Collapse Scenarios - Guest Post Anthony Harrington, QFINANCE

by: EJ on 08/19/2011
Posted in: Peak Oil

Anthony Harrington, from QFINANCE, online financial resource and authoritative economic commentary site, has undertaken a four-part blog series comparing two of our titles Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Experience and American Prospects - Revised and Updated Edition by Dmitry Orlov and The Wealth of Nature: Economics as If Survival Mattered by John Michael Greer.   Excerpts are reprinted here with permission. 

"With the US debt mountain looking increasingly unresolvable and European state debts at levels sufficient to give the markets recurrent panic attacks, the stage is nicely set for authors of collapse scenarios. Their Armageddon visions might not come to pass, but then again, given the way the marbles are rolling around, they just might. These visions are scary stuff, but usually spiced up with some decent gallows humour along the way. I will be talking about two such visions in a series of blogs. The first is by the Russian/American author, Dmitry Orlov, Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Experience and American Prospects, which looks at the “coming” (in Orlov’s vision) collapse of America, which Orlov sees as curiously paralleling the demise of the USSR. The second is John Michael Greer’s The Wealth of Nature: Economics as if Survival Mattered, which again sees current Western economies and lifestyles as unsustainable and headed for inevitable collapse.

Parts One and Two of this blog series focus on Orlov’s account, Parts Three and Four deal with Greer. Olov was born in Leningrad and emigrated to the US at the age of 12. He has revisited Russia periodically since, including a lengthy stay that enabled him to observe the transition from the old Soviet regime to the modern kleptocracy that Russia is today. He has a very sharp eye for the curiously parallel idiocies of both his former homeland and his present homeland.

 

Shouting from the crowd

First, it must be said that this is not an economist's view of the world. Orlov calls himself “an eye witness” to intriguing historical processes which, on his account, will in all likelihood transform the world as we know it. And he is a very direct witness. If he were to find himself in the position of a member of the court of that fabled emperor who was conned by his tailor into appearing in his birthday suit, then you would expect that, while all around Orlov fell silent in shock and embarrassment, locked into pretending that the emperor’s new suit was real, Orlov would be the one to yell: “That idiot’s butt naked!” It’s refreshing stuff, even if it makes you want to stock up on canned goods and take classes in growing survival foods on your high-rise balcony. (Actually, in what I think of as the second part of his book, which is all about surviving the collapse, Orlov points out that staying put in your hi-rise is contra-indicated, as the military like to say. The place will turn into a garbage-infested, heatless stew. Think urban Mad Max.)

Orlov’s book was written just before the global financial crash of 2008 and was first published in 2011. It is about the collapse of the world’s two super powers, a contentious starting point if ever there was one since, at least at the time of writing, the US was and is still very much extant, whereas the USSR, undeniably, is not. But that is Orlov’s point. His book extrapolates from the Soviet experience to what he sees as the inevitable parallel collapse of the USSR’s old rival.

 

Read more on QFINANCE.

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