How to Survive an Apocalypse

7 lessons about relationships, resistance and resilience in crisis are really useful for us to learn right now. Perhaps you watched Jessica Alba superbly cast as the courageous and compassionate Max Guevara in Dark Angel in 2000. Maybe you saw any of the more recent post-apocalyptic films or TV series or read one of the classic dystopian stories: Brave New World or 1984. You might be a history buff and know about the Allied Resistance to the Nazis, the Underground Railroad freeing enslaved Black Americans – or even way back to the early Christians surviving persecution in the Roman Catacombs. What can we learn from our past and our imagination?

  1. Compassion Right now, Big Brother is telling you to be afraid and to look out for yourself. Resistance consists in consideration of others too. When you stop selfishly panicking, you become aware that IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU! Others are suffering, physically and mentally. What about them? Just turning your attention to others will help you CALM DOWN and start thinking clearly.
  2. Courage Dystopia is founded on fear. Some people are naturally brave but courage is a decision. Make that decision. Living in fear is no fun and makes no sense. Life is a risk and then you die. Face it. As Bob Marley said: Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights – and for the rights of others.
  3. Creativity Panic shuts down the brain. Creativity opens it. Don’t reach for your phone (for more bad news) as soon as you wake up; reach for your notebook and record your dreams – write or draw what’s in your mind. Dreamtime is free time. Big Brother can’t control you there. Dream a new reality. Restart your arts and crafts, get out into the garden and dig for victory. The technocrats are pushing us into a digital economy based on biodata recorded by a skin tattoo of quantum dots (I’m not making this up, you know). LETS (local exchange and trading systems) and freecycling are two creative ways to unplug from that Matrix.
  4. Critical thinking When your mind is free, and you’re not acting like an obedient child or a docile servant, you’re able to weigh up evidence of what’s really going on. To get to that stage, you’re going to have to deprogramme from all the state and pharmaceutical propaganda that’s occupying your mind. That’s hard. But it’s worth it. Do you want to think your own thoughts or have them chosen for you?
  5. Informal and covert communication Students of church history will recognise the current spy-and-snitch neighbourhood culture from Calvin’s theocratic Geneva; secular historians need only look back at the McCarthy era of political and moral paranoia in the USA or the Stasi secret police informers on the lives of others in the GDR; and everyone should know about the witchcraze where everyone with a grudge against any women (or men) could simply accuse them and their condemnation was assured. Now we have all the added surveillance and reporting of thoughtcrime on anti-social media. So be careful what you say, how you say it and to whom. You can’t trust everyone. Big Brother is watching you.
  6. Mutual aid Not one-sided charity, mutual aid is one of the three core values of anarchism. The other two are love and spontaneity. That’s a lesson I learned doing fieldwork for an ethnography on a back-to-nature political community up the Pyrenees. Everyone can do something. They may need a little more support but a job shared is far more fulfilling for all.
  7. Real relationships Online shopping and porn (which is just more shopping) and mindless anti-social chit chat have absolutely nothing to do with real relationships. But Big Brother really loves it when you do either. Because, when you’re in cyberspace, you’re under surveillance. And that, and the digital economy, is the whole point of all of this. This isn’t a conspiracy theory. It’s hiding in plain sight. Get off the desktop, the laptop, the tablet and the phone. It’s an addiction. TALK TO REAL PEOPLE! MEET UP! Stop swapping socialising for screentime. It’s fake and, if that’s all you’re doing, so are you. Wake up!

The virus that’s currently paralysing human society didn’t escape from a lab, it wasn’t released during military games and it has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with bats or some poor pangolin! It’s a glitch in the system of human thought that goes back to Socrates and – because of a coincidence of globalised technology and government preparedness plans – has only now taken such devastating control. It’s the same glitch responsible for the AIDS panic but if you’re not Black, a recipient of blood transfusions or a gay man you might not have noticed.

Now that’s you’ve noticed, you have two alternatives:

A. Submit to fear – and give up control over your own body and every one of your human rights

B. Resist – and live life as fully and as well as possible

Big Brother is watching you. Which option are you going to choose?


Thanks to Kai Stachowiak for releasing his image Virus into the Public Domain.