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Is Survivalism Just “Unbounded Imagination of Anxiety”?

It never fails that when the mainstream media writes about survivalists, they try to lump us together with racists and tin foil hat whackos. Failing that (since the whackos represent such a miniscule fraction of “survivalists”), they will often trot out a psychologist or other “expert”, to try to convince the general public that preparedness is irrational and that it is evidence of some deep-seated paranoid delusion. This was the case in the recent BBC news article titled: “Do you need to stock up the bunker?” [1]. The article focused on Barton Biggs [2], who is a well-known and relatively mainstream hedge fund manager and economic commentator. Biggs recently became a convert to survivalism, and that got the liberal media all in a tizzy. “Well, we mustn’t have that!” they grumbled. So it was time for the “expert” gambit. The BBC rolled out this nay sayer:

Frank Furedi, the British-based author of The Culture of Fear, says people should calm down.

For all the talk of a global bird flu pandemic, in the past five years there have been 200 human deaths from bird flu. In the same period more than six million people have died from diarrhoeal diseases and more than five million in road accidents – these would seem to be more pressing, practical problems to solve.

“What’s interesting about the ‘new survivalism’ is that its focus is everything,” says Prof Furedi. “Unlike previous alarmist responses to a crisis which focused on one main threat – for example, nuclear war – today’s survivalism is driven by an unbounded imagination of anxiety.”

“The new survivalism can also be seen as a highly ritualised affectation,” says Prof Furedi. “Through self-imposed restraint and expressions of concern for the future of humanity, the individual sends out signals about his own responsible behaviour.”

“The affectation of survivalism is one of the most interesting features of our ‘culture of fear’ today.”

I have a self-diagnosis to report to Professor Furedi: One of the “highly ritualised affectations” that I have is the desire to put food in my stomach at least once per day. This is a deep seated desire. I also have a corresponding deep seated fear of missing too many meals. Clearly, I must be suffering from “anxiety” and have irrational delusions.

I suggest that Professor Furedi make some changes at his Ivory Tower. First, he needs to stock it with some canned goods.