Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Survivalist Myth? The Golden Horde

Its a nightmare many survivalists and preppers have: masses of people fleeing the big cities and descending on rural areas after some sort of collapse of our society's economic system, power grid, and/or just-in-time food distribution system. Folks already living in those rural areas would have to contend with refugees that are totally unprepared, many of which would turn to looting and violence to take the rapidly dwindling food and other resources.

James Wesley, Rawles, in his book How to Survive the End of the World as we Know It (an excellent book, by the way), describes this mass exodus as "The Golden Horde." Its a term he got from his father, who was comparing the potential mass exodus from the big cities to the Mongol horde of the 13th century. Here is how Rawles describes it on page six of his book:
"Because of the urbanization of the US population, if the entire eastern or western power grid goes down for more than a week, the cities will rapidly become unlivable. I foresee that there could be an almost unstoppable chain of events:

     Power failures, followed by
     Municipal water supply failures, followed by
     Collapse of law and order, followed by
     Fires and full-scale looting, followed by
     Massive "Golden Horde" out-migration from major cities

As the comfort levels in the cities drops to nil, there will be a massive outpouring from the big cities and suburbs into the hinterboonies."
Is The Golden Horde scenario realistic, or a myth?

At one point in our nations history, the Golden Horde probably would have happened in a long-term grid-down event. But those days are long past, as the concept of self-reliance has been intentionally erased from the American people. Let me explain with some recent real-life examples.

Remember New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina? Remember all those people standing around in knee-deep water waiting for the government or someone else to help them? They had several days warning that a major hurricane was on the way, yet they did nothing. Even after Katrina hit flooding large sections of the city and collapsing its infrastructure, they did nothing to get themselves out of the situation. Instead they stood around in knee-deep water until authorities were able to round them up and ship them to the horrible and dangerous conditions of the Superdome.

That is called "learned helplessness," a behavioral term for when an organism (animal or human) has been taught through external stimuli to NOT help themselves, but to depend on outside factors. In the case of those people in New Orleans, generations of public education and government dependence left much of the population unable to help themselves. For most, it didn't even occur to them to try to get out of that situation on their own. And, if it did, they simply didn't know how to even start to help themselves.

Interestingly, the term "learned helplessness" appears in declassified CIA documents. The CIA defines learned helplessness as a type of instilled "apathy" which it is very difficult or even impossible to overcome.

Rawles mentions "municipal water supply failures" in his list of events leading to a Golden Horde. Well, in Flint, Michigan, the munipal water supply failed in 2014, and remains very dangerously tainted almost two years later. Despite knowing this, most folks living in the affected area are still living there, still drinking the tainted water, still waitng for government to fix it.

In certain areas of Chicago and Detriot, collapse of law and order has already occurred. Those areas are effectively without rule of law (WROL), and have been for years. People living in those areas are being slaughtered by gangs and criminals. Yet, there have been no mass exodus from those areas. Sure, the folks living there want to be safe, but they only know to wait for government to take care of it rather than to get themsleves out of those situations.

Golden Hordes might have been a possibility in the 1940s, 50s, and even 60s, but generations of learned helplessness means it is highly unlikely today. Of course, a few folks today will try to escape the big cities, but most won't even try. Instead of fleeing masses, the masses are much more likely to sttay in the cities waiting for help that will never arrive. The suffering and death will be extraordinary.

Despite using Rawles Golden Horde idea as an example, I have a lot of respect for him and do recommend his books and website.


  1. Tim,
    I think you make some good points about the ideas of learned helplessness, as a trained counselor I see this all the time, people in situations they could easily extricate themselves from but instead choose to remain in deplorable situations. However I do think that there is still the possibility for such a thing as the GH as exampled by the MASSIVE migration of Syrians and other African countries into Europe. So I think the old idea be prepared still applies. No of us knows for sure how an event will shake out and so I think I would personally rather be prepared that those GH may show up than unprepared physically, mentally, spiritually to deal with refugees if it is 1 or 1000 that come. Also, depending again on the situation, there would be gangs that would form for the purpose of what they form for. Examples Kosovo durning that fiasco and ISIS, both bad situations formed in the vaccum of ROL. Anyway, My 2 cents. Ultimately one should be in close walk with Jesus and being filled with His Spirit trust the guidance He gives for your life.

  2. I think your conclusion only works when the ultimate authority is still the federal government with the controlling purse strings of welfare and the ability to put guns on the street. In a societal breakdown (no Feds, no EBT cards, no cops/National Guard/etc. on the streets), the ultimate authority will not be the Feds but will be whoever exercises the will to command. This seems to be the case after the collapse of the Roman Empire, or the Bielski partisans in WWII. Selco writes about the phenomenon in the Balkan conflict, too.

    True, there are a lot of people who will wait for an authority to command them, but there will always be people willing to exercise power and authority. When that happens, those people who are waiting will have authority and direction and will follow the 'strong horse'.

  3. Remember New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina? Remember all those people standing around in knee-deep water waiting for the government or someone else to help them?

    I think you should dig a little deeper into this one. The national guard closed all exits even water ways after Katrina. That was what most of the uproar was about and claims of the government using the storm as a weapon of mass destruction. FEMA took over a week to get help and supplies into New Orleans and wouldn't let anyone else in to help family trapped.

  4. PsyDzsn - Thanks for the comments. I agree that we should be prepared for all contingencies. And I definately agree with your last comment!

    Hillbilly Oklahoma & Unknown - Interesting comments, but I just don't buy the argument that those folks standing in knee-deep water only stayed in NO because the national guard wouldn't let them out. Most of them would have stayed anyway, in my opinion. And they did have plenty of warning of an approaching hurricane and did nothing even before the national guard showed up to stop them. The difference between now and historiacal examples given by unknown is learned helplessness. Generations of public "education" and forced government dependence has eroded many people's instinct for self-relaince. Still, you are correct that some will try to escape the big cities, but most, I fear, will simply stay and die.

  5. The GH is assured, it is a standard tactic among the Muslims and is commanded by Mohamed the Prophet. Further once the looting ends and the folks sober-up their going to notice that their hungry and their abodes have been burnt to the ground, suburbia is their only hope

  6. Vincent - You are absolutely correct about the Muslim tactic. It is part of their belief system to expand their religion through mass migration and simply taking over non-Muslim areas. That GH is already descending on Europe and Obama & his ilk want to bring that GH to America.

    In this article, I am only talking about the GH of Americans escaping American cities. Unfortunately, by the time most folks wake up (and it will take a whole lot to wake up most folks thanks to learned helplessness), it will be too late - once they're hungry and their homes are burned down, they'll be dead before they get out. Or, sadly, some in your scenario will simply find it easier to give in and convert to Islam.

  7. While you make some really good points, all of the examples you state only deal with the "collapse" of one aspect of society/civilization. When it comes to Flint's water and Detroit/Chicago areas WROL they only affect limited locations, while areas immediately surrounding them are (relatively) normal/safe. The example that supports your argument the best is New Orleans and Katrina, but then again the devastation was limited to one geographical location/region.

    In the event of a national, especially one that people were aware it was impacting most if not all of the nation, I still think you would see GH streaming out of the city. It might be only a trickle at first, as the ones a little quicker on the uptake realize they need to leave the city, but eventually as things get worse more and more desperate people will flee urban centers. Even then you will get some who will never leave, and instead will wait to be rescued. The problem, even if this group is 50%-60% of the city's population you could still have 10's of thousands (or millions when it comes to the largest cities in the U.S.) leaving/flee at once.

  8. When the Spanish colonized the new world, they placed missions approximately 20 miles apart since that was the distance that a traveler could walk in one day's time. Today, with rampant obesity in the USA, how many people can walk even 5 miles, let alone 20-30 or more? Even if they did want to leave the city, I think physical activity is out of the question for many Americans today.

  9. Gasoline - Great point. I hadn't even thought about the (lack of) physical fitness aspect!

  10. After the Katrina nightmare, Hurricane Rita was pointed directly at Houston. People were scared so everyone tried to get out. The evacuation was a disaster. I know because I was in it and would have been trapped if it were not for a stroke of luck. Had I not, counter intuitively, headed east before heading north, I would have run out of gas before getting out of the area. Many people ran out of gas and were trapped on the side of the road in very high temperatures. As such, fuel supply would be the first constraint of any Golden Horde from going very far.

    Most people would have a range of <50 miles given the traffic jams associated with any mass movement out of a major city. If it came to walking, most of the population cannot walk more than 4 or 5 miles without a pack or carrying anything. With a pack or carrying water or any supplies, that distance will be even less. Hell, my fitness goal is to carry a 40 lb pack for five miles and I cannot even do that right now.

    So, I agree the Golden Horde is a myth, especially for an area like Houston.

    1. If nothing else, people fail to consider the sheer area of our major cities. Even if a person is fit, it's a multi day journey just to walk out of many of them, depending on where the hike starts.

    2. I disagree. I am only 20 miles east of Oakland, California. If there is a major earthquake on the Hayward fault, which is long overdue, there is the potential for tens of thousands of people to reach my location by car. They do it every day during rush hour... why would post-earthquake be any different?

      These people will be lacking water, food, and all other means of survival. Desperation will surely set in. When you are only 20 miles from a major disaster, and live on the only highway out of the disaster area, why would you think people wouldn't pour into your city? I think it's a near certainty.

  11. I agree with the author up to a point. The pathetic populous in New Orleans that he mentioned were very largely the class of folks that gain sustenance from the public teat as it is, so there's no compelling reason to think their response to another such catastrophe will be any different. They expect and are conditioned to be 'taken care of' so, they'll stand in filthy knee deep water for as long as it takes.
    What will be VERY different is response from people like those who might read this blog. We already know that .gov is impotent and that WE are in control of our own destiny and will assume ownership then, as now, over out personal destinies. We don't sit around waiting for the check to arrive or the EBT card to be recharged.
    By the time the teat mongers figure out they're screwed to the max, it will too late, for them.

  12. Respectfully it is about absolute numbers in event of collapse yes many will be apathetic and wait, some will not. This "some" is what concerns us as they will be the 14-35 yo cohort most likely to hurt you and yours and be most mobile. I have a town of 20K 6 miles from me I expect and am prepared to divert 3-6k, divert meaning give them better options using roadblocks as negative reinforcement and well prepared propaganda to funnel them to other places as positive reinforcement. Be prepared to post bulletins informing the horde of help and assistance and hand holding 10-15 miles in the opposite direction... THINK; your mind is the best weapon.

  13. Hi, GH can still happen. The examples you had given were all from the past of a functioning government. The GH scenario plays out when the government no longer can promise anything; at that point, chaos reigns and anything goes.

  14. As much as I like and agree with much of Mr. Rawles work, I find the Golden Horde scenario pretty unlikely. The tendency of most, though certainly not all, people to seek others with whom to huddle combined with the above mentioned learned helplessness, suggests two things. First, most of those in cities will not leave. Second, there will be those, at least early on, who head to the cities because cities, at least since the early 20th century, have been where one could find both jobs and assistance. I believe multiple events and disasters, beginning with the Great Depression, bear this out. In addition, it is borne out by the experiences of Selco. His writings are well worth reading. There are other factors, as well. How long would it take for the criminal element the incest so many of our cities serialize they have a vast number of easy targets to victimized without fear of arrest and incarceration? I suspect a huge number of the supposed horde would die long before they could leave the city. Then, of course, there's distance, geography and weather. It's a long hike from the LA metro area to the vast farms of the central valley - a hike that involves a steep climb. Likewise, it's a long way from Chicago to the farms of southern Illinois. Suppose the SHTF event occurs in the summer. Even more will die from heat stroke. In the winter, how far can unprepared people walk in the middle of a Midwestern winter?

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  16. i live in a country where people don't walk more than 200feet from their cars, walking out of a city will be beyond them.