Skull-Stomping Sacred Cows: That IS the damned job, dude!
One of the primary goals of this blog, from the very beginning, has been to utilize the doctrine of unconventional warfare, to illustrate some of the critical lessons for surviving—and even thriving—through the ongoing decline of civilization as we know it, and debunk many of the fanciful, nonsense thought experiments that have been passed on as “survival gospel,” over the years. Among these useful lessons has been the tripartite division of labors within historical insurgent and resistance organizations. While we’re not interested in overthrowing the government (seriously, if that’s why you’re here, a) you’re a fucking idiot, and b) you’re in the wrong place), the lessons inherent in that division of labors between guerrilla force, underground, and auxiliary offer a useful framework for determining all of the various tasks implicit to ensuring the security, safety, and survival of our communities.
The simple reality is, not everyone is cut out to be a knuckle-dragging gunfighter, and while we should all know how to fight, including with guns, there are a host of other necessary tasks that need to be done, that can be accomplished effectively by those unsuited for face-shooting motherfuckers. Some of those tasks are fulfilled by the “auxiliary” in UW doctrine. Today, we’re going to discuss one, specifically, that—in my limited exposure—is mishandled, fumbled, and just generally fucked up, in the prepper and survivalist movement: recruiting and indoctrination.
Relax, relax. When we talk about indoctrination, we’re not talking about communist political commissars, forcing people to accept their ideology. My copy of Merriam-Webster’s dictionary has two definitions of “indoctrinate.” The first—and primary—is, “to instruct, especially in fundamentals or rudiments; to teach.” The second is the one we’re used to, from media use of the term in that context, “to imbue with a usually partisan or sectarian opinion, point-of-view, or principle.” This is an important distinction, as we’ll see below.
One of my firmly-held beliefs is that a tribalist, community-centric approach to preparedness is the only logical, experientially-proven method of long-term survival in decaying civilizations and failed-state environments. One of the more gratifying things about my third book, Forging the Hero: A Tribal Strategy for Building Resilient Communities for Surviving the Decline of Empire has been the fact that every single person I’ve spoken to, who has read it, has been extremely vocal in their agreement that the strategy described in the book is the most sensible approach they’ve seen described. (My good buddy, “Dan Morgan” of www.danmorgan76.wordpress.com, had particularly glowing words of praise for the work, and has promised me he’s going to publish a thorough review on his blog in the near future.).
The premise of the book is the same premise that I teach in my Auxiliary and Support Operations Course: surviving the Decline of Empire is not about “saving” the empire, nor is it about “restoring” the empire. It’s about ensuring the survival of those cultural values that made the empire worthwhile in the first place, and the best people to surround yourself with, in order to ensure that, is by looking at the people who you already know share your values. Who is that? Your family, friends, and neighbors.
The problem that often arises, within the preparedness and survivalist communities however, is that everyone wants to create a “group,” whole cloth, out of the thin air of “like-minded” people that they probably don’t even know. Who do you know better, and who, should you trust? The dude you met at the Oathkeepers Rally, who showed up wearing a Multi-Cam soft shell parka, with lots of III% and Gadsden Flag velcro patches, or the cousins and siblings you grew up with, and their offspring?
“But, John, my family is full of shitheads that don’t care about the Constitution, or the Bill-of-Rights, or Capitalism. They all support Bernie Sanders, for crying out loud!”
Really? So, you were just a fluke of nature, and nobody in your family shares your values, at all? Where did your values come from? Granted, it CAN happen. I’ve met people who developed values in college or the military that seemed to be diametrically opposite of what their families believed. It’s pretty fucking rare though. Even then, you—presumably—have friends that you’ve had for some time. THOSE people share your values, at least on some level, or they would not be your friends, right?
So what if your family and friends don’t share your concerns about the Decline, right now? If you’re willing to do the hard work, and think introspectively, you CAN find a way to approach them, through your shared values, in such a way to help them understand the importance of preparedness. You can, to borrow a quote, “instruct, especially in fundamentals or rudiments;” in fact, doing so, is “to imbue with a usually partisan or sectarian opinion, point-of-view, or principle.” See, recruiting and indoctrination is THE most important task the auxiliary fulfills in the UW doctrinal model. It doesn’t matter if the auxiliary is providing food, if there’s nobody to eat the damned slop. It doesn’t matter if they’re procuring weapons and medical equipment on the black market, if there’s nobody to shoot the weapons, or that will need to be patched up.
Winning Hearts and Minds
The idea of “winning hearts and minds” is often derided today as unrealistic political bullshit, conceived by feel-good politicians with their heads in the clouds, and a total lack of understanding about how to win wars. While it HAS often been misused, and IS often misused, the old meme of “grab ’em by the balls, and their hearts and minds will follow,” is just as foolhardy. While it’s demonstrably not true that “you can’t kill your way to victory,” as the bleeding hearts like to whine, it IS demonstrably true that if you start killing people who are not yet dedicated to killing you, you WILL create MORE enemies, in their families and friends.
The fact is, committed foes, who have voiced or proven their willingness to use violence to achieve their aims, are not—generally—going to be convinced by anything outside of overwhelming violence-of-action, to alter their behavior. Those people can only be “fixed” by chopping off their heads, and sticking them on spikes to scare their compatriots. The greater mass of people however, who may hold some egregious views on things, that can be educated as to the error of their ways, absent chopping off heads.
THAT is where PSYOP comes into the indoctrination equation. If we look at the seven-phase PSYOP process (that I’ve described in some detail in previous articles), we see a perfect model for approaching how we can indoctrinate those people within our community that share our key values, customs, and traditions, into the sustainable preparedness mindset.
According to US Army FM 3-05.301 Psychological Operations Process Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (AUG 07), “The seven-phase PSYOP process is a standardized, nonlinear framework by which PSYOP are planned and conducted in support of (ISO) a broad range of missions. The fundamental goal of the PSYOP process is to direct well-crafted and precise PSYOP at the most appropriate foreign target audiences (TAs) to elicit behaviors favorable to U.S. national objectives.”
Phase One of the Seven-Phase PSYOP Process (hereafter referred to as “the process,” because I’m a lazy fucker), is “Planning.” Planning involves determining what the Psychological Operations Objectives are. That is, what is the goal of your PSYOP? What behaviors are you trying to elicit?
In our context, we know that the Psychological Operations Objective is to convince those friends, family, and neighbors to adopt a more preparedness-oriented mindset, possibly including taking proactive measures.
Phase Two of the process is Target Audience Analysis. This is looking at the potential audience, in order to determine how to effectively approach them in pursuit of the objective. Target Audience Analysis (TAA) requires “sufficient knowledge and understanding of target audiences to develop effective methods to influence behavior favorable” to your objectives. This, in my estimation, is the sticking point for most people in the preparedness and survivalist movement, when it comes to recruiting and indoctrination of friends, family, and neighbors. Too many people are too comfortable in the “rightness” of their beliefs, and are unwilling to even discuss opposing views, let alone study them enough to develop any level of empathy with those who hold those opposite views. Doing so however, is genuinely necessary, to understanding the target audience adequately “to develop effective methods to influence behavior.”
An interesting—and timely—example that I often cite in classes, are twenty- and thirty-something Bernie Sanders supporters. Point the first, Bernie Sanders is a scumbag socialist and a professional politician. I am not arguing that point. Point the second, a significant cohort within the collective of Sanders supporters are raving socialists and are beyond hope of re-education.
That having been said, when you actually step back from your own preconceived biases for a moment or two, and LISTEN to what these young people are bitching about, many of their complaints are legitimate. That’s not the problem. The problem is that the “solutions” they’ve been offered, by teachers and professors and politicians and friends, are fucking horrible, and inimical to what most of us consider “traditional American values.” Instead of simply “writing off” those Sanders supporters that may exist within your community, who have shitty “solutions” to legitimate problems, we SHOULD be developing a PSYOP product that helps indoctrinate them into the “right” side of things, by educating them on realistic, effective, sane solutions to those problems. Granted, some will be beyond hope, but I can speak from personal experience that it IS possible to educate Bernie Sanders supporters, at least to the point of acknowledging that there are better solutions to the problems they are concerned about than electing that jackass to the Presidency. Whether that indoctrination will hold in the long-term depends largely on the success of the preparedness programs you implement within the community, and their experiences in achieving those successes. (For the record, I am not suggesting you should focus your recruiting efforts specifically on Bernie Sanders supporters. I am using an extreme example to illustrate a point.)
But, that sounds like work!
It’s funny, because on multiple occasions in both my Auxiliary and Support Operations course, and in other courses I’ve taught, where this subject has arisen during break-time conversations, as well as comments on this blog, the overwhelming complaint I hear from people about this is not the “impossibility” of this recruiting method or the indoctrination, but rather that “it just sounds like a lot of effort with no guarantee of payoff.”
Well, no shit?
Look, if you think surviving the Decline of Empire—or even Restoring the Republic, or Making America Great Again—is going to be easy, or simple, or an enjoyable jaunt in the park, you’re dumber than a whole crate full of granite. It is ALL difficult. Raising your own food is hard, hot, sweaty work when it is for survival and not just recreational gardening after work and on the weekends. Dealing with the people within your community, whether a natural geographical community, or a “prepper group,” is going to be far more difficult when lives are on the line, than it is when the lights and heat are still functioning. Ever tried herding cats?
Of course recruiting and indoctrination are fucking hard. Get over it. Especially if you accept that you are part of the auxiliary within your community/group/tribe/etc, then you need to recognize that recruiting is the MOST IMPORTANT job you have. It IS the job. So, suck it up, drive on, and start looking at people around you as potential members of your community, rather than looking at yourself as some Lone Ranger, doomed to surviving the Decline as a hermit.