America’s Survival Subculture

Reuters reports on yet another uniquely American subculture:

When Patty Tegeler looks out the window of her home overlooking the Appalachian Mountains in southwestern Virginia, she sees trouble on the horizon.

“In an instant, anything can happen,” she told Reuters. “And I firmly believe that you have to be prepared.”
Tegeler is among a growing subculture of Americans who refer to themselves informally as “preppers.” Some are driven by a fear of imminent societal collapse, others are worried about terrorism, and many have a vague concern that an escalating series of natural disasters is leading to some type of environmental cataclysm.

They are following in the footsteps of hippies in the 1960s who set up communes to separate themselves from what they saw as a materialistic society, and the survivalists in the 1990s who were hoping to escape the dictates of what they perceived as an increasingly secular and oppressive government.

Preppers, though are, worried about no government.

Tegeler, 57, has turned her home in rural Virginia into a “survival center,” complete with a large generator, portable heaters, water tanks, and a two-year supply of freeze-dried food that her sister recently gave her as a birthday present. She says that in case of emergency, she could survive indefinitely in her home. And she thinks that emergency could come soon.

“I think this economy is about to fall apart,” she said…

[continues at Reuters]


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72 Comments on "America’s Survival Subculture"

  1. Deep down these folk want a return to the days of rugged individualism and frontier days, so they want things to collapse. Unfortunately for them, those days are gone.

    • mybestsurvivalproducts | Jan 22, 2012 at 8:31 pm |

      Now you understand…you finally got it.  We know that those days are going to return, because it always comes down to the sovereign individual being responsible for himself because no one else will be.  No, not even Barak Obama and his band of merry Marxists.

    • Anarchy Pony | Jan 23, 2012 at 3:47 pm |

      There was no rugged individualism in the frontier days anyway, it’s all modern pro capitalist rewrite. 

      • Well true or myth, I think at least part of this prepper thing is to do with some fantasy based on those lines. Nobody seriously doubts at least having some preparation or plan of action for an unforseen emergency. My point is that I think a fair proportion of these people are making massive preparations actually wanting things to collapse so they can try to live that fantasy. It’s like a kind of death-wish cult. Instead of preparing for some alien spaceship behind a comet, or the Great Reckoning as some God or other comes back to punish mankind, they are preparing for the total collapse of civilisation. Also note that their explanations for how it will collapse are quite vague and don’t take into account any other possibility than that it’s *either* the status quo *or* complete and total collapse. It’s just some vague truism about the modern world being complex, and then suddenly *kablammo* civilisation collapses.

        • I think what you’re looking at is the very visible – and very small – percentage of preppers that are extremists. Every movement has them – in religion they’re known as Fundamentalists – but to judge the entire group by a few radicalized members is always a mistake.

          The vague explanations might be due to the prepper not having fully thought-out their scenarios, or it might be because of the simple fact that no one can predict the future.

          Also, prepping isn’t just for societal collapse; it addresses natural disasters and family emergencies as well. As usual in media coverage, the most extreme examples always garner the most attention.

  2. Lgushurst | Jan 22, 2012 at 9:20 am |

    As an American, with which whatever credibility that affords, this is about as normal to us as taking your kids to a soccer (erm football) game. They didn’t even mention by name the product that Glenn Beck promotes, “Food Insurance” which is a company that makes panic survival kids fun any easy to buy for people who are mortally terrified on the go. Great for casual snuggie laiden sleep overs, or the oft discussed and much expected zombie uprising.

  3. Given the fragile nature of our society some preparedness makes sense. Making a lifestyle out of it is over the top. 

  4. Satisfied | Jan 22, 2012 at 9:41 am |

    I have a great emergency kit in the car, but its just in case we need to evacuate quickly due to a natural disaster. I was a little fanatic while putting it together but now that its completed it just there. In my opinon it does give a nice sense of comfort to know that i can evacuate at a moments notice and survive without any help for a week or two. But going over the to pand being excessive about it seems a bit weird to me as it can cause some financial strain buying all that stuff to survive for two years. If society itself collapses all rules are out we have bigger problems besides individual survival and lakes around here are full of fish in case I need a food supply for the long haul and abandoned houses can be used to grow plants if one can find a way to vent a control fire to keep the temp up during winter months (squirrels i bet would also taste nice). I bet the people that go over the top have some kind of fantasy going as I did imagine myself handling such scenarios when I was putting together my survival kit. 

  5. Mamagriff50 | Jan 22, 2012 at 9:41 am |

    They’re a very smart group of people, something is comming. I, or anyone for that matter, just don’t know what. Better to be prepared for nothing than not be prepared for something.

  6. All this this is, is a reflection of the intense turmoil going on in the world at the moment…
    (The moment being the last 100 and especially since nuclear weapons became something that is real)

    I feel extremely bad for people in cities, with NO survival plan if no resources are/can be delivered.  Better learn, at very least, how to grow a garden if you want you and your friends to live more then ONE season if the shit goes “down”.

    • Hadrian999 | Jan 23, 2012 at 12:54 am |

      thats why i love living in the midwest,you can get almost any kind of food you want from a local source

  7. America’s real survival subculture are the people who’ve lost their jobs, pensions & healthcare 3 years ago & are going hungry some nights; scraping gas & grocery money together; praying they don’t get sick or injured.

  8. “I bet the people that go over the top have some kind of fantasy going ”

    I agree with this.

  9. Best to just invest in a gun!

    Then if something hits the fan, just go to Patty Tegeler’s or better yet, Glen Beck’s house, or some other prepared persons house and you got nothing to worry about!

    It’s the American way right?

    • Anarchy Pony | Jan 22, 2012 at 1:13 pm |

      Actually better to invest in combat knives and garrote wire, those other people are well armed, and a stand up fight should be avoided.

      • Calypso_1 | Jan 22, 2012 at 11:05 pm |

        Everyone talks about food storage, guns, ammo, tents, backpacks and tin foil hats, some want you to think in terms of a few days without water, hell even air you can do without for a couple of minutes. Lets talk about blood flow to the brain!  15 sec or less!  visit MYEVENBETTERSURIVALPRODUCTS.COM where you’ll find the latest in anti-garroting collars!

    • Mormons.

      As I understand it, they have religious obligations to keep a considerable amount of food on hand.

    • mybestsurvivalproducts | Jan 22, 2012 at 6:14 pm |


  10. Anarchy Pony | Jan 22, 2012 at 12:51 pm |

    Better safe behind your fortified walls than sorry and eaten by former suburbanite cannibals.

    • Many people fail to understand that among certain groups this whole “Zombie” thing is a euphemism for the teeming hordes of half starved city folk who will pour out into the countryside in search for food when/if catastrophe strikes.

      Those cops in Gretna, LA who forced the Katrina refugees back into New Orleans at the bridge, would be an example.

      As a general rule, we dehumanize those we foresee ourselves doing harm to.

  11. Calypso_1 | Jan 22, 2012 at 1:33 pm |

    For the mechanically inclined survivalist who isn’t already familiar with them I’d highly recommend Lindsay publications.

  12. Hadrian999 | Jan 22, 2012 at 3:10 pm |

    i like the idea of preppers and survivalists but the rightwing baggage that comes with it i am not compatible with, if only i could find heathen preppers who aren’t looking to build a lily white evangelical “american redoubt”

    • Anarchy Pony | Jan 22, 2012 at 3:36 pm |

      Hi, have we met before?

    • mybestsurvivalproducts | Jan 22, 2012 at 5:48 pm |

      What makes you think we want ”    to build a lily white evangelical “american redoubt.’ “?  Oh, I know,  you’re a see-race-in-everything left wing, open-minded, tolerant moderate.  Fact is Hade, getting prepared is an INDIVIDUAL decision which is why it looks right wing to you lefties.

      • Anarchy Pony | Jan 22, 2012 at 6:00 pm |

        Please stop being a jackass and fuck off. It’s not our fucking fault that the larger more visible sector of preppers and survivalists happen to be of a specific ethno religious grouping, some of which are openly racist. 

        • mybestsurvivalproducts | Jan 22, 2012 at 6:17 pm |

          right. I’M the jackass! Oh, by the way, I’m of mixed “ethno” and of NO religious grouping.

          • You missed his point. Even assuming the best about you, his point is that those we see and hear about most (and probably the majority) of preppers have that baggage.

          • Anarchy Pony | Jan 22, 2012 at 6:35 pm |

            I didn’t claim that you specifically were, you jackass, I said that the larger and MORE VISIBLE sector of the prepper and survivalist subcultures were. You are a jackass, because you aren’t paying attention.

      • Anarchy Pony is right, you are being kind of a jackass. Hadrian is making rational arguments, and you are calling him names.

        As for your one argument (with its all capitalized emphasis on “individual”), individualism is actually the problem here. Individualism is a broadly liberal (which includes most political affiliations in America) ideology, which operates under the myth that every individual can be self-sufficient, and needs no one. My response to that is that you can’t even be an individual without society. To define yourself as an individual is to make a division between what you are and what you aren’t, but in the case of the “state of nature,” the thought experiment upon which modern individualism is based (as in John Locke’s Second Treatise) there is no opportunity to make that division, because there is no society.

        • mybestsurvivalproducts | Jan 22, 2012 at 6:44 pm |


          The UN-official slogan of the anti sovereign individual “#Occupy” insurrection. What are you so afraid of? Ah, the concept of the sovereign individual is anathema to a collectivist. Yes, you are right…individualism IS the problem, and what makes you so afraid is that your collectivist theory fails EVERY TIME IT’S TRIED!! (more capitalized one argument), and that it is about to fail again. Read a little history!

        • Ever seen that documentary,”Alone in the Wilderness” with Dick Proenneke ? That guy did pretty well by himself. Just sayin.

          • …You missed my point. He had already been raised in society. Those raised outside of society (feral children, for instance) can hardly be called individuals. My point is about individualism, not survival (although anyone with half a brain will realize too that it is far easier for a small group to survive than an individual). Specifically, my point is that individualism is flawed because it raises the individual above the society responsible for its existence, not just as a human being, but as an individual. We are social beings.

          • I didn’t miss your point at all. I agree with what you say about individuals and society, but not (some of) the conclusions that you draw from them.

            All I was doing was pointing out how an “Individual” chose to remove himself from “society”.

            For example I would say that society may be responsible for the creation of an individual, but not his continued existence because of the very fact that man can remove himself from the society which created him, and do quite well.

            I would say it is pretty self evident that a society is composed of individuals and that society can not exist without them.

            The very reason a person has the “opportunity” to make that distinction is because he has the ability to remove himself

            Secondly saying individualism is the problem is really saying the society it is composed of is the problem.

            I also agree that we are social beings.

      • Hadrian999 | Jan 22, 2012 at 7:26 pm |

        every group i actually see is full of that type, and when they profess plans to build an american redoubt based on religion in predominantly white areas such as montana and idaho i take them at their word

        • axisofinfinity | Jan 22, 2012 at 7:32 pm |

          i read a few lines and my eyes could see the bigots between the lines. They stated some areas were better because the people were more conservative… i hope they didn’t mean politically but with the other ramblings in mind I’m not so sure.

        • mybestsurvivalproducts | Jan 22, 2012 at 7:40 pm |

          Hadrian, a survival “redoubt” is South Central Los Angeles  is, on the face of it, a tactical absurdity.  Of course the country is better for that than the inner city, and the farther from population centers, of ANY race, the better.  There is not a single reason any sane person would attempt to survive in the inner city.  Nothing to do with race, everything to do with reality and logistics. 

    • Calypso_1 | Jan 22, 2012 at 6:25 pm |

      Isn’t one of disinfo’s slogans “Find the others.”

    • Jin The Ninja | Jan 23, 2012 at 1:13 pm |

      i feel like a mostly heathen community, with a lack of evans, has much more interesting possibilities. altho in the spirit of inclusiveness i would be willing to include some hyphenated christians i.e. catholic-buddhists, catholic-pagans, or the like….

  13. I don’t prep because I’m ready to go to whatever awaits us after death even if it’s nothingness

  14. mybestsurvivalproducts | Jan 22, 2012 at 6:13 pm |

    It’s not about Armageddon, it’s about surviving natural or man made disasters.  Is anyone here old enough to remember hurricane Andrew? No?  OK, Hurricane Katrina?  How ’bout just last year the Kansas City tornado?  No, OK just go back to playing some entropy game and sending tweets about your trips to the potty.  Me, I’ water self sufficient, I can cook off the Grid, I have food for a year and if you come to “#Occupy” my house, I have been making the most of my 2d amendment rights. 

    But hey, there’s nothing to worry about…the government will save your butt.

    • I remember hurricane Andrew, and I largely agree about preparing for emergencies and being able to take care of yourself to the best of your ability.  But insulting people is not a good way to get them to buy your products.

  15. It’s a shame that the article – from Reuters, of all sources – had to slant it so that preppers appear to be wild-eyed maniacs looking forward to the end of the world. If their writers had done better research they would have found very few links to ’60’s hippies or Millerites; these allusions, along with the “subculture” label, are merely designed to sway opinion in a negative direction.

    But of course the sheeple will follow, no questions asked …

    • The impression I got on a second reading was that the subculture referred to is specifically those wild-eyed types who expect the collapse of civilisation. It might be lazily expressed but the subculture is not preppers per se, but people who prep with the specific belief that everything is about to collapse. A subtle difference, you’ll agree.

      I don’t think ‘sheeple’ will follow so much as simply not really care anyway. 

      • Exactly – you’ve hit it on the nose. Prepping is just a tool for those types – their main agenda isn’t so much being prepared as becoming cheerleaders for the next Apocalypse.

        Sheeple … bleh … I eat them for breakfast while cleaning my AK-47. 😉

  16. Sometimes being unprepared is just another road on this wild ride.

  17. This isn’t a uniquely American subculture, most people around the world are prepared in some form or another. Here in New Zealand most people have a survival kit, especially after our second largest city fell over from an earthquake last february. We are constantly suffering from earthquakes and the potential for devastating volcanic eruptions in the north.

  18. In California we do not have the luxury of not being a prepper. There are earthquakes. There are winter rain storms that bring floods and even mudslides. Then the rains cause heavy plant growth which catches fire in the dry season. Also, it is a desert in the southern part of the state and water is piped in from far away. With all these disasters being likely, and the fact that there is no outside agency we can count on, we are all preppers. It has nothing to do with politics. That is a media created myth. It is about staying alive in health and comfort.

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