The Narcissism of Preppers

I do not understand preppers.

I understand the desire to be prepared for a scenario where the world we take for granted dissolves into something less than recognizable, but I do not understand their preparation for such event.

It smacks of narcissism unbound.

How so?  It’s the entire notion that by stocking away enough supplies—food, fuel, ammunition, etc.—this individual will be able to “ride out” the coming dissolution of civilized society with little more than an interruption in cable service.  It’s as if to say in a few months the person and their family or whomever shares their modern day ark with emerge as the individuals to reseed civilization.

Really?  Outside of an obvious case of paranoia, what skillset qualifies any of the people we see on these prepper shows as uniquely qualified to rebuild civilization?  The answer is very little to nothing.

True preparation would consist of acquiring the skills and knowledge necessary to provide the basics of life—think food, water, shelter, etc.—for an enduring period of time.  Not just enough rice and beans for six months.

True preparation would be more about making sure you had enough open pollinated seeds on hand as opposed to gold and guns.  A close friend of mine always scoffs at the notion of people hoarding gold for the end times because the value of that “precious” metal is quickly devalued when one person has food and a lot of people want to buy food.  It reminds me of the scene in the recent Klondike mini-series where the protagonist is staring into a general store window where a single orange is price at $100.  People in the gold fields had lots of money, but what they really wanted was a bit of citrus.

True preparation would rely on building a community of neighbors who would be able to assist each other in the endeavor of survival because autonomy is very inefficient.  Autonomy is also very dangerous.  In a larger community dedicated to survival the loss of a single person would not necessarily critically endanger the community.  In many preppers’ worlds the loss of the patriarch—because these people tend to be middle-aged males—would critically alter the arithmetic of survival.

True preparation would look less like the Walking Dead and much more like The World Made by Hand.   In James Howard Kunstler’s excellent book about a forced realignment of modern civilization true resiliency comes from the ability of the larger community to provide the necessary tools and means for long term viability.  It’s about someone being a doctor and another person being a carpenter and even someone being a barber.

None of this type of preparation gets a lot of press because it looks a lot like homesteading or crafting.  It’s a lot more telegenic to show people building a bunker and stocking it with freeze dried meals rather than showing someone learning how to save seeds from one season to the next.

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One response to “The Narcissism of Preppers

  1. Pingback: Do You Have a Disaster Bookshelf? | My Green Misadventure

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