The Life Of The Survivalist


We’ve all seen the stereotypes depicted in TV and film: a lonely, semi-frustrated man with a knack for carpentry, barbecue and ammo reloading. He stockpiles guns and food in his secret log cabin in the hills near his home and awaits — even anxiously anticipates — the inevitable end of the world. He believes only he will survive, because everyone else is an idiot. Oh, and he’s “crazy.” All survivalists are.

But is this stereotype in any way honest? Does one have to take on all these cumbersome characteristics in order to be a survivalist, or does one choose to become a survivalist and suddenly is stricken with angry redneck’s disease?

I became a survivalist three years ago, and I can say without a doubt: One does not have to live the stereotype.

Survivalism is not about taking on a new identity; it is about being prepared. It is not about paranoia and fear. It is about awareness, responsibility and common sense.

The average American today is often so disconnected from his own survival and self-defense that when confronted with the idea of “preparedness” he becomes incredulous, as if the entire concept is so fantastical it should be buried in a book of folklore along with fairies and unicorns. The fact of the matter is: True survival will soon be the first thing on many Americans’ minds instead of the last. Every man, whether he be a farmer in the country or a yuppie office jockey in the suburbs, will have to decide immediately what he is going to do — mentally above all else — to be ready for what is coming.

Taking Responsibility For Your Own Life

A survivalist understands that until he is self-reliant, he cannot help others. His life is his own. If he fails to protect it, he has only himself to blame.

No survivalist expects others, including the government, to save him from peril. No true survivalist will find himself after an inflationary collapse of the dollar crying on a street corner demanding free food and a job. He knows he will not get those things anyway, that anything he does get will come only through his own struggle and sacrifice.

Being truly free is a double-edged sword. While the possibilities of life become endless, one must be capably independent in order to make use of those possibilities freedom presents. This means taking one’s destiny into one’s own hands. It means hardship and heartbreak. It means striving, never stopping, always moving forward through any obstacle regardless of how seemingly impassable. It means having the will to fight back against oppression that appears insurmountable. Your world begins and ends with you, and the same goes for your problems. You are the maker of your own epoch.

Independence Is Not The Same As Selfishness

While it is impossible to be a survivalist without breaking free of our dependence on society, this does not mean we leave society in the dust. Survivalists are very aware and insightful people. When confronted with the ignorance of the average person, we often reel in horror and disgust. We can become jaded and uncaring for those who do not see the trouble coming, taking on an attitude of complacency when confronted with the plight of those we tried to warn. The cold Darwinian mantle “Survival of the Fittest” can take hold of us and make us lose our humanity. Some of us may even stop trying to warn people.

“Let them find out the hard way,” we think. “What’s the point? If they haven’t figured it out by now, they never will.”

But this is pure rationality, not wisdom; and there is a very big difference. While the survivalist movement is often linked with the “objectivist” philosophies of Ayn Rand and such philosophies lean toward the “every man for himself attitude,” wisdom dictates that this is simply not practical. It is, at the very least, an exaggeration of the truth. Human beings have an inborn sense of individualism. Cultivating this is at the very core of survivalism. However, we also have an incredibly strong inborn sense of compassion and connectivity to our fellow man. It is a part of our conscience, and it is something we cannot escape. It is in the nature of those who are aware of danger to try to protect those who are not.

The survivalist is not an island, and there is something much greater at work in the universe than the narrow mechanics of pure logic. The human heart must be heeded, lest we face the dire consequences; and the heart tells us that all life has a meaning — even the life of a stupid, useless man.

Why We Fight

Saving our own lives and the lives of our family is, of course, of optimal importance, but this alone is not enough. What is worth living for? What is worth dying for? What is the point of it all?

Do I personally feel a great sense of “admiration” for the large part of humanity? Certainly not! Nine out of 10 people I meet on a daily basis are earth-shatteringly ignorant, self-absorbed, egotistical, self-centered, socially backward products of the pop-culture sewage pit.

But do we condemn them to death for this? No, we do not. Instead, we fight for them every day.

We do not fight because of what humanity is. Most of us despise what humanity is. We fight for what it could be. We fight for the very real possibility of something far better than what we now know — a world where individualism is the norm and where elite minorities of men bent on dominion are given no ground, no foothold, no quarter. We fight for a world where original thought is encouraged instead of crushed, logic and emotion are given equal importance instead of generically separated and compartmentalized, honesty and courage are rewarded instead of mocked, and the love of our fellow man is natural and real, instead of fabricated and forced for the sake of appearances.

We fight for a world we may never live to see, not because it is “reasonable,” but because every impulse at our very core tells us it is right. It is necessary. It is one of the reasons we are here, now. The survivalist is not just a self-reliant and insightful man of resolve; he is the levy upon which the ripping torrential waters of history collide. He is the wall that stays the tide. If the survivalist collapses, then nothing can hold; but if he remains, as solid as stone, then there is a chance for everyone.

Whether we like it, in times of pain the world turns to those men who have either the conviction and great strength of an honorable soul or those who are clever and evil enough to fake it. By becoming a survivalist in such times, one also inadvertently becomes a symbol to others. Ironically, by breaking free of the masses, in a sense we also become partly responsible for them. The example we set could determine the very direction of the future. The way of the survivalist becomes a steadfast light in the darkness, until finally, all men can see.

Personal Liberty

Brandon Smith

is the founder of the Alternative Market Project, an organization designed to help you find like-minded activists and preppers in your local area so that you can network and construct communities for barter and mutual aid. Join today and learn what it means to step away from the unstable mainstream system and build something better. You can contact Brandon Smith at:

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