An Introduction to Survivalism
Survivalism is a human movement, usually orchestrated by thoughtful groups or individuals. People carrying out these movements of survivalism are called preppers or survivalists; these people are generally seen getting actively prepared for emergencies, which includes disruptions in political or social order, ranging from international to national levels. Survivalists or preppers usually develop survival skills, such as self-defense and medical training, stockpile water and food, make preparations for self-sufficiency, and erect structures to help them survive a disaster – natural or man-made.
Some of the disasters anticipated by survivalists or in the concept of disaster preparedness are natural disasters, human-sponsored or instigated disasters, society collapse caused by unavailability or shortage of fuel, electricity, water, or food; economic collapse or financial disruption caused by hyperinflation, monetary manipulation, depression, deflation; global pandemics, widespread chaos or any other event that could have negative implications.
A Brief History
The modern Survivalist movement origins in America and the United Kingdom include nuclear warfare threats, government policies, writers, and religious beliefs that warn economic or social collapse in fiction and non-fiction literature. The Civil Defense programs during the Cold War promoted personal fallout shelters, public atomic bomb shelters, training for kids, etc. The LDS or Latter-day Saints has been directing its members for several years to accumulate a year’s worth of eatables for themselves and their loved ones to help with preparation for disasters or other similar possibilities. The LDS teaching off-late has been advocating storing food supplies for at least three months. The Wall Street Crash in 1929 and the Great Depression are often cited by preppers as an instance for the need to be well-prepared.
Common preparations relating to survivalism include creating a defensible or clandestine retreat, Bug Out Location (BOL) or haven, along with stockpiling water, non-perishable food, clothing, equipment for water-purification, vegetable seeds, hunting or defensive weapons, firewood, agricultural equipment, ammunition, and medical supplies. There are some survivalists who do not believe in developing such survival skills or preparing well-planned and extensive preparation survival gear or survival guide arrangements; they usually develop survival skills based on a mental approach wherein they are prepared for anything and everything that life has in store.
A Bug Out Bag (BOB) is a bag of survival gear that contains some useful items and basic necessities and used when a quick exit from a home is necessary. The size of the survival gear or bag could vary; the weight of the survival gear is usually equivalent to the load the user can carry.
A “72-hour kit” or survival gear can also be assembled containing some essential items for addressing emergency situations. In many emergency scenarios, it could take a minimum of 3 days or 72 hours for external help poor electrical power to reach the affected. Therefore, there must be enough stocks of water, food, and personal items for 72 hours. The 72-hour survival guide kit supplies must be geared towards each and every member of the family, which also includes pets, if any. In addition, the survival guide kit would also have important papers and telephone numbers, and also plans for rendezvous and outside contact. Some of these survival guide kits also contain water purification tablets, items for personal hygiene, buckets for using them as toilets, etc.
The ARC or the American Red Cross has been recommending keeping stock of essential items sufficient for usage for 72 hours during times of evacuation. They also recommend a two-week stock supply of such items, which includes water. Any suggestions or help with building these survival guide kits are easily available at the website of Red Cross.
Dynamic Preparations and Concerns
The preparations and concerns of survivalists have altered a great deal over the years. Fears of hyperinflation, economic collapse, and famine lingered in the minds of the people during the 1970s. Preparations included survival retreats and food storage that could be farmed. Some survivalists made a stockpile of barter goods and precious metals because they believed that paper or fiat currency would be deemed worthless during such disasters. During the early part of the 1980s, nuclear warfare was a major fear and it was common across people. To tackle the impacts of nuclear attacks, some survivalists built fallout shelters.
In the late 1990s, many people started purchasing water purifiers, electric generators, and food to last several months and years, as they were anticipating widespread power problems due to the computer-bug, Y2K. Instead of moving to some other place or carrying out preparation activities at home, there were several people who did not have any plans or strategies in their mind and remained in the same place till the breakdown happened.
Some survivalists have very specialized concerns, while there are some who adhere to apocalyptic beliefs. Some contemporary survivalists are anticipating arrival of dangerous changes on the planet and are making preparations to survive the catastrophe. A few evangelical Christians believe in the post-tribulation rapture, an interpretation of the Bible prophecy. As per this prophecy based on survival skills, Christians would have to undergo a period of global dictatorship and war called the “Great Tribulation”, and which is expected to last for seven years.
While mankind appears to be programmed to survive, the drive is stronger in some. These survivalism enthusiasts prefer not to be victims and are willing to spend the time and effort it takes to be ready.