THE IDIOCY OF SPACE CAPSULE SURVIVALISM
By Kurt Saxon
I guess you've seen the ads for freeze-dried foods. Many show a young man,
a woman, a couple of kids and usually a dog. A couple of semi-automatic rifles
are in evidence; a Coleman lantern and all the paraphernalia of a
ready-to-batten-down fallout shelter. You are supposed to believe these nerds
are going to go into something like a state of suspended animation while
the rest of the world dies miserably.
Sure, they have a generator for light and VHS. But if you examine such ads,
you'll notice there is virtually nothing to do. Just breath in and out. Eat
Mountain House freeze dried foods, drink canned water, use a chemical toilet
and wait and wait and wait. But wait for what? Until their betters put the
world back together again?
I've seen this attitude in so many people who claim to be survivalists that
I think it is about time to put survivalism in its proper perspective. First,
survivalism is not a business catering to the anxieties of neurotics. From
the ads you see in so-called survival-oriented publications you might get
the impression that all the paranoids and nervous Nellys are lining up to
be fleeced by gloom-and-doom con-artists. Such publications feature various
ads for the complete equipping of your own underground nuthouse.
What most people don't realize is that if you need a fallout shelter, you're
doomed, anyway. The bulk of solid fallout will fall from thirty to forty
miles downwind of ground-zero. Residual fallout may cover hundreds of square
miles further downwind, polluting grass, and consequently, the livestock
who eat it, as demonstrated by Chernobyl. Even smaller particles will rise
to the stratosphere and you may get cancer in twenty years.
Even so, our species will recover, with little incidence of mutation, as
shown by Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
But most of those who have gone underground will die. First, those in the
suburbs downwind from Ground-Zero will emerge to radiation and/or pestilence.
Second, those in upwind suburbs will have to contend with irate neighbors.
A neighbor locked out of your shelter will stop up your vents with malice
aforethought. If you do live to emerge after a couple of weeks or a month,
crazed survivors will tear you apart. At best, you will just be another refugee.
But say there is no war. What with the global population bomb ticking inexorably,
it's only a matter of time, and not much time at that.
1850 - 1 billion
1930 - 2 billion
1975 - 4 billion
1988 - 5 billion
(Read Paul Ehrlich's "The Population Bomb")
Our present burgeoning population is pushing 6 billion. With our waste products
translated into pollution we have a potential Love Canal in and around every
city and town The Greenhouse Effect is already changing the world's weather
patterns. It and other human waste, chemical, garbage, sewage, etc., will
grow, along with the population. Soon, the air will not be fit to breathe,
most outside vegetation will not be fit to eat and most water will not be
fit to drink. Our species has simply out- bred the carrying capacity of our
environment and our socioeconomic systems.
So it's only a matter of time, and a short time at that, until there will
be a horrendous culling of Earth's Homosapiens. This will happen even without
a nuclear war. Since Chernobyl, with its massive radioactive pollution of
entire countries, has happily shaken the confidence of a lot of leaders that
a nuclear war is both survivable and livable. The destruction would be so
massive, even indirectly, there would be no winners and no government; no
socioeconomic system would survive.
So there may not be a nuclear war after all. So civilizations may not go
out with a bang but a whimper. And a stench and a wracking cough, I might
So what happens to the space capsule survivalists, then? As the system
deteriorates, battening down won't do much good. Urban and suburban areas
will be unlivable. Riotous looters will trash every home regardless of how
many are shot during the death dance of the urbanites.
But say you have sense enough to realize that our more populous areas will
become death traps. So you have a bugout vehicle all ready, especially in
the event of a Red Alert. You may have a closet full of "survival gear" ready
to unload into your cab-over camper. Would you also have enough dangerously
stored gasoline to get out to your destination? Don't expect to buy gas on
the road. And don't even expect to get far unless your vehicle can drive
around all the stalled and/or wrecked vehicles and maneuver well off the
Aside from the shelter stupids and the bugouters, there are the hosts of
overgrown Boy Scouts aping the military. In the event of a Russian invasion,
the last thing we need is a bunch of infantile, fantasizing, camo-clad pseudo
But the survival hucksters continue their barrage of ads for outfitting even
more Purdys (the jerk who gunned down the kids in Stockton). They have so
glamorized all of the tinny, junky, ammo-wasteful semi-automatics to the
point where our citizens are becoming less well-armed.
The only guns you need are the basic and the practical. This would be a .38
revolver for the bedroom, a shotgun for close action and a bolt-action, 4
power scope-mounted 30-06 for reaching out. All these can be bought cheaply
at a pawn shop. If they're in good condition when you buy them and you go
to a range and practice using them, your efficiency as a militia man will
make you a genuine asset to any defense force.
I feel strongly about this as I'm really turned off at gun shows by camo-clad
adolescents skulking around trying to look fierce. This type usually wears
a T-shirt saying "Kill 'em all, let God sort 'em out". Our military personnel
should be honored, not lampooned.
As far as military equipment is concerned, I don't see a place for it in
your survival preparations. Genuine military surplus clothing is good because
it is sturdy and relatively cheap. If you must have it, patronize your local
surplus store or gun show where you can try it on and examine it to make
sure it is real military surplus.
The most objectionable kind preying on survivalists are mail order military
out- fitters. Looking through one of their numerous catalogs would be comic
if it weren't such a ripoff of adolescents fantasizing manhood.
The first thing that struck me when I got a mailbox full of them was the
outrageous prices for even the totally unnecessary. One item was a "Reference
Book Safe" for $39.95! It was a dictionary with its pages cut out about an
inch from the sides, forming a hollow for valuables. Rather than a dictionary
which a guest might reach for, it should be an obscure kind of book no one
would refer to. Anyone could duplicate such a safe in a few minutes with
a razor knife. I can't imagine anyone so stupid as to buy such a joke, and
for $39.95 at that.
If you are so immature as to feel the need to buy military or camping equipment
for emergencies, go first to your local surplus store or to Sears or Wards.
You would be surprised at the wide selection of the same or equal quality
goods as are in those catalogs, and for much lower prices. This also goes
for the "survival" catalogs. A good hardware or discount store has all you
will need in the survival line. So patronize your local stores and save money
on what you can examine first-hand, plus the savings in postage.
If you're aware of the crisis approaching our planet, save your money and
don't be influenced by anyone preying on your fears. You can't buy survival.
Don't be played for a sucker.
What you're going to need to survive is a location about a hundred miles
from any sizable city. War or no war, temporary survivors will spread out
like locusts. Best to be in a small town out of their range.
Thus, you'll need a house, preferably with about a half acre, a basement
and within the town limits. The basement is a necessity in case of a nuclear
war. A follow up on Chernobyl pointed out that the radiation outside was
40 times that within a structure. A basement would be that much more protective.
Another thing about buying is that, aside from a fire extinguisher, medications
and tools, you should never buy for emergencies.
By its very nature, an emergency is something not anticipated. We don't really
know what will happen in the next couple of years. Maybe nothing. So you
shouldn't loot your bank account for a lot of things you won't need soon.
But in light of what might happen, here's a rule of thumb.
Consider what you have, what you use all the time and simply buy more. Now,
in anticipation of hard times, adapt your present life style to a more
conservative one. Stop buying what you will have to process later. Don't
buy bread. Buy grains, grind them and bake your own bread. Don't buy milk
by the gallon. Buy it by the large box, dried and storable and learn to use
it. It's ever so much cheaper and just as good.
Whenever tempted to buy processed foods, think. Can you process them yourself,
cheaper and with simple ingredients? Then do it!
Buy tools, not to store away but to learn to use, now. You will gain valuable
skills for an uncertain future.
Food is a big item. Learn sprouting. Read "You Can Survive The Nuclear Winter",
pages 266-273 of THE SURVIVOR Vol. 1. Modify that greenhouse to occupy the
whole sunny side of your house. Have a side door from your house leading
to it. Instead of two sides, as illustrated in the first edition, have but
one side and tuck the top of the other side under the eaves of that side
of the house. The greenhouse will grow fallout-free vegetables.
Maybe you know nothing about growing things. Learn. Start out by raising
African violets or something else commercial to pay for that greenhouse.
As you learn, you'll understand hydroponics (THE SURVIVOR, Vol. 2, pages
594-650). Such a greenhouse would quickly pay for itself by saved energy
costs. It would shade your house from the worst summer heat on that side
and so save on air conditioning costs. In the winter it would collect heat
from the sun and heat the sunny side, thus saving heating bills.
Being a food producer your greenhouse would be an asset to the neighbors.
They would even protect you from potential looters.
Don't make "survival" purchases yet. First invest in knowledge. Buy all my
books, of course. Also a complete set of back issues of THE MOTHER EARTH
NEWS would be a treasure. Get a set of THE FOXFIRE BOOKS. Also, scrounge
second-hand book stores for back issues of ORGANIC GARDENING AND FARMING.
All these are not only valuable but interesting. Don't forget books on
So don't be a nerd with the suicidal space-capsule survivalist mentality.
Become what you'll need to be. I don't think you'll have a chance of surviving
unless you make yourself worthy of survival. This means not only learning
self-sufficiency but having something to pass on to the next generation.