Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Preparations

     A great deal of one’s ability to feel secure – i.e., prepared for likely developments rather than threatened by them – depends upon the stability of one’s surroundings, both physically and conceptually. You can be the biggest, toughest, meanest SOB in all of Creation, armed to the teeth, ready, willing and able to fight a grizzly barehanded and utterly confident that you’d prevail, and you’ll still value the sense that things around you won’t change too swiftly or too radically. This is especially the case with persons who have loved ones to support, nurture, and protect.

     Conservatism in politics arises from the sense that things must not be permitted to change rapidly. The political conservative holds, with the two great Thomases (Aquinas and Jefferson), that stability in the law is valuable in and of itself. Even if some change in the law appears necessary or highly desirable, he’s loath to introduce it in a fashion likely to destabilize the settled arrangements of millions. He recognizes both the tendency of men to adapt to their surroundings and the stress and fatigue that rapid adaptation engenders. He’s probably experienced some of it himself.

     The Constitutional design embeds respect for those wisdoms. The bicameral legislature and the requirement for presidential approval of a new law were put in place to slow the rate of change. Even the most dramatic alteration to the legal landscape must pass all three gates. That makes it possible to see a change coming and ready oneself for the eventuality...in theory, at least.

     Changes in the social order aren’t nearly as well buffered. In recent decades there have been a huge number of truly radical alterations in our social customs. This especially concerns the poorly defined thing called tolerance and the efforts of various persons, institutions, and agencies of government to compel it. A considerable amount of linguistic legerdemain is involved, most of it originating from the political Left. The phenomenon reeks of the delusion that alterations in language can effect alterations in reality itself.

     It would be bad enough were the demands for mandatory “tolerance” to pertain to things that are genuinely tolerable. In fact, we’re being required to tolerate increasing amounts and degrees of the intolerable. The most recent demands for “tolerance” include open invasion, outright madness, and undisguised, rampant violence. It’s supremely difficult to prepare for a world in which such things reign.


     Early in the 1980s, Herman Kahn, one of the preeminent geniuses of the Twentieth Century, conducted an offhand survey, of persons in decision-making roles in government and the military, about whether nuclear weapons would be used in the foreseeable future. There emerged a strong consensus that they would be. Kahn proposed that that consensus alone was a sufficient reason to study nuclear weapons: what they can do, how they might be used, whether particular situations could justify their use, and what the consequences of various uses would be. As reasonable as Kahn’s statement was, nevertheless it evoked a hurricane of denunciation, some of it from normally sensible persons.

     The typical human mind creates barriers within itself to the consideration of developments it regards as “unthinkable.” (As a riposte to persons who were desperate to define Kahn’s studies as “unthinkable,” he titled one of his most important books Thinking About The Unthinkable.) Yet “unthinkable” has no meaning. Indeed, it’s a one-word contradiction in terms. Its de facto meaning is “I don’t want to think about it.” That response, of course, has no bearing on whether the “unthinkable” will actually occur.

     I’m not about to open a discussion about the use of nuclear weapons, the relevance of international arms-control negotiations and treaties, the quests of gangster-states such as Iran and North Korea for nuclear weapons and delivery systems, and whatnot. I do take an interest in those things – I have for a very long time – but most people shy away from them as “unthinkable.” My conjecture is that the prospect of a war, or a terrorist strike, that employs nukes horrifies them too greatly to engage their reason. They’d rather believe that it can’t happen...and therefore that it won’t.

     Americans have had that very reaction to other developments that have already taken place:

  • The nullification of the Constitutional order.
  • The rise of totalitarian rule by unelected bureaucrats.
  • The dismissal of the principles that once undergirded the law.
  • The emergence of delusions that afflict millions, especially among the young.
  • The invasion of the United States by persons openly hostile to its laws and norms.
  • Demands for the acceptance of deviances that threaten the basis of American society.
  • And of course, demands for legal privileges and “free stuff” by identity-politics groups.

     These things have already set the foundation of the nation quivering. Ordinary Americans, accustomed to the norms and arrangements of earlier times and desperate to believe that they’ll resume and continue, are being challenged to prepare for what might come next. So they narrow their focus; they concentrate grimly on only what’s immediately around them. It’s just one more way of saying that “it can’t happen here.”

     Persons in the preparationist community – “preppers,” for short – do as they do because they’re aware that “it can happen here” – that America is not divinely protected against disasters, especially disasters its people might bring upon themselves. The degree of dedication and the fraction of his resources any particular prepper puts to his preparations are determined principally by his estimate of the speed of transformation and the ugliness of what it portends. His physical arrangements might be impressive, but his mindset is the really important thing. He has taken responsibility for his own well-being and that of his loved ones. He may be wrong, but he’ll be prepared for his estimate of the (survivable) worst the future might bring.


"The world's in a bad way, my man,
And bound to be worse before it mends;
Better lie up in the mountain here
Four or five centuries,
While the stars go over the lonely ocean,"
The old father of wild pigs,
Plowing the fallow on Mal Paso Mountain.

[Robinson Jeffers]

     It’s impossible to be adequately prepared for everything. The only possible response to some developments is death. Yet the will to prepare, to brace for a foreseeable eventuality, is among the most valuable of human traits. It’s an essential component of the virtue of fortitude.

     My friend Remus has invested a large amount of his considerable intellect and energy in preparing, in a generalized fashion, for the terminus of our handbasket’s journey. He’s issued several maxims of great value to just about anyone. The one that comes to mind this fine July morning is quite brief:

Stay away from crowds.

     Another friend in Virginia, cognizant of the danger of crowds from his years in law enforcement, has built himself – quite literally; he built it himself — a mountain redoubt: a compound well stocked with all the necessities and defensible against anything short of a national army or an airborne assault. He and Remus might not have prepared for every possible eventuality, but they’ve surveyed the visible developments with open eyes, have assessed what they threaten as credible, and have braced themselves for what seems most likely to come. (Yes, they’re among the many who’ve exhorted me to move off Long Island.) They regard their preparations as the responsible things to do – the measures appropriate to the protection of whom and what they love.

     Disaster might not come. My friends’ preparations might prove unnecessary. (I certainly hope so.) Ultimately, that doesn’t matter. What’s most important is the demonstration of how responsible persons act when their worries begin to surge.

     Not enough Americans would consider them models.


     I don’t intend to beat this into the magma. What I want to emphasize is the great value of taking responsibility for your own well-being, and for the well-being of anyone who happens to be under your protection. That virtue has been badly weakened these last few decades. It’s been displaced by the belief that our Big Nanny in Washington, in concert with the lesser nannies in the state capitals, will make sure everything comes out all right.

     They won’t. More to the point, they can’t.
     What you foresee and fear is yours to deal with.
     Your neighbors might assist you; “your government” won’t.
     That’s the way things are, regardless of anyone’s contrary opinion.

     Plan accordingly. And do please stay away from crowds.

     UPDATE: To those who believe that “the police will keep order,” I offer this item of evidence to the contrary. Don’t imagine that the police in your district, if faced with the same sort of situation, would prove any more reliable.

4 comments:

Mountaineer said...

A fair number of us in West Virginia live by the same rules. Heck, Virginia got too crowded for us in 1863...formed our own "Virginia." In all seriousness though, we wonder if that day is a lot closer than we once thought...

Col. B. Bunny said...

A superb post, Fran.

For months and years intelligent and educated political leaders (and the press) have been fixated on "health care." At the same time, mention "American exceptionalism" in passing at any time and the same people will rise as one, hosannas issuing from their lips.

If one takes a strict view of what AE is it is that the Framers and Ratifiers thought that limiting the power of the central government was the keystone of the constitutional order they were adopting. The concept of limited delegated powers being granted to the central government by the sovereign people is the keystone, the crown jewel of this Great Experiment in self government and human liberty.

However, no understanding of this is evident in the ranks of the elite. Limited, enumerated powers are quite literally unthinkable. The elite writhe like eels to craft some kind of massive Rube Goldberg scheme that will solve the "health care" problem yet . . . and here's the point as obvious as the nose on my face . . . "health care" is not a phrase that can be found anywhere in Article I, Sect. 8 of the U.S. Constitution.

Even the better thinkers in the Republican ranks on the Hill do not touch this red hot poker. Even they make only the point that what is proposed is not a genuine repeal of Obongocare but merely enactment of Obongocare Lite.

So one way or the other we'll end up with a massive federal "solution" to the "health care" problem with massive cost to the people in financial terms and in terms of personal liberty. Some group of Beautiful People will have yet again done their educated best to destroy the constitutional order.

The nullification of the constitutional order is a project that is well advanced and like elite plans for Libya or Syria they simply do not exhibit the least understanding of what negative consequences will occur from our new experiment in American Expediency and Discretionary Government.

Jack Imel said...

Yes an excellent post, Fran. I appreciate the fact that you and Remus are contemporaries in time, in experience, in comprehension of our times, and in craftsmanship of thought. If I had any fears concerning the internet and its wide spectrum of available ideas it is the fear that seeing the words you and Remus slap together would end for some reason. I have a very short bookmark list, but you're in it for whatever short longevity I have for my own self. I have a bit of heartache about your precious Newf, Francis. Don't neglect to mention him in future as God works on him. God bless you all.

Mark Manney said...

Ahhh....a comforting articulation of my own long held determination and practical steps for independent prepared strength, self-sufficiency, personal liberty, survival no matter what or at-least the ability to go down fighting no matter what!

A siring post!

Semper Fi