In 1953, Ray Bradbury penned the classic dystopian novel, Fahrenheit 451. In it, he depicts a futuristic society where firemen are responsible for burning books, as censorship is key.
However, the novel ends with the main character, a former firefighter, choosing to go against society by aiming to preserve books and knowledge.
This becomes possible when he discovers a parallel society of “book people.” This is a group of intellectuals, including professors, clergy, and authors, who have essentially gone off the grid and are hiding in the wilderness.
Instead of being a part of the majority society, they live hidden on the edge of society preserving knowledge.
What Ray Bradbury paints as an extreme dystopia is a real possibility in modern times. In particular, many people find themselves thinking like the book people and looking for opportunities to form a parallel society.
How the World Sees a Parallel Society
What is a parallel society? It is defined as “the self-organization of an ethnic or religious minority, often but not always immigrant groups, with the intent of a reduced or minimal spatial, social and cultural contact with the majority society into which they immigrate.”
While this is the standard definition of parallel society, it is important to note that it is not only ethnic or religious minorities, but it also includes any group that considers themselves a minority (such as Republicans in a blue state).
The Positive Benefits of a Parallel Society
Dr. Elham Manea explained in a TEDx talk, “Self-contained communities can stabilize a newcomer’s identity and facilitate the integration process providing valuable information about the culture, experiences, and employment opportunities. As a result, they may help to avoid identity crises and reduce negative individualism.”
For those who are part of a minority, it may be comforting to surround themselves with people who share similar ideas and beliefs.
And, ultimately, isn’t this how most people form a community?
According to Spiegel International, “Only primitive societies that allow no differences of any kind, and dictatorships, which control all aspects of life, are free of parallel societies. Both the Third Reich and communist East Germany, for example, had no such thing. In flexible, changing populations, parallel societies are almost inevitable.”
Real World Examples of Parallel Societies
Today, it isn’t difficult to find examples of parallel societies across the United States or the globe.
Spiegel International explains, “China Town and Little Italy in New York are just the best known examples. Not that long ago, Yorkville occupied Manhattan's East Side around 86th Street, which was called ‘German Broadway’ at the time. […] Now, Washington Heights is dominated by immigrants from the Caribbean -- one parallel society has followed the next. ‘Little Odessa’ near Coney Island is exclusively Russian while in Greenpoint, one doesn't get far without knowing a bit of Polish. A subway ride through New York is a trip from one parallel society to the next.”
In another example, the largest parallel society in Israel is Russian. They even have their own Russian newspapers, clubs, and radio stations.
Parallel Society for Survivalists
While most of the research about parallel societies is about immigrants and ethnic groups, parallel societies can be formed by any group that does not want much to do with the majority society, such as homesteaders or survivalists.
Consider the Free State Project in New Hampshire.
According to the Free State Project website, “The Free State Project is a movement of thousands of freedom-loving people to New Hampshire. Already, there are thousands of individuals just like you right here in New Hampshire. Together, Free Staters have built an incredible, real-life community full of people who value liberty and responsibility. By concentrating our efforts in one small state with a pre-existing pro-liberty culture, we are turning the tide against big government, and we're experiencing the benefits of expanded personal and economic freedoms.”
As a result, many survivalists have made their way to New Hampshire, causing New Hampshire Magazine to ask, “Are there people here who would like to see the Granite State made over into a Granite Redoubt?”
In addition, there are those who are actively preparing for a future as a part of a parallel society, such as depicted in Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.
For example, several people have already purchased condominium units in the Atlas Missile Silo turned luxury survival condos in Kansas.
People who may one day call this underground bunker home will form their own parallel society beneath the surface.
How to Prepare for a Parallel Society
Preparing for a parallel society begins by looking at the areas where you are dependent on others or the government, and then making changes to be more self-reliant.
Here are a few things to consider.
- Education: Consider where and how your children are being educated. If you don’t feel comfortable with their education, look into other school options, such as private or charter schools. Many families also claim this is the reason they chose to homeschool.
- Food: Too often, we rely on the grocery store for our food. But, grocery stores cannot be counted on during emergencies. By learning how to find and prepare your own food (such as hunting or gardening), you become more self-sufficient.
- Communication and News: It’s no secret that censorship is a major problem today. That’s why many people are looking for alternative means of communication, as well as alternative news sources.
- Finances: Instead of relying solely on your bank account, begin looking for opportunities to barter. Parallel societies find other ways to sell or trade services and goods.
- Community Groups: Pay attention to the people you spend time with outside of your home, such as your church. Do these people share similar ideas that would make you feel comfortable should a parallel society form or would you be an outlier?
- Location: Where you live will play a huge role in a parallel society. Most parallel societies are based on location. Are you living in an area that is dangerous? Could you move somewhere with more freedom where people seem to share similar ideas?
Part of living prepared is preparing to live apart. Begin thinking of ways you can get by with minimal contact with the majority, friends.
Preparedness Advisor, My Patriot Supply