It's a fairly long post, so grab yourself a cup of tea and dive in. (To the post. Not the tea.)
I should know better than to read the comments when I'm on a roll; but unfortunately I was tricked into it by Patrice, who suggested I might want to take a look at some of them. Sooo, before I launch into Part 3 of my argument, let me toss in a small digression first. (I started to write another opus, but realized if I did that I'd never get Part 3 written, so that rant will have to wait.)
It seems there is a bit of confusion working its way into some folks’ minds. The original premise I was addressing was Terry's (anonymous) contention that hordes of armed-to-the-teeth urbanites would successfully flood the countryside following an End-Of-The-World event, destroying or taking everything in their wake.
I (and many others) argue the “Golden Horde” concept is overblown, because for that kind of thing to occur would mean there has been a nationwide destruction of the infrastructure. In one word, TEOTWAWKI.
But I see in such comments an “anonymous June 9” that there has been an attempt to change the conditions on which I've been basing my hypothetical story.
Yes, a financial collapse will be horrible. And war is hell, as the saying goes. But while such events would certainly be, and have been, transformative for our nation, they are unfortunately not all that uncommon. Wars and economic collapses happen, all the time all over the world, and most people survive them.
My Part 1 and Part 2 story is not based on a "mere" economic collapse or a war. It's based on something entirely different, something that's never happened before in the history of humanity. My narrative involves the destruction of 200 years of human progress caused by the loss of a fundamental aspect of the modern human condition: the utter and complete dependence of civilization as we know it on electricity. Every single moment of the average American's day is regulated, controlled, and facilitated by the vibration of electrons in pieces of metal. Should those vibrations ever cease: TEOTWAWKI will occur.
Without electricity, you won't eat, you won't drink, you won't move, you won't communicate, you won't receive medical care, you won't, you won't, you won't…
So how can our society lose electricity? It’s such a broad topic that I’ll never get started with Part 3 of my scenario if I get into it. So take a look at the following links instead:
- Lights Out: A newly declassified report shows how vulnerable America's electric grid is
- How Vulnerable Is Our Power Grid?
Okay, on to Part 3.
Terry and his group have made it out of the city and into the country. Welcome to the wide open spaces Terry!
You should be quite proud you made it here. (Of course, I helped a bit.) Most of the folks trying to leave a metroplex in the early times of a SHTF scenario won't be so lucky. But you made it and now you have to make some decisions. Now comes the icky part, I'm afraid. After all, a lot of the people who make it out of the city and in to the country ARE planning to make their living by someone else's dying.
Terry, I am not accusing you of this, of course, but really – what are your options? The “Golden Horde” of modern end-of-the-world fictional fame was actually a term created by Russian writers in the sixteen hundreds to describe a specific Khanate of the Mongol empire. That “horde” consisted of incredibly disciplined, well-armed, and militarily proficient horsemen. Tens of thousands of them. None of those terms will apply to the vast majority of hungry, angry, weak or injured folks who made it out of the city. And as PioneerPreppy pointed out so accurately, those who do make it out to the country will never numerically approach the concept of a “horde.”
If your goal was simply to get rural; if you know no one who is expecting you; if you have no final destination in mind – then may the good Lord God protect and succor you … because practically no one else will.
Since I'm sure that you, Terry, will not be traveling with anyone of evil intent, let’s look instead at the travails of another, less-moral, group. This alternate group is also 100 strong, also in vehicles with full gas tanks, and even better armed than your own fellow travelers. I sincerely hope you don't meet them. For them, prey is prey. And like all predators, having your prey come to you is always better then chasing them; it saves valuable energy.
So let’s follow the travels of this group (gang?) which has left the city and is now hitting true rural terrain. It could be mountains or foothills or flat plains. It might be desert (high or low). It really doesn't matter. To make this easy, I’ll use my neck of the woods as an example. The suburbs and satellite communities have been left behind. As the group convoys down a winding two-lane highway, our Bad Guys see rolling hills to the right and tree-covered ridges to the left that seem to go on to infinity.
(Just as an aside: Terry, next time you take a drive through the mountains or farm county, look – really look – at what I'm about to describe to you. The open spaces are reeeaally open. Fun fact: If you took every citizen (and even all the undocumented dependents) of these United States and packed them in tightly in one place, they’d fit in an area about the size of New York City and half of the Bronx. The rest of the nation would be empty.)
The Bad Guys begin to caravan down the road. They wind their way past small two-lane paved roads and dirt tracks that branch off from the highway every mile or so. See this in your mind's eye, Terry. What’s up that road? Or that one? Or that one? Every mile, over and over, there are roads leading off into the distance. Mile after mile after mile. You can't see beyond the bends. You can see a few scattered houses or barns off in the distance, but have those already been looted? Are they empty or defended? There’s no way for the Bad Guys to tell – and can they really spare the time to find out? After all, there won't be any filling stations to replace the gas they're burning. Checking even one of those county lanes, even if it's not defended, will take time. A lot of time.
They say an army marches on its stomach. For an army to be successful, it must have a supply train following it. But unlike an army, there is no re-supply train following the Bad Guys.
With some increasing desperation, the Bad Guy leader decides to travel down one of these roads. He (or she, don't want to be sexist) needs to do something proactive, otherwise everyone else will begin to wonder if all he's going to do is drive until the fuel runs out. So he turns the caravan down a side road and begins to cautiously advance. The road weaves through a valley bottom next to (and occasionally crossing and re-crossing) a small stream. After a mile or so, he stops near a big ranch house tucked up against the ridge that forms the valley. He sends a squad forward to do reconnaissance.
What do they find? A house, but it’s empty of anything truly valuable. Sure there's furniture and clothing. But the large pantry is bare. The barn yields nothing either. Any livestock is gone, and while there are farm tools and vehicles in the barn, none of those vehicles will start and none of them have any fuel in their tanks. There's a garden, and it has a lot of vegetables and fruits. But it seems a pretty poor return on the time spent so far.
The leader now has to figure out what to do. Does he go on further? Turn around and get back to the highway with nothing to show for the time and fuel wasted?
Actually, that decision is taken away from him by the sound of a large diesel engine coming from down the valley back towards the main road. The engine roars for about a minute and then goes quiet. The sound of gunfire follows briefly and then all is quiet once again.
The Bad Guy leader wisely decides to send a heavily-armed squad on foot to check it out. The squad returns about 30 minutes later to inform the Bad Guy leader that there is a multi-ton road grader parked across the entire width of the road (which as it happens is pretty much the width of the valley at that spot). What a coincidence!
The tires of the grader are shredded (that was the gunfire they heard) so it can't be moved. The Bad Guys are trapped.
The Bad Guy leader tells his people to mount up. And that's when the sniping starts.
Okay Terry, I'll stop the narrative now. You can end the story anyway you want. But there are a few details you'll need to know about rural areas in order to reach a realistic conclusion.
Let’s say there are about 70 people who live up that valley, not an unusual number. They or their ancestors have lived there for about 120 years. (Except for one couple from Oregon who bought a house up the valley about ten years ago. But they're okay. Oh, and he's a gunsmith.)
It really doesn't matter in the end if the gang of Bad Guys consists of 100 people or 200 or 500. You see, the folks who live in that valley know it like the backs of their hands – because they've lived there for 120 years. They know every game trail, every creek bed, every twist and bend. They've got lots of guns – really good guns, if you get my drift, with lots of ammo and lots of experience. And they DO have a supply chain. Just over the ridge is another valley. And beyond that valley is another valley, and another. And in one way or another, almost all of the residents of those valleys are related. They went to the county school together, they dated each other and they married each other. So ... if the going gets too hot in the valley in question, they'll be waiting for the remnant of the Bad Guys in the next valley over.
Now I could tell you what would have happened to the Bad Guys if, instead of the valley, they came upon one of the small farming towns further down the highway. Or I could describe the sheer-faced cut road that runs past a lake on the way to the county seat. Or I might mention the surprising number of small-time blasters who keep the local rock quarries in business. Or the local construction firms who create and remove roads on a daily basis for the timber companies. But the results would be the same and this post is already too long.
So we'll leave the Bad Guys here at this point to make their plans. But before anyone tells me what a “great story” this is, please understand something important: This is not a story. It's quite real. That valley, and all the other situations are real. I know the family that currently lives in that “empty” house. I know their son, who operates road grader. I know most everyone up that valley … and I know their plans. I've been to barbeques with them. I've gone to church with them. I've helped them with their projects and they've helped me with mine.
I am them.
Now truthfully, I don't know them as well as they know each other. I never will. After all, Patrice and I have only lived here for twelve years. But practically everywhere I've ever called home was just like here. This is now my home and hopefully it will be the last place I'll ever live. My home. My family. My friends. My people.
And I've got a 1600 square mile back yard.
I don't want “the end of the world” as I know it. I'm 57 years old and I'd really rather live for a few decades longer and see my children's children. I want to keep walking in the woods for as long as I'm able, without fear and with Patrice holding my hand when I do. I want to keep sharing tall tales at the Sunday potluck. I want to call no man my enemy. I want, as a Christian, to always help those in need to the best of my ability. And I can safely say that these are the feelings of those who live around me as well.
But be aware.
Around here, folks live by the land and, more importantly, by the word of God. We don't “live by the sword.” But if you do live by the sword, and you plan on harming my family, my friends, or my community, you'd better give heed to the second part of that sentence.
This is Patrice speaking now. I just want to add one more thing to Don's post.
Most people aren't preppers. A lot of people aren't preppers because they're can't be (health, disability, age, finances, whatever). A lot of people aren't preppers simply because they're not situationally aware.
But a lot of people who could be prepared (but aren't) ARE situationally aware and, for whatever reason, don't care. Their "preparedness" plan is simple: if the bleep hits the fan, they'll steal.
This is the take-home message to anyone and everyone, urban or rural. If the bleep hits the fan and you're not prepared, your only options are to beg or to steal. What will you choose? And if begging doesn't work and you can't steal what you want or need, what then? Murder?
Think it through, folks.