About Dystopian Living
Freedom | Independence | Resilience
Our daily lives are becoming increasingly indistinguishable from dystopian fiction. Our "new normal" includes the following:
- Politicians, in collusion with tech billionaires and corporate titans, shape public policy to enrich themselves, at the expense of everyone else.
- A justice system designed by lawyers, for the benefit of lawyers, leaves the innocent no recourse against the powerful and well-connected.
- Constant surveillance ensures that every word and move is subject to official audit, while an ever-growing list of laws and regulations allows ruthless officials to use captured data to detain and prosecute anyone at any time.
- A corrupt financial system ensures that the very richest get richer, while everyone else slips into a debt-laden underclass.
- A rising tide of violence and substance abuse, paired with aggressive anti-police rhetoric, forces law-abiding citizens to do whatever is necessary to protect their families.
Fortunately, history provides a guide to those who would resist oppression. Spread truth to counter censorship and propaganda. Develop resilience to protect yourself and your family. Build freedom in the nooks and crannies of the system, so that when it collapses - and it inevitably will - liberty can be reborn.
Sadly, many of the "autonomous" information sources on the internet have degraded into a sort of quasi-radical version of the mass media. Rather than presenting thoughtful analysis and discussing empowering concepts, they present rumor, opinion and hysterical commentary designed to provoke what media scholars call "FUD" - Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. While a healthy amount of FUD is justified, an excess is paralyzing, demoralizing and counter-productive.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, there are Pollyanna websites that parrot the "everything is awesome" message promoted by government and industry. This, too, is unhelpful, as it lulls visitors into a false sense of complacency, encouraging them to ignore what needs to be fixed in their lives and in our society.
This website is different. Here, the focus is on independent thought and positive action. Yes, let's reject the mindless ideologies of hatred, dependency and consumerism that imprison our minds, poison our bodies and pollute the planet, but let's do it in a way that is constructive, rather than destructive.
The Importance of Personal Safety
The idea of "peace through strength" is usually associated with technological weaponry, but if you're hungry, freezing, sick, or out of bullets, the fanciest rifle in the world won't help you. That's why developing your mind, body, and skills should be a priority for anybody interested in protecting themselves and their loved ones from whatever the world may throw their way.
In modern times, we tend to think of a "warrior class" populated by almost superhuman beings who have dedicated their lives to the pursuit of combat excellence. Historically, this makes sense; kingdoms and empires had specialists - soldiers, knights, Samurai - while the rest of the population focused on farming and various trades. But it wasn't always this way.
In smaller populations, such as among the Vikings, Picts, Mongols, Zulus, or virtually any other indigenous tribe (including the peoples of the Bible, such as Israelites, Philistines, et al.), every able-bodied male (and sometimes female too) learned to fight, in addition to whatever their particular job was.
While there were usually a small subset of specialists who focused primarily on warfare (be it offensive or defensive), it was generally understood that, in times of conflict, everybody would be capable of helping to defend the tribe. For example, in the Kanien’kehaka language, there are two basic words for "warrior." As explained by a Kanien’kehaka cultural teacher, "Rotiskenhraketakwa are like conscript fighters, men who would normally not be fighting except when conscripted to defend the peace ... Oyenko:ohntoh are not conscripts, but sacred protectors; they are anonymous shadow warriors in a secret society whose duty it is to protect the [tribal] house."
While the "anonymous shadow warriors" of today - military and law enforcement personnel - continue the tradition of protecting society against major threats, the idea that the typical person would be completely defenseless against any type of danger would have struck our ancestors are extremely foolhardy, if not downright bizarre.
While it's tempting to simply emulate the tools and techniques of SWAT police and Special Forces operators, the fact is that what's appropriate for soldiers and police is very different from what's appropriate for the average person. For example:
- Unlike a LEO or SF operator, when in trouble, a civilian is usually alone, with no team or backup to call on.
- The military provides food, shelter, transportation, and medical care for its troops. If something bad happens to you, you're on your own.
- Rules of engagement are completely different for civilians. If you try to do what a cop or soldier does, you'll either get killed, or be put in prison for a long time.
- The government uses tax dollars to train and equip the military and police. If you want to train and equip yourself, you'll be using your own money.
- Combat training is considered an integral part of a military or police professional's life, and is scheduled accordingly. You'll need to work your training into the time not already taken up by your professional and personal obligations.
What does all this add up to? A really big gap between what most of can do, and what we might need to do if something - anything - goes wrong. I don't pretend to have all the answers (in fact, I'm sure there's more than one set of possible answers), but I've been thinking about these questions for a long time, I've made a lot of mistakes, and wasted a lot of time and money. Here on DystopianLiving.com, I'm going to share with you the very best information that I can find that DOES answer the question of how civilians can become self-sufficient protectors of their own homes, as well as guarding against non-violent threats such as disease and surveillance.
About The Author
My name is Alexander Maslow. If you've ever taken a psychology class, you probably learned about the "hierarchy of needs" concept created by my great-uncle, Abraham Maslow. Like him, I'm fascinated by the workings of the human mind, and what it means for society. I'm not a psychiatrist, a neuroscientist, a military veteran, an ex-cop, or an ex-intelligence agent. I'm just a regular person who realizes how fragile the safety net of "civilization" is, and doesn't want to be in a position of vulnerability if something goes wrong.
Philosophically, I am an Anarchist, opposing the concentration of power in any entity, public or private. Politically, I am a Libertarian, grudgingly agreeing with Thomas Paine that government is an unfortunate necessity created by man's evil, and concurring with Thomas Jefferson's assertion that the government which governs least governs best.
As a Jew, I have learned that a stateless people will always be subjected to the whims of foreign tyrants, that there can be no peace without strength, and that trying to reason or negotiate with those who hate you is futile. Most importantly, I have learned that once the veneer of civilization is peeled away, there is only one law: kill or be killed. As Rudyard Kipling wrote, "This is the Law of the Jungle -- as old and as true as the sky; And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die."
Finding My Way
I've always been a martial arts and weapons enthusiast. My dad taught me to shoot a Beretta .22 when I was about 10 years old. I loved going to the gun shop at the shooting range. It was a 45-minute drive from our house, but the gruff, bearded men openly carrying full-size handguns, and the dark cases full of sleek weaponry (combined with the autographed photos of Playboy playmates on the walls) cast an almost mystical spell over me.
My parents encouraged me to focus on academics and creative pursuits, and discouraged sports, so although I did well in school and did a lot of reading and drawing, I grew into a weak, uncoordinated kid. At one point, I saved up my money and sent away for the Charles Atlas Dynamic Tension Program advertised in the back of a comic book, but I didn't have the patience or motivation for the time-consuming isometric routines that it prescribed.
All through middle school, I would read my dad's copies of Guns & Ammo from cover to cover, fascinated by the endless discussions of shooting tools and techniques. When I was around 12, I found Massad Ayoob's The Truth About Self-Defense and In The Gravest Extreme on our bookshelf. I read both books over and over, absorbing every word.
When I was in 6th grade, Hurricane Hugo hit coastal South Carolina, blocking the roads with debris, cutting out the electric and water service, and overwhelming the emergency response departments. Even though my family lived in the middle of a decent-sized city, we were on our own. That experience - no water, no power, no police, no grocery stores - made a huge impression on me. It made me never want to be in a position where I had to be so dependent on so much that was out of my control.
Around 8th grade, I graduated from a .22 to a .38, but aside from going to the range a couple of times a year, I really had no practical training in firearms, and besides the barest rudiments of karate and bodyweight exercise, no knowledge of any physical techniques.
After 8th grade, my family moved from South Carolina to a small town in Pennsylvania. I don't remember ever going to the range during high school, but my interest in firearms and survival skills continued to grow. This was suburban suburban America of the mid-nineties; normal kids weren't into that kind of thing, so I kept my affinity to myself. It's hard enough to fit into a new school without people - especially girls - thinking you're some kind of psycho. Once in a while, a couple of friends and I would shoot our BB guns in somebody's back yard, but we kept quiet about it.
At the same time, I was watching Jean Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris movies, and reading the occasional Punisher comic book. I was a scrawny, unathletic kid, fascinated by the idea of being strong and capable. I didn't play sports (aside from one season on the third string of the JV hockey team), but the previous occupant of our house had left a set of weights in the basement, so I started doing some rudimentary workouts. Later, I discovered a couple of books on High Intensity Training by Ellington Darden, and - although I never got big - I made dramatic strength gains. I went from struggling with climbing ropes and dips to shocking football players in the gym by bench-pressing the same weights as them.
Once I got to college, I met a couple of kids who lived in rural areas. For them, guns were a normal part of everyday life. One Christmas break, I made the multi-hour trek to visit them, and this city boy instantly fell in love with country living. The wide-open spaces, the spirit of rugged independence, the emphasis on practical skills like carpentry and farming, and - of course - the convenience of just "going out back to shoot a bit," all appealed to me immensely. One day, I resolved, I would get my own bit of land somewhere.
I continued going to the gym, and although I never was able to bulk up, I did stay in decent shape. To my surprise, a lot of my high school classmates who had been in terrific shape as wrestlers and runners completely let themselves go, once there was no coach around to tell them what to do. In retrospect, my tendency to be a "loner" really just meant that I was a self-starter. I didn't rely on anybody else to motivate me, which meant that I was able to operate fairly consistently, regardless of my circumstances. The downside is that I was often operating in a vacuum, with nobody to give me feedback or advice. I tore my shoulders by lifting heavy weights with poor form, and hurt my knees by running in bad shoes. And, since I never went to a doctor, and never stopped working out, it took me over a decade to heal from both injuries.
After college, I moved back to South Carolina, and slept with my loaded .38 under my mattress. Now that I was on my own, I started taking classes in boxing and Kendo (I was a huge Highlander fan, and wanted to learn to use a katana), but didn't do much with guns. Eventually, I met the right girl, started a family, and settled down. I took Wado-Ryu Karate for about three years, and then switched to Krav Maga, which - in my opinion - is absolutely the best self-defense system available to civilians.
Fast-forward a few more years. I completed NRA firearms instructor training, and became a certified instructor for the South Carolina concealed weapons permit. After a few twists and turns in my personal life and career, 2020 happened. Everything I'd been thinking about and training for suddenly made a lot more sense.
My goal with this website (and my podcast) is to pull together the best and most useful information on understanding and making the most of this world that none of us wanted. Buckminster Fuller observed that the best way to destroy a system is to create a new one, which makes the old one obsolete. I hope you'll join me trying to do just that.