In the spring of 2008—before the collapse of Lehman Brothers and before the world economy nearly seized up—I read a provocative book by Dmitry Orlov called Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Example and American Prospects.
Orlov, an engineer and former resident of Leningrad, described the economic demise of the Soviet Union in the 1980s. In a chapter called "Superpower Similarities", he discussed numerous things in common between the U.S.S.R. and the United States.
"Both empires made a big mess of quite a few other countries, each one financing, funneling arms and directly taking part in bloody conflicts around the world in order to impose its ideology and thwart the other," Orlov noted. "Both made quite a big mess of their own country, setting world records for the percentage of population held in jail (South Africa was a contender at one point). In this last category, the US is now a runaway success, supporting a burgeoning, partially privatized prison-industrial complex."
Among them was the "bankruptcy race". He described how the U.S.S.R. and the U.S. took on monumental debts. He also brought up how each superpower eviscerated small-scale farms in favour of ecologically disastrous, industrial-scale agriculture.
Orlov suggested that the same key elements that triggered the fall of the Soviet Union were going to bring down the United States.
Subsequent chapters carried such titles as "Collapse Mitigation", "Adaptation", and "Career Opportunities" to show Americans how they could avoid the worse aspects of a massive economic contraction.
As an eyewitness to the implosion of the Soviet economy, Orlov offered intriguing insights into what might happen across the United States if his hypothesis becomes a reality.
"The first requirement in any middling-to-large transaction will be to provide security," he wrote. "An organization that can provide security in an unstable environment is thus well-positioned to branch out into a multitude of other services: warehousing, logistics, transportation, finance and legal services."
Today, I learned that New Society Publishers has issued a revised and updated edition of Reinventing Collapse.
With oil prices over $100 per barrel, the U.S. government ringing up the biggest deficits in history, and the empire involved in three foreign wars, Orlov's ideas are worthy of far more consideration than they're receiving in the mainstream media.
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