by Toby Cowern
Co-Author of SHTF Survival Bootcamp
I want to address one specific point. This is a very general application across the preppersphere. But it’s also become a little bit time-sensitive in certain countries just now, so it’s a lesson well worth visiting. And for those that have watched my videos or read the articles or seen me quoted previously, one of my kind of most quoted phrases is “Words have meaning and meaning is important.” And I stand by that.
Selco and I constantly, in lectures or courses, preface everything with definitions and meanings and understanding so everybody’s on the same page. What I want to do here is address one specific phrase and then tweak it. Within the prepper-sphere, and wider world, we have this concept of W R O L
- ( WROL) Which stands for: Without Rule of Law. This has been written about extensively and the principle is: as normal societal function slows down, or stops, the law is no longer applied. It becomes a Wild West in the classic connotation of it.
In our philosophy, Selco and I believe that WROL categorically does not exist. However, what we do work with is D R O L (DROL) Doesn’t sound like much difference, but it’s critical because of a slight perception and shift change in mindsets.
- DROL is Different Rule of Law. No matter what the catastrophe is or how bad it gets, there’s always going to be a “law” of some sort. In fact, we could actually stop at the word rule: without rule or different rules. There are always going to be rules.
We can drop the word “law” because people get really hung up on the specificity of its meaning. As in these are democratically elected, government-monitored states that are sort of enforced. Let’s just look at rules instead of laws to understand what I mean.
Nature abhors a vacuum.
Now, the simple fact is, we all know that nature abhors a vacuum. So as one system comes down or pauses or rests, another will immediately move to fill that void. And that’s what we have with rules. It doesn’t necessarily have to be on a national or state level. This can be a very singular or on a small unit level: towns, cities, or even smaller than that, like neighborhoods, parts of cities, parts of towns.
And this isn’t theoretical. This is evidenced globally through the history of humanity and definitely within the modern era that this state exists. Quite simply, here’s one of the first things to understand: there has to be an infrastructure for new rules to be introduced and most importantly, enforced.
Rules are nothing without enforcement. The only reason any of us follow any rules is because of the threat of enforcement if we break them. The vehemence, the detail, and the pain of that enforcement govern our individual application of those rules within our own individual lives.
The infrastructure already exists. There are those who would love to implement new rules. The only thing is looking at their capability to enforce those rules. This is where it gets interesting. We can’t then say, “It doesn’t matter whether mob rule, or gang rule, or criminal rule, or warlord rule.” No, it matters very much whose rules you’re following, because of the vehemency and level of enforcement.
That is the small shift and key mindset difference, that so important. WROL, the Wild West, is basically alleging: Rules can be broken with no consequences. That’s the classic, “I’ll drive my car through an illegal vehicle checkpoint, potentially guns blazing because it doesn’t matter because nobody can stop me.”
Now Without Rule Of Law, all of that will be true. In DROL, the enforcement or the penalization of that action will vary but there will be consequences. So quite simply in Different Rule Of Law, there are always going to be consequences. Always. And those consequences may be way more severe than when we had our current rule of law.
It’s not there are no consequences. It’s more like, this may have previously got me a fine or a warning, or day in court. But now, that same action will going to get me hunted, tracked, and killed. Or worse still, made a public example of. These are the other factors to consider. Justice throughout the Western world, for all its flaws, for all its foibles, for all its humanity, tries to be as evenly applied across the populace as possible. (I’m not going to get into politics of different enforcement for different segments of society. Let’s keep it at that kind of higher-level perception.)
In DROL, there is no even application of the rules, not even a pretense of it. Whoever is making the rules and disseminating down to the enforcement capabilities speaks to how those rules are going to be enforced and how evenly and how equally. So, you might run a checkpoint, but because of your skillset or your stature in the community or your finances, you might get away with it. You might be able to pay them off. Somebody else may literally be executed. They may be executed on the spot.
The infrastructures are already in place.
It can be because all of the infrastructures are there already and they have an existing symbiosis with the structures in governance and enforcement. That is a given. Every gang and criminal enterprise has connections, cooperation, and collaborations with the people policing them. Because that’s how the dark system works.
If you don’t believe me, get online and do some research. Don’t deny that it exists because it does. In every country around the world. Quite simply, the poorer, the more third-world the country, the more corrupt the system.
And the more corrupt the system, the more that integration is already there.
Let’s look at defunding the police, for example.
Let’s take one initiative such as defunding the police, where people feel significant changes are going to be made to law enforcement. It will take time for those changes to be made. That time will be significant, and that will be allowed and not interfered with. Peace will be maintained while this transition happens.
But then things will change.
Think back to our example of running a checkpoint.
If you’re in a place with a soft police policy or a pullback of police in the region for a temporary reset. But then another infrastructure comes in. Let’s say it’s a criminal gang. Don’t think for a second that if they want to run down a license plate and get that information, that they haven’t got someone in the DMV. Or the local police, or someone with access to the intelligence infrastructure, that can get information for them.
That’s it. They’ve got your address. They know you ran the checkpoint, you did the damage, you hurt one of their guys. The enforcement hierarchy said, “If any of you, as our enforcers get hurt, we will avenge your injury or your death.” That’s then going to roll downhill and it’s going to get visited on you, in whatever way they have deemed necessary.
There will never be a WROL scenario.
Instead of thinking: “Woo-hoo! I am in the preppersphere. Without RULE Of Law, we can do whatever we want!”
I would be exceptionally more cautious than normal times in that situation with regard to the potential of breaking the rules without consequences.
And here’s the other thing: you’re going to have to learn what the rules are. And you’re going to have to learn fast. (Selco talks about the new rules in this article.) These might not be well communicated to you. You might be learning on the spot. You could find yourself with people you don’t recognize to have an authority that you don’t acknowledge, telling you now, at the barrel of a gun or similar, “This is how we do things around here now.”
And a glimpse of that was showing in the CHOP over there in Seattle. Basically, the regular infrastructure (the police) pulled back from the 8-block radius, and people started to self-regulate, autonomously in the beginning and then not autonomously afterward. Someone stepped in and made new rules and enforced them. There are some good examples within that situation but be aware that was a very mild version.
As the situation deteriorates not only in the US, but also in other countries, the versions are going to become way more hardcore. You will see new rules and new enforcement.
And be advised, it won’t be pretty.
Toby has an extensive background in the military, emergency services, risk management, and business continuity, combined with applied wilderness and urban survival skills. He discusses personal safety, security, and the crossover of military skills to the average civilian.