Survival Community: Justice in a WROL world?

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Justice when the grid goes down
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As editor for the Prepper Journal, I think it’s fair to say that I might think of Doomsday more than a lot of people. I think all preppers do to varying degrees. I try to imagine a world on the other side of collapse; a future that is soaked in chaos and anarchy, of people on the edge of survival. I think about these things not because I am a deviant psychopath bent on seeing the world burn while I assume some throne atop the wreckage of civilization; I think about the worst our society can become so I am hopefully able to plan in some way for contingencies like this. I figure if I plan for the absolute worst case scenario I will have at least spent some brain-power now trying to figure out solutions to the challenges in my imagination. If nothing happens, that is perfectly fine but I don’t want to be shell-shocked and unable to act if something horrible really does happen. In reality, that may be what happens regardless, but I do consider mental practice a worthwhile exercise.

We talk about combating violence with violence on this blog a lot, but usually from the standpoint of protecting yourself, your home or your loved ones and that is a very real and tangible possibility even now. If you add some SHTF event on top of the regular evil in the world, I believe violence will become extremely more prevalent. We in the U.S. have been largely insulated from violence and war inside our borders anyway for a very long time. Strangely enough, the rest of the world has not. I believe it only takes the right scenario or chain of events for our nation to see tanks rolling down our streets, massive protests with hundreds injured or even killed in the name of ‘restoring order’, martial law, and many thousands arrested for dissent. I also think it is possible for the right trigger event to completely destroy all semblance of society and with it our understanding of law and order. When there are no rules anymore, what do you do?

When there is no more Rule of Law

As preppers we prepare for disasters and unplanned events of all shapes and sizes. I like to believe that the actions I take to be more prepared can be used for millions of different scenarios and enhance the lives of my family even if there are never any disasters. Just the other week, I was fortunate enough to put out a small fire in our home with one of the fire-extinguishers I had purchased expressly because I was thinking about living without the benefit of the fire department. This simple prep we made was able to potentially save our home from burning down. In this case, that small act of preparing for fire actually made me prepared to act in a way that protected my family for a situation I had planned for. Go Figure!

We plan for losing the ability to purchase healthy food, losing access to water, health care and yes for bad guys coming down our street to loot or destroy, but eventually the fires will die down and we will have to restore our own semblance of society. In a worst case scenario, there will likely be no police force. We call this WROL (Without Rule of Law) You won’t have courts, lawyers, probation officers or detention centers paid for and run by taxpayer dollars. What happens when these legal process systems we have relied on to deal with the criminals among us are gone?

At some point in the bleakest future we can imagine, maintaining the rule of law might be our responsibility. Your community might be the police force, the judge and in some cases, the executioner. Instead of protesting police, you may find yourself along with your neighbors in the role of dealing with the bad guys.

All crimes are not equal. Different punishments for different offenses will be wise.
All crimes are not equal. Different punishments for different offenses will be wise.

Crime and punishment when the grid goes down

We are a nation of laws and regardless of what you think about the particular laws, civil society needs rules to live by. To enforce the laws we have consequences and those are all sloppily handled by our local governments in various fashion. If you ask me there are entirely too many laws on the books now, but that’s an argument for another day. I do agree that some laws/rules are needed to keep everyone responsible or to hold people responsible for their actions. These will be no less important in a SHTF scenario, but your problem could be codifying the laws your community agrees on and identifying some process for carrying out justice when everything has gone to hell.

In this case I am referring to communities of people. When a group of people are together and relying on each other for mutual support, they will need to answer some questions if they want to formalize a process. Lone Individuals who are on their own will be ruled only by their own individual morals and ethics I think in a SHTF scenario. If you are living out on your remote piece of land and someone comes into your house at night, or is caught stealing some livestock, you will be left to your own devices I think in dealing with them.

In a community and maybe even in large families you will have to deal with consensus and agreement more so I believe unless you plan on running things like the Governor of Woodberry. In order for communities to get along, the rules will either need to be agreed upon or enforced under penalty of threat of violence. For the sake of this article, let’s assume your neighborhood has formed a small survival community, the worst of whatever disaster has passed and now you are trying to rebuild your own society piece by piece. This is TEOTWAWKI here, not some regional disaster that you would eventually recover from.

Justice in some cases may mean the death penalty.
Justice in a WROL world may mean the death penalty.

What could you possibly have to consider when it comes to the rules and laws of the community?

Who decides what the rules/laws are? – In a survival community, I don’t see anyone electing a single leader, but that could happen. There should be some form of leadership and this can be made up of several adults chosen by the group. The community should identify what rights this leadership has and the extents of any power provided to the leadership. No point in giving someone control over the community who will be a dictator.

What are your rules/laws? – This might sound easy at first, but over time it could become more complex without clear wisdom. I think it might make sense to deal with offenses against people first such as theft, injury or murder. These crimes may have clear-cut victims but for the sake of your conscious, a method of determining beyond a shadow of a doubt; the guilt or innocence of someone is key. You could start with the Bible and use elements of Levitical law, but that will set you up for harsh penalties that may not always seem fair. Do you really want to cut off someone’s hands for stealing? What if the person who stole was a child?

How are the rules shared with the survival community? – If you make a law/rule for your community you will have to ensure that everyone knows about the rules. You can’t simply say, the penalty for dumping poop near the stream is death and start killing people if they didn’t know the rules. Publish the rules in a common place and have a meeting with the community to go over all of the laws and give them a chance to offer feedback or ask questions.

How do you come up with penalties? – You can assume you won’t have access to a prison to incarcerate anyone as punishment for their crimes. Even if you did, you would have to spend resources feeding and taking care of the person. Punishment should be swift and effective so that the community isn’t burdened by the person who committed the crime. Could you make them spend the day in the stocks like they did as recently as the revolutionary war? For the penalty or punishment, this should be agreed well in advance so the rules come with penalties that are publicly known ahead of time by all members of the committee. Outsiders, if they are let in should be notified of the community rules immediately. Another reason to keep them simple.

Who will establish guilt or innocence? – I think an impartial party or group of people should be responsible for deciding guilt or innocence when it comes to punishment. This could be as simple as three people from the community who each get a vote after hearing the evidence. The people chosen could be different for each “Trial” to keep things fair.

How is punishment carried out? – I don’t think the people who decided the laws or a person’s guilt or innocence should be responsible for punishment. In the case of the death penalty, who will be the executioner? Who will slide the hangman’s noose around their fellow community member’s neck? This is not a job for a sick or vindictive individual. It should weigh heavily on anyone responsible with carrying out death in the name of justice.

As many problems as I have with the justice system in our country, I am not excited about the prospect of potentially being responsible for dispensing justice in my community. Again, this is an extremely bleak vision of a future that I don’t believe anyone wants, but topics like this do interest me with the potentials they highlight.

What about you? Have you thought about community rules and laws after a SHTF event?

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Elizabeth
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Elizabeth

oh wow. Way to take it to the next level Pat. Very much like the things our founding fathers (and dare I say it – mothers!!) had to consider. You might enjoy thinking about the Rules of Saint Benedict. Incredibly simple and workable for people of many backgrounds. If any one of us has been paying any kind of attention, we’ve watched so many potentially positive global movements devolve into deeply disturbing forms of rule of law. (there are a couple places on the planet right now that are giving me the serious heebie jeebies.) Is it alchemy to get… Read more »

Pat Henry
Guest

Thanks Elizabeth, I have been a little out-of-pocket this past week and the blog and my commenting has suffered. It should return to a more normal schedule now I hope. To your question: I don’t know if we as a society would have the intestinal fortitude to make the same decisions our forefathers did. I also don’t think even a minority of us would have the same wisdom they showed either. Not without a cataclysmic shift in the world, our beliefs, our ethics and our priorities. Sure, we might have some novel ideas to make the old constitution better in… Read more »

madelyn
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madelyn

As in the fiction book, “One Second After”, describing what life would be like in TEOTWAWKI, there came a time necessary in their community for some type of justice system. There were thieves, murderers and groups of sick, roving marauders to deal with. Evil must be dealt with. Even now truth is being compromised in our nation. “No one calls for justice, nor does anyone plead for truth. They trust in empty words and speak lies. They conceive evil and bring forth inequity. Justice is turned back. Righteousness stands afar off. Truth is fallen in the streets and equity cannot… Read more »

Prepp or Die
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Prepp or Die

I love that book! One Second After is such a good read. I have it on audio book too.

Pat Henry
Guest

Madelyn,

One Second After was definitely on my mind when I wrote this post. I love that book too and need to read it again. Currently I am reading Lucifer’s Hammer at the suggestion of Bolo and I can already see similar problems for the book’s cast to find ways of dealing with.

Pat

Ang
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Ang

A theocracy imposing your religious beliefs upon everyone would not be welcome. There has to be a more ethical and humane way to deal with one another.

usmarinestanker
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usmarinestanker

Finally, I have some time to respond to this. Good thinking article. I think I differ in my thoughts on this than many preppers, and most definitely from most of society. For the past year I have been trying to put my thoughts on laws and governance of humans in an essay/treatise, but I’m having a lot of trouble staying on focus because I get sidetracked with every possibility under the sun; rather than defining and expounding upon the major tenets. I am a very firm believer in natural law, which comes from God (or from the very fact that… Read more »

Pat Henry
Guest

Matt,

You are a perfect example of why I say we have the smartest readers out there of any prepper blogs. Excellent and well thought out points and arguments as always.

Could we ever get to a place like you mention? I think we would have to go through TEOTWAWKI for that and a population reduction of about 90% for us to all have enough space without worrying about forming together for protection.

Pat

Prepp or Die
Guest
Prepp or Die

There is only one perfect Law Book. It is the Bible. After TEOTWAWKI I would be in favor of a Bible based law. Citizens would have to agree to live according to the law or not become citizens. Only citizens could own property or vote. Once a citizen owned property, said property could not be taxed or seized by the state or any other person. Property rights would be the “First Law” and irrevocable by any future governing body. In fact a death penalty clause would be added to the law for any person so much as mentioning seizure or… Read more »

Elizabeth
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Elizabeth

I can see how like-minded people would definitely enjoy that form of government as long as “First Law” required that people who lived a few hills over were free to live by their own laws as long as they weren’t harming anyone in that community (which I think you mentioned). …I’m of the ‘fewest number of rules possible’ type of person & think I’d look for people who wouldn’t mind having many different spiritual points of view in the community.

Prepp or Die
Guest
Prepp or Die

Well for example the Levitical (Bible) Law for theft would require that the thief repay what he took plus 20%. No chopping off of hands (that’s Islam, not Bible BTW), no jail time, just repay the theft with a penalty. The penalty fits the crime. If you gouge out a man’s eye then yours would have to be gouged out. If you killed a man then you would be killed. Very simple and very just. Real common sense law! No more of this highest paid lawyer wins crap. No more legal double speak. The Levitical Law was written at a… Read more »

usmarinestanker
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usmarinestanker

“Like-minded people” is the key. The biggest problem, logistically speaking, in governing large groups of people is disparate world views and tolerances. The larger government gets, the more hamfisted its approach must be to pound the square peg in the round hole of universal blanket laws that negatively impact a region or regions because it was intended to be a specific fix in another locale. For example’s sake, we have about 320 million people in America. Who knows how to live best for each individual? The person or a group of delegates hundreds or thousands of miles away? Obviously, each… Read more »

Gary
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Gary

I posted a philosophical response to Justice in a WROL World two days ago and it has not been entered into this discussion. It contained no 4-letter words or insensitivity language. Are responses being edited and deleted at the whim of Pat Henry?

Pat Henry
Guest

Gary,

I haven’t deleted anything and I checked my comment database and nothing with your email appears in there. It is possible something happened when you originally posted but it looks like your latest attempt was successful.

Thanks for adding to the dialog.

Pat

Gary
Guest
Gary

I will try again to post my response: So, we should go to the bible for advice on how to organize a society and deal with its problems! For the last 2000 years and far longer, violence has been both the solution and the problem in dealing with crime and punishment. Have the solutions of the past resulted in less crime or better morality of members of a society. They have not and it can be argued that we have more crime today per capita than ever before. Stoning, crucifixion, hanging, shooting, gassing…all an eye for an eye. They do… Read more »

Pat Henry
Guest

I am not sure I understand, although truth be told I haven’t read any of the books you mention. In your scenario, what is supposed to happen if someone in the TEOTWAWKI community breaks into a home and rapes a small girl?

Arizona
Guest
Arizona

THE BIBLE was the best law book ever written,but of course americans are to well educated to read a book they hate,and are to stupid to know why they hate it,considering THEY’VE NEVER READ IT……..but it don’t matter anymore now,america used to go by the BIBLES LAWS,then they decided being queers and fagots,and commie traitors, was more fun,so it was abandoned and now the whole country has turned to shit,and americans are truly happy now,HEY you guys YOUR GOING TO LOVE IT IN HELL,you can hang out with your new DADDY satan every day…….AND GOOD LUCK IN YOUR NEW HOME…………

RedClay
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RedClay

In the 299 Days fictional series, the main character, Grant (who was an attorney who prepped) help set up a law-enforcement & legal system in a small town/ rural area. They had a trained shooting team that had practiced shooting & team-work maneuvers b4 shtf, & became the law enforcement team of the sm community. They even set up a simple justice system w/ a judge & jury, although that was used only occassionally, b/c after a few initial times & one “death penalty” by hanging, people knew that justice was nearby & lived w/ people fairly. 299 Days is… Read more »