Let’s say there comes to pass a true societal collapse. Cause is unimportant for our discussion here. Could be EMP, pandemic, whatever. The point is, it is now a world without rule of law. Absolutely no infrastructure remains, people are completely and totally on their own for the foreseeable future.
With me so far?
I think we could agree that there will still be “crimes” committed, right? Theft, assault, rape, murder, and that’s just for starters. How should or would you handle it? Obviously if someone were attempting to rape or murder you or one of your family, I think we know the answer. But, what about this scenario.
Let’s say there is a smallish group of survivors who have banded together for safety and security. Oh, let’s go with roughly 20 people. They’ve settled into a group of townhouses or condos and are doing pretty well, all things considered. Gardens are planted, they’ve managed to scrounge a fair amount of canned food and such. Water is plentiful through their rain catchment system as well as the nearby pond. They are kind of off the beaten path so attempted intrusions have been few and far between. There’s no clear leader of the group but there really hasn’t been need for one either.
Then, one day, it is discovered that a member of the “community” has been stealing food from the main storage area. Not a lot, just a couple cans here and there. No real reason for it other than he just feels entitled to a little extra for some reason.
What do you do about him? Is this a capital offense and thus punishable by hanging or something? If you exile him from the community, what is to stop him from coming back in a month or two with some new friends?
What if, instead of stealing a few cans of food, he is just a complete and utter jerk to one and all? He’s not violent. He just can’t seem to get along with anyone. He does his fair share of the labor. He’s not lazy, just an ass. While not really a crime, he is having a negative effect on the morale of the community. What do you do about him?
These are just two simple examples of scenarios that should be discussed with any existing groups to which you may belong. Clear leadership is, of course, a key element to a successful community. But right along with leadership is communicating expectations. All members need to know what is expected of them as well as the ramifications of not holding up their end of the deal.