I’m not the only person who woke up Sunday morning waiting for word that Trump lit the MAGA-signal overnight, and that we were in for a fight immediately. It turns out that the coup isn’t quite so overt, and, naturally, well-executed. So, what does your average leftist prepper do when the fascists haven’t taken to the streets, and the nukes sit idle in their silos? This week will be less of a practical prep and more of a mindset to carry with you into the months and years ahead. We'll talk about why you can take it easy for a moment, why you can only take it easy for a moment, and I'll walk through ways for you to think about prepping in the future.
First, let me lay out the case for you that there is every reason to, for a moment, take your hands off the wheel and relax. Enjoy this while you can.
- No state is showing signs of rolling over for Trump or his investigations. Even GOP-led governments are holding fast at the state level.
- There are no signs of widespread fraud, and no signs that any vote counts will be overturned in a meaningful manner.
- While no powerful Republicans have come forward to admonish Trump, his cries of fraud and attempts to sour the election are not taking root where it counts. Folks like McConnell, history’s highest ranking Testudine-American, are saying that Trump has every right to investigate potential fraud and ensure that the election is legitimate, which, well, sure. That’s fine.
- Trump has got to be careful now. He needs the shield of the presidency to avoid prison, and he’s got to make sure his golden parachute is packed carefully.
All this means that, if only for a few days, we can relax. That’s important! We’ve had four years of stress, and the last nine months threw in a pandemic for good measure. Don’t underestimate the benefits of joyously eating a pint of ice cream, rather than piteously doing the same. Take some time to enjoy yourself. Go for a walk and know that despite all his attempts to suppress the vote, Trump and what he stood for was repudiated by this country, even if narrowly.
Wait, no, don’t relax
Trump and his ilk are lightly couping as we speak. The odds that they will succeed are small, but the fact of it alone is extremely disturbing, and dangerous. His followers marched in DC this weekend, resulting in predictably violent clashes, and that kind of behavior won't go away. Just as his election (and every subsequent act) subverted and destroyed norms, this election and its wake breaks the idea that American democracy is sacred, that it is, for even the worst of us, the line we will not cross. Trump will cross it. He’ll hop it, he’ll drag his toe through it, he’ll build a wall on it and make us live on the far side. Like a hyper-extended tendon, this line no longer has the oomph it once did, and it will take time to repair. What I mean is that people in power now see how far they can go, what they can get away with, and they won’t forget that any time soon. We have to be vigilant, and call out these people when they approach that old, rugged line. This, and everything Trump has done, must prepare us for what is to come.
- Trump was, lucky for us, a buffoon. The next fascist leader won’t be. We will be getting off easy if Trump runs again in 2024, or if Don Jr. does in his stead. More likely, we will face a savvy slimeball who knows how to couch his racist rhetoric and doesn’t have the legal liabilities that Trump does. He’ll woo moderate conservatives more easily than Trump did and he’ll have the far right digging through their closet for their best brown shirts.
- Even if the left wins a majority in the Senate, Biden’s climate agenda is not aggressive enough. We will likely see a 2C rise in global temperatures, and the thing about a 2C rise is that it has good odds of tipping all the dominoes, whether we cease emitting CO2 or not. We can even, by some miracle of technology, start pulling CO2 out of the air and we won’t stop runaway climate change. Ice shelves collapsing and ocean currents slowing is a bell that cannot be unrung, not for thousands or millions of years. What this boils down to, folks, is that we’re on an extinction trajectory, and it will hurt the whole way down. The alternative is a full and immediate stop to fossil fuels, and that, unfortunately, is a disaster scenario of its own.
- As the Resilience article above mentions, when the going gets tough for humans, we do two things: we get going, and we fight. Both are bad in a resource-scarce future, and it doesn’t take a worldwide phenomenon to cause a drought that helps ignite a civil war. The conditions that cause massive strife are already here. Now wed these conditions with a fascist president, and you create the eco-fascism that I mentioned some weeks ago: a movement that acknowledges our changing world and seeks to save only those who “deserve” saving—namely, those who are white, and those who are rich. The 99.9% of people not in the Venn Diagram of eco-fascist salvation will face extreme scarcity, conflict, and disease.
What this all means, basically, is we're shifting from Season 1 of American Fascism to Season 2. Expect new haircuts, a new Big Bad, and don't be surprised when the old villain turns up again. If any of you had the impression that this election was the turning point, and that we can expect a return to our regularly scheduled, less-overt white supremacy, allow me to disabuse you. We may be in for a smooth stretch, but the havoc is far from over. With that in mind, let's think about the long haul.
The end game for most preppers is to hunker down in their own little fiefdom—ranchland with livestock, crops, ammo for a lifetime, and a passel of kids to defend their castle. What I want you to do this week is think about your goals for prepping. We talk a lot of about prepping as a means to survive an emergency, but what if the emergency becomes life? Climate change and fascism means that if you, like me, have the luxury to not already be imperiled every time you set foot out your door, you may soon. Our lives may change for the worse, and forever, even if they don’t come to calamity. So what are you prepping for? Are you just trying to survive a disaster, or are you trying to build a resilient, sustainable lifestyle? I want you to consider these three arcs for your prepping, know that I attach no value judgment to them, and follow the guidance for your selection:
The Emergency Prepper: whether it’s just you, or yourself and your family, you prep to stay alive should a blizzard snow you in, an earthquake shatter supply lines, or riots keep you stuck in your apartment. You’re prepping, tops, for a month of necessity. What comes after is a return to civilization or a bugout to someplace safer. This is the approximate level of prepping When/If has walked through up to this point. The E-Prepper should have:
- At least two weeks of food and water (1 gallon per person per day).
- A first aid kit.
- An escape plan. Whether this means getting to your neighbor’s house or your family out of state, you need to have a plan for leaving a dangerous situation.
- A bugout bag that facilitates your escape plan.
The Long Winter Prepper: you’re ready for a season in the abyss. You’re prepping to save family and friends should things get dark, and you’ve planned accordingly. You intend on putting up a fight should it come to that. A Long Winter scenario is, for example, what we might face should Trump’s coup succeed. For the Long Winter, you should have:
- Plans to acquire necessary skills for a long-term disaster scenario, such as first aid, gardening, and self-defense.
- At least two month’s worth of food and water.
- A well-stocked first aid supply—enough that “kit” is a misnomer.
- A firearm. You just should.
- Plans to supplement your food and water stores. This means you should have seeds or a working garden, ways to hunt or trap if you eat meat, and you are thinking about how you would acquire water in the event that municipal supply ceased permanently.
- A group of friends and/or family that can help you (as you will help them) survive. You can do without this, but it will be much harder, and your chances of survival much slimmer.
The “Civilization? I Haven’t Heard that Name in Years” Prepper: You are or want to be entirely self-sufficient. You’re off-grid, polishing your solar panels, throwing a log under your still, and building a container house for your friend’s friend who was a combat medic in the Army. You get everything but your morning cup of coffee from your own land, and your own land has other people living on it already. You should have:
- A community of like-minded people who contribute both luxuries and necessary skills to your survival.
- Energy independence. Whether by purchasing solar panels, building a windmill, or storing up fuel for a generator.
- A vast supply of food and water that, ideally, replenishes itself. Chickens for eggs, if no other livestock. Rabbits and goats if you want meat and cheese. A deep well or stable creek for water. Water, for the long-term prepper facing climate change, is gold.
- A veritable infirmary of medical supplies, and the knowledge and expertise to treat most non-severe injuries without leaving your home.
- An armory. I flinch at the idea, too, but all that you’ve really done here is merged the gun safes of three prepper families. There’s no need to go Ruby Ridge or Rajneeshpuram, but the same dangers that apply to a small group apply to a community.
- Plans for change. The one constant in a long-term prepper’s life is going to be the inherent brittleness of a larger, more involved structure versus the relative flexibility of, say, a bugout bag. You can up and leave with a bag—you can’t up and leave with solar panels and crops. But you may need to plan for that eventuality. Extremely dedicated preppers are like squirrels: they sock away food and supplies across a wide area in the event that they have to flee with nothing but what’s on their backs.
This is, ultimately, a kind of thought experiment. I want you to be thinking about your end goals for prepping, and to be thinking about where you fit into a changing, tumultuous world. When the unthinkable happens, any level of preparedness is going to make you better off—more likely to survive, and more able to help others—so being the Best Prepper is not something you have to worry about. Getting comfortable with the idea that some level of preparedness will become necessary, however, is. It’s not a matter of if. It’s a matter of when.