by Jesse James
a formal agreement or contract between two or more parties.
verb |kəmˈpakt; käm-; ˈkämˌpakt| [ trans. ]
make or enter into (a formal agreement) with another party or parties
I’m sitting here writing this half-listening to the talking heads on TV shout over each other “debating” (I use the word loosely) the inane minutia of the presidential debates and the latest political attack ads. I’m 25, nearly 26. Old enough to remember Clinton’s 2nd term and watching him debate Bob Dole in ’96. Old enough to remember taking a knife into an airport and actually getting on the airplane…old enough to remember when the American dream wasn’t getting any job you could, and moving back in with your parents after college was reserved for the chronic underachievers. Al Qaeda wasn’t a household name. Few knew who Osama Bin Laden was. The debt was hovering around $5T. Gas was $1.20/gallon. Yet, young enough to wonder what the next 50 years will be like. I’m sure you that are older than me can see the contrast even more clearly than I can. Let’s get down to brass tacks. The last decade has been a ski slope for our personal freedoms, the economy, the value of the dollar and, more importantly, our national fabric. We are increasingly becoming a nation of separate ideologies, biases and fundamental beliefs. The balkanization of the US is happening before our eyes. This is not a political rant, rather it is an acknowledgement that both sides of the aisle (and American society as a whole) are unwilling to assure the solvency of our financial system. A financial collapse is becoming increasingly inevitable under our current course; my chief concern now is what to do when it happens during my lifetime.
The Pilgrims left England and migrated to Amsterdam in 1608. They left Amsterdam for America in 1620. The destination was originally the colony of Virginia, and they had secured patents (official land grant by the sovereign/owner of the land) for their settlement. Storms forced the Pilgrims to ultimately land in Massachusetts, at the tip of Cape Cod. At this point they were in an unsettled territory, with no governing body of law. Even in the event that members of Parliament decided to pass a “resolution” or declare that the Pilgrims were under English common law, realistically no way existed to enforce it. There was a suggestion that they “use their own liberty; for none had power to command them….”1 However, under the leadership of William Bradford, they wrote the Mayflower Compact.2 It established a “civil body politick,” and allegiance to the King of England. Essentially, this was a social contract. I will refer to it as such, to avoid confusion by the reader.
Congratulations Jesse, thanks for the unwanted history lesson. What does that have to do with us? Humans crave structure. It provides consistency in your decisions and allows those who disagree to at the very least understand the decisions being made. Most importantly, it prevents irrational and emotional decisions from being made. I cannot imagine the difficulty I would have in denying another food, but in my opinion, the decision would have to be made if my family or I risked starvation by doing so. What would you do to feed your children? People will be doing exactly that for their children, their spouses and themselves if it gets bad enough. I believe those type of situations will be much more common than blue helmets running around in the streets and Fallujah-style fighting. I think knowing how to create a document that regulates your behavior should a breakdown of civil law occur is rather germane, given our present situation. If you have a group of like-minded people willing to move to a central location during a disaster, it is crucial that you are all on the same page. Even if you plan on simply bugging in with your family a compact will help you rationalize important decisions to your significant other and children before hand. It is disaster waiting to happen if you try to make decisions on the fly and under extreme duress. Ugly decisions will likely need to be made and they will have life-altering consequences. It is paramount that the framework for those decisions is laid out now and agreed upon while having a clear head.
Many of you have loosely organized into Mutual Assistance Groups (MAG’s). Most consist of like-minded people, friends and family members. However, even like-minded people and family members get into disagreements. This situation is further complicated when members of your MAG bring their spouses and children. What happens when someone’s spouse wants to play Santa Clause with the needy? Who is going to ration things? How do we decide who is in charge, and what happens if we cannot reach a consensus on a decision? What happens when an extended family member, or three, shows up at your door with children and ask/demand food? Do we refuse food to children or deny medical care to those who need it outside the MAG? When do we use lethal force? Do we use lethal force against government entities if they are acting outside the bounds of the law (confiscation of food/weapons, precious metals)? Under what circumstances do we need to leave? Is paying extortion money ok if it prevents violence? (look up the origins of the Sicilian Mafia)3 A conflict at that point in the game could do irreparable damage to your cause. Should your group fracture and members leave, so does your OPSEC. The ex-member(s) would possess intimate knowledge of the location and amount of your food, weapons and medical supplies, the relative strength or your group, habits, defensive positions and who is in charge. That information would be worth its weight in gold, probably more so in that situation. Communication breakdowns during a “kinetic military action” (in the words of POTUS) could be fatal if no one knows who is in charge. Teamwork is a force multiplier and confusion is more of a force reducer than three in the chest, because dead buddies can’t commit friendly-fire incidents. Even a single family can benefit from having a compact. It is a way to explain to your spouse and children what you are dong and why. It also enables you to integrate others into your home or vice versa and establish ground rules at the beginning.
The stress heaped upon us all in a breakdown of civil government would be enormous. We are all human and we all have irrational moments. We all spend time in the stupid barrel. Nature abhors a vacuum, and it is important we replace the vacuum created by a breakdown of civil government by establishing some form of localized government that reflects the ideas and principles established in the founding documents. If there is a breakdown of rule of law, it is our responsibility as Americans to carry forward the ideas that our Founders and ancestors died for. If that requires me to set up a social contract with others that extends no further than the walls of my home, then so be it.
The beauty of the Pilgrims is that they realized a need for organization before it became an emergency. Crises often make
dictators. If things went sideways tomorrow, the state and federal governments are in no way equipped to deal with anything approaching widespread pandemonium. Much of their attention would be concentrated in major metropolitan areas and the vast majority of Americans would be left to make things work. All the current laws on the books would still, in theory, be intact. However, with no enforcement it would only take a couple of days for people to realize that law without force is just words on paper. In a situation like that it will be up to John Q. Citizen to regulate his own behavior. It is a worthy use of our time to sit down at a table with our buddies and/or spouse and discuss difficult things. I would much rather discuss them over dinner than when we are staring at an ever-dwindling food supply or someone is shooting at me.
Some suggestions in setting up a Social Contract:
- In conjunction with the founding documents (some may also use a religious text such as the Bible/Torah) it must be the unquestioned authority governing your group’s/family’s actions
- It must establish leadership roles
- It must to have a method of selecting and removing leadership
- It must establish an emergency line of succession
- It should provide, in broad terms, what conditions must be met for application of lethal force and establish rules of engagement
- It should state what you recognize as the Constitutional limits of the federal, state and local governments
- It should provide a process for the integration of others into your group, as well as a process for removal of members
- It should set up a judicial process for fair adjudication and punishment of members/non-members
- It should clearly define mandatory duties and unacceptable behavior of members
- Provide a clear distinction between the individual, family unit, and the group as a whole
- Provide for intestacy of members (what happens to personal property if someone dies w/o a will and/or descendants)
- It should define what is public and private property (food, weapons, medicine, precious metals ect.)
- It should provide for a uniform and fair process for contribution and distribution of goods to the group
- You may choose to require members to provide X amount of food/supplies and some skill set
- The overriding goal of your group and what it hopes to create
- A process to amend it or add to your social contract
- Acceptable methods of charity or aid to members and non-members
- Every adult member of your group should understand it and sign it
Some of you may find this a rather revolutionary line of thought. Even in the over-regulated society we live in today, we act on our beliefs and personal creeds on a daily basis. Our personal lives and finances largely reflect those beliefs. I am merely encouraging you to write those beliefs down and come to a consensus about how you will respond as a group or family to difficult decisions. It is a much more difficult to say “No” in the face of uniforms, stress, hunger or the threat of force. Good men 236 years ago made a decision whether to continue in the face of a “long train of abuses” or choose another path. If and when this whole thing goes sideways, be the person able to stand up and have direction and purpose. Be the one willing to stand up and preserve those truths we hold self-evident. People will gravitate toward those with purpose and a goal, be that goal good or evil (both Hitler and Churchill come to mind). It is my hope that these musings will help you be a force for good in the troubling times ahead.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
-Declaration of Independence (Preamble, emphasis mine)
I am NOT advocating illegal activities, nor rejecting the authority of the Federal Government or its overthrow in any way. This article is intended to be a guideline for a group individuals who wish to develop a social contract among themselves to regulate their behavior. It is NOT intended as a substitute for applicable Federal, State and Local laws. Use your judgment and act accordingly. The author will not be liable for your use of or reliance on information contained in this post under any circumstances.