Bending the rules of copyright infringement by invoking the theme in Jihad Vs. McWorld, there is indeed a few concepts floating about the internets among the doomster/ collapsnik crowd about what kind of “change” we are in for (or not so secretly hope for(). We have two expressions out there. The End of the World As We Know It (apologies to Michael Stipes) and The Shit Hits The Fan (which while Obie Trice’s song of that name is well known, my understanding is that TSHTF was coined sometime during the Great Patriotic War or at least I remember my grandmother saying so). Jihad Vs. McWorld describe two competing worldviews – one “medieval” Islam and the other Globalization. Each camp has their horrific visions for the future in that we either return to the 8th century socially (perhaps also economically) or brand our landscapes with so many Circut Cities and dead malls until you could be here, there, or anywhere the experience of life one well-regulated ticking market. The battle between TEOTWAWKI and TSHTF presents perhaps not such a polar opposite set of views (perhaps the analogy is down right wrong) since they both describe a “change” in how we live that is global and inevitable, but the worlds they describe I believe are distinct in that the scenario are not just short or long-term, but that one has greater faith in humanity to cooperate than the other. Hence, while both say we return to 8th century economics, I propose that one side says that we will do so retaining out lessons of the past three hundred years and social changes of the past thirty.
Both TEOTWAWKI and TSHTF are often used interchangeability, especially by neophyte doomsters. Some use the terms as “long-term” and “short-term” collapse or total and partial and so forth. In the more experienced doomsters, there are growing schools of though emerging on the collapsed spectrum and the discussions are still exciting in that they can be often practical (what to put in our bug out location) if not a little puerile (as every man boy wants a large tree house to defend) as they are theoretical and based on lots of guesses (as many commentors on JHK’s blog remind us “don’t invest based on his financial predictions no matter how much you enjoy reading them), and theories that may or may not be more or less “true” at a time when we are learning that academics lie, and scientists also lie or have jumped into bizarre thoughts ….. Educated elite, you still lost me with Orgone energy, The Big Bang, Eugenics, and a singular version of Darwinism as the other side lost me with Orgone energy, anti-The Big Bang, pro-Eugenics, and anti-singular version of Darwinism.
So we look at The Shit Hit The Fan. TSHTF is more than likely the short-term variety that is the temporary breakdown in civil society and tends to create bands of lone gunmen defending some can of piss or pasta storage dump before the National Guard, the Stazi, or the local volunteer fire department are sent in to rescue the locals. Not all, but many TSHTF devotees are concerned with their patch of suburbia being overrun by…. uh…. urbanized folk who have an abundance of melanin or otherwise don’t look like the people or persons guarding said pasta and bean buckets. This is not unusual from the crowd of 1970s literature about Urban survival which, considering the riots of Newark, Brownsville, Watts, Bushwick, Kansas City. Detroit, Chicago, York, Buffalo, May Day, New York City Black Out, the Days of Rage, etc. etc, it was understandable to consider that once some event happened – natural disaster or shortage of Jello, there was going to be a wave of… uh, as my Long Island neighbor when I was very young put it, “fucking [people] pouring out of the city.” So, the cannon of literature was born in the 1970s as faith in the 1960s values of back-to-the-land (that Whole Earth Catalog Farmer Almanac thing) dropped a lot of that youthful optimism and morphed into a more paranoid build a bomb shelter and store candles and candy bars not to hide from the SOVIET bombs (we were just getting used to living in fear of those) but that our fellow Americans, that is, the [people], were out to get us when the going got rough. TSHTF fell out of vogue rather quickly in the 1980s as more Boomers sold their school buses and took up collecting BMWs and the economy seemed to be chugging alone, we had leveled out cities and increased out police and felt that much saver from the hordes of [people]. Nevertheless, many die hard TSHTF devotees continued to be working class folk who were sure someone was out to get them but not quite sure who or acidic hippies who in trying time and again to get fucking people to share chores on the commune’s muthafucking simple to read chore chart or just for once to goddamn not fucking use up all the spelt without replacing it, turned to singular homesteading in consideration that major shit was to hit said fan at any moment and they’d have to ride the wave and endure alone or as a family unit and if Richard who cheated them on that car repair or Dragonfly who fucked them out of so many shares of the kale come a’calling looking for handouts they’d bash their heads in and would perhaps willing do so even if it were not a national emergency. For much of the 1980s and 1990s TSHTF went underground and became the basis of jokes as a public growing fat on cheep credit and Walmart would confuse anyone trying to save energy or live differently as a loonie toon TSHTFer. Nevertheless, TSHTF was revived on 9/11 (official TSHTF Day) with a furry of well-educated people from the Upper West Side of Manhattan to distant Flagstaff learning how to duct tape a bomb shelter, buy a phone tree tool kit, or contacted the ever-present “we buy gold” person trying to buy gold. This revival of TSHTF again looked to surviving as a unit or family group. The family in the car escaping is their ideal. Short-term emergencies (up to a year) are the basic point of discussion while the form can take a variety of forms such as natural disaster (not to be confused with [people] rioting), local emergencies (not to be confused with [people] rioting), and vague references to political or economic or civil failures that carefully circumvent the words “[your feared group of choice]” “people” “rioting” opting for “surviving urban environment” as if when the lights went out in New York City in 2003 it looked nothing like that in 1977 did not matter. It may just be that people are friendly if an event lasts 48 hours but turn less so the longer it drags on. I tend to believe that our American contemporary Kumbaya is not based on our having high fructose everything pumped into our troughs but represents growth as a national culture and that the majority of people who don’t blog or read or watch TeeVee are actually helpful people and would remain so as long as one helped back. TSHTF crowd are generally not as optimistic about this society (even though on blogs and discussion groups people are very buddy buddy and give advice and tips freely wishing each other luck in survival times so….?) TSHTF preparation for the middle class require very expensive hand crank radios, and buckets of pasta and nutritional yeast, for working class folk, 22 short/long, pump action 12 ga. 22/410 combo or 12 gauge semi-automatic and a knowledge of who does or does not belong on the driveway. Again, the lines in the popular discussions blur in their distinction, but TSHTF crowd generally discuss guns, best position to escape or defend against an urban population, and make sure Billy, Trevor, and Molly know that in the bottom of their book bags is the phone tree, several Nutrabars(tm), and a 9mm Glock. TSHTF are practical not theoretical.
The End of the World As We Know it (TEOTWAWKI) crowd share and swap with team TSHTF. However, there seems to be a growing distinction that the kind of emergency being prepared for is not Obamacare or a “storm” or something that can be cared for with a few extra packets of that ice cream in bags that were dehydrated and we were told as kids the astronauts ate but after eating that crap revised the “I want to be an astronaut” statement to being “I want to be a political prisoner” or ” I want to be dead” as long as I don’t have to eat that shitty dehydrated food. TEOTWAWKI tend to share the same ancestors in the back-to-the-land movement and it’s love child the Urban Survivalists of the 1970s, but were raised in houses filled with rotting Mother Earth News and listened to Carl Sagen discuss the green house effect long long long long before it was even a bumper sticker. Again, there are many working class TEOTWAWKI devotees, but a good percentage of this group are educated and think in terms of theory. Yes, they fear the Fed (just like TSHTF crowd) but they don’t buy gold to use to trade when paper money becomes worthless. They fear natural disasters, but expect that these will be caused by climate change and not one-off events. They fear peak oil, but know that they are not Mad Max and that the “juice” will just become more expensive for a long time over just ending forcing us to don really gay apparel and animal skins (I call the cool car with mag wheels and fox tail nailed to a Nazi helmet). This crowd took in 9/11 took from it different lessons. Many viewed this event and did not vest their savings in Ramon noodles hidden in caves in Pennsylvania but thought more about how the world of comfort could be taken away at any moment and that this removal of comfort was not based on a singular event, but a growing historical set of trend to which 9/11 was its most visible and dynamic warning sign. TEOTWAWKI people see our system – politically, socially, economically – is unsustainable and are more convinced that we cannot save it. Nevertheless, there is a tendency of these thinkers out there in popular media land (not MSMland) to think about growing connections and mini-communities rather than the lone family escaping in the car and blasting a few [zombies] along the way. This is not to say that TEOTWAWKI crowd don’t have their adherents to storing water and tins of fish, but there is an understanding that if there is a large-scale emergency, one must have more than XYZ months of food supply, one must have the ability to create society anew and that includes knowing that to survive, we need each other. There is gun ownership in this crowd. Also discussions about how to defend one’s position (see Bug Out or Dig In), but there is also an idea that it is several families at this helm, or people connected by some bond of collective and self interest, very similar to those ideals in the back-to-the-land movement that itself was loosely patterned on the ideal of the settler, the semi-self reliant farmer/hunter who with a hatchet and some smarts, could create a haven for a family and friends in any landscape.
While this is not a perfect description of these two sides, there is perhaps something here in the discussion about the trains of thought, where they converge, and where they part ways. In one aspect, if there is a case that these are two different ideas of our next step into a future that is unlike what Omni Magazine promised us, both factions are very American in their formation but represent two distinct sides of our psyche. While there is more and more evidence that we are indeed in for a TEOTWAWKI of some kind and we need to start now learning how to live differently, guaranteed there will be many TSHTF moments along the way. Best to be prepared for both with the third view that we just need to be ready for “The Change” (a much shorter line of letters to string up). While not afraid of urban environments and convinced the majority of my neighbors will pitch in to assist each other, there is no harm in stocking up on a few 22 short/long, sweet pump-action 12 ga. 22/410 combo or 12 gauge semi-automatics and needed ammunition just in case one or two of my friends don’t behave themselves or the “civil emergency” is indeed that long awaited Zombie Apocalypse.