All politics is off the table when it comes down to who is left living and breathing after the SHTF as far as I am concerned.
"The movement's definitely growing," Rawles, manager of the site survivalblog.com, told AFP by telephone from what he described as a survival-ready ranch "somewhere west of the Rocky Mountains."
Survivalists have a long history in the United States. But what used to be the preserve of anti-establishment loners, cultists and gun nuts has gone mainstream.
Government agencies are encouraging citizens to prepare evacuation plans and food supplies in case of myriad disasters.
Firearms, gold pieces, and long-storage food are reportedly flying off the shelves, and the Internet is flooded with sites like survivalblog.com, where the like-minded exchange tips on everything from marksmanship to cheese making.
"We're seeing three times the number of readers we had just nine months ago," Rawles said.
"The cross section of the readership is changing too. Before, most of my readership was conservative Christians. We're seeing a lot more left of center."
The more radical survivalists are getting ready for what they call EOTWAA, the End-Of-The-World-Armageddon-Apocalypse, or the niftier SHTF, as in Shit Hits The Fan.
Big government bureaucracies like the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security want people to prepare for trouble, even if there is no official mention of EOTWAA and SHTF.
The ready.gov website urges citizens to store at least three days' worth of water and food, to prepare an escape plan from their city, and to have means of filtering out contaminated air.
"Practice earthquake and tornado drills at home, school and work," ready.gov says, also warning that pets will not be allowed into public evacuation centers.
New York-based specialist Aton Edwards says the government's stand proves survivalists were right all along.
"People ran away from it at first, saying it was alarmist and fearmongering. They didn't realize that the government is saying much the same thing," he said.
Yet Rawles estimates that not more than five percent of Americans are ready -- at least by his high standards.
"I'm surrounded by national forest. A river runs through the back end of the property, so there's no shortage of water and no shortage of fish or game to shoot," he told AFP.
"If Western civilization were to collapse tomorrow, I'd have to read about it on the Internet. I just wouldn't notice."
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