Societal Collapse: The Road to Self-Reliance


Try to imagine what self-reliance really 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 then honing your other survival skills. Focus on doing things without electricity or running water.

Plan as if all civilized services end tomorrow.

5 Reasons Why Societies Collapse

There is no single factor that causes societal collapse, it is a complex subject, but generally, there are five overarching reasons societies collapse.

  1. Political, economic and social factors that make is difficult to solve societal problems
  2. Relations with neighboring societies (trade)
  3. Human impact on the environment (destroying the resources society depends on)
  4. Drastic Climate Change (climate gets colder, hotter, wetter and society doesn’t adapt)
  5. Relations with hostile societies (warefare, 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 That Can Lead to Collapse

  1. Overpopulation
  2. Deforestation
  3. Chemical Contamination
  4. Water Contamination and drought
  5. Soil contamination and loss of top-soil
  6. Climate Change
  7. Non-adaptive Agriculture Practices
  8. Toxics (heavy metals, plastics and other toxins that infultrate the web of life
  9. Ethnic tensions
  10. Economic Instability
  11. Scapegoating (embracing belief systems that are socially constructed and destructive)
  12. Lack of Identity (destruction of self-esteem)
  13. Lack of a belief system
  14. 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.)

What is self-reliance during a societal collapse?

Self-reliance during 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

Random thoughts on the road to collapse.

Suppose you have the ability to move to a rural area that has a temperate climate, freshwater, low population, and decent soil. I suggest you do it.

If you are interested in this subject, you might also like Ready Squirrel’s comprehensive article, “26 Ways to Prepare For Societal Collapse.”

Self Reliance: Water And Food Storage

To be self-reliant during a major emergency event, 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 have to learn how to get and keep drinking water clean and acquire and preserve food.

To learn more about societal collapse, check out the Ready Squirrel article, “What Happens When Society Collapses.”

Water Supply

The only thing more important for self-reliance than water is air.

You will not survive more than 3 days without water, and you need a lot of it.

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.

Food Stockpile

If you don’t have food stores start storing dry staples now. Store foods like dry white rice, dry beans, wheat, and rolled oats to get started. These foods create a bedrock of food you can build on, and they have a shelf-life of 30+ years in oxygen-free storage.

Once you have dry-bulk calories in place, start fine-tuning for nutrition and palate fatigue with canned foods and specialty foods like freeze-dried, MRE’s, etc.

This can be a little overwhelming when you start, but you can keep it pretty simple. Take a look at the Ready Squirrel article, “How Much Food To Stockpile Per Person.”

It’s a comprehensive article on things to consider when planning long-term food storage and includes calorie requirements and examples of a year’s supply of food for one person.

If you store no other food, you can survive a long time on dry beans and rice, and they are relatively inexpensive.

I suggest you store dry foods, less than 10% in moisture using Mylar bags, oxygen absorbers, and lidded 5-gallon buckets. This trifecta of storage containers and oxygen removal, kills bugs and keeps dry foods for 30 years. Mylar, food-grade buckets, and oxygen absorbers are a simple way of quickly storing thousands of calories.

Scott, Ready Squirrel

Dry foods need to be repackaged into Mylar bags and food-grade buckets to kill bugs present in most grains.

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 less than 10% moisture and low in fat. (dry beans, white rice, wheat, rolled oats, and other hard grains)

*Avoid storing foods high in moisture with Oxygen-free storage because it can lead to botulism food poisoning.”

Depending on where you live, some dry foods can be challenging to find locally. In my case, I had to order hard white wheat berries online, which meant paying for the shipping at an additional cost.

I purchase most of my beans and rice at Sam’s Club, but you can find it at Walmart, Costco Wholesale, and regular grocery stores.

Head over to another great Ready Squirrel article about foods for survival, “Food For The Collapse: Top 4 to Stockpile.”

Survival Shelter

It goes without saying that 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 at all possible.

Survival Shelters for societal collapse should be away from heavy population 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 societal collapse, long term, 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 you 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 the use of root cellars are necessary skills for food supplies and surviving long term.

Self Reliance: Critical Thinking Skills For Societal Collapse

Critical thinking is paramount to self-reliance during a Societal collapse. When a population is hungry, scared, or living under conditions of 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, narratives, or believing what is said without questioning.

I have high hopes that more people in the world are starting 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

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.

Societal Collapse: Good Books and Movies

Click the Amazon affiliate link(s) to support Ready Squirrel & access the following books and movies.

Brave New World 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 dystopian novel that includes politics, economics, and human philosophy

Federalist Papers Alexander Hamilton, James Madison & John Jay

85 articles, 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 who 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 way

Viktor 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.

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 who 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—action-packed dystopia at its best. Children Of Men is my second favorite movie on societal collapse.

Know What You Believe Before Without Rule Of Law

What you believe affects how you will react to a stressful or seemingly hopeless situation. The moral decisions you make are driven by your worldview and what you believe. They can be driven by your upbringing, a philosophy, a code of ethics, or a 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 who is being assaulted, stopping thieves?

Deal with these moral decisions before you find yourself in the midst of mass starvation or a without the rule of law scenario brought on by collapse.

Choosing Others: Societal Collapse

Choosing friends and compatriots in a collapsed society is like walking 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
Video from eminent Psychologist Jordan Peterson. It is important to think about critical thinking, propaganda, and preparation for societal collapse.

Propaganda and Societal Collapse

Let’s start by defining propaganda. In its simplest form, propaganda is a lie or a half-truth.

Keep in mind that those who study propaganda get really 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 if you want 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

The road to self-reliance requires that you recognize 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

17 Types of Propaganda That Lead to Destabilization Of Society

#1 Testimonial

Celebrity endorsement of a product, politician, or movement

#2 Bandwagon

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.

#4 Transfer

Using quotes and statements to support a cause that the person being quoted didn’t intend.

#5 Fear

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.

#6 Anger

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

#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).

Here, 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, even the word “American.”

#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 clearly is not.

#13 Information Overload

Sophisticated language is used to present 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 there is no time to think about it.

#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.

#15 Euphemism

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

#16 Dysphemism

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 as an example. The word changes how people react to that person or their ideas.

#17 Third-Party Technique

Supporting arguments from a neutral group or person that is not part of the conversation.

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: Who Uses Propaganda

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 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.

Just about every major institution uses messaging of half-truths 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

  1. politicians
  2. advertisers
  3. professional “manipulators”
  4. social organizations
  5. financial institutions
  6. lobbyist organizations
  7. political think tanks
  8. radio
  9. T.V.
  10. tech companies
  11. pharma companies
  12. non-profits
  13. foreign and domestic institutions
  14. government
  15. law enforcement
  16. local politicians, all the way up the political food chain
  17. religious organizations

What happens if propaganda is left unchecked?

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 society

Propaganda 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

Recent Posts