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Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

July 28, 2016

The title of this article is an old proverb that I’ve heard my entire life. Having spent all of my life except the decade I spent in uniform, living in rural locations, I’ve understood the truth of it, at least on the surface, for most of the last four decades. It wasn’t until I really started thinking about the lessons of tribalism that I was raised with, while writing Forging The Hero, that I really started understanding the deeper meanings though, despite it unconsciously being a core tenet of the philosophy I’ve lived my life by.

Good fences make good neighbors is directly related to the cultural concepts of innangarth and utangarth that I discussed in Forging The Hero. It is critically relevant to building tribal, resilient communities, both for intra-tribal relationships, and for inter-tribal relations. It’s really a large part of the core of “building rapport” and “winning hearts and minds.”

Boundaries are Boundaries

My innangarth is my tribe. It is composed of the people that I know and trust, and have frith with, because of our shared experiences of shared values, customs, and traditions. Within my innangarth though, there are layers of trust and closeness as well. My household, composed of myself, HH6, and our children are my absolute innermost circle. Outside of them are my kith and kin, then there is another layer of frith, indirectly, with their kith and kin, before looking over the outer walls of the community/tribe, at the rest of the world, whom I don’t know and trust, and are—by definition—utangarth, or “outside.”

It is safe to say, while I DO share cultural values, customs, and traditions, with my kith and kin, I don’t agree with them on everything. There may even be things that are important to me that they disagree with me on, and vice versa (it’s true, I can assure you). That’s okay though, as long as those disagreements are not detrimental to the CORE values, customs, and traditions of the tribe, and as long as practicing those do not violate the orlog, or “laws” of the tribe.

As an example, within the tribe, what my friend or my cousin does, with his family, inside of his family and home, is none of my business…as long as it doesn’t violate the CORE values, customs, and traditions of the tribe. This is an important distinction, that is too often overlooked by too many folks. If my cousin or friend is molesting his child, that is definitely a violation of the CORE values, custom, and traditions of our tribe. That is not acceptable, and it’s not something that we’re going to ignore, because of the belief that “good fence make good neighbors.” Some of OUR core values include, a) children are sacred gifts, and the future of the tribe, and so, must be protected, and b) we believe in protecting those that are incapable of protecting themselves from harm. As such, if this were to occur, there would only be a couple of viable options that would restore the frith of the tribe as a whole…1) would be burying the rotten piece of shit in a deep hole in the woods. 2) would be—possible–turning him over to the “justice” system, for prosecution (assuming he was actually adequately punished, by which I mean, at least the majority of the rest of his natural life in prison. Otherwise, we’d have to resort to #1).

The same would apply—in my tribe—with someone that beat their wife, except that in this case, there is the third option of outlawry, casting them out of the protection of the tribe. In today’s society, that doesn’t mean much, since he could, at least in theory, move to another town or state, and start over, with no one knowing his past, but, it protects OUR people. Ideally of course, such a scumbag would never make it through the initiatory process of inclusion into the clan.

On the other side of the coin however, if my cousin drinks more than I approve of, or decides he wants to smoke pot? It’s none of my fucking business, as long as he is upholding the core values of tribe. If he shows up sloshed for Thanksgiving Dinner at Grandma’s, and pisses on her kitchen floor? Now, he’s violated cultural mores and values, and recompense is due. If he’s losing job after job, and not able to pay rent, and keep a roof over his wife and kid’s heads? Now, there’s an issue we’ve got to deal with. Just drinking more than I think is “okay?” None of my fucking business. Making it my business is going to damage the frith of the tribe (obviously, if your religion believes that consuming ardent spirits is a sin, this particular example doesn’t apply. If you can’t extrapolate from there however, a) you’re an idiot, and b) your understanding of your religion must not be very good.)

So, how does that apply to intentional tribes, such as those discussed in Forging The Hero? It’s pretty simple really (notice that I did not say it was “easy”). You MUST define your core values. These need to be those values that you absolutely, positively, are non-negotiable on. I can’t tell you what those are, because it’s almost certain that yours are not the same as mine, and I won’t tell you what mine are, because they’re none of your fucking business.

When you start looking at a prospective kinsman; someone that has been hanging around, because of shared interests, it becomes critical that you look at them through the lens of those non-negotiable core values. Do they share those values? How do you know? Do they express those values through the same customs and traditions that you do?

Those core values are what matter. The other things? The things dude does in his own home? As long as they don’t violate your core values, they’re none of your business. If there is something he does that you can’t abide, then obviously, you didn’t do a very good job of defining what your core values actually are, did you?

Building Rapport and Winning Hearts and Minds
“Winning hearts and minds,” a phrase first codified by French General Lyautey, in the 19th century, is one that has gotten a really, really bad reputation, because of misapplication in the popular imagination, and by fuckwit politicians, who really don’t understand what the phrase actually refers to.

Winning hearts and minds is NOT about winning over your enemy. Once they’ve decided they need to kill you, for whatever reason, the only way to change their mind is to kill enough of them that their desire to live outweighs whatever urge led them to violence in the first place.


There is still a place for “winning hearts and minds,” and that place is where “good fences make good neighbors” comes into play for the prepared tribe, during the Decline of Empire. The goal of “winning hearts and minds” is not to convert the enemy; it is to convert those of the population not on the enemy’s side, or your side, to either come to your side, or—worst case—stay neutral to the hostilities.

So, how does that apply in this context?

Minding your own damned business!

Not everyone in your community is going to be part of your tribe. At the same time however, that doesn’t necessarily make them the “enemy,” unless you force them to choose the other team to support. If you start looking for reasons to be a dick, or just end up being a dick because of negligence on your part, you WILL drive people to the opposition, and that is a negative outcome for you.

This does not, however, mean that you need to—or should—ignore the behavior of outsiders, when that behavior is antithetical to your core values. Unless you know what your core cultural values are, however, defining what is antithetical to them is impossible. That means someone else—in our world, this generally means either a) one of the political parties, or b) the media, and I’m including bloggers like myself, and social media in category B—will be defining what is antithetical to what they think your core values should be.

If another tribe or group exists within your community, they may be potential allies, even though they don’t share all of your values. They may not share your core values—if they did, they’d probably be members of your tribe—but as long as their core values and your core values are not antithetical, there is no reason that you cannot develop a mutually rewarding inter-tribal relationship with them, if you define your own core cultural values, instead of letting someone from the GOP or DNC define what your core values “should be.”

(And yes, I know for a fact that this blog has readers that vote R and D. I also know that there are readers of this blog who have allowed their respective political party define what their core cultural values “should be.” If you’re surprised at that idea, you’re probably one of them…)

There may be groups in your community who seem to be ideal allies, but once you look deeper, you begin realizing that their core values and your core values are antithetical, meaning there is no way you can have a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship. We’ve seen this in international relations, when the USG supports a force somewhere, following the adage, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” That is unmitigated stupidity. “The friend of my friend is my friend,” is true, if you choose your friends well, but “the enemy of my enemy” may very well be a complete scumbag, who is just as much your enemy as your enemy.

So, what are your core cultural values that are non-negotiable? (That was a rhetorical question. Don’t fill my comment section with lists of what your cultural value are. I don’t give a shit). How many people in your current “prepper group” share those core values? How do you KNOW they share those values? Did they tell you so? Or, have you spent enough time with them to KNOW, through experience?

Are there other groups in your community that could be potential allies, even though they may have a different emphasis than you? (The correct answer is “yes,” 95% of the time—and yes, I made that percentage up, but I would wager it’s close) Are there other groups in your community that might seem like perfect potential allies, but if you really looked, they are natural opposition to you? Are you practicing—like a retard—the belief that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend?”

What are your core cultural values? What customs and traditions do you use to exercise those values? Who do you know—who may not be a “prepper” as such—that shares those values, customs and traditions? That person—those people—should be the people you are looking to as “tribe” and “community,” for surviving and thriving, during the Decline of Empire.

(Finally, one hint about that last paragraph: All you tough guys who talk shit about your families? Where, exactly, do you fucking think your values and customs and traditions came from?)

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  1. I have lived in the same place now 36 years. The land between my house and my neighbors is about 15 yards with a hedge and a driveway. Neighbor dies and his grandson moved in. My lilac hedge provided me some privacy until he hired someone to cut it down. They even came on my side and cut it right off. I have not been so angry in many years and confronted him about it. He said “I thought it would look nicer!” Needless to say if looks could kill… Now I know for sure when TSHTF who I cannot depend on. Typical liberal progressive puke who thinks the world lives only for him. He doesn’t know how badly he shortened his survival odds. PS I used to build lots of barbwire fence and even repair old rail fence. Had enough of new York and bought 40 acres of land in Idaho! I’m loving the Forging the Hero!

    • Sid Vail permalink

      HI David, I really understand your anger…but, not the “He doesn’t know how badly he’s shortened his survival odds.”?

      Not that I’m insinuating that you run over, (at SFTF moment), & beg him to let you help him survive…BUT!

      Have you REALLY thought about this type of “NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY”? If he’ll BLATANTLY destroy your hedge, SIMPLY because he “thought it looked better”…Your barbwire fence isn’t going to deter him from “casing your place”…noticing your health & weight isn’t slacking…and, putting 2 + 2 together, coming up with your happiness = WHAT HE WANTS!

      I’d say “Keep your friends CLOSE, & your enemies CLOSER” might fit THIS SITUATION pretty well.

      Getting to KNOW him MIGHT be one way to calculate just whether he’s REALLY STUPIDLY SELF-ORIENTED enough to pull a mid-night raid to “level the playing ground”, so-to-speak.

      BUT! ALSO, it MIGHT surprise you that he’ll turn out a bit more well balanced than appearances portrayed…AND…you MIGHT be able to (as John puts it), MENTOR HIM. A few well placed questions, and LISTENING…MIGHT help you to GENUINELY be assured of his capabilities, and what your expectations should be…so as to EITHER draw him closer due to your experience, & wisdom, OR, you can be WELL PREPARED for his stupidity under duress…Just a thought.

  2. I loved readying this piece ( along with all the others ). I am really going to try and move forward with getting a group of people together in my area as an extra layer of protection for my area aside from local and county police. I don’t want to get to political but I feel this is the same argument that has been going on with the two party system we have now: Vote for me cause you really don’t want the other person. I incourage everyone to vote for the best person who represents the constitution and your values and leave the rest for the electoral vote. I really would like to see more people more concerned with their local gov than the fed but hay it’s stepping stones. Sorry for getting political about your post.

  3. Wes permalink

    I distanced myself from my family and my parents as a teenager and young adult, only to find later that the values and examples (most of them anyway) they were living and teaching me, we’re what I believe is good. Now I reflect back on them I know most of them are my core values along with others I personally feel meet the mold. Now I am trying my hardest to be the example in my innangarth. I grew up in the woods in Texas, moved bought house in a neighborhood and absolutely hated it. Now I’m back in what I call “the country” and I love it. These farmers out here may not see it but I recognize it, they share values and they are a tribe. They work together for no profit from one another when one needs something the other is there to lend a hand, or piece of equipment or their time. I am an outsider to them but we are neighbors. I’m doing what I can to work my way in and build relationships with them, I’ve recently offered to help bail hay for free, and have been swapping eggs for vegetables. Sometimes a little personal sacrifice of your time or goods can go a long way. You’ll know real quick who is worth the time and effort and who isn’t.

    • I went through the same process, as I talk about in Forging the Hero, with my family.

      As for the second part, it really is a matter of “Who Does More Is Worth More,” isn’t it?

  4. TheSpartanMonkey permalink

    Mosby, I think you hit the nail on the head when you say core values are what’s important.
    Many folks filter prospects based on labels like “Republican”, “Democrat”, “gun-owner”, “Christian”, etc. In reality, that self-proclaimed Christian/Catholic/whatever may hate guns, be government-dependent and get their kicks by drowning cats. That Democrat may actually like guns and the idea of being independent. That Republican may hate guns and the idea of the right to self-defense (yes, I actually know all these folks). However, values like “trustworthy”, “loyal”, “honest” are discrete and therefore clearer – you either are those things or you aren’t. So they provide a more reliable gate into the tribe. Just my $.02

  5. Alexander permalink

    Thanks for another great read, filled with truth.

    I appreciate your time and effort to educate and enlighten whilst Nero plays the fiddle.
    It can be difficult for some to see that.

  6. Krazy Kjin permalink

    New guy here and am enjoying what I’ve been reading.
    So much truth in today’s topic, if more lived this way the world would be a much better place.
    Yall have a great day.

  7. Tim permalink


  8. bjargjonsson permalink

    Reblogged this on The Asatruar by Tryggulfr and commented:
    The Wisdom of John

  9. Blue10 permalink

    Impeccable timing. Again.

  10. Tennessee Budd permalink

    Excellent post, JM!
    A lot of it, I think, is somewhat ineffable. Some folks are “good people”. Some are not. The winnowing is entirely subjective, but I often just get a feeling about those with whom I can get along, & who share my values, even before it’s revealed through conversation or, more importantly, behavior. I’ve been wrong, but only a very few times in my adult life (I’m 51). May sound artsy-fartsy, but hell, I’m a Southerner. We have an element of the mystical in us.
    (I was really trying not to laugh as I typed that last line. Libs would eat that stuff up, though.) Still, eppur si muove.

  11. My perspective may be of interest to some; I retired in 2003 and didn’t know anyone. I had a 99.9% failure rate in finding trusted associates nearby. I stepped out of my comfort zone about a year ago and found two trustworthy associates in the 3rd layer, and two trustworthy associates in the 4th layer. A series of tests (like pay-forward) has proven to be a great first step in building a tribe.

    Darn good article; particularly the exemplification of the various layers in a tribe. I was just talking about that with a key person in our perspective third layers yesterday; how deliberate my actions are (and have been) in regards to cultivating our association. Talking about the deliberate efforts with the people in the layers has helped us to focus on perimeters or “fences”.

    Glad I stopped-in, thanks

  12. brianhill permalink

    Interesting article. How might one go about, as they say in N.Z. “sussing” out your neighbors- you know, to see how aware they are of the current situation and whether they want to formally organize the neighborhood?

    Maybe some background- I bought some land in a rural part of the county here in AL. I’m building a log home from scratch. For about 2 months, my neighbors (in their 80’s, me in my 40’s) across the street suggested I park my tractor at their house when I’m not around. After my critter cam was stolen, I did just that. Eventually, the relationship strengthened- he taught me how to weld, and I buy supplies for his welding equipment, and help out around the yard, and with little things- welding a new tongue on his log splitter trailer.

    All of their children live in the neighborhood around the corner. This is a founding family of the town. They have good christian values, believe the world is in decline- and so do all of their kids. They believe society will eventually break down.

    Should I just enjoy the friendship- knowing they’ve got my back (yes, I know they do)- should anything happen, or go for a more formal relationship?

    Maybe there’s an article on this somewhere you could link me to? Thanks.

    • I would say you’re on the right path. For ideas on “informally” making the relationship “more formal,” I can recommend this awesome book, called “Forging the Hero.” Bwahaha. Nah, seriously, I should probably do an article or two on it as well, you’re right.

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