Try to imagine what self-reliance means during a major catastrophe like societal collapse. The worst-case scenario has you providing everything for yourself.
Start preparing for collapse by getting survival food, water, and shelter in order and honing your other survival skills. Focus on doing things without electricity or running water.
Plan as if all civilized services end tomorrow.
Why societies collapse (5 reasons)
There is no single factor that causes societal collapse, it is a complex subject, but generally, there are five overarching reasons societies collapse.
- Political, economic, and social factors make it difficult to solve societal problems.
- Relations with neighboring societies (trade)
- Human impact on the environment (destroying the resources society depends on)
- Drastic Climate Change (climate gets colder, hotter, wetter, and society doesn’t adapt)
- Relations with hostile societies (warfare, trade embargos)
3 Generalities Regarding Societal Collapse
#1 Elites vs. Society
Conflict of interest between the elites and the society as a whole. Elites have the ability to isolate themselves while doing things that are good for them in the short term but bad for society in the long term.
#2 Inability or Unwillingness to Adapt
Inability or unwillingness of society to change or adapt to new situations. The main challenge is that it is difficult to change the habits that trouble society when they give society short-term strength.
#3 13 Societal Issues (causes for societal collapse)
- Chemical Contamination
- Water Contamination and drought
- Soil contamination and loss of top-soil
- Climate Change
- Non-adaptive Agriculture Practices
- Toxins (heavy metals, plastics, and other toxins that infiltrate the web of life)
- Ethnic tensions
- Economic Instability
- Scapegoating (embracing belief systems that are socially constructed and destructive)
- Lack of Identity (destruction of self-esteem)
- Lack of a belief system
- Instability and Chaos
Jared Mason Diamond, Pulitzer Prize-winning American Geographer & Historian. Check out, Guns, Germs, And Steel: The Fates of Human Societies via Ready Squirrel’s Amazon affiliate link. (I get money for beans and bullets if you purchase from this link.)
How to survive during a societal collapse
Surviving a societal collapse depends on personal abilities like critical thinking to prepare and plan for sustainable emergency food, water, and shelter in the event of a major conflagration such as a societal collapse or a long-term national emergency.
The necessities of life: food, water, and shelter should be set up to run without outside supplies or assistance when possible.
I know easier said than done. Do the best you can to prepare for survival with the resources you have.Scott, Ready Squirrel
If you are interested in this subject, you might also like Ready Squirrel’s comprehensive article, “26 Ways to Prepare For Societal Collapse.”
Water And Food Storage (preparing for societal collapse)
To be self-reliant during a major emergency, the first thing you need to get in order is potable water storage or a water source (well, river, lake, stream, or rainwater catchment.) The second goal is to stockpile food.
You won’t function if you don’t have water to drink and food to eat.
Getting these supplies set up depends on building skills and materials. You can go pretty basic, but you must learn how to clean drinking water and acquire and preserve food.
To learn more about societal collapse, check out the Ready Squirrel article, “What Happens When Society Collapses.”
The only thing more important for self-reliance than water is air.
You will not survive more than 3 days without water.
The average American household uses 82 gallons of water per person per day. The average person living off-grid uses 50 gallons per day.
The 1 gallon per day per person suggested by the Federal Emergency Management Agency isn’t going to cut it if society collapses.
Water needs to be stored, treated, and moved around. Prepping water requires both materials and skills before SHTF. It’s not that complicated, but you’ll want to do it before things head south.
First, to prepare for societal collapse store grains like white rice, beans, wheat, rolled oats, and pasta because they are considered famine food. Basically, your diet won’t be very interesting but you won’t starve. Famine foods create a bedrock of nutrition you can build on, and they have a shelf-life of 30+ years in oxygen-free storage.
Second, once you have dry-bulk calories, start fine-tuning for nutrition and palate fatigue with canned foods, freeze-dried food, MREs, and non-perishable foods with a shorter shelf life.
To learn more about building a food stockpile, read the Ready Squirrel article, “How Much Food To Stockpile Per Person.”
Learn how to store dry goods by watching the following video, How to store wheat, The storage method shown is the same for all dry goods with less than 10% moisture.
Up next, survival shelter for societal collapse.
We can’t all build a survival shelter out in the woods, but that is the goal. Do the best with what you have, but try to get away from heavily populated areas, if possible.
Survival Shelters for societal collapse should be away from heavy populations and provide food, potable water—security, and shelter from the worst weather in that location. Ideally, the shelter will have copious natural resources such as fresh water and trees for fuel and construction.
Survival Gardening And Animal Husbandry
It’s a tough nut to swallow, but I don’t see any other way to survive a long-term societal collapse other than learning and practicing small-scale farming or gardening and raising livestock.
Gardening, raising livestock, and food preservation are crucial skills to master for surviving a long-term societal collapse or emergency.
One of the best ways to get a solid renewable protein and fat source into a post apacalyptic diet is to raise chickens and rabbits. Chicken eggs provide fat which is difficult to come by during a societal collapse and rabbits are a ready source of protein that multiplies quickly.Scott, Ready Squirrel
Food Preservation and Canning
Gardening and raising small animals for survival is critical, but you have to have a method of preserving the food so you can extend it out over a longer period of time. Slaughtering a cow or pig will not do any good unless you can preserve the meat for sustained periods.
To prepare for societal collapse, it is necessary to have the skills and equipment necessary to preserve garden produce and meat for a lengthened period of time. Canning, smoking, salting, and root cellars are necessary skills for food supplies and survival long term.
Psychology of Societal Collapse
Critical thinking is paramount to self-reliance during a Societal collapse. When a population is hungry, scared, or living under duress, they are more easily manipulated.
Think about other societies that did what they were told to feel safe. Not the best choice. Critical thinking skills will serve you well pre and post-collapse.
Independent thought vs. group-think
The exact definition of critical thinking is controversial because it is complicated. In a nutshell, critical thinking is what you do before making a sound judgment or taking action.
Following is a high-caliber definition of “critical thinking.”
The competing definitions of [critical thinking] can be understood as differing conceptions of the same basic concept: careful, unemotional, thinking directed to a goal. It’s adoption…is based on a respect for… autonomy and preparing for success in life, and for democratic citizenship.Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Critical Thinking, July 21, 2018
What is the opposite of critical thinking?
The opposite of critical thinking is choosing what to do or say based entirely on emotion or jumping to a conclusion without facts.
This type of “lazy” thinking is why propaganda is effective, i.e., people making assumptions based on soundbites or narratives or believing what is said without questioning.
I have high hopes that more people worldwide will start to see this type of communication for what it is.
Propaganda in concert with technology has reached levels never seen in history.
If we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, it is the responsibility of every American to be informed.Thomas Jefferson
Quick Decision Making
During a societal collapse, you want to think critically to the best of your ability. However, deciding quickly is tricky because you need to make decisions on the fly. Survival choices based on emotion will not help you survive.
The best suggestion I can make is to start reading books about war, famine, and hard times and think about what you would do in those situations.
Strive every day to change your perceptions and expand your horizons.
One final note, critical thinking is about the right answer, not feeling good about the answer.
Check out the books and videos below to immerse yourself in dystopia.
Society Collapse Books
Click the Amazon affiliate link(s) to support Ready Squirrel & access the following books and movies.
Brave New World is Aldous Huxley’s work of science fiction, a technological dystopia written in 1932. A precursor to Orwell’s 1984, the Matrix, and Phillip K Dick’s Blade Runner
1984 George Orwell’s famous flagship book about a dystopian society
Atlas Shrugged Ayn Rand’s dystopian novel that includes politics, economics, and human philosophy
Federalist Papers Alexander Hamilton, James Madison & John Jay
85 articles were written to promote the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in the state of New York. This book is dry reading discussing the separation of powers between the 3 branches of government: legislative, executive, and judiciary
Man’s Search For Meaning Viktor Frankl, an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, philosopher, author, and Holocaust survivor, lost just about everyone in his family. He talks about the existential vacuum and the search for meaning.
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own wayViktor Frankl
Gulag Archipelago, Book, Alexandr Solzhenitsyn
If you are interested in reading an excellent non-fiction book about societal collapse, check out The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956 by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. I first heard about this book from Jordan B. Peterson renowned Canadian Psychologist. Solzhenitsyn spent eleven years in labor camps and exile during the Stalinist period in the Soviet Union.
This is a book you won’t forget.
Society Collapse Movies
They Live, John Carpenter, Movie, Gets right to the point. An ailing society with some weird twists. I’m always fascinated by where science fiction will go. They Live, a low-budget sci-fi movie starring Rotty Router Piper, plays a down-on-his-luck drifter who finds a box in an alley. The box changes everything.
V For Vendetta is an outstanding dystopian movie, possibly my favorite. Hugo Weaving (Australian actor) does an excellent job playing the main character V. The movie is based on the DC comic book produced by the same people who created the Matrix Trilogy.
Children of Men is another excellent dystopian movie. In this society, women can no longer have children to create the next generation—an action-packed dystopian movie at its best. Children Of Men is my second favorite movie on societal collapse.
Know What You Believe
What you believe affects how you react to a stressful or seemingly hopeless situation. Your moral decisions are driven by your worldview and your beliefs. They can be driven by your upbringing, philosophy, code of ethics, or religion.
It’s important to figure out exactly what guides you in making choices, or you will have difficulty functioning or making life-saving choices.
- What guides your decisions about moral issues?
- What are you willing to do to protect your own?
Figure out your tipping points. Is it someone kicking in a door, protecting someone being assaulted, or stopping thieves?
Deal with these moral decisions before you find yourself amid mass starvation or a without the rule of law scenario brought on by collapse.
Choosing Others (preparing for societal collapse)
Choosing friends and compatriots in a collapsed society is like walking through a minefield. Everything you do will be risky. Bartering, getting water, or protecting what you have.
If you want a bird’s eye view of what can happen in a collapse, read books about Maoist China or Stalin’s Russia. These two leaders amassed a combined body count of over 100,000,000, and they didn’t do it by themselves.
Normally decent human beings won’t act the same if they are starving, scared, or hopeless.
Remember the triangle of needs. Pre-collapse we are living at the pinnacle where all of our needs are met. What happens when we hit the base, i.e., no food, water, or normalcy?
What do you believe, and what are you willing to do? Get that straight before S.it kicks off.
Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people.John Adams
Propaganda (preparing for societal collapse)
Let’s start by defining propaganda. In its simplest form, propaganda is a lie or a half-truth.
Remember that those who study propaganda get good at spotting it.
Use your critical thinking skills to notice what is going on around you. Who is doing it? Why are they doing it? Does the message make sense, or is it just propping up a false narrative?
Follow the money to know who benefits from a certain narrative.
To identify a message as propaganda is to suggest something negative and dishonest. [Here are some,] synonyms for propaganda: lies, distortion, deceit, manipulation, mind control, psychological warfare, and brainwashing.Propaganda and Persuasion, Garth S Jowett, University of Houston and Victoria O’donnel, Montana State University
Self-reliance requires recognizing propaganda: disinformation or half-truths used to manipulate individuals and groups towards a specific end goal. Buy it, vote for it, use it, go for it, go against it, hate it, love it, do it.
Propaganda is evolving as we speak, but it will generally fall under one of seventeen categories.
A popular government without popular information, or means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both.James Madison
16 Types of Propaganda (preparing for societal collapse)
If you know the definitions of the sixteen types of propaganda you can spot them in everyday life. If I’m honest I’d have to say that we are drinking from a firehose of disinformation from every direction. Take a look at the 16 types of propaganda and see if you notice them in everyday life.
Testimonial, Bandwagon, Plain Folks & Transfer
Celebrity endorsement of a product, politician, or movement
Everyone is doing it. You should, too
#3 Plain Folks
The political candidate appears to be grassroots or all-American, which helps the little people identify with the candidate.
Using quotes and statements to support a cause the quoted person didn’t intend.
Fear, Anger, and Shiny Object
This technique is prevalent among political parties and PACs (Political Action Committees) in the U.S. The idea is to present a dreaded circumstance and follow it with the behavior needed to avoid that horrible event. Insurance and Pharma companies also use this tactic.
Using hot button issues to manipulate.
#7 Shiny Object
Focusing on certain story-lines to turn heads away from information that hurts the narrative, whatever that may be
Logical Fallacies, Name Calling & Glittering generalities
#8 Logical Fallacies
The premises may be accurate, but the conclusion is not
#9 Name Calling
Name-calling ties a person or cause to a largely perceived negative image.
#10 Glittering Generalities
Closely related to what is happening in TRANSFER (see above).
A generally accepted virtue is usually employed to stir up favorable emotions. The problem is that these words mean different things to different people and are often manipulated for the propagandists’ use.
The important thing to remember is that the propagandist uses these words positively in this technique. They often include words like democracy, family values (when used positively), rights, civilization, and even the word “American.”
Gish Galloping, Cherry Picking, and Information Overload
#11 Gish Galloping
A common tactic in debates is to throw off the opponent. Several false claims or lies are made rapidly. The opponent doesn’t have time to respond due to interference from other debaters or the person monitoring the debate. (you see this used a lot in political debates)
#12 Cherry Picking
A selective presentation of facts to bolster a narrative includes deliberate obfuscation of facts.
Misleading the masses with half-baked truths. Acting as if the only answer to the question is A or B when it is not.
#13 Information Overload
Sophisticated language presents an air of superiority, authority, and credibility beyond the audience’s understanding.
I want to add to this firehose…so much information is coming at you that there is no time to think about it.
Black and White Fallacies, Euphemism, Dysphemism
#14 Black and White Fallacies
Presenting an issue as if there are only two answers or possible outcomes. It’s either this or that. There are other options, of course. Often used to bolster a specific narrative.
Using acceptable and politically correct terms to describe something that is anything but.
Examples: Collateral Damage is used to denote innocents killed by war activity, often in the thousands.
Using the term enhanced interrogation instead of torture.
Patriot act: An act that removes the constitutional rights of the 4th amendment dealing with warrants, searches, and seizure
The use of socially unacceptable or “taboo” terms in place of more pacifist or politically correct terms.
A person who is a patriot could be labeled a terrorist, for example. The word changes how people react to that person or their ideas.
To learn more, read this excellent article on Propaganda, “Why is everyone so angry? Because that is what they want.”
Propaganda Information provided by Utah Taxpayers.org
17 Propaganda Peddlers (preparing for societal collapse)
A better question might be, who doesn’t use propaganda in modern society? Sometimes we use it against our family and friends without meaning to.
Something as simple as talking to your spouse on a vacation or a major purchase based on the “positives” without considering the negatives is a form of propaganda called cherry-picking.
One might fail to talk about the long-term effects of an expensive vacation or purchase, such as the cost of the vacation and its effect on long-term financial security.
Every major institution uses half-truth messaging to get you to do what they want you to do. When I say “they,” it might be a mindless, soulless corporation or other entity that doesn’t recognize the damage done with the propaganda.
Not everything is a conspiracy.
17 Propaganda Peddlers
- professional “manipulators”
- social organizations
- financial institutions
- lobbyist organizations
- political think tanks
- tech companies
- pharma companies
- foreign and domestic institutions
- law enforcement
- local politicians, all the way up the political food chain
- religious organizations
Propaganda Unchecked (preparing for societal collapse)
The more rights we lose, the harder it will be to practice self-reliance. I can’t stress enough how deep control will go once democratic rights are extinguished.
Unchecked, this trend [of propaganda and disinformation] threatens, at worst, to subvert the very foundations of our democratic societyPropaganda and Persuasion, Garth S Jowett, University of Houston and Victoria O’donnel, Montana State University
A nation of well informed men who have been taught to know and prize rights which God has given them cannot be enslaved. It is in the region of ignorance that tyranny begins.Benjamin Franklin