I have a soft spot for the prepper/SHTF folks. I respect them for taking their own survival seriously. Responsible gun ownership is sensible and so is having some resources put aside.  But they are also pretty nuts.  Their modal scenario is super unrealistic. In most crises, you don’t go postapocalyptic, life just sucks and people kill each other. Think Weimar inflation or the Russian Civil War or the Holdomor instead of zombie apocalypse.

So what does make sense? I’m interested in what you guys think.

We probably do underestimate disaster and underinvest in preparing for it. Taleb, Black Swan, etc. When we do, we are probably too specific in our planning.

You need to plan on disasters and crises, but you don’t know what the disasters will look like.  Capacity and flexibility is what you need.

General Emergency Preparedness

Having foodstuffs for a few weeks or few months, some idea of how to get and purify water, some ability to cook things. Some general first aid supplies. Candles or flashlights. Your aim is to have a cushion for a week or two or even longer. and, yes, a little cash on hand, guns, and a little gold is probably not a bad idea.  Somewhere in the range between a 72-hour kit and a years supply.

But you don’t want to go too far because emergencies are unpredictable.   If you prepare too specifically for any one scenario, you could waste it all to no gain.  Your elaborate years supply complete with solar paneling and batteries and etc. is no good if you have to flee your home.

The best emergency preparedness is capability and that means that investing in you and your families’ own health and agency and financial means is the best emergency preparation.

Equally important is community. Perhaps even more important.  Being part of a group of people with solid commitments to each other dramatically increases your options.  Capable people you can trust who are willing to sacrifice for you and you for them is the ne plus ultra.  Your ward may qualify but it may not.  Don’t take it for granted. Work on your ward.  Get to know your neighbors.  Seek out and work with capable, competent people in your community.  Be on terms with the Sheriff if you live rural.  With the police and the mayor if not.

Spiritual Preparedness

Everything I said upstream–basic general preparedness, getting yourself and your family in order, strengthening  your ward and your community–are things the prophets and apostles have said over and over.  They have also urged spiritual preparedness over and over.  Revelation and miracles and inner peace are priceless in an emergency.  So is the knowledge that this life is not the end–because you cannot, by taking sufficient thought beforehand, make sure that you and yours survive every possible crisis in style, or at all.

Become a Refugee

Emergencies like you are Jew/kulak under Hitler/Stalin are historically common but not even on the SHTF radar. Basic things here would be passports, a bit of cash, and means of transportation. Stretch goal would be having some portable wealth  (Gold?  Cash? Bitcoin?), and especially actually having meaningful contacts in foreign and somewhere to go.  Dual citizenship starts to look very attractive when you think along these lines.  For a wide range of scenarios, when your society decides to go down, you go down with it, holing up in a cabin somewhere does no good at all, and your only hope if any is to flee.

Although normally you are better off if your family is mostly close and mutually supporting, having friends or family across state or international borders can be helpful.

Government Quality, People Quality

Pay attention to the quality of the government at all levels (state capacity) and the quality and unity of the people there (folk capacity).  Low levels of state capacity and low levels of folk capacity make any crisis much more difficult.  Where you live and with whom you live matters.

This has been on my mind recently as our society lurches from one mess to another. I underestimated how fragile modern society can be in the presence of low state capacity and low folk capacity.  I underestimated how patchy and chaotic emergencies can be in the presence of low state and folk capacity.   So I am now at least a little bit more appreciate of the prepper mindset.  It seems relatively less useless than before.  I am probably more inclined now than before to creep up my food supply past 3 months and to see getting some kind of homestead I could ramp up in an emergency as a long-term stretch goal.

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