By the author of The Ultimate Survival Gear Handbook and Street Survivalism: A Practical Training Guide To Life In The City
The economy has gone from the ICU to the morgue. It was inevitable. There has been no shelling, no EMP, no invading army, no nuclear attack. Everything is more or less the same, but everything has changed so drastically. You feel like you are living in a parallel universe.
Decadence is all around, and it came faster than people could imagine. Businesses, fabrics, commerce, and entertainment – everything is working. Stuff is being produced, sold, and serviced. Just not as before.
The streets are dim, dirty – lacking conservation and maintenance. It’s a lot more unsafe to walk around, especially after dark. Graffiti is everywhere, and so is plundering and littering. Business and commerce are decadent, with lots of closed and “for rent” places and dilapidated properties.
In short, life’s become considerably harder.
Hordes of unemployed, homeless, and drug addicts wander the street and avenues, living in parks and under bridges. Loitering and crime run rampant. So do manifestations and strikes: everybody is discontent. Last month the train operators refused to work, and sanitation workers just crossed arms.
Buildings and houses in many residential neighborhoods now have windows with bars and perimeters with high fences and barbed wire. There are abandoned cars here and there, and it’s not as safe for kids to play in the streets as before. Parks are poorly conserved, with tall grass and stray animals.
I’m not trying to be somber, but this is not fiction.
It’s a short description of life during the 1980s, even in some developed countries. Granted, things have not yet reached that point, but they are headed that way. We’re still in the early stages of a dreadful period.
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that back then, the world also lived in fear of a nuclear war, which fortunately never came (and hopefully never will). It’s possible that something bigger happens before the economy collapses. But is it likely? Who knows.
Tales of reality.
What really happens to the daily routines of common people like you and me in countries that have been through prolonged downturns and economic crises? Knowing about this can give useful insights into what awaits and some clues to prepare.
Everyone seems to think we’ve mastered the secret of eternal abundance. In some countries, people are indoctrinated to believe that this kind of thing only happens in faraway places. They’ve either bought the idea of exceptionalism (it won’t happen here) or fatalism (only an apocalypse can happen).
Now this slow drag into a decadent lifestyle is happening everywhere and affecting everyone. It’s not what many have imagined, but it’s a nightmare, and people are wondering how they’re going to cope.
How prepared are you to deal with a different enemy?
What if, instead of being invaded or bombarded by some foreign country, governments turn full-Orwellian on its citizens? Now we have to put up with crap like social credit scores, CBDCs, climate lockdowns, and other freedom-robbing policies that will, in practice, take away wherever speck of personal freedom we had and give tyrants total power and control.
Comply or be locked into the financial, digital, and social Gulag: fired or suspended, ostracized, and abandoned by your friends and even relatives. What if coworkers, ex-friends, neighbors, your boss, start cooperating with the enemy? Any idea how that would limit your life or how much of a danger that would represent to you?
How prepared are you to live with decaying health?
What if instead of starving to death due to the collapse of supply chains, you just have a much harder time taking care of your own health – by way of bad or insufficient nutrition, unaffordable healthcare, shortages of specific medicines, bad hospitals, and lack of doctors and staff, and so on?
(Make sure to check out our free QUICKSTART Guide to building a 3-layer food storage plan so malnutrition doesn’ hit your family as hard as it does the unprepared.)
How prepared are you to live crazy and convoluted routines?
What if instead of desperate hordes or gangs of marauders knocking on your door for food, you actually have to live with other six or seven families in the same house because that’s the only way everyone can afford shelter?
A sick relative is now living with you because intensive care has become unaffordable – and now you have other people requiring constant assistance? If someone close has died and you’re the only one around that can take care of their kids and raise them?
Are things like these in your plans and preparations?
You had to sell all those fancy LED TV sets. Now, everyone has to share a single one without cable service or Netflix (you can’t afford either any more). If it breaks, it will have to be repaired because new ones now cost an arm and a leg and still are hard to find.
The same happens with most other home appliances: everyone has to share the toaster, the microwave, the blender. There might still be more than one or two around in the house, but whatever happens, it’ll have to be orderly shared. Otherwise, everyone will fight all the time and go insane. Everyone will have to be watchful of the energy bill, too.
How prepared are you to live with constant shortages and rationing?
What if, instead of an EMP, the power gets shut down a few hours every day due to issues in the generating system and grid and the infrastructure? Showers, meal preparation, housekeeping, and all the feast will have to follow a schedule according to the weekly power interruptions.
You thank God it follows a programmed system because that allows you to adapt and create workarounds. Life could be even harder: without that, stuff would rot and spoil, more people would die, and everything would be so much more unpredictable – as it’s always been in underdeveloped places.
How prepared are you to live with crime, corruption, and moral decay?
What if, instead of complete anarchy and lawlessness, you now have to contend with a bankrupt and weak state, with (even more) corrupt institutions that simply have no way to maintain and improve the infrastructure and other systems efficiently anymore?
Prisons are overcrowded, and still, there are a lot of criminals being released because the system is incapable of handling them due to the economic and institutional failure.
So instead of an invading army, you now have to deal with rising urban crime and violence. The streets and buildings are not shelled or empty but full of drug traffickers and consumers, dirt and graffiti, homeless tents, invaders, and all kinds of criminals.
How prepared are you to live without your guns?
What if instead of fighting the commies or having to defend your property and resources from gangs of mad looters that never came, you had to sell your guns to buy food and pay some bills?
You must defend yourself, but now there’s only that old unregistered 9mm with a couple of full clips around the home. Also, the law says you can’t carry firearms on you anymore. Shooting someone even in self-defense would bring uncertain consequences: who can afford a lawyer anymore? But the criminals don’t care for the law, so you know they’re armed and willing.
That forces you into adapting, which means laying a lot lower and not drawing any attention. Sure there isn’t much stuff of real value at home anymore. But to the destitute and the badly intentioned, even a little can be a lot. Thus all those locks and reinforced windows.
How prepared are you to live surrounded by suffering, pain, and misery?
This is the most important point I’m trying to make here. What if you have a big stock of food, medicine, some sharp survival skills, and everything else – but finding reason, motivation, faith, and energy to keep moving forward is increasingly difficult.
Because your soul is getting crushed, and your heart is bleeding from witnessing all the suffering, pain, and loss going on around you. And even if you’ve found that strength somehow, you’re now having to double efforts so as to keep others around you moving forward too, when so many are considering quitting.
This is perhaps one of the most defining aspects of survival.
I’ve already addressed ways to get in contact with hardship and suffering by training in the streets and volunteering in hospitals and institutions that help people and animals.
But it’s one thing to do that when the situation is somewhat normal. It’s hard to know how we’ll react until we have to deal with all that being ourselves in the thick of a crisis. From what I’ve seen, some people rise to the challenge, while others fail miserably and just can’t bear the avalanche of emotions and bad news. It’s always like that.
Though I have advocated for one concept of SHTF and preparation that is within my realm of experience, the point here is not to beat the drum of the economic disaster but stimulate thinking outside the box.
I’ve been making a conscious effort in that direction since 2020 and keep at it as some events that are unfolding confirm or go against my ideas and concepts. It’s also a form of finding holes and constantly adjusting my strategies. It’s important to establish priorities and stay on course with plans and preparations, as those are based on personal conditions and circumstances. But I also believe it’s crucial not to get too stuck on some specific ideas and scenarios, at least when it comes to projections and mental exercises.
Preppers, in general, are conscious and practical. That’s good, but survival may depend less on objective and pragmatic aspects (resources and skills) and more on the capacity to adapt than we think. To cope with quick changes, invest more and more in being open-minded, flexible, and overall adaptable.
What are your thoughts?
How do you feel about the concepts in this article? Do you think we’re going downhill to the level described here? Do you have plans to deal with such decay? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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. He’s also the author of The Ultimate Survival Gear Handbook.
You can follow Fabian on Instagram @stoicsurvivor