How Do You Avoid Impending Doom? Dig.
Bunker: Building for the End Times is nothing if not a timely analysis of people hunkering down over time and across the world. Fittingly enough, Bradley Garrett, a social and cultural geographer, completed the book while quarantined at home due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Prior to the lockdowns, Garrett met with a handful of individuals all motivated to build and fortify bug out locations. Moreover, he visited government funded subterranean facilities meant to protect countries’ citizens or, in the United States, high-level officials. Garrett effectively conveyed just how diverse the people building and buying bunkers are. Tech billionaires, conspiracy theorists, and survivalists all may have incredibly divergent world views. That said, they’re unified in their belief that a disaster is best survived underground.
From a Public Hideout to a Private Industry
Bunkers certainly aren’t new. Hitler lived through much of WWII in his Fuhrerbunker located below the ruins of the Berlin Chancellery. The Cold War paranoia pushed Stalin to build Bunker 42 in a hillside near the Kremlin. The privatization of the bunker business, though, makes this time in history different from years past. Garrett met with representatives of Vivos Group, Rising S, and Hardened Structures, three private companies in the preparedness industry.
Vivos Group has built what it refers to as the largest survival community on Earth. With 575 private bunkers, xPoint is the flagship Vivos creation. While Vivos has ambitions to build out additional sites like xPoint, Garrett found that the projects have hit snags. The many plans detailed on the Vivos Group website are just that: plans.
Rising S makes what Garrett describes as “robust versions of a shipping container.” Deviating from Vivos Group’s community model, Rising S makes its bunkers easy to ship and drop into a hole in your backyard. Surprisingly enough, the government is one of Rising S’s clients. We’ve gone a long way from the days where the government completes its own bunker development.
In looking into Hardened Structures, Garrett got the runaround from Ian Clarry, its CEO. While Clarry claims Hardened Structures has “bunker billionaire” clients, Garrett discovered that the company has actually done very little. Though Clarry has plenty of blueprints and 3D renderings of bunkers, Garrett struggled to find tangible proof of successfully completed projects.
Just like any burgeoning industry, the private bunker business has its different models of the future, as well as its snake oil salesmen. While I found this nascent business to be interesting, I think Garrett’s findings about its patrons to be even more so.
When Paranoia, Religion, and Techno-Libertarian Ideology Converge
At Fortitude Ranch in Colorado, Garrett met with Drew Miller, a retired air force intelligence colonel with a Harvard PhD. Miller plans to build twelve survival encampments. The affordable $1,000 a year buy-in offers its members an affordable insurance plan. While you’d expect Miller to be the shrewd, rational type, his fears range from biological weapons to EMP detonation, with nuclear warfare and roving gangs sprinkled in between. Paranoia undoubtedly drives a subset of preppers to build or buy bunkers. For others, religion is the driving force.
Members of the Mormon Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) have been indoctrinated into a community of practical preppers. The Book of Revelation describes a trying period before Jesus returns to Earth. To prepare, the LDS church underscores the importance of self-sufficiency, stockpiling supplies, and living a debt-free lifestyle. The majority of basements in Mormon households therefore serve as storage areas, providing families with plenty of food to survive on, should a SHTF event occur. Once Mormons emerge from what are functionally their bunkers, they’re expected to contribute their excess supplies and skills to benefit the broader community. This is pretty selfless, especially when compared to another group Garrett discusses, the “techno-libertarians.”
The techno-libertarian philosophy, Garrett shares, spawned largely from The Sovereign Individual. The Sovereign Individual suggests that the “cognitive elite” will emerge out of a collapse of nation-states. These cognitive elites will fill the leadership void and control a large share of the world’s resources. Of course, The Sovereign Individual has influenced big tech CEO’s out in Silicon Valley. Not only are they preparing for a disaster and their own subsequent rise to power, they’re trying to accelerate the shift by “moving fast and breaking things.” To wait out the destruction, tech billionaires are buying up real estate in New Zealand, equipped with panic rooms.
Read Bunker: Building for the End Times for More
Bunker: Building for the End Times was an incredibly informative read. Garrett didn’t just go into detail about historical and present-day bunkers. Rather, he described the entire prepper community. Clearly, you cannot paint preppers with a broad brush. Similarly, Garrett explains that the many preparations people are engaging in are as diverse as their reasons for prepping in the first place. Whether or not you’re interested in building or buying a bunker, I recommend you read Garrett’s book.
Did you read Bunker: Building for the End Times? Leave a comment with your thoughts below.