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The War Nerd / March 10, 2009

Victory will go to whoever has the numbers. And not just numbers, but sane, reliable people. What’d be funny is if it ended up being the churches. I can see that happening, actually. Talk about a bummer of a post-apocalypse, how about So Cal as the Empire of the Assembly of God? Compulsory three-hour sermons, required speaking in tongues. Man, I couldn’t take it. One reason I lost my whole Pentacostal thing was the downright embarrassment of watching respectable middle-aged ladies like Mrs. Tamplen from up the street whooping like crazies, babbling like Scooby Doo and running up and down the aisle on Sunday because they felt like that was the only way to show that the Spirit was in them. I’d have way rather taken their word on it. “Ma’am, couldn’t you just sign a statement that you’ve got the spirit in you? And please keep your arms to your sides?” I couldn’t take the idea of Pentecostal SS forcing you to do that “batter-batter-HEY-swing” nonsense they made us try out.

But it could happen very easily. The churches have the numbers, and their people are sane, sort of, God knows they’re dull enough. I can see some tough Okie/Mexican patrols in giant crusader t-shirts with big red crosses holding the perimeter of most of the reservoirs in So Cal, making you take a Scripture Trivia quiz before you get your three liters a day. Who else would be in the running?

And please, don’t tell me the Crips or the Bloods. Maybe, just maybe, some sort of Mexican-gang super-alliance, the Sureno Republic, could hold out against the Born-Agains for a while, but I’d put my money on the churches. Gangstas are too easy to trick into killing each other off. I can just see the sleazeball minister of our old church giving some Latin Kings honcho the old soft-sell: “Flaco, you know we love you and Jesus loves you but alas those godforsaken heathern Maras, they say you’re showing weakness, ese….” Next thing you know it’s a Latin Kings/Baptist alliance to wipe out the little Salvadoran stabbers, and when that’s over you wake up one morning to find all the Latin Kings gone and your uncle who’s with the armed wing of the church washing the blood off his hands with a little of that precious water while he hums “Just as I am, without one plea.”

And when they’re gone, settle in for some of the dullest centuries you’ve ever imagined. You can sort of see why nobody makes a video game about that scenario: it’s no fun. But it makes more sense than the lone gun deal, because victory always goes to the big gangs. The only place for a loner in a hard world is…well, we already know. You tell me: give me the name of the Californian who already lived through the end of the world.


Correct answer: Ishi. Remember Ishi? Kids still study the poor bastard? We did. Every time I drive north on I5 and see the exit to Lassen National Park I think of him, hiding out in a creekbed for years after his whole world was wiped out. He did about as well as anybody will, when the aliens come, and he still had to go cringing up to them at the end, couldn’t make it alone any more. They made a diorama out of him while he was still alive.

The Ishi technique, hiding and scavenging, might save you for a while. At least you’d last longer than the Wacos who think they’ll set up a single-family republic in their Bundy fixer-upper. If water doesn’t force them out, fire will. How you gonna use that gun to hold off 20 or 30 or 2000 organized attackers? You have to sleep sometime, and when you do, a couple of Molotov cocktails through the window, on the roof even, will make you start negotiating fast.

See, that’s what’s sad about all this: the post-disaster world will be just like this one, only worse. All the lousy coworkers and squabbles and crap, but none of the luxuries. The winners won’t be the zombies, just another set of bosses. The end of the world is what you call it when your tribe loses. It may be the end of the world for them, like it was for hundreds of native tribes all over the world, but when your world ends like that, you don’t get to play out the game in some cool ruins out of a video game. Some other tribe takes over, that’s all. And when they do, there’s no way on earth you can hole up in your townhouse with a semi-automatic weapon and hold out. Because it’s organization that wins, not lone gunmen. If you want to survive, join a club. It only looks like chaos to the losers. The Mongols are my classic example here. They were a “horde” to the people whose asses they kicked, but if those losers had had the sense to accept Mongol vassalage (which the Mongols usually offered before they started leveling everything to the horizon) they’d have found out that the Mongols were actually better organized than their opposition. Most of the time the Mongol armies faced armies made up of a few professional soldiers and huge peasant levies, led by guys who were born into the job. Half of them were opium addicts, retards, lazy whoremongers, or macho idiots. That’s what you get when you trust a family tree.

Against that the Mongols had a system more like Bonaparte’s: first prove yourself in war, then we’ll add the nobility. The Mongol armies were organized on a decimal system that made much more sense than the feudal gangs, always feuding and betraying each other, that they faced off against.

They weren’t chaos. They just looked that way to the last survivor of a village, running off with stories of piles of severed heads. That wasn’t actually chaos, that was just mopping up.

Has chaos ever actually won? It sounds weird but I can’t find a single example that fits the video-game, Mad Max scenario. Sure, empires weaken and fall, but it’s not a horde that defeats them, it’s some other tribe, some new empire. The newcomers are “barbarians” if they beat you, but if you hung with them you’d see they’re pretty much like any other bunch of sneaky, fussy, greedy people.

If there was a mass of zombies swarming the streets, I’d feel pretty good about it. Remember that scene in Dawn of the Dead when they’re on the roof of the mall picking off zombies to pass the time? It’d be that easy. Being braindead is not an advantage in war, believe it or not.

On the fucking contrary. If you look hard at the military history of the last century you can see that it’s sneakiness, hiding your massacres and sucking up to potential allies, that wins wars. That’s how the Wehrmacht, the finest land army since the Mongols, was defeated, and why the Brits survived. In every battle where they faced Germans on equal terms in either of the world wars, the Brits lost. But they won the wars because they had this huge English-speaking ex-colony, America, to resupply them, and this god-given moat called the English Channel to stop the tanks. Victory goeth not to the strong, or the crazy; if it did, we’d be getting Hitler’s Birthday off, with a half day for Hirohito’s Imperial Deflowering or something.

We’d love for the world to end, or we think we would. (First toothache or skin disease and you’ll change your mind, though.) But too bad, or cheer up, whichever; it’s never going to happen.

shooting zombies

So why does everybody talk about it all fucking day? Simple: it’s the most fun idea in the world. Think about it. Every zombie movie is about how great it’d be to have the city to yourself. No crowds, no annoying other people, just a free-fire zone where you’re the only real human being and you can blow the head off anything that tries to bite you or borrow a quarter, whatever. A lifetime shopping spree, total immunity to all the laws—like being a star, and if you were the last person on earth you’d be a star by like default. No competition.

Sometimes you even get to have a dog, like in I Am Legend. But no people. That’s the dream here. And that’s why nobody faces the pretty durn obvious fact that after the apocalypse, alliances, partnerships, gangs, whatever you want to call them, are going to be tighter, stricter, more important than ever. Because that’s no fun. It’s just life at the office only without AC, TV, or the net. There’s never gonna be an end of the world. There’s gonna be an end of you, you personally; but the world won’t even flinch. You’ll be lucky to get an obituary, a half inch next to the weather report on the back page of Section B. The world is never gonna end. That’s what’s depressing.

Gary Brecher is the author of the War Nerd. Send your comments to

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Add your own

  • 1. Allen  |  March 10th, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    “Sometimes you even get to have a dog, like in I Am Legend. But no people. That’s the dream here. And that’s why nobody faces the pretty durn obvious fact that after the apocalypse, alliances, partnerships, gangs, whatever you want to call them, are going to be tighter, stricter, more important than ever. Because that’s no fun. It’s just life at the office only without AC, TV, or the net. There’s never gonna be an end of the world. There’s gonna be an end of you, you personally; but the world won’t even flinch. You’ll be lucky to get an obituary, a half inch next to the weather report on the back page of Section B. The world is never gonna end. That’s what’s depressing.”


    Classic War Nerd.

  • 2. marketfrankford  |  March 10th, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    “Has chaos ever actually won? It sounds weird but I can’t find a single example that fits the video-game, Mad Max scenario. Sure, empires weaken and fall, but it’s not a horde that defeats them, it’s some other tribe, some new empire.”

    Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro. The best current archaeological evidence suggests that by the time the Aryans arrived in the Indus Valley, its cities were basically squatted ruins. Depleted soil and a few droughts were probably what did them in.

  • 3. frogcat  |  March 10th, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    People like vivid scenarios to spur themselves to action and to sustain their beliefs.

    But people who get into preparing for disastrous scenarios where you need to look after your family without depending on the government find that the same group of preparations (food, water, medicine, shelter, etc) can be used to cover routine upheaval on a personal level. Ie: layoffs, ice storms, hurricanes, earthquakes. They cut off a lot of the services we take for granted. They happen all the time too.

    My personal motivation to start preparing was reading about the financial collapse of Argentina. Caused widespread grief and suffering, but like you said, the world went on for Argentinians, only much more unpleasant.

    I don’t think the US will get that bad, but I want to have more options for whatever comes up as things get worse.

  • 4. Rick  |  March 10th, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    No shite. This is the only publication I’ve read consistently for the last five years. And maybe the Onion, where you don’t read all the articles. I was looking in the newspaper the other day: soooo boring. Especially the “color.” This town needs an enema.

  • 5. Funny Mentalist Maniac  |  March 10th, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Wait… are you sayin’ that Jesus Christ, all-powerful Son of GOD isn’t going to magically transport me into the clouds in Rapturous delight?

  • 6. Random  |  March 10th, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    Dean Ing, who wrote some post-apocalypse novels a long while ago, once explained that he was a practical survivalist – he moved to Ashland, Oregon and joined the Chamber of Commerce.

    They have a nice National Guard armory there and a well-organized Sheriff’s Department. I think I know who wins in Jackson County, Oregon.

  • 7. John  |  March 10th, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    Maslow’s pyramid got it way wrong. It’s not food and sex that is the bottom, it’s security and protection.

  • 8. simon max hill  |  March 10th, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    This unfortunate truth is the reason why I never managed to play even a single game of “Twillight: 2000”. It was hard to imagine a game about managing your water and antibiotics stocks being very fun.

  • 9. Bashar Al Mossad  |  March 10th, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    Damn. I was already depressed ‘cuz I live in the Middle East, but I’m even more now that I know it will never be turned into a nice flat parking lot.
    Apart from that, I’d love you to write an article on how to actually fight jihadist ideology. I have a suggestion for winning the war against Al Qaeda: just fill a B-52 with pork sausages, and threaten to bomb the Mecca with it.
    No doubt those bearded fuckheads would run out of their caves, turn themselves in, apologize and propose to rebuild the WTC themselves.
    Too bad Israel can’t use this style against Hamas.
    “Peace’n Pork”, that could save the world dudes.

  • 10. J.T. Patton  |  March 10th, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    The War Nerd makes a couple of sound points here. One is that clean drinking water is the most crucial thing to survival. The second is that too many people romanticize the failure of civilization. It would not be a good thing for anyone.

  • 11. yabadabadoo  |  March 10th, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    I can’t wait for the civilization to collapse. We are goin to have so much FUUU-HO-HO-HUUUUN!

    Some serious wealth re-distribution time is upon us.

    Ow, yeahh!

    Bring it on, baby! Bring it on.

  • 12. Grimgrin  |  March 10th, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    You want a taste of post apocalyptic fun? Blow up the aqueducts that feed LA in the middle of summer.

    Very very serious fun will ensue very quickly.

  • 13. coldequation  |  March 10th, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    This is a good article, but the lone survivalist scenario can play itself out locally, even though it’s unlikely to happen nationwide or for a long period of time.

    Think Katrina-stricken New Orleans. I know somebody who was there who did, in fact, fight off some looters with a handgun. The situation lasted only 10 days or so, but he might not still be alive if he hadn’t had that gun. Koreans in LA 1992 with their assault rifles are another example.

    Also, if the chaos was so bad that church paramilitaries were taking over, they wouldn’t last long unless the whole world was in the same mess. If China didn’t collapse, for example, soon the People’s Liberation Army would be here to take over, and they could walk right over Rev. Dobson’s crew. Just about any country would be strong enough to defeat the Pentecostals. In particular, I wouldn’t see socially-cohesive Japan collapsing internally, Mad Max style, so this would be their chance to shine like they’ve always known they should.

    Somebody mentioned Harappa as an example of a country that collapsed. That’s because there was no neighboring country ready to knock them off once they became weak. But in more recent millenia most people generally have had neighbors who would be happy to conquer them long before they remotely started to resemble Mad Max.

  • 14. Sean Taylor  |  March 10th, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    My life fades. The vision dims. All that remains are memories. I remember a time of chaos. Ruined dreams. This wasted land. But most of all, I remember Gary Brecher. The man we called “War Nerd”. To understand who he was, you have to go back to another time. When the world was powered by the black fuel. And the desert sprouted great cities of pipe and steel. Gone now, swept away. For reasons long forgotten, two mighty warrior tribes went to war and touched off a blaze which engulfed them all. Without fuel, they were nothing. They built a house of straw. The thundering machines sputtered and stopped. Their leaders talked and talked and talked. But nothing could stem the avalanche. Their world crumbled. The cities exploded. A whirlwind of looting, a firestorm of fear. Men began to feed on men. On the roads it was a white line nightmare. Only those mobile enough to scavenge, brutal enough to pillage would survive. The gangs took over the highways, ready to wage war for a tank of juice. And in this maelstrom of decay, ordinary men were battered and smashed. Men like War Nerd. The warrior Nerd. In the roar of an engine, he lost everything. And became a shell of a man, a burnt out, desolate man, a man haunted by the demons of his past, a man who wandered out into the wasteland. And it was here, in this blighted place, that he learned to live again…

  • 15. Greg Foreman  |  March 10th, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    Is it any surprise that Gen X and Gen Y are obsessed with apocalyptic survival scenarios? After being told for all their lives that the world is ending sometime very soon if we don’t DO SOMETHING why wouldn’t they not only expect the end times but start to look forward to them.

    One thing that is constant with all these survivalist scenarios is the 90% death rate rule. For whatever reason, be it Peak Oil, Soviet Nukes or Global Warming only 10% of the world will be left standing. The fans of these scenarios are sure they will be in that 10% because they not only do they know the end times are coming but they are prepared!

    I think this stems from the fact that they feel out of control in this world and are comforted by the idea of taking over when the unprepared die off in job lots when the karma bill comes due.

    I suppose it’s the only sane response to the insane world they find themselves in. Ruled by the Boomer Generation and facing a national debt that can;t be expressed in numbers that they can even begin to understand the “end of the world” is the only hope they have for a future, dystopian though it may be.

  • 16. captain america  |  March 10th, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    for what it’s worth, most mormons i know figure they’re stocking up on food and water to help out all the gentiles who lacked the forsight to do so when an emergency arises. not too callous, hard, or terribly hip an attitude, but it’s true.

    although, it’s also true that if you were to get too pushy, i could see your buckshot scenario playing out with at least some mormons.

  • 17. harv  |  March 10th, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    Bashar Mossad
    Unfortunately for you, the zionists are the first lucky group of “chosen people” to get eaten alive in the event of an apocalyptic global breakdown. They’ll have 350 million vengeful blood lusting arabs closing in on them…very pleasant thought.

  • 18. Baked Dr. Luny  |  March 10th, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    I wish I had April 20th off every year.

  • 19. Armen  |  March 10th, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    Funny stuff.

    “Rare” YouTube footage:

  • 20. MR WILLIAMS  |  March 10th, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    Hey, could you guys post a more recent photo of the War Nerd? That is his pic from like five years ago! He’s got to be at least 40 by now, right? I want to see what he looks like now.

  • 21. Oscar Zoroaster  |  March 10th, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    I think The WN has revealed why we love zombie movies so much. No rules, no people. Freedom from the wage slave existence, from the zombie like nine to five

    But like he said, you wouldn’t really be free. Eventually some faction would sweep through your area and kill you, or turn you into a serf

  • 22. Evilcor  |  March 10th, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    I was gonna say something about Gary’s photo, and something stupid and nasty about a cult writer I know whom everyone adores, and I’m jealous of him because while he’s getting published and read, I remained here confined to the “comments” section where they can mock me… aw fuck, I’m too much of a wuss to say what I wanted to say. Forget it.

    (BTW, to the WN – I’m sorry I didn’t follow up our correspondence last year when the Russians shut you down. Believe it or not, my life got even worse than yours.)

  • 23. wengler  |  March 11th, 2009 at 12:02 am

    The End of the World sucks, but I think to most people it is the only possible way to change the world in a fundamental way.

    Frankly this country has too many redundant governmental structures to make a collapse effect the makeup of society in any substantial way. And considering how jail happy and police happy we are with our paranoid attitude, it is likely we would just become police states under some local idiot thug with a hick militia under his control. This would probably just lead to an ongoing low-intensity war with all the attendant headaches one of those can cause.

    So in conclusion, Brecher hit the nail on the head once again. The likelihood of becoming some post-apocalyptic king pales in comparison to more mundane deaths like getting smashed to pieces in a car accident or slipping in your tub.

  • 24. Andy  |  March 11th, 2009 at 12:30 am

    “Has chaos ever actually won? It sounds weird but I can’t find a single example that fits the video-game, Mad Max scenario.”

    Might that be because such chaos, by definition, was never *recorded*?

    E.g. bronze-age collapse.

  • 25. PV  |  March 11th, 2009 at 1:14 am

    Bronze age collapse? WTF are you on about? WTF are you ON, actually? Ages come and go because something better is developed. Chaos is recorded all the time. Periods in the Middle Ages were typical feudal chaos, periods in China were recorded as being ‘in between’ empires.
    Take a history class.

  • 26. Eye in the Sky  |  March 11th, 2009 at 1:25 am

    During a collapse it isn’t the poor man (or the unprepared rich guy) who is going to survive. What about the extremely rich and prepared banking families, who are investing in raw-materials, water supply, transportation, power, waste disposal etc. and also have deep connections in the war industry and corrupt big-government? What about some factions of the military and the Blackwater type groups? Its more likely their control will dramatically increase while the ordinary office slave will be enslaved even more.

  • 27. John Sawyer  |  March 11th, 2009 at 2:00 am

    wengler @23 says:

    “The End of the World sucks, but I think to most people it is the only possible way to change the world in a fundamental way.”

    That’s because most people don’t have the combination of smarts, bravery, and compassion to take the time to figure out how to really change the world, and do it without destroying it. If all but 10% of the world’s population were to die, particularly in some apocalyptic “idea-driven” (as opposed to natural disaster) combination of delusional fighting over whose ideas win, loss of technology, etc., then it’s likely the remaining 10% would be so hard-core that they’d be even wackier than the people that the doom-hopers are currently annoyed by. Meet the new boss or neighbor, worse than the old boss or neighbor. Why bother with that scenario? Unless one is some first-person-shooter computer/video game-playing, “I Am Legend” idiot who thinks he’ll live some ennobling, flames-hardened life after the supposed apocalypse.

    Doom hopers/believers/promoters are quaint.

  • 28. bollverk  |  March 11th, 2009 at 3:20 am

    I think that the downfall this time might be the real deal though. We have an unhealthy ration of peasants to masters, so unhealthy that todays peasants take the roles of masters and masters have to slave away between stupid peasants, which makes it so unbearable. I can see all those neurotic idiots losing it, especially if they have guns…

  • 29. PsycloneJack  |  March 11th, 2009 at 4:30 am

    The War Nerd seems to forget one thing about water: South California is located nearby that pond called Pacific Ocean and desalination is not a voodoo thing nowadays.

  • 30. thucydides  |  March 11th, 2009 at 4:59 am

    “Has chaos ever actually won? It sounds weird but I can’t find a single example that fits the video-game, Mad Max scenario. Sure, empires weaken and fall, but it’s not a horde that defeats them, it’s some other tribe, some new empire.”

    If “chaos” is an order-of-magnitude decrease in GNP per person, a decade or more decrease in average life expectancy and an order-of-magnitude increase in child mortality, then yes. Hell, Zimbabwe qualifies for that, just in the changes there over the past 20 years, and you could argue that most of Russia between, say, 1990 to 2000 would qualify for those criteria.

    If “chaos” is a complete collapse of social order and the economy, the reduction of central government to an unrecognizable and ineffective remnant, and the absence of rule of law, there’s plenty of situations through history following large-scale warfare or famine or disease that qualify for that. You could argue that most of Europe during its dark ages qualifies for that, or what happened in the Mediterranean following the Bronze Age collapse further back in history.

    If “chaos” is a mass die-off, then what about Easter Island? Or the Viking settlement in Greenland, or the Anasazi / Chacoans in the western US, or the Mayans? (Yes, I’m stealing examples from Jared Diamond’s “Collapse”.)

    I agree with the point, that in most cases “chaos” does not equal collapse and mass depopulation and die-off, that it just means some different well-armed, smelly, funny-dressed folks are in charge.

    But there are cases where entire city-dwelling populations just disappear from the historical record, and it’s important to distinguish between “life is way crappier for everyone” situations like modern Zimbabwe or the fall of the Soviet Union, and what happened to the Mayans or Anasazi.

  • 31. isamu  |  March 11th, 2009 at 6:11 am

    “The War Nerd seems to forget one thing about water: South California is located nearby that pond called Pacific Ocean and desalination is not a voodoo thing nowadays.”

    Yeah, cause a collapsed civilization is going to have the knowledge and energy resources to run desal plants.

  • 32. Jack Boot  |  March 11th, 2009 at 6:23 am

    Ah, the End of the World – at least we won’t have to go to work next Monday. A chap can dream, can’t he?

    You’re right, of course; in the end, the Roundheads always beat the Cavaliers. Who shall the American Cromwell be?

  • 33. jim  |  March 11th, 2009 at 6:28 am

    Most likely, the new nations would grow up around large bodies of water ie. coastal regions and island communities. Just imagine Polynesia as the new super power. The great plains and similar areas would likely become barren wastelands that wouldn’t be resettled again until civilization got back on its feet. Either that, or they’d go on for a little while as small raider fiefdoms. I could definitely see places like Las Vegas going through a “Mad Max” period for as long as the fuel lasts. The ones that come to dominate will likely be those with stable supply lines and well-structured political systems.

  • 34. Evilcor  |  March 11th, 2009 at 8:54 am

    Damn right I’m jealous of Glenn Beck. That’s how lame I am.

  • 35. Stevie  |  March 11th, 2009 at 9:22 am

    WTF? Who the hell brought up glenn beck? STFU.

  • 36. Curry  |  March 11th, 2009 at 9:32 am

    Dude, how about some analysis on the terrorist attack on the Sri lankan cricketers. What about the war in Sri Lanka where LTTE is being ass whopped. What about the Swat region in Pakistan where Pakistani army is getting its ass whopped.

  • 37. Krishna Venta  |  March 11th, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Brecherhead: Leave ‘South California’ [sic]and return to Central Valley, even now imploding. Wait for a message. 88-30, dude, 88-30. Ciao. Krishna.

  • 38. John Sawyer  |  March 11th, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    The question War Nerd was asking, was “Has chaos ever actually won?”, not “has there ever been chaos?”. By “won”, War Nerd was asking whether there was ever an entire country, civilization, etc. that collapsed, experiencing widespread chaos, internal fighting, little if any enforcement of laws, etc. that turned out to be for the best, for which that very type of chaos was a necessary element in creating something better. There may be a few such examples, but the only one I can think of right now that even vaguely qualifies, is the French Revolution (the one Marie Antoinette was bizarrely blamed for), which threw out the stupid monarchy. I wouldn’t cite the American Revolution, since that didn’t involve chaos–“just” a war, during which civil order was still maintained. One possible example is the American Civil War, but that was devastating “only” to the South, but even there, civil law, etc. didn’t collapse–you didn’t see Southerners attacking each other on any substantial scale, over petty squabbles, settling of scores, trying to steal land, create little empires, etc. There may be examples in China’s history (I don’t count the Communist “revolution”), but I don’t know enough about that to say. Not even WWI or WWII qualify, since they weren’t the kind of “Mad Max” scenario that War Nerd was commenting on, and both wars involved the world working together to defeat the Germans and their stooges–neither the Germans nor the rest of the world were working to create a Mad Max scenario, even though the battles may resemble such to the unobservant.

    Eye in the sky says:
    “During a collapse it isn’t the poor man (or the unprepared rich guy) who is going to survive. What about the extremely rich and prepared banking families, who are investing in raw-materials, water supply, transportation, power, waste disposal etc. and also have deep connections in the war industry and corrupt big-government?”

    Trouble is, it’s those people who are working hardest at making the world collapse. Half of them do it by not caring or understanding the results of their predatory actions, and the other half work at it deliberately, since they subscribe to the phony Mad Max scenario, thinking it’s a good way of reducing the population to “manageable” levels.

  • 39. aun  |  March 11th, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    was waiting for your article, thanks!!!

  • 40. Fissile  |  March 11th, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    In the event of a complete societal collapse, Brecher is correct, you won’t have to worry about the Bloods and Crips. You will have to worry about gangs that have the resources and training to inflict real damage: law enforcement and the military. When the emergency vehicles buried by the 9-11 WTC collapse were dug out, they were found to be full of expensive clothes, jewelry and high end electronics that were looted from the shops in the WTC complex. While the idiot gang bangers of NOLA were busy looting Walmart of grape soda and mac&cheese, the NOLA police cleaned out all the luxury car dealers, jewelry stores and high end retailers. It’s the well organized bastards, whose motive is greed, that get ahead, lone wolves and dreamers just end up dead.

  • 41. Allen  |  March 11th, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    I think the real romantic end of the world scenarios do feature the end of almost all of humanity. We’re talking about 99-99.99% kill ratio … not a societal collapse that will be soon followed by another even crappier society.

    No. Complete fuckin’ devastation by way of … oh I dunno plague? And then a huge post-apocalyptic playground to take over.

    It’s why the zombie movies are so popular, or books like Stephen King’s The Stand. Secretly many people long for radical freedom – radical liberty. Everyone knows this is impossible when there is a society in the way; all the alienating bullshit of artificial expectations and petty games doesn’t end until nearly everyone is dead … then it’s just you, and maybe some cool people including a few conveniently attractive women (pretty sure this is a male fantasy) you keep around — the very few others kicking about you have a marvelous time keeping away with the old .308s.

    And it would sure help if most of everyone else around would helpfully be a bunch of Luddite mutants that don’t use guns … or zombies, I guess; but that’s asking for a lot.

    That’s the dream; the reality is that everyone is just going to die along the road of life. Like Gary said, one more obituary column in the un-regarded minutiae of a society that just keeps ticking on in its own little impersonal self assured insanity… until one day the meteor finally does come down.

  • 42. John  |  March 11th, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    hey armen, thanks a bunch for that
    Dylan armageddon talking blues. Some
    good really-funny lines in there.

  • 43. Evilcor  |  March 11th, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    What’s wrong with Fissle? I’m kind of an asshole, but he’s fucking nuts!

    BTW eXiled, I’ve been chastened. Please accept the following grovelling apology, Soviet-style:

    It has recently occured that some of my remarks on this site have given offense. Specifically, I have in haste attempted a number of posts which – on careful review – appear to have been unduly ill-spirited and which might well be taken as deliberately insulting a number of upstanding eXiled contributors.
    Let me assure even the casual reader that I hold these towering lights in the highest reverence and categorically did not intend to violate the boundaries of acceptable discourse.
    My left-deviationist intrigues were rightly spotted by an alert moderator who may be assured of my gratitude in correcting any misapprehension which might have otherwise arisen.
    eXiled online is an essential and relevant lodestone in these troubled times, and it is my sincere wish that success and prosperity be eternally theirs.

    May the Crimson X be forever revered, for it is ours!
    U nas luche!


  • 44. j-dog  |  March 11th, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    these END OF THE WORLD jackoff scenarios are basically the same thing as “lets just go back to hunter/gatherer societies.” God I hated my anthropology classmates.

  • 45. SunsetStationHenderson  |  March 11th, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    I agree with you, but really, i want to be prepared regardless if this happens or not, but not with weapons but with some way to prepare our own food an water, and some tool to start rebuilding the order in some ways.

  • 46. Jack Stormcrow  |  March 11th, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    1. Read Joseph Tainters “Collapse of Complex Societies”.
    2. Tribal hunter gatherers are our historical mean. We will revert to the mean. A depopulated planet would make it hard for someone to keep a coercive group together. Groups would just wonder off to live old school.
    3. The American plains would not be a wasteland, they will be where the new, northern hemisphere Mongols will live. The Mississipi valley will be like China; agriculture = despotism. Central Asia has been the source of wave after wave of genetic material, as those grasslands plus horses = military superiority.
    4. Try to join Jay Hansons

  • 47. Eli  |  March 11th, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    harv: The blood-thirsty Arab neighbors – including Saudis, Syrians, and the rest of that cohort will be one of the first ones to perish in a nuclear holocaust commenced by Israel at the earliest opportunity.

    There’s going to be a lot of new land adjoined to Eretz Israel.

    Still pleasant for you?

  • 48. PsycloneJack  |  March 12th, 2009 at 1:02 am


    Please google ‘homemade desalination unit’ (or something similar).
    Don’t forget to print the .pdfs, just in case the internet collapses.

  • 49. Allen  |  March 12th, 2009 at 7:02 am

    “Eretz Israel” praise the glorious gentile slaying sword of the vengeful messiah of the Chosen Ones!

    Tell me, will there be many bagel shops in the paradise that is to come?

  • 50. John  |  March 12th, 2009 at 8:38 am

    Homemade desalination means we won’t have to drink our own pee like Kevin Costner?

  • 51. dogbane  |  March 12th, 2009 at 9:56 am

    Good commentary. Over at, we discuss issues like this constantly, and I think armed raiders are higher on our list of concerns than zombies. I posted a link to this article there, and one member said that zombies were really a best case scenario. (I have turned a few people onto the War Nerd; I hope your site traffic has gone up.)

    Guns are important, but more for protecting what you have from other people with guns. More important is community, which is something I keep harping on.

    Well done. Your blog was worht the wait.

  • 52. John Doe  |  March 12th, 2009 at 12:21 pm


    You might want to rethink that: the Arab enemies of Zion happen to sit on most of the world’s oil, so if the U.S. got wind of your plan, they’d nuke Israel into glass slag to save the production facilities. That’s called “Realpolitik”.

  • 53. Hidden Author  |  March 12th, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    I think everybody is missing Brecher’s point: All those people thinking an apocalypse will free them are mistaken. The clans, tribes, etc. that would replace the centralized state would discipline and regiment their membership far more strictly than society as it is currently organized!

  • 54. aleke  |  March 12th, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    Yeah life would be shit. Unless you really love religion and hate living comfortably.

  • 55. Sk  |  March 12th, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    I can sympathize with the feeling that the only salvation from life in the new peasantry is a deus ex machina event that wipes out our current masters.

    The clans that would fill in the vacuum might be more tyrannical, but the good news is that they would have far fewer resources with which to oppress individuals than current governments. The remains of a police force probably couldn’t be bothered to run a massive program to filter your online communication and put you on the terrorist watch list if you type enough anti-establishment key words.

    I doubt it makes a difference, but I guess (assuming you didn’t die of dysentery first) trying to fend off armed pentecostals is more plausible than fighting off the cops.

  • 56. j-dog  |  March 12th, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    @54 “Unless you really love religion and hate living comfortably.”

    Isn’t that the point of most judeo-christian religions? Hatred of pleasure …. total devotion to THE FAITH (or GOD if you want to use their language). Perfect slave (or in an “end times” world) soldier mentality. There’s no question IF the religious sects would excel in these types of scenarios.

  • 57. dogbane  |  March 13th, 2009 at 4:50 am

    54. “I think everybody is missing Brecher’s point: All those people thinking an apocalypse will free them are mistaken.”

    Brecher makes several good points, and that’s one of them, but I think this is his most important point: “If you want to survive, join a club.”

  • 58. isamu  |  March 13th, 2009 at 4:59 am

    “Please google ‘homemade desalination unit’ (or something similar).”

    So what happens when your polythene sheet wears out? Buy another from Home Depot?

    What about water for irrigation or livestock? Most of California is worthless for agriculture without irrigation.

    These home units are just short-term household-level survival tools, not the basis for any lasting civilization. Absent modern technology, there isn’t a way or reason for 17 million people to live in the greater LA area.

  • 59. d0man72  |  March 13th, 2009 at 9:51 am

    If the shtf quickly 5 million L.A. residents will die off trying to cross the sierra mountains and the other millions will die off in the city. Only a few will make it out alive. If California collapses all America would be left with is the facist state of Texas (the only facist nation left in the whole white world) California is home to important technological center in the world Silicon Valley and it also has the most military bases than any other state. It is believed that California coasts hold up to 10 billion barrels of oil. Would hate to see it fall to the communist Chinese reds.

  • 60. Derek  |  March 13th, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    Hey, we’ve got a private well. I can also make alcohol out of fruit. What else does life need?

  • 61. rpg  |  March 14th, 2009 at 8:49 am

    hey War Nerd, i know our conventional enemies don’t hold much interest to you, but what about some thoughts on Russia using Cuba to parks its strategic bombers again?

  • 62. Eli  |  March 14th, 2009 at 9:14 am

    John Doe: actually, “Realpolitik” says that in case of complete disintegration of morality and UN-type diplomacy (as a result of the said “apocalypse”), US will probably be the one cleaning up the Arab street – en masse style. Israel will just be left watching, as Americans make a huge parking lot out of Saudi Arabia in order to extract it resources.

    Fortunately for Israel, it doesn’t have any oil, so it’ll be left alone – that is, until mass starvation happens. But by then everyone will be screwed anyway.

  • 63. blargho  |  March 14th, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    Google “Summer of Hell”, the collapse just might come sooner than you’d think.

    I’d be more worried about nukes getting in to the wrong hands.

    And as a geotechnical engineer I know where to dig wells. 😛 The profession is pretty damn intact Mr. War Nerd.

    Might want to suck up to your friendly neighborhood geothermal engineer aswell, cause that energy source is easy to generate.

  • 64. odd  |  March 14th, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    Well, this is a fine enough coverage of chaos by conquest. But then you also have chaos by environmental collapse and chaos by disease.

    If you transform your prime agricultural land in a desert then shit is going to happen. The end state is that almost all that lived there will be gone either by going somewhere else, or by dying. In the meantime it is going to be messy and most attempts at government will fail unless they have some solution to problems (not likely). No one will conquer your desert though – unless oil is found under it.

    If a disease kills half the population or so, it actually tends to end up pretty good for the survivors – once the corpses are in the ground and the plague is over. More land for everyone, more career opportunities, less people for conscription, thus less war (more coups though as you and your buddy probably can stage one). These times are usually called dark ages as there is little fun for the historians with peasants tilling the soil. As neighbours will probably also suffered from the plagu or will get it if they invade there won’t be much conquests.

  • 65. Newfie_Survivor  |  March 15th, 2009 at 10:10 am

    Little off topic but did anyone actually READ I Am Legend. The book is nothing like the movie (except the characters name). He didn’t get a dog…he lured it to him over a period of time and when he finally got it….it died……its too bad that holywood didn’t think this story was good enough for a movie….i just wish they were not allowed to keep the title when they change everything

  • 66. dagnir  |  March 16th, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    Great ending there. Really drives home the point.

  • 67. Roger  |  March 16th, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    I never thought Tank Girl would be so accurate. For those who haven’t seen it, go ahead. It is good entertainment and rather accurate about post apocalyptic living.

  • 68. Charlton Heston  |  March 18th, 2009 at 6:02 am

    Ever notice how in “The Omega Man” or “28 Days Later”, people kindly park their cars neatly to leave the streets accessible to whoever’s left alive?

    In reality the streets would be clogged with car smashes. Not to mention out-of-control fires and melting down atomic and chemical plants spewing every kind of poison everywhere.

    Yeah, I’m really looking forward to be the next Charlton Heston. Even the Soylent Green won’t be edible.

  • 69. Jed Troison  |  March 19th, 2009 at 2:58 am

    One of the few times, if ever that I’d disagree with the Brecher. The Christians would probably be second to go, just before designer dogs like Lhasa Apsos'(bleeding heart liberal lefties will be picked off 1st because they won’t know an enemy from their asses).

    Evangelicals are just not made of the same stuff as the ones who warred all over Europe or their Catholic kin who were prepared to defend it by joining crusades. Too namby pamby, always think God will work out everything for the best, and they just have to sit back and wait for victory to be delivered.

    If civ collapses, you at least have to be prepared to kill to defend your patch of dirt – I could just imagine a blood or crip pretending he wants in, that he’s ready to be baptised and the bleeding hearts would blubber about the love of Jesus and open the gates. After all, isn’t that how the problems started in US? And I’m damn cert that’ll be the cause of any collapses in future. That midget dwarf in “In Bruges” was right!

  • 70. Civ III  |  March 20th, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    ‘Has chaos ever actually won?’
    Arguably, c. 1200 B.C., when just about all cities in the Middle East (except for Egypt, which held out, just barely), were burned. Some of them more than once; the survivors tried to rebuild and their enemies came back and finished the job. Civilization and literacy vanished for several centuries. And we don’t even know who did it.

  • 71. Carpenter  |  March 22nd, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    The churches would probably be part of one of two larger alliances. The first is the Government Remnant, which would be the biggest bandit gang in town. The second would be Americans who want an end to the Washington-Israel axis and its running of the world, America in particular. Ordinary Americans have an enormous amount of guns, and they have the ability to organize. We can’t foresee the names of these new organizations, but when the Second Depression is in full bloom you will see them emerging, first as armed neighborhood watch and then as larger networks.

  • 72. RC  |  March 22nd, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    Are you fucking serious? Nkunda arrested, Tamil Tigers on the ropes, the usual action in the Middle East and War Nerd is reviewing Will Smith movies? What next – Tom Clancy book reviews? C’mon War Nerd, back to the wars!!!

  • 73. RC  |  March 24th, 2009 at 12:36 am

    I assume it was my last comment that landed me in the donation screen that lacked only violin accompaniment. I’ve dutifully coughed up – no thank you note required – so let’s see the Nerd back in full flight!!!

  • 74. mombasa  |  March 28th, 2009 at 7:30 am

    gary, elementary mistake on the WW2 german army, not expected from you.

    wehrmacht was the WHOLE german military machine, not just the land army.

    that was knows as heer.

  • 75. rob  |  April 11th, 2009 at 9:52 am

    you guys need to read THE classic end times novel, “The Day of the Triffids” by John Wyndham, basically all british movies of that kind used it

  • 76. Youmakesomegoodpointsandsomenot  |  April 14th, 2009 at 11:26 pm

    You make a few good points, and some that aren’t so good.

    First of all, if water stops running entirely or they blow up the water supply in an unlikely scenario there is the lake that’s a few miles east and plenty more things to get going.

    Having been in real survival situations I can tell you, it takes one to know one.

    That being said if after the revolution this country looks remarkably different, and its still not over because Israel decides to start firing off nuclear bombs into other countries, including the USA, that will be the time I disappear into the Grand Canyon for a good while…..then hijack a plane ticket out of the country.

    How they ask. I’ll let God guide me as usual, if such a thing was reality, because I know deep down God does really exist. He’s been there all through out my life, and that’s the one thing I’m truly sure of.

    Even when others have decided he does not exist, the spirit lives on for me.

  • 77. G. Tingey  |  April 15th, 2009 at 12:09 am

    “In every battle where they faced Germans on equal terms in either of the world wars, the Brits lost.”

    I suggest you go and read some REAL history BEFORE you make a comment as stupid and uninformed as this again……..

  • 78. InActionMan IAM  |  May 2nd, 2009 at 12:07 am

    Pure genius sir!
    I used to read you in the Exile in Moscow, several years ago now, and am very happy to have found you again. Indeed, I’m so happy I’ve just ordered your book and hope it arrives before the end of the world, in which case you’ll find me reading it while gulping down Seine water with the insane.

  • 79. Central Valley Guy  |  May 7th, 2009 at 11:02 am

    Anyone who romanticizes the End of Civilization should read Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road.” It pretty much redefines bleak. A perpetual hunt for food and water while trying to avoid cannibalistic hordes and just stay alive to see another grey winter day. Nope, I’m not up for that, thank you.

  • 80. NavidsonFilm  |  May 13th, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    The apocalypse scenario is frequently a fantasy, from ‘if you were the last man on earth’, to Shaun of the Dead.

    All of the problems in Shaun’s day-to-day life are neatly, well messily, solved by a zombie outbreak.

    I guess that’s why Romero tends to favour the bleak endings, it’s a punishment for the narcissism of the apocalypse fantasy.

  • 81. Mikey  |  May 31st, 2009 at 11:18 pm

    Your house should not be used as a fort, it should be the bait for the unfriendlys, while you are 800 yards away with your Soviet Sniper Rifle or scoped 50BMG …

  • 82. j  |  June 13th, 2009 at 9:22 am

    Worry will be the last of your worries should the State stop working in Southern California. You have reservoirs enought supply drinking water for years. When water extraction for the aquifer stops, its level increases and suddenly you have springs starting to flow in depressions. Irrigated agriculture will have stop, but drinking water supply will never be a problem.

    On the other hand, the apocaliptic scenatio is extremely unlike. Anglosaxon people are not like that. In the thousand year history of Anglosaxon people in Great Britain, public order never broke down. Wars, hunger, epidemies, revolutions, whatever. Anglo saxon people is genetically programmed to form ordered societies in no time. The Black Death killed half of the population in a few years, yet rents were paid, the government governed, agricultural production decreased only slightly. Italians left everything and orgied (Bocaccio), but Englishmen kept did nothing of the sort but kept paying their taxes. There never was a Kathrina like situation in any place populated by Anglosaxons. If deep down you feel that you it is dangerous to for you to lose your fatty bodily reserves, because you may starve, I assure you that you can safely lose weight as there will be no famine in Southern California, nor fighting for drinking water.

  • 83. Jonty City  |  July 3rd, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    Don’t think I don’t know who you’re talking about:

  • 84. M Otis Beard  |  July 10th, 2009 at 8:19 am

    Like just about everyone else (including most zombie flick aficionados), War Nerd misses the point of wishing for the zombie apocalypse. Inheriting the shopping mall is secondary; the real allure of the zombie apocalypse is purely metaphorical: The survivors are the weirdos, the misfits, the people just like Gary Brecher, and the zombies are the normal people, the status quo, the jocks and the churchgoing and the people who buy Miley Cyrus CDs. If you’re a weirdo with style, the normals want to make a product out of you and consume you. If you’re just a garden-variety weirdo, the normals want to infect you with their normalcy and turn you into them. Weirdos dream of being zombie apocalypse survivors because that would bring them the consequence-free environment in which their fondest dream could be lived out: the dream of shooting all those irritating normal assholes in the head.

  • 85. Longchange  |  May 4th, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    Somebody Stealing ideas from Brecher? He should get a royalty. Maybe then he’ll write another goddam article!

  • 86. Jimbo  |  May 14th, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    “if it all came down. It’d come down to dull stuff that nobody wants to think about, like organization.”

    War Nerd, seems like you’ve done all your research using the space capsule survivalist sources. I’d humbly suggest you check out Jack Spirko’s

    For m’self, survivalism is a life style that keeps me from being dependent on our economic system that can be interrupted by natural disaster, civil disturbance, pandemic and etc. I’m not optimistic about our fiat & fractional reserve induced implosion, but I don’t see things going Mad Max, either. Having the skill sets that survivalist life style encourages will make this crappy economy a bit more bearable.
    My threat matrix is:
    1. Natural disaster or weather induced problems. I live up north, it is conceivable that a snow storm could shut down food delivery. I have enough grub & necessities on hand to make this a minor inconvenience.
    2. Pandemic. Sooner or later, mother nature will bitch slap us with some sort of disease that could cause quarantine to be imposed. Again, I have enough stuff on hand to wait this out.
    3. Civil disturbance. My main concern about this is to simply get home. My vehicle is road ready and I have alternative routes to get back to the hacienda.
    4. The economy going down the toilet. We grow most of our own food, very good on our budget.
    -10,000 on my threat matrix: I gotta git mah AR-15 out and shoot dem black helicopters and martians! I just don’t see this happening, too much fun for a redneck like m’self.

  • 87. wes george  |  July 13th, 2010 at 12:12 am

    The Mad Max scenario may be unlikely, but it certainly has happened many, many times in the past. So has the lone-family holding-out-in-the-wilderness…

    What is required is simply between 60 to 99% of the population dying off. Gary notes that this would occur in So Cal if the power/water was turned off. Such a civil collapse would probably also cause massive pandemics in the population, much like the ones that took out various indigenous populations, who had no immunity to white man diseases, when they first encountered Europeans. We have become a pampered people who would die in a New York minute if we had to drink the same quality of water they do in the Sudan without immediate 911 medical care available.

    The Mad Max scenario is basically an existential narrative played out in a depopulated landscape. This occurred in parts of Europe several times, but most recently just after the Black Plague when whole regions were so depopulated that in some cases farmland returned to forests and formerly great manor houses were occupied by peasant survivors. The idea of lifetime shopping sprees in abandoned malls has real historical parallels.

    The collapse of Roman civil society in places wasn’t a simple transition to barbarian rule. Just like a So Cal civil collapse would wipe out most of the clueless and pampered population without the need for an invasion, the collapse of Roman civil infrastructure led to the depopulation of many cities and rural outposts due to Malaria, starvation or simply because the aquifers and food trades no longer delivered.

    Not every city or region the Mongols razed they occupied. Whole cities were massacred and plundered overnight and then the Mongols moved on. Surely, a few lucky? souls climbed out from beneath the piles of bodies to live on in the ruins…

    Similar scenes occurred after the rapid collapse of the Mayan empire where great cities were wiped out almost overnight in an orgy of insane societal suicide of mass slaughter, starvation and disease. The few survivors who returned to the ruins of Tikal and other monumental cities lived to watch the jungle eventually swallow the dead civilization whole.

    Then there is the mysterious Akkadian collapse circa 4000 ago. Little is known about this end of the world for Sumer, other than it happened in less than 5 years and almost nobody survived.

    And there is Easter Island….heck, I could go on and on. But you get the idea. Apocalypse Later is always in the cards and for, say, one in a million, it would fucking rock…that is if you saved a girl and maybe a loyal dog.

    Hope and change!

  • 88. Loser on the Loose  |  July 31st, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    Wow, the above post took the words right out of my mouth, as if I could express myself as well.

    Mr. War Nerd, please don’t dash my hopes for a societal Mad Max. If I’m ever convinced that it’s not gonna happen I would have nothing to look forward to.

  • 89. Molestus DesChevres  |  August 8th, 2010 at 4:52 am

    An interesting, but sadly incomplete picture of ‘Medieval America’ here.

    Film suggestion for TEOTWAWKI fans: ‘Threads’, available on Google Video.

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