Monday, March 17, 2014

Thoughts on the American Redoubt

One does not have to hang long in prepper/survivalist circles to come across the idea of the American Redoubt, a retreat area to which Christians* can John-Galt in preparation for the collapse.  The most famous proponent of the movement is surely James Wesley Rawles of (from whom I stole this graphic), though a few others advance similar ideas.  It's worth it to read through Rawles' linked piece and ponder what he's saying, for 99% of it is right on.  And like Christian Exodus and the Free State Project, both of which seek similar ends by massing like-minded people in a specific place, I wish the Redoubters well.  But I shan't be joining  the American Redoubt, and not just because the lovely and gracious Rogue is deathly allergic to pine trees.

First of all, the right stuff:

The Precepts of survivalist philosophy.  You'll likely not find anything in there to disagree with, because it's old and tried wisdom.

The idea, found throughout the 'checklist,' that local action is critical and that big-city expectations ought to be left behind. Our modern huge cities are a relic of the cheap-energy industrial age, and they are passing away.  Cheap fuel was a one-time gift to humanity, but it is likely being revoked. Time to move on. Or back, as the case may be.

The list of ways to help Atlas shrug is both insightful and cunning.  I long ago decided to emphasize reducing costs rather than increasing my income to pay those costs. I have never once lost sleep over paying too few incomes taxes.

Now, the wrong stuff:

"Expect a long driving distances(sic) for work and shopping." - I've spent a bit of time in northern Idaho and never once saw an oil refinery.  So I'm not sure how, once the market for petroleum products is significantly impacted by war, economic collapse, or peak oil, people will not be driving anywhere for anything.  As peak cheap oil really bites, I fully expect a nationalization of sorts - actually a government prioritization - whereby truckers get fuel, farmers get fuel, and drivers get, well, paper coupons.  If you have to drive a long distance to get to work, you'll likely be in a new line of work before you know it.  If you move to the Redoubt, expect to be a miner, a logger, or a subsistence farmer. Those have been the default careers in the region for a reason.

"Plains and steppes are tanker country."- a major part of the argument for living in the mountains is that the area is military defensible. Knowing nothing about military strategy, I cannot really comment on that.  But I do note that it's easier to grow crops in the same places tanks can drive. There is a reason that the mountainous areas of the world have never supported a large population density - they simply cannot. The soil is poor. Travel is difficult. Winters are brutal.** You can't organize anything larger than a clan or maybe a town. So if you're fine living in a remote mountain village with a couple other families that your kids will intermarry with for generations, that's fine.  I'm not, so much.  I prefer the plains, where tanks can move, but so can people, and where you can grow a lot of food and where you can travel by bicycle or train if necessary. The future military question will not be "Can a place be subdued?" so much as "Is that place worthwhile to occupy?" In that respect, any low-density area far from 'civilization' will likely fall into the 'not worth it' category in the government's calculations.

But all that said, I really count the American Redoubt to be anywhere between the Rockies and Appalacians, 50 miles from any city of 300k people or more. Yes, Idaho is politically conservative, but it's not more conservative than Arkansas.  Yes, Montana has lots of range land, but not much more than Nebraska. Wyoming has a low population density, but that of western Kansas and western Texas is just as low, albeit for different reasons.

I simply don't see the big problem in a nationwide SHTF scenario being the US government. I fully suspect that every soldier not stationed in Ukraine will be stationed on Long Island or in LA or Chicago.  The much-discussed FEMA camps will be full of former EBT recipients, not well-armed home gardeners from the outskirts of Sioux City or Tulsa. In short, the real problem outside the cities will be disorder that will be subdued by sheriffs and posses. That and a lack of finished goods, which people will just have to live without.  And I don't see those problems as being any smaller (or larger) in the Rockies than on the Great Plains.

And I'd rather be in a place where cattle can graze without starting avalanches, all things being equal.

* and Orthodox and Messianic Jews.
** This coming from a guy who grew up in northern Minnesota.

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