Terrorist Attacks. Natural disasters. Economic collapse. Cyber attacks. Civil unrest. Nuclear war. Pandemic. What will you do when it all hits the fan? Prepping (what used to be mostly called “Survivalism”) has enjoyed a resurgence in popular culture, most frequently in the form of reality television, where colorful, gregarious characters zealously devote their time and energy, if not their lives, to preparing for an eventual collapse of civilization. From Cold-war bunkers to religious doomsayers to new-age prophecies, the end of civilization has always been an idea that’s fuelled the imagination, increasing in popularity parallel to the relative instability (real or perceived) of the world.
The financial crash of 2008, coupled with the election of Barak Obama, increasingly destructive weather events, and the entrance of populist rhetoric in the recent election, all have led to new discussions about emergency scenarios in America. These discussions have entered into more business-affluent quarters, including venture capitalists and business entrepreneurs. To better understand this phenomenon, we met with different preppers from different sectors of the population and tried to understand their fear and motivations for prepping.
Our piece features three main protagonists: John Ramey is the founder of theprepared.com. John has founded many companies and was the youngest entrepreneur to raise more than 150 million $ in Silicon Valley. He is also the former Obama Innovation Technology Advisor. We met him at his private residence somewhere in Colorado. “As a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, I have stood in front of corporations who were worried they had an entire department of people that were worried they would lose their job because of the technology that I was building. And I’ve said to them, “No, that doesn’t happen. Technology is a net positive.” That has been true for a quarter million years. It might not be true anymore.”
Robert Vicino is a real estate entrepreneur and CEO of Vivos Shelters. Robert has been successfully engaged in manufacturing, marketing, and real estate development over the last fourty years. The Vivos project was launched in 2008 as a privately funded venture to provide a shelter solution for the few selected lucky ones in the face of virtually any catastrophe. We meet him at his new 900 acres development a few miles from Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. “I’m going to take you back—seven thousand years, maybe even 11,000 years. I want to take you back to Noah and the ark. And that’s effectively what I think we’re doing here, and what xPoint means, and I coin this is the point in time when only the prepared will survive.”
Jason Charles is a 39-year-old African American firefighter who lives in Manhattan and is the organizer of the New York City Prepper’s Network. Jason spends his days saving lives as a New York firefighter and weekends heading a prepper group that has seen its membership rise by 300% in the last six months.
John Ramey from www.theprepared.com with filmmaker Nicolas Rossier
Publishing Note: An earlier shorter version of this short story was released in 2018 for Swiss National Television. This new version has been updated and is now the first part of a new series for Agoras.