long live the swarm

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To map ourselves, to find each other

usa night

Organizing over the Internet sometimes seems like an uphill battle.  If you’re unsystematic about it, it will often seem like you’ve just got a small cluster of people, and momentum diminishes very rapidly.  Such projects often end up being small political centers where a few activists publish materials and distribute them.

The other negative possibility is if you run a political project on the Internet totally openly, things can get very big and chaotic, very quickly, with radical inclusivity threatening the meaning of the project.  Somehow Podemos seems to be making this work, perhaps making a good case for direct democracy and having no real guidelines.  Then again, they may start suffering Occupy’s problems, of lacking substantial strategy and direction; we’ll see.

However one of the main tasks of an Internet project is to help Internet connections transfer to becoming in-person connections, as much as possible.  It is possible to have a project with many sympathizers, enough that chances are, some of them are probably near each other.  But if there is no system for mapping ourselves, we can’t know this.

One of the projects I’m involved in, Socialist Electoral Alliance, is working on creating a map of the USA with socialist candidates pinpointed.  What if we did something like this, not just for the big dogs, but for every participant?

Maybe it could be a map.  Maybe it could just be a spreadsheet instead.

People are often uncomfortable about sharing too much info on the Internet; all this would require is a name and a town, or a nearby prominent town.

I know what you’re thinking.  When people discuss political organizing on the Internet, there is such a knee-jerk reaction of someone immediately blurting out “BUT OH MY GOD!!  THE NSA WILL SEE US!!” to the point that it makes me vomit.  Yeah, like they haven’t socially mapped us already anyway.  But unless (1) the government actually begins blatant repression, like jailing Leftists just for admitting to being Leftist on the Internet? Or (2) you are actually some kind of underground guerrilla waging a Protracted People’s War, you need to realize that the biggest effect of surveillance culture is its chilling effect on activism.

They already know who we are.  But they don’t want us to find each other.  They want us to be scared of that, scared of exposing ourselves, as if we are not already radically exposed.  Now we need to know who we are, so we can move from being scattered individuals to being a real we, and we can overtake them.

These maps could be viewed by members-only.  They would not include a street address, but simply give people an idea of people roughly close to them, so they could make contact.

Are there risks involved?  Sure.  I think there was one murdered who used Craigslist – but only one.  Let’s not be scared of the Internet; that’s for the British SWP.  This silly pretention that we must stay “covert” only hurts us; it’s the grown-up equivalent of your parents telling you not to talk to strangers — and you obeying them.  The boogeyman will get you!

We are the strangers.  We are the people our parents warned us about.  Let’s network, map, connect, consolidate, and act.

Doomsday prep beginner’s take: procurement

Looters will be…you.  You’ll be a looter.

Looters will be…you. You’ll be a looter.

Post-collapse will be a gang war over containerized food, water, and supplies, until you and others can establish enough agriculture to realistically feed your people.  This could take a few years.

If you have the good luck to be braving the apocalypse where you’ve already been living, doing your research can change everything for you when the shit hits the fan (SHTF).

You have to know where every convenience store, grocery store, food bank, and pharmacy near you are located.  If you really want to be solid, you need to do a deeper layer of research and find out where any warehouses containing food are.  That is harder to figure out; unlike the locations of storefronts, it’s not necessarily public information.  If you can’t get this data beforehand, upon the collapse you need to get a vehicle or at least a bike, and scout out every single procurement spot in the area, making a map.

To dominate at a procurement spot enough to harvest from it, you’ll need a gang, which I’ve discussed at length elsewhere.

Beyond that, choosing which procurement spots you utilize, in which order, involves strategic planning.  Like in Starcraft, you will probably deplete the resources near you the fastest.  This may make some sense in the short term.  The closest spots are the ones you can establish dominance over most easily, and transport goods from most easily.  But that means as time goes on, you leave yourself in a lurch, and you are forced to expand.  If you first deplete resources far or a medium distance from you, it leaves full stores close to you in the mid-long term.  Medium distance locations, as much as you can handle, are probably the right balance realistically.  They balance transport and risk issues with proximity.  But there may be an advantage to raiding procurement locations which are far from you, since no one expects you to go there, and hostile forces are less likely to succeed in tracking you back to your home base.

Again like in Starcraft, time is ticking.  The stores of the world are not just sitting there unused.  Everyone has the same idea.  You need to be expansionist and haul all the goods you possibly can, from as many spots as you can find, as early on as possible as you can manage, because they will all be rapidly dwindling as other people grab them up.

Acquiring vehicles early on tremendously expands your radius of possible harvesting, potentially critical for getting in on as many spots as you can before other people steal the bacon.

Approaching each procurement spot becomes a time for the use of military tactics and maneuvers.  It could be guarded by a gang, guarded by one or two people with guns, in use by others who are unarmed, or you could get lucky and find it empty.  It might be a good idea to arrive from unexpected directions like the back of the store, or send part of your gang from a different direction than your main group as a fake-out to keep any potential guards distracted and off-balance.

You may consider seizing a procurement spot entirely and turning it into your shelter/settlement, but this invites contention as everyone and their brother takes turns visiting the place in hopes of finding easy pickings.  However it does save you the need to transport the stuff.

Including some agricultural supplies like seeds and farming manuals in your prep storage may assist the eventual transition to growing food instead of eating spam out of tin cans for years.  As people start farming, die out, or restore the infrastructure, the ferocity of competition over procurement spots will fade.  If you are still living out of containerized food, that’s good, and it also helps you in your search for any other supplies or appliances you may start to take interest in once your immediate food & survival needs are less of a threat.

Doomsday prep beginner’s take: stages of survival & your gang

governor-the-walking-dead_0

There is a basic chronology & teleology to transitioning from being an individual in the collapse to becoming part of a sustainable agricultural community.  It has four stages:

  • individual
  • gang
  • settlement
  • sustainable community

First we have to square off with some harsh truth.  Even the best-laid plans collapse.  No matter what you have stored or what kind of doomsday bunker you’ve built, shit happens.  The initial stage of the post-collapse is a war of all against all, vying for control over grocery stores, convenience stores, and warehouses, with gangs fighting over containerized food.  Your gang has to win.

Should you make better preparations?  Yeah, if you can afford them; I really cannot.  Many, even most of us cannot.  Maybe you are a wilderness survival genius who knows how to live off the vegetation in the nearby wilderness.  I don’t yet, and most people don’t either.  (Something to work on though!)

Are there sunnier outcomes?  Sure.  Certain communities may be better-prepared, or deal with things in a more civilized and collective fashion, taking control of food supplies and rationing them out fairly to everyone.  Those same communities may suffer one wrong turn and suddenly turn into crazed dictatorships or free-for-all bloodbaths.  Survival depends on re-establishing low-level civilization, so larger communities have to happen eventually, but you have to tread carefully in them nonetheless.  Having a crew who knows how to fend for itself, even if as a sub-group conditionally blended in with the community, is the best thing.  If better things happen, then at least you were prepared, and you can make a greater contribution to your emerging community’s welfare and security by putting your competent gang to work for the collective.

If you insist on taking the large community route from the beginning, it would be useful to immerse yourself in the volunteering scene before the collapse, so you can know a huge network of people in your community and be involved in local charities’ food pantries.  These may act as the initial community rationing system.  Then you will have to deal with setting up all the categories of infrastructure at an urgent, rapid pace far more accelerated than the path outlined below.  Even if you want to be a saint, though, it’s nice to be a saint protected by an armed crew, so the below still applies.

You can also accelerate or alter the course of the below sequence by having stored supplies or a doomsday bunker, if you’re lucky enough that your system doesn’t completely fall apart when the rubber actually meets the road.

FROM INDIVIDUAL TO GANG

You as an individual need to find some makeshift infrastructure you can use.  For example, you can find a toilet that you can take a few dumps in before using up its last flush.  These kinds of things tide you over a few days until you locate something to replace it.

Then you need to form a gang.

And yes, I use the word “gang,” because while it may act as an engineering team at times, truly its main function is to triumph in the violent competition over procurement zones.  And there is zero ethics to such a group or situation – both groups are trying to survive, and in doing so, possibly denying the other side the means to do so.  As the phrase goes, there are no good men among the living.  Let’s call a gang what it is.

How do you start one?  The simple answer is that you find other preppers before the collapse, include each other in a collective survival plan, hang out, get to know each other, train a little (and have fun), and implement the plan upon the collapse.  Set a place to meet if & when the collapse occurs, and a backup spot, etc.

But let’s say you didn’t do that, and you have to pull people off the street for your gang.  What a gang needs is weaponry, and I’m not talking about baseball bats.  You should either buy plural firearms before the collapse or, or know where you can scavenge some when things fall apart.  (Of course, weapons caches are obviously well-guarded, lol, so just buy them beforehand.)

You need to know how to use weapons, and you need combat training.  You can get combat training by joining the military (reserves or National Guard if you don’t want to be full-time), or taking the courses of professional trainers like Pulse (which I found from Jack Donovan).  Any pre-collapse teammates you are including in your plans should also have previously acquired or be provided with firearms and combat training.  Anyone you recruit after the collapse will have to learn from you (which means you need to know the stuff yourself!).

Say you have no gang organized before the collapse.  That means you need to incentivize people to join your gang.  How do you do this?

Persuasion is one possibility.  Teaming up just makes sense.  People might need something more though.  Bribing them with some of your food stores would work.  Offering them firearms to take up is a sure way to sell the idea.  (If you don’t have extra firearms to pass around, you have to accept the fact that your gang will have a motley mix of gunslingers and club-swingers until new hardware is found.)  However, one of the greatest things you can offer people is knowledge and education.  If you have combat training, and you can help people absorb a crash course of its bare necessities, they will pretty much follow you enthusiastically.

But you need a gang that is willing to pull triggers.  A lot of people are still adjusting out of standard civilized moral assumptions.  They have a tough time admitting that it’s all against all now.  They don’t want to be aggressors; they will want to talk things out in situations where you need to be the one who shoots first, because a meltdown was inevitable.  Even if they intellectually grasp the new situation, many people have an adjustment period before their emotions can process and accept it.  Stereotypically it’s women who can’t handle it, though life always surprises you; some women may turn out to have ice in their veins while some men break down and blubber in tears.  People who can’t embrace the situation are like the people on The Walking Dead who feel bad about killing zombies.  This means they are not reliable gang members, and you may have to persuade, challenge, insult, or even threaten them into getting some nerve.  If you need help, here are some words of inspiration from a Sith:

Only those hardened by this ineluctable truth can survive…only those of you who are willing to turn upon one another and profit by the misfortune of others…

I have been sent to overturn your most cherished beliefs in a bright future, and to help you wage war on good intentions and the deception of pure ideas; to teach you how to accept the fact that even in the midst of this seemingly blessed era, this wink of the eye in sentient history, our baser instincts hold sway over us.

What this reordered galaxy will need is beings who are fearless to be arrogant, self-serving, and driven to survive at all costs.  Here, under my guidance, you will learn to let go of your old selves and find the strength to recast yourself…through actions you might never have believed yourselves possible of performing.

Look, each of you, to the ones to your left and right, and to those in front and behind…and think of them as stepping-stones to your eventual escalation.

This brings up the issue of internal “ethics,” or at least, non-betrayal.  You need a gang of people who are unethical enough to fight outsiders for food, but ethical enough not to slit your throat in the night.  This is kind of a paradox, solved with the concept of group loyalty (itself a paradox since it applies ethics to insiders but not outsiders, but hey, it works).  The better things work for your group, the more you stay together without internal conflict.

The art of dominating the procurement game deserves its own blog post.

The difference between a gang and a settlement is that a gang hasn’t really settled on a stabilized place to call home yet.  As you accumulate people, your infrastructural needs will get bigger.

FROM GANG TO SETTLEMENT

A settlement is a centralized hub of different infrastructures.  What was once your supply cache may eventually become where your gang lives.

You will need to find a good spot that allows you all the different categories of infrastructural needs to be covered.  A settlement is not a sustainable community – a settlement is just a shelter for a gang which still lives entirely off of procuring containerized goods (or whatever containerized goods you had stored, and still have access to).

Some of the things you stored can come in handy here, and help provide the shelter with an infrastructure that can support a group.  Water purifier pumps are a huge deal here.  Having lots of stored food to bring from your storage to your settlement buys you time, but you can’t get comfortable; you have to keep stockpiling until you know you are solid for weeks, then months, then ultimately the years needed to survive the transition to agriculture.

As you grow you may change locations a few times, developing tighter and tighter systems of security.  You win this survival game by covering all your different bases.  Again, a settlement is a centralized hub of different infrastructures, even if it’s as simple as collecting rainwater from the roof and also having a designated hole to poop in, all near the same site.  (Hopefully you have more.)  Be systematic and cover all your categories.  You have to be always checking for the category you are overlooking or forgetting, and always trying to stay ahead of the game, by using downtime to create redundant systems in case your current rig-up fails.  You run your infrastructures with either appliances brought from prep storage beforehand, creative solutions using scrap materials, or a sustained flow of procured containerized supplies.

Keep stockpiling, keep defending, and begin transitioning from procurement to agriculture.

FROM SETTLEMENT TO SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITY

The main transition here is sustainability, which mainly means setting up agriculture.  You must progressively wean yourself off of procuring containerized supplies produced in the pre-collapse world.  You may rely on supplementation from procurements for literally years before you have fully-operational, year-round group-feeding agriculture online.  That’s fine; America creates and warehouses tons of junk, enough to last a while, and any successful gang is going to be very adept at locating and securing it.

Your procurement runs have to start including a focus on finding seeds, fertilizer, livestock, and farming tools & equipment.  They may also take a less survivalist turn, toward searching for and mapping other pockets of survivors and re-establishing civilization, for its own sake.  As you stabilize, situations where you had to shoot or turn people away may begin to blend into situations where you greet and take those people in as your own.  Your procurement runs may evolve from hikes to car rides, if they haven’t already.  This means a mechanic would be good to have around.

You may begin to add extra infrastructure as your community thrives.  Maybe you can focus on re-establishing communication with civilization using radio or any remaining Internet lines.  You may advance as you accumulate people, finding people with skills.  Instead of just having a bunch of first aid kits, maybe you’ll encounter and recruit a nurse.  Maybe you’ll get some blacksmithing going so you can make ammunition instead of just having to find it.

Ultimately, you should do more than survive.  You should do more than rebuild, even.  You should analyze what went wrong with the system in the first place.  You should create models of operating based on freedom and cooperation.  You should make your community an example of it, and build your community up so that your model becomes influential in the re-emerging world, where remnants of the old system are sure to be lurking, and spreading their tyrannical influence likewise.

Doomsday prep beginner’s take: mistakes

preppers

So I’m getting into softcore doomsday prepping, and this will be a series.  Why?  Because it seems like those people have millions of practical skills, something we socialist urban Millennials lack dearly.  Because they are a gun culture.  And because I like mixing with scenes not usually associated with the Left, so I can meet people outside my own bubble for both curiosity and persuasion purposes.  (Besides, even if they are all Ron Paul supporters, they really love renewable energy!)

I immediately noticed that a lot of people are doingitwrong.

 

Being unsystematic

The first thing I noticed is that there is a ridiculous wealth of information out there, but it’s not organized.  There are very overwhelming lists of all these different things you have to do, but they are often not properly categorized into the key areas of human need/infrastructural readiness.  A beginner has no fricking idea where to start, and instead you end up with these confusing infinite lists of items and skills which are more discouraging than encouraging.

Besides, systematically breaking things down into categories is a good way to help yourself build habits of thought which allow you to cover your bases as you prepare and as you endure.  So here I have tried to cover the basics systematically.

Individual & single-family preparations

If your house is totally stocked up while the neighbors are all starving, you commit another mistake: making yourself a visible target.  Many survival manuals explain some skills which an individual can utilize.  But how long do you see yourself lasting alone?  Any kind of reliable security system, with people manning the night shift, is going to require a group of at least eight people.

Besides, two things: won’t you just feel incredibly bored and meaningless without society?  And do you really think you’re enough of a badass to provide every one of your needs without some kind of network of interdependence?  There are too many categories of need – you need to create an operational infrastructure system that takes too much effort for one person or even a single family to establish, but once stabilized, can provide enough viability to share with a group.

Over-reliance on a doomsday bunker

My least favorite thing about people building doomsday bunkers is that they require so much money, and anyone in the left-leaning, urban-oriented Millennial generation has none, for the most part.  In fact we have negative money, we have student debt.

Anyway, you can never know what will happen.  Many preppers have their own hyper-specific theory about exactly how shit will go down, and prepare particularly for that.  Is that really necessary, to pick your favorite crackpot scenario?  Why not just prepare for generalized infrastructural collapse?  But of course, you could end up dealing with a flood, or a virus, or maybe a civil war instead of a civil breakdown, or something strange could happen that disconnects you from your warm little safe haven.  In my opinion, real prepping is not about staying inside – it is actually about having a plan for navigating the brutal, cutthroat, violent outside world.

Thinking you can keep your prepping a secret

You’ve told at least one other person about your prepping, and when SHTF, everyone will immediately start thinking of who they know who preps.  Conversations will happen now and after SHTF, and it will go public.  Even if you tell literally no one else (like your immediate family even, who will probably blab at least once), people might make some obvious observations about your hobbies or things they notice around your home.  While it might be a good idea to keep your prepping as secret as possible, anything can happen.  So be prepared by possessing enough armed force to turn people away, by not making the next mistake.

Failing to form a gang

And a gang is how you navigate the outside world.  It deserves its own blog post.  Any reliable security situation needs a group of people so that you can take shifts standing guard at night.  And because most of us don’t have farms, the initial food supply situation will instead rely on procurement.  You are going to have to go find supplies in their typical American containerized form, to buy you enough short-term viability until you build not just any settlement, but a settlement stable and expansive enough to allow enough agriculture to realistically feed you year-round.  (And enough to feed the crew you probably need to secure such a space and related agricultural supplies.)

That temporary dependence on the remaining containerized food, for at least a year if not more, will be contentious.  Grocery and convenience stores will be ransacked, but they will also be war zones of competition.  Think of a post-apocalyptic grocery store like the initial bloodbath in The Hunger Games.  Everyone is there, you don’t want to be there.  And if you’re going to go there (which you’ll ultimately have to), you need to go with an armed crew ready to throw down.

You can form your survival gang now before the collapse, or you can have stuff in storage to entice others to join you once the shit hits the fan.  But it’s best if you at least know your way around guns and have one or a few yourself.

Placing your hope in the countryside

The city will become a deathtrap, but if you think you’re going to rush out of there and be welcomed, you’ll be up against suburban communities who are already panicked taking care of themselves.  They will probably shoot refugees on sight, if not simply turning them away with words and warning shots.  (This happened during Katrina.)

If you hoped to live off the wilderness by hunting and fishing, good job, so did everyone else – the game suddenly is not enough to split between all the contenders.  You will have to hit the countryside or some kind of empty space eventually for farming purposes, but beyond that?  Expect to work with where you are, or wherever you end up.

No renewable food vision

You can store food, but for how long?  You’re going to have to be obsessive to really store enough for years.  And what if you have to take on extra people?  Start cutting your food timeline into fractions.  Of course, if you refuse to take on extra people, you massively jeopardize your security by making yourself the subject of public envy.

All roads of survival ultimately point to restarting civilization by establishing some agriculture.  And no, not the perfect cyclic ecosystem in your doomsday compound.  You are going to have to sway with events, work with the outside world, and set it up in some kind of survivor settlement which you initially had no plans for.  There is a transitional life cycle for survivors, from being an individual in a collapse, to being part of a sustainable community.  You have to figure it out, and follow it.  (That’s another post.)

Doomsday prep beginner’s take: systematic categories

preppers

I wrote this because I observed there is a ridiculous amount of “intro prepper” information out there, but it’s really disorganized.  It hits people with overwhelming lists that tend to confuse and overwhelm more than they encourage.  It’s helpful and orienting to think in terms of basic categories, in order to have your bases covered.   This way rather than memorizing a million different items, you categorize them as one of many possible ways of dealing with about 6 to 8 easy-to-memorize categories.

I am torn between two schemas.  One has three main categories, with a long list beneath one of them, like this:

SECURITY

INFRASTRUCTURE

  • Food/cooking
  • Water
  • Sewage
  • Shelter
  • Transport
  • Medical
  • Disaster

LONG-TERM CONCERNS

  • Agriculture
  • Additional infrastructure (auto/mechanic, welding/blacksmithing, electric, communications)

The other schema simply places all the infrastructural needs on the same list and includes security on that list:

  • Security
  • Food/cooking
  • Water
  • Sewage
  • Shelter
  • Transport
  • Medical
  • Disaster

 

Each of these categories means something different depending on what stage you are in: pre-collapse storage, post-collapse procurement for yourself, procurement for a gang or settlement, or long-term sustainable infrastructure.  While I don’t believe in building a doomsday bunker, acquiring and storing some key items like water purifier pumps before the collapse can really ease and accelerate your settlement process.  Some examples will be explained below.

Security is a euphemism; actually I mean your gang achieving military supremacy so it can dominate procurement.  It helps to own guns and know how to use them – that’s a minimum security requirement, and helps you teach others.  It also helps to have combat training, which you can either get by joining the military (the reserves/National Guard will still train you even if you don’t want to be a professional soldier), or by paying for actual private training like Pulse (which I discovered from Jack Donovan).  Also play paintball or Call of Duty, though they’re not enough alone, obviously.  Security requires having a gang, and in a settlement it means having a night watch.  See the gang section of stages of survival.

Food is the obvious game of procurement and transitioning to agriculture over years, but this can still be eased by personally possessing some initial food stores (which can bribe some people to join your gang).  Cooking is less obvious.  This is where storing some cigarette lighters, portable stoves, or fire starters comes in handy.

Water means anything from initial bottled water, to canteens, to pulling the last fading water pressure out of any faucets you find, to having or finding a larger water pump or purification system, rainwater filtration, and ultimately securing a permanent water source like a lake, river, or still-functioning city line.

Sewage is anything from a few uses of a toilet, to digging a hole (with the foldable shovel you stored), to toilet paper (which you can store – major tradable commodity!), to establishing a permanent latrine site at your sustainable community.  Eventually you might find some treatment specialist.

Transport is anything from having the shoes and clothes to get around, to having a backpack to carry supplies in, all the way to wagons, bikes, horses, cars, and trucks.  Initially the only transport you need is your uninjured feet – shoes help – whatever clothes you need, and bags or backpacks to carry stuff.

Medical is first aid kits (storage!), splints for injured or broken bones, medical staff, practical medical books (might be good for storage), and ultimately anti-biotics which you will probably have to find by scrounging in abandoned pharmacies.

Disaster is kind of beyond your control, but you can try.  Having an inflatable raft helps beat a flood.  If there is some kind of poison or disease in the air, surgical masks and rubber gloves help, and can be procured or stored beforehand.  You might go in for a few gas masks, if only to let people out for procurement runs.  Ultimately, if the collapse is from a disease, water/sewage/hygiene issues are really critical.  Minimizing physical contact helps especially with outsiders, and don’t get bitten by zombies.

Agriculture.  Maybe you can’t build or buy a giant compound with enough farmland to be self-sustaining from the start.  (Maybe you can?  I’m jealous.)  But you can buy some seeds and a bag or two of fertilizer to retrieve when you have a stabilized settlement that can begin experimenting with agriculture.  Mainly knowledge is critical here, since you can probably find or raid whatever plants/seeds/supplies you need, so maybe have a few books in storage on how to get started, or practice by gardening.

[en] An overview of Italy’s anti-fascist gyms and boxing clubs

this is how we do it

Struggles in Italy

Credit: Palestra Popolare San Pietrino Credit: Palestra Popolare San Pietrino

Politics has never been far from the surface in the world of combat sports. Whether we think of the boxer Primo Carnera, an icon of fascism in the 1930s, or Muhammad Ali, an icon of black power in the 1960s. Or of the predominance of Jews in East London’s boxing clubs before and immediately after World War 2, often using their training against Mosley’s British Union of Fascists. Even today, in the world of Mixed Martial Arts we have, on the one hand, the Finnish neo-nazi Niko Puhakka, while on the other, the anarchist Jeff Monson.

With this in mind, Italian activist circles have been developing this progressive element. Over the past decades, self-organized popular, antifascist sports centres have been flourishing in the Italian squats. They mostly (but not exclusively) offer boxing and other combat sports.

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