Letter Re: Questions from A Not-Quite Convinced Reader

Hi James,
I’m new to reading SurvivalBlog and pages like it. A year ago, I wrote off survivalists, thinking there was no real chance of any kind of collapse. I’ve been changing my mind, though, and would like to know more about why you think such a thing is likely enough to prepare for. I haven’t read “Patriots”, but I’ve added it to my list.

I don’t want to believe in a coming collapse. There have been depressions before, and the fall of civilizations, but as far as I can tell, nothing on the scale of what you seem to talk about. Do you have any good historical examples I could look into? Has this sort of thing happened before?

Also, I think that you believe in this because it suits you. I know you don’t like the kind of power the government has over people, and it seems to me to be wishful thinking that things would happen in a way that makes that government unable to exercise that kind of power anymore. Or maybe it suits your because a collapse would be concrete proof that big government really is unsustainable. Believing in a coming collapse doesn’t suit me, though. I kind of like having my garbage picked up, and police and fire service.

Even though I don’t want to believe it, I’m starting to. Peak Oil seems real, and so much relies on oil. The economy and the currency do seem to be a house of cards after all. But I’m not quite convinced. I still think the odds are overwhelming that we’ll come out okay.

So what should I do? Just read your book? Your blog talks a lot about what to do, but seems fuzzy on why it should be done. Once I really do think there’s a chance of a collapse, I’m sure I can find a lot of information on your blog on how to prepare. I’m just not quite convinced yet. – Robert C.

JWR Replies: Societal collapse is captivating to write about and to discuss, but keep in mind that there is just a very small chance of it occurring in our lifetimes. An economic depression (a la the 1930s) is far more likely–and in fact at present seems almost imminent. This highlights what makes SurvivalBlog such a crucial resource and such a great gathering place for passionate yet polite discussion: By preparing for a “worst case”, SurvivalBlog readers can take anything lesser in stride. It is no wonder that SurvivalBlog has become the Internet’s most popular blog on survival and preparedness topics.

Economic collapses do indeed have historical precedents. Just listen to this audio clip by archaeologist Dr. Joseph A. Tainter on the history of economic collapses. At one time shepherds grazed their flocks in the ruined streets of Rome. That qualifies as genuine TEOTWAWKI, and the same could happen again.

I hope that you enjoy reading my novel. Just keep in mind that it portrays circumstances that are far worse than I actually anticipate (at least with any with likelihood). This was done in part to make the story more dramatic, and as an excuse to educate my readers about a variety of key technologies, techniques, and tactics.