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Communal security

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  • Thu, Sep 26, 2013 - 11:59pm



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    Communal security

If we consider that the term peak prosperity indicates a high point in availability of energy and in standards of living, we should also be concerned that it indicates peak security for the individual and the group, assured at one time as it was by various federal, state, and local agencies. As these agencies decline, either through funding cuts, increasing demands on services leading to dispersal of resources, institutional priorities trumping the security of the individual, or as central controls tend towards becoming increasingly irrelevant, it is perhaps advisable to consider what next? How are we to assure our security in an environment of increasing potential turbulence? If the choice becomes one between trust in a failing system and self reliance, then self reliance looks a good option. But how do we become self reliant in security?

To most of us security is a blank page, it’s been a given for a long time, do we really need to think about it? But this is only a safe response in an already secure environment. In an era when “Call the cops,” is no guarantee of anything beyond a reference number to claim from your insurance policy we might need to reassure ourselves with something more concrete. If we are moving from a secure environment into something more volatile there are going to be areas in which a lack of familiarity with self defense will leave us vulnerable and slow to respond.

Dmitry Orlov addresses security issues in passing in his books “Reinventing Collapse” and “The Five Stages of Collapse,” and gives a flavor of his experience of living through a society in a state of collapse. He tells us : “Along with the other municipal and government services, police departments cease to function. Particularly important installations are guarded by soldiers or by private security, while the population is left to fend for itself.”  This is a logical progression as central governments run out of money and the means to facilitate rapid response, and increasingly focus their protective capabilities on items which have value to them. And there’s no guarantee that that will include us.

Orlov suggests that criminal groups, which have a hierarchy and organization already in place, may fill the vacuum left by the failure of central security systems. No argument with that, whatever is in existence will fill the vacuum. It is not a good option, but it would provide for a ruthless form of security, acceptable enough to those in the gang. If you’re not in the gang bad luck. Is that the future we see for ourselves? Marginalized victims for as long as we manage to survive? Or could we circumvent that with a little forethought? I guess forethought is what I am suggesting as an option. We should be in a position to fill the vacuum with something which suits our aspirations and allows us to combat the ungodly.

Individuals can survive as individuals in an environment in which peaceful co-existence is assured by a variety of external mechanisms. Codes of conduct, central enforcement, local preference, whatever works for you. Where those mechanisms have deteriorated, or are likely to do so, individuals will be well advised to group themselves into communities which provide a local environment to enable a level of local co-existence to ensure their own safety. Whether this sort of coexistence grows from intentional community, communal living, or community living in small or large numbers doesn’t really matter as long as the result is local and viable. And it’s viability depends on the ability to survive emergent threats.

Discussion of community as a concept in peak prosperity covers a number of critical issues, but I find little or no mention of preparing communities to fend for themselves in real security terms. Perhaps it is a sensitive issue, but it shouldn’t be, it’s a basic reality and need. It’s a building block for community success. Because if you can’t hold your own you are not your own master, you are someone else’s victim, and that’s not a desirable result.

The idea of Peak Prosperity appears to be to facilitate the conservation of values and property in a world which is predicted to become increasingly unstable. That instability will come from the collapse of systems which we currently take for granted, but for the survival of which we are increasingly pessimistic. The premise suggested is one of disruption of what we regard as normal society, and evolution into another, very different, form of living. Historically such periods of change have been eras in which breakdown of central control leads to violence among those who have, and those who have not. The resultant turbulence is fuelled by have nots trying to access something held by the haves. As central control breaks down, the likelihood is that local survival will rely on local solutions and local communities. One problem with that is that while local communities have a tendency to be small and manageable, they also have a tendency to be small and vulnerable.

Since the intent of community living appears to be to ensure that the community is in a “have” situation, it would appear that such communal groupings will feature as desirable targets for displaced predators, for the surviving “have nots”. And as survivors in rough times the have nots will certainly have a willingness, an ability, and a need to target us. In such circumstances self protection will be an important component of the daily affairs of a lifeboat community in heavy seas.

Self protection is better approached with lead time, and Peak Prosperity appears to aim to provide lead time and preparation for communities in most areas, but perhaps misses helping us survive circling predators.

In the circumstances there may be a value to some planning and preparation being given to the security of our communities. That is not to say paranoia and obsession, but planning and preparation based in current situations, with realistic and effective plays available for rapid adoption in response to a deteriorating security situation. It’s not hard to assure our own security, but it does need thought and structure ahead of time. Where we are now is ahead of time, but maybe not for long. Is everyone comfortable with their preparation?

If not, it is easy enough to gauge a scale of threat from zero to absolute, and then to plot where we are on any given day. It is just as simple to lay down counter measures ranging from nothing at all at the bottom of the scale, to everything you might need at the top of the scale. With those two scales linked and in mind, we can make a start at considering how we would secure ourselves and our communities as and when the situation deteriorates. At this point it is mainly theoretical, but it might be wise to plan how to put community security into action in advance of an awkward situation becoming a crisis.

There are two options for communities considering their own local security in the absence of state provision :

·         Hired security – equating to a standing army system in which an external security team is paid from the pockets of the citizens to provide protection

·         Organic community security – equating to citizens giving up some of their productive time to assure their own security in concert with other community members according to an effective and agreed plan

Both have a cost to the community, either in cash for the former, or time away from productive work for the latter. In my view the second option is the sensible one, since historically, hired hands with guns become overlords once volatility sets in. Then it's a little late to rethink the system.

The best time to think this through and establish a community solution (which includes adjoining communities) is going to be before volatility becomes an urgent issue.

The big issue in commercial security is getting decision makers to take the trouble to examine the information which helps them understand how their security works and impacts their operations, and which enables them to make appropriate and effective risk mitigation decisions. Ideally they should do that ahead of a security linked crisis. Then security is implemented as decided. That's the ideal model, but it rarely happens because the structures are either not understood, or are too loose, too tight, too little considered, or the crisis hasn’t arrived yet except in the paranoid minds of the security group.

That ideal model can be applied just as easily to the use of community organic militia, which is what will be required in the event communities actually need to secure themselves.

All members of the community will need to have a transparent understanding of what they could usefully be doing at any threat level,  – from calling for help from existing authorities,  – to relying on their own resources in the event the existing authorities are either unable or unwilling to respond,  – to a meshed supporting system between adjoining communities using similar methodology.

This will be simpler to achieve if adjacent communities are philosophically aligned, and furnished with a good, compatible, self controlled security model which is capable of minimal action most days, but which is able to ramp up rapidly and effectively on the (hopefully) few days when a threat eventuates. And everyone needs to be involved, which means that everyone needs to understand what they are dealing with. It also needs to be simple enough that it works.

Security is not an arcane science. It is everyone's responsibility in time of threat. Planning to a good system will help, and may give a level of comfort and confidence to a community.


  • Sat, Sep 28, 2013 - 02:59am



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    Great Intro to the thread

This has been an ongoing concern of mine in recent years.

We have to consider the governance structure of the existing community as well as the governance structure of the existing security model.  During a society transformation (or transition) for whatever reason, we end up dealing with various stages of collapse.  Orlov specifically writes about the five stages of collapse as follows:

1. Financial, 2. Commercial, 3. Political, 4. Social, 5. Cultural.

During the progression through these stages the security apparatus slowly changes over time.

Just a couple of simple observations:

1. Orlov's stages aren't sequential in order.  These stages are likely to progress concurrently.  For example, it is my humble opinion that we are moving forward with Financial, Commercial, and a Political collapse at this current moment in time.  However, as I haven't read Orlov's books I can only speak from my personal perspective.

2. Governance models such as Federal, State, and Local, and governmental services such as security  services provided by the Federal agencies, State agencies, and Local law enforcement will change during these stages.  In fact, they MUST change in order to survive.  Organizations such as Dept of Homeland Security, your State Police, and your community's Police Department will strive to stay relevant during these stages of collapse.

We have limited capacity to influence Federal and State level transformations as individuals.  However, it is through our participation in local governance structures that we can best influence how our community organizes to maintain a working security model during these stages of collapse for when we lose 'Faith that the Government will take care of' us.  

  • Sun, Oct 06, 2013 - 07:33am



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    Communal security

GM_Man I guess I am a cynic.

There are two definitions I know for a cynic. First, someone who casts his bread on the waters in the expectation that it will go soggy. Second, a romantic realist.

I’ll go with the second, I’m sick of soggy bread. We romantic realists know what is realistically likely to happen, but always hope for the best. No matter how bad it gets we hope for better, and believe in the ability of mankind to overcome. If we are looking to the future we need to do that. And generally mankind has the imagination and drive to overcome, but with that imagination and drive there must also be determination to protect ourselves, and preparation to do so.

Where you are talking about community governance and security organization governance I agree with you. But that will only be relevant for as long as we are talking about community and security organization under some form of central control which we trust. And if that doesn't exist, what then?

Who can we trust more than ourselves?  If the answer is someone else then we are in trouble. We need our own solutions, and I think we need to be looking forward to a day when central control is in name only, and at that point belief in formed governments and what they will do for us is going to be a dangerous luxury.

I would suggest looking further ahead to a day when we are on our own and reliant entirely on the groups we form as our own communities. That’s a compelling reason for becoming a local community, reliant on what we can see and touch.

I am also suggesting looking at community not as a subset of state organization such as local town and council organization, and security not as a version of state security such as DHS. If those systems exist we will certainly be working with them. If they do not we will be looking to self-sufficiency, and planning for self-sufficiency is a good start right now. If we don’t need it, well that’s great, but if we do then our own self reliance is there ready to help us.

So community will be something along the lines of Charles Hugh Smith’s Intentional community perhaps, or groups of people otherwise living in concert but according to their own rules, or lack thereof. But one area which will need structure in all of them might be that of self protection for the community.

As an example I live in a rural environment, twenty miles from the nearest small town. Within five miles of me in all directions there will be maybe ten farms, and forty houses, north – south valley, hills and forests, with some major and minor roads traversing. I regard that as my community. And I would be looking at how we will achieve protection of what we have here. How we would be approached, where a threat might come from, how we would deal with it and so on. And for that, co-operation with neighboring communities will be critical. So my community such as it might be covers an area ten miles by ten miles, then add in the area where we need to be observing approaches. Say twenty by twenty. Then add in what neighboring communities might be doing. Your community might be the same, or it might be more urban and cover a smaller area such as a block or a number of blocks. 

The principle remains the same, so in either case we will make some plans. And first in these will be how to access a response when we have a problem, or whether we can access a response when we have a problem. We need to be realistic, if nothing is coming from outside to help us we will need to look after ourselves, and that takes preparation.

I have built and used a commercial security system which does all the things I would suggest, but in a commercial context. That is not immediately applicable to community, but I am working on adapting it to community security, which version, as it develops I will be happy to share with anyone who is interested in discussing how this might work out. Different styles of community, different detail, but all working to the same principle.

So let’s talk firstly about accessing a response.

In the case you suggest, we will be looking for a response from the formed local community, be it town, city, state, federal. We will also be looking for a response from the security forces, whether they be police, sheriff, national guard, army, marines, navy, airforce, or anyone else with government funded equipment which we might legitimately expect to be at our disposal. We paid for it.

So in a community security system we will make an assessment of what response is available, how long it will take to reach us, and how effective it will be in all circumstances. As an example, if the world falls apart can we expect our saviors to be looking to save us, or their own families? If we make a realistic assessment and assume that the guys in bullet proof vests and all terrain vehicles have headed home to look after their own kids, or haven’t been paid, what is our fall back plan? Don’t have one? Might turn out to be interesting times then.

All our plans need to be based in reality. They need to be self-reliant. And they need to be workable. So the first thing we do is look at how long a response will take to reach us, and then plan to look after ourselves until that response arrives. When it arrives we hand over to the security forces and relax. If they don’t arrive, then what? Well, when we believe that’s a probability we implement our own organic community planning. If at that point we have to start scratching our heads and wondering what to do, we are likely to be history. So let’s plan ahead, and that way your grandchildren may one day meet mine.


  • Fri, Nov 08, 2013 - 05:02pm



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    Agreeing quite a bit methings

I am not sure what you are reading in my email Peter,

I live in a rural community, a town in New England.  When I speak of community I do think of the legal construct of  'town.'  The reason I speak of that construct as being identical to community is because of the legal structure and construct that prevents a situation 'Without Rule of Law.'  Even if a condition does occur where Federal, State and County issues collapse, for whatever reason, the town/community that I am a part of will continue to exist.  

How do I know this?  Because in three natural disasters where this town was isolated from civilization for periods over two weeks, the town continued to function.  MY town is 6×6 measured in miles.  WE are self sufficient as we are primarily a rural/logging community.  The roads were impassible, the bridges out, communications in some cases were out, yet we as a community/town continued to function irrespective of outside support of any kind from Federal, State, or County organizations.  WE checked on our neighbors, we insured folks were safe with water, food, shelter, heat, and medical care, and we provided communications (slow communications in some instances) but we still provided.

I believe that you and I are violently agreeing with each other.  It appears that you are speaking of a similar situation in your email, and my understanding is that you have never had to deal with such isolation as I am speaking about.  As a town/community we came together as we have always done.  It works.  We have the town-level organizations and the subsequent governance to ensure that we take care of our own.

After all, if you can't rely on your neighbors in a grid-down situation who can you trust?  Rhetorical, I know.  If you do live in a small town, like I do, then you need to be more than just a name to the town.  Even if the only thing you do is volunteer for work on the various committees, at least then folks will know of you.  The fire department is a classic team effort.  The road crew is another.  The ambulance corps is another.

Then when the next Irene hits your town, and you show up at the fire house, some of the folks will know you and you will be made right at home with a cuppa coffee and a bagel (whatever) as the problems are discussed and the crew gets dispatched to attend to the various items on the towns plate.

You were talking about examples.  I was talking reality as applied to Natural Disasters in the past decade.  Tree went down, bridges gone, power down, telecoms down, live wires, dead wires, black ice everywhere.  No heat, no electric, and a bunch of ill-prepared folks running around headless wondering why on a single lane road they didn't have the flipping right-of-way.  One day of that BS from folks in the 'Valley' and I started carrying openly.  We have no patience with such stupidity.  You'll see that a lot after three days of 'why can't I get any help at my place now!'  Been there, got the T-Shirt, no movie at all   🙁  

I don't think I need to re-invent a new wheel for this town/community.  I just need to make it stronger for the next time SHTF.  If you start now, with just a little bit of time, you won't have to re-invent what you already have.  


  • Thu, Nov 14, 2013 - 11:20pm



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    Agreeing quite a bit methings

GM Man

I take your point, and it is well made, communal organizations are already in existence in many cases, particularly in what you categorize as your town and community.

I would suggest though that there is a significant difference between being able to ride out a natural disaster for a period of a few weeks with no external input, and dealing with a serious security issue for a lot longer.

A natural disaster is whatever it is, snow, ice, earthquake or whatever, and in general the response will be a reactive one, and will in your circumstances be carried out by those who always come to the fore in a crisis. And even in your community you indicate that there are stresses and strains caused in part at least by some local disconnects between local people.

A security incident is inevitably human related and is guided by malevolence driven by human ingenuity. It is a changing, mutating threat which will come at you from one direction, then when you deal with that, the human ingenuity of the perpetrator will come back at you from another direction. Security threats probe your defenses until they find a weakness, snow and ice doesn’t.

Dealing with a natural disaster is normally reactive, dealing with a security situation has to be proactive to succeed. So even if we don’t need to reinvent the wheel, we might consider what adaptations it might need to fit the case.

  • Sat, Jan 25, 2014 - 10:52pm



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    Communal security

If you are interested in the nuts and bolts of community defense it can be found in the book, A Failure of Civility. It basically describesa militarized neighborhood watch program for WROL. You watch and if there is a violent threat you kill it. The book discusses armed check points, night patrolling, overlapping fields of fire, kill zones etc… It is for someone (and his neighbors) who intend to survive SHTF. Let’s hope there is not a failure of civility.


“Consider reading this book as if the Authors have parachuted into your backyard as Special Operations Soldiers to assist you in forming a cooperative protection of your neighborhood. That’s one of the things we were good at as ‘Special Ops’ soldiers… being covertly inserted into isolated areas to train people how to defend themselves against inequitable justice and malicious aggression. With this book, we give you the tools of knowledge to enable you to teach you and others how to defend yourselves, family and neighbors. This is unlike any survival, Prepper or self defense book you’ve ever read. It is the ‘Ultimate A to Z’ Survival Book. It is a primer for the untrained and knowledge for the trained in survival. We show you how to organize, what to stockpile and how to prepare your Neighborhood Protection Plan. We show you how to defend your neighborhood using military tactics and combat shooting techniques during a disaster or civil unrest. Through “A Failure of Civility” we give you the “Force Multiplier” effect… enabling your small group to defeat much larger groups. This is THE HANDBOOK you need during a disaster or Crisis and if society and civilization begins to unravel.”

  • Sat, Jan 25, 2014 - 11:07pm



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    Thanks BobbyJoe

Thanks BobbyJoe; your book suggestion looks good.  One thing I am most scared of (yes, I can't get past the fear of this) is a breakdown in law, order, security and civility.  I appreciate any resources that can help provide guidance in preparing to deal with, and dealing with, that threat.  I appreciate the tip. 

  • Sun, Jan 26, 2014 - 12:30am


    Aaron M

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    Security and Organic Leadership

Security is going to be the kind of issue that will cause more problems than it'll solve if it's not addressed before a collapse… and that's not an easy task. In a culture enriched by a decade of war, media violence and rife with weapon idolatry, there will be no shortage of 'experts' stepping up to indulge their ego. I can see this being contentious almost from the onset for the same reason that Irregular militias lost ground to the standing army almost immediately after WII. Irregular forces are not effective in conducting tasks that require discipline and cohesion. Mix in a lack of any sort of reliable communications and you've got a recipe for butting heads, egos, security mishaps and a loss of the proverbial forest through the trees.

If you want to start with security, start with the vulnerabilities. 
It's not easy, especially if you're a 'good guy'. We think of violence from the perspective of good guys, and that's a critical shortcoming. We need to be comfortable with the idea – first and foremost – that 'bad guys' don't want to get caught, aren't interested in martial competitions, have no suicidal 'hail of bullets' death wishes outside a very small demographic and would rather dispatch you quickly than deliver dangerous sounding one-liners. In short, the security issues you're going to be facing is probably less repelling bands of roving thugs as it is keeping people from stealing anything that isn't nailed down. 

Theft is a misunderstood concept. Good guys tend to think of theft as 'object' based – you want a power drill, so you steal one. That's not really how the criminal markets work. Stealing *anything* is a way to fence it for currency or other goods. Anything you leave that is of value is going to be a target. 

Insulation from theft requires a few things:
1. Anonymity. Don't be known for having stuff. This means keep what you have to yourself. Most crime is committed by people who either know you, or know someone close to you. While opportunism is on the rise, don't discount how much your lifestyle will attract or repel attention from thieves.

2. Don't be an easy target. Lock your doors and windows. Put sticks in the windows. Secure your valuables in a safe. Redundancy is your friend.

3. If you can organize with your community, do it. Keep an eye out, and keep in touch with people about what's going on. Do things with help. There is a tremendous amount of strength in numbers. One person (no matter how tough they are) is generally going to have trouble with 3-4 motivated thugs. Numbers are a great dissuasive.

4. Minimize the amount of time you spend with your home unoccupied. This might mean having extra people in your home, but that's an notion we should all be comfortable with as things deteriorate.

In terms of larger scale unrest, well, that's a topic that could require a lot of theoretical. First, check the boxes on the simple things that harden you against theft now.



  • Sun, Jan 26, 2014 - 06:19pm



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    Darkening shades of gray

There's another issue to consider here, especially for peterc666 and BobbyJoe.  IMHO it is unlikely we will instantly descend into chaos and WROL, though I am aware there are a couple of scenarios in which that could happen (e.g. EMP which knocks all/nearly all the national electrical infrastructure).  What's more likely to happen, and what is actually happening right now, is a gradual descent into chaos and WROL. The book BobbyJoe suggested and the level of readiness peterc666 are addressing would be appropriate at the end of that long descent when there is no rule of law, no government law enforcement to call, etc. So what do we do before that end stage while we still do have some level of functioning government and government law enforcement?  

I'm working on a post suggested by sand_puppy on "When there is no policeman" and that is the first issue that occured to me. What if you live in Detroit or Camden where there is an overwhelmed police force and criminal justice system that may or may not be able to help you effectively on the day that you need them? To set up a community defense system that would be appropriate for a situation where there is no law enforcement at all would be a prescription for a disaster because of the conflict that would arise between the community defenders and the official police force.  For instance, did you see this news report in which Mexican civilians organized themselves into a community defense force and then violently expelled the drug cartel that had taken over their community? They seem to have done a great job in bringing peace to their area, but then had a conflict official Mexican law enforcement and political authorities.  It's that conflict I'm suggesting we have to be wary of.

I'm going to get a copy of A Failure of Civility recommended by BobbyJoe but in the meantime before we get to that Mad Max stage we should think about personal self-defense, home defense and community defense:

1. Until the police arrive (whether that be 2 minutes, 2 hours, or 2 days).

2. Cooperating with police when they are present but overwhelmed (e.g. crowd control, evidence gathering, transporting officers to a remote location for a manhunt, and a thousand other possibilities). It seems we can do better than the recent Mexican example in which the community defenders came into armed conflict with the official law enforcers.

3. When there is a vacuum or near vacuum of official law enforcement. This would include the WROL situation but also the stage right before it in which there is still some semblance of official law enforcement but it is nearly impotent to help most people.

I'm working on this subject for a post, especially the first two issues above.  Anybody know of any written resources on the subject?


  • Sun, Jan 26, 2014 - 11:34pm



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I would read the Ferfal of Argentina blog, lots of posts but there is somewhat of an index on the side. He lived in a crummy part of Buenos Aires for years, was armed to the teeth, mentioned legal consequences to confronting bad guys, as well as the bad guys themselves. I read it for years. He finally emigrated with his family to Northern Ireland and I have not read it as consistently.

CM interviewed him for this site a while back, could check that.


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