by Fabian Ommar
Author of The ULTIMATE Survival Gear Handbook
Democracy is being challenged in many countries (east and west). Governments and societies are flirting dangerously with totalitarianism – sometimes in the open, others in more covert ways. Are we going to slide away from freedom and liberty?
The world is already a very, very different place than not long ago. Changes keep hitting us at a breakneck pace and from all sides. Everything is unstable. In many ways, it has already hit the fan, and there’s no going back.
But there’s no problem so bad that it can’t be made worse. The powers-that-be seem to be intent on doing just that. Governments, politicians, and non-elected bureaucrats from all corners are seizing the opportunity created by the circumstances to steal further our freedom, wealth, and even our health.
So yes, totalitarianism is a possibility. But is it likely?
Recently, I argued why I believe the free world’s institutions, values, and principles might stand and its democracy prevail, despite being heavily tested and probably taken to its limits.
Before labeling me an optimist, know that I hope for the best but prepare for the worst. And when I say things will be good, I’m talking mid-term (we all die in the long term). Soon, I expect life on the planet to get significantly more challenging and more dangerous.
There are traps, risks, and indeed some bumps and Black Swans along the way, namely the possibility of divisiveness and economic hardships and international tensions developing into more severe revolutions, social and geopolitical conflicts, in the US and – well, really anywhere.
If there was ever a time in modern history riper for bad things to pile up, it is now.
Is this, by design, a natural cycle – or are we the people to blame?
Most certainly, many complex factors are contributing to the current predicament. Here are three I consider relevant:
- Evidently, higher instances are acting and maneuvering to impose their agendas. Never let a good crisis go to waste is the motto of governments, corporations, sectors of the ruling elites, and all those shady three-letter Non-Official Agencies and organizations.
- There’s clearly also a convergence of multiple, generational, large-scale cycles impacting and engendering deep transformations into the economy and finance, education, energy, transportation, social relationships, political (and geopolitical) arrangements, and even climate.
- Lastly, we, the people, also have a role in this, whether we acknowledge and admit it or not. We’ve been pumping governments up for decades. They’ve become bloated (i.e., are weighing on society and dragging us down). Now they seem to be turning against us, too.
What is the role of governments in the crisis and society’s role in the government?
Even though the circumstances and other inescapable factors are contributing, governments are the biggest culprits on everything that’s going on (yeah, probably even the pandemic).
Which begs the question: who’s giving them these powers? And how? The answer is a hard pill to swallow: we, the people, are. By demanding or accepting governments do more, provide more, interfere more, regulate more, decide more, we’re making them bigger and stronger.
Now, governments can’t keep the pain away, no matter how big. But when they get too strong, they can quickly turn sadistic and totalitarian.
Whatever happened to no such thing as free lunch?
We, as a society, seem to have forgotten that’s not a law of capitalism but nature. (like gravity). When did we lose our capacity to think critically, to question, to live more independently?
For fear, greed, and convenience, we outsourced our responsibilities. And since there’s no vacuum in the universe, the governments stepped in to baby us. The saddening part is acknowledging we fed them overblown by giving up on freedom and liberty in exchange for the illusions of safety and comfort.
Okay, that’s how humankind evolves: two steps ahead, one backward.
Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. Weak men create hard times.
We’ll have to collectively harden the f*ck up and face the music now to overturn that cycle.
What effect does big government have on a productive society?
Governments eat up a big chunk of what the people create and produce. They are inherently and helplessly inefficient and they misallocate and squander resources. They over-regulate, over-tax, over-burden the private sector and, in fact, the entire society.
Government interferes, causes distortions, generates imbalances, and commits injustices that lead to unintended consequences. They wage wars no one wants, and everyone pays dearly. Those are precisely the things that have brought us to the present crisis.
Modern society is comfortably cruising along, sailing on what governments and central planners have provided for decades. Drinking the Big Brother Kool-Aid has a price, and the time to pay the piper is approaching.
Rant: I know I’m preaching to the choir here.
Most people don’t trust the government, the mainstream media, the big corporations, the authorities, much less those highly suspect NGOs. Many to the point of being called tin-foil-hatters, conspiracy theorists, and worse. Some of us do something about it. The majority is just along for the ride (end of rant).
I confess the first draft of this article had a much more anti-government tone. But I decided to return to it because that’s not what I truly believe, much less the message I’m trying to convey.
I’m not anti-government: I’m the anti-big government. I’m not left nor right either: I’m anti-big left or right. There’s a big difference there. The absence of government and authority is anarchy, and that’s just another kind of SHTF. That’s not what I want, and I’m sure neither you.
Sure, sometimes, the only way to fix something is to bring it down and build anew. We better give this some serious consideration, though. As flawed as it may be, democracy is something unique and special. At the very least, it’s unquestionably heaps better than the alternatives. We must acknowledge that, cherish and protect it however we can, and do our best to make it better and stronger.
Other than preparing, what can we do?
I’ll start with the hard part: politics. Please don’t kill the messenger. Most think it’s a filthy or corrupt thing. But it’ll be much worse if we let others handle things in the shadows while we consume the world away,
distracted entertained with less unpleasant matters, which is what bureaucrats want, by the way.
Not everyone should be involved, as it is impossible, unrealistic, and unpractical. However, democracy demands constant vigilance, hard work, and sacrifice to stay healthy and alive. Society must come out of slumber and somehow become engaged again. Or else we’ll wake up one day, and it’ll be too late.
Yeah, I know it sucks: it’s challenging, frustrating, infuriating. It can be risky too. But so is raising a child, staying healthy and in shape, making a living, or doing everything worth doing. Life’s hard. Stop whining.
Uncertain and volatile times require doubling down on awareness, critical thinking, and of course, preparations (big and small circles). We at The Organic Prepper are trying to help with this, so let’s see how these things relate.
Governments and bureaucrats don’t care in the least about the people.
The population is only used as an excuse for measures and policies purportedly put in place “to protect us.” In reality, most of what these central planners do end up enslaving and restricting us, taking away our freedom and everything else.
What to do about it: Do our best to show others that divided we stand to be conquered, and everyone loses. It’s a simple, universal message. Spreading the word is always a challenging and ungrateful slog. But it’s more necessary than ever because there’s a lot at stake, and ultimately, freedom is at the root of all things good.
Governments do bad even when they’re trying to do good.
Even when an elected authority is benevolent, has good intentions, and honestly wants to work for the people’s good, the system they are part of may not allow that. (Even when the ones in power acknowledge the importance of freedom, growth, and prosperity for the people and country.) Also, sometimes governments are just incompetent, which is very common.
What to do about it: Don’t put faith in “changes from within” or promises of good intentions. And whatever happens, don’t slouch: good or bad, the bigger a government gets, the more we should worry (and prepare).
Governments don’t like to shrink or concede power.
They never do this willingly and never will. Governments will fight this with all their might. Once they grow and take (or we concede) something, it’s tough, costly, and painful to get it back or make them smaller again.
What to do about it: We must get cognizant of that dynamic and resist giving up on rights, freedom, and other things at all costs. Even if it demands sacrifices and brings pain in the short term, it’s about taking responsibility and willing to compromise.
When governments say “temporary,” it’s a trap.
The US going off the gold standard in 1971 was a temporary measure. So was the 90-day price and wage freezing put in place at the time, which ended lasting almost two years. Lockdowns were initially also supposedly temporary (“to flatten the curve,” remember that?). Now inflation is being called “temporary” too. Smell the cheese?
What to do about it: Don’t be fooled: everything governments do is definitive until forcefully removed, changed, or collapsed. More actionable (bonus) tip: Whenever you hear that word (there are others), plan and act in accordance: prepare for life under whatever “temporary” is being imposed and its consequences.
Governments will do everything to kick the can down the road.
Politicians are only worried about keeping their jobs (i.e., being reelected) and growing their power, influence, and privileges. To achieve that, they must avoid bad news and all kinds of decisions and declarations requiring sacrifice or bringing any pain to the population. They will lie, distort, fraud, hide, manipulate, conceal, uphold – in short, do anything and go to the most unimaginable extents to delay the inevitable.
What to do about it: Don’t believe politicians is an obvious answer. However, it’s not enough: pay close attention to the language used by governments and authorities. It’s also indicative of their intentions. Also, don’t believe their cohorts and perpetrators: the MSM, the big corporations, the NGOs, NOAs, and others. Question everything, but don’t get paranoid or neurotic: learn, read, get informed, and think critically and independently. Talk to people, debate, discuss, look for the sources, second opinions. And study history.
Governments are very powerful, resourceful, and far-reaching.
This power makes them very efficient in oppressing the people and stealing rights, wealth, savings, freedom, assets, even our health. They do all that through the apparatus: a bunch of well-oiled machines that can corrupt, coerce, print (fiat), tax, confiscate, intervene, manipulate, deceive, mystify, swindle, falsify, cheat, inflict terror, (and also wage war, oppress and kill with great efficiency). There are more ways governments and authorities can strike down on the population to achieve their ends than 99,9% of people can conceive, much less come up with to try and escape that.
What to do about it: Don’t play hero, don’t be arrogant: hubris is a dead end (often literally). No matter how smart, prepared, safe, or grey we may think we are, governments can always do more. There’s really little to nothing we can do about it (at least not individually). Again, study the history of dictatorships and tyrannies everywhere to know in detail how they do these things. Actionable bonus tip: Don’t give in to political and other kinds of divisiveness – this serves their goals.
Indoctrination, cooptation, gaslighting, brainwashing.
The government may not come directly after us. But they have other very efficient indirect means to reach, expose, and ultimately get what they want from whomever they wish (individuals, businesses, organizations, groups, etc.). When things turn dire, survival mode sets in, and people do the unthinkable. Fear and greed are potent motivators cunningly used to turn people against each other: friends, coworkers, neighbors, and even relatives.
What to do about it: Give those things some thought and if the SHTF and things become ugly and dangerous, be extremely cautious about what you say or who you trust. Be wary of your words, actions, and steps. Sometimes, it’s indeed best to lay low and shrink.
“The government is not the solution to our problem. It is THE problem”.
That’s Ronald Reagan being perhaps the most honest a leader, politician, and elected official can be about governments and politics. Due to their very nature and the way the system is designed, there’s always more governments can do to harm than to help people.
What to do about it: Keep governments small. Lambasting politicians and bureaucrats is easy. It may win likes and enroll support and even get people inflamed. But does nothing to change the nature of the beast. We don’t censor a lion for being a lion: we understand its nature and instincts and act accordingly. So do what’s right, and please don’t feed the government!
Governments are made of people.
This means they panic, make mistakes, do stupid things, get lost, are incompetent, and do a lot more non-evil yet equally harming things. And, of course, they can be evil, too.
What to do about it: Don’t get angry or revolted. What good does that do to us? Politicians don’t come from Mars. Give that some serious reflection, and ask yourself honestly if you’d do differently if you were there (and maybe that’s why we’re not there). That’s the ultimate exercise.
Evil results can come from good intentions.
Listening to people like North Korea defector Yeonmi Park and Belarus’ activist Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya warning about the horrors of tyranny and dangers of totalitarianism should get us inspired and motivated to defend democracy, perhaps at all costs.
That doesn’t mean acting stupid or reckless, but with determination, patience and strategy. It also doesn’t mean wishing for the end of governments, bureaucrats, and the ruling elites. They are what they are, and, most times, they don’t act with evil intentions.
But evil results can come from good intentions too. This is more a call for awareness and critical thinking than a direct attack on authorities and institutions. And if you think it’s already too late, take a break and look around you. Now compare that to Venezuela, Cuba, and now Afghanistan.
Still, think we don’t have time?
How do YOU think we should solve the problem?
Do you believe the government has gotten too big? What is the solution? How do we inspire change? Share your thoughts on how we can make things better.
Fabian Ommar is a 50-year-old middle-class worker living in São Paulo, Brazil. Far from being the super-tactical or highly trained military survivor type, he is the average joe who since his youth has been involved with self-reliance and outdoor activities and the practical side of balancing life between a big city and rural/wilderness settings. Since the 2008 world economic crisis, he has been training and helping others in his area to become better prepared for the “constant, slow-burning SHTF” of living in a 3rd world country.
Fabian’s ebook, Street Survivalism: A Practical Training Guide To Life In The City, is a practical training method for common city dwellers based on the lifestyle of the homeless (real-life survivors) to be more psychologically, mentally, and physically prepared to deal with the harsh reality of the streets during normal or difficult times.
You can follow Fabian on Instagram @stoicsurvivor