I recently read an article posted on another website which claimed that one should not rely on bartering after SHTF, or an economic collapse. Without divulging the source of the article (professional courtesy) I would like to address why I believe this concept is flawed and why after an economic collapse or SHTF type event bartering will be absolutely essential to survival. In order to establish a base line for my rebuttal to his assumption that “bartering is overrated” I should first list out some of the arguments the author made to support his rationale. For the sake of simplicity I will do my best to paraphrase a few that I found interesting.
- Bartering assumes you have goods to spare. Since the next economic collapse will take years to evolve, it is conceivable that one would simply run out of goods during this period, or be so concerned with conservation that bartering would not even be an option.
- If the grid goes down there will be full fledged WROL and anarchy. Any attempt to barter with neighbors or outsiders will only expose others (word of mouth) to the fact that you have supplies, and people will then attempt to rob you.
- Bartering is too risky, you might have to leave your retreat location to conduct transactions. In addition to letting others know what you might have (compromise OPSEC), this could also open you up to potential ambushes. Instead one should remain at the retreat and focus on pulling security.
- Bartering is too time consuming. You might have to interact with 100 people before you find the item that you need.
Before I continue I would ask what you think of his arguments? Take a minute to formulate your own responses if you disagree (or even agree) with what he wrote. While there are some elements of truth in what he writes I would submit that the overall logic is flawed. After SHTF it is true that resources will be tight, no matter how well stocked any of us are. There might not be any trips down to the local grocery, swiping of debit cards and coming back to the house with an SUV full of food. Instead of addressing each of his points individually I can think of one word which provides the solution to all of those “problems.” The word is simple but the concept is powerful: Community.
In an extended post SHTF collapse there will be no such thing as one man armies, there will be no such thing as a single family which hunkers down by themselves surviving alone on their food stores. If the grid goes down during this time (and it is entirely possibly considering how fragile it is) even the most fortified home will not be able to withstand a determined group of well trained individuals. The solution to all of this is community. Instead of fearing what the author listed in his article you should incorporate all of those topics into your survival plan and use the concept of community to mitigate many of the potential risks.
You will not be able to hide the fact that you have extra food and supplies from your neighbors post collapse, it will be impossible. Communities come together during adversity and 1 to 2 months after SHTF people will be wondering why they are practically starving and you and your family are not. What are you going to do, tell them if they step one foot on your property you’ll shoot them all? Not a smart plan and quite frankly one that is doomed (remember these are your neighbors, not outsiders). Desperate people are capable of extraordinary things, and while you might get a few of them they would rather see your home burn to the ground versus you having food while they all starve. Instead use the food you have as an advantage, a bargaining chip (read: barter) which will help everyone in your community. You have food, they have strength in numbers. How about you supply some food for those who are willing to help pull security for the neighborhood. Those who are willing to go out on other bartering runs or food collection missions will receive extra rations. By being willing to share your food in exchange for services, you will be in a position of power within your community. Additionally everyone working together with a common goal in mind (survival) will greatly enhance everyone’s survivability rate. Keep in mind no plan is perfect and there is always the chance that you might have an unreasonable neighbor who would still demand confiscating all of your goods, or taking it by force. If this happens you must reiterate that you are willing to share but any threats to your family or stash will not be tolerated and will be dealt with swiftly. This is no time to waffle or be wishy-washy.
Bartering will be an absolutely essential part of survival after a major collapse. While there are many risks associated with the bartering process, many of those risks can be mitigated through the forming of trusted communities. It should also be noted that bartering does not only apply to goods, bartering services should be taken into consideration as well. I don’t know of a single person who is a qualified surgeon, mechanic, pilot, welder, sailor, veterinarian, and farmer….all with experience in military special operations. Therefore it only stands to reason that people will need to exchange goods and services in order to survive. Consider your plan, embrace your community and your chances of making it through SHTF will be much greater than the lone wolf who believes they can do it all alone.