support infrastructure to fund and support that army. You gonna turn to the Russians? The Chinese? How are you going to pay for their support? Because, external state sponsor support doesn’t come free.


These are just two of the very low-hanging fruit “practical/tactical” examples of why your premise is flawed. Next, we’re going to look at the philosophical/moral reasons.

We’ll start with the most “philosophical” portion of your statement. “…the whole idea of ‘be your own leader,’ and ‘nobody is coming to save you’ is coming from a SF dude is disappointing. It’s a dud, and nihilistic and this point…

Nonsense. It’s anything but nihilistic.

Nihilistic means “rejecting all religious and moral principles in the belief that life is meaningless.” My approach to life in general, and collapse specifically, is the antithesis of nihilism.

A number of years ago (honestly, probably around the time you took a class with me), a student, out of my earshot, made the observation to the host, a close personal friend of ours, along the lines of “Wow! John wasn’t kidding when he said he’s isn’t very religious, was he?

Our friend turned to the student and laughed. “Not at all. John’s extremely religious. He’s just not YOUR religion.

I’m not nihilistic. It’s just that my religious and moral principles are vastly different than yours are.

What it really boils down to, is what I wrote in The Reluctant Partisan, Vol2, and in Forging the Hero. We don’t need a revolution. What we need is more of a “Going Galt” scenario (which pains me, because I really do find Rand’s writing terribly sophomoric. I mean, the theme is cool, but she really was, by the time she started writing, very much a product of 20th century Western affluence.)

It’s ironically interesting to me, because most of the problems I see people on the Right complaining about, just don’t affect us, because instead of sitting back, whining about the injustice of it all, we choose to be proactive. We don’t have to worry about transvestite or transsexual presentations at school, because our kids are homeschooled. I don’t have to worry about our kids being fat and brainwashed by television programming, because our kids have outdoor chores, do PT every day (because PE is still a core subject in OUR school), and don’t watch television (the closest thing to an exception is that we let them watch selected movies and cartoons, usually from the 1940s and ‘50s…that we watch on DVD). My kids’ idea of a good time? Riding horses, running their traplines, and shooting their guns.

“But, what about socialization!?” Socialization is the term used in psychology to describe the process by which children are trained to think and act as society demands. If a person believes in, and obeys, the moral codes of the society in which he finds himself, he is said be well-socialized.

It is my sincere hope that my children are never socialized to contemporary Western society. They need to be able to “play the role” as it were, when necessary, but if they’re not constantly questioning the reason for why they are expected to act a certain way, or to believe a certain thing—including what their mother and I teach them—then they’re no longer autonomous, and that’s not our goal. This, of course, is the entire goal of my ongoing articles on “raising feral children.”

I don’t have to worry about violent riots in urban areas, because we don’t live in an urban area. While it’s popular to claim that such rioting will spread to “rural areas,” the fact is, the vast majority of Americans—including prepper “experts” who applaud their “rural life” don’t really grasp what I talk about when we discuss how far out we actually live. I live in a county with a population density of 1.8 people per square mile. That having been said though, of that population, over ¾ live in one of the five  “towns” or “villages” in the county.

For an understandable picture of what that actually means, let’s assume my county has a population of 4000 people (it’s actually a shade under that), and a total area of 9000 square miles (it’s actually a shade under that). Of that 4000 people, 3000 of them live in the towns (and the largest town only has a population of 2500 or so), covering MAYBE ten square miles. But, we’ll call it twenty, just to be conservative. That means the other 1000 of us in the county, are spread out over around 8980 square miles. Yes, that’s over 8 miles per person. That’s not “rural” in the way people think of “rural” when they’re from Ohio or Pennsylvania or North Carolina.

I don’t have to worry about runaway inflation, because we don’t spend much money for living essentials. To be fair, it WOULD be nice to get the rest of the necessary building materials for the house before it gets too much worse, but let’s be honest, people managed to build snug, weatherproof homes long before modern building materials were available from building supply yards. I could still get it done, even if money wasn’t available tomorrow. Further, because we “sacrificed” so much that most Americans—including many readers here—consider “essential” but that were unknown to the vast expanse of human experience, we managed to pay cash for our property, so the only real absolute expense we have is the annual property tax. While we actually have the highest property tax rate in our state, it’s still marginal, as in less than $300 per year, and of course, as the collapse continues, and property values decline, so will the tax valuation.

We also don’t have to worry about excessive taxation. It’s always funny to me when people bitch about taxation, and claim the Founding Fathers would have been shooting people by now. The average tax rate in colonial America, on the eve of the Revolution? 1.5%. You’re damned right they’d be shooting by now. But people aren’t THAT upset right now. In the past, I’ve suggested (not advised, mind you, but suggested) that if you’re REALLY that upset about taxation, then stop paying them.

Two things about the typical response stand out as absolutely hilarious to me. First is the assumption that my suggestion is tax evasion, rather than simply stop making so much money that can be taxed. Talk about the psychosis of affluence. The second is that people are aghast at the idea, because they assume it means they will end up in prison for tax evasion. Because, apparently, dying of disease in some insurgent encampment somewhere, or being blown apart by a Hellfire missile, is preferable to spending a few years in white collar prison for tax evasion.

Why don’t we have to worry about excessive taxation? We don’t make much money, and we don’t spend much money. Do I like the amount of taxes we do pay? Nope. Is there anything I can do about it? Nope. Not if history is any judge.

Before you jump on the “taxation is theft” meme though, remember that makes George Washington a thief as well. Never forget, a mere three years after the Constitution was ratified, the same President who had led the Continental Army in revolt against the King over taxes? Sent the fledgling Army of the United States to stomp out a tax revolt in The Whiskey Rebellion.


Over the last decade plus, between writing and teaching, I’ve met a lot of readers. I couldn’t give you a number. Certainly in the multiple hundreds, and probably well over a thousand. Of them all, there’s been a handful—maybe a half dozen—that I disliked. The rest have struck me—even on brief acquaintance—as genuinely good people, with generally good intentions, and morals that I could appreciate, even if I didn’t necessarily agree with them.

That’s the other thing I’ve observed though; is that we generally did not share the same perspective on things, whether the specific ills of the world, or the course corrections that needed to be made. Most of those people that I’ve met over the years, I wouldn’t recognize on the street if I ran into them today, and most of them wouldn’t recognize me. I don’t know most of their spouses or kids, and they don’t—generally–know mine (that’s less true than the reciprocal, because my kids and wife have traveled with me to so many classes. My oldest was on the range, while I was teaching, when she was a week old). So, the question becomes, at what point do I owe those people my services as a “leader” or “guide?”

That’s—let’s call it 1000 people. Now…if you can’t tell me what I owe THEM, what about the rest of the 330 million Americans—or the 70 million who are “on our side?” What exactly do I owe them?

They’re LITERALLY not my people.

People forget that the United States of America, at the adoption of the Constitution, was not one nation, under God, indivisible. In fact, it was 13 sovereign states who happened to share some key foreign relations obligations, for the sake of convenience. Look at David Hackett Fischer’s masterpiece Albion’s Seed for just four of the different cultural “nations” that existed within the boundaries of the original thirteen states.

Where I live in the rural Rockies, is not—except in the sense of artificially delineated lines on maps, and a broad generalized idea of “American”–not the same nation as upstate New York (where I lived for a summer in the mid-2000s), nor the Southern Highlands. It’s not the same nation as the upper Midwest even—although with the number of Norske and Svenska pioneer families who settled this area, it’s actually closer to there than other regions. It’s certainly not the same nation as Southern California or Manhattan or the District of Columbia.

The values, traditions, and customs of the people, other than broad, generalized strokes that were applied with the broad brush of mid-20th century marketing, are not the same. So, what do I owe those people that live there?


The bigger question though, is why do you think we need some sort of armed revolution. Things are falling apart around us. Are you hoping to hold it all together, or are you hoping to accelerate the process? If the latter, is that because you are hoping to be one of those who gets to pick up the pieces afterwards?

Let’s look at those.

(1) If there was a reason to hold the system all together, it’s still not going to happen. The historical record of patterns is self-evident in that regard. What exactly is it about this glorious consumer’s paradise that you want to hold together anyway? The bleak, decaying infrastructure that supported industries that were farmed out to cheaper, foreign shores decades ago, because “you can learn to code!” The prostituted media?

The steadily decaying standard of living? Although, I for one find the “idyllic” standard of living of the 1950s abysmally dreary, I understand that for a lot of people it’s some sort of pinnacle. The monotony and stress of long commutes to and from a job in a cubicle farm somewhere? Working for some slack-jawed supervisor with the intellect of a high school dropout? To be fair, this might be a particular prejudice of mine. Of my last two “regular” jobs, for “regular” hours and wages, I suffered under immediate supervisors that were imbecilic at best, and thought their position somehow gave them the authority to bully subordinates. Of course, I was fired from one (and quit the other) job because of my willingness to stand up and call their bluff.

Or, is it that you want to continue to be able to watch television programs and movies that mock you and your values?

Seriously…what exactly are you trying to hold onto? “Oh, I’ve got to hold things together, and make money, so my kids can get into a good college and get a good career!” Setting aside the idiocy of that plan-of-action in the modern world, if the world of today’s society is as bad as people are making it out to be—and it is—then preparing your children to be “socialized” into acceptance of that world is, to me, the definition of child abuse.

(2) If you’re hoping to accelerate the process, you’re being silly. It’s already accelerating, and the fact is, the vast majority of your 70 million hypotheticals who are “on our side,” aren’t at all ready for the realities of that, any more than they are for fighting an insurgency. People talk about millions dying in the first weeks and months of collapse, but they don’t do anything to prepare themselves to be among the survivors, beyond spend some more money stockpiling stuff and slipping notes on how to do stuff into their “Preparedness Planning Notebooks!” because actually going out and doing the stuff, so they can learn it is work, and it might take them away from partaking in the society they claim is so terrible.

The complain about the impact of industry being off-shored to China, even as they go spend money to stockpile more junk from China.

In his excellent work Human Scale Revisited, Kirkpatrick Sale (I’ve previously recommended the book, heartily, to readers before), talks about adopting the Paleolithic perspective on affluence. “Of course, it is not the Paleolithic state of affluence that I suggest we all return to, but there is something in the Paleolithic understanding of the limits of material amassment that does seem pertinent. For what made them affluent was, in truth, their self-sufficiency, their ability to satisfy all their needs within their means (And, if that meant they had to regard those things beyond their means—mammoth roast every Sunday—as being unneeded, and hence unwanted, that not a limit on their self-sufficiency, but rather an improvement in their happiness). And that kind of affluence, I propose, is available to us today, modified by our vastly greater knowledge and our own vastly improved technologies, would we but direct ourselves to some small part of that Paleolithic comprehension.

Affluence, you see, is always relative. It is not only that of the car and the house and washing machine and vacation; it has something too of security and harmony and quiet and friendship and freedom from pollution and from powerlessness.

Thus, we see, in this sense of “Paleolithic affluence,” the remedy for collapse that I’ve already proposed, outlined, and even adopted. I certainly don’t agree with everything Mr. Sale says. I don’t agree with him at all that ours is a “vastly greater knowledge.” It’s different, to be sure, but if you stuck 99.9%+ of your 50-70 million people out in the mountains, with nothing but Paleolithic tools? They’d be dead before morning. And, our “vastly improved technologies?” Meh. Some things are certainly “better,” but that’s a relative value, at best. I prefer a steel knife to a chipped obsidian blade, but I’ve cut enough meat and other material with a chipped chert blade to know it works just fine. I prefer wool to leather and fur, but I’m not entirely certain it’s “superior.” I know—incontrovertibly–that wool and leather and fur are superior to synthetic clothing. Are their improvements over Paleolithic technologies? Probably. Modern medicine, at least in the realm of trauma medicine is probably better. We don’t know for sure, of course, but we know it’s better than medicine was 150 years ago.

If you want to “accelerate the collapse,” nothing is stopping you. I’ve done it, with my family, and as far as I can tell, none of us seem to be too despondent and upset over it. If you want to “return to older values,” nothing is stopping you, except your own fear of being “different” from the folks around you. Sure, they might think you’re weird, because you don’t have a television, and cannot discuss the latest hit shows, or you don’t drive the latest model year of vehicle (this hit me recently. I drive a 30 year old pickup, and our other vehicle is 20 years old. I was noticing, as I was driving in Idaho Falls, between the two recent classes there, that there just weren’t any old vehicles on the road anymore. When I was younger, there were a LOT of older cars around, at any given time. Now, if I see a vehicle more than a decade old, it actually stands out). All you have to do is realize that their opinions don’t matter nearly as much as your self-worth, and then get on with living the life you want to live.

The problem with this approach is that it requires actually working and striving to be more self-reliant. For a lot of people the idea of being self-reliant is appealing, until they look deeper, and realize it means actually being, you know, self-reliant. When something breaks in my solar power system, I don’t have the luxury of calling the power company and having them send a repairman. I have to figure it out, and it doesn’t matter that it’s 15F outside, and the sun has been dark for an hour already (as I write this).

On a more widespread level? If Russia doesn’t get soundly spanked, to the tune of completely withdrawing from the Ukraine conflict, and relinquishing the annexed regions, as well as being somehow forced to pay reparations, the US hegemony, and the position of the US dollar as the global reserve currency is done. We’ve been seeing this in small steps for years already, but this has been a tremendous acceleration in that aspect of the decline/collapse, and when it happens—and the fact is no longer avoidable—all bets are off as to the results and impacts.

(3) If you’re hoping you’ll get to be one of those who is around to “pick up the pieces,” you’re out of your mind. When most preppers talk about “multi-generational collapse,” they’re looking at it through a distorted lens. They think “Oh, it’ll be short term, but the impacts will last for 2-3 generations.” The reality is, that’s not how “multi-generational collapse” works. Certainly, the impacts are felt for multiple generations, but the process of collapse itself takes multiple generations as well. While we’ve been undergoing this process far longer than most people recognize, the fact is, it’s going to continue to collapse for a lot longer, before it starts “getting better” (again though, that depends on perspective. I’m completely okay with the opportunity to become a horseback nomad, ranging the mountains and steppes…). Your great-great-great-great-great-great grandkids MIGHT be “picking up the pieces,” but that process will not look like the process of picking up the pieces after a tornado.

On a less long-term scale, look at the two major “revolutionary” wars in American history. The American Revolution officially lasted from 1775 until 1783, while the Civil War lasted from 1861-1865. But, when you factor in the events leading up to the Revolution, starting with the Stamp Act in 1765, and end with the adoption of the Constitution, thanks to the addition of the Bill of Rights, in 1791 and the “Great Compromise” of 1850, through the Reconstruction Era following the Civil War which didn’t officially end until 1877 (and, as many Southerners will attest is still ongoing in spirit), the REAL time frame of both conflicts were actually multiple decades long (The Revolutionary period encompassed 26 years, while the Civil War era encompassed 27).


Last week, I took part of a day to go look for an elk for the freezer. As I was riding up the mountain, and into the timber, there was a foot of snow on the ground, and the cobalt blue sky was cloudless. I looked down, from the ridge I was crossing, at the sagebrush covered slope, I’d just ascended, and saw a bald eagle soaring…below me. The color was more vibrant than anything you’ve ever seen on a movie screen, and the clarity of the air, at 9000 feet, made the visual acuity breathtaking, in a sense that words literally can’t describe accurately. The only sound was the soft moan of the wind through the spruce boughs around me. To be fair, I didn’t see any elk that day, just a lot of mule deer, and a spectacular bull moose that I sat and watched through the binoculars from about 200 yards out.

That’s not “rejecting religious or moral principles,” that is a religious experience.

Three days ago (as I write this), I was working with one of our young horses, getting him used to being ridden, in anticipation of using him to help work cattle for the neighbors, and for pack trips into the mountains in the spring. My 4yo son has laid claim to that horse, so I have to be as sure as I am able—within the limits of my meager skillset—that everything I do is training him to be a solid mount for the boy. Going out, at 8F, in a foot of snow, to work a horse for your child? That’s not “rejecting religious or moral principles.” That’s a religious and moral imperative.

It’s funny how people who live in suburbia (or those parts of suburbia that modern Americans label “rural”) insist they’re ready for “civil war” or “revolution” or “insurrection,” but can’t take responsibility for being able to provide for their own livelihoods, without the support of the system they claim they despise.

“Nihilistic?” I’m not nihilistic. It’s just that my religious and moral principles are vastly different than yours are. I don’t need—or want—a new truck every two years. I don’t need—or want—a 100 inch flat screen television, and the latest television program streaming into my living room, in order to find meaning in my life, because the meaning in my life is far, far older, and far, far more meaningful than that. Think mine are unpatriotic and nihilistic? I’d suggest going back to that paragon of American patriotic exemplars, Thomas Jefferson, and reading his collected writings.

Is a life at the ragged edge of wilderness the ideal for everyone? Of course not. It wasn’t 200 years ago either. But, the fact is, even in smaller communities and semi-rural areas, you can absolutely build a more self-reliant, collapse resilient life for you and your family that will help you actually “be your own leader” and not need someone to come save you.

I suspect—based on my own experiences, and the observations I’ve made of others who live similar lifestyles—that most readers here would find a great deal of relief, relaxation, and satisfaction, if they too would actually let go of their abject fear and terror, and actually strive to “collapse now, and avoid the rush.”

Baby, It’s Cold Outside…

I came across an article the other day, perusing the Internet during my mid-day dinner break (Yes, even when I don’t eat a meal, I still take a dinner break, especially when it’s -3F and I’ve been outside since before daybreak). It was one of the typical “prepper porn” prep for winter blog articles, and as such, while not bad, it was really an advertisement for the blogger’s favorite gear, with appropriate affiliate links, of course!

The problem with it, however, from my perspective, was that it was pimping the same kind of half-ass “stay warm when it’s cold outside and the power goes out” nonsense we see the mainstream media tossing out as well. As an example, the entire idea of “pitch a tent on your living room floor, so you can stay warm!” is absurd, on the face of it. You MIGHT stay marginally warmer, when you pile 4-5 people, with sleep gear, into a 3-person backpacking tent. You’re also going to wake up soaking wet from condensed breath of all those people in tight confines, which means, by the time you wake up in the morning, you’re going to actually be colder. There’s a lot of stupid shit that gets tossed out, pretty much annually, about cold weather living. Most of it is just that—stupid shit.


To begin any legitimate discussion of “how to stay warm,” we have to understand a couple of basic principles and facts.