In thinking about this thread today while I was on the road, history tells us that yes being near totally self sufficient as a way of life is historically correct and needing a fair amount of support from others is also historically correct. The difference is one of timing. My former town in Massachusetts is extremely well documented back to the 1600’s when it was a frontier town. We know who lived there and how they lived. In the early days the people had to be nearly totally self sufficient as they built rough homes and established farms in what was Indian territory. Everyone farmed, hunted, fished, and survival in the early years was tenuous. The Puritan culture was cooperative however and they worked together for the common defense, including things such as during Indian uprising those who lived outside the stockade bunking in every night with those who lived inside the stockade, and one person standing guard while another plowed a field for example. Major assets like an ox might be shared. Fast forward a couple generations into the 1700’s when a modicum of prosperity has arrived and the population has risen and there was then a lot of specialization…..a blacksmith, a cobbler, a tavern/innkeeper, a tinsmith, woodsman and so forth. You also then see trade routes established, especially for key items that couldn’t be made locally….tea (they were English) and salt being key trade commodities.
Given our highly specialized world today, my guess is that we’d very quickly had a trade based economy with lots of specialization. The 1st year or so might find folks solely in survival mode but the survivors would then shift to the higher standard of living afforded via specialization and trade. As Aukxsona reminds us however, we need to get through that initial winnowing period and for most of us the greater our self sufficiency the greater our chances of emerging into the next phase.