Survivalists or Skinheads: What Are “Preppers” Preparing For?

Driving on I-94 north of Chicago recently, not surprisingly, I was struck by this billboard. The message is no less subtle than the color: “SURVIVAL EXPO”, and “www.rkPreppershows.com” had a familiar ring. Some of my family members in and distant from Chicago had just been conversing by email about our Disunited States, and exchanging blog posts to illustrate our discussion. One of these was titled “City-States & Coast vs True America” on a website called, and authored by thepatriotnurse. Her post suggests that true – i.e. “conservative” – America (which she represents) is in a hopelessly flawed and “abusive” relationship with that unreal other part of the country (City-States & Coast), which is “composed of masses of people gathering around different flash-mob protest points”, such as those at JFK airport “dedicated towards embracing Islamic superiority and protectionism”, “the so-called ‘Women’s March’ in Washington, D.C.”,  “millennial malcontents”, and “self-loathing college hipsters [who] torch the American flag in Iowa City as a ‘protest against fascism’” – all repeatedly shown by “CNN and other trendy Bolshevistic news outlets”.

Referring to her training as a psychiatric nurse, she says it’s time for the long-suffering folks on the Right (conservatives) to divorce. It’s too late for reconciliation with the dwellers on the coasts and in the city-states. “The Leftists, whose idea of a free society is mandatory, compulsory laws enforced at the barrel of a government agency’s gun, live in these cities and coasts and have all but destroyed this nation.”

This is strong, angry stuff, but that’s fine, and normal for today. Still I wondered what this patriot nurse prepper was representing , whose main interests, I gather from her website, center around “Disaster Medical Preparedness for the layperson and healthcare provider alike” in terms of good mental attitudes and medical knowledge that will be needed, when, what? Presumably when the world (or parts of it, including America) melt down, explode or implode. Reading further, we find she is an expert in using weapons, “trained with firearms instructors Paul Gomez, Rob Pincus (I.C.E. Training), Kyle Armstrong, Craig Douglas (Southnarc) and Reid Henrichs. She is an NRA Life Member and a fierce defender of the Second Amendment, women’s self-defense and family protection issues.” She doesn’t mention having military experience.

On the milder side, Patriotnurse “is both a classically trained musician and a student of foreign languages. She enjoys speaking Hebrew, Spanish and Vietnamese.” It’s clear that she is intelligent and hard working, having received a Bachelor of Science in nursing from U. of Tennessee.

To summarize, this particular prepper is an advocate of right-wing politics, who despises the Left, and the Government and corporate media who in her opinion are dominated by “libtards”. In particular, she, like many others, hates Obama, saying, “For 8 years, their Black Jesus, Messianic Savior, and favorite Constitutional Rapist named Barack Hussein Obama, along with his Justice Department systematically attacked EVERYTHING good and wholesome about this nation and her people.” Yes, her rhetoric is extreme,  like that of many others, on both sides of this culture-wars divide, but that doesn’t make her position a threat to America, let alone illegal. But I do think the divide it illustrates is a threat.

I still wanted to know more  about the Prepper Movement, however, so I went to the website on the billboard, rkPreppershows.com. It’s an organization sponsoring and scheduling survivalist expositions – primarily a market for all kinds of products and skills. But what the term “rk preppers” refers to is (apparently intentionally) hard to discover. All the relevant FaceBook pages are closed to non-members: “Sorry, this content isn’t available right now”. Google+ says “nothing from this site has been shared”. When I try to enter a site, everything is grayed out. However, one “preppers” page comes up frequently, namely SHTFplan (read when the ‘shit hits the fan’). And from many, many posts on that site, and the comments atached to them,  I  learned that RK may refer to Red Knuckles, but that explains nothing. For a sample prepper viewpoint, and the variety of people involved in prepping, here’s a recent post from SHTFplan. Scroll down past the ads, to see the conflicting comments. They’re pretty well all over the place, and not very thoughtful.

If any generalizations can safely be made about preppers,  I think they would include the following. They are all survivalists. That means they want to be ready for a total social disruption. For more than a century, world events have periodically brought out survivalist thinking, in this and other countries, as shown in this Wiki history. There might be another great depression, a nuclear war, a collapse of the money system,  breakdowns in computer systems (as in the Y2K panic, or today’s cyber attack worries), a disease epidemic, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, or the Apocalyptic Armageddon end of the world some religions expect, which have been predicted time after time. One recent favorite prepper theme is a civil war, caused by the conflict between Right and Left (as Patriot Nurse described). Another common theme is the need for weapons, and the skills to use them. Another commonality is the widely expressed distrust or even hatred of the Federal  government, for it’s alleged violations of constitutional law.

Except for  a few comments showing antisemitism, or holding George Soros responsible for every ill effect of globalism, or thinking Muslims should be sent home and kept away, survivalism doesn’t look like a cover for prejudice, or white supremacy, or plans for violent uprising (though the probability of violence and the need for self-defense is also a constant theme).

Having done some research on the topic,  then, my advice to friends and family is to forget about this movement and its thinking, except to feel discouraged that so many people are bound by fear. But if you believe that having weapons will increase your safety and peace of mind, although it will add to my already considerable discouragement about our society, I have no doubt you will find survival expos, especially in southern and western states,  which will provide weapons of all sorts for you, with minimal government interference. But don’t shop in those decadent “city-states and coasts”, or your might get busted.

About justin

Justin retired from a long career, teaching philosophy, world religions and humanities in and near Chicago. Above all, critical thinking has been his teaching goal - i.e. to encourage the habit of asking questions, and looking for answers that are well supported by reasoning. His style is to engage people in discussion in a relaxed atmosphere. His goal is to be a true philosopher ('lover of wisdom') and show others the value of a generous, open-minded and objective search for the biggest, truest picture of reality possible. It may sound old fashioned today, but he believes there is a reality which is approachable, and worth looking for. His motto is “Once a thinker, always a thinker.” He continues the journey over the Web, seeking interaction with students, friends and strangers, through essays, books and blog posts.
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