Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Preppers are about as American as apple pie is commonly asserted to be (albeit falsely). Like Tea-Baggers, Mormons, the Amish and the National Rifle Association (NRA), I doubt preppers could have developed - let alone thrived - anywhere but in the self-styled Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.

Fiercely independent, deeply patriotic yet doggedly suspicious of authority in general and government in particular, preppers tend to be politically conservative white Christians from low-income backgrounds. As such, they are like the distillation of the American psyche.

So what are they? Preppers believe that a catastrophic natural disaster or foreign invasion is just around the corner. Or, as they like to put it, "the shit is about to hit the fan" (SHTF). Convinced that the US economy, society and possibly civilisation itself are in imminent danger of destruction and/or collapse, they prepare - hence the name - for their chosen nightmare scenario by
  • Hoarding food
  • Stockpiling weapons and ammunition
  • Training in armed combat
  • Learning survival skills
  • Building emergency shelters
  • Disconnecting from the power grid and
  • Buying gold and silver, typically in the form of coins.
Although there may not be the 4 million or more preppers claimed by some of the myriad "survivalist" Web sites, they certainly are far more than a handful of paranoid gun-nuts. In fact there are so many serious preppers in America that Costco (a nationwide chain of wholesale stores open to the public) stocks a large selection of what it terms "emergency kits", ranging from water storage and filtration systems to a year's supply of food for four people, comprising 30,144 servings of freeze-dried and dehydrated meals (yours for only $3,999.99).

Preppers even have their own reality-TV show (sponsored, tellingly enough, by the Wise Food Storage Company and the United States Gold Bureau). Entitled 'Doomsday Preppers', the documentary series charts how various people are getting ready for what they see is inevitable: an all-out assault on the American way of life, be it man-made or environmental. 

Unfortunately, preppers are not simply wacky loners content to play out their apocalyptic or Chinese-invasion fantasies in their own basements or woods in the same way that people used to gather for weekend 'Dungeons and Dragons' sessions. Often enough, their paranoia spills over into violent confrontations with the law.

Only last week, police arrested a 45-year-old survivalist who had spent 5-6 years breaking into cabins in the Utah mountains to steal food and guns. And almost exactly a year ago, police
in Washington state hunted a 41-year-old man who had allegedly shot dead his wife and daughter. They eventually tracked him down in a sophisticated fortified underground bunker in the forest, where a SWAT team had to blast its way through the roof. When they got inside, they found the man dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, as well as 13 guns and shelves neatly piled with ammunition, food and other supplies.

1 comment:

New World Newbie said...

Apologies to users of iOS-driven devices, who see just two blanks rather than the two integrated videos.