THE CHALLENGE AND REWARDS OF SURVIVAL
By: Kurt Saxon
From: The Survivor, vol. 3
"Bang, Bang, Bang, Bang. Four shots ripped into my groin and I was off on
the greatest adventure of my life." This is the first line in Max Shulman's
hilarious book, "Sleep Till Noon."The line had nothing to do with Max's novel
but he thought it a good way to begin a book.
The Idea, however, does apply to the Survivalist. If you are alive ten years
from now you will have gone through some wild scenes you can't imagine now.
The worst calamities you overcome will give you the greatest gratification
of any other life experience.
There are so many factors in surviving the collapse of a great civilization
that anticipating the worst will stimulate the heroism in every Survivalist.
Regardless of the horror of facing such chaos, your efforts will take you
to a plateau which will justify any hardship.
As a Survivalist, that is, one who anticipates and prepares for the worst
man and Nature can hand out, you will be automatically among the elite. Whether
you are now a doctor or a dishwasher, you will be in your grandchildren's
story books. You will have done what only the best of any race has done down
through the ages. You will be preserving and passing on the life-sustaining
knowledge of our culture and its past glories. In surviving yourself, you
will be the means of survival for those
Civilizations and systems have been growing, thriving and then dying since
before written history. A modern person reading history can accept the collapse
of any number of past societies without any fear of the same fate. After
all, those who died didn't have his god, his government or his science. Of
course, most individuals of past doomed civilizations felt the same about
their own unfortunate and unenlightened ancestors and less powerful neighbors.
You might Imagine the Roman welfare recipient In the stands of the Coliseum.
There he was, gloating and enjoying the agony of the inferior pagans being
slaughtered in the arena.
He was Invincible. He was a Roman. The victims in the arena were only Barbarians.
They were losers and died because they didn't merit Roman citizenship.
But Roman citizenship, its Legions, its overrated efficiency doomed that
same proletarian gloating in the stands to starvation or enslavement by his
"Inferiors" just a short time later.
I consider It arrogance, verging on paranoia, for a person to believe that
he can escape the natural consequences of his own, and his fellows' degeneration.
Of course, degeneration of social systems and even individuals is usually
so gradual that it goes unnoticed by its victims.
For instance, if you see a person often for ten years, you notice little
real change. But at a reunion you see those old friends and relatives as
falling apart. They see you as being over the hill, too. The same applies
to a modern city you haven't seen in ten years. It Is dirtier, more smoggy,
the people shabbier and more funny looking. Degeneration, so apparent to
the long absent observer, is hardly noticed by the subjects who are so much
less than they had been.
Aside from people simply growling older or cities getting shabbier and more
run down, with more losers filtering in through failure to cope, stable,
industrious people also degenerate. A workman, once proud of his skill, no
longer looks for better opportunities when his workmanship isn't appreciated.
Instead, he works less, depending on his union to answer for his increasing
He is less able than he was and he gradually becomes so dependent on others
to arbitrate for him that his own efforts on the job become increasingly
less important. When his company goes bankrupt due to his union's emphasis
on pay raises and benefits over production, he goes on welfare. He has gone
from a skilled worker to a parasite with no feelings of inadequacy.
The gradualism by which he reached this sorry state has blinded him to his
downward progress. Psychologically, he can be quite stable and even intelligent.
In fact, the stable and the intelligent are in many ways less well equipped
than the "neurotic doom-shouters" most such people consider Survivalists
A few years ago, a Boeing plant lost a big government contract. Hundreds
of well-to-do, highly skilled workers in engineering and even management
were laid off. They had sumptuous homes, several cars each and had previously
been insulated against socioeconomic difficulties through their positions.
They were so secure many of them didn't even feel the need for bank accounts.
Everything they earned went to pay for their lifestyles of frivolity and
They were the most shocked of all to go on welfare and even accept food baskets
from private donation. These were the intelligent ones. These were the stable
and productive, guaranteed security by the society they served.
I said they were stable and intelligent. Yet, they were more vulnerable than
most welfare recipients, for they considere themselves an important part
of the Establishment it could not do without. But when their little world
temporarily crashed they didn't have the survival potential of a scrounging
wino. Consider also, the over-forty executives laid off from thousands of
firms either bankrupt or seeking younger men with fresh ideas. Oh, how they
seek work befitting their skills! And how they lament the present lack of
recognition they so long considered their due.
So intelligence and competence on behalf of a crumbling Establishment was
a curse rather than a blessing. All it did was to insulate them from reality.
The Establlshment's presently favored are no more, and often less, able to
cope with adversity than losers used to the demeaning aspects of Welfarism.
In point of fact, the educated specialists, the elite of the Establishment,
are doomed more surely than are their own domestic servants.
Another factor overlooked by non-Survivallsts is that the more complex a
civilization becomes, the less able its members are to apply their Intelligence
and training to survival situations. Also, the person who specializes in
a narrow field loses his ability to see the whole picture, on the job and
An example might be a brilliant researcher in a ceramics factory working
on some narrow specialty. In another department a relatively mindless drudge
watches for cracks in an unending train of ceramic pieces passing before
him on the inspection line. Each feels secure. Yet, each is equally a minor
part of their profession, equally restricted in their application of their
skill or labor to the factory.
Consider a village potter of two hundred years ago. He had a kick-wheel,
made his own plaster molds, dug his clay from the river bank and did every
process, from purifying the clay to firing the week's output.
The two above; the researcher and the cup and saucer Inspector are too narrow
in their specialties to start over on their own. However, the village potter,
having nothing but the basics but a full understanding of the process from
start to finish can begin again. The narrow specialist and the Inspection
worker would be out of the field.
This analogy fits the average American today. He knows only bits and pieces
of a rather large field of the industry which supports him. The breakup of
that industry will turn the specialized genius into a functional moron. That
Is, his expertise will be useless and so he will be no more able to carry
on the Industry than the dimwit on the line.
So when an Establishment falls, its dependents, whether intellectuals, laborers
or welfare recipients are pretty surely doomed. Dependency applies just the
same to the corporation brain as to the welfare recipient.
Survivalists throughout the ages have been largely Independent of their
respective Establishments. The small farmer, the blacksmith, the carpenter,
the armorer, and most of those supplying goods and services to their neighbors
have prevailed where their former superiors, along with the proletariat,
So, no matter who you are or whatever your situation, you can survive and
rise to greatness. As an instant Patriarch you can establish yourself as
a very wise leader and your tales of personal heroism will be listened to
with awe even when you are in your dotage.
Of course, survival will be difficult, at best. Only the most highly motivated
Survivalists will make it. You will then have to contend with other Survivalists
setting up systems possibly hostile to your own.
Social collapse will lead to warring factions which might keep humanity in
turmoil for yet another generation. Despotic systems led by warlords will
draw on all your resources simply to keep your system going.
Even so, I consider this the greatest and most important challenge a human
can face and overcome. Further, to successfully bridge the gap between the
fall of one civilization and the building of a greater one is the highest
success I can imagine. If you become faint-hearted at this, fearful and insecure,
discouraged in your attempts to warn others; keep going. This is training
you will need.
As things get worse you will find yourself drawing on resources you didn't
know you have. You will also meet allies along the way as well as opponents.
You will learn how to judge men as well as any Marine drill instructor.
Your efforts toward survival will strip away your weaknesses, delusions and
all frivolous and negative character traits keeping you down at this time.
Even without formal training in discipline, you will develop your own strengths
and the self-discipline to implement them.
After your passage through the fire you will be a new person. Past mistakes
and inadequacies will be wiped off your life record.
Survival from one era to the next will not only make you twice the person
you are now, but will inspire others to carry on your hard-won qualities.
So not only will you survive, but the best in you will survive in others