Can the Wealthy Have A Separate Peace? - Revisited

This is a guest posting by Altaira, who has a Masters Degree in Agricultural Science. She is employed at an NGO working on issues related to sustainable development. The article was originally posted in August 2009.

I normally don’t mix with millionaires, but through “6 degrees of separation” circumstances I found myself in an extensive and personal conversation with a wealthy and highly connected person. He knew that I was “preparing” for economic decline, including skills in household self-reliance.

As the conversation evolved and took various twists and turns, he eventually proposed that a business helping the ultra rich establish “lifeboats” would be both lucrative and timely, and that I might be especially qualified. Imagine the family of an investment banker being plucked from their rooftop helipad in upper Manhattan to a prepared enclave in the country, while watching burning tires and broken glass 40 stories below. They could end up in upstate New York, or in a more exotic place like their personal island in the South Pacific.

He then named about a dozen families on the Forbes list of billionaires who have already prepared for doomsday on a spectacular scale, including multiple geographic options. These were the early adopters, I was assured, and now a second and much larger wave will be in need of professional advice and on-the-ground know how.

Of course I would need to have a well-recognized partner in the armed security business, such as Blackwater. There would be guarded walls, prime farmland, renewable energy systems, stockpiles of essentials, fallout caverns, as well as necessary amenities like tennis courts and pools. Presumably, beyond the walls would be squalor, misery and violence.

I called a friend who had a career in high finance on Wall Street to get his perspective on my encounter. He had a similar story to tell—many (not most) of his old connections were thinking about financial collapse and some about personal security. He said it made sense. The people who made big money have highly competitive personalities and are likely to reason that if money doesn’t work anymore they will need to directly take the resources that money used to buy. They are ambitious, bold, and often ruthless, traits that served them well in a society where success is measured in pecuniary conquests.

Obviously, a vast chasm exists between the attitudes and strategies of a ‘separate peace’ for the wealthy and that of institutions like the Post Carbon Institute, the Transition Town Initiative, and sustainability in general. We are an extremely variable species - the spectrum between cooperation and competition varies greatly not only among individuals but among groups of individuals.

I must admit, this experience took me a bit by surprise. I was unaware (a) that these sort of ‘high level’ retreats were being built, and (b) of the utter disregard, almost contempt for the common man and woman I witnessed. Even so, I found myself wondering if my new friend was correct about the direction of the future, and whether it might be smart of me to acquiesce, and position myself for the “inside” rather than the “outside” of the walls being built.

So I emailed The Oil Drum. What does the Campfire think?

Some questions.

Do the highly ambitious and wealthy have a different understanding of “human nature” than the more egalitarian and communitarian minded? Are these different views the result of scientific understanding of human nature or from whom one tends to associate with?

Will enclaves of extreme wealth be built on a massive scale? Will they succeed in protecting their inhabitants? Are they “moral?”

Are we in a situation that could be termed “disruptive selection” where hyper individuality and hoarding OR highly cooperative behavior and equity might succeed?

Can we identify forces that would send societies one direction or another, and places more or less likely to take a particular path?

Is there a middle ground between these alternate views/strategies, for example, personal wealth being used to transform a village or town, i.e., build an inclusive lifeboat based on essential needs short of tennis courts and swimming pools?

This prompts a certain cynicism on my part. A while back, I started thinking about the rigging of elections (since lately, the loser has a habit of claiming voter fraud) and thought to myself "You know, even if they are totally loaded? It's a matter of retaining the veneer of legitimacy". Same deal here: sounds like a great scam to me. Like those victory slop buckets full of 'broken' gold.

Such an enclave would just be a temporarily comfortable prison. The global population hits 7b next year and we here in the good ol' US of A have a constitutional right to own 11,638 guns for every one of them. Not only do we exercise this right, if you follow the arms trade you know we just can't move them out of the warehouse fast enough.

The toughest Xe merc isn't going to stand up to 500 raving collapse refugees with malaria and AK47s. Real enclaves will be something like happened back on the Tiber river a long time ago; "safe" places to trade. Surviving will be about having or being able to organize an efficient gang. Religion may finally take on its long lost mantle of social relevance.

And if the Wall Street bankers enclave themselves, the commoners with their guns will finally and quickly give them whats coming to them.
In fact, it might be an indication that we are nearing the crisis state when world government is successful in outlawing the private ownership of firearms and confiscation thereof. That, in itself, will indicate that the state of global energy supply is about to enter the critical phase.

They can have mine when they pry them out of my cold dead hands.

Quite a few people have already put away weapons that cannot be confiscated because they won't be found.

How many?

I have no idea, but a lot-enough to help rogue cops or looters or soldiers in small groups remember that they are mortals with mortal families of thier own.

I believe that a great many Americans will draw the line at confiscation and start an armed rebellion if it is attempted.

I will be one of them, more than likely, if I am still around and able to get around;it's been a long time since I have had any real excitement. ;)

One of my ex wives lost virtually the entire European branch of her family to the nazis.If every Jew had had a rifle, they would still have been rounded up and starved and worked to death and gassed, but there would have been considerably fewer nazis around by the time the job was finished.

Uncle Wallace and Aunty Rhoda McCullum, 80 years old were working as diamond drillers in the bush in Africa because there there is no retirement age.

They were attacked by gandangas. (Freedom Fighters to you lot.)
These gandangas were trained in China and armed with the finest weaponry that communism could supply.

Our Heroes of the Revolution chose this old and infirm couple for the shock value that their butchery would cause. (A standard tactic of Terrorists.)

Uncle Wallace and Aunty Rhoda weren't thick. They were sleeping in their shell scrape. One thing you should know about getting old. You don't sleep as well as you did.

Uncle Wallace said to Aunt Rhoda. "It has been an honour to know you my dear."

And the fire fight started.

Our Freedom Fighters put their tails between their legs, their bums in the air and were never seen again.

Moral. You don't have to be Rambo to pull a trigger.
Young people have more to live for than the aged.

But there are various subtle ways short of confiscation. I think the new approach is to go after the ammunition, but we will see.

Ammunition in the US was in short supply for a little while, in part because military demand overwhelmed its regular suppliers and they had to go to the open market. Then a general politically-driven paranoia set in when shelves were looking thin, and stockpiling made things worse. At the moment, the average RW hunter and self-defense gun owner in my area has about a lifetime supply of ammo on hand, for each weapon in the arsenal, and the supply has caught up so the store shelves are full again too.

Nobody is "going after" ammunition; and if anyone plans on it they're way late to make much of a difference.

Here in Belgium, a few years ago one single shooting incident caused the confiscation of ALL weapons ans ammunition owned by individuals. Even if you drive your company-car with a toolbox in it at night and you're not there for working, you can be accused for carrying illegal weapons. I think the year was 2005. At that moment i already interpreted this as "bad times coming".
The same politicians who are telling us that we need nuclear weapons and a strong army to keep the world in peace, are now telling us that the people should not carry weapons to keep the world in peace.
Only armed resistance can stop an aggressor by exhausting his resources. Without strong and armed resistance, only his conscience could stop him, which is unlikely because this would prevent him from being an aggressor in the first place.

Besides guns, it might be feasible to find some chemical stuff outside the wall to make deadly clouds. There will be very skilled and creative people among the poor. The wealthy should try the moon, or better: Mars.

"We are an extremely variable species - the spectrum between cooperation and competition varies greatly not only among individuals but among groups of individuals."

Wether your going to cooperate or compete depends on environmental cues not some pre determined disposition. Individuals or groups who may originaly be cooperative can easily turn if they perceive the situation warrants it. Of course the reverse is also true.

Yes, and the one sense we all possess from cradle to grave - perhaps our most easily offended and manipulated sense - is our sense of justice.

Religion was the tool typically used to control and homogenize populations in that respect, but it certainly isn't what it used to be.

That is because religion has been superseded by the mass media ever sense the invention of the printing press. mass media allows a few people to control the precipitation of a large amount of people that simply having a priest who claims to know god's will could never do.
The reverse will be true though, watch priests and religion regain their former posts of social control as time rolls on down the slope. They will gladly fill the void left by the oil powered mass media machine as it dies, so basically the catholics won't need to resort to making their cable channel one of the first to adopt fully 3d programing to try to attract more of the kids. Their parents seeking a sense of order in the unstoppable chaos around them will drag them to the churches.

religion has been superseded by mass media

Not true.

We still all cling to our many religions (... and our guns, ... and our beliefs in self-exceptionalism --i.e. I am "special" cause I is an Ameri-can.)

We still worship money.
That is a religion.

We still worship nobility, except that sometimes we call them movie-stars.

We still worship authority, except that sometimes we call it "our democratically elected representatives" although most of it (i.e. Supreme Court, Federal Reserve, Chamber of Commerce) clearly ain't that at all.

Mass media has not weakened our many religions.
It has exponentially empowered them.

I'm skeptical that the majority of these 2012-type "billionaire survivalists" will end up much better than the majority.

The power of money only holds as long as the social structure remains capitalist. If it retreats into neo-feudalism, older, ruder qualities become preeminent. Plus, as collapse draws near, their resources may well be simply taken over by increasingly desperate states.

Historically, collapses tended to be hardest on the elites (who fought amongst themselves or were lynched by mobs) and the underclasses (those at the margins of survival even in the good times).

"A particularly stark example of the effect of status on survival is
provided by Sacks (1996:36-37), who describes the effects of a typhoon that swept the Micronesian atoll of Pingelap in the Caroline Islands in 1775. Of a total population of nearly 1,000, 90% were killed outright in the storm, and most of the survivors starved to death within a few weeks. In the end, only 20 or so survivors were left, including the hereditary chief and members of his household. Here we present further ethnographic and historic examples that show
that social status is an important factor in determining who survives through catastrophic food shortages and other kinds of disasters."


They were interviewing a survivor of the Pakistan floods on BBC world News Last week. He said food aid had been dropped off by helicopter but he had not received any because the village elders who had been given the rations had distributed it only to their own families.

Speaking of Pakistan, one of my favorite friends spent several years there as a child, along with her Peace Corp parents.

She said the city they lived in was made up of two kinds of people: those that lived in the homes behind the walls, and those that lived in the streets and picked through the 'rich people's' garbage. But that was in the city, and in the 1980s/90s.

On the topic of Village Elders... the following is an email from a Native American friend in response to a question of mine about tribal "gifting" (posted with his permission)

...I was on the phone with my grandmother last night and we were talking about my concerns with our society. I remember when I was growing up that she was constantly reminding me that wealth was displayed by how much you gave away not by how much you have.

Last night she told me that now our tribal leaders typically have and parade the most nicest of things, like big trucks, cattle, nice homes, etc. She said that in the time of her mother, the tribal leaders were the ones who gave the most away.

We still have 'give-aways' at our ceremonies and at our pow-wows. We don't like to be out done with generosity. I gave a distant cousin one of my colts and the next year he gave me two calves and a crap load of blankets. I still feel obligated to get him something...maybe I'll build him a wind turbine when the time comes.

Also, I remember when I was a kid, we lived in a pretty tight community on our reservation in Montana. It was common for me to walk into any of the homes in our area, dig in the refrigerator and get something to eat.

Now, when I am visiting at my grandma's home and my friends come to me and immediately go to her fridge, the younger kids in the room kind of get uneasy.

My grandma says that's because our culture is being eroded...

(I hope Wisdomfrompakistan posts on this thread)

Very true in many other cultures. My feeling is that it is the big city ethic that drives this decline.


I think 'citymouse, countrymouse' is too easy a squabble to toss this one at.

1) I think we've got a culture that is practically maniacal about ownership. In many cases, it seems that theft and vandalism is a more offensive crime than personal violence. (Like the reactions to the 'Earth First' actions, that will target property, but not hurt people, as far as I know.. but the intensity of the anger that this generates is considerable.. and then there's graffiti..)

2) Food insecurity and poverty. It's a lot easier to share food when you're growing it and it's not tied to a constant fear of hunger and bankruptcy.

I lived in NYC for 19 years, and was always reminded of the interpersonal gestures of generousity and support that would surprise outsiders. New Yorkers can be gruff and time-stressed, so there's a tendency to act more brusque and direct than other Americans.. but it was generally a common mistake to see that as meanness, and not just a function of the speed of life there, and how people need to 'get it said, and get going..'

I am not really looking at it as 'citymouse, countrymouse' but more from the values about property taking over from the values of people. You may well have good experiences in NYC but it is the possession driven culture that exudes the 'must have' that eats.


We might be saying about the same thing..

it's not hard to find examples of it all over the place, no doubt.

I have no real expertise in history or anthropology or any closely related field , but I am a voracious reader, and while my terminology may not be excatly correct, I believe these observations are consistent with what we know about organized societies:

Only in the very smallest of groups can a single man or woman impress his or her will on the group unassisted;such groups might not number over a dozen or two dozen individuals at the most.In groups of this upper size limit, it is possible for a couple of others to gang together and put an overbearing alpha on the defensive.

The elite individual who controls a somewhat larger group maintains by enlisting ther cooperation of a few capable and trusted luietenants.

This relationship is based on cornerstones consisting of cooperation and trust and a dominance srtucture;it can and does only work because all the principal players in the power structure see the SYSTEM OR STRUCTURE as being bigger and more powerful than the individuals who compose it.

The whole is in effect greater than the sum of the parts.

An ambitious individual may not fear a chief so much as he fears the IDEA or concept behind the chief's existence-the control of other individuals working together for a common end-shared dominance.

The bigger the group , the bigger the system, and the less important any individual;after a group reaches a certain size,even the top leadership is captive to the system rather than the other way around.

The power structure of a given society is something that takes a long time to develop and come to fruiton if the society is complex and sophisticated.Concepts such as the rule of law for instance may take many generations to become established, if indeed they ever do become established, even in fertile soil.

A simpler sociery, such as one that might be dominated by local warlords, can evolve and become fairly stable in a short period, perhaps in as little as a few months, if the military situation is such that remaining on the defensive seems desirable to all the local warlords.

Complex societies have only one really effective method of creating a powerful dominance structure in a short period of time-the fast expansion of a military establishment .

If the permanent core force is ready, a relatively small group of men can turn tens of thousands or even millions of men into soldiers in a few months.

Soldiers don't really fear generals;even the dunmbest sentry with a rifle can kill his commanding officer or anybody else in range of his arm, and he knows it.Soldiers fear the SYSTEM, the army itself, the power it IS.

They also BELIEVE in the system ,in thier fellow soldiers, in thier officers, thier generals, thier country , and thier fight-if the army is a really good one.This general comment is idealized for sake brevity of course.

A small portion of the elite will not only understand all this but also have the savvy and experience to create thier own security appartus and the guts and grit to actually run it;this portion of the elite may continue to be the elite for an indefinitely long time.

These people may be at the top of the heap, but they necessarily will sleep with one eye open all the days of thier lives, and put in long hard days keeping an eye on thier subordinates.

Most of the power brokers and "rulers of the universe " who have by hook or crook or plain old good luck backed by some talent and lots of work gotten to the top of the heap simply will not possess the necessary skill set to survive in a lock down behind the gates mode.

Thier hired security people will have them interred in unmarked graves in very short order if it comes to barring the gates.

Anyone really into this sort of stuff should read the commentary of the original article;some of it was excellent even by TOD standards, and tonight's discussion may go off into altogether different territory.

It will be just as good of course-just different.

One problemette the billionaires may not have solved is what to do when they run out of Lonestar and MREs and jiffy pop. All that security apparatus will enable them to raid the surrounding hinterlands, but it also takes a lot of "stuff" to feed all those security apparatchiks.

And after all, this started with an energy crisis -- what makes 'em think the hinterlands they're planning to raid will even have anything worth stealing?

My guess is that the fenced compound with armed guards will be a temporary arrangement, and when they find that they can't just trundle over to Safeway or Costco as provisions run low, it'll morph into more of a "Mad Max" picture, and then later it'll be more sort of a "Decline and Fall" on steroids. There's no guarantee that the biggest @55h01es will come out "winners" in this spectacle.

Oldfarmermac gets it.

1. The whole problem is the lifeboat mentality. It presuppsoes an external source of rescue. Lifeboats are necessarily stopgaps until some external source of "normality" can come and return the inhabitants to their previous state.

There will be no external source of "normality" which means that they will be absolutely limited in their ability to maintain their charade of their previous wealth. The very idea that they will have the time or leisure for swimming pools and tennis courts beggars belief.

How lomg do theyt hink they will need to be locked down? How many tonnes of swimming pool chemicals do they expect to stockpile?

2. Once they close the gates Liebig's law will become the iron ruile. It doesn't matter a damn how MUCH you have of anything, the deciding factor is how little you have of some crucial resource. eg, you can starve to death surrounded by a million tonnes of canned food if you only have one can opener, and it breaks.

3. OFM's final point is right on the money. By all means take their stupid money and put it to work immediately on your own, community-based solution. But don't, under any circumstances, accept an invitation to be locked in with a coterie of arrogant, greedy, grasping, self-obsessed idiots who think they are in charge of a bunch of hired killers armed to the teeth.

I would give it a maximum of 2 months before the gunslingers realise that, once the power of money is replaced by the power of guns, then the people with the guns have the power. In fact I would bet that the boys from Xe go in with that in mind from the outset.

In any case, as OFM says, in short order the rich men will be dead and the women will be concubines.

I'd also bet that within another couple of months the gunslingers will also be dead because in any culture where resources are absolutely limited, necessarily quite small and their use and distribution controlled by guns, any disputes will be settled by guns.

I personally encourage the setting up of these enclaves. It will be an excellent way of removing the most egregious members of two of the most useless groups from whatever communities emerge from the collapse.

Pretty much my thoughts - I just can't see how any of these enclaves will work. Even if one was well enough stocked, with defenders that stayed loyal (with a leader that is an even greater phycopath than ther head of security it could happen) and survived any external attacks there is still the fundenmental problem of exactly what do they expect to emerge into after the event? It all reminds me of the UK fallout shelters for the elite - they only had a few months food and fuel which simply begged the question what next - did they really think any surviors outside would be ready to welcome them back?

In Sweden we still have 7 million NBC shelter spaces in about 65 000 shelters for a 9 million population but they are not evenly distributed. The civil defence organization to put out the fires and dig people out of the shelters after an air-strike or recover what is left when the radiation after a nucear war falls to levels that can be handled is however disbanded. We have also sold out the stockpiles of food, oil and other goods that would have become unavailable during a WW-2 style breakdown in trade.

I dont know what were planned to do after a war. The only after war planning I know of that also is a simple example is stockpiling of older tacticla bridges to have something to rebuild the major roads with.

I assume that we would have done as we did during the second world war, trade what we have for essential goods. I expect the same thing to happen during economcial hardship, find out what we can produce and trade and avoid military confrontation since a military conflict would give a black hole sucking in everyting needed to recover.

I totally trust our government too do the right things if TSHTF but it will of course do most of it too late for the best efficiency.

"I totally trust our government too do the right things if TSHTF"

The fact that a modern day Swede could say these words without a trace of irony speaks volumes about the gulf separating their respective levels of corruption and dysfunction vs. the U.S.

As I recall you were very much better prepared than the UK - you had such things as a store of solid fuel steam locomotives kept against an oil shortage as well. Of course all this would likely have been useless in the UK as we would be certain to be directly targeted while Sweden might not, but once the nuclear winter effect became known it's unclear if any preparations would have been much long term use wherever you were.

There were about 150 steam locomotives saved after the end of the commercial steam epoch but their potential usefullness got lower as the support infrastructure were dismanted and the old steam personnel aged. They pioneerd dried air storage, the locomotives were encased in large plastic bags and then were the air in the bags circulated thru sorbtion dehumidifiers that need little electricity.

They strategic reserve steam locomotives were being replaced with old diesel locomotives when the cold war ended and some of these were put back into commercial service as rail freight were deregulated and started to increase. The steam locomotives were scrapped or more or less given to historic railway clubs.


There would be an even more immediate problem. How rich are the helicopter pilots? How rich are the security guards? How long would it take before these people who know how to take care of everything necessary for living began an organized takeover of these happy enclaves?

The very clear class differences won't be ignored, as they are in our present social environment. The much more powerful underclass will have a much easier time becoming top dogs in the tiny "safe havens" envisioned here.

Of course, the worker bees won't last too long once they are kings. The real-world problems -- including the ones the first commenter posted -- will certainly do them in. But the rich folks who arranged it all won't be around to see that happen.

There are parallels in the structure of feudal society. Practically speaking, the least necessary member of the self-sufficient feudal manor is the Lord, and its likely that he was typically well aware of the situation. The response was thorough indoctrination into a fear-and-servitude version of Christianity, which seems to have been very effective for a long time.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

fair point.

But when the power of religion to command obedience is gone, that dog doesn't hunt.

...and it is interesting what it seems to have been replaced by. "Talk Radio" is, in this context, the equivalent of a long fire and brimstone sermon. The Constitution is set up as the Sacred Word of Freedom, but the talk is all the same old fear and servitude, and "trust us/hate them".

I don't think in the long run that will retain much effectiveness. One other difference between then and now has been the evolution of offensive weaponry - as well noted elsewhere in the thread. A few armored knights on horseback could destroy a village and murder its populace without much worry then; now, a peasant with an LRAM and a steady hand could make short work of just about any trouble on the horizon.

The U.S. is, by virtually any measure, remains the most religious and least scientifically literate of all technologically advanced nations. As the ability of the system to provide unlimited NASCAR 'n Cheesedoodles inevitably breaks down, I fully expect it to get *more* religious*, not less. My own '700 Club' relatives provide me daily firsthand affirmation of this reality.

That dog has *plenty* of hunting left in him.

My thought exactly. It actually seems like a great scam. Get some rich folks to pay to set up an enclave, then at the moment of truth abandon them and keep the enclave for yourself. Alternatively you might keep them around for slave labor, however, they have no useful skills, and their money is no longer useful.

J H Kunstler's newest play, The Big Slide, is this sort of situation: the enclave vs the thug patrol. A reading of it is available on the KunstlerCast.

I keep wondering whether there would be a reversion to feudalism or to something else. Most early feudal states started because there were people who had both strong strategic sense and solid leadership skills. Being a thug is easy - you learn to take orders and not to feel squeamish about doing so - but most thugs tend not to be good leaders for precisely that reason.

In an industrial collapse, people will tend to gravitate towards those who can give them purpose, keep them fed and clothed and protected, and get them organized. Rogues may very well gravitate towards banditry, but as society begins to recover, these people very quickly end up on the wrong side of the change vectors. Most people will instead do what they've always done - they will attempt to re-establish some level of normalcy that they can then build from, even if its at a lower level than where they were, and the young ones in particular will adapt.

The enclave mentality may work for a little while, but overall, the biggest effect will be that such enclaves increasingly represent a business as usual view of the world that will be increasingly out of synch with the rest of society; this means that in general these people will not be the ones starting the new businesses or new governments and developing new ways of adapting to the change in conditions. This is one of the things that few people understand about such transition times - collapse, unless it is total, does eventually end once the society has fallen just slightly below its ambient technological threshold.

Indeed, most people assume feudalism is the natural order of reversion from a technically advanced state, but significantly, the "dark" ages - those periods after the collapse of the dominant social order of the time - are usually dark only because the old institutions responsible for recording history at that point have been broken up and no new institutions have emerged to take their place yet. It often means that local cultures become more pronounced as empires fade, and with the fading of that empire is typically the diminishment of the tax base - the Gallic or British farmer isn't being taxed to pay for the wars in Syria by the fading Roman Empire, and hence can keep more of their foodstuffs for themselves to eat or sell. It usually means greater political say in how things are done, and in many cases a much greater degree of peace. In many respects these periods tend to be democratizing ones, as power shifts away from large oligarchs.

Note that these effects are longer term - the immediate period of collapse is of course chaotic and tumultuous, but these are typically over within a couple of generations; if such a collapse occurs within your lifetime, that may be cold comfort, but your grandchildren will probably end up living in a golden age, at least until society becomes stable enough for parasites to start forming again.

Wealthy people can be of any type, and just because one is ambitious does not mean that one has lost a sense of humanity. A key word might be 'understanding'. I had a friend who was brought up wealthy and he was a great guy. However, he thought poor people were simply stupid because it was so easy for his family to have money without really being different than anyone else. They just had lots of stuff and a nice time of it.

Is it immoral to want to protect your family, or is a question of scale? Is it okay for me to prepare, but not if I had more resources to do so? I don't think so. Although having said that, the more you have the bigger the target. Furthermore, is there an isolated place that offers to supply all the needs of survival, without people strong enough to take it away? I don't think so. Fire is cheap. Servants get restless.

I believe that cooperative behaviour will allow success, as well as luck to be with the right folks in the right place. Hyper individuals still need to get along with others.

Can we identify forces that would send societies one direction or another, and places more or less likely to take a particular path?

This question is the stuff of great books, movies, and stupid reality tv shows. I would like to team up with an Atticus Finch type handy with tools and all manner of horticulture rather than a Wall Street banker. I think that places not so well off will ultimately be stronger and better places to live. People need to be willing to work and do so with a sense of humour. Religious enclaves scare the hell out of me as well as any people of rigid beliefs. Cities might provide economy of scale and transit options, but give me rural with friends and family. Hateful scapegoating will tear us apart and my sat radio indicates it is alive and well in all spectrums of society.

Is there a middle ground between these alternate views/strategies, for example, personal wealth being used to transform a village or town, i.e., build an inclusive lifeboat based on essential needs short of tennis courts and swimming pools?

Sure, this is self evident, but like any gift it is not yours to say how it is used once it is offered up. Furthermore, just because one bankrolls does not imply you will be the leader.

This is scary stuff and if lifeboats are needed in order to survive it will take a well rounded community to make it happen. Individualism may be the first trait to drop off. I believe our oil wealth provides pseudo individualism, really it is isolation, masquerading as individualism.

Change is life, itself, is it not?.....Paul

The only difference between the elites' approach and the typical doomer who has a rural bugout ready and waiting is scale. So it's hard to get on the moral high-horse. The main point of contention is how much any of us, rich or poor, should be obligated to try to make the world a better place rather than washing your hands of it and planning our exit strategy. I've oftentimes characterized doom as a game of musical chairs. Most of us aren't in a position to reserve our seat before the music stops, and so there is a great deal of envy and resentment towards those who already have the getaway car idling. I don't think it's possible to please everyone because in the game of overshoot, someone's gonna lose. It's just the way it works. I'm sad about it, but that's reality. You do what you can, but in the end, people are going to look out for their own selves and families first.

Ah, your comments are so refreshing, so perfectly true. No one thinks the typical doomer is wrong for trying to find some land with water rights, so it's hard to see why someone who has a higher income is wrong for doing the same thing. It's all just envy. I haven't seen any U.S. doomers who are willing to live in a cardboard shack on an eroding hillside in Haiti just to make up for the fact that they've used up more than their share of the world's oil. Certainly everyone will "look out for themselves and their family first" if it comes to that. In the meantime, though, surely TOD can teach people, rich or poor, that it is possible to live well in smaller spaces, smaller towns, and with smaller footprints. Simplicity needs to become fashionable and I believe that, by our actions, we can each influence others in this direction.

Interesting, I know a lot of doomers who have volunteered for serious stints in Africa. Actually it is probably good doomer practice out in the countryside. For those who like to get their hands dirty what you do for sustainability in the US have parallels in Africa if you have the time, resources, and time to think it through - and then implement.

The only difference between the elites' approach and the typical doomer who has a rural bugout ready and waiting is scale. So it's hard to get on the moral high-horse. The main point of contention is how much any of us, rich or poor, should be obligated to try to make the world a better place rather than washing your hands of it and planning our exit strategy.

Couple of points: I think the critical difference between the doomer boomer and the super-rich, is that if and when push comes to shove, the rich have absolutely no compunction about stealing, controlling, and commandeering all the resources they can - with force as required - to the huge detriment of the poorer and more powerless people.

Mostly, however I don't care about the super-rich and their gated communities, but they will not give up easily - if at all. They need to be watched and guarded against at all times. They will steal fuel, food, water, medicines - everything they want, even swimming pool chemicals - every chance they get. And in fact they will make their own chances.

I would rather do almost anything to keep the gates unnecessary.
You got to mix people to keep a society togeather and everybody
needs to behave in an acceptable way and have basic physical safety.
Everybody has to behave within the same rule of law and that is even
more important if there is a depression or worse. Fences, guards, CCTV,
advanced anaylysis of internet communictaions and so on is a waste
of recources in a stressed society that needs policemen, jobs, food
and productive investments.

Living in an area where there are a lot of 'gated-and-guarded communities', I suspect that the people who think that the gates and guards will protect them from trouble are forgetting that the supplies are all outside the gates, and so is everyone who maintains their cozy lifestyle. (I think their gates should be barricaded from the outside, so they couldn't drive out.)

Gated-and-guarded to me is playing 'let's pretend', and it's trying to avoid reality. If you live someplace with a wall and guards, you can pretend that there aren't homeless people and poor people and everyone else who isn't like you.

Couldn't agree more. While an enclave could hold only a few years of supplies the rich would still need a small army of servants for the long run to produce the food, fuel, make repairs to infrastructure even to the point of manufacturing spare parts and tools. Do they think if they hold out long enough that the thieves and murderers will all have starved? It is the thieves and murderers who will prosper in the collapse of law and order.

I believe there will be no civilization wide collapse but a continuation of the slow decline we have experienced for the last few decades.

I'm beginning to have a love/hate relationship with everything I read on TOD. I love the fact that it is helping to keep my mind actively challenged in retirement. I hate the fact that events I've been concerned about for years may be coming to fruition in my own lifetime.

In reference to this well written post, I believe that sustainable enclaves for the rich and powerful will be shortlived. The more inclusive and well planned out enclaves might have life spans of 10 years or more. Those enclaves, that try to provide a pampered life style requiring a servant class will be lucky to last six months.

What alarmed me most in reading this post is the fact that so many of the "Captains of Insustry" are thinking of preparing for a "Doomsday Scenario." Since the vast majority of these leaders of industry and finance are well educated and highly intelligent, this leads me to believe that they are well aware of the impending chaos that may result from climate change, peak oil and over-population. In fact, they may well have access to information, data and statistics that are being withheld from the general public. The more moral individuals of that class may be more egalitarian in their planning for the future than the more greedy, self-centered individuals. From my personal experience organizing and leading competitive strategy workshops, high-profile executives are not known for being good team players within their peer group.

As to Altaira's question as to what she shold do. Hopefully your moral compass will guide you through some rough seas and impassable terrain. However, please keep the lines of communication open with the self-appointed members of the ruling class. They need to understand that it in their future it will be more important to know how to milk the cow, till the garden and fix the septic lines than it is to know which apertif to serve before certain gourmet dinners.

I don't doubt Altaira's veracity but the concept she proposes is defective at its foundation. The situation that exists now is the direct creation of the billionaires she suggests are now getting ready to 'bug out'. This suggests an 'incomplete' if not faulty understanding of the dynamic that the 'new feudalists' have embraced.

Read this paper:

Read this article, both are on Michael Hudson's website. Both are long and central to this discussion:

Bottom line is that promoters of feudal systems are integral parts of the enveloping communities. Who would pass for today's oligarchs seek to dominate rather than flee from the consequences of their own actions. These actions are designed to place the oligarchs in the power positions that are the obvious consequences of the actions.

Doing otherwise would be pointless, there is no reward for the risks that the promotions entail outside of (another) vacation 'home'. Social power has little to do with 'rich and famous' lifestyles. Social power is about centralizing, outwardly destabilizing authority: the model is current Russia rather than Zaire or apartheid- South Africa which were both enclave states.

The elites may want to get away for awhile, but soon enough they return in order to wring peoples' necks. Wringing necks is what made them oligarchs in the first place!

Additionally, the article presuppose economic breakdown or deflation, which is not clear. Deflations do not necessarily result in depression(s) which are class/cultural conflicts rather than economic events. The current US class 'war' has been ongoing for decades if not longer, why would the elites quit when the outcome is favorable at best and doubtful at worst?

A far better argument could be made for the elites exercising more direct authority without the frivolous 'trappings' of the republic ... Oops, we are already there!


In a sense, North Korea represents a huge gated enclave with a ruthless hierarchy of the 'Dear Beloved Leader' and his army of thugs keeping the common people in line. The poor souls in North Korea are so beaten down, I doubt if even air-dropping weapons to them would ignite an insurrection. I fear that a lot of people underestimate the degree of control that can be wielded by a small well organized oligarchy supported by a well equipped army which enjoys the perks of a guaranteed food supply and so on.

What with the starvation in NK, I have to think about some enclave of survivors seeing their canned goods running thin and their garden not delivering, while outside their walls is a woodland growing rampant with 'weeds' that contain a cornucopia of edible foods.

As with the conceit of the article, it's always a bit of a Shadenfreude Fantasy.. "Look at those rich people suffer! Not so fancy now, are ya?!"

Frankly, anyone who is facing hunger will start to look at those berries out there and try to figure out which ones they can pop into their mouths.. whether they were rich, poor or somewhere in between..

ET has made a very important point, a crucial point.

People can be beaten down so far , to such a low level, at the very bottom of a dominance hierarchy, that they are simply unable to defend themselves because they cannot concieve of winning a confrontation with thier masters.

This condition of utter servitude has been commonly observed in situations such as plantation slave society in the American South before the Civil War.Only a handful of armed overseers are able to maintain control of much larger groups of slaves with relatively little physical violence-ONCE control has been established and maintained by brutal means for a period of time long enough for the slaves to loose hope and accept thier lot.

Whether such a system of control can be broken from within by rebellion of the masses is an open question.

So far as I can see, a totalitarian society such as exists today in North Korea might persist for a very long time if the ruling elite doesn't fall prey to apathy and become complacent.

But if the elite tries to modernize, the masses must necessarily become better educated and trained and possess more and better tools and means of communication.

A slave who can only work in a field and never leaves the plantation has few opportunities to learn the real score.

But a highly skilled slave who is allowed( forced) to go from one plantation to another to do carpentry or smithy or other high value work is in a position to figure out the real score-if a few slaves on every plantation are willing to die, they can all rise at once and easily wipe out thier masters-if the plans can be kept serect , of course.

It is simply impossible to keep an educated and industrialized society in the dark;even the dumbest and most gungho young commie in China who has a job loading televisions day after day for export but has no television of his own will figure out the truth-the capitalist running dogs are watching tv but he isn't.

In the old USSR the common people had a saying-"they pretent to pay us, and we pretend to work."

After a while the country , meaning every body in it , finally realized that the commie drean was just that-a dream only.Managers of big factories were not living as well as the hourly employees of such factories in the West, and nobody believed the propaganda anymore.

Basically everybody from the top down and the bottom up, excepting the relative few in positions of great power and privilege, was ready to give up and try something new, when the chance to do came.

So many people are employed in maintaining security in places such as North Korea,or the Stalinist era USSR, and the working/ managerial classes are so hemmed in by the state,that innovation and growth and prosperity are very seriously inhibited or stalled outright.

One way or another, the days of North Korea as the country exists today are numbered.

Either modernization will destroy the totalitarian state, or some emergency, such as a crop failure so bad even the lower level guys with the rifles have trouble getting food for thier kids, will take the elite down.But the day of collapse may be a long time yet in arriving.

If it weren't for our embargo, the relatively benign but still authoritarian govt of communist Cuba would most likely have collapsed a long time ago.

My guess is that pretty soon Raul is going to have a hell of a job on his hands maintaining control of the country as the process of opening up the economy to the rest of the world gets up a head of steam.


Actually, if you read Howard Zinn's 'People's History of the US' he chronicles the numerous slave revolts that happened, but didn't appear in your typical history book.

Slaves in the US slavery era were, in most ways, better off than people in N Korea are today. The landowner had to make sure his slaves were fed and cared for adequately, since his livelihood depended on them being able to work at arduous jobs. I recommend 'Time on the Cross' by Fogle and Engermann (I think) as an informative and largely different perspective on American slavery.

One would think that N Korea's days are numbered, and maybe they are. But it is often confounding how some situations that don't seem tenable at all, continue for a long time. Ten years ago, I would have thought that in 2010 things would be a whole lot worse than they are.

BTW, thanks for your interesting posts

ET, Thanks,

It's good to hear that the time spent here is appreciated by others.

Yes ,slave revolts were actually rather common all thru history.

But nearly all of them failed, in my opinion mostly because the knowledge of the revolt did not spread fast enough among the slaves for a local uprising to become a general uprising.

Keeping the knowledge of a revolt from spreading in a technically advanced society is probably impossible.

Sooner or later a revolt will succeed in a place such as North Korea because the lower level people associated with the security appartus will see that it is to thier advantage to switch sides, and once that dam is well breached, it is all over for the elite.

The actual rebellion will probably be led by a high ranking officer who wants the alpha position for himself, and expects to get it by promising greater freedom and prosperity to the populace once the fight is started.

But it might be a hundred years before it happens.

I think that you've hit upon the nub of the hierarchical paradox - you can beat people down to a level where they are completely repressed and two frightened or conditioned to even think about changing the system, but to do so you effectively have to give up any of the benefits of the contemporary society to do so (which usually means that you have to become a captive state of some other, more powerful entity). North Korea exists because it serves China's interest to maintain a buffer zone between it and the American forces in South Korea. Without that (very covert) assistance, North Korea would collapse ... it's already a failed state.

Cuba similarly survived primarily because the Soviets needed a New World presence, and it kept the Americans twitchy about their own back yard. As Russia continues its inward consolidation (and has to face the potentially disturbing reality of a major global climate shift), Cuba becomes a luxury. Having lived in Canada for a while, which has actually developed a very active trade with Cuba, I do not see the embargo on Cuba by the US lasting much longer ... Cuba will undergo the same process that Vietnam went through in the last decade.

What this suggests is that while there will no doubt continue to be cults of personality that emerge during the "Long Emergency", these won't in fact be the norm. Indeed, such cults usually tend to thrive most when society has been stable for a while, is very homogeneous, and has an external source of support.

I don't buy the unstated premise of a temporary crisis, from which survivors will emerge to rebuild. How long will bad times last, with what resources will this rebuilding be accomplished, and most importantly how can a smaller, less complex society extract resources that a large, complex one couldn't ? That is not to say that rich people are not building wilderness retreats, but rich people buy a lot of expensive, impractical things.

It makes more sense to invest in simple, sustainable technologies and make them widely available, so that life in the city remains comfortable for those with money and bearable for the rest. It wouldn't require billions to develop these either, just a willingness to develop useful solutions for the long term that aren't necessarily profitable right away.

I'm not aware of any philanthropic groups funding 'appropriate decline technology'. There are cleantech Angel and VC funds, but they are still based on the quick-profit investment model. Many state to entrepreneurs at the outset that they expect a 1000% profit with 5 years. That pretty much filters out proposals with potential to work in a steady-state economy.

So the 'lifeboat' i would suggest is a portfolio of sustainable technologies, supporting the following criteria:

    Powered by decentralized solar/wind
    Maximize local and recycled materials
    Manufactured using a minimal set of machine tools and equipment.
    All training and design information made openly available.
    Includes 'systems thinking' in all aspects of design, aiming to achieve negative feedback loops in human/technology interactions.

Powered by decentralized solar/wind
Maximize local and recycled materials
Manufactured using a minimal set of machine tools and equipment.
All training and design information made openly available.
Includes 'systems thinking' in all aspects of design, aiming to achieve negative feedback loops in human/technology interactions.

Yes, and I would add, in a general social framework of cooperative relations. They do take work, but they are achievable. albeit never perfectly, like everything else.

I agree with other comments, that the gated enclaves will not last long ... that they will be prisons, really.

I do think that the larger group you can be a part of that strives to live in cooperation the better your chances for a comparatively better life amidst the coming declines.

You suggest that the goal should be to:

...invest in simple, sustainable technologies and make them widely available, so that life in the city remains comfortable for those with money and bearable for the rest.

There are several basic problems with this idea. First off, cities are places which have rather high population densities, a fact made possible by the import of many commodities from areas outside the boundaries of the city. The most important of these commodities is energy, which allows the population to stay warm in winter or cool in summer and also makes it possible to run the transport systems for moving people and material goods both within the city and to and from the outside world. For a couple of centuries, the energy sources most often available have been fossil fuels and when they are gone, there's no easy, cheap, simple sources of high quality (meaning concentrated) energy sources which can be relied on to replace them. As a result, most all the services presently provided by the use of fossil fuels will disappear as the fuel runs out, along with much of the infrastructure which was built on the assumption that the energy would continue to be available.

Which brings up the second point, which is, to use the alternative energy sources would require a massive rebuilding of society, as the old systems must be replaced with different ones. Renewable energy sources are dispersed and thus can not be relied on to supply the high population densities found in modern cities. Sure, there are simple solutions, such as solar thermal, which can provide much of the energy for an individual user, but these solutions can not work for high rise condos which are packed densely together as one now finds in cities such as NYC, Hong Kong or Singapore. Capturing and concentrating lots of diffuse energy and then moving it to power cities is possible but it is not simple nor is it cheap.

The solution you propose might work with a return to small town like development, but that isn't anything like the present trend toward mega cities each with more than a million people. As it is, there is a trend of migration from the low density rural areas to the cities, as life in the country is both difficult and low wage. One can't just wave a magic wand across the world and magically transform the present situation to your new ideal. Sorry...

E. Swanson

When we built extensive district heating systems in all our cities and towns it became quite easy to convert from oil to garbage incineration and forest biomass and almost all of the large and medium sized plants CHP plants that also are producing electricity.

This means that one ordinary dwelling in a city consumes less wood then the equivalent rural dwelling, can use fuel of much lower quality in the large scale boiler and we also get some electricity.

The biomass-to-liquid-fuel plants that are on the drawing board and hopefully will start building within a few years are also situated next to towns to be able to sell the waste heat as district heat.

We have exacty the same kind of scale efficiency in the productin of biogas and its use in busses and so on. And it is a lot easier to bicycle and implement realy good collective traffic.

Cities are efficient and investing in their infrastructure is a great way of using capital.
They make limited resources last a lot longer and a hundred thousand people investing togeather can implement stuff a lone survivalist only can dream about.

Why am I having images of medieval castles while reading this? That is the primitive response being offered, and the Middle Ages are about as far back as today's educated person can go in terms of a fortress mentality. Maybe they will dig moats and stock them with gators. With all the global warming predictions, that should work well in upstate New York.

I think the reality will surprise us. Think city-states, with each metropolitan area surrounded by agricultural land. Railroads and trolleys would link smaller cities and agricultural communities in a hub and spoke configuration. (That is an effective means to insure the hub city dominates the city-state.) We depend too much on "Mad Max" Hollywood images in imagining a dystopia.

Those who follow the "generational" concepts of Neil Howe and William Strauss in The Fourth Turning recognize our current circumstance. Humanity has been here before. The next several years will likely see changes that overturn our entire frames of reference, just as the Great Depression/World War II or the War Between the States did. This time, however, the change will likely relate to energy depletion, the end of government entitlements, a new social contract, and a new way of work, socializing, and viewing the world. We will be poorer materially and richer spiritually. Unfortunately, if we fail to choose wisely many of us may also be ill, impoverished, or even dead. And right now I cannot see a single political leader on the national or world stage who understands even dimly what we face.

Why am I having images of medieval castles while reading this?

Because you've never read about or seen what a .50 cal rifle can do? Nor noted that the idea of forts died with artillery?

We depend too much on "Mad Max" Hollywood images in imagining a dystopia.

Naw - seeing what man does to his fellow man is enough to get ya there.

I think your vision would have been possible if we had started to change the structure of today's cities decades ago! We no longer have that option of change you can believe in. With 8% y/y oil reserve declines, that slow and steady change is no longer possible. Jimmy Carter had it right and we decided not to listen, now there will be panic. Panic is the one thing you have failed to realize! Once Mexico stops exporting crude (most believe within three years), they will be the ones building walls. You can not feed 7 billion people without cheap oil! So many of the new people hear think oil depletion just began when they heard GOM oil spill ha! Face it, when you have to mine, drill in a mile of ocean, pump 1,000 barrels of water, Ln2 injection to produce the same amount of crude oil, your long past easy! I work in energy research and science isn't going to feed 7 billion without cheap oil within the next decade! I should have written this in all caps ha! The fact these privileged people are even thinking of doing this should give you a clue. If you haven't started your own lifeboat, what have you been reading or doing?

I suggest going back to the original post in the archives and reading the was all covered quite well.

Glad to see you're still with us, Porge!

You have posted very few comments recently.

Busy getting ready to bug out? ;)

Hey Mac,
You and me are close psychologically.
Tough upbringing and even tougher adult life.
here is to you.

Great idea. I was planning to wait for a few posts to build up here and then go and see if there are any differences in the groups thinking between then and now.

Funny that this is the Campfire topic today...just Friday my client at the government agency where I work brought this company to my attention:

Their products range from 5-10-person shelters to custom interconnected module complexes which costs many millions of dollars. My client claimed that sales have been doubling every year for the past five years...true? Who knows...

The Earthcom Dome 60 is developed to meet the need for more CAT 25's and a longer term food storage volume for business continuity programs for the financial, government, and insurance industries for approximately 200 people.

If you like a little 'Doomer Porn' their site provides can fantasize about making your own 'Dr. Evil' hideaway compounds...complete with dual diesel generators and fuel for five years of power, and food storage for five years for your clan, and fancy extras such as 'Bat Cave' modules to park '6 large SUVs' in , complete with vehicle elevator, and a 50-foot telescoping boom which can contain a periscope, visible light and infrared video camera, Ham, satcom, etc antennas, radar, microphones, weather sensing equipment...etc.

I have to wonder about these folks, though, when they put this statement about their shelters on their web site:

Shelters are EMP transparent since they are made of composite plastic and do not attract electric or radio frequencies.

Yikes..I hope they know their mechanical engineering better than they do their knowledge of EMP effects...

I concure with your statement about their lack of knowledge regarding EMP. I participated in EMP tests for the military. Unless their little composite plastic shelters are very well isolated from any path to earth ground, every one of their electrical devices will be fried beyond repair.

We are in complete agreement!

How about putting circuit breakers in the ground circuit.
How does the EMP over AMP the circuit?

There are no circuit breakers, given current or emerging technologies that can isolate a circuit from an EMP burst of energy!!

How about a series of circuit breakers.
Again......How does the EMP over Amp the circuit?

An EMP hit is lika a simultaneous lightning strike in every long cable or other conductor that isent inside conductive enclousure and the longer the conductor is the higher the voltage gets. A circuit breaker is only a little speed bump for EMP, you need to provide a high impedance in the protected direction and a low impedance to ground or rather a ground plane.

A good lightning and low EMP protection for a facility is to litterally rounte every cable and metallic conductor to a facility thru a steel plate of fairly large area and ground the plate. Each conductor needs a high impedance component as it passes thru the plate such as a coil in a metallic "maze" and then sparc gaps etc to the plate on the unprotected side. Since it essentially is a LP filter it gets hard to route high frequency signals thru it and thus it is good to have all high capacity communication via fiber optics.

If you have a heavy concrete structure with lots of rebar such as a blast protection shelter, weld all of the rebar togeather to form a conductive cage inside the concrete and weld all of this to your EMP-plate all around it and weld the rebar to conductive door frames with conductive doors and fine metallic contact fingers all around the doors to the frames. The next step is to have a continous metal surface in the structure, it can double as spall protection and concrete mould.

Transparency to EMP is of course ok "protection", you only have to avoid having any wires inside the transparent space and keep all solid state electronic devices as tiny and shielded as possible. Hard core dig deep holes survivalists dont need to EMP protection for their water, food and diesel.

I like physical solutions to problems but heavy physical prepairdness for dramatic risks dont make much sense on an individual level. It is a better return on effort to make more friends, build on your community and learn skills that are in demand during bad times. If you then get your whole community to have food storage like mormons, run a volonter fire brigade, build a spare water suppy and irrigation scheme, establish rational high value food production, etc, then you get something that is much more robust, usefull and cost effective then a survivalist stockpile.

The ideal is to have this thinking in the government level and add a reasonable redundancy for every essential service plus a civil defence that is enough for most of the population to survive the kind of break downs and natural disasters we have had throughouth history. If you try to stockpile every kind of medicine and so on it will become to expensive to manage. The important thing is protecting the civilian societies self healing ability.

porge (and all):

here is a general starting point for some basic understanding of some of the concepts involved:

Thanks, I will be gone for a while.

Uncertainty Principle dude,
So the basic idea is an induction induced over Amperage external to the designed circuitry.
To fix it...... have breakers designed to protect the circuit on both input and output ends and direct shielding.
Can we do this?

I thought a tin foil shield was enough to protect an electrical device from EMP and breakers were not nessesary?

EMP can be shielded with a Faraday cage and aluminum would work but it will need to be thick enough to carry the induced current - I. E. real tin foil would be too thin and would melt. But the military does field equipment that is designed and tested to survive a certain level of EMP. Ordinary electronics are toast but the wealthy would have access to the military grade stuff. If you can think of it, you can design for it.

I would take a hint from the Foundation by Azimov. Have power sources, specialists in every field, gardens, stored food, weapons and hide the place carefully. It may be that this form of survival would allow a subsistance lifestyle after the collapse, or they may fall prey to something that they did not prepare for.

An army of starving people who discovered their gate would be a problem. I could imagine a means to take care of the forst several waves, maybe that would be enough-- but the best solution would be to be mobile or secretive. (Could a secret this big be kept??)

deleted DUPE

Unless their little composite plastic shelters are very well isolated from any path to earth ground, every one of their electrical devices will be fried beyond repair.

Errr the claim was "EMP transparent" and to me that says 'let the EMP through'.


The point here is that, unless specially designed/shielded, the electronic equipment within the underground fiberglass shelters would be vulnerable to EMP effects.

Yes, the fiberglass shelter may be 'transparent' to EMP, but the electronic equipment within is not.

I used to fly aircraft that had gold film as one laminate of the canopy that protected against electromagnetic radiation.

We can do this.

Sure - put the living space in a faraday cage. But really - once the top is swarmed - there will be air intakes and once the swarm plugs 'em the 5 years of diesel for the generators won't be an issue.

Best to try and make peace with the locals.

Physics verse politics..............................

How do people plan to secure / defend these shelters? I can imagine any number of ways to compromise them and make use of the stores inside...

I agree with the majority of posters who believe that insular pleasure fortresses will crumble in tandem with the rest of society.

I feel that for this idea to be in any way remotely feasible, the "client" would have to invest in an entirely self-sustaining community, not just a personal villa with guarded walls. The community would need to provide for a sizable population with clearly-defined roles, and be ready to grow with population increases and the inevitable migrations that will precede the Fall of Christendom. Population is important because everyone living there has an interest in maintaining the community, as well as defending it. Ultimately, the goal would be to establish a self-sufficient community, with a citizenry devoted to maintaining it, and ostensibly maintaining the investor and its administration.

How the investor and the investor's circle lives, be it in secluded comfort or at the center of the community's political structure, is a challenge that will require serious socio-political strategy. Who wants to put up billions to build this place if they cannot be assured that things will go well for them? You would have to design and troubleshoot what amounts to a wild social experiment.

I use to recommend moving to Sweden or one of our neighbouring nordic countries.
Please bring along skills and capital, you can find very cheap houses, old factories and
land if they are unique enough to function well outside the large urban centers. If you like us and wants to add to a functioning government then please pay your low corporate taxes here.

About 20 years ago when I got interested in theoretical politics about freedom, liberalism and the great work done by Thatcher, and so on I set the ultimate goal of having Sweden so nice that americans start migrating here. Since then I relate most of my suggestions along that direction. This is of course not about real americans but the myth of the proud freedom loving and entreprenurial people. And it is also basen on an obeservation about how Switzerland seems to function although I would prefer attracting active people who can turn electricity and raw materials into products before rentiers.

To get this nice to live in and robust society you both need free markets with real competition where capital accumulation makes sence in every scale from the smallest to the largest business and a competent government that runs end encourages good institutions. If you either get markets withouth competition or lots of individuals who dont benefit from planning and saving for the future or a government that tries to run it all and do all of what is good for people it ends badly.

A billion is more then enough to make an industrial investment that is very likely to support a large part of a municipiality for a generation and give a profit for the next incremental investment. This does not create an enclave, it only adds some new stronger threads to an already functioning social network where you can live and create things.

The rich of today have accumulated lots of money, but it's only fiat currency. Only a very small portion of them hoard the only universal hard currency, gold, or it's stepchild, silver.

The rich have power because society deems that those with more fiat currency, however obtained, have more influence. It's up in the air how long this will continue. The Weimer hyperinflation is a good recent example of how this can break down, impacting the rich as well.

My concern is that those who have made lots of money will slowly start (as China is doing now) to dump their fiat currency in exchange for hard resources - gold, agricultural land, access to water, etc. If that be the case we will surely drift into neofeudalism.

One almost wishes for a currency breakdown so the billions accumulated by hedge funds, investment banks, and private equity groups becomes worthless.

Isnt buying a doomstead of elite fortress just a conversion of fiat currency into hard resources?

Gee this whole post reminds me of reality on the ground today, in my native Sao Paulo Brazil.
The rich there only travel by helicopter because they are afraid they will be kidnapped if they drive around in cars... I'm sure there are plenty of places around the world today that are the same. Will it happen in New York? Who knows?

This is exactly what happens when a very small minority controls 90% of a country's wealth eventually they start to feel guilty and paranoid. The reality is that living in secluded enclosures is an illusion in the end these places become targets and a virtual prison from which the rich cannot escape.

If the rich really want to survive they will have to adapt just like everyone else. They should be putting their efforts in to preserving the natural environment. They are going to need it.

Maybe they are right to be afraid. Kidnapping is a big source of money in Mexico, for instance.

If I were a young man in your old home state, I just might be a commie with a rocket launcher.

Here comes the helicopter -- second time today
Everybody scatters and hopes it goes away
How many kids they've murdered only God can say
If I had a rocket launcher...I'd make somebody pay

I don't believe in guarded borders and I don't believe in hate
I don't believe in generals or their stinking torture states
And when I talk with the survivors of things too sickening to relate
If I had a rocket launcher...I would retaliate

On the Rio Lacantun, one hundred thousand wait
To fall down from starvation -- or some less humane fate
Cry for guatemala, with a corpse in every gate
If I had a rocket launcher...I would not hesitate

I want to raise every voice -- at least I've got to try
Every time I think about it water rises to my eyes.
Situation desperate, echoes of the victims cry
If I had a rocket launcher...Some son of a bitch would die

Bit too late to add any comment to this campfire, but this post keeps reminding me of Green Zones, like Kabul. Takes an Empire to make these people who they are. No Empire, no enclave?
PS Empires inevitably develop relationships with the natural environment(s) on the way up and on the way down - just we have made ours global.

Do the highly ambitious and wealthy have a different understanding of “human nature” than the more egalitarian and communitarian minded? Are these different views the result of scientific understanding of human nature or from whom one tends to associate with?

My take on it: Many of the ultra rich are what used to be called "psychopaths" or "sociopaths", now it's been relabeled by a number of different groups, the World Health Organization has "Dissocial personality disorder" Here is the checklist (3 yes answers to qualify)

1. Callous unconcern for the feelings of others and lack of the capacity for empathy.
2. Gross and persistent attitude of irresponsibility and disregard for social norms, rules, and obligations.
3. Incapacity to maintain enduring relationships.
4. Very low tolerance to frustration and a low threshold for discharge of aggression, including violence.
5. Incapacity to experience guilt and to profit from experience, particularly punishment.
6. Markedly prone to blame others or to offer plausible rationalizations for the behavior bringing the subject into conflict.
7. Persistent irritability.

Thats to say folks like this:

And on top of all that he is ugly.

It is his soul leaking out.....

I guess it really is in the "eye of the beholder".

1. Callous unconcern for the feelings of others and lack of the capacity for empathy.
2. Gross and persistent attitude of irresponsibility and disregard for social norms, rules, and obligations.
3. Incapacity to maintain enduring relationships.
4. Very low tolerance to frustration and a low threshold for discharge of aggression, including violence.
5. Incapacity to experience guilt and to profit from experience, particularly punishment.
6. Markedly prone to blame others or to offer plausible rationalizations for the behavior bringing the subject into conflict.
7. Persistent irritability.

Stop glorifying the underclass, because most of this list is a characterization of american society as a whole. It's not a class thing. It's a cultural thing.

That is what crossed my mind too - it is a cultural thing, and that description fits the behavior of the US in the global village.

First thing that comes to mind upon reading that is Dick Cheney saying, "The american way of life is not negotiable" (paraphrase).

Second thing that comes to mind is how many people I know personally who feel the same way as Dick Cheney.


, he eventually proposed that a business helping the ultra rich establish “lifeboats” would be both lucrative and timely, and that I might be especially qualified.

That is one model.

Here is another:
With one of the 1st mentions I remember of the "Open Source Local Investing of the Solari Circle" mentioned here:

CA: [Catherine proceeds to expand on her alternative “open source” model of community equity financing … i.e. “securitizing” small business income … quoting Catherine, “I mean, why do we need a big corporation to come in and privatize our water? Why don’t we just privatize our water, create a liquid security, and get the capital gains for ourselves?” … and again, “There are tremendous opportunities to reengineer this. Because whenever you have an economy that is this unproductive and this negative, if and where you can turn it around, the capital gains opportunities are absolutely enormous.”]

JP: … So, maybe this is a grassroots movement that begins at this kind of level Catherine, because certainly large corporations today are outsourcing our jobs. And it’s really the small businessman whose local that is the creator of jobs.

CA: Absolutely. But right now, you know if you come to a Rotary International lunch , right now the local small business guys are playing with multiples of 1-5x, and they’re getting clocked by the large corporations, because they can finance at multiples of 20 and 30x …

JP: What has been the reception to this so far?

CA: Well, so far the reception has been tremendous, except from the Department of Justice and the Black Budget guys (laughter). We were prototyping 100 of these in 1998 Jim, and part of it was we had a software tool called Community Wizard, where you could dial in, say if you lived in San Diego, you could dial into Community Wizard and start to download all the data about how the money worked in San Diego. And what we didn’t realize at the time, because we were just naïve, was that that was illuminating a lot of the black budget fraud that was in the Federal mortgage portfolios. And, for example, when I was Assistant Secretary, I’d get these inventories that said we had 10 buildings on this block and I’d go fly there and I’d go drive by the block, and there’d be no 10 buildings there.

So the problem was when Community Wizard would illuminate you know the databases on what the Federal Government was doing in the mortgage business, and citizens in their community could get those numbers and police them, and see the money contiguous to the world where they walked around and drove around, and the lies came to the fore. …And now wherever I go, I get tremendous and positive response …

… You know, I’m a great believer that centralization is really nowhere near as productive as decentralization.

Advise them to toss money to the plebes in the form of establishing a timebank to localize as an example of community building on the cheap. They can play 'manage the back end of billing/office work' for the local business while taking a small cut and keeping their costs down via Open Source software like Adempiere, Asterisk, Alfresco, the stack that runs TOD - Apache, FreeBSD, PostgreSQL. If they use Terracotta and Eucalyptus along with mesh tech like openmesh - anyplace that has power in the local area can keep up data wires needed. You can have some "geek" bang out a machine pre-loaded with the business functions and be willing to give 'em away to whomever wants 'em. If they end up not wanting to run the business and have your people do 'em .... you did offer up the tools for free.
It looks like OpenBTS and Android can make your own local cell phone network. (No time to work with that toolchain - my plate is full with FreeBSD/PostgreSQL/Adempiere/Asterisk and learning Terracotta-eculiptus)
Take out the spice of John Robb - - things like open source DYI tool and die machining and sprinkle that on the mix.

For a location - look for a low spot - AKA where the watershed leads to the location and where you have a water table. Look for rail lines too. (downside - these places are usually developed) Why? So you have potable water and a way to get your refined goods to market.

The below shows the folly of the John Galt "lifeboat" model:
Comments about the "rich" and the latest in computer operated trading....
with the winning comment being:
This confirms my suspicion that whatever purpose the markets were originally supposed to serve has been gamed out of existence.
posted by phooky at 8:42 AM on August 7 [17 favorites]
And really - that is what the 'lifeboats' idea becomes.....a gaming out of existence. Without their man-servants and people willing to exchange labor for what 'they have' as wealth - they can not exist. No "lifeboat" can protect you if the government fails as to 'keep your stuff' - you need a 'rule of law' - if things get lifeboat needing, gun toting bad - who's gonna protect your "lifeboat" from someone with guns? Got the ability to keep a .50 cal sniper team from reaching out and touching you - if not better to follow the 'build something local' model so the locals remember you were there before TSHTF.

"better to follow the 'build something local' model so the locals remember you were there before TSHTF."

That's fine other than the problem that the locals a) don't think there will be a crash and b) don't want to build anything local if it (temporarily) means local is less convenient or more expensive (CSAs and farmers markets fall into that category right now).

So the idea that society is being "let down" by the elites ignores the fact that society in total does not want to prepare.

Here's the thing - doesn't matter who rejects your effort - your pitch is you are willing to use your money and access to talent (via paycheck) to 'help' the locals. You can be business like and take a cut. You can take the 'gifting economy' idea by seeding open source software set up to run new (and existing businesses) - that can be as cheap as free for replication (download the ISO) or as expensive as providing the box and talent to run the box. The businesses who use Open Source that is ready to go will have a local advantage over the ones who have to spend the coin on Windows.

Give it away - that potlach vision has worked in the past and may get you locals who won't want to come to your place and take your stuff via force as you helped em. Combine it with the timebank model - locals helping the network in a more formal way.

Examples are pitched by Fitts and Robb at solari and global guerrillas

I tend to agree with Thomas Deplume and Dark Fired Tobacco:

I think that, barring a catastrophe such as a large asteroid or comet strike or all-out nuclear warfare, civilization's adjustment to changing circumstances may be gradual. It may be a series of sharp adjustments punctuated by varying lengths of time in a quasi-stable plateau, and I do not doubt that the adjustment to some new level/paradigm will be painful at times.

Unless a catastrophic event that case, here is some more DP for your Saturday night.

Some folks spent a considerable part of their lives in a position to be post-catastrophe 'jet-setters'...I never relished the idea:

I think one important takeaway is that some governments have plans to not go quietly into the night.

Best hopes for an orderly and just transition with the consent of the the people...

I think that we must differentiate between the classes. First we have the "Richer than I am" who live in the gated communities around our cities. Then we have "Richer than those guys" who live in gated, guarded communities such as Aspen, Grosse Point, Camp David, and similar locations. Then we have the 5 per cent of wealthy. These are people like the Bush family who have bought property in remote areas of South America. Then we come to the 1 per centers. These people own property in various locations, but the majority seem to favor the area around Geneva Switz. These of course are not stupid people but people who have prepared for years for the up coming event. So you can be assured that these people and their children will be among the last people standing.


Keep dreaming guy.
I will willingly spend my last breathes in the effort to annilate
your type.

My sole uber contact is looking into Switzerland, but my guess is the mode will be optional profiles of the lowest order in a variety of places to allow for events. With luck they'll be gone like ghosts. So far he hasn't mentioned leaving my porch light on for a chopper.

I'm a member of a pretty well-to-do family. We've sat down and actually talked about having a family "dooms day" retreat should everything go to hell. We came to a few realizations:

-unless it was on an island, no fortified community would be able to withstand the attack of a large gang
-how are we going to "pay" our soldiers? Seriously, money means nothing after the collapse, so why should they do the risky work? Why not do it for themselves and their own families? Chances are, such people would form military colonies/gangs.
-if a woman and her children came to the gates of our community, starving and desperate, none of us would have it in us to turn them away. This becomes a run-away train problem.

Ultimately, we came to conclusion that the community would fail except for a few extraordinary circumstances (ultra-remote and inaccessible geographic location). So, rather than invest in such a community, we decided to invest (a much smaller sum) in self-defense and survival training and some basic supplies with the mindset that, should everything go to hell in a hand-basket, we'd have to blend in with the masses to have any chance of surviving.

Invest in your health. Both from a fitness and diet now and have family members who can go thru the meat grinder of a medical education. The masses will still need some doctoring - that would buy the family community standing wherever they land. (A GP who is tuned to diet and its effect on health won't make superstar brain doctoring money but should be able to have social influence in the upper circles of the well off if things don't go to hell in a wicker handbasket)

In my Northern corner of the world...I am just a middle-middle class guy, but I have a cottage...few hour drive from the city. I can hunker down there for a month just now, without any preparations, or for a year or two if I prepare a bit. Solar panel will drive LCD TV with a thousand copied movies to kill time :-). Obviously it is not protection against the mob, but definitely against some disruption in normal functioning of the society.

Society will not collapse, so enough survival "gear" for surviving a week in decent shape makes a world of difference. After most natural disasters first help arrives in three days and in meaningful volume after a week. All it takes is 2-3 L of water per person per day, 1500kcal worth of food (Meatballs with pasta in a can and granola bars will do...), clothes appropriate to your climate, tent, sleeping bags, radio, flashlight and a few more things. During this week, instead of having to wait for help, you can start working with people around to restore "peace".

Several billion people live now in conditions which are worse than doomsday scenarios rich want to escape from, and many are considerably happier than our Prozac generation.

1500 kcal seems low?


I am overweight and need to loose weight ;-)

"1500 kcal seems low?"

For a week you would be fine. Even for longer if you are sitting in the basement waiting for fallout to decay off or just plain keeping a low profile/silhouette.

I'm good for a week, beyond that the water runs out.

You can survive on just under 700 calories per day but you wouldn't be able to do hard physical work and at this marginal level getting the correct vitamines and minerals is difficult unless you have a well balanced diet.

You will die on seven hundred calories a day-just how long it will take is questionable, but most people would not last a year.

A very few young tough individuals might last somewhat longer-the history of the German concentration camps is instructive.

At 700 calories, you simply cannot get the necessary fat, protiens, vitamins, and minerals, except posssibly under health spa type conditions, to maintain normal health.

No diet consisting of the limited variety of foods that will be available after a crash would suffice in terms of essential nutrients at such a low calorie level.

Nobody is going to let you sit in an arm chair in a nice warm place all day-physical activity means calories burnt.

I saw a report about a couple on a calorie restricted diet of just under 700 a day. They both worked in an office but he trained in a gym 3 times a week. Each meal was measured out to the gram in protein, fats and carbs, also vitamines and minerals were strictly monitored.

I'm not suggesting this be tried in a survival situation only that its possible.

We're still a communal species, though.

The idea of making a remote sanctuary for just immediate family is maybe ok for a 'period of turmoil', say if your region erupts into riots, etc.. but the long term way for humans to live is villages, towns and cities.

If you were able to select a remote (to taste) town that has the ability to feed itself, to repair and make some tools, to get through all the seasons of the year without constant external inputs, maybe establishing ties with such a community would be a place to start.. and then, you can put some time into thinking about how to keep good relationships going between this and the neighboring towns... (Trade is a valuable tool in this game, and Radios might be an essential aspect of maintaining it, even if much other tech has become sketchy..) to know that the borders are not all and always areas of insecurity..

Not to forget, a LOT of other people will be as eager to avoid getting raided as you will be.

The danger of raids will fall off a cliff over a few months if there is a general collapse of industrial society;make it thru the first six months and you will probably make it, as far as roving gangs are concerned, although the risk will still be serious maybe for years.

Raiding will be a VERY high risk occupation after the first few weeks-after that some potential victims will try to actually turn the tables and lure raiders in to rob THEM ;this gets two birds with one stone.

So, rather than invest in such a community, we decided to invest (a much smaller sum) in self-defense and survival training and some basic supplies with the mindset that, should everything go to hell in a hand-basket, we'd have to blend in with the masses to have any chance of surviving.

GreenPlease, you're exactly right. Our family has been planning in much the same way.

I can't foresee any rampaging hordes in the near term, in fact the crime rate has fallen. It gets more difficult to commit a serious crime and get away with it each year. There hasn't even been a major riot in any cities since 1992.

In the U.S. most gated communities aren't very secure at the present, compare gated communities here to those in Brazil, Mexico, or South Africa.

It's going to be okay!

Seriously, you all just need to calm down. It's all going to work out. Repeat after me, "it's going to be okay... it's going to be okay..."

See there, now don't you feel better?



Back in the 1970's, a friend of mine who has a PHD in psychology was contracted with a group whose task it was study and report on the consequence of millennial change and the impact it would have on societies. His work was financed by the government which had an interest in preparing for the millennia.
To this day, I remember a particular conversation where he advised me that if I wished to become wealthy I should create a survivalist company. He noted that the most striking thing to occur approaching the millennia and shortly after would be a sharp rise in apocalyptic thinking and scenarios, none of which would be well founded.
Since 2000, I have almost lost track of the various scenarios put forth annually, each foretelling the end of civilization as we know it.Here's a brief list: Y2K, HIV, asteroids, bird flu, smallpox, global warming, ozone depletion, Yellowstone Caldera, island collapse in the Canaries causing a massive trans Atlantic tsunami, super hurricanes, massive solar ejection, great GOM methane bubble and financial collapse, to name a few. All of the previously mentioned scenarios have had considerable media coverage with experts from all fields being interviewed and putting forth arguments for concern. These no doubt helped ratings and got some people to prepare for the "end". These scenarios exist in the realm of possible but highly improbable.
The rich are not necessarily intelligent. They only appear intelligent because they have the resources to cover their folly.

I have a neighbor, owns the ranch next to my little place. He works on Wall St. when he's working, but otherwise spends his off time at his place on the Sea of Cortez or out here in the very rural west. He has a swell place, complete with lots of water storage, and a very large "safe room", underground and hidden. I know, because I watched the place being built. I thought it was some kind of a mining operation because of the large machinery brought in. The contractors were from another part of the country. As work progressed I could see that a residence was in fact being built, a very large, and a very elegant residence, all of stone.

The feller is an A-hole of the first order. He may believe he's got a great bug out set up, but, he's wrong. If we go down the drain, his survival will be because of a single factor, and that is, the good will and the good nature of the locals, who probably will forgive him of all of his past transgressions against them. If that doesn't happen, he's toast and the stones from his swell house will be used up on useful projects. Best from the Fremont

These scenarios exist in the realm of possible but highly improbable.

No. Many are VERY probable. Just not in your lifetime if you are lucky. Or perhaps at the end of your lifetime depending on your luck.

Comet Schwassmann - Wachmann

Oort Cloud, Something Wicked this way comes

I have been thinking about Peak Oil for 3 years now since reading "The Long Emergency" by Jim Kunstler. One of the problems I have with all the conspiracy theories is the idea that somehow the wealthy are pulling the strings to create the collapse everyone is afraid of. It is beyond me why a wealthy individual would think they would fair better if there were a complete collapse of society because everything we eat and consume is dependent on oil inputs. Unless they create a compound with enough land and people to farm they aren't going to have anything to eat after their supplies run out. Are they really going to be prepared to jump right into organic farming? Are they going to have enough horses and animals to create manure, a seed bank, farm tools, and enough weapons to protect all of this? Why would they even want this?

I personally believe that the best thing we can do individually is to invest in skills such as farming, medicine, basic engineering that will be useful no matter what the future holds. Wall street bankers aren't going to have any of those skills just because they have money.

I also think that in the worst case scenario the pain and suffering is going to start quickly and there will be a lot of people who won't make it. The ones who will have the best chance of survival will be those who have basic supplies of food and water (and yes weapons) to get through the worst initial period quietly and discretely. Being in a gated community or compound would only invite problems in my opinion. After the initial shock wears off then I want to believe that everyone will realize that the only chance for survival is cooperation in the biggest group possible. Money, status, 401Ks and even gold won't mean squat in a situation like that. What you can contribute and your ability to create relationships and alliances would be more important.

When the time comes, the PTB (military/oligargh) will simply seize the remaining oil/energy supplies, and the rest will simply be screwed, and the great die-off will commence. The PTB will re-emerge after the great die-off, period.

Altaira has posted a very serious question, and the photograph at the beginning of the post looks familiar to me. I think the mountain in the distance is Mauna Kea. If I'm not too far afield, this picture is taken from Kohala Mountain, the Northernmost dormant volcano on "The Big Island", Hawai'i.
Frankly, this is where my personal decade-long research of this question of where to find a lifeboat for my family has led. That means that Altaira is starting from a well studied position, and is probably actually in a position to assist and advise the fabulously wealthy. Many of them are already here, or have compounds here, largely on the Kona side.
This island has 170,000 people and the Kona Airport has a whole lot of corporate jets. All the rest of the Hawaiian Islands could fit on Hawai'i, with room to spare. It has steady rains, perfect climate, the cleanest air in the world and pure water. It could grow plenty of food, even without oil, but right now 90% of the food comes in from elsewhere. People here are very accommodating and cooperative.
Many of these responses belittle the possibility of surviving a societal collapse, but it is a very real issue around here, commonly discussed among "ordinary people", many of whom have traveled the world with the military, business, government, or all 3. This island is also the biggest settlement site for the Federal Witness Protection Program.
In summary, I will say that this question isn't going away. It is becoming acute, whether you deny it or try to ignore it, or anything short of suicide. This island is the best place I've found, better than the South Island of New Zealand. My bias is that I'm only fluent in English, and my professional skills and licensing depend on that.
As Altaira works with the very wealthy, she may be of service to them, because they only exist as long as they have servants. She will see those who are intelligent, those that are incompetent, but inherited wealth, and those who are sociopaths. Sociopaths are different, and they exist everywhere. They have no empathy at all, but they are usually good at reading the emotions of others, and anticipating their responses. They are completely untroubled by saying anything that serves their purposes. Guilt is not in them. They are very convincing liars, never hobbled by remorse. The smart ones become kings, and control our population in times such as we are entering. That is their service to the rest of us, to help us kill each other when the food gets short, or oil, whatever.
This is your species. When there is a millinium of women with real education, real choices, and complete control over their own reproductive choices, we will have reduced the sociopath gene pool. For the moment, find a small group that you can trust completely, in a place that you can live year in and year out without oil and electricity, and start figuring out how. You will then be free to help the rest of our species adapt.

I'd suggest reading the 'rich refuge' bit of "World War Z". I think it describes pretty well the perils of conspicuous consumption and mercenaries when things get tough.

When I said "possible but highly improbable", I meant to infer that the events were highly improbable to cause the end of civilization, as we know it. Some of the events referenced have already occurred. Y2K, for example, was preceded by dire scenarios of power grids failing, missiles being launched, planes falling from the sky to name a few of the apocalyptic scenarios. Prior to Y2K, bunker communities were built and many people stocked up on food while creating their own shelters. Many hunkered down that New Years Eve, only to find that life goes on.
Yes, social and financial upheavals as well as cataclysms do and have occurred throughout history and many will occur in the future. The Indian Ocean tsunami for all it's biblical proportion and tragedy did not end civilization along the coast. Krakatoa blew in the 1800's, the explosion was heard and felt in London and ash enveloped the sky causing a year without summer in the Northern Hemisphere (England and New York State reported snow in late June) and the loss of crops was great throughout the world. Civilization continued and no one hunkered down. History is replete with natural and man made disasters on a epic scale. Life goes on. Oh blah de, oh blah da.

God. This discussion only reminds me what I dislike about TOD - particularly it's hysterical, survivalist, and of course, male US 'voice'. All this blather about guns and enclaves and me/us against the rest. Too many cliches from disaster movies for my taste. Besides, would I want to live in a world like that posted by so many on here? No. I'd rather die. These are the scenarios of those who have lost something of their humanity - if they ever had it.

If the future isn't about a positive vision, in spite of all the crap coming down, then there's little point continuing and certainly little point of indulging in doomer porn like this.

All this blather about guns and enclaves and me/us against the rest. Too many cliches from disaster movies for my taste. Besides, would I want to live in a world like that posted by so many on here? No. I'd rather die.

The world already has guns, enclaves and me/us VS the rest.

It just hasn't visited you yet.

Now if you find the guns, enclaves and me/us VS the rest distasteful enough to 'want to die' - what are you doing about solving the issues where the distasteful things are?

I grew up in Belfast and lived there all through the Troubles. i saw plenty of examples of what bullets can do to human flesh. I'll spare you the details. What I am doing with my life is living simply, in a city which, contrary to the stereotype, is a very 'green' place to live - public transport, easy access to work, markets, high density housing, low utilities bills, cultural life, etc etc - I own neither a car or a TV, have a single room for most things, eating, sleeping and working, avoid air travel mostly, and so on. I wouldn't make great claims for my life but, it is a life that accepts that we are all in this together and if the ship is going down there's little point in seeking to escape. Better to stand along side good people, organise and educate wherever you live, and hope for the best.Thankfully the UK does not, by and large, have a taste for this grim, guns and ammo, version of the future that so many US men seem to flirt with.

Better to stand along side good people, organise and educate wherever you live, and hope for the best.

Totally agree. We are all born helpless and die helpless eventually too. But we do have a choice about what we do in between. Spending those precious years in a Mad Max doomer/survivalist fantasy will not be my choice. I also would rather live and die in community than spend time in a selfish individualistic and ultimately futile attempt to escape it all.A life with no higher purpose than mere selfish survival sounds like a tragic waste to me, no matter how many years it continues.

Our "guns and ammo" came in pretty handy for our friends and family in the "homeland" 70 years ago. Pray it doesn't come to that again.

Isn't there a slight tension between 'guns 'n ammo' and praying. Lol. In fact, come to think of it, isn't the confluence of gun culture and Christianity completely contradictory?

We stand together or die together. Survivalist thinking is just warped capitalist individualism taken to its logical conclusion.

....though let's not equate prudent preparation with a survivalist mentality. Most of us here seem to reside somewhere between survivalist and fatalist, and it's hard to find the center (wisdom?) if one doesn't explore the boundaries. It also helps to keep us from running around like the proverbial "chicken with it's head cut off", WTSHTF ;-)

Well....Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition! (common expression in US rural South)

In fact, come to think of it, isn't the confluence of gun culture and Christianity completely contradictory?

No. You are conflating things Jesus said and did with Christianity. As currently practiced, the two are almost diametrically opposed. Christianity is a stone age tribal culture.

And the government will be supplying suicide pills for free.
Population control will be in effect.

Well said, Stew dot art;

I find the armament talk to be incredibly tedious. (I hope I haven't been doing it, too)

There is this tone that suggests "What, have you forgotten all about the violence that 'could' be happening to you?" .. that the bad stuff is the only REAL stuff, because it tickles our fears so well.. and that the better options, the good things in life, the slow-but-sure ways to build another course, is of course lacking a certain 'toughness', and so is clearly inferior and not worthy of consideration.

I'm going to go make a sandwich and have some fresh Cherry Tomatoes now, just to show em!~ (I'm not even bringing my Glock downstairs with me. Wish me luck!)


particularly it's hysterical, survivalist, and of course, male US 'voice'.
+ 10

"Are they moral?" is a question you can only debate when you're not starving or freezing to death.

I'm not sure how useful it is at the moment to try to predict on how it is all going to play out -- or to try to organize yourself for that imagined future. But hey, you might get lucky or turn out to be truly prescient. (Personally, I'm trying to accumulate some useful skills and find a community to integrate that into. ) But that said, taking into account how elites are going to react is important. From the local mechanics of divestment (that is, how the local country commissioners are going to get their hands on your solar panels or rain barrels) all the way up to the global elites that Altaira is talking about. There's a lot to say on that subject, but the one thing I'll chip into this discussion is to note that the elites are as likely to be cutting each others throats (metaphorically and physically) as they are ours. I look at what happened in the Soviet Union in the 1990's, which in some ways was a dry-run for what the early days of collapse could look like. Individuals among the Communist elites had wildly different trajectories afterward depending on all kinds of variables - depending very much on their real control of resources (material, geographical, social, political, etc.) Things re-stabilized before regular people voted with their pitchforks, so the new elites were mostly drawn from the old elites. But like I said, imagining the specifics of our future is tough to do at this juncture.

I don't see how a rich person could pay to have a lifeboat set up and then make use of it in an emergency. Moving away from an urban center to a rural area or small town requires a huge investment in time to get involved and known within a community. I don't think in any emergency situation if the hypothetical banker manages to catch the helicopter that plonks him on his lifeboat, will be able to make a go of things. I know from my limited small town / rural experience (just over 7 months so far..), that everyone knows what everyone is up to especially if there is any significant traffic or construction activity. If there is a hint that this out-of-town rich guy that was delivered by helicopter, has anything useful that he is not willing to share, he will soon lose it.

However I would propose an alternative model:
If I was extremely rich and happy to continue to live in an urban center, I would look out for a close relative or friend (someone I could trust) who was willing to go out and set themselves up in rural area or in or next to a small town (well away from large urban centers). They would have the right to live there for life and be given a share of the property. I would then sponsor this person and their family, to set themselves up properly. They would have to as part of this process get involved and known within the community. They would do so on the understanding that one day I may appear with my family (mistress(es), love-child?) etc. to live with them. Of course being rich, there would be spare bedrooms and enough living space for myself and whatever else I had prepared. Ideally, I would visit the lifeboat and stay for a few weekends a year to make sure everything was proceeding to my satisfaction, I would even try and meet some locals.

I think this alternative could be quite workable, provided there is no serious breakdown in the relationship between the sponsored inhabitants and the rich refugees at the time of the emergency. It's a lot easier to join an existing functioning household than to put together a household where most of the inhabitants are paid employees and have no stake in your survival, outside of financial incentives.

Sounds great! Anyone want to sponsor me? Who's taking applications?

My experience is that most wealthy people got that way by being able to organize people and get them focused on a common goal. These seem like valuable skills in a post apocalyptic world.

I would see the wealthy CEO type ending up like the feudal king living in his castle with his knights and archers manning the walls. He would eventually organize the peasants gathered outside the walls into groups to till the soil, raise the livestock and build shelter necessary for all to survive, including the King.

Even though people may envy the king, there would be no shortage of people willing to live under his influence in return for the stability of its society.

In the US most wealthy people got that way by having wealthy parents, probably true in the rest of the world.
How many children of Indian peasants become billionaires, as a percentage, versus precentage becoming billionaires among children of billionaires?

Scanning this thread is pretty unsettling.

I spent a month or so in Rio de Janeiro, mostly wandering around. At least wandering around in those areas where I could wander with out being robbed or killed.

Rio has plenty of high-rise apartment buildings and quite a few of them have helicopter pads on the roof so that the apartment dwellers can come and go in comfort and safety.

So if the question is "can the wealthy have a separate peace?", it sure looks to me like they not only can, but have for quite some time.

It is interesting how many of the posts in this thread seem to support the idea that having guns, lots of guns will somehow bring security.

From what I saw in Rio, where so many people are armed, it is not bringing security.

In fact, it is the poor people who seem to have the highest level of weapon ownership, with very modern, sophisticated and powerful weapons, and it is not bringing security... quite the opposite.

It looks to me like equating weapons with security is an illusion.

Only equality and justice will bring security.


"Only equality and justice will bring security."

Ha! gnuB, you could have just started (and ended) here:

" is an illusion."

If you look in wikipedia, high income inequality correlates very highly with crime and violence of all kinds, across all countries.

Intuitively we all know that great extremes of poverty and wealth create crime, because in our hearts we know that if we were born into the desparate underclass that we would also resort to violence to even the score. Why not, what does the desparate person have to lose?

So the facts do support the claim that "Only equality and justice will bring security" or at least the corollary that "Inequality and injustice will bring insecurity".

US: 10 times higher mortality rate caused by homicide
, 4 times more gun possession than in seems to me there is a spiral of violence occuring when a nation chooses for an individual weapon race.


True wealth (well being) means being surrounded by people who care for you and support you, not by people who have guns and intend to use them

So, how many of you doomsday guys also fell for (or helped generate) the Y2K scare? Or the SARS and flu pandemics?

Seriously, haven't we survived and thrived after a number of economic and political apocalypses over the last 150 years or so? Little things like the US Civil War, WWI in Europe and the brutal after years including the Great Depression, WW2, the "collapse" of the USSR, and a few dozen others? For sure we will run out of oil someday, but to think that oil based energy is the last possible form of energy innovation is laughable at best.

As for the original post, I say if you can make a business claiming you will extract and protect the rich, go for it. Fear sells better than sex and gold - ask any successfully marketed religion. Take the money up front and don't give a single thought on delivering what you promise. Make sure you make an awesome video and PowerPoint presentation for your sales pitch with lots of scary music!

You mean that Sex and Religion aren't the "Oldest Professions"?

That reminds me of a joke about a prostitute, a doctor, an engineer and a lawyer.

The prostitute says, No debate here, mine is the oldest profession.

Oh no, says the doc, in the Bible God removes a rib from Adam even before there were women and therefore, by that surgery, medicine is the oldest profession.

We got you beat, says the engineer. In the beginning God created the world. That was a magnificent feat of engineering. Engineering is the oldest profession.

Sorry to disappoint you all, says the lawyer, but first few words in the Bible say that before everything there was "chaos". Now which profession do you suppose is responsible for THAT?

What do you suggest we substitute for petroleum then as a transport fuel?

A. Many people did not survive those events you mentioned.

B. Most people back in the day were much more prepared and self sufficient than most people today. Many of the "survivalist" preparations today are just to get back to the "Normal" of 100 years ago.

I will suggest respectfully that the people who don't understand why the ones of us who take our weapons and our personal responsibility for our own security VERY SERIOUSLY INDEED simply don't have a CLUE as to the reality of what may be coming down the highway like a giant paving roller which will obliterate everything in its path.

Civilization as we know it right now is a very thin veneer of prosperity and polite behavior papering over a very real, very mean, very nasty Darwinian world.

When the easy resource pickings are finished off, civilization as we know it NOW may well be a distant memory.

I will bet that every single person who has posted a "please let us be civilized" comment believes in climate change, even though the actual evidence is still mostly missing in action;but the science is good, and I believe in cc myself.

The science of Darwinian biology is also good, and we don't have to go to the geological record to check on the past behavior of our kind.

We have history books.

The predictions of mayhem are BETTER FOUNDED than cc predictions, as we have just as good science PLUS the WELL documented historical record.

I have fire insurance although I do not actually expect my house to burn.

I do not actually EXPECT to have to defend my self in a violent post collapse scenario because I am already old, and civil authority may hold in my area, or even just about everywhere in the US.

But I realize that I might HAVE TO look after myself.

There is noway to compute the odds, as there is no record in history directly comparable to use as a baseline;the state of the world today is historically unique in too many ways.

But speaking as a person who reads history for the fun of it, and a person well grounded in the basic sciences, my personal guess is that:

The chances of society wide collapse involving great violence sometime in the next twenty years are higher than the chances of my house burning down.

I believe the odds of such a collapse within twenty years are somewhere between five percent minimum to perhaps as high as fifty percent.

We ARE going to go to WAR, folks, when the resource sxxt hits the fan.

Or have all you folks opposed to guns already forgotten that we have had troops in firefights involving resources-specifically oil-more or less continiously for the LAST twenty years?

That WWII was fought for resources access?

Here's a thought for the forum to chew on.

Russia may ask for membership in a rejuvenated Nato within the next ten to fifteen years in order to protect herself from China .

You heard it from me first. ;)

It seems that the US has been at war for most of the last 70 years, the only difference will be that it's guns will now be pointed at itself.


'So, how many of you doomsday guys also fell for (or helped generate) the Y2K scare?'

called my wife the fri. before, as she was driving the 25 miles home to check if she had gas, & some cash...i only had 1/2 tank & $30. she had 1/2 tank & a twenty so we decided enough.

peak oil is Not the same!

I don't know a soul with a brain who took y2k seriously once they realized that all the serious players still using legacy systems had programmers on the job .


The Y2K problem and what causes it is still in effect.

A band aid known as a 'sliding window' to handle the dates was almost totally the method used to resolve the situation.

Yet the 2 digit dates still exist in records because in almost all cases no one was going to be able to go back and rewrite those dates in a 4 digit format. All those archived data on reels of magnetic tape. It was simply not enough time and so the 'sliding window' method was the choice taken.

The only entity I remember who did go back and correct the date fields was the Social Security Commission.

I worked at several very large accounts testing the code. Without the 'fix' applications just fell flat on their face.

I do know of a couple of companies, small ones, that failed. They simply did NOT believe in what Y2K was going to do. They listened to the naysayers.

Once the sliding window was implemented then testing could continue.

Each day I would Re-IP the mainframes and set the TOD(Time Of Day) clock ahead or back or to a leap year or whatever. Then the girls in front of their 3270s or whatever would run the IMS or CICS apps or whatever was in use to access records and watch for failures.

I personally sat in huge rooms full of those men and women and tried to fix failures on the fly so they could beat the deadlines.

Its rather easy to alter DASD record fields but not so easy with other forms of data storage.

Consider the huge amount of Financial records as held by investment firms and wall street. Those records are for stock certificates that go back many many years. Same with utility companies and most all other firms.

So Y2K would have been a huge problem. And like I said, the 2 digit date fields still exist.

What they did NOT wish to happen was the inability to create ,alter and delete record keeping functions to fail.

Most who did not work in the belly of the beast pass it all off as bullhocky. They are whistling past the graveyard.

And let me add that nobody much was going to or was able to go back to those previous applications that were written in Cobol or Fortran and 'ported' over to newer application for those who had written them were no longer around or available.

I remember very well one big failure in IBM's tape headers for expiration dates. Data Centers would create 'scrtch' tapes so they could mount them as the system called for a 'mount'. When I set the mainframe ahead in time via the TOD and they tried to create new tapes it would fail. Again a 2 digit field.

I was called down to the 'raised floor' and the operations manager looked at me and said "We have mounted every spare tape we have in this company and they all get rejected and unload!!" That was went the failure became apparent. A fix had already been created but IBM customers were not yet informed and needed to get the PTF(programming temporary fix).

So it was NOT a walk in the park. I worked 70 hour weeks for a long time. Two years in fact down in the belly of that beast. I lunched with others who were doing the same. Some for PC applications that were beginning to replace mainframes. So it was NOT all in legacy code. It was in the PC apps as well.

Still the dates are 2 digits in those old archives and likely in all NEW records written. UNLESS the code was altered for NEW records and yet the 'sliding window' code must still be allowed for handling of those legacy records and the ones apt to be accessed for whatever reason.

Their is nor was any mainframe going to hit the ground!!!!

What you would get is Incorrect Output. Bad records and the APPLICATIONS might program check or fail in other and various manners.

MSFT for PCs is full of errors. Just check how many updates MSFT creates each month. Up til Windows 7 most MSFT operating systems were basically trash and still are. BSOD I say and worse.

As long as code is written, and IMO the Indians produce the worst(J2EE is about all they know) yet cost the least. I hate Java and its scripts. It allows great for very great vulnerabilities on one's desktop. Yet seems to be ubiquitous.

Turn Java off on your own desktop/browser..etc. and watch the results. Scripts downloaded to your desktop , known as Client Side code. They run their apps on your desktop to save usage on theirs.

I am rusty in some of these latter areas for I no longer find it interesting or a financial incentive.

Yet one can note that all the 'hackers' and 'crackers' seem to have disappeared down a rabbit hole and I observe they have very very little 'presence' anymore out on the Internet.

Reason? Why publicize yourself? You are just asking for trouble. Better to hack and crack and not be visible. Where have they gone then? Nowhere , they are still out there and likely growing.

It is stated in some areas of knowledge that the Chinese broke into all the government systems long ago. I suspect it is true.

Just observe the huge number of security fixes put out by MSFT.

I have worked on many home PCs that were totally compromised yet the owner had no clue whatsoever. Some who had funds stolen, most were 'zombied' out and sold on the net in chat rooms in order to mount attacks and other venues.

So a film of 'its all ok' settles over the eyeballs of all USERS because they prefer to not know the truth.

Read 2600 magazine. Available on most newsstands before assuming otherwise.

I run with a firewall. Most run virus scanners. Virus scanners are 'after the fact'. Besides any cracker with skills can make a 'one time' alter to any backdoor or trojan and it will stay 'in the wild' and undectable since its 'fingerprint' is not known or reported. Just enough altering to make the fingerprint check not catch the malware.

I suspect we are all riddled thorough and through due to far more complex and undetectable malware.

Just go to MVPS HOSTS website and observe the massive number of tracking malware that your browser is forced to by just about every website known. You are being totally and completely tracked and your data is being sold and traded. Your eyeballs are marketed.

Only a local DNS cache can prevent this. Only a very good firewall can make you safe and thats still not a complete given.

No one speaks of this anymore. Like I said, its all gone underground. IMO of course.

So Y2K was real and I made a large pile of money working in it and THEN they let all the programmers go and shipped it all overseas. Where we have zero control. Wise? No stupid and greedy and this is how they repaid the programmers who worked in the pits for long hours and days and saved our bacon. This is how they repaid them.

After Y2K consulting and contracting dried up in great measure. My third party firm could come up with very little. They went out of business eventually.

Actually I have been cutting over to my old friend Linux. For the true programmer that is the only way to go. Yet I keep this desktop alive on XP and my laptop on Win7 but all the rest is migrating.

I grow weary of the MSFT nonsense and costs and security holes. A good firewall takes a lot of cpu cycles and procs. Its slows a processor down measureably even a duo core I3 with 4 gig DDR3 memory and a 500 gig 7200 highly buffered HD, even with SATA.

With my desktop absolutely idled and not touching the KB the HD is constantly in heavy use. Only a very well behaved platform,such as Linux/Unix will put that HD to sleep.

Seems my Win 7 is running almost 70 processes. I can remember when I only had 20 or less running. I do not engage in folly , like FaceBook, Twitter, MySpace and the other nonsense either.

Y2K happened. We put a bandaid on it. Not me but TPTB. They never really understood it at all anyway.

Anyone with a brain knew that the programmers were working on it, and that it was fixable. What was in question was whether or not all the work would be completed in time, and if not, where the supply chain disruptions might be. It was not irrational to be a little concerned about that.

To put it simply and bluntly, there is no reason as it is described in your post that would stop those same blackwater mercenary's or any mercenary's from turning around and killing the people they were supposed to protect and loot their stores if their fears of money having no value comes to pass.
I doubt their psychopathic minds realize that to keep them loyal you need to give them a stake in your survival other then money or what would pass as money at that time.

A billionaire who is smart and does not have the psychopathic mindset that is so useful now in earning such wealth would not only make a compound but make it into a community compound. No not the happy go lucky lets all hold hands idea of some people here who seem to just as equally disregard the negative aspects of human social structure. this community would be made up of the family, extended family, and maybe close friends of those same guards. their jobs would be related to making this community run and of course keeping the billionaire in a semi comfortable life style. this would also ensure the loyalty of those same mercenary's as they now have a good reason to protect him, otherwise their family's would be left to the tender mercy's of the starving masses on the other side of the wall/walls during the die off phase.

A side effect of such a arrangement would be the reemergence of a past social structure that historically was known for it's stability(though yes i admit it was far from completely stable) and fast adaptation compared to modern mass ruled systems that seem rather short sighted and unwilling to adapt to long term situations. but to those of us who grew up in such a mass ruled system would seem rather cruel and unjust.

Well, I've been out irrigating so I'm late to the party.

I think most TODers know I'm a doomer and serious prepper. I believe the most important thing is to "buy time." People who are pushed into making a decision typically make the wrong one. In survival classes the first thing that is taught is to STOP, don't do anything. Just sit there. Then THINK about your situation.

My philosophy has never been to try to become self-sufficient but rather to be able to sit back and observe what is going on. Even a day or week could make a difference. But, the longer the better.

One way you buy time is to be sure your neighbors and friends share your beliefs. I'm in the boondocks and am fortunate that my three neighbors share a concern for the future like mine and are similarly prepared. In other words, relationships are a key component of prepping and survival. We also share a belief in defending our area.

Let me use water as an example. Between us we store about 30,000 gallons of potable water in tanks. We also have two ponds, two wells and two springs. Why the concern about water? Because while you can live without food for a long time, you can't live without water longer than about a week. Water buys time.

We've also reached out to others, although typically without success.

I believe that the best we can do, whether rich or poor, is to at least take the time to think about how things might play out. Yes, it would be nice if people also actually "prepped." And, yes, it is impossible to foresee the future with any accuracy but it is better than being caught totally flatfooted.

I'll close by again mentioning the LDS Preparedness Manual 200+ pages.


"Will enclaves of extreme wealth be built on a massive scale? Will they succeed in protecting their inhabitants? Are they “moral?” "
They already are. If adequately armed.Of course not.
In my veiw this is the major motivation for pursuing wealth. The more wealth the more you can remove yourself from certain unplesentries of reality. The U.S. is its own enclave and there are enclaves within enclaves.The U.S. enclave is buttressed with enormous techno military power, equaling all the other nations annual spending combined.The many levels of enclaves within the U.S. are enforced by local police.The more money and power you weild the highr up the enclave ladder you may accend.Stating the obvious here.No enclaves or seprate peace can exist without enforcement.

If the "egalitarian and communitarian minded" can succeed in making the world a better place that would removed the attraction for enclaves and so excesive wealth.

Can we identify forces that would send societies one direction or another, and places more or less likely to take a particular path?

The forces i see come from within, the different aspects of human nature. Its simplistic but the lizard man vs. the noble man.These two men live in all of us somtimes the lizard gets his way and somtimes the noble, often a compromise.Many times what looks noble is just the lizard in disguise.
IMO the lizard is far more powerfull and most often the noble is only allowed to act with the lizards permission, that is if a display is made of it and others can say "oh look how noble he is"

Vanity is fundamental

I've thought about this a bit before. If we really face a collapse of civilization like this, I'd place my money on the already homeless having an overall greater chance of survival. Partly through sheer numbers, and partly because they are already living on edge and would not need much of a period to learn and adapt. Although I don't blame the super-rich trying to maximize their chances of success, this tends to be much more of an abstract thought experiment for them especially if they aren't first generation wealth. I'm sure its better for them than not planning at all, and I'm sure some hording of resources will help in some short term ways. But if we are facing a genuine civilization collapse, short term survival, while necessary isn't going to be sufficient for ultimate survival.

Instead of trying to build a "separate peace", I think it would probably make better sense to plan for a nomadic lifestyle. We are after all still genetically rooted as a hunter/gatherer species. Building "a separate peace" would really be more like a vain attempt to maintain a lifestyle which would have already been selected against in such a situation. Indeed, I think anyone trying to bunker down like that would simply be delaying their embrace of the kind of change and flexibility that such a
new world order would demand and would hence be actually lowering their longterm chances for survival.

I'd also point out that humans are successful as a species largely due to their hypersociality and anyone attempting to maintain an alienation based on the social stratification of a dying civilization are more likely to find themselves alienated from the kind of cooperation necessary for them to share in the long term survival of their own species. Certainly the collapse of previous civilizations ought to be somewhat instructive. Its always the barbarian hordes who take over, so if you really want you and yours to ultimately survive you'd probably better figure out a way to join them much sooner rather than later. Too much of this separate peace will ultimate leave you imprisoned in a dead-end obsolescence of your own making.


I'm also a bit skeptical about all of this talk about the ascendancy of religion in such circumstances . . . at least in the voodoo/superstitious/supernatural anti-scientific sense. Sure I think there will be an abundance of smaller spiritual culture clubs and plenty of nutjobs among them - I accept the few steps backwards that can accompany the progress science. However given the now unprecedented global distribution and abundance of scientific knowledge and information compared to previous human epochs, I think it will only be a matter of time and survival that we will rediscovering it sooner rather than later. Science has more durable value than any currency or precious metal you can imagine. If you really want to plan for the future, THAT is what you really should be hording.

Science has more durable value than any currency or precious metal you can imagine

I agree with you, but recall the end of the Roman Empire...they were pretty well along in mathematics, medicine, engineering, etc, but all that went away for a thousand years in Europe. All it takes is one generation that doesn't learn to read.

recall the end of the Roman Empire...they were pretty well along in mathematics, medicine, engineering, etc, but all that went away for a thousand years in Europe. All it takes is one generation that doesn't learn to read.

I'm glad someone brought up the end of the Roman Empire and the collapse of Western Civilization because I think that the lessons and examples from the Dark Ages give us an idea of how it could get. We all rely on these things called technology and industry, much as the Roman Empire depended on Rome to maintain their lives. When it went away, the effect was devastating.

Me, personally, I'm teaching my kids skills that they may not have normally learned in the *cough*US Public School System - how to shoot, how to farm, how to camp, how to take care of yourself. They are slow lessons, as I have to learn myself.

I also find myself reverting back to simpler technologies - like simpler automobiles, motorcycles, bicycles and things that don't require current technology to replace - scrounging and barter can substitute.

whether it might be smart of me to acquiesce, and position myself for the “inside” rather than the “outside” of the walls being built.

If you wouldn't trust these billionaires now why would you trust them after collapse?

Such "retreats" do work now in places like Mexico, Pakistan and the USA. The wealthy live behind walls and in gated communities. In the end, however, nothing is defensible forever. Siege tactics, poison gasses, missiles change the equation. As for Blackwater (et. al) mercenaries, well, loyalty isn’t their strong suit, eh? They’ll go whichever way the wind blows.

Bottom line? It’s not the middle ages. All the wealthy have purchased in a "retreat" is a false sense of security.

That being said, I understand feeling the need to prepare against the unprepared. If I have my nice sustainable cottage in the woods set up ahead of time, I won’t welcome the starving hoards breaking into my larder either (which they will if they discover it). Does this show contempt, or a desire to survive? Should I simply give all I have away so that people who watched American Idol until the end can live another day?

As for the wealthy taking “direct control” of resources, I wouldn’t worry too much. These guys trained in an environment very different from that which will exist in a collapsing society. Don’t fear them. Fear your local sheriff, your local national guard commander, or the local motorcycle “club.” The rich fellow with the doomstead in upstate new york won’t last long against the local national guard with working military weapons operated by war vets. The grass roots leader with links to his local society and can sustain himself with local resources is the person to fear.

A more pertinent question I have about certain sets of the uber-rich:

How do they survive now?

I honestly wonder that the Wal-Mart heirs, the investment bankers of Wall Street, and people associated with AIG, Goldman Sachs, or banks like Citibank and Bank of America can live safely. I assume some of these people have guards, but on the other hand I think most of the people with $10 million plus don't continuously watch their backs. We have 9%+ unemployment with underemployment even higher, and to the extent there is fault it's pretty clear where it lies. I am amazed every day that no violence occurs. It simply does not happen. The high level bankers and CEOs live safely in our society.

The question I have is at what point do the elites have to worry about a peasant uprising? At what point do the bankers have to worry about kidnapping or assassination?

I think this is the question before all the other questions. If they don't have to worry, they don't need a lifeboat. If they do have to worry, I'm fairly sure no lifeboat will save them. For the most public members of the elite, a sudden collapse will mean near certain death as it meant to Marie Antoinette or the Romanovs. For the less public, minor elite, perhaps a "lifeboat" enclave can work.

I imagine the Romanovs thought they were safe up to the point they found out that there was nowhere they could run to. The same scenario seems likely with the elites of today; if a collapse or violent revolution occurs, I imagine they won't have the time or ability to get away. I do not think these forces are really predictable on a "useful" scale. In hindsight, it's obvious that Russia would have a revolution, but on the other hand, it's didn't happen 20 years earlier or happen after World War II, instead it came in 1917. In the fantasy of the "lifeboat", the elite escape just in the nick of time, but in reality, by the time it's realized that there is real danger it is already too late.

Speaking out loudly and clearly about what appears to exist, but is everywhere denied, cannot wait. We cannot address human-driven global challenges that knowledgeable people willfully deny to discuss. It seems to me that the children deserve more and much better than they are getting from my not-so-great generation of elders.

Somehow all of us have to help one another more adequately see how the world we inhabit actually works and, as important, how the human species more realistically fits into the natural order of living things.

As things stand now, many too many leaders are adamantly advocating and recklessly behaving as if the planetary home in which we live so well is an unbounded cornucopia and the human community has ‘inalienable rights’ to endlessly plunder its natural resources; relentlessly overproduce unnecessary stuff and pollute it; and righteously propagate more billions of the human species on Earth without regard to its actual size, its frangible ecology and its evident finiteness. Leaders are living fantasy-driven lifestyles and misguidedly expanding the global economy to the point of its unsustainability… come what may for the children, coming generations, life as we know it, and the Earth as a fit place for human habitation.

Never in the course of human events has a single generation commandeered so much for itself, left so little for others, and committed such widespread destruction on Earth. One generation appears to be destroying the very things it claims to be most ardently protecting and preserving.

Perhaps necessary change toward sustainability is in the offing.

I'm not sure what is meant by this "rich getaway strategy." I would think these situations to be so unique so as to not really be comparable as some kind of classifiable scenario.

I'd rather hijack the thread and discuss the growing polarization likely to take place when more have-nots realize they are subsidizing a world created for petroleum-powered personal-passenger vehicles.

The biggest threat to my quality of life is the rich and powerful perverting our government and our market system to consume as many and as much resources as possible.

Right now, the discretionary use of personal passenger vehicles and the costs in sustaining the infrastructure required for their operations is the greatest waste of wealth and resources humanity is likely to ever experience.

As more people find the obvious economic burdens associated with discretionary passenger car use beyond their economic means they may eventually understand the latent effects that maintaining the "fake-marketability of automobile ownership. There is another coming social divide. And its likely to take the form of "car people" against the "Peak Oil" nuts.

Maybe the descendants of these elites will become the "Eloi", and the descendants of the rest of us will become the "Morlocks".

At least our descendants will get to eat their descendants. Serves them right.

Too late.

Our descendants have become Dilberts and they live dark desperate lives in lonely cubicles.

Their descendants got MBA's and practice daily mind control over our descendants.

I don't know if anyone has posted it yet, but I am reminded of an article from a few years ago, about Richard Rainwater, "The Rainwater Prophecy."

Rainwater's approach was to basically integrate himself into small town life in a farming community in the Carolinas. I do think that there is a sort of stealth migration going on, where wealthier people are moving to smaller communities in agricultural areas.

Great topic. I had no idea that many of the uber-wealthy are apparently just as worried as the "crazy" survivalists. As for whether their strategy will work, my guess is that it generally will. There is already plenty of precedent. Just look at any third world nation, where people are starving on the streets, but the wealthy manage to maintian their swimming pools behind gated compounds.
The unfortunate fact is that the majority of people fail to prepare for events like peak oil. Those who were unwilling to prepare individually or collectively later expect the "wealthy" to save the day. (By the way, the "wealthy" might one day include you if you have a few spare cans of beans). I'm not arguing against collective effort - that is almost certainly what the wealthy are doing. They are probably seeking out areas and forming networks where they will collectively interact and maintain the best life they can under the new circumstances. The wealthy who are preparing are really no different than the rest of us who are preparing - they are just doing it on a grander scale.
There is always disapproval that the wealthy should be doing more for the rest of us. OK, what are we doing to include the third world masses, or those who couldn't care less, in our own PO preparation plans? I personally don't begrudge anyone their money as long as it was earned legitimately. If people (not just the wealthy) are earning money unethically then IMO it's better to focus on stopping the means of theft rather than hating the thief.

Following the crazed survivalist meme of hiding somewhere with piles of canned beans and ammunition is quite useless for living a nice life and keeping civilization going. Its useless on both a shoe string and a billionaire budget since it is an unproductive mindset that also is fearfull of other people.

Finding friends, building busines relationshis and communities, learing stuff and getting buffers and redundancy to handle practical problems works both if times turn bad or nothing special happens. Doing productive stuff is also what ultimately builds wealth and if your life and business is flexible enough to handle a somewhat rough post peak oil period it can also handle hard global competition or realy bad weather.

I just read the economic stats of Greece:
economy in 2010 projected to be down with 4%,
1 out of 6 shops in Athens foreclosed,
industrial production went down by 4,5%
energy production went down by 10,5%
The rich can't hide for a doom scenario,
but they sure can resist to economic crises, better than people without financial buffers
they can buy solar panels and electric vehicles, and still travel to their job.

The wealthy are in a better position than poor people to prep.

But as for a separate peace??

I guess anything is possible. But we have to take responsibility for the world we have created. Specifically the world 'the rich' have created through their manipulation of the politicians they buy.

Remember the craze for corporate takeovers back in the 80's and 90's? A few got rich while they dismantled companies and sold them the expense of the workers on the assembly lines who lost their jobs.

Fast forward to 2010 and greed, Wall street and corrupt power hungry politicians are still destroying the USA.

Now they want to get a golden parachute from it all?

I don't think the rich are planning on doing all their own grunt work in their compounds. Are they planning on having their families do all the dirty work?

For once they bring in hired help (what they going to pay them with...worthless toilet paper?) Their security risk skyrockets! Once they pay them in gold or silver, the gold sickness will push the workers to want it all!

No, peace is hard to buy no matter how much $$ you throw at it.

Here is an interesting article "The Myth of Self Reliance"

Even though being 100% self sufficient is near impossible. We can work towards preparedness for a variety of possibilities to make us more comfortable if and when trouble strikes.

For survival is also about comfort...we try to be as comfortable as possible in uncomfortable circumstances. And if we get too uncomfortable we die!

But, rich or poor, survivalist or sheeple...we ALL have to come outside once in a while to deal with the rest of the world we have created.

Do the highly ambitious and wealthy have a different understanding of “human nature” than the more egalitarian and communitarian minded? Are these different views the result of scientific understanding of human nature or from whom one tends to associate with?..

A politician's only concern is how much money can I make, how much power can I grab, who can I fudge next and how can I stay in power until they wheel me out after I take my last breath!

Questions of social ethics don't go very far in DC. Social ethics and capitalism just don't mix. They are like trying to mix oil and water. Lets take a look at on highly capitalistic company Monsanto for the low down on how capitalism works.

Monsanto engaged in "outrageous" behavior by releasing tons of carcinogenic PCBs into the city of Anniston and covering up its actions for decades Monsanto's internal memos stated "...we can't afford to lose one dollar over this."

Any social ethics here? Any ethical behavior? Even a smidgen of humanity? The health of a community is not even worth a lousy buck? (see paragraph 11)

Well, why should it be any other way to a capitalistic system? Especially one where the politicians can be bribed to only pass legislation to benefit the rich?

Money is god to a capitalist, so the more money one makes, the closer one gets to their idea of heaven. Social ethics cost money and capitalists can't even afford to spend a buck on social ethics.

And in the big picture, even if Monsanto did not break the law, why would they be accountable to lose profits to fund social ethics? They are a public company and their job is to make profits for their shareholders and give obscene paychecks to their execs.

But, capitalists do have some use for socialism. When they are losing money, ready to go bust, they like to socialize their loses to the taxpayer so they can keep reaping the profits as they rape the society that supports them.

The other questions in the OP sound like they come from some academic writing a term paper.

Sure there are all sorts of degrees of prep work. I would not get stuck in writing about preps...I'd get going doing some work in that area.

Here is a list of things that pose danger to our world as we know it.

While it has not been publicized much, the trend is for life expectancy for Americans to decline.

We have a corrupt and out of control government. Massive amount of US jobs and the cushy middle-class lifestyle of many Americans are vanishing.

So, even without any of our SHTF scenarios coming to fruition - 'just living life' can be quite a survival feat nowadays in our world that is quickly decomposing before our very eyes.

Besides Peak Oil, Peak Food, Peak Water, Peak NG, Peak Uranium, Overpopulation and a poisonous polluted world we have created here is a list of threats facing humans from S.R.T.

One person on another forum made a joke about some of the threats. My job is not to censure this list, but I just put it out as one compilation of things one might prepare for. You decide what may apply to you.

...but bear in mind what my survival mentor says: "to prepare for the unthinkable one must first think the unthinkable."

Natural Disasters on and from the Earth
Short Term and Regional
-Severe Storms, Wind, Lightening
-Hurricanes, Typhoons, Cyclones, Superstorms
-Tsunami/Tidal Waves
-Fires - Forest/Brush
-Drought (Dust Bowl)
-Animal caused famine (ie. locusts)
-Disease, Plague, Pandemics coming from nature (ie. bird flu)
Long Term / Climate Change
-Global Warming
-Ice Caps Melting, Oceans rising
-Ozone Loss/UV Damage
-Gulf stream changes, climate shift
-Global Cooling/Ice Age
-Global Pole Shift
Natural Disasters from Beyond the Earth and not caused by man
-Asteroid or Comet Impact
-Black Holes/Worm Holes
-Solar Flares/Coronal Ejections/Gamma Burst
-Alien Invasion, non-intelligent (Andromeda Strain, virus, bacteria)
-Alien Invasion intelligent life (War of the Worlds Scenario)
-Religious End of the World (Anti-Christ, Second Coming, etc.)
Man-made Accidental Disasters
-Nuclear Reactor Disaster
-Chemical Disaster
-Biological Disaster
-Grid failures, failures in technology that bring down services
-Climate change caused by mankind
-Genetic Engineering gone wrong GMO fears
-Nanobots gone wrong the gray goo, replicants, Blob scenario
-Artificial computers smarter than man Cylons, Terminator
Wars, Acts of Terrorism (Intentional Acts)
-Nuclear weapons
-Biological Weapons (small pox, anthrax, ricin, etc.)
-Chemical Weapons (never gas, mustard gas etc.)
-Conventional explosives/weapons
-Cyber attack attack by software control
-Individual levels such as identity theft
-"Fire sale" attacks which bring down the grid
-EMP attack or anything that takes out electronic hardware, computers
Government, Economic
-Progressive Loss of Freedoms to Individuals
-Big Brother fears, NAIS for humans, implanted micro-chips
-Economic Collapse breakdowns, depression, hyper-inflation
-Social or Government Collapse/Revolution
-World socialism, World Government take over, World Dictator
-Conspiracy theories coming true
-Corporate controlled World

In fact, it might be an indication that we are nearing the crisis state when world government is successful in outlawing the private ownership of firearms and confiscation thereof....

When firearms go...all goes

The writing is on the wall. All guns must be confiscated before the class wars get out of hand. As the disparity between the rich and poor escalate, the poor will start class wars as they have done throughout history when he rich crowd out their very survival through greed.

The poor have no other alternative-do they? The rich control the gov and only pass legislation to benefit the rich.

I read some town in OH banned trash picking. If your caught digging through the trash you can be fined $500 or jailed for 30 days. People that trash pick generally are not rich. They do it trying to survive. Now the local gov has taken away the unemployed's last hopes for honest work of some sort. What is left for them to do to try and eat?

Seems to be many such trends chipping away at our very survival before the SHTF comes knocking at our door. So even if none of our SHTF scenarios come to fruition, living life itself can be a survival feat nowadays. Just look at the Individual Mandate the gov has proposed to fine the poor for not being able to afford health insurance.

I talked with a trash man the other day. I noticed he was working all alone and asked where his buddy was. He said his company keeps downsizing the crew. His trash crew used to consist of a driver and 2 men to load. Then it was cut back to a driver and a loader. Now he does it all - he drives, gets out and loads the trash then back in and drives on.

I asked if the company was worried about burning him out in the icy winter and humid summers. He said there is a line of guys a mile long waiting to take his place when he can't do it any longer. I guess if the trash company could do it by robots they would cut him out as well.

Another guy I talked with said his company converted a lot of the workforce to part time, so they did not have to offer benefits.

A lady mental health therapist said her firm was trying to encourage the higher paid senior therapists to leave, so they could replace them with younger therapists that are paid much less and can be worked longer hours.

The other day I called up toll free directory to find an 800 number. In the old days a live person answered the phone. then they got rid of most of the people and a computer answered the phone. If the computer didn't work, you had the option to talk with a live operator. Now you just talk with the computer and if the computer fails, they just refer you to their website and have dumped all live help.

I'm sure we have all talked with some workers in India trying to figure out some customer service problem we are having.

And it is not just the low paying jobs heading to India. A radiologist told me that the trend is to send the Xrays to India now via facsimile for the Indian MD's to read. Just takes few seconds to export why not save hundreds of dollars so the healthcare industry can make more profits?

Even the poor parking lot attendants are not secure to make min wage. The trend is computerized self serve and dump the gate attendant.

I guess it all started back in the 70's, when China opened up and the turbo capitalist realized how much more money they could make by dumping the US workers and shipping production overseas. Maybe that was the deal Nixon made? You (China) stop trying to take over the world with communism and we will buy your crap so your people can eat?

...and pretty soon we will all be eating chicken from china.

(Actually you are probably eating Chinese chicken right now. The gov enacted a law that does not mandate country of origin data for ingredients that have been processes. Your fast food chicken parts can come from ANYPLACE!)

Guns are a populations last line of defense. Look at Afghanistan...they beat Russia with guns. And the US is still having trouble with 'the people' there from their guns. Let's look at what happens when a country has no guns. Burma was a recent example of what happens. A dictator comes to power with plenty of guns, but when it comes to the populace...they cannot be trusted with guns.

This quote was attributed to George Washington but other authorities say it is a counterfeit quote. Whomever said is gospel.

"Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people's liberty teeth and keystone under independence. The church, the plow, the prairie wagon, and citizen's firearms are indelibly related. From the moment the Pilgrims landed, to the present day, events, occurrences, and tendencies prove that to ensure peace, security and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable. Every corner of this land knows firearms, and more than 99 99/100 percent of them by their silence indicate they are in safe and sane hands. The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference; they deserve a place of honor with all that's good. When firearms go, all goes; we need them every hour."

If the future isn't about a positive vision, in spite of all the crap coming down, then there's little point continuing and certainly little point of indulging in doomer porn like this....

There is no such thing as negative or positive attitudes. What is viewed as negative to one person may be viewed as positive to another.

There are no such things as 'opinionated' - 'provocative' 'controversial' subjects.

These are only subjective and prejudicial states of mind.

Russell Cromwell tells us - "With the same material one man builds a palace and another only a hovel." So we must allow people to build as they choose.

If one sticks to: true, false or don't know in one's replies they can avoid this trap by arguing facts and not personalities.

Those that can't argue facts argue personalities.

Psychologist William James once said, "A great many people believe they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices."

No doubt there are some preppers that do it as a hobby to kill time. You see it a lot with the folks putting all their effort into a B.O.B.

People being what they are, they like to work in a direction that gives them power, even if it is a small amount.

You see the same work with the religious devotees that pray to their gods to fix it all.

Mankind is predisposed to create gods...148 pages of them. roughly 5756 gods!

The majority of people run their life by wishful thinking and delusions. One poll said 98% of the people believe in a god, karma or an afterlife. Yet there has never been a shred of proof to support any of these theories.

But, getting back to our world instead of religion...we're doing something near to impossible, which is to predict the future. Tons of IF's, AND's and BUT's that could happen. We just don't know.

As futurists we try to anticipate future events and the direction the world is headed in and as survivalists we try to prepare for those circumstances.

Whenever you are confused, always look at the trend.

Things can go in 3 directions...get better...get worse...stay frozen.

This helps remove some of that confused or wishful thinking and can help settle the war raging on in your head.

But, this tool has to be used for the general US outlook to be effective.

For instance say your a rich banker and you just got your bonus of 5,000,000 dollars which is 1,000,000 more than last year. The question does not apply to your life getting better. It applies to ALL of America.

As I said, we all have to go outside in the sometimes and deal with what we have created.

None of us will be ultimate survivors, we all have to die one day. But the successful survivor extends his or her life beyond an earlier death...a death that was caused by ignorance of how to make that life last longer.

An engaging post.

it is all the stuff of science fiction really. I admire the people who are selling this stuff as it really just plays to the egos of the supposed "elites." It is like offering them immortality of a sort. In a way it is also the ultimate expression of the self-centered nature of the elites at this point in time. They want to believe that they are somehow beyond the system. Their unique and special nature has endowed them with their wealth and their special souls will continue to exist even once the system collapses.

As has been discussed above, the fact is that a crisis as vast as we are considering will inevitably break down many of the relationships that we take for granted.

In some ways I think it is hilarious that these people think that they will sit in these bunkers and, I guess, trade stocks with other people in other bunkers. It is again a sign of how far removed from reality our "leaders: have become. They have confused the "game" of the market with the reality of people actually working and creating value.

Speaking as a non-rich suburbanite: it is in my interest that you have some food and water stored up. The more other people have stocked up, the less I need to share and the more secure I am in my own supplies. Please have enough for your family/friends during the initial weeks of a large natural disaster. An earthquake here in CA will leave us isolated for several weeks; any rural retreat is useless in this situation given expected road wreckage. An even larger stash could serve you well during the initial throes of your hypothesized unfolding social disorder, giving you the freedom to react in a more thoughtful way to events as they unfold. I believe you can do quite well in a residential home, an old fashioned lot of a quarter acre being space enough for food and water storage (see Art Ludwigs book and other resources on ferrocement tanks). For those seriously concerned about these issues, I don't understand why you do not already have rooftop solar panels.

Really interesting and disturbing article - thank you.
The answer to your enquiry lies for me in an interesting place: that is community. For no matter how wealthy these people are, the life they live post-collapse will be a miserable, lonely and possibly terrifying one that will also be short-lived - unless their plan for the futire includes a community of people with a wide range of releevnt skills.
ironically - and perhaps luckily for them - there are a large number of these type of skilled people wishing to meet people with the resources to create such a life boat together.
If, as a consultant, your approach was to connect these high net worth people with the people that could collaborate with them to create an empowered community - then you would be doing a great job...rather them how to create luxury fortresses!
good luck!

Under current operating procedures, accumulating money tokens is presumed to imbue the holder with power and prestige.

After a collapse, without a marketplace willing to exchange those money tokens, holders of great wealth are no longer safe and secure.

In fact, the ones with the greatest prosperity will be those who can generate a surplus of usable goods and services, transport, trade and enjoy them.

For long term prosperity, and a refuge from money - madness, folks might consider building fortified villages, with enough diversity of skills and productive capacity to ensure their needs are fulfilled at lowest cost in resources, fuel, and transportation.

One possible refuge is the dual ring village:

Oh, puhleeez. People, get a freakin clue. Do you think YOU owning a widder biddy machine gun is going to put a dent in the hierarchic system of civilisation? Are you daft and stupid? WHERE did the brass for the cartridge come from - oh, THAT'S RIGHT - a mine. And do you think people worked in that mine because they thought it was a cool idea? Hell no! They worked in the mine because they saw few if any other option. So, does using a gun alter the underlying social structure of power and domination? No.

So, GET OVER IT. The rich WILL have a separate peace, and they will do it with your willful acquiescence. How do I know this? Because you YES YOU are a bunch of gutless losers who can't even stop Google from carving up the internet, much less some rich families carving up your country in their own interests.

There are Larrys Moes and Curlies.

Moes run the show. They are the dicks who run the show. They own you. They are contemptible assholes who should be strung up tomorrow. But they won't because the Larrys are too stupid and the Curlies are too confused to do anything about it. They larrys go die in the wars the Moes start, and do it happily because they are stupid. Curlies also go die in the wars, but they do it unwillingly, because they don't trust the Moes.

And when your sorry excuse of a civilisation can be analysed as an analogue of the Three Stooges, you people are SCREWED. Me? I don't care. I don't practice what I preach, because I'm not the kind of person I'm preaching to.