IN THE 1990S, thousands of small groups stealthily formed ad-hoc survival clubs. Short on ideology, the loose constellations shared a common cause: Y2K preparedness. In 1999, this pursuit was not limited to the lunatic fringe; a poll by Time magazine showed that 9 percent of those asked expected the end of the world as they knew it on January 1, 2000. With that threat in mind, many —teachers, midwives, bankers, postal workers—dutifully trained as EMTs or prepared to move into bunkers with flashlights, pickles, water, and canned goods.
It’s hard to say how many people participated, but the widespread formation of Y2K survival hives is easily the least historicized communal surge in history.
A hive ...