|Burt Gummer - Stereotype of a Survivalist|
Hollywood has a history of making fun of survivalists - and celebrating them at the same time.
Take for example the classic 1990 film "Tremors".
Burt Gummer Quote - "Food for five years, a thousand gallons of gas, air filtration, water filtration, geiger counter. Bomb shelter! Underground... God damn monsters."
Burt Gummer is a fascinating character in terms of the way that he has been stereotyped - the essential stereotype of survivalist with conspiracy theories about the government and the myriad ways "the feds" are trying to control people.
The character was so popular they made Tremors 2, 3, 4 and a tv show with Burt Gummer as the main character. (Although in Tremors 4 it is supposed to be his great-grandfather, but it is played by the same actor.)
Below a classic scene from the 1990 movie.
And now back to the main topic...
Having determined the stereotype of the kind of people who become survivalists (they are not all like Burt Gummer after all) lets look at the reasons WHY they become Survivalists. Most of it is due to fear of one of the following things:
For fun every second one is a less believable reason. :)
#1. Nuclear War - Which is certainly a possibility. Especially with countries like North Korea who have nuclear warheads and missiles capable of reaching mainland USA.
#3. Economic Collapse - A real possibility. I would argue there is even a higher chance of this than nuclear war (although the two could coincide, one kickstarting the other). In a country like the USA for example all that needs to happen is for the American dollar to drop dramatically in value to the point that Americans are reduced to near slavery in order to make enough to survive - and when that happens people will become more militant, crime will be rampant, and society will slowly fall apart as the USA becomes one big ghetto. Although to be fair #10 will probably happen at the same time.
#4. Alien Invasion - Scientifically this is a possibility, but a remote one. More likely we would pick up alien transmissions from a distant star system long before actual first contact with an alien species. If our governments have made any communications with aliens in the past they certainly are not telling us about it. And why should they? It would cause a collapse when we would need to pull together and stay focused.
#5. Plague - Some kind of deadly super-virus could wipe out a huge chunk of the Earth's human population easily. Depending on how quickly the virus jumped from host to host the contagion could wipe out 90% of humans within a matter of a week. Depending on how deadly the virus is we can expect nation wide quarantines and the virus would likely be contained to specific regions. The real question then would be whether governments acted quickly enough to quarantine regions, or whether they would wait until it was too late and the virus was too widespread.
#6. The ATMs Rise Up - The robots are out to get us, oh no! Science fiction can come up with anything these days.
#7. Government Takeover - Government surrenders to a superior force (like in the 1984 movie Red Dawn and the 2012 remake), government turns into a dictatorship, corporate takeover of government (including privatization of police and military)... or even the government has slowly become too weak to do anything and there is really nobody in charge - and laws have become almost meaningless. Some of these are more likely than others.
#9. Global Warming - Rising sea levels, weird weather, the world slowly going to hell, people eventually fighting over food shortages. All certainly a real possibility.
#10. Civil War - For Canada it would be our first civil war. For the USA it would be the 2nd Civil War. The exact cause doesn't really matter. The point is that some people believe it could happen. One such group, the Hutaree, back in 2010 was mere weeks from launching their own private civil war in an effort to separate part of the USA away from the other states and make their own separate country. They thought that if they got the ball rolling that other militia groups would join them and they would be able to control Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. Fortunately they got caught by an undercover FBI agent. I don't think militias could accomplish anything big however. The best they can hope for is things like the Waco siege or the Oklahoma City bombing - and while those did cause significant loss of life, they ultimately failed to convince anyone of their political motivations. Ignoring a militia led civil war, it is entirely possible a civil war in the USA could be fought if communism ever started to rise to power during a moment of economic instability of such a length that enough people would consider communism to be the better option - and this would lead to fighting against pro-communism and anti-communism states.
Honestly, there are many other reasons why people might become a survivalist who lives off the grid. Reasons as simple as being a germaphobe.