The season’s next episode (‘Bad Times All the Time’) opens with a look at a Bible-study-group-turned-neighborhood ‘prepping network’, something we haven’t seen on the show before. The group seems pretty sizable, comprising 20 families, 75 to 100 people in total (right there’s yer tribe!).
We focus on one Jay Blevins, former LEO, husband and father of three living in Berryville, VA (near Washington DC).
Like most folks on the show, his issue is the “breakdown of social order following economic collapse.” However, Mr Blevins also displays an astute understanding of the world Our Culture has made. While I think a lot of people know deep down that these things are true, our ambient Mother Culture has been doing her best to keep us oblivious, or at least distracted. The way he sees it, the “world will soon enter a global depression—causing unemployment worse than the Great Depression—that could collapse civilized society altogether.” He goes on to say that “When people can’t get jobs and can’t feed their families, that will set them off”, due to the “very thin fabric that holds together civilized society.”
I really like the way he words this concern, instead of saying ‘economic collapse will end the world as we know it!’ like so many on this show do; it shows he’s aware that to talk about Our Culture is to talk about Civilization, and he is aware—however subconsciously—that Our Culture is not Humanity. Of course, to take the inverse corollaries of his statements reveal the price we’ve paid for our ‘progress’—that the destruction of Our monetary-wealth economy would not collapse uncivilized societies, thanks to the very thick fabric that holds together those cultures—the creation and imposition of an economy based on property-as-wealth (as opposed to one based on tribal-support-as-wealth) being one of the chief differences between un/civilization. This, of course, is where my rewilding-as-survival drive of the last five years comes from—once I recognized the inherent weakness of our civilizational experiment, compared to the inherent strength of so-called ‘primitive’ cultures, I knew which one would still be around in a hundred years.
In the event of a panicked, jobless populace swarming his ’burb, Jay is prepared to rely on what Law Enforcement calls the “Circle of Force”—starting with verbal commands, and moving through hand-to-hand, pepper spray, impact/blunt weapons, edged weapons, on up to handgun and finally rifle. Makes an impressive display on the garage floor, but I’m not too sure about the ‘samurai sword’ his wife picks up.
So, to implement that Circle, he decides he’s going to make some pepper spray at home. DIY spirit! He mixes up a few batches and loads them into his ‘delivery systems’—Super Soakers!, which is totally awesome. Some might think it’s silly, but the ol’ watergun can be surprisingly versatile: when I was a youngling, one of our cows got a nasty abrasion on her side, which made her too mad to let us doctor it. I filled up a squirtgun with hydrogen peroxide, pumped it up, and cleaned the wound from a safe distance behind a fence! I even got my name published in a farm magazine for my ‘Hundred-Dollar Idea’!
Well, Jay mixes up his homemade pepper spray, and then ‘recruits’ a few buddies to be his guinea pigs. The unlucky sods charge his backyard while Jay does his best to aim for their eyes; they get it right in the faces and fall to their knees, but it doesn’t seem to affect them as fast as Jay would like. Still, for making fairly-effective improvised chemical defenses, you’ve gotta give the guy props.
As a test of their neighborhood defense plan, part of the network stage a mock assault on the Blevins castle. The bottom windows are boarded up with plywood hurricane-style, but with the addition of a two-by-four across the windowframe on the inside, with a threaded bolt holding the two tight together. The second-floor windows they leave open, to facilitate an ‘atrium effect’ (firing down is way easier than firing up); sounds like a winning strategy. They run the drill with airsoft guns, and decide that anyone who goes so far as to break into a well-defended house is going to get massacred. I’m not sure how realistic their scenario is, because in a horde-of-urban-refugees situation, I imagine people trickling in at first, not coalescing into groups until later. But hey, it’s all hypothetical.
The experts give Jay 58 points for 8 months initial survival time (I’m guessing that doesn’t take the whole neighborhood network into account), telling them to get a plan to heat their house in a long-term grid-down situation, and for once I actually agree with them (of course, I’m pretty sure our underlying rationales are different).
Why is the Blevins’ house not prepared for life off the grid? Because the forces that govern our culture are unable to imagine a situation in which the grid does not exist—the foundation thinkers of our culture believed that our way of life is normal, natural, and the one right way humans were meant to live.
Like our culture as a whole, houses built within that culture are designed to be one-size-fits-all answers to shelter, heating, cooling, and sanitation. This is why houses are identical whether you live in Toronto, New York, Moscow or Paris, the same way that Our Culture (people sell their time at ‘jobs’ for money to purchase locked-up food) is the same in Los Angeles, London, Beijing, or Mumbai. A properly-designed home should be a product of its local environment, while providing for its inhabitants without reliance on the fragile grid. A woodstove would be a good start, but a intentionally-designed, celestially-aligned house (big southern windows to take advantage of winter sun) could provide heating and cooling with no effort on the part of the homeowner; a rain catchment system would provide water, and a humanure set-up would provide sanitation without the need to pollute clean drinking water (which, in the grid, must be treated with toxic chemicals).
The civilized system has been compared—rightly, I might add—to a Machine. As Max Brooks is fond of explaining, “How many parts are there in a car? I don’t know, but it only takes one to make it break down”; our culture is no different, and from his comments, Mr Blevins seems to recognize that.
In his post-filming update, we see that not only has Jay turned in his tactical cop duds for friendly flannel, they’ve also planted a big garden and fruit trees, and started canning. Thumbs-up!