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It may seem that an analysis of the prepper cultural phenomena is a trite endeavor, but if you delve into the philosophical underpinnings of human instincts for survival, a worthy lesson can be the result. Since life is a gift, the conditions upon which it ends or voluntarily forfeited, are not necessarily dependent upon the will of the individual. A calculated act of placing your life at risk is not equivalent with a deliberate suicide.
The functions and purpose of the prepper community is in direct conflict with those individuals that languish in hopeless despair and desperation. The response of the prepper to social turmoil is to prepare for contingencies. Yet that defensive posture avoids the essential question, what is the point of surviving if the communal environment is a hopeless wasteland.
A novel plot for a pilot reality show entitled Preppers vs. Self-Sufficientists gives a comparison.
Picture a quiet street in a small suburban town, Somewhere, U.S.A. On the left side of the street live the Self-Sufficientists, community-minded folks who believe that being self-reliant in the event of whatever disaster or hardship may come is good for everyone. The right side of the street is reserved for the Preppers, people who mind their own business, look after themselves, and are armed and ready to defend the freedoms they hold dear.
What accounts for this different approach towards survival, largely depends upon the peril level and perceived type of social dislocation and political unrest that might follow. The populace dismisses both viewpoints, discounted by the vast majority of urban inhabitants that are entirely dependent upon the interdependent public services and just in time distribution systems that sustain their lifestyle.
Whether a natural disaster, a social unrest upheaval, a financial bubble or a breakdown of infrastructure or services; the expectation is that the government will respond. Meeting the needs of the dispossessed is now seen as a civil right, no matter what the circumstance.
A prudent person foresees the danger ahead and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences. – Proverbs 27:12
For the dependent dwellers, they never assume the personal responsibility to take even the most modest precautions. The remediation of dire consequences falls upon first responders, FEMA facilities and government subsidies. Prepping for an unknown catastrophic disaster would interfere with texting and surfing.
Reliance upon a fragile technological communication cloud, when a storm is on the horizon, is foolish to the prudent person. However, common sense and practical skills are distinctly on the decline, even when found in the postmodern artificial intelligence matrix.
Therefore, when the prepper enthusiast emerges as a counter weight to urban apathy, the slackers lash out against the rural refuge mindset that promotes independence and self-reliance.
The Precepts of Rawlesian Survivalist Philosophy, found on the popular site, SurvivalBlog.com presents a balanced and detailed approach to prudent preparedness. Jim Rawles presents an argument that the cause of the breakdown in traditional civic order and the accelerated social engineering practiced in public policy of the last fifty years, is reason enough to take measures to protect yourself and family.
Ponder what socialism does: In essence, in redistributes wealth, by force. Even if that force has a friendly American face, under the color of law, with a neat and orderly system of taxation, it is nonetheless still force. The bottom line is that under the socialist model, without my consent, some of my earnings are forcibly extracted from me and eventually put into the hands of another citizen that did not earn them. If I refuse to pay my taxes, then I pay huge fines and/or I will be sent to prison. Period.
Now you do not have to adopt a Libertarian patron or mentor to acknowledge that government coercion is the operative principle of the state. Quite to the contrary, many of the most ardent supporters of expanded public services are the most vocal defenders of greater imposition of force as an instrument of compliance.
The prepper by definition is not willing to turn over to the authorities the responsibility for their well-being. How much more dangerous can you get, when hoarding becomes an acceptable behavior.
Think of it in this manner. The entire justification of any insurance coverage is to hedge the risk of an unpleasant unknown. Such contracts might pay a monetary relief, while other agreements would provide emergency service. Few challenge the basic concept behind the theory. Many often dispute the way the business of insurance is administered, because it usually is an abstract guarantee of trust for satisfaction.
Why should there be any resistance in gathering and storing acorns for winter, chipmunks do. So should sensible humans apply not the same practice?
Facing doomsday is not required to interject an existential element into the equation. Apocalypse scenarios set aside, the task of living in a socially dependent environment that is rapidly becoming a privilege for those who adopt the “Great Society” model, means that the prepper; god forbid, might actually become a survivalist.
One practical observation from a Canadian prepper advises.
Most people simply believe that nothing bad will ever happen to them. That is the mindset of the perpetually unprepared, don’t even waste your time with those. Trust me, I’ve tried.
There are two primary groups of potential converts to the “prepper” lifestyle:
A) Unacquainted | This is the largest group of potential preppers, people who have the capability and capacity for prepping but have yet to be introduced to the mindset (that’s where YOU come in!).
B) Misinformed | These ones are difficult, as they associate prepping with the survivalist movement of the cold war and post cold war period (the tin foil hat wearing, bunker building obsessive’s). References to the impending zombie apocalypse will only reaffirm this negative association and works against our cause – avoid it when you can, as non-preppers do not view discourse on “zombies” as an analogy for the all-inclusive prepping some of us partake in.
If you want to bring even a modest proportion of composure about sustainable needs, continuing a lifestyle of perpetually unpreparedness is problematic. Preparing for potential or probable contingencies as opposed to being obsessed with universal cocoon protection is a positive and rational enterprise.
Only a small remnant of activists deems it their mission to recruit others into the ranks of preppers. Each individual has their own responsibility to confront and provide for their own sustenance. Likewise, each person must confront his or her demise.
Philosophy as a preparation for death, published on Just Thomism, by James Chastek provides an introspective account.
Plato famously called philosophy a preparation for death. We can see the goal of this preparation in the dialogue Phaedo, which depicts Socrates at the day and hour of his execution. This approaching death, therefore, is the most significant and formidable of Socrates’ interlocutors, and the one he has been preparing to meet for his entire life: Plato, after all, did not call philosophy a “preparation for Callicles” or even a preparation for sophistical arguments”, but a preparation for death. Socrates meets death – which he compares to meeting the Minotaur in the Labyrinth- and using argument, he prevails.
As soon as we take Plato’s definition of philosophy seriously, much of what styles itself philosophy becomes vain and worthless, for it could no more prepare us for death than some other body of knowledge chosen as random. When we judge philosophies in light of Plato’s definition (or even when we decide to read Plato himself in light of his definition!) philosophy takes on a new urgency and a greater focus, for so many of our arguments, complaints, papers, seminars, pet theories and conferences prove themselves as so much wasted time, and we don’t have much time. Sooner or later we will turn a corner and the Minotaur will be upon us, voiceless, real, and promising to take away everything.
Preppers are practicing a proactive response to survive in a continuing deteriorating world. Their preparations may not even be used, but they are necessary to maintain a positive attitude towards fulfilling the responsibilities of a meaningful life.
The hopeless despair and desperation that the sheeple endure daily may not be seen in their normal routine. Most do not understand the reasons for their unrealized souls. Nonetheless, the march of time does not halt for the fleeting pleasures of the unready. Their rebuff of the existential reality from where there is no escape, places their destiny in the most vulnerable of all circumstances.
The eugenic propensity of governments towards their own citizens is one of the most tragic ills of society. The prepper will eventually succumb to death. The difference is that their human dignity is sustained. Not so, for the unready, their fate rests upon the whims of their dependency dispensers.
Is it worth the effort to survive under these absurd conditions? For those who make preparations to endure, they will confront the Minotaur with courage and nobility.
SARTRE is the pen name of James Hall, a reformed, former political operative. This pundit’s formal instruction in History, Philosophy and Political Science served as training for activism, on the staff of several politicians and in many campaigns. A believer in authentic Public Service, independent business interests were pursued in the private sector. Speculation in markets, and international business investments, allowed for extensive travel and a world view for commerce. SARTRE is the publisher of BREAKING ALL THE RULES. Contact [email protected]