"There are 10^11 stars in the galaxy. That used to be a huge number. But it's only a hundred billion. It's less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers." ~ Richard Feynman
A Weekend with Isabel - Walking Through a House Darkly
Isabel's sashay through my home state of Maryland during her romp across the Mid-Atlantic States provided an instructive demo of how quickly a human management apparatus can disappear. With the power outage (affecting over a million clients), streetlights, cameras, government schools, police services, and most of the rest of the control structure simply went missing-in-action. Now while many of us dream of a technological liberation with our overseers made irrelevant by ever cheaper and more powerful tools of production, commerce and defense, the much more likely scenario--the one that occurs repeatedly through history--is the one in which the governing state disintegrates of its own deficiencies. Therefore--unless we in our on-line community are just typing screeds as a dexterity exercise--we'll have to make an anarchic order happen through our own planning and efforts. Isabel was kind enough to offer her own points of advice.
First, we need physical communities where our ideas are already being practiced--concentrations of those of us with inclinations toward free living. The on-line community has been great at connecting us over distances and disseminating information. But a lot of it is now dependent upon the state managed energy system. Physical connection can offer us a lot of the interaction with one another with important additions. Cooperative cordial neighbor relationships enable an anarchic community to harness the economic lever of specialization. When the electric grid fails and trees fall down, not every individual on a block need own a backhoe, chainsaw, or gas powered generator. To do so would be to expend scarce personal resources that might net a better return invested in a different way. During Isabel, our next-door-neighbors were able to keep the baby's milk cold for us using their portable generator. If my wife had bought a generator this past winter instead of the snow blower she did buy, we wouldn't have been able to help dig our neighbors out after our big snow falls. Also, with physical connection, we can watch one another's backs, which leads to point two.
Secondly, we must have warriors amongst our number in quantity! Every man, woman and child should be mindful of how to stay safe and how to keep their property safe. But an additional admonition to my fellow men is that every one of us should spend some time and energy to develop some competency with means of self-protection.
The generators on our darkened street became an attractive target for at least one team of drive-by thieves. Easily located by their noisy motors, they first attempted to steal the generator of my neighbors across the street. Some other neighbors called 911 to get the police but were told by the operator to, instead, call and alert the victims and let them call the police if they wanted. The thieves had some kind of difficulty getting that generator (though they damaged it). So later (I'm assuming the same villains) settled for stealing a generator further up the block. The following night, an attempt was then made to steal my next door neighbor's generator. In retrospect, it strikes me that a few words from a single shotgun armed man at their first attempt might have been sufficient deterrent to make these hoodlums consider choosing other neighborhoods to perpetrate their crimes. Of course, that's a risky proposition in my home district. My third point follows from it.
Number three, our vision of the future is in competition against the dreams of criminals and the random neuron firings of nitwits. Freedom hasn't been embraced by the masses because of a lack of advertising. Rather, criminals of various degrees of cunning and multitudes of nitwits are our active opposition. When things fall apart, we must be prepared to step up to the plate with our systems of living ready to go. Freedom and peaceful cooperation is a true blueprint of human excellence, but those of us who know that are few and far between. Criminal opportunists dot the landscape, whether they come to steal generators in the night or set up dictatorial fiefdoms complete with departments of motor vehicles. Neither is there a nitwit shortage. These people are like free radicals in a cellular organism. Whether they are racing through intersections with dark signal lights, running their generators indoors or leaving unsafe fires unattended in their houses, they will wreak havoc, destroying their own lives and property and that of many others. They will break down order in a community the way that parasites will weaken a host body, leaving it ripe for invasion by the criminals I mentioned first. It is not in our self-interest to adopt a 'cull the herd' mentality. Just as we create defenses against criminals, we'd do well to figure out what we can do to keep nitwit chaos minimized ' not using force or fraud, of course.
Forty-eight hours is all of the sitting in the dark I had to do personally, though even today, seven days later, there are still people without electricity. But thank you Isabel for the reminder about preparation. States disappear all the time. We can start getting ready now to fill the void.