When we were young and extremely foolish, one of my cousins, about 20 years old at the time, was rather desperate to have a close encounter with a female not related to him by blood. His younger sister had started college and fixed him up with one of her roommates, a tall young lady of dubious attractiveness and virtue. In relating the penultimate event of their relationship, as he looked at our faces contorted by repressed mirth, he said, "I'm gonna tell you guys right now, it was not as bad as you might think."
Michael Snyder over at the Economic Collapse tells us "It Doesn't Take Much For People to Start Behaving Like Crazed Lunatics". As evidence, he presents some stories that have come out of this winter's storms and trials.
He's right. It doesn't take much. Some people seem to be looking for excuses to "go off" on someone else. Many Americans are worried and stressed and quite fragile mentally and emotionally. People panic in emergencies. They freak out in unfamiliar situations. They become irrational when disasters strike.
One of the early and best post-apocalyptic novels is Pat Frank's Alas, Babylon. I read that for the first time as a teenager, not long after it was written, when the threat of nuclear war hung heavy upon my generation. What struck me then was how thin the veneer of civilization is upon some people. Most of us, pushed and prodded, worn and wounded may break down to pure survival mode. I think there are some, saints among us perhaps, that would never revert. Others are only biding their time, waiting for the chance to throw off their sheep's clothing and start ravening.
The majority, though, will do their best. There are always people here who show up when anything bad happens. They become angels of mercy -- helping get cars started, cleaning out other people's driveways, helping people get out of the ditch, giving money, giving blood. We had a huge ice storm back in 2007 where power was out for days. Sure, there were some unsavory incidents, but there were many times more good deeds and extraordinary efforts.
Something that bothers me about the militia/paramilitary side of preparedness is the tone. I have great respect for our military and the job they do. I have met and worked with ex-military people who are outstanding citizens, people that I would back and would love to have backing me in a bad situation. But there are others with just a bit of an authoritarian bent to them. They know it all, they've done it all, they've seen it all, we need to listen to them. Some of those guys end up in law enforcement. I think it creates some problems.
And there are also authoritarians who have never been in the military. Jackasses are everywhere. I guess the ex-military jackasses are just more likely to get an audience in some circles.
If the world goes to pieces, as much as I would like to be friends with everybody, I'm not going to have much use for authoritarians. I know that they, mainly the authoritarians, will say we need somebody to run things, but, it seems to me, that is pretty much how we got in the mess we're in. We let people who claimed to be good at being in charge be in charge. Yes, we would need leaders in certain situations. I am not a leader. I'm also not a very good follower. I'm more of a helper.
It seems to me that, most of the time, helpers are more generally useful than leaders or followers. I'll readily admit that if it comes to fighting off blue-helmeted hordes, leaders and followers are probably better qualified for that than I would ever be. But when it comes to teaching a neighbor to start a garden and feed himself, clean up after a storm, raise a barn, butcher a hog, fix a tractor, and things like that -- you know, keep civilization going -- helpers might be a better choice.
I'm far from optimistic about what would happen in the event of a global economic collapse. I don't want to find out what would happen. Nevertheless, I think we would manage, somehow, so long as we prefer building and planting to uprooting and destroying.