Chaos and/or Community

July 31, 2007

There’s an interesting post over at Cryptogon where Kevin is warning people of the potential dangers of post collapse living, talking about militias, warlords and armed children and teenagers. I don’t disagree that this is one of the potential outcomes of a crash but I do disagree that it is the only way things will turn out. 

It’s really important not to go into the crash thinking that it’s going to be mayhem and that you’ll need to be heavily armed to survive. It might be mayhem and you might need to be heavily armed but it would be profoundly stupid to be prepared for only this eventuality.  What terrifies me most about that approach is the self-fulfilling prophesy aspect of it. I want to know where all the people are who think like this so I can go somewhere else. 

Don’t get me wrong I think the point of view Kevin presents is useful and well argued, and I also think that people who are getting a bit starry-eyed about the re-birth of community should definitely take it on board but I think he also sets up a straw man by referring to new-age gatherings and charkas and auras as the counter to his argument. 

Reading M Scott Peck recently he pointed out that real truths have a paradoxical quality about them and that misleading ‘truths’ are very one-sided. This definitely looks like one of those cases. I think it’s bad advice to offer people a single vision, no matter how well worked out. 

If you want advice on what the future may hold and you only want to read one essay then Ran’s Fall Down Six Times  is the place to go – it contains 6 different predictions and the reader is left with a much more complex understanding of what the future may hold and knows that they will have to use their judgement (which is now much better informed) to survive. If you’ve only got one side of the story, as seductive as it may be, it can be a bit prescriptive and you’ll be left clinging to a plan of the future that goes one way while reality goes another. 

Anyway, in an attempt to paint a big picture I’m going to provide some links to stories of how people pulled together, in a very old fashioned way, in time of disaster. It’s the way people always have, and the way they always, will respond in times of crisis. AND here’s the main point again, these are not predictions of the future – they are stories that will inform your ability to cope with and plan for the future. It’s wide open baby. 


Here’s some of the text of an interview I did with Joe Polasicher. Joe is an Austrian born, New Zealand based permaculturist who was a child in Austria after WW2. He talks about that but also about a visit to a shantytown in South America where he discovered people feeding themselves from very small but highly complex stacked systems in tiny courtyards. It also has other useful links including to the original radio interview and this other posting about the same stories.  

Here’s a radio interview of Geoff Lawton, another permaculturist. 

He went to Iraq a couple of years back and discovered a town where the local people were keeping their infrastructure running by means of their own ingenuity. Again, I’m not saying the stories of mayhem in Iraq are somehow misleading, only that both chaos and community are happening as a response to their problems. Here also, are links to a Ran Prieur essay, scroll to the bottom to find some text about this interview. 

Here’s something else I wrote about the issue of post-crash strategy that I just rediscovered.  

Here’s Ran’s lesson’s learned from Katrina

Here’s what I think is the best article about the untold story of Hurricane Katrina. But also: how people comandeered a bus, how people formed into tribes,   and how soldiers threw bottles at people during the crisis in New Orleans. 

And lastly, in Ran’s archives, a guest post from Patricia. I don’t know how to link halfway down a page so go there and scroll down to November 22. Here’s the first paragraph though; 

So, I was following links around, and I see this conversation about survival in the suburbs — and it made me depressed. What’s wrong with these people? Not one of them is thinking about working on having a local community in place now, so that in the event of any trouble, the people in your neighborhood will work together and help and protect one another. Not one of them!


The last thing I want to say is that instead of trying to create security with the end of a gun the best way to protect your food is to make so much food that you can afford to give it away.  It’s a great way to make friends who will help look after you later on if it comes to that. It’s a big ask to try to get your entire district set up to produce an abundance of food but it’s my aim around here. I’ m not sure how much I can achieve but anything will be an improvement on sitting here with my tins of spam and boxes of ammo. So here’s the last link – to a town in Ireland that is setting the pace in community-wide preparedness.


  1. that you for writing this and particularly for making it so link-rich. i had a friend forward me the cryptogon article you refer to. it caused quite a small discussion this morning amongst some friends, and i’m happy to be able to send this article back as a counter point.

    Posted by: Alan Post | 07/31/2007

    Thanks Alan, it’s nice to hear it’s getting out despite people seeming to prefer the scary story better

    Posted by: Aaron | 08/01/2007

  2. […] that the elites regularly feed us through the media. I talked about community v Mad Max in a previous post but now I want to deal with this damn paranoia […]

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