A frequent mistake that many people make when considering the concept of social or economic collapse is to imagine how people and groups will behave tomorrow based on how people behave today. It is, though, extremely difficult to predict human behavior in the face of terminal chaos. What we might expect, or what Hollywood fantasy might showcase for entertainment purposes, may not be what actually happens when society breaks down.
It is also important to note that social and economic destabilization is usually a process, not an immediate event. This actually works in the favor of liberty activists and the preparedness minded. As a system moves through the stages of a breakdown, certain signals in the psychology of the population can be observed, and this gives us a warning as to how far down the rabbit hole we have actually gone.
Except in the case of a nuclear or EMP (electromagnetic pulse) event (which unfortunately are concerns because of the powder keg situation in Syria), vigilant liberty proponents could have considerably more time than the average person to preposition themselves safely. That said, there will be a host of expanding problems of a psychological nature we will have to deal with before, during and after the final leg down in the unfolding mess that internationalists often refer to as the “great global reset.”
The following list is based on social behavior patterns commonly seen during systemic crashes through modern history (the past 100 years). These are some of the stupid things people do as they begin to realize, at least subconsciously, that a SHTF scenario is in progress.
They Do Nothing
It’s sad to say, but the majority of people, regardless of the time or place in history, have a bad habit of ignoring the obvious. They may have an unconscious sense that danger is present, but never underestimate the power of men and women to waterboard their own instincts with a big bucket of intellectual idiocy.
It is not uncommon for large populations to sit calmly and idly, sometimes for weeks, in the midst of an economic or infrastructure crisis. Part of this is due to normalcy bias, of course. There is an immediate assumption amongst first world populations that “help is on the way” in the form of government aid. Faith in this aid can be so deluded that it is not until food and water stores are nearly exhausted that they finally begin to panic, or attempt to help themselves.
This gives the preparedness-minded a week or longer head start on the oblivious masses, but it is still a depressing state of affairs.
They Sabotage Themselves With Paranoia
Even in the early stages of a social breakdown when infrastructure is still operational, paranoia among individuals and groups can spread like a poison. Sometimes this is encouraged by a corrupt government, sometimes it just happens naturally.
The tendency is to begin seeing every other person as a potential competitor or threat rather than a potential ally. They make the assumption that all they need to do is to avoid contact with others and “outlast” most people during the ugliest phase of the breakdown. This assumption is foolish on two fronts. First, a society needs security and production in order to rebuild. If survivors of collapse strictly isolate from each other, practical security is absolutely impossible and thus, production is unlikely. Eventually, they will die along with everyone else.
Second, there are no guarantees whatsoever that our particular process of collapse will develop in a vacuum. That is to say, you might think that one day you will walk out of the hills after the worst of the crisis to a blank slate and rebuild, but certain organizations and systems may still be in place, or even dominate. Rarely in history have governments ever actually “disappeared” during societal collapse. In fact, governments have a habit of becoming even more powerful and despotic during and after large scale implosions of social systems. Survival is simply not enough if you walk out of those mountains alone only to find a totalitarian framework established on top of the ashes of the old world.
Organization with trustworthy people of like mind is essential not only for your survival, but the survival of future generations and the principles which you hold dear. Furthermore, guarded associations with your surrounding community are also necessary. This kind of organization must begin BEFORE the breakdown hits critical mass. It is far easier to organize before a disaster than after a disaster.
They Become Shaky And Unreliable When The Going Gets Tough
This is why early organization is so important; it gives you time to learn the limitations and failings of the people around you before the SHTF. If you have a large family, have lived in the same neighborhood and attended the same clubs and churches for most of your life, then you are probably well aware of who is solid and who will leave you in the dust when times become difficult. Even then, you are liable to discover that some people will disappoint you.
You do what you can with the help you have on hand, but the stresses of economic uncertainty, social unrest, increasingly oppressive government, and the lack of creature comforts can drive seemingly strong and confident people to do stupid and cowardly things.
They may be close friends or family; individuals you care for. Or, they may be newer associates attempting to build a preparedness group from scratch. If you notice a penchant for running from adversity today when standing fast under pressure is necessary, then there is a good chance these same people will crumble when staring down a societal nightmare tomorrow. Always make a point to know which persons you can rely on before you might need them.
They Become Hotheads And Tyrants
On the other side of the coin, there are those individuals who believe that if they can control everything and everyone in their vicinity then this will somehow mitigate the chaos of the world around them. They are people who secretly harbor fantasies of being kings during collapse. These folks are usually not very successful or well-liked in times of stability, and they long for conflict and destruction to make way for their “rebirth” so that they will receive the respect they think they always deserved.
Hotheads are a considerable liability as well, jumping headlong into strategically foolish situations and luring others into a zero-sum game. Their argument is always “If not now, then when!” As if the now and the when of a conflict are irrelevant and the fighting is all that matters. These people are the reverse of the unreliable cowards. They want blood. They want glory. They have something to prove, and they will sacrifice you and others to make this happen if the mood strikes them. Refusing to stand firm when calamity is on the horizon is a failing, but so is creating calamity because of a lack of intelligent planning. Finding people who understand the middle ground between these extremes will be a vital task for those who wish to survive and thrive during upheaval.
They Become Political Extremists
Throughout most modern collapses, two politically extreme ideologies tend to bubble to the surface — communism and fascism. Both come from the same root psychosis, the psychosis of collectivism. However, they are expressed is somewhat different ways.
To summarize down to very simple socio-psychological terms, communism is collectivism based on the demonization of individual merit and the demonization of production based on individual gain. Communism sees individualists as anomalies that threaten the greater good of the greater number. They usually seek to remove or eliminate individualists and individualist philosophies so that the collective may succeed as a single homogenized unit. Communists steal from the strong to artificially support the weak until the strong no longer exist.
Fascism is collectivism based on the idea that the strong prevail over the weak and that the weak survive only by the good graces of the strong. While communism demands forced charity to “harmonize” the unsuccessful with the successful until they are indistinguishable, fascism demands that the unsuccessful be erased so that there is no need to harmonize. It should also be noted that fascists see those who disagree with them as a “weakness” within their master collective that must also be eliminated.
Communism and fascism have a kind escalating and abusive love affair. The more insane and pervasive communists become with their attempts to dominate language and thought, the more communists use organized mobs to control public discourse, the more other people see fascist solutions as a viable way to deal with them. Brownshirt gangs beating communists (along with many others) to death in the streets is usually one of these solutions. This is exactly what took place in Europe during the Great Depression, and it could very well happen again throughout the West.
Both ends of the spectrum make it their top priority to gain control of government so they can use it as a weapon against the other side. The reality is, behind the curtain elitists are playing both sides, encouraging the public in the delusion that they can only choose between one or the other; between communism and fascism.
Ironically, as people flock to these extremist political views, they will invariably accuse fair minded liberty activists of being the “vicious extremists.” The best liberty activists can do is to not fall into the trap of the false paradigm as well, and to fight smarter than either the communists or the fascists are capable.
They Become Religious Zealots
Extreme political views are not the only siren song during societal breakdown. Religious zealotry is readily abundant during crisis. Zealotry is essentially fanaticism to the point of complete moral ambiguity. Everyone who does not believe the way the zealot believes is the “other,” and the other is an enemy that must be annihilated. In the realm of the zealot there is no such thing as “live and let live.” Their ideology must reign supreme without question or opposition.
Zealotry is also not limited to major religions; it is also common in the cultism of ideologies. Cultural Marxism (groups like “Black Lives Matter” and third wave feminism), for example, are perfect examples of a different brand of religious zealotry. There is no logic or reason behind their beliefs or worldview, and no room for dissent. They have their own taboos and their own dogma, their own high priests and their own gods (government, mother earth, etc.) Their directive is to eradicate other beliefs and ways of viewing the world as “heretical” while rationalizing what they do using their own broad interpretations of their own “religious texts.”
The ultimate goal of any zealot is to establish a theocracy, in which their belief system becomes the only known system. All other belief systems are forcibly buried and forgotten along with any people who get in the way.
They Abandon Their Moral Compass
Hollywood it seems has half the world convinced that in times of great distress, only the amoral will survive. Morally relative characters are painted as “heroic” leaders that are willing to “do what is necessary,” while people with moral foundations who do not bend the rules of conscience or natural law in spite of terrible times are painted as weak or stupid, dying in horrible ways because they refused to adopt an “every man for himself” attitude.
The truth is the complete opposite. Morally relative people when discovered are usually the first to be routed out or the first to die in survival situations because they cannot be trusted. No one wants to cooperate with them except perhaps other morally relative people. Such congregations of evil do collaborate successfully for a time based on the concept of mutual criminality for mutual gain, but eventually, they will be hunted down by those they have wronged and wiped out.
Regardless of how they rationalize their activities or the short term gains they enjoy at the onset of collapse, moral relativists have the odds stacked against them in the long run.
Fear and instability are like a radioactive stew, a Chernobyl effect that breeds strange creatures in men. We look back at our history and think that we know and understand what we are capable of, or that such tragedies could never happen again. But chaos rises anew and the shadow side of each and every human being is put to the test. In most cases, it is self-ignorance in the individual that opens the door to collective demons. That said, the conditions of collapse that triggered societal fear in the first place are many times engineered by elitist interests for the very reason that in this way the masses can be made monstrous.
We make the defeat of such elitists more possible every time we avoid the stupidity of the choices above and continue down the path of conscience, courage, truth and wisdom. When fear is made inconsequential, we cannot be manipulated. And if we cannot be manipulated into fighting shadows, or fighting each other, then the only people left to fight are the very people that originally sought to divide us.
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Article first appeared at Alt-Market.com.
Brandon Smith is the founder of the Alternative Market Project, an organization designed to help you find like-minded activists and preppers in your local area so that you can network and construct communities for barter and mutual aid. Join www.Alt-Market.com today and learn what it means to step away from the unstable mainstream system and build something better. You can contact Brandon Smith at: firstname.lastname@example.org.