Interview with Survivalist James Wesley Rawles

Would you say the current global crisis is a necessary step for a coming improvement?

The current economic crisis will be painful, but necessary to work "bad debt" out of the system. This was best described in the writings of the Austrian economists Friedrich A. Hayek and Ludwig von Mises. (See: Wikipedia on Austrian School economics.) Unfortunately, at present, the central banks are using the public treasuries to attempt to re-inflate the credit bubble. This will only make the situation worse, and it will most likely turn the recession instead into a lengthy and deep depression.

James Wesley, Rawles
James Wesley Rawles. Author, Survivalist Consultant | © J.W. Rawles

Please describe in short the aim of your

In Germany survivalism is promoted by weekend outdoor "Adventuresport" clubs that aim to prepare people for short-term natural disasters that might last at most a few weeks. But in America, survivalism is aimed at preparing for a long term "grid down" societal collapse, as I describe in my novel "Patriots". This type of disaster might last for a decade, or even for generations.

What is your advice for germans, who want to emigrate to the U.S.?

I strongly encourage emigration for freedom-loving Germans. The best places to consider for relocation are the lightly-populated portions of the Western US or perhaps the South Island of New Zealand, or the lightly-populated parts of Paraguay.

What is your advice for germans, who want to stay here?

Do your best to prepare, right where you live. But if you can afford to, move out of major cities to farming and Alpine pasture country. Zurück for the hills! The ideal property would have spring water, but those are rare. The second best choice would be a property with a shallow water well. (Where water is pumped from a depth of 3 meters, or less. These can be pumped by hand, or with a simple
photovoltaic-powered well pump.)

In a statement for the "Frankfurter Allgemeine" you mentionend, that Germany is overcrowded. In which way are other citizens a risk for the individual?

Most of the population of Germany is crowded into a few major cities. Sadly, those may become death traps in the event of a societal collapse during which grid power is unavailable.

What does living comfort mean for you?

I enjoy having a wood shed full of firewood, a pantry full of preserved goods, a chest freezer full of venison, elk meat, and trout, and photovoltaic power that will work even if the power grid gies down.
With all of those, I can sleep well, knowing that I have provided for my wife and children

Your way of life is far more different from "normal" western civilisation, than shifting any country-borders could mean. Can you see yourself as an emigrant?

I would consider emigrating only if the American government became totalitarian. I see the US (at least parts of it) as a safe place to flee to, not a place to flee from.

What is your strategy for reducing/ saving taxes?

I take Romans Chapter 13 literally. I pay my full taxes. But of course I take full advantage of every legal tax deduction.

Apart of practical advice and how-to's; What are the essential requirements and convictions to live as a survivalist?

To live as self-sufficiently as possible, and to store enough food that I will have extra to give in charity.

You have had a long and manifold career in the Army. What is your recommendation for people in Western Europe, who want to live autarkic and do not have comparable training?

Similar training is available through Adventuresport and shooting clubs and with training from the Red Cross, without any military service obligation.

In "Patriots" you write about the Crunch and the life afterwards. Mass media forecast, that from now on all will become better (we passed the deepest point), thanks to the economic stimulation packages from the governements. Where do they fail?

The national governments have failed in that they have miscalculated thee current situation as just a "deeper than usual recession." They are trying to fix it by throwing freshly-minted money at the problem. It is actually something much worse than a dip in the business cycle. We are witnessing a complete meltdown of the global credit system. More credit is not the solution, and in fact loose credit via artificially low interest rates were the cause of he problem. In my estimation, the only real long term solution is to do away with fractional reserve banking.

What is needed instead is traditional warehouse banking (without interest), currencies that are fully-backed (1-for-1 redeemable) in gold and silver, and private credit clearing circles. Private credit clearing has been done successfully by WIR Bank in Switzerland, for more than 60 years.) See:

Have you ever thougt of leaving the USA and moving to Paraguay or the Dominican Republic? And if not - why?

I might consider Paraguay, but the Dominican Republic would be a disaster. (Its population density is much too high!)

In the United States, the crisis brings new popularity for Ayn Rand (and your novel "Patriots", too) - in Germany, for Karl Marx. Any comments on this?

I must warn people: Bigger governments and centrally-planned economies are not the solution. All that central planning and the various "-isms" did in the last century was bring starvation, death, and destruction to millions of people. We need less government, and more individual responsibility.

Jim, many thanks for this interview! It was a pleasure to speak with you.
(Questions: Knut,

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