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 or earthquake or tidal wave; these calamities are short lived and easy in comparison. The point is, as survivalists who are preparing to make an economic end-game 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 when they do arise, that 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 that 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 that 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…
1) The Self Assumed “Leader”
The “Assumed Leader” is not actually a reliable or practical leader; he just thinks he is, and reminds everyone loudly whenever he can find occasion. He does not generally do this by screaming “I AM YOUR LEADER!” Instead, he attempts to micro-manage 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 as talking about half of the time. Usually, this is not the case. He may have expertise in a certain field, like farming, or building, or engineering, or even defense, and this 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 given respect in that specific field, but not given authority over all decisions. The experienced farmer should offer leadership when it comes to farming, but step aside when it comes to defense and defenders, and vice versa. It is best to keep in mind that the most effective leaders always ask those around them for aid and advice before coming to any conclusion. The worst leaders already assume they know everything.
2) 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 for all his money and land and supplies, he is basically defenseless, and 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, and with land already available, many take interest. The problem is, the Feudal Lord believes possession of the land that the group is defending automatically makes him Grand Poobah, and that those people are not equals, but servants and serfs.
I have found that Feudal Lords also have a tendency to charge people “fees” for the right to join their communes. They will argue that this is designed to “vet” candidates and see if they are truly “serious” about survival prepping. In the dark corner of their minds, however, they actually believe that they are OWED a tithe from anyone who wishes to earn the “privilege” of becoming a permanent installment on their property. From the very beginning they go into the project with almost no sincere regard for the people they are working with.
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, and 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, changes the plan regularly to suit himself, and tries to leech money out of participants, then it’s time to walk away now before it is too late. Eventually he WILL use his position as landowner as a means to dominate, and will threaten to cast people out 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, where everyone maintains sovereign control of what they do and all aid is voluntary.
3) 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, and they will only hurt our ultimate goal of rebuilding a free, prosperous, and individualistic society.
These people should be avoided like the plague. They will make enemies wherever they go, ask you to do highly 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.
4) The Obsessive
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 extra 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.
Obsessives are generally unimaginative people with little talent or intelligence who use their prepping lifestyle as their only means to feel superior to others. They tend to become legends in their own minds, dreaming of the day when everyone will desperately cling to them and their remedial survival know-how. They fantasize about all the people who “wouldn’t take their advice” (usually smug advice), crawling in squalor begging them for help one day.
The Obsessive’s motto is: “Let me tell you why you are wrong and how you are lazy!” Instead of: “How can I 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 friends 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 about more than chopping wood, stockpiling ammo, and slaving over a piece of land from sun up until sundown like a mindless drone just to get by; it is also about sustaining the heart and the mind. Otherwise, what is the point of living?
5) The Ulterior Motive Drama Queen
The Drama Queen is a man or woman who 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 their part or lack of interest as far as participating in survival discussions and decision making. They will often hand over all their survival preparation plans to another person or persons, while hovering like a gnat around the community searching for that special something.
They may be looking for friends and social recognition. They may be afraid of collapse and simply trying to lock into ANY group regardless of whether they fit, becoming disenchanted later. They may enjoy the excitement of feeling like they are involved, and are living vicariously through the accomplishments of others. They may just be looking for a date. Ultimately, their primary objective is not to build a working community, but to get something out of the community beyond safety.
If they do not get what they want, they raise hell, using whatever excuse happens to be handy without ever admitting their real motivations. They will deliberately start unnecessary drama, attempt to create divisions, focus on one person as the cause of all their troubles, or blame the whole group for the heartache in their life. They will attempt to draw everyone into their 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, they will be seen for what they are and will lose the ear of the other preppers, who obviously have better things to worry about, but not after wreaking some havoc in the process.
6) The Zealot
The Zealot has a perfect picture in his mind of how his survival community is going to look. Absolutely perfect. The problem is, 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 in 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 usually 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 anti-social, 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 they meet his grandiose brand of moral flawlessness. For him, it is not enough that the community around him shares a love for liberty and a disdain for tyranny, they must also be “spiritually pure” in his eyes.
One mistake or disagreement by a member of the group earns them 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 person is more trouble than they are worth.
The great dilemma for any survivalist is to balance personal freedom and a peaceful home life with the reality that they 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 swan dived off a cliff into extreme disturbia. No survival community can withstand the savage assault of national collapse otherwise.