Saturday, September 19, 2015

Post Collapse: Chaos or Martial Law?

I had a very interesting conversation the other day, a man who was new to preparedness was convinced that if/when a traumatic event were to occur that the world would "descend" into anarchy. The anachronism that is thrown around in prepping circles is WROL (without rule of law). This man was convinced that there would be roving bands of bandits and that every person or family will have to look out for themselves. I understand this idea, after all this is what most of the post apocalyptic movies show, but there is another more likely option. 

EROL or extreme rule of law. This is where the government rises to the point of oppressing not only the criminal element but also law abiding citizens. We are going to look at both of these possibilities and plausible responses to each.

Why Would Chaos or Martial Law Occur?

The first question that comes to many people's minds is why would either one of these possibilities occur. The most interesting thing is both possibilities are logical, to a point. Both have good points and bad points. Yes both scenarios have benefits and problems.

WROL aka Chaos

Why would without rule of law happen? WROL is most likely to occur when an event is sudden and unexpected or violence overrides the military and law enforcement capabilities.

An event doesn't have to be sudden to create a WROL situation.  A massive storm or a volcano eruption, economic collapse, or a national grid failure. Anything that overloads governments ability to respond. When a police officer looks at a situation and decides that it is more important for them to be at home protecting their own family than being out trying to protect everyone else is when the situation is ripe for Chaos.

EROL aka Martial Law

Extreme rule of law is where the government becomes oppressive in the name of peace and security. Extreme rule of law is just martial law. Why would EROL occur? Government's primary objective is consistency of power. If a government sees its power threatened, it will respond with strict laws and if necessary violence.

If a catastrophic event is capable of being predicted, plans will be in place. We are already seeing people who want to take away other people's right so they can feel safer. In a disaster event this desire will be intensified. In the right situation people will scream for martial law. We are already seeing the growth of the police state in ways both large and small. Some states have imposed mandatory bag searches at movie theaters. This doesn't stop someone from shooting up the place, but it does stop you from bringing your own snacks, score movie theater $, police state 1, you 0. 

What to do and how to act in WROL total chaos?

In a WROL situation there are a lot of people who believe it will be every man for himself. There will be some of that, but unless you are far out in the sticks, that will be the perfect way to get yourself killed. The idea of a lone wolf is foreign to nature. A lone wolf is a dead wolf.
Binding together in small groups, bands, or communities would be a natural reaction. Human predators will be dealt with fairly quickly, especially if they are just a lone individual. Will there be roaming gangs? Maybe. I say maybe because everyone will be dealing with the same lack of resources. Gangs require a lot more resources than a small tight knot community. Gangs are like locusts. They only devour what is there then have to move on, they produce nothing. For most of us lone wolfing it or being part of a roaming gangs is out of the question. So what are we supposed to do?


What is a MAG? A MAG is a mutual assistance group. There doesn't have to be a rigid structure, it can just be a group of people who agree to come to the aid of anyone who is in the group. A group of this type can be very loosely organized, all you really need is a handshake and a phone number. If you start working on this now you will quickly learn who you can count on and who is a liability. The best thing about a MAG is there doesn't have to be a disaster for them to be beneficial. Have a flat tire? Break down? Need a ride? Need help hauling hay? Need to borrow a trailer? You name it. No problem call a member of the group. Here is the catch though, this help is not one direction, if you receive help you must give help in return. These can be very successful and can lead to some strong friendships.

A Prepping Group

A prepping group should be a lot more organized than a MAG. I mean a lot more. A well organized prepper group should have a mission statement as well as a good set of bylaws. This will help every member understand how things will operate and keep one person from becoming a dictator. I have heard of this happening far too often. 

A Community

Here is the best part about a community, you are already part of one. Attending local sporting events, church or civic organizations or simply just walking in the park everyday helps neighbors get familiar with you and your family. A community is a hard thing to judge about how it would react in a truly dire situation. Many come together and work for the good of each citizen and many descend into chaos. We can see examples of both just by looking around. Everyone would like to believe that their community would rally around each other, but the truth is there is no way to know for certain. Being active in your community will help ensure that if the worst happens there will be people you can count on.

How will people act in EROL martial law?

Martial law affects different people in different ways and as I have already stated there are situations where short term martial law is understandable.  In an area where riots have broken out a certain amount of militarization may be desirable. Curfews can radically reduce violence and as long as there is not confiscation of personal property, it can be tolerated by most. But when instituted in an oppressive way, martial law can turn ordinary freedom loving people into revolutionaries.

As sad as it makes me to have to admit this there are people that would be happy if martial law were declared as long as it was their side that did so. Martial law is serious business and in my mind is equal to tyranny. I know that there are a few situations that martial law is helpful, but these are very short term. In the right situation all but the most liberty minded will scream for martial law. Sad but true. How will people react if long term martial law is initiated? Let's take a look.

Open Warfare

There are quite a few people that imagine if tyranny strikes the US that there will be an epic battle on a field somewhere and even if the direction of the nation is not determined on that field, those that die there will be the catalyst  for a true revolution that will cause the country to turn into the place they wish it was whether full blown communism or throwing the country back to what was planned by the Constitution. I hope that if something like this is brewing that the majority of the soldiers will actually think about the oath they took to defend the Constitution against all enemies both foreign and domestic and can think clearly enough to be able to tell which side they should be fighting on, but most likely it will be a slaughter of "rebels" and the news media will praise the governments quick reaction the the violent insurgents. I just don't see it happening.

Guerrilla Warfare

There are many that realize in most situations open warfare means certain dead and villianization by the ruling power structure. There is a book called On Guerrilla Warfare that is a very interesting historical read. It was written by Mao Zedong, not a good guy in my opinion, but the book is fascinating. Another historical figure that utilized guerrilla warfare and would be more recognizable by our society is Robin Hood. If he were alive today (yes I know there is no proof that he actually existed), he would be considered a terrorist.

Terrorism and guerrilla warfare are vastly different. A terrorist targets non combatants. Guerrilla warfare is a smaller military force working in covert operations in an attempt to overcome superior military power.

Become a Grey Man 

Nope this is not sexist, anyone can be a grey man. A grey man is a person who goes unnoticed. Think about it. In a large crowd there are people that you cannot help but notice. They could be very tall, short, small, big, or even loud. My wife has a very distinct laugh. I could pick her out blindfolded and in a group of thousands just by her laugh. But being a grey man is about so much more than just appearance, not only does this individual blend in they leave no impression whatsoever. For a really deep post on How to become the Grey Man check this post out.


There are a lot of people who will accept anything a government will do to them as long as they are doing it to everyone else. The thought process is "this must be needed or they wouldn't be doing it". There are some that will actually take comfort in oppressive controls, that is until it affects them in some way that they don't appreciate.


I know a few of these people and I purposely keep them at arms length. These are people that will happily turn on anyone for a perceived favor or reward. People like this will snitch on a neighbor for an increase in food rations.


The prepper community calls this bugging out. It is just natural that security will be highest where population is the highest. Big cities would be the last place I would want to be during an EROL situation. In the cities there is limited resources, these resources will be claimed by the power structure for "equitable" redistribution. Of course the leaders and the military forces will get first dibs on everything.

The important thing to remember is that in both situations there will be people who want what you have. Thinking ahead of time will help you be more prepared. I do want to point out that being the Grey Man can work in both situations. I hope we never have to deal with either, but odds are some of us will have to deal with at least one of these situations.

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