I’ve observed that survivalists tend to fall into two schools of thought: those that are loners and those that are community-minded. The loners would prefer to disappear into the wilds and essentially find a mineshaft to crawl into–somewhere they can lay low, whilst things sort themselves out, back in civilization. That is both a naive and selfish starting point for preparedness. Short of moving to the roadless interior of Alaska, it is not realistic to expect that you can find a remote rural property where you’d have no contact with outsiders for an extended period of time. We live in the era of Google Earth , where there few truly secret hideaways. I recently read that Mel Gibson couldn’t buy total privacy . Even if you live off-grid, if there is a road leading to your house, eventually someone will find you.
I have only seen a handful properties in the lower 48 States that I consider truly isolated. One of them was a ranch in the Basin and Range country, about 50 miles out Lovelock, Nevada. (It was actually 15 miles east of the tiny hamlet of Unionville, Nevada, (which is a 37 mile drive out of Lovelock) but I doubt that many people have heard of it). This was a 200 acre parcel that I evaluated as a potential retreat purchase for one of my consulting clients. (Note: I can describe it here, because the client eventually selected a different ranch in another county.) The road leading into the property traversed a dry lake bed, then went through a full section BLM  land on a very dusty lame excuse for a road. Then, as the road started up into the hills it would appear to a casual observer to just become a rocky trail. But in fact it was in fact drivable in a 4WD  vehicle, and the condition of the road actually improved, farther up the canyon. The upper end of the property had a surprising number of trees (including some pretty cottonwoods) and a large creek. But that property was a genuine rarity. There, if they were careful about noise and light discipline, someone could conceivably build a retreat and have it go entirely un-noticed indefinitely for anyone approaching by road. (And, BTW, it would have been a terribly long way to drive into town, especially in these days of high gas prices.) But even with a retreat that is out of line of sight from any road, it would still still be visible from the air, and from Google Earth. There is no such thing as total privacy.
I can safely say that 99% of SurvivalBlog readers will never own a truly remote retreat. For the rest of us, we will be on a recognizable road, and we will have neighbors. And we will have the occasional Jehovah’s Witnesses come wandering by to hand us copies of The Watchtower and extol their bad doctrine. Resign yourself to that fact. Having neighbors generally necessitates being neighborly. More about that, follows.
The German word for community is Gemeinschaft. This word describes both a community of people and their collective will. From the perspective of disaster preparedness, one of the positive aspects of community-mindedness is what the Germans call Kampfgeist  (fighting spirit), or what the Boers call laager  spirit . I’ve alluded to this before in SurvivalBlog, as a component of the “We/They Paradigm.”  The downside of this is the risk of developing xenophobia and racial bigotry–which I, along with most SurvivalBlog readers, abhor. But the desirable side of Kampfgeist is that unifies a community in defending itself against outside foes. Kampfgeist is most often seen in small communities, but on rare occasions it can even be seen on the scale of a metropolis, where every able-bodied citizen pitched in. This was best illustrated in the defense of Stalingrad, in World War II. The city was defended by a large portion of the local Russian citizenry. (There, there were some phenomenal manifestations of Kampfgeist. The one there that comes immediately to mind is the perhaps apocryphal creation of propagandists: As the German army advanced on the city, the employees of the local tank factory personally manned and went into battle with the very last T-34 tanks that came off the assembly line .
I have long been an advocate of setting up small covenant communities , inhabited by like-minded people. Consider my vote for Gemeinschaft, not a mineshaft. The “mineshaft” is essentially a myth. I’ll have more comments on covenant communities in an upcoming article.