Switzerland is Prepared for Civilizational Collapse

More than any other country, Switzerland’s ethos is centered around preparing for civilizational collapse.

All around Switzerland, for example, one can find thousands of water fountains fed by natural springs. Zurich is famous for its 1200 fountains, some of them quite beautiful and ornate, but it’s the multiple small, simple fountains in every Swiss village that really tell the story. Elegant, yes, but if and when central water systems are destroyed these fountains are a decentralized and robust system for providing everyone with drinkable water.

The Swiss political system is also decentralized. If the central government fails, the Swiss might not even notice. The mountains and valleys also mean that Swiss towns and villages are geographically independent yet linked in a spider-web of robust connections.

Despite being at peace since 1815, Switzerland is prepared for war. Swiss males (and perhaps females in the future) are required to serve in the military (those who cannot, pay a special tax) creating a robust reservoir of trained citizens ready to serve in an emergency.

The Swiss have been tunneling the Alps for hundreds of years creating innumerable secret hideaways for people and stores.

As a further example of how ridiculously well prepared the Swiss are for any and all threats, there are things like hidden hydroelectric dams built inside of unmarked mountains so that in the event of mass bombings, they’ll still have electricity from these secret facilities. And, remember, these are the things the Swiss government has let us know about. It is thought that there are probably more fortifications and hidden goodies scattered about the country’s landscape. (ital. added, AT)

In addition, to thousands of military bunkers permeating the Swiss mountains there are several hundred thousand private and public fallout shelters the largest of which can hold some 20,000 people. Some of the largest installations have been decommissioned and even turned into museums but there is little doubt that they could be rapidly re-purposed.. As the Swiss continue to improve their already fantastic railway system it’s standard practice to convert old railway tunnels to security shelters.

Buried deep alongside the hydroelectric dams, shelters and food stores, the Swiss also have libraries ready to reboot civilization:

“In another [underground bunker], detailed instructions on how to build devices for reading all known data storage formats, even older formats like floppy disks, are kept, so that if that knowledge is otherwise lost, future generations can still decode our data storage devices to access the data within correctly. Essentially, the researchers involved in this particular project have attempted to create a “Rosetta Stone” of data formats and are using a ridiculously secure Swiss bunker as the storage point for that knowledge.”

Switzerland is famous for being the place to store wealth in times of crisis and that remains true today with a few twists. The old-rich store their gold in heavily guarded Swiss banks, the nouveau-riche store their bitcoins in Swiss underground bunkers built to withstand cyber- and nuclear attack:

It’s no surprise that Nassim Taleb likes Switzerland because this is a country that has made itself anti-fragile in order to survive the black swans of civilizational collapse.

Hat tip: Maxwell.


Really? http://4freedoms.com/group/maps/forum/topics/list-of-supremacist-statements

Useless link.

Useless is the army and the bunkers when an enemy openly says that it will conquer your country by wombs.

Rightly said.
All of us should prepare to defend that kind of attack.all other military or any other kind of attacks needs a reason to trigger, but these fellows just don't need any reason.they will just begin with out any reason.

Mothers of the world, unite!

I've got Celtic blood. Any man who tries to conquer my womb will loose their manhood.

off-topic ?
and switzerland is 99% white.

Exactly!! Thats why its one of the top nations in the world! Little diversity. a single minded people

Little diversity? In a country with 4 national languages? And where over 23% of the population is foreign born? By comparison 13% of population of the USA is foreign born.

Exactly! White people ARE diverse. In Switzerland, you have White people that speak at least four different languages.

In fact, Apple recently fired its BLACK FEMALE Diversity Chief after she pointed out this fact.


Racism: a discredited belief system that teaches that people with different skin colors or ethic backgrounds are likely to differ in other characteristics as well.

Diversity: a science-based policy that seeks to staff and/or populate organizations, communities, nations, and other entities with people exhibiting a variety of personal characteristics by choosing them based on skin color and ethnic background variations.

Viola! Diversity = Racism

but yet it is not Switzerland that is generating that cash or technology, they are simply storing it for the diversities around the world who are actually do the work.

A single totalitarian hive mind makes a great nation?

By talking about racism you prove that you are low mentality Americans. which includes both white-trash and niggers. Europe doesn't really care about skin color

Blah when civilization ends you whites will be eating each other , What else is up there fucking rocks and snow , Your mother is a nigger son of a bitch racist scum . NEXT TIME I MEET A SWISS i will cut his guts out

This is an obvious false flag and comment bait, just saying.

BLAH what good will your white ass do you when nuclear fallout is killing all you High IQ corpus white bastards, Fuck your country your banks profited off of the death of millions of rich JEWS. your fake clean country is a criminal nation. with the blood of millions of people. on your racist hands

Christ, give it a rest.

I am a 70 year old middle class Midwestern American with a couple of college degrees. I worked in a steel mill to pay for my education and have been fortunate enough to continue my education all my life. I am endlessly depressed when i read almost any comment pages on the internet. The ignorance of people around the world is unbelievable.It totally permeates both the left and the right. Before 1815 when Napoleon invaded Switzerland it had the best professional soldiers in Europe. They continuously fought in the religious war. Those that survived saved their money and then went back home and bought a cow. By staying out of wars and profiting from them they have the highest standard of living in the world, also the best longevity.Hitler did not try to take Switzerland in WWII for the same reason Napoleon left. This why the Pope has had a Swiss guard for centuries!

Thank you. I actually don't get on these sites but this story caught my eye. And then I made the mistake of reading the comments, and it started off fine, then a couple people started getting way off topic from ANYTHING that had to do with the article. All of a sudden a 2-5 ignorant people race war broke out and I really was starting to get depressed! Damn I know and have faith that a lot of people out there are smarter and less hateful than these assholes, but when it's all I see on the comments and then you hear about how people commit suicide because of GODDAMNED comment boards it gets kind of ridiculous. HATE is the problem with this world. Not your white brothers or black brothers or any other distinction people want to make because of physical features. If squirrels all lived together in a thriving world of nuts, it'd be pretty crazy if they all started going after the squirrels that looked different. Now I'm off topic. Hey people this is about some cool thoughtful stuff that Swiss people do. Good night and thank you C.J. James.

Thank you.

Enjoyed all of the comments. Even the ones with nigger in them seemed informatived for some reason.

"... this is a country that has made itself anti-fragile ..."


This isn't really anti fragility right, it's just resilience? (Still better than fragility)

To be anti fragile, Swiss standard of living would need to go up should civilization collapse.

It's fun to imagine a version of "The Road" in post-apocalyptic "anti-fragile" Switzerland where everyone lives decadent lives thanks to the apocalypse.

I always find these post-apocalyptic stories kind of frustrating. Why would people not just go straight back to "Little house on the Prarie"? All the cannibalism and roving gangs of warlords and shit seem entirely unnecessary. Just plant a damn garden and hunt !!! If you run across any other survivors, recruit them to help with the plowing and weeding. In a state of civilizational collapse resources would be suddenly abundant, so there should be little competition for land. Why the hell would you spend time and resources trying to wipe out the other survivors?

Your movie sounds kinda boring.

I take it that you enjoyed 'Dances with Wolves' then?

Seems like there's plausible "civilization collapse" scenarios where, at least in the short term, there'd have to be some serious drama as equilibria shifted. Would today's farmers -- let alone your average urban dweller -- be prepared to farm effectively without modern machines, chemicals, and irrigation technology, if there was some Carrington Event that knocked out the grid and made fuel extremely difficult to access? There's 9 million people in New York City who would be battling for the cans in the back of Duane Reid.

Plus, I'd imagine the preppers who are most ready for civilizational collapse are probably the sort of people who would be excited by the opportunity to form roving gangs.

Why plant a garden and hunt, when you can form a roving gang to conquer all those gardeners and hunters? All it takes is 1% of people to think that way, and you get roving gangs.

haha, good point!

Because thanks to fossil fuels we have gone way beyond the carrying capacity of the planet? There are way too many people to make it feasible to go back to hunting and gardening even if they all had the skills and knowledge to do so. In actuality, if trailer trucks were to stop replenishing the 3 days of food supply that sits in every supermarket, the vast majority of people would not be able to start a vegetable garden and wait for it to grow before they starved.

In addition, the US is a much different place than a couple hundred years ago. Family farms have been replaced by large agribusiness holdings that require massive fossil fuel inputs to grow anything, the topsoil has been degraded, underground aquifers have been depleted, forests have been replaced by tree plantations, and overall the natural bounty that Native Americans lived off before Westerners arrived has been much reduced. But even, if it was a naturally pristine environment, it would not support 300 million plus people.

Well, usually in a civilizational collapse scenario, most of the people are already dead from nuclear war, disease, meteor strikes or zombies. The zombies outnumber the living 100-to-1 in the first season of the Walking Dead.

Although this does sort of beg for a retelling of what might happen in an actually realistic civilizational collapse, in which the population is still mostly alive but the infrastructure of civilization suddenly vanishes causing mass starvation. How would such a situation come about?

Never underestimate the ability of the human race to be stupid or cruel.

So, you think if there were no more prisons, criminals would cease to exist? Nice thought, but...

In an apocalyptic scenario, bad people with guns might end up with everything of value, including your fruits and vegetables.

Your scenario is not the worst I have read. I believe that one of the most essential things for people to save for the event of civilization collapse is SEEDS & BOOKS! Yes, it is good to put up stores, develop fortification, and train your family in how to survive, forage, etc. But without seeds (stored properly), and books (all sorts of genres) life would be...I don't know, my imagination does not go there.

There is not enough space, and most people lack the basic skills. How many people do you know who can maintain and operate horse drawn agricultural equipment? As someone who does, I can tell you that it is no simple undertaking.
The "roving gangs" period is predicted to happen shortly after things run out. Since people will find it impossible to produce basic necessities, or transport the things if they are available, they will just start taking them from those perceived to be weaker or better supplied.
Even 19th century living requires quite a bit of specialized infrastructure. Just planning on horse-based transport brings up issues. There are not enough horses, and even exponential breeding would take decades to reach 19th century horse populations. There are thousand of such issues.

You obviously have no understanding of how fragile most modern societies are. Millions of people in a city like New York, none of them with a clue how to farm, hunt, or really do anything that doesn't involve a smart phone. That's why decentralized countries/states would prosper.

Now days most of the American public lives in cities or suburbia, they aren't farmers.
You remind me of the obese captain from Wall-E "We can plant pizza!"
Little House on the Prairie took place on the frontier and Laura lived in the past. Most of the American bison are gone, and the ones that do still exist are on ranches. Ranches owned by ranchers, or on farmland that is also private property. Do you think that in an apocalyptic scenario Farmer Bob is just going to let the Jones park their minivan on his property and start growing whatever they like? They probably wouldn't know how to be good farmers anyway, the Khmer Rouge tried to do this in Cambodia decades ago and it was a massive failure. Society functions because it's specialized and everybody does their bit. Our Neurosurgeons, secretaries, computer programmers, and police officers won't necessarily make good farm hands just because they're good at their current jobs, and even if they will how quickly will they be able to be retrained even so? Not that any of that matters. If it's something like a bunch of atomic bombs the land is poisoned anyway. The top layers of the soil irradiated and impossible to grow food in until it's scraped off and removed safely (HOW? with fuel shortages what will power the earth-movers and equipment for this large scale farmland rescue? and Where does it go after this?), also there are limits to how many people can live within a certain patch of land as hunter-gatherers, agriculture allows population to grow huge, but without large scale ag only so many people can live in a certain place.....cannibalism will be a thing because it has to be. Even in the most positive society scenario where everyone non-violently agrees to share everything, share every task, every stock-piled supply, and has spent years learning side skills, it takes time for food to grown, and harvested; I sure hope you have enough canned goods to last you and your entire happy community until it's time to reap the benefits of the food you somehow managed to produce/collect and protect.

If civilization collapses, they're much worse off, so they are not Taleb's 'anti-fragile'. (I find people are about as accurate in invoking 'anti-fragile' as they are in invoking 'black swans'.) You might cynically say that all of this is window-dressing security theatre which will pay off in times of fear by capital flight to Switzerland; if the local benefit of capital flight exceeds the direct costs of turmoil, then *that* might be 'anti-fragile'.

But overall, one has to wonder if these 2 centuries of elaborate investments and massive consumption of labor have paid off for the Swiss. You can't eat secret unused hydroelectric dams.

Nassim disagrees with you. He tweeted about a similar article just yesterday.

The Swiss do have the desire, but I am not sure why a libertarian blog would applaud so many public works.

See also


Your view of libertarianism and classical liberalism is very narrow. You seem to think that Alex and Tyler are anarcho-libertarians; yet if you've paid attention, you'd notice they're for all sorts of collective actions, including ones that involve the state.

Maybe this is why your comments come off as trolling. Oh shoot. Maybe you were trolling with this comment, and I fell for it.


I thought about that, and nope. Huge public infrastructure is not by any means libertarian.

Note the cute phrasing here:

"In addition, to thousands of military bunkers permeating the Swiss mountains there are several hundred thousand private and public fallout shelters the largest of which can hold some 20,000 people."

Perhaps we should not group "private and public," but break it down.

(Plus, it is not like stricter libertarians are not in the audience.)

"The Swiss do in fact spend more than almost any other nation (more than 20 per cent of their budget) to insure themselves against everything and everyone. But there is a more simple reason: it is a legal requirement."


infrastructure is a straw man, everybody's basically in favour of it and it's a tiny fraction of federal / national government budgets. Nobody is on the left because they really care about infrastructure, or on the right because they really resent it. The real money is in social transfers and the welfare state.

+1, and I would add war to your list.

I’m on the left because I love trains and state run mental facilities.

Now you guys are just being funny. Or would the apartment owners who have complained here about "regulations" be just fine with a mandate to maintain nuclear fallout shelters for their tenants?

Emanuel - First read of your comment looked like "I’m on the left because I love to make the trains run on time."

Tyler isn't a libertarian and he's made that abundantly clear over and over again. He's essentially a neo-liberal capitalist, but just slightly contrarian so he might, occasionally, express preferences for less regulation instead of more.

Wikipedia. 5 matches for libertarian on Tyler's page, but only 1 for Alex.

Mercatus is looooaaaded.


Even though he's not a Mormon, he takes an interest in them and seems to admire some of their practices.

One can be a libertarian thinker and find non-libertarian things interesting. Tyler isn't Tanishi Coates, after all.

Geez guys, you have drawn out the one line observation that Swiss preparation is not exactly voluntary or free market further than I would have done.

Had that entirely reasonable observation not been attacked.

""Every inhabitant must have a protected place that can be reached quickly from his place of residence" and "apartment block owners are required to construct and fit out shelters in all new dwellings", according to articles 45 and 46 of the Swiss Federal Law on Civil Protection."

"Despite being at peace since 1815, Switzerland is prepared for war." Or maybe Switzerland has been at peace in part because it is prepared for war.

Si vis pacem, para bellum

Indeed, Switzerland ist surprisingly militarised.
It currently has 150,000 active personnel. (That's not bad for a country with just 6.3 Mio citizens. Compare that to 180,000 active German and 220,000 active French soldiers. Germany and France both have more than 10 times as many citizens as Switzerland).
And that's not even including the Swiss Guard at the Vatican...

Maybe it's a necessary condition, but not a sufficient one. It might depend on what you mean by "prepared for war."

well not really - Germany and France were well prepared for war in 1914, indeed the imperative for the Germany military was to have the war before the Russian army got too big. Being prepared for war does also make you more likely to go to war.

Switzerland had a civil war in 1847.

Maybe Switzerland was too useful for trading and hiding weapons and loot and too insignificant in any other way. They famously helped the Nazis convert to money what they stole from the Jews.

Typo: "re-prapidly."

There's nothing appealing about keeping the populace mobilized in fear of a non-existent existential threat. It only comes across as charming because Switzerland is a small and ultimately insignificant nation; a larger power that made survivalist investments would be seen as paranoid and destabilizing. This story puts me in mind of the Floating Fortresses built by the powers in 1984 to swallow resources that otherwise could have made society more prosperous. This money could have been spent on, say, water treatment in the developing world.

Maybe the paranoid attitude comes from historically being a small, insignificant nation caught between great powers. Any way I go to Switzerland often, it's the nicest country in Europe. Expensive as fuck though.

"a larger power that made survivalist investments would be seen as paranoid and destabilizing": I can think of a large power that hasn't made survivalist investments and yet has been seen as paranoid and destabilising for the past two or three decades.

Which one?

Perhaps paranoid is overstating the case.
Americans like themselves a good war once in a while - it's not because we're paranoid, it's because some of us think it's fun. (Not me.)

Now now, be nice to the Russians. They are a bit destabilizing, but they have good historical reason to be paranoid.

But upon reflection of the book, perhaps Faulkner, who lived in a time of mass graves for hundreds of thousands of people (who were not given proper burial), wanted his readers to reckon with death in a more serious way. Perhaps it is not so important to polarize life and death and to make death an occasion of such import. And if the conventional wisdom is not hypocritical, than the front page of the newspaper should be births and suspected miracles, instead of death and suspected terrorism.

We allow energy to be consumed to mine Bitcoins because it's more fun than water treatment in the developing world.


Are the bunkers just designed to survive nuclear war or are some of them intended to be formidable enough to help humanity survive, say, a comet strike?

A comet strike isn't a little, manageable thing like a full out nuclear war. Nobody, including the anti-fragile Swiss, will survive a comet strike.

I have no real idea but I'm curious about the analysis. Surely life on Earth has survived such collisions before.

Depends on the size of the comet.

And depends on the size of the life.

Plenty of people (and infrastructure, including a nuclear power plant) survived Lucifer's Hammer. Some people turned to cannibalism, though.

It depends on the size of the comet, really.

See Tunguska. Life goes on.

I wouldn't mind if the U.S. built a species survival facility in some of those deep, super stable salt mines in Kansas with a 1000 years of air, food, water, movies, books, and computer games and a couple of small nuclear reactors and had plans that if something really, really bad was happening, that a few dozen young military families with little kids would go down there and hole up. They don't have to be genetic superstars, just healthy, mentally stable young married couples (so you have fewer Pitcairn Island type situations) from the nearest big military base.

Switzerland, Kansas, and a third facility in Australia or New Zealand would give humanity a fighting chance of surviving even a really big asteroid or comet strike.

But the Swiss won't be around to help.

You wouldn't need a survival facility (why just one?) to last 1000 years but closer to 10 to 30. There is also no reason the internet couldn't be set up between the 100 survival facilities scattered around the globe.

At any rate, there is no chance Earth will be hit by a really big human-squashing asteroid over the next million years and look at the technological jump from just 1917 to 2017 to deal with an asteroid, which is nothing compared to the jump from 2017 to 2117. Just ask Tyler.

I can see which Dr. Strangelove character you are.

"...Mr. President, we must not allow a MINESHAFT GAP !!! "

Very similar conclusion can be reached about India as well.

A country with a very weak state but a strong society. Very strong anti-fragility.

You will never see major recessions or macro-economic calamities in India. This is one of the few countries on earth that have grown at rates ranging from 3% to 8% for the past 70 years, with practically no recession throughout that period (except for a bad slowdown in the late 60s/early 70s).

The stability of India is remarkable even if one uses a longer historical timeframe. A country that has had cultural continuity since atleast 1200 BCE. And whose religion and way of life couldn't be conquered by alien influences, which could capture political power but couldn't change society.

Sharp contrast to fragile societies like Iran, whose indigenous culture collapsed and transformed within 50 years in the face of Islam.

Once a country moves up the development ladder, they stop having famines and start having recessions. India is only just making it out of those woods.

India hasn't had major famines since independence.

And India's macro-economic stability is remarkably high even when compared to late 19th / early 20th century US - as India today has a per-capita income similar to the US of that period.


What's the Venn Diagram Overlap between 'major famine' and 195M starving Indians?


Don't be like the guy from Brazil who posts here.

India will never develop. Aside from the jaw dropping levels of corruption, its unable to execute like the Han Chinese.

The Indian inferiority complex vis-a-vis Persians is the only explanation for this comment, and it's so weird and pervasive. I wish I knew how it started and why it persists (then again, I guess you already explained why it persists!).

India is a stable parliamentary democracy unlike the theocracy that is Persia.

It is superior to Persia in most respects. The Per-capita income is misleading, as Persia has oil

Haha, we already had our fake brazilian troll and now there's an indian troll. No matter the topic.....it's about India. Ever considered a mental check-up?

I am not fake. I am a real Brazilian.

Stop impersonating me. I am Brazilian though it is true.

And they fight each other like two cats in a bag.

The great Copernicussian Edgar Poe once said, All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I'm hopeful this particular blog post attracts a fake Swiss troll.

I am in the top 2.7% of American income earners. Obviously I wouldn't be there if my mind was defective. I am doing alright. But thanks for the concern

Who cares

'there are things like hidden hydroelectric dams built inside of unmarked mountains so that in the event of mass bombings'

The way the U.S. (and one assumes other countries) collapse electrical grids does not involve mass bombing, as the Iraqis and then the Serbs discovered a couple of decades ago - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graphite_bomb

Assuming the Swiss are as competent as the Serbs, an adversary then turns to precision bombing of electric transmission towers and transformer stations.

And are those 'unmarked mountains' as well hidden as the unmarked American facilities around K-Town in Germany? Because odd as it might sound, not marking something on a map does not actually make it disappear.

John McPhee wrote a good book on just this topic: La Place de la Concorde Suisse

+1. He'd probably make for a good Conversations with Tyler.

Also, glad to see Alex making a Granola Shotgun type post. More!

McPhee is still moderately active and doing interviews in his mid-80s.

People who prepare for nuclear war by storing their bitcoins in bunkers are my favorite.


What inspired the recent Switzerland fascination?

An all expenses paid trip? Just a cynical guess, based on Prof. Tabarrok saying he would be in Switzerland this week.

Can a libertarian state (such as Switzerland) exist absent a superpower to protect both the libertarian state and the free markets on which it depends and thrives? Stated another way, are libertarians free riders? What Tabarrok describes in this post about Switzerland reminds me of airport security in the U.S., elaborate screening rituals to give travelers a false sense of security (the real threat is in the cargo hold). I'm with Peter Thiel on this one: New Zealand is the preferred place in the event of Armageddon.

The Shaky Isles carry their own threat of Armageddon.

First post in which rayward comes across as a nationalistic conservative.
You want me on that wall! You need me on that wall!

Depends on the geography, I'd think. Conquering Switzerland would be a huge undertaking for even reasonable strength Great Powers like the UK and France. Those mountains really help deter aggression.

Even if you can conquer it, holding it is an entirely different story. Napoleon had a tough time in Spain. The USSR had a hell of a time in Afghanistan.

Switzerland is far from libertarian. Their regulation is just extremely efficient. They even have universal health-care---the horrors! According to U.S. political terminology, that makes them Socialist, right?


Taxes as share of GDP are higher than in the US plus every person is mandated to buy health insurance.

Ammo is strictly regulated. Those in the reserve are given a sealed 50 rounds for their home they must keep sealed until an emergency is declared. All other ammo must be accounted for, with use supervised.

These things are effectively implemented by direct voting.

The Swiss have not been at war because that would require voting to hike taxes and require voters to go to war. Instead of voting for war as the US voters implicitly do, the Swiss vote for tax hikes to pay voters to build rail tunnels that benefit Swiss voters.

Swiss males of military age have 200,000 Sturmgewehr 90 assault rifles hidden in their bedrooms and cellars.
"The firearm is fed by lightweight 20-round box magazines, 30-, 10- and 5-round magazines are also available. The magazines are molded from a translucent polymer and can be locked together using studs in order to facilitate quicker reloading; Jungle style. The empty weight of a 20-round magazine is 95 g (3.4 oz) and 110 g (3.9 oz) for a 30-round magazine."

As described, Switzerland is robust, not antifragile in Taleb terminology. Nothing described makes Switzerland better off in a crisis than it is now.

That's impressive, and it's obviously not a huge economic burden on Switzerland either. The US could stand to do some more of that, with heavily protected back-up libraries, food stockpiles (we used to have one, but now it's just a reservoir for money to buy food), and back-up power supplies.

Of course, I guess one of the US's unintentional forms of redundancy is its sheer size. There are very few disasters that would completely devastate all of the US simultaneously, and that's especially true when it comes to natural disasters. Something happens to agriculture in the Great Plains, there's farm land available in the Midwest, Atlantic Coast, and South.

If the Yellowstone volcano ever blows, that would take out a very good portion of the US of A.

The central US, yes (along with parts of central Canada.) But east of the Mississippi, the Gulf coats and the West Coast would survive. The longer term effects on climate and food production would be serious however.

Switzerland was last at war 3-29 November 1847. There was a brief civil war, the Sonderbund War..


>All around Switzerland, for example, one can find thousands of water fountains fed by natural springs.

Whenever I see these things (especially in dry looking places like Rome), all I can think about is how my mother complained about letting the water run while brushing my teeth.

They're the ultimate preppers. If the zombie apocalpyse arrives, I'll know where to go.

But seriously, doesn't this seem like an enormously irrational waste of resources? How much time, money and effort should you expend preparing for black swan events, given that they are by definition extreme unknowns?

I imagine it depends on how many different black swans a particular preparation helps i.e., flexibility over specificity.

and which why most 'global warming preparations' are not consistent with the precautionary principle.

Probably a waste of effort if every country does it, but not a bad idea for 1-2 small competent countries to be really well prepared for global disasters.

I'd be nearly 100% sure that the US, China, and Russia were prepared as well. It's not like it would be widely known.

My country has rapidly declining oil production combined with no vehicle fuel efficiency standards. There is no public vaccine production capability. We are extremely vulnerable to climate change while having the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the world. And we're almost directly opposite Switzerland. Clearly, we are the anti-Swiss.

What exactly do public vaccine capability and fuel efficiency standards have to do with surviving the apocalypse?

Not sure if Bible literalist or just lacking in imagination.

The Swiss opted out of war back in 1815.... in spite of their location in the absolute worst geopolitical spot on the planet. What's our excuse?


(The 1847 "war" would be called a "riot" anywhere else ;)

More like an Eagles game around here

Switzerland may collapse, but Brazil will stand for ever.

It has to stand up first.

The Swiss example shows one of the problems with massive free trade: overspecialization and resultant import dependency. If the global economy ever collapses, it is the countries that can make most of their own food and manufactures that will survive the best.


Those fountains symbolize nostalgia, respect for the work of forefathers or simply look cool. I don't know where you get the idea of disaster preparation. If you look closer they have a sign that tells if water is drinkable or not. Thinking that water comes from fountains is the equivalent of thinking that milk comes from a tetrapak. If war goes really bad, aquifers will get polluted resulting in useless fountains. Also, fountains have sculpted the year when they were built. Your 3rd photo is from a 1920 one. Do you see a smaller and lower basin to the right on the photo? Horses can drink there without polluting the water for humans.

I know a bit about water pollution in Jura. Some villages spend a crazy amount of money to remove heavy metals and organochlorides to make water drinkable. The industrial revolution arrived early to this region and for about 150 years all kinds of pollutants went underground without any control. People can pay now for expensive water treatment. In case of war, who knows?

Hydroelectric dams inside mountains? Generators and large conduits are inside the mountains, but water is outside. This installations were made to pump water up in the mountains when electricity is cheap and release water/generate electricity during the day. Yes, a significant part of the infrastructure is underground but a vital component (the dam) is still outdoors.

The Swiss are admirable. It would be great if you care about human resources instead of material ones :)

Wait, somebody was unaware of what a pumped storage facility looks like? So this really is a Prof. Tabarrok post after all.

If the topic is Cold War history, why not mention the Swiss attempt at making an atomic bomb? Web translation works really well for German, enjoy: www.nzz.ch/aktuell/startseite/atommacht-schweiz-1.803152

I don’t know Clyde, what this tupple meant to Abraham, perhaps it was peculiar but we can agree, for a man from Sinai like yourself, it was as particular as a stick of juicy fruit gum, and for a Lebanese Christian it is self-evident that the worms in Lebanon in their miserly artform burrow in the pockets and cracks of seamen. And I must say, when I saw you on that tree in the cloisters, shaking the branches with both of your hands, crying out loud, in the white field of snow, I have not forgotten your words

The door to that vault looks impressive. But does every Swiss person have a key?

David Brin's sci-fi novel 'Earth' is set in 2038, a few decades after a "Helvetian" world-war that pits "everybody else" against the Swiss "gnomes", affiliated billionaires/kleptocrats, and their secrecy.

You have to be always prepared for a war or doomsday in order to survive.

Most mistakes in war are not being prepared for it or any doomsday situation.

This is why computer hackers are interested in old technology before electricity was invented to use in case a nuclear war breaks out and destroys electronics even old computers and preserving them. I see that the Swiss do that as well.

Sorry I made a few typos on my original post.

To be honest drinking from water fountains always concerns me as I worry about the quality of the water.. I'd rather drink from the water dispenser I have at home and at work! We got them from https://www.waterlogic.com/en-us/ which makes these great water machines using firewall technology to ensure the hight level of water purification :) Would 100% recommend.

The Swiss obsession with bunkers is a ridiculous waste of resources perpetuated by the builders' lobby. They are still focusing on past wars but are ill prepared for current threats. Their military is a bloated and very expensive joke.

For 99% of human history (~200,000 years, give or take), humans lived without the existence of anything that could be called a "state". It's a sad state of affairs that we see returning to the way we lived for most of our species' existence as some kind of tragedy. The way we've decided to organize ourselves into crowded cities and rival nation states in which almost no individual even knows the basics of self-sufficiency is the real tragedy.

For 99% of human history the human population of the world numbered only a few million. If you want to begin utopia on a mountain of eight billion of so corpses don't be surprised if most of us take a pass on that.

Oh, and prehistoric humans were not individually self-sufficient-- they relied very crucially on their band or tribe. It's probably easier to live on one's own today than it would have been in 25,000BC.

You just proved my argument. Thank you.

To the Swiss. No matter your resilience, just the thought of obliteration creates irreparable stress..the irony is deafening. There comes a cost for neutrality.

I am of Suisse linage. My great grandfather and family immigrated to the States in 1848 AFTER a brief, but bloody, bloody civil war in 1847. The assertion that the country has been at peace since 1815 is not correct. It is a federal republic. I am a Jurassian by heritage. My family is from the Commune de Buix and my ancestral home is within 100 meters of the frontier with France, which occupied Jura from 1791 to 1814. Just about every house has at least one rifle and shooting ranges are found through each canton. Our lat trip to Buix was May 2016. The Commune de Buix has been consolidated with two other communes for several years now as as Basse-Alaine. For over 500 years our unifing slogan has been "Ma famille, mes amis et ma commune."

All males are required to serve in the Suisse military and complete at least 365 days of active duty over a period of years. Any of the Cantons may secede from the Confoederatio Helvetica since the 1848 constitution because of the 1847 war. One thing that was correct is the many public fountains mentioned in the piece, most of which are more than three centuries old and are still operative. I recommend that all Americans visit Suisse to see how a country of 8.4 million inhabitants has thrived under a weak central government that engages in bilateral commerce with other countries.

I love your comment! Thank you for your input!

Wait! So, with all the underground structures that have been built and tunneled...you could say the country is full of holes. Just like its cheese! It all makes sense now.

An advanced society it seems. So, what do they have against a good hot shower ?

"...the nouveau-riche store their bitcoins in Swiss underground bunkers built to withstand cyber- and nuclear attack:..."


bitcoins are not guaranteed to survive through next year. They are a ponzi scheme equivalent of the dutch tulip craze and only useful for laundering money.

CIVILIZATION COLAPSE = bitcoins worthless. Food, water, medicine, salt and gold are the only things of value if/ when civilization collapses

Bitcoins are cryptocurrency - not actual coins. Any transaction made with a Bitcoin (or Ether and other cryptocurrencies) is recorded in the blockchain to which everyone has access.

Bitcoins are not just used for laundering money even though the media only ever reports about these incidents. The wealth created by bitcoin does not belong to the traditionally rich but also to those who believed and invested in it from the beginning. Some of these investors are young and from poorer countries around the world.

Btw - in some Swiss cantons, government bodies accept bitcoin payments for their services e.g. taxes.

Dams inside unmarked mountains? Hmm, wonder where I saw that before...

Could it be...

West of House
You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door.
There is a small mailbox here.

I wonder how much chocolate and anal lube is store in those bunkers. I bet it's a lot... I bet it's a % of the whole world's stores.

Switzerland is also good at playing everyone each other and trading with all sides of the conflict as long as their payment is GOOD, ala, both WWI and WWII!

Welllll.. Going up to previous comments regarding a civilization collapse and roving gangs and whatnot.. I think it is a good thing someone came up with feudalism a while ago.

Hazel Meade,
It is easy to answer how infrastructure could someday fail to support the population. The fact that resources are finite rather than infinite actually makes this inevitable. But some resources are big enough concerns that some people already have a way to be warned before the resources run out. The futures market takes forecasts and bids prices up as scarcity of a resource becomes a concern. And it is sometimes possible that alternative resources are also bid up in anticipation of the scarcity. The result can be increased exploration and increased investment. But in the long-run, humanity must eventually accept that our insatiable appetite must be contained, because resources have limits. Crises of one sort or another can potentially bring a civilization to ruin. One potential end of a civilization may involve disease, maybe bringing death before scarcity has a chance to happen. But anything that requires input of man-hours can become scarce, no matter how basic the skill appears to be. And modern conveniences have become like a trap of dependency.

TO ALL RACIST IGNORANT HATEFUL PEOPLE THAT CLOG THE INTERNET WITH YOUR BULLSHIT EVEN THOUGH YOU'RE OBVIOUSLY PRIVILEGED ENOUGH TO HAVE A COMPUTER AND NO REAL BASIS FOR YOUR HATE. I encourage all of you to watch “Cosmos” with Neil deGrasse Tyson, accept how small you are, and realize that the best thing you can do with your life is try to better humanity so that someday maybe we can explore galaxies rather than repeatedly rebuild a broken civilization that refuses to help itself. Apocalypse by natural causes I can live with. The thought that we might all bomb each other to oblivion disturbs me. From top to bottom, politicians to peasants like me, let's settle our differences and work together. We have the means to make this world work for everyone. LITERALLY, everyone. Trust me I know I'm an idealist and if this sentiment reaches just one person then I've done more than I've honestly ever done before to help.

Always plan your work & work your plans. Have a backup plan for your life, your family & your friends & neighbors, even those whom you don't like In times of crisis all of us should stand together like after Hurricanes Sandy, Katrina & Rita - those brought out the worst in the best of people and the best in the worst of people ! I know because I was there ! Look in the mirror in the morning and don't be ashamed of what is staring back at you !! ( That came from a farmer with a 3rd grade education ! GET IT ?

John S. Lamb, USMC Viet Nam veteran.

Comments for this post are closed