Armed Bohemian

A Journal on Resilience, Independence, and the Self-Assertive Personalities That Define Humanity.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Nature of Armament

Much time is expended debating the merits and demerits of individual possession of arms. Particularly here in the United States where those who choose to can enjoy a great deal of government permission to own, trade and use a variety of small arms.
Usually I often avoid these debates, particularly online, as they tend to be emotional and rarely logical or factual. It's also a topic I avoid writing much about as directly – As in my life, in my writing ownership of firearms (and armament in general) is a constant undercurrent. It is all at once foundation to, representative of, and wholly entwined in what I believe about personal freedom, capability, responsibility and even human nature itself. Particularly in the case of this Armed Bohemian business, armament is an essential (definitional) quality, and I have accordingly spoken of armament both as the right to keep and bear arms and as more than simple possession of a gun.
Recently I was drawn into one of these discussions, and the response I composed brought together a series of thoughts I'd been trying to assemble in written form, for the Armed Bohemian. It is still a sort of rambling screed, but what the hell, its a place to begin.

The right to keep and bear arms is a Human right, at a very fundamental level. By all appearances skill-at-arms (whatever those arms may be) is deeply hardwired into us, perhaps even deeper than many other technological skills that are presently common to humans, i.e. fire, some form of protective clothing, etc. Armament is an essential part of who we are as humans, given that our forward progress is directly tied to our technological process, and one of the dominant tech areas contributing to our rise has been improved hunting and warfare technologies. Human beings keep moving forward, regardless of any societal pressures, and advancing these systems and taking them on at an individual level. We're wired to make, own, and be competitive with, modern armament, starting as individuals.
This can be directly observed today with the Makers crowd (small batch, garage, tech dev. and manufacturing) beginning to DIY aerial drone platforms that are quickly headed towards functionally outstripping US Predator/Reaper platforms. What is emerging is that if the drone performs (and inexpensive, >$50, guidance systems available off-the-shelf ensure it can ), the weapons package doesn't need to be as advanced as a missile. The drone could have a very crude container release and still mount effective weapons package, which would cost a target hundreds of thousands (if not millions) to knock out of the air, but only a few thousand at most to build. So far, none of the open source innovators working on these things want to use them as weapons, they just want to build them “because”. “Because”, it could be argued is the Red Queen at work: Someone somewhere got ahead and the others are running faster simply to keep up. This seems to be the natural course, and is not at all abated or slowed down by state regulation or monopoly on armament, even advanced. Introduction of a monopoly on such systems actually creates greater pressure to innovate competitive solutions.
The point here is not to argue that everyone needs a Reaper drone, but the fact that people as autonomous individuals, not employed by a state contractor or other power innovating similar technologies serves as a great example (to my way of thinking at least) of the natural order in which the individual organism, and his/her hardwired evolutionary need to be competitive, behaves with regard to possession and use of armaments.

The small batch DIY-Drone innovators are also representative of something else I see happening. While many are still stuck on arguments about firearms, or knife, ownership and possession, there are others who are moving further forward – Development and possession of arms of the type, and scale, previously limited to the possession of states and governments. With the decreasing costs of development and manufacturing, and the “small batch” revolution, innovation and production of advanced technology is not limited to the laboratories of major governments and their contractors. People may not be building missile systems in their garages, but what they are doing is creating solutions that, while different, are increasingly competitive with the armaments of state.
How long this lasts, legally, may be a worthwhile question. The regulation of arms and armament is, to an extent, mandatory for the state (although only recently, in the grand scheme, has it been truly feasible in a large scale way).
This applies from possession of knives to possession of tanks. While easy to believe as "for the children" or "for the good of everyones safety", arms regulations are primarily for the benefit of the machines of state. I suspect this is more of an unconscious benefit, as most of those pushing for arms control measures are true believers (or political opportunists) doing it for the children, for the perception of safety. Though few working for disarmament of individuals see it as being for the states benefit, the natural effect is just that. It can only be that, as there is no actual benefit to the individual for being disarmed by the state.
Individuals remain threatened by predators who have accepted acting outside the rule/benefit of law. Such predators, by their very nature, can and will acquire weapons even in the strictest of societies. Meanwhile, the individuals who remain complaint with the states regulations are under-secured by the state despite their investment in it ("if I give up my ability to protect myself, you will protect me") because there is no way for the system to be able to effectively track, identify and respond to every threat to its citizenry in a preemptive manner. It is simply too complex a task to be done. Rather the system can only apply broad coverage, on a greatest benefit for the widest range basis. Out of necessity the state has made the acceptable baseline for protecting its citizens outlawing certain behaviors and acts, and trying to apprehend individuals who've committed those behaviors or acts anyway. That is a complex task anyway, but a far less complex one than trying to give protection to ever individual within the system at the very moment they encounter a predator.
Despite the failure to the individual of this system, many individuals continue their cooperation. It is not so much a direct dupe, as it is is driven by both convention and a loop of reward for cooperation. Cooperation with the state guarantees being able to reap the benefits afforded by the state; Resisting the state supposedly guarantees being unable to enjoy the benefits, and possibly meeting with the force (or greater levels of force) the state claims a monopoly on.
Early weapons bans (armament possession by serfs, sword bans in Europe and Asia, etc.) were enforced far more on the threat of meeting with the superior levels of force deliverable by the state, than by cooperation for reward. Today, in most first world states at least, that approach is little used and at least attempts to avoid it are usually taken, preferring the cooperation equals full access to benefit and non-coop equals restriction of access (imprisonment, felon status, etc.)

“I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.”

Trouble for the cooperators arises in those who choose to disobey the state control in a predatory fashion – By simply the act of disobeying they find the fallibility of the state, and knowing that state-control has left many of those who cooperate in a weakened position (dependent on the state for protection it cannot possibly provide) are given new freedoms to exploit this rich victim pool.
Non-cooperators who are not predatory, but have taken means to protect themselves from such predation while appearing to be compliant, are in a much better position in this situation than true cooperators.
Among such individuals, there are those who take such means as legally as possible – Classically, and into this century, we see agrarian cultures taking up farm implements both for defense and as means of predation in the absence of easily available advanced weapons tech. We also see people producing weapons that are within the allowance of law at that time – Much of the self defense products industry is built around these types of arms, and the DIY/Small Batch'ers have shown a capability of doing this on an even greater scale.
Then there are those who will fully cross into illegal territory by obtaining more competitive armament from the black market, or by producing it themselves. Of course, they run the risk of punishment by the state, but part of the arithmetic essential to the decision to not cooperate is calculating what that risk means. If punishment is fines, or jail time, and resultant loss of rights or privileges, and not otherwise severe, what detriment to life and well-being is the states punishment, particularly in the face of possible death or great loss of advantage to predation?

The natural state is an armed state, and as time progresses the organism must maintain that, and do so aggressively and competitively. It is a natural process, yet so many are trying to make it a conscious decision and are advocating for deciding not to. That is scarier than the idea of someone firing up their 3d printer and rolling out a Reaper complete with Hellfires.

(As a note folks - The colored, underlined, bits of text are links. They are relevant and important. Rather than breaking out the style guide and writing my sources in a bibliography, I use links. This serves, sort of, to prove I am not madly ranting in my own private ideological wilderness. I also notice via analytics and sitemeter that most of you are not clicking them. You should, really. You'll learn more that way.)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Human Right

In talking about the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (or, RKBA) in the United States, there is often a tone put on the arguments that implies it is an American right. The question is even asked at times; Is gun ownership a right because you live in America, or is it a right because you are an America?
This is wrong. The “issue” (if it is an issue) extends beyond nationalities and borders. To answer that question, the answer is neither. It is a human right. Armament is a right given to humanity by having grasping hands, opposable thumbs and minds both clever enough to devise chemical and mechanical actions, and brutal enough to make weapons of them. Ever since the first ancestor of human beings picked up a branch or a stone and clobbered something to eat or his/her fellow with it arms have been part of the equation. As tools both for providing food and goods (leather, etc.) and of violent intercourse. The arms race began with sticks and rocks, and progressed from there. The advantage of having a superior technology for hunting, and for war, has always spurred those at a disadvantage to even (if not upset) the score. Such is the natural way of competition for survival. A right to arms is a human right, as old as humanity itself. (And it is a right that goes beyond the cut and dry “what it is”. It is representative of more than just force, far more than just violence. It represents capability.)
Being the gun owning nation, as Americans we sometimes loose sight of the global nature of this right we often fight so hard for. We must remember however, that we are not alone. Not only are we not alone, we are also setting the example for others to follow. The damage we do to ourselves, we do to all men and women who would retain an essential human right.

Washington Post: New groups mobilize as Indians embrace the right to bear arms

By Rama Lakshmi
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, February 1, 2010

In the land of Mahatma Gandhi, Indian gun owners are coming out of the shadows for the first time to mobilize, U.S.-style, against proposed new curbs on bearing arms.

When gunmen attacked 10 sites in Mumbai in November 2008, including two five-star hotels and a train station, Mumbai resident Kumar Verma sat at home glued to the television, feeling outraged and unsafe. Before the end of December, Verma and his friends had applied for gun licenses. He read up on India's gun laws and joined the Web forum Indians for Guns. When he got his license seven months later, he bought a black, secondhand, snub-nose Smith & Wesson revolver with a walnut grip.

"I feel safe wearing it in my ankle holster every day," said Verma, 27, who runs a family business selling fire-protection systems. "I have a right to self-protection, because random street crime and terrorism have increased. The police cannot be there for everybody all the time. Now I am a believer in the right to keep and bear arms." Verma said he plans to join the recently formed National Association for Gun Rights India to lobby against new gun controls that the government has proposed, blaming the proliferation of both licensed and illegal weapons for a rise in crime.

Although India's 1959 Arms Act gives citizens the legal right to own and carry guns, it is not a right enshrined in the country's constitution. Getting a license is a cumbersome process, and guns cannot be bought over the counter -- requirements that gun owners describe as hangovers from the colonial past, when the British rulers disarmed their Indian subjects to head off rebellion.
In December, the Ministry of Home Affairs proposed several amendments to the Arms Act that would make it even harder to acquire a gun license, restrict the number of people eligible for nationwide licenses and curtail the amount of ammunition a gun owner can amass.

An official said that the ministry has called for public input. But in the meantime, the proposals have given rise to a nascent gun rights movement modeled on the strategies of the United States' National Rifle Association and echoing its rhetoric of civil rights, dignity and self-protection. "We are outraged. We are not murderers. Instead of going after real criminals, the government is indulging in window dressing by bringing in gun control laws that target law-abiding citizens who have licensed guns," said Abhijeet Singh, 37, a software engineer who started Indians for Guns and is the coordinator of the new gun rights association. "We want to remove the stigma on licensed gun owners," Singh said. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 87 percent of murders by firearms in India in 2007 involved illegally held guns. There is no official tally of legal gun owners, but Singh cited a rough estimate of 4 million to 5 million.

Last week, the National Association for Gun Rights India began meeting with lawmakers and consulting lawyers in a bid to stall the proposals. The group's president is a 39-year-old lawmaker, Naveen Jindal, who studied at the University of Texas business school in Dallas. Inspired by American students' displays of patriotism, Jindal earlier launched a successful campaign for Indians' right to display the national flag outside their homes and offices.

Indian security experts appear dismissive of the group's efforts. "There is no place for a gun rights movement in India," said Julius Ribeiro, a former police officer who comments on security issues. "That kind of debate may work in America, but it will not work here, because laws are misused and guns can easily fall into the wrong hands. It can get dangerous in India."

Gun rights advocates respond -- using language familiar to Americans -- that guns are a deterrent to crime. "An armed society is a polite society," said Rahoul Rai, a member of the campaign. He said the movement also reflects the rise of an Indian middle class that can "voice its fears about rising crime, interpret the constitution to articulate their rights to self-protection and bring like-minded people together through technology."
Shahid Ahmad, who runs a Web site called the Gun Geek , said the process of getting a gun license in India is so burdensome that it encourages corruption. To hasten the process, he said, many applicants ask politicians to put in a word in their favor, or attempt to bribe officials and police officers.

To illustrate the point, gun advocates refer to a 2008 incident in the state of Madhya Pradesh. The clamor for gun licenses was so high, according to news media, that officials tried to induce men with large families to participate in a vasectomy program by promising a license in return.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"What Are You Doing?"

I wonder if those who've been following from the beginning, or read the earlier entries, aren't beginning to question: Why all this noise about resilience, resilient communities and the future? I thought this was a blog about war stuffs and armed conflict?

Well... Yes. It is. But, it's also rather rapidly become something more. Or has taught me that it is something more. This hasn't changed, so much as my understanding of what this is has become more complete. My understanding has become more whole, and less stuck in the “armed” half of the title.
My interests in being the Armed Bohemian, particularly the armed part, my interests in military service, private security/military work, are very much about long-term resiliency on a independent level (and for my family/tribe). But that is only a small part of that complete resilience. The bohemian is a resilient animal, by nature, in large part due to the autodidact and polymath qualities necessary to be successfully “bohemian”.
The idea of the Armed Bohemian presents an individual perfectly suited for the massive shifts and changes in the global environment. This is a blog about the truly personal (individual) resilience, and the contribution of the individual to the select whole.

So yes, I'll be getting back to armament and all that business in time. I still find the warrior, the armed individual, etc. indispensable, and am still coming at all this from the perspective of that resilient personality and their contribution to the whole.

Punishing the Tribes

Random surfing today found me this news item out of Seattle:

$10 an Hour with Two Kids? The IRS Pounces

Rachel Porcaro knows she's hardly rich. When you're a single mom making 10 bucks an hour, you don't need government experts to tell you how broke you are.
But that's what happened. The government not only told Porcaro she was poor. They said she was too poor to make it in Seattle.
It all started a year ago, when Porcaro, a 32-year-old mom with two boys, was summoned to the Seattle office of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). She had been flagged for an audit.
She couldn't believe it. She made $18,992 the previous year cutting hair at Supercuts. A few hundred of that she spent to have her taxes prepared by H&R Block.
"I asked the IRS lady straight upfront — 'I don't have anything, why are you auditing me?' " Porcaro recalled. "I said, 'Why me, when I don't own a home, a business, a car?' "
The answer stunned both Porcaro and the private tax specialist her dad had gotten to help her.
"They showed us a spreadsheet of incomes in the Seattle area," says Dante Driver, an accountant at Seattle's G.A. Michael and Co. "The auditor said, 'You made eighteen thousand, and our data show a family of three needs at least thirty-six thousand to get by in Seattle."
"They thought she must have unreported income. That she was hiding something. Basically they were auditing her for not making enough money."
She had a yearlong odyssey into the maw of the IRS. After being told she couldn't survive in Seattle on so little, she was notified her returns for both 2006 and 2007 had been found "deficient." She owed the government more than $16,000 — almost an entire year's pay.
She couldn't pay it. Her dad, Rob, has run a local painting business, Porcaro Power Painting, for 30 years. He asked his accountant, Driver, for help.
Rachel's returns weren't all that complicated. At issue, though, was that she and her two sons, ages 10 and 8, were all living at her parents' house in Rainier Beach (she pays $400 a month rent). So the IRS concluded she wasn't providing for her children and therefore couldn't claim them as dependents.
She stood to lose what is called earned income tax credit, a refund targeted to help low-income workers. You qualify only if you're working, as Rachel has been.
Driver quickly determined the IRS was wrong in how it was interpreting the tax laws. He sent in the necessary code citations and hoped that would be the end of it.
Instead, the IRS responded by launching an audit of Rachel's parents."

Thats the meat of it, although the full article has all the numbers (which are ridiculous). Why I'm posting this is a single quote from the end of the article however.
The money quote:
“We're an Italian family," [Rachel] said. "We're surviving as a tribe. It seems like we got punished for that"

Punished for being a tribe. Of course they are – The machine doesn't want tribes, anymore than it wants individuals. The mechanisms of the state are inherently suspicious of such resilient organization. Another hurdle that more of us will probably have to be prepared to deal with, as we continue to adapt, and lead our tribes into resilient behaviors.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Grey Skills

Everyone should be familiar with the idea of Grey Markets; Those markets which, while not entirely legitimate are not illegal (as opposed to black markets, which deal in the illegal or deal illegally). Such markets often deal in providing products outside the channels established by the primary producers. In independent communities, grey markets are strong due to a lack of corporate/establishment dependence.
Most should also be able to grok Grey Hat “hackers”; Those who, uninvited, attack systems without malicious intent, to bring awareness to vulnerabilities and encourage stronger protections.
However you slice it, independence and resiliency tend to thrive in greyness (and/or vice versa).
I mention all this to highlight a definition that struck me the other night – That of Grey Skills.
Skills, and the application of them, which ride the interstice between legal/legitimate and illegal/illegitimate, or which knowledge of is allowed but practice would cross legal boundaries.
These could be different types of skill:
- Skills that can be used legitimately, or illegally, depending on what you're doing or where.
- Some of these skills are generic – Gardening, farming, hunting, etc.
- Some less generic skills, while not typically restricted by law, are not commonly available outside of specific professions. Your community college likely does not have a class on lockpicking, or combat handgunnery, though they may offer both locksmithing certification and live fire courses related to law enforcement certifications.
- Similarly, skills in sciences and medicine where work in the field is often regulated and tightly controlled through specific institutions.
The knowledge that drives these skills is legal to obtain, though often considered secure due to assumed state monopolies on teaching it (war-fighting, for example), and available to anyone willing to invest the time and the money. Those demands, with global communications and networks, have dropped significantly and a functional education in a subject needn't require great outlays of money, or extensive time/incursions into regular schedules. (Note I say functional education – Good enough to perform the skill, without requiring achieving a degree or certification).
Any skill that is commonly monopolized by the state/industry, or regulated by such, but can be learned and used legally (or, without it being expressly illegal) is a Grey Skill. As an example - Computer hacking is a grey skill, until used to commit crime. Hacking in general, actually – There is great value in hackers of all stripes, as John Robb notes here: Hackers Essential to Resilience
Three of the easiest to grab ahold of grey skills would be three of my favorite: Skill at arms, medical skill and locksport (aka lock picking).
Skill at arms is a grey skill – There is a robust private training industry dedicated to it, providing some legitimacy in the US, but its one of those things many NGO's and government groups would like to see monopolized by the state.
Medicine in another grey skill, when taught outside the conventional medical community. In the developing world teaching simple medicine, or even some not so simple, to individuals in communities to create healthcare workers capable of functioning without access to a doctor is a common aid activity. In the US, medicine is almost exclusively run and taught within the medical community, and what most private people know about it comes from extenze ads and maybe a CPR class. Basic levels of medical skill are easy to obtain through the system, up to Wilderness EMT can be obtained by anyone with several weeks time, the funds and an ability to learn traditionally and perform tasks, skill recall and simple math under simulated stress. There are also private concerns that teach medical skills to anyone with the money. I teach a class specifically for concealed carry permit holders and other armed citizens on initial field treatment of gunshot/penetrating trauma injuries. Other trainers teach similar course work, some also teach more extensive field medicine courses that more resemble what a good expedition medic or military medic can do. There are also plentiful books on this topic that represent serious scholarship not anti-science/medical new age quackdom. Most of this training is being distilled from the professional world, but it is being provided to whoever can pay for it (or shows up, in the case of some free clinics), or purchase the books/videos (or download them).
Physical security, particularly locks and lock systems, is another grey skill. It is commonly encountered only via professionals, and some private training entities only provide it to select clientele, but in recent years “lock sport” (lock picking and the academic study of locks) has become an extremely popular hobby. As with skill at arms and medical skills, there is an extensive amount of knowledge in this field available to anyone with the time, interest and money. Again, much of it is often free or extremely inexpensive.

Skills acquired in the white realm can convert into grey skills when taken outside of there for reasons of resiliency (vice reasons of crime) – The soldier who teaches his family to move, fight and communicate like a small infantry unit. The doctor/RN/paramedic who teaches her domestic partner to run IV's, dress wounds and drop endotracheal tubes. The pharmacist who teaches his apartment gardening co-op how to compound medicines.
Some grey skills are far more common, such as on the job skills that are learned out of necessity and never certified. Most of the people I know who can weld, hold no certification in it having learned it on the job. Same for many construction and building related skills.
At various points in the past, other grey skills have been an ordinary part of everyday life for some people. In the rural western US, until the late-middle 20th Century poaching as a component of subsistence living remained common. My father (born 1945) grew up knowing an old man who had all his life bought one box of cartridges a year for his rifle and considered that his “meat budget”. Poaching, successfully, is different from reasonable sport hunting, and is a “skill” which employs means and methods not commonly taught or used in legal hunting, but those skills are often taught and passed on in a community, or provided in that grey area of non-illegality for studying them. Paladin Press, a long contributor to studying various “grey skills” even publishes a book on poaching.

The value of these skills, to the resilient person and within resilient communities, is in filling the gaps left by failed/hollow states and infrastructure breakdowns. Security, medicine/health, fabrication and production – All these things (and more) are increasingly needed to be handled on a local level. Where providers of those skills already exist, they will begin to fill those gaps and new orders of training and replacement will come to bear. However, as many skilled individuals are leaving one area in favor of another, the absence of critical skills could be strongly felt. Particularly in rural areas where people already have to drive hours to access doctors, police officers and medical care.
Traditionally, those rural environments were rife with skilled individuals. Now as more people have retired or moved for other reasons out of the urban environment, less of these skills exist in communities that remain rural. Lots of aerospace engineers and sewage treatment chemists, very few home-spun “doctorinarians”, blacksmiths, farmers, etc. Of those who've moved in, most are accustomed to having immediate access to services such as security/policing and have little or no skills to contribute there either. Those who are long time rural, having grown up or made their life in such places, will be the ones to put it all together in a collapse, or in growing a resilient community ahead of it. The newcomers will have to re-skill or find themselves unable to cooperate and forced to rely on altruism of their neighbors.

Today's Grey Skill may be tomorrows Black (or White), as political/moral climate change, and communities experience the inevitable shake-ups. What the State (or its remains) calls Black, your local community/tribe/family may call White, and vice versa.
Building those Grey Skills and availing yourself of their easy availability now, is probably a wise move. Both to counter restrictions in their availability as a floundering system makes last grasps for control, and to sustain in a world where access to professional services is going to be difficult, but skills will be highly valuable locally.
These skills are only a small part of the skills package that someone needs these days, I think – Looking to Robb's Global Guerrillas again, there's this excellent piece of advice: I'm Young and Need Advice

As a note: These skills are often found in the survivalist movement, but that area lacks the long term vision of more reasoned approaches, and reasoned behaviors (including succeeding and gaining wealth, not merely surviving). I don't think the Russians are going to nuke us into a subsistence living nightmare, nor am I planning for it. I am planning for, and suggesting planning for, rough periods as the economy and governments of the world settle themselves out in the coming years and difficulties - And thriving in those environments. Being able to do, make, provide and trade locally within a resilient community (and secure those activities from those unskilled and forced to resort to strict predation) is the way of the future – It is already the way many are riding out the “recession”, and will continue to be proven out as the model for success as time goes on, I believe. Re-skilling, and returning to a common multi-faceted skill level is an important piece of the puzzle each individual (or each family) should be putting together at this point.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Entrepreneurial Resiliency

Again with the posting of links and brief commentary in lieu of anything substantial. It's coming, but I've been busy with literary efforts elsewhere. Bear with me, and feel free to comment and throw ideas into the mix via the comments. Open discussion is encouraged.

One of the hallmarks of the Armed Bohemian is that s/he is a resilient creature, both by nature and by effort.
John Robb at Global Guerrillas has just posted an excellent journal entry, part of an ongoing series on resilient communities: Entrepreneurship as Resilience

He's given the beginnings of a check list for developing entrepreneurial skill, with the promise of more to come. Take note, this is where and how many have survived in the interstices in the past, and will be how many of us survive in the future as things change.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Armed Bohemianism Happens at Home

One of the things I hope no one misses here is that, while I use striking figures from current affairs and history to give form to many ideas, the idea of the armed bohemian is not one of elitism. I'm interested in these ideas because of the importance of having these qualities in daily life, in personal and family life and affairs. I think in this changing world, and with the potential troubles on the horizon, this lifestyle offers a great deal to the everyman/woman. Armed, here, means more than arms or force – It means capability.

A few different news items have caught my attention recently that show these personalities in action, or behaviors that I think support our end goal.

The Dacha: Where the Living is Easy
If things get truly difficult in the United States and other first-world nations, a lot of people are going to be in for a rough ride. A forced return to self sufficient living, even on the small community/neighborhood level, will leave a lot of people spinning. While this kind of thing is getting trendy, the skillset doesn't exist naturally any longer, except in certain areas and communities. We could all benefit from putting some of the dacha mentality to work in our own back yards. If you're fortunate enough to have a dacha, put it to good use.
While self sufficiency is an admirable goal, prior to any possible collapse, simply having some skills at working the land, preserving and canning, and living comfortably in a place without the basic amenities will do wonders for an individuals resiliency. The resiliency of their family will benefit as well. And not just in TEOTWAWKI situations – Things as simple, and common, as job loss, power outages, and disasters go from being life changing, ruining, events to mild bumps in the road with just a little capability.

The Ash Street Shootout – Twenty Years Later
A group of Army Rangers may not seem like the everyman to some readers, but I think that's probably how they think of themselves. Strong, independent men with families, and a social group they cared for and weren't going to allow harm to befall – They simply had certain skills which put them at the advantage for the task they undertook. That's what this is all about.
(As a note: Do not mistake the lack of bodies for failure on the part of the Rangers. Men who know those men have confirmed that it wasn't failure, but an act of will. They made an agreement to do no killing, unless absolutely necessary. Phenomenal restraint.)