Being forced to endure and survive a catastrophic macro event like a monetary or social collapse is perhaps one of the worst experiences I could imagine. Such a crisis leads to just about every crime and inhuman action in existence, and the time required for a culture to right itself and rebuild is severely protracted. A hurricane, earthquake or tidal wave is a short-lived calamity that is easy in comparison. As survivalists who are preparing to make an economic endgame scenario as comfortable to live through as we can, it is incumbent upon us to consider the kind of company we keep during the gambit. Some allies will make that mad world bearable; others will bring the madness to your doorstep.
Many preppers are aware of the dangers inherent in our progressively deteriorating Nation. Unfortunately, some of them are completely unaware of the dangers inherent within themselves. Building a solid community of people to rely on during a collapse is absolutely essential, and the larger the group of liberty-minded neighbors the better. But if certain ground rules are not established from the very beginning, a rainbow of personal issues and character flaws could very well destroy years of effort. Care must be taken by all parties involved to ensure that internal conflicts remain at a minimum and that, when they do arise, each person is wise enough to resolve issues in an adult manner.
I hate to say it, but you will inevitably run into some folks who are beyond compromise and beyond hope. Working with them is like pulling teeth — shark’s teeth — from your jugular. Here are just a handful of powder-keg personalities who will make the apocalypse more than a living hell for you and your friends if they manage to latch onto or take leadership in your survival watch.
The Assumed Leader
The assumed leader is not actually a reliable or practical leader; he just thinks he is. And he loudly reminds everyone that he is whenever he can find occasion. He does not generally do this by screaming, “I am your leader!” Instead, he attempts to micromanage every aspect of the survival group and shows early signs of control issues. The assumed leader will first make forceful suggestions to test the waters, scoffing angrily whenever people do not strictly follow his advice. If he gains traction, his suggestions turn into orders, and he begins to act as though he is somehow in a superior position to the rest of the community.
He seems to have an answer to every question or concern, which would be nice if he actually knew what he was talking about half of the time. Usually, this is not the case. He may have expertise in a certain field, like farming, building, engineering or even defense; that expertise is indeed valuable. However, his mastery of one area of knowledge has inflated his ego to massive proportions and he now pretends as if he is some kind of hyper-educated elitist potentate. When approached with alternative options and methods, he will respond with ridicule as if you have no clue what you are talking about. When his ideas are criticized, he will react with fury and try to remove dissenters from the community entirely.
The best way to avoid these people is to discover them early in your prepping project, and to make certain that no one becomes a de facto dictator. Every person with particular expertise within the community should be deferred to in that particular field, but not given authority over all decisions. The experienced farmer should lead when it comes to farming, but step aside when it comes to defense and vice versa. Keep in mind that the best leaders always ask those around them for aid and advice before coming to any conclusion. The worst leaders assume they already know everything.
The Feudal Lord
The feudal lord is an assumed leader who has managed to lure other preppers into a commune rather than a community, and there is a considerable difference. He is often a well-off survivalist who has suddenly realized that he is basically defenseless to protect all his money, land and supplies and that he needs an organized group to protect his bounty. He entices other preppers into the fold with ideas that he is building a legitimate and fair community. Since he has land available, many take interest. The problem is that the feudal lord believes that since he owns the land the group is defending, he’s automatically the grand poobah. He sees the other preppers not as equals, but as servants and serfs.
The reality is, the feudal lord’s land and supplies are utterly meaningless without security and without aid. His survival riches can be taken in an instant by a mere handful of looters or even one experienced raider. Without other people, treated as equals in survival and ready to lay down their lives to protect each other and him, he has nothing. He is foolhardy to think otherwise.
This is not to say that all landowners who try to centralize a group on their property are seeking to become mini-kings of a mini-kingdom. If rules and agreements are made early on and everyone understands their role, then such an arrangement could work. But if the landowner purposely avoids set agreements, appoints roles to people without asking them and changes the plan regularly to suit himself, then it’s time to walk away before it’s too late. Eventually, he will use his position as landowner as a means to dominate and will threaten to cast out people who disagree with his methods.
The best way to avoid these characters and the commune situation altogether is to not centralize on a single piece of land, but to organize in a neighborhood fashion wherein everyone maintains sovereign control of what they do and all aid is voluntary.
The Moral Relativist
There is, sadly, a small subsection of survivalists out there who do not plan to live off their own preps; they plan to confiscate the preps of others by force and solve every problem at the barrel of a gun. In their mind, a crisis situation calls for the abandonment of conscience and the application of a “survival of the fittest” mentality. They believe that morals are all well and good when civilized society remains, but a source of weakness during catastrophe. Their philosophy is: Only the strongest of men will be able to set aside principle and “do what needs to be done.” That is to say, they believe you must become the monster to defeat the monster.
In fact, only men who are able to hold onto their principles during the worst moments are strong. Weak men run away from conscience, using the excuse that times are “different and difficult.” They are not survivalists; they are terrorists in every sense.
These people should be avoided like the plague. They will make enemies wherever they go, ask you to do questionable things and push your community into annihilation. Eventually, somebody is going to put them out of their misery, and it’s best to not be around when that happens.
The obsessive is a person whose drive is initially impressive but also ultimately destructive. His entire life revolves around survival prepping and impending doom. Certainly, it is better to be overly concerned about the economic crisis on the horizon than to be utterly oblivious. A smart man over-prepares. But there is such a thing as overkill, even in the world of survivalism.
No one can ever do enough fast enough in this person’s eyes. He will whine constantly about how he is the only one taking preparations seriously and how everyone else is a lazy bum. He will become frantic on a daily basis, admonishing the group or community on their lack of urgency. In a leadership position, this person is a nightmare, creating constant waves of tension and panic instead of calmly offering solutions or constructive criticism.
The obsessive’s motto is, “Let me tell you how you are wrong and why you are lazy,” instead of, “Tell me how I can help you fix this.”
We all need a break once in a while from the horrors we know are waiting for us. To step back and enjoy what we can of a beautiful day or good people is not the same as being a freeloader or a backslider within your prepper group. Survival is about more than sustaining the body; it is also about sustaining the heart and the mind. Otherwise, what is the point of living?
The Ulterior Motive Drama Queen
The drama queen is loosely interested in survivalism but wants to join your community for other reasons — and these reasons may cause many members dismay. The opposite of the obsessive, you’ll notice a strange non-involvement on his part or lack of interest as far as participating in survival discussion and decision making. He will often hand over all his survival preparation plans to others while hovering like a gnat around the community searching for that special something.
The drama queen may be looking for friends and social recognition. He may be afraid of collapse and simply trying to lock into any group regardless of whether he fits, becoming disenchanted later. He may enjoy the excitement of feeling like he is involved, and he is living vicariously through the accomplishments of others. He may just be looking for a date. Ultimately, his primary objective is not to build a working community, but to get something out of the community beyond safety.
If he does not get what he wants, he raises hell, using whatever excuse happens to be handy without ever admitting his real motivations. He will deliberately start unnecessary drama, attempt to create divisions, focus on one person as the cause of all his troubles or blame the whole group for the heartache in his life. He will attempt to draw everyone into his personal soap opera in the hopes of becoming the focal point, sharing strange and extremely private issues with anyone who accidentally offers to listen.
Eventually, he will be seen for what he is and will lose the ear of the other preppers, who obviously have better things to worry about, but only after wreaking some havoc in the process.
The zealot has a perfect picture in his mind of how his survival community is going to look — absolutely perfect. The problem is that all people are imperfect and all have different conceptions of life, and this disturbs and disrupts the zealot’s fantasy. It is one thing to be careful about whom you associate with when assembling a prepper organization, but it is entirely another to hold everyone to insane standards that even you cannot meet.
The zealot generally wants to be in charge so that he can vet and control each member of the group, but this is not always the case. Zealots are also sometimes highly antisocial, showing interest in a group for a short time and then suddenly walking away as if no one is up to par. He may base his zealotry on a misplaced religious fervor or philosophical inflexibility, but he will not be happy until everyone sees the world the way he does or until others meet his grandiose brand of moral flawlessness. For him, it is not enough that the community of preppers around him shares a love for liberty and a disdain for tyranny, the preppers must also be “spiritually pure” in his eyes.
One mistake or disagreement by a member of the group earns him a black mark on the zealot’s list which he never forgets. From then on, that member is the enemy, and the zealot will engineer conflict after conflict until the person gives up and goes away or until he can convince the group that the person is more trouble than he is worth.
The great dilemma for any survivalist is to balance personal freedom and a peaceful home life with the reality he will not last long without relying on a group. Other people bring talent, friendship and safety to our lives, but they also bring baggage. The key is to work with those who know how to manage as much of their own baggage as possible, who are aware of themselves and are willing to police their own quirks and who have not leapt off a cliff into extreme disturbia. No survival community can withstand the savage assault of national collapse otherwise.