Friday, February 6, 2009



Michael over at Staying Alive, who is a daily read for me, commented on an earlier post of mine and it got me thinking. Below is a response.

I am a soldier who got out. I was pretty good at my trade and I studied the history of warfare fairly extensively as part and parcel of my tradecraft. I am not an academic, but an interested amateur.

It has only been in the last couple of hundred years that the state has maintained a “monopoly” on the use of violence. Prior to that, mercenary companies provided the bulk of the punch in warfare between crowns.

The West and the current system of states is an outgrowth of the Peace of Westphalia and the system put in place to end the Thirty Years war. In a certain sense, the growth of the nation-state state can be traced to the desire of states to wrest control of violence from military contractors such as Albrecht Von Wallenstein.

Bear with me for the history lesson here. I will come to the point soon.

So mercenary companies were relegated to the fringes for quite a bit of time. But they started to peek their heads out about the same time that we started to realize that just maybe were going to run out of oil, that magic fluid that gives the nation states their power, (always remember that great line in Leon Uris’ book “Exodus", “the Kingdom of Heaven runs on righteousness, the kingdoms of earth run on oil”). I am not sure whether this is coincidence, correlation, or causality.

Anyway, the merc companies started coming back in the seventies. Some of the senior NCO’s who trained me were trying to sign on. They were sick of the post Vietnam VOLAR and the incredible problems that it was facing. When they couldn’t easily sign on (a lotta Brits in that market) they started their own companies. Over time these started getting richer and more powerful.

Then along came Cheney and then 9/11. In the 90’s, when he was Secdef Cheney set KBR off to integrate the merc companies into our war plan….Aaahhh privitization. Blackwater, Triple Canopy, and MPRI were there to serve. When 9/11 hit, they were there in a big way.

So, now that the history lesson is over, I am starting to think about the comment that Michael on one of my recent posts.

Small little groups of maybe 200 will start out in the country. They will grow as they produce the food to feed people. Food will come quickly as they will either produce or die. I liked the comment about folks not not bothered about shooting back!
There is a balance to be maintained. Beans, Bullets, and Band-aids. You gotta have all three to make it work. Just be ready to put it into play!

What I am concerned about here is that, while good in concept, these groups could quite easily (and perhaps inevitably) devolve into something quite different.

While their initial plan would be to go out and grow food (noble that), most of the folks would be city-types completely unused to the drudgery and hard labor involved in the simple phrase “produce the food”. They will go out with good intentions and a buttload of guns. When the reality of producing food in a oil-poor world slaps them around enough, they will reassess and figure out what has been figured out so many times before. That a coherent company (lets say around 200 people) who are heavily armed and hungry decide to eat, they usually can drum up something to eat.


Mayberry said...

This may happen to a degree, and was pretty well illustrated in "The Postman" by the Army of 8. Should the world devolve to such a state, folks will need to be ready to deal with such things. Groups will have to build heavy fortifications, and procure something with a little more "bang" than deer rifles and AR 15s. Cannon, perhaps, will make a resurgence. Maybe captured Howitzers or something. Hell, there's one sitting there in downtown Aransas Pass, TX that could possibly be rehabbed. There's a million ways things could go. But rest assured that folks who decide to go raiding and looting will most likely pay a heavy price for their actions. Hell, lil' ol' me has the ability to ventilate 880 would be attackers, assuming my aim is true and I have tactical advantage. And that's just one gun, I got 3 more.... Multiply that by a hundred in a survival group, and that's significant firepower against what would likely be a small band of raiders.... I don't think that many folks would be that organized, or even willing to attack a fortified position, even a mildly fortified spot. But I could be wrong.....

Mockum said...

Manual farm work is not just drudgery; it's also long, hard work with an uncertain return. A lot of people, including me, will probably go the easier route and prey on the whomever they can. I think Mayberry is optimistic about people putting up heavy fortifications which consume valuable time and resources. Fortifications will be more like the earth berm used by the Roanoke Colony.

The roving bands might actually accelerate the return of civilization and governments. People will be forced to work together for protection.

Anonymous said...

"People will be forced to work together for protection."
Or just pay one of them. Where do you think concepts like "the king" and "taxes" came from.

Dorcas' Daddy said...

The Postman, my mother is actually mentioned in the acknowledgments as a proofreader, as my folks knew David Brinn when they lived in San Diego.

Have you been reading "Operation Serf" at Of Two Minds? Good stuff, and a great post, you're really stepping up your game lately Deg!

Staying Alive said...

Hard times with food shortages will not perfect anyone. The human family will bring it's twists and quirks right along with it as it wanders along the path of the future. What we have to look forward to and appreciate is the fact that we might end up controling more of our own destiny than we ever imagined possible.

What we could very well be seeing is a total change in our outlooks and lifestyles. The things we do today that are "part of life" may not be part of life at all, in the future. Considering the labor involved in food production may be pleasant in comparison to going hungry.

I deal a lot in my thinking with the idea of doing what you have to do to stay alive. When the sword of starvation is hanging over your head you will do something about it. When the situation arises where you are about to have your food taken and your life ruined, you will do something about that also.

My idea is that most predators will be crossed off the list pretty early in the game. They will do what they can to whomever they can and then they will die off. Part of the concept of preparedness is to be ready to settle all issues with freebooters once and for all. This will become part of the thinking of the next people to tackle the task of living on this continent.

There are still people who know right from wrong. If they form into groups then they can control their environment. Group survival is another doctrine I preach without fail. Living in a new world will entail learning new concepts of life. And life will force us to learn.


Degringolade said...

Thanks folks for the comments here.

I guess that I have a different take on the nature of predators. Unlike Michael, I don't believe for an instant that they "will be crossed off the list pretty early in the game".

Predation is and will always be a very viable, even attractive ecological niche. Despite efforts to the contrary, self defense classes given to sheep will usually fail miserably when they are finally confronted by wolves.

We have an extended history as a species of predators. The current generations existing in the United States has been schooled that human nature has now risen above these unpleasant facts. I can see no evidence that this is in fact the case.

In a sense, we are reverting to mean here in the US. We are doing that in any number of ways.

Please be prepared for it.