I found the following definitions for survivalist:
1. somebody determined to survive: somebody who seeks to survive an impending disaster by hoarding weapons and food, often going off to live alone or with a like-minded group
2. a person who advocates or practices survivalism; especially : one who has prepared to survive in the anarchy of an anticipated breakdown of society
There seems to be a negative connotation to the term survivalist by mainstream society and I am not sure if that is just from poor representation from a small group of the community or that mainstream society does not like the reminder that they are living a lie.
For me, I see a survivalist as one who has the ability to survive in life. This is not referring to the quality of life, as most people want to live life and not just survive it, but rather the ability to ensure that a person can and will live without dependence upon the systems in place for mainstream people.
When we look at the average person, all of their education and experiences have been about how to enter into mainstream society and live in a dependent state. The person will get a job and earn money in which they will give to others for food, water and all of the items needed to continue to live. The majority of people do not have an idea as to how to find their own water or find their own food. Basic hunter/ gathering skills have been lost by the majority of civilized society and now society is dependent upon the system to keep going or else many will die.
This is a scary thought and one of the primary reasons that survivalist, preppers, or whatever label you want to go have purposed to relearn the skills that have been lost by civilization so that we are no longer as dependent upon the continuation of the system. The goal becomes self-sustainability.
We can see how necessary these skills are as poverty rates are reaching a historic high. The people in these groups are people who are unemployed or underemployed. They are unable to earn enough money to be at what society has determined to be the standard quality of life and as the economy keeps suffering, these numbers will continue to rise. The poverty rates have not been at this level since Lyndon B Johnson waged his war on poverty by enacting many social welfare programs to bridge the gap.
This means people who are unable to adequately provide for the basic necessities of life without some assistance from the government or charities.
What would the situation look like if they were able to grow their own food or rely on food stores if they had planned in advance? Most people could not plan ahead of time as they are not in a good position to survive under the current system.
Survival is a skill set that should be taught / learned by everyone around the world, but sadly it won’t. There are those who find it to impractical or just too hard to leave the comforts of modern society. There are many who are just too afraid to leave the comforts and easy of living under the system. They are like the hamster that needs the security of being able to return to the same place for their allotment of food and water.
There are some though, who see the truth and know that they need to make a change in order to be able to continue to live. It is these people who need to embrace the term survivalist as they strip away the dependence upon others to be able to live from day to day. We will continue to learn and thrive as we take confidence in our ability to live anywhere without needing others.