Prepper Nation asks a very simple question: can we have a functioning democracy or society when millions of people are existentially terrified of what lies ahead?
The United States has a long history of believing itself to be the chosen nation of God, or believing in what is today called Exceptionalism. However, the belief that the United States is providentially chosen to lead the world into the kingdom of God rests on Christian prophecy which ironically begins, in many interpretations, with the epic destruction of mankind at the battle of Armageddon.
How is it that a secular society like America still relates to this previously religious idea of world-wide human destruction? The reason might be as simple as the of millions of Americans who still adhere to religious fundamentalism, or maybe it's because of the increasing secular references, both fictional and non-fictional, to natural and man-made disasters? Whether it is a zombie apocalypse or planetary destruction resulting from global warming, millions believe mankind is due for a culling, or possibly extinction.
These dystopian nightmares have permeated American social and political thinking. They have caused millions of Americans to lose faith in traditional political solutions. This idea is so prevalent that millions now envision modern society, at some point, breaking down in just a matter of weeks, and they believe it will leave them at the mercy of godless marauders.
The irony is that America’s dystopian nightmares would not be possible were it not for its utopian dreams, which are at the heart of what we call today the American Dream. The paradox of the American Dream is exemplified in the disillusionment of millions of individuals who find themselves unable to compete in a socio-economic system dominated by the few, and this has become a direct threat to American democracy, and to the science-based liberal capitalist system on which it is built. There is nothing left for these millions of people, except to imagine daily a host of potential disaster scenarios by which they will soon be victimized. It should be no surprise that TV shows now explore ways to prepare for these disasters, or that millions are now taking anti-depressants in order to deal with their perpetual anxiety.
Prepper Nation examines how this culture of fear has come to dominate the lives of millions and how it has skewed American politics. This book dives deep into the human psyche, showing why fear dominates our subconscious life, and how that fear translates into the decisions we make every day.
Prepper Nation suggests that the only way to confront this culture of fear, and its deleterious effects, is examine what we believe and how we think. A modern liberal capitalist society requires modern thinking. Fear will not get us where we need to go. Bronze-aged ideas about human nature and the origins of the universe will not do if we want to build a prosperous and stable future for mankind. The good news is that we still have a choice, but we must consciously turn to the only right way of thinking about the world: science.
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Jeffery L. Irvin Jr. is a historian and author. He has a Ph.D. in early modern European history and a master’s degree nineteenth-century United States history.
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