Posts Tagged ‘Dmitry Orlov’

How did Washington lose touch with reality?

December 10, 2014

When I was younger, I thought the great competitive advantage that democracy had over dictatorship was the reality check.

An absolute dictator such as Stalin did not have listen to what he does not want to hear—such as, for example, that his ally Hitler is planning to attack him.

Leaders of a democracy, so I thought, were saved from disconnect with reality by a loyal opposition forcing them to justify their actions, and by the fact of being accountable to the voters every so often for the state of affairs.

How is it, then, that the leaders of the United States have become so committed to a foreign policy that manifestly does not work?

Dmitry Orlov

Dmitry Orlov

Dmitry Orlov, on his ClubOrlov web log, listed all the ways in that American foreign interventions during the past 15 years have led to the opposite result from what was desired.

With his usual sarcastic wit, he said the USA has added Defeat Is Victory to George Orwell’s War Is Peace, Freedom Is Slavery and Ignorance Is Strength.

The elder George H.W. Bush, after the breakup of the Soviet Union, stated that the United States would use its unchallenged power to create a “new world order”.  But everywhere that the United States has intervened, the result has been death, destruction and arenas of lawless violence in which terrorism can thrive.

Albert Einstein allegedly said that the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expecting different results.  Why do policy-makers in Washington keep doing the same thing and expect different results?

One minor reason is the “I’ll be gone, you’ll be gone” mentality.  Too many people in government fail to look beyond their own personal careers and the next term of office.

Another is the drift away from the idea that American patriotism is loyalty to the Constitution rather than loyalty to the government.

Yet another is the unquestioned assumption that cruelty and ruthlessness are inherently more realistic than obedience to law and to codes of honor.

The most important reason, I think, is that the United States of America is too rich and powerful for our own good.

Wealth and power shield you from the consequences of your actions—up to a point.  If you’re rich enough or powerful enough, you can do stupid and morally wrong things and get away with them—up to a point.

Power not only corrupts.  It makes you stupid.  But no person and no nation, no matter how rich and powerful, can escape the consequences of stupidity forever.

 

Dmitry Orlov’s greatest hits

July 27, 2014
Dmitry Orlov ClubOrlov collapse

Dmitry Orlov

DMITRY ORLOV, author of Communities that Abide, is a Russian-born American citizen and blogger who posts about the coming collapse of civilization and other topics about once a week on his ClubOrlov web log, which is one of the Blogs I Like.

Here are my favorite Orlov posts.

Post-Soviet Lessons for a Post-American Century

Thriving in an Age of Collapse

Our Village

Closing the ‘Collapse Gap’: the USSR was better prepared for collapse than the US

The Despotism of the Image

Dead Souls

The Five Stages of Collapse

Understanding Organizational Stupidity

The Sixth Stage of Collapse

Exodus to Yellowknife

I’m not certain Orlov is right about the future, at least not about the immediate future.  Neither can I dismiss what he says as foolishness.

The one thing about which I feel certain is that things cannot continue as they are, but I do not know what comes next, and in what ways it will be better or worse.

Dmitry Orlov on communities that abide

June 23, 2014

I recently read Communities that Abide, a quirky little book whose editor and lead author, Dimtry Orlov, seeks lessons for human survival in the study of small, resilient communities such as the Roma (gypsies), the Amish and the Hutterites.

Orlov thinks such lessons are needed because industrial civilization is in danger of collapse.  He writes weekly on his blog about this subject.  He sees the key to survival not in stockpiling guns, ammunition, gold coins and canned food, but in human solidarity and mastery of survival skills.

He admires the anarchist thinker, Prince Peter Kropotkin, and says the three communities follow the anarchist principle of mutual aid.  Community work is not based on payment of wages.  Distribution of goods within the community is not based on ownership of property.  Community rules are not enforced by means of violence.   That’s anarchism in a nutshell.

CommunitiesThatAbide_CoverLack of a formal governmental structure does not, however, mean a high degree of individual freedom.  Norms of behavior within the community, which are largely unwritten, are enforced my means of gossip, ridicule, peer pressure and, in extreme cases, shunning and expulsion from the group.   Such means are much more controlling than a system of formal rewards and punishments, because there is nothing tangible to rebel against.

Orlov said the experience shows that the maximum size of an effective community is about 150 people.   Any group larger than that starts to develop a bureaucracy, he wrote.  The three groups he described are all networks of communities small enough that members can decide things in public meetings where everybody gets a chance to speak.

This fits his own experience working with high-tech start-ups in the Boston area.   Every time a new company got to be larger than 150 employees, he wrote, it ceased to be a team and become a hierarchy.

My own experience is the same.  I belong to a church whose congregation never seems to grow beyond 150 members.  Our denominational leaders and ministers have told us we are wrong in being content not to grow.  But Orlov’s book indicates that maybe growth is better achieved by spinning off new groups.

Solidarity within Roma, Amish and Hutterites is maintained through customs, some of them hidden from the outside public, that separate them from the public.   Orlov said all communities that endure have a story of their founding, which they continually affirm through stories, ceremonies and historical re-enactments.   Jacob Hutter led his community for only three years in the early 1500s before he was martyred for his beliefs, yet so strong was his vision and his commitment that, 500 years later, there are people called Hutterites.

The key activity of these communities, aside from providing members with food, clothing and shelter, is the rearing and home schooling of children.  The greatest threat to group identity is public education, because it teaches the values of the modern world.  That is not to say they all refuse to send their children to school, but they have their own schooling to teach their own values.

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Should I be preparing for collapse? Should you?

June 3, 2014

I’ve been following a blogger named Dmitry Orlov for some years now. His ClubOrlov blog is listed among my Favorites on my Blogs I Like page, and some of my favorites from his writings are on my Archive of Good Stuff page.

A Russian-born American citizen who witnessed the collapse of the Soviet Union, Orlov became known for a slide show called “The Collapse Gap

,” in which he compared the USSR just prior to its collapse with the contemporary USA. Both countries, as he noted, were in industrial decline, militarily over-extended and dependent on foreign credit to maintain their material standard of living. Both had economic systems that did not serve the public need, and both had governments in which the public had lost confidence.

Paradoxically, Orlov wrote, the Soviet people were better prepared for collapse than Americans. Russians were accustomed to not being able to buy things in stores and having to fend for themselves. Russian families with many generations crowded into small apartments were better able to face crises than American families, scattered across the country, isolated in suburbs and dependent on availability of cheap gasoline.

global-warming-record-temperatures-2012-537x442This all makes sense to me, but Orlov in the meantime has moved on. He no longer limits his prediction to an American political and economic crisis. Now he predicts a global collapse of civilization, based on exhaustion of fossil fuels, climate change and the inability of established institutions to respond.

In a blog post sometime back, he reviewed a book, American Exodus, by a Canadian author, Gilles Slade, about where to live in North America in 2050 after global climate change has set in.

Slade thinks that Mexico will burn up and that the U.S. Great Plains will dry up. The Ogallala Aquifer, which provides drinking water for much of a region stretching from Texas to Nebraska, will disappear. Irrigation water will no longer be available for places such as California’s Central Valley.

northwestterritoriesThe East Coast will be destroyed by rising oceans and increasingly frequent and intense hurricanes. Drought refugees from Mexico will invade the United States, and drought refugees from the U.S. will invade Canada.

Taking all these things into consideration, Slade thinks the safest place to be in North America will be Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.

I haven’t read Slade’s book and don’t know the specifics of his research, but this doesn’t sound impossible to me. I can’t guess how bad things will get, or when the worst will be, but the consequences of human-made global warming are already being felt and can only get worse.

So in the light of all this, why do I continue to live my accustomed life as if nothing is wrong?

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How political correctness shields oligarchy

May 21, 2014

 The survivalist blogger Dmitry Orlov thinks debating “political correctness” is a way to prevent discussion of real issues of American politics.

Discussions of social policy, especially with regard to such things as the rights of women and sexual and racial minorities, play a very special role in American politics.  … It has recently been shown that the US is not a democracy, in which public policy is influenced by public opinion, but an oligarchy, where public policy is driven by the wishes of moneyed interests.

Dmitry Orlov

Dmitry Orlov

On major issues, such as whether to provide public health care or whether to go to war, public opinion matters not a whit.  But it is vitally important to maintain the appearance of a vibrant democracy, and here social policy provides a good opportunity for encouraging social divisions: split the country up into red states and blue states, and keep them in balance by carefully measured infusions of money into politics, so as to maintain the illusion of electoral choice.

Throw a bit of money at a religious fundamentalist candidate, and plenty of feminists, gays and lesbians will vote for the opposing kleptocrat who will, once elected, help Wall Street confiscate the rest of their retirement savings, in return for a seat on the board; throw another bit of money at a rainbow-colored lesbian, and plenty of bible-thumping traditionalists will vote for the opposing kleptocrat who, once elected, will funnel tax money to his pet defense contractor in return for some juicy kickbacks.  This part of the American political system works extremely well.

On the other hand, if some matter comes before the politicians that requires helping the people rather than helping themselves and their wealthy masters, the result is a solid wall of partisan deadlock.  This part works very well too—for the politicians, and for the moneybags who prop them up, but not for the people.

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Never start a fight you’re not prepared to finish

May 5, 2014

obama-putin_16

During the past 35 years, the U.S. government has invaded many countries (Grenada, Panama, the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya) and come in conflict with others (Iran, North Korea, Syria), but it always has avoided conflict with nations equally powerful.  Until now.

Dmitry Orlov, a Russian-born American citizen, described some of the consequences of the Obama administration’s support for an unelected, anti-Russian takeover of Ukraine.

Those who thought they were in control have just suffered a major defeat. On Ukraine so far, it’s Russia 1, US Oligarchy 0: Crimea is once again Russian, the transfer of sovereignty happened peacefully and in accordance with the internationally recognized principle of self-determination, and this defeat is so embarrassing that nobody even wants to talk about Crimea any more. It’s a done deal.

More defeats follow, as the boomerang effect of sanctions imposed on Russia. The US will not be able to withdraw from Afghanistan via the safe northern route that runs through Russia; instead, the endless convoys will have to run the gauntlet through Pakistan where the locals, incensed by endless drone attacks on their weddings and funerals, will do their best to blow them up.  The US will not be able to launch military satellites, because the Atlas V rockets won’t fly without the Russian-built RD-180 engines, for which there is no replacement. Nor is it likely that, as things escalate, US astronauts will still be able to get up to the International Space Station, since that requires a trip on the Russian Soyuz.

Not that the Russians have a lot of time for this nonsense. They are busy negotiating deals, like the oil barter deal with Iran which neatly circumvents the sanctions; like the long-term natural gas supply deal with China; and quite a few others. For example, Russia and China agreed to build a canal through Nicaragua, which will supplant the Pentagon-controlled Panama canal. Nicaragua will also get a GLONASS ground station (Russian-Indian replacement for the Pentagon-controlled GPS system), plus a Russian military base, to make sure that the US doesn’t decide that it can do something about any of this. Nearby, Russia forgave $90 billion worth of Soviet-era Cuban debt, re-establishing relations between Russia and Cuba and opening up Cuba to large-scale Russian investments.  Russian companies will be developing Cuba’s offshore oil and gas fields.

No doubt, the US would love to counter these moves, but it can’t because it doesn’t have the talent. Most of the experienced, professional diplomats quit in disgust during Bush Jr.’s reign, when they were forced to continually lie to the whole world about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now the diplomatic corps is loaded with incompetents whose only credentials are that they raised lots of money for Obama’s election campaigns. At the next changing of the guard they will be replaced with the next crop of amateurs. It is little wonder that they are losing.

But these people are unaccustomed to being defeated, and defeat makes them livid and hysterical, and then they go and wax apoplectic in public, yelling and screeching and spraying saliva. You can tell that their minds have snapped when they start comparing everyone to Adolf Hitler. And you can see it all right on television. Meanwhile, the vast majority of the population in the US is perplexed.  Except for the Lost Plane Channel formerly known as CNN, commentators on all the major news channels, even the super-blockheaded Fox News, are wondering aloud: “What the hell are we doing in Ukraine?”   Well, we are trying to safeguard the interests of the Rockefellers and the Rothschilds [1], to be sure, but how does knowing that help you?

“How well is that going?” you might ask. Well by now all of eastern and southern Ukraine is in open revolt against the US-appointed junta in Kiev. The neo-Nazi “Right Sector” initially supported the junta and helped with the putsch that overthrew the democratically elected government. But then one of the “Right Sector” leaders, Sashko Bily got shot, most likely for opposing a plan to import a trainload of nuclear waste from the EU and dump it on the ground near Chernobyl. That train is still stuck on the Ukrainian border. Now the junta leaders are shaking in their boots because the “Right Sector” could stage another coup, this time against them.

via ClubOrlov: Statecraft or Witchcraft?.

I think there is a real danger of war with Russia if the United States sends troops, even mercenaries who work for private contractors, to Ukraine.   Imagine how Washington would react if there was a political crisis in Canada or Mexico, followed by seizure of power by unelected Russian-backed anti-American revolutionaries.

Even if war can be avoided, a global struggle between the United States and Russia is not in the interest of either country.  It would likely mean that the Shanghai Cooperation Agreement, encompassing Russia, China and the nations of central Asia, would become a NATO-like military alliance, perhaps including Iran as well.  It would likely mean these nations would form an economic bloc independent of the U.S. dollar.   Germany and other western European nations, which depend on Russia and central Asia for oil and gas, would not necessarily support the United States in this conflict.

The least bad choice for the Obama administration would be to back down, because there is nothing at stake in Ukraine that is of vital interest to the American people.  But it may be that it is too late for this, that we are committed to global struggle with Russia — not so much a new Cold War and a new version of the 19th century Great Game between the British and Russian empires.

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Should I be preparing for collapse? Should you?

February 12, 2014

I’ve been following a blogger named Dmitry Orlov for some years now.  His ClubOrlov blog is listed among my Favorites on my Blogs I Like page, and some of my favorites from his writings are on my Archive of Good Stuff page.

A Russian-born American citizen who witnessed the collapse of the Soviet Union, Orlov became known for a slide show called “The Collapse Gap

,” in which he compared the USSR just prior to its collapse with the contemporary USA.   Both countries, as he noted, were in industrial decline, militarily over-extended and dependent on foreign credit to maintain their material standard of living.  Both had economic systems that did not serve the public need, and both had governments in which the public had lost confidence.

Paradoxically, Orlov wrote, the Soviet people were better prepared for collapse than Americans.  Russians were accustomed to not being able to buy things in stores and having to fend for themselves.  Russian families with many generations crowded into small apartments were better able to face crises than American families, scattered across the country, isolated in suburbs and dependent on availability of cheap gasoline.

global-warming-record-temperatures-2012-537x442This all makes sense to me, but Orlov in the meantime has moved on.  He no longer limits his prediction to an American political and economic crisis.  Now he predicts a global collapse of civilization, based on exhaustion of fossil fuels, climate change and the inability of established institutions to respond.

In a blog post sometime back, he reviewed a book, American Exodus, by a Canadian author, Gilles Slade, about where to live in North America in 2050 after global climate change has set in.

Slade thinks that Mexico will burn up and that the U.S. Great Plains will dry up.  The Ogallala Aquifer, which provides drinking water for much of a region stretching from Texas to Nebraska, will disappear.   Irrigation water will no longer be available for places such as California’s Central Valley.

northwestterritoriesThe East Coast will be destroyed by rising oceans and increasingly frequent and intense hurricanes.  Drought refugees from Mexico will invade the United States, and drought refugees from the U.S. will invade Canada.

Taking all these things into consideration, Slade thinks the safest place to be in North America will be Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.

I haven’t read Slade’s book and don’t know the specifics of his research, but this doesn’t sound impossible to me.   I can’t guess how bad things will get, or when the worst will be, but the consequences of human-made global warming are already being felt and can only get worse.

So in the light of all this, why do I continue to live my accustomed life as if nothing is wrong?

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