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Monday, March 7, 2016

don't bash me, bro!


note: taking another one day break from the "oil economy lies" series, which return tomorrow, last all week and then completed on Friday.

DON’T BASH ME, BRO!

[ title sarcastically references one of the recent protestors who pleaded with police “don’t taize me, bro!”]

A minion, and you know who you are!, recently asked if one on one trade between nomads was possible without violence between parties of strangers.  At first I was inclined to discount such a question, as historically trade was restricted to towns or other fixed locations with security the primary consideration.  Back when men were men and sheep were nervous, one didn’t trust strangers for the very good reason that they were not trustworthy.  They were not of your tribe and loyalty was only to the tribe ( it is still that way, but modern capitalism hides the hidden cost of government force used to make trade possible and people tend to forget trade isn’t some practice both parties engage in out of a magical adherence to a Randian ideal ).  A secure trading spot carried the premium price of protection.  Nor was I sure what scenario he envisioned that necessitated the need to trade on the road.  Yet, it was one of those questions that nags on my brain and won’t let go so I had to try to answer it.  Now, please be aware that I have done no studying of ancient nomadic trading outside settlements.  I’m independently arriving at re-inventing the wheel here and might be widely missing the mark.  But that has never stopped me before.  I don’t mind being wrong, so I can take wild shots in the dark and not mind missing.

*

The first issue I had with the suggestion was, ambush.  How hard could it be to hide a sniper ( at 100 yards only the blatantly incompetent are going to miss, so anyone can be a short distance marksmen )?  But then it occurred to me that if ambush is an ongoing concern with you, it is going to involve every step of your journey, not just stopping for a chat.  Ambush danger will always be there and isn’t exactly linked only to trade situations.  You can get sniped at nightly camp, getting water, etc.  Not only that, how long do you expect bullets to last in a complete collapse scenario?  If you choose a spot less likely to harbor a crossbowman/archer ( with their more limited effective range for the average user-nobody is going to be very safe from a talented longbowman whose range rivals thirty caliber bolt actions ), your odds of avoiding an ambush increase.  If ammunition lasts longer than I anticipate, or somehow black powder arms are able to be created-despite the resource contraction issue-than I doubt you can create a completely safe trade location.  I would just call the odds of trade the same as traveling itself and leave it at that, generalizing.

*

All cultural practices are based in solving a local problem.  I’ve heard the one about Bedouin being responsible for a house guests safety, but always wondered why.  Why is it that custom started?  Was it somehow involved in trade?   If no one invites you into your tent, you walk away.  If you are invited in, you know you can trade safely ( although, one wonders how safe you are after leaving ).  The problem with customs is, they take time to evolve.  Post-Apocalypse trade on the road will be a “custom in the making” and you’ll need to play it by ear, first.  Here is what I envision the tactics of trading to be.  I can’t say for sure if this is my idea or if a subconscious memory from a fiction book, or even a non-fiction one, is surfacing.  If you wish to trade, you sit at the side of the road next to your items.  If there is a language barrier I would think goods arranged in a display on a blanket might be universal.  Have your weapon ready but non-threatening, just like you would passing strangers on the road.  If someone looks interested, you step away from the blanket to a safe enough distance you can’t bash in his head, yet he can’t steal and run without you catching him.

*

He lays down his trading item in a pile a short distance away, then steps back in a similar manner.  You investigate his offering.  You should be able to communicate by removing some of yours, or pointing to a single item and holding up some fingers, etc.  It isn’t hard to let someone know what you want in this manner.  Once everyone is happy, one gestures to pick up the pile, while standing back, then moves to the remaining one while he stands away.  Then you go your separate ways.   You can’t let your guard down.  Trickery and deceit are always a concern.  It is an armed truce.  It can always turn south.  But if you really need to trade…

END
 
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16 comments:

  1. “I would think goods arranged in a display on a blanket might be universal.”

    I've recently taken to the reading of some of the firsthand accounts of the California gold rush. One such book, “The Gold Hunters: a first hand picture of life in the California mining camps in the early fifties”, describes in some detail the process of trade in this rough and tumble time. The author describes a scenario, where by the Jewish merchants would travel to the miners camps, and set up a sort of portable stand that he referred to as the “Jews slop shops”. It was described as a small wooden platform, roughly 4'x8' that had hanging from it the many necessities of the miner, such as flannel shirts, picks, shovels, Colt revolvers, Bowie knives etc. Despite the tales of lawlessness of that time and place, there were many examples of civility too. It was actually a pretty interesting book. Unknown to me, a common form of entertainment was to capture a Grizzly bear, and put it up against a Bull. You can guess who generally won.

    On a different note James, I have come across a self publishing link that is said to be even better than lulu.com, and here it is:

    https://www.createspace.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I prefer to give Lulu my business as they offer my free books without charge. I don't like their new minimum $1 charge ( used to be 20%, now it is $1 PLUS 20% ) as it drives prices higher, but other than that I've never had a problem with them. Proven company, in other words.

      Delete
  2. I think I'd prefer to make a deal like in your example, rather than go into another persons tribe area where I can be outnumbered, kidnapped and killed. The ideal situation though would be for a *customer* to come into MY tribe area then I have the best of both worlds.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, good point. I suppose that would be one reason for road trading.

      Delete
  3. Seems to me that trading is based solely upon necessity.
    Post apocalypse it ain't anything I'd want to try making a living doing. You're right, it's all about security. If you ain't secured the local, ya ain't gonna live long.
    Especially for the many that will be in need, mugging will be very popular. Growing more common with time, resources diminishing much faster than being created.
    Till the equation balances, I don't believe that I'll be doing any trading.....hopefully

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When areas build up over trading, their survival depends on providing security and you get what you pay for. No incentive for that amongst individuals.

      Delete
  4. for what its worth, my thoughts are that until the gang/hoodlum mentality dies out trading would be deadly. For some time maybe years into a SHTF situation. Gangs will rule by force and fire power. At some point most fire power will fade away and some sense of tribal society will make trading safer. Not SAFE just acceptable in certain areas. Which is what I think the Great One with Awesome Hair is pontificating.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is trade safe now? No. You get cheated by the boss for compensating you for your labor, cheated by your protection gang, cheated on the items you buy. So, yes, acceptable is a better description.

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  5. Modern people living in policed States can't believe that tribal and village people can make do without "markets" where money (or something like it, shells/beads/rocks) is traded for stuff-you-want-or-need. The same modern people live in fear of running out of currency to trade with strangers. The reason is that transactional cost with currency is low, and with e-money super-low (advantage for rulers of micro-control of money/prices in a Technocracy), but in a labor-food-fuel local low-tech economy everyone is needed, everyone knows everyone, and has at least cousin-relatedness, so you can gift/barter without much fear of being hosed. At very least, you are feeding your kinfolks. This is "credit", with food things needing to be consumed or have value added by preservation, which is a group-good. You want to have a healthy not-hungry group with at least one winter of stored food and 2 plantings of seed, before you sell excess food.

    Who run Bartertown?

    pdxr13

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    Replies
    1. I really should re-watch "thunderdome" and just delete the stupid crash kids parts. A lot I missed on Bartertown.

      Delete
  6. I like the notion of a trading blanket. Of course, I don't envision there being a communication problem as long as both parties speak Spanish or English. Both parties being armed also brings about a certain level of "mexican standoff", At close range both parties are at equal risk. Snipers? Why bother to go through the motions of trading if you are going to ambush someone? Why not just bushwack him? sorry you had this stuck in your head. Your post was a more than adequate response. Just a thought!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Motions of trading if just ambushing. I'm the ambush bait, so I set up to trade. Offer something juicy. He comes along, and doesn't have didly. I pass, wait for the next one. He has valuables, worth the risk of a fight and the cost of a bullet. That was my thought process anyway. Don't be sorry you stuck a great idea in my head-it doesn't happen enough. Be cool, brother.

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    2. Enter the Counter-Ambush Team. Ya gotta pay for security or take chances with highwaymen. Ambush "trade" leads to hot war, or need to clean-out robbers to display legitimacy of ruler.

      Nice hair, and good job hanging road pirates.

      pdxr13

      pdxr13

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    3. My hair is indeed fabulous today-freshly cut Sunday

      Delete
  7. You mean that it won't work like it did in JWR's Patriots barter fair? JWR would not lie to us, would he??? I thought he was the Survival God? (Not really...)




    I did go to an event a few years ago that has a barter blanket, it was interesting to watch. And fun to be part of.

    Chuck Findlay

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, to be fair, that was a fair, and not a mobile unsupported operation.

      Delete

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