Survival barter has a long and sorted history. It’s roots stretch deep, back to the birth of our consumer culture, after we went from apocalypse social renewal to individual survival pods. Prior to barter being such a big deal, the de facto strategy was for Corporation Man to head for the public shelters or his own suburban shelter as the Evil Soviets rained nuclear bombs upon our amber waves of grain. After all the working Whites and other middle class folk ( read: not no Darkies ) survived as God himself intended ( note to newbies: please read with heavy sarcasm ), we would all emerge and dust off the farm field radiation with our John Deere’s, and go back to being all Leave It To Beaver rich and culturally pure. It was a nice time to be alive, not too many people and a clear enemy to unite us and oodles and gobs of stuff to build to sell to the rest of the world we had the wealth to loan money to so they could be good customers. Every man had a soul crushing job and every woman popped pills to alleviate the boredom a houseful of appliances makes of housework. The TV and public schools raised the kids and convenience frozen and caned foods fed them and it was as close to the Jetson’s as you could get except for the flying cars.
Everyone looks back on horror at that quarter century social experiment, but I’d certainly take boredom masked by alcoholism, conformity with lack of soul over our version which is mind numbing screen watching to mask boredom, conformity in our universal non-conformity which means no social cohesion, and a likewise empty soul. Why do we think we’ve gained any intelligence, awareness or wisdom just because we have a diversity of propaganda to fool us unlike the centralized source of yesteryear? The same few companies control our media just like back then, the only difference being lack of journalism now ( replaced by InfoTainment, so much cheaper to manufacture ). You might have a million bloggers giving you news from a different bias but nobody really knows what is going on so infinite news is no better than the limited variety for purposes of enlightenment. The one thing we had up until the late ‘60’s or early ‘70’s we don’t have now that made the difference was social cohesion. Japan still has it because they refuse to pollute their gene pool with outsiders, so why do you wonder they can be capable of great things nationally? Social cohesion allowed Germans a great shot at world domination, and if it wasn’t for too many strategic blunders it might have happened. For good or ill, a society acting closer along quasi-tribal lines gets far more accomplished.
Americans still think we are great, hubris on such a scale it was eclipsed only by Romans believing they were still the greatest empire in the known universe even as barbarians were approaching the gates of the capital, but Americans don’t act as a national group but only as selfish individuals intent on their own salvation only. Rewards without responsibility and you might think it a bit of a stretch to equate post-apocalypse barter planning with an empire disintegrating, but a nation going underground to survive, then emerging to help their neighbors, they are not a nation of shopkeepers but rather a group ignoring lust and greed and focusing on sacrifice. We went from shared sacrifice and shared spoils to insisting the other guy needed to sacrifice and that you alone were entitled to all the spoils. The later rather than the former describes our entire culture. Women sacrificing the children’s father for extra spending cash, employers sacrificing their workers futures for an extra bonus. Families sacrificing their parents to the swamps of Florida to avoid babysitting the cranky incontinent humps, 15% of their paychecks a deal for the bargain.
( Social Security isn’t a benefit for older bastards but a cheap tax to get rid of them for today’s workers. Somehow geriatrics think it is an old age welfare program, but it is supported by workers who know they will never see their cut because it gets rid of their parents. Just like sky high property taxes and poor education is a great trade-off for getting rid of the kids all day so we can go to work in peace. You don’t believe me? Compare the cost of a senior care facility with the 15% of your wages that is SS. Compare your property tax with what a child care facility charges. We might not be able to articulate this cost/benefit analysis but in reality this is what our consent boils down to )
It was the death of the admittedly already thin thread of our cultural unity that was the first indicator of our collapse. The moment surplus resources started contracting our social unity snapped. We were never a very good nation state as it was, the split between north and south evident far before the Revolutionary war, never mind the Civil one, and the west nothing more than a public works program ( the original Entitlement Mentality held by the rich, then the poor got the entitlement scraps of desert, indigenous and white-ish immigrants alike ). When there were no more colonial resources for the rich or public resources for the poor our only reason for getting along with each other evaporated. It is just like a dysfunctional family who all hate each other sticking around for an inheritance, then finding out after all the bad investments and taxes there is nothing left and they can’t get away from each other fast enough after the announcement. The announcement was made of no money, and we went our separate ways and began plotting how to screw over the other family members. We became mercenaries rather than a tribe or a family. Screw a unified response to disaster, I want to profit off of my neighbors lack of prior surplus!
And you know what? I don’t even feel this is a bad attitude, just as you don’t. That is the new normal attitude and we think it is a just norm. Which it is, in a broken family or a broken society. The fact we don’t feel bad about profiting off our neighbor in time of crisis proves we have been in a multigenerational collapse. We justify it ( if a gas owner didn’t profiteer there would be no gas left ) because that is the cultural norm now ( greed is good ), but no matter how RIGHT it is, that is not how you endure as a cohesive group. That is survival of the fittest, of the richest. Not group survival. Continued tomorrow.
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I remember as a kid in the 60's that if something said "Made in Japan" it was considered cheap and now the cheap stuff is "Made in China", when did that switch occur?ReplyDelete
"the one thing we had up until the late ‘60’s or early ‘70’s we don’t have now that made the difference was social cohesion."ReplyDelete
As I understand, in '65, Johnson & the Demorat congress changed the immigration laws - restricting Europeans and increasing Asia, Africa & LatAm... there goes your cohesion. Fits your timeline about right... Also coincides with the descent of Calif. from 'paradise' to land of "fruits, nuts & flakes". How do I know? I lived through it.
Great article. It's worth a couple of reads to let it soak in.ReplyDelete
I really enjoy it when you write articles like this series. Far too many preparedness writers focus far too much on prep lists and developing skill sets (which are important) at the expense of touching on the dynamic of how to integrate those things into life during that time (far more important, IMO). I really appreciate you drawing on your extensive study of times past when people had to face these issues and passing on what worked and, more importantly, what didn't. The learning curve for most of us will be steep and difficult; mistakes will be expensive. As as my father told me, "get experience as cheaply as you can".ReplyDelete
Like IH said, this is an article series that needs to be re-read several times and pondered.
I also appreciated the interchange in the comments. I'm a Christ-follower (Christian) like Novice and have wrestled with this issue for many years. This series was additional food for thought and I thank you for it and the commenters for their input as well.
Thanks! I was thinking it might have been too long, and I should have just saved it for a BBB, but perhaps I'll just do both anyway. I worry any series for three days worth might bore some minions.Delete