Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The collapse of the redoubts

Fer Fal has a discussion about how the survivalist redoubts, as promoted by John Rawls, are not necessarily the best places to ride out a collapse.  There is not a lot of love lost between Fer Fal and Rawls so a bit of sniping has always gone on between them.  Rawles has the fan base.  But Fer Fal has the advantage that he has lived through (at least on type of) a collapse. 

Fer Fal makes his case this way:

Retreat Areas May Be Hit By Automatic Budget Cuts

People that live in the inner Argentine provinces have a saying, “God is everywhere, but his office is in Buenos Aires”. That is why half the population lives there. Finding work, getting more complicated paperwork done or going to a good university, you have to go to the big city. Argentina may be an extreme case of that, but there’s still a lesson there.

With thousands of acres of beautiful and affordable land, why do people still choose to bunch up in nasty Buenos Aires? Because it’s the only place in a 3rdf world country where you can get anything done, its where all the money ends up. The rest of the country is always in a far 2nd place in terms of priority. The power grid needs fixing, water supply, roads, Buenos Aires gets the money first. Its not surprise that you find some of the worse poverty in the more distant provinces.

I’ve explained this behavior before, comparing it to a living organism. When there’s not enough food, a living organism will keep its core alive while sacrificing other non-vital parts. Same thing happens with a country and its government, it will keep its core alive, and same thing will happen in a state level, the capital getting most of the attention so as to keep it going while the smaller the community, the less help it will get.

 He is less extreme here than he has been in the past.
Note that part of the discussion is from a map that shows that it is rural counties in the United States that are getting the most Federal Funds that are threatened by the looming budget cuts.
I have posted a number of times (one example) about the slow economic collapse of the U.S. rural areas, and that to some extent theis collapse mirrors that of the much earlier collapse in the inner cities.  The rural collapse is happening far away from the media centers, and there are not the racial undertones to also highlight the issues, so it is still a surprise to most Americans when they find out that rural America is not that Norman Rockwell-imagined existance.  This is the land of the Meth epidemic. 
In general, jobs have left the rural areas.  This leaves behind the desperate who cannot move, those who find a source of handouts, and the elderly - who unfortunately can overlap with the first two catagories.  These are all high input citizens with regards to Federal spending.  In some States, these areas have tended to vote Blue, and in other areas, they have tended to vote Red.  There is a bit of history attached to those voting patterns, but likely also the relative economic health is an issue.  Slow collapses don't particularly have to be even collapses.

(Thumbnail) Fed Funds per Capita (Diver via CNBC of pdf)

One area of collapse-fiction, that has often assumed just this sort of collapse is Cyberpunk.  The genre being most famously represented by the movie Blade Runner, and the novel Neuromancer.  Although they aren't usually thought of as collapse novels, that is because most of the stories center around the dangerous folks with the cool high tech gadgets.
I have been reading K.W. Jeter's Noir.  It is written relatively late in the history of the genre, so some of its thoughts are a little more filled out than some of the earlier action-adventure style novels. The hero here is talking to the noir-equivelant of a playboy bunny type reduced to sex work.
K.W. Jeter, Bantam Books, 1998
"There ain't shit in Kansas." A little cloud of unsunned memory passed across [her] face.
"That's where you're from? I was just guessing." McNihil felt sorry for her... She... had all the pretty genetics, a child's face grafted by survival-orientated evolutiononto an adult's body, one that hadn't needed to be surgically pumped up to achieve its Blakean lineaments of desire.  Born than way, thought McNihil.  The came out of the rusting wastelands at the center of the continent, boys and girls together , walking the dead roadsof Kansas and Ohio all the way to the Pacific Rimcities (p50).


Degringolade said...

Spent a couple of years during my midlife crisis in a small burg named Republic, WA. Was the city planner and did lots of interface with the office of then Speaker of the House Tom Foley sucking up for the funds.

It is odd how the gun nut wackos who populate Rawls scenarios seem to forget how difficult is is to retain supply lines to the periphery. That money is needed badly in order to just keep the roads adequate and the power coming in.

But they have this idea that they through prayin' and shootin' will be able to maintain their stocks.

russell1200 said...

deringolade: It works for them because they are pretty much of the fast total collapse being the only possible collapse scenario. Or that at least based on their fictional writings that is where they are coming from.

To their mind nobody has supplies, so you may as well be in the middle of nowhere.

I will concede the possiblity of their scenario, but generally think that life is too unpredictable to put all my eggs in one basket- particularly when history shows that their have been at least as many stagnations as there have been collapses.

PioneerPreppy said...

I happen to agree with Fer Fal. At least I always assumed a middle approach is best which I thought he did as well. Rawls' redoubt idea is crap without the infrastructure and deliveries those counties up there will die off or become something they won't recognize. There is also no where near enough of a population base to make it worth a traveling traders time if things did improve.

As survival goes you stand a better chance of not being killed as long as your supplies hold but when you are forced to move towards the population remnants you will be severely disadvantaged.

Just my two cents.

russell1200 said...

Pioneer, I may be wrong but Fer Fal always struck me as a hardcore, urban in-place guy. Possibly I am picking that up from his battles with Rawles, or maybe that is what drove him into that corner.

My general suspicion is that much of Rawles territory is very marginal farmland without modern technology. They probably do work for herding, but the population density is still too high for that.

What I find funny is how so many militia books have somebody deciding to invade these areas. What exactly they are finding so valuable in Wyoming or Idaho that they would cross the glove (usually it is either the U.N. or the Chinese) I am not so sure. After a collapse, if you held onto the great coastal trading hubs, and maybe Chicago-Detroit on the great lakes, everything worth getting will eventually have to come your way anyway.

When you look at the short term (those that fit in one lifetime) dynamics of empire collapse, you can see that they are very unpredictable.

John D. Wheeler said...

I think Rawles and Fer Fal are both right for themselves and wrong in general. I'm reminded of the episode of the original Star Trek where a star is about to go supernova and all the inhabitants have escaped into the past. But they had to be adapted to the particular past the went to.

I think in general bugging out is a bad idea. You should stick with what is familiar. Now if you have a family homestead but work in the city that is different -- or if the nuclear plant upwind from you explodes. But after TSHTF is no time to be learning a new area and way of life.

russell1200 said...

John: I think that is a very good point. Fer Fal seems to lump all rural strategies into one pile, and Rawles, as best I can tell, has only one strategy.

WW2 in Western Europe during the German occupation. Unless you were Jewish, the rural strategy worked pretty well. Argentina after its economic collapse, it did not work very well at all in some areas. But its not like the countryside has stopped producing for export, so it can't all be a wasteland.

Being prepared in some fashion, or in any fashion, helps give you a better chance at getting lucky.

Suburban Survivalist said...

For a lot of Rawles Redoubt you’d have to have the perfect setup, including with water, good ground, and already with livestock. Not practical for most. Sorry, but I think Ferfal’s idea of staying in the city in a no kidding TEOTWAWKI situation is just plain stupid in the U.S.

One thing to consider with Ferfal’s rural area bias is that the U.S. is not Argentina. Such areas in his country are no where near as vast as rural areas in the U.S. Probably any U.S. rural area within an hour or two of a major population center would be in trouble (depending on the highway system), but there are many places that does not apply to. At least west of the Mississippi River – probably any rural area to the east of that and you’re SOL.

I used to live in Northern Virginia. Early this year, we moved to a fly-over state in middle America, but within reasonably driving distance to my parent’s home in rural Nebraska. If TSHTF, we will bug out to there, as will my brothers. It’s within a tank of gas, might need five gallons extra depending on the route. But it’s sort of off the beaten path as the Interstate systems go.

At least this is what I’ve caused myself to believe over the years, hope I’m not 180 degree off.

russell1200 said...

Subarban- I don't think that is really Fer Fals arguement.

His is more of a slow collapse argement. His point is that in that limbo land economy where it really sucks, but people can get around, the people in rural areas will find themselve to be even more of victems than the people in the central urban areas. Within the context of Argentina, and Mexico today he is somewhat correct, in so far as that sometimes has happened in bothe countries.

In the slow collapse that is actually happening in our rural areas, you would still have gas stations and grocery stores, but you would loose your job and not be able to afford anything - and thus would be forced into the urban areas where social services were more advanced.

There are collapse scenarios where the East Coast rural areascould do fairly well. It has some of the best, well watered farm land you can find, and much of it is laying fallow with seconary growth trees sitting on top of it, and you are still close enough to urban areas to get support from viable urban areas.

There is really no way to know what scenarios will occur. Thus my point about the interface of luck with prepperation.