What Exactly is Survivalism: Explaining Survivalists and Preppers – All You Need to Know

The world will live in today is full of constant problems and troubles. Sometimes, these problems are within our control but most times, the solution to the problem is not within our control.

Over the decades, active groups and individuals around the world have made up their minds to continuously and proactively prepare for emergencies and unforeseen circumstances so that if and when those circumstances arise, they can be fully protected; the people in this category are called survivalists.

Survivalists are people who adopt the survivalism movement and actively prepare for likely disruptions in the social, political, or economic order of the world.

Survivalism is a vast concept, and it ranges from preparation for personal emergencies to global problems. The whole goal of survivalism is to be self-reliant at times like this so you can ‘survive’ the turbulence.

This often involves learning valuable survival skills, stockpiling non-perishable food and water, acquiring medical and self-defense training, and in extreme cases, building shelters and bunkers for safety (read up on the cold war).

In this article, we are going to explain what survivalism means by taking a look at its history and also explain the roles of survivalists and preppers in the 21st Century.

History of Survivalism

What Exactly is Survivalism

Survivalism, as a movement, started in the 1930s. The 1930s was a very trying time for the whole world because the effects of the great depression were being felt in full gear.

The economic disaster was caused by the wall street crash of 1929, and to further worsen this development; a world war was looming.

Germans and Britons had begun to mobilize, and all of Europe was unsure of its future. The 1940s saw the world war hit the world on a scale that has never been seen before.

Over 80 million people lost their lives in the war, and survivalists were even more convinced that they had to look out for their safety and the safety of their loved ones moving forward.

1950s Era

The 1950s ushered in the beginning of a cold war between the United States and the Soviet Union. The race for nuclear arms was in full gear, and mighty nations wanted to attain the position of a world superpower.

This led to the formation of the eastern and western blocs and other proxy wars that were fought throughout the rest of the Century.

Even with the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction being preached by both superpowers, many people still believed that one of the leaders would instigate a nuclear war and the whole world would crumble.

This led to the construction of numerous nuclear bunkers and the rise of the survivalism movement. Survivalists were concerned about the United States’ economic instability at the period, and experts began to give seminars on how to survive a monetary collapse.

1974 Era

In 1974, Howard Ruff published a book that would later become a guide for survivalists of that period. This book is titled “Famine and Survival in America”.

It emphasized the need for food storage and advised survivalists to store precious metals like gold, diamonds, and silver instead of paper currency.

This period also saw multiple newsletters and books on survivalism published; weapon handling, tact, and strategy were taught openly to survivalists for many years.

1980s Era

John Pugsley also published the Alpha Strategy in 1980, and the New York Times Best Seller remains a popular book for survivalists to this very day

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Roles of Survivalists and Preppers in the 21st Century

The ultimate goal of survivalists is to be prepared and self-reliant in troubled times. Survivalism is a broader concept in the 21st Century, and every survivalist has a specific problem that he actively prepares for because problems and objectives are different.

However, it is essential to note that most survivalists work towards avoiding more than one disaster, and they will likely fit into multiple survivalism movements.

Depending on situations and circumstances, survivalists prepare for certain circumstances, and we are going to explain them briefly.

Natural Disaster Survivalists

Natural disasters can range from floods to hurricanes, tsunamis, and even global warming. Most survivalists belong to this category because the effects of these disasters can be terrifying.

People who live in areas prone to natural disasters need to prepare so they can be ready for possible emergencies.

Global warming and environmental degradation are also part of the reason why natural disaster survivalists join this movement.

The idea is to have enough food and water to survive the period of these disasters and also pressure the governments of the world to do the right thing for the planet.

Safety Survivalists

Safety survivalists are mostly concerned with protecting themselves from immediate physical harm. This might include being weapon ready for armed robbers or taking martial arts classes.

Wilderness Survivalists

Shipwrecks, plane crash, and being lost in the wilderness is not impossible occurrence. Wilderness survivalists actively prepare by going through survival training and learning how to navigate such situations.

Bio Survivalists

If we were all bio-survivalists, then the coronavirus would not have progressed into a global pandemic. This group of survivalists is concerned with being fully prepared for any bio-attack. They stock their supply lockers with full-face respirators, PVC boots, nitrile gloves, and other necessary materials.

Monetary Disaster Survivalists

Monetary disaster survivalists believe that paper money will soon be worthless due to hyperinflation. These survivalists have begun buying hard assets like precious metals so that when the world economy ‘inevitably’ crashes, they will be left with massive assets.

Apocalyptic Survivalists

This set of survivalists is also known as biblical survivalists. They believe that an external force of power will descend on the world one day, and only those who are ‘righteous’ will be spared from destruction.

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Survivalism might be viewed as a cult following by some people, but it is hard to argue with their logic. There is always a disaster lurking somewhere, and preparing for it is always the smart choice.

If you are considering joining a survivalist movement or you want to become a disaster prepper, make sure you believe in the cause. Make sure you are also ready to invest your resources to keep you and other people safe. Cheers!

If you have any suggestions tell us in the comments section below.

Surviving in a situation seems like a daunting task if you don’t have all the information. We have compiled complete guides for you to follow in every situation. CLICK HERE to check them out.


  • Josh Klassen

    Josh Klassen was born in Malibu, California, and spent his childhood on the beach. When he was not spending time on the beach, he went to the country with his father to fish and hunt. Since Josh developed an interest in fishing, water, and marine life, he wanted to study marine biology and oceanography. Josh attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa at Honolulu, took the marine biology and oceanography program, and completed it. He studied in many regions, oceans, and polar regions, where he learned so much about survival, hunting, and fishing. Josh currently lives in Los Angeles, is married with two kids, and loves to swim in his spare time.