The Killer Caravans

To Our “The Philosophy
& Rewards Of Survival” Section


The following editorial and the two that will proceed it in
the coming weeks, first
appeared in Kurt Saxon’s first twelve issues of his newsprint tabloid sized
newsletter “The Survivor”. I haven’t had them online for over a dozen
years now,
and I thought it was high time that they were resurrected! I hope anyone reading
them will enjoy them half as much as I have.

By Kurt Saxon

When the collapse comes, whether from a total economic
breakdown or nuclear war, surviving city dwellers will scatter. Millions not
killed by the war, the fires, the rioting and the street battles, will take to
the countrysides.

The roads leading out of the doomed cities will be hopelessly
clogged with wrecked vehicles, looking like any foggy morning on the San
Francisco freeways. As many city people as will be trapped in the jams, scads
will make it to the main arteries from the cities to the smaller towns.

These will be the “lucky”. The provident will have
left before the chaos. But the lucky will get out by sheer luck, with little or
no gear, no extra gas, probably a gun or two, a box of canned goods and a few
bottles of booze they looted. But no meaningful survival gear.

Until they get to the nearest town, it will be dog-eat-dog.
Every man for himself and let the devil take the hindmost. If they stop for an
overturned car ahead, it will just be to search the passengers for any useful
items and to siphon out any gas left in the car.

Finally, dozens of individual vehicles will reach the nearest
town. In most cases, the townsmen will have the roads barricaded. They could not
hope to accommodate hoards of improvident city types so will, all too often,
just block their way and turn them back at gunpoint.

This method is wrong and I will explain why in my next
editorial, “Roadblock”. But at this time, I want to tell you what will
happen as a result of total road blocking, which will be common around most
American towns.

You can easily imagine such roadblocks, made of cars strung
across the road, bristling with guns held by determined townsmen. Signs reading,
“Go Back Or Get Shot!” or “Yankee Go Home!” and suchlike,
will let the refugees grouping at the roadblocks know they are unwelcome.

Although up to then, these refugees will have been
individuals, they will now form into mobs. Being improvident and having no
chance on their own, instant leaders will spring up before the roadblocks and
offer the mobs their protection and guidance.

In times of catastrophe and confusion, the average person is
too often willing to follow anyone who says he has an answer. Anyone with any
sort of previous authority, or who will do the thinking for those unable to
think, will find a ready-made army to go wherever he leads and do whatever he

“Lucifer’s Hammer”, by Larry Niven and Jerry
Pournelle, describes two such leaders and many of their sub-leaders, all
relatively unqualified even in times of order. But when the comet came close to
Earth, the most unlikely leadership was accepted, and like Jim Jones of Guyana,
brought savagery and death to all their followers.

The two main leaders in “Lucifer’s Hammer” were a
black Army Sergeant and a white religious fanatic. It was an interracial group,
made up mostly of a band of soldiers, black activists and white losers picked up
on the line of march.

Food was scarce so cannibalism became, not only acceptable,
but mandatory. The eating of human flesh was part of the initiation into the
band. If one would not eat he was eaten.This was first ordered by the Sergeant,
as an immediate alternative to starvation.

It was later made a commandment by the religious co-leader,
as a sign of faith in the idea that they were God’s chosen. Only the chosen
would be blessed with victory over the surviving technologists who had brought
God’s wrath on a sinful world. And God would forgive their cannibalism and any
other horrors committed while bringing His Kingdom into fruition.

His degenerate ravings are pretty much mirrored on TV by Pat
Robertson and Anal Roberts. The kind of people who swallow everything these
perverts say, ended up swallowing human flesh, just as eagerly. So, like a swarm
of locusts, these cannibalistic fanatics proceed to ravage and destroy the only
hope for a future civilization.

There will indeed be such leaders as Sergeant Hooker and the
messianic Reverend Henry Armitage. There will also be bands made up of cults
living inside or outside of cities. These cults will move out first and do what
they will with the uninitiated or those who will not convert.

But the most common bands will be groups turned back from
roadblocks. These, as well as the rest, will form Killer Caravans, pooling their
resources. The leader, whether a politician, soldier or self acknowledged
messiah, will have a ready-made, media brain-washed band of killers to do his

His first act will be to kill off the uncooperative and
anyone who can’t see him as the rightful head. At first, the loudest will be
followed. If the loudest does not keep the majority on his side, his position
and/or his life will be in jeopardy.

Of course, if the loudest proves really incompetent, another
might kill him without fear of the majority. Also, the loudest might appoint a
deputy or two, both to keep the malcontents in line and to keep one of the
deputies from taking his place.

So with the leadership established, the malcontents killed
off and their property confiscated by the group, the Killer Caravan is formed.
It has its leaders, either military or charismatic, or both. It has its armed
foragers and looters. It has its compliment of women and children as dependents.

But what it lacks is a direction, a place to go, a purpose.
All it has as a social organism made up of improvident establishment hacks,
urban workers and welfare loafers, is the collective will to survive.

With resources pooled and the unwilling either dead or driven
off, the Killer Caravan forms up. It then moves back down the road to any
promising side road giving access to a route around the restricted town.

The side road they choose might pass your home. With too
little food to last, and nothing to lose, they will most certainly move against
you. The Killer Caravan might number from 20 to 100 or more people.

Regardless of how much or how little you had stored away, the
Killer Caravan would strip you of everything. Nor would they feel a need to
spare your life. After commandeering your vehicles, weapons, and total food
supply, they would hardly expect you to feel anything but hatred for them.
Giving in to them would be no guarantee that they would let you and your family

First, they would camp on your place until there was nothing
left. There would be no sense in believing they would actually settle in on your
property and share it with you and help you work it. They would not be farmers
anyhow and since you would have only one or two cash crops and a subsistence
garden, such a mob would have no reason to take over your holdings on a
long-term basis.

No, they would camp on your place for a day or two and gather
up everything you had that they wanted. After a short time, there would not be
enough to feed the band and they would move on the the next farm, probably
leaving you dead.

These are the kind of people the boondockers must prepare
against. You should set up a communications network with your neighbors with
walkie talkies. Chances are, the Killer Caravans would attack only one farm
along their route at a time. This would give your neighbors a chance to meet at
the first farm on their route so as to meet them in force.

Fighting Killer Caravans would be different from defending
against lone refugees and their families. In the case of loners, you might be
generous, set out food enough for them to get to the next area, and with a
moderate show of force, save yourself from all-out attack.

But with Killer Caravans, you must show deadly force at once
and keep it up until the survivors are discouraged into moving on. First, they
will have no alternative to attacking you, as they will face chronic shortages
which will halt their caravan without replenishment. Second, their morale will
depend on victories. With the low morale of the members, the leaders might just
as well pass out the poison.

Regardless of the numbers in a caravan, there is little
likelihood that it would be made up of professionally trained ex-servicemen.
Even so, if you can impede them, and inflict a high enough casualty rate, they
will move on, even if they have to do so on foot.

The common conception of a Killer Caravan is of a
well-organized, well-equipped, well-armed, disciplined unit. It is said that
such caravans would sweep all before them. “Lucifer’s Hammer” paints a
picture of an almost overwhelming hoard.

If such a group would take a few farms and stay put, they
could start their own survival community. But the Killer Caravan would not have
the quality of personnel to become a successful survival group. They would be
vulnerable, relying mainly on the disunity and incompetence of farmers along
their route.

Upon seeing a raider, shoot him in the right shoulder, if
possible. (Anyone with the minimum of practice can hit a six by six inch target
at 200 yards, almost every shot.)

You might think a clean kill would be better, but not when
you are dealing with a Killer Caravan. A body is just one less mouth to feed.
But a man with his main shoulder shot would be a useless drain on the food and
medical supplies.

Also, in the heat of an action, the others would be far less
apt to identify with a corpse than a mate screaming at them for help. Further, a
few such injuries would cause the women to bitch and urge them to move on.
Another thing about wounding a raider is that with the scarcity of medical
supplies, his suffering and probable death would give his fellows a lot of food
for thought. If it occurred to them that the object was to wound and maim, any
number of them would be apt to vote to move on.

I would never shoot a woman or a child, unless they were
shooting at me. Dead wives and kids enrage the husbands and make them just as
intent on revenge as on taking the position.



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