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Dmitry Orlov on Why the US is Headed Toward Soviet-Style Collapse

  • Dmitry Orlov on why the U.S. is headed toward Soviet-style collapse
    By Andrée Collier
    Grist, May 7, 2010
    Straight to the Source

"Really, there's no one at the helm now," Dmitry Orlov says nonchalantly. We are talking about the economic crisis and the way that the destructive system of our economy operates without anyone really leading it. It's a perfect statement from a man who has traded in his house and car to live on a sailboat full-time, with an excellent argument for the safety and sustainability of the water-based nomadic existence to back up his decision.

Not much seems to ruffle Orlov, who describes his work as the "comparative theory of superpower collapse." Russian-American and fluent in both cultures, Orlov has made his name on his blog ClubOrlov with beautifully reasoned comparisons of the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s and the coming collapse of the United States (already underway, depending on how you view the recent economic crisis).

Orlov is a collapse theorist's collapse theorist. He isn't out to impress anyone with the facts behind peak oil or climate change -- he leaves that to colleagues like Richard Heinberg and James Howard Kunstler. You can read him or leave him -- he doesn't believe people are persuaded by logic or evidence.

"Contemporary mainstream culture and unbridled growth ... is not now and was never a rational proposition. It is the realization of dark, irrational, self-destructive urges, which were programmed into us through some evolutionary accident, and which are now, and for a short time longer, being given their fullest expression by the availability of cheap and abundant energy," he explains in one of his essays, "The Despotism of the Image."

It's not cheerful material. What makes Orlov more interesting than the many gloomy and over-credentialed scientists, sociologists, economists, and environmentalists producing a steady stream of books about climate change, peak oil, and economic collapse is his way of thinking things through with cool logic and telling detail.


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