Attention: The world is coming to an end! Buy gold, guns, and gas masks!
The doomsday, Armageddon, impending collapse, mass starvation and war-lording reality, coming to a city or neighborhood near you, is a reoccurring theme among many pro-liberty websites. Whether it’s selling guns, gas masks, and water purification tablets or advising people to place their money into strange and obscure investment vehicles (e.g., nickels), doomsday moneymaking schemes abound throughout the liberty movement.
The yellow journalistic technique of exploiting doom has severe consequences. Not only is the doomsday premise false but its affirmation is damaging to our psyche. It corrupts the virtues of freedom and is counter-productive to the anarcho-libertarian movement. It’s time for a reality check.
Is there any reason to believe the end is coming soon?
In our lifetimes, the answer is no. It’s all about time. The greatest of all empires, the Roman Empire, collapsed over many centuries, not in a few days, years, or even decades. Most living in Rome were not aware of the decline in real-time. How could they?
Twenty years ago, my roommate commented that we were living in the decline of the American Empire. She was most likely right, but twenty years later the change has been practically imperceptible. In terms of economic and political freedom, nothing has really changed. The most glaring exception is the TSA. In market driven areas (e.g., technology, communication, and medicine), things have vastly improved.
Furthermore, the passing of generations adds to the loss of perspective. If you’re four years old today, going to the airport and being molested by the TSA is nothing new to your life experience and hence, you have nothing to compare. God knows how many things I have taken for granted in my lifetime (e.g., income taxes) because I’ve never known any different. Funny, we often laugh at the elderly for their ideas and experiences, yet they are true witnesses of change. Sadly, most have passed on before any of us are old enough to know the right questions to ask.
The point is you can’t plan for doomsday because the process is slow and it takes place in the form of erosion, not catastrophe. When the demise finally occurs, it has taken so many years to complete that those who might notice have died; others are acclimated from birth and have made the necessary economic and psychological adjustments. Of course, you can leave all your gold, guns, and gas masks to your great grandchildren.
Is it healthy to hoard and hideout?
Do I really want to live in a cave? Let’s face it, for much of the so-called prepper (survivalist) movement the answer is yes. I’m all for people taking on the responsibility of self-protection and storing extra provisions for an unexpected emergency, but that is not the psychology of many in this movement.
If you believe in stockpiling weapons and food, among other things, you’re not about preparedness. You’re about paranoia. Your psyche is damaged because you have bought into the marketing hype and propaganda that states it’s us against them. It’s survival of the fittest. You have embraced the idea of excluding people and keeping others out; hoarding resources and protecting your interests against all others, with violence if necessary, all the while crawling in a hole and waiting for…what?
Why wait? If the U.S.becomes so inhospitable, leaving would be the intelligent choice. Seriously, do you think stockpiling weapons is going to stop the military might of the U.S.? Ask the Branch Davidians or the Weaver family of Ruby Ridge how well that worked out.
Will the dollar become worthless?
It is worthless by the standards of 1900. As I mentioned above, time makes this imperceptible to most. No doubt, the value of the dollar is declining, but this process has been going on since the inception of the Fed (almost a hundred years ago). In the late 70’s and early 80’s, the prime rate was increased to 21% to fight hyperinflation. It would be foolish not to consider the possibility of that happening again. Gold, silver, Bitcoin and other alternative currencies are worth considering as a form of insurance but anything more is ridiculous.
What damage are doomsday promoters doing to the cause of liberty?
Though I am sure there are some well-meaning individuals peddling the doomsday scenario, the clear motivation of many is to make money. Manipulating the fears of common folk, anarcho-libertarians, and the parasites of freedom (i.e., Nazis, KKK, Black Panthers, the Islamophobic, ethno-centrists, etc.), the damage to the credibility of our movement is far reaching. The most notable casualty is the Ron Paul campaign.
Ron’s newsletters, some written with an extremist, us-against-them survivalist theme, have come back from the past to haunt his campaign. Even though Ron did not write the newsletters, his name was associated with this moneymaking scheme. The result has tarnished and politically damaged the liberty movement as well as put into question the character of Ron Paul.
The outcome of the doomsday marketing technique is driving people away from the message of liberty, not towards it. Buying gas masks, guns in mass, and other extreme measures are not going to win the hearts and minds of those open to our ideas but hesitant due to the extremist (doomsday) vision many in the liberty movement profess.
If non-libertarians view us as terrorists or anarchists (i.e., Galleanists, Occupy movement, or Timmy McVeigh), then government will grow, not shrink. Our movement will not be the savior of liberty but the deliverer of tyranny.
Don’t misunderstand my message. I think preparing for the future is a worthy undertaking. Learning to use a weapon as the last resort of self-defense, having extra canned goods and water on hand in case of emergency or hedging the value of your savings by purchasing some gold, Bitcoin, Aussie dollar, etc.– all these things have merit as a form of insurance.
Stockpiling gold, guns, and gas masks to prepare for the collapse of the U.S., something that will take centuries to complete and only historians will recognize, is a waste of time and resources. Time and resources that would be better spent by promoting our ideas and encouraging people to join our movement, not out of fear but out of hope.
Of course, I could be wrong and the one in a million apocalyptic vision could come true. In the meantime, as an anarcho-libertarian, I’ll try to enjoy life and spread the virtues of liberty to all who will listen…without carrying a gun or wearing a gas mask.
Bruce Jay is editor at the Daily Anarchist. If you have comments, suggestions or an interest in writing for DA (please send ideas or introductory paragraphs and we’ll talk), email: email@example.com