The Necessity of Developing your Own Familial Compact

by Jesse James



noun |ˈkämˌpakt|

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 What:

            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.



The Why:

            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 How:

            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)



-Jesse James





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.


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6 thoughts on “The Necessity of Developing your Own Familial Compact”

  1. The most telling thing about the artice is the discaimer at the end. I never thought that I would see an apology for the preamble for the U.S. Constitution. What world have we allowed to be built for ourselves. D.

  2. Well done Jesse! At my age (52) I have witnessed and cataloged much over the years, and sadly you are correct that of late, the slippery slope has turned vertical. Oh yes.. I remember when, and I remember our elitist leaders before they where virgins….. before they became the virtues ones they claim to be today.

    There is a saying by an Economist, Dr Stein I think.. “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop. Sounds extremely reasonable to me. If your careening along a road toward a collapsed bridge, you’ll certainly stop, one way or the other. But it makes a difference, at least to you whether you skid to a halt four yards before the cliffs edge or whether you come to a rest at the bottom of the ravine.

    All you’ve outlined is very pointed, we after all have already the guides we will need in a post apocalypse world. They are dusty and little used today, but have proven more then adequate in the past. I’m still awaiting the day when some news actor announces that the Supreme Court has ruled that “the constitution has been found ‘unconstitutional’.

  3. Dennis,

    The primary reason for the end is the fact that the men in black helicopters do, in fact, keep tabs on the internet. I would suspect that this site, among others, is casually monitored because of 1) the subject material and 2) it uses key words that are used in their search rubrics. I do not wish to be seen by my government as a terrorist…thank you NDAA § 1021. Yes, I am afraid of them and no, I do not trust them. I don’t want even a cursory visit by any 3-letter agency because they are mistaken about what I wrote on the internet. It would ruin my day.
    Secondly, this is Rourke’s site. There are elements within the “prepper” sub-culture that are anarchists as well as those who advocate open war at the drop of a hat against the US government. I wanted the readers to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was not advocating such action at this juncture. Rourke has spent countless hours giving this site life and building the readership of it. I did not wish to offend or confuse those who read the article and damage the credibility of him, me, or this site with needlessly distracting rhetoric. There are other places to discuss politics of that manner and I felt that something of that nature would draw away from the purpose of this site, helping the regular-joe become more prepared. I am grateful he lets me contribute and gives me great leeway in doing so. I exercised my judgment and thought it best to remove all doubt as to what was being said, rather than risk ambiguity and mistaken interpretations.
    Lastly, it was not my intention to “apologize” for the Preamble, but merely provide context to why I was quoting it. Are we permitted to overthrow the government under the Constitution. Yes. However, even in the Preamble the Founders caution against doing so for “light and transient causes.” I did not want readers thinking that this was a call to arms or to no longer recognize the authority of the civil government. The last thing I want is to be quoted in some nutjob’s Manifesto because he misunderstood what I was saying. I hope you enjoyed it though.


  4. I took the legalese as a reference to the part of the article entitled “Some Suggestions in Setting up a Social Contract”:

    Under the current rule of law, the application of lethal force is restricted to a very few circumstances. Your neighbor cutting your fence and absconding with a few cattle is generally not considered a hanging offence in 2013 (notice – we engage in unplanned and random target practice at all hours, we will not be held responsible for your presence or any harm you incur within our designated firing range). However, if our society has a dramatic upheaval that may change.

    Currently, familial groups will be well outside of accepted legal norms should they provide a judicial process for punishment or intestacy. The courts in accordance with their jurisdiction under the Constitution determine the disposition of property to heirs in cases where no valid will has been presented.

    Finally, you or your group currently cannot dictate if any specific personal possessions are private or public. Our legal system will recognize an owner; even if that owner is a partnership or corporation, it is still confined to a single entity.

    I am certain JJ’s attempt at CYA was not an admission that the Constitution or the Bill of Rights needed such protections (JJ, let me know if I err).

  5. Harry,

    You hit the nail on the head. One of the major reasons I picked the Pilgrims as an example was the fact that when they landed in what would become Plymouth, they might has well have been on the backside of the moon. There were abstract rules, sure, but the enforcers of those rules sat 3000 miles away and at least a 6 week trip. In reality, there were no rules. They had no real governing authority. They could do what they wanted. If there is civil unrest or economic woes on a biblical scale then for most people outside of cities, and many inside them, the government will cease being such a big part of our lives (or risk a civil war…wait, you didn’t read that). All the laws will still be on the books, but no one will be there to enforce them. Look at 3rd world countries. The vast majority of the time, the population has little regulation or contact with the police and government outside of major cities. How many cops would be around if the state/city was no longer able to pay them? Or if the police force had to be drastically reduced? At that point you can forget about positions like code enforcement and health inspectors. The whole point of the post was what to do after the rule of law has no/little force. As such, you must then institute a rule of law. Law is a prerequisite for civilization. And I intend to remain and die a civilized man. Man without law is slowly reduced to a capricious beast capable of horrors unlike anything in the animal kingdom. The book Lord of Flies comes to mind.
    Like you mentioned, self-government is essentially illegal until the current government ceases to be able to project it’s will onto us…the subjects (4 more years!). Once that happens, it is worth our consideration to attempt to develop a practical document that can guide our interactions and business dealings in a productive manner.



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