Posts Tagged ‘hoplophiles’

Book Review – Dancing at Armageddon: Survivalism and Chaos in Modern Times

Monday, 31 December 2007

The short version: A sociologist/scholar spends years hanging out with various survivalists, then offers up theories about survivalism. Well-written but loses focus. Skip the edubabble. There is no appreciable hands-on survivalism knowledge in this book.

Dancing at Armageddon was written by one Richard G. Mitchell Jr., who explains he needed a “fresh” unexplored sociological subject to write about and found one in survivalists…problem is, he doesn’t do them any favors. Mitchell starts with the claim that James Huberty was the media’s stereotype of a survivalist (my own stereotype would be Burt Gummer from the Tremors movies) and goes from there.

Dancing was printed in 2002 but unfortunately is already dated, covering only the 1980s to early 90s, before widespread internet access, Y2K and, of course, 9-11. Even these “paradigm shifts” probably wouldn’t add up to much in uniting fringe groups or makeshift militias.

Mitchell “trains” with survivalists, who run the gamut from poor loners to wealthy suburbanites. He tosses off a lot of theories about the type of person that gravitates towards survivalism, their thought processes, etc,. using a lot of edubabble that only professors and other obfuscators would find interesting or helpful.

If you only read the first half of the book, you’d think survivalists were for the most part harmless scrabblers, tinkerers, information traders and universal hoplophiles*, engaged in a kind of hobby. The tone changes in the second half of the book, after Mitchell attends retreats and “churches” of White racial purists. What he sees (and caricatures) causes him to lose all objectivity, which is understandable for a human but unacceptable for a researching writer.

The so-called “White Power” movement (which does more harm than good to Euro-American culture and traditions) is peopled with misfits and losers; the same would go for any “race pride” group.

While I admire Mitchell for walking the talk in befriending many survivalists (and exposing the media’s sensational thirst to create enemy Outsiders) in the end he remains a (naturally) liberal perfesser. Having grown crankier and more cynical during years of study, for the last third of the book his original mission of exploring survivalism all but vanishes. You can take or leave his theories, but either way this isn’t an overall satisfying read.

* lovers of firearms