Confronting Kleptocracy–Identifying The Looter Mentality

A recent opinion column The New York Times was titled: The Moral Ambiguity of Looting. Ambiguity? There is nothing ambiguous about it. Let’s have the moral courage to be forthright and uncompromising on this issue: Looting is the theft of property that lawfully belongs to another. There are no “ifs, ands, or buts”. Looting is unconscionable and cannot be tolerated in a civilized society. Once looting begins, it soon devolves into: “You have it, I want it, I’m taking it.” And once looting is sanctioned, then where is the dividing line on “acceptable” plunder? Do you draw the line at: Twinkies? Trinkets? Televisions? Teenage daughters? In essence, looting is pure, unmitigated anarchy in action. None of it is acceptable behavior.

It is noteworthy that much of the looting that went on in Chile was not about parents keeping their kids from starving. Rather, it was more about people wanting television sets. Every reader of this blog needs to make a moral choice: Do you tolerate looting or not? I pray that you don’t. If you assent to theft, then don’t be surprised if you come home someday to find your own house looted. As a Christian Libertarian, I’m an advocate of minimalist government. But a society needs some basic laws enforced, or it ceases to be classified as a civilized society. Its clear that law and order being re-established in Chile. But things were dicey there for a few days, and it took more than the just police and army to put the societal trolley back on its tracks.

I’m often asked about depopulation caused by pandemics–how that would be a time that would justify looting. That’s just speculative balderdash. Even in darkest days of The Black Death, when Europe and much of southern Asia lost half of its population, there were still “heirs and assigns.” (If you doubt that, then see William McNeil’s book “Plagues and Peoples”.) It would take a pandemic with a 90% lethality rate or more before that convention would become meaningless. So forget your “It’ll be just like Will Smith and his dog, in I Am Legend” fantasies. The chances of an event causing that level of depopulation, and the even smaller chance of you being one of the lucky few survivors are almost infinitesimal. In all other circumstances, there will be rightful owners or rightful heirs of every piece of land, every vehicle, every tool, every cow, and every larder on Earth. So discard any fanciful “foraging” musings that you might harbor. That’s nonsense.

SurvivalBlog reader William C. recently e-mailed me some thought, in warning about those that are planning to loot, in the aftermath of a disaster. He wrote: “To appraise and to steal someone’s goods incorporates two dilemmas. One is the immoral practice of stealing and the other is the immoral practice of coveting another’s goods. Both are addressed in the [Old Testament] Commandments and should be developed notions in the mind of a moral thinking man.” He is correct in that appraisal. There are moral absolutes, and “Thou shalt not steal” is one of them. I also recently got an e-mail from Geoff in Utah, who mentioned: ” I… find it disturbing the number of people that I’ve come across in my work on becoming self-reliant that feel entitled to what I and others have. For instance there is a Law enforcement officer in town that told me he didn’t need to keep a reserve of anything other than ammo because being an officer of the law he new who had what and he had more guns, ammo and training.”

If your “survival plan” is to loot (or, as I’ve heard it euphemistically put, “forage”), rather than to store in advance what you will need, then that’s not much of a plan. By failing to store substantial quantities of food, you will very quickly force yourself into the role of Vandal or Visiting Visigoth, after the onset of a disaster. And, odds are, you’ll end up in a shallow grave somewhere.

Consider this: The greatest threat we someday face might not be unprepared masses from the inner cities. No, it might be overweight armchair commandos from the suburbs, whose only preparations were buying a set of camo fatigues and an AR-15. That is a nightmare just waiting to happen. If you have budgeted for guns but not food storage, then you are setting yourself up to have only one option, when things fall apart. Examine yourself, and your preparations. If you see that you lack balance in your preparations, then I pray that you re-set your priorities, immediately. Food storage should probably account for more than half of your family preparedness budget. If it doesn’t, then make it so!