Dear Mr. Rawles,
I'm a long-time lurker of SurvivalBlog, but thought I'd pass on some links of interest. For the record, I've read your novel ["Patriots"], and I am coming from a "Peaknik" viewpoint. But still have my original copy of "Life After Doomsday". Currently I'm living in Finland, which has its pros and cons. "Russian bombers over your home" is not a theoretical concept to Finns and they don't grow enough food for themselves [for a self-sufficient economy.]. A Nordic socialist government with high taxes and cost of living might not be of interest to many SurvivalBlog readers, but at least I see where my money goes and feel safer for my family should something happen to me. We won't talk about gun control and no legal right to self-defense. However, the country is the third most heavily armed civilian population in the world. Excluding the two school shootings the lack of most violent crime I would attest to the social welfare system in the country helping even out the worst of the differences. Study the causes of the nasty Finnish Civil War of 1918 with how united the country was in WWII and you can see why some of the social welfare system was instituted.
There's a large
number of illegal guns in the country, 50,000--500,000. These aren't just your old
hunting rifle, but include Maxim machine guns sealed behind a wall and mortar tubes in the basement. See the
Wikipedia page on weapons caches. (A stay-behind plan in case of Russian
occupation of the country. Note the explanation of why Finnish communists went from planning revolution to entering Parliament).
The Finnish government has spent a lot of time and effort towards building resiliency into the country, fearing a repeat of WWII when they ended up fighting both the Soviets and the Nazis. Since then they put a lot of effort into building up food stocks and ensuring the country can survive on its own. Bomb shelters are still part of the standard building code, though it's been relaxed from buildings of 600m2 [floor] surface area to 1000m2, and the air-raid sirens are still tested regularly. Military conscription is still practiced here and overall widely supported by people as well as a strong reserve system. However recruits these days are more likely to be out of shape and more attuned to working with computers than the farm-bred youth of WWII.
Many Finns have their own cottages as they move from the farm didn't occur that long ago. With the many lakes for water, cottages for shelter, wood for fuel and more nature-orientation of the Finns I think they'd do fine overall as a society in a TEOTWAWKI situation presuming the government food supplies get the population through the first winter. I was reading the government estimate in a Finland-stands-alone situation is that they can feed everyone in Finland with at least 2,800 calories per day, though you might be suicidal from the blandness of the diet. (See the NESA web site). This is a bilingual country with Finnish and Swedish, but they still translate many things into English).
Unfortunately, I don't know how much they took into account cuts in the fuel supply for tractors, fertilizers and transportation. The winters can be harsh and we're noticing climate change here leading to "black winters" that are worse than "real" winters. The snow and frost helps kill off bugs in the soil, provide extra insulation for buildings, and reflects light so it's not so dark. Unfortunately, that's all disappearing. Winds blow to the east for about nine months of the year. Unfortunately, Chernobyl melted down during one of the [Spring] months [when] the winds blow from the east and so nuclear fallout is also a concept that's been just theoretical so far. There's some mushrooms here you no longer want to eat. The Sosnovy Bor reactor that powers St. Petersburg is the same model as Chernobyl and is far closer to the Finnish border than one would like.
[Some topics previously discussed in SurvivalBlog snipped, for brevity.]
Lest we forget non-TEOTWAWKI scenarios, here's a reminder of the world of US WWII rationing. I like the various kids' books about disaster being published by various agencies. "Color your way through disaster!" could be their motto. Still, it's a beginning.
May I also suggest some readers might be interested in the late John Seymour's post-collapse novel "Retrieved from the Future". Seymour is famous as a father of the back-to-the-land movement in Britain, publishing two classics as "The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It" as well as "Forgotten Arts and Crafts". Both are well illustrated and have a wealth of information on how to do things as well as how things used to be done. "Retrieved from the Future" is basically a Peak Oil novel written twelve years ago and set in Britain. As befits a self-sufficiency guru he pays a lot of attention to how high-energy farming fails to keep going as oil, fertilizer and spare parts go away while also discussing the rebirth of older forms of agricultural. The Golden Horde makes its visit and is deflected, but not the British Army when it comes time to requisition food for the cities and seize the few weapons British civilians have. Basically a solid British perspective on what would happen during a collapse.
As some readers have expressed interest in the new film "Defiance" I might also suggest trying to get hold of a Soviet film from 1987 called "Come and See". Essentially a film about partisans in Byelorussia during WWII, the depiction of the village being destroyed came to my mind several times while I was reading your book "Patriots".
Regards, - Simo H. in Finland