Stewart Brand. Issued twice yearly from 1968 to 1972, and sporadically thereafter, its purpose was to provide information and access to “tools” in order that a reader could “find his own inspiration, shape his own environment, and share his adventure with whoever is interested.” Widely associated with the counterculture movement of the 1960s as well as with the environmentalist movement, the Whole Earth Catalog actually contributed to the survivalist movement that began in the 1960s and gained momentum in the 1970s, appealing to libertarians and conservatives alike. The Whole Earth Catalog wasn't merely a handbook for hippies trying to live off the land; it was also a survivalist's bible, useful in making preparations for Armageddon.
Serendipitously, the first Whole Earth Catalog was issued just about the time George Romero's Night of the Living Dead was released in theaters (October 1968), a movie about a group of humans trying to avoid being eaten by zombies. The protagonists of Night of the Living Dead are, if you think about it, prototypical survivalists. Although they were completely unprepared for the social disruption caused by the rise of the living dead, they clearly understand the need for self-sufficiency, even if they are unable to obtain it. They also understand the need for self-defense, by fitting out an existing building in order to protect themselves against a zombie siege of uncertain duration.
I happened to screen last night the classic Twilight Zone episode “The Shelter” (September 1961), a Cold War-era adaptation of the fable about the ant and the grasshopper. The same fable was the inspiration for Philip Wylie's 1954 novel Tomorrow!, in which two fictional Midwest towns undergo a nuclear attack, but only one of them is prepared for it. (One version of the fable has it that the grasshopper idled away his summer hours doing nothing, while the wise, forward-looking ant stockpiled food for the winter. When winter inevitably arrived, the grasshopper found itself starving. Predictably, the grasshopper begged the ant for food and was rebuked for his indolence.) In "The Shelter," a wise doctor has spent months building a bomb shelter in preparation for a possible nuclear attack. When such an attack seems horribly imminent, the wise doctor installs his family in the shelter, refusing admittance to his friends and neighbors. Like the zombies of Night of the Living Dead, the doctor's neighbors and friends are reduced to frightened helpless creatures, viciously turning against themselves and the doctor for refusing to give them refuge. They begin an attack to smash down the door of the shelter in order to get inside to safety. Of course, prior to the "The Shelter," the theme of survivalism had been used by many science fiction writers, but I think it is interesting that between the airing of "The Shelter" and the publication of the Whole Earth Catalog seven years later appeared Don Stephens' Retreater's Bibliography (1967) containing instructions on how to build and equip a remote survival shelter. A 1968 supplement to the Retreater's Bibliography was later issued, and there were subsequent reissues of the book as well. I should make it clear that I'm not claiming any cause-and-effect influence between Don Stephens' book and the Whole Earth Catalog. Rather, it was a matter of convergence of ideas, a prevailing belief in imminent social collapse and a suspicion that modern industrial society was about to undergo a disaster of apocalyptic scale -- the fragility of the social contract.
While certainly not its intent by any means, the Whole Earth Catalog arguably gave rise to a number of associated publications, among them William Powell's The Anarchist Cookbook (1971), which contains instructions for the manufacture of homemade explosives, rudimentary telecommunications phreaking devices, and other things. A few years later, in 1975, Kurt Saxon started The Survivor, a newsletter urging subscribers to build fortified survival structures in rural or lightly populated areas where they might hold out against so-called "killer caravans" of looters from nearby urban centers -- that is, instructions to prepare themselves for the night of the living dead.