We are continuing to look at my thesis: True independence is achieved by cultivating horizontal dependencies and avoiding vertical dependencies. We have done so through a hypothetical family’s situation– the Johnson’s– and analyzed their most basic needs, as Maslow would say. We’ve looked at the Johnson’s food, water, and shelter scenario.
Speaking of Maslow, let’s look at another critical need– security. If the Johnsons are anything like the average American Suburban dweller, they probably have a shotgun somewhere in a closet. It was probably Mr. Johnson’s dad’s or grandad’s, and it brought down many a fowl in its day. Mr. Johnson has shot it a few times and plans to teach his son how to use it. Somewhere in the garage is a box of #7 target load. The Johnsons lock their doors at night and have a great security system installed. It’s a good neighborhood with a low crime rate, and the police station is close by.
So, who do the Johnsons rely on for security? Primarily, they rely on the ordered, polite, civilized society. If it remains a good neighborhood, the Johnsons will be okay. Secondarily, and exclusively in the event of an incident, the Johnsons rely on their local law enforcement.
A Concerning Scenario
When Mr. Johnson is wakened by the sound of breaking glass one night, the thought of getting the shotgun out of the closet doesn’t cross his mind. He instantly reaches for his smartphone and dials 9-1-1. As he hears the sirens going off in the near distance, he cautiously steps out on his deck.
“Did you hear that?” his neighbor calls from across the property line.
“Yeah, it sounded like someone breaking in,” Mr. Johnson calls back. “The police are on the way.”
“Thank God,” the neighbor says as he pulls his bathrobe more closely around him. Unlike Mr. Johnson, he’s never touched a gun in his life and has no desire to do so. Were an attacker to spring from the bushes and assault Mr. Johnson, his neighbor would stand there frozen, unable to move, lacking any training or skill to act.
After the police discover some innocuous cause for the broken glass, clear the scene, and head out, Mr. Johnson goes back to bed feeling safe in the knowledge that his community is secure.
But while Mr. Johnson is completely dependent on law enforcement to keep him safe, is he and his family the local police department’s primary and only concern? What if on that night there was a shooting, a fire, or a major incident in some other part of town? Mr. Johnson may have had to wait several minutes or longer for the police to arrive.
Dependence For Security
While he is solely dependent on them, Mr. Johnson’s personal safety is only a part of the police department’s larger, overall concern. Additionally, were he in any way mixed up in an incident jeopardizing his safety, arriving law enforcement would undoubtedly view him as a suspect instead of a victim. Law enforcement is focused on the overall safety of the community rather than the affairs of one particular person in that community.
Mr. Johnson is vertically dependent on an entity which is only marginally dependent on his goodwill and cooperation. It’s not a fully vertical dependency, but it’s steep nonetheless.
Other Unbalanced Dependencies
We could go on at length about the dependencies of the average American in suburbia. Mr. and Mrs. Johnson are dependent on the public schools to care for, educate, and supervise their children. As we have said, they are dependent on the health care system via employer-provided health insurance for their medical needs. They are dependent on cellular and Internet providers for one hundred percent of their communication needs. They are dependent on the entertainment industry for recreation and pleasure. Perhaps they don’t regularly run or bike. So they are dependent on their cars and the income that fuels them for all their transportation needs. Each of these dependencies tends toward the vertical.
The Johnson family is living the American dream by having it all, yet they are not independent.
Moving Toward A Horizontally Dependent Life
Now, let’s examine how the Johnson family could move from a life of near-total vertical dependency to a more horizontally dependent life that allows for true and meaningful independence.
Making Things Themselves
First and foremost, the Johnsons need to transition from being consumers to producers. Instead of spending all their time earning money to convert into needful items, they need to start making needful items themselves. Fifty years ago, a middle class family would grow a portion of their own produce and hunt. They’d sew, knit, or crochet their own clothes and cook their own food from scratch. If they needed tools, toys, or furniture, they’d make those too. They would barter, build, and catch. We have stopped doing these things because it’s so much easier to sit at a computer for 40 hours a week, earning money that can be converted into tangible goods. If the Johnsons want to be independent, they need to go back to middle class roots.
Beginning with food, the Johnsons should have a garden. They need a backyard garden, a raised bed, or even a few planters. But it should be something. Gardening is the process of converting recreational time into food. Backyard, recreational gardening may not be lucrative or replace trips to the grocery stores, but it will necessarily produce three valuable things:
- Something good to eat,
- Seeds and infrastructure to expand to full-scale food production, if the need arises, and
- The critical skills needed to create human fuel out of water, light, soil, and time.
Start somewhere, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, and then expand as you can. As this readership knows, a significant amount of food can be generated in a townhouse and tiny backyard.
Water Collection and Purification
You can easily collect water at a townhouse and use it either for a garden or for emergencies. Learning the basics of water purification creates a secondary water supply, turning the Johnson’s dependence on city water into optionality in the event of a service disruption.
Establishing Rural Relationships
Independent food procurement can take on another dimension, if the Johnsons look to establish horizontal relationship outside of their immediate neighborhood. While Mr. Johnson has no property to hunt on, he can go out and befriend local farmers. He might offer to volunteer on their farms in exchange for hunting privileges, again converting recreational time into potential food. In the process, he established great, horizontal relationships with local farmers. He helps them and shares anything he kills with them. They let him hunt. Many times, the farmers send Mr. Johnson home with eggs from their chickens and extra produce. Community and mutual dependency are built, enabling the Johnsons to become more independent of the industrial food complex, or the money they make from work to feed their family. Between gardening, hunting, foraging, and befriending local farmers, the Johnsons could still put food on their table if they lost their jobs.
Security is logistically easy but mentally challenging to provide for one’s self. Mr. and Mrs. Johnson could easily obtain their own firearms. With regular training and practice, they could obtain the skill and mindset to use them. But they can also depend on others for security while still maintaining independence. No doubt, in their neighborhood, there are other like-minded individuals who own weapons and know how to use them. They meet up and discuss “what if” scenarios. Mr. and Mrs. Johnson start keeping an eye out for their houses, and their neighbors do likewise. If something happens, they have each other’s backs and are able to defend each other. The responders of 9-1-1 is still there for backup, but if the police are diverted elsewhere the Johnson family is not helpless. They are armed and have armed friends. They can round up a posse, if the need arises.
Substituting Horizontal Dependencies for Other Vertical Ones
And so it goes, in every arena, there exists a way to find horizontal dependencies to replace the vertical dependencies we are accustomed to. This is why many families homeschool– to reduce dependence on the state. They choose to not sit home, helplessly hoping the state (who only cares about children as a collective, and does not individually care for your child) is shaping and nurturing your child. They desire to learn, practice, and pass on many of the skills that have been expounded upon at length here.
Volunteer As A First Responder
Even the one-sided relationship between citizens and government can be favorably adjusted by the individual who gets involved with his or her community and becomes a community helper. I cannot overstate the value of joining a volunteer fire or rescue department. Not only will you learn valuable crisis and medical skills, which may save the lives of you and your family, you will also balance the relationship between you are your local government. Since a community depends on its heroes, most cities and towns provide benefits to residents who are volunteer first responders. While volunteer fire and rescue is still a thriving profession, the individual who wants to level out their dependency on their local government should definitely consider this path.
In A Crisis Situation
While I believe independence is an inherent good, independence becomes exponentially more important in a survival or crisis situation. If a crisis were to occur, would those providing my needs have a reason to continue providing for me? If I am vertically dependent now, I will suffer more in a crisis. Horizontal dependencies are more likely to survive, since a crisis increases our need for each other.
A final note for those making contingency plans for times of crisis. What we have discussed here is the critical difference between “community” and “communism”. Both are forms of collectivism. Yet, we intuitively know that the first is good while the second is bad. The reason for this is that “community” relies on horizontal relationships, while communism (like most forms of oppressive government) relies on a centralized power controlling and redistributing the resources. Communal living is all fun and games until a centralized authority is designated, which forcibly administers it. Then it becomes totalitarian. This is an important point to keep in mind for those planning to establish a form of community in a worst-case scenario: You must keep the dependencies horizontal if you want to preserve liberty along with life and the pursuit of happiness.
The Path of True Freedom Today
Even if there is no crisis, minimizing vertical dependency is a path to true freedom in a society and economy where we are increasingly enslaved by debt, obligation, red tape, and bureaucracy. You don’t need to wait for a crisis to be a free man or woman. You can start on this path of independence today.
I hope I have demonstrated that independence does not mean total self-reliance apart from our fellow man. It is rather the eschewing of vertical dependencies and the nurturing of horizontal dependencies. That is what true independence means to me– to be dependent on my wife, my brothers, my sisters, my neighbors, and everyone in America like me. But to be independent of kings, powers, tyrants, and anyone who seeks to exert control or dominance.
That’s the kind of independence I’ll be celebrating today. Happy Independence Day!
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been part one of a two part entry for Round 71 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,195 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- An infrared sensor/imaging camouflage shelter from Snakebite Tactical in Eureka, Montana (A $350+ value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
- A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
- A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
- A pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value),
- RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site, and
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- A custom made Sage Grouse model utility/field knife from custom knife-maker Jon Kelly Designs, of Eureka, Montana,
- A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
- Montie Gear is donating a Y-Shot Slingshot and a $125 Montie gear Gift certificate.,
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value), and
Round 71 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.