Let’s call foraging a hobby, take it down a notch or two, a pastime in which the forager engages in an intellectual, physical, and largely recreational engagement with the natural world that feeds into a love of the outdoors, ecology and food. With some precious time off a job that is not as a forager, he or she heads off to gather this or that, a happily anticipated outing, solo, with family or friends, both applying and building knowledge. Living. Tapping into something more basic to our human nature than any other urge. Yes, any other urge, because foraging has its roots as the mainstay of existence, something upon which even reproduction is predicated. OK, so we are back up a notch or three, the forager is not just passing time, they are immersing themselves in the essence of their humanity, revealing it to be bigger than themselves, finding a perspective that reduces the inanities of society to an appropriate miniaturised perspective. Foraging is optimistic; it is good.
Let’s call survivalism what it is, take it down a notch or four, and leave it there. An unformalised creed of bunker-builders, canned food hoarders, weapons-cachers, kook-politics-militiamen, violent home-defenders who might be found wearing military green all too casually and leaning on some paranoid construction of an Old Testament style vengeful tribal god to validate a fear and hate of those beyond the walls. Survivalism is a paranoid exercise, too often a skill-build for an anticipated apocalypse predicated on the breakdown of society and embracing the arrived potentiality that your relationship with what was your community is now adversarial. Survivalism embraces an idea of the survival of the fittest as if that were something other than a community proposition for human beings, a fundamentally social species; not realising that the Darwinian theory alluded to condemns anything but a sizeable group of creatures like us to extinction. Survivalism is selfish, ill-informed and pessimistic; it is bad. Genuinely, witch-burningly, bad.
In my view of the wild food gathering world, foraging and survivalism are almost polar opposites, joined only by some coincident knowledge. Sure, I might be better placed as a forager than some, should the end of oil, catastrophic war or the mutant pandemic plague leave me battling for survival along with everyone else when the food trucks stop rolling into town and the supermarket shelves go bare. But if that were the case, I trust that I would take my speargun to the sea and bring the fish back to my neighbourhood rather than the other way around. The sort of utter end to civil society fear-mongered by survivalists is a ridiculous hypothetical shit-spin in my view – paranoid, conspiracy-theory-like mental diarrhoea out of the faces of fearful sociopaths.
I am not a survivalist. I am a forager.
So that’s that off my chest.