Founders by James Wesley Rawles

Maynard Hutchings Rides Again!!!

Founders is the third fiction book from survivalist luminary James Wesley Rawles in a series with Patriots and Survivors.   I believe this one came out in the last half of 2012, so it’s fairly recent.

I think Rawles’ fiction is a lot like what Don Quixote would look like if it were actually written by Don Quixote.   By that I mean that everything seems a little too fantastic and idealistic.   All of the good guys seem to be devout Christian ex-military firearms experts with hearts of gold and pockets full of silver that always manage to triumph over evil without saying any four letter words in the process.

I think the general consensus on Rawles’ fiction is that the overall writing is poor, but he manages to work in a lot of prepper/survivalist wisdom into the storyline.   I read Patriots on a whim in 2009 and thought I had stumbled on to a thinly-veiled survivalist instruction manual.   I got a lot out of that one.   I think there are other writers in this genre that do a much better job painting a mental picture of SHTF scenarios, but I can’t think of anyone who does a better job than Rawles on the technical things like gear, gadgets and throwing in a little bit of how-to on some subjects.

Ok, on to Founders…   Honestly, I don’t think this book had any real redeeming qualities.   It didn’t do a good job of informing or entertaining.   I found myself glossing over some parts and even thought about giving up around page 50 or so.   Fortunately I had a slow night at work and was able to read the lion’s share of it there.   FWIW, it got a little better after the first part.

The fact that he’s very vocal about his Christian faith doesn’t bother me, but I feel it was cranked up a notch in this book.  I found myself getting annoyed with his lengthy depiction of one character’s religious awakening while sorely neglecting every other aspect of character development in the book.   All of the good guy characters seem to blend together.     Oh, he also wrote “piss” in this one, which is about as vulgar as he gets.   I laughed when I read this.   Although I think the clean language takes away from the realism of the book, I suppose I respect his decision to stick to his guns and “keep it clean”, even though he gets a lot of flack for it.

On the technical side of things, I think Rawles came up short compared to Patriots and even Survivors.   Like I said earlier, Patriots did a great job introducing survival/preparedness topics and Survivors wasn’t too bad in this regard either.    With both books I think someone interested in these subjects could find a lot of new things to look into.   With Founders, I think only one book that was mentioned jumped out at me as something to look into….and I forgot what that was already.    I also don’t think that this one showed the same range of cultural knowledge as Survivors did.

As far as the actual stories in the book, those weren’t great either.   Nothing stood out as being that gripping or really evoking much emotion.   Books like this are supposed to be full of all kinds of hair-raising situations.   Hell, one character had his son shot and it read like a police report.

The three books in the series take place more or less concurrently, so some of the stories in this book are meant to fill in the holes on some things mentioned in the others.    This book has the final days of the UN/Maynard Hutchings government and when reading the end of the book I got the impression that Rawles lost interest in this project and just wanted to get it over with.   I can’t believe how quick and uninspiring he made this big events.

I would recommend Patriots and maybe Survivors to anyone new to the world of survivalism/preparedness with the caveat that you’re not going to get world-class storytelling, but there’s a lot of good information buried in all of that awkward dialog.   This book, not so much.   If you read the previous two and want to continue on with the stories and you’re looking for something not too heavy to read, it might be worth it.

At the end of the day, I respect Rawles and acknowledge his wisdom.   I also think I understand that his primary focus isn’t exactly writing works that will earn him a spot among the western canon, but rather sharing what he knows about survivalism/preparedness with fiction as his canvas.   If only he was a little better at story telling and character development…

 

 

 

The Day After (1983)

 

I remember watching this one when I was a kid probably a year or two after the Soviet Union fell, so it’s been about 20 years.    Several scenes from this film really stuck with me over the years and it’s one that every now and then I would think about and make a point to dig up (and then forget).    Thanks to YouTube, there’s all kinds of gems like this right at our fingertips that might have been lost to history.

The Day After came out in the early 80’s, which was a fairly tense period of the Cold War.  The US and the Soviet Union reached a period of relaxed relations known as detente during the 70’s, which was shattered by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.   It would be a few more years before the periods of perestroika and glasnot that ultimately saw the communist regime collapse.   In Wolverines: Reflections on Red DawnI describe the social and geopolitical situation of that period, as Red Dawn came out shortly after The Day After.

The plot follows the stories of a few different characters in and around the Kansas City area.   There’s the Dahlbergs, a farm family that lives near nuclear missile silos, Robert Oakes, a doctor from Kansas City and Airman First Class Billy McCoy, an enlisted man in the Air Force that works with nuclear missiles as well as a few other minor characters.   The first half of the film establishes the characters while allowing the situation between NATO and the USSR to develop, the middle of the film has the actual nuclear attack and the last part of the film covers the aftermath.      The premise for the war is basically the same as the Berlin blockade of 1948, but in this case it ends up in a brief ground war with tactical nuclear missile strikes in Europe followed by full scale nuclear war between the US and the Soviet Union.     The film gives a fairly realistic portrayal of how nuclear war would affect the survivors.

There are some good themes in the film.   I think the most prominent one is “normalcy bias”.   Many people refused to believe that something bad could happen.   In one scene the mother of the Dahlberg family continued to bake to prepare for her daughter’s wedding which was supposed to take place the next day and make the beds, despite the imminent warnings that the missiles were coming and her husband demanding that she get into the basement.   In another scene Robert Oakes and his wife scoff at the neighbors for deciding that now was a good time to take a vacation in Guadalajara (aka “bugging out) due to the crisis in Europe.   Sounds like the neighbors made the right choice.    During the montage of the US launching her missiles, there’s one surreal clip of the missiles going off in the background as a football game takes place at Arrowhead Stadium.    In another scene, Airman McCoy is called on to duty and forced to cancel his leave despite travel arrangements he made with his wife.   She doesn’t understand the severity of the situation and takes it out on him, making it all the more difficult for McCoy.

There’s one line in the movie where a doctor with a foreign accent (presumably portraying a WWII refugee) talks with Dr. Oakes and mentions that people were leaving Kansas City.  He says “where does one go from Kansas City?”, implying that if you’re not safe in the more-or-less geographical center of the United States, where are you safe?   This was one uncomfortable reality of the Cold War.   As a nation, we were fortunate to have avoided the widespread death and destruction that happened in Europe and Asia during the 20th Century.   Had World War III panned out like it did in The Day After, we would not have been as fortunate and everybody would be affected.

Another theme in the film is the idea that an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure in the case of nuclear war.    The director conveys his sentiments that we’re better off trying to reduce the possibility of nuclear war rather than preparing to deal with the consequences.   The director doesn’t seem too optimistic about the ability to effectively get things back to normal in the aftermath of a nuclear war and based on what I know, I’d have to agree.    There’s one great scene where a group of survivors are huddled around a radio listening to the President address the nation.   In the speech the president assures the American people that rebuilding is underway and praises the American people for their resolve, noting that the Soviet Union suffered similar damage and that the US didn’t surrender.  The people are extremely apathetic and cynical towards the President’s words, given the futile situation they’re in.

There’s another great scene where a group of farmers meet with a local official who explains the government’s new agricultural program with advice on how to deal with contaminated soil.   The farmers are advised to scrape off the top 6 inches of soil and start anew.  One farmer in the group calls bullshit on the government’s info and asks how they’re supposed to pull that off when they have 200 acres of cropland.  I think this is not just an example of an inept government, but one that really can’t come to the rescue in some situations but at the same time can’t say “in the event of nuclear war, you’re fucked.  Sorry.”      In another scene someone says something to the extent of “when they come to help us…” to which another character asks “when who comes from where?”, bringing up the true gravity of the situation.

One thing I liked about the movie is that it didn’t have some magical twist where someone saves the day and everything is right with the world.   I think a lot of thought and research went into the production of the film and the adage that “the people that died were the lucky ones” is probably true in the event of nuclear war.     Naturally the film had a strong disarmament slant to it and wanted to convey to the American public an image of what nuclear war would actually look like to us.    I just read the Wiki article and I didn’t realize how controversial the movie actually was (but then again, I was 2 when it came out).   Apparently it caused a lot of psychological distress to a lot of people and even Mr. Rodgers had to do a few shows on the subject to help children cope with it.   It forced the American public to really think about these issues and talk about them.   Many people viewed it as defeatist and anti-American as well, completely missing the point.

Unfortunately I think this movie has been largely written off and/or forgotten as a relic of the Cold War, despite the fact it’s a great doomsday/apocalyptic/dystopian/SHTF/TEOTWAWKI film.   I think the first reaction is to say it’s irrelevant now that the Cold War is over, but I think that could be debated.   China has a nuclear arsenal capable of launching a full-scale attack on the US and all the end of the Cold War did with Russia is put them in a slightly weaker position, although they still have a nuclear arsenal and aren’t too friendly with us.   Then there’s the “rogue states” and more importantly, non-state actors (i.e. terrorists) who are capable of pulling off some small-scale attacks.    I think there was really something to the idea that mutually assured destruction helped keep the peace, whereas there’s not the same dynamic with a terrorist group.   Either way, some kind of nuclear incident isn’t completely out of the question.     We’ve pissed a lot of people off in the world and honestly, some of the people we’ve pissed off are the kind of assholes who would do something like that.    I would say that the kind of full-scale attack as seen in this film is a lot less likely today than it was then.

I’d also like to give the movie some credit for not being over dramatic or having many failed attempts at some deep, profound lines (which is a flaw of Red Dawn).   The acting is pretty agreeable.    At any rate, I think this Cold War gem deserves revisiting from people who are into this genre.

 

Red Dawn 1984 vs Red Dawn 2012

A lot of people have asked me about my thoughts on the Red Dawn remake.   Overall, I thought it was an ok movie.   I think a lot of people already wrote it off before seeing it.  I figured it wouldn’t be as good as the original, but I didn’t rule out the possibility that it could be a good movie.   As a true Red Dawn aficionado, I looked forward to seeing it and made it out to the theater the day it came out.

First, I’ll say that the plot is a lot less goofy than I figured it would be when I first heard that there was going to be a Red Dawn remake.    I figured it was going to be something of a campy nod to Cold War paranoia and the bad guys would certainly be some kind of terrorist cell a la Invasion USA with Chuck Norris.   I was glad to hear that China was going to be the protagonist – not because I’m a Sinophobe or anything but because it adds a little more realism to the plot when there’s a tangible enemy.   Without something like that, you might as well have the Joker and the United Underworld invading the United States.    I understand why they would change the enemy from China to North Korea (because they would miss out on the large Chinese film market and diplomatically it just isn’t nice), but it knocked a ton of realism out of the plot.

If you want an idea of how the prospect of Chinese bad guys would have went over in China, look back to the 2006 Turkish film Valley of the Wolves (in Turkish Kurtlar Vadisi – Irak) where Turkish forces take revenge on an American unit operating in Kurdish Iraq who detain some Turkish commandos.   It’s based on a real-life event where US forces actually did show up and detain some Turkish commandos, even going as far to blindfold and cuff them, which caused a lot of outrage in Turkey.   Anyway, the film gives an alternate ending to that story.   The American State Department was not at all happy about the film and the American actors (Gary Busey, for one) involved in it were shunned.   I know Netflix refused to carry it and I don’t think any official copies saw the light of day in the US.   I tried to keep an eye out for a copy in Istanbul two years ago, but no dice.   It can be found on the internet.  I’ve seen the first 10 minutes or so and it doesn’t look that great.    They made a sequel about the flotilla to Palestine incident a few years ago that caused a bit of a stir as well.     The film did well in Turkey, around the Middle East and Germany (large Turkish population) but was more or less shut out of the American market and missed out on a ton of revenue.   The guys who did the Red Dawn remake probably didn’t want to get shut out of China.   If you’re banned from North Korea, who cares?

I think the biggest difference between the original and the remake was the overall tone and style.   The original is very dark and grim.  There’s a sense of dehumanization to every aspect of life, which leads to indifference to life and cynicism.   The Wolverines achieve some victories over the Soviets, but it comes at a high cost.   We see and hear of shocking acts against American civilians.   Life in occupied America looks an awful lot like life in many other places throughout the 20th Century that suffered war and occupation.    In the remake, there’s a few scenes of civilians being killed but overall life seems to go on as normal, just with the addition of some checkpoints and censorship.   The Wolverines maintain something of a sense of teenage normalcy amongst each other to the point where it really does seem like an episode of Degrassi High with guns.    With all due respect to Tomorrow When The War Began, the remake reminded me more of this movie than it did the original Red Dawn. 

I think that in the remake the audience weasels out of some of the more disturbing themes and imagery of the original.   We don’t see as many dead civilians, the civilians look more like they’re annoyed by the whole ordeal than scared shitless as they do in the original,  there isn’t much news of really horrific things happening around the world and there’s less bloodshed on the good guys’ side.   SPOILER ALERT!!!   The scenes involving Daryl and his end were completely milquetoast compared to the original.   The ending where Matt goes on to form this huge resistance movement and leaves the viewer feeling optimistic has a lot different vibe than the ending of the original, where it’s implied that the US ultimately won but at a very high cost.

I thought the remake had a few good points.    The relationship between Matt and Jed was a lot better developed in the remake, with a lot of sibling rivarly between the two.   I got the vibe that there was some of this going on in the original, but it wasn’t as blatant as it was in the remake.   I also really liked the opening sequence involving a series of newsclips (some of them were even real) laying out the world’s geopolitical situation.    I thought it was cool that Jed was a Marine.  Not just because I’m a former Marine, but I always thought that Jed’s character in the original would have made a little more sense if they had him as a guy who did four years in the military after high school and came back to Calumet to settle down.  It would have been hard to make him a war veteran in the original (unless of course he stormed Grenada with Gunny Highway), but making Jed a veteran in the remake made some of the technical aspects easier to explain.   I also liked some of the references to the original.   I can’t think of specific examples right now, but there were a few well-played subtle ones.

I’ve heard that the original Red Dawn had a scene in a McDonald’s, but the stills I’ve seen make it look like a place ran for the amusement and recreation of the invaders, not a place where the townsfolk could stop in and grab a Big Mac and fries on their way back to the internment camp after a hard day of street sweeping and grave digging.   In the remake there was a scene where the Wolverines stumbled into a fully-functioning Subway, full of dining civilians who appear like nothing out of the ordinary was going on outside.   Come on…   I hope whoever made this got a really big check from Subway for putting that scene in there.

Another minor thing I didn’t like was one of the characters that came with “Andrew Tanner”, the one who kept making comments about shit sandwiches and calling people “motards” and all.   I think this guy was the most awkward Marine Corps archetype I’ve ever seen in film, and I’ve seen ’em all.

When Red Dawn came out in 1984, it was deemed the most violent movie ever released.  The remake might have just as much violence if not more, but it falls flat compared to the original and comes off as just another action movie.  My intrepretation of the original is that it brought a lot of the real-life horrors of the 20th Century to the American audience and gave a reasonably realistic account of what war looks like when it’s on your doorstep to a nation that has only collectively experienced war at more than an arm’s distance.   The original challenged the notion of American exceptionalism and reminded us to remain vigilant while the remake seemed to reinforce the idea of American exceptionalism.   I don’t think that the remake had anything deeper to it than what’s at the surface, just like about everything else coming out of Hollywood these days.   In other words, I probably won’t write “Wolverines: Reflections on the Red Dawn Remake”.   I think you’re pretty much seeing about all of my “reflections” on it right now.

I think that America could use another Red Dawn to remind us what the true costs of war are as well as the dangers of what happens when we get too complacent as a society and count on the “it can’t happen to us!” mentality to shield us from danger.   A lot has happened since the 1984 release of the original.   Although I was entertained for the two hours I was in the theater watching the remake, it wasn’t the Red Dawn that I feel America needs right now.

One Second After by William Forstchen

I finished this one a few days ago.   It’s about an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attack on the United States and its’ effect on one small town in North Carolina.

I came into this book with some very high expectations.   I had heard that the book was very personal for the author and often just writing the material forced him into tears.   I also heard that it had that effect on most of the people who read it, just because it was so uncomfortable and gut-wrenching.    The inside cover flap of the book starts the description of the story with something about the US losing a war, which is a shocking scenario, but completely plausible under the circumstances of the story.

I’m not a fan of Newt Gingrich, but I have to admit that the foreword by him does lend the book some credibility, making me believe that Forstchen is a well-connected guy and privy to a lot of information and viewpoints on the subject of EMP warfare.   The afterword is done by Captain Bill Sanders, USN that discusses the real threat of an EMP attack.   I believe that this subject is something the author has some authority on and has definitely put some thought into.  

 He peppers the book with laments about how we as a society never took the right steps to put measures in place to deal with an EMP attack when it would’ve been easy.   I think Forstchen really set out to sound the alarm to raise awareness of our vulnerability over just wanting to write a book about a doomsday scenario.   In some of these kinds of books it seems like the author just wants to write about a SHTF scenario (and there’s nothing wrong with that) and the “how” part of it gets lost in the story.   Although there’s more to it than just the EMP attack, the idea of the EMP sticks with the reader throughout the story.

After writing that book about Red Dawn, my mind was definitely in that zone when I read this and I picked up on a handful of subtle and maybe unconscious references to the film in the book.   I think the two are similar in the sense that they both put the idea of American invincibility to the test and show the reader a world where we’re on the losing end.   Between the Soviet invasion of Red Dawn and the EMP attack in One Second After, guess which one is actually 100% feasible?  

I think one major strength of this book is that he covers in-depth two aspects of TEOTWAWKI scenarios that often get glossed over:  pets and our health system.   Coincidentially, the fate of the pets of the town and the scenes involving our fragile health care system are some of the most harrowing scenes I’ve read, especially the nursing home scene.    The character of Jennifer (the youngest daughter) was a 12-year-old type I diabetic and modeled after Forstchen’s own diabetic daughter.   He dwells on medical issues such as the shortage of medicines, lack of staff, lack of power to run machines and poor sanitation quite a bit in the book and I suspect that’s his way of addressing his own family’s vulnerability.   I guess insulin has to be kept refrigerated, which is another problem when you have no electricity.   At any rate, I would say that this book is the best book of it’s kind I’ve read in the way of addressing what kinds of danger lurks in a post-SHTF medical system.

Another strength of the book is that I think most of the characters are more or less believable.   I know there’s a tendency in this genre to make the protagonist a bad-ass karate master with a heart of gold, but in this case the protagonist (John Matherson) is fairly reasonable.   He’s a former Colonel in the Army and a college professor.  He describes his time in service as being mostly academic and he’s not gifted with the ability to construct explosives out of household materials, kill people with his bare hands, etc.  

I also don’t think that anything in the book (off hand) was particularly sugar coated and the author’s assessment on how things would look is very pragmatic.    I think that’s a plus.

The book had some weaknesses.   I think a lot of the teary-eyed “my country ’tis of thee” moments were a little goofy, but after thinking about it a little more, maybe that really would be how people would react?   People do get sentimental for the past in hard times, that’s for sure.

 I also thought that some of the historical references thrown in there had the aura of “hey, look what I know!”, but then again the author is a military historian and the main character was something similar.

I would have liked a little more about the day-to-day lives of the post-EMP people, like what they ate and did but then again I understand that this book is more about raising the threat of an EMP than writing about a dystopian world.

The ending is also pretty damn typical of these kinds of books.  I’m not even sure if there’s a good way around this anymore.   At any rate, I thought it was worthwhile to read based on the fact it brings up some very uncomfortable ideas that don’t get a lot of talk in the world of preparedness and survival.    I’m going to stock up on some more dog food and try to keep myself out of the hospital.

 

 

The Iron Heel by Jack London

This, then, is our answer. We have no words to waste on you. When you reach out your vaunted strong hands for our palaces and purpled ease, we will show you what strength is. In roar of shell and shrapnel and in whine of machine-guns will our answer be couched.  We will grind you revolutionists down under our heel, and we shall walk upon your faces. The world is ours, we are its lords, and ours it shall remain.”

 

When it comes to the world of dystopian fiction, I think that there has to be some element of realism in order for it to really be scary.    Sure, that movie Maximum Overdrive about the comet flying over the planet and making all of the machines blood-thirsty killers had me think twice about walking in front of the Coke machine when I was a kid, but the horror and suspense is superficial.  The thing that makes The Iron Heel such a bone-chilling book is that just about everything in the book is completely plausible and had some grounds in reality and/or historical precedent.   Published in 1908, he circumstances of the novel are based on London’s perception of the world at that time and how he saw the course of things going.

First, the story is presented as a historical document that was found 600 years after the fact, with footnotes from a contemporary (or, uh, future?) historian.  The story is written from the perspective of Avis, the daughter of a well-to-do intellectual.   Avis becomes enamored with Earnest Everhard, an alpha-male socialist activist from the working class who her father brings around to political discussions.  Earnest draws in Avis through intelligence, strength and charisma and then challenges her entire way of life.    As Avis tries to research some of Earnests’ claims, she finds layers of corruption and brutality that she had been sheltered from in her upper-class existence.  Avis eventually becomes involved in Earnest’s work and a good portion of the book is dedicated to Earnest expressing his social and political views through various venues.

The bad guys in the book are the “oligarchs” – or the “iron heel”.   The ultra-rich capitalists than ran monopolies – to use Occupy Wall Street’s term, “the one percent”.    This small group wielded their power over other lesser-elites in politics, business, media, finance, academia and religion in order to perpetuate their hold on the world.    I don’t think it’s too outlandish to claim that there are some very rich and powerful people who have a lot of influence over what happens in the world of the above-mentioned fields.    Earnest and the Socialists strive to break the oligarchy and usher in a society based on socialist principles.

As the book progresses, a revolution brews and eventually manifests itself in many different ways throughout the country (and world).  This revolution sees American troops being used against the citizenry (sounds outlandish?   Get out your ouija board and ask someone from Georgia in 1865), guerilla warfare throughout the country, draconian measures taken by the ruling class and widespread suffering.    The revolution fails and ultimately ushers in a couple hundred years of virtual slavery by the proletariat.   The oligarchs were said to have built a large city with this slave labor which very well may have been the inspiration for Fritz Lang’s film Metropolis.   The fact that the revolution fails isn’t a spoiler as that is already made clear (along with a few other things) by the historian’s notes.

Even though this book was published in 1908, most of the book still seems eerily modern.   We can still point to some of the same kinds of shadowy (and sometimes not-so-shadowy) figures with great wealth that seem to influence virtually every aspect of society, even/especially those who we trust to have altruistic motivations, like academia, democratically elected politicians, religion, organized labor, law and the media.   At the end of the day, someone is signing their meal ticket and these people ultimately end up answering to them.   Throughout the course of the book, Avis sees the work of the “iron heel” manifest itself through these fields and some of the stories seem just as timely today as they did then.

London challenges a lot of different belief systems over the course of the book and for this reason I think that anyone with any kind of belief system should look into this book for the gut check that you’ll undoubtedly get from it.  Listing the examples would make enough material for a book in itself.    I can see this book being in the same category as Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle as being a gritty work of reformist literature, but I wonder if the reason why The Iron Heel never got the same kind of mileage and notoriety as The Jungle is that it hits too close to home to too many people?    It’s one thing to get people to squirm about their breakfast sausage and canned ham, but London manages to point a lot of fingers in a lot of directions in his book.   I don’t mean this to belittle The Jungle – it is a good one too.

One chapter that hit close to home with me is the “Machine Breakers” chapter where he sits down with a group of petty capitalists, representing the middle class.   Again, it seems eerily modern because if you tweak a few details this same conversation could be had in almost any Tea Party / Ron Paul / Libertarian circle.   The gentlemen talk a lot about “returning back to the ways of the founding fathers”, which Earnest addresses.

In typical Jack London fashion, there’s a lot of references to the natural world and how cruel it can be sometimes.   Men are reduced to animalistic reactions (see “the people of the abyss” and “the philomaths” chapters for the best examples) when civility starts to get some cracks in it.    London expresses that we as a species have not evolved beyond a point to where our actions cannot be explained beyond natural impulses (i.e. acting in self-interest).

London’s brand of socialism has some different packaging than what we’re used to.  “Socialist” is such a loaded word in our society, like “<insert Democrat here> is a socialist!”.   When we hear the word, we usually think of over-educated and smelly trust fund kids rallying for some leftist cause, Latin American despots or limp-wristed Europeans.     The hero in the book, Earnest, comes off as masculine, bold and aggressive with all of the traits of a leader.   London (via Earnest) wasn’t asking for equality to be loftily handed out to everyone – he wanted to see the people that he believed were exploiting the sans culottes knocked down from their positions of power.   London acknowledged and accepted inequality in ability as a fact of life – in fact, it has even been suggested that he was the writer for Ragnar Redbeard’s “Might Makes Right” which vehemently argues this (btw, I think he was eventually ruled out as the writer) and a big fan of Nietzsche.      In other words, reading The Iron Heel isn’t quite the same as reading about female farm workers in Ecuador in The Militant.

Do check out the book if you haven’t.   It’s one you’ll definitely remember as a lot of it probably sounds familiar if you’ve been paying attention.

So let’s relate this to preparedness…

Basically everyone that wasn’t part of the oligarchy had their life made miserable in one way or another.   I would imagine that the people who fared the best financially were people that had skills and were able to sell themselves, such as independent contractors and tradesmen.    The less dependence you had on “the system”, the better insulated you were from outside calamity.     After reading it, I thought more about being able to ‘write my own ticket’ in various ways, like landlording or finding other ways to generate income outside of depending on the oligarchs that currently employ me.

The “people of the abyss” made me think of the kinds of people that you would have to worry about in the event of some kind of calamity – just a few meals away from being hungry and desperate.   Might be a good idea to put some distance between yourself and the unwashed masses if you can and/or try to build a sound community around you…oh, and to find ways to defend yourself.